2. Jay Cutler (CHI) – If you are still concerned with regard to Cutler’s poor week 1 fantasy performance, fear not, the worst appears to be behind him. In fact, Cutler has fared very well over the last two weeks and a week 4 match up against Detroit is extremely favorable. The Lions have allowed no less than 2 passing TD’s in each of there first 3 games while giving up an average of 279 passing yards per game. Look for Cutler to go to the air early and often, especially if Matt Forte continues to struggle with the ground game. He is a great starting option for fantasy rosters in week 4.
3. Drew Brees (NO) – Following a lackluster week 3 fantasy performance against the Bills, the thought of Brees facing a Jets defense that has already shut down the likes of Tom Brady and Matt Schaub doesn’t exactly breed the utmost confidence for week 4. That said, you should probably consider week 3 as more of the exception than the rule and Brees rarely falters at home or in consecutive weeks. Sure, there are much better match ups out there for lesser signal callers in week 4, but it is difficult to justify sitting Brees against anyone, a scary Jets defense included.
4. Tom Brady (NE) – In spite of what looks to be a tough and hard fought week 4 match up against the Ravens, Brady remains a must start fantasy option. The Baltimore pass defense is certainly formidable, but they have also shown signs of vulnerability. Especially in week 2 when they gave up 436 passing yards and 2 TD’s to San Diego QB Phillip Rivers. Hopefully, Wes Welker will be able to return this week which would be a huge boost in the short passing game against the blitz happy Ravens. The match up isn’t ideal, but you can not underestimate Brady at home. Besides, you would have to be insane and off your meds to bench Brady so long as he is healthy.
5. Matt Schaub (HOU) – He was far from golden against the Raiders in 2008 throwing for 255 yards, 0 TD’s and 1 interception, but the same could be said about Schaub’s shaky track record against the Titans coming into 2009 and he ripped them to shreds in week 2. This is a new year and a rejuvenated Matt Schaub. He has been arguably the best fantasy signal caller in the NFL over the last 2 weeks throwing for 657 yards and 7 TD’s and the return of a healthy Kevin Walter only boosts his chances for success. The Raiders do have shut down CB Nnamdi Asomugha to deal with Andre Johnson, but all in all, the Oakland pass defense is mediocre at best and Schaub has plenty of capable weapons to choose from.
6. Phillip Rivers (SD) – While Rivers suffered his most disappointing fantasy effort of 2008 against Pittsburgh, throwing for just 164 yards, 0 TD’s and 2 interceptions, it is fairly safe to say that the circumstances are different this time around. For starters, the Steelers pass defense is looking shaky in comparison to last season, especially with star safety Troy Polamalu out of the line up. On top of that, RB LaDainian Tomlinson is still on the mend and Darren Sproles has struggled in the running game in his stead. In our opinion, the Chargers will have little choice but to turn to Rivers and a pass heavy approach in this match up. This isn’t necessarily a failsafe recipe for success playing on the road in Pittsburgh, but Rivers is throwing the ball well and we like his chances under the circumstances.
7. Eli Manning (NYG) – The odds are certainly in Manning’s favor to continue his run of success in a promising week 4 match up against Kansas City’s 20th ranked pass defense. That said, Manning’s fantasy potential may be limited to some degree if the Giants jump out to a sizeable lead and quickly turn to their potent running attack. At the very least, this match up is extremely safe and he should have a productive week 4.
8. Carson Palmer (CIN) – He is looking at one of better week 4 match ups against Cleveland and he should be solid, but we are not overly enthusiastic about his chances for a monster fantasy effort. While a big performance isn’t out of the realm of possibilities, we expect the Bengals to lean heavily on the running game in this one, which could limit his fantasy potential to some extent. Cleveland has been terrible against the run and Bengals RB Cedric Benson has been on fire as of late. The match up is right and quite safe, but it just seems logical that there could be little need for his services in the second half.
9. Joe Flacco (BAL) – Flacco continues to quietly climb his way up the rankings putting together week after week of consistently solid production. He will face his toughest test to date against a quality New England pass defense in week 4. While he will likely have his work cut out for him, this game could turn into a shootout in which case Flacco’s fantasy numbers would benefit greatly.
10. Brett Favre (MIN) – He certainly makes for a tough read heading into his big week 4 showdown with the Packers, but we like his chances. After last week’s magnificent game winning performance, the old man showed that he’s still got it, and his fantasy numbers have steadily improved each week as he grows more comfortable with this offense and his supporting cast. There will be plenty of emotion in this game and rest assured that a fairly solid Green Bay defense will be coming at him hard, but Favre is a poised veteran and we think that gives him the edge. Well, that and the revenge factor. He should make for a solid, but somewhat risky fantasy play in week 4. Check injury report: foot
11. Tony Romo (DAL) – At the beginning of the 2009 season no one would have guessed that the tables would be so skewed for Romo heading into what should have been an extremely favorable match up against Denver. Unfortunately, that is where we stand. Romo has been terrible that last two weeks and the Broncos defense is surprisingly playing lights out football. That said, don’t count Romo out just yet. With the exception of maybe the Bengals, the Broncos have yet to face a passing attack as capable as the Cowboys.
12. Aaron Rodgers (GB) – As expected, Rodgers finally lived up to his billing with a 3 TD performance in week 3 against the Rams. Unfortunately, things are a bit more complicated and the stakes are much higher heading into a huge showdown against a tough Vikings defense. As much as we like Rodgers and realize his potential to play well in this game, we also have our reservations. For starters, the Vikings pass defense ranks as one of the best in the NFL allowing a meager 167 yards per game. Secondly, Minnesota also possesses one of the better pass rushes in the NFL with DE Jared Allen and the Packers offensive line has clearly been lacking in pass protection (Rodgers has been sacked a league worst 12 times). And last but not least, Rodgers was not exactly stellar in either of the 2 games in which he faced the Vikings in 2008. He threw for less than 200 yards in both games and he did not even have a TD against them in the game at Minnesota. We wouldn’t necessarily bet against him, but emotions will be running high on both sidelines and Rodgers will have to overcome plenty of obstacles to find major success in this match up.
13. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – He has managed to find his opponents more than the end zone through the air so far this season and while he has found pay dirt on the ground the last 2 weeks, you can’t possibly expect that to continue. That said, it is difficult to argue with 3 solid weeks of fantasy production. In week 4, Big Ben will face a much improved San Diego pass defense that is giving up just under 180 yards per game through the air. Roethlisberger is a solid QB and he will likely be forced to throw early and often, but this match up will not be a cake walk. While he did throw for 308 yards against them in 2008, he did not have a TD in that game. Consider him a low end QB1 for week 4.
14. David Garrard (JAC) – He may not be on a hot streak and he certainly doesn’t have the best track record against the Titans, but we are still optimistic about his chances in week 4. The Tennessee pass defense has been terrible through their first 3 games and they may be without their shutdown CB Cortland Finnegan who is nursing a bad hamstring. In addition, we also like that Garrard finally has a big play receiver in Mike Sims-Walker to go to. The Titans will be hungry trying to avoid an 0-4 start, but Garrard looks like he could be a fairly solid fantasy option this week.
15. Jason Campbell (WAS) – Well, he actually came through in week 3 and he is looking at yet another favorable match up in week 4. Tampa Bay is giving up an average of 245 yards per game through the air and they have allowed no fewer than 2 TD passes from any QB they have faced so far this season. Campbell isn’t the easiest guy to trust and you probably shouldn’t bench your normal starter in favor of him, but he makes for an ideal bye week replacement given the match up.
16. Kyle Orton (DEN) – He has been quietly efficient so far this season, but a week 4 match up against Dallas could turn into a shootout and he may have no choice but to abandon his conservative style. This isn’t a bad thing in terms of fantasy potential as the Cowboys rank just 27th in the NFL against the pass. Orton may finally throw his first interception of the season or maybe even two, but he should also increase his yardage and TD potential with this match up.
17. Shaun Hill (SF) – Considering that he is averaging a meager 182 passing yards per game and only has 3 TD’s on the season you probably can’t expect him to put you over the top in week 4, even against St. Louis. The good news is that he certainly can’t hurt you either and he did manage to throw 4 TD passes in two games against the Rams last season. In addition, the 49ers may have to lean more heavily on the passing attack this week with Frank Gore out. He is definitely worth a look as a bye week replacement.
18. Kerry Collins (TEN) – The last time Collins faced the Jaguars, he threw for 230 yards and 3 TD’s. Even better, the 2009 Jaguars currently rank dead last in the NFL in pass defense. We realize that Collins isn’t the safest fantasy QB against anyone, but this match up obviously bodes well.
19. Mark Sanchez (NYJ) – As a rookie QB, Sanchez is obviously going to be conservative most of the time and that is never appealing in terms of fantasy success, but he is also proving to be a very good signal caller in the red zone and that is very appealing. We aren’t expecting a repeat of last week’s 3 TD effort, but Sanchez should play decently against a suspect Saints secondary and red zone opportunities should be available. Unfortunately, you can probably expect some rookie mistakes as well, especially on the road.
20. Trent Edwards (BUF) – Whether it’s shaky pass protection or Edwards’ lack of trust in himself, he continues to find a way to ignore two of the best WR’s in the NFL on a weekly basis. Until he can find a way to get the ball to T.O. and Lee Evans, he is not likely to have much success. He was able to get by with the short passing game the first 2 weeks, but as he found out in week 3 that isn’t always going to save him. In spite of a semi-favorable week 4 match up against Miami, he is not highly recommended.
21. Kyle Boller (STL) – He looked surprisingly sharp in relief of Mark Bulger last week, but Boller has a list of fantasy disappointments a mile long and he has very little to work with in the Rams offense.
22. Seneca Wallace (SEA) – He isn’t a terrible QB, he just isn’t a great fantasy QB and a week 4 match up at Indianapolis does not bode especially well.
23. Matt Cassel (KC) – He should make progress, but he is not quite ready for fantasy service, especially against the Giants top ranked pass defense.
24. Matt Stafford (DET) – He is showing improvement, but he has a way to go to become a serviceable fantasy option.
25. Chad Henne (MIA) – He did not look at all comfortable in the Miami offense last week, so you probably can’t expect much from him in week 4 against a Bills defense that prevented Drew Brees from throwing a single TD pass in week 3.