Start Keller, Olsen in Week 4
It’s the final installment of Lineup Calls for Week 4. I’m taking a gander at the secondary positions in this piece, featuring extended descriptions of the tight end and defense positions with a short foray into the world of kickers.
You can find us in the three-man chat on FOXSports.com (Fowler, Beall and Halpin get you rolling) and on FOX Sports Radio to lead into the FOX NFL Sunday Pregame Show.
Get locked and loaded.
Exclude: Jermichael Finley, Jason Witten, Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis, Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates (unless he sits, of course)
Tight End Heroes
Greg Olsen, CAR at Chicago: Olsen was a “Ninja” to start the week. He heads the “Heroes” list as the clock winds toward kickoff. Olsen has been targeted 20 times through three weeks by Cam Newton. He scored in last week’s game against the Jaguars and had a score reversed in Week 2.
The Bears didn’t know how to use him during his run with Mike Martz in 2010. They won’t know how to defend him this week. Safety Chris Harris will be missing from the Chicago secondary, thereby creating opportunities down the seams.
Brandon Pettigrew, DET at Dallas: Frustrated fantasy owners were running to the wire to cut Pettigrew last week. He participated in the game and racked up 11 receptions on 13 targets. Sure, Pettigrew is without a touchdown thus far, but that target count will rarely be matched. He’ll play a huge role in this road test at Dallas.
The Lions are in a spotlight game for Week 4 of the NFL season. Punch me.
Jermaine Gresham, CIN vs. Buffalo: Longtime readers know of my love for Gresham since his selection in the 2010 NFL Draft. He’s a big body with the ability to create space downfield. Gresham opened the season with 12 catches for 117 yards (one touchdown) through three games.
I believe there’s a huge opportunity here against the Buffalo defense.
Dustin Keller, NYJ at Baltimore: Keller has established himself as Mark Sanchez’s most consistent target to open the 2011 season. He’s piled up 16 receptions for 249 yards through three weeks with two touchdowns and will remain on Sanchez’s radar despite the tough matchup against Baltimore. I’m already calling out the “Hot Route!” for him.
Tight End Ninja Alerts
Marcedes Lewis, JAC vs. New Orleans: Lewis returned to action in a difficult spot last week on the wet field in Carolina. He caught two passes for 15 yards in the Jaguars’ narrow defeat. I expect to see his activity and target count ramped up in Week 4 against the potent New Orleans squad. Forget thoughts of the red zone for the time being. Take the production that comes from frantic comeback mode by the Jaguars.
Randy McMichael, SD vs. Miami: Antonio Gates may be unavailable because of lingering concerns about his foot. McMichael stepped into a big role for the Chargers last week with four receptions for 51 yards in the narrow win over Kansas City. He’s a strong plug-in play again this week with Miami and its banged-up secondary on the field.
Ed Dickson, BAL vs. New York Jets: Dickson pops onto the radar this week against the Jets. He’s produced two games with five receptions and at least 50 yards this season. The Ravens face a banged-up New York secondary (Antonio Cromartie may be out) and the arrival of Torrey Smith creates ample space down the seams for Dickson to operate.
Tight End Flop Alerts
Kellen Winslow, TB vs. Indianapolis: Winslow has logged 12 receptions for 130 yards through three weeks. He’s affected by a knee injury right now and will be called upon to slow the fierce Indianapolis pass rush. I haven’t seen anything to get me excited about the Tampa Bay passing attack right now.
Owen Daniels, HOU vs. Pittsburgh: Daniels is a low-end TE1. He’s still a starter this week against the Steelers. I’ve written quite a bit about the Colts’ ability to work the field against Pittsburgh a week ago. Dallas Clark wasn’t a part of it and was forced to block frequently. I’m fearful that Daniels suffers a similar fate this week.
Make the push for James Casey to have tight end eligibility.
Benjamin Watson, CLE vs. Tennessee: Watson had his best game of the season in Week 3 against the Dolphins (five receptions for 64 yards). He’s in a difficult matchup this week against the top-10 Tennessee pass defense. Watson rates as a solid PPR option for Colt McCoy underneath, but Evan Moore is still your red zone threat.
Jason Hanson, DET at Dallas: Kicking behind the Matthew Stafford-led offense is a good thing. Hanson has already converted eight field goals with 11 PATs. He has logged at least two field goal conversions in each of the Lions’ first three games.
Mike Nugent, CIN vs. Buffalo: Nugent has quietly produced a strong opening to the 2011 season. He’s converted multiple field goals in three consecutive games (several overall) with four PATs. I expect Andy Dalton and the Bengals to find success downfield against the Bills and set Nugent up with multiple opportunities.
Alex Henery, PHI vs. San Francisco: The 49ers have played fantastic defense through three weeks, allowing opponents just 17.3 points per game (fourth in the NFL). This unit has been particularly adept at creating turnovers and play aggressively. That limits Henery’s upside for Week 4.
I’m intrigued to see Harbaugh’s defense get after the sputtering Philadelphia offense.
Dan Carpenter, MIA at San Diego: Like last year, Carpenter has been one of the few bright spots for the Dolphins. The Chargers are retooling following a hard-fought win over the Chiefs in Week 3, and that could make for a long day for the Miami offense. Of course, that all depends on Philip Rivers and the offense taking better care of the field and maintaining the field position advantage.
Team Defense Plug-Ins
(I’ll spare you prose about the Packers, Bears, Ravens, Jets and the usual suspects.)
Washington at St. Louis: The Rams have yet to find any semblance of consistency in any facet of the game. St. Louis is averaging an anemic 12 points per game. Look for Washington to blitz early and often to force the ball out of Sam Bradford’s hands.
New Orleans vs. Jacksonville: The Jaguars are averaging 9.7 points per game. I don’t know that I need to elaborate right now. Gregg Williams will attack Blaine Gabbert from every angle.
Tennessee at Cleveland: Take your shot against the Titans’ schedule thus far. Now try and convince me how much better the Browns are than previous opponents. The Browns average 20.3 points per game, a scoring average good for 16th in the NFL.
Tampa Bay vs. Indianapolis: Will those opportunities downfield that appeared for Painter and Collins materialize again? I’m not so sure that the Colts don’t rise up and make this a fight, but the execution has not been there to date.
Indianapolis at Tampa Bay: Conversely, can Josh Freeman avoid the speed rushes off of the edge? Will Dwight Freeney be stalking Freeman on Monday night? The Tampa Bay offense has been anything but efficient to date, particularly through the air. This is a huge game for the Buccaneers against a desperate opponent.
Team Defense Shutdowns
Houston vs. Pittsburgh: Don’t write the Steelers off after watching the Colts in Week 3. Tomlin will have this unit ready to roll in Week 4. The Steelers have yet to find the mark on the ground, but Ben Roethlisberger has ample opportunity to stretch the field with his speedy wideouts. Don’t be surprised if a shootout unfolds.
Atlanta at Seattle: Do the Falcons struggle again on the road? I’m always leery of trips to Seattle. The Seahawks rallied for Pete Carroll against the Cardinals in that divisional battle. Can they do it again?