Just a quick note, this is Week 4 of the NFL preseason which means that almost none of the typical starters will be playing (so don’t roster them!). This means we need to target the backups who will be getting playing time and who have a high expectancy for a big game in their respective matchups. I’ve outlined my favorite picks at each position below and concentrated on those who will be seeing a lot of field in week 4.
The Texans top two spots on the QB depth chart are fairly settled and they have decided to sit both Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallet in week 4. Savage might actually be the most talented QB on the Texans roster and so seeing him get the start and the possibility of a full game is very interesting. I think he’ll make for a great play due to both talent and volume.
Hundley actually started week three of preseason and looked pretty darn good throwing for 315 yards and 2 TDs while playing against the first string defense of the Eagles. Hundley is a great looking prospect who fell way too far in the draft. He can run and showed he’s starting to progress in the pocket already. He should get at least 2-3 Q’s of play if not more. The Packer’s cut fourth stringer Matt Blanchard but still have backup Scott Tolzien who’s been out with a concussion. If Tolzien plays Hundley will be less of a play, but there’s still a lot of upside with him, especially since he’ll be going against second string defense this week.
If you’ve been reading my preseason articles you know that Nassib’s one of my favorite prospects. He’s got a huge arm and looks very relaxed and capable going through his reads in the pocket. He outperformed Eli Manning last week and projects to get close to a full game here, although Eli Manning is set to play one drive or so in this game. Even if he doesn’t get a full game I can’t leave Nassib off my list as he should benefit from seeing a full team of second stringers for at least a full half. He’s got great upside this week.
In Buffalo Rex Ryan has stated that all three of his starting QBs will skip this game and that Matt Simms might actually play every snap. That is huge as most other QBs will play three quarters at most. Simms is a definitive journeyman but has some experience playing in the league. Volume is key here and Simms will get plenty of it, he doesn’t have the upside some of the better prospects do but he has to make your list of players at this position.
This is once again all about opportunity. Johnny Manziel is done for the preseason and third stringer Connor Shaw is out too. Enter the Thad-man. Lewis will likely get to play the entire game as the only other QB on the Browns roster is Pat Devlin who was in street clothes a few days ago. Lewis has started games in the regular season before and looked alright, he might surprise here with a big game.
AJ has now had two preseason appearances where he’s looked in fine form (especially for a guy who missed all last season). Many Bengals fans have started calling for him to be the starter. For fantasy purposes the Bengals released Josh Johnson and so McCarron is now the undisputed number two QB. He should start Thursday’s game and play over a half. Another high upside option.
I can’t see the Eagles playing any of their big three (Sproles-Murray-Mathews) and Barner is essentially fighting to be the number 4 RB on the roster. Barner’s had a great preseason returning a couple kicks for TDs and should see the start and a big workload in this game. He’s been one of the most productive players in preseason thus far and there’s no reason not to play him if he’s getting a decent workload.
7th round pick Murphy has been in a battle with veteran Tim Hightower for the fourth RB spot on the Saints and it appears he may have won the job. Coach Sean Peyton all but declared him on the team this week. Murphy had a huge week 3, taking 3 passes for 63 yards and 8 carries for 43 yards, he projects to get a lot of work with the starters all sitting. A definite must play this week.
When asked about his running back rotation for Thursday coach Gary Kubiak was adamant that both Ball and Kappri Bibbs would be getting the bulk of the work. With the top three RBs in Denver set Ball is going to need a big game just to make sure he doesn’t get released. He may have been a disappointment this preseason but you still have to like Ball in a game where he’ll be getting the bulk of the work and going against non-starters on D.
I could not confirm that UDFA Zenner was 100% playing in week 4 but I can’t see why he wouldn’t. Even after demolishing opposing defenses the first 3 weeks he is still only the 4th string RB on the Lions and projects as mainly a special teamer. Zenner will probably get the start and possible 15 or so touches. Again, I would confirm he is playing before kickoff but if he is he’ll be one of the best plays of the week.
I can’t see the Colts giving their starters much if any work at all in this game. Third year player Vick Ballard is out (again) with a leg injury and rookie Josh Robinson is also suffering from a concussion. Tipton is primarily a special team’s player for the Colts but is actually a pretty intriguing power back. Given even half a games work he could produce a couple TDs and also add in a few catches. With so many injuries he should see the start for Indy in week 4.
Neal and Alonzo Harris are both battling for the final RB spot on the Packers. Right now you have to give the edge to Neal who had a big week 3, ripping off 61 yards on 5 catches and adding a rushing TD. It doesn’t hurt Neal’s cause that Harris has been semi-banged up. I’d project Neal to get the start and the bulk of the carries here as the Packers attempt to see if he can win the 3rd RB spot outright.
Easley is going to essentially be working as the number 1 WR for Buffalo in this game. They have been beset by injury at this position and will look to the mainly special teamer to carry the load. Easley has talent and looked good in week three compiling 6 catches. With the possibility of a full game and a starter’s workload Easley is a great target for week four.
Janis is the metric darling of the fantasy community. But this week he actually becomes a good play for volume purposes as he projects to get the start and should see plenty of playing time. Janis needs a good game to really solidify himself as the number 4 WR and could even push himself further up the depth chart with a monster game. Janis has already scored a couple of TDs in preseason and you can bet he’ll be a red zone target if GB comes close to the end zone in this contest.
Rookie Ty Montgomery is slated for the number three role on the Packers as of now. He also had a pretty strong week 3 and was a strong possession receiver and slick return man in college, carrying many of the same traits as Randall Cobb. I’d look for Montgomery to possibly lead the Packers in catches in week 4 and solidify his spot on the depth chart.
The rookie Diggs has multiple catches in each of the Vikings first three preseason games. With so many starters resting Diggs should project to see even more work. Diggs has looked impressive to me in preseason making tough catches over the middle from his slot position. A bigger workload awaits him in week 4 and he could see close to ten targets if he plays most of the game.
Givens was actually a starter a few years back on the Rams and had fantasy relevancy, but since then he’s fallen to 4th or 5th on the depth chart. He’s caught a couple longer TDs this year in preseason and obviously hasn’t lost any of his burst that made him dangerous coming out of college. Givens should see a lot of field in this game with Case Keenum, who loves to fire deep, making a big play a decent possibility.
Coates has had an up and down preseason. With Martavis Bryant now suspended the first four games of the year the Steelers will likely be looking for Coates to play an early season role. Given his lack of experience he should be inserted into the lineup this week and given all he can handle snap wise. The Steelers will need him to adjust in a hurry and the rookie could see a big game here with the starters all resting.
Virgil Green started back in week 1 and put up a monster game for a TE by preseason standards. Since Gary Kubiak refuses to coach anywhere unless the slow as molasses Owen Daniels is his starting TE, Green will probably get the start in this contest and see at least a half of work. I’d check the news at kick off to make sure he’s playing but if he gets a half, that is more than enough time for him to make an impact and would make him a high upside play at this precarious position.
With Travis Kelce nursing a sprained ankle more opportunity for rookie James O’Shaughnessy should appear in this contest. O’Shaughnessy was kept off the score sheet in week 3, mainly due to the Chiefs starters playing so much. I’d look for the rookie to bounce back and see a decent number of targets in this game.
Housler has been quiet almost all of preseason and now needs a big game just to make the final roster in all likelihood. The Browns don’t have a ton of great receiving options and so Housler could be in the mix for primary receiving duties. He’s more of a long shot since the Browns offense isn’t exactly a juggernaut but given the kind of lackluster defense he’ll be seeing he could break free for a big game and is worth targeting.
Griffin is the Texans back up TE and should see a lot of field with second year QB Tom Savage. He’s more of a pass catcher than the other Texans backup TE C.J. Fiedorowicz and has a lot of experience working with Savage. I really like the possibility that Griffin-Savage’s practice experience helps them connect in this game for some decent yardage.
Bell is a converted college QB who is trying to make it as a TE in the NFL. He’s actually looked quite competent in the preseason, catching 3 balls last week, and is a terrific athlete. Bell should see a lot more work in this contest is probably one of the more under the radar targets at TE.