Christian Ponder: Last year, nobody could have justifiably advised starting a young QB against Detroit’s pass rush, but things have changed. The Lions look tame and their secondary is a mess; after last week’s little coming out party for Kyle Rudolph and the return of WR Jerome Simpson opposite Percy Harvin, this should be a good game for a Vikings offense riding high after beating San Francisco last week.
Cedric Benson: Supposing the Packers don’t take a knee on every offensive possession in protest of last week’s Golden Gate incident, Benson should be poised for a big game against a Saints team that surrendered 233 yards last week to Jamaal Charles, including a 91-yard score to put the game away.
Brandon Lloyd: Lloyd hasn’t done a whole lot for fantasy owners who jumped on the train once he joined an explosive Patriots offense, but he has been one of Brady’s favorite receivers and we like to think there is Moss-like potential there. If there was ever a week to confirm all our hopes and dreams it’s this one; the Bills have surrendered the fourth most fantasy points to opposing wideouts, including six scores.
Vincent Jackson: Like Lloyd, Jackson is a deep threat who’s been inconsistent for fantasy owners since joining the Bucs, but this week should be good as Tampa Bay matches up against the Redskins who, despite being shrouded in RGIII hype, have quietly given up the most fantasy points to wide receivers.
Tony Gonzalez: Gonzalez is the great ageless wonder, and despite an arsenal of game-ready weapons, QB Matt Ryan still loves Old Faithful in the red zone. Gonzalez currently ranks second in fantasy points at his position, and the Panthers have given up two TDs to tight ends in the past three games, so Gonzalez looks safe for at least six but probably more like 13 or 15 points.
Arizona Cardinals: NEWS FLASH: The Cardinals D is the real deal. Last week they contained (an admittedly awful) Michael Vick, and the week before they held Tom Brady to just field goals through three quarters of play. This week they get rookie Ryan Tannehill and a Dolphins team without any real flash outside the reemergent Reggie Bush.
Tony Romo: In order for Romo to perform as a top 10 or 12 fantasy quarterback, worthy of a starting job in standard fantasy leagues, he has to stay upright, and the ’Boys offensive line hasn’t been able to help in that regard. Unless they’ve got a plan for Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers and a defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, Romo is a surefire sit this week.
Shonn Greene: Since their week one offensive explosion, the Jets have looked a little lost at the line. It’s unclear whether they just aren’t sure what Tebow’s role is (he was in on a handful of possession last week as both QB and a hybrid back but did little) or whether they are the pseudo-passing team of years past or a ground-and-pound like we all figured they would be. Either way, they draw a Niners D that projects as a top-ten unit any way you cut it; coming off a bad loss to Minnesota, they’ll be looking for stops on every down.
Brandon Marshall: Sitting Marshall isn’t so much about Marshall as it is about Jay Cutler and the Dallas D. They currently rank first in yards given up per game and owe that in large part to an exceptional secondary. That will probably be a problem for Cutler, who in his last two games has thrown for just a hair over 300 yards and five picks to only one TD. In short: be leery of Brandon Marshall.
Jason Witten: Once a workhorse and premier tight end on a team that knew how to use him, Witten has fallen by the wayside in fantasy leagues. Over the past three games, he’s amassed only 76 yards on eight receptions with zero TDs. Adding insult to injury is his glaring lack of control; he currently leads the league in dropped passes, so week four calls for a better option. Any option.
Detroit Lions: We’re gambling on the Vikings here. Christian Ponder looks like he’s coming into his own in his second season, and he’s found a friend in TE Kyle Rudolph. Adding value to the Vikings offense this week is the return of WR Jerome Simpson alongside Percy Harvin, so with a shaky Lions secondary and a diminished pass rush, we’re thinking this unit does some damage.