Through the first three weeks we have continued to watch the aerial attack of the new NFL offense. We have also watched the importance of the running back position almost disappear. Between injuries and pre-season top 20 busts, the first three weeks have left some us searching for answers.
Injuries are always a crucial part of a NFL season and for fantasy owners. Last week we saw major injuries open the door for backups to have impactful days, which included, Bilal Powell, Johnathan Franklin, Bernard Pierce, and Joique Bell to name a few.
Heading into Week 4, opportunity will be the key to many of our fantasy success. Pairing the right matchup with a player who will have the opportunity to succeed is now more crucial than ever at the RB position.
We don’t lose any major running backs to the bye week but here are some that are poised to breakout:
Darren McFadden, OAK vs WAS
What did we learn on Monday Night football? If Pryor can’t play, McFadden now has the chance to pick up a couple throwing touchdowns! When he is healthy, he has the potential to do great things for your fantasy team. Don’t let his stats against Denver scare you. Denver jumped out big early and Oakland quickly went to the air. He did however get a cheap TD at the end of the game and of course that beautiful passing touchdown.
This week McFadden gets the dream matchup against the worst defense in the league. The insertion of Terrelle Pryor has definitely increased his fantasy stock and if he stays healthy will provide great value moving forward. With 15 RBs ahead of him on FanDuel boards, he is a great play for all you single week fantasy players as well. (FanDuel price: $7,300)
Bilal Powell, NYJ vs TEN
Talk about the perfect storm. Bilal Powell already had a time share in New York, but when Chris Ivory was forced to leave the game last week, Powell went to work on Buffalo’s depleted defense. We now have word that Ivory may miss an extended period of time. Without Ivory to share the workload with, Powell gets his opportunity to keep the momentum going against Tennessee and there 19th ranked defense against the RB position. (FanDuel price: $4,700)
It’s hard to determine the true health of some players with conflicting injury reports that are constantly changing. But, two guys that I am keying on in my weekly FanDuel contests will be Isaiah Pead and Bernard Pierce. If they receive the full work load they both have good Week 4 matchups that could reward you at their price. Here is a little more:
Isaiah Pead, StL vs SF
*Editor’s note: In a surprising twist of coaches playing with injury reports, Isaiah Pead who practiced all week was just ruled inactive for the Thursday Night game vs the 49ers.
Through the first three weeks of the season, San Francisco has allowed the most points to the RB position. Last week Pead had six carries for 20 rushing yards and seven catches on seven targets for 43 receiving yards against the Cowboys. With his involvement in the passing game, tied for the lead among running back receptions last week, look for St. Louis to get him going in his second full game of action. (FanDuel price: $5,600)
*NOTE: Ray Rice practiced Wednesday – Keep an eye on the Baltimore Raven situation with Ray Rice. If his injury doesn’t respond well in practice and he in fact doesn’t play, Bernard Pierce could be a top 10 RB in Week 4. Current price on FanDuel is $6,800 and there are 20 RBs ahead of him, so I really like the value if there is no Rice.
Unlike the running back position, this week’s bye sends few good wide receivers to the bench and off your salary cap options. It is a good chance Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, or even Steve Smith and James Jones owners will need a replacement for Week 4.
Here are a few Wide Receivers that have a bright week ahead of them:
Torrey Smith, BAL vs BUF
Torrey Smith has quietly put together a very productive start to the season. However, for fantasy owners it has been a slight disappointment due to not scoring a touchdown yet. It is hard to overlook his major role in the offense though and according to Pro Football Focus, he leads all WRs in snap count and is 8th in targets.
With this much opportunity coming his way and the Buffalo Bills on deck in Week 4, look for Smith to continue his production and get into the end zone. Buffalo is allowing the third-most points to WRs and until their banged up secondary can get healthy, all opposing number one WRs should be considered. (FanDuel price: $7,000)
Donnie Avery, KC vs NYG
We all knew Andy Reid was going to bring positive change to Kansas City, and he has. Unfortunately, if you thought Bowe was going to benefit from this (I did) so far this season hasn’t gone your way. But, in light of that, Donnie Avery has emerged as a solid number two wide receiver for the Chiefs. According to CBS, receivers are averaging 25 Fantasy points per week against the Chiefs, which is the 13th-highest average in the NFL. Alex Smith is just not throwing a deep ball right now and Avery was the main beneficiary last week and will be again this week. (FanDuel price: $5,300)
Of Alex Smith’s 105 pass attempts so far, only eight have gone “deep” (15-plus yards). Not surprising.
— Dave Richard (@daverichard) September 24, 2013
Antonio Brown, PIT vs MIN
After last week I am not going out on a limb by saying roll with Antonio Brown. It is interesting what a little complaining about targets can do for a receiver’s production and seems to be a popular topic among today’s WRs. As the Steelers travel to London to take on Minnesota this week, it’s hard to imagine they would stop using Brown, especially after what we saw backup, Brian Hoyer, do on the road in Minnesota last week. Brown was most likely a mid-to-late round pick for you and could turn out to be a steal if the Steelers can’t find a run game throughout the season. (FanDuel price: $6,500)