Usually, by this time (after week 3) of an NFL season, we have seen some surprise performances and this year certainly does not disappoint. In a 'bizarro' week, plenty of teams suffered upsets and a lot of high fantasy point players were not familiar names or even rostered in most leagues. What does it all mean? We'll let you know what might stick and what you should disregard.
Listen to the Fantasy Finish Line Ep5: week 4 Preview
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Simply put, a confidence pool is a love-hate relationship!
In week 2, well, it was pretty hateful! So many upsets and so many points lost on games that the majority of the country could not have predicted! In week 3, however, the pool saw the error of its ways and gave us a more loving result. After the early Sunday games, we were still rocking a perfect board!
It’s a good thing, too. Now we have bye weeks to deal with. With a solid week 3, that puts us at a good spot as most confidence pools will be losing lines 14, 15 and 16 this week with six teams on a bye. With the number of possible points decreased starting this week, it’s good that we got them when we could!
On to week 4! HERE WE GO!!
(HOME TEAM IN CAPS)
13 – INDIANAPOLIS over Tennessee – The Colts have given me nothing but reasons to have nothing but confidence in them this season – especially when playing a team that seems to be as confused as the Titans. This shouldn’t be close.
12 – SAN DIEGO over Jacksonville – After being down 30-0 at halftime, the Jaguars turned to their future and brought Blake Bortles into the game. While it’s a great move for the future, their present is still pretty bleak.
11 – PITTSBURGH over Tampa Bay – The Steelers run game exploded last week against one of the top defenses in the league. The Bucs, well they imploded in Atlanta. A switch back to Mike Glennon at quarterback might help, but the Steelers are just too much to leave much doubt that they’ll lose this game.
10 – WASHINGTON over New York Giants – The Redskins lost a shootout last week. Lucky for them they now have an offense that can produce a shootout every week. The Giants on the other hand cannot. Kirk Cousins has seemingly lit a fire in the nation’s capital so much so that this week’s BOLD PREDICTION is that Kirk Cousins will be a starting quarterback in week 1 of 2015 … and that will be with the Redskins.
9 – Miami over OAKLAND – Yes the Raiders are the “home” team this week, but this home team has to travel across the country…and THEN across the pond to London. The Dolphins would be higher if they knew what they were doing at quarterback but either way they should be able to handle the Raiders.
8 – KANSAS CITY over New England – The Patriots were only able to put the ball in the end zone ONCE against the Raiders at home last week and just squeaked out the win. The Chiefs on the other hand finally found their offense groove last week. It’s hard to see the Pats stopping the Chiefs on a Monday night in Arrowhead this week.
7 – SAN FRANCISCO over Philadelphia – I’m still not throwing the towel in on the 9ers. They have started with a tough schedule with games against an undefeated Cardinals team (in Glendale) and games against the Bears and Cowboys. The Eagles rely heavily on their high-powered offense which San Fran should be able to contain.
6 – Detroit over NEW YORK JETS – Detroit looked pretty bad last week in beating the Packers, but I believe that was just a bad game. I’m confident that the Lions will bounce back for a road win, just not too confident.
5 – CHICAGO over Green Bay – The league’s fiercest rivalry is renewed in Soldier Field this week. The Bears’ injury questions leave me questioning them a bit, but the Packers haven’t seemed to find their groove yet this year so Chicago should be able to take this one. I have a feeling that the home team will be winning both games this season.
4 – HOUSTON over Buffalo – This game depends on the health of Arian Foster. If he plays, then keep the Texans here. If not, then slide them down a bit – maybe even put the Bills on the 1-2 line.
3 – Carolina over BALTIMORE – After last week's debacle, the Panthers will have a big point to prove. I’m not confident on a road team in Baltimore, but the Carolina D will look to return to form and shut down the Ravens.
2 – Atlanta over MINNESOTA – A new era has begun in Minnesota with Teddy Bridgewater now under center. Couple that with the fact that the game is being played in Minnesota and that gives me SOME reason to question the outcome, but the Vikings just have too many injury and legal issues to keep up with the Falcons.
1 – DALLAS over New Orleans – Sunday Night’s matchup is a good one. The fact that the game is in Jerry’s house makes it a toss-up. I think the ‘Boys will use the momentum from their comeback in St. Louis last week to propel them to a big win.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 3 was a big one for the current rookie class. First round quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater got their first taste of NFL action, and it won’t be short lived. Matt Cassel is on injured reserve and Gus Bradley as anointed Bortles the Jaguars’ starter for the remainder of the season. It was another solid week for the rookie receivers too, with big performances from Kelvin Benjamin, Jordan Matthews and John Brown. With the first bye week of the season upon us, it’ll be even more critical to pay attention to the rooks since you might need some of them to fill in for your studs who are taking the week off. With that in mind, let’s dive right in to the week 4 outlook…
Rookies to Start:
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 4: @Bal.): Kelvin is quickly earning automatic start status as long as your league requires 3 WRs. Regardless of matchup, KB is going to see plenty of targets and is a tough cover for just about anyone due to his size. The Ravens allow the 7th most points to opposing WRs thus far. Don’t overthink this. For the record, I was wrong about Benjamin in the preseason. His drop issues still remain, but he sees so much volume as the clear number one WR in Carolina, he’ll keep producing.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (Wk. 4: @Dal.): While the Cowboys’ defense hasn’t exactly lived up to the “historically bad” hype, but Cooks’s speed will give the ‘Boys fits. You should feel comfortable firing him up as a WR3 in PPR leagues.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 4: vs. Atl.): The Atlanta Falcons have a really good offense. They also have a really bad defense. That should equate to Teddy throwing it a bit more than the Vikes would like and he should have success when he does. Matt Cassel was averaging under 6 yards per attempt this season, and Bridgewater was at 7.5 in his first game action. Granted it’s a small sample size, but Teddy could be in line for a really strong first start. He should be a high-end QB2 this week.
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 4: @SD): Bortles should be a low-end QB2 option this week. There’s a little fear that the Chargers will be able to control the clock and keep the ball out of Bortles’s hands. If the Jags’ defense can get off the field, there are some factors working in Blake’s favor. SD has allowed a QB rating of over 100 through the first 3 games, is missing one of their best defensive players in Melvin Ingram, and haven’t picked off a pass yet this season. Add in that the Jaguars will be playing from behind, and there’s potential for a nice fantasy day.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. 4: vs. Car.): The only thing keeping me from saying to start Zo-Bot for sure are the reports that the Ravens plan to reinsert Bernard Pierce as the starter. Taliaferro was outstanding against the Browns, and has earned himself a share of the workload, and the Panthers’ defense isn’t nearly as stingy as you might think. They’ve allowed a whopping 6 yards per carry through 3 games and were gashed by the Steelers on Sunday night. I like Taliaferro as a flex this week.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 4: @Ind.): Sankey’s role is growing quickly, and the Colts have allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing RBs at 21.7 points per game. Greene is still the starter, but I think Sankey sees a good amount of work this week and is a decent bet for double-digit fantasy points. I’d say better than a 50/50 shot in PPR leagues.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 4: @Hou.): I like Watkins the most of any WR listed as borderline this week since the Texans have given up plenty of yards to opposing WRs, but with E.J. at QB, there’s always some risk of a bust game. If I had to guess, I’d expect him to put up 70-80 yards but he could certainly fall short.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 4: @Pit.): Evans certainly seemed to benefit from having Mike Glennon under center in week 3, but Glennon fed targets to Vincent Jackson last season. Granted, he didn’t have another weapon like Evans, but I’d want to play the waiting game with this situation before I roll with Evans. He could have a really strong game this week, but it would probably come from my bench.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 4: @SF): Matthews makes an intriguing bye week fill-in option. The 49ers have allowed the 2nd most points to opposing WRs through the first 3 weeks, and Matthews has clearly been better than Riley Cooper thus far. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matthews find double-digit points again, and I’m pretty confident he’ll have at least 6. He’s a better PPR play than standard.
WR Allen Robinson, JAX (Wk. 4: @SD): Robinson is quickly becoming the go-to guy in Jacksonville. The Jaguars will play from behind a lot, so there’s a ton of long term upside. Bortles leaned on Robinson after getting in against Indy and will likely continue to do so. 60-70 yards seems like the floor for what he could do this week.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 4: vs. Mia.): I’m still not ready to trust Carr. He’s lost his top receiver Rod Streater for the year and has a non-existent run game. This week the Raiders get to travel 8 or 9 time zones east to play in London. Hard to imagine Carr has a banner day. Leave him out of your lineup if you’ve got him.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 4: vs. Buf.): It looks like Arian Foster is going to play in week 4. If he doesn’t, Blue would get a slight bump to borderline, but the Bills run D has been stingy. The Texans will certainly run, but Blue would be no lock to match his week 3 output.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 4: vs. Atl.): I love McKinnon’s raw talent and he does have a tasty matchup, but for some reason the Vikings seem committed to plodder Matt Asiata. With AP out, the Vikings are in dire need of playmakers and McKinnon and Cordarrelle Patterson are the best options. Norv Turner just doesn’t know how to use them right now. If the Vikes change course on Asiata, Jerick could be in for a big day. I just don’t see it happening.
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL (Wk. 4: @Min.): Not much analysis needed here. There are just too many mouths to feed in the Falcons’ backfield in a pass-happy offense to make Freeman a viable fantasy play right now.
WRs Allen Hurns & Marqise Lee, JAX (Wk. 4: @SD): Hurns totaled just one catch in week 3, albeit a 60+ yard touchdown catch. He just won’t see enough volume with Cecil Shorts back in the mix. Lee, meanwhile, likely won’t even play this week due to injury. Even if he does suit up, he still has work to do to establish a role and rapport with Bortles.
TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TB (Wk. 4: @Pit.): ASJ is a tempting option with the Steelers allowing 12.3 points per game to opposing tight ends so far, but I just don’t trust this offense to get him the ball enough for a productive day.
Rookies on Byes this week: RBs Isaiah Crowell & Terrance West, CLE, RB Jeremy Hill, CIN, RB Marion Grice, ARI, WR John Brown, ARI, and WR Cody Latimer, DEN
Deep League Sleepers:
QB Zach Mettenberger, TEN (Wk. 4: @Ind.): This one will require a little monitoring of the situation. Jake Locker is questionable with a wrist injury, but it’s not certain whether it’ll be Mett or Charlie Whitehurst who would start in his place. It’s a great matchup with the Colts giving up a ton of points to opposing QBs, and Mettenberger has the ability to take advantage.
RB Carlos Hyde, SF (Wk. 4: vs. Phi.): Hyde would be a ballsy play, even in deep leagues, but there has been a bunch of speculation that the 49ers will go back to playing bully ball and pounding it on the ground this week to try to get back on track. If they do that, Hyde will certainly see a decent share of carries.
RB Branden Oliver, SD (Wk. 4: vs. Jax.): The Jaguars have been giving up 28.7 points per game to opposing RBs so far this year, easily the worst in the league. Do your really think Donald Brown will do that much damage? The Chargers did add Shaun Draughn this week, but they won’t have time to work him into the gameplan. It’ll be Oliver getting the number 2 carries. I think the Chargers will realize that giving Donald Brown 31 carries a week when the RB group is thin to begin with is a recipe for disaster. I like Oliver to top 50 yards and possibly find paydirt.
RB Marion Grice, ARI (Wk. 4: Bye): I know it’s silly to list a player on a bye, but people should be aware of him as a possible stash. The Cardinals swiped him from San Diego’s practice squad, and he could find a role in this offense. Andre Ellington is playing through an injured foot, Jonathan Dwyer likely won’t be on the field this year, and Stepfan Taylor just isn’t very good. Grice is a versatile player who should be getting 5-10 touches per game before long.
WR Philly Brown, CAR (Wk. 4: @Bal.): Brown caught a surprising 7 passes in week 3 with Jerricho Cotchery out. If Cotchery misses another week, Brown is an interesting PPR option against a team that has struggled to contain possession receivers and was gouged by Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins a week ago. As I mentioned earlier, the Ravens have allowed the 7th most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND (Wk. 4: vs. Ten.): Moncrief got involved in the 2nd half last week despite a big Colts lead and he was impressive. He could surprise again this week if T.Y. Hilton can’t play despite the likely scenario that Indy wins big. It’s only a matter of time before the Colts realize Moncrief is a better WR than Hakeem Nicks.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk. 4: vs. Det.): Amaro has started to make his presence felt, and the only players the Lions’ defense has been at all generous too are the tight ends, allowing 9.3 points per game to them so far. I like Amaro to catch for over 50 yards this week with a chance for more.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you survive the season’s first bye week unscathed. As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Every week there are a few surprises that make us rethink what we know (or think we know, anyway) about player and team values going into the rest of the season. Because it's so early in the season a lot can still change but it's important to stay on top of it. Let me help out with a little analysis from this week's surprises..
- Joe Flacco put up 327 yards and 3 TD's against Carolina.. that makes him the #10 overall QB in standard scoring fantasy leagues so far this year. Their next few matchups are against the Colts, Bucs and Falcons - all of which are in the bottom 3rd of passing defenses so far this year. Great bye week fill-in, or possible week-to-week starter for the rest of the season? Doesn't matter, really.. if you need him for a bye week, grab him now. Otherwise, hold on to him for the next few weeks and sell him as high as possible (this holds mostly true in 2 QB or very deep leagues)!
- Jerick McKinnon breaks out with 18 carries fro 135 yards and 1 reception for 17 yards against the Falcons. Matt Asiata is still the starter, but is averaging less than 3.4 yards a carry through the first 4 weeks. We're likely to see some sort of split between Asiata and McKinnon now with Asiata being the more desirable back on passing downs and McKinnon the clear winner between the tackles. Jerick is an athletic freak and should be picked up for upside in just about every league.
- Steve Smith may be 35, but he's an absolute stud and showed it out there against his former team. Putting up 7 receptions for 139 yards and 2 TD's delivered on his 'blood and guts' promise. I still think we can expect a slowdown toward the middle and end of the season based purely on his age but this guy is a fighter and every-week WR2 from here on out. If Flacco can get both Smiths on track at the same time, the Ravens are an awfully dangerous team.
- Martellus Bennett has surprised everyone this year but his production (9 for 134 against the Packers on Sunday and the fantasy points leader with 53 to Jimmy Graham's 50 in standard leagues) may not be sustainable. We only have to look at stud WR Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery's numbers here to see what's going on: both generally picked to be top-10 receivers in the preseason, Marshall is currently #13 (42.4) and Jeffery #22 (34.7). With Marshall slightly hobbled and Jeffery also having issues earlier this season (he looks alright now) I expect a regression for Bennett back to Earth and a boost for Jeffery while Marshall gets right.
- Cowboys look GREAT, Patriots look terrible out there.. Romo was the 7th highest fantasy scorer out there this week with 262 yards and 3 TD's. Murray is currently the best RB in the NFL and Bryant and Williams look great. Witten had his best game of the year with 5 receptions for 61 yards but still hasn't seen the end-zone.
Meanwhile, Brady and Co. were abyssmal with no one performing at their expected levels except for Brandon LaFell who looked comfortable out there and put up 6 receptions for 119 yards and 1 TD. Is the Chiefs defense back in business, or are we witnessing the fall of the great Tom Brady? He did say that he would play until he sucked.. well? Brady?
Eh, we'll expect to see him under center again this week vs. the Bengals but we no longer have faith in Brady or the Patriots in general on a consistent basis until they can show us otherwise. That said, Gronkowski is averaging a TD per game and Edelman is averaging over 6 catches per game so yeah.. keep those guys in.
We're joined by fantasy football veteran and former drinkfive.com contributor Vince Foss as we discuss the very best plays moving forward into championship week. We'll analyze the matchups and go over recent NFL news and updates that can impact the production of your players.
For Fantasy Football team managers, playing in week 15 is all about making the right starts to get to the championship. Whether you fought hard to get into the playoffs from the bottom of the league or coasted into a bye spot early on, everyone is on an even playing field and (in most cases) only has one shot.
We'll be paying special attention to the players that you should and shouldn't start in week 15 and what matchups to keep in mind should you make the championship game in Week 16. We're joined by regular guest and drinkfive.com contributor Mike Mocerino.
Welcome back! We're joined this week by fantasy football veteran Matt Ellis to discuss the best starts moving forward into Week 13. This is the last week of the regular season of most fantasy football leagues, so put your best foot forward!