Before I even start this piece I would like to apologize to Brandon Marshall over last week. I am sorry kind sir, you certainly proved me wrong.
Ok. Now that that is out of the way I would say that I had a relatively solid week. Santana Moss was pretty money even though the Redskins were most definitely not. Tony Romo went for 285 and 2 touchdowns, and he didn't even vacation in Mexico once during his prep week! Rashard Mendenhall was just mean going off on the hapless Bucs for 143 yards on just 19 touches. Lastly, Antonio Gates has continued to prove that there is no one that can stop him in the Red Zone with another score, albeit in a Charger loss.
While Week 3 was mostly about people proving their worth to their organizations, Week 4 is going to be all about revitalization. These are the guys that are proving to their teammates, and their fans, that they have something legitimate to cheer about. Here are my studs and duds for Week 4 of the NFL fantasy season. God Bless America.
Stud: Sam Bradford
I know. I know. Michael Vick is the hot topic this week, which is exactly why I am leaving him out of this column. He is getting too much press already and I refuse to be a part of it.
So, instead I am going in a completely different direction and give a rookie some love. This week could be a break out week for young Mr. Bradford because all of the stars seem to be lining up just right for him in Week 4. As of right now Bradford is without his All Pro running back Steven Jackson, which leaves him with little to no running game. Without that running attack it inevitably means that the Rams offense is going to be primarily through the air. While he is still a rookie, and him chucking the ball 50+ times downfield could be a disastrous scenario, but against the Seahawks 30th ranked passing defense (lit up for 455 yds by Philip Rivers a week ago), it could be just what the Rams need to string together back-to-back wins. On top of all of that Sam Bradford has the advantage of playing at home coming off of his first win as a professional athlete where he went 23 of 37 for 235 yards and a touchdown. His confidence, as well as mine, will be riding high come game time Sunday.
Dud: Joe Flacco
The last few seasons Joe Flacco has made headlines as being a cool headed young quarterback who never seems to get rattled by the pressure of the moment. This season on the other hand, the headlines have been quite different. With a revamped offensive unit, the 2010 season was supposed to be one of high production and offensive fruition for Flacco, but when he met his first resistance against the Cincinnati Bengals, he buckled worse than Tom Brady’s knee and threw 4 interceptions in key moments of the game. Last week he had a nice rebound game against the passive defense of the Browns, but this week he faces divisional rival Pittsburgh who have dominated every team they have faced so far this season. Flacco has had limited success against the Steelers in the past, but has only thrown for more than 200 yards on one such occasion. This season the Steelers defense has only given up a single touchdown pass, have 5 interceptions, and 10 sacks. If the Steelers are able to keep up the pressure, which they will, it will be a long day for Flacco and the Ravens offense.
Stud: LaDainian Tomlinson
This is most certainly a risky call, but I’m willing to make it, I am that bold. Tomlinson has done something that no one thought was really possible at his age: he has revitalized his career. As of right now LT is averaging 5.6 yds/carry, his highest average since 2006, and has 3 rushes for 20+ yards, which ranks third in the NFL right now. Who would have thunk it? Tomlinson certainly looked sprightly against my beloved Patriots and even better against Miami. His success has only been highlighted more by the complete and utter fantasy flop that is Shonn Green. Over the past couple of weeks it has become increasingly more obvious that LT is going to be their go to guy out of the backfield and against Buffalo’s hurting front line he could show even more flashes of his old self. I’m expecting Tomlinson to get as close to 100 yards, if not more, this weekend as he victimizes the weak defensive front of the hapless Bills that most recently gave up 98 yards to BenJarvus Green-Ellis who was a third stringer just a week ago.
Dud: Ahmad Bradshaw
In this early season Ahmad Bradshaw has not only proven that he has the skills to be an every down back, but he has also shown justification for his replacement of Brandon Jacobs. Bradshaw brings an element of speed and quickness to the position that was lacking in the brute running attack of Jacobs, which has been useful thus far, until now. Although there have been glimpses of greatness from Bradshaw, he has yet to record a 100 yard performance in 2010, and more importantly, he has yet to face a top rushing defense this season. Week 4 brings the Bears rolling into town and with them comes their somewhat shocking 3-0 record and the leagues top rated rushing defense, which has only given up a gaudy 36.7 yds/game. That is a stat you simply can not argue with. They shut down the upstart Lions, the platoon attack of the Cowboys, and most recently shut the door on the weakened Packers. Although those are not generally the greatest rushing teams in the league it still takes something impressive to shut them down to that extent. On the other end of the spectrum you have to know that the Giants are going to go to the air. Over the past few seasons they have transitioned to a pass first offense, and knowing that the Bears secondary is their weak point (28th), you have to expect Eli and company to do their best to exploit that.
Stud: DeSean Jackson
I have been trying to stray away from the big boys at the position, but after having a look at the matchups, I just do not see how he could go unmentioned. Jackson has become one of the best big play receivers in the NFL. Although the sample size for the 2010 season is a bit limited, it is hard to argue against the fact that Jackson has only made 13 catches, but has amassed a staggering 318 yards. For those of you without calculator watches handy, that equals out to 24.46 yards per reception. Simply insane. When you break it down even further to just the past two games you are looking at an average of 140+ yard per game and 47 yards per reception. Considering that his quarterback used to be a predominantly running quarterback those numbers are even more impressive. The best thing of all for fantasy owners is that he has quite the favorable matchup in week 4 at home against the Washington Redskins and the 31st ranked secondary that has already given up a 158 yard game to Andre Johnson and a 146 yard game to Miles Austin. Jackson can run with either of those guys, so look out, fireworks be coming.
Dud: Michael Crabtree
The San Francisco 49ers offense has been sporadic to say the least. This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Crabtree’s play in particular, but with a new offensive coordinator in town and a wavering starting quarterback isn’t exactly the best news for a top receiver. Crabtree has the goods to be a number one guy, but has not had the weapons under center, or around him at the position, to get him an opportunity to exploit teams downfield. It is frightening to find out that he only has 6 catches on the year for 81 yards. It is even more shocking to see that he has been targeted 19 times and only come down with 6 grabs. What happened here? With the new changes in the coaching staff things could swing Crabtree’s way over time, but this week? He will be lucky to see much of the ball as the Falcons physical front line and defensive backs up the pressure.
Stud: Dustin Keller
Ray Lewis certainly stirred something up in this young man because he has become a new player after Week 1. Keller has proven to have solid hands and has been great after the catch to finish plays. He is the integral part of the Jets offense because he forces the oppositions safties to stay home in coverage, which allows for the Jets receivers to remain in 1 on 1 coverage on the outside. After two straight big games where he has a combined 213 yards and 3 touchdowns he has simply been too good to leave on the bench of your fantasy team. Also, he is matched up against a struggling Bills secondary that has not been able to stop anyone in the slot so far this season.
Dud: Heath Miller
This is a pretty simple decision. The Ravens defense has been impressive all season long and the ageless Charlie Batch has only had one gam to prove his worth... against Tamp Bay, which is not exactly the greatest litmus test for an NFL quarterback. Needless to say the Steelers bring a lot more pressure off of the line and will be in Batch's face all day long. This could be a good thing for Miller as Batch will be forced to check down more and more often, but for some reason I just do not see that happening. Also, Heath Miller's production has been down from previous years, and even in the blowout win against TB last Sunday Miller only had 2 catches for 25 yards. Until Big Ben returns to the field it may be a good idea to leave Miller off your roster.