It’s Week Four in the NFL, which means the start of bye weeks. Green Bay and Carolina are the first teams to sit and rest up, leaving fantasy owners without the services of quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, as well as receivers Steve Smith and Jordy Nelson.
This is the crucial part of the season when dissecting matchups and previous success is the key to a successful run at the playoffs. Injuries, another huge factor to consider, are also taking their toll around the league.
Check out the players at each position below. All are capable of serving as a one week plug-in or even a full-time starter down the line.
Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens
Though the Ravens are hopeful, Ray Rice’s status is still in doubt due to a hip injury that caused him to miss his first game since his rookie season. Pierce has scored touchdowns in consecutive games, and faces a Buffalo defense that’s giving up 155 rushing yards a game.
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
He missed the first two games of the season with a knee injury, but exploded for 51 yards on three carries and five catches for 49 yards. Bolden is gaining confidence, and reportedly could take more third down carries and plays from Shane Vereen.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
The rookie will reportedly make his NFL debut in London this week, coming back from a Lisfranc injury. He was going to be the No. 1 back before the injury, and should get plenty of touches. He’ll still have to overcome Pittsburgh’s porous offensive line, but the Vikings are 21st against the rush.
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
Many thought the Browns were trying to tank the season after trading Trent Richardson, but if so Hoyer was kept out of the loop. The five-year vet stepped in and had more pass attempts, completions, and touchdowns against Minnesota than in any game in his previous three years. It might be a flash in the pan, but the Cincinnati defense hasn’t appeared as dominate as predicted this season, and Hoyer could torch them in Week Four.
Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are benching Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Glennon, giving him one game ahead of the team’s bye week to evaluate his performance. Glennon threw 62 touchdowns in his last two years at NC State, and has plenty of reliable receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Wallace. In a dynasty or keeper league it's best to pick-up and stash Glennon for now.
Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
He’s perhaps the best plug-in for Rodgers in Week Four. Rivers and Rodgers are tied for second in the league with eight touchdown passes, but the Charger has a better passer rating and fewer interceptions. He’s carrying the Chargers atrocious defense, and meets a Cowboys “D” ranking 22nd against the pass.
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
No receiver has made the most of bad situation than Shorts. He’s currently 10th in receiving yards, and tied for 11th with 19 catches. Shorts is most likely available in eight or 10 team leagues since he hasn’t caught a touchdown yet, but his ability to make big plays could prove fruitful against an Indianapolis team that’s given up nine plays of 20-plus yards. Shorts is a third option in Week Four, but in the coming weeks his value could shoot up.
Ryan Broyles, Detroit Lions
A freak accident to teammate Nate Burleson has moved Broyles up the depth chart. It’s Broyles best opportunity since he was drafted last year, but his struggles with injuries from his college days have limited his development. Assuming Broyles is healthy, he could be a solid second or third receiver.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
A head injury to Terrelle Pryor has him questionable for Week Four, which would likely give Matt Flynn the start. That’s to Moore’s benefit as Flynn will make lots more plays with his arm than Pryor. Also in Week Four, the Raiders are home against Washington and its last place defense.
Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
The Bills are a rush first team, but tight ends have been the best options for rookie quarterbacks. Chandler and EJ Manuel had their best game as teammates this past week, and meet an inconsistent Ravens secondary in Week Four.
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
Oddly enough he’s thrown for one touchdown, but the third-year tight end/fullback hasn’t caught one this season. Still, Clay is second on the team in receptions and yards, and the Dolphins are a far better passing than running team. They face the majorly improved Saints secondary this week, but Clay should be the best option for quarterback Ryan Tannehill underneath.
Tony Scheffler, Detroit Lions
Another Lion expected to get more involved in the wake of Burleson's injury. The same happened last year when Burleson went down with a broken leg.