By Zac Bellman
Special to the Tribune
I’d like to start the column this week with a moment of silence for those who picked up Minnesota defense last week, thinking there was no way the Browns would score 31 points.
Now that that’s out of the way, time for my Week 4 picks. Follow @ZacBellman_WNY and tweet me with your fantasy questions.
Start: Andrew Luck (Colts) vs. the Jaguars – Coming off an underwhelming stat week against the 49ers, Luck could have a huge game against the Jaguars. The game plan the Colts used last week revolved around safe short throws to limit opportunities for the dangerous 49er’s defense. This week look for some deep play-action passes yielding big gains in the passing game.
Sit: Colin Kaepernick (49ers) vs. the Rams – Kaepernick is looking less and less like the man that dominated the NFC playoffs last year and more and more like a flash in the pan. There is hope he could bounce back against a Rams defense that is 23rd in the league in pass defense, but on a short week it’ll be tough for the 49ers to correct their mistakes. This Thursday night contest could prove to be yet another single digit performance for Kaepernick.
Sleeper Start: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) vs. the Vikings – If you’re looking to play the matchups this week with the first round of bye weeks under way, Roethlisberger could be a great option. Cleveland’s Brian Hoyer carved the Minnesota secondary last week, which now ranks 28th in the league against the pass. Big Ben also threw for 406 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort against the Bears. The unfamiliarity of London shouldn’t prevent Roethlisberger from putting up big numbers.
Start: Bernard Pierce (Ravens) vs. the Bills – Pierce has been steady in the absence of Ray Rice, rushing for about 60 yards and a touchdown in each of the last two games. Whether Rice is eased back into action or sits again this week, Pierce will get his chances against a Bills defense that has been porous against the run. The Bills rank 3rd to last in the league against the run, which should make Pierce a solid RB2 or flex player.
Sit: Arian Foster (Texans) vs. the Seahawks – Many people that have Foster in their league drafted him in the first round and probably figured they were set at running back. Three weeks into the season, Foster has not been a reliable RB1. It may sound like fantasy blasphemy to bench a first round pick, but it is at least worth consideration this week to start two other running backs and perhaps a wide receiver in the flex. The Seahawks defense is containing runners almost as well as they contain receivers, with no 100-yard rushers yet this season.
Sleeper Start: Brandon Bolden (Patriots) vs. the Falcons – Bolden missed the first two weeks of the season, but shined in a very small sample size in Week 3. He ran for 51 yards on three carries, and added 49 more yards on five catches. He could be worth a look this week in case Stevan Ridley continues to struggle, but he may just be a waiver add that sits on your bench until he gets some more playing time. At this point he is a flex player in deeper leagues.
Start: Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas (Broncos) vs. the Eagles – It’s hard to say which of these receivers is Peyton Manning’s favorite target, but the way he’s playing, it really doesn’t matter. Manning is on a historic pace early on this season, which makes all three of his main targets reliable performers each week. The Eagles are 29th against the pass, so Manning could conceivably find all three for scores at some point in this game. Demaryius and Welker are good WR1’s, and Decker is a solid flex player with WR2 upside.
Sit: Vincent Jackson (Buccaneers) vs. the Cardinals – The reeling Buccaneers are turning to Mike Glennon to help right the ship this week. Bad puns aside, Jackson is questionable with a rib injury, and has yet to haul in a touchdown this year. He is also poised to get a healthy dose of Patrick Peterson, which won’t help Glennon find him this week. Don’t count on him for more than borderline flex production this week.
Sleeper Start: Ryan Broyles (Lions) vs. the Bears – Broyles seems to be having an even faster rise to the number two wide receiver spot after Nate Burleson broke his arm this week. In his season debut coming off offseason ACL surgery, he recorded three catches for 34 yards. The chemistry between him and Matthew Stafford may have an opportunity to grow against a Bears defense ranked 24th this season against the pass so far. Broyles could be a decent flex or WR2 option this week in most leagues.