Fantasy Positional Matchups: Week 4

BY John Halpin • September 26, 2013

Through three weeks, our Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed tool is solidifying as a tool to help you find good matchups. It’ll get stronger as the season progresses, as we’ll have less reason to say things like, “But they’ve played against Jimmy Graham and Jordan Cameron – of course their numbers are horrible!”

(The quote above was used for effect. No defense has played against Graham and Cameron so far. Thank goodness, because they’d be shellshocked.)

As always, please remember that the players listed are mostly meant to be borderline guys, who need reasons for you to play or bench them. You won’t see recommendations to start Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson, because you should always start Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson. Make sense? Good.

Note: The fantasy points per game (FPPG) referenced below are from standard leagues.

Week 4 Byes: Packers, Panthers

Thursday game: 49ers at Rams


Stay away: Matt Schaub, Texans (vs. Seahawks)

Through three games, Schaub is 14th among quarterbacks in standard scoring with 61.5 points. However, this week the Texans host a nasty Seahawks’ D that has held Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Chad Henne to a league-low 8.8 fantasy points per game. You should avoid Schaub in this spot.

(Newton, Kaepernick and Henne … how hard do you think I laughed when I added that third name like he fit with the other two?)

Play, play, play: Tony Romo, Cowboys (@ Chargers)

Romo is 12th in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks so far, with 63 points, 771 passing yards and six touchdown passes. On Sunday, he’ll face a Chargers’ defense that has been torched for 33 FPPG and a ridiculous 340.7 passing yards per game against some non-elite quarterbacks. Romo might throw to Dez Bryant 89 times this week, and complete most of the passes.


- On the other side of the ball at Qualcomm Stadium, Philip Rivers gets to face a Dallas D that ranks 27th with 26.3 FPPG allowed. Rivers has been very good so far, ranking fourth among QBs in fantasy scoring. However, since he likely wasn’t drafted as your QB1, you’ll usually need a good reason to start him. The Cowboys’ D might qualify if your normal starting QB isn’t one of the top-tier studs.

- If Terrelle Pryor’s concussion heals in time for him to play, he’ll battle a porous Redskins’ defense that ranks 31st with 32.7 FPPG allowed. Pryor’s running skills (198 rushing yards so far) are what make him fantasy relevant, but he’s not as bad a passer as we thought. Besides, you and I could throw for at least 200 yards against the ‘Skins. OK, maybe 180.

Running Backs

Stay away: Ryan Mathews, Chargers (vs. Cowboys)

Gee, this guy is annoying to own. Mathews has averaged 16 touches in his first three games, and rushed for 164 yards. However, he cedes snaps to Danny Woodhead on passing downs and Ronnie Brown near the goal line. He won’t score much, he won’t catch many passes, he doesn’t run all that well, and goes up against a Dallas D that ranks second with 10 FPPG allowed to opposing backs. Mathews’ upside is extremely mediocre.


- If C.J. Spiller (quad) is ready to go as expected, the Bills’ Week 3 matchup with the Ravens won’t be an easy one for Fred Jackson. The Ravens have allowed a league-low 8.5 FPPG to opposing runners, and have permitted just 74.7 yards per game on the ground. F-Jax is a low-end flex option, and you probably have better ones.

Play, play, play: Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts (@ Jaguars)

Oh, no! Trent Richardson has come to take all of Bradshaw’s carries! That will probably be true soon enough, even though Bradshaw ran 19 times for 95 yards and a score against the 49ers in Week 3. But this week against the 25th-ranked Jags (19.7 FPPG allowed to opposing RBs), there should be enough gaping holes to go around for both Indy runners. If you own Bradshaw, save your full-fledged panic for next week.


- What the heck is going on with the 49ers, who have been getting trampled by opposing backs for 25.7 FPPG (last in the league)? Daryl Richardson didn’t do anything in Week 3 due to a foot injury, but he’s listed as probable for Week 4, so you should get him in there. If for some reason Richardson can’t go, fire up his replacement, Isaiah Pead.

Wide Receivers

Stay away: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (at Buccaneers)

Fitzgerald has been slowed over the past two weeks due to a hamstring injury, and this week he gets an all-expense paid trip to Revis Island, where Darrelle Revis and his teammates boast the league’s third-ranked defense versus wide receivers (15.3 FPPG allowed). If there’s ever a week to consider benching Fitz, this is it.


- DeAndre Hopkins’ stock will go up if Andre Johnson (shin) can’t play in Week 4, but this isn’t a good matchup for the Texans’ wideouts. The Seahawks’ defensive backs are once again suffocating passing games, and are the league’s best with just 12.8 FPPG allowed to opposing wideouts. Hopkins is fun to watch and extremely talented, but he’s in a bad spot here.

Play, play, play: Denarius Moore, Raiders (vs. Redskins)

No, Moore isn’t here just because he caught a 73-yard touchdown pass on Monday and finished the game with six receptions for 124 yards. Moore and the Raiders host the Redskins, who have allowed a putrid 35.4 FPPG to opposing wide receivers. Moore has probably been on your bench since the season started, but now is a good time to spot-start him.


- Ravens’ rookie Marlon Brown had just two catches in Week 3 after hauling in four passes in each of his first two games. This week – provided that a neck injury doesn’t keep him out of action – Brown has a nice matchup with the Bills’ 29th-ranked pass defense (31.3 FPPG allowed to opposing wideouts).

- See the Tony Romo recommendation above? You’re already starting his two favorite targets, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, against a Chargers’ D that ranks 26th with 29.9 FPPG allowed to opposing wideouts. Flexy Miles Austin should be considered as well.

- Tom Brady can’t be held down all year, right? With the Falcons allowing 30 FPPG (27th in the league) to opposing wideouts, rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins can both be considered as Week 4 starters, whether or not TE Rob Gronkowski makes his 2013 debut.

Tight Ends

Stay away: Tony Gonzalez, Falcons (vs. Patriots)

With 11 catches for 93 yards and a score so far, Gonzalez is starting to look a bit old. It’s too early to stick a fork in him, but look to keep him out against a Pats’ D that has allowed a miniscule 1.9 FPPG to opposing tight ends.


- The Dolphins appear to have found a gem in TE/H-back combo Charles Clay, who has caught 14 passes for 203 yards so far, and ran for a one-yard score against the Colts in Week 2. With that said, he’ll probably be on your start/sit border until he becomes a steady contributor. With the Saints ranking seventh (4.8 FPPG) against opposing tight ends, this week looks like a sit.

Play, play, play: Antonio Gates, Chargers (vs. Cowboys)

Gates is BACK, with 15 receptions for 228 yards and a touchdown in his first three games of 2013! OK, maybe he’s not all the way back, but he’s certainly worthy of a start versus a Cowboys’ squad that has allowed seven catches and 8.8 FPPG to opposing tight ends.


- Arizona’s Rob Housler made his 2013 debut in Week 3, and caught one pass for 13 yards. Maybe we can chalk that up to the first step in a recovery from a sprained ankle, and fondly recall that Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians called Housler a “wide receiver playing tight end” during the offseason. Housler isn’t a top-tier option at this position, but can be considered as a plug-and-play against the 30th-ranked Bucs’ defense (13.9 FPPG allowed to opposing TEs). Yeah, a lot of those points were racked up by the undefendable Jimmy Graham in Week 2, but Kellen Winslow lit them up in Week 1, too.

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