Another star quarterback is down and out on the heels of the Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo and the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees. The latest is Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his knee injury leaving weekly fantasy league players once again without one of their most reliable players heading into Week 4.
Alas, another week goes by in the NFL and another stud quarterback and top weekly fantasy football performer goes down. Roethlisberger suffered a nasty-looking sprained MCL in his left knee Sunday against the St. Louis Rams and he’s projected to miss, at a minimum, the next four weeks.
Before he was injured Roethlisberger was keeping pace with the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady as the top quarterback in the league and in fantasy, putting up loads of yards and touchdowns.
And Roethlisberger’s missed production has far-reaching tentacles stretching into several other key positions. With veteran Michael Vick now expected to take over, beginning with Thursday’s critical AFC North showdown with the 0-3 Baltimore Ravens, owners may think twice about starting all-world receiver Antonio Brown or even running back Le’Veon Bell.
The same could also be said down the road with receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who supplanted Markus Wheaton as the team’s No. 2 receiver with Bell suspended for the first two games of the season, and potentially receiver Martavius Bryant when his four-game suspension is up in Week 5.
Week 4 also marks the first byes of the season, with the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans sitting out. While the Titans haven’t fielded any fantasy forces other than rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, owners do have some major questions revolving around who to start instead of the Patriots' Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receiver Julian Edelman, and their D/ST.
But the fourth installment of our weekly rankings should point fantasy owners in the right direction. Here are our players to target for weekly leagues in Week 4, broken down and ranked by position.
Week 4 byes: New England, Tennessee
1.Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2.Andrew Luck, Colts
3.Russell Wilson, Seahawks
4.Cam Newton, Panthers
5.Matt Ryan, Falcons
No Brady or Roethlisberger? No problem with Rodgers, who stands to pick apart San Francisco’s No. 28 pass defense. Luck is back after guiding Indy to its first win of the season and now faces a recently mortified Jags D letting up 283 passing yards per game. With Marshawn Lynch hurting, Wilson should run-wild against Detroit’s sorely lacking D. Same goes for Newton drawing Tampa Bay’s No. 30 rushing defense.
1.Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2.Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
3.Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
4.Latavius Murray, Raiders
5.Joseph Randle, Cowboys
Making his return from suspension, Bell is a staple for now in the top five, especially in PPR leagues, since the Steelers will have to feed him to help Vick out against opposing pass rushes. And with Derek Carr playing so well, Murray’s even more lethal and jumps into our top five before facing Chicago’s No. 28 rushing defense. Randle unleashed the best game of his career against Atlanta, and now gets a New Orleans D allowing 4.2 yards per carry.
1.Julio Jones, Falcons
2.A.J. Green, Bengals
3.Antonio Brown, Steelers
4.T.Y. Hilton, Colts
5.Steve Smith Sr. Ravens
Jones and Brown will battle for status as the league’s best receiver, but Jones has the edge with Matt Ryan healthy and playing well. Brown slips until Vick proves he’s a worthy starter, while Smith moves into the top five after scoring his first two touchdowns of the season. Smith faces a shaky Steelers secondary that’s allowed six touchdowns and opposing receivers to net 273.3 yards per game.
1.Travis Kelce, Chiefs
2.Tyler Eifert, Bengals
3.Charles Clay, Bills
4.Jimmy Graham, Seahawks
5.Crockett Gillmore, Ravens
Gronk’s one-week vacation moves Kelce and Eifert up one spot. Eifert was blanked on three targets in Week 3 but should’ve been credited a touchdown despite what referees on the field ruled. Clay next faces a Giants D that’s allowed 145 yards and three touchdowns to opposing tight ends, the third-worst mark in fantasy according to ESPN. The team with the second-worst D against tight ends? Pittsburgh, hence Gillmore’s rise.
1.Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons
2.Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers
3.Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders
4.Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
5.Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers
Freeman won’t repeat his scintillating work from Week 3 in Week 4, but he gets a surprisingly ineffective and 20th-ranked Houston rushing defense and could gain another 100 yards and a touchdown. Gordon hasn’t garnered more than 16 touches in a game the first three weeks, but Cleveland is up next and San Diego will likely prey on its porous rushing defense.
Arizona hasn’t exactly faced the NFL’s best yet, but they should continue to beat up the league’s worst with St. Louis and its 16.7 points per game visiting. The Jets should rebound against any identity-less Dolphins attack and the inconsistent Ryan Tannehill. Denver will probably get burned by Adrian Peterson, but will force turnovers out of Teddy Bridgewater.