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2010 Fantasy Football: Week 4 Rankings

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers warms up before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on September 27, 2010.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

Updated Friday, October 1.

Below are my rankings for Week 4. I’m participating in a study as part of Fantasy Pros, where they keep track of the accuracy of many of the top fantasy ‘experts’ around the country. As of Week 3, I’m ranked #3 out of 39 experts that post their rankings at the site. If you utilize my advice on the Q&A, please take a moment to sign up at Fantasy Pros (it’s free) and rate me as an expert.

These rankings are for a standard (non-PPR) scoring system:

Quarterbacks

1. Aaron Rodgers (GB vs. DET)
2. Peyton Manning (IND @ JAC)
3. Michael Vick (PHI vs. WAS)
4. Philip Rivers (SD vs. ARI)
5. Drew Brees (NO vs. CAR)
6. Tom Brady (NE @ MIA)
7. Matt Ryan (ATL vs. SF)
8. Donovan McNabb (WAS @ PHI)
9. Kyle Orton (DEN @ TEN)
10. Jay Cutler (CHI @ NYG)
11. Eli Manning (NYG vs. CHI)
12. Chad Henne (MIA vs. NE)
13. Matt Schaub (HOU @ OAK)
14. Mark Sanchez (NYJ @ BUF)
15. Bruce Gradkowski (OAK vs. HOU)
16. Matt Hasselbeck (SEA @ STL)
17. Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF vs. NYJ)
18. Vince Young (TEN vs. DEN)
19. Sam Bradford (STL vs. SEA)
20. Carson Palmer (CIN @ CLE)
21. Charlie Batch (PIT vs. BAL)
22. Joe Flacco (BAL @ PIT)
23. Shaun Hill (DET @ GB)
24. Alex Smith (SF @ ATL)
25. Derek Anderson (ARI @ SD)
26. David Garrard (JAC vs. IND)
27. Seneca Wallace (CLE vs. CIN)
28. Jimmy Clausen (CAR @ NO)

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Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas banged up for Saints

Sep 20, 2010; San Francisco, CA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws a pass during the Saints' 25-22 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. Photo via Newscom

Good thing the Saints take on the hapless Panthers this Sunday, because they’ve become the walking wounded.

Reggie Bush (broken fibula) doesn’t need crutches anymore and is walking without pain. He believes he’ll be back sooner than expected, but that’s about the only injury news that favors the Saints right now.

Drew Brees will play Sunday against Carolina, but he’s expected to wear a brace on his sore left knee. He suffered the injury late last week in an overtime loss to the Falcons and while he doesn’t think the knee will affect his performance, you never know how a player will respond to an injury until he gets on the field. The good thing is that Brees is a tremendous pocket passer and even if he had two good knees we wouldn’t be seeing his best Michael Vick impression.

The other significant piece of injury news surrounding the Saints has to do with Pierre Thomas’ ankle. He’s going to be a game-time decision after missing practice the past two days, although the team has yet to active DeShawn Wynn from the practice squad so that’s a good sign. Head coach Sean Payton also said on Thursday that Thomas is a rare player in that he can miss practice and still be mentally ready to play on Sunday.

The Saints struggled to run the ball last week against the Falcons and it hurt them late in the game. Their passing attack was still unstoppable, but come overtime their defense was worn down from being on the field all day and Atlanta took advantage. I don’t expect the Panthers to pull off an upset this week, but with Brees and Thomas hobbled the game could be tighter than anticipated.

Will the 49ers be more explosive under Mike Johnson?

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 20:  Michael Crabtree #15 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes against the Philadelpia Eagles defense at Lincoln Financial Field on December 20, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

It’s hard to argue that the 49ers aren’t the most disappointing team in the NFL thus far. While the Vikings, Giants and Chargers have played below expectations themselves, the Niners were supposed to be well on their way to winning the weak NFC West by now.

Instead, they’re 0-3 and were the first team to make a major coaching change earlier this week when they fired offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye on Monday. Mike Johnson will take over the position and already he’s vowing to do things differently than his predecessor.

Johnson wants to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers by spreading things out and giving defenses more looks. Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis have been underutilized so far and the hope is to confuse opponents with different packages.

Of course, Raye wanted Crabtree and Davis to get their hands on the ball more too, but when Sundays came he would stick with a more conservative approach. Communication issues between Raye, head coach Mike Singletary and quarterback Alex Smith only complicated things and subsequently led to Raye’s firing earlier this week.

The Niners take on a Falcon team this Sunday that ranks 21st in the league in total defense, but is only allowing 15.3 points per game. They’re prone to giving up the big play, so if Johnson is aggressive Smith may be able to connect with Crabtree and/or Davis in the vertical passing game. On the surface, this doesn’t appear to be a good matchup for the 49ers. But considering Atlanta is coming off an emotional victory over the Saints and could be due for a letdown, this is a situation San Fran may be able to take advantage of.

But it’s up to Johnson to deliver on what he’s saying now. Plenty of coaches and coordinators talk a good game during the week but then when game time approaches, some of them lose their gumption. They call plays too close to the vest and before they know it, their team is down by two scores and they’re playing catchup.

We’ll see how Johnson fares in his debut.

Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em: Week 4

NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 26: Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons looks to throw under pressure from Will Smith  of the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on September 26, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Every week, I will highlight a few players to start and a few players to sit at each position. I’m a firm believer in starting your studs, so I won’t suggest you bench Drew Brees or Adrian Peterson because they have tough matchups – just go ahead and keep them in your lineup. Instead, I’ll focus on the borderline guys – players you’ll only start under the right circumstances. It’s important to note that depending on your roster and situation, you may not be able to follow these recommendations. For example, if I suggest you bench a solid starter like Tony Romo, only do so if you have a clearly better option on your bench.

Matt Ryan should be in starting lineups this week given his favorable matchup against the 49ers, who have yielded 2.3 passing TDs through the first three weeks…Chad Henne figures to throw quite a bit against a suspect Pats secondary that is ranked 25th in yards allowed…Mark Sanchez looks like a safe start against the Bills, who are giving up 221 passing yards and 1.7 pass TDs per game…Need someone to plug in for Tony Romo or Brett Favre during their bye? Bruce Gradkowski played pretty well last week (255 yards, TD) in a good matchup and figures to throw a lot against a Houston pass defense that has given up 368 yards per game (along with 2.0 TDs)…Vince Young should be able to post nice numbers against a Broncos pass defense that has struggled not only against Peyton Manning, but David Garrard and Matt Hasselbeck as well.

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2010 College Football Week 5 Predictions

RALEIGH, NC - SEPTEMBER 16: Russell Wilson  of the North Carolina State Wolfpack talks to his team in the huddle against the Cincinnati Bearcats during their game at Carter-Finley Stadium on September 16, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Ugh.

After going 3-1 two weeks ago, I successfully predicted a downfall last Saturday by putting forth a brutal effort. Alabama (no front door cover, Tide?), South Carolina (couldn’t hang onto that lead, Cocks?) and LSU (only 20 points at home, Tigers?) were all losers, while my only winner was Temple over Penn State (even though the Owls tried to blow that one for me late).

Here goes a better effort this week…

No. 17 Ohio State –16.5 at Illinois, 12:00PMET
Lay the points. The Buckeyes are 4-0 against the spread this year and have done it in rather easy fashion. I realize this is their first road test of the year, not to mention their first Big Ten game, but Ohio State is the far superior team and should roll. The Buckeyes haven’t lost to the Illini since 1991 and while Illinois has hung with them in recent years, it’ll be too much Terrelle Pryor this Saturday.
THE PICK: OHIO STATE –16.5

No. 11 Wisconsin vs. No. 24 Michigan State +2, 3:30PM ET
The Spartans will certainly get a lift from Mark Dantonio, who returns to the sidelines (the press box, actually) this weekend after suffering a heart attack following MSU’s overtime win over Notre Dame two weeks ago. The Spartans have rushed for over 200 yards in each of their first four games and while the Badgers have a potent rushing attack themselves, I like MSU to win outright in East Lansing. Every year the Spartans beat an opponent they’re not supposed to and while a win on Saturday would hardly be shocking, it would still be considered an upset with Wisconsin ranked 11th in the nation.
THE PICK: MICHIGAN STATE +2

Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina State +4, 3:30PM ET
I feel as though people are falling asleep on this NC State team, which is coming off impressive wins over Cincinnati and Georgia Tech the past two weekends. They don’t have a great rushing offense, but their passing game led by Russell Wilson ranks 19th in the nation and they’re averaging 37.75 points per game. After losing to Boise State and James Madison earlier in the year, VA Tech has gotten back on track with wins over East Carolina and Boston College the past two weekends. That said, there’s still something missing from this team and while Tyrod Taylor has made a ton of highlight reel plays, he leads an offense that is 87th in passing. I think NC State keeps this game within a field goal and covers.
THE PICK: NC STATE +4

No. 3 Boise State –43.5 vs. New Mexico State, 8:00PM ET
Usually I don’t even consider games that have point spreads of over 30 points because of the threat of a backdoor cover, but I always make an exception when New Mexico State is involved. As long as the Broncos don’t take their foot off the gas I could see them scoring in the 60s this weekend. The Aggies rank second-to-last in total defense among FBS teams and the Broncos can ill-afford to suffer a letdown now that they’re ranked third in the nation. Boise rolls.
THE PICK: BOISE STATE –43.5

Season Record: 4-4

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