The bye weeks are upon us and you know what that means. All of your hard work and preparation is about to pay off. One month ago you combined unparalleled drafting savvy with the ability to read a calendar and assembled enough roster depth to strike fear in the hearts of those who so foolishly refused to plan ahead … maybe not. If you didn’t, don’t worry about it. It probably doesn’t matter. Either way, the bye weeks are here.
Dallas, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City are off this week, though the Chiefs just played San Francisco and it seems unfair to allow a team to have consecutive byes. No one needs that much rest. At 0-3, the 49ers are reeling as they find themselves last in a division they were supposed to run away with. In an effort to right the ship and no longer be a punch line, San Francisco fired offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. This is big news because it means San Francisco actually had an offensive coordinator. Unbelievable! Okay, maybe I’m overreacting, but if I find out the Panthers have a quarterbacks coach I’m going to lose it. Let’s get to the rankings.
Here at the Café, we rank all the players we expect could see a significant amount of game action each week. We factor in a player’s overall ability, his weekly match-up, and the current status of his health. The result is one Start/Sit number, based on a scale of 100, and we’ll use each member’s ratings to find an average for each player. The higher a guy is on our list, the better you should feel starting him. Finally, below each table, I will give my personal Start/Sit recommendations for each position. Without further ado, here’s Start/Sit for Week 4.
Ed. note: The Cafe’s Week 3 Start/Sit column rated No. 1 among weekly Internet rankings, according to FF Crystal Ball.
|1||Peyton Manning||IND||at JAC||99.25|
|4||Tom Brady||NE||at MIA||89.13|
|5||Matt Schaub||HOU||at OAK||86.00|
|8||Jay Cutler||CHI||at NYG||82.00|
|11||Carson Palmer||CIN||at CLE||72.15|
|12||Mark Sanchez||NYJ||at BUF||70.88|
|T-12||Kyle Orton||DEN||at TEN||70.88|
|14||Donovan McNabb||WAS||at PHI||70.00|
|16||Matt Hasselbeck||SEA||at STL||67.88|
|20||Joe Flacco||BAL||at PIT||62.88|
|21||Alex Smith||SF||at ATL||61.25|
|23||Jimmy Clausen||CAR||at NO||55.38|
|24||Derek Anderson||ARI||at SD||53.75|
|25||Shaun Hill||DET||at GB||51.75|
Start: Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos. “A girl phoned me the other day and said … ‘Come on over, there’s nobody home.’ I went over. Nobody was home.” – Kyle Orton
Actually, that joke is one of Rodney Dangerfield’s famous “no respect” lines. Much like Rodney, Orton can’t seem to get any respect. Orton started the season strong and has only gotten better. Last week, he completed 37 of 57 passes for 476 yards against Indianapolis. As of today, he’s only being started in 30% of leagues. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because he looks like a guy whose name is Kyle Orton. Whatever the reason, he needs to be started in more leagues. Denver is a pass-first team, and I’m betting Orton earns some long overdue respect in Week 4.
Sit: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens. Flacco stepped it up last week with three touchdowns against the Browns. He was in command all game, as he had a ton of time to survey the field and deliver the ball accurately. Cleveland didn’t have an answer. Depending on your definition of the word “blitz,” the Browns tried to blitz Flacco on several occasions. Nothing worked. This week should be a much tougher assignment as the Ravens will travel to Pittsburgh. The Steelers have an elite defense, and there’s good chance we see more of the “Week 2 Flacco,” and not as much of the Week 3.
|2||Frank Gore||SF||at ATL||87.50|
|4||Arian Foster||HOU||at OAK||86.13|
|5||DeAngelo Williams||CAR||at NO||81.75|
|6||Cedric Benson||CIN||at CLE||79.00|
|8||Joseph Addai||IND||at JAC||78.63|
|11||LaDainian Tomlinson||NYJ||at BUF||78.13|
|14||Matt Forte||CHI||at NYG||75.63|
|15||Justin Forsett||SEA||at STL||73.88|
|16||Shonn Greene||NYJ||at BUF||72.50|
|21||Ray Rice||BAL||at PIT||70.78|
|22||Jonathan Stewart||CAR||at NO||68.80|
|26||Beanie Wells||ARI||at SD||66.08|
|28||Clinton Portis||WAS||at PHI||63.19|
|29||Jahvid Best||DET||at GB||62.44|
|30||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||NE||at MIA||62.00|
|33||Laurence Maroney||DEN||at TEN||57.88|
|37||Donald Brown||IND||at JAC||55.56|
|38||Correll Buckhalter||DEN||at TEN||55.51|
|39||Chester Taylor||CHI||at NYG||55.50|
|40||Leon Washington||SEA||at STL||54.75|
|41||Tim Hightower||ARI||at SD||54.38|
|43||Steve Slaton||HOU||at OAK||50.25|
|44||Ryan Torain||WAS||at PHI||48.63|
|45||Kevin Smith||DET||at GB||47.21|
|49||Bernard Scott||CIN||at CLE||43.38|
|50||Willis McGahee||BAL||at PIT||41.50|
|53||Fred Taylor||NE||at MIA||39.55|
|54||Danny Woodhead||NE||at MIA||37.88|
|55||Maurice Morris||DET||at GB||37.48|
|58||Julius Jones||SEA||at STL||26.50|
|59||Sammy Morris||NE||at MIA||25.88|
|61||Keiland Williams||WAS||at PHI||22.13|
|63||Anthony Dixon||SF||at ATL||16.63|
|65||Brian Westbrook||SF||at ATL||15.24|
|69||LeRon McClain||BAL||at PIT||12.50|
Start: Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants. I recently came across the following article and was only mildly surprised:
“Brandon Jacobs Fathead Turns Out To Be Actual Brandon Jacobs” New York, NY — An 11-year-old boy received what he thought was Fathead as a gift. The Fathead depicted Brandon Jacobs running with intensity indicating that accuracy is not a primary concern in the wall graphics industry. Still, the child was reportedly happy with his present. That is until he noticed that it moved approximately three feet each Sunday. A Fathead spokesman apologized for the mix up. He added, “We haven’t had this happen since the Ron Dayne incident.”
Sit: Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins. Everything was set up perfectly for Portis last week. He was the primary back in a respectable offense playing against a suspect defense. The result? Seven rushes for 44 yards. Fast forward to Week 4, and things have taken a turn for the worse. The Redskins play at Philadelphia. More importantly, Portis may lose touches to Ryan Torain, who was activated from the Redskins practice squad last week. It’s unclear how Torain will be used, but Portis owners should probably look elsewhere in Week 4. If you’re still considering Portis even with the deck stacked against him, consider how he performed when everything was in his favor.
|1||Reggie Wayne||IND||at JAC||96.63|
|3||Randy Moss||NE||at MIA||91.38|
|7||Wes Welker||NE||at MIA||84.21|
|8||Chad Ochocinco||CIN||at CLE||83.63|
|9||Calvin Johnson||DET||at GB||83.00|
|11||Andre Johnson||HOU||at OAK||81.36|
|12||Austin Collie||IND||at JAC||80.63|
|13||Larry Fitzgerald||ARI||at SD||80.59|
|16||Braylon Edwards||NYJ||at BUF||75.50|
|17||Anquan Boldin||BAL||at PIT||75.38|
|18||Santana Moss||WAS||at PHI||75.25|
|22||Johnny Knox||CHI||at NYG||73.88|
|24||Terrell Owens||CIN||at CLE||73.00|
|26||Steve Smith||CAR||at NO||69.28|
|28||Kevin Walter||HOU||at OAK||67.63|
|29||Michael Crabtree||SF||at ATL||67.38|
|32||Jacoby Jones||HOU||at OAK||66.13|
|33||Devin Hester||CHI||at NYG||65.75|
|T-34||Jerricho Cotchery||NYJ||at BUF||64.25|
|38||Mike Williams||SEA||at STL||63.45|
|39||Jabar Gaffney||DEN||at TEN||62.75|
|41||Eddie Royal||DEN||at TEN||62.25|
|T-41||Demaryius Thomas||DEN||at TEN||62.25|
|43||Jordan Shipley||CIN||at CLE||62.13|
|47||Brandon Lloyd||DEN||at TEN||59.13|
|53||Deion Branch||SEA||at STL||54.50|
|55||Deon Butler||SEA||at STL||51.75|
|57||Derrick Mason||BAL||at PIT||50.25|
|60||Josh Morgan||SF||at ATL||49.18|
|63||Stephen Williams||ARI||at SD||47.75|
|65||Joey Galloway||WAS||at PHI||45.88|
|68||Golden Tate||SEA||at STL||42.63|
|T-69||Blair White||IND||at JAC||38.88|
|72||T.J. Houshmandzadeh||BAL||at PIT||36.38|
|74||Earl Bennett||CHI||at NYG||35.50|
|75||Brandon LaFell||CAR||at NO||35.48|
|77||Pierre Garcon||IND||at JAC||32.36|
|78||Bryant Johnson||DET||at GB||31.13|
|79||Julian Edelman||NE||at MIA||31.00|
Start: Steve Smith, New York Giants. After two pedestrian games to start the season, Smith exploded last week against Tennessee with nine catches for 103 yards. His effort was all the more impressive considering the Titans stingy pass defense. This week Smith will face a 3-0 Bears team that has surprised many on both sides of the ball. While the Bears defense has been better than expected, they tend to be a “bend but don’t break” type of unit. (This is not to be confused with the Packers “bend but don’t break even if breaking is your only chance at winning” defense). The Bears defense is actually a good match up for Smith since he is a possession receiver, and Chicago will give up some yards as they wait for an offensive mistake. Last week, Chicago allowed the Packers primary underneath receiver, Donald Driver, to find openings in coverage and catch nine passes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Steve Smith duplicate his Week 3 effort and find the end zone too.
Sit: Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers. This Sunday, like most Sundays, Steve Smith will show us why he’s one of the best receivers in the league. He’ll make quick cuts and get off the line of scrimmage cleanly. He’ll run excellent routes. Despite constant double teams, Smith will find a way to get open. So why is his name in the “sit” portion of this column? I think you know the answer. Jimmy Clausen is not an NFL quarterback — at least not yet. Unfortunately, it looks like he’ll get another chance to start this week at New Orleans. I don’t see him improving much no matter how much he works with Carolina quarterbacks coach, Rip Scherer (you’ve got to be kidding).
|1||Dallas Clark||IND||at JAC||96.38|
|4||Vernon Davis||SF||at ATL||86.38|
|7||Dustin Keller||NYJ||at BUF||81.13|
|8||Chris Cooley||WAS||at PHI||78.00|
|9||John Carlson||SEA||at STL||76.38|
|10||Aaron Hernandez||NE||at MIA||76.00|
|13||Jermaine Gresham||CIN||at CLE||73.38|
|14||Greg Olsen||CHI||at NYG||71.38|
|T-15||Rob Gronkowski||NE||at MIA||66.50|
|17||Todd Heap||BAL||at PIT||64.92|
|18||Tony Scheffler||DET||at GB||64.38|
|19||Brandon Pettigrew||DET||at GB||62.88|
|22||Owen Daniels||HOU||at OAK||60.85|
|24||Jeff King||CAR||at NO||57.75|
|28||Daniel Graham||DEN||at TEN||53.25|
|29||Ben Patrick||ARI||at SD||52.63|
Start: Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots. Hernandez appears to be the primary beneficiary of Kevin Faulk’s injury. The tight end has caught six passes in each of the last two games and went for over 100 yards in one of those contests. This week he gets Miami, a team that surrendered two scores to the Jets’ Dustin Keller. This is not to say Miami’s defense is bad. It isn’t. In fact, it’s not Miami’s defense that makes Hernandez a good start. It’s New England’s. The Patriots haven’t stopped anyone, and I’d be surprised if this game isn’t a high scoring affair. Look for Brady to spread the ball around and, more importantly, look for Hernandez to make good on his fair share of targets.
Sit: Owen Daniels, Houston Texans. Daniels still isn’t 100%. He’s not running nearly as fast as he would if he was fully healthy. Though he is showing a slight statistical improvement each week, he’s clearly taking a long time to recover. During that time, other players are emerging in the Houston offense and Daniels’ role is being diminished. He belongs on your bench until further notice.
Start: Indianapolis Colts. When I think of the greatest individual rivalries in sports history, there are three that stand out from the rest. As you can imagine, I’m speaking of Ali-Frazier, Bird-Magic, and Garrard-Edwards. In each case, one man pushed the other to be better than he ever thought he could be. And in each case, a nation watched as … okay, that’s probably enough.
When you acquire a quarterback that was released by the quarterback factory known as the Buffalo Bills, it says a lot about your existing quarterback situation. David Garrard is a below average signal caller, but he’ll likely hang on to the job for at least a few weeks. Either way, you want to be starting defenses against Jacksonville.
Sit: Houston Texans. There are only a handful of must-start defenses. Houston isn’t one of them. However, the Texans defense does warrant consideration as a match-up play. Before the season, a Week 4 game against Oakland seemed like a very favorable match-up. Today? Not so much. The Raiders aren’t an elite offense, but they seem to be responding well to Bruce Gradkowski, who took over for Jason Campbell in Week 2 after Campbell did his best JaMarcus Russell impersonation. Since then, Gradkowski hasn’t committed the types of mistakes that used to make starting a defense against Oakland such a winning proposition.
|4||Robbie Gould||CHI||at NYG||82.38|
|5||Neil Rackers||HOU||at OAK||81.88|
|7||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||at MIA||79.88|
|8||Mike Nugent||CIN||at CLE||79.75|
|9||Matt Prater||DEN||at TEN||78.50|
|13||Nick Folk||NYJ||at BUF||76.88|
|15||Adam Vinatieri||IND||at JAC||76.25|
|17||Jay Feely||ARI||at SD||73.13|
|19||Billy Cundiff||BAL||at PIT||71.25|
|20||Graham Gano||WAS||at PHI||71.00|
|21||Olindo Mare||SEA||at STL||70.88|
|24||Joe Nedney||SF||at ATL||68.63|
|25||Jason Hanson||DET||at GB||68.38|
|28||John Kasay||CAR||at NO||67.00|
Start: Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots. Full disclosure: he’s the only kicker named “Steve” and I wanted to make the title of this article more fitting.
Sit: John Carney, New Orleans Saints. Look, he may have a good game. This is merely personal preference. I’d rather not have a kicker who was just signed, and I don’t like that Garrett Hartley is still on the roster.
Drew is a lifelong Jets fan. Playing and writing about fantasy football has proven helpful in easing the pain.
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