Fantasy Football Week 4: Ravens, Cardinals defenses; Peyton Manning and Golden Tate

September 27, 2012

Arizona’s defense is licking its chops for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. (Darryl Webb/Reuters)

The NFL’s bye weeks have begun, and the Colts and Steelers are first to take their turn.

If you’ve relied on Reggie Wayne’s resurgence or Heath Miller’s touchdown binge thus far, you may be looking for a fill-in this week.

Here are a few options from the obvious plays to a few Russell Wilson-to-Golden Tate-style hail marys.

Thursday night game

Browns at Ravens: Ravens D

The defensive-minded Ravens have a decided advantage as the home team on a short week regardless, but it’s even more pronounced considering Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has been uneven at best.

  • Deep threat: Browns WR Greg Little – Cleveland’s offense is an eye-sore, but with top target Mohamed Massaquoi out and the Browns likely playing catch-up, the second-year receiver could finally make an impact.

The 1 p.m. (EDT) games

49ers at Jets: 49ers WR Michael Crabtree

With Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis lost for the season, the Jets pass defense becomes much less daunting. Crabtree, meantime, has the confidence of quarterback Alex Smith and leads the 49ers in targets with 24.

  • Deep threat: Jets RB Bilal Powell – As long as Shonne Greene continues to average 2.8 yards per carry, New York will continue to find more ways to get the ball in the hands of its speedy second-year back. Powell is capable of making big plays, which is more than can be said for most of the rest of this erratic offense.
Dwayne Bowe hasn’t shown much rust after his unsuccessful contract holdout. (Bill Wippert/AP)

Chargers at Chiefs: Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe

The Chiefs appear to have figured out their offensive issues following last week’s comeback victory over the Saints, and Bowe has been a major part of the reversal with 37 targets, the second most in the league this season.

  • Deep threat: Chargers RB Jackie Battle – There’s not much to work with here, especially with Ryan Mathews back, but Battle did break off a 52-yard scamper last week and his size makes him a goal-line option if you’re desperate.

Panthers at Falcons: Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez

The future Hall of Famer has caught a touchdown pass in each of the Falcons’ three games this year and trails only the 49ers’ Vernon Davis in fantasy points at the position.

  • Deep threat: Panthers TE Greg Olsen - Cam Newton’s production may be way down in Year 2, but G-Reg is benefitting from an increase in check-downs and dump-offs as defenses put more pressure on the QB. Olsen has at least six catches in two of his three games.

Patriots at Bills: Bills WR Stevie Johnson

Johnson has a touchdown reception in four consecutive games dating from last season, and with the Bills running back situation in upheaval, he’ll continue to a frequent target against the Patriots’ mediocre pass defense.

  • Deep threat: Patriots RB Danny Woodhead - New England’s run game was largely neutralized against Baltimore, but it was Woodhead – not Stevan Ridley – who got the most carries (15) and scored a touchdown. Ridley is the obvious play against a Bills defense giving up 100 yards on the ground per game, but Woodhead should get his touches, too.

Seahawks at Rams: Rams WR Danny Amendola

With running back Steven Jackson presumably still not fully healed from a groin injury, Amendola, whose 34 targets are tied for fourth most, becomes the featured player in the offense for at least another week.

  • Deep threat: Seahawks WR Golden Tate - Yes, Tate should not have been awarded that 24-yard touchdown on the final play of Monday’s controversial win against the Packers, but don’t forget that he did have a legitimate 41-yard touchdown catch in the first half. Russell Wilson seems to have a good rapport with Tate, and that could result in another productive day against a suspect Rams pass defense.
Catch of the year? (Joe Howell/AP)

Titans at Texans: Texans TE Owen Daniels

Daniels caught his first touchdown of the season last week, and he stands to be a major part of the Texans’ potent offense on Sunday with the Titans allowing the most fantasy points per game (19.8) to tight ends.

  • Deep threat: Titans WR Nate Washington - Did you see that catch on Sunday? No? Well here it is again. Tennessee can’t run the ball and they should be playing from behind, which could result in another touchdown for Washington.

Vikings at Lions: Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew

The Vikings are poised for a letdown after beating the 49ers last week. Plus they allow tight ends an average of 10.2 fantasy points, the sixth most in the league, and Pettigrew is coming off his most productive game of the year.

  • Deep threat: Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph - All he does is catch touchdowns. And even when Adrian Peterson is wide open in the end zone, Christian Ponder is looking for his 6-6 tight end to guide his sleigh. That’s a good sign for Rudolph owners.

The 4 p.m. games

Bengals at Jaguars: Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis

The Bengals’ passing game is justifiably receiving a lot of attention after bombarding the Redskins, but Green-Ellis will get his touches and is a fine RB1 against the NFL’s second-worst fantasy run defense (29.6 ppg).

  • Deep threat: Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts - He only has five catches this year but one was an 80-yard touchdown bomb in Week 1 and another was last week’s game-tying touchdown grab. Shorts is your typical boom-or-bust play, but if you’re desperate….

Dolphins at Cardinals: Cardinals D

The Cardinals may be for real after opening 3-0, and defense has been a major factor in the fast start. Miami not only has to travel across country but also may be without running back Reggie Bush.

  • Deep threat: Dolphins RB Lamar Miller – Daniel Thomas was a popular early draft pick as a rookie last season but he has yet to live up to his billing. Meantime Miller, a home-grown rookie, is averaging 5.9 yards per carry to Thomas’ 3.6 and was the better runner after Bush went down last week. If Bush can’t go this week, Miller makes a sneaky play.

Raiders at Broncos: Broncos QB Peyton Manning

Manning has thrown four touchdowns without an interception at home, so look for that trend of efficient play to continue against the Raiders, who allow the sixth most fantasy points (24.3) to quarterbacks.

  • Deep threat: Raiders WR Rod Streater – The 6-3 undrafted rookie caught only two passes each of the last two weeks, but with Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey both out, he should see a bump in targets, especially if Oakland falls behind early.

Redskins at Buccaneers: Bucs WR Vincent Jackson

The Redskins have permitted a 100-yard receiver in each of their first three games and are allowing a league-high 38.4 fantasy points to that position. Jackson also should have little problem gaining separation against the league’s worst pass defense.

  • Deep threat: Redskins WR Leonard Hankerson – Pierre Garcon is questionable once again, and the second-year receiver from “The U” was Robert Griffin III’s second-favorite target last week behind tight end Fred Davis.

Saints at Packers: Packers RB Cedric Benson

The Packers’ passing game can be prolific, but Benson is facing a defense that gives up a league-high 33.5 fantasy points to running backs and has yielded a league-worst 215 rushing yards per game.

  • Deep threat: Saints RB Pierre Thomas – We said it last week and we’ll say it again: The “PT Cruiser” is more reliable than any New Orleans back not-named Darren Sproles, and unlike Mark Ingram, he is catching passes. The Packers rank 26th in the league in run defense.

Sunday night game

Ahmad Bradshaw may be back, but Andre Brown has earned regular touches. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Giants at Eagles: Eagles WR DeSean Jackson

Jackson draws a matchup against a pass defense that allows nearly 262 yards per game and 30 fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Look for Michael Vick to get Jackson the ball on quick hitters to slow the pass rush.

Monday night game

Bears at Cowboys: Cowboys TE Jason Witten

Witten leads the league in drops and hasn’t been a factor in the Cowboys offense as he recovers from a lacerated spleen. Expect quarterback Tony Romo to try to get his favorite target heavily involved at home on national television.

  • Deep threat: Bears WR Alshon Jeffery – After a near no-show in Week 2, Jeffrey had a career-high five catches against the Rams. Assuming Jay Cutler can remain upright – and that’s a big assumption – the rookie wideout could be a decent flex play.
Have a sit/start question? Ask us in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them.
 
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