FANTASY FOOTBALL: WEEK FOUR TIPS

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This picture shows you exactly what Eli Manning's fantasy value is so far this season

This picture shows you exactly what Eli Manning's fantasy value is so far this season

Well, it took until week 3, but it’s finally started. Some of the most important players in the league are getting hit with the injury bug. Both Stephen Jackson and Ray Rice went down with injury on Sunday. It doesn’t look particularly good for Rice, but Jackson is insisting the injury isn’t too bad. There’s a possibility that both could play next week, but make sure you have a solid plan B, just in case. On the topic of plan Bs, make sure to remember that in week 4 bye weeks are starting. Check your teams and make sure you aren’t playing an empty slot! Now, for the tips:

Quarterback

BEST:   Peyton Manning, IND

This one is a no-brainer. The Jaguars have looked horrendous defensively this year, and Manning is on a blistering pace. If you have any chance to trade for the 4 time (and if he keeps this up soon to be 5 time) MVP take the deal. Peyton is lights out this year, and is going to absolutely thrash the Jaguars in week 4. I would honestly be shocked if he throws for any fewer than 3 scores and 300 yards.

WORST:Â Eli Manning, NYG

The Manning brothers both find themselves on my fantasy article, but Eli’s isn’t for anything good. While Eli has the talent around him to make something positive out of his matchup with Chicago, I just don’t see it happening. The younger Manning has been atrocious at taking care of the ball this season, as we all saw with his insanely ill advised left handed throw in the red zone. Chicago doesn’t have the best secondary, but I think Julius Peppers will get enough pressure to force Eli into some bad throws and potentially multiple interceptions.

Running Back

BEST:   Pierre Thomas, NO

With Reggie Bush out Thomas has become a true work horse back. And with the Saints inexplicably struggling in the passing game he has become a vital part of their offense. This week he gets the Carolina Panthers who have been fairly porous defensively, giving up around 111 yards per game. I think Thomas goes for over 100 yards this week and gets into the end zone at least once. He also may make a dent in the receiving game as well, as the Saints have started to show some fondness for the screen early this year. Consider any catches and receiving yards he gets a nice bonus this week.

WORST:Â DeAngelo Williams, CAR

This doesn’t have much to do with who he’s playing, or his talent. It has everything to do with circumstances out of Williams’ control. First, the Panthers have been playing from behind a lot this season which has cut the number of carries Williams has seen drastically. Second, John Fox insists on giving the ball to Johnathan Stewart this season, despite the fact that Williams has looked much better with the ball this year. If you have another good option I’d recommend sitting Williams until either the Panthers improve defense or John Fox figures out that Williams should be the featured back. You may also want to try and trade DeAngelo while his name still carries some value.

Wide Receiver

BEST:   Greg Jennings, GB

The Packers will be taking on the Lions this Sunday after a painfully sloppy loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night. I have a feeling that the Packers will come out swinging against the Lions to prove to the rest of the league that they are indeed a Super Bowl contender. That means the Lions’ sub-par secondary is going to be seeing a lot of passes thrown their way. I think the Packers will look deep often, with Jennings hauling in a few long pass plays, and at least one touchdown. If you have Jennings, start him with confidence.

WORST:Â Steve Smith, CAR

I can’t recommend Smith until I see more of what Jimmy Clausen can do. I wasn’t impressed with him at Notre Dame (of course that may just be my Spartan bias talking), and he looked pretty bad in his first NFL game. Until we see that Clausen can get the ball to his best playmaker then I would recommend sitting Smith if you have a better option. If you don’t have a better option you’ll just have to hope that Smith can turn a short pass into a long TD like he did so many times early in his career.

Tight End

BEST:   Tony Gonzalez, ATL

Gonzalez had a nice week last week, and I think he’ll continue that trend against the 49ers this week. The Niners haven’t been as good as advertised on defense this season, and the ageless Gonzalez should find a way to exploit their linebackers and secondary. San Francisco is giving up about 217 yards per game through the air, and I have to believe that Gonzalez will account for a good number of those yards this week. It’s also a better than average shot that he’ll find the end zone against the 49ers as well.

WORST:Â Brent Celek, PHI

When Mike Vick became the starter in Philly many people expected Celek’s numbers to spike. After all, Mike Vick did lean on Algae Crumpler during his entire tenure in Atlanta. However, it looks like Vick is more comfortable throwing to his receivers in Philly, especially in the red zone. While Celek did see 6 targets against the Jags last week, I’m not sold on his value going forward. He’s a risky play this week, so if you have a solid backup with a nice match-up, benching Celek may not be a bad idea.

Defense

BEST:Â Chicago Bears

As I mentioned above, Eli Manning has been handing out turnovers like candy early this season. I think the Bears will put some good pressure on Eli this week and force him into at least one turnover, and will probably sack him multiple times. There are still some leagues out there that haven’t embraced this Bear’s defense yet, and if they are still on your league’s waiver wire pick them up now!

WORST:Â Oakland Raiders

They were my sleeper last week, but I think they’re in trouble this week. The Texans are coming off of a sloppy performance in Dallas, and I think they’ll be hungry to rectify that. I think Matt Schaub and Arian Foster both go off on the Raiders and put a ton of points on the board. If you have a better option I would strongly recommend it. However, the Raiders may be able to create a turnover or two, making them at least playable if you don’t have any other options.

SLEEPER OF THE WEEK

-Austin Collie, WR, IND

It’s maybe a stretch to call Collie a sleeper this week, but he’s still flying under many fantasy GM’s radars, so I figured I’ll count it. Collie has been one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets this season, and set a career high in both receptions and yardage last week against Denver. With Pierre Garcon out last week, Collie has stepped up big time, and is making a push to be the number 2 WR in Indianapolis. He’s more sure handed than Garcon, and I’m betting on him becoming Peyton’s second favorite WR behind Reggie Wayne. He probably won’t be available in any of your leagues, but if you can get him for cheap in a trade I’d suggest going for it.