Saints (5-0) at Patriots (4-1)
Time, TV: 4:25 p.m. (Fox).
Line: NE by 2.5.
Notable: Make no mistake, this matchup rocks, but what would really put it over the top would be a heavier dose of G ‘n R. In other words, it would be “Paradise City” if Graham were to be joined on the field by Gronkowski. This is shaping up as the Year of the Tight End — players at that position are on pace to set all-time records for combined receptions, yards and touchdowns — but no one is having a season like the Saints’ Jimmy Graham. The former Hurricane just set a record for most yards by a tight end in any four-game span (548), and he is at or near the top of NFL pass-catchers in all the major categories. On the other hand, the Patriots’ own TE-Rex, Rob Gronkowski, has been sidelined with injuries, but he is expected to make his debut today. Coming off a game in which New England was rudely welcomed to “The Jungle,” dropping a 13-6 contest at Cincinnati, the team certainly needs him. And, call me greedy, but it would be great to get some Gronk with my Graham.
Fantasy scout: Off to a good start? Feel like your roster is set to survive the bye weeks? Have I got some grab-and-stash free agents for you! Let’s start with Patriots running back Shane Vereen, last seen enjoying a huge Week 1 (159 yards and a score on only 21 touches), right up until he broke his wrist. Vereen isn’t scheduled to return until Week 11, but given the RB1 potential indicated in that performance, not to mention New England’s revolving (revolting?) door at running back, he’s a worthy pickup for forward-thinking owners.
Packers (2-2) at Ravens (3-2)
Time, TV: 1 p.m. (Fox).
Line: GB by 3.
Notable: Clay Matthews probably wishes he really was made of clay, at least on the play (d’oh!) last week when he broke his thumb while sacking Matthew Stafford. Matthews's three sacks lead the Packers, who sorely missed his pass-rushing presence when he sat out four games in 2012 because of a hamstring injury. Now they have to beat Joe Flacco in Baltimore, something no NFC team has accomplished. The Ravens quarterback is 10-0 against that conference, with 16 touchdowns and three interceptio.
Fantasy scout: Dennis Pitta won’t be worth picking up right away, but his situation bears monitoring. The tight end, who injured his hip before the season and is eligible to return in Week 9, isn’t likely to appear on the field until a few weeks after that. Too bad, because Baltimore, not to mention TE-deficient fantasy lineups, could sorely use his pass-catching skills.
Steelers (0-4) at Jets (3-2)
Time, TV: 1 p.m. (CBS).
Line: NYJ by 2.5.
Notable: Nice game, rook. Now do it again. Geno Smith’s outing Monday against the Falcons, in which he had three touchdowns and zero turnovers on 16-of-20 passing, was certainly eye-opening. But given his unsightly 11 turnovers coming into that game, New Yorkers will hold off on nicknaming the first-year QB “Broadway Geno” until he proves that he can repeat such effectiveness. Pittsburgh, which last played on Sept. 29 in London, needs to avoid Jets lag on the scoreboard if it wants to notch its first win.
Fantasy scout: Le’Veon Bell’s short-term pain could be your long-term gain. The Steeler runs into the green-brick wall that is the Jets’ defensive line (76.2 rushing yards allowed per game, second-best in the NFL), and might well have a lackluster day statistically. That could be your chance to snap up the RB, who figures to be Pittsburgh’s Bell-cow the rest of the way.
Colts (4-1) at Chargers (2-3)
Time, TV: 8:40 p.m., Monday (ESPN).
Line: IND by 1.5.
Notable: Andrew Luck may be known for having a quiet personality, but in his short time in the NFL, he’s proven exceptionally quick with a comeback. Last week’s win over the previously unbeaten Seahawks featured Luck’s ninth game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, which tied the mark for a QB in his first two seasons. Prepare to be left in the dust, co-record-holder Jake Plummer, because Luck still has 11 games left. Of course, Indianapolis would prefer to just lead the whole way at San Diego.
Fantasy scout: Remember when Danario Alexander was the top Chargers WR? He tore his ACL in the summer, so attention shifted to Malcom Floyd. He also got hurt, which seemed to leave Vincent Brown as top dog. But then Eddie Royal wowed the fantasy world in Weeks 1 and 2. Now it seems to be rookie Keenan Allen’s time to shine, but one wonders for how long.
Bengals (3-2) at Bills (2-3)
Time: 1 p.m.
Line: CIN by 7.
Notable: I’m not speaking with a lisp when I say that things seem a little Thad in Buffalo. The Bills, who lost quarterback EJ Manuel to injury for several weeks, promoted Thad Lewis from their practice squad, and he’ll make his second career start. Hey, if he does well enough, it’s not hard to imagine some Buffalo entrepreneur peddling a line of Thad Thongs.
Fantasy scout: Cincinnati’s A.J. Green hasn’t topped 61 yards receiving in any game since his huge Week 1, with only one touchdown in that span. The problem, of course, isn’t any lack of talent on Green’s part but QB Andy Dalton’s deficiency thereof. Nevertheless, Green is an obvious buy-low candidate.
Lions (3-2) at Browns (3-2)
Time: 1 p.m.
Line: DET by 2.5.
Notable: Will Calvin Johnson suit up for Detroit? Lions fans fervently hope so. Without “Megatron” last week, Detroit was mega-trounced on offense, accounting for only 286 yards in a 22-9 loss at Green Bay. If Johnson can’t go, and with fellow WR Nate Burleson already out, star Browns cornerback Joe Haden might not have to work very hard.
Fantasy scout: Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden, back at QB after Brian Hoyer’s season-ending injury, didn’t look very good in his two starts, but he didn’t have Josh Gordon to throw to then. Gordon, along with TE Jordan Cameron, gives hope that the strong-armed Weeden could be a serviceable QB2.
Panthers (1-3) at Vikings (1-3)
Time: 1 p.m.
Line: MIN by 2.5.
Notable: Welcome to Minnesota, where quarterbacks are either on their way to or coming from the scrap heap. If he doesn’t improve, Christian Ponder could soon find himself in the ‘to’ category. Newly acquired Josh Freeman joins a ‘from’ list that recently includes Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre.
Fantasy scout: Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart is a grab-and-stash guy who could pay dividends quite soon, as he is eligible to return from the injured list in Week 7. He’ll almost certainly take some time to get up to speed, and may, in fact, never get there. But it’s worth a roster spot to see what happens.
Raiders (2-3) at Chiefs (5-0)
Time: 1 p.m.
Line: K.C. by 9.
Notable: After doing the highly improbable — becoming the first team in NFL history to win its first five games after winning two or fewer the year before --- it doesn’t seem like too much to ask for Kansas City to keep things rolling against lowly Oakland. But the Raiders have won their past six at Arrowhead, so the Chiefs will be wary.
Fantasy scout: There is a chance that between sitting out Week 4, having a tough matchup today, then being off on bye next week, Terrelle Pryor is still available in your league. If so, you should make it a Pryor-ity (see what I did there?) to grab him, as he has arguably more upside than any other QB2.
Eagles (2-3) at Buccaneers (0-4)
Time: 1 p.m.
Line: PHI by 1.5.
Notable: Philly is woefully out of sync. DeSean Jackson doesn’t think Tampa’s Darrelle Revis “can run with” him. Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy stands by a tweet that Denver’s Knowshon Moreno “sucks” but offers praise for the Bucs’ Doug Martin. Guys, get on the same page! Do the Eagles have to hire a smack talk coordinator?.
Fantasy scout: Speaking of Martin, his owners will want to see if Bucs QB Mike Glennon can move the Tampa offense against the Eagles’ woeful defense. If Glennon struggles, that doesn’t bode well for the future prospects of Martin, who has already been a major disappointment.
Rams (2-3) at Texans (2-3)
Time: 1 p.m.
Line: HOU by 7.5.
Notable: The news that Mark Sanchez’s shoulder injury will cost him the season is sad for . . . well, him, but he had already become the Artist Formerly Known as the Pick-Six Picasso. That moniker now indisputably belongs to Matt Schaub. Can the Texans QB really go five straight games with an interception returned for a score? Stay tuned!
Fantasy scout: The Rams RB du jour is Zac Stacy, and for the moment, he’s worth a spot on fantasy rosters. But the long-range play here might still be Isaiah Pead. Stacy is already has a rib injury, and Pead is a second-round pick at whom the Rams may eventually decide to take another look.
Jaguars (0-5) at Broncos (5-0)
Time: 4:05 p.m.
Line: DEN by 27.5.
Notable: Actual jaguars are, of course, big cats, but today, these Jaguars are the biggest of dogs. In taking its 11- points-per-game average to Denver, home of the 46-ppg Broncos, Jacksonville has placed itself on the embarrassing side of the biggest spread in NFL history. Its best hope of covering might simply be that Denver calls off its own dogs.
Fantasy scout: The bad news for Montee Ball owners is that the high-ish draft pick they spent on him looks like a poor investment. The good news is that he should have copious amounts of garbage time today in which to rack up stats, thus making him easier for those owners to unload.
Titans (3-2) at Seahawks (4-1)
Time: 4:05 p.m.
Line: SEA by 13.5.
Notable: Titans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has a daunting task at Seattle, but he’s used to playing in front of hostile crowds. Of course, that’s because the longer he plays in front of a crowd, the more hostile toward him it tends to get, but nonetheless, at least he won’t be fazed by the deafening boos he hears from the stands.
Fantasy scout: And now we get to the ultimate grab-and-stash guy: Percy Harvin. He almost certainly won’t be ready to play until some time in November, but his talent, along with that of Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, makes him worth an add for those who can afford to wait.
Cardinals (3-2) at 49ers (3-2)
Time: 4:25 p.m.
Line: S.F. by 10.5.
Notable: Frank Gore got a little chesty after a win last week, saying, “We’re the 49ers. When we’re on, we can do whatever we want to do.” He and his squad should plan on being “on” early, because Arizona has pitched second-half shutouts in its past two games. The problem for the Cards has been their offense’s inability to go off on somebody.
Fantasy scout: Similar to Harvin, Michael Crabtree has a November timetable for his return, but he doesn’t have the same tantalizing upside, so don’t consider him a priority waiver move yet. However, given what the 49ers currently have at WR, they’ll want Crabtree back ASAP.