QB: Tony Romo at SD – Currently 14th in quarterback scoring, Tony Romo hasn’t exactly started the season hot. Still, Romo has been playing solid football and owns a 6 to 1 TD-to-INT ratio going into Week 4. This week Romo squares off with the Chargers, who have allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks so far this season. With the Chargers allowing an average of 28 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season, Romo is a top-five quarterback this week. With Miles Austin banged up, also expect a huge day out of Dez Bryant.
RB: Ray Rice at BUF – Despite his injured hip, it appears that Ray Rice is on track to start this week. Although he struggled before getting injured, Rice must be started in a glorious matchup with the Bills. The Bills are currently tied for 30th against the run, allowing a pathetic 155 rushing yards per game. If Rice sits out, look for talented backup Bernard Pierce to have a big day.
Darren McFadden vs. WAS – For running backs, few teams present a better matchup than the Washington Redskins. Currently allowing 155 rushing yards per game at a clip of 4.8 yards per carry (YPC), the Redskins have been shredded by the run all year. I’d feel better about McFadden’s odds of having a huge day with Terrelle Pryor at the helm. McFadden will likely be looking at eight men in the box if noodle-armed Matt Flynn starts on Sunday.
Frank Gore at STL – It appears that whining to coaches has been a recipe for fantasy success: starting with Mike Wallace in Week 2, after confronting OC Mike Sherman, Wallace finished with an excellent 9/115/1. The same thing happened with Antonio Brown, who complained to Todd Haley after struggling in Week 2. Brown exploded for 9/196/2. This week it was Gore who complained, after rushing for 82 yards on just 11 carries compared to Kaepernick’s 27 pass attempts and seven rushing attempts. This week expect the 49ers to establish the run and get Frank Gore going early. It doesn’t hurt that Gore is facing the same Rams defense that was eaten alive by DeMarco Murray for 175 rushing yards and a touchdown last week.
Bilal Powell at TEN – I’m not a fan of Bilal Powell’s talent but at this point, he’s got very little competition in the backfield. Powell saw 27 carries last week and looked good, finishing with 149 rush yards. With Ivory out, Powell will be used heavily in the rushing and passing games. He’ll be worth a RB2 start off of sheer volume.
WR: Pierre Garcon at OAK – Locked in as RGIII’s No. 1, Pierre Garcon is off to a nice start this season. This week he squares off against the lowly Raiders, who could barely force Peyton Manning to throw an incompletion on Monday Night Football. Expect a high scoring affair from the Redskins offense and a big day from Garcon.
Torrey Smith at BUF – While fantasy owners will be first to point out that he hasn’t scored a touchdown, Torrey Smith’s season thus far has been very encouraging. The Ravens have expanded Smith’s route tree and he’s become a more consistent part of the Ravens offense. On pace for 85 receptions, Smith is on his way to shattering his previous career high of 50. Touchdowns have never been a problem for Smith, who before this season had caught one every 6.6 receptions. Chalk it up as a fluke and play him in this plus matchup against the Bills.
Julian Edelman at ATL – Despite a lackluster Week 3, Julian Edelman is still a must-start in PPR leagues and a solid play in standard leagues. Edelman is playing Wes Welker’s old position in the offense and will continue to see heavy targets – he’s seen 25 over the past two games. Rob Gronkowski’s return will likely help open things up for Edelman – by providing another threat for defenses to pay attention to.
Emmanuel Sanders at MIN – Although he’s off to a slow start, Emmanuel Sanders’ use in the Steelers’ offense is not in question. The problem is the Steelers were unable to generate offensive production until last week when Antonio Brown exploded against the Bears. This week the Steelers face the Vikings defense that was torched by the trio of Brian Hoyer, Josh Gordon, and Jordan Cameron last week. This is a great opportunity for both Brown and Sanders to have big fantasy days.
TE: Rob Gronkowski at ATL – I know owners are worried about his health and usage but when Gronk is on your team and active, you play him. The guy is simply too good for “wait-and-see weeks.” In 43 career games, Gronk has an absurd 39 touchdowns. If the Patriots deem him active, make sure he is in your lineup.
QB: Eli Manning at KC – After struggling mightily against the Panthers, I can’t justify starting Eli against the Chiefs defense. Eli may save his day in garbage time but the Chiefs have been very strong defensively. Currently allowing the 6th fewest points to opposing quarterbacks, the Chiefs are leading the league with 15 sacks. Avoid Eli this week.
RB: Ryan Mathews vs. DAL – Ryan Mathews has the looks of a bust this season and I don’t expect things to change. Mathews’ fantasy value requires him to rush well during early down work behind a bad offensive line because he isn’t involved the passing game. If he continues rushing for just 3.6 YPC, he’s going to have a hard time holding Flex value. This week Mathews faces a Cowboys’ defense that is allowing the 4th fewest fantasy points to running backs. This season opposing running backs have rushed 38 times for just 133 yards (3.5 YPC) and no touchdowns. Leave Mathews on your bench and sell him immediately after a big game.
Fred Jackson vs. BAL – With C.J. Spiller likely active, don’t be over ambitious and start Fred Jackson. He’s played well over the past few weeks but with Spiller healthy, he returns to weak flex value. The Ravens have also allowed the fewest fantasy points in the NFL to opposing running backs, allowing 44 scoreless carries for 161 yards (3.6 YPC). If either of the Bills running backs has a surprisingly strong fantasy day against the Ravens, I’d bet on it being C.J. Spiller.
Ben Tate vs. SEA – I’m a big fan of Ben Tate’s talent but he’s got a very difficult matchup against the Seahawks this week. Owners may be able to get away with playing Tate in an easy matchup but not against this defensive powerhouse. I’d expect a performance similar to last week, where Tate was bottled up for 43 total yards by the Ravens stout run defense.
WR: DeAndre Hopkins vs. SEA – Over the first three weeks, DeAndre Hopkins has shown many why he was the 2nd wide receiver taken in the 2013 NFL Draft. A fearless receiver with strong hands, Hopkins will be playing the NFL for years to come. This week, however, simply isn’t a good matchup – as he squares off with a Seahawks defense that will likely keep the game very low scoring. It also doesn’t help that the Seahawks are allowing the fewest points to opposing wide receivers. For this week, there are better flex options.
Greg Jennings vs. PIT – Many fantasy football writers, including myself, expected Jennings to be targeted far more frequently this season. With just 19 targets in his first three games, there’s no reason to expect anything to change – he’s stuck as a WR4. Facing a Steelers’ defense that has allowed the 2nd fewest points to opposing wide receivers, I’d avoid Jennings this week.
Brian Hartline at NO – Surprisingly, the Saints defense has been really good against the pass this season. They’re currently allowing the 3rd fewest points to wide receivers and are one of two teams that have yet to allow a receiving touchdown by an opposing wide receiver. Hartline is strictly a matchup player – in a bad matchup, I’d bench him.
TE: Kyle Rudolph vs. PIT – Different matchup, same story for Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph needs a touchdown for weekly fantasy production – against the Steelers, I’m betting against Rudolph scoring that touchdown. My reasoning: the Steelers are yet to allow a receiving touchdown to a tight end this season.
Thanks for reading, good luck this week. Hit me up on Twitter @BraudeM or post below for any lineup questions you guys have!