We have now had three weeks of the 2009 fantasy football season and everyone should have a decent idea of what kind of team they have.
I’m in six leagues and am at least 2-1 in five of them, so I’m feeling pretty good.
But the equations change a little bit this week as the bye week rotations begin.
This week, Arizona, Carolina, Philadelphia, and Atlanta are all on byes. This means that teams with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, DeAngelo Williams, Desean Jackson, and Tony Gonzalez, among many others, have to find productive fill-ins to keep them competitive in Week 4.
And that’s what we’re going to look at this morning.
So far, my start em, sit em picks have worked out a lot better than my sleeper picks on a weekly basis (Byron Leftwich last week, ’nuff said). In reality, though, Weeks 1-3 are really like the preseason when it comes to waiver wire trolling in the 50% -or-less category.
Most teams, if they drafted at least semi-competently, should not have been digging too far down the wire to plug any holes yet.
It’s a different ballgame now, with each team needing to find bye week replacements. This morning, I will attempt to identify players at each primary fantasy position (no kickers…not now, not ever) who have favorable matchups in Week 4 and could do some damage.
Here we go:
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Fantasy Football Week 4
Sleeper Picks and Bye Week Fill-Ins
Week 4 Sleepers & Bye Week Fill-Ins: Quarterback
Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos (vs Dallas, 45% owned) — Where’s the love for Kyle Orton? He has throw three TD passes in three games this season and has yet to throw a pick. The Cowboys come into town this weekend and are suspect against the pass (don’t let a strong performance against a fading Jake Delhomme fool you). With Brandon Marshall getting his act together again, Orton’s numbers should be solid this week.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets (at New Orleans, 43%) — Sanchez appears to be going down the road of rookie QB respectability traveled last year by Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. He has four TDs and only two INTs through three games. This week, the Jets travel to New Orleans to face a high octane offense and a defense that gives up a lot of passing yards. The Jets’ D will slow down New Orleans, but won’t totally stop them, meaning Sanchez will need to lead his team to more points than usual to win. Opportunities should be there for Sanchez to hit the 250-275 yard mark and potentially a couple touchdowns.
Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins (vs Tampa Bay, 34%) — Campbell had a very nice game last week against Detroit, which got lost in all the hubbub over the Lions breaking their losing streak. He will have more opportunities to hit Santana Moss this week with Tampa Bay and their pathetic pass defense coming to town. Don’t be afraid to start Campbell this week. He could have very good numbers again.
Week 4 Sleepers and Bye Week Fill-Ins: Running Back
Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins (vs Buffalo, 42%) — Ricky has had a pretty strong start to the season in 2009, amassing 163 yards with a 4.8 yard per carry average and a TD through three games. He’s also caught seven passes and a scored a TD on one of them. Chad Pennington is now out, meaning the Dolphins are relying on unproven Chad Henne. Buffalo is 18th against the run this year and is allowing 4.4 yards per carry while also yielding four rushing touchdowns. I smell a solid day at home for the Dolphins, who will be in desperation mode trying to salvage their season.
Glen Coffee, San Francisco 49ers (vs St. Louis, 32%) — How in the hell is this guy only owned in 32% of leagues? Coffee had a great preseason and has a great matchup this week against St. Louis. Regardless of who is in the backfield, Mike Singletary is committed to pounding the rock, meaning Coffee should be among the league leaders in touches this week. Yes, he struggled last week, but that was against one of the league’s best run defenses. Don’t be fooled, he’s in store for a good day Sunday.
Tashard Choice, Dallas Cowboys (at Denver, 24%) — Here’s another guy whose % owned number I don’t really understand. Not only is Tashard Choice a vastly underrated all-around running back, but when you watch this video you will see that he is also a terrific team-first leader and the kind of guy you want to root for. Most importantly, for our purposes here this morning and on Sunday, Choice should continue to get touches with Felix Jones out this week and Marion Barber probably not at 100%. Denver is very good against the pass but a little suspect against the run. The Cowboys will lean on the run game and Choice will be a major part of it.
Others to consider: Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants (at Kansas City, 47%); Chester Taylor, Vikings (vs Green Bay, 33% — only in PPR leagues); Jerome Harrison, Browns (vs Cincinnati, 6%)
Week 4 Sleepers and Bye Week Fill-Ins: Wide Receiver
Justin Gage, Tennessee Titans (at Jacksonville, 48%) — Gage has been up and down this season, but has a terrific matchup on Sunday. The Jags are allowing a league-worst 281.7 passing yards per game and have given up six scores through the air. Granted, they’ve played Houston and Arizona, so those numbers are a bit skewed, but the Titans will have opportunities to make plays in the passing game. Gage caught six touchdowns this year, and could be in line for his second of the year this Sunday.
Mike Sims-Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs Tennessee, 40%) — Two straight weeks of solid production for Mike Sims-Walker make him a prime sleeper pick against a defense that is giving up a lot through the air. The Titans are allowing 274.7 passing yards per game and have given up seven passing TDs. Walker has at least six catches and 80 yards in each of the last two weeks, plus he’s caught a TD. He is quickly becoming David Garrard’s most consistent target, and should be a solid player you can count on moving forward, not just this week.
Earl Bennett, Chicago Bears (vs Detroit, 27%) — Earl Bennett is tied for the Bears’ team lead in receptions with 13. He and Jay Cutler go all the way back to Vanderbilt, and their rapport is obvious. Last week, Bennett caught four passes and averaged 20 yards per reception. He has yet to find the end zone, but should have a great chance to do so this weekend against a terrible Lions’ secondary. Detroit has already yielded ten passing touchdowns this season.
Others to consider: Pierre Garcon, Colts (vs Seattle, 40%); Nate Washington, Titans (at Jacksonville, 26%); Davone Bess, Dolphins (vs Buffalo, 8% — PPR league especially); Kelley Washington, Ravens (at New England, 5%); Mike Wallace, Steelers (vs San Diego, 3%)
Week 4 Sleepers and Bye Week Fill-Ins: Tight End
Finally, America has wised up and Vernon Davis is now owned in more than 50% of leagues. All it took was one two-TD game…I guess that makes sense. However, there are now very few options in the under-50% category at TE.
Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins (vs Buffalo, 29%) — I know, I know, the guy’s been terrible and I may regret recommending him; but, that said, there are reasons to like Fasano. With a new, inexperienced QB playing, I would assume Fasano will get some targets. He’s only caught three balls all year, but he’s had opportunities to make plays. At some point, I think he starts to make those plays. Fasano caught seven TDs last year, and I would not be surprised to see his first one of 2009 come Sunday at home against the Bills.
Other than Fasano, who I do believe still has some upside, all of the other under-50% tight ends are pretty much the same.
Week 4 Sleepers and Bye Week Fill-Ins: Defense / Special Teams
Washington Redskins D/ST (v Tampa Bay, 29%) — The Redskins have been disappointing this season, and are without Albert Haynesworth, but they face a punchless Tampa Bay offense this week that is turning the reins over to unproven youngster Josh Johnson. Deangelo Hall and Fred Smoot have to be licking their chops. Tampa Bay will most likely try to control this game on the ground, but I don’t think they are capable of scoring many points.
San Francisco 49ers D/ST (v St. Louis, 29%) — The 49ers have a much improved defense and face a Rams team that has Kyle Boller starting at QB and no difference makers on the outside. If the 49ers can contain Steven Jackson, they can contain the Rams on offense. San Francisco’s conservative style on offense also will keep this game from getting into anything resembling a shootout. This should be a low-scoring, solid afternoon for the 49ers.
Cincinnati Bengals D/ST (at Cleveland, 21%) — I talked about the Bengals’ D in this week’s start em, sit em, but they merit another mention here because they are only owned in 21% of leagues. Folks, if you haven’t watched Cleveland on offense this year, there is almost no way to describe how bad they’ve been. If Brady Quinn plays QB, the Browns won’t be able to score. If Derek Anderson plays QB, the Browns will score some points but Cincinnati will rack up the sacks and INTs. Either way, you want Cincy’s D, which has been very productive in its own right this season, already notching ten sacks and a defensive touchdown.
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* – Kyle Orton photo credit: Gremlin Dog
* – Jay Cutler / Earl Bennett photo credit: Jay Cutler Superstar