In Week Four's fantasy WR tips, the PFW staff expects big weeks from Patriots' receivers and Green Bay's Randall Cobb, but DeSean Jackson is quietly in a funk, while it may be awhile before Justin Blackmon makes a real impact.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Patriots come out throwing early and often against the Bills on Sunday, coming off back-to-back losses, and that’s good news for owners of Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd has been the Pats’ top target thus far, but Welker’s numbers returned to form, going 8-142 against the Ravens. The Bills have struggled covering slot receivers and Welker had 16 catches for 217 yards and two scores against Buffalo in Week Three last year.
One of the top fantasy sleepers of the week could be Packers WR-RS Randall Cobb, who shapes up as a potentially major threat this Sunday against a Saints defense that has been awful all year. Cobb, you might remember, picked up 175 total yards in Green Bay’s wild Week One win over the Saints last year, including an electrifying 108-yard kickoff return for a TD. Slowly but surely, Cobb’s role in the Packers’ offense is growing both as a slot receiver and lined up in the backfield, where he poses an intriguing rushing threat. A Saints “D” that allowed Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles 288 total yards last week (233 rushing, 55 receiving) could have Cobb licking his chops.
Eagles WR DeSean Jackson has seen a lot of passes thrown his way (29) but has only 14 catches and has only five receiving TDs in his past 24 games. Is he a fantasy start against the Giants? Likely yes, in most leagues, but beware that his production has been iffy for a long stretch.
Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin (hip contusion) practiced fully Wednesday and should start against the Giants.
With the Chargers likely to hone in on RB Jamaal Charles, the passing game could open up. Look for Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe to have some chances for big plays. He has a strong history against the Chargers (37-491-4 in nine games vs. San Diego) and has had his moments in the early going this season.
Chargers WR Robert Meachem is starting to see the bulk of the offensive snaps, which is a good sign for owners, but Malcom Floyd remains the receiver to have on your team if you’re looking for steady production. This week, Floyd will likely match up against Brandon Flowers, so you could see Philip Rivers target Meachem more often, as Meachem would then be matched up against Stanford Routt.
Titans WR Kenny Britt had a much larger role in his second game of the season, with six receptions for 55 yards. More importantly, Britt is getting more chances, as his snap count increased from 19 in Week Two to 37 last week (Britt’s targets also went up, from two targets to 11). However, he suffered an ankle injury against Detroit, and though it is not believed to be serious, he did miss practice on Wednesday. When healthy, Britt has WR1 potential, but his status will have to be monitored leading up to a tough matchup against the Texans, the NFL’s fourth-stingiest pass defense.
Good news for those with Lions WR Titus Young on the roster: He was targeted a season-high seven times in Week Three. Yes, his snag of a deflected Hail Mary pass was one of the week’s highlights, but the targets should also catch owners’ attention.
With two TD catches of 50 yards or more in consecutive weeks, and with 12 receptions and 208 yards through three games, the Bengals’ Andrew Hawkins merits a spot on your fantasy roster. He’s also not a bad play in Week Four against a below-average Jacksonville secondary.
Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey acknowledged this week that top pick Justin Blackmon is pressing. Blackmon, who has just four receptions for 31 yards in the first three weeks combined, has failed to capitalize on his opportunities, with multiple drops Sunday. He still has the greatest upside of any Jaguars wideout, but fantasy owners would be wise to take a “prove it first” approach before inserting Blackmon into the lineup. In addition to the well-documented struggles of the Jaguars' passing offense as a whole, Jacksonville plays host to a Cincinnati club that can really get after opposing QBs, an issue that continues to plague QB Blaine Gabbert and the offense.
Much to the dismay of Rams Nation, you can forget about Rams rookie WRs Brian Quick and Chris Givens making any noteworthy contributions to the Rams offense any time soon, as it appears both players’ opportunities for playing time will be minimal for the foreseeable future. Daily team observers tell us Givens, who was drafted in the fourth round, is more likely to get a shot at making an impact than Quick, a second-rounder whose lack of playing time continues to raise eyebrows.
Giants WR Ramses Barden, who had a career-high nine catches Thursday and was a popular add this week, is expected to be the third receiver against the Eagles with Hakeem Nicks (foot) back in the mix.
Redskins WR Pierre Garcon was limited again in practice Wednesday and hasn’t practiced fully since injuring his foot in Week One. Garcon says he’s getting better but "can’t say if I will be able to go on Sunday (against the Buccaneers) or not. We're still progressing and processing it out to see if we can go on Sunday."
Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion/neck) did not practice Wednesday and, while the team expects him to make a full recovery from the hard hit he took in Week Three, it is not clear when DHB will be back in the lineup. Raiders WR Denarius Moore is a viable No. 3 WR/flex vs. the Broncos this week with DHB expected to be out.
Browns WR Greg Little is off to a disappointing start in 2012, catching just 7-of-15 passes thrown his way for 74 yards and one TD. Drops have again been an issue. He’s tough to recommend with great confidence in Week Four at Baltimore, even with Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) out. WR-needy owners in bigger leagues might want to monitor Little’s plays and snaps for a little while before deciding to give up on him, but he’s certainly not a fantasy starter right now.
Ravens WR Torrey Smith has averaged more than 20 yards per catch in all three games this season. The Browns’ secondary is struggling. Smith’s a solid play Thursday night. Anquan Boldin also merits a look in bigger leagues, too.