Another week of football in the books but not without its share of injuries. Ben Roethlisberger went down early in last week’s game which sunk a lot of owners. If you were like me and waited to draft a quarterback, perhaps he was your starter and you either have a limited backup such as Blake Bortles or you didn’t even take a second quarterback. Hopefully, you covered yourself or grabbed a player such as Tyrod Taylor or someone who can get you through the next few weeks. Monitor those injury reports because they can alter your roster dramatically.
Starting this week we see teams off on a bye. Luckily it is just two teams, New England and Tennessee so the adjustments shouldn’t be too much. You want to start looking ahead to start covering your lineup for potential holes because of bye weeks as there will be plenty of owners looking to fill in their rosters the week they have a bye as well. I like to plan ahead by looking at players I won’t be using who will have a bye week coming up. I then will drop them the week before their bye and pick them back up during their bye. There is less risk of a player who is on your bench to still be available if his team is off during that waiver period.
The Golden Mug Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who came through for their team.
Devonta Freeman – 30 carries, 141 yards, 3 TD/5 receptions, 52 yards. With Tevin Coleman out, Freeman was able to be the lead back for Atlanta. Despite the big day from Julio Jones, Freeman still found plenty of scoring opportunities. He’s listed as questionable this week with a toe injury, so monitor the situation.
A.J. Green – 10 receptions, 227 yards, 2 TD. This game featured some big receiving performances on both sides. Green was matched up on man-to-man coverage for most of the day and he made Baltimore pay. Now he has another good matchup this week against Kansas City, who was just lit up by Aaron Rodgers for five passing touchdowns.
Steve Smith – 13 receptions, 186 yards, 2 TD. Smith has now posted back-to-back games with 150-plus receiving yards and shows that at age 36 he still has a lot of football left in him.
The Urinal Cake Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who you would like to, well you know.
C.J. Anderson – 8 carries, 18 yards. Anderson continues to struggle to find touches in this offense which is strange given how much coach Gary Kubiak likes to run the ball. Until we know how involved the running game will be, it may be a situation to avoid right now.
Jeremy Hill – 12 carries, 21 yards. Hill has had two back-to-back disappointing games after scoring twice in Week 1. The coaching staff has indicated that if the team is playing from behind that Gio Bernard will be used more. This could be a situation that could fluctuate. For now you have to treat it as any other running back by committee situation and use Hill as a flex or bye week fill in.
Good quarterback matchups this week:
Andy Dalton against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have one of the worst pass defenses in the league. They have given up a league-high 10 passing touchdowns in just three weeks of football. They are allowing 24 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and will be playing on short rest on the road in Cincinnati. Dalton is coming off back-to-back games where he has had three touchdowns and has thrown eight so far this season. This is a good spot as any to start Dalton in Week 4.
Andrew Luck against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Luck has had three average games to start the season and the Indianapolis offense has not clicked. They face division rival Jacksonville, who Luck torched for 370 yards and four touchdowns back in Week 3 of last season. The team is going to break out and this week will be it. The Jaguars are 25th in pass defense and have allowed five passing touchdowns on the season. They allow 19 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks.
Sleeper Pick of the Week:
Kirk Cousins against the Philadelphia Eagles. If you’re short on available quarterbacks because you missed out on picking up Tyrod Taylor or Michael Vick, Cousins could be a serviceable quarterback this week. Last week he threw for 316 yards and touchdown and this week he will face the Eagles, who run the most plays per game. We like to target the Eagles because teams facing them also see a boost in the amount of plays they run. The Eagles are 23rd in pass defense allowing 272 yards per game with five touchdowns allowed this season.
Good running back matchups this week:
Latavius Murray against the Chicago Bears. Murray is fifth among running backs in fantasy production and gets another tasty matchup this week against the Bears, who just traded away Jared Allen. The Bears are tied with San Diego for 28th in rushing yards allowed and give up 16.7 fantasy points per game to running backs this season. I expect the Raiders to ride Murray all game.
Eddie Lacy against the San Francisco 49ers. Lacy returned last week from his ankle injury but did not have to do too much as Green Bay won pretty easily. He received just 10 carries in the game. He should be healthier this week and gets a good matchup against the 49ers, who haven’t looked good in the past two weeks. The 49ers have allowed five rushing touchdowns in those games and are giving up 22 fantasy points per game to running backs. I am not sure how much of a workload he will get this week but I do expect a trip to the end zone.
Sleeper Pick of the Week: Isaiah Crowell against the San Diego Chargers. It would be easy to list Karlos Williams here but everyone knows that he is expected to start this week for Buffalo. Crowell is in a time share in Cleveland but is still getting more touches than Duke Johnson. He faces a Chargers team that is allowing 135.7 rushing yards per game (28th) with four touchdowns allowed this season. They are also giving up 23.7 fantasy points per game to running backs. Look for Crowell to get some solid production, especially if they get down in the red zone a few times.
Bad quarterback matchups this week:
Teddy Bridgewater against the Denver Broncos. Entering the season we had high hopes for Bridgewater as he has good weapons around him and he is a mobile quarterback. He has now failed to throw a touchdown in two of the last three games while passing for less than 200 yards the past two weeks. It looks like the team will be handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson and using Bridgewater to just manage the game. He faces a Broncos defense that are No. 1 in interceptions (6). They have allowed the least amount of passing yards with 176.3 per game and just one passing touchdown this season. The 4.3 fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks makes this an easy situation to avoid.
Ryan Tannehill against the New York Jets. Tannehill looked bad last week as he threw three interceptions in a blowout loss to Buffalo. We haven’t seen the big game we were expecting yet this season and now he will travel across the ocean to play in London against a tough Jets defense. The Jets are ranked fourth in the NFL allowing 191.7 passing yards per game with one touchdown per game this season. They are also giving up just 8.3 fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
Drew Brees against the Dallas Cowboys. The New Orleans Saints have not looked good over the first three games and Brees missed last week due to his shoulder injury. If it is announced that he will play I don’t think I would risk using him in the event that he re-aggravates his injury. Even playing at home, I don’t anticipate a high-scoring game. The Cowboys allow just 229.7 passing yards a game with only three touchdowns yielded this season. This offense isn’t the same without Jimmy Graham.
Bad running back matchups this week:
Todd Gurley against the Arizona Cardinals. We have been eagerly waiting to insert Gurley into our lineups. While he did play some last week, we knew to hold off because the touches would be limited as expected. Reports are that he will be more involved in Week 4 but it isn’t a good week to start him. He will face division rival Arizona, who is red hot right now and playing tough defense. Arizona is allowing 88.7 rushing yards per game with just two touchdowns allowed this season.
DeMarco Murray against Washington. Murray sat out last week with a hamstring injury and has been limited in practice. If he goes, I don’t expect a ton of production against a tough Washington front 7. Washington allows just 75 rushing yards per game and has allowed just one rushing touchdown this season. If Murray sits, Ryan Mathews will start but will have just as hard of a time running the ball.
Ameer Abdullah against the Seattle Seahawks. The Detroit Lions are last in the league in rushing and the team has fallen behind in games which force them to abandon the run. This week he faces the Seahawks on the road. It’s a tough environment to play in and he’s a rookie playing in just his fourth game. The Seahawks have allowed 100.3 rushing yards per game but just two scores on the ground this season. They are holding running backs to 8.7 fantasy points per game.