We hope your team performs better in Week 4 than Miley did at the VMAs.
Tony's excited about the 'Eric and Jessie' Show ... and Eric Decker against the Eagles.
By: Tony Andracki, Scott Krinch and Mark Strotman (AKA, the three best friends anyone could have)
Welcome to another edition of CSNChicago.com's Start'em and Sit'em, where three totally unqualified guys give their take on the best and worst plays in the upcoming fantasy football week.
We're not experts, but then again, how can anybody truly be an "expert" at fantasy football? This is a game of luck and nobody can predict the future.
We don't have special powers, but we are pretty obsessed with fantasy sports. Just ask our girlfriends...if we had any.
Every week, each of us will comprise a trio of players with the best matchups or situations on tap for the week ahead and a corresponding trio of guys who are most likely to run into a metaphorical brick wall.
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And because we're men and we love perpetuating stereotypes, we, of course, turned this into a competition. Why not?
After three weeks (and all of last year), we realized a major flaw in our scoring: If we assign 0-5 values to each player's performance, there's nothing worse than a zero. And Mark's Week 3 sit of Antonio Brown (who went off for 31 ESPN standard points) should have been bad enough to sink his entire week, instead of just that one pick.
So we're instituting a new system for Week 4. We will add up the ESPN standard fantasy points for all of our "Starts" and subtract the points from all our "Sits" and the difference will be the weekly score. So if one of us winds up with a negative score, so be it.
(Scoring example: If Scott's three starts total 45 fantasy points and his three sits total 20, he would finish the week with 25 points.)
So without further ado, here are our picks for Week 4:
Last week was proof: I don't need to run faster than the bear, just faster than these other two goofballs.
Steve Smith killed me and my starts weren't all that great, but my sits were right on, from McFadden (only 10 fantasy points, despite a tuddie) to Garcon (8 pts).
What's on tap this week?
I'm honored to announce the return of my guy Eric Decker to the "Start" section. After spending seemingly half the year in this spot last season, Jessie James' hubby is back where he belongs after two huge games.
Every year, there are a couple guys I'm down on almost every week. I'll leave Pierre Garcon out of this for now (mostly because it's starting to become un-fun with how right I am about him), but I'm adding Andrew Luck to the list. You'll see why:
Oakland quarterbacks (vs. WAS)
With this pick, I'm hopeful Terrelle Pryor is able to make his return from a concussion and continue his exciting play against a porous Redskins secondary. If not Pryor, the Redskins are so bad, Matt Flynn should be able to come off the bench and turn in a good fantasy day. Washington has allowed an average of 27 fantasy points per week to opposing QBs, including eight scores already. Until DeAngelo Hall and Co. can turn things around, start any and all QBs against the Redskins.
Reggie Bush, RB -- DET (vs. CHI)
Going all-in with injured dudes this week, apparently. All signs point to Bush suiting up and playing this week against the Bears, who have had trouble defensively this season. Sure, the Bears are taking the ball away, but they're also allowing nearly 400 yards per game. You can bet the Lions will find a way for Bush to get his in an important divisional game.
Eric Decker, WR -- DEN (vs. PHI)
Good time to get Decker on my Start list, as his reality TV show with Country singer wife Jessie James hits the E! channel Sunday night. (I promise I'm not employed by either Decker or James and I am not trying to plug their show, even though I'm sure it'll be awesome). Decker has re-emerged as a vital cog to the Broncos' offense, with 17 catches and 220 yards the past two games.
Andrew Luck, QB -- IND (@ JAC)
Everybody's talking about Colin Kaepernick's passing struggles this season, but why is nobody talking about this guy? In his sophomore season, Luck has topped 180 passing yards just once in three games and he has three touchdowns through the air. His saving grace has been the rushing stats (two TDs, 100 yds). The Jags got absolutely annihilated last week by Russell Wilson in the passing game, but they had a solid pass D the first two weeks, most notably because teams ran all over them on the ground. This is not a great matchup for Luck.
C.J. Spiller, RB -- BUF (vs. BAL)
This pains me to do this, as Spiller is easily my favorite(est) running back in the NFL, but he has been horrendous this year. Add in a thigh injury that allegedly "sapped his explosiveness" last week and a Ravens defense that has allowed the fewest points to opposing RBs in fantasy and you have yourself an absolute nightmare of a matchup.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR -- ARI (@ TB)
The last two seasons, Fitzgerald's fantasy value hinges solely on if he gets into the endzone or not, which is just simply not happening often (only 6 in 19 games). He's currently nursing a hamstring injury and for all their faults, the Buccaneers have been surprisingly adept at limiting opposing WRs in fantasy. Tampa Bay has allowed just 14 points per week, well below the NFL average of 21.6. Stay away from Fitz if you can help it this week.
Also, Decker's show debuts Sunday night. Just wanted to reiterate. Could be a hit?
Krinch and I would have flipped numbers on Eddie Royal had the Chargers not been called for a bogus pick/offensive pass interference call on Royal's touchdown. Oh well. Charles Tillman let me down big-time as Antonio Brown established himself as a must-start every week after his 31-point performance against the Bears. I've got to do better this week, and I like where this week is heading. I'm mixing in a little bit of safety with a whole lot of upside, especially against some putrid defenses. I'm in last place, but that means there's only one way to go with my picks: up.
Alex Smith, QB -- KC (@ NYG)
I can't see any way the Giants go 0-4 to begin the year, but the Chiefs are playing some fantastic football and Smith is leading the charge. I'm not saying you should start Smith over anyone, but if you're in a league where you took Cam Newton or Aaron Rodgers (both on byes) and forgot to grab a back-up, Smith is a stellar option. The Giants pass defense is awful, Smith has yet to throw an interception and Jamaal Charles is heating up, which means he'll do damage in the passing game. I like Smith to hover around 16 or 17 points this week, which is solid for a waiver wire pickup.
Lamar Miller, RB -- MIA (@ NO)
We're starting to see Joe Philbin shift his offense toward Miller instead of the perplexing timeshare between him and Daniel Thomas. Though his rushing attempts are still low, Miller is averaging 6.0 yards per carry and faces a Saints run defense that has been awful. Ryan Tannehill will be the difference between the Dolphins staying in that game or not, but Miller is going to have himself a night in what should be a shootout.
Denarius Moore, WR -- OAK (WAS)
A lot of this play depends on whether or who starts at quarterback this week, but either way I like Moore as an upside flex. Not only did he put up impressive numbers against a good Broncos defense, he looked good doing it. He acts and plays like a No. 1 wide receiver for the Raiders, and Terrelle Pryor finally has his guy. Even if Matt Flynn starts, Moore should shred a Redskins defense that has easily been the worst in the league through three weeks.
Tavon Austin, WR -- STL (vs. SF)
I've been pretty frustrated with Austin, who I believed would be a stellar value pick and break out once the regular season began -- in the same mold of Randall Cobb. And while 18 receptions through three weeks is nothing to complain about, he simply isn't getting it done downfield. Having averaged just 6.6 yards per catch, I've got to sit him down this week against the 49ers. I suppose you could justify using him as a flex in a deep, PPR league, but other than that we've got to wait until the Rams take some of the restraints off him and let him work downfield.
Stevan Ridley, RB -- NE (@ ATL)
By far the biggest fantasy bust of the early season, Ridley has totaled just seven fantasy points through three weeks. The Patriots simply won't let him get the number of touches he needs to succeed, and he's always been unreliable as a pass catcher. And now playing the fifth-ranked run defense in the NFL in Atlanta, it's time to sit Ridley for a week and find a safer play who you know will get you touches. It's a risky move, because the Patriots could go off for 50 points at a moment's notice, but the odds are more likely that Ridley puts up another dud. He needs Tom Brady to get his targets back to open up the run game.
Darren Sproles, RB -- NO (MIA)
It's hard to be disappointed with Sproles too much, because if you drafted him you knew he was a boom-or-bust play every week. Through three weeks he has tallied 19 total points, and this week he'll face a tough Dolphins defense that will try and bottle up Drew Brees. There's always that risk that *this* will be the week Sproles goes off, but I'm guessing that comes in Week 6 when the Saints play at New England. For now, play someone who is guaranteed 15-20 rushes per game and will give you secure points.
So Strotman is winless in his fantasy leagues and his dismal performance last week has led us to make a scoring change in our weekly competition. Get it together dude. I've given up on hyping any Broncos running back this season after watching them play rock, paper, scissors for a goal line carry Monday. Who does that? I guess when you've got Peyton Manning at the helm, you're offense is allowed to do whatever you want. With that being said, I'm changing up my strategy this week. New scoring means new hope. I've decided on a few calculated risks and a couple safe plays that I couldn't be more confident about. You're going down boys.
Jay Cutler, QB -- CHI (@ DET)
Mr. Fourth Quarter is owned in 69% of ESPN standard leagues. If your quarterback is on a bye, snatch up Cutler now because his numbers are only going to get better. Marc Trestman has worked his magic on the enigmatic Bears quarterback. Cutler has doubled his TD/INT ratio and his touchdown total should rise as the offense gains familiarity with the new system. The Lions are allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, but I'm not buying into their suddenly improved defense. The Lions will put up points, no doubt, which could turn Sunday's NFC North showdown into a shootout. Get your popcorn ready and be excited if Cutler is in your starting lineup.
Bilal Powell, RB -- NYJ (@ TEN)
Who predicted Powell would be the 7th leading rusher in the NFL through three games? Probably not even his girlfriend, let alone anybody. Powell is running with authority this season and is racing away with the starting job due to the inconsistency of Chris Ivory and suspension to Mike Goodson. The second-year back is going to get a major volume of carries against a Titans defense that's allowed consecutive 100-yard rushers. Powell is definitely worthy of a flex start and I'd even say he's a borderline RB2 as of this moment.
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Cecil Shorts, WR -- JAC (VS. IND)
Shorts has hauled in 19 passes and 276 yards through three weeks which look good at first glance. But he hasn't caught a touchdown pass in 2013 ... something that will change very soon, and possibly as early as this week. The Jaguars are going to be down in pretty much every game this season. Shorts has racked up his numbers in garbage time. At some point, one of those garbage receptions is going to equate to a score and maybe even multiple scores. The Colts look like the real deal and should annihilate the Jags which will actually be a good thing for Shorts' owners this week.
Eli Manning, QB -- NYG (@ KC)
Eli, Eli, Eli ... what is going on with your team this year? A blowout loss to the Panthers? C'mon on man! Manning has thrown a league-high eight interceptions in 2013 and his fantasy points have gone down each week. There's no way he has another 3-point game on Sunday, but I'm not expecting him to do much against a Chiefs defense that's ranked No. 1 in fantasy points that boasts a ferocious pass rush. There are better options on waivers this week. Roll the dice on somebody like Terrelle Pryor or Philip Rivers, and give Eli a first row seat on your fantasy bench.
DeMarco Murray, RB -- DAL (@ SD)
It's no surprise that Murray torched the Rams defense on Sunday. He's tortured St. Louis in the past, but the injury-ridden back hasn't really been a model of consistency since he entered the NFL. The Cowboys offense is clicking on all cylinders right now ... wait when have we heard that before? It's not something I expect to continue each week. Dallas heads to San Diego in Week 4 to go up against a defense that's ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. So why the heck am I sitting Murray against their defense? It's a matter of consistency like I stated earlier, and I don't see Murray having monster back-to-back games. Just trust me on this ... please?
Vincent Jackson, WR -- TB (vs. ARI)
I'm personally one of the Jackson owners that's kicking myself for drafting him so early. I expected big things out of him in 2013. His numbers have dropped each week and I don't see it getting any better. I'm not buying into Mike Glennon being the answer in Tampa Bay. I never liked him in college and I still don't. The quarterback change won't help Jackson's fantasy prospects and he's also battling a rib injury. Oh, and the Buccaneers are just an absolute mess right now. Don't get excited because you see the Cardinals defense looming this week. Get Jackson on your bench in Week 4.