Ten Things We Learned in Week Four

How We Fared With Our Teams in Week Four



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man with an idea
By Greg Buchphoto of journalist Greg Buch
Greg develops and updates FFSwami's website. He's played in various fantasy football leagues the last 15 years and is a life-long Cincinnati Bengals fan.

  1. Tony Romo is Back
    If you picked up Romo like I did in one of my leagues when an owner grew impatient with him, you had to like what you saw on Sunday Night Football. I'm not really sure if SNF announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collingsworth are correct in their diagnosis that Romo's back's no longer bothering him, or if he's just shaken off the rust from a year of inactivity but his throws were on the money most of the night and he looks like his old self. The Cowboys haven't been throwing as much, which kind of caps his upside in the near-term, but with DeMarco Murray on target for 400+ rushes this year, they'll eventually be forced to throw it more or spell Murray with Randle to keep him fresh for the end of the season (and possibly the playoffs). He may not be a QB1 on par with an Andrew Luck or Drew Brees but he makes a fine QB2 and is worth picking up off waivers if he's still available.


  2. The Ravens are the New Patriots
    It's really getting difficult to predict what Baltimore's running backs are going to do on a weekly basis, as each week it seems there's a new lead back. Bernard Pierce (he of the 2.9 YPC last year), who suffered a thigh injury in Week 2, has missed the last two games. Lorenzo Taliaferro was the favored back in Week 3, receiving 18 touches to Justin Forsett's 15, and if you just looked at the box score and didn't watch Sunday's game, you might think the work was almost equally divided in Week 4, as Forsett ended up with 17 touches and Taliaferro 15, but the latter got most of his work with the game already in the bag in the second half. It's hard to know how the carries get distributed going forward. It's possible Pierce gets a chance to show he deserves to keep his starting job but, if he does, he'll have a very short leash due to how effective his back-ups have been. Originally, I advised picking up Forsett, as he reminds me of the versatile, departed Ray Rice, but I've given how complementary his running style is alongside a big, bruising back like Taliaferro or Pierce, I've got to believe Gary Kubiak will employ some sort of timeshare. Of the three, I'd favor picking up Forsett, since he's virtually guaranteed the role of third down back but I don't see any of them becoming a true workhorse back, so there are probably better options on your waiver wire.


  3. Thanks But You're a Week Too Late!
    One of the more bone-headed gaffes I made in a couple leagues was dropping the lumbering Matt Asiata for Jerrick McKinnon. I really liked McKinnon's potential coming out of college, so when I heard Coach Zimmer say he'd ride the hot hand, decided to place my bet on the lightning-fast rookie from the small FCS school. Well, to make a long story short, he only received 4 touches that week, so I reasoned the former FCS quarterback probably hadn't assimilated the playbook yet (as a RB in high school I know it can take a little time to learn the plays), and dropped him. One week later and my decision appears to be vindicated. If you missed the game, the rookie had his coming out party with 135 yards on just 18 carries. Don't be fooled by Asiata's fantasy points, which were aided by 3 TDs, McKinnon's the RB to own in Minnesota. While there may be a timeshare for the next few weeks, eventually the better talent will win out and that's clearly the rookie.


  4. Action Jackson's Like a Fine Wine
    I couldn't help but be impressed watching the ageless 33-year old Jackson spin around and run over the Texans this Sunday. His final stat line wasn't that impressive: just 85 total yards and no TDs, but if the brittle C.J. Spiller misses any games this year, I wouldn't hesitate to pick Jackson up off waivers if he's there in your league. Sadly, these two will probably cancel each other out on most Sundays, but if one or the other back goes down to injury, the fantasy value of the other one shoots through the roof.


  5. The Pack is Back!
    Well, at least the Packers passing game is back. While I wouldn't hesitate starting Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb going forward, I still have my reservations about the Packers running game. This Sunday should have been a good litmus test on whether Eddie Lacy ever gets things turned around this season, as they were facing a very porous run defense. The fact Lacy wasn't able to get back on track against a poor Bears' run defense with starting tackle Bryan Bulaga now healthy raises some real red flags. If I'm a Lacy owner, I'm actively shopping him now, and if I can't find a taker willing to offer me a starter in return, he's nothing more than an RB2 for me going forward, who's only worth starting if the match-up is great.


  6. Pass On the Bucs!
    The days when you could start any fantasy DST, no matter how wretched, against the Buccaneers and count on getting oodles of fantasy points are probably over. They looked like a whole different team with the gutsy Mike Glennon under center. He played a relatively mistake-free game (2 TDs against just one INT) in rallying the Bucs from a 7-point 4th quarter deficit to defeat the Steelers. Unlike the Jacksonville Jaguars, who've allowed the most points to fantasy defenses this season, the Bucs have plenty of talent at the offensive skill positions. If Glennon can avoid the costly interceptions that plagued Josh McCown, they'll no longer be easy pickings for fantasy defenses.


  7. Will the Real Nick Foles Please Stand Up?
    A lot of us had high hopes for the Eagles' QB after a season in which he averaged 265 yards per start and threw for 27 TDs with just 2 INTs. But fresh off a magnificent performance where he soared like, well, an eagle, against the Redskins, throwing for 325 yards and 3 TDs, he lays a scrambled egg against the Niners, throwing for just 195 yards with no TDs and 2 ugly interceptions. Some of us may have thought we were getting a steal when he was still available in the middle rounds of our draft but now I'm not so sure about that. The 49ers focused on shutting down the Eagles' run game and it worked, as LeSean McCoy was held to just 17 yards on 10 carries and Darren Sproles was limited to just 6 total yards. Foles needs to be able to exploit 1-on-1 coverage in such situations or it will be a long season for him. I'd be cautious about starting him on the road against anything but a very poor pass defense until he shows me otherwise.


  8. Is Buffalo's Run Defense Really That Good or Was Arian Foster That Bad?
    Watching the Texans-Bills game it almost looked like Foster was running in slow motion. He didn't seem to have his usual explosiveness and wasn't breaking many tackles. The wide running lanes created by the zone-read offense, which you can sometimes drive a truck through, didn't seem to be there either. Arian ended the day with just 6 yards on 8 attempts and back-up Alfred Blue wasn't any better with 9 yards on 9 attempts. I'm thinking it's actually a little of both. The Bills run defense is for real: they're averaging just 2.9 YPC and trail only the Jets at 71 rushing yards allowed per game. As for Foster, hamstring injuries tend to linger and I'm sure if it wasn't bothering him, he wouldn't have lost 11 touches to Alfred Blue. He's got a fairly tough match-up this week against an improved Cowboys run defense so I'd monitor his practice participation before deciding whether to start him. If he's a non-participant or limited later in the week, it's a sign his hamstring's still not 100%.


  9. What Can Brown Do For You (Nothing)?
    Donald Brown was one of our sleeper picks this week due to an ideal match-up against the Jaguars 30th-ranked run defense. However, once again he dropped the ball for fantasy owners that rushed to pick him up off the waiver wire, running for just 19 yards on 10 carries. So far this season in relief of starter Ryan Mathews, he's run for 81 yards on 41 carries, i.e. just under 2 yards a carry. While he's getting his fair share of opportunities, he looks like a shadow of the runner who excelled off the bench last year with the Colts. At this point even if Mathews is out a few more weeks, I'd drop him in favor of a part-time back like Ahmad Bradshaw or Justin Forsett who can actually do something with his carries.


  10. Best Off-Season Pick-Up Ever?
    I admit to being among those who was sceptical 35-year old Steve Smith Sr. could resurrect his career in Baltimore and passed on him, like many others, in the late rounds of my fantasy drafts. However, Smith looked like a man possessed this week against his former team, the Panthers. It's not surprising he still has the superb hands, coordination, and route-running skills he was known for but I don't think any of us believed he'd still be a burner at his advanced age. He's rejuvenated Baltimore's passing attack, which now has the complementary weapon alongside Torrey Smith that it sorely missed with the departure of Anquan Boldin (or should we say Torrey Smith is now the complement to Steve Smith?)


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Greg's Teamsphoto of journalist Greg Buch
Greg develops and updates FFSwami's website. He's played in various fantasy football leagues the last 15 years and is a life-long Cincinnati Bengals fan.
We're going to change things up a little and instead of discussing how we did with our picks, Matt and I are going to write about how our own personal fantasy teams fared this past week. Let us know if you like this change-of-pace or prefer the old format!

Bengalized
photo of Bengalized fantasy football team logo

I've got four fantasy teams this year but decided to focus on my best and my worst team to provide a microcosm of the trials and tribulations I've gone through this year. My Bengalized team plays in a standard IDP league but the scoring system favors rushing TDs (8 points) over passing TDs (5 points). Pocket passers aren't totally neglected however, as the league awards points for completions (4 points), but at the expense of incompletions (-1 point) and interceptions (-3 points). Everything else about the scoring system, including team defense stats, is pretty standard.

One reason this team is now 4-0 is everything played out just as I had hoped for in the draft. I was able to land LeSean McCoy at #3, Drew Brees at #19, Jordy Nelson at #23, and V-Jax at #38. I also had a few sleeper picks in mind that were still available in the middle of the draft, so was able to add some underrated players like Nick Foles, Victor Cruz, and Rashad Jennings. Last week I picked up Knile Davis and Kelvin Benjamin off waivers, dropping Bobby Rainey and Justin Forsett. I hadn't really wanted to drop Forsett, even though he had been overshadowed by Lorenzo Taliaferro the previous week, but the attraction of picking up Cam Newton's favorite target was just too big to resist. I felt pretty good about my line-up and my chances of winning this week's game, as my opponent had five starters on a bye week, but just in case, I decided to do some last-minute tinkering.

While I liked the match-up of Ahmad Bradshaw against the Titans' 20th-ranked run defense, I didn't like that he'd be sharing carries with Trent Richardson, and was worried if the Colts built up a big lead (which I was pretty confident they would) it would be T-Rich who'd be called on to grind out the clock. So I picked up Matt Asiata, who had an even more compelling match-up against the Falcons and who (I thought) would monopolize the carries, and dropped a disappointing Jordan Cameron. That move paid off in spades, as Asiata delivered my team 39.5 points on the back of 100 total yards and 3 TDs. This week I made pretty much all the right calls, starting Drew Brees (139.35 points) over Nick Foles (62.93 points) and choosing the tandem of Jordy Nelson (40.5 points) and Victor Cruz (24.5 points) ahead of V-Jax (13 points) or Kelvin Benjamin (20.5 points). My IDP players also ruled this week, with both Paul Pozluszny and Morgan Burnett turning in stellar games. My only bad decision was starting my stud - McCoy was a disappointment, scoring less points than Rashad Jennings and even part-timers Ahmad Bradshaw and Knile Davis.

As it turned out, I could have started all my scrubs and still won this one, since my opponent never did anything about his players on bye week. Final score: Bengalized 335.73 Tebow Ate My Tivo 142.96.

The Fighting Aardvarks
photo of The Fighting Aardvarks fantasy football team logo

My Fighting Aardvarks team plays in an auction league that had a budget of 200 dollars. The scoring is pretty standard, but since passing TDs only count as 4 points, while rushing TDs count as 6, I prioritized mobile QBs in the draft, and picked up RGIII and Cam Newton. As usual, I entered the draft room with a sound strategy in mind, determined to wait until the typical overzealous bidding was out of the way before entering the fray. While I held my ground and stayed true to my strategy, not bidding over $25 for any individual player, I got what I paid for (if that) drafting several duds like Toby Gerhart and Trent Richardson, along with a pair of injury casualties in RGIII and Ben Tate. Add to that a litany of ill-advised waiver wire moves and you have the recipe for a miserable fantasy season. I've had an uncanny knack for dropping players right before they have a break-out game, like dumping Antonio Gates before his huge performance in Week 2 and Matt Asiata two weeks prior to his scoring orgy this Sunday.

This week I added to this team's misery by forgetting to put in my waiver claims Tuesday night, so I missed out on the opportunity to reclaim Matt Asiata and start him in a very favorable match-up against the Falcons. Not to foul up my track record for making the wrong calls, I dropped Jerick McKinnon, who received just 4 touches in Week 3 after Coach Mike Zimmer said he'd play the "hot hand", and picked up Donald Brown, starting him against the Jaguars. I don't need to tell you how that went, but let's just say McKinnon's now the heir apparent to A.P. in Minnesota and Brown is just "brown" and if it's brown you flush it down.

So another week in the books and another loss for my Fighting Aardvarks (1-3), who went down without much of a fight to a fear-inspiring team called the pinkpanthers, 97.60 - 66.48. Maybe it's time to put this smelly varmint out of its misery and just serve up some sauteed road kill at my next tailgate party!


Matt's Teamsphoto of journalist Matt Brandon
Matt is a journalism major at SUNY Purchase College with a concentration in sportswriting. He graduates next January and is hoping to start a career as a sports journalist.


Reigning Champ
photo of Reigning Champ fantasy football team logo

In my first league, I am the commissioner and my team, Reigning Champ, was last season's champion. It is a 10-team PPR league that awards 5 bonus points for every player that reaches 100 yards rushing, 100 yards receiving, or 300 yards passing. Other than that, all scoring is pretty much standard. A starting squad consists of 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 Kicker, and 1 Team Defense.

My draft panned out pretty well as I got Jamaal Charles at #2, Julio Jones at #19, Antonio Brown at #22, Julius Thomas at #39, and Andrew Luck at #42. My first five picks left me in a great position, which is why my team is off to a solid 3-1 start, good for second place. I also nailed a sleeper pick with DeAndre Hopkins as the 119th pick of the draft.

As you know, the waiver wire can be crucial and I have used it to improve my team. After the first week, I dropped Arizona's defense in favor of J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans, which has proved to be a great move. I also was able to snag Knile Davis after my top dog went down. Davis kept me afloat as I waited for Charles to come back.

Week 4 featured a matchup between my "Reigning Champ" squad and my uncle's "The Big Gostkowski". With Ben Tate and Julius Thomas on a buy week, I had to figure out whom to start as my 2nd running back and at tight end. I decided to add Donald Brown and Travis Kelce and dropped Bernard Pierce and Jeremy Hill. The Kelce move paid dividends as he scored 23.3 points for me but Donald Brown was awful. I also had to decide whom to start as my flex option. My choices were T.Y. Hilton, Golden Tate, and DeAndre Hopkins. I went with Hopkins but it didn't end up making much of a difference as they all had very similar outings.

Fortunately for me, the rest of my team dominated. Andrew Luck threw for almost 400 yards and 4 touchdowns (34.62), Antonio Brown blew up for 131 yards, 2 touchdowns, and even a 17 yard pass (37.78), Jamaal Charles rushed for close to 100 yards, had a few receptions, and scored three touchdowns (31.80), and the Texans defense smothered E.J. Manuel and the Bills offense (11). I did start Julio Jones (14.2) over Golden Tate (24.60) but no one in their right mind would bench Julio in what looked like a nice matchup against the Vikings.

"The Big Gostkowski" gave me a scare but Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Marques Colston all under performed on Sunday night and I went into the Patriots-Chiefs game trailing by 3 points with Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce set to play against only his kicker, Steven Gostkowski. Obviously, "Reigning Champ" prevailed with a 182.50-125.18 victory.

Somewhere Over Dwayne Bowe
photo of Somewhere Over Dwayne Bowe fantasy football team logo

My second team, Somewhere Over Dwayne Bowe, is also in a 10-team PPR league. However, in this league, there are no bonus points and instead of a head-to-head format, it is a rotisserie league. I had a very clear draft strategy in mind and wanted to get as many solid wide receivers and pass catching running backs as possible since receptions are so valuable. However, I got a little unlucky and also made a few mistakes. My team isn't bad at all but it could definitely be a lot better.

I had the first pick of the draft and took Shady McCoy. I got Antonio Brown at #20, Alshon Jeffery at #21 (which was a mistake because I could have taken Jordy Nelson), Rob Gronkowski at #40, Michael Floyd at #41, Ben Tate at #60, Ray Rice at #61 (which wound up being very costly), Julian Edelman at #80 (probably my best pick of the draft), Nick Foles at #81, and so on. I liked my team very much after the draft but got unlucky with the Ray Rice situation and Ben Tate's injury as I was counting on them to be my RB2/3. I also drafted Danny Woodhead who was injured his knee and will not play the rest of the season. The only other running back I drafted was Ahmad Bradshaw, which was a steal, but before the season even started, I dropped him when I found out that Josh Gordon would likely be reinstated before the end of the season. This was also a poor decision as I have plenty of depth at WR but none whatsoever at RB.

Heading into Week 4, “Somewhere Over Dwayne Bowe” was in 6th place, just 59 points out of first place which can easily be made up in one or two weeks. I decided to tinker with my lineup in order to make a move up in the standings. My first decision was whether I wanted to start Nick Foles or Collin Kaepernick. I had started Foles the first three weeks of the season and he had put up solid numbers but my gut was telling me that the San Francisco defense would not allow another team to throw all over them. I went with Kap because of the matchup and it proved to be my best decision of the day, perhaps my ONLY good decision. Kap outscored Foles 20.52-3.90.

Next, I had to decide on my two starting receivers and flex play which had to be a receiver too due to my lack of running backs. No matter what, I am starting Antonio Brown but I had to choose between Alshon Jeffery, Reggie Wayne, DeAndre Hopkins, and Julian Edelman for two spots. I ended up picking the two with the least production in Week 4. Jeffery racked up 15.10 points but Edelman only recorded 6.30 points. I should have started Wayne and Hopkins who scored 24.90 and 17.40 points respectively.

Then I had to figure out whom to start as my second running back behind LeSean McCoy. I had added Donald Brown and chose his appealing matchup with the Jaguars over Justin Forsett against the Panthers strong defense. Again, I was dead wrong. Forsett outscored Brown 18.70-9.40. To add insult to injury, my stud McCoy had his worst game of the season scoring just 1.70 fantasy points. And lastly, I decided to stick with Gronkowski as my tight end over Delanie Walker. Gronk did score a touchdown but was not as productive as Walker scoring 11.10 points compared to Walker’s 19.40 points.

Overall for the week, “Somewhere Over Dwayne Bowe” scored 110.90 points, ranking 6th for the week but I fell back one spot into 7th place. Luckily, the top 8 squads are all within 55 points of each other and it is still anyone’s season.