Week 4 Fantasy Sleepers
Pierre Thomas– I don’t know how much of a sleeper Thomas is at this point. But he is only being started in 28% of fantasy leagues, so some people are late catching on. With the Saints losing their leading running back Mark Ingram in week two, the backfield duties are primarily split between Thomas and Khiry Robinson. Both of which, filled in nicely this past Sunday in New Orleans first win of the season against Minnesota. With the Saints heading to “Jerry World” this Sunday night against one of the worst defenses in the league (Dallas), I can see Thomas having a career game. The Cowboys defense to be honest, has been better than most experts predicted before the season, but are no where near elite. One area the Dallas defense struggles the most is in pass coverage, most notably their linebacking unit. Thomas will be singled a lot of the time, one on one with a Dallas linebacker, and I expect him to take advantage. Don’t be surprised to see Thomas have more receiving yards than rushing yards to go along with at least one score. I can see Thomas being a great RB2 this week, even a shaky RB1.
Steve Smith Sr.- Smith plays his former team this week, to which he has made known to everyone how he feels about this game. In the offseason, Smith promised “blood and guts” when he played the Panthers this year. Smith has been relied on heavily in Baltimore’s passing attack, collecting 100 yard receiving games in two of his first three games as Raven. With tight end Dennis Pitta going down for the season with another hip injury, Joe Flacco will look to other receivers to step up their play. I can see Smith being utilized effectively in the game plan, and grabbing at least one touchdown against his former squad. He is a solid WR2 play this week in standard leagues.
Blake Bortles– I talked Bortles up a lot in training camp, and now we know week 4 is when third overall pick in this years draft will take the reigns of the Jaguars offense. Coming out to start the second half last week against Indianapolis, Bortles played well throwing for over 240 yards and two touchdowns. We did also see some rookie moments, throwing two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. However, for most of the second half Bortles looked calm, and in command of the Jaguars offense. I don’t expect Blake to come in immediately and start throwing up amazing fantasy numbers, but against San Diego it would not shock me if we saw him throw close to 300 yards with two scores. I don’t think the game will be that close, therefore the Jaguars will throw more than originally game planned for. If you have a quarterback on bye, or a bad matchup this week, look for Bortles to be a solid fantasy play.
Branden Oliver– I remember thinking in the offseason after the Chargers had just signed Donald Brown to a three year contract, “Why would San Diego do that?” Now I know. No team can escape injuries in the NFL, and the Bolts’ have lost leading rusher Ryan Mathews and leading receiving back Danny Woodhead in successive weeks. So now Brown is the starter, and little unknown Branden Oliver an undrafted free agent out of the University of Buffalo steps in to be the number two running back in San Diego. Living in Buffalo, I have had the pleasure of watching Oliver play in college regularly, and he can definitely hack it in the pro game. Oliver has a short powerful frame at 5’8 and 208 pounds. The Chargers play Jacksonville this week, and could be resting some of their players if they can secure a nice lead. It seems everyone has been securing large leads against the Jaguars this season. Oliver will be given touches no matter what, but if the Bolts’ start winning his touches will only continue to increase. Oliver has some flex appeal in week four, especially in deeper leagues looking for a bye week start.