by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Just hours before the start of Week 4 I know many people have questions running through their heads. Who should I start? Who should I sit? Let’s take a look at how some of the recent news changes things:
Doug Martin – Running Back – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Listed as probable on the injury report, expectations are that Martin will be back in the lineup against the Steelers. While Pittsburgh has given up just the 18th most points to opposing running backs, they’ve actually allowed the sixth most yards (360). They simply haven’t allowed many TD to date (two total), though that could change in a hurry.
With Bobby Rainey struggling last week, including losing a pair of fumbles (he’s lost three on the season), it’s easy to imagine Martin stepping right into lead back duties. Given the matchup, that’s a very good thing. While his struggles earlier in the season keep him from RB1 status, he should be considered a very good play as a RB2 in all formats.
Vincent Jackson – Wide Receiver – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We talked about Jackson earlier in the week, but here’s some interesting numbers, courtesy of Matthew Berry of ESPN, as to why he should be considered a must start this week:
“After Glennon took over last season, Jackson was eighth in the league in targets and averaged a touchdown every other game (seven in 13 games). This season, the Steelers have allowed opposing QBs to complete 73 percent of passes without Ike Taylor on the field, including four of their five touchdowns. As you know, Taylor broke his forearm Sunday night and is out for the game.”
Given those numbers even Mike Evans can be considered a potential WR3 depending on your alternatives. If you are a Jackson owner, don’t do anything hasty even with the wrist injury. He’s a must start in all formats.
Toby Gerhart – Running Back – Jacksonville Jaguars
Maybe fantasy owners will use his ankle injury as an excuse to sit him down, though there are plenty of reasons not to trust him (despite the probably tag):
- Performance – 2.4 YPC
- Matchup – The Chargers have allowed the fourth fewest rushing yards to opposing RB (180)
- Role – There’s been a lot of talk about Denard Robinson’s role expanding
In other words, even if he were completely healthy he’d be a risky play. He’s simply not a RB to trust right now.
Arian Foster – Running Back – Houston Texans
He’s listed as questionable and is headed as a true game-time decision. Luckily it’s a 1:00 PM EST game, so we will know prior to setting our lineups, but at this point fantasy owners would be well served to have an alternative plan in place.
Even if Foster plays, he’ll likely be limited and will share touches with Alfred Blue (78 yards on 13 carries in Week 3). With a tough matchup against the Bills that simply makes him tough to trust. If he plays he’d be a RB2 and if you use him or not depends on your alternatives.
Jamaal Charles – Running Back – Kansas City Chiefs
He’s been listed as limited in practice, but he’s been practicing and all the talk has been that he will play on Monday night against the Patriots. It is a bit of a risk, obviously, but unless you are loaded with options he’s one worth taking. Regardless of who they are playing (and the Patriots have been middle of the road against opposing running backs, with the 16th most points against), if Charles is on the field he’s a must use option. Even if Knile Davis were given a few more touches, the upside of Charles is enough to keep him active.
Justin Hunter – Wide Receiver – Tennessee Titans
We all keep waiting for a breakout performance, but at this point it’s alluded us. It’s also hard to anticipate it coming in Week 4, with Charlie Whitehurst expected to get the start.
The team could easily go run heavy, in an effort to keep Andrew Luck and company off the field. Hunter has also managed just 8 receptions despite 21 targets, and Whitehurst’s career 5.19 yards per attempt are not all that promising. While Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker could operate as safety valves, Hunter needs the big play to be a productive option. Given the circumstances it appears hard to imagine it coming this week. Keep him stashed and wait for the breakout, but he shouldn’t be anywhere near starting lineups.
T.Y. Hilton – Wide Receiver – Indianapolis Colts
After leaving Week 3 with an ankle injury there were obvious concerns heading into this week. However he’s listed as probable and it’s looking more and more like the team was simply being cautious in a blowout against Jacksonville. The Titans have been among the best defenses against opposing wide receivers and we all know that Hilton has a lot of boom or bust to his game. That said, with Andrew Luck throwing the football he still has the potential to perform. Consider him a high-upside WR3, with the injury not being a concern.
Bernard Pierce – Running Back – Baltimore Ravens
He is expected back today, but how much faith do you really have in him? He’s squaring off with a defense in the Carolina Panthers that has something to prove after being embarrassed by the Steelers in Week 3. He also is going to face competition for touches, with both Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro in the mix. This situation in general is simply one to ignore for this week, until we get clarity on who is going to emerge as the lead back.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 4 rankings: