Most teams have good starters, but it is the depth that separates the winners and losers
It’s not that difficult to draft in the first 6-7 rounds because the rankings are pretty standard in all the fantasy games. Where leagues are won and lost is more often in the depth that a team has when bye weeks and injuries occur during the season. Week 4 marks the start of the byes, and the Panthers and Packers are the first two teams to test fantasy rosters this season.
Both teams have fantasy starters on them, but the Packers are by far the more notable of the two because their players were drafted higher and hold more importance to their owner’s roster. It’s hard to not miss Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jermichael Finley, and whatever running back you decided to go with from their 3-headed monster of a backfield. QB and WR is where it hurts with the Packers; RB is more depth than true fantasy starters, and Finley should have been handcuffed with an equally talented TE because he has been a disappointment the last few seasons.
The Panthers also have some fantasy weapons, but the list is far shorter. Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith, that’s the whole list. Newton is the only top 10 player at his position, meaning most owners have Williams and Smith as depth for their team. The loss this week’s stings, but it doesn’t hurt like the Packers players do.
Let’s go through some waiver wire additions you might want to look at if you need help in week 4.
Ryan Tannehill – QB Dolphins: Owned in just 4.7 percent of NFL.com leagues, and 17 percent of Yahoo leagues, Tannehill actually sports the 9th best completion percentage in the NFL through three weeks at 66.4 percent. His 827 passing yards rank him 12th, his 275.7 passing YPG is 13th, and his 94.3 QB Rating is again 9th in the league. The Saints defense allows just 184.3 passing YPG so far in 2013, but I expect that number to change this weekend. I’d put Tannehill in the QB2 discussion should you need one this weekend.
Jake Locker – QB Titans: Locker has good arm strength and the legs to run when the pocket breaks down, but what he lacks are consistent WRs to throw to. Despite that, Locker is actually sitting in the #16 spot right now in total QB points in NFL.com standard scoring leagues, ahead of guys like Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick. He is a dicey play and should only be considered in the right match-up, and his late-season schedule is amazing with the Jaguars in weeks 10 and 16 (fantasy Super Bowl), Colts in weeks 11 and 13, and the Raiders in week 12. Fantasy football is chess folks, not checkers!
Brandon Bolden – RB Patriots: The Patriots have been a mess from top to bottom, with the exception being Julian Edelman. Shane Vereen went down until week 11 minimum; Rob Gronkowski has yet to play a snap this season (week 4 looks like it will happen for him); Danny Amendola went down with an injury as soon as he stepped on the field; and Aaron Hernandez… let’s just say he didn’t help the situation at all. Bolden looks like he is about to pick up where Vereen left off as the passing down back, and that makes him a prime waiver wire candidate in PPR leagues this week. His 100 yards of total offense put him in the low-end RB2 rankings on NFL.com last week, and I could see similar numbers going forward as he gets used to Brady and the in-game offense.
Bilal Powell – RB Jets: Powell always seems to pop up when people e-mail me and ask about waiver wire pick-ups for the week. He’s owned in just 8.4 percent of NFL.com leagues right now, yet ranks 11th in standard scoring formats with 35.20 fantasy points (FP) this season. Chris Ivory went down with a hamstring injury in week 3, and Powell stepped in and finished with 29 touches for 158 total yards. The problem with Powell is his peak was probably hit in week 3, so understand what you are buying when you go get him off the waiver wire. The upside here is that Ivory is expected to miss time as the injury is on the same leg his pulled his hamstring on the first day of training camp. I have him as a low-end RB2/high-end flex play this week.
Le’Veon Bell – RB Steelers: Bell is owned in 40.4 percent of NFL.com leagues and is due to make his regular season debut for the Steelers this week against the Vikings. After last week’s embarrassing offensive performance by the Steelers, Bell should step right into the starting role and see enough touches to be worth playing right out of the gate.
Ryan Broyles – WR Lions: Broyles was someone I was high on entering the fantasy drafts as a sleeper pick at WR, but injuries delayed his fantasy worthiness. But, on Tuesday morning WR Nate Burleson broke his arm in two places and that opened the door for Broyles to increase his workload within the Lions pass-heavy offense. Broyles is slated to be the team’s primary slot receiver going forward, meaning his ownership is about to spike. The Lions have the Bears in week 4, so you’re going to have to wait a week to play him once you add him.
Heath Miller – TE Steelers: Miller is hoping to have his snap count restriction cut this week against the Vikings, and the Steelers need him as much as he need them after opening the season 0-3. As far as TEs go, Miller is more in the TE2 range most weeks. But, this week he could be a sleeper play with the Vikings allowing 17.5 PPG to TEs in fantasy football, 2nd worst in the NFL. Miller’s owned in 16.4 percent of NFL.com leagues, so chances are he is available in yours right now.
Charles Clay – TE Dolphins: Clay is underrated at the TE spot because he doesn’t have the name to go along with the production. Clay is actually ranked 9th in NFL.com standard scoring leagues with 26.40 FP, ahead of guys like Brandon Myers, Tony Gonzalez, and hot waiver wire pick-up, Colby Fleener. Clay actually leads the Dolphins in yards after catch with 95, and has 19 targets, which is just two behind Mike Wallace and one behind Brandon Gibson. Clay is a sneaky play if you got stuck in that Zach Sudfield or Brandon Pettigrew Ponzi scheme on draft day.
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