Week 4 starts the bye weeks and now we get to find out how prepared Fantasy owners are with depth on their roster. With injuries taking a toll already through three games, you could see a lot of interesting names being started this week.
For example, did you ever expect to see Tyrod Taylor and Derek Carr as must-start quarterbacks in Week 4? That's a likely scenario with Tom Brady and Marcus Mariota on a bye and Ben Roethlisberger (knee), Tony Romo (broken clavicle) and potentially Drew Brees (shoulder) and Jay Cutler (hamstring) out due to injury.
Karlos Williams in Buffalo and Thomas Rawls in Seattle are two rookies who could be thrust into prominent roles because LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) could sit this week. And Chris Johnson, who just turned 30, is still worth starting for the Cardinals even though he appeared washed up last year with the Jets.
Some aging receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith are still going strong, while others like Andre Johnson and Roddy White aren't even getting targets. And we'll find out if Calvin Johnson can rebound from a slow start, but he has a tough matchup in Week 4 at Seattle.
Rob Gronkowski, the most valuable player in Fantasy, is also out this week, and you can't replace his production. But options like Charles Clay, Coby Fleener and Owen Daniels are going to be started to fill a void at tight end.
Last week, we had some huge performances out of nowhere from Devonta Freeman, Joseph Randle, Keenan Allen and Smith. Maybe some of these other replacement options will have the chance for some big games in Week 4. We all know how important it is to have depth on your roster, and now those bench options need to deliver for you to win.
Start of the Week: Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
Andy Dalton heads into Week 4 as the No. 3 Fantasy quarterback in standard leagues. He only trails Aaron Rodgers and Brady, and we never expected him to play at this level in 2015.
Let's just hope he stays hot for at least one more week against the Chiefs.
There is a need for a quarterback in every league due to Brady and Mariota on a bye and injuries to Roethlisberger, Romo, Brees and Cutler. Since Dalton was likely drafted as a backup or was on waivers, he's someone you should either add or trade for with the chance to start for the foreseeable future, especially in Week 4.
He's scored at least 22 Fantasy points in all three starts this season with multiple touchdowns in each outing, including 36 Fantasy points in Week 3 at Baltimore. Going back to last year, Dalton now has five games in a row with multiple touchdowns in the regular season, which is the longest streak of his career.
The Chiefs have struggled in pass defense the past two games against Peyton Manning and Rodgers with eight touchdowns allowed and one interception, and that duo averaged 33 Fantasy points over that span. Kansas City is a mess in the secondary, and their pass rush has been non-existent with just four sacks in the past two weeks.
Dalton is connecting at a high level with A.J. Green, and he's getting above average production from Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones. Everything is clicking right now for Dalton, and we're buying in with him as a must-start Fantasy quarterback in all leagues.
Of course, every time we tend to believe in Dalton he lets us down, especially in the playoffs and in prime-time games. But this is a regular-season contest at 1 p.m. ET, so it should be all systems go for Dalton to have another big outing in what has been a breakout season so far.
Carson Palmer (vs. STL): I was expecting to get burned by Palmer last week as the Start of the Week with how the game unfolded against the 49ers. The Cardinals defense was doing all the scoring, and I thought Palmer's chances would be limited. He had his worst game of the season (cue the Start of the Week jinx jokes), but that shows how good he's been since he still scored 22 Fantasy points in a standard league. Now he faces a Rams defense that brings back a bad memory for him. The last time he faced the Rams at home was the game he suffered a torn ACL in Week 10 last season. It's the last time Palmer failed to reach 20 Fantasy points, but we expect him to be fine this week. Even though St. Louis has yet to allow a quarterback to score multiple touchdowns and just knocked out Roethlisberger in Week 3, we're still starting Palmer with confidence. He'll be the first quarterback to burn the Rams this season.
Cam Newton (at TB): If Newton continues to play like he has the past two weeks then I'm going to look back on my bust call of Newton with heavy regret. He doesn't look like he's missed Kelvin Benjamin (torn ACL) at all, and he's even getting good production from Ted Ginn. He's scored 63 Fantasy points the past two games against Houston and New Orleans, and he's dominating with his legs with 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns over that span. He also passed for 315 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints and should have the chance for similar success against the Buccaneers, who were beat up by Mariota in Week 1 for four touchdowns but have allowed just two passing touchdowns since against New Orleans and Houston. Newton missed both games against Tampa Bay in 2014 because of injury, but he's scored at least 20 Fantasy points in four of his past five meetings with the Bucs, including three games with at least three touchdowns over that span.
Russell Wilson (vs. DET): Wilson has been one of the bigger Fantasy disappointments this season, but his struggles haven't been as overblown as some of his peers. He only has one game with more than 20 Fantasy points, which was Week 2 at Green Bay, and he let many owners down in Week 3 with just 17 Fantasy points in Seattle's home rout of Chicago. While game flow was certainly part of Wilson not having a big outing in the 26-0 lopsided victory, he still attempted 30 passes for the third game in a row. He had only one three-game stretch with at least 30 passes in 2014, so clearly he's on pace for a career-high in pass attempts. Now, he just has to deliver, and this is a good week for that to happen against the Lions on Monday night. Detroit has allowed two quarterbacks to throw for at least 300 yards and multiple touchdowns with Philip Rivers in Week 1 and Peyton Manning in Week 3. We doubt Wilson gets to 300 passing yards, but he should get multiple touchdowns and score 20 Fantasy points with the help of his legs. At some point he's going to start posting solid stat lines, and this is a good week for that to happen at home.
Tyrod Taylor (vs. NYG): The bubble could definitely burst at any moment, and Taylor could turn back into a pumpkin. But right now he's one of the darlings of the Fantasy world with his performance through three games, including consecutive outings of at least 30 Fantasy points. The impressive thing with Taylor is he's shown off his game in three different performances so far this year. He had 17 Fantasy points as a game manager in Week 1 against Indianapolis, 31 Fantasy points in a comeback effort against New England and then he dominated Miami in Week 3 with 30 Fantasy points while playing with the lead. This week, he faces a Giants defense that has allowed three quarterbacks in a row to pass for at least 316 yards. Only Romo in Week 1 had multiple touchdowns against the Giants, but Taylor should find success at home. He could be without Sammy Watkins (calf), which will hurt, but Taylor's floor is likely what he did in Week 1, with the chance to be so much better if the Bills turn him loose.
Derek Carr (at CHI): It's too bad Carr hurt his hand in Week 1 against the Bengals and missed a good portion of the game because he might be going for three games in a row with at least 20 Fantasy points. He's been on fire the past two weeks with 32 Fantasy points against Baltimore in Week 2 and 24 Fantasy points at Cleveland in Week 3. He'll look to keep it rolling in Week 4 at Chicago, and playing in consecutive road games will be tough, even with a mediocre opponent. Carr is doing a nice job of maximizing the talent around him, and he has a wonderful new weapon in Amari Cooper, who has been fantastic in the past two games. The Bears have allowed at least three touchdowns to two opposing quarterbacks in Rodgers in Week 1 and Palmer in Week 2, both in Chicago. Carr isn't at that level yet, but he's playing well the past two weeks and is worth buying into, even on the road.
Colin Kaepernick (vs. GB): Hard to trust, but history vs. GB is great.
Joe Flacco (at PIT): He scored 22 Fantasy points in his last trip to PIT.
Philip Rivers (vs. CLE): Every QB has thrown multiple touchdowns vs. CLE.
Matthew Stafford (at SEA): It's been a rough start to the season for Stafford with two road matchups at San Diego and Minnesota followed by a home game with a tough defense in Denver. Things will get better, but this isn't the week to trust him at Seattle. He has five touchdowns and five interceptions on the season, and he's not connecting with Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate for any big plays. The entire offense for the Lions looks out of sync, and the Seahawks will magnify any mistakes at home in prime time. Seattle has allowed just three passing touchdowns on the season, but the Seahawks haven't allowed a quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns against them at home in five games in a row going back to last year.
Michael Vick (vs. BAL): I'll buy into Vick being serviceable with Roethlisberger out, and hopefully he takes advantage of his weapons with Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell. This also is a good matchup statistically since the Ravens have been abused by Carr and Dalton the past two games for a combined 734 passing yards, seven total touchdowns and two interceptions. But I'm not ready to trust Vick outside of two-quarterback leagues against the Ravens, who are desperate for a win after an 0-3 start. The Steelers should lean on Bell on Thursday with the short week to get Vick up to speed as the starter. He could be a starter for Fantasy owners desperate to replace Roethlisberger, but I'd take a wait and see approach this week if you can.
Ryan Tannehill (vs. NYJ): The Jets lost a game many expected them to win in Week 3 against the Eagles at home, but it wasn't because of their pass defense. The Jets so far have been exceptional against opposing quarterbacks with 599 passing yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions against Cleveland, Indianapolis and Philadelphia. Forget about the Browns in Week 1, but the Jets have shut down Andrew Luck and Sam Bradford for a combined 20 Fantasy points the past two weeks. Tannehill has struggled so far this season with one game above 20 Fantasy points, and he has four touchdowns and three interceptions in his past two outings. He also has two touchdowns and four interceptions in his past three games against the Jets. The Dolphins look like a mess right now, and even a trip to London isn't expected to solve their problems.
Teddy Bridgewater (at DEN): Bridgewater has not been a good Fantasy quarterback so far this season. He scored 20 Fantasy points in Week 2 against the Lions, but he's combined for 10 points in his other two outings against the 49ers and Chargers. He's not connecting with Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson, and Adrian Peterson has carried this offense. Bridgewater attempted 32 passes in Week 1, but he's been under 25 attempts in his other two outings, so we'll see what he's capable of when he's asked to throw more, which could happen this week. But the Broncos have allowed the fewest Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season with Flacco, Alex Smith and Stafford combining for 15 points over three games. It's doubtful Bridgewater goes into Denver and does much against this Broncos defense, and he's an easy quarterback to avoid even in two-quarterback leagues this week.
Alex Smith (at CIN): The Bengals gave up 24 Fantasy points against Flacco last week, and they have allowed two passing touchdowns in every game this season to the Raiders, Chargers and Ravens. But Rivers was held to 17 Fantasy points, and that's likely where Smith will finish this week. He does have at least 20 Fantasy points in two of three games this season, but he has just four passing touchdowns on the season and has three interceptions in his past two outings. Playing in consecutive road games is tough, and the Bengals should be able to pressure Smith after not getting any sacks in Week 3. Smith is only worth using in two-quarterback leagues this week.
Bust alert: Eli Manning (at BUF): The Bills defense has played well this season, but opposing quarterbacks have still had quality production against them. Tannehill, despite three interceptions, still managed 19 Fantasy points in Week 3. And Luck had 21 Fantasy points in Week 1 despite two interceptions. Brady abused this defense for 34 Fantasy points in Week 2, and here comes Manning after consecutive games with at least 20 Fantasy points against the Falcons and Redskins. But both of those games were at home, and Manning hasn't exactly been great on the road going back to last season. He only had three games with multiple touchdowns on the road last year and just one in his past five outings, including Week 1 at Dallas when he passed for 193 yards and no touchdowns. Odell Beckham should get his usual production, but if Manning is held to one touchdown then he could let you down as a starting option. He's not a slam-dunk starter in the majority of single-quarterback leagues this week.
Jeremy Hill (vs. KC): Hill has not played well the past two games, and this is a tough matchup against the Chiefs, but I'm still counting on him this week. The Chiefs have yet to allow a touchdown to a running back or even one to gain 50 yards on the ground, including matchups with C.J. Anderson and Eddie Lacy. But this defense should be tired after consecutive road games, including chasing around the Packers following a short week with the Monday night game. Hill, who has one Fantasy point combined the past two games, still has support from coach Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, and I anticipate him getting a significant workload, especially if the Bengals are playing with a lead. Don't give up on Hill just yet.
Melvin Gordon (vs. CLE): The Browns run defense continues to be a mess after Latavius Murray ran through them in Week 3 for 139 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. This is now six games in a row going back to last season where a running back reached double digits in Fantasy points against Cleveland, and Gordon should have the best game of his brief rookie year this week. He has yet to score a touchdown, and he continues to lose playing time to Danny Woodhead, who is also worth starting this week. But the Chargers should be able to establish the run against the Browns, and Gordon could help close out the game in the fourth quarter if San Diego is playing with a lead as expected. I'm excited about Gordon's outlook this week.
Karlos Williams (vs. NYG): It appears like McCoy will be out this week, which should allow Williams to get a hefty workload. And so far, he's looked good with limited touches. He's scored a touchdown in each of his first three NFL games, and he broke out with 12 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 at Miami. The Giants have only allowed Randle in Week 1 to gain more than 40 rushing yards, but four running backs have scored at least nine Fantasy points with Randle, Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Chris Thompson. Williams should get plenty of work, and we expect him to deliver in a big way if McCoy sits as expected. Keep an eye on McCoy's status Sunday, but plan on Williams being a starter in the majority of leagues this week.
Frank Gore (vs. JAC): We'll count on Gore to deliver for the second week in a row, and hopefully Fantasy owners will buy in since his start percentage on CBS Sports is just about 70 percent as of Wednesday. He needs to be started across the board based on his matchup with the Jaguars and what he did in Week 3 at Tennessee. Gore had the breakout game we needed to see with 14 carries for 86 yards and two touchdowns, and this should be a sign of things to come. He's facing a Jaguars defense that just allowed four total touchdowns to Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount, and the Colts have had a running back score at least 10 Fantasy points against Jacksonville in four consecutive games. Gore is getting his first taste of this AFC South matchup, and we expect him to continue to punish the Jaguars this week.
Devonta Freeman (vs. HOU): It's easy to look at what Freeman did in Week 3 at Dallas and feel like you're chasing points. After all, the second-year running back just had a career game with 30 carries for 141 yards and three touchdowns and five catches for 52 yards. But if Tevin Coleman (ribs) is out again then Freeman will continue to get a heavy workload, and he could definitely deliver a quality stat line, even with a tough matchup against the Texans. Houston has allowed two receiving touchdowns to running backs with Jamaal Charles and Charles Sims, but no running back has gained more than 62 yards or scored on the ground, including matchups with Charles, Jonathan Stewart and Doug Martin. But Freeman showed his floor with Coleman out in Week 2 at the Giants when he had 12 carries for 25 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 34 yards. He's going to get plenty of work, and he should again deliver at home against Houston.
Chris Ivory (at MIA): If healthy he should have a big game in London.
Jonathan Stewart (at TB): Here's hoping he delivers this week on a good matchup.
Thomas Rawls (vs. DET): He'd be a starter in all leagues if Lynch is out.
Chris Johnson (vs. STL): He'll remain the starter even with Ellington back.
Lance Dunbar (at NO): Already has two games with eight catches and 70 yards.
Doug Martin (vs. CAR): Martin is starting to lose playing time to Sims, who actually played 51 percent of the snaps in Week 3 at Houston compared to 49 percent for Martin. Sims is a better fit in the passing game when the Buccaneers are chasing points, and that could be the case this week if the Panthers offense performs as expected. Martin has yet to score a touchdown this year, and he's combined for just 16 Fantasy points through three games. Carolina just allowed Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson to score rushing touchdowns in Week 3, but Martin hasn't scored a touchdown in his past nine games. I'd only use Martin as a flex option in deeper leagues this week.
Lamar Miller (vs. NYJ): If there was a positive for Miller last week in the rout against the Bills it was that he averaged 5.3 yards per carry on seven attempts and caught three passes for 27 yards. His injured ankle coming into the game didn't appear to be an issue, but he shared playing time with Jonas Gray and Damien Williams. Now, Miller still played on 58 percent of the snaps, but Gray and Williams could take him off the field more than expected, which is a problem. He also faces a tough Jets defense that prior to last week against the Eagles with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles scoring touchdowns was stout against the run against Cleveland and Indianapolis. Miller crushed the Jets last year with 12 Fantasy points in one outing and a whopping 23 points in another, but his offensive line has issues now and he's not playing like we expected. Hopefully he'll rebound after the bye in Week 5, but I'd only use Miller as a flex in this matchup.
Alfred Blue (at ATL): This is an interesting spot for Blue and the Falcons because he's coming off a tremendous game against the Buccaneers with 31 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown in Week 3, and Atlanta just gave up three rushing touchdowns to Randle in Dallas. Let's assume Arian Foster (groin) is out again this week, but Blue will only be useful if the Texans are playing with a lead, which we doubt will happen on the road at Atlanta. And the Falcons don't typically struggle with runners between the tackles, but it's been pass-catching backs like Sproles, Shane Vereen and Dunbar who have hurt them this season. If Foster is out then I like Grimes as the best running back for the Texans this week since he is the best pass-catcher out of the backfield for Houston right now.
Alfred Morris (vs. PHI): Coach Jay Gruden has said Morris is still the No. 1 running back for the Redskins, and Matt Jones' fumble at the goal line last week against the Giants certainly helps his cause. But Morris played just 16 percent of the snaps in Week 3 and lost playing time to Jones and Chris Thompson, who will play a big role if the Redskins are chasing points. Morris scored against the Eagles at home last year on 21 carries for 83 yards, but Philadelphia has yet to allow a running back to score a touchdown this season, including matchups with Atlanta, Dallas and the Jets (minus Ivory). We'll find out if Gruden is true to his word that Morris "should be the lead dog," but even if he is I'd still be hesitant to trust him in the majority of leagues.
Ameer Abdullah (at SEA): At some point the Lions are going to let Abdullah get a heavy workload, and the Fantasy world will be better for it. Right now, however, his season high for touches is 11 in Week 1. He does have two touchdowns on the season, but the Lions need to keep Joique Bell on the bench and give Abdullah more playing time than Theo Riddick. We'll see what happens this week, but the matchup at Seattle suggests benching Abdullah makes sense in the majority of leagues. The Seahawks have yet to allow a running back to score a touchdown, and Matt Forte was held without a catch last week on three targets, which is a shock. We hope Abdullah can start to play a bigger role in the offense, but keep him reserved in most leagues this week.
Bust alert: Todd Gurley (at ARI): We're going to see the best of Gurley as the season moves on, and it was good to get him on the field in Week 3 against the Steelers. But he had just six carries for 9 yards and one catch for 5 yards on 28 percent of the snaps. The Rams should give him more work this week now that the rust is likely off from his long layoff following last year's torn ACL, but the Cardinals are a tough matchup with only one touchdown to an opposing running back, which was Jeremy Langford in Week 2 on the road. Gurley has tough matchups this week and Week 5 at Green Bay before a bye in Week 6, but then he faces the Browns and 49ers coming off the break. That's when his Fantasy value should skyrocket.
Amari Cooper (at CHI): Cooper has been exceptional the past two games, and he's a big reason why Carr has played at a high level against the Ravens and Browns. We don't expect him to slow down this week against the Bears, who have allowed a touchdown to two of the three No. 1 receivers they have faced this season in Randall Cobb and Fitzgerald. Cooper has 22 targets the past two weeks for 15 catches, 243 yards and a touchdown, and he should continue to prove he's the No. 1 rookie at any position. He should be considered a must-start option in all leagues from this point forward.
Donte Moncrief (vs. JAC): You'll have to monitor Luck and his shoulder injury, but we expect him to play and play well against the Jaguars at home. And so far, Moncrief has been his most consistent weapon with a touchdown in each game this year. He failed to reach double digits in Fantasy points in Week 3 at Tennessee for the first time this season, but he's still getting at least seven targets a week from Luck, which is a great scenario. The Jaguars have allowed a receiver to score or gain 100 yards in every game this season, and Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton should continue to lead the way for this passing attack - as long as Luck is healthy.
James Jones (at SF): Jones had his best game this season in Week 3 against the Chiefs with season highs in targets (eight), catches (seven) and yards (139), and he also scored a touchdown for the third game in a row. Davante Adams (ankle) might not play, and Jones would continue to be the No. 2 option for Rodgers behind Cobb. The 49ers have allowed four touchdowns to opposing receivers in the past two games against the Steelers and Cardinals, and the Packers offense won't slow down this week, even on the road. Jones has been among the biggest surprises for Fantasy owners this season, and we hope he doesn't slow down any time soon.
Keenan Allen (vs. CLE): I expected the Vikings to contain Allen last week on the road, and he was impressive with 12 catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns. He had 18 targets in the game, and it's clear that when Rivers leans on him the production will follow since he had 17 targets in Week 1 against Detroit for 15 catches and 166 yards. The Chargers could find success running the ball this week, which would limit Allen's opportunities, but Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden (ribs) could be limited in this matchup. And the Browns have already allowed two No. 1 receivers to have success against them with Brandon Marshall in Week 1 and Cooper last week. Allen is worth starting in all leagues and hopefully the target volume stays constant so he can have sustained success.
Pierre Garcon (vs. PHI): The Eagles have struggled with No. 1 receivers this year as Julio Jones in Week 1, Terrance Williams in Week 2 and Marshall in Week 3 have all scored at least 14 Fantasy points in a standard league. And going back to last year, it's seven games in a row where the No. 1 receiver has reached double digits in Fantasy points, including Week 16 when DeSean Jackson had four catches for 126 yards. Jackson (hamstring) is expected to miss this week's game again, meaning Garcon will remain the No. 1 option. He has 27 targets through three games, so Kirk Cousins is looking for him, and we just hope these two can connect for a big play to keep this streak alive of No. 1 receivers vs. the Eagles. Based on the matchup, Garcon is worth starting as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver in the majority of leagues.
John Brown (vs. STL): He scored vs. STL at home last year.
Brandin Cooks (vs. DAL): If Brees is healthy then Cooks could be great.
Anquan Boldin (vs. SF): No. 1 receivers have done well vs. GB this year.
Allen Robinson (at IND): He should play well with JAC chasing points.
Marvin Jones (vs. KC): He's looking for a touchdown in three games in a row.
Roddy White (vs. HOU): White is being phased out of the offense, or at least it appears that way after his lack of involvement the past two games. He has one official target over that span with no catches, while Julio Jones has dominated and even Leonard Hankerson (16 targets) has taken on a bigger role. White could have a market correction game at home against the Texans, so take that into account, and Houston has allowed three receivers to either score or reach 100 receiving yards in the past two games. But the only Falcons receiver to trust right now is Jones, and White is going to get cut in the majority of leagues if he continues this lack of involvement in the offense.
Andre Johnson (vs. JAC): Like White, Johnson could have a bounce back game if the Colts decide to feature him in what should be a favorable matchup at home. But Johnson has been brutal so far this season with seven catches for 51 yards on 18 targets through three games. The Colts, rightfully so, are going with Hilton, Moncrief and even Phillip Dorsett ahead of Johnson in crucial situations, and it's hard to trust Johnson in most formats. He looks like a 34-year-old receiver, and we could see many Fantasy owners cut him if this lack of production continues. He's been one of the biggest busts so far this year.
Rishard Matthews (vs. NYJ): The Jets will likely use Darrelle Revis on Matthews this week since Jarvis Landry typically lines up in the slot. And it would make sense for Revis to stick with Matthews since he's been Miami's most productive receiver. Matthews has either a touchdown or 100 receiving yards in three games in a row, including six catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns in Week 3 against Buffalo. The Jets have only allowed two receivers to score touchdowns this season with Travis Benjamin in Week 1 and Moncrief in Week 2, but Hilton and Jordan Matthews were held to a combined eight Fantasy points by this secondary. Landry should remain active in the majority of leagues, especially PPR formats, but Matthews is someone to bench based on the matchup.
Golden Tate (at SEA): There's obviously going to be plenty of motivation for Tate to show up his former team since this is his first game back to Seattle since leaving after the 2013 season, but there's nothing to suggest he'll play well in this matchup on the road. Tate has 25 targets on the season, but he's responded with just 15 catches for 161 yards and no touchdowns, with his best outing eight Fantasy points at Minnesota in Week 2. The Seahawks gave up 100 receiving yards to Cobb in Week 2 and a touchdown to Jones in the same game, but the Lions offense isn't producing at a high level coming into this matchup. I'd still start Calvin Johnson, and hopefully he'll line up opposite Cary Williams and avoid Richard Sherman, which should be a win for Johnson. Tate, however, is just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver even with the revenge motivation on his side.
Jeremy Maclin (at CIN): The streak is over! After 21 games in a row, the Chiefs finally had a receiver score a touchdown when Maclin found the end zone against the Packers in Week 3. And he did well in garbage time with eight catches for 141 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. But will he produce on that level again? Or will he be the receiver who had nine catches for 109 yards combined through two games? He's probably somewhere in the middle, and he still remains just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in most formats. The Bengals have allowed three receivers to score in the past two games against Steve Smith, Malcom Floyd and Steve Johnson, but this is a solid secondary with a good pass rush. Maclin could go back to doing what he did the first two games, and that makes him risky as a must-start option in the majority of leagues this week.
Bust alert: Mike Evans (vs. CAR): It was good to see Evans play like the top-tier receiver we know he's capable of in Week 3 at the Texans with seven catches for 101 yards on a whopping 17 targets. You would expect Jameis Winston to look his way often again this week, but the matchup is tough, especially with how Panthers cornerback Josh Norman has done against No. 1 receivers this season. He helped limit Robinson to one catch for 27 yards on six targets in Week 1 and DeAndre Hopkins to five catches for 53 yards on 11 targets in Week 2. Last year, Evans had seven catches for 50 yards and a touchdown on 18 targets in two games against Carolina, but he never topped eight Fantasy points in either meeting. It's difficult to bench someone like Evans, but this is a tough matchup with Norman and a quality secondary.
Martellus Bennett (vs. CHI): There is no better matchup for a tight end this week than what Bennett has against the Raiders. I even suggested using Gary Barnidge last week, and he delivered with six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Eifert and Crockett Gillmore each had two touchdowns against Oakland in the first two weeks, and Bennett should be able to deliver even if Jimmy Clausen is his quarterback.
Jordan Reed (vs. PHI): The Eagles haven't given up a lot of production to tight ends this season, but they haven't exactly faced a who's who list of talent at the position either. Jason Witten is the only tight end of worth that Philadelphia played along with Jacob Tamme in Week 1 with the Falcons and Jeff Cumberland in Week 3 with the Jets. Reed will be their toughest opponent to date, and he's scored at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league in all three games this season with 26 targets. As long as DeSean Jackson remains out you can see Cousins continue to lean on Reed, and so far he's delivered. He should keep it going even in this tough matchup.
Charles Clay (vs. NYG): Clay is a great bye-week replacement for Gronkowski or even Delanie Walker, and he's playing well heading into a terrific matchup. The Giants have allowed four tight ends to score at least six Fantasy points already with Witten, Gavin Escobar, Tamme and Reed, with three touchdowns allowed to that group and two guys gaining at least 77 yards. Clay is coming off his best game of the season against his former team in Miami with five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown on seven targets, and he's scored in consecutive games. If Watkins is out that could be an increase in targets for Clay, and he should be a solid Top 10 option in all formats this week.
Coby Fleener (vs. JAC): He's a good option if Dwayne Allen remains out.
Owen Daniels (vs. MIN): Week 3 could be a sign of things to come.
Maxx Williams (at PIT): He benefits with Crockett Gillmore out.
Heath Miller (vs. BAL): Miller might lose the most with Roethlisberger out given the rapport between the two, and Miller had just two catches for 17 yards in Week 3 at St. Louis when Roethlisberger got hurt. Miller had just five catches for 49 yards in two games with the Ravens in 2014, and Baltimore comes into this game No. 1 in fewest Fantasy points allowed to tight ends. So far, the Ravens have held Daniels and Eifert to a combined two catches for 5 yards. Miller should be a low-end starting option at best in deeper leagues with Vick now under center.
Kyle Rudolph (at DEN): The Broncos secondary has played well this year, and they are the first team to slow down Eric Ebron and Travis Kelce, with both scoring six Fantasy points or less. Rudolph has been productive so far this season, but he's combined for just 15 Fantasy points and definitely doesn't warrant must-start status in a tough matchup. He has yet to eclipse 55 yards in a game, and he's only scored one touchdown. Based on the tough matchup on the road, we'd sit Rudolph in the majority of leagues this week.
Eric Ebron (at SEA): Ebron has been one of the lone bright spots for this Lions offense this season, and we hope he can play at a high level all year. He's had either 60 receiving yards or a touchdown in all three games with two touchdowns over that span, and Stafford continues to look for him with 20 targets, which is third on the team behind Calvin Johnson and Tate. Seattle has allowed three tight ends to score at least eight Fantasy points with Lance Kendricks, Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers, including two touchdowns to that group, but last week the Seahawks held Bennett to four catches for 15 yards. Ebron is just a low-end starting option at best in deeper leagues based on the matchup.
Bust alert: Jordan Cameron (vs. NYJ): Cameron played OK through his first two games with a combined seven catches for 134 yards on 11 targets, and he combined for 13 Fantasy points. That's not bad, and he would have been great if he scored a touchdown in either of those games against Washington or Jacksonville. He was terrible in Week 3 against Buffalo with three catches for 16 yards on seven targets, and I'm hesitant to trust him against the Jets in London. The Jets have yet to allow a tight end to gain at least 40 yards, and no tight end has scored on this defense, including matchups with the Colts duo and Zach Ertz. Cameron also could fall to fourth on the pecking order for targets behind Jarvis Landry, Matthews and DeVante Parker if the rookie continues to get more looks. I'd stay away from Cameron in the majority of leagues if possible.
Bengals (vs. KC): The Chiefs are among the league leaders in most Fantasy points allowed to opposing DST units, and they have given up an NFL-best 13 sacks through three games. Alex Smith also has nearly as many interceptions (three) as he does touchdowns (four). The Bengals DST struggled in Week 3 at Baltimore with no sacks and a season-worst 24 points allowed. But Cincinnati does have an interception in six games in a row going back to last year, and the Bengals had six sacks to open the season. The Chiefs offense could be tired from last week's loss to Green Bay on a short week, and that should help the Bengals DST. They should be a Top 10 Fantasy option this week in all formats.
Chargers (vs. CLE): OAK sacked Josh McCown five times last week.
Eagles (at WAS): Cousins has four interceptions in three games.
Colts (vs. JAC): JAC has scored 17 points or less in two games this year.
Texans (at ATL): The Texans were expected to be one of the elite DST options this year, but instead they come into Week 4 at No. 29 in Fantasy points in a standard league. The Texans have just two interceptions and four sacks, and this is a bad matchup against the Falcons on the road. Atlanta has allowed the second-fewest Fantasy points to opposing DSTs, trailing only Green Bay, and that's because Matt Ryan has been sacked just four times and has two interceptions, with both coming in Week 1. The Falcons have scored at least 24 points in every game, and now Atlanta has a running game with Freeman. It would have been a surprise prior to the season to suggest benching the Texans DST in Week 4, but here we are and this unit should be benched for this outing.
Adam Vinatieri (vs. JAC): Like most of the Colts, Vinatieri has been terrible so far this season, but he should snap out of his funk at home against the Jaguars. He has yet to make a field goal through three games and has just six extra points. We're expecting a Colts offensive explosion this week at home, and the Jaguars have allowed all three opposing kickers this season to make multiple field goals in Graham Gano, Andrew Franks and Stephen Gostkowski. At some point this Colts offense is going to kick into high gear, and Vinatieri also has three made field goals in each of his past four meetings with the Jaguars.
Chandler Catanzaro (vs. STL): He had four FGs vs. STL at home in 2014.
Josh Brown (at BUF): He leads the NFL with nine made field goals.
Dan Bailey (at NO): NO has allowed six field goals in the past two games.
Matt Prater (at SEA): Prater is owned in 42 percent of leagues on CBS Sports and started in 27 percent, and I'm not sure why. The Lions offense has been a mess, and Prater has struggled with one made field goal and just five extra points through three games. The Seahawks just shut out the Bears at home, and going back to last year only Bailey in Week 5 and Greg Zuerlein in Week 17 made multiple field goals in Seattle. We'd be surprised if Prater had a big game this week, and he's an easy kicker to cut for a better replacement off waivers like Brown, Dan Carpenter, Gano and Mike Nugent.
Full Disclosure from Week 3
The Start of the Week from Week 3 was good in Carson Palmer. And, including sleepers, we had two Top 3 quarterbacks (Andy Dalton and Cam Newton), three Top 10 running backs (Devonta Freeman, Frank Gore and Latavius Murray), five Top 20 receivers (Larry Fitzgerald, James Jones, Kendall Wright, Mike Evans and Brandon Marshall) and the No. 2 tight end (Gary Barnidge). That's right, I had Barnidge listed as a sleeper.
But in this case, the bad calls far outweighed the good, at least from my view. I missed big on saying to sit Joe Flacco, Chris Johnson, Joseph Randle, Steve Smith, Keenan Allen and Jeremy Maclin. It was embarrassing how good those players did given their selections in this column.
Hopefully those bad calls did not ruin your Week 3 outcome, and the good news is the Start of the Week curse ended now that Palmer played well. It only gets better from here, and I'm confident Dalton will come through this week.
|Player||Sportsline projected Pts.||Actual Fantasy Pts.||Start %||Pos. rank|
|Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals||21.4||22||65||11|
|Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals||16.4||36||55||2|
|Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals||10.9||25||83||5|
|Frank Gore, RB, Colts||7.9||20||75||7|
|Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins||8.7||5||49||40|
|Golden Tate, WR, Lions||8.0||5||60||52|
|Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers||8.2||4||30||45|
|Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks||28.4||17||85||19|
|Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars||9.0||6||57||42|
|Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers||9.6||5||51||36|
|Steve Smith, WR, Ravens||8.9||30||79||2|
|Joseph Randle, RB, Cowboys||11.2||27||78||3|
|Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers||9.3||25||82||6|