One thing to note: WR1s no longer need to fear the New York Jets. With Darrelle Revis out for the season, the Jets are now a desired passing matchup. So, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker just had their chances in upcoming dates with the Jets vastly improved.
Let’s move on to this week’s desperation heaves. And, keep in mind, those heaves, even when they wind up in the hands of your opponent, can still somehow result in touchdowns. I’ll list the player, their Week 4 matchup, and the percentage of leagues in which he is owned according to our friends at fleaflicker.com.
Christian Ponder at Detroit – 45 percent. Ponder has been better than you probably realize this season. He’s scored more points than Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton and Tony Romo. Last week he lit up the vaunted San Francisco defense, and this week he gets a Lions defense that’s been rocked by Alex Smith and Jake Locker the last two weeks. If he’s available in your league, he might be worth an add.
Shaun Hill vs. Minnesota – 5 percent. This one gets a big time asterisk. Hill is worth picking up if,
and only if, Stafford can’t go on Sunday. Hill is a capable backup against a Vikings pass defense that is suspect at best. Oh, and he still has that Calvin Johnson guy, and I hear he’s pretty good.
Rashard Mendenhall, BYE – 67 percent. I know he’s on a bye, so this may not help you out all that much in Week 4. But maybe you can spare a roster spot or have an open Injured Reserve slot. In any case, Mendenhall will be back soon, possibly as soon as next week. He’s already putting in full practices, and he’s still the feature back in Pittsburgh. If you can stash him, he may be able to provide some serious value down the stretch.
Ryan Williams vs. Miami – 61 percent. Remember that Williams was having an impressive camp prior to last season, and there had been speculation that Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells might lose his starting job then. Instead, Williams blew out his knee, but he’s come back strong this season. He has ball security issues, but he also has some major talent. And with Wells now nursing an injury of his own, it’s possible that Williams runs away with the gig. He gets a Miami defense in Week 4 that’s been below average against the run. Arizona will run the ball to control the game. Look for Williams to play an important role.
Andrew Hawkins at Jacksonville – 50 percent. Hawkins is on this list once again, because for some reason, he’s still available in half the leagues out there. He’s one of the most impressive, exciting after-the-catch receivers in the league. The Cincinnati Bengals have started to run more reverses and screens to get him the ball in space, and I can’t get enough of his highlights. If for no other reason, it’s just fun to root for the little guy.
James Jones vs. New Orleans – 23 percent. Jones got off to a nice start in Week 1 with four catches, 81 yards and a score, but he’s fallen off a bit since then. But you know what’s good for underperforming offensive players? The New Orleans Saints. Their defense is not so good, and given what happened on Monday night, the Green Bay Packers may come out firing to get on track, and that means big nights for Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Jones.
Ramses Barden at Philadelphia – 12 percent. I remember when the New York Giants drafted Barden. Everyone said, “He’s really raw. He’s big, and fast, but needs to learn how to play receiver in the NFL.” As a Philadelphia Eagles’ fan, I was fine with that. “Awesome, they drafted a project.” But then, New York kept him aside, taught him the position, and waited. With Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon out last week, Barden shined to the tune of nine catches for 138 yards. He’s probably earned himself a role in the Giants offense, a la Victor Cruz a year ago. He’ll be useful in deep leagues, especially given the injury histories of Nicks and Cruz.
Greg Olsen at Atlanta – 69 percent. Olsen got on track last week against the New York Giants on a night when little else went right for the Panthers offense. He’s developed a chemistry with Cam Newton, and, after Steve Smith, he might be Carolina’s next best pass catcher. It’s a tough matchup with Atlanta, but Olsen will be a decent tight end option going forward.
Kyle Rudolph at Detroit – 57 percent. Like Olsen, Rudolph has become a reliable target for his second-year quarterback. As the aforementioned Ponder has matured and developed his game, Rudolph has turned into a valuable safety valve and red zone target. He’s caught three touchdowns over the past two weeks, and he faces a Lions defense that can’t stop opposing tight ends.
Good luck in Week 4.
Drew Magyar is a fantasysharks.com staff writer and can be reached at drewmagyarat gmail.com. “What Did We Learn” will be posted each Tuesday morning during the season, and “Rock and a Hard Place” will be posted each Friday morning.