Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $250,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 4. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.
One of the keys to success in fantasy football is identifying trends. A lot of times it may seem like reading the tealeaves, but the NFL does give us clues that will help us get ahead of the curve.
Entering last week, the Giants had given up double-digit fantasy points in each of their first two games. Many chalked this up as a fluke. In the NFL, one game can be a fluke, but two is a trend. Still, it seemed crazy to start a banged up Panthers team against the Giants in Week 3.
Fast-forward to Sunday afternoon, and Carolina had officially laid the smack down on the Giants, shutting them out and posting seven sacks and three takeaways.
The moral here is simple. If the league is trying to tell you something, don’t be afraid to listen. Getting out ahead of the curve is often what separates the champs from the chumps at the end of the season.
Let’s check out what the tealeaves have to say about Week 4.
The Usual Suspects
Teams you’re not even thinking about benching this week include – Seattle (at Houston) and Cincinnati (at Cleveland).
Your solid fantasy defenses with a weekly matchup upgrade. They're just below the Usual Suspects tier.
1. Kansas City (vs. NY Giants) – As shocking as it is, the Chiefs are fantasy’s No. 1 defensive unit through the first three weeks of the season. Kansas City currently leads the AFC with nine takeaways. That’s just four less than they had all of last season. This week they get a disaster of a Giants team that currently yields the most fantasy points per game to opposing defense. The Chiefs are my top fantasy defense this week.
2. Denver (vs. Philadelphia) – The Broncos aren’t quite the “usual suspect” they were last season, but we should see some fireworks in this one. Philadelphia has turned the ball over seven times this season and has yielded two touchdowns to opposing defenses. Denver is a must start this week.
3. Arizona (at Tampa Bay) – On WednesdayTampa announced Mike Glennon as the starting quarterback going forward. That’s music to your ears if you own the Cardinals defense. While Arizona has struggled to put up fantasy points so far this season, look for them to have a field day against Glennon, who graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 86 quarterback for the preseason.
San Francisco (at St Louis) will be without Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith, but you can still get away with using them against a Rams team that gives up the tenth most fantasy points per game to team defenses this season. Dallas (at San Diego) is a borderline usual suspect as the Cowboys are currently fantasy’s No. 3 unit. Cleveland (vs. Cincinnati) is a top 10 fantasy defense facing a Bengals team that has given the ball away seven times already this season. New Orleans (vs. Miami) has yielded less than 20 points in each of their three games this season and surprisingly rank as the No. 9 fantasy defense.
You don't want to rely on these D/STs on a weekly basis, but their matchup is too juicy to pass up.
1. Indianapolis (at Jacksonville) – Despite missing LaRon Landry and Pat Angerer, the Colts beat down San Francisco on the road last week. This unit might be a little bit better than we thought (or may the 49ers are worse than we thought). This week, the Colts are the beneficiaries of the anemic Jags offense. Indy is a top 10 fantasy defense in Week 3.
2. Minnesota (vs. Pittsburgh) – Only the Giants give up more fantasy points per game than the Steelers do to opposing fantasy defenses this season. Pittsburgh has turned the ball over nine times and yielded double-digit fantasy points in each of their first three contests. The up and down Vikings can’t be trusted on an every-week basis, but they have the upside to make it worth the risk against the shaky Steelers this week.
3. Pittsburgh (at Minnesota) – It’s almost just as good on the other side of this matchup, as the Vikings have also given up double-digit fantasy points in all three games this season and currently yield the fifth most fantasy points per game to opposing fantasy defenses. Pittsburgh has been uninspiring at best in 2013, so this play is not for the faint of heart.
Middle of the Road
While I’m not crazy about these plays, you can get away with starting Tennessee (vs. NY Jets), Baltimore (at Buffalo), Tampa Bay (vs. Arizona), NY Jets (at Tennessee), and St. Louis (vs. San Francisco). I’d lean towards not starting Detroit (vs. Chicago), Atlanta (vs. New England), Buffalo (vs. Baltimore), and Miami (at New Orleans),
They shouldn't be dropped, but a tough matchup limits the fantasy upside of these units.
1. New England (vs. Atlanta) – The Patriots currently sit as the No. 6 fantasy defense, but they get a tough matchup against a Falcons team that has given up just 10 fantasy points to opposing defenses on the season. Atlanta in the Georgia Dome is a tall task for New England, so it’s a good idea to pursue other options this week.
2. Houston (vs. Seattle) – Houston has been a bit of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde defense this season. They’ve given up the second least yards per game, yet the ninth most points per game. I think they ultimately straighten things out, but this isn’t the week where that happens.
3. Chicago (vs. Detroit) – Don’t get me wrong here. If you own the Bears, you’re going to start them. However, the Lions are currently tied with the Colts for the second least fantasy points yielded to defenses on a per game basis. Temper your expectations for the Bears, and don’t freak out if it ends up being a subpar fantasy day.
Bottom of the Barrel
Jacksonville (vs. Indianapolis) should remain in free agency until further notice. Philadelphia (at Denver) faces a Broncos team that has given up a total of negative 14 fantasy points so far this season. San Diego (vs. Dallas) gets the fourth toughest matchup for fantasy defenses in 2013. Oakland (vs. Washington) and Washington (at Oakland) are not only poor fantasy options, but they also have been bad matchups for fantasy defenses this season. Don’t get cute with either. I’d also recommend avoiding the NY Giants (at Kansas City). These are two teams moving in opposite directions, and the Giants currently sit as the No. 31 fantasy defense.
Can I Kick it?
Here are my top 12 kickers for Week 4:
1. Dan Bailey (at SD)
2. Matt Prater (vs. PHI)
3. Stephen Gostkowski (at ATL)
4. Matt Bryant (vs. NE)
5. Garrett Hartley (vs. MIA)
6. Greg Zuerlein (vs. SF)
7. Blair Walsh (vs. PIT)
8. Sebastian Janikowski (vs. WAS)
9. Justin Tucker (at BUF)
10. Phil Dawson (at STL)
11. Steven Hauschka (at HOU)
12. Alex Henery (at DEN)
D/ST Standard Scoring System
0 points allowed
Under 100 yards allowed
1-6 points allowed
101 to 199 yards allowed
7-13 points allowed
200 to 299 yards allowed
14-17 points allowed
300 to 349 yards allowed
18-27 points allowed
350 to 399 yards allowed
28-34 points allowed
400 to 449 yards allowed
35-45 points allowed
450 to 499 yards allowed
46+ points allowed
500- 549 yards allowed
550+ yards allowed