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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Start/Bench List: Week 4
John Tuvey
Updated: September 30, 2011
 
CAR at CHI MIN at KCC TEN at CLE NEP at OAK Start/Bench List by Position
BUF at CIN NOS at JAC ATL at SEA DEN at GBP
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WAS at STL PIT at HOU NYG at ARI NYJ at BAL
SFO at PHI DET at DAL MIA at SDC IND at TBB
Start/Bench Codes (SBC)
S1: Start 'em Tier One (Stud / Great matchup) U: Upside player (Possible sleeper)
S2: Start 'em Tier Two (Solid matchup) X: Unclear situation / Could go either way
S3: Start 'em Tier Three (Borderline / Barely) B: Bench 'em (Bad Matchup / Too much risk)
 
 
Pittsburgh at Houston Back to top
Pittsburgh
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S2

Big Ben is plowing through a dry spell: in eight of his last nine regular-season games, he's thrown for one or fewer touchdowns. This could be explained if Rashard Mendenhall were running well, but he's not, The Steelers will need to generate offense somehow to keep up with the Texans, so look for Ben to step it up against a defense still in shock after being blitzed for 370 and three by Drew Brees last week.

RB Rashard Mendenhall

S3

This is a matchup for Mendenhall to exploit... but that's what we said last week. So dial back the lofty expectations, but Mendy is still lineup-worthy against a defense that's allowing better than five yards per carry to opposing runners.

WR Mike Wallace
S1

All he does is catch 100-plus yards worth of passes, as Wallace stretched his century mark string to six with 144 and 1 against Indy last week. The Texans have allowed a touchdown to each WR1 they've faced, and Wallace is clearly a WR1, so start him with extreme confidence.

WR Emmanuel Sanders
Antonio Brown
Hines Ward
B

Brown has been the best of Pittsburgh's secondary targets, but that's amounted to just okay yardage thus far. Sanders has a touchdown but 85 yards on the season, and Ward... well, he's a heckuva dancer. None of this brings much to the fantasy table.

TE Heath Miller B

Miller is coming off a season-high 71 yards last week, but he may need to stay in and help the injury-ravaged offensive line protect Ben Roethlisberger. There's little upside to his fantasy game, anyway.

DT Steelers S3 The Steel Curtain has been relatively quiet this season, but they're always a threat. One caveat: if you're in a league where you get docked for giving up points, you may want to find a substitute defense this week.
Houston
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Schaub S2 Schaub's stas have been building this season, with his yardage and touchdown totals climbing each week. The Steelers may have forgotten what it's like to see a legit QB, having faced Tarvaris Jackson and the Kerry Collins/Curtis Painter combo over the past two weeks. They served up three TD tosses to Joe Flacco in Week 1, and Schaub is looking to hang a crooked number on them here as well.
RB Arian Foster

S3 Foster returns to the lineup after aggravating his tender hamstring in Week 2. Keep in mind that he's had less rest this time than he did prior to re-injuring himself, so the chances of him jumping back in with a 20-carry masterpiece are slim. He's startable, but check the expectations.
RB Ben Tate
B Tate goes to the backburner for now, but the one thing we do know is that hamstring injuries tend to linger. Don't start him, but keep him on the roster because his turn will come again.
WR Andre Johnson S2 Pittsburgh has allowed only one WR TD this season, and that was in Week 1. However, Johnson is a special cat who had 90 & a touch in each of the first two games and 128 last week. Rest assured, he's going to get his.
WR Kevin Walter
Jacoby Jones
B

With the Steelers' secondary shutting teams down, no reason to look at Houston's "Andre isn't open" guys.

TE Owen Daniels
James Casey
S3

Daniels is starting to look like the Pro Bowl tight end he was prior to last season's injury, with touchdowns in each of the last two games. Casey is a versatile cog whom the Texans are finding ways to get the ball to. Daniels is the safer play, but Casey received more targets than any Texans this side of Andre last week so he warrants consideration as well.

DT Texans S2 Wade Phillips will be throwing all kinds of blitzes at the Steelers' banged up offensive line, which has a tendency to lead to defensive scores.
 
Detroit at Dallas Back to top
Detroit
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matthew Stafford S2

Stafford has multiple touchdowns in all three games and is averaging 325 yards per outing. The Dallas secondary is still a bit banged up, and given their stout run defense you have to expect Stafford to come out throwing. The 289 and 2 Shaun Hill laid on the Cowboys last year would be a disappointment for Stafford this time around.

RB Jahvid Best S2

The Cowboys haven't allowed a 50-yard rusher this year, but they did serve up 73 receiving yards to LT and a receiving touchdown to Tim Hightower last week. Best does his best work in the receiving game, so don't sweat the tough run D matchup; augmented with a healthy dose of catches and receiving yards, Best is a solid start this week.

WR Calvin Johnson S2

All Calvin does is catch two touchdowns in a game... at least this year. Dallas hasn't allowed much to wideouts, but Megatron is different than most wideouts. No worries; he'll get his.

WR Nate Burleson
Titus Young
B

Yes, Burleson got into the end zone against Dallas last year as part of a 7-97-1 afternoon. But with Best and Pettigrew targeted heavily underneath and Megatron getting his, there just won't be enough left over for either of Detroit's secondary targets to provide fantasy help.

TE Brandon Pettigrew
S2

Pettigrew just set a franchise record for catches in a game by a tight end; now he gets reacquainted with a defense that served him an eight-catch, 75-yard outing last year and has allowed two TE TDs already this season. Sounds like a set-up for success.

DT Lions S3 This defense brings the heat up front, and against an offensive line that's had some issues it could certainly lead to defensive fantasy opportunities.
Dallas
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S3

Romo wasn't quite as lights out with a busted rib last week, and the Lions have surrendered just two passing touchdowns all year. He's also looking at a depleted receiving corps with no Miles Austin (and possibly Dez Bryant) this week, and he was certainly not on the same page with the backups on Monday night. He's still startable, but you may have a better option on your roster.

RB Felix Jones
B

Jones gutted out an impressive 114-yard performance on Monday night, but late in the game aggravated his shoulder injury. He's expected to play again this week, but the Lions have given up just one RB TD and held each of the backs they've faced under 80 rushing yards. With the Cowboys demonstrating their willingness to mix in Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murry, using Jones against a good defense feels too risky.

WR Dez Bryant B

Bryant can't seem to get over the thigh injury he suffered Week 1. He didn't practice on Friday and may not be back to full speed until after the team's bye next week. Too risky to use here.

WR Kevin Ogletree
Laurent Robinson
B

This duo was targeted a dozen times on Monday night but came away with just six catches for 78 yards. They were on a completely different page of the playbook than Romo, and it would be foolish to count on them catching up.

TE Jason Witten S2

With Austin out and Bryant gimpy, Witten is Romo's security blanket. He fell short of a third straight 100-yard game last week, but he's being targeted 10-plus times a game and faces a Lions defense that just gave up a touchdown to Visanthe Shiancoe.

DT Cowboys S3 The Cowboys can bring pressure, and after seeing how the Vikings got in Matthew Stafford's grill last week you know they'll be going all out to do the same in Dallas.
 

Tennessee at Cleveland

Back to top
Tennessee
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Hasselbeck S3

Hass has been carrying the Tennessee offense while Chris Johnson finds his legs, but that task will be tougher against an underrated Cleveland secondary that's allowing just 206 passing yards per game.

RB Chris Johnson S2

Johnson has done absolutely nothing to warrant the big contract, but against a Cleveland defense that's allowed 139, 110, and 123 rushing yards to running backs that needs to change. Put it this way: if he doesn't, there's no need to buy low because it's not coming back for CJ any time soon.

WR Nate Washington
S3 Washington was solid as Kenny Britt's wingman, then stepped into the spotlight with 8-92-1 after Britt went down with a season-ending knee injury. The good news is he's now the focal point of the Titans' passing attack; the bad news, at least for this week, is that he draws underrated cover corner Joe Haden.
TE Jared Cook
B The Browns aren't giving up much in the passing game, particularly to secondary targets. They have, however, allowed a couple TE TDs. If only Cook wasn't losing snaps to Craig Stevens and was being targeted more than a couple times a game. The Titans have said Cook will play outside in three-WR sets, but until that actually happens it's tough to trust him with a fantasy start.
DT Titans B The Titans aren't generating much fantasy buzz defensively, and no team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing defenses than the Browns. That's a bad combo for Tennessee.
Cleveland
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Colt McCoy B

Say this for Colt: he's consistent, with 213, 211, and 210 yards this season and one or two TDs in each game. That sort of production from your quarterback position will consistently cost you fantasy games, so look elsewhere for help.

RB Peyton Hillis

S3

On his rushing alone Hillis is an okay start, but mix in his pass-catching ability and the fact that the Titans have allowed a RB receiving score in each of the last two games and you can plug him into your lineup with confidence.

RB Montario Hardesty

B

Hardesty's 14-67 against the Dolphins while Hillis nursed a sore throat has reportedly bought him some regular touches. Expect it to be something in the half-dozen range, not nearly enough to warrant fantasy consideration.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi
Greg Little
Josh Cribbs
B

The Titans have surrendered just one WR TD on the year and a whole bunch of mediocre yardage efforts--55, 53, 46, 45, 48--that don't much help anybody. There isn't a member of the Cleveland receiving corps you'd trust to buck those trends, so don't bother.

TE Ben Watson S3

Tennessee hasn't given up much to tight ends, but they haven't faced anyone targeted as much as the Browns use the position. While Evan Moore and Alex Smith are still involved, Watson is the go-to guy in this group; 10 targets last week and 21 of the team's 40 at the position confirm this. He's a PPR contributor with yardage and TD upside.

DT Browns B Unless you're getting points for Joe Haden's defended passes, there isn't much about this defense that lends itself to fantasy scoring.
 
Atlanta at Seattle Back to top
Atlanta
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan S2

Matty Ice threw for three TDs in Seattle last season, and this year he has either 300 yards or multiple touchdowns in every game. Mix in an underrated Seattle run defense that will shift more of the burden onto Ryan and you're set up for a solid fantasy contribution from Matt.

RB Michael Turner S3

Turner laid a dinosaur egg last week after opening the season with back-to-back 100-yard efforts. He'll find the going tough once again, as the Seahawks haven't allowed a back to top 70 yards against them this season and have kept the last three backfields to visit out of the end zone--including Turner as part of his 25 carry, 82-yard effort last season. He's not unusable, but he's not as bankable as he usually is.

WR Roddy White S2

WR1s have gotten theirs against Seattle (Mike Wallace 126 & 1, Larry Fitzgerald 64 & 1) this season, as Roddy did in Seattle last year when he turned 13 targets into 65 yards and a touchdown. White is coming off a 17-target week that netted him 140 yards, so he should be good to go for another solid fantasy outing.

WR Julio Jones S3

Jones tallied a career-high 115 yards last week; look for a reduction from that number but something still fantasy-friendly against a defense that's allowed the last two wingmen they've faced to top 50 yards and served up a TD to Michael Jenkins when the Falcons visited last year.

TE

Tony Gonzalez

S3

Seattle held Gonzo in check last year and hasn't allowed much to tight ends thus far this season. However, with three TDs in two games he's re-establishing his role in this offense and still warrants a lineup spot in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT Falcons S3 Any defense facing Tarvaris Jackson warrants fantasy consideration. Rinse and repeat.
Seattle
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tarvaris Jackson B Jackson has yet to top 200 yards this season and hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since Week 1. He used his feet to find the end zone last week and faces an Atlanta defense that ceded a QB rushing score in its last game, but he's a fringe fantasy start at best.
RB Marshawn Lynch S3

Lynch demonstrated a pulse last week with 73 yards, and he has a favorable matchup against a defense that has allowed feature backs to rush for 81 and 95 yards against them the last two weeks. Lynch scored in last year's meeting and is a decent enough threat this time around that he can be trusted with a fantasy start.

WR

Sidney Rice

S3 With eight catches for 109 yards in his first game as a Seahawk, it's clear Rice has Tarvaris Jackson's attention. Aside from being blown up by Jeremy Maclin (13-171-2) in Week 2 the Falcons' secondary hasn't been that bad; of course, Maclin was the only wideout they've faced to be targeted double-digit times, and that looks like it will be a common event for the Jackson-to-Rice combo. Don't let your expectations creep too high, but Rice is most definately a viable fantasy option.
WR

Mike Williams
Ben Obomanu

B Take away Maclin's monster game and the Falcons haven't allowed a WR TD or a wideout to top 60 yards against them this season. With Rice slated to get most of Jackson's attention, there won't be much left for BMW and Obomanu to fight over.
TE

Zach Miller

B Miller's 5-41 line wouldn't even be a good game; sadly, it's his season-to-date total. Aside from a fluke TE TD in the opener the Falcons haven't given up much at the position either, so keep Miller comfy on your fantasy bench.
DT Seahawks S3 Atlanta has served up eight turnovers and a defensive touchdown already this season. Perhaps the 12th man will come into play here?
 
NY Giants at Arizona Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S2

Manning has multiple touchdown tosses in each of his last two games and is averaging almost 250 passing yards per game. The Cards have surrendered multiple scoring strikes in two of three this season while serving up an average of 294 yards per game. At the confluence of those numbers lies a solid fantasy start.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw
S2

The Cards haven't allowed a running back TD yet, but they gave up 218 combo yards to the Redskins backfield and another 107 to Seattle backs last week. Bradshaw is the lead dog in this committee, with receiving yards and well as rushing, and the Cards are no threat to his every-week starter status.

RB Brandon Jacobs
S3

While he's seeing a lesser share of the workload than he did last season Jacobs is doing just as much with it. There should be enough left over after Bradshaw takes his cut for Jacobs to be a fantasy contributor in most leagues.

WR Hakeem Nicks
S1

There's no Nnamdi Asomugha or even an Asante Samuel to deal with this week; in fact, WR1s are averaging 7-116-1 against Arizona. Nicks had a game just like that earlier this year, and after getting in a full practice on Friday to allay lingering concerns about his sore knee he's in line for another one here.

WR Mario Manningham
Victor Cruz

S3

The Cards have allowed secondary receivers to top 60 yards twice, and New York's secondary receivers are infinitely more talented than the WR2s Arizona has faced to date. Manningham practiced in full on Friday, so he and Cruz might bite into each other's numbers. But both are threats enough to score and worthy of fantasy consideration.

TE Jake Ballard B

There is nothing about Ballard's five targets this season that suggest he's lineup-worthy.

DT Giants S3 Few if any teams bring the heat like the Giants; against a line as shaky as Arizona's that could lead to more than just big sacks.
Arizona
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kevin Kolb S2

Kolb has been north of 250 all three games this season, with multiple scoring strikes in two of three. The Giants have surrendered 300-yard games twice already, and this one has plenty of outcomes which would lead to Kolb approaching that mark again.

RB Chris Wells
B Beanie tapped out prior to last week's game due to a balky hamstring. He's expected to return this week, but now that the matchups aren't cupcakes--the Giants rank in the top 10 in fewest points allowed to running backs--it's too late to use him.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
S1

Jabar Gaffney scored on the Giants; so did Anthony Armstrong. Danario Alexander took them for 122 yards and a touchdown. So yeah, Fitzy's in line for a big day.

WR Early Doucet
Andre Roberts
B

Roberts and Doucet's yardage combined barely match Fitzgerald's. They're clearly secondary options, ones that can't be trusted with a fantasy start.

TE Jeff King
Todd Heap
B

Heap was targeted 10 times last week, but King has both of Arizona's TE scores. Just not enough consistency here to rely on for fantasy help.

DT Cardinals S3 Arizona's defense still has playmakers, and Eli is still prone to a mistake every now and again.

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