You don’t need me advising you to start Peyton Manning and Chris Johnson, or to bench JaMarcus Russell and David Clowney. So I’ll leave the obvious recommendations to the network bozos and focus instead on the players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 4.
Watch ‘em roll
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings vs. Packers. It seems inconceivable to me that the Vikings won’t allow Favre to do his thing in the Monday night grudge match with the Packers, especially after his solid performance against the 49ers (301 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT). He may force some throws and get a couple picked off, but you can bet he’ll pile up the yards and find the end zone twice or more, too. Don’t forget, even Kyle Boller notched two TDs against Green Bay last week.
Glen Coffee, RB, 49ers vs. Rams. Everybody runs roughshod over the Rams. Why should the talented rookie be any different? While Frank Gore is sidelined, Coffee will get the majority of the carries, including at the goal-line, which the 49ers figure to visit frequently.
Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks at Colts. Indy’s run defense is among the league’s weakest, and its pass rush took a major hit with the loss of Dwight Freeney. Jones has been surprisingly effective thus far as a rusher, and he’s scored twice as a receiver as well. Most important, even if Seattle trails early, Jones will remain in the game.
Kevin Walter, WR, Texans vs. Raiders. Not only was he targeted as many times (seven) as Andre Johnson in his ’09 debut, he posted better stats than Houston’s top wideout. Walter is fully healthy again, and he should find plenty of room to roam Sunday while Oakland’s secondary double-teams his counterpart.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns vs. Bengals. He has scored five touchdowns in his last four games against Cincinnati, all thrown by Derek Anderson, who will start again Sunday. Cleveland will likely be playing catch-up in this game, meaning plenty of downfield heaves by Anderson to his favorite weapon.
More thumbs up: QBs Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning; RBs Matt Forte, Cedric Benson, Steve Slaton, Tashard Choice, Knowshon Moreno; WRs Chad Ochocinco, Devin Hester, Torry Holt, Mario Manningham.
Roll ‘em back
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots vs. Ravens. I know you’re wondering if Brady can rack up points against such a stingy defense. Normally I would tell you not to worry; but right now, I can’t. Brady is clearly struggling (one TD in the last two games), and there’s little reason to think he’ll turn it around against Baltimore. Reserve him if you have a safer option.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams at 49ers. He’s coming off two consecutive 100-yard games, but he still hasn’t crossed the goal-line this season. San Francisco’s rush defense is the NFL’s fourth-toughest, and it held Adrian Peterson under 100 yards without a TD last week. For what it’s worth, Jackson hasn’t scored against the 49ers since 2006.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills at Dolphins. He returns from suspension to a full-fledged backfield rotation with Fred Jackson, who has performed admirably in his stead. Miami’s run defense is stout, so don’t rush Lynch into your starting lineup just yet.
Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos vs. Cowboys. His best production of the season came in Week 2 when he amassed a whopping 20 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Brandon Marshall has gotten back into the groove while both Brandon Stokley and Jabar Gaffney have out-performed last year’s rookie sensation. Another week or two of this and Royal will be waiver fodder.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Seahawks at Colts. He has yet to crack the end zone this season, and that streak isn’t likely to end against the tough Indy secondary. With Seneca Wallace under center, Seattle’s passing attack is just so-so.
More thumbs down: QBs Joe Flacco, Matt Cassel; RBs Larry Johnson, Fred Taylor, Thomas Jones, Ryan Grant; WRs Calvin Johnson, Roy Williams, Devery Henderson, Dwayne Bowe.
TAKING A FLIER
Jason Campbell, QB, Redskins vs. Buccaneers. Though he was the losing quarterback in the Week 3 matchup with the Lions, Campbell’s 340-yard, 2-TD, 1-INT performance was more than respectable. Washington could easily lose to the woeful Bucs too, but Campbell will likely find statistical success against their awful defense.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…forgets to account for his bye-week players. The Falcons, Cardinals, Eagles and Panthers are all resting in Week 4. Make sure you have enough warm bodies to fill in your starting lineup.