Week Four matchups to exploit or avoid

Posted Sept. 28, 2011 @ 12:12 p.m.
Posted By William Del Pilar

It's hard to believe it's been four weeks. While we're still waiting for some players to produce and others to get on the field, the statistical data is beginning to show trends in various ways. Trends have to be broken down properly, and they're not always right. But they're great in terms of pointing us in the right direction. With that, let's take a look at players to exploit and avoid this week.


QB Jason Campbell, Raiders (vs. Patriots)
Campbell is in his second season with the Raiders and looking to finally take the team to the next level. His Week Three numbers were not very good, but you have to realize he was facing the Jets' secondary and he showed improvement from his Week One performance. While the Jets may not have played the run well, they were able to keep the receivers in check. After three weeks, Campbell is averaging 195 passing yards and one TD per game but faces a Patriots team that cannot stop opposing quarterbacks. Per game so far, the Patriots are giving up 387.7 passing yards, two TDs and even 0.33 TDs on the ground. This is a matchup to exploit.

RB Dexter McCluster, Chiefs (vs. Vikings)
McCluster and Thomas Jones will not make up for the loss of Jamaal Charles (knee). McCluster was only utilized 15 times last week and this will probably be the norm as the backs will be in a committee. Normally a bench guy, this may be a week to consider him if you need help with an injury fill-in. He's facing a Vikings defense that is allowing opposing backs, per game, 63.3 rushing yards with one rushing TD while allowing 85.3 receiving yards and 0.67 receiving TDs. This is not a bad matchup to exploit.

RB Danny Woodhead, Patriots (at Raiders)
Woodhead has been a disappointment so far after a promising 14-69-0 performance in Week One. Since then, he has a two-game total of 17 utilizations for 68 offensive yards and no TDs. This week, he's facing a Raiders team that gives up points to pass-catching backs. LaDainian Tomlinson took advantage last week with a 5-116-1 game. The Raiders are allowing 101.7 rushing yards with 0.67 TDs per game and 94.3 receiving yards with 0.67 TDs per game. He's a back to consider exploiting this week.

WR Plaxico Burress, Jets (at Ravens)
Burress is quietly starting to put together a solid season with two touchdowns in three games. If you remove his Week Two performance he's averaging 4-64-1 with 7.5 targets in two games. At 6-5, 232 pounds he's a great redzone target. He will have a significant size advantage over CBs Cary Williams (6-1, 182) and Lardarius Webb (5-10, 182). Burress has the advantage, should see a few redzone opportunities and this is a matchup to exploit.

WR Mike Thomas, Jaguars (vs. Saints)
Thomas is the team's No. 1 receiver and while he'll never be spectacular he may become good enough to consider at the slot position with a good matchup. He's had mixed results this year, and playing with rookie QB Blaine Gabbert, Thomas' season will be up-and-down as the quarterback adapts to the speed of the NFL. Thomas is averaging 5-46-0.33 with 9.7 targets per game. His targets make him attractive, and he's facing a Saints team that has been in shootouts all season. They're allowing opposing receivers 174.3 receiving yards with 1.67 TDs per game. He's someone to consider exploiting.

TE Scott Chandler, Bills (at Bengals)
The Bengals' defense is for real, but the unit struggles to cover tight ends, allowing 5.7 receptions, 72.3 yards and 0.67 TDs per game. This game could allow Chandler to continue his TD streak. Chandler is not who you want in a point-per-reception league, but his four TDs in three games makes him someone to look at. Granted, his other numbers are unimpressive at 9-89-4, but he does have 12 targets overall. He's someone to consider exploiting because of the matchup.


QB Joe Flacco, Ravens (vs. Jets)

Flacco had a great Week Three performance, passing for 389 yards and three TDs, showing he's on his way to becoming an every-week fantasy start. Then again, maybe not, as he'll be facing a tough Jets team. Despite the embarrassment of being manhandled and outplayed by the Raiders last week, they're only allowing 203 passing yards and 0.67 TDs while forcing 1.67 interceptions per game. It's a matchup to avoid if possible.

RB Shonn Greene, Jets (at Ravens)
At what point do we expect improvement from Greene? In three games, he has 134 yards, one TD and is averaging 3.3 yards-per-carry. He's not part of the passing attack despite seven targets in Week Three and faces a Ravens defense that embarrassed the Rams last week. Normally with someone like Greene, you would just slot him as a flex player. You can still do that, but against a team only allowing 76.3 rushing yards and 0.33 TDs per game, it's a matchup to avoid.

RB Reggie Bush, Dolphins (at Chargers)  
The season started off in a magical way for Bush. He was going to see most of the carries and the news was continually negative regarding rookie Daniel Thomas, who struggled during the preseason. Fast-forward three weeks and Thomas has reclaimed his role as the inside-the-tackles and goal-line back and Bush has seen his role diminish. In Week One, Bush was utilized 21 times compared to 11 in Week Three. The Chargers are only allowing 80 yards and 0.33 TDs on the ground and are shutting the passing game down for receiving backs. He's a matchup to avoid if possible.

WR Nate Washington, Titans (at Browns)
Washington will be one of the week's most coveted pickups after his teammate Kenny Britt went down with a season-ending knee injury. Washington's been lights out, averaging 7-86-0.33 with nine targets. This point forward he'll face opposing defenses' top defenders, starting with the Browns. The Browns are 2-1 and improving weekly. Say what you will about their offense, they're defense is allowing only 128 receiving yards and 0.33 TDs per game. This is one matchup you may want to avoid.

WR David Nelson, Bills (at Bengals)   
Nelson was last week's top free agent and for good reason. His first three games he's averaging 7-78-0.33 with nine targets. He'll be a nice flex receiver most weeks in PPR leagues. This week he's facing a Bengals team that may be looking for its identity on offense, but they're quickly gaining respect on defense. They're allowing only 100.7 receiving yards with 0.67 TDs per game this year. It's a matchup to avoid.

TE Tony Gonzalez, Falcons (at Seahawks)
Gonzo came alive this season after many wrote him off because of age and not enough footballs to go around. Averaging 5-58-1, the Bucs slowed him down in Week Three and he faces his stiffest matchup this weekend against a stingy Seahawks defense. Seattle may be struggling on offense, but defensively against the tight end position, the Seahawks are allowing only 41 yards and no touchdowns to the position. This is not a matchup you want and is one to avoid.