Saturday’s Fantasy Football Fix delivers news, notes, and injury updates along with Week 4 QB recommendations for DraftKings NFL Fantasy Games.
News, Notes and Injury Updates
- UPDATE: There were conflicting reports about the Week 4 status of Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (back) and WR Danny Amendola (groin) right up until the time we learned that neither player traveled with the team to Atlanta. The silver lining of the no-go decision is that fantasy owners can make other plans rather than scramble for a last-minute fill in or agonize over a start-sit decision this week. With Amendola out, WR Julian Edelman should be a PPR target monster. RB Brandon Bolden (knee) and RB Leon Washington (thigh) saw light work Friday and are listed as questionable. Pregame warm-ups will determine whether they are active or not. Bolden filled the Danny Woodhead/Shane Vereen pass-catching back role in Week 3 to counter Tampa Bay’s solid defensive front and leaky secondary. Use him if you must as a low-end flex option versus the Falcons, but keep in mind that the size and scope of his role from one week to the next will probably be based on matchup/game plan.
- Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White (high-ankle sprain) went through limited practice on Friday and is questionable to play. Consider him a so-so flex option at best until we see proof that he’s truly healthy.
- Although he saw light work in practice all week, Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice (hip) will be a game-time decision Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Rice will test his hip in pregame warm-ups. The Bills are a plus matchup for opposing running backs, so it would be hard to sit Rice if he’s active. Backup Bernard Pierce has flex appeal should Rice be active and could produce RB2+ numbers if he sits out. WR Marlon Brown (neck) returned to practice Friday and is probable.
- Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) practiced this past week without restrictions.
- Tampa Bay WRs Vincent Jackson (ribs) and Mike Williams (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis Friday. Though listed as questionable, both are expected to play. Injuries prevented Jackson and Wilson from getting much practice with newly named starting QB Mike Glennon. WR Kevin Ogletree would start if either Williams or Jackson couldn’t play.
- Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell (Lisfranc/foot) went through a full practice on Friday and is listed as probable on the team’s injury report. Fantasy owners may want to take a wait-and-see approach with Bell this week as it’s difficult to predict his snap count or how much Pittsburgh will run the ball against a beatable Vikings secondary that will be without CB Chris Cook and Blank.
- QB Matt Cassel gets his first start as a Minnesota Viking when he fills in for Christian Ponder (rib) in London against the Pittsburgh Steelers. At the end of this contest, one of these 0-3 teams will have a “1” in the “W” column.
- Indianapolis Colts RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) is ruled out for Week 4. Trent Richardson will see lead back duties in a favorable matchup versus the Jaguars. Donald Brown will be the No. 2.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars can’t seem to quit Blaine Gabbert (hand). The third-year signal caller will start over Chad Henne this week against the Indianapolis Colts. Veteran TE Marcedes Lewis (calf) is set to make his 2013 season debut. If you’re desperate for a tight end this week, you could do worse than Lewis. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle) practiced on a limited basis Friday and is probable. MoJo has a plus matchup against a sieve –like Colts run D.
- Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said after the team’s Friday practice that WR Andre Johnson (shin) looked “ready to play” Sunday at home against the Seahawks. Be sure to check Johnson’s status before finalizing your lineup.
- The Cleveland Browns opted to “do the right thing” and named QB Brian Hoyer the starter over Brandon Weeden (thumb) versus Cincinnati. While the Bengals have a fierce pass rush, key members of the defensive secondary are listed as doubtful including CB Leon Hall, CB Dre Kirkpatrick and S Reggie Nelson. If Hoyer continues to get the ball out quickly, this could mean productive outings for WR Josh Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron.
- Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (knee) practiced in full Friday and is probable for Week 4 versus Chicago. Get him in your lineup. Backfield teammate Joique Bell came up big (132 combo yards, one TD) for fantasy owners in Week 3. With Bush healthy, Bell is likely to see between 10 and 15 combined touches. Flex him if you need him. WR Ryan Broyles takes over the slot for veteran Nate Burleson (broken forearm) whose season was torpedoed by an errant slice of pizza. WR Kris Durham should see time on the outside, with WR Patrick Edwards (ankle) likely sidelined for another game.
- It was only a matter of time before New York Jets RB Chris Ivory staked his claim on the team’s “Inactives” list and it was a familiar foe—the dreaded hamstring that did him in. RB Bilal Powell will start against the Titans, backed up by Alex Green. Though a decidedly tougher matchup than the Bills in Week 3, Powell should get enough volume to produce solid RB2 numbers.
- Tennessee Titans WR Kenny Britt (neck/ribs) saw light work Friday and his final status will be decided after pregame warm-ups. Britt has been in a timeshare of sorts with WR Kendall Wright not to mention in the doghouse with head coach Mike Munchak. Wright would get the start if Britt is a no-go, and rookie Justin Hunter could also see some additional playing time. TE Delanie Walker (turf toe) practiced on a limited basis Friday and is expected to start.
- Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (quad) is on the injury report as questionable, but he didn’t practice all week and will likely be out. Reed is third on the team in catches with 13. TE Fred Davis (ankle) is also questionable.
- UPDATE: Fantasy owners looking for an upside bye-week replacement for Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton (or those who just love an upside play in general) have been salivating at the prospect of starting Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor in a tasty Week 4 tilt against the Washington Redskins. Unfortunately Pryor sustained a concussion last Monday night and it looked like he’d be a no-go versus the Redskins. Late Saturday night it was announced that Pryor had passed the final hurdle and the Raiders announced him as the team’s Week 4 starter. Since Oakland plays a late game, you may want to have a Plan B in place and roster Matt Flynn, Geno Smith, or Jake Locker should Pryor be declared a last-minute inactive.
- WR Miles Austin (hamstring) has been ruled out for the Cowboys road game against the Chargers. WR Terrance Williams will start in his place, with WRs Dwayne Harris (hip) and Cole Beasley also in the mix for Dez Bryant’s and Jason Witten’s leftovers.
- San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd (neck) will miss his second straight game. WR Keenan Allen will start in his place.
- New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram (toe) and WR Lance Moore (wrist) did not practice this week and could miss Monday night’s contest with the visiting Dolphins. RBs Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles will be in line for additional touches in Ingram’s absence. Though Ingram is doubtful for Monday night, the Saints will evaluate Moore during pregame warm-ups. Kenny Stills is expected to start if he is ruled out. Ingram and Moore are fast-approaching waiver wire fodder in 12-team leagues.
DraftKings Quarterback Recommendations
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Let’s take a quick look at the rules for the different NFL games DraftKings offers, and the basic way that quarterbacks score points:
- Passing TD = +4PTs
- 25 Passing Yards = +1PT (+0.04PT/ per yard is awarded)
- 300+ Yard Passing Game = +3PTs
- Interception = -1PT
- 10 Rushing Yards = +1PT (+0.1PT per yard is awarded)
- Rushing TD = +6PTs
- 100+ Yard Rushing Game = +3PTs
Here are my Week 4 QB recommendations from three different tiers—expensive, midrange, and bargain values. While you shouldn’t have any problem finding appealing options this week, it’s always satisfying to lock in on players who can give you the biggest bang for your salary cap buck. Get those lineups set and good luck!
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles ($7,900) @ Denver Broncos—The over/under for the Philly-Denver game is somewhere around 58 points, and if you want to cash in on a boatload of fantasy points to roster the top of the line fantasy quarterback in your DraftKings lineup, then be prepared to pony up $9,900 to use Peyton this week. Another option would be to spend $2,000 less on fantasy’s No. 2 signal caller and Manning’s Week 2 rival, the Eagles’ Michael Vick. Although admittedly off his game in Week 3 against a stout Chiefs defense, he completed just 13 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown and added another 99 yards on four carries to finish as fantasy’s 11th-best back that week. Philly’s No. 29th-ranked pass defense will be hard pressed to stop Manning and the Broncos prolific pass attack. What’s a quarterback to do??? Do what he can to keep up and hope for a volume game chock full of garbage-time production. As good as Denver’s defense it, they gave up 20-plus points to Raiders’ dual –threat Terrelle Pryor a week ago and have been burned by big plays that are staples in Vick’s and DeSean Jackson’s arsenals.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys ($7,800) vs. San Diego Chargers—I’m always surprised by the number of “Quarterback X or Tony Romo?” questions that I receive each week considering that Romo is one of the more consistent fake pigskin quarterbacks out there. While Romo has surprisingly yet to top 300 passing yards in a game this season, he’s playing very efficiently and making good decisions. In Week 3’s total annihilation of the overmatched St. Louis Rams, Romo completed 17 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns while DeMarco Murray gashed them for 203 combo yards and a rushing score . If you’re looking for a slam-dunk Week 4 option outside of the elites, then look no further than Romo. He heads to San Diego to face a Chargers defense that ranks dead last against the pass (341 yards per game average) and gives up more fantasy points to opposing signal callers than any other team in the league. Heck Jake Locker got them for 299 yards, one passing and a rushing score last week! Even with Miles Austin sidelined with a hamstring issue, Tony, Dez, Jason and the rest of the Cowboys should have a field day against the Bolts.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers ($7,000) @ Minnesota Vikings—While Roethlisberger’s fantasy value has trended in the QB2 range more often than not in recent years, he and the Steelers passing game showed some genuine firepower in a Week 3 loss to the Chicago Bears. Working behind a complete mess of an O-line and without a ground game to speak of, he completed 26-of-41 passes for 406 yards, two touchdowns and two picks. This week Big Ben and the 0-3 Steelers travel to the home of “Big Ben” to take on the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings in the first of two regular season games in London. Six of the seven NFL games contested in Wembley Stadium have produced at least 40 points. Roethlisberger will look to exploit a very favorable matchup against a Vikings defense that’s given up eight passing touchdowns, the fifth-most passing yards to opposing quarterbacks through three games, and will be without top cornerback Chris Cook and strong safety Jamarca Sanford. If Cleveland’s Mr. Right Now, Brian Hoyer was able to burn Minnesota for 321 yards and three scores a week ago, imagine the potential damage “Large Benjamin” can do for you in DraftKings!
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears ($6,900) @ Detroit Lions—No one could say with a straight face that Cutler lacked confidence, but despite notching more wins than losses over his first four seasons in Chicago, many would say that he’s been a perennial fantasy and “real football” disappointment. Fast forward to 2013 and Cutler looks to be getting his on-field swagger back thanks to new head coach Marc Trestman’s offense. He is getting the ball out quicker, and playing smart, disciplined, and more efficient football, while leading the Bears to a perfect 3-0 start and two comeback victories. Although these strides have yet to translate into huge fantasy production, the payoff could be as soon as Week 4 in a potential shootout with the Detroit Lions. Detroit currently ranks fourth in the league in total offense, and while the Bears will probably make an effort to get the run game going early with Matt Forte, I’d be surprised if Cutler the Gunslinger doesn’t cut loose by choice or by necessity. Go-to receiver Brandon Marshall should easily win the battle with cornerback Rashean Mathis, Martellus Bennett is another big red-zone target and much improved second-year wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is earning Cutler’s trust. If you’re looking for a mid-priced value with the potential to deliver QB1 numbers, then Cutler just might be the one.
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns ($5,700) vs. Cincinnati Bengals—The fifth-year pro and former understudy to Tom Brady shined in Week 3 as he led the Browns to a 31-27 comeback victory over the Vikings in his second career start. Hoyer put the ball in the air a jaw-dropping 54 times, completing 30 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns, including the 7-yard game-winner to Jordan Cameron with 51 seconds remaining. He also threw three picks, but when you consider that he had been splitting second-team reps with Jason Campbell a week earlier, give Hoyer his due for demonstrating poise, confidence—and most of all the common sense to get the ball to Cameron and wide receiver Josh Gordon who returned to action after a two-game suspension. Hoyer targeted Gordon a whopping 19 times, connecting on 10 passes for 146 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown. The Cleveland native has to bring his A-game Sunday in a decidedly tougher meeting at home against AFC North division rival Cincinnati. The Bengals have a formidable pass rush that could cause Hoyer trouble if he doesn’t get the ball out quickly. With a running game that can best be described as a cluster-F, Hoyer will need to win with football smarts and his solid arm. Also working in his favor is that Cincinnati is expected to be without corner back Leon Hall, backup corner Dre Kirkpatrick and safety Reggie Nelson.
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders ($5,000) vs. Washington Redskins—It’s Week 4 and this is the third time that I’ve recommended Pryor as a bargain DraftKings play and he has yet to let me down. Barring a last minute setback, Pryor cleared his final post-concussion hurdle and was named the Week 4 starter versus Washington late Saturday night. Pryor threw for 281 yards and a touchdown and added another four rushes for 36 yards last Monday night against the Broncos. In standard ESPN fantasy leagues, Pryor has more fantasy points heading into Week 4 than the Giants’ Eli Manning, Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, Bears‘ Jay Cutler and the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick to name a few. Pryor could have his most productive fantasy outing to date against a No. 31-ranked Redskins passing defense that has given up an average of 333 passing yards and eight passing scores to opposing quarterbacks through three games.