NFL Week 4 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em (cont.)
RB Tim Hightower, TE Fred Davis, WR Santana Moss
The Redskins lost Monday night because they could not commit to the run. The Rams have allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL through three games, so it should be another productive week for Hightower owners. Davis should rebound, even if the Rams are No. 1 in fantasy against TEs to date. They haven't faced a talent like Davis, and Chris Cooley might be improving, but he still isn't 100 percent healthy.
QB Sam Bradford, RB Steven Jackson, RB Cadillac Williams
The Redskins defense hasn't played poorly and they have held up pretty well against QBs (No. 7 against them in fantasy). Bradford had a rough outing against the Ravens, so trusting him against the Redskins shouldn't be necessary. Bradford is more of a bye-week replacement QB in fantasy until someone develops in his receiving corps. As for the Rams' backs, Jackson is healthy enough to play but not to star. The Redskins have an underrated run defense, so Williams won't be a particularly productive flex option either.
QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, WR Roddy White, WR Julio Jones, TE Tony Gonzalez, D/ST Falcons, K Matt Bryant
Seattle is going to need a lot more than the 12th man to slow a Falcons team coming off a tough road loss (their second of the season) and heading into a game against the Packers. Every one of your Falcons are worth playing here. This one should be over early, and Turner, who was slowed last week, should be allowed to mop up late.
WR Sidney Rice
Rice was able to overcome injury and the uninspiring play of his quarterback to have a breakthrough Week 3. It makes him a candidate to start in all leagues, even if his supporting cast stinks. The Seahawks likely will play from behind here and maybe even turn to Charlie Whitehurst to open things up. It will be very interesting to see if Tarvaris Jackson lasts another week as the unquestioned starter.
RB Marshawn Lynch
Lynch wasn't able to impress much last week and this Sunday he gets another elite run defense to deal with. The Falcons know stopping the Seahawks' running game cripples that offense, so Lynch should be followed closely all over the field in this one. Lynch owners just haven't had any luck with his matchups out of the gate. He has faced some of the league's best.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, WR Hakeem Nicks, WR Mario Manningham, K Lawrence Tynes, D/ST Giants
Eli Manning has looked like a world-beater again in the past six quarters. Maybe he was just kicked the offseason rust off. He gets Manningham back here and Nicks should prove healthier and more productive. Bradshaw will be busy on the ground or through the air. In fact, all of the Giants, including Brandon Jacobs and the revived defense figure to be viable plays.
QB Kevin Kolb, TE Todd Heap
The Giants still are banged up in the secondary. If they didn't beat up the Eagles with the pass rush last week, they would have wound up giving up a lot of yards again. Kolb should be gashing the Giants with Larry Fitzgerald and his tight end here. This is about the best time to be starting Kolb, who should know the Giants well from his Eagles days. If you need a sleeper option for a defense, the Cardinals are not a bad play. Manning's error-prone ways, and sack-prone line, could get them some points.
RB Beanie Wells
He is dealing with injury and, if he plays, he is going to be facing a very good Giants defensive line. The linebackers are nothing to write home about, but the Giants are more susceptible to the pass, and therefore backs don't rack up a lot of rushing yards against them. This is not a week to trust a Cards running back, especially if Wells is held out again.
WR Victor Cruz
Cruz was a monster in his first start of his career, but a potential return of Manningham from a concussion and a move back to the slot should force Cruz back to the fantasy pine. He is a decent stashee as a bye-week replacement but counting on him week to week is not advisable ... yet.
RB James Starks, RB Ryan Grant, WR Jordy Nelson, D/ST Packers, K Mason Crosby
There is no good reason to sit any Packers. They finally had running out the clock on the ground in their playbook last week and the Broncos don't figure to pose much of a challenge here. Starks is the better play over Grant, even if Grant is going to be doing the starting and finishing. Starks is a more explosive talent for fantasy owners and should get more touches this week than he did against the stout Bears run defense.
WR Brandon Lloyd
This looks like a start all Packers, sit all Broncos game. Lloyd proved healthy and productive enough to consider using again, so get him back active. The Broncos figure to fall behind and there should be garbage-time yardage for Lloyd and Eric Decker.
RB Knowshon Moreno, RB Willis McGahee, WR Donald Driver, WR James Jones
The Broncos might want to run the ball, but the Packers just might have taken over as the best run defense in the NFL. They have allowed a league-low 98 yards on the ground and no touchdowns to backs. They have given up 30 catches and 315 yards to backs out of the backfield, both league highs, but neither of these Broncos backs are real receiving threats. As for the Packers receivers, Driver and Jones look like low-end bye-week replacements as Jermichael Finley, Greg Jennings and Nelson just get too many of the good looks.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, D/ST Patriots
The Patriots coming off a loss is a scary proposition for anyone. The Raiders are going to struggle to contend with Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Deion Branch if they couldn't handle the Bills and the Jets. The Raiders don't have a bad run defense, but they have given up the third-most points to backs in fantasy. It should make Green-Ellis more productive than he has been and perhaps even the likes of Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley sleepers if you are desperate for a flex option. The Pats defense was abused by the Bills, but expect them to rally against a Raiders offense that doesn't have a real receiving threat.
RB Darren McFadden, WR Denarius Moore, K Sebastian Janikowski
The Raiders sure didn't look bad against the Jets, but that was mostly McFadden's doing. He is a big banged up, but he should play, and if he plays, he is too good to sit. Moore has broken through and should be a candidate for yardage and perhaps scores as the Raiders are forced to try to keep up with the up-tempo Pats.
WR Chad Ochocinco
You don't really need us to tell you this, but Ochocinco is a fantasy zero. Somehow, Brady is on pace for a record season and Ochocinco has done nothing to contribute for the Pats or fantasy owners. We still say there will eventually be a spark here, but you aren't justified starting him in fantasy until that comes, or the bye weeks necessitate you using him again.
RB Ryan Mathews, RB Mike Tolbert
It has been difficult to know which Chargers back is going to have a good week, but we should be fairly confident both are going to be productive here. The loss of Antonio Gates makes the Chargers more reliant on the run and the short passing game. Both Mathews and Tolbert will be busy. You obviously shouldn't be sitting Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson in any leagues, even if they let you down last week against the Chiefs.
WR Brandon Marshall
Marshall is coming off a disappointing week in Cleveland and he faces one of the league's best secondaries. He should remain active, though, especially since the Dolphins figure to have to throw from behind to keep up.
RB Daniel Thomas, RB Reggie Bush
Thomas is all the Dolphins seem to have going right, but you still have to sit him against a Chargers front that has given up the fourth-fewest points to backs in fantasy. The Chargers also figure to run away in this one early, so sticking to the run will be made more difficult. You might consider Bush to be a factor in a rally through the passing game, but he just isn't worth trusting at this point. His fumble a week ago was costly and could have him in the doghouse.
D/ST Jets, D/ST Ravens, K Nick Folk
The Jets defense was beaten up on the ground last week against the Raiders, but you shouldn't be looking to replace them in your fantasy lineup. This should be a game played close to the vest and defenses should dominate the action, regardless of some of the games these teams have played to date. Expect sacks, some turnovers and mostly field goals. Ray Rice is about the only must start on both rosters, although you can make a case for Dustin Keller. The rest will be "use them at your own risk."
RB Shonn Greene, RB LaDainian Tomlinson
It is easy to suggest sitting a slew of Jets and Ravens in this one, but it didn't really play out that way when the Ravens played the Steelers in Week 1. The important ones to avoid here are those above. Greene hasn't gotten enough touches to be a useful fantasy starter, and L.T. is getting his points as a pass receiver, something you cannot count on week to week. Neither are advisable plays against the Ravens' run defense.
WR Torrey Smith
Like the Giants' Cruz, Smith is this week's case of "congrats on winning him off waivers, now sit him." Smith is an intriguing talent and he is finally healthy and getting looks after this surprise three-TD effort last week, but the Jets corners are tough and Smith is no guarantee to be as involved every week. Stash him, sure, but don't start him in a tough matchup like this one.
RB Joseph Addai, WR Reggie Wayne, K Adam Vinatieri
The Colts finally figured out the way they could compete post-Peyton Manning: run the ball and control the clock. They managed to do it against the best run defense in the NFL, so doing it against the Bucs should be a lot more likely. A revived running game, in addition to a potential change to Curtis Painter at quarterback, could ignite Wayne this week. Don't give up on Vinatieri here either. The Colts are going to finally move the ball, even if the bad QB play will get them stalled in the red zone.
RB LeGarrette Blount, QB Josh Freeman, WR Mike Williams, TE Kellen Winslow, K Connor Barth, D/ST Buccaneers
This should easily be the most productive week yet for everyone on the Bucs. They have held up fairly well against a rigorous early schedule. The Colts shouldn't be much of an obstacle for your primary Bucs weapons. We have waited for a matchup this juicy to watch the likes of Blount, Freeman, Williams and Winslow to take off. You should also consider using Barth and the Bucs D/ST in any format.
WR Pierre Garcon, TE Dallas Clark, WR Austin Collie
Garcon is clearly a third option behind Wayne and Clark and Collie remains nonexistent. It will be interesting to see if the running game can open things up some for the Colts, but expecting it to come on the road here without any certainty at the quarterback position is not advisable. Pick these guys up if they were dropped but consider them bye-week options.
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com, including the Start 'em, Sit 'em, the Weekend Fantasy Watch List and his Sunday night staple Fantasy Football Fast Forward. If you need a further clarification on lineups this week hit him up on Twitter. You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy.
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