Week 4: Player Upgrades
(Editor note: This week's Player Upgrades article comes via Jack Anderson. Hit him with questions and comments on Twitter @jackandersonIII. Cool? Cool.)
Hello and welcome to player upgrades. Throughout the year we'll be focusing on which players should receive starts based on matchups, injuries, etc. plus those rising weekly and long-term rankings.
Your opponent has a clear-cut starting QB in Drew Brees, but maybe you're saddled with Andy Dalton and Big Ben? You locked up AP with the number one pick, but forgot to take another back until round seven? Player upgrades will help you decide whom to start each week and forecast the winding road ahead.
This one isn't as clear-cut as the other QB on this list, but Cutler has also thrown for six touchdowns and looks capable of doing more damage with a resurgent Chicago offense. The Bears' schedule is littered with middle of the road defenses and there's also a sprinkling of the weaker secondaries in the league. If you're in a bind (i.e. dealing with the Colin Kaepernicks of the world), Cutler should suffice as a short-term solution until 'ol Colin reverts back to his 2012 form.
Romo is a streaky performer, so it might be a good time to jump on the bandwagon for a few weeks after he tossed three touchdowns against St. Louis on Sunday. In fact, Romo has been solid all season, throwing for six touchdowns and just one interception while completing 72.2 percent of his passes for 771 yards. We love to hate him, but Romo is a dependable quarterback and he squares off against the four worst passing defense in the league over the next month in San Diego, Denver, Washington and Philadelphia. Play him at will and reap the benefits.
Bernard is slowly beginning to take over the starting running back role in Cincinnati. He accounted for 99 all-purpose yards on Sunday and scored his third touchdown in the last two weeks. The Bengals split carries evenly between Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis against Green Bay, but it's evident offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is looking for ways to get Bernard on the field to showcase his speed. Bernard's lack of size is a concern, but he is explosive enough to make the most of 10-15 touches. If he continues to see the ball somewhere in that range, he's worth a start.
The Jets have a winning record and Powell is a big reason why after pounding out 149 yards on 27 carries in Sunday's win over Buffalo. He's seventh in the NFL in rushing yards and just eight backs have more carries. Also it's worth noting backup running back Chris Ivory is likely to be sidelined for a while with a hamstring injury he suffered on Sunday. That paves the way for Powell to continue to receive the bulk of the touches. With upcoming games against weak run defenses in Tennessee and Atlanta, he should have some success as well.
Gordon is the subject of trade rumors, but that didn't distract him from posting huge numbers in his season debut after serving a two-game suspension. Despite being overshadowed by Jordan Cameron's three-touchdown performance, Gordon's 10-catch, 146-yard, one-touchdown effort re-established himself as a potential breakout player in 2013. The trade talk is certainly worth monitoring from all indications, Gordon is a legitimate receiver whose big-play abilities and deceptive size make him a must-start each and every week. If you're skeptical, a quick glance at his 19 targets on Sunday ought to make you rethink things.