Week 4: Start 'Em
Update September 26 - Pead is a suprise inactive. Start Daryl Richardson in this good match up
Isaiah Pead took on a larger role in Week 3 when starter Daryl Richardson left the game after only two snaps, re-injuring an already injured foot. The Rams were brutal last Sunday and down early, not leaving much chance for rushing, spending most of the game trying to pass. Pead rushed for only 20 yards, but he did add seven receptions for 43 yards. The 49ers will be without Aldon Smith and likely Patrick Willis, depleting a defense hammered on the ground the last two weeks. Despite the fact that Richardson claims he will be ready this week, he didn't practice on Monday. The Rams play on Thursday, so if you need help at running back, I would give Pead a look. He isn't a sexy pick, but he will definitely put up points as he is involved in the running and passing game
With Steven Jackson sidelined, Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers took over, essentially splitting the backfield touches. Because Jackson's injury looks like it will keep him out another three weeks, this pairing will continue. Rogers is a flashier player who is more likely to break off a big play, but Snelling is likely the safer bet. Involved in both the run and pass game, the beefier Snelling is also the primary goal line back. In the first game without S-Jax, Snelling had 53 yards rushing and four receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. This week Snelling faces the Patriots, whose run defense has been a bottom-10 unit, giving up 120 yards per game. If you need help at running back or flex, Snelling makes for a good start.
Just as one receiver returns in Detroit, another departs. The incoming pass catcher is Ryan Broyles, whose return from an ACL tear suffered last season comes after he had a serious knee injury in college. The Lions were very careful about doing too much with him last season and Broyles only received 17 snaps in Week 3, his first game of the season. Despite the snap count, Broyles caught three passes for 34 yards. Now that Nate Burleson's broken arm means a multi-game absence, a larger role exists for the second-year target. Look for Broyles to become the main guy out of the slot, though we'll see how many plays he's in on this week. After playing sparingly at the start of last season, he became more involved week after week, culminating in his breakout performance with six receptions for 126 yards vs. the Texans last November. With a full workload in Detroit's pass happy offense, Broyles makes for a flex option and a high-risk, high-reward WR3 candidate with more upside in PPR formats.
The Patriots revamped their receiving corps in the offseason. Selecting Aaron Dobson in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, part of the plan though he didn't get a chance to play in Week 1. Over the last two weeks, he has been a much bigger part of the offense as he builds trust with Tom Brady. After three catches for 56 yards and a touchdown (plus a few drops) against the Jets in Week 2, Dobson hauled in seven of his 10 targets for 52 yards. This week he faces a Falcons team allowing 296 yards per game through the air, putting them in the bottom seven of NFL pass defense. If you need a receiver or flex starter, give Dobson a look.
As Geno Smith improves and gains confidence, so does Stephen Hill. After a very quiet rookie season, Hill is showing signs of becoming a weekly producer. Granted, it's only three weeks into the season, but the former Georgia Tech product is well on his way to surpassing his 2012 numbers. In each game this season, Hill has improved on the week before, culminating in his 3-108-1 stat line against the Bills. While 2-1 now, the Jets likely face uphill battles most weeks, meaning lots of second half throws. Factor in the defensive attention going toward Santonio Holmes and Hill is looking like a WR3 or Flex option this week - and with an improving Smith, beyond.