AFC East Week 4 Preview

 

New England Patriots @ Atlanta Falcons
Tom Brady- Brady has been very un-Brady like failing to throw for more than 300 yards this season but in his defense he has been playing without some very important pieces, namely receiver Danny Amendola and tight end Rob Gronkowski. He’s also been playing nurse maid to his two young rookie receivers and at one point became openly frustrated with missed opportunities. The good news is there is a chance he will be getting Gronkowski back this week and the Falcons defense are much better at rush defense than pass defense. He’s the 24th ranked quarterback so far but he’s still Tom Brady and has the ability to make people around him better. I think he’ll have a good game in the Sunday night spotlight.

Steven Ridley/Brandon Bolden/LeGarrette Blount- The Falcons have been solid against the run holding every opponent they’ve faced to under 100 yards rushing and allowing only a single rushing touchdown. If the Patriots leave Atlanta with a win it will be the result of their passing game not their ground game. This makes Bolden the only viable Patriot running back worth using. Last week he had five receptions for 49 yards on six targets but more importantly he was on the field on 21 pass plays so he does have some substantial upside this week. If he can carve out a role similar to what injured running back Shane Vereen was in line for, he will have PPR value going forward. I think he’s worth a flex start this week based on his upside and the fact he’s playing with a great quarterback.

Julian Edelman- Edelman to this point in the season has 27 receptions which is the most in the NFL and he’s been targeted 34 times. Brady is making progress with his young wide outs Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, but when he needs to move the chains he relies on Edelman. He hasn’t had a touchdown reception since week one against the Bills but the Falcons secondary has been susceptible so there is always the chance he scores again. I think Edelman will have a decent day somewhere in the seven to eight receptions and 70 receiving yards.

Kenbrell Thompkins- Both Dobson and Thompkins struggled to get on the same page with quarterback Tom Brady but in week three we saw some much welcome improvement. Thompkins only had three receptions on seven targets for 41 yards but turned two of those targets into touchdowns. Through three weeks he’s been targeted 28 times and is fast establishing himself as the featured outside receiver for the Patriots. He’s definitely worth starting this week as a flex play.

Aaron Dobson- After his week two drop-a-thon (3 receptions on 10 targets) Dobson has had his hands full trying to gain his quarterbacks confidence again. He went a long way in doing just that last week improving his catch percentage and finishing with seven receptions on ten targets for 52 yards. Those are flex worthy numbers for sure, but he is a rookie and with all the other mouths to feed in the Patriots’ offense it’s just too big a risk right now.

Rob Gronkowski- According to all Patriots reports the time has finally come to get Gronkowski into your lineup. There’s still a bit of risk as these reports are coming from head coach Bill Belichick and we are never sure with him, so keep your eyes and ears open to make sure he’s going to play. If he plays in my humble opinion he’s a no brainer so start him even if it is his first game back.

Miami Dolphins @ New Orleans Saints

Ryan Tannehill- Tannehill is playing within the framework of the Dolphins offense much better this year, but unless you’re happy with around 240 yards and one touchdown he’s just not ready to be in your starting lineup. To be continued.

Lamar Miller/Daniel Thomas- The reason I put Miller and Thomas together is because honestly I have no clue which one will be worth being in your lineup this week. After watching Miller play he appears to be the more talented and the more explosive of the two, but that doesn’t seem to be the consensus opinion with the Dolphins coaching staff and they insist on torturing us using a running back by committee approach. Their snaps were equally divided last week with Miller getting 26 to Thomas’ 25 but Miller does have the edge with his 4.2 yards per carry average to Thomas’ 3.1 average. The most disconcerting issue is that Thomas, not Miller, is toting the rock at the goal line. The positive is Miller stayed in the game last week during their game winning drive against the Falcons which could be translated into increased confidence from the coaching staff. The Saints defense has been stout allowing only one rushing touchdown thus far and if there’s a rushing touchdown scored against them my money is on Miller’s superior talent to do it.

Mike Wallace- Wallace is the quintessential boom or bust player. Week one he was targeted five times and converted only one of them for 15 yards. Week two he had a huge game and scored his first touchdown as a Dolphin finishing with nine receptions on 11 targets for 115 yards. Keep reading, I’ve almost made my point. Last week was his worst effort yet finishing with a very dismal 22 yards and two receptions on only four targets. I think the Dolphins will have to pass to keep up in this game and they need Wallace’s speed to stretch the field and as good as the Saints defense has been playing, I think Wallace has a good chance to have a big game if he gets the needed targets.

Brian Hartline- There’s just no way for me to omit Hartline here after his three week start to the season. He’s obviously benefiting from the threat of having Mike Wallace on the field and making the most of it. Hartline has deceptive speed and he’s scored a touchdown in two out of three weeks and has been getting an average of ten targets per week. If you’re in a PPR league you could do worse.

New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans

Geno Smith- I know this will disappoint those of you who are chomping at the bit to start Smith again this week after his huge game week three and who can blame you. But all things that go up must come down and this week on the road against a good Titans defense Smith is most likely coming down. He does have the added bonus of adding some rushing yards and a possible rushing touchdown to his total, but I just don’t think he’s worth the risk this week. Hopefully you have better options.

Bilal Powell- If anyone on the Jets roster can help you this week it will be Powell. He’s coming off a 27 carry 149 yard performance against the Bills and Chris Ivory is dealing with a hamstring injury, so it will be all Powell for the Jets ground game until further notice. Houston running back Ben Tate rushed for 93 yards on nine carries against the Titans defense and Arian Foster nicked them for another eighty and a touchdown so Powell does have a chance this week. Hopefully you listened to the guys at Fakepigskin.com and snagged Powell off the waiver wire. If you did he make a nice flex start this week getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Santonio Holmes- Holmes is coming off a huge week three finishing with five receptions on ten targets for 154 yards and a touchdown and even though the Titans secondary has given up a receiving touchdown every week this season they’ve been playing pretty solid defense. I think it would be wishful thinking to expect Holmes to duplicate last week’s numbers against this defense but even more concerning than the Titans defense is the fact that Holmes admitted he isn’t 100% healthy. Let’s make Holmes prove he deserves to be in your lineup before you start him, if you don’t I’m afraid you’re asking for heartache come Sunday night.

Stephen Hill- Although Hill’s targets have shown a slight decline thru three weeks his catch rate remains about 50% and quarterback Geno Smith is gaining more trust and confidence in him. He ended week three with only three receptions on six targets but had 108 yards and a nice 51 yard reception for a touchdown. With Santonio Holmes most likely receiving extra defensive attention Hill has a good chance have a nice game but I wouldn’t expect too much. Think in the range of five receptions for 50 yards and a possible touchdown. Hey somebody has to score touchdowns.

Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens

E.J. Manuel- Last week Manuel passed for 250 yards and one touchdown and definitely is showing signs of progressing, but right now he’s just not putting up enough numbers to help your fantasy team and this week going against the Ravens defense won’t be any better. Let’s be patient with Manuel and see what shakes out with him on your bench.

C.J. Spiller/Fred Jackson- After having a truly miserable outing last week (9 yards on 10 carries) if Spiller doesn’t get things going soon he could end up being the biggest bust of the season. Based on the way things have been going so far getting things going this week against a resurging Ravens defense is a tall order for Spiller or Jackson to fill. They have held every running back they’ve faced this year to under 60 yards and since the Bills insist on a timeshare with these two players it will hard to get something going on limited carries. As a Spiller supporter in preseason it pains me to have to write this, but I recommend benching him this week. Let’s let him earn his way back into our good graces and our lineups. Jackson has been somewhat usable as a flex play rushing for 72 yards last week and chipping in four receptions every week, I just don’t trust him this week to help you much.

Steve Johnson- Playing with a rookie starting quarterback makes Johnson a somewhat surprising bright spot for the Bills but he’s managed to be productive for three weeks now. Last week Johnson had six receptions on a whopping 13 targets for 86 yards and although he didn’t find the end zone he has scored in two of the first three weeks. He has been dealing with a hamstring issue all week and didn’t practice till Thursday but all indications are he’s good to go. Manuel has confidence in Johnson and if he continues to get close to double digit targets he more time than not will be productive. Look for somewhere in the five to six receptions range for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Scott Chandler- Chandler was one of the most sought waiver wire acquisitions this week after his week three five reception, 79 yard, one touchdown effort against the Jets. Although the Ravens are weaker against tight ends they haven’t allowed a tight end to score since week one when Bronco tight end Julius Thomas scored twice, so it’s a bit risky to expect him to have another big day against this defense. He’s never proven he can be a consistent fantasy producer to date. In week one he had four receptions for 38 yards and in week two he only had three receptions for ten yards so expect a mediocre day and not too much more.

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