Friday, October 2, 2009

Week 4 Starters & Benchwarmers

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.


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.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Ladd, with the way Pierre Thomas bounced back and with how awesome the Saints O is, should I be starting him without reluctance against a tough Jets D this week? They seem to be good against the run and pass but better vs. the pass. Help me with the following question.

    I'm starting Calvin Johnson regardless so
    help me choose 4 of the following as my other starters at RB/WR (no position restrictions so pick the 4 best):
    McGahee (at NE), Thomas (vs NYJ), Coffee (vs STL), Cotchery (at NO), Driver (at MIN), Walter (OAK).

    I know this depth is a good problem to have, but I always seem to make the wrong calls.

  3. Should I start Tashard Choice or Ryan Grant?

  4. should go with Grant. Its tough against the Vikings D, but he'll have all the chances. I guess Barber will be playing and i'm not so sure about F Jones.

  5. Ladd:

    Finally broke into the win column last week even though I started TO and had both Fast Willie and B. Marshall on the bench.

    Can you spare a moment for some lineup advice?

    I am in a PPR league that has to play 1 RB, 3 WRs and 1 Flex (RB/TE/WR). We also get 1 point for every rushing and receiving 1st down.

    Here are my choices:

    RB-- Forte, Coffee (snagged him this week before Gore's owner could get him), Fast Willie, Felix (out with injury).

    WR-- Megatron, TO, Driver, Marshall

    I usually start 3 WRs because of the PPR, but I am toying with Coffee (your start em sit em supports this as well). Will they throw the ball to him as well?

    Do I really sit Megatron in a PPR league? Doesn't he have to explode one of these days?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.


  6. Should I start Marion Barber or Ray Rice?

  7. Answering Black n Gold first:

    I'd go with the 3 RBs + Walter. As you suggest, all 6 of your guys are pretty strong, so it's a tough call, but that's what I'd do.

    FYI, I am benching Pierre in one league only because my other options are so good: Chris Johnson and Cedric. Otherwise, I would put him in vs. the Jets and hope for the best!

    Good luck!

  8. Snapper,

    I agree with Mike. Go with Grant, unless Barber is a late scratch (which I don't expect). Minnesota's run D isn't as stifling as previous years.

  9. Pazhorn,

    You have to start both Forte and Coffee. You said you can start 3 WRs, and any of those 4 should be good. I'd waiver between benching Megatron and TO, and probably take my chances with TO having a nice bounce-back against Miami. (FYI, I'm sitting Megatron in one league in favor of Jennings, Manningham and Walter. Hard to do -- benching Percy too -- but I think I have to.)

    Good luck!

  10. Gax2801,

    I'd go with Barber (assuming he starts).

    Good luck!

  11. First let me lead with a comment on your "Real Men of Genius" article. Absolutely hilarious, I have to admit, I almost forgot why I came to the site in the first place, you were truly the Man of Genius. Keep those coming, because, well it was just pure entertainment...

    Due to bye's and injuries I am a bit limited with my WR's:

    Roddy White - bye & not producing
    DeWayne Bowe - status unknown, but looking bleak
    Roy Williams - you know the story

    I added Mike Sims-Walker & plan to start him.

    Johnny Knox is available, but I would have to do a roster move to add him.

    I am in pretty good shape @ RB, but can't get any takers from my league, so of the following

    Adrian Peterson -MN
    Brandon Jacobs
    Pierre Thomas - Flex

    Ryan Grant - Bench
    Tashard Choice - Bench

    If you were me, who would you play @ WR & should I play Choice over Thomas?

    Thanks for your time.

  12. bkey2424,

    Thanks for the compliments. Glad you like the article. I enjoyed writing it.

    First, I'd go with Pierre over Choice, unless Barber sits out (which I don't expect).

    Your WRs are a bit of a mess, to be sure, but I don't think Knox fixes it. Can't say he's worth picking up over one of your current guys. So assuming you need 3 WRs, I'd go with Bowe (who appears on track to play), Roy and Sims-Walker and hope for the best.

    Good luck!

  13. I started frequenting your blog a couple of weeks ago, and I find your articles to be both helpful and interesting.

    I have a quick question, if you don't mind. I have to play two of the following: Ronnie Brown, Thomas Jones, Julius Jones. Who would you recommend keeping on the bench this week? Thanks!

  14. Daniel,

    I'd go with Ronnie and Julius this week. TJ should be OK too, but he hasn't done well since Week 1, so might as well stick with the guys who are producing (and also have good matchups).

    Good luck

  15. Thanks for the advice, Ladd. Much appreciated!

  16. Hey Ladd. Which Steeler RB do you like better with Parker being Doubtful for Sunday Night's contest with the San Diego Super Chargers? Mendenhall has been getting all the love but last year, it was Mewelde Moore who stepped in admirably. Which one do you start?

  17. Hey Ladd. Playa again. Regarding Moore and Mendenhall... it is a PPR league.

  18. Playa,

    I would have said Mewelde anyway, but knowing it's a PPR league makes that decision even easier. Mewelde is the superior receiver of the two, and I believe he's earned the confidence of his coaches, whereas Rashard has done the opposite. In a game the Steelers have to win (lest they start out 1-3), you have to think they'll go with the guy who has produced every time they've asked him to. And Mewelde came through with flying colors last year.

    Good luck!

  19. I posted a comment a few days ago regarding my lack of RB's this weekend. We came to the conclusion that Buckhalter or Maurice Morris were the guys to go with but now with Parker out and Kevin Smith probably in, is Mewelde Moore a better option? Also, if you had to start 3 of these 4 WR's this week, R.Moss, Kevin Walter, S. Moss, or Hester, who would they be? As always, thank you for the advice and updates. Good luck this weekend!

  20. rjfrank445,

    Yes, I like Mewelde over Buckhalter and Morris at this point. I'm rolling with him in one league since Willie is sidelined.

    As for the WRs, I'd sit S Moss.

    Good luck to you too!