As if the injuries weren’t bad enough, now we get to add in bye weeks to the train wreck known as Fantasy Football in 2014. This week, you’re missing Arizona, St. Louis, Seattle, Denver, Cleveland and Cincinnati to pile on with the problems. Let’s dive in and see who can help your team out on a bumpy Week 4.
Running back Donald Brown of the San Diego Chargers looks like the best choice this week to help your fantasy team. Ryan Mathews is still down with an MCL injury, and now Danny Woodhead is done for the season with a broken leg. Brown was able to get 31 carries last week and five catches for the Chargers. Add to that a good matchup at home against Jacksonville, and Brown could easily run the ball 25 times this week. His production is going to be there, and if San Diego can get a lead, they should pound the ball with him all day against a sketchy Jacksonville defense.
Let’s go over the injuries of the week and see how they shake things up.
Woodhead’s done. Dennis Pitta (hip) is out for the season. Arian Foster’s hamstring left him week-to-week, and Alfred Blue didn’t look great against New York. Kyle Rudolph is out 4-6 weeks with hernia surgery and Matt Cassel is likely done for the year with multiple foot fractures. Carolina will be without running back Mike Tolbert (hairline fracture in leg) and Johnathan Stewart (sprained knee) against Baltimore, leaving their choices at slim to none at that position. T.Y. Hilton of the Colts (sprained ankle) isn’t expected to miss any time, but will be limited in practice this week. And those were the guys who got hurt. It says nothing about the ones who might be coming back from injuries suffered earlier. Yikes.
Eli Manning has a chance on Thursday to make something big of himself. In his last two games, he’s thrown for 511 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Now he gets to take on the Washington secondary that was torched by Philadelphia this past weekend. The Washington Football Team have also lost CB DeAngelo Hall for the season with a torn Achilles tendon so it could be even worse. Add in the fact it’s a Thursday game and this could be a huge night for Eli. Washington gave up 325 yards and three scores through the air last week. He looks to be a good replacement for brother Peyton who is on bye this week.
Teddy Bridgewater is also going to come up this week on the waiver wire. He’s going to get his shot to run the team with Cassel out of the way but it’s not wise to add him right now. He’ll be working without Adrian Peterson and Rudolph is banged up which leaves Rhett Ellison and MarQueis Gray as the top options at that spot. Neither is worth rostering except in the deepest and largest of leagues. Minnesota hosts Atlanta in a late game that also makes us pump the brakes on him. Yes, Atlanta has been ground up on the ground but they are coming off a 56-point outburst against Tampa Bay. The Falcons should get an early lead and force Bridgewater to throw a bunch. He’s got the arm to do it but the Atlanta secondary could be a tough test. Add to that his next game is a short week against Green Bay and it looks like a situation to pass on.
So what about Blake Bortles? He’s going to get the start against San Diego this week after Chad Henne was ineffective against Indianapolis. Jacksonville doesn’t have much of a rushing attack (yeah, we’re talking to you, Toby Gerhart) so Bortles should have plenty of chances to sling the pigskin about. Marqise Lee is banged up and Cecil Shorts III is a questionable option at best so Bortles is lacking in the weapons department. Upcoming games against Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Cleveland give some promise but it’s not enough to pick him up this week.
The Carolina running back situation is a mess if DeAngelo Williams doesn’t play, and is to be avoided. I’m not trusting a game in fantasy with the equivalent of a sixth-string running back.
Pittsburgh’s LeGarette Blount is worth a look as a bye-week fill-in. Both he and Le’Veon Bell had strong games on the ground against Carolina and the Steelers are starting to look like the ones we know and love. Running against Tampa isn’t that tough, and he should be used to get you through the six-team bye week this week.
Check your waiver wire for Matt Asiata of the Vikings. A new quarterback plus a missing tight end could lead to a sizable workload for Asiata this week, especially in PPR leagues where he has 84 yards and a touchdown on eight catches over the last two weeks.
We’re avoiding Alfred Blue this week since his value is directly contingent on Foster’s hamstrings. Lorenzo Taliaferro is risky to add this week. Justin Forsett has done well and Bernard Pierce could be back healthy this week. There just aren’t enough balls to go around to keep all three of them happy and Taliafero could be the odd man out. Check on Pierce’s status later today and see what he looks like for Week 4 against Carolina. Forsett, however, looks to be widely available.
Knile Davis of the Chiefs was last week’s pickup of the week but his value for this week is questionable at best. The Chiefs go to Foxboro on Monday night to take on the Patriots. Jamaal Charles gets an extra day to let his ankle heal and there are no other options if you roll with Davis (or Charles).
It’s a thin pool at running back this week and six teams on bye makes this difficult at best.
We’ll push James Jones of Oakland again this week. He didn’t score for the first time in three games but Rod Streater suffered a broken foot, so Jones will see more targets. The reason we’re not totally crazy about Jones this week is that the Raiders take on Miami… in London. It’s a super-tough trip when you’re going seven time zones east for a week.
Brandin Cooks of the Saints looked good again last week with 74 yards on eight catches and 10 targets last week. The Saints take on the Rams and they were just ripped apart through the air by Dallas. Check your wire and see if Cooks is there to help out.
All Kelvin Benjamin of the Panthers does is use his size to make solid catches and post nice numbers. He went for 8-115-1 against Pittsburgh Sunday night and should matchup well against the Baltimore secondary. He can produce well whether it’s Cam Newton or Derek Anderson under center for Carolina.
This position has become a total disaster. Take out Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron and Jared Cook are all on bye. Pitta’s done for the year. Jordan Reed is still out. Yeah, this has become tough but we’ll help you through it.
Niles Paul of Washington had 68 yards on six catches while Reed was shelved. He has a good connection with Kirk Cousins and would make a nice fill-in against the Giants. Owen Daniels should get consideration in Baltimore for a back-up tight end role. We know how Joe Flacco likes throwing to the tight end and now it’s Daniels’ time to shine.
Larry Donnell of the Giants has put it together consistently with 18 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown in three weeks. Washington is banged up in the secondary and Donnell could have another solid day, especially in PPR.
Heath Miller of Pittsburgh is widely available but look for a 4-40-0 line from him in Week 4. A few points beats no points but you shouldn’t stoop that low.
After that, it becomes a total crap shoot and the best advice there is to see if something happens during the week to change opinions on players.
Alex Henery has signed with Detroit, ending the Nate Freese experiment after too many missed kicks. Henery was the most accurate kicker in the history of college football while at Nebraska, and should be owned in all formats.
Graham Gano of Carolina has a positive matchup with Baltimore. Gano hit three field goals in the first half against the Steelers and should add positive points. Other good options include Shaun Suisham of the Steelers, Cody Parkey of Philadelphia and Robbie Gould of the Bears.
(They’re kickers, we’re not going terribly in depth here)
Defense & Special Teams
Final Thought: This is another week where it will pay to play reverse waivers. Someone will make a mistake and inevitably drop someone of value with six teams off. Check your waiver wire during the day Wednesday and see if someone made a huge error. I like to call it having one’s brains explode in fantasy football. Two weeks ago, I picked up Julio Jones when someone’s brain exploded. You never know what might be dropped with so many teams off.
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewNordmeier and fire up your questions.