Week 4 Fantasy Football Preview by Tony Lozon
Well, this is going to be the first of what will hopefully be many articles that I have the pleasure of writing for everyone, and let’s kick off my debut article with WBLZ by providing the readers with my Week 4 Fantasy Football Preview.
First, and I feel that this is important, I must say that I have been playing fantasy sports, and more specifically Fantasy Football, since 1996, I have won numerous championships and I am the guy that is usually being asked for advice at most drafts. I know my stuff and I love to give my opinion on any and all fantasy sports-related topics.
Now, I know there is a debate going on in fantasy circles about studs. Well, I am here to tell you that I am “on the side” of ALWAYS start your studs. You drafted them early, you expect big games out of them, so even if the matchup looks less than favorable, I will always say to start your studs. With that being said, my articles are going to focus more on the sleeper side of things. Additionally, I will also suggest players that I would avoid.
One thing that I think most people will agree on for the early part of the 2017 season, is that the New Orleans Saints do not have a very good pass defense. In fact, they suck. With that being said, Jay Cutler is coming off a week in which he could not get his offense rolling and had a very poor game statistically. I look for a huge bounce back this week from Mr. Cutler, and would say he would be a sneaky QB-1 play in 12-team or bigger fantasy leagues.
Another surprising tidbit from the beginning of the NFL season is that, statistically speaking, the New England Patriots allow the most passing yardage per game through the first 3 games of the season. They have also allowed eight touchdowns so far on the year. This week, the Patriots happen to draw the Carolina Panthers. Now, Cam Newton has looked very average this season so far, but what better way to get back on track than against a Patriots Defense that has not really slowed anyone down, and also a game that should be high scoring. Now, I would watch the injury situation with Kelvin Benjamin and monitor that closely, as Newton is already down his stud TE in Greg Olsen, and if he loses more weapons, this might not be a good suggestion. As a sneaky play with a good upside potential, I would actually consider playing Cam Newton this week.
AVOID – Eli Manning – My reasoning reason is, well, the Giants have looked AWFUL this season. Eli is struggling with his accuracy, and while the Tampa Bay pass defense has not exactly performed up to expectations so far, I think that Eli is going to continue to struggle this week. It is a decent matchup, but despite all the weapons that Eli has, and coupled with how bad the entire team has looked so far this season, I would stay as far away as I could from this situation.
Running Backs –
Quickly, what team has given up the most rushing yards per game so far early in this NFL season? If you look back at my previous paragraph, it should come easy to you — the New York Giants. As previously stated, the Giants are a mess right now, and since they really cannot stop the run, I would say that Jacquizz Rodgers would be a decent bet for having a good game this week. Jacquizz is the man currently in Tampa Bay with Doug Martin being suspended still, so he is going to get a volume of touches and should put up some pretty decent fantasy numbers.
Wendell Smallwood is probably going to be the Fantasy Pickup of the Week, now that Darren Sproles was injured (he broke his arm and tore his ACL on the SAME PLAY, impressive). I know that Smallwood is in a timeshare in the backfield with Blount, but Philly has proven so far that they do not trust Blount to handle the workload, so Smallwood might be a sneaky play, if you can manage to claim him off your Waiver Wire. Temper your expectations, though, as he would be a good Flex Option, not necessarily a RB 1 or 2.
AVOID – Marshawn Lynch – The reason that I am saying to avoid BeastMode is that Denver has a pretty stout run defense, and I think the coaches are going to try to get the passing game back on target after a lackluster performance on Sunday Night Football. Lynch could very easily have a good game, but I would lean towards benching him in favor of others with better matchups.
Wide Receivers –
Was last week a fluke for Pierre Garcon? Is he actually building a rapport with Brian Hoyer? Would you be crazy to start Pierre Garcon this week? My answer is that you SHOULD start Garcon this week. He is coming off a week in which he hauled in 7 of 10 targets and had 140 yards receiving. He has yet to put the ball in the end zone this year, but I think that changes this week. The Cardinals pass defense has looked average at best this season, and I think Pierre Garcon might actually top what he did last week.
Rashard Higgins – This was one of the most talked about and added players in all of fantasy football last week, and while the catches did not amount to much (two Grabs for 10 yards), there is still something to be said for a player that was on the field for 68% of the offensive snaps. I think that Higgins should have a good game this week, and if you are lucky enough to have him available in your league, I would recommend grabbing him and stashing him. Remember that bye weeks will quickly be approaching, and you could do worse than having Higgins sitting on your bench for a bye week plug and play. Grab him now while you still have the opportunity.
Rishard Matthews – There is a WR on Tennessee that would be placed here instead of Matthews, but right now Corey Davis is hurt, so Matthews is taking on the starting role, and so far, he has done pretty well. Matthews has enough speed and is a good enough route runner to get open on multiple levels, and should be the favorite target of Marcus Mariota again this week. The Texans pass defense has been suspect so far this season, so I would expect WR-2 numbers from Matthews this week.
AVOID – Brandon Cooks – Tom Brady has quite a few options to throw to, and while he has thrown 5 TD passes in each of the last 2 weeks, I think the Panthers might be able to slow down the passing attack just enough to tell people to temper their expectations on Cooks. He has done well so far, and if you need to start him, do so by all means. That being said, I would expect him to not find the end zone this week. I am also going to project that he finishes with less than 70 receiving yards. You can find better options, folks.
Tight End –
Jared Cook has looked good so far this season, ranking in the top-10 in catches and just outside the top-10 in yardage for tight ends. As I stated previously, I think the Raiders are going to try to get the passing game back on track, and while the focus will be on the big-name receivers, I would not be surprised to see Cook get his fair share of targets and quite possibly find the end zone. Cook would be a sneaky play this week and I would recommend him as a start.
AVOID – Jimmy Graham – Seattle’s offense has looked offensive for most of this season, and it is clear that Jimmy Graham and Russell Wilson have never been on the same page. Graham is a great weapon when utilized correctly, like he was in New Orleans, but since coming to Seattle, he has been pedestrian at best. Look elsewhere if you have a chance.
Well, that wraps up my first ever column. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and hopefully I was able to give you some insight and make you think about some players that normally you would not give a second thought to when formulating your lineups. The important thing to remember is that this is Fantasy Football. We are all doing this for fun, and that is what you should remind yourself when you are trying to set your rosters, debate on who to play and do your last-minute tinkering.
It’s all about having fun, but winning definitely makes having fun easier!
Until next week, the Kalamazoo Freaks are out of here! Good luck, everyone!