Pickups that will leave your nose-picking fantasy opponents in the dust, as well as this week’s version of “High Fives” and “Low Fives”
Jackson Prince, staff writer
And just like that, it’s Week Four: a very important week in the fantasy football realm. This week, bye weeks commence, which are obstacles that must be conquered by extreme ingenuity and attention to detail on the part of the fantasy team owner. The Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers don’t play, so for those of you who own Aaron Rodgers, any Packer wide receiver, the hot-handed DeAngelo Williams or Cam Newton might experience some difficulty. It is your responsibility as a fantasy football player to be wise with the waiver-wire, as well as in your start-sit decisions. Lots of pressure.
But, have no fear! For I, along with junior Lucas Harward, am here to guide you through Week Four (and get you a win in the process).
Before I begin with my Week Four advice, I wanted to fill you in on what to expect for the remainder of the season. I will be posting my fantasy football column next week (Week Five), and then every other week after that (as in the odd-numbered weeks). Check our website on Fridays to find my fantasy football articles.
Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben returns to fantasy relevance this week. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense receives a major boost with the return of running back Le’Veon Bell. As demonstrated by the New York Giants’ pathetic start, a solid ground attack is necessary in order to succeed through the air. And, with the running back situation now clear in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger will get the chance to throw to sure-handed targets, such as Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller. Expect a tight game against the Minnesota Vikings, and look for at least two touchdowns this week.
Week Four Projection (@ MIN): 290 pass yards, three passing TDs, INT
Brandon Bolden – This one is dedicated to those of you who have been frustrated by the performance of Stevan Ridley for the last three weeks. I feel your pain (he’s on two of my three fantasy teams). If you are in need of a running back (assuming Bilal Powell is already owned), Brandon Bolden of the New England Patriots might be of service to you. He was on the field for 26 snaps, which is identical to the snap count of Ridley. Though Ridley is still the most talented running back on the roster, Bolden is usually utilized on passing-downs, giving him extra appeal in PPR leagues. He is a handcuff to Ridley, and a possible flex option.
Week Four Projection (@ ATL): 50 rush yards, four catches (40 yards)
Justin Blackmon – For those of you who are confused, Justin Blackmon will not play in Week Four, as he is still serving a four-game suspension. However, now is the time to grab the Jaguar receiver, or by next week, he’ll be on someone else’s roster. Just look at Josh Gordon. After serving a two-game suspension, he exploded in Week Three, catching 10 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Picking up Blackmon a week before his debut is a small price to pay for what you will get from him for the remainder of the year. I mean, how can you resist taking a guy who did this to the Houston Texans secondary in 2012?
Week Four Projection (vs. IND): Will not play (suspension)
Heath Miller – I like the Steelers this week. Other than Jimmy Graham, there are no other consistent tight end options around. Your best shot at finding a solid tight end on the waiver wire is in Heath Miller, who caught 71 passes for 816 yards and had eight touchdowns in 2012. He has been ignored in many fantasy leagues, as he began the season injured. However, against the Vikings, he will be completely healthy, and might end up with his first touchdown of the year.
Week Four Projection (@ MIN): five catches (55 yards), TD
Robert Griffin III – Last year, picking RGIII to have a spectacular week would have been commonplace. This year is a different story. After the Redskins fell to 0-3, the media jumped all over the young read-option quarterback. Give the guy a break. The ‘Skins faced the new-look Philadelphia Eagles, the juggernaut Green Bay Packers, and a solid Detroit Lions team. This week, RGIII gets a juicy matchup against the Oakland Raiders and, with the pressure to win before their Week Five bye, look for the second-year stud to deliver a strong performance reminiscent of his rookie season in a winning effort.
Week Four Projection (@OAK): 240 pass yards, three pass TDs, 45 rush yards, rush TD, INT
Giovani Bernard – After watching the speedster shred opposing defenses in the preseason via “Hard Knocks”, it was apparent that he would soon be vital to the Bengals’ offense. After scoring in both Week Two and Week Three, why shouldn’t we expect the same in his matchup against the Cleveland Browns? Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden hinted at a 50-50 timeshare between him and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. If Bernard can get 15 touches each week, as well as stay on the field for passing downs, he’s a top-15 running back in PPR and regular leagues. Start him with confidence.
Week Four Projection (@ CLE): 65 rush yards, TD, three catches (15 yards)
Eddie Royal – After an outstanding first two weeks (five touchdown catches), the Charger receiver returned to Earth last week, catching two passes for 34 yards. But I have a hard time believing that Royal, whose two-week show was nothing short of incredible, is no longer an important piece in their game plan. I see a touchdown in his Week Four stat line. We’ll call it a “well-educated hunch.”
Week Four Projection (@DAL): four catches (75 yards), TD
Rob Gronkowski – If Gronk play Week Four, start Gronk. Gronk hungry for football. Patriots play Atlanta Falcons. Game will be shootout. Gronk love Brady. Brady miss Gronk. Brady find Gronk for two touchdown. Don’t doubt Gronk. Start Gronk. (However, if Gronk doesn’t start, I strongly advise you to pick up Heath Miller and start him.)
Week Four Projection (@ATL, assuming he plays): six catches (80 yards), two TDs
Eli Manning – I am just as shocked as you are when it comes to the New York Giants, who are playing the worst football of anyone in the league. Eli Manning is vulnerable in the pocket (which is why he was sacked seven times last week) and opposing defenses are reading him like a book (which is why he has eight interceptions and only five touchdowns). Manning will be challenged yet again this week, facing a Kansas City Chiefs defense that shut down the high-powered Eagles offense in Week Three. The game might get ugly. If you absolutely must start him, pray that he can play well during garbage time.
Week Four Projection (@KC): 200 yards, two TDs, two INT
Arian Foster – Not this week, Arian Foster owners. The time will come when we see the Arian Foster of old, just not against the Seattle Seahawks. Owning the superstar running back has been a struggle for those of you who used your first round pick to grab the Texan, and will continue to be for another week. There is the off chance that he scores on a goal-line carry, but don’t expect a huge game from Foster this week.
Week Four Projection (vs. SEA): 65 rush yards, three catches (15 yards)
Reggie Wayne – You’d think that a matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars is ideal for any offensive player. However, this one might be a blowout. The Colts look spectacular, as the recent acquisition of Trent Richardson has planted the seeds of what will be an offensive juggernaut. I see a second half in which most of the plays are on the ground, which means that Reggie Wayne would have to fill most of his stat line in the first half. Don’t expect top-20 numbers from the usually top-20 wide receiver.
Week Four Projection: five catches (60 yards)
Kyle Rudolph – Rudolph demonstrates the lack of consistency in the tight end position. He is a true hit-or-miss player, and is considered a top-10 option every week because of his ability to score. I predict that he misses this week, as a stingy Steelers defense will focus on stopping short passes.
Week Four Projection: three catches (35 yards)
Coby Fleener – “Fellow tight end Dwayne Allen is out for the season with a hip injury, so Fleener is now the primary tight end option in Indianapolis,” Harward said. “Also, the arrival of Trent Richardson will give more balance to the Colts’ offense and much needed help in the blocking scheme, allowing Fleener to go out for routes more often instead of staying back to block. Fleener will have a stellar game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, especially with the shallow and inconsistent pool of tight ends this season.”
Torrey Smith – “After failing to find the end zone in his first three games, Smith will look to get on the board against a Buffalo defense that allowed 154 yards and a score to Santonio Holmes last week,” Harward said. “Ray Rice is not 100% healthy, so Joe Flacco will throw a lot. With a possible shootout looming, Torrey Smith will put up some big numbers as the Ravens’ primary deep threat.”
Andre Johnson – “Andre Johnson has been unable to avoid the injury bug in recent years, and this year is no exception with his latest ailment being a shin bruise. It is not severe enough to stop him from playing, but let’s keep in mind that he’s going up against Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks. Also, the Texans have struggled to move the ball at times, which resulted in Johnson only being able to muster 36 yards receiving against the Ravens. Johnson is most likely one of your best options at wide receiver, so you’re probably going to start him anyway. But don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Harward said.
Week Four promises to be an exciting one, with some spectacular matchups and long-awaited returns to come. If you find yourself 0-3 or 1-2, think about making a change. Either rename your team or switch underpants. Also, we’re only one-fourth into the season, so keep on course and don’t beat yourself up too much after a loss. (If you are seriously feeling down about your team, surely this will cheer you up.)
Here’s to the arrival of bye weeks, and here’s to Week Four!