Commentary

Week 4 fantasy matchups

Owners should look to start Philip Rivers, Reggie Wayne; avoid Torrey Smith, others

Originally Published: September 29, 2011
By Danny Tuccitto | Football Outsiders
Joe Flacco/Philip RiversIcon SMIJoe Flacco doesn't look like a good fantasy play this week. Philip Rivers? Start him against Miami.

For weeks now, I've cautioned you about relying too much on matchups this early in the season. Week 3 was a perfect example of why. A whole host of recommendations, both for and against players, turned out to be on the wrong side of the ledger entirely. Take Eli Manning, who was playing on the road against an Eagles pass defense that was ranked near the top of the league; with a wide receiving corps decimated by injuries, no less. Naturally, he throws for 254 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Or how about A.J. Green, who I recommended even though he was going against my favorite team? I told you to trust me because I trust just how bad the 49ers' pass defense has been in recent years, and was in Week 2 versus the Cowboys. True to their let's-zig-when-we-should-zag form, the Bengals' offense basically ignored a great matchup for the second week in a row.

Sunday night was the most inexplicable of all. Prior to last week, the Colts had given up 167 yards and two touchdowns to Houston's backup running backs, and a 94-yard, two-touchdown performance to Peyton Hillis. Running on Indianapolis had gone so viral that Hillis came down with strep throat after the game. So how does Rashard Mendenhall fare? Eighteen carries for 37 yards and no TDs.

Here's hoping that things go better this week. After Week 4, Football Outsiders will be incorporating opponent adjustments into our play-by-play efficiency statistics, so the measure of defensive strength that I use to come up with these matchup recommendations will have a much more solid foundation in statistics. In other words, next week is when we really start to see the matchup analyses come to life.

One last thing before getting this week's show on the road. In previous weeks' comments sections, several people have been underwhelmed by the tables showing so many players who you'd never sit or never start in the first place. To get you to put down your pitchforks, and return calmly to your respective homes, I'm no longer going to include any players in the tables who are among the top six quarterbacks, top 12 running backs, top 12 wide receivers and top six tight ends. Hopefully, this helps more with your lineup decision-making.

Now that we have all that out of the way, on to the best and worst fantasy matchups of Week 4.

Quarterbacks

Philip Rivers (plus-6 points)
Despite having thrown about 40 passes per game against poor pass defenses like Minnesota, New England and Kansas City, Rivers doesn't rank in the top six fantasy quarterbacks this season. To find the reason, you need look no further than his touchdown total: four. That's poised to change this week, as San Diego hosts a Miami defense that's tied for worst in the league with eight passing touchdowns allowed.


To read more fantasy advice, including which players you should start and avoid in Week 4, plus additional Week 4 fantasy advice, you must be an ESPN Insider.