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Flex Plays: Players to Watch in Week 4

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover has covered fantasy football for Rotowire.com since 2011 and is most proud of recommending Victor Cruz as a starter in his breakout game against the Eagles. He's a lifelong fan of Notre Dame, the Packers and, unfortunately, the Knicks.

Brandon LaFell went without a catch last week (though a monsoon may have had something to do with that), and yet the pick that was most disconcerting to me was Antonio Brown giving me a third straight notch in the L column. And the worst part is that he went into the half with 75 yards receiving. The HALF! He finished as the most targeted Steeler but stuck at 75 yards! Even with the Steelers losing! Five more pity yards is all I needed to hit the 8-point baseline I've set for RB/WR/TE's. Brown owes me five yards and a W.

Now with that mini venting rant out of the way, let's get down to brass tacks. I made improvement but still haven't gotten over the 0.500 hump, finishing 14-18 for Week 3. It's not what I'd hoped for, but with three guys finishing just a point shy of a W, I'm proud of the week. I was let down by one of my favorite picks-Andy Dalton-as much to my chagrin the 49ers defense owned Cinci's O, and James Starks, Isaac Redman and LaFell also turned in stinkers. On the plus side I totally called Victor Cruz's monster day with my glowing "you could do worse" recommendation, and also scored on Daniel Thomas' big outing and Matt Hasselbeck's carving up of the Denver secondary.

As for Week 4 I'm very high on Greg Olsen in his return to Chicago, Lance Moore tearing up the Jags and Eli in Arizona. They are my money picks. So use 'em if you got 'em, especially since this week is crucial heading into the bye-week schedule.

Sunday 10/2/11

Detroit @ Dallas

Brandon Pettigrew (TE) for Lions - Pettigrew bounced way back from his 7-yard Week 2 performance to post 112 yards on 11 catches against Minnesota. Coach Jim Schwartz explained Pettigrew's big day as compensating for the lack of a running game. Dallas has the second stingiest rush defense in the league. Are you picking up what I'm putting down?

Felix Jones (RB) for Cowboys - Jones finally looked the part of the home-run threat Dallas fans saw his rookie year. Apparently he just needed to separate his shoulder to regain that form. And he'll need to continue to play through the injury if the Cowboys want any form of run game.

Carolina @ Chicago

Greg Olsen (TE) for Panthers - The Bears defense is giving up an average of six catches, 79 yards and a touchdown to opposing teams' No. 1 tight end through three weeks (granted Jermichael Finley put up all three scores). Olsen should continue that trend in a revenge matchup with his former employer.

Johnny Knox (WR) for Bears - A 70-yard score Week 1. Scores from 49 and 84 yards out in Week 2, and then a 36-yarder against the Jags. The Panthers pass defense is dead last in yards allowed per attempt at 9.7 and clearly they have an issue with giving up big plays. Enter Johnny Knox and his 21-yards-per-catch average.

Buffalo @ Cincinnati

David Nelson (WR) for Bills - If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Cedric Benson (RB) for Bengals - Facing a three-game suspension, Benson should be angry and looking to take out his aggression on a Bills defense giving up 4.7 yards a carry and 115 yards a game.

Tennessee @ Cleveland

Nate Washington (WR) for Titans - No Britt. No run game. No problem if you own Mr. Washington. He will be a target monster until CJ2K gets his act together.

Benjamin Watson (TE) for Browns - With the Titans corners shutting down opposing wideouts, Watson, who already leads the team in targets, should be Colt McCoy's best friend this week.

Minnesota @ Kansas City

Donovan McNabb (QB) for Vikings - What's the best remedy for a quarterback that's only thrown two touchdowns in three games? That's right! A defense that's already given up eight passing scores.

Dwayne Bowe (WR) for Chiefs - If Kansas City's going to notch a win this year it will need a heavy dose of Bowe to do it. Count on Cassel forcing it to him often in a winnable matchup with the worst closing team in football.

Washington @ St. Louis

Roy Helu (RB) for Redskins - The Rams are allowing over 170 rushing yards a game at nearly 5.5 per carry. Helu is averaging over two yards more per carry than Tim Hightower and beginning to eat into his weekly touches. If the Skins can get an early lead against the floundering Rams this could be Helu's best day yet.

Danario Alexander (WR) for Rams - Sure he hasn't caught everything his way, but Alexander has seen 15 targets over the past two games and that number only figures to go up if the Rams continue to struggle putting points on the board. At 6-5 and with deep speed, Alexander is Sam Bradford's only big-play weapon.

New Orleans @ Jacksonville

Lance Moore (WR) for Saints - Drew Brees loves his underneath routes and few run them as adeptly as Moore. He has become the Wes Welker of the south.

Darren Sproles (RB) for Saints - See Moore, Lance. Sproles has thrived as well in the Saints' surgical pass attack, racking up 21 catches through three weeks.

Pittsburgh @ Houston

Antonio Brown (WR) for Steelers - Brown has improved his numbers each week and has been targeted only four less times than Mike Wallace. It's just a matter of time until he turns in a breakout performance and I fully intend to ride him until he does.

Owen Daniels (TE) for Texans - After losing big chunks of the past two seasons to injury, Daniels seems to finally be rekindling his chemistry with Matt Schaub. Look for that to continue against an aggressive Pitt defense that will force Schaub to get rid of the ball quickly.

San Francisco @ Philadelphia

Kendall Hunter (RB) for 49ers - It sounds like Frank Gore will get a chance to play despite his bad ankle, but even with him active, Hunter should see double-figure touches, which against one of the leagues worst rush defenses could be all he needs for a big day.

Steven Smith (WR) for Eagles - If Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) is forced to sit, Smith could be the primary benefactor. He is an excellent slot receiver and could become the go-to option for whoever suits up at QB for the Eagles, acting as the safety blanket when the 49ers bring pressure.

New York Giants @ Arizona

Eli Manning (QB) for Giants - Just when everyone had written off Manning after two shaky outings to begin the year, he goes and torches one of the best secondaries in the league. I can't wait to see what he does for an encore against one of the worst.

Mario Manningham (WR) for Giants - Manningham's (concussion) absence from the Philly game opened the door for the Victor Cruz coming out party. Considering that nothing motivates a player in this league like someone threatening his job security, Manning to Manningham could be heard a lot against the weak Cardinals secondary.

Atlanta @ Seattle

Tony Gonzalez (TE) for Falcons - Gonzalez has posted at least 70 yards or a touchdown in each of the first three weeks of 2011 and is averaging eight targets a contest. This future HOF'er is looking like a young 35 and should continue to be Atlanta's best red zone weapon.

Sidney Rice (WR) for Seahawks - Apparently Tarvaris Jackson can actually throw the ball. Well that is, as long as it's to Rice. Seeing now that Rice can handle the labrum injury that threatened his season, he's a solid high-risk play considering his immense talent and the huge amount of targets he should see.

Miami @ San Diego

Chad Henne (QB) for Dolphins - San Diego is allowing the second highest passer rating in the league to opposing quarterbacks, and just allowed Matt Cassel to toss two TD's on their home turf. Henne will spread the ball around better than Cassel and should find better results.

Patrick Crayton (WR) for Chargers - Miami has allowed at least two passing scores a game and with both Antonio Gates (foot) and Malcom Floyd (groin) ailing and either limited or out, Crayton could cash in on a sweet matchup.

New England @ Oakland

Deion Branch (WR) for Patriots - Just a week after Branch led the team in receiving the Patriots inexplicably went away from Branch in the Buffalo loss and Tom Brady threw four picks. I doubt that went unnoticed by Bill Belichick and Brady.

Denarius Moore (WR) for Raiders - I want more Moore! Even against the best secondary in the league Moore found a way to put points on the board. He is the real deal and the second-most dynamic player in silver and black to Run DMC. Against the porous Pats' pass defense, he should be in for a big day.

Denver @ Green Bay

Brandon Lloyd (WR) for Broncos - Denver will be losing and Kyle Orton will be throwing. A lot. Lloyd has yet to have a big game, so facing a pass defense giving up 359 yards a week couldn't be better timing for his fantasy owners.

James Starks (RB) for Packers - Even though Ryan Grant had a far superior outing versus Chicago, Starks should see the bulk of carries this week as Grant nurses a bruised kidney. In what could be a blowout win for the Pack that will give Starks a chance to heal a bruised ego.

New York Jets @ Baltimore

Plaxico Burress (WR) for Jets - If the Jets want to put points on the board they will badly need Burress' size near the goal line against a stingy Ravens' defense that has only given up three red zone touchdowns through three weeks.

Ed Dickson (TE) for Ravens - Dickson is tied with Ray Rice for second on the team with 20 targets behind only Anquan Boldin's 28. With Boldin trapped on Revis Island, expect Dickson to be Joe Flacco's best friend against the swarming Rex Ryan defense.

Monday 10/3/11

Indianapolis @ Tampa Bay

Pierre Garcon (WR) for Colts - Half of Garcon's 10 targets, half of his 6 catches and 53 of his 82 yards all came in the fourth quarter with Curtis Painter under center. Painter and Garcon seem to have a good chemistry and with Painter likely filling in this week for Kerry Collins (concussion), Garcon should have a nice night.

Josh Freeman (QB) for Buccaneers - Freeman will step up in his MNF debut. There's talent around him and he plays his best ball under pressure. Indy won't be backing down, so Freeman will have to respond. After three subpar performances, my gut says he's ready.