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Fantasy: Matchups to avoid or exploit in Week 4

Justin Boone, TSN.ca

9/26/2012 6:32:50 PM

As you prepare to set your lineup each week, TSN.ca's NFL Editor Justin Boone breaks down some of the less obvious matchups you should capitalize on and those you should steer clear of for the weekend games.

For specific lineup decisions, consult the Weekly Fantasy Player Rankings.

QUARTERBACKS

Exploit

Matt Schaub (vs. Titans) - Schaub had his bell rung hard against the Broncos leading to a suspension for Joe Mays, but it didn't stop Schaub from racking up 290 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Coming off that performance, Schaub gets to pick on the Titans, who allowed 442 passing yards and three scores to the Lions last week. With defences selling out to stop the run, Schaub will have games where he can go over the top and find his receivers downfield. This week will be another one of those games.   

Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. Patriots) - The Bills' field general may not be lighting the league on fire to start the season, but he has eight touchdown passes in three games. The Patriots have added a few rookie playmakers to their defence, but last year Fitzpatrick torched them throwing for 676 yards and four touchdowns over their two games. If you've been struggling at quarterback, Fitzpatrick could be a nice fill-in this week.  

Avoid

Jay Cutler (at Cowboys) - The Cowboys have injuries in their secondary, but with Brandon Carr moving to free safety and Morris Claiborne and Mike Jenkins manning the cornerback spots, Dallas will still have a strong unit defending the pass. Add to that the pass rush led by DeMarcus Ware and Cutler and company could be in trouble. The Bears offensive line has been their weakness and Ware will certainly be out to take advantage. With little time to work, Cutler will continue to be limited in the passing game.

Carson Palmer (at Broncos) - Palmer has been a top 10 fantasy quarterback through 12 quarters in 2012. Unfortunately for the Raiders' offence, they will be without wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and tight end Brandon Myers may also miss the contest after suffering a concussion in Week 3. If the Raiders fall behind early, the Broncos will finally be able to employ their pass rushers off the edge and it could be a tough day for Palmer at Mile High.

RUNNING BACKS

Exploit

Stevan Ridley (at Bills) - The Ridley train came to a screeching halt when it arrived in Baltimore. After rushing for 196 yards and adding 51 yards through the air in the first two weeks, Ridley was held to 37 total yards in Week 3. The Patriots claim their gameplan was to attack the Ravens' front seven with quicker backs, instead of pounding the ball with Ridley. The Patriots will look to establish the run once again this week in Buffalo and Ridley will get back on track.

Mikel Leshoure (vs. Vikings) - Anyone who watched the Lions-Titans' game got a firsthand view of what's to come in Detroit's backfield. Leshoure returned from suspension and rattled off a 26-carry performance, dominating the touches for the Lions. It will be more difficult for Leshoure to break the 100-yard mark against the Vikings, but with Detroit's passing attack drawing all the attention, Leshoure will continue to make his mark.

Avoid

Steven Jackson (vs. Seahawks) - Jackson has been dealing with injuries this season and now he has to face a Seahawks' defence that has allowed the second fewest rushing yards this season. The Seahawks defensive line is a mauling group that controls the line of scrimmage and swallows up incoming tailbacks. Jackson will try his best to be the focal point of the Rams' offence, but the veteran will continue to be contained this week. 

Chris Johnson (at Texans) - If you own Johnson, there is a good chance that your fantasy season isn't going exactly as you planned. The first rounder has been the worst kind of surprise for fantasy owners, who bet that he would regain his form after a full off-season. With a date with the Texans on the docket, Johnson won't be course correcting any time soon.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Exploit

Stevie Johnson (vs. Patriots) - Just as Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrived, at least from a fantasy perspective against the Patriots, so too has Johnson. The Bills' top target found the end zone in each meeting with New England last year and definitely should spend time there this week. Johnson hasn't posted more than 61 yards this season, but he has a touchdown in every game of 2012. Expect that trend to continue in Week 4.

Demaryius Thomas (vs. Raiders) - Thomas had to deal with the Texans shutdown corner Jonathan Joseph in Week 3 and the result was his worst game of the season. Oakland's secondary is the perfect remedy to what ails Thomas. Not only do I think Thomas will top 100 receiving yards, but he has a great chance to score.

Avoid

Brandon Marshall (at Cowboys) - Marshall appeared to have locked down WR1 status when he caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown in the season opener. It's been tougher sledding for the Bears' offence since then, as their inability to maintain a pocket has prevented Cutler from making clean throws down field. Marshall will be able to feast on weaker defences later in the year, but for now the Cowboys will keep him in check.

Sidney Rice (at Rams) - All replacement referee talk aside, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson hasn't impressed in his first three starts. Rice has been battling a knee injury, but the reality is the current Seahawks' system is built around running back Marshawn Lynch, limiting the fantasy reliability of the receivers. With the Rams' improved play from their corners, Rice will disappoint his owners.

TIGHT ENDS

Exploit

Martellus Bennett (at Eagles) - Bennett has been a force for the Giants, averaging five catches, 62 yards and a touchdown per game. The Eagles can be vulnerable down the middle, which Dennis Pitta showed in Week 2. With Eli Manning not slowing down, Bennett will continue to be a target in the Giants' passing attack.

Dennis Pitta (vs. Browns) - Speaking of tight ends who have impressed early in the 2012 campaign, Pitta has been Joe Flacco's favourite pass catcher thus far. With 18 receptions for 188 yards and two scores, Pitta is firmly a TE1 and will feast on the Browns' defence.

Avoid

Fred Davis (at Buccaneers) - Davis woke up in Week 3 and has his best game of the season. Playing a high-powered offence led by Robert Griffin III, fantasy owners expected games like that every week from the young tight end, but he has been hit and miss to this point. The Buccaneers' defence is a stout group that has kept tight ends under wraps and will do so again. 

Greg Olsen (at Falcons) - Olsen has received the targets necessary to be a TE1, but he still struggles with inconsistency. Will you get the Olsen that flirted with 100 yards last week or the Olsen that had one catch for 13 yards the week before? I'm not willing to gamble in a year where tight end is one of the deepest positions.