Three weeks of NFL action have passed by and with 12 quarters of football already played this season, fantasy owners now have a stronger feel for their teams. Most already know which players will consistently produce for them week in and week out and which players will disappoint. It may be too early to give up on a few of your underachieving draft picks just yet, but I would stay away from them until they start putting up points. Don’t be afraid to bench any high-round draft selections or big-name players and go with productive players sitting on your bench. In week four’s edition of Sit ‘Em, I’ll spotlight a few notable fantasy options I don’t like this weekend. Take note that the Bucs, Chiefs, Cowboys, and Vikings are also on their bye weeks.
QB CARSON PALMER AT CLEVELAND
Most people will look at this matchup and think of Carson Palmer as a solid start. You may think that if Joe Flacco can put up over 250 yards and three touchdowns against the Browns, couldn’t Palmer do the same? While Palmer looks like a tempting play against Cleveland, I would think again. The last two weeks have been very disappointing for Palmer owners. Palmer threw for less than 200 yards both games and did not post a QB rating higher than 60. Palmer also completed less than 50% of his passes in those games and floated passes right to defenders. The Bengals were lucky that Palmer only threw two interceptions last week against Carolina. I wouldn’t trust Palmer, even against the Browns, until he fixes his accuracy issues. I think the Bengals will look to use a heavy dose of Cedric Benson this game, running the ball as much as they can.
QB JOE FLACCO AT PITTSBURGH
While Joe Flacco excelled last week, he will be brought back down to Earth this Sunday against the Steelers. Pittsburgh is one of the best defenses in the league, but you already knew that. You witnessed it last Sunday (or maybe not becaus of the blackouts) when they held Tampa Bay’s offense to only 13 points and got after Josh Freeman for most of the game. This week Flacco should also be good for a couple of turnovers. Only the league’s elite quarterbacks deserve a start against “Blitzburgh”.
RB RAY RICE AT PITTSBURGH
In sticking with the “don’t start anyone against the Steelers” theme, Ray Rice can also be added to the list of players to ride your virtual bench this Sunday. Pittsburgh’s no. 3 ranked run defense already shut down two of the league’s top rushers in Michael Turner and Chris Johnson, holding them to less than 40 rushing yards a piece and zero touchdowns. Rice is also dealing with a knee injury and practiced with a non-contact jersey on Thursday. While Rice is expected to play this week, he’s not a great option against the new Steel Curtain.
RB JAHVID BEST VS GREEN BAY
While Jahvid Best may be the steal of your draft, I wouldn’t take him against the Packers this week. After scoring an incredible 56 points in the first two weeks of the season, a turf toe injury limited him to only 3 points at Minnesota last Sunday. Best’s toe is still bothering him and caused him to miss practice this week. The rookie is considered a game-time decision against the Packers, but if he is active, he will likely have a hard time cutting and he may not be playing at top speed. Green Bay’s defense isn’t exactly an easy matchup either.
WR MICHAEL CRABTREE AT ATLANTA
It’s been a rough year for Crabtree, who only has six receptions for 81 yards and zero touchdowns on the year so far. However, things look to be better for him down the road this season. The 49ers fired their offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye last week and promoted quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson to fill that position. Johnson spent last year studying the spread offense, and while the 49ers are still going to be a run-first team, their passing offense should be more wide open. QB Alex Smith will also be taking more snaps from the shotgun in which he is more comfortable doing. Crabtree is still working to get on the same page with Smith, but he should get a lot more targets in Johnson’s offense and work his way back into being a startable fantasy option soon enough. With that said, I can’t play guys I can’t trust and until Crabtree shows something, I would keep him planted on your bench.
WR STEVE SMITH AT NEW ORLEANS
Steve Smith’s value has dropped off a bit since the beginning of the season. With Jimmy Clausen taking over at quarterback for the Panthers and easing into the starting position, the team will continue to look to run the ball every chance they get with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Goodson. Smith also may not have his timing down with Clausen just yet. Against the Saints, Smith will go up against underrated cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter. Believe it or not, the Saints have also allowed the second least amount of fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
TE OWEN DANIELS AT OAKLAND
For the third-straight week in a row, Owen Daniels is on my Sit ‘Em list. Daniels is an excellent tight end in the league’s best offense, but he’s had a slow start this year after coming back from an ACL injury. On top of that, Daniels was limited this week with a hamstring injury. While Daniels is no longer on a snap count during games, it is still risky to start him until he shows some production. That could be this week in a favorable matchup against the Raiders, but I wouldn’t take the chance. Once Daniels shows something on the field, he can then be moved back into your starting lineup and reclaim his elite tight end status.
SAN FRANCISCO DEF AT ATLANTA
Coming into the season, San Francisco’s defense was one of most coveted defenses in the league. Everyone had them among their top five defenses to draft and knew they would be a confident play every week. This is not the case anymore as the 49ers have done nothing but disappoint. Forget that they are playing a good Falcons offense this week. They should not be started in any league simply because they have scored the least amount of points of any fantasy defense this season. (Yes, even Buffalo’s defense has scored more.) Through three weeks, the 49ers have scored a total of six points. If anyone can turn around their troops though, it is Mike Singletary. This defense still has a lot of potential and plays in an easy division, but as of right now, I would keep them on your bench until they play up to the dominant level they are capable of. If for some reason you keep two defenses on your team and already have a good one, I would go as far as dropping the 49ers defense to free up another roster spot.