NFL Fantasy Football Analyst: Russ Bliss
NFL week 4 Team by Team Fantasy Football News and Notes:

Buffalo: WR Roscoe Parrish will miss the next 4-6 weeks because of a thumb injury. This should lead to rookie James Hardy seeing more playing time in 3 WR sets.

Miami: A 4 rushing TD and 1 passing TD performance by Ronnie Brown week 3 against the Patriots will surely lead to a buzz about Brown after Miami comes back from their bye. Brown deserves fantasy starting consideration, but the split with Ricky Williams is still there and owners optimistically hoping for similar multiple touchdown outings regularly from Brown are bound to be disappointed.

New England: The Patriots are expecting to get back RB Laurence Maroney after their bye. But how the carries are split up between him, Sammy Morris, Lamont Jordan, and Kevin Faulk is anyone’s best guess. My guess is that it is a full fledged RBBC that fantasy owners can’t rely on. I also would not be surprised if the Patriots are exploring veteran QB options after watching another poor performance by Matt Cassel.

New York Jets: Brett Favre’s ankle injury isn’t considered serious and he should start week 4 against Arizona. Those who are expecting WR Chansi Stuckey to continue catching a TD every week despite being the Jets #3 WR need to realize that all of his catches week 3 came in the second half when the Jets were being blown out. Stuckey will not be reliable week to week.

Baltimore: RB Willis McGahee has a cut on his eye lid, however he is expected to be able to play week 4. Problem is the Ravens plan to continue their RBBC splitting carries up between McGahee, Leron McClain, and Ray Rice. McClain appears to have passed Rice in terms of fantasy relevance as he recorded 17 carries and captured two short yardage touchdowns while Rice only had 5 carries in their 28-10 win over Cleveland week 3.

Cincinnati: TE Ben Utecht could return week 4 to the lineup after missing week 3 because of a chest injury. Those who gave up on WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh after the first two weeks got burned. TJH was one of my buy low candidates last week in our weekly fantasy football podcast and also on the Sunday morning segment Jeff Coruccini and I do locally in Phoenix on NewsChannel 3. TJH is yet another prime example of the Fantasy Football Law of Averages. Next up for fantasy law of averages? Probably Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson.

Cleveland: Derek Anderson will get one more chance to prove he should be the team’s starting QB. The Browns have opted to start Anderson week 4 against Cincinnati instead of turning to Brady Quinn. However, like I told you last week in the news and notes, it’s just a matter of time. Anderson may buy himself an extra week or two if he has a good game, but it’s no longer a question of “if” Quinn will get a chance this year, it’s a matter of “when”. WR Donte Stallworth is expected to be able to play this week. A quadriceps injury has sidelined him the prior 3 games.

Pittsburgh: The big news out of Pittsburgh earlier this week was the announcement that RB Willie Parker was already ruled out for week 4’s matchup against Baltimore due to a sprained knee. Parker is also going to miss week 5 as well. The Steelers have the bye week 6 and it is unknown if Parker will be ready to return after it for week 7. Rookie Rashard Mendenhall replaces Parker in the starting lineup and gets a chance to show he deserves more than the token consideration he has gotten in the team’s offense til now. Pittsburgh faces the Ravens and Jaguars the next two weeks and Mendenhall will be sorely tested. Good games against both teams could definitely push Mendenhall into a real time share with Parker once he returns. Expect Mewelde Moore, an accomplished pass catching RB to also get some playing time. Despite a hand injury suffered week 3, along with the shoulder injury suffered week 1, QB Ben Roethlisberger is not on the

Steelers injury report for week 4.
Houston: QB Matt Schaub will start week 4, but if he has another poor performance and he could find himself being benched in favor of Sage Rosenfels for week 5. WR Andre Johnson didn’t help out Schaub week 3 as he dropped several passes, but chalk that up to it just being an off day for AJ. RB Ahman Green may be able to practice some this week but he is not expected to be ready to play. Steve Slaton will again by the primary RB for the Texans, although it is expected that the team will start increasing the role of RB Chris Taylor.

Indianapolis: RB Joseph Addai got back on track week 3 with a 78 yard 2 touchdown performance. Now let’s hope Peyton Manning uses the bye week to get back in synch with his WR’s so he can reclaim his historically proper spot as an elite fantasy QB.

Jacksonville: WR Jerry Porter practiced without limits Wednesday and this may finally be the week where he makes his Jaguars debut at WR. But until I see him on the field, I wouldn’t start him. Even if he does play week 4, he possibly will be limited as he is not fully recovered from his lingering hamstring injury. WR Dennis Northcutt has a hip flexor injury and while this isn’t expected to prevent him from playing this week, he shouldn’t be in your fantasy plans anyway.

Tennessee: WR Justin Gage is not on the Titans practice report injury listings and he appears set to return week 4 after missing week 3 with a groin injury. Somehow though, the groin injury must be contagious as fellow WR Justin McCareins missed practice Wednesday because of it.

Denver: No change on the status of the RBBC between Selvin Young, Andre Hall, and Michael Pittman. Young got 11 carries week 3 while Hall had 6 and Pittman 5. Young is averaging 6.9 yards per carry in 2008 thru 3 games and you have to wonder exactly what he needs to do to get the majority from presumed Fantasy hater Mike Shanahan. Rookie WR Eddie Royal had 4 catches for only 11 yards week 3. I hope you listened to me when I said to trade him right after his big game week 1.

Kansas City: After a horrible showing week 3, QB Tyler Thigpen heads back to the bench in favor of Damon Huard. The Chiefs are non-committal about who will be starting in the future, but it appears the team is ready to go with Huard until Brodie Croyle gets back from his separated shoulder injury. The time table for that is week 7 (the Chiefs have the bye in week 6).

Oakland: Justin Fargas remains out with a groin injury and isn’t likely to play week 4. Darren McFadden was held out of practice Wednesday because of his toe injury, but he probably will do some limited work before the end of the week and almost assuredly will play week 5, albeit in an expected split with Michael Bush.

San Diego: After playing almost the complete game Monday night concerns about LT’s toe have abated. Darren Sproles will still get some spot time, but it’s clear that LT is able to play and should be in starting lineups every week. His disappointing 3.7 yards per carry average will come up as he gets healthier.

Dallas: WR Miles Austin could be a name to pay attention to in coming weeks. If he can build on his impressive week 3 performance, he could push Patrick Crayton for the starting job opposite Terrell Owens. But before you go grabbing Austin off of free agent wire’s, remember that Sam Hurd is expected back this week or next and he could figure into the mix as well. And regarding TO’s 2 catches for 17 yards performance in week 3? That’s the Fantasy Football Law of Averages at work again. EVERY player has peaks and valleys. This won’t happen too often to TO though.
New York Giants: When the team returns from its bye next week they will be without WR Plaxico Burress. Plax was suspended one game by the team for insubordination. TE Kevin Boss finally showed in the box score week 3 after being shut out the first two games. Boss, a favorite sleeper TE going into this season, caught 3 passes for 51 yards and a TD. Here’s hoping there’s more games like that in his near future.

Philadelphia: No word yet on whether RB Brian Westbrook will be able to play week 4. Westbrook has an ankle injury and he didn’t practice Wednesday. He appears to be heading down to a game time decision. If he can’t play, Correll Buckhalter would get the start. QB Donovan McNabb didn’t practice Wednesday because of a chest injury suffered week 3 but he is expected to start and be fine for week 4. TE L.J. Smith has a back injury and is unlikely to play week 4. WR Reggie Brown suited up week 3 but was held without a catch and it doesn’t look like he’s fully recovered from his hamstring injury yet. WR Kevin Curtis reportedly could play in a limited fashion week 4, but it’s a safer bet he doesn’t and you can expect him to return from the hernia surgery he had back in August week 5. If he’s available in your league’s you may want to stash him on your bench now as Curtis was the Eagles leading WR last season with over 1,100 yards.

Washington: RB Clinton Portis was limited in practice Wednesday because of a sore neck. But it’s not considered serious and he is fine to start week 4. WR Santana Moss has paid dividends thru 3 games this season catching a TD pass in each game. While he won’t do that every week, Moss is looking like he is a good fit for the new offense and is primed for a solid fantasy season.

Chicago: WR/KR Devin Hester is unlikely to play week 4 because of a rib injury. Once promising WR Mark Bradley was waived earlier this week. Rookie RB Matt Forte has been solid thru 3 games, but he leads the NFL in carries with 73 and the team is likely to reduce that workload as rookie RB’s tend to wear down as we get later into the season when they are relied upon too much.

Detroit: Who will be the Lions QB when the return from their bye next week? That’s the question in Detroit. Jon Kitna has a knee sprain and it’s unknown if he’ll be ready. Even if he were healthy there is speculation that after an 0-3 start, the team is leaning towards making a change at the position. Drew Stanton has just about fully recovered from a thumb injury suffered in training camp and could take over. The team also has Dan Orlovsky but it’s believed that they prefer Stanton and the switch, if not made week 5, will happen eventually. The Lions also fired GM and President Matt Millen. During his tenure with Detroit, the team went 31-84. Nationally, Lions’ fans are rejoicing but this firing won’t solve their problems in the 2008 season.

Green Bay: RB Ryan Grant was removed from the injury report entirely this week and he is close to being fully recovered from the hamstring injury that has limited his playing time and production the first 3 weeks. Grant has been a huge disappointment so far on the season and it is hoped that now the hamstring isn’t an issue any more that he can start to produce like he did the last 8 games of 2007.

Minnesota: RB Adrian Peterson is practicing in limited fashion this week because of a hamstring strain, but he played through the injury week 3 and is expected to start week 4. WR Sidney Rice is questionable to play week 4. Rice missed week 3 because of a knee injury. QB Gus Frerotte had a nice game in his first start as the new starter for Minnesota throwing for 204 yards and a TD week 3.

Atlanta: WR Laurent Robinson has a knee injury and is likely to miss week4, and maybe more. Feel free to drop him from your rosters. RB Michael Turner had 104 rushing yards and scored 3 TD’s week 3 against the Chiefs. Turner’s 2008 season has been all peaks and valleys so far through 3 games as he has ripped up two bad defenses (Detroit and Kansas City) and had a very poor game week 2 against a good defense (Tampa Bay). It will be interesting to see how he does a pretty good Carolina defense week 4. If Turner develops consistency as the season goes along he will become a must start every week RB.

Carolina: The split between RB’s DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart has been pretty even with Williams getting 39 carries through 3 games compared to Stewarts 31. Stewart is likely to be the RB with the higher value as the season goes along and should eventually take over as the primary back for the Panthers.

New Orleans: TE Jeremy Shockey will have surgery for a sports hernia and the team says he will miss 3-6 weeks. This is the same injury that Eagles WR Kevin Curtis had surgery for the 3rd week of August and he has yet to come back so expect it to be closer to the 6 week side. TE Billy Miller, who had a nice season in spot time for the Saints in 2007 takes over as the primary pass catching TE and could be a nice sleeper for the short term. WR David Patten suffered a groin injury week 3 and will not play week 4. No timetable has been set for his return. With WR Marques Colston not expected back for a few more weeks, it appears your starting WR’s for New Orleans will be wildly inconsistent Devery Henderson and either Lance Moore or Robert Meachem. Meachem is my pick for having the most upside for those looking for a WR from this usually pass heavy offense. Reports are the RB Deuce McAllister is getting close to being 100% recovered from the knee injury suffered in 2007 and could start working his way into the mix more in coming weeks. His return would have more of an affect on Pierre Thomas than Reggie Bush.

Tampa Bay: No official word on WR Joey Galloway’s status for week 4 yet but he is not expected to play. Galloway has what is being called a foot sprain and he could miss several weeks because of the injury. Expect Antonio Bryant and Ike Hilliard to be the starters for a while. Those who look at Bryant’s 10 catches for 134 yards week 3 as a sign of things to come for the often-troubled WR need to also realize that Brian Griese threw 67 passes week 3. That’s 3rd most in NFL history for a single game and not something that Griese will likely ever even come close to again the rest of his career. TE Jeremy Stevens returned week 3 after serving a 2 game suspension and showed an immediate impact catching 5 passes for 61 yards and a TD. Stevens is a prime sleeper at TE the rest of the season. The continued time share between Warrick Dunn and Ernest Graham at RB has Graham owners concerned. But I still stand by my preseason assertion that Graham is going to be fine as a starting fantasy RB and it will only take a little more time before Graham pushes Dunn into just a complimentary role.

Arizona: Edgerrin James continues to be the team’s primary RB, but backup Tim Hightower is pushing him for more playing time and it could just be a matter of weeks before it’s close to a 50/50 split between the two. Edge has looked good, but Hightower has too and shown both power at the goal line and good hands out of the backfield.

St. Louis: In an effort to both spark the dismal Rams offense and save his own job, Head Coach Scott Linehan has benched QB Marc Bulger and will give the start week 4 to backup Trent Green. The move is rumored to be for more than just one week but the Rams problems were hardly all Bulger’s fault and it’s unlikely Green will fare much better. We’ll see what they do if Green does no better. RB Steven Jackson will be limited in practice this week because of a groin strain, but it’s not expected to be anything that prevents him from playing week 4. With top backup Antonio Pittman out the next 4-6 weeks with a broken leg, Brian Leonard is Jackson’s handcuff if you’re inclined. Rookie WR Donnie Avery will get the start opposite Torry Holt week 4. Dane Looker has been starting with Drew Bennett out for another few weeks, but the team is hoping that Avery’s speed can help in the passing game.

San Francisco: WR Bryant Johnson missed practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury. His status for week is questionable and if he misses the game, rookie Josh Morgan could start. Problem is that Morgan is not fully recovered from a staph infection suffered in preseason that has been limiting him in games so far in 2008. Arnaz Battle, Jason Hill, and converted WR turned TE Delanie Walker could pick up the slack if the 49ers get into a shootout with the Saints this weekend. Mike Martz made a bold statement about QB J.T. O’Sullivan saying that JTO is probably the best QB he’s ever coached. While that sounds like a lot of bluster considering Martz’s work with former league and Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner, it needs to be noted that JTO has not been bad so far on the season and could be developing into a legitimate NFL and fantasy football starting QB.

Seattle: RB Julius Jones is expected to remain the teams starting RB even if Maurice Morris is ready to return after the Seahawks bye this week. Jones has performed very well the last 2 weeks and it appears the team will stay with him as their primary guy. The team is also hopping to get both WR’s Bobby Engram and Deion Branch back week 5. It’s expected that the top 3 WR’s for Seattle going forward will be Branch, Engram, and Koren Robinson.

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