PFW's collection of late-week fantasy QB tips say Aaron Rodgers has his best matchup of the year, Christian Ponder could be a sleeper and owners of Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III should make sure they have solid backup options in the event of an injury.
QB Matt Schaub did it all for the Texans in Week Three, tying a career high with four TDs and continuously scraping himself up off the turf after taking a beating from the Broncos. In fact, Schaub had part of his ear removed on an illegal helmet-to-helmet blow from Broncos LB Joe Mays — the savage hit earned Mays a $50,000 fine and a one-week ban — but Schaub returned after just one play and was a full participant in Houston’s Wednesday practice. He is a strong play in Week Four, against a Titans pass defense that has surrendered 312.7 passing yards per week and eight TDs through the air to begin the season.
Is it actually possible Aaron Rodgers has become a merely average fantasy QB? We’ll get an answer to that question this Sunday when the Packers’ MVP QB goes up against an absolutely wretched Saints defense that has been shredded for a whopping 1,432 yards in the first three games. It’s worth noting that Rodgers has gone up against three pretty strong defenses the first three games (Niners, Bears and Seahawks) that did a great job keeping everything underneath and taking away the kind of big plays Rodgers specialized in during his astounding 2011 campaign. If A-Rod continues to sputter against a Saints defense that has been even worse than the Packers’ defense was last year, his fantasy owners might have to really start questioning his merits.
Want a sleeper play this week? How about Vikings QB Christian Ponder? He has been a 70-percent passer this season, can make plays with his feet (rushing TD Sunday vs. the 49ers) and gets WR Jerome Simpson, a badly needed deep threat, back from suspension. Ponder struggled in December against these Lions in Detroit, but he was still hindered by a hip injury. This “D” is 27th in points allowed and gave up two long pass plays to the Titans and Jake Locker last week. With two good fantasy QBs, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, on bye and a few others (Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford among them) with tough matchups, Ponder might not be a bad play.
Eagles QB Michael Vick is Andy Reid’s guy for now, and he spent all week trying to diffuse talk that the situation is tenuous. "He's my quarterback. Period," Reid said. But with nine turnovers in three games, Vick’s status remains in question. There’s no doubt he could have a big game against the Giants, as he did versus the Ravens. But if you own Vick, keep him on a somewhat short leash yourself and figure out if your alternative plans are solid enough in case a change is made down the line. It might be because of ineffectiveness or injury, based on how much of a beating Vick is taking.
There is worry about the health of Redskins QB Robert Griffin III given all the hits he has taken, and further worry comes in the health concerns about OLT Trent Williams, who might not go Sunday against the Bucs. His replacement, Jordan Black, surrendered several pressures, QB hits and sacks last week. But the man lining up opposite the left tackle, Buccaneers DE Adrian Claiborne (their best rusher) just went on I.R. Freely start Griffin against the Bucs, who have given up more plays of 20-plus yards (17) than even the Redskins (16), whose defense has struggled badly. Resist the urge to sit Griffin this week.
Bengals QB Andy Dalton merits starting consideration from fantasy owners this week, especially those in bigger leagues. The Jaguars are allowing 258.0 passing yards per game. Moreover, they have only recorded two sacks all season — good news for Cincinnati, considering its pass-protection issues.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford (hip) practiced Thursday, and if he can play on Sunday vs. Minnesota, he’s surely one of the better fantasy options available. The TD passes figure to pick up at some point for Stafford, who has only three in 122 attempts. The Lions’ passing game has too much talent for Stafford to be on a 16-TD rate over a full campaign.
Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has rebounded from his disastrous opener and has eight total passing touchdowns on the season. He hasn’t thrown a pick since Week One and he completed 62.9 percent of his passes in Week Three. The Patriots’ defense will do its best to force him into turnovers, but it still appears to be a unit that will give up passing yards. In two meetings last season, Fitzpatrick threw four touchdowns, but also six picks against the Patriots.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers had a miserable game against the Falcons last week, who picked him off two times. This week, he gets a Chiefs team that has intercepted him more than any team in his career — 14 times in 13 career games, five more picks than any other opponent.
Bucs QB Josh Freeman was held to only 10 completions and 110 yards passing vs. the Cowboys in Week Three, but we expect him to bounce back vs. the Redskins on Sunday. He’s certainly worth a start in two-QB formats, and owners in very deep leagues that start only one quarterback might even consider playing Freeman. Washington is ranked 31st vs. the pass (Drew Brees, Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton have all thrown for 300-plus yards vs. the Redskins this season). Washington has allowed a league-high 10 touchdown passes, and Freeman should be in for a solid day at Raymond James Stadium.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco is on pace for 4,869 passing yards through three games, and he has a favorable matchup in Week Four vs. Cleveland. The Browns are 27th vs. the pass. Flacco’s a fine starting option this week, and his value continues to rise.