Throughout the season I will focus on who I deem as trustworthy starts and pepper in a few sits for your PPR leagues. You’ll also very likely see some Fantasy Points Per Route Run (FPPRR) updates make it into the post as we continue to build a larger sample size to work from.
Both Chargers backs find their way into my trust lineup this week as San Diego faces Oakland in a game that will be Monday morning football for fans on the east coast. Both are viable options in your week five lineups because both are doing different things in Mike McCoy’s offense.
The Chargers are using Woodhead in the role we all thought he would be in, primarily as a pass catcher. The Chargers are calling for a passing play on 80 percent of the snaps he has been on the field, using him in a plethora of ways. In three games since the opener, he’s seen 24 targets (second most of all NFL backs to only Jamaal Charles’ 29), catching 20 for 146 yards and two scores. He’s topped 80 total yards in each of his past two contests and 60 plus over his past three on his way to three consecutive top 18 finishes.
Although Mathews has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (118 career receptions), he has been primarily used as strictly a two down rushing option so far in 2013. Of his 101 snaps so far, San Diego has called for a run on 68 percent, with him carrying on 64. He’s also coming off of his best game of the season, totaling 103 yards in 23 touches last Sunday versus the Cowboys.
This weekend they will get to face the Raiders, a defense that has allowed opposing backs to rush for 280 yards on 61 carries (4.6 yards per carry) the past two weeks. With the wide receiving corps still depleted, look for both to contribute starting running back numbers this week.
Hakeem Nicks (PHI)
Nicks has been an absolute dud in the two games following his two solid weeks to begin the season (nine catches for 197 yards). In those two games since, he’s hauled in just three of 10 targets for a total of 33 yards receiving.
The cure-all for all receiving woes comes into town this week, as the Giants host the Eagles. Philadelphia has already surrendered a staggering 10 games of double-digit plus scoring to opposing wide receivers in only four games. Even better for Nicks, opposing number two wideouts have done some serious heavy lifting against the Eagles, snagging an average of six balls for 100 yards and over a touchdown per game.
Sam Bradford (@ JAC)
Nobody is throwing more often than the Rams this season. They’ve put the ball in the air 72.6 percent of offensive plays through four weeks, as Bradford has thrown it over 38 times each week. Coming off of his worst game of the season (19-41 for 201 yards with one touchdown) as part of the continuing trend of poor quarterback play on Thursday nights, Bradford draws a much more favorable matchup versus the helpless Jaguars.
Jacksonville has allowed 17 plus points to three of the four quarterbacks they’ve played so far this season and back to back top twelve finishes to Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck who combined for six passing touchdowns.
Don’t worry about the Rams running away on the scoreboard and leaning on the running game, because the reason they aren’t attempting to run is because they can’t. St. Louis is averaging a league low 47.2 yards rushing per game, and their running backs have totaled a putrid 39 rushes for 94 yards combined over their past three weeks.
Greg Olsen (@ ARI)
Olsen has gotten off to a solid start in 2013, he’s had at least four receptions and 50 yards in Carolina’s first three games (they had their bye already week four) to go with one touchdown. He also is tied as Cam Newton’s favorite target so far, matching the 26 targets that Steve Smith has seen.
Mike Shula has had the bye week to work on making the offense more dynamic, and if he’s studied the Arizona Cardinals, he’s aware that Olsen has the biggest mismatch this week. The Cards have already allowed Jared Cook and Jimmy Graham to go over 120 yards and two scores in games so far. The only games they defended the tight end well was against Tampa and Detroit, two teams with a strong presence at the position this year.
Andrew Luck (vs SEA)
The improved efficiency of Luck has already made a difference in the stat sheet. His completion percentage is at 64 percent after finishing 2012 at 54 percent. His interception rate has been cut nearly in half (1.6 percent, down for 2.9 percent) while his adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) are nearly a full yard (7.3) above the 6.4 mark he had during his rookie campaign.
That will be put to the test as the Colts host a Seahawks team that is allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Before Matt Schaub’s 18.7 point game this past week, Seattle had allowed 12.8, 5.8 and 5.9 points to gunslingers. They also have seven interceptions to go with only three touchdowns allowed.
C.J. Spiller (@CLE)
There are a lot of factors that have been playing a part in the ultimate disappointment that has been Spiller over the first month of the season.
The loss of Andy Levitre is one, as his replacement Colin Brown is Pro Football Focus’ lowest graded run blocking guard. In fact, his -15.0 run blocking grade is nearly double that of the next worst player, Davin Joseph (-8.6).
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has also struggled getting Spiller the ball into space in the same facet that Chan Gailey did in making him the super electric stud he was in 2012.
The Bills have also played an extremely tough slate of tough run defenses. Every rush defense the Bills has faced ranks in the top half of fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing backs. Lastly, it’s Spiller himself has struggled as teammate Fred Jackson has dealt with all of the above but has been a top 12 option thus far in fantasy.
Now nursing a sprained ankle, Spiller heads into another nightmare matchup as he heads into Cleveland on Thursday night. The Browns front seven has dominant versus the run, allowing only Adrian Peterson to top 60 yards rushing this season while posting the league’s lowest yards per carry mark at 2.9.
DeAngelo Williams (@ARI)
In a season where finding a solid number two option at running back has been a chore, Williams has finished in the top 24 in two of his first three games and has rushed for 85 plus yards in all three contests. Despite his bye week, he still has as many PPR points (32.2) as Chris Johnson (32.9).
This week he’ll face a Cardinals team that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown to an opposing running back in four weeks and hasn’t let a back reach 70 yards on the ground in a game to date. They are also fresh off of holding Doug Martin to 61 total yards on 30 touches.
In a game where yards may be hard to find on the ground, Williams isn’t the type of player that can help himself out in catch leagues. He has had more than two receptions in just two of his past 35 games played and hasn’t had 20 in a season since 2009.
Anquan Boldin (HOU)
Boldin has been up and down through four weeks, notching two games with over 20 points and two games with single digits. Expect another game in the lower column this week as the 49ers host the Texans.
Houston is giving up a near nonexistent 141 passing yards per game through the quarter poll, easily the fewest in the league. While three receivers have topped ten points versus their secondary, only 15 of 29 wide receiver targets have been completed against them the past two weeks. Only one player, Torrey Smith, has topped 60 yards receiving in the past three against Houston.
Full Disclosure Week 4