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Moving Up, Moving Down: Week 5 – Brady, Newton Free Falling; McCoy Still Buy Low

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) during a NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. December 29, 2013; Photographer: Kellen Micah/Icon Sportswire

Even the biggest Tom Brady critics from the preseason didn’t envision this dismal a fantasy performance through four weeks. Photo: Icon Sportswire

QUARTERBACKS

MOVING UP

Aaron Rodgers, Packers
HA! I told you last when I had Rodgers Moving Down that I was sure he would bust out and make me look like a fool and, sure enough, he did. Rodgers simply torched an undermanned Bears secondary for 302 yards and four scores, completing 22 of 28 passes in a blowout win. While that’s great, I still think he will underperform his preseason ADP by season’s end.

Kyle Orton, Bills
Orton takes over under center for the Bills and, while he is the Rodney Dangerfield of quarterbacks, he has had a couple of solid seasons and played well in his only start in Dallas last season. If you need a plug and play option, you could do worse than Orton.

MOVING DOWN

Tom Brady, Patriots
Brady is the 23rd ranked fantasy quarterback, or, for some perspective, LAST amongst quarterbacks with four starts (plus behind some with three). He has four touchdown passes in four games. He is averaging under 200 passing yards per game. He has two games with less than 160 passing yards. Perhaps worst of all, the Patriots offense looks like a complete mess with receivers unable to gain separation and a pair of rookies starting on the offensive line.

Cam Newton, Panthers
Let’s face it. Nobody knows when Newton’s ankle will be sufficiently recovered for him to resume his normal workload running the ball. He has just 33 yards on eight carries in 2014.

RUNNING BACKS

MOVING UP

Chris Ivory, Jets
Four weeks into the season, Ivory has taken over as the leader in the Jets backfield. He has out touched Chris Johnson 33-18 over the past two weeks, totalling 196 yards. While we expect this to remain a timeshare situation, Ivory is definitely now the top fantasy option on the Jets.

Darrin Reaves and Fozzy Whitaker, Panthers
It’s last man standing amongst the Panthers running backs. Neither Deangelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart are going to play this week, and Mike Tolbert is on injured reserve. That leaves Reeves, a rookie undrafted free agent, and Whitaker, a veteran journeyman, as the team’s only options for this week’s game against the Ravens. I have no clue as to which player will take the reins although Whitaker is banged up. Give the edge to Reeves but keep your expectations in check.

Darren McFadden, Raiders
With just 226 yards and one touchdown on 56 touches, Run-DMC is hardly lighting it up in the Oakland backfield. However, the Raiders firmly planted Maurice Jones-Drew on the bench this week as McFadden out touched him 15 to 4. That makes him a volume play as McFadden has now totalled 51 touches over his last three games.

Rashad Jennings, Giants
While Jennings wasn’t great this week, he is clearly getting a workhorse type role in the Giants backfield, averaging 22.5 touches per game. That makes him an upper to mid tier RB2 the rest of the way.

MOVING DOWN

LeSean McCoy, Eagles
Little bit worried about the state of the Eagles offensive line but I’m still calling this one a buy low.

Donald Brown, Chargers
Brown’s been useless, averaging 2.0 yards per carry on his 50 carries this year, and Ryan Mathews is returning soon. Nothing more than a flex option this week against the Jets, Brown basically needs to find the end zone to have much value.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Raiders
While MJD looked decent in the preseason, he has been putrid since the regular season started and now sits squarely behind Darren McFadden on the Raiders depth chart at running back. After carrying the ball nine times for 11 yards in Week 1, Jones-Drew missed a pair of games before putting up a major dud in Week 4, gaining three yards on four touches.

WIDE RECEIVERS

MOVING UP

Terrance Williams, Cowboys
Williams has been solid given his limited number of targets (just 21 on the season) but let’s hope the Cowboys coaches took note of his six reception, 77 yard, two touchdown performance this week. While Dez Bryant deserves to be targeted 10-plus times a week, Williams deserves to be a bigger part of the Cowboys offense.

Eddie Royal, Chargers
With four touchdowns in four games, Royal is once again proving to be a solid red zone option for the Chargers. He totalled eight scores in 15 games last season.

Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
His 81 yards this week were the second most that he has put up in a game since Alex Smith joined the Chiefs. No, that’s not a typo. He had 150 yards in Kansas City’s playoff loss to the Colts but his regular season high last year was just 70. Perhaps he and Smith are in the process of developing some chemistry.

Jarius Wright, Vikings
Teddy Bridgewater is in at quarterback and Jarius Wright’s fantasy stock is on the rise, especially in PPR formats. Considered a deep sleeper entering the season, Wright had just six targets in three games but was targeted a career-high 10 times this week, catching eight passes for 132 yards and nearly scoring. He should definitely be on the watch list in deeper leagues.

Andre Holmes, Raiders
With Rod Streater out of the line up, Holmes stepped up this week against the Dolphins, catching five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. This one’s not a hot Moving Up since it took Holmes 12 targets to amass that production.

Louis Murphy, Bucs
Mike Evans is going to miss two or three weeks with an injured groin and Murphy hauled in six of his 11 targets this week for 99 yards. With little depth at wide receiver and the team’s tight ends contributing little in the passing games, Murphy could be a decent bye week fill in.

Marvin Jones, Bengals
Just a heads up that Jones should return to the Bengals line up this week. He’s fast. Mohamed Sanu is not.

MOVING DOWN

DeSean Jackson, Redskins
Two solid games, two total duds. There is a risk that Kirk Cousins may not be able to connect with Djax consistently on long balls.

Danny Amendola, Patriots
After a pair of one target games in Weeks 2 and 3, Amendola didn’t get a single look from Tom Brady this week despite the fact that the Patriots got blown out and that both Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins didn’t dress.

Hakeem Nicks, Colts
With T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener soaking up touches, Nicks has been targeted just 18 times in four games. It’s foolhardy to think he can continue on his current target to touchdown ratio of nine to one.

Anquan Boldin and Steve Johnson, 49ers
One week, it’s Boldin. The next it’s Johnson. Good luck with that.

TIGHT ENDS

MOVING UP

Travis Kelce, Chiefs
Kelce had his coming out party this week, putting on a show on Monday night as he torched the Patriots and looked very much like the next BIG THING at tight end. Kelce caught all eight of his nine targets for 93 yards and a score, as he consistently gained yards after the catch. He rates as a mid-tier TE1.

Larry Donnell, Giants
So much for the preseason notion that Rueben Randle would emerge as Eli Manning’s favourite red zone target. That job has been handed to Donnell as he went off this week on the Redskins, catching seven of his eight targets for 54 yards and three touchdowns. Sure, he may have just totalled the most fantasy points of his career but with 31 targets and four scores in four games, Donnell is looking like a surprise TE1 one-quarter of the way into the season.

MOVING DOWN

Vernon Davis, 49ers
After returning to the line up this week from the ankle and knee injuries that caused him to miss Week 3, Davis suffered a back injury in the third quarter of the 49ers win over the Eagles.

Jason Witten, Cowboys
Witten is off to a slow start as the 32-year old Cowboys tight end has just 156 receiving yards and no touchdowns in four games. While it appears that he still has some gas left in the tank, Dallas just hasn’t carved out a bigger role for him in their offense with DeMarco Murray torching opposing run defenes. Let’s call this one a buy low opportunity.

In the NOT CONVINCED JUST YET category, we present:

RB Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
Piled up yards in an easy Vikings win but Falcons D is baby bum soft.

RB Branden Oliver, Chargers
Sorry, but Ryan Mathews should be back within a week or two and the Jets are up next.

Tony’s DFS Fantasy Football Recommendations: Attacking Defenses With High Fantasy Points Allowed

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) reacts after a big gain in the New Orleans Saints 17-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Georgia. November 21, 2013; Photographer: Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire

New Orleans Saints face the Dallas Cowboys this week. The Cowboys are giving up, on average, just under 100 yards receiving and 1 touchdown to tight ends so far this year. Yeah, you may want to pay the piper to get Jimmy Graham in your DFS lineups. Photo: Icon Sportswire

BYE-nado is upon us! Week 4 is the start of the bye weeks for the NFL. Right out the gate, we have six teams on bye: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Arizona, and Seattle. Those teams have many primetime players for fantasy football: A.J. Green, Giovanni Bernard, all of the Denver offensive weapons, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, Percy Harvin, Michael Floyd, Andre Ellington, and even the occasional guy chips in from the Browns or Rams. That is a lot of quality talent unavailable this week. Luckily, I’m here to help build your Week 4 rosters. Here we go:

Quarterbacks

Elite, Expensive: Matthew Stafford, DET (Week 4 @ New York Jets)
After a poor showing Week 3, Stafford goes on the road to face a Jets defense that gives up the fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks. We know that the Jets will bottle up Joique Bell and Reggie Bush, but stopping quarterbacks certainly has not been their strong suit. Look for Stafford to light up the Jets defense.

Middle of the Road: Colin Kaepernick, SF (Week 4 vs Philadelphia)
Colin Kaepernick has yet to breakout this season. However, a match up against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have given up the second most points to quarterbacks, could be just what the doctor ordered to get him going. Even if he finds himself without Vernon Davis, Kaepernick has enough weapons to keep up with the Eagles.

Cheap, High Upside: Blake Bortles, JAC (Week 4 @ San Diego)
We finally get to see the third overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft start his first game of the year. Expect Jacksonville to get down early on Sunday. If that’s the case, we’re certainly going to see Bortles get his fair share of pass attempts in garbage time. (Can an entire second half be considered garbage time?)

Running Backs

Elite, Expensive: Le’Veon Bell, PIT (Week 4 vs Tampa Bay)
Bell is proving that he belongs in the conversation for Top 5 running backs in the league. In Week 3, against what was thought to be a stout Carolina run defense, Bell ran 21 times for 147 yards and added 2 receptions for 10 yards. Bell now comes home to face the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Expect Bell to keep rolling in this matchup.

Middle of the Road: Donald Brown, SD (Week 4 vs Jacksonville)
Things are setting up perfectly for Donald Brown. The two running backs that were ahead of him on the Chargers depth chart are injured, and one of those two is out for the season. Week 4 brings the Jacksonville Jaguars into town and they are allowing the most points to running backs so far through three weeks. Any running back that gets 30 or more touches in a game is sure the produce stats, and that is exactly what Brown did in Week 3 and will continue to do in Week 4.

Cheap, High Upside: Khiry Robinson, NO (Week 4 @ Dallas)
With Mark Ingram out due to a hand injury, Robinson stepped up in Week 3 as the main running back for the New Orleans Saints. He rushed 18 times for 69 yards. He would have been given the touchdown opportunity that Pierre Thomas stole from him, but the Saints were in no huddle mode, and kept Thomas on the field. With both defenses playing mediocre to poor so far, expect a high total in this game, and a great opportunity for Robinson to score.

Wide Receivers

Elite, Expensive: Calvin Johnson, DET (Week 4 @ New York Jets)
When you write about an elite quarterback, it’s hard to leave out his #1 weapon: Megatron. Calvin Johnson gets a New York Jets defense that gives up the third most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Again, the Jets are going to stop the run, so the beneficiary of the extra pass attempts certainly has to go to Matthew Stafford’s favorite target.

Middle of the Road: Jeremy Maclin, PHI (Week 4 @ San Francisco)
At the rate Jeremy Maclin is going, by the end of the season, we might be able to call him an elite receiver. In the past 3 games, we saw stat lines of 4-97 -1, 4-45-1 and 8-154-1, while averaging more than 10 targets per game. Maclin faces off against the San Francisco 49ers who give up the most points to opposing wide receivers (followed closely by the Eagles). Look for Maclin to continue his dominance.

Cheap, High Upside: Markus Wheaton, PIT (Week 4 vs Tampa Bay)
Before the season started, a lot of experts were skeptical of Wheaton’s ability to play opposite of Antonio Brown, but he’s certainly held his own and has been able to put up some good numbers. This week, Wheaton draws the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who were absolutely torched by wide receivers last week. Tampa Bay is one of the worst five teams for points given up to opposing wide receivers, and that trend is going to continue on Sunday.

Tight Ends

Elite, Expensive: Jimmy Graham, NO (Week 4 @ Dallas)
Jimmy Graham is the best tight end in the game, no doubt about it. So when he faces the team that is giving up the second most fantasy points to tight ends, he is a must start. The Dallas Cowboys are giving up, on average, just under 100 yards receiving and 1 touchdown to tight ends so far this year. Expect Graham to get targeted early and often as the Saints have something to prove.

Middle of the Road: Martellus Bennett, CHI (Week 4 vs Green Bay)
Quietly, Bennett finds himself among the Top 3 tight ends in the league right now. He has been known to start hot and fizzle off after September, so why not close out September with a bang against a division rival. Green Bay’s defense is not very good. In what could turn out to be a shootout, Bennett will attract many targets from Jay Cutler.

Cheap, High Upside: Owen Daniels, BAL (Week 4 vs Carolina)
Daniels will step up to take over the lead tight end position on a tight-end focused offense in Baltimore as Dennis Pitta is out for the year with a hip injury. Daniels has shown great chemistry already with Joe Flacco and should continue to do so. It doesn’t hurt that Daniels and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak were together in Houston prior to this year. Expect Daniels to be a Top 12 tight end going forward.

Defenses

Baltimore Ravens (Week 4 vs Carolina)
Carolina Panthers could be down to their fourth string running back on Sunday, if DeAngelo Williams can’t go. Also, Cam Newton is nursing multiple injuries that are certainly affecting his ability to make big plays. Look for Baltimore to put pressure on Newton, which can cause him to make erratic decisions. Lastly, Vegas thinks this is going to be one of the lowest scoring games of the week by posting an over/under of 40.5. The writing is on the wall for Baltimore to come out swinging on both sides of the ball.

Houston Texans (Week 4 vs Buffalo)
When it comes to picking defenses, I tend to lean towards home favorites who have an over/under of 45 or less. I also, like to pick a team with some consistency when they’re playing at home. As I look down the board, I see a team that’s facing an inconsistent E.J. Manuel with only one good receiver. If Houston shuts down that wide receiver, we’re going to see interceptions and sacks galore.

Moving Up, Moving Down: Week 4 – Struggling Packers, Emerging Rookie Receivers

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (13) makes a one handed catch as Detroit Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis (31) tries to cover him during game action between the Detroit Lions and the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. The Panthers win 24-7 over the Lions. September 14, 2014; Photo: Jim Dedmon/Icon Sportswire

Dave has a feeling Carolina Panthers rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin is going to be in his Moving Up category on a weekly basis from here on out. Hard to argue. Kid looks really good. Photo: Icon Sportswire

QUARTERBACKS

MOVING UP

Kirk Cousins, Redskins
From RGIII’s backup to potential QB2 for fantasy purposes to potential QB1 in a couple of weeks. This week, Cousins lit up what will likely be regarded as a lower tier secondary by season’s end, passing for 427 yards and three touchdowns with a pick against the Eagles.

Austin Davis, Rams
With offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer shocking the world and calling a few deep passes, Davis posted the 5th most fantasy points amongst quarterbacks this week courtesy of his 327 yard, three touchdown performance. Sure, he threw a brutal pick-six to Bruce Carter but his other interception was a necessary late game heave that you can’t fault him for. While the Rams have no major stars at wide receiver or tight end, they do possess a plethora of solid options that all bring something different to the table. If Schottenheimer, keeps the training wheels in the garage, Davis could be half decent in 2014, assuming head coach Jeff Fisher doesn’t give the keys back to Shaun Hill (ugh!).

MOVING DOWN

Aaron Rodgers, Packers
I’m sure he will bust out this week and make me look like a fool for putting him as Moving Down but the facts are that Rodgers is currently the 12th rated fantasy quarterback with less than 20 PPG. If he can’t light up a completely decimated Bears secondary this week, then that’s solid proof that the Packers offense isn’t what we expected it to be.

RUNNING BACKS

MOVING UP

Donald Brown, Chargers
Ryan Mathews was lost last week with a sprained MCL. Danny Woodhead was lost for the season this week and rookie Marion Grice was plucked off the Chargers practice squad by the Arizona Cardinals. That leaves Brown, rookie undrafted free agent Branden Oliver and whatever veteran they sign off the street holding down the fort until Mathews returns. Brown figures to get 15-20 touches a week until then. Unfortunately, he had just 62 yards this week on 31 carries.

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens
With Bernard Pierce out of the lineup with a thigh injury, Taliaferro split the workload with Justin Forsett this week against the Browns. He played more on run downs with Forsett hogging the receiving action. Against a solid Browns run defense, Taliaferro finished up with 91 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. While it hasn’t been completely confirmed, it does seem like the Ravens aren’t necessarily sold on Pearce although we do expect he will remain the starter this week against the Panthers. However, Taliaferro is definitely a name to monitor, especially in dynasty formats.

Alfred Blue, Texans
Arian Foster has some serious hamstring problems and with him out of the lineup this past week, Blue locked down the backup spot with 88 yards on 14 touches against the Giants. Just don’t go thinking Blue has Ben Tate type of ability. If Foster is healthy, he will hog the touches but Blue is definitely a must have handcuff for Foster owners.

DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
Williams missed Week 3 with a thigh injury but with both Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert out for Week 4, and Fozzy Whitaker dealing with a quad issue, Williams figures to get plenty of touches against the Ravens.

MOVING DOWN

Eddie Lacy, Packers
Can you say sophomore slump? Lacy is averaging a measly 3.1 yards per carry with 113 yards on 36 carries. Dating back to last season, Lacy has averaged under 4.0 yards per carry in eight of his last 11 games.

Zac Stacy, Rams
First Benny Cunningham started eating into Stacy’s touches and now Trey Watts is as well. Let’s face it – the Rams are not sold on Stacy as their long term starter at running back. Preseason predictions that he was a volume play were bang on and it says here that the volume is about to start drying up.

WIDE RECEIVERS

MOVING UP

Jordan Matthews, Eagles
With preseason reports indicating the Eagles had a draft day steal on their hands with Matthews, it wasn’t altogether surprising that his breakout performance came just three games into his rookie season. Matthews looked like a future star against the Redskins as he hauled in eight of his nine targets for 59 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While Washington sports a faulty secondary and Matthews remains behind Riley Cooper on the depth chart, it’s worth noting that both players have been targeted 17 times this season.

Cecil Shorts, Jaguars
While Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson have flashed during the first three games of the season, the Jaguars group of young receivers was also called out by the team’s coaching staff. This group cries out for a veteran presence and Shorts brings that to the table, at least when he’s healthy enough to play. He totalled five catches for 35 yards and a score this week and should be a target machine moving forward. Just don’t expect a huge touchdown count given the team’s struggles on offense, particularly along the offensive line.

Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers
I get the feeling that this man child will be Moving Up every week this year. With 253 receiving yards, he could top 1,000 yards as a rookie and it is already clear that he will be garner a fair number of red zone targets.

Andrew Hawkins and Miles Austin, Browns
Three games into the season, it appears that Hawkins will finish 2014 as a PPR demon. The free agent signee hasn’t disappointed with 21 receptions for 244 yards. After a Week 1 dud, Austin has 12 receptions for 95 yards in his last two games, finding the end zone in each contest. With the Browns passing offense better than advertised, there is some surprising fantasy value amongst the team’s wide receivers.

Jeremy Kerley, Jets
Outside of Eric Decker, Kerley is quarterback Geno Smith’s most trusted option in the passing game. And Decker is having some hamstring issues. With his target count moving from five to eight to 11, Kerley just might be PPR gold by season’s end.

MOVING DOWN

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
As predicted in our preseason rankings, Fitz has clearly been usurped by Michael Floyd. We just didn’t predict this level of drop off as he has caught just 10 of his 21 targets for 107 yards and no touchdowns.

TIGHT ENDS

MOVING UP

Owen Daniels, Texans
While Daniels bombed this week with one catch for eight yards, there are better days ahead. He looked solid in Week 1 and 2 with nine receptions for 64 yards and a pair of touchdowns in limited action, but he moves to the starting line up with Dennis Pitta out for the year. Daniels rates as a low end TE1 over the balance of the season.

MOVING DOWN

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
Out for six weeks.

Dennis Pitta, Ravens
Out for the rest of 2014.