Fantasy Football: Week 4 Preview

Posted Sep 28, 2012

Houston QB Matt Schaub could have a big day against Tennessee this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Week 4 marks the start of the biggest annoyance in all of fantasy football -- the bye weeks.

Some will argue that navigating the bye weeks is the true test of a fantasy owner. After all, anyone can draft a bunch of good starters, but building depth is more impressive.

That's one way to look at it. Another way is that bye weeks lead to even more randomness and fluky matchups in what is already a fluky game. Sure, everyone has to go through the bye weeks, but not everyone is affected the same way each week. The "it all evens out" argument only goes so far when you're scrambling to fill your RB2 spot because of byes and injuries.

Fortunately, there are only two teams on bye this week (Steelers and Colts), so you should be able to survive. But things get tougher next week with Dallas, Detroit, Tampa and Oakland idle.

For now, we'll focus on this week's slate of games. Here are some key numbers to know about every contest, plus a stud, sleeper, stumbler or injury concern to watch out for with a brief explanation why. Note that the "studs" are guys who are either better than most owners realize or established stars who owners might be foolishly thinking about sitting.

Seahawks at Rams

Stat to know: The Seahawks have the worst passing offense in the league, averaging just 144.7 yards per game. They're the only team whose rushing offense (141.3) is within 15 yards of its passing offense. Expect plenty of Marshawn Lynch in this one. Russell Wilson, Golden Tate and Sidney Rice should be planted firmly on fantasy benches.

Sleeper: K Greg Zuerlein (Multiple FG attempts every game; 5-of-5 from 40-plus yards).

Patriots at Bills

Stat to know: With both C.J. Spiller (shoulder) and Fred Jackson (knee) possibly out, Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to produce like he did last season against New England. In two games against the Pats, he averaged 338 passing yards and two TDs. That came with six total INTs, but Fitzpatrick is still a legit sleeper this week even if Jackson plays as expected.

Sleeper: RB Stevan Ridley (Bills allowing 128.3 total yards per game to RBs).

49ers at Jets

Stat to know: The Jets have allowed a rushing touchdown in every game this year and are giving up an average of 142 yards per game on the ground. Don't be afraid to start Frank Gore in this matchup.

Stumbler: RB Shonn Greene (averaging just 2.8 yards per carry; 49ers allowing just 3.4 ypc).

Panthers at Falcons

Stat to know: In eight career games against the Panthers, Michael Turner has scored 11 TDs and is averaging just under 98 rushing yards. He clearly hasn't been as good this year, but with TDs in each of the past two games, Turner should be in your lineups this week.

Stumbler: TE Greg Olsen (Falcons allowing just 5.6 fantasy points per game to TEs).

Vikings at Lions

Stat to know: Christian Ponder is one of just two quarterbacks completing over 70 percent of his passes this year. That might not be enough reason to start him against Detroit's weak secondary, but it's good news for Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson and Kyle Rudolph.

Injury: QB Matthew Stafford, hip (Expected to play, but Shaun Hill is a capable replacement).

Chargers at Chiefs

Stat to know: The majority of Dwayne Bowe's production has come in garbage time this year, but he's still tied for the league lead in targets (37). Even in a relatively tough matchup and playing with a turnover-prone QB, Bowe is a solid starting option.

Stud: QB Philip Rivers (Chiefs allowing 28.8 FPPG to QBs, third most).

Titans at Texans

Stat to know: Houston ranks third in points allowed (14), second in yards allowed (255.7) and top 10 in both sacks (9) and takeaways (6). They're a must-start D/ST against the Titans, who don't have any must-starts in this tough matchup.

Sleeper: QB Matt Schaub (Titans allowing the most FPPG to QBs).

Dolphins at Cardinals

Stat to know: Ryan Williams should get the bulk of the carries with Beanie Wells out until late November due to turf toe. However, this isn't a great matchup for Williams, as the Dolphins rank third against the run (66.3 yards allowed per game).

Injury: RB Reggie Bush, knee (Hoping to play; will be a late game-time decision).

Bengals at Jaguars

Stat to know: The Jaguars and Bengals rank 30th and 31st, respectively, in run defense this year, so expect plenty of Maurice Jones-Drew and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Stumbler: TE Jermaine Gresham (Jaguars allowing just 5.5 FPPG to TEs).

Raiders at Broncos

Stat to know: Oakland and Denver both rank in the top six in FPPG allowed to QBs, and they both rank in the top 11 in pass attempts per game. Carson Palmer and Denarius Moore make nice sleepers this week, and all of the key players in Denver's passing attack should be started.

Injury: RB Willis McGahee, ribs (Expected to play; could be limited).

Redskins at Buccaneers

Stat to know: Tampa has the top run defense in terms of yards per carry (2.3) and yards per game (47.3). Alfred Morris should approach or surpass 20 touches this week, but he's still a low-upside RB2 in this matchup.

Sleeper: WR Mike Williams (Redskins allowing the most FPPG to WRs).

Saints at Packers

Stat to know: The Saints are allowing the fewest FPPG to TEs (3.2), but they've only had 12 passes thrown to tight ends against them. The Packers use Jermichael Finley as a glorified wide receiver, and with seven targets per game, he's still a safe starting option.

Sleeper: RB Cedric Benson (Saints allowing the most FPPG to RBs).

Giants at Eagles

Stat to know: Expect a big week from K Lawrence Tynes and the Giants' D/ST. Philadelphia is allowing the most FPPG to defenses (15) and the fifth-most FPPG to kickers (11.3).

Injuries: WR Jeremy Maclin, hip and RB Ahmad Bradshaw, neck (Both expected to play).

Bears at Cowboys

Stat to know: The Cowboys are allowing a league-low 9.6 FPPG to WRs, and the Bears are allowing a league-low 9.0 FPPG to QBs. This doesn't necessarily mean you should bench both teams' quarterbacks and receivers, but guys like Jay Cutler and Dez Bryant are much riskier plays.

Injury: RB Matt Forte, ankle (Hoping to play; will likely split time with Michael Bush).

Matt Lutovsky is a fantasy football writer for Sporting News' Fantasy Source. You can read more of his work on the Fantasy Source football homepage at