Adam Levitan

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Week 4 Live Blog

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Welcome to Week 4. With the bloated bye weeks looming in just seven days, we'll have a special eye out today for deeper options. Be sure to stay tuned to the News Page for the latest updates.

Meanwhile, a Rotoworld staffer will be watching every game today, keeping an eye out for in-game injuries, depth chart changes and potential breakout players. If you have a specific question about something going on in a specific game, ask me on Twitter (@adamlevitan) and we will try to get you an answer in this space.

So check back often as we'll constantly be updating this page through the late games. You can also hang out with other fans in the Rotoworld Forums.

1 P.M. GAMES
INACTIVE NEWS
* Dez Bryant (quad) is active. He's reportedly in much better shape than last week. Meanwhile, Laurent Robinson gets the nod at No. 2 wideout ahead of Kevin Ogletree.
* Marques Colston (collarbone) is active. We're expecting him to be eased in with limited snaps.
* Frank Gore (ankle) is active, but Kendall Hunter is starting. Could end up as a "hot hand" situation.
* Arian Foster (hamstring) is starting and expected to carry a full load.

FIRST HALF OBSERVATIONS
* First drive for the Rams: Five plays which included four runs for Steven Jackson and a pass to Steven Jackson. He's back.
* On the Panthers first drive, DeAngelo Williams got three touches. Jonathan Stewart saw three touches. If either of these guys got hurt, the other one would be a RB1.
* Arian Foster got the start, as expected, and looked like his old self. Was spelled by Ben Tate only when he needed a rest, but Tate broke off a 20-yard run. Foster ended up with 10 (!) touches, including nine carries, on the very first drive.
* Darren Sproles brought the Saints down to the 1-inch line with dominating play as a runner and receiver. Then the Saints gave the ball to Jed Collins for the score on a fullback dive. Tough to swallow for Mark Ingram owners.
* Felix Jones got the call on a 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line. He got stuffed. Poor execution.
* Cam Newton is really a special player. On a third-down play, he runs for 14 yards around the edge. Then he creates time with his legs and hits Steve Smith for 53 yards down the the 1-yard line. And then they call a goal-line QB option run for him. He's going to finish the year as a top-12 fantasy quarterback. He's the Panthers' primary goal-line back.
* Ben Tate is sidelined by a groin injury and questionable to return. Meanwhile, Arian Foster is running all over the Steelers' once-vaunted defense. Hopefully you bought low on Foster.
* Jared Cook lives with an 80-yard touchdown! That Kenny Britt injury can only be a good thing -- he's back on the radar as bye weeks approach. Still has that special athleticism.
* Dez Bryant is a special talent. Like a Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald kind of talent. Whenever he's active, he must be started...clearly healthier this week than last.
* Andre Johnson went down in the second quarter on a non-contact injury. Trainers looking at his knee. NOT good. Too early to say, but could be time to free Jacoby Jones. UPDATE: At halftime, the Texans said Johnson's injury is to his hamstring, not his knee. Return is questionable. UPDATE 2: Johnson is on the sideline but not in uniform. He's done for the day and we'll wait to see what "grade" his hamstring pull is.
* Steve Smith (CAR) has six catches for 132 yards with two minutes left in the first half. Confirms last week's dud was a weather-related fluke.
* Freddy Jackson will slow down eventually, but he's still the third-down and goal-line back for the Bills. There will always be value in that.
* First half touches for the Chiefs' backfield: Dexter McCluster 9, Thomas Jones 6, Jackie Battle 1, Le'Ron McClain 1.
* The Steelers' offensive line appears to be regressing, not improvnig. With all their injuries, it's hard to see progress anytime soon here.
* Mike Sims-Walker is not a talent. In fact, he might not even be mediocre. At least two more drops today and no catches in the first half.
* First half touches for the Niners' backfied: Frank Gore 5, Kendall Hunter 5.

SECOND HALF OBSERVATIONS
* Ryan Torain, not Tim Hightower started the second half for the Redskins. Something to monitor -- we know Mike Shanahan loves Torain and he sees Roy Helu as a change-of-pace back.
* Our game-charter is recommending a pickup of Torain in all formats now. He's being used as the feature back in the second half and is producing at a significantly higher clip than Tim Hightower has at any point this season. Torain can actually make someone miss.
* Rashard Mendenhall picked up a hamstring injury and is questionable to return. It's a twist of the knife in the stomach for owners. Isaac Redman is the primary backup.
* Pierre Thomas got two straight fourth-quarter goal-line carries. On third down, Sproles and Marques Colston come in. Play is incomplete to Lance Moore. Again, no sign of Mark Ingram.
* There's nothing wrong with David Nelson other than the circumstances. The Bengals play good defense, the Bills aren't rallying from a major deficit and the Bengals are playing a ball-control style on offense.
* The Lions' offense has been bad, but their defense has two pick-6s. That has led to a lack of chances for Matthew Stafford and friends. Still, he just hit Calvin for a score in triple coverage. Those two can't be stopped.
* DeSean Jackson is getting his hamstring worked on by the trainers. Doesn't seem major -- but sometime to monitor in the midst of his breakout game. He's playing through it.
* Inaccuracy is hurting Matthew Stafford today. He missed Calvin Johnson on a blown coverage and then missed an open Titus Young.
* Marion Barber seals the win for the Bears with perfect execution on a goal-line carry and then does a backflip to prove his calf is fine. Matt Forte owners sulk despite a massive 200-yard rushing game.
* Montario Hardesty has dropped four passes today. He's eating into Peyton Hillis' load, but this won't help on passing downs.


4 P.M. GAMES
INACTIVE NEWS
* Beanie Wells (hamstring) is active.
* Roddy White is active, as expected.
* Vincent Jackson (abdomen) is a full go. Ryan Mathews (foot) is also active, but Mike Tolbert figures to see a bigger role this week versus last.

OBSERVATIONS
* Early looks at backfields. Ryan Mathews in on first two downs, Mike Tolbert gets a third-down target. Willis McGahee starts, Knowshon Moreno used as third-down back.
* Sean Smith looks to be shadowing Vincent Jackson early. Remember Vontae Davis (hamstring) is sidelined.
* Chad Henne tried to scramble on a busted play and got his left (non-throwing) shoulder slammed into the turf. He went to the locker room, bringing backup Matt Moore on.
* Vincent Jackson is a highlight reel. Burns Sean Smith on double move, dives for pass, gets up, runs for TD. Unreal.
* So far, so good for Beanie Wells. No sign of him performing poorly at less than 100 percent. He needs to shed that rep.
* Mario Manningham was replaced by Victor Cruz for an entire drive in the second quarter. Not sure if it's injury or benching, but certainly something to monitor.
* Donald Driver has left with a knee injury. It's time to get Randall Cobb going. Jordy Nelson is already having a big game. Driver was the Packers' fifth-best option in the passing game anyway. UPDATE: Driver is back in there in the slot.
* Michael Bush just vultured a TD from Darren McFadden. Yes, Bush is still the goal-line back.
* Julio Jones is starting flash his sizable talents. Back-to-back 100-yard games now.
* Stevan Ridley is the Patriots' best running back. Period. Make sure he's not on your waiver wire.
* Chalk up two more really bad drops for Brandon Marshall, including one when he was wide open on a bomb. He now has six drops on the season, including three in the end zone.
* Vincent Jackson is back in the game for a third-down play in the fourth quarter. His injury obviously isn't serious, but he barely played in the third quarter. Looks like a case of just trying to get loose.



Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
Email :Adam Levitan



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