Greetings and salutations fantasy fanatics; and welcome to week 4! I hope everyone had successful fantasy weekend. We’re only three weeks in, but it already appears to be one of the most difficult and trying years for fantasy sports. Thankfully, we’re beginning to see trends emerging and our image of studs/duds is beginning to show in perfect 1080p clarity.
Week 4 is quite important, as we’re finally faced with the dreaded “BYE” WEEKS! Please hear that in an ominous voice. Bye weeks generally are the bringers of stress, as people rarely draft according to bye weeks. If so, you’re making a bit of a mistake. I’d rather draft the best players and then patchwork my team, opposed to drafting replacements so I don’t have bye week issues. In week 4, some prolific teams are on bye (Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Rams, Cardinals, Seahawks), which will result in frenetic waiver wire action. Looking at those teams, it’s evident that other positions are more adversely effected than TE and QB; however Peyton Manning, Andy Dalton and Russell Wilsons are regular starters on fantasy teams. At tight end, it’s a little softer, as we only really care about Jordan Cameron (he still plays I swear) and Julius Thomas. That doesn’t mean there isn’t value to be gleaned for owners of other tight ends. Clearly, we’ve seen that it’s a rather volatile position, as evidenced by the immense fluctuation of top players; so each week there is something to learn and another player to watch on the waivers. Plus, we all play in multiple leagues and I doubt everyone drafts the same teams every time! Why would you, right?
Since this column comes out on Friday, you’ve most likely already made your moves. If not, there is still hope and there are still plenty of opportunities to snag valuable players to support your team through these tricky weeks. Constant vigilance kiddies.
Let’s take a look at how my predictions panned out in week 3. After all, it couldn’t be worse than week 2 (2 for 10), right?
Andrew Luck – I predicted him as the top fantasy QB for week 3 and he was! My projections were low, but he was the man.
Predicted Stats – 311 Yards, 2 TD, 22 RuYD, 1 RuTD
Actual Stats – 370 Yards, 4 TD, 15 RuYD, 0 RuTD
Philip Rivers – I put this is the right column as well. Rivers continues to be a top 10 play, and will be from here on out.
Predicted Stats – 297 Yards, 2 TD
Actual Stats – 256 Yards, 2 TD
Kirk Cousins – I have him as a play, though I was a little low on the numbers. I still consider this a hit as he was a big player in week 3. I missed on the yards though.
Predicted Stats – 311 Yards, 2 TD, 2 Int
Actual Stats – 427 Yards, 3 TD, 1 Int
Jake Locker – Well Mr. Locker, this is one category you didn’t want me to be right on. Welcome to dumpsville (Yes, I shamelessly steal from Fantasy Focus, but I admit it).
Predicted Stats – 199 yards, 0 TD, 2 Int
Actual Stats – 185 Yards, 0 TD, 2 Int.
Greg Olsen – Not the top TE, but #2 overall. I’ll call that a hit. Olsen continues to exceed expectations. My predictions were high, but I’m happy with his finish in the ranks.
Predicted Stats – 86 yards, 1 TD, 8 receptions
Actual Stats – 69 yards, 1 TD, 5 receptions
Rob Gronkowski – As with some, I predicted high, but he finishes as the #3 TE which I consider a hit. Good call Ryan! Look, I get it. I’m not spot on with predictions, but if I suggest to play someone and they rank highly I’m happy. However, he did under produce
Predicted Stats – 110 Yards, 1 TD, 7 receptions
Actual Stats – 44 yards, 3 receptions, 1 TD
Niles Paul – So, I’m close on my predictions, but not thrilled with where he finished overall. This was a tough week for TE’s.
Predicted Stats – 73 yards, 0 TD, 7 Receptions
Actual Stats – 68 yards, 0 TD, 6 receptions
Owen Daniels – Well, I was right about you not having a big week; however everything will now change since Dennis Pitta was lost (again) for the season.
Predicted Stats – 11 yards, 0 TD, 2 receptions
Actual Stats – 0 yards, 0 TD, 0 receptions
Tom Brady – I’m sorry our relationship has ended up this way Tom. You, however, are now relegated to “below Matt Ryan” status. Yeah, it’s like that.
Predicted Stats – 289 Yards, 3 TD
Actual Stats – 234 Yards, 1 TD
Larry Donnell – I’m way, way disappointed in Donnell this week. I missed on the touchdown, but I nailed the other projections. However, missing a TD is huge. I can’t consider this a hit, simply because he scored dramatically less points than predicted
Predicted Stats – 69 yards, 1 TD, 7 receptions
Actual Stats – 45 yards, 0 TD, 6 receptions
With that out-of-the-way, it’s time to look forward to week 4. Let’s see what bold and quasi accurate predictions I can come up with this time.
QB1 (Lock of the Week): Philip Rivers – Last week, Philip Rivers was placed in my “Fact or Fiction” category, which I designate as a place to determine whether a QB moves into a higher tier ranking or drops to a lower tier ranking. Rivers solidified my newfound belief that he’ll remain a mandatory start and finish the year in the top 10. This guy has been playing lights out through the first three weeks and I look for him to produce a top 3 performance in week 4. He’ll face the QB friendly Jacksonville defense and should be throwing the ball a ton, especially with a depleted running core that can’t suffer another injury. I know the popular pick is Brees at Dallas, but I wanted to go out on a limb a little bit. Also, Brees has been a bit of a disappointment this season.
Prediction: 343 Yards, 3 TD
QB2 (Rebound Player): Aaron Rodgers – “Pump the brakes” as Maura Steward would say. Rodgers has been the fickle lover in 2014, posting games of 9, 27 and 10 in standard scoring leagues. The 10 points posted against Detroit have caused a bit of an uproar on the internet, and plenty of people are looking to trade this former top 3 player away! I’m here to tell you that doing so would be incredibly foolish. Rodgers is simply off to a rough start, faced an elite Seattle defense in week 1, crushed the Jets, and then laid an egg against Detroit. Detroit is a bit of a sleeper defense and has a tremendous front seven. Don’t get antsy with Rodgers. Week 4 sends him to the Windy City to face a Chicago defense which has looked better than expected, but is certainly not considered elite. Let’s be honest, Geno Smith is no Aaron Rodgers. I love Rodgers to bounce back in a big way and re-establish himself as a top-tier player.
Prediction: 312 Yards, 2 TD, 25 RuYD, 0 RuTD
QB3 (Fict or Faction): Tom Brady – This is it Tom. This is your last chance. If you fail to produce respectable numbers this week, then I am officially dropping you in all leagues. Brady has had favorable match-ups through his first 3 games, but hasn’t cracked 250 yards in ANY game, nor has he had more than a single touchdown in each outing. I just don’t get it. I really, really expected Brady to have a huge rebound year, let alone having him as my rebound player in week 3. The Patriots seem to have abandoned their previous goal of scoring as many points as possible, and instead are more focused on grinding out the games on the ground. It’s really disheartening as a Brady fan, but this may be the new reality. The other new reality, is an incredibly porous offensive line in New England. It’s no secret that a common recipe for success against Brady is to put immense pressure on the player; which is something all teams are readily doing. The Chiefs are weak to opposing QB’s (giving up the 8th most fantasy points to passers). Last chance Tom.
Prediction: 289 Yards, 2 TD, 1 Int
QB4 (Show Me): Nick Foles – Hear me out fantasy universe. I am not sold on Nick Foles. I know, I know. I can read and I see the statistics. Foles leads the league in yards, has one of the better TD/Int ratios, and consistently produces when needed. However, he has also benefited from the incredibly soft Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Washington defenses. I’m not saying that to take anything away from him, as they are professional football teams. I need to see him produce against a higher caliber defense, and the 49ers are strong enough to truly test the young QB. The knock against the 49ers is they give up the 12th most points to QB’s in 2014. I am incredibly torn on this topic, as I’m no fan of the Eagles or Foles, but I will be damned if the kid isn’t continually putting up big fantasy numbers.
Prove it this week Mr. Foles, and I’ll stop questioning why everyone in Philly is considering you to be the best QB that’s ever graced their streets.
Prediction: 328 yards, 3 TD, 2 Int
QB5 (No Thanks): Alex Smith – There are a fair number of individuals who feel very strongly about Alex Smith. They feel he’s an incredibly underrated quarterback and rarely gets the accolades he deserves. He was surprisingly valuable and efficient in the fantasy world in 2013, and his weekly point totals have increased. Last week, he finished 10th, but was facing Miami. It’s hard to ever trust the KC offense, as they lack any true weapons in the receiving game, and instead rely on an elite RB (when healthy) and a backup who has been lights out. That isn’t to discount anything Alex Smith can do, he’s just not an option this week. KC will face off against the best fantasy pass defense in the NFL when the Chiefs play host to the Patriots. The Pats aren’t a high scoring offense anymore, so i can see this game not turning into a shoot-out, thus reducing the value of Alex Smith even more. I like him long-term, but not in week 4. Stay away and do not become a victim of the moment.
Prediction: 231 Yards, 1 TD, 2 Int
TE1 (Lock of the Week): Jimmy Graham – Alright, I’m taking the easy way out, so sue me! The thing is, Graham came off a really tough week in which he only scored 5 fantasy points against a slightly underrated Minnesota Vikings defense. No other player screams “Top TE” quite like Jimmy Graham this week as they travel to face a Dallas defense which gave up the 4th most points to Tight Ends in 2013 and let’s be honest; they’re much worse in 2014. I love Graham to reestablish himself as the best TE in the game and will do so against a defense that is notoriously week to any aerial assault.
Prediction: 98 Yards, 2 TD, 8 receptions
TE2 (Rebound Player): Antonio Gates – Thank you San Diego for giving me an easy player to slot into my #2 play of the week. Gates, after his breakout game against the best defense in the NFL (Seattle), had 1 target for 1 reception against Buffalo. This week, as mentioned above with Rivers, they’ll face the embarrassment that is the Jacksonville defense. Gates should have a monster day against the Jags and will be an easy top 5 player.
Prediction: 81 Yards, 1 TD, 7 receptions
TE3 (Fact or Fiction): Travis Kelce – To begin with, I have to give big props to my cousin Travis for talking up and drafting Kelce in the IFFL. He called his name and I thought, “That’s an interesting pick”, but I didn’t think anything else of it. Little did I know, Travis Kelce is proving to be a player worth discussing for the 2014 season. I don’t love the match-up with the Patriots, as they’re the 3rd best defense against the tight end; but Kelce has the second most targets for the Chiefs. His next two games are tricky, but he will be a great plug and play for the remainder of the year. (Pending health of course). This week, we’ll see how he performs against a tough defense. It’s time to find out whether he’s a “fact or fiction” fantasy player.
Prediction: 74 yards, 0 TD, 6 receptions
TE4 (Show Me): Owen Daniels – It’s always fun to talk about the same player in consecutive weeks, isn’t it? Alright, so I knew Daniels would be a bust last week (and hopefully everyone else felt the same way) however he now becomes the primary guy in Baltimore. As stated last week, he was a pro-bowl TE and some considered him a top 10 player when he was in his “prime.” The Panthers are a ferocious defense and will look to rebound after the embarrassing showing against Pittsburgh, which is enough to make me worry about Owen Daniels. Basically, what I’m saying is this. Unless you’re in a 16 team league, you probably shouldn’t be playing Daniels this week. However, it’s very important to watch his performance and see how he’s utilized in the offense to make a decision or become more educated on the player going forward. He could be the real deal, but we must be patient with this one. After Carolina, games against Indy, Tampa, and Atlanta are great plays fort his player. We just need to wait and watch.
Prediction: 48 yards, 0 TD, 5 receptions
TE5 (Pass): Jason Witten – I shall be bold in my prediction this week. I believe that the floor has completely fallen out from under Jason Witten. Let’s take a quick look at his stats from the first three games: 2 rec, 14 yards 1 point; 4 rec, 32 yards, 3 points; 4 rec, 49 yards, 4 points. These are very uninspiring numbers. This week, he’ll face a Saints defense which is the 8th best against opposing TE’s. I don’t see Romo having a good week, nor do I see Witten having good numbers at all. Witten is a play ONLY if you’re in large leagues and there aren’t better options on the waivers. I have completely lost faith in the Cowboys and yes, I am suggesting you bench this former elite player. I could be wrong about this one, but I feel it in my bones!
Prediction: 38 Yards, 0 TD, 3 receptions
Major League Fantasy Sports Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday September 28th from 11am-12pm EST for another episode of Major League Fantasy Football Radio sponsored by the Sports PaloozaRadio Network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596 Feel free to call in and ask us for an opinion on any tough line up decisions you have. Our guest this week is Bryan Luhrs the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports, a writer for Major League Fantasy Sports, and an owner in MLFF4 & MLFB2. Real Deal Dynasty Sports is a partner organization of MLFS. We welcome all callers and questions pertaining to offense, defense, special teams, or individual defensive players.