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Bye week = bye bye starters

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It's been said that fantasy football doesn't really start until the bye weeks kick in. While that may be true for some, being 0-3 heading into week 4 pretty much means you're behind the curve and need help!

That is where the waiver wire and my advice can come in handy as I usually tell you about a player either before he breaks out, or when he replaces a starter and needs to be owned in all formats. It's a little tricky in week 4 because all the sleepers are taken and you have to be a waiver wire vulture to get the injury replacements.

This week the hot pick-ups have been Ravens RB Lorenzo Taliaferro and TE Owen Daniels, Browns RB Isaiah Crowell, Falcons WR Devin Hester, and Steelers RB LaGarrette Blount. I could see owning Taliaferro in leagues with deep benches, but standard sized leagues have to remember that Bernard Pierce should be back this week, and Justin Forsett isn't hurt. There are only so many touches for a team as it is, and now there are three RBs battling for carries/touches.

Daniels is a low-end TE that is a touchdown or bust 99 percent of the time; Hester is a fantasy mirage and if you take out his punt return TD (which is always unpredictable), all he had was one catch for 25 yards and one run for 20 yards which resulted in a touchdown. Don't be fooled by the hype surrounding him in the media; Hester is a WR5 for fantasy purposes. Blount is a handcuff for Le'Veon Bell, not much more.

Crowell is a little bit more involved and needs to be explained. The Browns coaching staff is talking up Ben Tate and saying how they expect him to regain his starting job when he is healthy. The problem there is Tater Tot is rarely "healthy" and has a lengthy injury history in Houston. Terrance West was the hot waiver wire add when Tate went down, but he showed he is nothing special and will only get what is blocked for him. Then there is Crowell, a guy the Browns expected to get nothing from in the preseason. Crowell has done a good job at outplaying West in the first three games of the season, and now he is taking first team reps over him in practice. If I were a betting man and needed a second-half RB for my squad, I'd give Crowell a look on the waiver wire with Tate being injury prone.

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Start 'em

Colin Kaepernick – 49ers: Who gives up the 2nd-most fantasy points to QBs this season? The Eagles defense (25.2 PPG), that's who. The Eagles are built for offense and not defense, and the 49ers defense isn't the same one we thought they'd have this past offseason with injuries and suspension. This game should be high scoring with neither defense being stellar; and with Vernon Davis back this week, Kaepernick will have his security blanket to throw to.

Kirk Cousins – Redskins: Speaking of the Eagles helpless defense, last week Cousins rattled off 427 passing yards and 3 touchdowns against them. Now the Redskins coaching staff is thinking about sticking with Cousins even when Robert Griffin III returns from his latest injury. With his confidence overflowing, I am looking for Cousins to keep up his hot streak and put up big numbers against a Giants defense that gives up the 6th-most points to QBs this season at 21.5 PPG.

Lamar Miller – Dolphins: The Raiders are a franchise in change, both on offense and on defense. The offense is struggling to move the ball and the defense is struggling to stop opposing teams from moving the ball. This week the Dolphins come to town with QB questions of their own. Lamar Miller might give the Dolphins the best chance to move the ball with Ryan Tannehill one poor throw away from losing his job, and the Raiders defense giving up 22.7 PPG to RBs this season (7th-most in NFL).

Arian Foster or Alfred Blue – Texans: Since this article goes up on Thursday and the Texans don't play until Sunday, I am just going to say whoever starts at RB for the Texans should be played. Foster was limited in practice on Wednesday, which means he is probably headed for another game-time decision. Blue's stats look more impressive than they were, and I wouldn't be running to the waiver wire to get him if I have to cut someone worth owning. I do expect a good fantasy day from one of them, but which one is still in question right now.

Brandin Cooks – Saints: Cooks gets the best defense one could hope for if they are looking for a big game offensively – the Dallas Cowboys defense.  Cooks has gained the confidence of Drew Brees and is being thrown to 21.0 percent of the time, 2nd on the team only to Jimmy Graham. Cooks is a legitimate WR2 this week with WR1 upside against a defense that is switching cornerbacks because of poor play.

Kelvin Benjamin – Panthers: Benjamin is no fluke, and fantasy owners need to go ahead and stick him in their lineups as a WR2 starter. This week the Panthers get a Ravens defense that is giving up 24.3 PPG to WRs, 7th-most in the NFL. While I'm not a Cam Newton fantasy fan by any means, I have to admit that Benjamin is already one of the best redzone targets in the NFL at 6'5" tall.

Delanie Walker – Titans: It is looking more and more like Jake Locker might miss week 4, putting Charlie Whitehurst into the driver's seat. At 32 years old, Whitehurst has appeared in just 13 career NFL games, completing an appalling 54.2 percent of his throws, and sports a 3:4 TD-to-INT ratio. What does that have to do with Walker, you ask? I see a LOT of checking down going on and Walker could be the only guy Whitehurst can safely get the ball to. Even if Locker plays, it is his wrist that is the problem which means he isn't throwing many deep balls to Justin Hunter this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers defense: Last week the Bucs offense made the Falcons defense look like the 1985 Chicago Bears had traveled in time and switched uniforms. The Falcons defense is NOT a good one, no matter how you use the word "good." This week the Steelers get a crack at them with the Bucs switching from Josh McCown back to Mike Glennon. I am betting on the Steelers defense putting up great numbers off the waiver wire, and possibly looking like the 1976 defense in the process.

Sit 'em

Tom Brady – Patriots: Why do you still own Brady? Even Michael Fabiano (who is ALWAYS a few weeks behind on his advice) is now saying to sit Brady, which should worry you! His best two WRs are Julian Edelman and Aaron Dobson, and Dobson keeps being deactivated for Kenbrell Thompkins to come in and underwhelm Patriots fans with his production. Brady is a 200-yard passer who will get you a TD or two a game now. It is time to let go of the glory days and realize he is 37 years old and has nobody to throw to outside of Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.

Cam Newton – Panthers: While the Ravens do give up plenty of points to WRs, they don't give up many to QBs (16.0, 6th-best in NFL). So how can you start a WR but sit his QB, you ask? Well, I think Benjamin gets a TD and some yards, but that is about all Newton does. If Newton sticks close to his season average of 265.5 passing yards and 1 TD, he'll finish with low-end QB1 or QB2 numbers. If your normal starter is on a bye this week (Andy Dalton, Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson on the low end), then Newton may be your only option. Be aware and beware though.

Joique Bell – Lions: I was high on Bell coming into this season, but with each passing game he is showing me that I may have been wrong. So far he is averaging just 40.0 YPG, and an average YPC of 3.0, both of which are bench worthy for any NFL team. Add to that the fact that the Jets run defense is fierce versus the run (6.7 PPG to RBs, 1st in NFL), and you have a recipe for disaster this week. Maybe Bell goes against the grain and does the unthinkable and has his breakout game against the unlikeliest of opponents. Then again, maybe he struggles to even get his season average.

Chris Johnson – Jets: CJ2K is a long ways away from that 2009 season where he piled up 2,006 rushing yards. So far this season he is averaging just 41.0 YPG and his lone TD came in week 1 from a pass. Johnson isn't the runner he once was and it is shocking to me that the Jets are still running him out there ahead of Chris Ivory. Far too many people own Johnson on NFL.com with an ownership rate of 94.7 percent.

Devin Hester – Falcons: I already pretty much presented my case against Hester as his NFL game was much more spectacular than his fantasy game was. The Falcons are talking up Hester and saying he has earned a larger role, but unless he is going to start over Harry Douglas as the No. 3 WR, Hester's fantasy value is as close to zero as you can get. He may rip off a punt or kickoff here and there, but his role in the offense isn't defined and his production is going to be erratic. There is a difference between NFL value and fantasy value.

Jordan Matthews – Eagles: It's amazing to me that a guy like Matthews can put up an 8/59/2 line in week 3, and still be stuck behind Riley Cooper who has a season TOTAL of 9 catches, 71 yards, and no TDs. As long as the Eagles want to run Cooper out there to "Kenbrell Thompkins" (block him for no real reason) him, his value is going to remain in the WR4 range. He's worth a flier in deeper bench leagues, but I wouldn't be so quick to start him with an Eagles offense that likes to spread the wealth anyway.

Torrey Smith – Ravens: The good news for the Ravens is Steve Smith's decoy is only costing them 837K this season. Through the first three games, [Torrey] Smith has just 6 catches for 85 yards and no TDs. On the other hand, [Steve] Smith has 18 catches for 290 yards and 1 TD. Someone might want to check with Joe Flacco and make sure he has been throwing to the Smith he has played with since 2011, and not the Smith that signed there as a FA in the offseason. Until Flacco gets the ball deep, Torrey has no value.

Owen Daniels – Ravens: When Dennis Pitta went down all desperate fantasy owners could see was Daniels' line of 5/28/2 in week 2, and salivate. Never mind that the 28 yards only averaged out to 5.6 YPC! Look, Daniels is a TD or bust, plain and simple. He will never get the yards you need to justify not getting a TD.

San Francisco 49ers defense: As I said earlier, the 49ers defense is not the same one we saw before the season started, thanks to injuries and suspensions. They started out with a bang against the Cowboys in week 1, scoring 18.00 points on NFL.com. But, in week 2 they put up a 0.00 point total against the Bears, and 2.00 in week 3 against the Cardinals. With that said, the Eagles offense should put up enough points on the board to nullify whatever points the 49ers are able to get for their fantasy owners in sacks or INTs. I could see another low fantasy scoring day for this defense in week 4.

Question of the week

Q: I have a trade question for you, my lineup is below.

QB  - Nick Foles
WR - Calvin Johnson
WR - Kelvin Benjamin
RB - Le'Veon Bell
RB - Ahmad Bradshaw
TE - Delanie Walker
W/R/T - Khiry Robinson
K - Adam Vinatieri
DEF - Seattle

BN - Ben Roethlisberger
BN - Wes Welker
BN - Aaron Dobson
BN - Jeremy Hill
BN - Lamar Miller

A trade was proposed to me

J. Edelman      for      A. Bradshaw

B. Tate                     K. Robinson

Should I accept, decline, or counter? He is looking for RBs. Thanks (Wesley Geiger, New Albany, OH)

A: Ok... I'll say this... with the way things are shaking up in Cleveland, there is no real way of knowing JUST how the carries and touches will work out when Tate gets back. Right now the Browns are not even committing to Tate returning following the Browns' week 4 bye. The performance of rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell has "made it tougher" to lean on Tate in the manner the team initially planned. Not impossible since neither back has shown anything truly special, but tough in that they will give Tate a rest more than previously planned.

Edelman is tied for 5th in the NFL with 31 targets. Not at WR... not in the AFC... in the NFL. He and Gronkowski are ALL that Brady has that he can count on, and he is feeding Edelman like it is an all you can eat buffet. Edelman is going to be gold all season long, and platinum in PPR league.

Bradshaw is on the Colts, a team that perpetually doesn't use RBs in the way they are supposed to be used. Right now Bradshaw is seeing around 10 carries and 4 receptions (average through 3 games)... The Colts are unwilling to admit that Trent Richardson is a bust and will never be worth what they paid to get him in the trade. Bradshaw is VERY much a TD-dependent player. If he doesn't score, he won't get enough total yards to make it worth playing him.

Robinson is going to have value for about the next month with Ingram out, but then he heads back to the bench... so his value is short-term.

SO...  to sum it all up... he is going to deal you a WR in Edelman who has very good value that you can stick in the flex, then rotate Hill, Miller, and Tate in the RB2 slot depending on the matchups. And, to be honest, they are in the same value range as Bradshaw who you already own and are ok with. I'd say yes to the deal.

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