Get the Athlon Sports Newsletter
Five fantasy matchups to watch (Week 4)
By Mike Beacom
Fantasy owners love DeAngelo Williams; they just don’t know when to trust him. He’s boom or bust, and often the complication factor is whether teammate Jonathan Stewart will get in the way.
This week, Williams will face intra-divisional opponent New Orleans, which has given up 435 rushing yards (No. 30) and 4.4 yards per carry (tied for No. 19).
When Williams last played the Saints he had one of his best performance of 2009. In that November contest, Williams carried 21 times for 149 yards (7.1 average) and scored a pair of first quarter touchdowns. By comparison, Stewart gained just 24 yards on 13 carries.
The Saints have allowed a 100-yard rusher in two of three games this year. Fantasy owners can count on Williams adding his name to that list this Sunday.
Here are a few other fantasy players facing favorable matchups in Week 4 (all of the players listed are considered backups or ‘fringe’ starters in most fantasy league formats):
>> Chad Henne vs. New England’s pass defense
New England ranks 30th in the NFL in opposing passer completion percentage (69.4) and is tied for most passing scores allowed (seven). Heck, the Patriots made Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick look good last week (247 yards, two touchdowns) and that can’t be easy. Henne is coming off of a strong week and could begin to push his way into the fantasy quarterback 10-15 range, if he hasn’t already.
>> Steve Smith vs. Chicago’s pass defense
As far as fantasy owners are concerned, it’s been a so-so year for Smith. He leads the Giants in receptions (18) but has yet to sniff the end zone. Opponents have completed 88 passes against the Bears so far (third most in the league) and last week two packer players (Jermichael Finley and Donald Driver) each caught nine balls.
>> LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Buffalo’s run defense
And he was going to be Shonn Greene’s backup! Not anymore. Even so, Tomlinson has yet to gain the full confidence of fantasy owners. This week, though, he deserves it. The Bills rank in the bottom third of the league in run defense and have allowed five rushing scores – tied for the most.
>>Donald Driver vs. Detroit’s pass defense
Driver’s numbers offer two stories: he ranks 11th in the NFL in catches, yet has one of the lowest yards-per-catch totals of any starting receiver (7.2). The thing about Driver, though, is he makes the most of what he has to work with (18 catches as compared to 23 targets) and has gained favor in the passing offense while Greg Jennings has struggled. This week he faces a Lions defense that ranks 26th in yards allowed to receivers per game (285.7).