The moment every fantasy football owner dreads — the first NFL bye week — is upon us.
You’ve finally perfected your lineup after three weeks of meticulous tinkering, but now you find yourself staring at a roster projected for 50 fewer points since you drafted half of the Denver Broncos’ offense.
If this is the case, you’d do well to take some advice from Green Bay Packers quarterback (and struggling fantasy performer) Aaron Rodgers: Relax. If you’re a savvy owner, you likely have several backup players capable of filling in, and most teams in your league are struggling to find bye-week replacements, too.
Last season’s Super Bowl opponents both have the week off, but there still are some juicy matchups that you should take advantage of, as well as some red flags you’d do well to heed.
Let’s look at who’s hot and who’s not heading into Week 4.
Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions: Zero. That’s how many touchdowns Bush has scored against the New York Jets in four career games against them. He’s also never rushed for more than 71 yards against Gang Green, and the Jets have the NFL’s best run defense through Week 3. Did we mention that Bush has fewer touches than Joique Bell this season?
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: Newton is banged up, and so are his offensive weapons. Kelvin Benjamin is virtually Carolina’s only threat on offense right now, and the Baltimore Ravens have allowed just two passing touchdowns through three games this season. If you have Newton, you might want to look elsewhere.
Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens: There’s a new Smith atop the wide receiver depth chart in Baltimore, and his first name isn’t Torrey. Steve Smith has quickly emerged as Joe Flacco’s favorite target, causing a shocking drop in Torrey’s performance to date. The Ravens face a stout defense in the Panthers, but at this point, it’s hard to trust Torrey against anybody.
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys: It’s hard to sit Witten here, as he’s usually a top-10 tight end. Notice how we said “usually.” The veteran just hasn’t been a big part of the offense this year, and the New Orleans Saints have been stout against tight ends in each of their first three games. While you might not have a better option, don’t expect the solid numbers we’re accustomed to seeing.
Donald Brown, RB, San Diego Chargers: This should be a no-brainer. Brown received a huge workload (31 carries) with Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead on the shelf last weekend, and the Chargers are taking on the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 4. There will be plenty of fantasy points to go around here, and Brown should get the bulk of them.
Steve Smith, WR, Ravens: See above. See also: DeSean Jackson against the Philadelphia Eagles last week. Smith is facing off against the team that let him go last season, and we all know he plays with a massive chip on his shoulder. If you don’t think he’ll try to play the best game of his life this weekend, you don’t know Steve Smith.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins: With Knowshon Moreno sidelined for the considerable future, Miller got his act together to the tune of 108 rushing yards in Week 3. Miami travels to London to face the dismal Oakland Raiders in Week 4. If the ‘Fins can establish an early lead — which they should — it’ll be Miller time in the second half.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Not to pile on the Jaguars here, but they’ve given up more fantasy points to quarterbacks than any team in the NFL this season. Rivers has been solid for two weeks in a row after a subpar Week 1, and he should have no problem continuing that trend against Jacksonville. The only worry is that the Chargers will take a big lead early and go to the ground.
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