Fantasy Football: Week 4 Studs and Duds
Just three teams are undefeated after four weeks of the NFL season. One of players from those teams are featured in this week’s column, but you might be surprised to learn how he made his appearance.
Drew Brees – Quarterback New Orleans Saints
Despite his team being winless in four games, Brees has lived up to his reputation as one of the top quarterbacks in all of fantasy football. In four games, he has thrown for 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns, but has nothing to show for it. Brees has thrown five picks this season, but the positives outweigh the negatives. Against the Green Bay Packers last week, he aired it out for 446 yards and three TDs without an interception. That is studly in fantasy terms, even if his defense can’t hold a lead. Brees also has thrown a touchdown in 47 consecutive games, tying the great Johnny Unites for the NFL’s all-time mark. He has a chance to break the record this weekend against his former team, the San Diego Chargers.
Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden – Running Backs New England Patriots
Give New England head coach Bill Belicheck some credit; he has what seems like a dozen running backs on his team who can each rush for 100 yards every week. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but last week the combination of Ridley and Bolden made the Buffalo run defense look like Swiss cheese. Ridley, their #1 workhorse back, had a solid game with 106 yards on 22 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Bolden, an undrafted free agent, rushed for 137 yards on just 16 carries, including a touchdown. Add Danny Woodhead to the mix and the Pats have a three-headed monster that can pick apart most of the league’s best run defenses.
Brian Hartline – Wide Receiver Miami Dolphins
When you are targeted 18 times in a game, good things usually happen. For Hartline, that translated into a career day, with 12 receptions, 253 yards, and a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals. The 25-year old is an emerging star and gives rookie Ryan Tannehill a nice target to throw to. It’s obvious that the two are working well together and Hartline could feast against the Bengals this week.
Mark Sanchez – Quarterback New York Jets
It’s hard to believe that this is the same guy who led the Jets to a pair of AFC Championship games in his first two seasons. Well, the honeymoon is over for the Sanchize, who is discovering how difficult it is to quarterback a team when they have no offensive line, running game, or wide receivers (Santonio Holmes was just placed on IR today with a season-ending foot injury). Last week against San Francisco, Sanchez completed just 13 of 39 passes for 103 yards a pick. If that’s not bad enough, this week’s opponents are the Houston Texans, arguably the best team in the league. Don’t be surprised to start hearing the “TEBOW, TEBOW” chants from the Meadowlands crowd if Sanchez continues to struggle.
DeMarco Murray – Running Back Dallas Cowboys
If you watched the first game of the season against the New York Giants, Murray looked like the second coming of Emmitt Smith. He had 130 yards on 21 carries and played like a fantasy stud. Over the next three weeks, he has totaled just 106 yards and one score. Monday night against the Bears, Murray carried the ball 11 times for just 24 yards, earning the dreaded fantasy dud label. Now, it would have been easy to give teammate Tony Romo the dud award for throwing five picks against Da Bears, but at least he has been steady in his previous three games. There is a bad trend developing with Murray’s declining production, but lucky for his owners the Cowboys are off this week and will have some extra time to figure out how to get their young runner back on track.
Andre Johnson – Wide Receiver Houston Texans
Now this is really not fair, since the Texans are undefeated and Johnson has not been that bad. However, fantasy owners expected big things from AJ, and so far, his numbers are far from studly. In his last three weeks, the Texans’ top receiver has caught just eight passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. The problem has been that Houston has jumped out to big early leads and AJ has not been needed to produce (unlike Arian Foster). The good news is that Johnson is healthy and is still a strong bet to finish the season as a top 5 fantasy receiver.