The Vikings are on bye this week, after defeating the Pittsbugh Steelers in Wembley last week. Matt Cassel threw for almost 250 yards and 2 TDs, and was able to get production from Greg Jennings (2 TDs) and Jerome Simpson (7 catches, 124 yards). Adrian Peterson was, well, Adrian Peterson, with 140 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. The Vikings face an interesting dilemma when Christian Ponder is fit to return.
New Orleans Saints at CHICAGO BEARS
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In a stunning turnaround from last season, the Saints are now giving up the fewest points to opposing QBs. While Cutler had 4 turnovers last week (3 INT, 1 fumble), he still accounted for 23 points in standard scoring. It seems unlikely he will come close to that production this week, and is a very risky play. He’s squarely in QB2 territory this week.
Forte has been a model of consistent production this season, scoring between 14 and 17 points in standard scoring every week. While the Saints have been impressive against the pass, they are allowing almost 120 yards on the ground on average, the 22nd best rank in the league. Look for him to put up over 100 total yards and a TD this week.
Marshall is having far from his best season, and now is battling a foot injury, which held him out of practice on Thursday. As always, you should never sit your studs (unless Marshall’s injury means he is out or limited), but at the minute he’s in the WR 10-12 range. Worst case scenario, he puts up a 5 catch, 70 yard game. Best case, 130 yards and a TD.
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Congratulations if you started Alshon last week! He finally had his coming out party, with over 130 total yards and a TD. While the Lions boast a ferocious front seven, their secondary is not playing at the same level of the Saints. Jeffery figures to come back down to earth this week, and should see a stat line closer 4 catches for 60 yards. It’s worth noting that Jeffery has been successful on most of his rushing attempts this season, and there’s a (faint) chance he might break off a long run this week.
Bennett has been a great value for those who took him late in the draft, posting at least 9 points in standard scoring in all but one game. He is becoming more and more important to the game plan, as evidenced by his eight catches last week. The Saints have been impressive against tight ends, so Bennet’s yardage might be down this week, but we still like him to score this week, finishing with a line of 40-50 yards and a TD.
Gould is the 6th highest scoring kicker through 4 weeks. Until he gives any reason not to, start him with confidence.
While they are always a threat to score defensively, it’s just too big of a risk to start the Bears D/ST against Brees and the red hot Saints this week.
DETROIT LIONS at GREEN BAY PACKERS
Rodgers simply seems to have the measure of the Lions, winning the last 6 games he’s played them in at Lambeau. The Lions are allowing the 7th fewest points to opposing QBs so far, but Rodgers transcends matchups. While he is on pace to throw for over 5,600 yards this season, Rodgers wasn’t at his clinical best against the Bengals, and he’s sure to be fired up for this game. Expect over 300 yards and 3 TDs, and don’t be surprised if he goes for 400 and 4.
The Packers are ranked 32nd in the league in passing TDs allowed, and now have to face Stafford and his All-Pro level weapons. He is currently on pace for another 5,000 yard season, and could inflate that number in this game. Look for him to throw for around 350 yards and at least 2 TDS.
Eddie Lacy / Jonathan Franklin
If Lacy is fully fit and ready to roll, he should see the lion’s share (WORDPLAY) of the carries, with Franklin serving as the change of pace back. However, the Lions boast a tremendous defensive line, with Ndamukong Suh playing at a defensive MVP level, so yardage will be tough to come by, and it’s impossible to predict a short yardage TD. Without a TD, Lacy will be an RB3 at best, and Franklin should be benched this week.
Reggie Bush / Joique Bell
In week 4 Bush absolutely exploded, gaining 139 yards on just 18 carries, with some of the most stunning runs you’ll see all season. He’s now surpassed Megatron as the biggest difference maker on Detroit’s offense, and completely changes what opposing coordinators have to scheme for. While the Packers have been good at limiting yardage on the ground, they’re ranked 23rd in points given up against fantasy rushers. Start Bush with extreme confidence. Bell, on the other hand, has cooled off after his hot start to the season, with just 1.7 yards per carry and a lost fumble against Chicago last week. He’s still a tremendous asset, however, and is a worthy flex play this week.
Nelson is averaging almost 100 yards and 1 TD per game. In six career games against the Lions, he has 4 TDs. The Lions have been good at limiting opposing WRs getting to the end zone, but they’ll struggle against Jordy this week. Look for him to get close to his average for the season, with around 90-100 yards and a TD.
Cobb had a disappointing stat line against the Bengals in week 3, finishing with just 5 catches for 54 yards. He’ll want to atone for that this week. Look for him to be matched up against rookie corner Darius Slay, who could start if Chris Houston doesn’t recover from injury in time. If this is the case, Cobb could be the highest scoring WR in fantasy this week.
Jones’ bread and butter is scoring touchdowns. So far, the Lions have only allowed two wideouts to score. He’s a risky play, but as a WR3/flex you could do a lot worse. As he showed in week 2 (11 catches for 178 yards), he’s capable of putting up points without a TD, but it’s the less likely scenario.
The injury-depleted Packers secondary is giving up the third most points to opposing wide receivers. Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in the game. Look for over 100 yards, and not one, but two touchdowns from him this week.
Other Lions WRs
Ryan Broyles is the most likely to make an impact in the game, but coming off an ACL tear and a zero catch game, it doesn’t seem very probable. People will hold out hope for Kevin Ogletree, but after just joining the team, his impact will more than likely be minimal.
Trying to predict what Finley will do week-to-week is the single most difficult thing about writing this column. Coming off a concussion, and against a defense that hasn’t allowed a TE to score yet, lean on the side of caution. If he has better than 50 yards, consider it a success this week.
So the bold prediction of Pettigrew going for 70 yards and a score was way off, but last week he did snag 7 catches. Unfortunately, he only totalled 54 yards on those. The bright side is that Stafford finally gave Pettigrew some attention with Burleson out, but the reality is that he is, at the very best, a possession receiver. In PPR leagues, he might be an asset, but he’s unusable in most formats outside a desperation play. Joseph Fauria and Tony Scheffler remain non-factors.
SIGNS OF LIFE! Crosby attempted, and more surprisingly made, three field goal attempts last week. He is now 4 for 4 on the season. Fantasy owners should still be reluctant to start him, but it doesn’t seem as nauseating as it once did.
Through 4 weeks, “Old Man Akers” is the 5th ranked kicker, with a monster 4 field goals and 4 extra points last week. Roll with the hot foot, in this case.
While this unit had a big game last week, and Stafford is prone to the occasional brainfart, it’s hard to trust them against Megatron and Reggie Bush. Look elsewhere this week.
Going against an angry Aaron Rodgers? AVOID.