NFL Fantasy Matchups - Week 4

Maurice Jones-Drew appears to be the real deal

Check here every Thursday for game-by-game fantasy analysis. We give fantasy owners the edge heading into week four of the NFL fantasy season.

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Indianapolis Colts (3-0) @ New York Jets (1-2) 1:00 CBS
Play all of your Colts in this one...there will be no remnants of the 41-0 thrashing by the Jets of a couple of years ago. QB Peyton Manning will light up the sky with passes to WRs Reggie Wayne / Marvin Harrison and to TE Dallas Clark. Rookie RB Joseph Addai will also be a nice play here. For the Jets, I like QB Chad Pennington and WR Laveranues Coles (but check his injury status closer to gametime). TE Chris Baker will also be significant if this one gets out of hand.

New Orleans Saints (3-0) @ Carolina Panthers (1-2) 1:00 FOX
Whoa! The Saints are marching! But I think Carolina steps up and stops them here. Saint RBs Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush are still worthy plays, but neither will have a monster game against a tough Panther run defense. QB Drew Brees will be okay, but nothing spectacular in a potential letdown game for New Orleans. For Carolina, I like QB Jake Delhomme and both of his wide receivers (Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson). RB DeShaun Foster may finally get it done this week, but he's been a disappointment through the first three weeks. Carolina is still a quality football team...this week's home game against an unrested Saints team should give them a chance to prove it.

Minnesota Vikings (2-1) @ Buffalo Bills (1-2) 1:00 FOX
Both of these teams have played and looked better than expected through the first three weeks of the season. Minnesota's RB Chester Taylor has proved to be extremely versatile and I like him in this game. For Buffalo, I like RB Willis McGahee (who is tops in NFL rushing to date) and also like WR Lee Evans.

Arizona Cardinals (1-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (2-1) 1:00 FOX
Kurt Warner fumbled 4 (FOUR) times last week to cost the Cardinals the game and he's fumbled 8 (EIGHT) times in his first three weeks of the season. Coach Dennis Green agreed to keep Warner as his starter for week 4, but Warner is certainly on a short leash if he falters against the Falcons. Bench Warner until he gets it together, but keep his wide receivers (Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin) in your lineup - they're just too good to sit and someone will get them the ball. I also like RB Edgerrin James against the Falcons after their short week. Atlanta floundered in the Superdome on MNF, but were likely caught up in the emotion surrounding the game. The Falcons and QB Michael Vick will rebound and I like Vick to run wild and throw a TD or two. RB Warrick Dunn will also be a nice play as the Falcons find their stride. Vick may look for Alge Crumpler inside the 20, but Crumpler will need a better performance than he had against the Saints (and needs to hold on to his TD passes when thrown to him).

San Diego Chargers (2-0) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-0) 1:00 CBS
In the combined 5 games played for these two teams, they have outscored their opponents 137-27. I don't expect either team to dominate the other and believe each will be held in check. I like San Diego's RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Antonio Gates. For the Ravens, I like TE Todd Heap (but heap may be a game time decision). Other than the LT2 owners and owners of Gates or Heap in TE required leagues, it may be a good idea to avoid this game for fantasy plays.

Miami Dolphins (1-2) @ Houston Texans (0-3) 1:00 CBS
The Dolphins barely scraped by Tennessee last week. So technically...they did do something positive this season and can't totally be dismissed. We'll give Fins QB Daunte Culpepper a starting nod here against a Houston defense that is ranked last and playing awful. WR Chris Chambers has the skills to bust out as long as Cpep can get him the ball. RB Ronnie Brown will get enough touches to do plenty of damage and should be started with confidence here. I like the Texans' Andre Johnson regardless of the situation...although most of his yards and catches have come as games have become one-sided for the opponent.

San Francisco 49ers (1-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) 1:00 FOX
Chiefs' RB Larry Johnson is planning his coming out party against the Niners and we believe him. TE Tony Gonzalez should also have a good game here, but we're not ready to recommend QB Damon Huard (even though he looked good in his last outing). If the Niners' RB Frank Gore plays (check his status closer to game time), he should have a decent game...although Michael Robinson is likely to now get his goal-line carries due to Gore's propensity to fumble.

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) @ Tennessee Titans (0-3) 1:00 FOX
Regardless of the media frenzy surrounding Terrell Owens and the Dallas Cowboys this week, the Boys will tear up the Titans on the road. I like QB Drew Bledsoe, WRs Terrell Owens (if he plays) and Terry Glenn, TE Jason Witten, and RB Julius Jones. For the Titans, WR Drew Bennett is the only fantasy play worth considering. Bennett has had some nice fantasy games due to many games being out of hand and Tennessee's propensity to put the ball in the air in garbage time.

Detroit Lions (0-3) @ St. Louis Rams (2-1) 4:05 FOX
Both of these teams should be able to move the ball and score some points in this one. With the way Detroit's defense has looked in weeks 2 and 3, I like all of St. Louis' skill players...including QB Marc Bulger, RB Steven Jackson, and WR Torry Holt. For Detroit, I like RB Julius Jones and WR Roy Williams. QB Jon Kitna is also a nice option here as a bye week replacement if you need him. Will this be the week that Mike Martz finally gets his offense in gear? - He was a bit closer last week, but was playing the Packers. Martz should have more motivation going "home" to St. Louis.

I really like Jax rookie RB Maurice Jones-Drew in this game and believe he'll add to what he did against the Colts last week. After watching him in person, I'm convinced he's the real deal and will completely overtake Fred Taylor in the Jags backfield. I also like QB Byron Leftwich, but have a more difficult time figuring his target...although WR Matt   Jones is the most likely if healthy. The Jacksonville defense is very solid, especially against the run. If you have RB Clinton Portis, then play him...but don't expect a big game. It will be easier for the Skins to throw. I like TE Chris Cooley as a factor here.


Cleveland Browns (0-3) @ Oakland Raiders (0-2) 4:15 CBS
Oakland had a bye last week and is getting Cleveland at home. But it may not even matter. The Raiders looked like the only fire hydrant at Westminster in their only two games this season and appear to have a long way to go to compete in this league. I like Browns' QB Charlie Frye here with WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow Jr. For the Raiders, I'd like to recommend placing the whole team on the bench until further notice...but play Randy Moss if you have him. RB LaMont Jordan is a workhorse and would shine on any other team. If the Raiders somehow figured out how to compete over their bye week, then Jordan is the most likely to benefit.

Cincy WR Chad Johnson has already started his trash talking...game on! I like Bengals' QB Carson Palmer and both of his top two receivers - CJ and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. I also like RB Rudi Johnson here. For the Pats, I like QB Tom Brady and rookie RB Laurence Maroney. Cincinnati has the talent to roll at home, but Pats' coach Bill Belichick is a genius in big games...this one will be a fun watch! If the Bengals do pull out a win, expect fans to start talking about the road matchup with the Colts on MNF in early December.

Seattle Seahawks (3-0) @ Chicago Bears (3-0) SNF 8:15 NBC
Matt Hasselbeck threw for 5 TDs as the Seahawks destroyed the New York Giants last week. But week 5 will be different for Seattle. The Seahawks go into Chicago and will face an extremely talented Bears' defense. Add Shaun Alexander's broken foot to the equation and things look even worse. Although I don't believe in benching your stars (in this case Hasselbeck and Darrell Jackson), my advice is to sit them against Chicago and treat the next two weeks like Seattle bye weeks (Seattle has a week 6 bye). For the Bears, their best play is their D/ST. The Seahawk defense may not match up to the Bears, but it is very solid...and solid enough to curb the Bears' offense to minimal yardage and few points.

Green Bay Packers (1-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) MNF 8:30 ESPN

These two teams will put up a bunch of points on MNF. Philadelphia has a strong defensive front (even without Jevon Kearse), but their secondary is still banged up. Green Bay's defense is just porous. Packers' QB Brett Favre loves MNF and he'll throw at least 35 times...and mostly toward WR Donald Driver. Look for Philly QB Donovan McNabb to assault Green Bay early with strikes to RB Brian Westbrook, WRs Reggie Brown & Donte Stallworth, and TE L.J. Smith. Westbrook will also get his usual rushing yardage and will again put up stellar fantasy stats for his owners. Be sure to check Westbrook's and Stallworth's injury status prior to gametime.

BYE WEEKS - Denver, New York (Giants), Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay

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