Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings: Put up or shut up

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We’re three weeks into the fantasy football season and the surprises just keep on coming. Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford are top-10 fantasy quarterbacks. Coe College alum Fred Jackson is the third best fantasy back. And how about Scott Chandler, who had one catch before this year, picking up four scores in the first three weeks. But much like business, it’s not what you did last week; it’s what are you going to do for me now. So let’s look into the crystal ball and find this weeks surprise, shall we?

Quarterbacks

Could Impress: Jason Campbell. New England is good on offense, but the defense has given up huge yardage to the likes of Buffalo and Miami. Campbell has some weapons back healthy and has shown great control of the offense. The Patriots will load up the box against Run DMC and Michael Bush, leaving some open passing lanes for Campbell.

Could Disappoint: Matt Ryan. Matty Ice hasn’t exactly lit up fantasy scoreboards, turning the ball over seven times compared to four touchdowns. Despite Seattle’s record, the team has the 3rd best pass defense in the league. If the Falcons grab the early lead, Ryan might not have to air it out at all in the second half.

Keep an eye on: Matt Hasselbeck. Despite the loss of Kenny Britt, Hasselbeck and the Titans passing game are clicking. He’s averaging more than 300 yards a game, and has five great fantasy matchups the next five weeks.

Injury Replacement: Jay Cutler. The Panthers defense has gotten to the quarterback just five times this season, and Cutler has shown he can be effective when given time. The Bears have some tough fantasy matchups coming up, but for this week at least, feel comfortable with Cutler in your lineup.

 

QB Rankings

1. Tom Brady, NE (@ Oakland)

2. Aaron Rodgers, GB (vs. Denver)

3. Drew Brees, NO (@ Jacksonville)

4. Philip Rivers, SD (vs. Miami)

5. Matthew Stafford, DET (@ Dallas)

6. Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (@ Cincinnati)

7. Michael Vick, PHI (vs. San Francisco)

8. Tony Romo, DAL (vs. Detroit)

9. Matt Schaub, HOU (vs. Pittsburgh)

10. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (@ Houston)

11. Jay Cutler, CHI (vs. Carolina)

12. Matt Ryan, ATL (@ Seattle)

13. Eli Manning, NYG (@ Arizona)

14. Joe Flacco, BAL (vs. New York Jets)

15. Jason Campbell, OAK (vs. New England)

16. Rex Grossman, WAS (@ St. Louis)

17. Matt Hasselbeck, TEN (@ Cleveland)

18. Josh Freeman, TB (vs. Indianapolis)

19. Cam Newton, CAR (@ Chicago)

20. Kevin Kolb, ARI (vs. New York Giants)

21. Mark Sanchez, NYJ (@ Baltimore)

22. Kyle Orton, DEN (@ Green Bay)

23. Sam Bradford, STL (vs. Washington)

24. Chad Henne, MIA (@ San Diego)

25. Donovan McNabb, MIN (@ Kansas City)

 

Ryan Mathews is in for another big week

 

Running Backs

Could Impress: Ryan Mathews. Fantasy owners have to love the 21 carries Mathews got against the Chiefs (not to mention the two touchdowns), and he has a couple more easy matchups coming up. The timeshare with Matt Tolbert seems to be swinging one way, with Tolbert getting just four carries last week. Meaning, the starting job (and fantasy points) is Mathews to lose.

Could Disappoint: Frank Gore. It’s not that the 49ers aren’t giving him the rock (he’s averaging 20 carries a game); it’s that Gore is simply not producing. His 2.5 yards a carry are well below the ideal average and he’s got a gimpy ankle. This might be the week to relegate Gore to your bench.

Keep an eye on: Daniel Thomas. Actually, don’t just keep an eye on Thomas, find a way to get him on your team. He’s averaged 20 carries and 100 yards in his last two games, and has clearly replaced Reggie Bush as the top guy. Not only that, he’s got great fantasy matchups in fantasy playoff weeks (15 & 16). Trade for him now before his stock is too high.

Injury Replacement: Kendall Hunter. This goes hand-in-hand with the Gore argument above, but Philadelphia is actually a good matchup for the 49ers backfield. Gore hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday’s game, but he also hasn’t been ruled in. If Gore can’t go, Hunter is a safe bet to see the load of the action.

 

RB Rankings

1. Adrian Peterson, MIN (@ Kansas City)

2. Darren McFadden, OAK (vs. New England)

3. Ray Rice, BAL (vs. New York Jets)

4. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX (vs. New Orleans)

5. Michael Turner, AL (@ Seattle)

6. LeSean McCoy, PHI (vs. San Francisco)

7. Matt Forte, CHI (vs. Carolina)

8. Fred Jackson, BUF (@ Cincinnati)

9. Rashard Mendenhall, PIT (@ Houston)

10. Ryan Mathews, SD (vs. Miami)

11. Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG (@ Arizona)

12. Frank Gore, SF (@ Philadelphia)

13. Chris Johnson, TEN (@ Cleveland)

14. Tim Hightower, WAS (@ St. Louis)

15. Peyton Hillis, CLE (vs. Tennessee)

16. Jahvid Best, DET (@ Dallas)

17. LeGarrette Blount, TB (vs. Indianapolis)

18. Steven Jackson, STL (vs. Washington)

19. Felix Jones, DAL (vs. Detroit)

20. Daniel Thomas, MIA (@ San Diego)

21. Arian Foster, HOU (vs. Pittsburgh)

22. Beanie Wells, AZ (vs. New York Giants)

23. Joseph Addai, IND (@ Tampa Bay)

24. James Starks, GB (vs. Denver)

25. Ben Tate, HOU (vs. Pittsburgh)

26. Cedric Benson, CIN (vs. Buffalo)

27. Shonn Greene, NYJ (@ Baltimore)

28. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE (@ Oakland)

29. Darren Sproles, NO (@ Jacksonville)

30. Willis McGahee, DEN (@ Green Bay)

31. Mark Ingram, NO (@ Jacksonville)

32. Jonathan Stewart, CAR (@ Chicago)

33. Brandon Jacobs, NYG (@ Arizona)

34. Mike Tolbert, SD (vs. Miami)

35. Dexter McCluster, KC (vs. Minnesota)

36. Thomas Jones, KC (vs. Minnesota)

37. Marshawn Lynch, SEA (vs. Atlanta)

38. LaDainian Tomlinson, NYJ (@ Baltimore)

39. DeAngelo Williams, CAR (@ Chicago)

40. Michael Bush, OAK (vs. New England)

41. Danny Woodhead, NE (@ Oakland)

42. Montario Hardesty, CLE (vs. Tennessee)

43. Pierre Thomas, NO (@ Jacksonville)

44. Roy Helu, WAS (@ St. Louis)

45. Kendall Hunter, SF (@ Philadelphia)

46. Stevan Ridley, NE (@ Oakland)

47. Reggie Bush, MIA (@ San Diego)

48. Knowshon Moreno, DEN (@ Green Bay)

49. Cadillac Williams, STL (vs. Washington)

50. C.J. Spiller, BUF (@ Cincinnati)

 

 

Welker is a top-5 WR this week

Wide Receivers

Could Impress: Nate Washington. Kenny Britt’s season-ending injury opens the door for Washington to assume to top spot in the passing game. After Britt went out against Denver, Washington stepped up with 8 catches for 92 yards and a score. He’s still available in a number of leagues, but won’t be for long.

Could Disappoint: Brandon Lloyd. He’s still hobbled by a groin injury, which is a problem for a guy who runs a lot of fly routes. Eric Decker has asserted himself as a solid underneath option for the Broncos, leading the team with 12 targets last week. Throw in a tough opponent (Green Bay), and you might want to consider starting someone else.

Keep an eye on: Denarius Moore. Moore stepped up when it seemed like every other Oakland receiver was out inured. Moore has scored in the last two games and he’s earned his time on the playing field. With three good fantasy matchups in the next four weeks, you should add Moore now and monitor his targets once the remaining Raiders receivers rejoin the roster.

Injury Replacement: Jabar Gaffney. If you’re saddled with an injured stud (see: Kenny Britt, Miles Austin), Gaffney is a decent play. There’s nothing sexy about his numbers, but he will get you 5 catches for 65 yards and possibly a score. There has to be something said for consistency.

 

WR Rankings

1. Calvin Johnson, DET (@ Dallas)

2. Andre Johnson, HOU (vs. Pittsburgh)

3. Wes Welker, NE (@ Oakland)

4. Larry Fitzgerald, AZ (vs. New York Giants)

5. Mike Wallace, PIT (@ Houston)

6. Greg Jennings, GB (vs. Denver)

7. Roddy White, ATL (@ Seattle)

8. Hakeem Nicks, NYG (@ Arizona)

9. Vincent Jackson, SD (vs. Miami)

10. DeSean Jackson, PHI (vs. San Francisco)

11. Stevie Johnson, BUF (@ Cincinnati)

12. Dwayne Bowe, KC (vs. Minnesota)

13. Brandon Marshall, MIA (@ San Diego)

14. Dez Bryant, DAL (vs. Detroit)

15. Santana Moss, WAS (@ St. Louis)

16. Steve Smith, CAR (@ Chicago)

17. Reggie Wayne, IND (@ Tampa Bay)

18. Santonio Holmes, NYJ (@ Baltimore)

19. Percy Harvin, MIN (@ Kansas City)

20. Mike Williams, TB (vs. Indianapolis)

21. Robert Meachem, NO (@ Jacksonville)

22. Brandon Lloyd, DEN (@ Green Bay)

23. Mario Manningham, NYG (@ Arizona)

24. Nate Washington, TEN (@ Cleveland)

25. Jeremy Maclin, PHI (vs. San Francisco)

26. Sidney Rice, SEA (vs. Atlanta)

27. A.J. Green, CIN (vs. Buffalo)

28. Anquan Boldin, BAL (vs. New York Jets)

29. Denarius Moore, Oak (vs. New England)

30. Mike Thomas, JAX (vs. New Orleans)

31. Jordy Nelson, GB (vs. Denver)

32. Eric Decker, DEN (@ Green Bay)

33. Julio Jones, ATL (@ Seattle)

34. Deion Branch, NE (@ Oakland)

35. Lance Moore, NO (@ Jacksonville)

36. David Nelson, BUF (@ Cincinnati)

37. Devery Henderson, NO (@ Jacksonville)

38. Jacoby Ford, OAK (vs. New England)

39. Nate Burleson, DET (@ Dallas)

40. Johnny Knox, CHI (vs. Carolina)

41. Jabar Gaffney, WAS (@ St. Louis)

42. Plaxico Burress, NYJ (@ Baltimore)

43. Davone Bess, MIA (@ San Diego)

44. Dexter McCluster, KC (vs. Minnesota)

45. Malcom Floyd, SD (vs. Miami)

46. Torrey Smith, BAL (vs. New York Jets)

47. Mike Sims-Walker, STL (vs. Washington)

48. Pierre Garcon, IND (@ Tampa Bay)

49. Brandon Gibson, STL (vs. Washington)

50. Devin Hester, CHI (vs. Carolina)

 

Finley will build on last week's big game

Tight Ends

Could Impress: Brandon Pettigrew. We all know the likes of Finley and Gronkowski will impress, but Pettigrew is a great play this week. The Cowboys are in the bottom half of the league at defending tight ends, and Pettigrew should be used to stretch the field for the vertical passing game. He’ll be a matchup play most of the year, but you have to like this matchup.

Could Disappoint: Antonio Gates. The train of disappointment will have one more stop this week, with Gates listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report. The matchup with Miami is a good one, but so was the matchup with Kansas City (where he didn’t have a single catch).

Keep an eye on: Jared Cook. He has the physical tools to stretch the field and do some of Kenny Britt’s production. Still, he only saw the ball twice after Britt went out last week. It makes sense to look the athletic tight end’s way, but until the Titans actually do, just keep an eye on Cook.

Injury Replacement: Jermaine Gresham. Buffalo’s defense has been torched by tight ends this year, and Gresham is one of the few weapons in the Bengals offense. If you need a spot start, Gresham is your guy.

 

TE Rankings

1. Jermichael Finley, GB (vs. Denver)

2. Rob Gronkowski, NE (@ Oakland)

3. Jason Witten, DAL (vs. Detroit)

4. Jimmy Graham, NO (@ Jacksonville)

5. Vernon Davis, SF (@ Philadelphia)

6. Dustin Keller, NYJ (@ Baltimore)

7. Tony Gonzalez, ATL (@ Seattle)

8. Brandon Pettigrew, DET (@ Dallas)

9. Owen Daniels, HOU (vs. Pittsburgh)

10. Scott Chandler, BUF (@ Cincinnati)

11. Greg Olsen, CAR (@ Chicago)

12. Kellen Winslow, TB (vs. Indianapolis)

13. Fred Davis, WAS (@ St. Louis)

14. Dallas Clark, IND (@ Tampa Bay)

15. Marcedes Lewis, JAX (vs. New Orleans)

16. Antonio Gates, SD (vs. Miami)

17. Benjamin Watson, CLE (vs. Tennessee)

18. Jared Cook, TEN (@ Cleveland)

19. Jermaine Gresham, CIN (vs. Buffalo)

20. Ed Dickson, BAL (vs. New York Jets)

21. Todd Heap, AZ (vs. New York Giants)

22. Chris Cooley, WAS (@ St. Louis)

23. Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN (@ Kansas City)

24. Jeremy Shockey, CAR (@ Chicago)

25. Kellen Davis, CHI (vs. Carolina)

 

Houston's defense is a good play

Defense/Special Teams

Could Impress: Houston. The Steelers are struggling mightily on the line and are first in the AFC in takeaways. The Texans defense is better under Wade Phillips, and the defensive coordinator will dial up the blitz early and often against Big Ben.

Could Disappoint: New England. We saw them get dashed by the Bills offense, and now the Raiders hot offense comes to town. Not many teams have had success slowing down Darren McFadden, and the Patriots are not as good as the Jets. This could be a rough week.

Keep an eye on: Tampa Bay. The Colts will likely trot out Curtis Painter to take on the Bucs on Monday night. There is certainly a chance for a few takeaways.

 

D/ST Rankings

1. Green Bay Packers (vs. Denver)

2. Baltimore Ravens (vs. New York Jets)

3. Atlanta Falcons (@ Seattle)

4. Chicago Bears (vs. Carolina)

5. Detroit Lions (@ Dallas)

6. Philadelphia Eagles (vs. San Francisco)

7. Washington Redskins (@ St. Louis)

8. New York Jets (@ Baltimore)

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Houston)

10. New York Giants (@ Arizona)

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Indianapolis)

12. New Orleans Saints (@ Jacksonville)

13. Houston Texans (vs. Pittsburgh)

14. Tennessee Titans (@ Cleveland)

15. San Diego Chargers (vs. Miami)

16. Dallas Cowboys (vs. Detroit)

17. San Francisco 49ers (@ Philadelphia)

18. Buffalo Bills (@ Cincinnati)

19. Arizona Cardinals (vs. New York Giants)

20. Minnesota Vikings (@ Kansas City)

21. New England Patriots (@ Oakland)

22. Carolina Panthers (@ Chicago)

23. Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Minnesota)

24. Seattle Seahawks (vs. Atlanta)

25. Cleveland Browns (vs. Tennessee)

 

Stephen Kelley is a contributor at The Sports Bank where he covers Fantasy Sports and Pro Drafts. You can follow him on Twitter @stephen_tsb.

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