Week 4 Where to Put em

Thursday, Sep 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm ET

fantasy football rankings
Where to Put 'em is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for the week. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid for Week 4 of the 2011 NFL season.

This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Andre Johnson, or Adrian Peterson. Where to Put 'em takes a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.

Put 'em In The Game: Eli Manning
The passing punching bag so far this year has been the secondary of the Arizona Cardinals. They can be thrown on and they can be thrown on for a LOT of yards. Eli Manning is coming off a monster game against the Eagles whose secondary is one of the best in the business. Eli threw for 254 yards and 4 TD's. We're expecting him to keep on rolling this week.
Put 'em In The Game: Cam Newton
Cam Newton came back down to Earth last week throwing for just 158 yards and 1 score, but that was in what was at times a torrential downpour. This week he'll be in the Windy City facing a Bears defense that is giving up an average of 295 yards through the air and 2 passing TD's. Chicago allows the 8th most fantasy points to opposing QB's according to Fleaflicker.com. Joe from FFN is famous for saying that "if the NFL were an Austin Powers movie, Michael Vick would be Dr. Evil and Cam Newton would be Mini-Me". Newton should be very evil this week.
Put 'em In The Game: Kyle Orton
The Green Bay secondary, bolstered by guys like Charles Woodson, is not the same dominant force that it was in 2010. The Packers are fantastic on offense which usually forces their opponents to take to the air to catch up. This helps explain why Green Bay gives up 384 passing yards, 2 scores, and 30 fantasy points each week (2nd most) to opposing QB's. Kyle Orton should follow suit and put up some respectable numbers this week.
Put 'em In The Game: Cedric Benson
Apparently Cedric Benson will not be suspended this week for his off-field troubles while the league was in lockout mode. For Benson-owners, that's good news as he faces a Bills defense that ranks in the bottom third for stopping the run.
Put 'em In The Game: Tim Hightower
The change of scenery has been good for Tim Hightower. Believe it or not, he is close to becoming a Top-10 fantasy back. The Rams give up the 3rd most yards on the ground to opposing rushers (195.33 yards/game) and the 5th most fantasy points according to Fleaflicker.com. Hightower should do quite well against the Rams making him a great RB2 this week.
Put 'em In The Game: Daniel Thomas
UPDATE: Daniel Thomas did not travel with the team and is likely OUT Reggie who? Daniel Thomas is clearly the main back in that Miami offense. Thomas is averaging 4.9 yards a carry and has averaged 119.5 all-purpose yards in the past two games. He also finally saw the endzone last week. San Diego has a pretty stout run defense, but we're expecting to see a healthy dose of Daniel Thomas which should translate to some healthy fantasy points.
Put 'em In The Game: Hakeem Nicks
You wouldn't normally see a guy like Hakeem Nicks on this list at all (remember we try to stay away from obvious studs), but his play as of late doesn't really warrant the "stud" label. Tom Coughlin said today that Nicks has some swelling in his knee, but both he and Nicks have said that Nicks should play. With Mario Manningham back and helping to spread the field, Eli and company should be able to carve up the Cardinals. Check the injury report Sunday morning to make sure that Nicks is a Go.
Put 'em In The Game: Denarius Moore
Moore was a great waiver wire pickup after Week 2. If you picked him up and stashed him last week, you can put him in your lineup this week. You couldn't really expect much last week against a very strong Jets secondary, but this week Denarius Moore gets to face the Pats who have been torched through the air. Run DMC will find some holes and Campbell and Moore will find some healthy yards through the air.
Put 'em In The Game: Eric Decker
We like Eric Decker this week for the same reasons we like Kyle Orton above. The Pack gives up a ton of yards through the air (avg. 384 passing yards and 2 TD's each week) and Decker has definitely been clicking with Orton. Once the Packers take the lead, Denver is going to have to go to the air to catch up. With no respectable running game, Denver's passing game becomes the only real option for them.
Put 'em In The Game: Santonio Holmes
It's pretty difficult to run against the Baltimore Ravens, but wide receivers do surprisingly well. Baltimore will most likely shut down Shonn Greene and LT so Sanchez is going to have to throw it. The Ravens give up the 9th most fantasy points to opposing WR's and we're pretty sure Karma is looking down on Holmes in a favorable light (see Davis above). Holmes has a nice history playing against Baltimore from his days as a Steeler and we're anticipating that trend to continue.
Put 'em In The Game: Vernon Davis
Sometimes Karma can be a real #$@!. Just when we say to sit Davis because he just isn't as involved in the passing game as he should be, Davis sits down with Jim Harbaugh, vents, and comes out to a 114 yard receiving day. Alex Smith has a great passing completion percentage (when he's allowed to throw) and Davis is the only real passing option in that offense. The Eagles are average against TE's and Davis should do well. Alright Karma - are you happy now?
Put 'em In The Game: Jimmy Graham
We're getting ready to put the "STUD" label on Jimmy Graham here soon. With Colston coming back this week (2 weeks early), some may think that this will hurt Graham's value. We think guys like Meachem will lose a little bit of value, but the impact on Graham should be negligible. He's a Top 5 fantasy TE and his matchup this week against the Jaguars is very favorable.
Put 'em In The Game: Jason Hanson
Some of the best kickers are the old veterans. Jason Hanson leads all kickers in fantasy points and yet he's still available in 53% of all Fleaflicker leagues. He's had double-digit weeks the past two games and he should continue to do well as long as the Lions continue their offensive ways.
Put 'em On The Bench: Josh Freeman
Many had hoped for a big year out of Josh Freeman and he has failed to live up to any sort of expectations. He doesn't really get going until the 2nd half, and even then it's a lackluster effort. When he faces the Colts on Monday night, they're not going to let him throw wherever he wants. In fact, while the Colts may sputter on offense without Peyton, they do a pretty decent job on defense shutting down the passing game. Freeman is too risky of a play to warrant a starting spot right now, particularly because there are a large number of better options out there.
Put 'em On The Bench: Tony Romo
Tony Romo put in two of the gutsiest performances over the past two weeks. After cracking a rib and puncturing a lung, the Wisconsin native has earned a ton of respect. Unfortunately, that Cowboys team looked absolutely dysfunctional last week. With Miles Austin out and Dez Bryant nursing his injury, Romo has his work cut out for him against a pretty solid Detroit Lions. Maybe Romo gets you by this week, but we're putting our money elsewhere.
Put 'em On The Bench: Sam Bradford
Just like Josh Freeman above, Sam Bradford has failed to live up to the expectations placed upon him prior to the season. He should have veteran Steven Jackson back, but the rest of his supporting cast is questionable. The Redskins defense is no slouch giving up only a handful of fantasy points per game and averaging less than 1 passing TD per game. Sit Bradford until further notice.
Put 'em On The Bench: Shonn Greene
Didn't we see this play out last year? Shonn Greene was supposed to be the featured back with LT rotated in when necessary? LT is outplaying Greene again. With a reduced role and a worsening yards/rush average, it's tough to start Greene with any sort of confidence. The Ravens give up the 2nd fewest fantasy points to opposing RB's and when you combine the facts above, the case to sit Greene is pretty clear.
Put 'em On The Bench: Reggie Bush
After a monstrous Week 1, Reggie Bush has landed squarely behind Daniel Thomas as the Dolphins' featured back. He has had just 1 reception each of the last two games and has averaged a pathetic 2.4 yards/carry since Week 1. With Thomas coming into his own, look for Bush to become less and less of a factor in that offense.
Put 'em On The Bench: Knowshon Moreno
Knowshon Moreno has quickly become "No Show" Moreno. Even if Moreno was playing well and Willis McGahee was on the sidelines more often, this wouldn't be the week to play Moreno anyway. While it's true that you can pass on the Packers this year, running on them is a different story. A good back has difficulty doing that, so there's no reason to expect Moreno to do much.
Put 'em On The Bench: Mike Williams
Mike Williams (TB) is in the dreaded sophomore slump. Josh Freeman can't seem to get things going, and even when he can move the ball, he's not targeting Williams (to his own detriment). The Colts defense will pressure Freeman all night which doesn't bode well for his fantasy performance.
Put 'em On The Bench: Anquan Boldin
Anquan Boldin has been a nice surprise so far. His talents are being used in this offense, but this isn't the week to play him. Two words: Revis Island. Pundits often try to portray Revis Island as a lonely place, and they don't have to try very hard. Historical stats prove it. Darrelle Revis is so talented that the elite WR's often go with little to no catches. Boldin, while good, is not in the elite category. He will have difficulty.
Put 'em On The Bench: Kellen Winslow
It probably seems like we're piling up on the Bucs, but Freeman, Williams, and Kellen Winslow are not warranting starts in any formats right now. Winslow is a big, fast guy, but like Williams, if he isn't being targeted and thrown to, his fantasy value plummets. Winslow is averaging 8 points per game in PPR formats and 4 points per game in standard scoring with all numbers on the decline. Until he and the rest of his Tampa Bay teammates start showing some life, it's tough to recommend him.
Put 'em On The Bench: Dallas Clark
Across the field from Kellen Winslow will be Dallas Clark, once an elite fantasy TE now relegated to fantasy backup status. Without Peyton Manning, that offense is a shell of its former self. Clark could not put up anything close to resembling last year's numbers with Kerry Collins throwing the ball, so why should anyone expect Curtis Painter (who may very well start Monday night) to help that situation? Clark and Tamme are simply bad options right now until that Indy offense starts firing on all cylinders.
Put 'em On The Bench: Alex Henery
We pegged Alex Henery to be one of the sleepers this year among kickers, and we still think he has that potential, but potential alone doesn't win games. The offense hasn't been quite the potent threat that we all expected and the 49ers are a tough team on paper to kickers.

Join the Discussion

IvanB CommentedSep 29, 2011 11:00 am

What's your take on Marcades Lewis this week?

Nerd CommentedSep 30, 2011 11:00 am

There's not much to like about Lewis. He's ranked 44th among TE's in fantasy scoring. It's a different environment for him right now and I think there are better TE's on the waiver wire.

yenis CommentedSep 30, 2011 11:00 am

two questions - 1)of these four backs, which three would you play:

MJD vs NO;

Ryan Mathews vs Miami;

Daniel Thomas vs SD; or,

Darren Sproles vs Jac?

2) defenses, i have Houston and the Jets. They are playing Pit and Baltimore, respectively - which do you think is the better match-up?


Nerd CommentedSep 30, 2011 11:00 am

1) MJD, Mathews, & Sproles. Miami may be cautious and sit out Mathews this week.

2) Jets, Jets, Jets. Just my opinion, but Karma hasn't been liking me much lately.

Rocking1leg CommentedSep 30, 2011 11:00 am

Three questions:

Eric Decker or Lance Moore?

Tampa Defense or San Diego Defense?

Cam Newton or Eli Manning?


JACKASS PENGUIN CommentedSep 30, 2011 11:00 am

Lee Evans from Baltimore is sitting on the waiver wire in my league. Is it worth to pick him up?

ergot CommentedSep 30, 2011 11:00 am

Lloyd and Meachem for Chris Johnson in a PPR?

Also what RB should I expect to get for Welker?

Nerd CommentedSep 30, 2011 11:00 am

@Rocking1leg - I really like Decker against the Green Bay secondary even with Lloyd in the lineup. I'm also liking Tampa's D this week. While Cam might end up having a 400 yard day, I'm going with Eli against that Cardinals secondary.

@Jackass Penguin - There's nothing exciting about Lee Evans right now. If you're in a deep league, you could probably pick him up and stash him, but control your expectations.

@ergot - I wouldn't trade Lloyd and Meachem for CJ2K. Here's why: I like Lloyd but Meachem is in an offense where Drew Brees spreads the ball around so much that it's tough to ask for consistency out of Meachem every week. I'm not ready to give up on Chris Johnson yet. You took him with your first or second round pick and it's too early to give up on him.

Re: Welker, I'd be looking for at least a Matt Forte-type of player and up. Welker is the top scoring WR and there's no reason to think that he won't end the season in the Top 5 (if not remain at #1). You should be able to get tremendous value for Welker right now.

IvanB CommentedSep 30, 2011 11:00 am

Drat...I knew you were going to tell me to bench Mercedes but I was hoping otherwise since my only other option is Winslow. I might pick up McMichael off waivers though...

onehumpor2 CommentedOct 1, 2011 11:00 am

Good Lord, Joe....you're killing me! I have Forte, MJD and Hightower!

Which two RB's do I play? I have to think the Saints, are going to stack the box to stop MJD, because of Gabbert, an a shaky WR corps.

I think I have to sit MJD, and play Forte & HT, just because of the match-ups.

Your opinion?

Nerd CommentedOct 1, 2011 11:00 am

What a terrible decision you have to make (said in my most sarcastic tone). 3 awesome backs - pick 2. Ultimately you have to go with your gut, but I think MJD has a very nice day. Forte scored 16.6 pts (standard) and 26.6 pts (PPR) against the Saints two weeks ago. While MJD hasn't been as involved in the passing game as we've become accustomed to, he has in the past and could certainly be again this week.

TaylorMadeTom CommentedOct 1, 2011 11:00 am

What do you think of this trade?

Owner A gets Wes Welker, Santana Moss, Willis McGahee, and Felix Jones

Owner B gets Arian Foster, Steve Smith of Carolina, and Dwayne Bowe

P.S. Owner B already owns Ben Tate

Its a 1 point per reception league. Which owner made the better trade?

baron CommentedOct 1, 2011 11:00 am

I absolutely love your site... very accurate with fantasy data. Thanks.

I need your help... who would you start?

- MJD or Hightower. Your site says Hightower and I believe that he will do great against STL but MJD has always been a MUST START. Leaning towards MJD.

- I need a TE - I have Antonio Gates who is injured so I am looking to pick someone else up... Dustin Keller, Vernon Davis, Owen Daniels??? Do not know who to pick up.

Thanks for your help.

TaylorMadeTom CommentedOct 1, 2011 11:00 am

Well if Keller, Davis, and Daniels are all still available in free agency then your league is either an 8 team league or you just have alot of novice owners. Keller should be picked up immediately.

baron CommentedOct 1, 2011 11:00 am

We actually only have 6 teams total... we were supposed to have 10 but a couple of guys' wives would not allow them to play. LAME!!!

TaylorMadeTom CommentedOct 1, 2011 11:00 am

Which quarterback should I start in week 4. Eli Manning, Matt Schaub, or Kevin Kolb. I know Arizonas passing defense is horrible and Manning should have a great game. I just dont trust him for some reason. I picked him up off of waivers this week. Flacco passed for 3 td's against Pittsburgh in week 1. I would think Schaub could easily do the same. I do trust in Schaub. I hate tough decisions.

JuJu's Tigers CommentedOct 1, 2011 11:00 am

Decision....who do I play as my flex?

Meachum or Woodhouse

Do you think Dallas Clark will perform better with Painter as quarterback?

onehumpor2 CommentedOct 1, 2011 11:00 am

Well, Joe, That certainly wasn't the first time I had to run out of a hose in my drawers.

I'm playing Hightower & Forte, and sitting MJD. I hope MJD doesn't get hurt in that game.. He's all the offense the Jags have.

Nerd CommentedOct 1, 2011 11:00 am

@TaylorMadeTom - Close, but I'm going to give a slight edge to Owner B. I think Foster will end up being the Foster we expect and I've got a man crush on Steve Smith again. I would hate to give up Welker though. Ouch. Out of curiosity, which one is your team?

Re: Eli or Schaub, go with your gut. If it says Schaub, go for it. They will probably end the day pretty similar. Personally, I'm giving Eli a shot at that terrible Cardinals secondary. He should have Manningham and Nicks spreading them out live a Thanksgiving feast.

@baron - I'm leaning towards MJD as well. Rule #1: Always start your studs. Also - grab Keller if he's still available.

@JuJu's Tigers - Flip a coin. I'm inclined to give Woodhead a very slight edge.

TaylorMadeTom CommentedOct 1, 2011 11:00 am

I am owner B. After the trade goes through tomorrow....crosses fingers. My starting line up will be as follows.

Philip Rivers -qb

Arian Foster - rb

LeSean McCoy - rb

MJD - rb/wr flex spot

Steve Smith - wr

Dwayne Bowe - wr

Randy McMichael - te until Hernandez comes back.

I wont bore you with my defense and kicker since you play matchups.

I think I made my team rock solid with the trade. Especially since I have Tate.

Time will tell. It is a 10 team league in case anyone is wondering.

Thanks for your advice. I will look at the weather as my determining factor on who to start between Schaub and Manning....since you say its a coin flip. No monsoon!

Nerd CommentedOct 2, 2011 11:00 am

JuJu's Tigers - My apologies. I failed to respond to your Dallas Clark question. No, I don't like Clark better with Painter under center. One school of thought is that Painter will stick to short, safe throws and Clark would be an ideal target. I don't think there's enough evidence to support that. I would expect the Colts to lean on Addai more than normal.

JuJu's Tigers CommentedOct 2, 2011 11:00 am

As you can tell from my questions, I drafted Dallas Clark thinking I had a sure thing with TE's. However, the injury to Manning has really hurt. I heard that Gates is doubtful today and was wondering if Randy McMichael would be a better start than Fred Davis. Your thoughts?

Nerd CommentedOct 2, 2011 11:00 am

While Randy Mac might end up with a better day, I think Davis is a safer play.

Lutefisk CommentedOct 2, 2011 11:00 am


One of my teams is really hurting at WR. I've got Stevie Johnson, Steve Smith (Car), Harvin and David Nelson. Johnson has been consistent, but the other three not so much. Moore, Decker, T. Smith, A. Brown and Cruz are all available on waiver. Would you recommend picking up one of the potential up and comers in place of Nelson? A further question regards Romo. He's currently available on waivers. Would you dump Ryan or Fitzpatrick in order to claim him? Gracias.


Nerd CommentedOct 2, 2011 11:00 am

Hey Lute - I'm a big fan of Eric Decker. He's got the speed and hands that you want and defenses have to key in on Lloyd so Decker shouldn't see much double coverage. Percy Harvin can be a top performer, but he reminds me so much of the Steve Smith (Car) for the past two years. If he can't get the ball, he can't score.

Re: Romo - I worry about him taking another big shot and going down. I own him in a number of leagues, and when healthy - he's a stud. As to who to drop if you want him, flip a coin. Normally I'd give the edge to Matt Ryan, but really, with Fitz's play to date, they have equal upside in my opinion.

TaylorMadeTom CommentedOct 2, 2011 11:00 am

Well my gut failed me but I still won. Who would have known Andre was going to get hurt and Foster would get 30 carries. I am dropping Kolb and just keeping Schaub and Manning. I see no value in keeping Kolb.

allen7554 CommentedJul 7, 2012 11:00 am

Well, Joe, That certainly wasn't the first time I had to run out of a hose in my drawers.

I'm playing Hightower & Forte, and sitting MJD. I hope MJD doesn't get hurt in that game.. He's all the offense the Jags have.

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