We’re past the quarter pole and heading into a new part of the Fantasy Football regular season. Many leagues that have three divisions and 12 teams are out of divisional play, and it’s on to interdivisional or interleague play. As we saw in Week 2, Fantasy Football lost a major contributor to a season-ending injury, as Tennessee Titans WR Kenny Britt (knee) suffered a torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament in Week 3. That means WR Nate Washington will be a hot add off the waiver wire for Britt owners, but there are many other WRs who might be better pickups.
Jason Campbell, OAK: We saw what Campbell is capable of doing in Week 2, when he went for 323 yards, two TD passes and one rushing score against the Buffalo Bills. This week, Campbell and the Raiders welcome the New England Patriots into town. In the past, that has meant bad news for Fantasy QBs, but this year, the Pats are more than giving against the pass. In fact, the prolific pass attack of QB Tom Brady and the offense has masked the difficiencies of the pass defense, which would get a lot more attention if the team had a losing record and most New England fans weren’t busy wringing their hands about the Boston Red Sox pitching staff. Every QB who has faced New England’s pass defense (Miami’s Chad Henne, San Diego’s Philip Rivers and Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick) has passed for at least 369 yards and two scores. If you plan on using Campbell, especially in two-QB leagues, this might not be a one-week suggestion with the Houston Texans on the horizon in Week 5.
Colt McCoy, CLE: McCoy hasn’t been terrible so far this season, averaging 211.3 yards per start while totaling five TD passes and just two interceptions. He hasn’t been great, either. While the Titans, Cleveland’s Week 4 opponent, is second in the NFL against the pass this season, that’s because they limit the downfield throws very well. Cleveland’s pass game relies on the short game, with dinks and dunks to the tight ends and running backs. TEs Evan Moore and Benjamin Watson should both be busy again this week, and RB Peyton Hillis (illness) is back to help out as a safety valve. McCoy isn’t worth using in standard leagues, but he might surprise in two-QB formats.
Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert didn’t embarrass himself in a Week 3 loss at Carolina in his first NFL start. He completed 12-of-21 passes for 139 yards, one TD and one INT. Those numbers are certainly not eye-popping, but the Panthers are decent against the pass, and awful against the run. Plus, most of that game was played in a driving rain storm. Look for Gabbert’s overall stat line to improve against a soft New Orleans Saints pass defense in Week 4.
Kendall Hunter, SF: After San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh’s presser Monday, there appears to be little doubt Frank Gore (ankle) will be ready to return in Week 4 in Philadelphia after twisting his ankle Sunday. Hunter stepped up when called upon and punched in the game-winning TD in Cincinnati, turning the heads of some Fantasy owners. Hunter is not someone to rely upon in most standard Fantasy leagues just yet. However, if you’re a Gore owner and worried about his health, Hunter should be scooped up, not Anthony Dixon.
Alfonso Smith, ARI: Smith was given a chance to carry the mail in Week 3 in Seattle with RB Beanie Wells (hamstring) inactive, and RB Chester Taylor still not quite up to speed with the Arizona offense. Smith wasn’t great, but he saw nearly 20 touches. It appears Wells might be back this weekend, but if there are questions about his availability heading into the weekend, Smith might be one to target as a backup plan.
Green Bay Packers RB Ryan Grant (kidney) suffered a bruised kidney in Week 3 at Chicago, although it appears right now that he won’t miss any time. The Packers will face the Denver Broncos in Week 4, with Grant and RB James Starks likely splitting the load again. So far in three games, it is anyone’s guess which of those guys who will better for Fantasy purposes. This past week against the Bears, Starks was awful and Grant posted a respectable 92 rushing yards on 17 totes. … Dallas Cowboys RB Felix Jones (shoulder) left the Week 3 game Monday against the Redskins late in the fourth quarter after aggravating his separated shoulder. He played in a harness, and posted a career-high 115 yards on the ground. However, he is one to monitor all week, with RB DeMarco Murray likely to benefit with more time if Jones cannot go in Week 4.
Torrey Smith, BAL: Whenever a guy posts three receiving TDs in a game, Fantasy owners are going to take notice. That’s exactly what Smith did in Week 3 at St. Louis when given the opportunity. Smith is not THAT good, but he is someone who should start carving out a nice piece of the offense for himself going forward. The Ravens talked about their confidence in Smith and fellow rookie Tandon Doss during the preseason. With Lee Evans (ankle) inactive, Smith stepped up and got it done. Evans said he is unsure about his status in Week 4 against the New York Jets. Smith might get a chance to shine again, but he is not expected to find nearly as much success against a strong Jets pass defense. If so, he’ll be flying off the waiver wire next week.
Nate Washington, TEN: We mentioned Britt’s season-ending injury above, one which means Washington will benefit even more. He already has 21 receptions, including 15 in the past two games, on the season with one score. Washington has been targeted a whopping 27 times, and that was with Britt on the field through the first three games. Now that Washington is the de facto No. 1 WR in Nashville, look for QB Matt Hasselbeck to depend on his veteran hands more than ever. Don’t get too excited and think he’ll be a WR1 or WR2, but he should end up being a solid WR3 or ‘flex’ play in most formats.
Many Fantasy owners are debating the usefulness of New York Giants WR Victor Cruz, who is available in nearly all formats. He exploded for three grabs, 110 yards and his first two NFL TDs in Philadelphia Sunday. However, with WR Mario Manningham (concussion) on the comeback trail, Cruz might be headed back to a lesser role. Monitor Manningham’s practice reports later in the week before considering Cruz. … Buffalo Bills WR Donald Jones is a player who is flying under the waiver wire radar this week, but he might be the best pickup of the lot. Jones has some long-term Fantasy appeal with WR Roscoe Parrish (ankle) on season-ending Injured Reserve. Jones stepped up and posted 107 receiving yards in Week 3 against the Patriots. He is a work in progress, but he might get plenty of looks, and doesn’t have a veteran ahead of him about to return from injury.
Benjamin Watson, CLE: As mentioned above with McCoy, the Titans have it on lockdown against the pass. However, that’s due to their downfield coverage. The Browns like the short game, and rely upon their TEs heavily. Watson is coming off a solid game in Week 3, posting five grabs for 64 yards. He was also targeted 10 times, or half of his 20 targets this season. He and fellow TE Evan Moore, also likely available off the waiver wire, should get plenty of looks. Don’t be surprised if between the two of them, they see a total of 20 targets against the Titans.
Houston Texans FB/TE James Casey is likely available in every Fantasy league heading into Week 4. However, even head coach Gary Kubiak was surprised by his stat line, and he wasn’t expected to factor into the gameplan as much against the New Orleans Saints, but it just sorta happened. The TE turned FB or H-Back had five receptions for 126 yards and a score againt the Saints, but the week before he did not have any offensive touches. Keep that in mind. Head coach Gary Kubiak told HoustonTexans.com that Casey will also have a “wrinkle” in the offense, but with the Pittsburgh Steelers looming on the schedule in Week 4, Casey is likely headed back to Fantasy obscurity. One more note on Casey — he came in with eight receptions for 98 yards — for his career. If that doesn’t help you temper expectations, nothing will.