Sorry Tim Hightower, Ryan is about Torain on your parade.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison
Week Four is in the books, and with it comes the ever so infuriating bye weeks. Week Five has Cleveland, Baltimore, Miami, Washington, St.Louis, and Dallas on rest so make sure to make the appropriate lineup changes. With that said, let’s look at some of the action Week Four had to offer. Again, only the most relevant topics will be covered. Make the jump to see what’s up:
- An important skill to have in fantasy football is the ability of foresight, specifically when it comes to determining which “one week super star” will continue producing quality fantasy games. Case in point: Torrey Smith. He burst onto the scene in Week Three with three touchdowns on his first three receptions. Naturally, this led many to believe that Smith was a dynamic and lethal deep threat specialist akin to what DeSean Jackson is in Philadelphia. This did not turn out to be the case, as Smith was non-existent in Week Four, catching one ball for one yard. With Lee Evans likely to come back in Week Five (after Baltimore’s bye), Smith’s role in the offense is likely to diminish. As such, he’s safe to drop in all leagues, yet his big play ability makes him someone worthy of the watch list.
- Victor Cruz, in contrast, is emerging as one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets. After his breakout performance in Week Three, many feared that the return of Mario Manningham would hamper his overall potential. Cruz proved his doubters wrong on Sunday, pulling in six catches for 98 yards on nine targets. For the record, Manningham had only one catch for 10 yards on a measly five targets. Although he still will play a role in the offense, Manningham has quickly become second fiddle to the emerging Cruz, suggesting it may be time to try and part ways with him. Cruz, however, is the real deal, and will turn in borderline WR3 numbers the rest of the way.
- Before this week, I had been proposed a trade that would have sent me Matt Forte and Davone Bess for LeSean McCoy. Without hesitation, I declined the trade, thinking that Forte, although great in the passing game, lacked the ground potential that McCoy brings to the table. If that trade was proposed to me today, I’d have a little more trouble saying no. Forte erupted for 205 rushing yards on Sunday, adding another impressive game to his season. Although in the long run I still believe McCoy to have the better overall value, it’s hard to deny Forte the respect he most definitely deserves. This, ladies and gents, is a top five running back in the making.
- Speaking of “top five running backs,” I am having a difficult time figuring out whether Adrian Peterson is a “Sell High” or “Buy Low” player. Sure, he’s arguably the best pure back in the league, with a plethora of spectacular seasons to show for it, but it’s important to keep in mind that he’s playing for arguably the worst team in the NFC who will likely fall behind in games and be forced to rely on their passing game. This situation could easily affect his touches and thus, his fantasy production. If you are in desperate need of a running back, then go ahead and send a low ball offer for Peterson, just don’t be surprised if the owner counters back with one of his own. Peterson will not produce top five numbers this year (I’d rank McCoy, Ray Rice, Darren McFadden, Forte, and Ryan Mathews ahead of him).
- I would like to take this time to boast on the accomplishments of Ryan Mathews and Beanie Wells and more importantly, my intuition in pegging them and drafting them in as many leagues as possible. I have told you numerous times that Mathews would be the back to own in SD. Thus far, he has outperformed even my own expectations. He is easily one of the most dangerous runners in the game, and with his now important role in the passing game (19 catches through four games), it’s highly likely that he’ll finish the year as a top five back. As for Wells, although still an injury risk (he sat out Week Three), he proved to be the real deal in Week Four, rushing for 138 yards and scoring three touchdowns. He’s essentially the only viable back the Cardinals have, and thus the touches will continue to be there. In fantasy football, quantity always trumps quality. Luckily for Wells, he has both working in his favor. Consider him a top 10 back the rest of the way.
- Although I watched the majority of the Texans-Steelers game, I had very little riding on it. In fact, besides the one league in which I own Arian Foster, I have zero players on either team. Nevertheless, seeing Andre Johnson go down resulted in me screaming out in horror. This is arguably the best receiver in football, and seeing him fall down like that is not something, as a football fan anyway, you want to see. Although the injury appeared gruesome, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Monday night that the hamstring injury was not as troublesome as once thought and that Johnson would probably not be out long term. Very good news for Johnson owners and for those deep leaguers still hanging onto Jacoby Jones (for the time being at least).
- Mike Shannahan is a great coach, but a terrible human being with absolutely zero patience. He also is apparently madly in love with Ryan Torain. Despite adequate production from Tim Hightower in the previous games, Shannahan decided to roll the dice on Torain, who took his chance by the horns en route to a 135 yard, one touchdown game. If past results tell us anything, Torain will now be given every opportunity to shine which, unfortunately, is not good news for Hightower and rookie Roy Helu. The Skins have a bye this week, so it’s too soon to declare a “winner” in this backfield battle, yet if Torain continues to impress, he will easily produce quality RB2 numbers throughout the season.
- On a final note, if you are in desperate need of a running back or a flex, why not try to buy low on Marshawn Lynch? I’ll be the first to admit that he isn’t the most talented running back, but he has very few threats lurking to steal carries away from him, which makes him practically a risk-free player. I’ll say it again, quantity always trumps quality in fantasy football, and Lynch isn’t going to completely stink it up the rest of the way. You won’t have to give up much to acquire his services, so it’s worth betting on him improving on his sluggish start. Make the move.
Super Sleepers of the Week
Here, we highlight one player per offensive position who despite their low start % (according to Yahoo!), are poised for a breakout game. These are the players that year after year, win you fantasy matchups, so pay attention if you know what’s good for you!
Donavan McNabb vs. the Cardinals
Oh man has Donavan been bad this year, but Week Five might prove to be one of his better performances of the year. I fully expect the Cardinals to come out firing from the start and attempt to gain a large lead early on. This will bode well for McNabb, as with his team down, he will likely be forced to pass the ball on the weak Cardinals secondary who have given up 24.8 points per game to quarterbacks this year. If in need of a bye week replacement, McNabb might be your best bet.
The Prediction: 277 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 25 fantasy points
Stevan Ridley vs. the Jets
Surprisingly, the Jets’ defense has had some trouble stopping the run this year. Through four weeks, the Jets have given up 23.5 points per game to opposing running backs. This bodes well for Ridley, who has big play capability evident in his 8.2 YPC on the season. I fully expect him to continue improving, and put in another productive day.
The Prediction: 100 YFS, 1 touchdown, 16 fantasy points
Legedu Naanee vs. the Saints
Naanee was targeted 11 times on Sunday, not too shabby at all. As such, I suggest you take a flyer on him this week. Cam Newton has shown his love for airing it out and with the Panthers playing the Saints, a team that has given up 21.4 fantasy points a game to WRs, the guy with the funky name will surprise the masses in Week Five.
The Prediction: 6 catches, 83 yards, 1 touchdown, 20 fantasy points (14 in standard leagues)
Zach Miller (JAC) vs. the Bengals
This one is a little out of the blue, yo comprende, but Miller is very athletic and judging from last week, a legitimate threat in the red zone. He slowly is building a rapport with Blaine Gabbert and thus is likely to see a substantial increase in targets. Expect him to continue on his success this week against the Bengals.
The Prediction: 3 catches, 45 yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points (10 in standard leagues)
And with that I bid you farewell, and hope your week will be as awesome as mine will be. Come back Thursday for my Gold Picks of the week. Until then, this has been your captain speaking.
Justin Occhionero has been dominating the fantasy sports world for six years now. When not obsessing over his teams, he enjoys long walks on the beach, chai latte’s, and making fun of MDS’ analysis (albeit most of the time they agree). Follow him on Twitter or send him questions, comments or a Haiku to firstname.lastname@example.org.