Week 4: Sleepers of the Week
In Week 4, the rookie and his Buffalo Bills will host the Baltimore Ravens. It's clear after three games that Baltimore's defense isn't quite as awful as they demonstrated in Week 1 against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Since then, the Ravens limited both Brandon Weeden and Joe Flacco to underwhelming performances. So what's different about E.J. Manuel? It's not just home, even though he does well to keep games close. It's his running game that will keep this offense afloat. While C.J. Spiller has struggled, Fred Jackson is playing very well. This recommendation isn't suggesting Manuel will score 30 fantasy points, it's that he won't blow up your starting lineup if you need to call on him. The Ravens are average at best in pass defense, ranking 21st in yards allowed. If you're in a pinch, look his way this week.
The Chiefs are undefeated. Alex Smith is probably ranked right around 12th in your league at his position, making him a starting QB1 candidate. While Smith isn't likely to torch anybody soon for 400 yards and five TDs, his steady hand (and RB Jamaal Charles) has guided the Chiefs to where they are currently. Smith is on pace for a career-best year in terms of yards, touchdowns, you name it. Even though he's not a sexy addition to your team, he's a perfect bye week replacement or a guy who can be counted on if your QB1 has a brutal matchup. One criticism I do have is that Smith really needs to find a way to get WR Dwayne Bowe more involved. He's got to trust him to go up and get the football. Bowe can be just like Anquan Boldin: Put it up and they'll come down with it. Smith projects as a high-end QB2 for the rest of the season, particularly against Oakland, Buffalo and Washington.
Through three games, it should be clear by now that Bilal Powell is the man for the Jets and Chris Ivory is not. Powell finally had a breakthrough performance, rushing 27 times for 149 yards last week against the Buffalo Bills. In Week 4, Powell will line up against Tennessee and their 10th-ranked run defense (101 yards allowed per game). Keep in mind that that stat has been inflated by the Titans facing San Diego (Ryan Mathews) and Pittsburgh (three or four backs who aren't any good). This isn't to say Tennessee's defense is actually really bad, they just aren't that good based on face value alone. Powell needs to start scoring touchdowns if he really wants to make a splash and that could be possible this week. His touches are on the rise and the Jets seem to be improving every week, whether it's Stephen Hill, Santonio Holmes or even Geno Smith.
Many moons ago, Jason Snelling was supposed to be one of the guys - along with Jerious Norwood - who would take over for the departing Warrick Dunn in Atlanta. This never came to pass and now seven years later, Snelling gets another shot to be a starter after playing very well against Miami in Week 3. He rushed 11 times for 53 yards and added four receptions for 58 yards and a score. When Snelling has the ball in his hands, he runs very hard and doesn't shy away from contact. He should continue to split the backfield with Jacquizz Rodgers and that's a strike against Snelling; however, there's enough offense to go around in Atlanta. Considering Steven Jackson could miss another week or two, Snelling is a great short-term fix for any team, especially in PPR leagues.
Recommending Santonio Holmes is probably a double-edged sword. When has he ever been reliable or dependable with the Jets? That said, if you take a look around the Jets, their whole offense is improving bit by bit, whether it's Bilal Powell, Stephen Hill, Geno Smith or Holmes as well. The eight-year vet had his best game of 2013, catching five of 10 targets for 154 yards and a touchdown. Sounds like some old vintage Holmes-Roethlisberger action from back in his old Pittsburgh days. Will Holmes do it again in Week 4? Maybe, maybe not, but he did prove that he can still do it. That's the lesson to be learned. Holmes is a great bench option who can filter in or out of your starting lineup based on matchup and need. Buffalo in Week 3 was a great example of when to start him, so that's what you're looking for. Sit-or-start him wisely and make Holmes work for you, not against you.