Safe Bets: Week 4

Safety is the name of the game in cash games, but FantasyDraft also pays out at least 25 percent of the field in every single contest, including tournaments, as well. This should motivate users to lean towards safe options in all formats on a site that puts #PlayersFirst. Without the top-heavy nature of tournaments, single entrants do not have to go with a “YOLO (you only live once)” mindset in tournaments, but can play for a solid cash instead. That makes life a whole lot easier.

Here are the “safe bets,” or players who can be inserted into lineups without fear of a dud, heading into Week 4:

Cam Newton, Panthers – If there ever was a week to spend up at quarterback (QB), Cam Newton and the Panthers offense heading to the Georgia Dome to face a Falcons defense that has allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing QBs would be the time. Newton amazingly never dipped below 15.28 fantasy points in 2015 and probably is coming off the worst performance he’ll compile in 2016 (16.08 fantasy points) against a dominant defense (Vikings). Look for Newton to get back to his old ways against a defense that looks completely inept in the passing game. For what it’s worth, Newton’s worst outing in 2015 came against the Falcons, but this is time for revenge. With a combination of both passing ability and rushing ability, plus the team is missing their top back, this game has a monster Newton performance written all over it.

Matthew Stafford, Lions – Arguably the worst team in football is the Bears and rookie Dak Prescott personified admirably last week why this defense is worth targeting against. After not throwing a touchdown (TD) in his first two NFL games, Prescott finally got off the schneid, both threw a TD and rushed for a TD and finished as QB7 in the Week 3 meeting against this abysmal team. To be fair, they only rank 13th worst in terms of fantasy points allowed but they have faced two rookies (Carson Wentz and Prescott) and a young QB in a new situation (Brock Osweiler) who actually torched them. Matthew Stafford is a veteran in a solidified situation so he should be able to exploit this defense in a way inexperienced QBs simply could not at this point in their career. Last week, Stafford exploded against a solid Packers defense to the tune of 385 yards passing and three TDs. The team still lacks a consistent running game so Stafford is going to have to continue firing away as he basically has had to do for his entire career. Expect the Lions to have a field day against the Bears and Stafford to once again post one of the better QB fantasy point totals when all said and done.

Melvin Gordon, Chargers – For the third consecutive week, Melvin Gordon produced at least 17.70 fantasy points last week against the Colts. Although the Colts have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing backs, the Saints allowed the most yards per carry (YPC) to opposing backs last year so the matchup is actually comparable. Gordon only rushed for 2.2 YPC in Week 3 but he’s now contributing in the passing game as he caught a season-high four passes for 43 yards. Most importantly, Gordon touched the ball 20-plus times for the second consecutive game, further solidifying his role as the team’s bell cow. The signing of Dexter McCluster was a bit worrisome but he didn’t eat into Gordon’s snap nearly as significantly as Danny Woodhead had been in the role previously; Gordon played 51 snaps to McCluster’s nine. With another upper-echelon matchup on the horizon, and the team still missing their two three targets in the passing game (Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates and Woodhead), the team will have to continue leaning on the run game. Gordon’s floor is as safe as any running back’s (RB) on the entire slate.

Theo Riddick, Lions – After scoring as RB18 in the FantasyDraft format last year, Theo Riddick seemed primed to build on that performance this season…especially following the injury to Ameer Abdullah. Unfortunately, Riddick has now failed to reach 12 fantasy points in two consecutive games but there is some reason for optimism. Last year, the Packers and Titans both ranked in the bottom four of receptions (RECs) allowed to opposing RBs. Furthermore, both defenses rank in the bottom five of fantasy points allowed to the position so far this season so these were two of the tougher matchups he’ll face all season. On Sunday, Riddick and the Lions will square off against a Bears team missing both Lamarr Houston and Danny Trevathan so they do not have the talent at linebacker to cover Riddick in his route running. Therefore, it’s time for Riddick to revert back to the player averaging double-digit yards per reception like he did in Week 1 (or at least come close) compared to 7.0 and 5.6 yards per reception respectively in his last two games. The pricing algorithm isn’t likely to increase his price after two quiet weeks so he is still going to be affordable. Finally, this is an excellent spot for him to succeed so start him with confidence.

Antonio Brown, Steelers – The Steelers played the absolute worst game they’re going to play all season last week but that didn’t matter to Antonio Brown. In mostly garbage time, Brown racked up 12 RECS and 140 yards en route to his ninth 20-plus fantasy point output in his last 14 games. The Steelers opened as 6.0 point favorites on Sunday Night Football in Week 4 and this feels like a game where they should bounce back in a big way following an embarrassment. Even though one of his first three games has been a quiet one (Week 2), Brown leads the league in both targets (40) and RECs (24). He’s simply the best receiver in the game by a large margin and the Chiefs allowed the 11th most fantasy points to opposing receivers last year. Any team that does not possess a true top corner is a threat to get burned by this monster and the Chiefs certainly apply as large road underdogs.

Terrelle Pryor Sr., Browns – In fantasy, we love backs like David Johnson because he is the combination of a RB1 and a WR2 with all the RECs. As of last week, Terrelle Pryor Sr. has morphed into a low-end QB2 along with a borderline WR1. Of the 82 snaps Pryor played in Week 3, 14 came at QB, one came at half back, four at slot receiver and the rest at outside receiver. Pryor completed 3-5 passes (60.0-percent completion) for 35 yards, rushed for 21 yards and caught eight passes for 144 yards. Can a performance like this be expected every week? Of course not, but there’s no question that Pryor is the focus of the offense regardless of where he lines up. If Cody Kessler were to struggle on any given week, Pryor may even see extended snaps under center and the cheapest QB on FantasyDraft costs $10,000. In all likelihood, Pryor will end up being priced less than. In Week 4, the Browns are listed as 9.5 point underdogs so the team will be playing from behind aka throwing once again. Sure Josh Norman may cover him at times but he’s going to line up everywhere and factor into the game in so many ways. Due to his versatility, he’s a safe play because he’s going to produce receiving yards, rushing yards and even passing yards. That creates an ultra-safe floor.

Dennis Pitta, Ravens – Not only is Dennis Pitta Joe Flacco’s best friend on the team but he’s turning into a true fantasy TE1 through three weeks. After leading all Ravens’ tight ends (TEs) handily in routes run Week 1, Pitta caught nine passes last week and six passes this week. In fact, he is now tied for the REC lead at the position along with beasts such as Jason Witten, Greg Olsen and Jordan Reed. It’s become blatantly clear this start is not a hoax as he now ranks second at the position (behind only Witten) in targets. This upcoming week, Pitta will face a Raiders defense that allowed the most fantasy points to opposing TEs last year and has allowed the third most this season. What more needs to be said? At a price tag that will likely be significantly cheaper than the stars at the position, Pitta possesses both a similar floor and even ceiling. He’s an elite play this week regardless of the format.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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