Miami Dolphins – Brandon Gibson may be worth a pickup this week. Six catches for 71 yards on a team high eight targets. He seems to be the new Davone Bess for Miami’s offense, playing the majority of the snaps and running quick curls, slants and out patterns.
New Orleans Saints – Darren Sproles is worth his weight in gold. Seven catches out of the backfield for over 100 yards and then another 28 on the ground. Two total touchdowns and a player worthy of number one running back status. Continue to ignore Robert Meachem and Mark Ingram. One is non-existent and the other can never stay healthy.
San Francisco 49ers – Frank Gore is far from decline, running for 153 yards on just 20 carries and reaching the end zone once. He could’ve had one or two more but Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon, the backups, stole them while he was catching a breather on the sidelines. Ignore everyone but Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis in the San Francisco passing game, and that includes Kaepernick in a tougher matchup until he gets his act together.
St. Louis Rams – Ignore all members of their run game even if they do play some weaker opponents coming up. Daryl Richardson barely has 100 yards on the entire season. Austin Pettis is available in a ton of leagues, and I would recommend you picking him up this week against starting him against Jacksonville. A week ago, he leads the team in targets (tied with Jared Cook) and has a pair of scores on the year.
Baltimore Ravens – Ray Rice has been less than mediocre the first quarter of the season, not reaching the 100 yard mark on the season on the ground and just one touchdown to his name. He is probable this week but will probably find a hard time of it against the Dolphins who will want to rebound after a poor performance in New Orleans. He has to be started but he isn’t to be trusted. The former Georgia bulldog standout Marlon Brown is appearing on fantasy radars with touchdowns in three of the first four. He can be picked up and started in a flex spot in deeper leagues. I told you to trade for Torrey Smith in last week’s column before he really picked up his production, and now after last week’s five catch, 116 yard, TD performance, he could be tough to get.
Buffalo Bills – CJ Spiller and the Buffalo running game have been below par through the first month and it doesn’t get any easier taking on the Browns much improved defense on a short week. Spiller is at less than full strength, Fred Jackson also is dealing with an injury (knee) and Tashard Choice, the former Yellow Jacket, may be in line for a full workload in the backfield. Spiller says he should play but keep an eye on it but don’t expect much in terms of production. Robert Woods was mentioned in last week’s column as a potential bye week fill in. Four catches, 80 yards and a touchdown. Damien Sandow called. He said you’re welcome. Google it.
Cincinnati Bengals – Giovani Bernard continues to see more and more snaps, his yardage total going up every week since opening day. Andy Dalton shouldn’t start for anyone, even as a bye week fill in. He’s just too inconsistent for me at this point to trust.
Cleveland Browns – Real sneaky defensive pickup for those that pounced before last week, and now they get a dream matchup against a rookie QB at home who has shown a tendency to turn the ball over. If you’re desperate, go ahead and pick up old man Willis McGahee. Don’t expect a lot however, even against his former team this week.
Chicago Bears – Yeah, I told you Cutler would do well last week. Turns out he had the worst game of the season and one of the worst of his career. He made some awful throws, did end up with over 300 yards and two TD but three interceptions, a fumble and just looked out of sorts all day against an inspired Lions defense. On offense, Alshon Jeffery to me is the pickup of the week if he isn’t rostered at this point. Five catches and a TD on 11 targets for the former Gamecock and certainly at worst a #3 WR/flex going forward.
Detroit Lions – Ho-hum, another monster game from Reggie Bush. Drafted as a two in all likelihood, he is performing like a bonafide #1 back doing it all for the surprising 3-1 Lions. I’d still continue to other wide receivers besides Calvin Johnson in the Lions passing game for now. Too much there to sort out after Nate Burleson had pizza problems.
New York Giants – Victor Cruz continues to reward owners that drafted him as a number one or two WR, while Hakeem Nicks continues to disappoint after a decent start to the year in Dallas. David Wilson, arguably the most disappointing running back in the NFC so far through four games, had just 63 yards last week as the Giants got blasted again. Cruz should be the only Giant in your lineups from this week forward until the offense shows signs of life.
Kansas City Chiefs – Andy Reid apparently carries a lot of weight in that locker room (snicker) and has now led the Chiefs to a 4-0 start, thanks to a balanced attack and a defense that held the Giants to just 1-of-14 on third downs last week. Dwayne Bowe reached the end zone last week (finally) and Jamaal Charles seems to be on track going forward. It’s guys like Dexter McCluster and Donnie Avery who should be benched this week in a tough spot at Tennessee, but Bowe and Charles must be started in all matchups.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Despite the offensive line woes last week and basically since week one when they lost Mike Pouncey to a season ending injury, LeVeon Bell did significantly better than any of his counterparts in the first three weeks and should be an every week starter going forward. 16 carries, 57 yards, two touchdowns adding 27 yards on four catches as well. Despite a few tough matchups ahead (Jets, Ravens), I think he is a solid #2 back from here on out. Stay away from Jerricho Cotchery despite a monster performance. The Steelers were way behind in the loss to the Vikings and ultimately failed in a attempted comeback.
Minnesota Vikings – Jerome Simpson and Greg Jennings seemed re-energized this week as Matt Cassel actually fired the ball accurately down the field for several long completions including a 51 yarder to Simpson and a 70 yard touchdown that was a beauty. The holes opened up for Adrian Peterson as Jerome Felton, last year’s Pro Bowl fullback from the NFC, returned from a three game suspension. This offense worked much better with Cassel at the helm, and when they return from a bye he should remain the starter. Kyle Rudolph should be benched till further notice. He stays in to block what seems like two of every three plays, trying to create room for the reigning MVP.
Arizona Cardinals – Rashard Mendenhall can be started against weaker defensive teams but as far as starting him against elite run defenses, he has to be benched. 21 yards on 12 carries in Tampa? Poor. Michael Floyd was a name I preached about in the preseason as Robin to Larry Fitzgerald’s Batman, and it turns out the Dark Knight may finally have his sidekick. Floyd had five catches for 87 yards on a team high 10 targets. He needs to be started, and if he is a free agent, must be picked up and started in the third wideout spot at the minimum.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Doug Martin has been just OK so far, but one touchdown after four games while he scored 11 last season is a bit concerning. Averaging only 3.4 yards a carry and now a rookie quarterback at the helm, it may be time to sell Doug Martin for a more proven commodity. You always want to be a week early rather than a week late in terms of moving on a player. The passing game is a mess, so I’d scale down my expectations for guys like Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson. The latter, for example, caught just two balls for 27 yards on 11 targets. Accuracy an early issue for Mike Glennon, something he’ll need to work on as the Bucs are technically done in terms of playoff contention at the quarter pole.
Indianapolis Colts – After a tough grind it out win in San Francisco last week, the Colts went to Jacksonville and had their way with the Jaguars. Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson, Reggie Wayne – even Coby Fleener – all had big days. TY Hilton had five catches for 48 yards, a mediocre day but he’ll have his share of big days as the season goes on. I’d continue to start him, and if there is an owner out there who is dangling him in a trade, Luck and this offense will only continue to grow through the season. Try and lowball the Hilton owner this week.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Yuck. I know Justin Blackmon is back this week, and if you want to give him a shot in St. Louis, by all means do so at your own risk. Cecil Shorts lead the team with 12 targets and did catch seven balls but with Blaine Gabbert back there, there are many other higher upside guys out there. Maurice Jones Drew, a guy whom I hyped in preseason, I’m willing to admit is a lost cause. The Jaguars can’t block anyone, averaging 49 yards a game on the ground, second to last in the league.
Seattle Seahawks – Again, if Russell Wilson is going to attempt just 23 passes on the day and complete 12 of them, he and the rest of the Seattle passing game can be benched. The offense runs through Marshawn Lynch anyway, totaling almost 140 yards on the day and getting into the end zone as well.
Houston Texans – A guy to keep an eye on if you need a bye week fill in at tight end is Garrett Graham. Running a lot more two TE sets with Owen Daniels and Graham, the Texans have found a formula for success even though Matt Schaub gave the game away late with an ill advised interception returned for a touchdown. Still, Graham had five catches for almost 70 yards and scored a TD. Arian Foster bounced back with a nice day accumulating 170 combined yards and a TD. Maybe his predicted demise is premature on my end, but still I’d advise to trade him as soon as I could.
New York Jets – Only the Jets defense and Bilal Powell should be on your radar right now. All members of the Jet passing game should be benched as Geno Smith clearly is showing signs of inexperience as we reach game number five. If you’re desperate, you could do worse than Kellen Winslow at tight end who did lead the team in catches, targets and yards last week.
Tennessee Titans – It’ll be very interesting to see how the offense shifts as Jake Locker is out for two months with a hip injury. Ryan Fitzpatrick, the former Buffalo Bills signal caller, will fill in and did an OK job last week with Nate Washington reaping the benefits. A 77 yard touchdown only added to his already solid day, totaling 105 yards and reaching the end zone not once but twice. Should be an immediate pickup in all leagues – shallow, deep or otherwise.
Denver Broncos – Peyton Manning is kind of good. His receivers? Them too. Knowshon Moreno is the back to have at this stage but store Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman until Moreno inevitably gets banged up. This team (my super bowl pick at the start of the season) is headed for big things.
Philadelphia Eagles – Just an all around bad performance from the Eagles offense as everyone from Michael Vick to all of his pass catchers really struggled. Desean Jackson is the only one in the passing game I’d trust with any conviction right now, and despite a great matchup with the Giants this week, I’d rather have higher upside guys than Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Brent Celek or Zach Ertz.
Washington Redskins – RGIII is not off to the start everyone expected despite the injury and now has at Dallas and at Denver as two of his next three. He may not get on track till the second half of the season but will have a bye week to really get his act together. Just like Torrey Smith, I told you in my column a week ago to trade for Pierre Garcon and he had a 6/59/1 performance contributing to a 24-14 win in Oakland. Go get him now as he clearly is the #1 target in the nation’s capital.
Oakland Raiders – Rashad Jennings is the hot name on the waiver wire this week after combining for 116 yards last week and grabbing eight balls out of the backfield in the process. The former Jaguars backup to Maurice Jones Drew has moved from coast to coast and now is the starter while Darren McFadden deals with a lingering hamstring issue. As a flex option he works this week against a Chargers team that allowed the Cowboys to rush for over five and a half yards a carry.
Dallas Cowboys – Terrence Williams is the name to know after a 7 catch, 71 yard performance in San Diego filling in for the injured Miles Austin. In an offense that throws it a ton, expect Williams to put up #3 WR/flex numbers. Remember, a few years ago Laurent Robinson came in for an injured Austin and put up some real dominant weeks including one on Thanksgiving if I recall correctly. Williams is worth a pickup in deeper leagues.
San Diego Chargers – Word for word from last week’s column – “In a PPR league, Woodhead totaled a respectable 15 points, and can be considered a viable bye week flex option if you’re in a pinch.” The dimunitive dynamo totaled 86 yards and scored twice making for a huge day for those that used him in a flex spot. He can be used there going forward with Ryan Mathews not doing much on the ground to the tune of just 3.5 yards per carry and no TD so far this year.
New England Patriots – Seems as there is a good chance Danny Amendola returns this week and Rob Gronkowski in week six making for another week seeing Julian Edelman and Kenbrell Thompkins as Tom Brady’s preferred targets. When those two return, expect Edelman and Thompkins value to take a major hit as Aaron Dobson’s has already. The running game is still a mess with Stevan Ridley still getting the bulk of the work. None of the members of that backfield – Ridley, LeGarrette Blount or Branden Bolden – get my checkmark for week five against a stout Bengals front.
Atlanta Falcons – Practice this week should be done from the opponent’s 20 yard line and in. Seriously, their red zone offense is one of the worst in the league through the first month and one of the biggest shockers for me as you look around the league. Roddy White played a bunch of snaps last week but still was let down by his quarterback in a few big spots with overthrows. Against the Jets this week who should dominate up front against a suspect Atlanta offensive line, expect Matt Ryan to get rid of the ball early and often. Start Julio Jones, the aforementioned Roddy White and of course, the ageless Tony Gonzalez. Sit Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers.
Till next time,