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:
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.