If you wonder what the impact of major injuries are to star players, and thus fantasy football teams, consider that in four weeks several high draft pick players have either been lost for the season or for more than a week’s time such as QB Peyton Manning, RB Jamaal Charles, RB Arian Foster, WR Andre Johnson, WR Miles Austin, WR Marques Colston, WR Dez Bryant, WR Kenny Britt, and TE Aaron Hernandez. If an owner drafted one of these players, they could still be 4-0 or even 3-1. If an owner drafted two of these players, at best, they’d be lucky to be 2-2 or more likely 1-2. And, if an owner drafted three of these players (there are some, including The Fantasy Greek), having a 1-3 record or an 0-4 record would be no surprise.
Speaking of records, for those teams 4-0 or 3-1, good for you! You can look at the first quarter of the season and think that the chances of making the playoff are good, but notcertain. If your team is 2-2, you’re still in great shape with fantasy playoffs still two months away. If your team is 1-3 or 0-4, hang in there, because it’s not over till it’s over. Don’t stop playing, because if you do, you will likely miss out on opportunities on your waiver wire which would help turn your season around, or miss out on a big trade that could help you reach fantasy playoffs.
That said, on to this week’s Fantasy Three-Sixty!
Sunday, October 2nd
1:00 p.m. EST
LIONS (4-0) 34 v. 30 COWBOYS (2-2)
Lions: At the beginning of this game, the end result looked like it would be different, but the Lions defense came through in the end. This wasn’t QB Matt Stafford’s (240 yds., 2 TDs, 1 INT) best game, but it was good enough for WR Calvin Johnson (96 yds., 2 TDs) and TE Brandon Pettigrew (64 yds.) to do well on the gridiron. Unfortunately, for many owners who might still be high on WR Nate Burleson (16 yds.), he struggled again this week, and even got passed up by WR Titus Young (41 yds.). RB Jahvid Best (70 APY) struggled a bit, but this was expected against the Cowboys rush defense. The Lions DST (1 sack, 3 INTs, 2 DTD) was awesome and won this game for the Lions!
Fantasy Spin: QB Matt Stafford, along with WR Calvin Johnson, are must starts each and every week. Owners should continue starting RB Jahvid Best too. As for WR Nate Burleson, The Fantasy Greek reminded owners last week that he could be hit or miss in each and every game. At this point, and at best, Burleson is worth WR3 consideration with your other receivers, or as a bye week replacement. TE Brandon Pettigrew remains a solid TE option and he should continue having these types of performances (at a minimum) each week. The Lions DST deserves being started each and every week unless you hear otherwise.
NEXT UP: Bears
Cowboys: Even though the Cowboys came into this game banged up, they looked good early before floundering towards the end of the game. Even though QB Tony Romo (331 yds., 3 TDs, 3 INTs) struggled by NFL standards in this game, he did just fine for fantasy purposes (against this top defense against QBs) as did TE Jason Witten (94 yds., 1 TD), WR Dez Bryant (42 APY, 2 TDs), and this game’s surprise player, WR Laurent Robinson (116 yds.). As the Lions excel in rush defense, it was no surprise that RB Felix Jones (76 APY) struggled a bit, but it was notable that RB Tashard Choice (62 APY) got numerous looks in this game. The Cowboys DST (1 INT) didn’t lose this game.
Fantasy Spin: When healthy, QB Tony Romo, WR Miles Austin, WR Dez Bryant, TE Jason Witten and RB Felix Jones are worth a fantasy start each and every week. The Cowboys DST is still worth starting in fantasy, especially in a good match-up.
NEXT UP: BYE
PANTHERS (1-3) 34 v. 29 BEARS (2-2)
Panthers: QB Cam Newton (374 yds., 35 rush yds., 3 TDs, 1 INT) just keeps posting the fantasy points, along with WR Steve Smith (181 yds.) even in a tough loss like this. Likewise, in a favorable tight-end match-up, TE Greg Olsen (50 yds., 1 TD) posted some good stats for owners who started him Sunday. RB DeAngelo Williams (82 yds.) finally had a meaningful game, along with RB Jonathan Stewart (85 APY). The Panthers DST (1 sack, 1 INT) didn’t do much.
Fantasy Spin: Owners of QB Cam Newton just keep playing him. Even when the Panthers lose, Newton just keeps performing. WR Steve Smith remains a weekly fantasy start because of his skills, speed, and the fact that he and Newton keep connecting. TE Greg Olsen is starting to come on and continues to be a match-up based play. It was good to see RB DeAngelo Williams more involved in the offense. Hopefully, this will continue, and we can start to consider him a flex-play. RB Jonathan Stewart should be getting flex-play starts with the way he is playing. The Panthers DST should not be considered for fantasy action.
NEXT UP: Saints
Bears: Even though the Bears won the game, it wasn’t because of QB Jay Cutler (102 yds., 2 rush yds., 0 TDs, 1 INT), who was just awful. Because of Cutler’s sub-par performance, the best receiving performance was put in by WR Johnny Knox (48yds.). On the other hand, RB Matt Forte (228 APY, 1 TD) was phenomenal! RB Marion Barber (17 yds., 1 TD) got a goal line TD. The Bears DST (0 sacks, 1 INT, 1 KRTD) did well only because of the Devin Hester punt return TD.
Fantasy Spin: QB Jay Cutler is still worth fantasy consideration if your starter pulls a tough match-up, but he is otherwise difficult to count on as a reliable QB1 due to his inconsistency, and the lack of pass protection. RB Matt Forte is the Bears player to play each and every week. As for the wide receivers, only WR Johnny Knox is worth WR3 consideration. WR Devin Hester still has not established himself in fantasy as a WR. The Bears DST remains a fantasy must-start because of its potential to cause turnovers and make the big play like it did here.
NEXT UP: at Lions
SAINTS (3-1) 23 v. 10 JAGUARS (1-3)
Saints: This was a tougher game for the Saints than the final score reflects. QB Drew Brees (351 yds., 10 rush yds., 1 TD, 2 INTs) had a good game but certainly owners likely expected another TD or two. Again, TE Jimmy Graham (132 yds., 1 TD) was the centerpiece of the offense. However, none of Brees’ other receiving options like WR Robert Meachem (59 yds.), WR Lance Moore (50 yds.), WR Marques Colston (8 yds.), or WR Devery Henderson (0 yds.) distinguished themselves. As for the Saints running game, it continued to plow ahead but it still has not become a dominant force as expected this season. RB Mark Ingram (58 APY) and RB Pierre Thomas (79 APY) continue to split the load. Yet, it looks like RB-KR Darren Sproles (131 APY) is not going away. The Saints DST (3 sacks, 1 INT) had a good outing because of the final score.
Fantasy Spin: Now that WR Marques Colston has returned, it will become more difficult to say who among WR Robert Meachem, WR Devery Henderson, and WR Lance Moore will be the main contributor to the offense among them. Still, they all likely have WR3 value with upside. TE Jimmy Graham continues to show that he is a special talent and he should be started each and every week in fantasy as his role appears established in the offense. It continues to look like a straight time share between RB Mark Ingram and RB Pierre Thomas. Ingram is still likely at best a flex-play while Thomas remains a bye-week replacement. Well, with the way RB Darren Sproles has played, he is certainly worth RB2 consideration and he is a definite RB3/flex-play. The Saints DST will continue to have some good days, and some bad days. Of course, QB Drew Brees should be started in fantasy each and every week.
NEXT UP: at Panthers
Jaguars: QB Blaine Gabbert (196 yds., 14 rush yds., 1 TD, 1 INT) looked pretty good for a rookie QB this week. WR Mike Thomas (73 yds.) had some decent yardage but TE Marcedes Lewis (38 yds.) continued to do little but was certainly targeted. As expected, the offense continued to run through RB Maurice Jones-Drew (87 APY). The Jaguars DST (3 sacks, 2 INTs) did a good job against a high-powered offense.
Fantasy Spin: RB Maurice Jones-Drew is the only Jaguars player worth fantasy consideration on a weekly basis at this time until Gabbert can get the other playmakers involved in the offense consistently.
NEXT UP: Bengals
TITANS (3-1) 31 v. 13 BROWNS (2-2)
Titans: Here we are, it’s Week 4, and the Titans are 3-1. Wow. QB Matt Hasselbeck (220 yds., 5 rush yds., 3 TDs, 1 INT) continued to impress. He hit both TE Jared Cook (93 yds., 1 TD) and TE Craig Stevens (12 yds. 1 TD) for scores, and immediately worked WR Nate Washington (62 yds.) into the offense. Finally, RB Chris Johnson (112 APY) put up a performance his owners can be proud of. The Titans DST (4 sack, 1 INT, 1 DTD) was stout yet again, and put in a top defensive performance.
Fantasy Spin: QB Matt Hasselbeck has now put together four consecutive good performances. It’s time to believe. If WR Nate Washington is still available on waivers, he should be added this week. In addition, with this performance, TE Jared Cook suddenly looks fantasy-relevant and is also waiver wire add for owners with a tight-end need. As for RB Chris Johnson, while he could struggle against top rush defenses, we now know that he should play well against everyone else. The Titans DST has been playing real well so far this season and they should be considered for regular starts going forward.
NEXT UP: at Steelers
Browns: The Browns simply didn’t look good in this game. While QB Colt McCoy (350 yds., 16 rush yds., 1 TD, 1 INT) had pretty good stats, it did not translate to too many points on the board. Indeed, RB Peyton Hillis (69 APY) and RB Montario Hardesty (71 APY) couldn’t quite get the rushing game going. McCoy did a good job spreading the ball around to some of his key receivers like TE Ben Watson (48 yds., 1 TD), WR Mohammed Massaquoi (46 yds.), WR Josh Cribbs (50 yds.), and WR Greg Little (57 yds.). The Browns DST (1 INT) struggled against the Titans.
Fantasy Spin: RB Peyton Hillis remains a good weekly fantasy start, even with RB Montario Hardesty potentially eating into his production, as Hillis is the team’s workhouse. It’s still tough to look at the rest of the Browns playmakers as fantasy starters right now, but TE Ben Watson is the most consistent, and the best bet to do something each and every week. The Browns DST is only worth a match-up based play.
NEXT UP: BYE
BILLS (3-1) 20 v. 23 BENGALS (2-2)
Bills: The Bills, who started the game 3-0, suffered what was considered a stunning loss to most at the hands of the Bengals – a team that was considered a lesser opponent than the teams the Bills have beaten to date, but who weren’t. The Bengals, in sum, shut down upstart QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (199 yds., 5 rush yds., 0 TDs, 0 INTs) and this affected the performance of most of their key playmakers, including WR Steve Johnson (58 yds.), WR David Nelson (18 yds.), and TE Scott Chandler (8 yds.). Only RB Fred Jackson (98 APY, 1 TD) did something this week for fantasy owners. The Bills DST (2 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 DTD) was solid because of the score.
Fantasy Spin: Well, as The Fantasy Greek has written before, there will be days like this, especially against underrated teams who have a solid defense. Nonetheless, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is still worthy of QB1 consideration, and owners should keep starting WR Steve Johnson and RB Fred Jackson, as they are the players on this team that will continue to be the focus of the Bills offensive plays. As for WR David Nelson, he still has WR3 value, for now. TE Scott Chandler is also worth a spot start if your TE1 has pulled a difficult match-up as he is not posting the yards, but getting the TDs. The Bills DST continues to put up some notable performances, making them worth a match-up based play.
NEXT UP: Eagles
Bengals: QB Andy Dalton (298 yds., 12 rush yds., 2 TDs, 2 INTs) had another good outing. Because of it, WR A.J. Green (124 APY) played well, as did TE Jermaine Gresham (70 yds., 1 TD). In addition, RB Cedric Benson (104 yds.) had a nice game. The Bengals DST (1 sack) looked better than the stats they posted.
Fantasy Spin: RB Cedric Benson is still the best fantasy option on the Bengals. We are still waiting the disposition of his appeal of his possible three-game suspension. So, RB Bernard Scott would have a big role in the offense if the suspension were to be upheld, and he is worth starting if Benson misses time. QB Andy Dalton continued to show why most rookie QBs aren’t worth a fantasy start – because of their inconsistency. But boy, this was a really good game, so he might get his chance before the season is out. WR A.J. Green is definitely a player worth considering for a WR3 start, and he is that good. The Bengals DST remains a match-up based play.
NEXT UP: at Jaguars
VIKINGS (0-4) 17 v. 22 CHIEFS (1-3)
Vikings: The Vikings just can’t seem to get it together. QB Donovan McNabb (202 yds., 2 TD, 1 INT) continues to struggle, but this looked like it was his best game to date. While RB Adrian Peterson (83 APY) had a decent game, his fantasy owners expect more. WR Percy Harvin (109 APY) played really well, even though he didn’t find the end-zone. Otherwise, the only other noteworthy players were TE Kyle Rudolph (44 yds.), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (58 yds.), and WR Devin Aromashadu (24 yds., 1 TD). The Vikings DST (3 sacks, 1 DFR) played below their potential.
Fantasy Spin: RB Adrian Peterson and WR Percy Harvin are the only players on this team to be started in fantasy. The Vikings DST could be good, but is no better than a match-up based play. TE Visanthe Shiancoe has been more involved in the offense and coule make for a bye-week replacement.
NEXT UP: Cardinals
Chiefs: The Chiefs needed this win regardless of the opponent. QB Matt Cassel (260 yds., 20 rush yds., 1 TD, 0 INTs) had a decent game, once he got his game going. As usual, WR Dwayne Bowe (107 yds., 1 TD) was the best fantasy option on the team. WR Steve Breaston (91 yds.) had a better game this week than last. Unfortunately, the Chiefs running game continued to struggle with RB Thomas Jones (37 yds.) and KR-WR Dexter McCluster (38 APY) failing to even combine for 100 APY. The Chiefs DST (2 sacks, 1 INTs) did what they needed to do to win the game.
Fantasy Spin: WR Dwayne Bowe is the only Chiefs player owners should keep starting in fantasy.
NEXT UP: at Colts
FORTY-NINERS (3-1) 24 v. 23 EAGLES (1-3)
Forty-Niners: Even though the Forty-Niners have had more than their share of problems on offense, the team has found a way to win three of its first four games. QB Alex Smith (291 yds., 2 TDs, 1 FMBL) had his best game so far this season. It helped that RB Frank Gore (139 APY, 1 TD), who was benched by many in fantasy because of a concern that he would be splitting carries, had his best game this season too. Even RB Kendall Hunter (100 APY) looked good. The passing game came alive too with TE Vernon Davis (45 yds., 1 TD), WR Michael Crabtree (68 yds.), and WR Josh Morgan (65 yds., 1 TD), all contributing. The Forty-Niners DST (2 sacks, 1 INT, 2 DFRs) was solid against a high-flying Eagles offense.
Fantasy Spin: It is still the case that outside of RB Frank Gore and TE Vernon Davis, none of the other Forty-Niners should really be considered in fantasy. However, there could be a role (and future fantasy consideration) for RB Kendall Hunter, WR Michael Crabtree. or WR Josh Morgan, if they can string together a few solid performances in the coming weeks. The Forty-Niners DST is still one of the best in fantasy. The Forty-Niners are worth playing in fantasy.
NEXT UP: Buccaneers
Eagles: This was another head-scratcher loss for an Eagles team that is struggling to close a game out. Even though QB Michael Vick (416 yds., 75 rush yds., 2 TDs, 1 INT) entered the game banged up, he played particularly well and did everything he could to get the win for the Eagles. However, the Forty-Niners did a great job shutting down the Eagles rushing attack by limiting RB LeSean McCoy (52 APY, 1 TD). WR DeSean Jackson (171 yds.) had a great game while WR Jeremy Maclin (74 yds., 1 FMBL) was hurt by the fumble. The Eagles DST (3 sacks, 1 DFR) struggled again.
Fantasy Spin: Regardless of this game, QB Michael Vick, RB LeSean McCoy, WR DeSean Jackson, and WR Jeremy Maclin should be started weekly. The Eagles DST, on the other hand, is difficult to start right now until it gets healthy.
NEXT UP: Bills
REDSKINS (3-1) 17 v. 10 RAMS (0-4)
Redskins: This was a game where it was expected that the Redskins would get their passing game going against the Rams struggling pass defense, but it didn’t happen. In addition, it was thought that the Redskins should have won this game handily, but it ended up being close. Again, QB Rex Grossman (143 yds., 1 TD, 2 INTs) disappointed. Because of this, only WR Santana Moss (39 yds., 1 TD) and WR Jabar Gaffney (62 yds.) posted any real stats in the passing game. TE Fred Davis (34 yds.) disappointed many owners who started him this week. Worse yet, RB Tim Hightower (28 APY) looked awful, while RB Ryan Torrain (135 yds., 1 TD), who is likely hardly owned in fantasy, made a case for more playing time. The Redskins DST (6 sacks, 3 DFRs) had a really good week.
Fantasy Spin: After a second disappointing outing in a row, one has to question QB Rex Grossman’s viability in fantasy football. However, with little choices likely available, owners without a reliable back-up or owners whose QB1 is struggling or hurt will have to continue to give him consideration for a weekly start. RB Tim Hightower didn’t look like himself. It was explained post game that he was “beat up” from the week’s practice. This week we have learned that he was hampered by a shoulder injury. This could have opened the door to RB Ryan Torrain getting more playing time. Owners will have to monitor this situation this week and next. Because the passing game struggled, it did little to clarify how to treat TE Chris Cooley and TE Fred Davis. For now, Davis continues to look like the tight-end to own between the two. Among the wide receivers, WR Santana Moss is the one to own and to play weekly. The Redskins DST continues to look good and it is worth considering for each week to play.
NEXT UP: BYE
Rams: QB Sam Bradford (164 yds., 1 TD, 1 FMBL) continues to struggle. Indeed, WR Danario Alexander (46 yds.) and TE Lance Kendricks (33 yds.) posted the most yards among Bradford’s receiving options. RB Steven Jackson (64 APY, 1 TD) did alright, but certainly we expected more. The Rams DST (2 INTs, 2 DFRs) continues to play below expectations.
Fantasy Spin: The Bye Week couldn’t come at a better time for the Rams. Hopefully, this will give the team an opportunity to regroup and turn things around as they set forth into the easier part of their schedule. For now, owners of QB Sam Bradford can likely do little with him but hang on to him with the hope he can play better. Bradford is still at best a QB2. RB Steven Jackson remains a weekly start. As for the Rams wide receivers and tight-ends, their inconsistency could be their fantasy undoing. The Rams DST is not a fantasy option.
NEXT UP: BYE
STEELERS (2-2) 10 v. 17 TEXANS (3-1)
Steelers: This game really exposed many of the problems the Steelers are experiencing this season on both the offensive side and defensive side of the ball. In this game, QB Ben Roethlisberger (206 yds., 11 rush yds., 0 TDs, 1 INT) was running for his life and may have sustained a significant foot injury. His performance was so bad that beside WR Mike Wallace (77 yds.) and WR Antonio Brown (67 yds.) posting some yards, the passing game was non-existent. RB Rashard Mendenhall (25 yds., 1 TD) likely disappointed most owners (he was injured), but this was a tough match-up to begin with. RB Isaac Redman (52 APY) was involved in the offense. The Steelers DST did not post a single defensive stat.
Fantasy Spin: While owners will have to monitor Roethlisberger’s injury status this week, fantasy owners should continue considering the Steelers main playmakers like QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Rashard Mendenhall, WR Mike Wallace. The Steelers DST is now difficult to start against good teams and could be benched if you have a better option. WR Antonio Brown is a player to consider adding.
NEXT UP: Titans
Texans: The Texans are a better team because of an improved defense. They also look like a team that could play with most teams, when healthy. That said, QB Matt Schaub (138 yds., 1 TD) struggled compared to last week, but to some degree, this was expected against a good Steelers pass defense. Yet, it didn’t help when WR Andre Johnson (36 yds.) exited the game with what appears to be a hamstring injury. Then, the Texans lost RB Ben Tate (20 yds.) to a groin injury. Well, thank goodness TE Owen Daniels (69 yds., 1 TD) and RB Arian Foster (166 APY, 1 TD) were able to carry the team. The Texans DST (5 sacks, 1 INT) had a great game and kept the pressure on all game long.
Fantasy Spin: This was a great win after last weekend’s disappointing loss. QB Matt Schaub, RB Arian Foster, and WR Andre Johnson (when healthy) should continue to be started in fantasy each and every week. With Andre Johnson possibly missing time, TE Owen Daniels’ role should only grow, as should WR Jacoby Jones’ role. The Texans DST continues to look like a solid unit. Keep considering the Texans DST for a weekly start.
NEXT UP: Raiders
Sunday, October 2nd
4:00 p.m. EST
FALCONS (2-2) 30 v. 28 SEAHAWKS (1-3)
Falcons: This was supposed to be a lop-sided victory for the Falcons, but it wasn’t. Indeed, this game likely says more about the Falcons defense than the Falcons offense. This wasn’t the greatest game for QB Matt Ryan (291 yds., 26 rush yds., 1 TD), but he did enough for the win. All of the Falcons’ receiving weapons got in on the action, including WR Roddy White (78 yds.), WR Julio Jones (127 yds.), and TE Tony Gonzalez (56 yds., 1 TD). RB Michael Turner (88 APY, 2 TDs) was awesome. The Falcons DST (2 INTs) started strong, but finished poorly.
Fantasy Spin: Continue to consider starting the Falcons main fantasy playmakers, like Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Roddy White, each and every week. TE Tony Gonzalez is a weekly match-up based play. WR Julio Jones followed up last week’s great performance with another great performance. Jones is a solid WR3, with upside, after the performance in this game. If the Falcons DST couldn’t do anything against a team giving up close to the most fantasy points to opposing defenses, it’s hard to think of playing the Falcons DST unless it involved a good match-up. The Falcons DST is simply not playing up to its potential when it needs to.
NEXT UP: Packers
Seahawks: Now, this is what Seahawks fans are talking about!!! With the improved quarterback play of QB Tavaris Jackson (319 yds., 16 rush yds., 3 TDs, 2 INTs), WR Sidney Rice (79 yds., 1 TD,. WR Mike Williams (36 yds., 1 TD) (injured), and WR Ben Obomanu (25 yds., 1 TD) each posted a TD. Also, little known WR Doug Baldwin (84 yds.) got in on the action. If you flexed RB Marshawn Lynch (57 APY, 1 TD), you chose well. TE Zach Miller (21 yds.) continues to contribute little. The Seahawks DST did not post a single defensive stat this week.
Fantasy Spin: This game changes everything. While it does not mean that QB Tavaris Jackson is an instant fantasy waiver wire add, it certainly means that he, along with other Seahawks players, have fantasy value. WR Sidney Rice looks like he has WR3 value going forward. Also, RB Marshawn Lynch becomes a better bye week replacement or match-up based play. And, likely long forgotten WR Mike Williams can be considered for a fantasy start if need be.
NEXT UP: at Giants
GIANTS (3-1) 31 v. 27 CARDINALS (1-3)
Giants: QB Eli Manning (321 yds., 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 1 FMBL) had another good game this week in a big win for the Giants. With WR Mario Manningham (10 yds.) supposedly in the doghouse, WR Hakeem Nicks (162 yds., 1 TD) and WR Victor Cruz (98 yds) had great games this week. Unfortunately, RB Ahmad Bradshaw (50 APY, 1 TD, 1 FMBL) didn’t have the kind of game owners likely expected from him, and RB Brandon Jacobs (18 yds., 1 TD) would have been awful, but for the touchdowns. The Giants DST (2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 DFR) was solid.
Fantasy Spin: Again, QB Eli Manning showed exactly what makes him such a threat on a week-to-week basis. WR Hakeem Nicks was great and remains a solid weekly start. WR Victor Cruz seems to have established himself as a regular part of the offense. Cruz looks like he may have WR3 value, with upside, going forward. RB Ahmad Bradshaw and RB Brandon Jacobs should continue to post weekly stats, and remain an RB2 and an RB3/flex-play, respectively. The Giants DST is finally coming on and you should consider them for future fantasy starts.
NEXT UP: Seahawks
Cardinals: Amazing. RB Beanie Wells (138 yds., 3 TDs) smoked a Giants team that you would think would be tougher against the rush than the pass. With the Cardinals establishing a solid rushing attack, QB Kevin Kolb (237 yds., 1 INT, 1 FMBL) struggled. However, WR Larry Fitzgerald (102 yds.) was able to post some good yardage for owners. WR Early Doucet (42 yds.) continued to produce but at a level less than optimal in fantasy football. Notably, TE Todd Heap (41 yds.) continued to be targeted in this game. The Cardinals DST (1 sack, 1 DFR) was not very good.
Fantasy Spin: WR Larry Fitzgerald remains a must-start in fantasy, and with the game RB Beanie Wells had this week, he should likely be considered for the weekly fantasy start. QB Kevin Kolb remains a bye-week replacement until he can get his game going. TE Todd Heap is bering more involved in the offense so he has bye-week appeal too.
NEXT UP: Vikings
BRONCOS (1-3) 23 v. 49 PACKERS (4-0)
Broncos: The Broncos were not expected to win this game against what is arguably the best team in the NFL. Still, QB Kyle Orton (273 yds., 3 TDs, 3 INTs) had a pretty good game this week. While WR Brandon Lloyd (136 yds.) posted some serious yardage, WR Eric Decker (56 yds., 2 TDs) blew it up by scoring twice. RB Knowshon Moreno continued to yield what should be his playing time to RB Willis McGahee (113 APY), who continued to take advantage of every opportunity. The Broncos DST (2 sacks, 2 INTs) played well, all things considered, but was simply outmatched.
Fantasy Spin: This is why QB Kyle Orton can be so valuable in fantasy, especially when he gets the chance to pass the football often. Unfortunately, if the Broncos keep losing, they may have no choice but to give QB Tim Tebow a chance to see what he has. When the Broncos pass the ball a lot, their receivers play well. WR Brandon Lloyd is still worth starting as a WR2 or WR3, and fantasy newcomer, WR Eric Decker, is due regular fantasy starts at this point as a solid WR3. With the Broncos riding the hot hand, RB Willis McGahee looks like he is this team’s primary rusher until further notice. Owners of RB Knowshon Moreno should hold tight, as it is only Week 5, and Moreno should get his chance again. Avoid the Broncos DST.
NEXT UP: Chargers
Packers: The Packers continued to dominate their opponent in this game. QB Aaron Rodgers (408 yds., 36 rush yds., 6 TDs, 1 INT) was amazing! Indeed, except for Week 3 darling, TE Jermichael Finley (28 yds.), Rodgers got each and every one of his receivers a TD: WR Greg Jennings (103 yds., 1 TD); WR Jordy Nelson (91 yds., 1 TD); WR James Jones (48 yds., 1 TD); and, WR Donald Driver (29 yds., 1 TD). Heck, even WR Randall Cobb (75 yds.) posted some good yards. Because RB Ryan Grant did not play in this game, RB James Starks (101 APY) got most of the carries in the game. The Packers DST (1 sack, 1 INT, 1 DFR) was decent, but for the score.
Fantasy Spin: QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Greg Jennings, WR Jordy Nelson, and TE Jermichael Finley should continue to be started on a weekly basis. Owners of RB James Starks should have been happy with Starks’ performance considering how much the Packers passed the ball in this game. However, RB Ryan Grant could be returning to duty in the near future, and this could cause Starks to lose some valuable carries. Keep starting the Packers DST.
NEXT UP: at Falcons
PATRIOTS (3-1) 31 v. 19 RAIDERS (2-2)
Patriots: The Patriots bounced back strong in Week 4. While this was certainly not the best game QB Tom Brady (226 yds., 2 TDs) has ever had, it was still a solid outing and WR Wes Welker (158 yds., 1 TD) continued to be the object of Brady’s affection. The Patriots took advantage of the Raider’s weaker rush defense which resulted in both RB Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis (84 APY, 1 TD) and Stevan Ridley (100 APY, 1 TD) getting into the end zone. Unfortunately, RB Danny Woodhead (13 yds.) continued to see less of the field (injured). WR Chad Ochocinco (26 yds.) and WR Deion Branch (4 yds, 1 TD) did little. The Patriots DST (2 INTs) continued to struggle.
Fantasy Spin: As you know, QB Tom Brady and WR Wes Welker are weekly must-starts, as is TE Rob Gronkowski, and when healthy, TE Aaron Hernandez. By now, owners have likely forgotten about WR Chad Ochocinco as WR Deion Branch is still ahead of him in terms of fantasy production. Even though RB Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis had a good game this week, it was a better game for RB Stevan Ridley. Green-Ellis is still likely the team’s work horse, but this is looking more and more like a potential time share. RB Danny Woodhead is now best used as a bye-week replacement. The Patriots DST is no better than a match-up based play.
NEXT UP: Jets
Raiders: As the Raiders were playing catch-up, QB Jason Campbell (344 yds., 29 rush yds., 1 TD, 2 INTs) was passing the ball often in this game, and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, a name not heard in fantasy circles in some time, put forth a tremendous performance. Unfortunately, besides a touchdown, WR Denarius Moore (19, 1 TD) did little in terms of yardage. Not a surprise that the Raiders rushing attack faired well, but the work this week seemed more evenly split between RB Darren McFadden (123 APY) and RB Michael Bush (81 APY, 1 TD). Notably, TE Kevin Boss (78 yds.) had his best game of the season and seemed all the part of the Raiders offense. The Raiders DST (1 sack) played tough but that was not reflected in the stat column.
Fantasy Spin: RB Darren McFadden is the Raider to start in fantasy each and every week. WR Denarius Moore still looks decent for fantasy, but with these kinds of performances, is no better than a WR3 if your usual WR3 pulls a tough match-up. Definitely, RB Michael Bush should be owned as it is a long season.
NEXT UP: Texans
DOLPHINS (0-4) 16 v. 26 CHARGERS (3-1)
Dolphins: The Dolphins had all types of problems in this game and may have lost QB Chad Henne (27 yds., 1 INT) to injury. In his stead, back-up QB Matt Moore (167 yds., 1 INT) had a pretty awful outing, as did WR Brandon Marshall (52 yds.). No other Dolphins receiver posted any stats of significance in this game. Indeed, the Dolphins could not even get their rushing attack going and RB Reggie Bush (65 APY) and back-up RB Lex Hilliard (38 APY, 1 TD) just barely broke one hundred combined yards between the two of them. The Dolphins DST (2 sacks) didn’t do much to stop the Chargers.
Fantasy Spin: The Dolphins are not only struggling, but they very much appear to be a team that could free fall even at this early point in the season, especially if QB Chad Henne loses significant time due to his injury. While QB Matt Moore showed promise when with the Panthers, he hasn’t looked good for a while, and unless he gets it together, this will likely hurt the fantasy value of WR Brandon Marshall. Right now, the Dolphins could use a healthy RB Daniel Thomas, coupled with a playmaking RB Reggie Bush, to carry the team. The bye week could not have come at a better time and look for the Dolphins to likely add a free-agent quarterback (like David Garaard) or see if the Bengals will finally deal Carson Palmer, to help get them through their struggles.
NEXT UP: BYE
Chargers: QB Philip Rivers (307 yds., 18 rush yds., 1 TD, 0 INTs) obviously didn’t have the greatest game of his career, but it was enough for the win. WR Vincent Jackson (108 yds., 1 TD) did well, but shockingly, no other Chargers receiver did anything of significance, including WR Malcolm Floyd (26 yds.) or WR Patrick Crayton (3 yds.). Notably, TE Randy McMichael (25 yds.) ws hardly used in the passing game, even though facing a team that is among those teams giving up the most fantasy points to opposing TEs. RB Ryan Mathews (149 APY) continues to look like a player ready to be his team’s No. 1 running back. Unfortunately, this seems to mean the role of RB Mike Tolbert (68 APY) could decrease. The Chargers DST (3 sacks, 2 INTs) did just fine this week.
Fantasy Spin: Even though QB Philip Rivers seems to be under-performing, he is still playing well by fantasy standards. WR Vincent Jackson has been one of the best this season in fantasy. As for their running backs, RB Ryan Mathews still looks like he has turned the corner and is becoming an elite running back. Mathews is a solid RB2 at this time. While RB Mike Tolbert seems to have taken a step back in the offense, owners should not panic just yet because Tolbert’s role in fantasy remains as a solid weekly flex-play. Here’s hoping TE Antonio Gates returns to the gridiron soon because the Chargers seemed to make it abundantly clear that TE Randy McMichael is not a tight-end they will use like Gates, even in favorable match-ups. The Chargers DST can continue being started in fantasy for now.
NEXT UP: at Broncos
Sunday, October 2nd
8:30 p.m. EST
JETS (2-2) 17 v. 34 RAVENS (3-1)
Jets: The way the Jets lost this game was awful. If you look over the box score of this team’s fantasy players, it is pretty ugly. QB Mark Sanchez (119 yds., 1 INT, 3 FMBLs); WR Santonio Holmes (33 yds.); WR Plaxico Burress (33 yds.); TE Dustin Keller (12 yds.); RB LaDanian Tomlinson (1 APY); and, RB Shonn Greene (23 yds.). The Jets DST (2 sacks, 1 INT, 2 DFRs, 2 DTD) did everything it could to keep the team in the game.
Fantasy Spin: This is why QB Mark Sanchez has not reached elite quarterback status yet. It is also why Sanchez is better suited as a match-up based play, or bye week replacement. Regardless of what happened in this game, one has to believe WR Santonio Holmes will begin connecting with Sanchez at some point this season. WR Plaxico Burress is certainly worth a look as a WR3, with upside, when your regular starter pulls a tough match-up. Burress would get regular fantasy starts if he played with some consistency. Even though this was a bad game, TE Dustin Keller should likely be started unless the match-up is bad. Continue giving RB Shonn Greene the starts, as the Jets have indicated that they plan to try running the ball more often as he is still the team’s No. 1 RB, worthy of an RB2 start in fantasy. RB LaDanian Tomlinson is still at best a flex-play due to some inconsistency. The Jets DST remains a weekly must-start.
NEXT UP: at Patriots
Ravens: This week was the downside of the roller coaster that has been QB Joe Flacco (163 yds., 0 TDs, 1 INT, 1 FMBL), and the Ravens players in the receiving game — WR Anquan Boldin (28 yds.), WR Torrey Smith (1 yd.), and TE Ed Dickson (45 yds.) — all suffered. Thank goodness RB Ray Rice (130 APY, 1 TD) was able to get some offense going on the field. The Ravens DST (2 sacks, 1 INT, 4 DFRs, 3 TDs) won this game for the Ravens.
Fantasy Spin: One week a good performance, one week a bad performance. If QB Joe Flacco could put together a string of great performances together, he would be a weekly fantasy starter. In the meantime, Flacco remains a match-up based play. RB Ray Rice and WR Anquan Boldin remain weekly must-starts. As for WR Torrey Smith, this was indeed a disappointment after last week’s amazing performance and he is likely best kept on fantasy pines for now. This could have reopened the door for WR Lee Evans who may be back of the Week 5 bye. At this point, TE Ed Dickson looks like the third-best target on the team after Rice and Boldin. Dickson makes for a solid TE2. As for the Ravens DST, keep starting them!
NEXT UP: BYE
Monday, October 3rd
8:30 p.m. EST
COLTS (0-4) 17 v. 24 BUCCANEERS (3-1)
Colts: This week, the Colts played much better than they have since the beginning of the season, and much of the credit belongs to QB Curtis Painter (281 yds., 2 TDs, 1 FMBL) who got the offense moving, and WR Pierre Garcon (146 yds., 2 TDs) who continues to get regular touches, or break big plays. Indeed, wile not the greatest stat lines, TE Dallas Clark (46 yds.) and WR Reggie Wayne (59 yds.) looked better than they have in a while. Unfortunately, WR Austin Collie (16 yds.) is not really a part of this offense. On the other hand, the rushing game took a step back with RB Jospeh Addai (48 APY) and RB Delone Carter (21 yds.) doing little. The Colts DST (2 sacks) couldn’t stop the Buccaneers’ offense in this game.
Fantasy Spin: While the offense of the Colts in this game was far less productive than when under the reigns of Peyton Manning, it still looked like a team that could start gelling. It is as if the team is beginning to understand its new identity. In any case, there is some hope here. As for fantasy football, playing Colts players is still difficult because they have been so inconsistent. With the bye weeks, there should be some pretty good match-up based plays for WR Reggie Wayne and even TE Dallas Clark. Also, QB Curtis Painter is looking like a sleeper right now because the numbers he posted in this game (granted, most were totaled on two long runs after the catch by Garcon) weren’t bad. WR Pierre Garcon made a case to be on fantasy rosters given he has had two back-to-back weeks whereby he posted good numbers. Pick up Garcon if he is still available on your waivers.
NEXT UP: Chiefs
Buccaneers: The Buccaneers finally had back-to-back wins, but you can’t say it was pretty. QB Josh Freeman (287 yds., 27 rush yds., 2 TDs, 0 INTs) had a solid outing as did RB LaGarrette Blount (141 APY, 1 TD), finally! However, WR Mike Williams (66 yds.) still struggled to make his mark, as did TE Kellen Winslow (33 yds.). Indeed, it was WR Preston Parker (70 yds., 1 TD) who stepped up among the Bucs’ receiving options. The Bucs DST (4 sacks, 1 DFR) looked good again this week.
Fantasy Spin: Owners of QB Josh Freeman can breathe a small sigh of relief. It would be nice if Freeman could string a couple of these types of performances together so he could get regular, weekly fantasy starts without owners worrying. For now, if your other QB has a better match up, you should at least consider your other QB for the start. RB LaGarrette Blount made it two weeks in a row for good performances, and even scored a TD. He would have had two TDs had Freeman not kept one for himself at the one-yard line. Blount should still be treated like an RB2 except in the most difficult of match-ups. WR Mike Williams and TE Kellen Winslow continue to struggle, and here’s hoping they turn their seasons around soon. The Bucs DST continues to show signs of life and should continue to be fantasy worthy, based on the match-up.
NEXT UP: at Forty-Niners
Good luck this week!