Week 4 Startability Index (Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em)
Are we really nearing the quarter mark of the season already? Despite the league’s lost integrity in weeks one-three, if you love this sport the weeks are simply going to fly by. The good news from a fantasy perspective is a little clarity has finally emerged. The most starts are becoming more obvious, while the list of fringe fantasy players is becoming more robust.
For our Week 4 Startability Index, I tried to focus largely on the fringe. And by fringe, I mean a guy like Christian Ponder who is coming off a breakout game, or a former fantasy darling like Chris Johnson who has been shockingly disappointing. And I have started taking requests through Twitter and our Facebook page so most of those have been granted as well.
Quick reminder on how Startability works: Players get a score from 1-10, which is equivalent to the confidence (or lack thereof) I have in starting him that week. (10) is a no-brainer, poised for a massive week. (7) should have a big week but has some built-in limitations. (5) could go either way. (3) Very unlikely to be productive. And so on. Scores are based on standard scoring leagues; however, if a score should drastically change in a PPR league or other format, it will be noted.
Josh Freeman vs. Washington (8): Freeman has not put up the kind of numbers to draw attention, but he’s also faced tough opponents in the Cowboys and Giants the past two weeks. That all changes this week when the Redskins and their 31st ranked pass defense roll into town. The Redskins have allowed a plethora of passing touchdowns (10), passing yards (337.3 per game) and big plays. Unless the Bucs receivers have drop issues, Freeman should have a healthy to phenomenal day.
Kevin Kolb vs. Miami (8): Kolb has quietly having a very solid season., with this week presenting a big opportunity for a statistical breakout game. The Cards are home and facing a Dolphins team that has allowed 300+ passing performances to Mark Sanchez and Carson Palmer the past two weeks.
Christian Ponder at Detroit (5): Ponder had a career game last week and is suddenly a hot fantasy commodity. While put up great fantasy numbers last week with 2 passing and 1 rushing TDs, I don’t expect the same level of production on the road in Detroit. The Lion’s secondary, which oftentimes seems weak, has only allowed 5 passing touchdowns this season. And even though Ponder’s decision-making was top-notch vs. San Francisco, he still needs another week or two before transforming into a comfortable start.
Mark Sanchez vs. San Francisco (4): This season has been a tale of two Sanchezes (or shall I say Sanchizes?). Even with Ponder’s breakout against the 49ers, the Vikings quarterback still only put up 198 yards. Sanchez will be under pressure the whole game and I think we’ve seen enough Sanchez to know what a risky proposition that is.
Michael Vick vs. New York Giants (7): As terrible as Vick has looked, his fantasy numbers remain above average (and pretty great if you’re not docked for interceptions). This is obviously a high-pressure game for Vick who has had success in the Giants as of late. In his last three games (all while an Eagles), he has thrown five touchdowns, averaged 225 yards passing and 65 yards rushing.
Andre Brown at Philadelphia (4): Brown owners intimately know how the back has shined. However, Ahmad Bradshaw is back and will be the starter, although Tom Coughlin has stated that Brown has earned more playing time. Until we have a handle how much that will be, Brown should be benched. But if you do start him, take solace in the fact that the Eagles have allowed over 6 ypc to Ray Rice and Ryan Williams the past two weeks.
Chris Johnson at Houston (2): If I were tell you Michael Turner hadn’t rushed for more than 24 yards in a game this season, had no touchdowns and was facing arguably the league’s toughest rush defense on the road, you wouldn’t start him, would you? Why treat Johnson any differently?
Alfred Morris at Tampa Bay (6): Morris has burst onto the scene with three touchdowns in three weeks and has neared the 100-yard mark in all three games. Dare I say Morris has solidified himself as Mike Shanahan’s starting running back? He faces a tough test against the Bucs who lead the league in rush defense with 47.3 yards per game. But they will be without injured stud DE Adrian Clayborn, which means Morris may find more holes, particularly to the outside.
Jacquizz Rodgers vs. Carolina (4): Rodgers owners have to be pleased with his increase in carries (10 last week). The Panthers are terrible against the run and don’t tackle well, meaning 10 carries could turn into a very productive day,. But while Michael Turner remains the starter, Rodgers remains a risky play.
Darren Sproles at Green Bay (8): In a shocking turn of events, PPR darling Sproles was held without a catch last week against the Seahawks. If last week’s game taught the Packers anything (besides robust details about the simultaneous catch rule) it’s that Sproles need to be an active part of the passing game to succeed. Look for him to get ample opportunities in a game that could be a shootout.
Daniel Thomas at Arizona (3): A lot of folks grabbed Thomas on waivers this week. Not a bad move except Reggie Bush could very well play. Bush participated in non-contact drills Wednesday and Thursday and is said to be looking good. . If Bush becomes a game-time decision bear in mind that Miami plays at 4:05 so you’ll probably need to slot in someone else. Even if Bush is out, I don’t love Thomas against a punishing Cardinals front seven. Plus, Lamar Miller could see a solid number of carries and/or goal-line work. UPDATE: Bush is officially a game-time decision. Look for running back help elsewhere, if you can.
Ramses Barden at Philadelphia (6): With news that Hakeem Nicks is out of this game, Barden’s value increases greatly. Will Barden top his 9 catch, 138 yard performance of last week? It’s doubtful as that was the Panthers, and these are the Eagles; but he should get a healthy number of targets.
Michael Crabtree at New York Jets (5): Crabtree, who was once thought to be a multi-dimensional receiver, is pretty much just a slot guy. He had eight targets last week and is a good play in PPR leagues. But until Crabtree starts getting an extreme number of receptions (like Danny Amendola’s 15 in Week 2), and scores a touchdown, he does not bring exciting across-the-board value.
Eric Decker vs. Oakland (7): Imagine Decker’s 8 catch, 138 yard performance if Peyton Manning actually played like Week 1 Manning. Decker and Manning seem to be gelling and it would be surprising not to see him get ample targets against a poor Raiders secondary that is giving up 264 passing yards per game.
Brandon LaFell at Atlanta (4): LaFell and his one catch for 27 yards were a huge disappointment last week. While he should put up better numbers, expectations should not be high considering the Falcons have the league’s 7th best passing defense.
Robert Meachem at Kansas City (3): Meachem and the Chargers have a favorable matchup against the Chiefs secondary. The only issue is that Meachem has made no impact as a Charger. Until he becomes a legitimate deep threat for Philip Rivers, he’s an extremely risky start. (I have him in two leagues, so sadly I know.)
Denarius Moore at Denver (6): Moore had a productive last game with ten targets, which resulted in 5 catches, 45 yards and a touchdown. Obviously the loss of Darrius Heyward-Bey is sure to benefit Moore as well. And he has a favorable matchup – the Broncos have surrendered eight passing touchdowns, second highest in the league.
Martellus Bennett at Philadelphia (6): With three touchdowns in three games, Bennett has been one of the biggest surprises in the league this year. He has a tough matchup against the Eagles who have been tough against opposing tight ends, but his Startability number remains in the “safe to start” category due to his early season production.
Scott Chandler vs. New England (6): Chandler, who had scores the first two weeks disappointed owners in Week 3. However, he has established himself as one of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s top end zone threats, so it would not be surprising to see him get back on track against a pretty weak Patriots secondary.
Owen Daniels vs. Tennessee (8): Daniels has yet to have a breakout game, but has a good opportunity to do so Sunday. The Titans have already allowed five touchdowns to opposing tight ends.
Need a Startability score for a guy not listed above? Ask in the comments and I will reply shortly.