Week 4 in the NFL has some serious matchups between divisional rivals. Expect more hard-hitting, closely-contended games like we saw on Thursday Night as divisional foes face-off. There’s a few nice non-divisional games as well highlighted by the desperate New Orleans Saints visiting Lambeau Field to take on the Packers.
Last week, my Pigskin Pick’Em entry bounced back a bit as I went 9-7 moving up to the 65th percentile. After a crushing week one, things have improved from week-to-week so I’m hoping these picks keep me moving in the right direction this week.
This week, I’ve decided to include fantasy football players that I would upgrade and downgrade based on their matchup in this week’s game.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-7.5)
Upgrade: Michael Turner- I’m not a big Turner fan, but the Panthers have been horrible against the rush allowing the third-most fantasy points including a big game their last time out to the previously-unknown Andre Brown. This one won’t be close so expect plenty of carries as the Falcons run out the clock for Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers
Downgrade: Anyone in a Panthers jersey- The Falcons defense has been really good this year and should be able to shut down the struggling Cam Newton-led attack.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (+3.5)
Pick: New England – The Pats will bounce back in a high-scoring game up-state.
Upgrade: Brandon Lloyd-The Bills are fourth-worst in the league at giving up fantasy points to wide receivers and Lloyd appears on the cusp of a breakout game.
Downgrade: Tashard Choice- With both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson in parts of practice the last few days it’s hard to see Choice getting all the carries for the Bills this Sunday and New England has been fairly stingy to opposing running backs anyway.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-6.5)
Pick: Minnesota Vikings-After an impressive win last week I think they’ll hang with the Lions with or without Matthew Stafford.
Upgrade: Kyle Rudolph-Following a big game last week he’ll get to face the Lions that have been torched by tight ends so far this season.
Downgrade: Mikel Leshoure- The one question that dogs Leshoure is his durability. His value is unquestioned and he is expected to give it a go on Sunday, but the Vikings have given up the least amount of fantasy points in the league to opposing running backs. If you have Leshoure and another decent option, I’d go the other way and let Leshoure get another week as the lead back under his belt.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (+0.5)
Pick: San Diego-I think the Chargers bounce back after a tough loss and the Chiefs look more like the team that got crushed weeks one and two than the team that beat New Orleans last week.
Upgrade: Philip Rivers- The Chiefs have given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season and Rivers has played well at Arrowhead in the past. Expect a bounce-back performance from Rivers.
Downgrade: Peyton Hillis- Hillis probably won’t play and lost his time-share to Jamaal Charles with Charles explosion lat week.
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams (+2.5)
Pick: Seattle- The Seahawks are for real even if their game-winning touchdown catch shouldn’t have been.
Upgrade: Seahawks D- Only the Eagles have given more Defensive points to their opponent over the first three weeks.
Downgrade: Sam Bradford- The Seahawks have shut down Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo quite handily in their last two games.
San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets (+3.5)
Pick: San Francisco-Jim Harbaugh’s boys can’t lose back-to-back weeks on the road can they? I think they’ll bounce back against a Jets team that barely escaped Miami last week.
Upgrade: The officials??-Not sure I like anyone in this game to put up big points, but I’m glad the real refs are back. Any word on where Ed Hoculi will be?
Downgrade: Shonn Greene- The Niners are awesome against the run allowing just one 100 yard rusher in 25 games (Marshawn Lynch). He’s also losing carries to Bilal Powell so find a different option if possible
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-12.5)
Upgrade: All Texans- Tennessee’s defense has given up the most fantasy points to opposing QB’s, the fourth most to opposing RBs, and the most to opposing tight ends. The only hesitancy here is whether or not the game gets so out of hand that the Texans only run the football.
Downgrade: Kenny Britt- If you can wait on Britt another week, it would probably be the safest route to go. He’s dealing with an ankle injury while working his way back from knee surgery and faces one of the top defenses in the league.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-6.5)
Pick: Oakland-I think this ends up a field goal game after a high-scoring back-and-forth game.
Upgrade: Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning- I expect a shoutout in Denver with plenty of points going both ways much like the Steelers-Raiders game from last week.
Downgrade: None. I like all offensive players in this one.
Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5)
Pick: Arizona- Can the Cardinals really stay unbeaten another week? I think so.
Upgrade: Ryan Williams- Williams is the full-time back with Beanie Wells on IR. Williams looked good last week although the Dolphins have been decent against the run.
Downgrade: Reggie Bush-At less than 100% against a tough Arizona defense that will be focused on stopping him, it’s hard to see a big week for Bush.
Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars (+1.5)
Pick: Cincinnati-Has no one noticed they’ve been good since they got waxed by Baltimore on opening night?
Upgrade: BenJarvus Green-Ellis- The Law Firm should be open for business as the Jags allow the second-most fantasy points to running backs.
Downgrade: Jermaine Gresham-The Jags D has been pretty solid agains tight ends this year allowing no more than 6 points in standard leagues in any of their first three games.
New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
Pick: Green Bay-In what should be a shootout I think the Packers end up on top, but 7.5 is a lot of points so I’d keep my money safely away from this one.
Upgrade: Cedric Benson- The Saints have given up more points to opposing running backs than any other team in the league. They’ve been shredded by the Panthers, Chiefs, and Redskins on the ground, so expect Benson to continue his early run of success for the Pack.
Downgrade: Jermichael Finley- Despite all their defensive struggles the Saints have allowed the least fantasy points to tight ends in the NFL. That is partly due to matchups (Washington, Carolina, and Kansas City don’t have elite tight ends) but don’t expect too much from Finley this week.
Washinton Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)
Pick: Washington-This is one of the hardest picks on the board since both teams have looked really good and really bad at different points already during this young season.
Upgrade: Josh Freeman- Only the Titans allow more points to opposing QB’s than Washington. Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson should be in line for nice games if Freeman has the time to dissect the ‘Skins coverage.
Downgrade: Alfred Morris- The Bucs run defense is vastly improved form last year and they haven’t allowed 100 yard-rusher yet this season. They limited the Cowboys DeMarco Murray to only 38 yards last week and completely shut down Carolina in week one.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)
Pick: New York-In what usually is a wild NFC East showdown, Sunday Night Football should be a fun one as the G-men and Eagles fight it out in Phily.
Upgrade: Giants defense- The Eagles turnover issues have led to them giving up the most D/ST points in the league the first three weeks.
Downgrade: Eli Manning- Not that you’re sitting him the way he’s been playing, but you may want to temper expectations against the Eagles defense who have allowed the second-fewest points to opposing QBs through the first three weeks.
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)
Pick: Dallas- I can’t take Cutler on the road in Big D.
Upgrade: Bears Defense-Dallas is third in D/ST points allowed.
Downgrade: Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Miles Austin- No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to QBs than the Bears.