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In The Spotlight – Week 4 In Review

Week 4 Fantasy Headlines:

Game Summaries & Fantasy Commentary:

Thursday Night Game:









Fantasy Focus – San Francisco 49ers:
The 49ers controlled this contest with their running game, racking up 219 yards. Frank Gore (20-153-1 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) received his biggest workload of the season. Kendall Hunter (11-49-1 rushing and 1-9-0 receiving) and Anthony Dixon (3-6-1 rushing) both hit pay dirt.

Colin Kaepernick (15-of-23 for 167 yards, 2TDs & 0 INTs and 3-11-0 rushing) enjoyed a modest rebound, ending his streak of two straight games without a scoring strike. Anquan Boldin topped all San Francisco receivers (5-90-1 on seven looks), while Vernon Davis (2-18-1 on two targets) scored for the first time since Week 1.

Fantasy Focus – St. Louis Rams:
Poor offensive line play and unimaginative, conservative play-calling both contributed mightily to the Rams’ ineptness against the San Francisco defense (five sacks, two forced turnovers). Daryl Richardson (12-16-0 rushing and 1-8-0) constantly ran into walls of 49ers defenders. Isaiah Pead was a surprise inactive.

When the frequently erratic Sam Bradford (19-of-41 for 202 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT) wasn’t harassed and had time to throw, he often missed open receivers. Lance Kendricks hauled in Bradford’s only scoring strike in garbage time. Austin Pettis (5-59-0 on nine targets) led the team in receiving. Chris Givens (4-49-0 on eight looks), Jared Cook (4-45-0 on 9 targets) and Tavon Austin (2-6-0 on eight looks) were quiet.

Key Injuries:

Fantasy Tips:
Look for the 49ers to keep using their bread-and-butter running game, which obviously means more modest fantasy outings from Kaepernick. Sure, Boldin looked good against the Rams, but he will struggle against faster cornerbacks and can be contained.

Bradford obviously is unusable as a fantasy starter, and St. Louis can’t set Austin up to be productive. Big-play threats Givens and Cook (4-45-0 on 9 targets) remain underutilized, because the struggling Bradford is either unable or unwilling to throw the ball more than 10-to-15 yards down the field most of the time. Givens, Cook and Austin should snap out of their production funks next week against a soft Jacksonville defense…I think.

Waiver Wire Prospects:
Kendall Hunter, Austin Pettis


Early Sunday Afternoon Games:








Fantasy Focus – Baltimore Ravens:
Not to devalue a nice effort from the Bills defense, but Joe Flacco’s sloppiness is one of the reasons why his team lost. Although Flacco passed for 347 yards and two touchdowns, he tossed a career-worst five interceptions and was sacked four times.

As expected, Torrey Smith (5-166-1 on 12 targets) toyed with an injury-troubled Buffalo secondary, racking up his first scoring grab of the season and the fifth 100-yard game of his career. Marlon Brown (4-34-1 on eight looks) hit pay dirt for the third time in four games. Dallas Clark (4-34-0 on nine targets) hauled in four grabs for the second straight week.

What happened to Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce? The Ravens went with a pass-heavy attack and eventually fell behind, which is why the running game was shelved.

Fantasy Focus – Buffalo Bills:
It was a huge surprise to see the Bills rack up 203 rushing yards against a stout Baltimore defense. C.J. Spiller (23-77-0 rushing and 0-0-0) had to earn every yard before leaving with an ankle injury. Fred Jackson (16-87-1 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) took over as the workhorse when Jackson left and was the more productive of the two.

Ravens defensive back Jimmy Smith contained Stevie Johnson (1-(-1)-0 on six targets), who was playing with a tender hamstring and couldn’t get separation. With Johnson bottled up, rookie E.J. Manuel (10-of-22 for 167 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs with 3-11-0 rushing) leaned heavily on fellow rookie Robert Woods (4-80-1 on 8 targets). Scott Chandler (2-28-0 on three looks) had a quiet game.

Key Injuries:
C.J. Spiller (ankle), Fred Jackson (knee)

Fantasy Tip:
Rice (5-17-0 and 0-0-0 receiving) and Pierce (4-7-0 rushing and 1-2-0 receiving) touched the ball a combined 10 times, which was criminal. Perhaps Rice was not fully healthy. Look for the Ravens to get them both back on track next week, but the occasional under-usage of Rice and Pierce is common, unfortunately.

Keep an eye on Spiller’s status. The Bills face the Browns on Thursday Night Football. Will he be ready to play on a short week? Chandler’s Week 3 outing (5-79-1) was a fluke.

Waiver Wire Prospects:
Tashard Choice (if Spiller and Jackson are both seriously hurt), Robert Woods









Fantasy Focus – Cincinnati Bengals:
A flat Bengals offense couldn’t get on track against a Browns defense that usually plays solidly at home. Andy Dalton (23-of-42 for 206 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT) lost a fumble and was sacked twice. Standout Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden contained A.J. Green (7-51-0 on 15 targets), but Jermaine Gresham (3-53-0 on five looks), Mohamed Sanu (3-19-0 on six targets) and Tyler Eifert (3-39-0 on five targets) couldn’t pick up the slack.

Cleveland’s front seven easily throttled the Cincinnati running game. Giovani Bernard (10-37-0 rushing and 6-38-0 receiving on seven targets) didn’t score for the first time since Week 1. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (6-13-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) was ineffective. Bernard received more touches than Green-Ellis for the second week in a row.

Fantasy Tip:
Don’t get down on your Bengals. Cincinnati was coming off an emotional come-from-behind victory in Week 3, so this dud game on the road against a divisional rival is not a surprise. Green-Ellis’ role in the offense is rapidly on the decline. Don’t expect a big rebound outing soon.

Fantasy Focus – Cleveland Browns:
It’s time to take Brian Hoyer seriously. Facing an admittedly injury-depleted Bengals secondary, Hoyer (25-of-38 for 269 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs and 4-7-0 rushing) compiled his second straight strong fantasy outing as a fill-in starter. In Week 3 against the Vikings, Hoyer passed for 321 yards and three scores.

Jordan Cameron (10-91-1 on 12 targets) continues to impress. The Browns line him up all over the formation, and he has scored five times in four games. The Bengals did everything they could to slow down Josh Gordon (4-71-0 on nine targets), who was Cleveland’s most productive wide out. Davone Bess (2-25-0 on six looks) had a quiet game. Greg Little was targeted twice but didn’t catch a pass.

As expected, Willis McGahee (15-46-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) was the featured tailback, but he didn’t find much running room and was stuffed on a goal-line series. Backup Chris Ogbonnaya (5-27-0 rushing and 5-21-1) hauled in Hoyer’s other scoring strike.

Key Injuries:

Fantasy Tip:
The upstart Browns offense has three favorable upcoming matchups: Buffalo, Detroit and @ Green Bay.

Waiver Wire Prospects:
If you need a backup quarterback, you could do worse than Brian Hoyer. This is assuming that starter Brandon Weeden (thumb) doesn’t get his job back. It looks like Chris Ogbonnaya is the backup tailback and third-down specialist.

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