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NFL Week 4 Fantasy Winners and Losers

by ANDREW HORN

Sorry for not having a post on Week 3. I had some rather unfortunate business that I had to take care of. Now that I am back in the swing of things, it is nice to see my team sitting at 4-0 and in first place. First place in our league is always a curse, but for now I’ll take it. Regarding football, the Miami Dolphins are now down one head coach. It has been a rough start for a team many expected to challenge the Patriots for the division. If your fantasy team is off to a rough start (and you haven’t been fired as coach yet), then check out who will help you keep your job and who will have you looking for one.

Quarterbacks:

Winner: Philip Rivers (SD)- 41.9 points

Courtesy of CBS Sports
Courtesy of CBS Sports

One week after a dreadful performance against the Minnesota Vikings, Rivers flooded the stat sheet with 358 yards and three touchdowns, while having a big fat zero turnovers. Rivers has led the Chargers to a nice 2-2 start, but their record could very easily be 0-4. Rivers also averaged 28.4 points the first four games-a respectable total. Why is this important? Antonio Gates will be eligible for Week 5, giving the Chargers another big, sure-handed weapon on offense. Look for Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead to focus more on rushing the ball, with Gates and Ladarius Green being viable options for Rivers. His fantasy value will go up. Start him in each of his next four games, unless you have Tom Brady.

Loser: Ryan Tannehill (MIA)- 20.3 points

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) via Deadspin.com
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) via Deadspin.com

Tannehill is my loser this week because he is part of the reason Joe Philbin is now the former coach of the Miami Dolphins. Each of the past two weeks have seen Tannehill miss some easy throws, take unnecessary sacks and become the turnover machine he was early in his career. To be fair, there have been a couple of catches that should have been made and the defense is wildly underperforming, but Tannehill is now hurting his own cause. Five INT’s in the past eight quarters is a number that must fall if he wants to be successful. After playing in London and having a bye Week 5, look for Tannehill to have a good game against the Tennessee Titans in Week 6.

Running Backs:

Winner: Devonta Freeman (ATL)- 35.9 points

(Ric Tapia/AP Images for NFL Players Inc.)
(Ric Tapia/AP Images for NFL Players Inc.)

How does a running back follow up a 140-yard, three touchdown game? Obviously, he has another three touchdown game. Freeman now has 209 yards and six touchdowns in two games. He also had five catches for 81 yards. Freeman is playing like LaDainian Tomlinson did when he set the NFL record for touchdowns (rushing and receiving) in 2006. While nobody is saying Devonta Freeman is the next Tomlinson, I am saying that Freeman could very well be the next LaDainian Tomlinson. His backfield vision, speed, size, hands and rushing ability all mirror that of the millennial LT. Start Freeman until he gives you a reason not to.

Loser: Ryan Matthews (PHI)- 0 points

Courtesy of USA Today
Courtesy of USA Today

When you only get 20 yards on five touches and you lose a fumble in the process, the stat line won’t look very friendly. Matthews has long been a punching bag for critics because of his ball security issue. There is no denying his talent, but the fumbles are lethal to any running back’s career. It is even more harmful to Matthews because he is fighting two other very talented backs for touches. Chip Kelly might run the most plays, but you still only get four downs. Chip Kelly is sure to use DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles, meaning Matthews will need to make the most of his touches to be in the lineup. He is too risky to play unless there is an injury.

Wide Recievers:

Winner: Tavon Austin (STL)- 25.6 points

Courtesy of stltoday.com
Courtesy of stltoday.com

I love it when I am right. Remember when I said pick up Tavon Austin because he will be a useful asset? Well now the Rams have figured out how he can be as dynamic on offense as he is on special teams. Austin caught two touchdowns this past week against a good Cardinals defense. Austin can get touchdowns by catching, rushing or returning the ball. While he has had some major duds in the past, there is no doubt the Rams are looking to move him into a prominent role before the owner moves them to LA (but that is for another day). If Austin can average a total of 110 yards through receiving, rushing and returning, he will be one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL. The hardest thing is knowing when to start him and when to sit him. I would cautiously start him against Green Bay, but beware of relying on Austin.

Loser: Baltimore Ravens

Courtesy of thebaltimorewire.com
Courtesy of thebaltimorewire.com

Steve Smith, Michael Campanaro and Breshad Perriman are all out of the Ravens lineup, leaving them with Chris Givens and Kamar Aiken to lead the attack. The Ravens are in desperate need of some healthy receivers, but this will only be a short term fix. The Ravens may need to sell a high value piece in order to get a dynamic number 1 receiver for the future, something not in GM Ozzie Newsome’s traditional playbook. Or they’ll have to wait until the draft, when they might have three or four other positions of need. Joe Flacco would throw to his receivers if he had any left. Of his 1,052 yards this season, 648 have gone to wide receivers and more than half of that total goes to Steve Smith. Don’t start the Ravens receivers until we know who will actually be catching the ball.

Tight Ends:

Winners: Coby Fleener (IND) & Martellus Bennett (CHI)- 15.3 points

Courtesy of ESPN.com
Courtesy of ESPN.com
Courtesy of sportsmockery.com
Courtesy of sportsmockery.com

Each one had 83 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. The only difference is that Bennett had two more catches than Fleener, making his PPR performance slightly better.

It has been an interesting year for both Fleener and Bennett. Fleener more than doubled his season output with Matt Hasselback playing quarterback instead of his college quarterback Andrew Luck. Fleener’s value is very limited because of Dwayne Allen and the impression that Luck doesn’t really need his tight ends every game. Bennett on the other hand, rebound after a poor Week 3 showing. He is on pace for a respectable 800 yards this season, but his true value lies in the touchdown number. Be wary of both and play it week to week.

Loser: Kyle Rudolph (MIN)- 0.7 points

Courtesy of ESPN.com
Courtesy of ESPN.com

Young quarterbacks, in theory, rely on their tight ends in the passing game as a safety valve. Apparently Rudolph is not a reliable weapon. After a great rookie year, Rudolph has lived in a limbo of wanting to break out into an elite tight end and nth being able to move above mediocrity. The tight end class is not as strong as it was five years ago, but Rudolph should still be able to produce more than 26 yards per game. Sit him on your bench if you can, drop him if there is someone better.

DST

Detroit- 32.3 points

The Lions played a phenomenal game against the Seahawks. Unfortunately, the just fell short. Look for another breakout game Week 6 or 7 against a divisional foe. Barring any significant injury, they should be a viable option.

Atlanta- 28.8 points

While the Falcons’ best defense might be Devonta Freeman running the ball, the 11 guys they have on defense are playing pretty well. Desmond Trufant is rounding into a standout cornerback. The defense has now forced eight turnovers in four games. Assuming they continue to play well, the Falcons will be worth a start. The only handcuff they have is Devin Hester not being able to return for them.

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