Each week, Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com previews all the NFL games from a fantasy perspective.
San Francisco at Atlanta
The 49ers are desperate for a victory, so expect them to play with some fire, yet the game plan will likely be to stick to the running game as the team tries to keep the offense simple after a coordinator change. Frank Gore will gets lots of touches and could be one of the top fantasy producers of the week. Alex Smith will attempt to limit mistakes and play it safe, throwing often to his most comfortable target, Vernon Davis. Do not expect much production from the San Francisco wideouts, though. Michael Turner will roll past the 100-yard mark, and Jason Snelling is worth consideration as a flex player in larger leagues. Matt Ryan will have time to throw, and there is no stopping Roddy White. Ryan should post respectable totals, but Tony Gonzalez will get a lot of defensive attention after a good outing last week. His numbers could disappoint fantasy owners.
New York Jets at Buffalo
The Bills have encountered trouble against opposing tight ends so far in 2010, so bank on another strong outing from Dustin Keller. Buffalo is also vulnerable to the run, and LaDainian Tomlinson is a strong flex option. Shonn Greene should not be used right now, regardless of the opponent. Mark Sanchez has been making terrific reads and may be careful against a Buffalo secondary that can be opportunistic and aggressive. Do not expect outstanding numbers from Sanchez this week, as he will be careful when picking his passing spots. Buffalo leans on its running game, but will have trouble playing to its strength against the New York defense. Keep all Bills RBs reserved and use your other options if you can. Ryan Fitzpatrick can be prone to some errant throws, and another week with more than one turnover is very possible. Lee Evans does work well with Fitzpatrick, though he is worth consideration if you need bye week help in a larger league.
Cincinnati at Cleveland
The Bengals will have to get back to basics this week, which means running the ball effectively. Cedric Benson is not looking like a guy who can break loose after contact, yet he should get enough touches to post adequate totals and is a good bet to score again this week. Carson Palmer looks like a poor replica of his past self. Chad Ochocinco is always a good start in a divisional game, but Palmer cannot seem to get in sync with another fading star, Terrell Owens. Both players should be reserved if you have other choices of similar value. Jermaine Gresham is a real red-zone threat and works well on shorter routes with Palmer, who does not have the zip on his throws to challenge defenses downfield. Seneca Wallace does an adequate job of managing the offense, yet he faces a tough defensive unit. Not much should be expected from the Cleveland passing game. There seems to be no stopping Peyton Hillis, though, as he will stand up against the toughest and most physical defenders.
Detroit at Green Bay
Divisional games can often produce some surprising statistical results, but the Lions are too banged up to pull off any major shockers that could lead to raised fantasy expectations. Still, Calvin Johnson will be targeted often and could produce his best numbers of the season so far. The Green Bay safeties can be exploited in the passing game, so Brandon Pettigrew can be started with confidence, and Tony Scheffler is a quality bye week option. The Packers running game has been mediocre, so Green Bay will throw the ball at will. Greg Jennings will produce his best numbers so far this season, and Donald Driver is a regular red-zone threat. Jermichael Finley is an obvious top start. James Jones, however, is a nice sneaky play this week. If you are desperate for RB help, John Kuhn will have a few chances to punch in a short score.
Denver at Tennessee
The Broncos have no hope of running the ball effectively against the Titans' tenacious defensive line. Kyle Orton will be pressed into several adverse passing situations and will deliver mixed results. He will continue to spread the ball around, but he's also a strong bet to throw more than one interception. You never can tell which pass-catcher will stand out for Denver, but Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal should be Orton's top options if he's under pressure. The Broncos will be sharply focused on containing Chris Johnson, but the superstar RB can bust loose in the second half when the defense has been overworked. Vince Young will continue to value the football and keep his mistakes down, so do not expect much of anything from the Tennessee passing game.
Seattle at St. Louis
Justin Forsett will be a key to Seattle's success this week, as the Seahawks look to start establishing their running game. The smallish Forsett, though, is no lock to break loose from the watch of tenacious LB James Laurinitis, so do not start him over a more regularly productive player. Matt Hasselbeck is a quality option, as he should spread the ball around well. Deion Branch is a viable choice as a bye-week plugger, and John Carlson is a strong threat to score again. The state of the Rams running game is uncertain, and Kenneth Darby cannot be counted on to deliver adequate totals when given an opportunity to see an expanded role. Sam Bradford will get some heat from a frisky Seahawks front seven, but Mark Clayton will continue to look reborn and should come through with another quality outing. Overall, the Seattle defense/special teams is a strong option for sacks, turnovers and more fireworks against a shaky Rams special teams group.
Carolina at New Orleans
The desperate Panthers obviously must run the ball to have any hope of staying in the game, but New Orleans will be primed to stop the run after they were beaten by the Atlanta RBs last week. DeAngelo Williams cannot be counted on as a must-start anymore, and Jonathan Stewart is a big risk as a flex starter. Steve Smith faces an underrated secondary, yet he should welcome the challenge and can also pad his numbers if the Panthers play from behind in the second half. New Orleans is thin at RB, and Drew Brees will throw often. That means he will throw at least two TD passes, but also more than one interception against an aggressive secondary. Look for him to try to get the ball to Marques Colston more frequently this week. Lance Moore will become more of a regular target on short passes with Reggie Bush out. Jeremy Shockey is healthy and Brees has a lot of confidence in him, so consider using the veteran TE if you need a bye-week starter.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Joe Flacco rebounded against the Browns last week, but now he faces a pass defense that has suffocated opposing passers. Flacco should not be started unless you have no other respectable options. Anquan Boldin is the only Ravens pass catcher worth starting, as he will not back down in any matchup. Boldin is tough, physical and ready for a divisional battle. The Ravens have not defended the run well, and Rashard Mendenhall has been tough to contain. The Steelers RB may not produce outstanding numbers against a unit looking to regain respect, yet he will work hard for his yardage and at least come through with adequate fantasy totals. Charlie Batch proved last week that he deserves respect, and the Ravens will be wary of more deep throws. Batch will adjust and work frequently to Hines Ward. The Ravens, however, will make sure Mike Wallace does not hurt them deep, and the Steelers' downfield playmaker at WR will likely fare better after Ben Roethlisberger returns. Do not expect Wallace to provide enough to satisfy his owners in the yardage department.
Indianapolis at Jacksonville
Maurice Jones-Drew will assert himself in this one, as the Colts may be without LB Clint Session and the Jaguars will show some fight against a familiar rival. In fact, Jones-Drew should provide his owners with the type of numbers they drafted him for this week. David Garrard will attempt to limit his errors, and his safest pass-catchers, Mike Sims-Walker and Marcedes Lewis, will post respectable totals. The Jaguars will be expecting the Colts to throw, and Indianapolis may elect to feature Joseph Addai often when the Jacksonville defense is looking for the pass. Addai is a decent start as a flex player this week. Peyton Manning continues to show everyone why no one has done it better for longer in fantasy football. Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Dallas Clark will benefit from another stellar outing against a highly vulnerable Jaguars pass defense. Jacksonville may keep it close for awhile, so Manning will not be scaled back in what some may assume to be an early blowout.
Houston at Oakland
The Texans' pass defense has been an area of concern, and Bruce Gradkowski has demonstrated he can indeed move the Raiders offense. Louis Murphy can be started with confidence, and Zach Miller will see some TD opportunities. Darrius Heyward-Bey has more real upside with Gradkowski running the offense, but needs to show owners a lot more before he can receive true starting consideration. Darren McFadden is running with determination and authority and has emerged as a must-start RB, regardless of the opponent. Arian Foster is one of the top starts of Week 4 against the notoriously porous Oakland run defense. The Raiders are formidable against opposing passers, so Matt Schaub cannot be expected to deliver better than adequate fantasy numbers. With Andre Johnson hurting, Kevin Walter becomes more of a defensive focus and a bigger gamble as a starter.
Arizona at San Diego
The Cardinals have not been able to hold off opposing RBs, but Ryan Mathews may not be fully ready to display his top form yet. Mike Tolbert may continue to see a healthy amount of touches and is a good flex start. Philip Rivers moved the ball very well at Seattle last week, and will continue to connect with Antonio Gates on a consistent basis. Rivers is developing a good on-field relationship with Malcom Floyd, who should be started again in Week 4. Legedu Naanee is a decent bye-week fill-in for PPR purposes. Beanie Wells is rounding back into form and is a very good flex option. Tim Hightower is now a big risk with Wells ready to come on strong. Larry Fitzgerald will be double teamed and bracketed as he now lacks complementary playmakers. Fitzgerald will still get his numbers, but the Chargers defense is a prime starting option against the erratic Derek Anderson.
Washington at Philadelphia
This emotionally-charged contest can produce good fantasy results on both sides of the football. Michael Vick is a must-start this week as he faces a vulnerable secondary with a boisterous home crowd pumping him up. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin should both roll up impressive totals, and Brent Celek should start getting more involved in the flow of the offense. LeSean McCoy is a top start and a major red-zone threat. The Redskins cannot depend on their running game, so expect a lot of throws from Donovan McNabb. He'll toss multiple touchdown passes, but don't be surprised if he also has more than one interception. Santana Moss and Chris Cooley owners will benefit from McNabb putting the ball up often.
Chicago at New York Giants
The Giants could play above expectations in this one, as they look to turn things around after two unsettling defeats. Jay Cutler will throw more than one TD pass, but sacks and turnovers may also be issues. Johnny Knox and Greg Olsen are quality starters for Week 4, but Matt Forte has been disappointing as a runner. You never know what you may get from Forte in any week, and he is a roll of the fantasy dice against any opponent. Ahmad Bradshaw is determined and underrated and has become a very reliable fantasy RB. Eli Manning is the key for the Giants getting back on track, though, and Steve Smith is his most trustworthy pass catcher. Manning will deliver a solid fantasy performance, which means Hakeem Nicks will be a good bet to catch a TD pass.
New England at Miami
The Patriots' secondary is a sore point, and New England cannot be expected to generate much of a pass rush against Miami's offensive line. Chad Henne is a nice bye-week starter, as he will receive sound protection from his offensive tackles. Henne will hook up with Brandon Marshall often, and the superstar will be one of the very best fantasy WRs of Week 4. Brian Hartline will also be a sneaky play in larger leagues as he starts to demonstrate more upside. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams should provide owners with adequate fantasy numbers. Miami will aggressively attack Tom Brady, and the QB will respond with quick throws to Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman. Brady may not roll up huge passing totals, yet he will be very efficient and is obviously always going to take his shots with Randy Moss to keep the defense loose. The Pats will also make the Dolphins respect the running game, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a quality flex starter.