The 2012 Week 4 WR rankings—like in all rankings—are one of the most important weekly rankings in my opinion. Week 4 represents the quarter mark of the season, yes, but it also begins the bye week cycle.
More importantly, however, it usually is the week where team matchups must be factored into ranking a player more than ever.
Now of course, rankings are not a specific science. There has been no better example of that than this season alone, but there are a few hidden gems of information that fantasy owners can use to their advantage when understanding team matchups and how that may apply to weekly rankings.
Here's a quick example: The Green Bay Packers play the New Orleans Saints this week, and owners should know that it is a great opportunity to start RB Cedric Benson against a team that is horrific against the run.
The individual team versus team matchup, however, also suggests that Benson will lend favor to solid play-action opportunities for Aaron Rodgers and company—the bread and butter to the Packers passing game—meaning the Packers receivers all get a boost.
On the other side is Drew Brees and a Saints team that can pass just as good as Green Bay. If this game turns into a shootout—75% chance or better it will—even the Saints receivers come further into play.
Let's take a look at some other potentially great matchups this week, and let's see how many new names made the Week 4 WR rankings Top 50.
|2.||A. J. Green||JAX||Jacksonville is going to have a very difficult time trying to stop Green.|
|3.||Julio Jones||CAR||This is a very solid matchup for Jones.|
|4.||Andre Johnson||TEN||You can expect Houston to try and jump on Tennessee early, and then control the clock, and what better way to do that than with Johnson.|
|5.||Percy Harvin||DET||The Minnesota Vikings have another chance to take down another team that many feel they cannot, and it will start with Percy Harvin.
Yes, the Vikings get Jerome Simpson back, and that is huge, but that may only add fuel to Harvin’s already high fantasy ceiling for Week 4.
The team matchup here will be the Vikings secondary versus Calvin Johnson against the Detroit front seven against the Minnesota’s ground assault.
The Lions will have to compensate for Adrian Peterson, no doubt, but with Simpson in the mix, it will be difficult to assign more than one man on Harvin who also plays out of the backfield.
The bottom line here is the Vikings have a player who can play on the outside, in the slot and as a RB WITH Peterson on the field, and to beat the Lions you need an “X” factor player.
That player will be Percy Harvin.
|6.||Victor Cruz||PHI||Can’t wait to see how Philly plans on dealing with this guy.|
|8.||Jordy Nelson||NO||This is a prime matchup for Nelson against a team that is terrible against the pass. Also look for Nelson to finally find the endzone this week.|
|10.||Hakeem Nicks||PHI||It looks like Nicks is a go so go ahead and start him.|
|13.||Demaryius Thomas||OAK||Peyton Manning seems to finally be settling, and Thomas should be featured more this week with the Raiders dealing with some WR injuries.|
|14.||Steve Smith||ATL||Tough secondary so curb your enthusiasm.|
|16.||Dwayne Bowe||SD||Another tough start. If you have another marquee WR you can use in place of Bowe, do so.|
|17.||Miles Austin||CHI||Ribs are fine.|
|18.||Greg Jennings||NO||Last week Greg Jennings caught 6 passes for 35 yards against a vaunted Seattle secondary. In Week 1, Jennings caught 5 balls for 35 yards against a vaunted 49er secondary.
Why is this important?
In addition to having the best secondaries in the league, both San Francisco and Seattle also have a tremendous pass rush which helped contain Packers QB Aaron Rodgers—two things that New Orleans are without.
The 49ers were able to show GB a lot of deep safety looks, while Seattle terrorized Aaron Rodgers with a stunning outside speed-rush combo. These two strategies took away Rodgers’ ability to make his deadly quick-action throws that usually wind up turning into scores.
The Saints simply do not possess the skill to do either and have the type of success that the 49ers and Seahawks had. They can’t defend the pass at all, they have a subpar D-Line and they cannot even defend the run well—at best they can throw like hell which will only help fantasy owners of Jennings if a shootout ensues.
Jennings was targeted a season high 10 times last week, and you can expect more of the same this week only with better results.
|19.||Torrey Smith||CLE||If you think last week was great, wait until Smith faces a Joe Haden-less Cleveland Browns.|
|21.||Marques Colston||GB||Colston’s foot seems to be alright, and this game has all the makings of a shootout. Colston owners can start him confidently.|
|22.||Brandon Lloyd||BUF||Lloyd is due for a breakout game this week as the Patriots will try like hell to match him up against Buffalo’s rookie corner Stephon Gilmore, who is struggling heavily this year to cover anything.|
|23.||Stevie Johnson||NE||The Bills, of course, will counter with “Superstition”.|
|25.||Jeremy Maclin||NYG||Maclin will start and is a full go.|
|26.||Dez Bryant||CHI||Don’t let his slow start get you down, he coming.|
|29.||Leonard Hankerson||TB||The Bucs should lend favor to a solid day for the youngster.|
|31.||Lance Moore||GB||One week up; one week down. Guess which week this should be.|
|32.||Kenny Britt||HOU||A bum ankle and a solid Texan D makes for a bad outing this week.|
|33.||Brandon LaFell||ATL||Faces a tough Atlanta secondary, but the Panthers may try to swing him underneath where the Falcons are the weakest. A risky start.|
|34.||Golden Tate||STL||Starting to really find his place, but don’t expect too much against St. Louis.|
|36.||Michael Crabtree||NYJ||Expect….not kidding here…Jets RB Joe McKnight to be the one responsible for Crabtree the majority of the time which is just about the dumbest roster move I have ever heard about. Oh well, take advantage of it.|
|37.||Jerome Simpson||DET||Coach Frazier expects to use Simpson “often” in this game. Give him the nod.|
|38.||Anquan Boldin||CLE||Nice start, but he is a possession receiver so he’s sort of one-dimensional in certain fantasy realms.|
|39.||Pierre Garcon||TB||Garcon was able to “participate” in practice Wednesday, but his toe really concerns me.|
|40.||Nate Washington||HOU||I have a sneaky suspicion that Chris Johnson is going to be used often, early and effectively (call me crazy) which could limit the Titans’ receivers overall potential.|
|42.||Randall Cobb||NO||Is seeing more and more time slowly. Has a great matchup here, and may wind up being a sneaky play.|
|43.||Danny Amendola||SEA||Until another team shows everyone how to beat the Seahawks’ corners, I am gonna be hard pressed to recommend anyone against them. Only start Amendola if you have to.|
|45.||Titus Young||MIN||Banged up a bit, but I told ya he was due for a small breakout.|
|48.||Randy Moss||NYJ||A solid sleeper candidate for Week 4.|
|50.||Andrew Hawkins||JAX||I want to rank him higher, but his value only comes when the Bengals are playing in close games. I don’t see Jacksonville keeping this one close.|
That about does it for my Week 4 WR rankings, so good luck.
Be sure to keep in mind that both Indianapolis and Pittsburgh both have the bye week, and the Ravens play the Browns on Thursday Night Football.