Welcome back to the latest installment of my recurring column (every Wednesday). With four games already played the season is now a quarter of the way over, and players’ characteristics are starting to show. Bye weeks, injuries, and available waiver options are enough to keep any owner guessing even after the lineups lock. It is my civic duty to make sure you are as stress free as possible come kickoff. Actually, it is my civic duty to keep the public safe from fires, and it is my moral obligation to keep you from “Ruxin” every Sunday. If you already follow me on Twitter, thanks, and you know the majority of my advice is amazingly accurate. If you do not follow me and you have Twitter, shame on you, and click the button to follow me now. It is there you can ask for up to the minute advice, and learn that my sarcasm is as amazing as my fantasy accuracy. Since this is short attention span reading material, I’m on the verge of losing you…so on to Week 4! The concept of this column is to highlight the past weeks most notable Fantasy performances from the most influential positions (Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver, and Tight End). I will identify a player whom you would generally rely on as one of your starters that you Coulda started, but due to their lackluster performance should not have. Next will be a player who more than likely is on your bench or waiver wire that you Woulda started, and had you done so would have been rewarded with Starter-like numbers. And finally, I will list a player that if you could have had your pick of the entire NFL you Shoulda started, essentially the top performer at his position.
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Coulda acted gingerly with Andy Dalton, CIN Bengals. (23-42 206 yards, 0 TD’s, 1 INT)
Forget Hard Knocks, and forget my impartialness to the Bengals (mainly due to my appreciation of Marvin Lewis). I have been a believer of Dalton’s since he came out of TCU as a second round pick, and I will continue to push his bandwagon. However, it is alarming that with all the talent surrounding him he managed to throw for only 206 yards on 42 attempts. I doubt he has a worse performance the rest of this season. Strike that, I hope he does not have a worse one.
Woulda really bought into Phillip Rivers, SD Chargers. (35-42 401 yards, 3 TD’s, 1 INT’s)
I mean really bought in. What has this guy done so far to make you think he isn’t putting together what could be his finest professional season. If it were not for Peyton’s prolific start to the year, his 11 TD’s with only 2 Interceptions would be getting a lot more attention. In fact, if you took Peyton away, Rivers’ 118.8 QB Rating would make him the leagues best signal caller thru the first four games. While he may be labeled a whiner, it is opposing defenses he leaves crying. Outside of P.Manning and Brees, he is a must start every week.
Shoulda opened the ESPN parking lot gate for Drew Brees, NO Saints. (30-39 413 yds, 4/0)
Who dat? Those are the black and gold streaks sprinting by you on their way to the end zone for six. Those streaks belong to New Orleans, and the Saints belong to Brees. If you have never seen a pep talk led by Drew, do yourself a favor and click this link (Pre-Game). Warning: goose bumps will ensue. Monday Night Football? Magnify the impact times ten. Who dat? ‘Nuff said!
Coulda listened to me and sat Chris Johnson, TEN Titans. (21 rush yds, 2-10 receiving, 0 TD’s)
I keep mentioning the young and quickly improving Jets Defense, and as such warned against starting CJ2K against them. This should now be the general rule for any running back not named Adrian Peterson. I get it, you drafted him as your #1 RB and have been less than pleased with the results. For what it is worth, outside of his 2009 2K season, this is who he is. The TD’s will start to come, but it is the lack of receptions that alarm me most. With Jake Locker out a few weeks, I expect those numbers to go up with Ryan Fitzpatrick now under center. Be patient, but realize CJ1K is a much more appropriate nickname.
Woulda not listened to me and played Reggie Bush, DET Lions. (139 rush yds, 1 TD’s; 4-34 rec)
I am not sure what I was more frightened of: the Bears defense, his injured knee, or Joique Bell. Needless to say, in most cases I recommended to keep Bush on fantasy benches and I could not have been more wrong. The 18 carries he got were way more than I anticipated, but at nearly 8 (7.7) yards per carry they were well justified. It is that kind of explosiveness that made him such a trendy draft day pick, and that talent that should keep him as a must start.
Shoulda been chuffed to start Adrian Peterson, MIN Vikings. (140 rush yds, 2 TD; 0 receiving)
If you are scratching your head, chuffed apparently means to be pleased by something in British slang. It really did not matter if the game was in London, Minnesota, or Pittsburgh even, as “All Day” chafed the Steelers defense (nice transition back to American slang?). I have been lucky to see some pretty great running backs play (Payton, Sanders, Emmit, etc), but I would have to cast my vote for Peterson as the greatest of all time. And he is still in his prime. #RememberTheMoments
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Coulda bought the hype on Donnie Avery, KC Chiefs. (2 catches for 23 yards, 0 TD’s)
I said last week that Avery’s Week 3 performance would open things up for the much maligned Dwayne Bowe. Sure enough, it only took one week to prove that true. Alex Smith is the exact opposite of a gunslinger, almost painstakingly so. I do not think Donnie Avery overnight became the receiver he has never been in his career. He is worth a roster spot if you have room, but then again so was Kevin Ogletree at one point.
Woulda bought the hype on Nate Washington, TEN Titans. (4-105, 2 TD’s)
Another veteran Wide Receiver loitering on the waiver wire, he may even still be available in your league. I think this is another case of the Donnie Avery syndrome, only Washington is in a tier slightly higher than the Chief and is a little more reliable. Is he worth keeping on your roster: definitely. Is he worth starting: yes, depending on who else you have. Overall I see him as the lowest WR2/highest WR3. The Titans quarterback should not change how you view him.
Shoulda took dancing lessons with Victor Cruz, NY Giants. (10-164, 1 TD)
Before you call me biased for cohabitating with a Puerto Rican, or for being born and raised in Nueva York, let the numbers speak for themselves: Receptions T-8th (26), Yards 3rd (425), TD’s T-3rd (4), Targets 6th (43). It is becoming a weekly tradition to see a bomb from Eli to Cruz connect for 6 points. Heck if you just watched Giants games alone you would already be a phenomenal dancer, now at 23 Salsa lessons and counting. (anybody get the Wedding Crashers reference there?) Regardless of the teams struggles, Victor Cruz is a legit WR1 and NFL stud.
Coulda cut ties already with Kyle Rudolph, MIN Vikings. (2 receptions for 6 yds, 0 TD’s)
For the second time in four games, Rudolph earns the distinct recognition as the worst Tight End of the week. Where is the guy who caught 53 balls and hauled in 9 TD’s just a year ago? If you are still are stashing him on your roster, hoping he reemerges, do yourself the favor now and cut ties. There are too many options available to continue wasting a spot on him. One name I advise to add: Mychal Rivera from the Oakland Raiders.
Woulda known Luck favors Coby Fleener, IND Colts. (5 receptions for 77 yards, 1 TD)
Speaking of Mychal Rivera, whom I added and started in Week 3 myself, guess who got benched. Yes, the guy I recommended in “Play ‘Em/Pass ‘Em” who bunked with his quarterback in college. Rivera (2-44, 1 TD) did shine, but Fleener was even better on the road in Jacksonville. For some reason he still seems to be flying under the radar, but he is a legitimate starting TE for any fantasy squad.
Shoulda drank from the same fountain as Tony Gonzalez, ATL Falcons. (12-149, 2 TD’s)
This section was very nearly renamed after Jimmy Graham (4-100, 2 TD’s), but the 17 year veteran Tony G has resurfaced. Pedestrian at best thru the first 3 games, Gonzo flashed his Hall of Fame talent on Sunday Night in front of all of America. Is this what we should be expecting from the Falcons offense going forward (421 passing yards): probably not. But in his Super Bowl or bust final season, this is closer to where the Tight End should remain week to week.
Now for the second part of this column, the one that will help you for the upcoming week, it is the Play ‘Em/Pass ‘Em segment: one guy I like, and one I do not. Week 4 got me back on track as I was right on 6 of 8 from the list, with the 2 guys I missed on being Andre Johnson and Jordan Cameron. They both were recommended Passes, but they both produced, so I do not feel entirely bad. It is always easier for me, and more beneficial for you, to be asked to choose between specific players. You can do this by leaving your question in the comment section, emailing me at [email protected], or asking on Twitter. Week 3’s notables: start Nate Washington over DeAndre Hopkins (@Matthew_Nutter), start Martellus Bennett over Jason Witten (@ShawnAndrew92), start Dwayne Bowe and Reggie Bush over Knowshown Moreno (@DavidWoodward82 and @mellimel18), start Phillip Rivers over Russell Wilson (@xxmcmikiexx). Where I was wrong: start Jason Snelling over Danny Woodhead (@The_KP_Show), start Bernard Pierce over Stevan Ridley (@JKillinger), start Hakeem Nicks over Nate Washington (@BlakeECU). Like I said, the majority are right on, and apologies where I am wrong. Submit your questions and maybe you will be mentioned in a future article. Week 5 Byes for Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Washington. Here are some that will play, whom you might want to pay a little more attention to:
Play ‘Em: Brian Hoyer, CLE (vs BUF) The Bills may have picked off Flacco five times, but they give up a ton thru the air. The air around Hoyer has a special feel to it. That’s a lot of air.
Pass ‘Em: Andy Dalton, CIN (vs NE) I know I said I’ll remain pushing his bandwagon, but the Patriots Defense has been playing better than they get credit for. Average numbers for the “Red Rifle”.
Play ‘Em: David Wilson, NYG (vs PHI) For those of you who have been patiently waiting on the Giants RB, this is your week. You will be glad you held on after he runs all over the Eagles.
Pass ‘Em: DeMarco Murray (vs DEN) I think we may be looking at the first ever 19-0 team in NFL history. The Defense is aggressive and has enough to keep the Cowboys guns holstered.
Play ‘Em: Hakeem Nicks, NYG (vs PHI) This week I sung the praises of Cruz, and predict a big day from Wilson. Why stop now? Nicks is too good to remain subpar, and will emerge this week.
Pass ‘Em: Nate Washington, TEN (vs KC) This is more about tempering the expectations he is creating, than thinking he will be awful. Decent does not mean over 100 yards with multiple scores.
Play ‘Em: Mychal Rivera, OAK (vs SD) Get him while you can, because it is only a matter of time before he becomes a household name. Young, raw talent who is learning on the job.
Pass ‘Em: Charles Clay, MIA (vs BAL) Yes, the Ravens have given up huge games to Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron. While a rising player, Clay is not at that level yet. See the stats from the Ravens other 2 games (Owen Daniels, Scott Chandler) as a guideline.
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