NFL Fantasy Matchups - Week 4

We give fantasy owners an edge with game by game analysis heading into week four of the NFL fantasy season.



Buffalo Bills (1-2) vs. New Orleans Saints (1-1) @ San Antonio 1:00
San Antonio will do everything to make the Saints feel at home on Sunday. Buffalo quarterback J.P. Losman and his Bills are at the bottom of the NFL heap in passing and shouldn't be considered in fantasy line-ups. However, we do like Bills' RB Willis McGahee to have a nice game against New Orleans' weak run defense. On the other side of the ball, Saints' Deuce McAllister is also a nice running option against the Bills' 32nd ranked run defense (especially with the injury to Buffalo linebacker Takeo Spikes). Quarterback Aaron Brooks and WR Joe Horn may do okay, but we expect the Saints to stay on the ground as much as possible.

St. Louis Rams (2-1) @ N. Y. Giants (2-1) 1:00
Both defenses in this match-up have yielded huge fantasy numbers through the first three weeks...which makes this game a great play if you have offensive players on either team. For the Rams, QB Marc Bulger and WRs Torry Holt / Kevin Curtis (starting for injured Isaac Bruce) are nice options and should be played in all formats. RB Steven Jackson would normally be a good play here, but should be played with caution due to an injury suffered last week against the Titans. Giants' QB Eli Manning is in a groove his sophomore year and is starting to impress. He has been finding WR Plaxico Burress and TE Jeremy Shockey with high regularity...this Sunday will be no exception against the Rams' soft pass defense. Versatile RB Tiki Barber is also a solid play for the Giants out of the backfield.

Not only has the undefeated Redskins' defense looked impressive through two games, they're coming fresh off of a bye week. Don't expect Seattle running back Shaun Alexander to go off with four touchdown against the stout Skins' defensive front, but 'Alex the Great' is a stud and should be played no matter what the match-up. Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck could do okay against Washington's pass defense (Skins not quite as strong against the pass). When H-beck does throw, he tends to lock onto WR Darrell Jackson (who is always a solid start). The Redskins haven't been too impressive on offense in their first two games. Don't expect the two late MNF bombs from Mark Brunell to Santana Moss to be repeated in this game, but Moss does have talent and is worth starting if you have few options at wide receiver. RB Clinton Portis may be the best fantasy start for the Redskins, but don't expect him to go off.

This may be a game you want to avoid as a fantasy player (unless of course you want to make a defensive play). Jacksonville has been solid on defense and Denver still has no clear cut favorite at running back with Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell. QB Jake Plummer looked his best in week three, but Jax is a better team on defense than was KC. Play WR Ashley Lelie if you think you must, but don't expect any of the Broncos to heavily produce. The Jags have a few more options. Although QB Byron Leftwich hasn't been stellar three weeks into the season, he is a decent quarterback capable of solid fantasy numbers. He is surrounded by quality wide receivers in Jimmy Smith, Reggie Williams, and stud rookie Matt   Jones. However, it's tough to recommend Jacksonville's passing weapons with their lack of consistency and no clear cut Leftwich favorite. RB Fred Taylor is getting the touches, but 37 touches for under 100 yards won't cut it this week against a better defense.

Indianapolis Colts (3-0) @ Tennessee Titans (1-2) 1:00
We thought the Colts would bust out last week...but they didn't. We firmly believe the Colts are the team of the AFC and will get their offense rolling. Play all of your Colts in this game,...including QB Peyton Manning, WRs Marvin Harrison / Reggie Wayne / Brandon Stokley, and RB Edgerrin James (who has been the workhorse). On the flip side, the Colts' defense is just as perplexing as their offense after giving up just 16 points in three games. Tennessee typically plays the Colts well and will put up points. Titans' WR Drew Bennett lit up Indy last year and is a solid play this week. Additionally, the suspension of RB Travis Henry actually makes RB Chris Brown a decent play by adding some certainty to the Titans' running back position.

There is no way this game is the blowout it looks on paper. The Texans were horrible in weeks one and two, but changed to offensive coordinator Joe Pendry while licking their wounds during last week's bye. We actually like Houston RB Domanick Davis to have a good game. WR Andre Johnson is too good to keep down and will be active in the Texans' passing game this week. We can't say enough good about the Bengals this season. QB Carson Palmer threw three TDs against a strong Bears' unit last week and should be played regardless of the match-up. Two of Palmer's TDs went to Chad Johnson, who is convincing NFL fans that belongs in the elite WR class. Also play RB Rudi Johnson, as the Bengals pound it out on the ground once establishing a lead.

The 3-0 Bucs and Carnell Williams "Cadillac" are perhaps the surpises of the NFL through the first three weeks. Fantasy owners who landed Williams must be feeling grateful for what he has accomplished and will be starting him in their line-ups until further notice. Tampa Bay QB Brian Griese is developing a good feel for the game and is actually a decent play against Detroit. The Lions are coming off a bye in week three. RB Kevin Jones may have a tougher time running against the Bucs' front, but things should open up for QB Joey Harrington and his plethora of quality receivers. WR Roy Williams is the best of the bunch and is a nice option.

San Diego finally got things together last week against the Giants. This Sunday's game against the Pats is in New England, but the Chargers appear to be rolling. RB LaDainian Tomlinson may not score four TDs in this contest, but he must be started by any account. We also think that QB Drew Brees and TE Antonio Gates / WR Keenan McCardell are strong starting candidates (esp. with the season ending injury to NE safety Rodney Harrison). Patriots' QB Tom Brady is always up to the test and will spread the ball around effectively against the Chargers for a couple of scores...specifically finding WR Deion Branch for at least one TD. San Diego's tough run defense may limit the effectiveness of Pats' RB Corey Dillon.

N. Y. Jets (1-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (0-2) 4:05
The Jets' season may not be over, but Baltimore is ready to put them out of their misery in week four. The loss of Chad Pennington and back-up Jay Fiedler in the same quarter last week have Jets' fans searching for answers. The answers may not be so good as Herm Edwards is left with inexperienced Brooks Bollinger as the starter against a defense that is hungry to prove they are still for real. On offense, Baltimore running back Jamal Lewis is due to break out and may have a monster game. The Ravens' passing attack is not yet worth mentioning.

Minnesota Vikings (1-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (2-1) 4:15
Vikings' QB Daunte Culpepper showed last week that he didn't forget how to play football. We like him and his wide receivers Travis Taylor / Troy Williamson in an indoor contest on the road. Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick may be the league's most athletic player, but does not typically put up top fantasy numbers. However, we like his chances this week against an up-and-coming Vikes' defense that hasn't yet solidified. Expect Atlanta running back Warrick Dunn to have a huge game at home in the dome.

Dallas Cowboys (2-1) @ Oakland Raiders (0-3) 4:15
Oakland is a much better team than their record indicates. But remember, two of their games were on the road against 2004 Superbowl opponents New England and Philadelphia. QB Kerry Collins will look to WR Randy Moss early and often against the Cowboys. Raiders' RB LaMont Jordan will also be a key to this game and should be in your starting line-up as a number two running back. Cowboys' QB Drew Bledsoe had his first 300 yard passing game in two years last week and appeared back to his old form (with his old coach). We like Bledsoe and all-purpose RB Julius Jones against the Raiders.

Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens are a bit dinged up, but will play. Ironically, both tend to play better with injuries and should have big games against the Chiefs. Often overlooked Philly RB Brian Westbrook will again fly under the radar to another impressive game on the ground and through the air. Teams have seemingly figured out how to stifle all-pro TE Tony Gonzalez, but this has meant a few more openings for QB Trent Green to find WR Eddie Kennison in the passing game...who are both solid options this week. RBs Priest Holmes AND Larry Johnson should both be played this week (and every week regardless of the match-up). Typically, running by committee is tabu in fantasy football,...but KC's offensive line/scheme is geared for running the football and is capable of producing more than enough fantasy points for two quality backs.

San Francisco 49ers (1-2) vs. Arizona Cardinals (0-3) @ Mexico City 8:30
Although the combined record of these two featured SNF teams is 1-5, this game could end up being a huge fantasy contributor. Neither team has shown much grace on the defensive side of the ball, but both have a few offensive weapons sprinkled around. For Arizona (who will probably be the fan favorite in Mexico City), expect stud wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to have huge numbers between them. QB Josh McNown is stepping in for Kurt Warner, but is still very familiar and experienced with his receivers. Niners' QB Tim Rattay had a great game last weekend and may carry it over against the Cardinals (who haven't yet been able to stop anyone). We also like San Fran WR Brandon Lloyd and RB Kevan Barlow in this game...a nationally televised contest that should be fun to watch as the first regular season game to be played outside the USA.

Green Bay Packers (0-3) @ Carolina Panthers (1-2) 9:00 MNF
On the other hand, the Packers have been painful to watch this season. When Green Bay fans thought it couldn't get much worse, they have to watch Brett Favre and their beloved 0-3 Packers go on the road to play the hungry and hostile Panthers on Monday Night Football. Maybe Brett can rally the Packers on Monday, but we don't think so. The Panthers are going to be all over this one after losing a letdown game last weekend in Miami and falling to 1-2. Expect Carolina to prove to the world that they are the team that many predicted to contend for the Superbowl. Carolina QB Jake Delhomme, WRs Steve Smith / Keary Colbert, and RBs Stephen Davis / DeShaun Foster are all solid plays this week. Check the status of Davis / Foster closer to game time prior to submitting your starting line-up.

BYE WEEKS - Bears, Browns, Dolphins, Steelers

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