Thanks to all the readers who e-mailed to point out that I had Texans RB Steve Slaton playing the Cardinals (wrong) instead of the Jaguars (right) in last week’s edition. Or was it the other way around? Anyway, your feedback was appreciated, even though I had to stand in front of a mirror and say, “No, you’re NOT really an idiot” 100 times over the weekend. I hope I was right about that.
As always, all this week’s recommendations aren’t included below. There will always be a few more players you need to know about, and to find out who they are, you’ll need to watch the weekly Wide Write video blog.
Read on for your Week 4 fantasy football recommendations. If you have any questions, comments or insults, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who’s off in Week 4: Cardinals, Falcons, Panthers, Eagles
Start him: Shaun Hill, 49ers
Hill is a “Steady Eddie” that can be a free-agent pickup as well, since he’s owned in 7.6 percent of FOXSports.com leagues. He’s averaging just over 180 yards and a TD per game this season, but last year he averaged 234 yards and threw a dozen touchdowns in eight starts. Hill looks like an enticing start against the Rams in Week 4, and he can stay on your roster as a solid backup all year long.
Sit him: Joe Flacco, Ravens
I’m a big fan of Flacco’s, but are you expecting him to keep averaging 280 yards and a pair of TDs each week? The Ravens visit the Patriots and their sixth-ranked passing defense this weekend, and while this probably sounds cliché, I bet Bill Belichick will have some tricks up his sleeve for Flacco. If your other fantasy QB has a favorable matchup, use him instead.
Pick him up: Chad Henne, Dolphins
I asked my friend Russ Levine, a Michigan grad, former Football Outsiders columnist and college football aficionado, to tweet me his assessment of Henne. Here’s his response:
Henne is the kind of guy scouts don’t miss on. Big arm, tons of experience in big college games. Expect he’ll be a very solid pro.
I asked Russ his opinion not just because he’s watched virtually every Michigan game since 1988, but because at midseason in 2001, he explained to me why Tom Brady was going to be a good NFL quarterback. That’s good enough for me.
I’m not saying Henne is going to be THAT good, and with a 59.5 percent completion rate in college, he doesn’t project to be the straightest shot in the platoon, but he could be solid. Not great, and certainly saddled with a mediocre supporting cast, but solid. If you’ve got a low-end No. 2 fantasy QB — like Kerry Collins, for instance — Henne could be worth a flier. If he bombs, make sure to send your hate e-mails to Russ instead of me.
Start him: Darren McFadden, Raiders
Yes, I’m stubborn. Yes, this is probably my last-ditch effort to personally will McFadden to the fantasy season many of us hoped for. But there is a legitimate reason for some hope, since the Raiders are preparing to visit the Texans, who have been steamrolled for a league-worst 614 rushing yards in three games. If McFadden doesn’t gain some yards this week, it’s probably time to Krazy Glue him to your fantasy bench, because he probably won’t get a better matchup.
Sit him: Fred Jackson, Bills
Jackson has touched the ball 76 times so far, with 425 yards from scrimmage and a receiving touchdown to show for it. But Marshawn Lynch returns from his three-game suspension this week, and while Jackson has been too good to be banished to the bench, we really don’t know how much work he’ll get. If it’s half of what he’s been getting in the first three weeks, that’s not bad, but you might have better options on your roster.
Pick him up: Tashard Choice, Cowboys
Welcome back to this spot for the second week in a row, Mr. Choice! You’re here because both Marion Barber and Felix Jones appear to be very iffy propositions for this week’s game in Denver. Early reports are that Jones won’t play, while Barber’s status is still questionable.
Just like late last year when Barber got hurt, Choice stepped in with a stellar performance Monday night, carrying 18 times for 82 yards and a TD, and adding four receptions for 36 yards. The seventh-ranked Denver run defense has been stingy so far, but their opponents — the Bengals, Browns and Raiders — aren’t exactly tearing things up, so the stats might be misleading.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, lead the league in rushing by a lot, and are averaging an outrageous 6.8 yards per carry. Choice is owned in just 11 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, and you have to grab him for this week if he’s available. He might be the Cowboys’ only option in the backfield.
By the way, I loved this quote from Dallas head coach Wade Phillips in the Dallas Morning News story linked to above:
"I'm not Carnac … You want me to say definitely this guy is going to play and this guy isn't.”
Nothing like a 30-year-old Johnny Carson reference to confuse a large percentage of the local media horde. Heeeeeeeerrrrre’s Wade!
Start him: Steve Smith, Giants
If you’re not starting Smith yet, what are you waiting for? The guy has at least six receptions in every game so far, with 23 catches for 277 yards and two TDs on the season. The Giants’ Week 4 opponent, the Chiefs, have been torched by Kevin Kolb (327 yards) and Joe Flacco (304 yards) this year. In the other game, they shut down draft bust of the century JaMarcus Russell, so it’s not really fair to give the them credit for that one. Look for Eli Manning and Smith to have another nice week.
Sit him: Roy E. Williams, Cowboys
Williams has just eight receptions for 175 yards in three games, so it’s not like you need me to tell you to plant him on your bench, but I’m doing it anyway. He might re-emerge as a No. 1-type receiver, but I want to see something before starting him again. He looks terrible.
Pick him up: Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars
Injuries have been Sims-Walker’s kryptonite before this season, but until he gets hurt again, enjoy his long-awaited production. He leads the Jags with 187 receiving yards, and all 12 of his receptions came in Weeks 2 and 3. The team’s other starting wideout, Torry Holt, is in his 47th NFL season. All right, it’s only his 11th year, but for a football player that’s pretty old. If Sims-Walker can stay on the field, he can put up some nice numbers, and become the Jags’ top option. This week’s matchup against a struggling Titans’ passing defense should be a good one for him.
Also: The 49ers (vs. St. Louis) and Redskins (vs. Tampa Bay) are begging you to pick up their widely available defenses this week … Did you know that Texans QB Matt Schaub has thrown seven touchdowns in his last two games? He’ll be terrific if he stays healthy … Niners TE Vernon Davis caught seven passes for 96 yards and a pair of TDs against the Vikings. He might finally have things figured out, and I’d pick him up if I was looking for a matchup tight end.
Thanks for reading, and once again, make sure to watch this week’s edition of the Wide Write video blog by clicking here. Share it with your friends, post it on your Facebook page – really, I’d like to be just about everywhere if it’s OK with you.
John Halpin writes Wide Write and hosts an accompanying video blog every week throughout the NFL season. He also writes fantasy columns and early-morning blogs four days a week at FOXSports.com/fantasy.