After a rough start, the Week 3 iteration of this column got on track. Hopefully you were able to avoid goose eggs from Tyler Eifert and Torrey Smith and take advantage of good values like Allen Hurns.
Bye weeks begin this week, and competition gets tighter as a result. Let's take a look at some of the better or worse matchups of the week.
Markus Wheaton, WR, PIT vs. BAL ($5,000)
Miglio: Big Ben’s big injury poses a real problem for fantasy footballers -- does the offense tank under 35-year-old Michael Vick, or is it too good to fail? It’s tough to tell, which is probably why it’s best to fade expensive Antonio Brown until we see more. This is a great matchup based on how Baltimore’s secondary has played over the past couple of weeks, however, and Markus Wheaton would be a far cheaper option who figures to see some targets this week.
Rudnicki: Has the Ravens secondary been exposed the past two weeks? They were beaten pretty badly by the Raiders and Bengals, giving up three touchdown in each game to opposing receivers. Jimmy Smith is better than he’s shown of late, but Lardarius Webb and nickel corner Kyle Arrington may have some trouble with the speed of these Steelers receivers. There’s a good chance that the Ravens will need to devote safety help to wherever Antonio Brown goes, so Wheaton could be a nice low risk/high reward option with a chance to hit on some deep balls.
Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA @ DET ($5,000)
Miglio: You have to read the tea leaves a bit when picking and choosing between Seattle receivers. Last week tight end Jimmy Graham was heavily involved in the passing game, not coincidentally after he was reportedly “frustrated” with his role. Whatever the truth is in that situation, the receivers didn’t get much action in a laugher. This week, the Lions come to town, and they figure to key on the big tight end. Doug Baldwin tends to shine out of nowhere, and he faces a pretty
Rudnicki: Last week didn’t quite go as planned against Chicago, but Baldwin still managed to pull in all three targets thrown his way. He just took a back seat to Jimmy Graham and Jermaine Kearse in a game where Seattle was never really threatened. This week, he goes up against a Detroit defense that has had a lot of trouble containing receivers. The Chargers wideouts had 22 catches against them in Week 1, and last week the Broncos topped that total with 23. He’s working as more of a possession receiver this year, and should be able to take advantage of a Lions defense that has been really soft over the middle.
Eddie Royal, WR, CHI vs. OAK ($4,700)
Miglio: There isn’t much to like about the Chicago offense these days. But a matchup against the Oakland secondary might be good medicine for that ailing unit. Depending on whether Alshon Jeffery is back or not, Eddie Royal might find himself facing looser coverage this week, and the Bears could be passing plenty in the second half if the game gets out of hand.
Rudnicki: It’s obviously tough to get excited about a player with 11 catches on the year who has Jimmy Clausen throwing to him. But, the Raiders corners are still a pretty glaring weak spot, and Chicago will likely need to try and open things up a bit to keep pace with the newly explosive Raiders offense.
Nelson Agholor, WR, PHI @ WAS ($4,900)
Miglio: It might be best to fade the entire Philadelphia-Washington tilt with Hurricane Joaquin threatening the mid-Atlantic coast, but you never know what value you might find if the game is indeed played as scheduled. The Philadelphia Eagles got off the schneid last week, but that doesn’t mean the passing game got on track. Washington’s secondary should help get Sam Bradford and Co. firing on all cylinders. That includes Nelson Agholor, who has been a ghost on offense thus far this season after plenty of preseason hype.
Rudnicki: Agholor has not looked comfortable yet, but he’s not alone when it comes to the struggles of the Eagles passing attack. He was shut out last week while matched up primarily against Darrelle Revis, but gets a much more favorable matchup this week (if the weather holds up). Washington’s starting LCB DeAngelo Hall is out and will likely be replaced by Bashaud Breeland, who gave up 8 catches and two touchdowns on just 10 targets last week.
Donte Moncrief, WR, IND vs. JAX ($6,300)
Miglio: A late, desperation touchdown saved Donte Moncrief’s fantasy owners last week, but he still had just 32 yards on the day. The Jaguars just got done getting annihilated by the Patriots -- though that may be the case for any team that gets in New England’s way -- and Moncrief could find himself with a fancy stat line this Sunday.
Rudnicki: The Jaguars don’t yet have the corners they need to play in Gus Bradley’s Seattle-style defense. The Colts offense showed signs of life last week, and Moncrief has been the most productive and reliable option they have. If you expect Luck to figure things out and turn his poor start around this week, Moncrief is a likely benefactor.
Ty Montgomery, WR, GB @ SF ($4,700)
Miglio: Everyone was in on the scoring last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Packers have an even juicier matchup against a hapless 49ers defense in Week 4. While Randall Cobb makes for a nice cash game option and James Jones can be used in any format, Ty Montgomery might have a big game in GPP lineups.
Rudnicki: The 49ers secondary has major issues, and now they have to face Aaron Rodgers? That sounds like a dream matchup for the Packers receiving options. Montgomery figures to see more playing time if Davante Adams can’t go, and I like his chances against Kenneth Acker or Tramaine Brock.
Mike Evans, WR, TB vs. CAR ($7,500)
Miglio: Has Josh Norman begun construction on his island yet? Carolina's cornerback has quickly climbed the ranks, and he has become a nightmare for opposing wide receivers. Evans might be a target hog, but lining up against Norman is bad news for fantasy business.
Rudnicki: Evans struggled a bit against Johnathan Joseph last week, but overall had a solid outing with seven catches on an amazing 17 targets. If Tampa keeps throwing to him that often, he almost has to put up good numbers again, but I’d be wary of him lining up across from Josh Norman this week. Also, the Panthers offense is the type that will try to grind out the clock and control the ball, which would also limit the chances for Evans. There are only a handful of corners in the league you want to avoid going up against, and Norman is probably in that group.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI @ STL ($7,400)
Miglio: It has been a magical start to the season for Larry Fitzgerald and his longsuffering fantasy owners. Finally, he lives up to his stature as one of the best receivers in the game. Quarterback Carson Palmer has looked his way early, often and with great success. But don’t let recency bias cloud your judgment -- this week he goes up against a defense that held Antonio Brown out of the end zone and allows the third-fewest fantasy PPG thus far on the season.
Rudnicki: The Rams at home are obviously capable of playing suffocating defense due to their dominant defensive line. Fitzgerald has had a ton of success working out of the slot this year and it will be tempting to stick with him again, but chances are he will find things a lot more difficult this week.
Allen Robinson, WR, JAX @ IND ($6,200)
Miglio: Vontae Davis hasn’t quite been the shutdown corner he was last year yet this season, but that doesn’t mean you should start Allen Robinson. A few weeks ago this game had all the trappings of a blowout with huge garbage time potential for the Jaguars offense, but the Colts have been anything but dominant. It could be a much closer affair, and Robinson’s potential dud against Davis looms large.
Rudnicki: All signs point to Robinson lining up across from Vontae Davis a lot this game. In the season opener, the Colts put Davis on Sammy Watkins and often gave him safety help over the top as well. If they use similar coverage on Robinson this week, chances are Bortles will look somewhere else.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, MIN vs. DEN ($5,000)
Miglio: These days it just seems like a good idea to fade all offensive players against the Denver Broncos defense. Kyle Rudolph has shown promise in the fantasy realm, and he’s priced nicely. But don’t fall into that trap.
Rudnicki: The strength of the Broncos defense is at the cornerback position, and also their pass rush. While that might tend to favor a tight end since the quarterback will be looking to get rid of the ball quickly on short patterns over the middle, the reality is that the Broncos defense just doesn’t give up many opportunities to anybody. Rudolph didn’t produce much in easier matchups the past couple weeks and the Vikings offense will likely rely heavily on Adrian Peterson once again.
Jarvis Landry, WR, MIA vs. NYJ ($7,200)
Miglio: The Dolphins offense ran into a brick wall in the team’s home opener last week. The Buffalo Bills harassed quarterback Ryan Tannehill into oblivion, and Miami was down huge before anyone could re-apply sunscreen. Fortunately the Dolphins get another shot at home, right? Unfortunately, that home game is in London -- home field advantage foiled.
Jarvis Landry continues to get targeted a ton -- even in the red zone -- but he is far more valuable in full PPR leagues with limited touchdown upside. That gets worse this week when he squares off against Darrelle Revis and that re-tooled Jets secondary.
Rudnicki: If the Broncos have the best group of corners in the league, the Jets are probably right behind them. Even though Landry will mostly work out of the slot and avoid Darrelle Revis, Landry is still going to have to deal with Buster Skrine. The second-year pro is the only weapon that Miami seems to have on offense right now, so you also have to figure that the Jets will be very focused on limiting his chances.
Heath Miller, TE, PIT vs. BAL ($5,500)
Miglio: Whereas Markus Wheaton makes for a nice GPP play at that price, Heath Miller may be in for a long night as a mid-tier tight end. Not only does he get a downgrade at quarterback, but the Ravens have been rather stingy against tight ends thus far this season.
Rudnicki: The Ravens have not faced the toughest group of tight ends in the league, but through three games they have only allowed seven catches for 30 yards. Tyler Eifert had some chances last week but wound up getting shut out completely. Michael Vick has made good use of tight ends in the past, but the trends here seem to suggest this is a good matchup to avoid.
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