Week 4 Fantasy Pick-ups – Let the Shanahan-igans begin!

Just when you thought Tim Hightower was a safe starter, here comes Mike Shanahan to ruin your day!  Anybody who has ever owned a Shanahan running back in the past should have seen this coming, and yet, I myself made the mistake of relying on Hightower as a flex-play.  Not only did he put up a dud this week, but his job may be in jeopardy as well.  Surprisingly, it isn’t Roy Helu who Shanahan is leaning on, it’s his old fantasy stud, turned bench warmer, turned stud again, Ryan Torain.  Could this finally be the guy that Shanahan will turn loose the rest of the season?  Or is it just another jab at fantasy owners?

Torain is clearly the number 1 waiver claim this week.  He looked great, and his running style is well-suited for Shanahan’s one-cut zone-blocking scheme.  I advise Hightower owners to sell high (although his highest value may have been last week), you should still be able to replace him with a top 20 RB or WR.  Helu owners, his role shouldn’t change much, Shanahan has hinted at him being the change-of-pace back, with Torain and Hightower splitting carries.  The only positive for Hightower in this situation is that he is a premier pass-blocker; something that has plagued Torain his entire carrier.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Torain takes over for a few weeks and then goes back to the bench because of his pass-blocking, but don’t risk it, Hightower owners should get out while they can!

The rest…

QB – Matt Cassel – KC – He seems to have his groove back.  Look for him to put up similar numbers to last year the rest of the way.  Actually has a pretty nice schedule coming up.

QB – Donovan McNabb – MIN – Viking fans may be calling for Ponder, but McNabb has another solid match-up this week, at home against Arizona.

QB – Alex Smith – SF – Has had a few nice weeks this season, none bigger than this past week against the vaunted Eagles defense.

WR – Eric Decker – DEN – Officially a must-own! He was targeted 10 times, caught 5 for 56 yards and 2 touchdowns.  With Lloyd seeing double-coverage in the red-zone, it’s safe to assume Orton will continue to look Decker’s way.

WR – Victor Cruz – NYG – Made an impact again this week.  He was even used ahead of Manningham in 2-receiver sets.  Who knows if that will continue, but even if it doesn’t he will still have value.

WR – Antonio Brown – PIT – Big Ben targeted him 10 times this week.  He’s put up over 60 yards receiving in the last 3, and teams are rolling coverage to contain Mike Wallace’s speed.  Wouldn’t be surprised to see Brown start breaking more big plays and scoring more TD’s.

RB – Stevan Ridley – NE – Like I said last week, Belichick rides the hot hand.  Woodhead left the game with some sort of ankle injury, severity unknown.  Ridley is clearly the fastest of the three backs in New England.  I expect him to see 10+ touches every week, with Green-Ellis taking over in the red-zone.

RB – Isaac Redman – PIT – Simply because Mendenhall could miss next weeks game against the Titans.

RB – Bernard Scott – CIN – This might be the week Benson starts his 3 game suspension.  Scott would face the Jaguars, Colts, (Bye in week 7) and Seahawks.

TE – Jermaine Gresham – CIN – Dalton’s security blanket, and a major target in the red-zone.

TE – Jared Cook – TEN – Was on the list last week.  If you didn’t buy in, now is the time.  With Britt out, Cook will see a lot more targets and is a match-up nightmare for linebackers.

*Note* WR – Laurant Robinson – DAL – Would have appeared on this list but has a bye this week, and Austin is expected to return in week 6.  However, monitor the Cowboy injury situation, because if Austin or Bryant are out, Robinson could have a big game filling in.

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