TOJ Week 4 – Point Spreads, Picks, and Fantasy Football

Turn On The Jets Week 4 NFL Gambling and Fantasy Football Outlook

Well, it’s Week 4 and things haven’t quite gone as planned so far here with my weekly picks. The visions I had dancing in my head of starting the season on fire and having all our readers begging for my picks haven’t quite materialized… yet! Ok, ok, that’s probably never going to happen, and you may be better off fading me at this point, but I feel it all turning around this week! There’s plenty of room left here on the bandwagon (current occupancy: 1).

And to shake things up this week, I’m not gonna just give my reasons for why each team will cover. Instead, I’m gonna also break things down by giving my fantasy football takes on each game and which players you should be thinking about starting or sitting when Sunday afternoon rolls around. You’re welcome.

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TOJ – Week 1 Gambling and Fantasy Football Advice

Mike Donnelly with week 1 NFL Fantasy and Gambling Advice

Well look what we have here. The Turn On The Jets gambling column has found a new home in 2013 and it is right here in Donnellyville. Joe searched high and low for the most degenerate gambler he could find, and he picked me. I’m honored. I truly am. Each week I’m going to run down all the games and give a brief synopsis on why I’m picking who I am. Then I’m going to give you my 5 “Best Bets” which are typically the games I’m going to be betting on myself and the “Teaser of the Week”. Yes, teasers are usually sucker bets, but they’re fun, and every once in a while I nail a good one. Then afterwards, I’m gonna give my fantasy football advice for the week. You’re welcome. Let’s get started.  Continue reading “TOJ – Week 1 Gambling and Fantasy Football Advice”

How To Dominate Your Fantasy Football Draft

Mike Donnely with a simple guide on how to dominate your Fantasy Football Draft

Ahh, the end of August. To many, that signals a dark time as the summer is winding down and your time at the beach is coming to a close. Well fear not, because the end of August also signals the return of fantasy football! It’s that time of the year where fantasy begins to take over the lives of many dedicated fantasy ballers. Heck, even if you’re only a casual player, you’re probably getting consumed with rankings, draft strategies, and the like. I’m not going to bore you with a standard list of my fantasy rankings or anything like that, but what I am going to do today is give you a simple guide on how to dominate your fantasy draft so that at the end of the season you’re the one taking home the prize money. You’ll thank me later. Continue reading “How To Dominate Your Fantasy Football Draft”

Fantasy Football – 8 Rules for the Perfect League, Volume 2 (Part 2)

Mike Donnelly finishes out his 8 rules for a perfect fantasy football league

In case you missed Part 1 from yesterday, you can find that right HERE. Also be sure to let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter.

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Fantasy Football – 8 Rules For A Perfect League, Volume 2 (Part 1)

Mike Donnelly with part 1 of his 8 simple rules for running a perfect fantasy football league

July is approaching, and that means it is just about time to start the preparations on your 2013 fantasy football league. Whether you are new to the game or a long-time player, there are a few things you need to know before you click “Start League” and send out the invitations to your pals this season. I’ve seen far too many leagues sprout up recently that are, well… pretty terrible to be perfectly honest. So while you may think you have everything down pat, I’m here to give you aspiring Fantasy Commissioners my 8 Simple Rules for Playing Fantasy Football. Continue reading “Fantasy Football – 8 Rules For A Perfect League, Volume 2 (Part 1)”

Projecting New York Jets Fantasy Football Potential

Mike Donnelly projects the fantasy football value of the New York Jets skill position players

June has arrived and before we know it, we’ll be breaking down mini-camp, then training camp and then the preseason. We’ll turn around and then the Bucs will be in town to kick off the 2013 season with their hopefully less than 100% healthy star cornerback and we’ll all rejoice that another football season has arrived. But almost as importantly, while all these things are going on, it means that fantasy football season has arrived, and it is never too early to start preparing so you can earn bragging rights and humiliate your friends on the fantasy gridiron. Today we are going to take a look at the roster and see which New York Jets are going to be worth taking a look at come draft day, and which are, umm, not.

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Turn On the Jets Fantasy Preview – Keeper League & Week 8 Edition

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Fantasy Football preview. Who should you start and sit, with a special focus on keeper leagues this week

Way back at the start of the 2012 fantasy football season in my 8 Easy Steps to Achieve the Perfect Fantasy League column, I strongly recommended that you get yourself involved in a keeper league with a group of your close friends that you know you’ll stay in touch with for at least the next few years. If you’ve never tried it, you should give it a shot, because it adds a whole new wrinkle to your fantasy season and even helps you keep fantasy in mind during the “dark period”, aka baseball season.

June becomes a whole lot more fun. Did one of your players just get traded or sign with a new team? I drafted him in the 6th round, is it worth it to keep him? Did that increase or decrease his value? Should you still keep him? Do you have a backup running back who is now shooting up the depth chart because the starter just got sent to prison for beating up a cop for the third time? All major things to keep an eye on for keeper consideration. Just as importantly, it forces you to keep trying during the current season, even as your once promising lineup is spiraling out of control toward a 2-11 finish due to injury, poor performance, or both (Damn you, Maurice Jones-Drew and your brittle bones!). In a standard league, at this point in the year if you’re 1-6 and totally out of it, you’re likely to throw in the towel, not pay attention to your lineup, and it becomes less and less fun for the other teams to even insult you.

Well, in a keeper league, that problem is solved. Since you’re going to be able to keep 2 or 3 players (or however many your league decides) heading into next year based on their previous year’s draft value, you can bolster your 2013 lineup while you take it on the chin in 2012. For example, in my keeper league, one team is totally out of it and traded Ryan Mathews and Antonio Brown (two players he had no intention of keeping in 2013) for Trent Richardson. Had it been a standard 1-year league, this trade would have caused death threats in a competitive league. However, since it is a keeper league and Trent could be a superstar, it was a fairly reasonable trade. I still hated it, but I digress. Anyway, today I’m going to throw out a few players you should be looking to target in a trade to build around for next year.

(Keep in mind I’m not going to suggest you keep Ray Rice. That’s obvious. This will be guys drafted in the mid-rounds this year who will provide great value for next year. I’m also going on the premise the keeper rules are you lose a pick in the 2013 draft based on where the player was picked in 2012. So if you took Alfred Morris in the 8th round and keep him next year, he’s put down as your 8th round pick.)

RB – Alfred Morris (drafted between rounds 6 and 8) – Heading into the season, there was great mystery surrounding who would be the Redskins starting running back, but Morris appeared to be the front runner. I personally have a strict “don’t take any Mike Shanahan RB’s” rule because of how he shuffles them in and out, but Morris locked down the role and looks like a stud. Playing with that RG3 fella certainly doesn’t hurt things either. Next year he will likely be picked somewhere in the #25-30 overall range, and that makes him a no-brainer keeper based on his 2012 draft position.

QB – Robert Griffin III & Andrew Luck (rounds 6-10)– This goes without saying, but if you’re the lucky guy who drafted RG3 in a standard league between rounds 6 and 10, well congratulations. If you did that in a keeper league, you can probably go ahead and start thinking about where to put your 2013 championship trophy. Andrew Luck hasn’t had quite the same success this year, but he’s been pretty damn good. And as the Colts surround him with better talent heading into next year he’s only going to get better. These guys are both going to be great.

RB – Stevan Ridley (rounds 5-9) – Ridley’s draft position was all over the board heading into 2012. He got a grip on the starting job late in the preseason and there was some uncertainty there in New England. Well, there’s much less uncertainty now. Ridley is on pace to easily surpass 1,200 yards rushing and score about 10 touchdowns. He averages a shade under 20 carries per game for one of the best offenses in the NFL and he’s only 23 years old. Guys like that don’t grow on trees. If the Ridley owner in your league is looking to upgrade for this year, this is a very solid guy to build around for 2013 with that round value.

WR – Percy Harvin (rounds 3-5) – Readers of this column know Harvin was a guy I was extremely high on heading into 2012 and he’s actually surpassed my expectations. In PPR leagues, he is an absolute stud with 53 catches through just 7 games. Oh, and he also tacks on rushing yards, which is a major bonus. He’s a top 5 receiver going forward, especially as Ponder progresses. If he was drafted any later than the 3rd round in your league, there is major keeper value there for you to try and target.

WR – Kendall Wright (round 10 or later) – Kendall Wright was a solid sleeper heading into the season, and he’s had a very solid rookie year. He’s currently 16th in the NFL in passing targets, and as Jake Locker improves, so will Kendall Wright. If you’re out of it and can trade a guy like Torrey Smith for Wright and get that late round value for 2013, it’s something you should definitely look into.

QB – Peyton Manning (round 5-7) – It’s hard to believe now, but Peyton Manning wasn’t even drafted as a QB1 in a lot of leagues heading into this season due to concerns about his injury. Well, so much for all that. Peyton has been an absolute stud and if the owner in your league has 2 QB’s and could use help at another position, Peyton is an excellent guy to target so you have a top 5 QB for next year. Suddenly, your crappy franchise is looking up!

RB – Rashard Mendenhall (round 9 or later) – Someone in your league likely drafted Mendenhall late hoping he’d contribute by this point in the season. Well, that hasn’t quite happened, and there’s a good chance that team could use some RB help since it hasn’t. Menenhall may not help this year, but since you’re already out of it, might as well swing a trade for him and wait for him to return to full strength in 2013. This is how you have to think when you’re 1-6 and need to rebuild.

Other Late Round Players to Consider Trying to Nab

WR – Stephen Hill

WR – Jeremy Kerley

WR – Josh Gibson

WR – Randall Cobb

RB – David Wilson

RB – Kendall Hunter

RB – Alex Green

QB – Ryan Tannehill

RB – Jonathan Stewart

RB – Daryl Richardson

WEEK 8 RECOMMENDED SITS

QB- Matt Stafford vs. Sea – Seattle has a tough defense, and did you SEE Stafford play on Monday? Ugh. At least he’s playing at home.

QB- Josh Freeman @ Minn – Throwing for 420 yards against the Saints is equivalent to about 215 yards against an average defense. The Vikings are better than average, and Thursday night games have not been kind to QB’s.

RB- Frank Gore @ Ari – Gore is banged up, the Cards have a tough D, it’s a rivalry game, and Arizona is home. Temper your expectations for Mr. Gore. 

RB- Steven Jackson vs NE – The Pats D is an embarrassment, but Steven Jackson is basically useless at this point for your fantasy team. Plus I feel like I’m forgetting something… oh right, SCHOTTY!

RB- Felix Jones vs. NYG – Whether he plays or not, I’d keep him on your bench against the Giants defense looking for week 1 revenge.

WR- Denarius Moore @ KC – The combination of Carson Palmer and Brandon Flowers should really limit Moore this week.

WR- Steve Smith @ Chi – Charles Tillman and the Bears D are playing out of their minds lately. Oh, and Cam Newton stinks.. can’t forget that part.

WR- Mike Williams @ Minn – Williams has been on a nice run lately, but that will come to a halt tonight in Minnesota.

TE- Jermichael Finley vs. Jax – This game could get out of hand early.. oh, and Jermichael Finley sucks. If you own him, you already know that though.

Thursday Night Picks

  • Joe – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Mike D – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Chris G – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Rob – Bucs (+6.5)
  • Chris C – Vikings (-6.5)

Turn On The Jets Week 7 Fantasy Football Preview

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Fantasy Preview, looking at week 7 in the NFL

As we approach the midway point of the fantasy football season, it’s time to evaluate who you should try and trade off while their value is high, and who you should be sticking with as you chase that 2012 fantasy championship. Unless of course your name is Joe Caporoso and you’re sitting in the basement at 1-5 in the TOJ Fantasy league, that is. In that case, your season is already over and you should be mocked publicly, but I digress.

Anyway, for this week’s column I brought in Dan Drobnis, the co-host of the popular weekly fantasy football podcast, The Tebow Sports Show (which can be found here, or on Twitter @TebowSportsShow. His co-host is Jay Ferraro). Dan also doubles as a friend of mine and long-time fantasy league rival, but today we are going to be debating five of the most confusing players in the 2012 fantasy football world. These are guys that have been driving their owners crazy, either due to poor play, injury, or perhaps just that they’ve been playing a little too well and a dip in production is feared going forward. As is usually the case, there are two strong sides to each player, and we’re going to be exploring what you should do with these guys from here on out.

QB: MATT RYAN

Case For (Mike Donnelly) – Don’t be turned off by Ryan’s clunker against Oakland last week. Every quarterback is going to have bad weeks from time to time and that was a clear letdown game for the Falcons against an inferior opponent that they clearly were looking past. Ryan still has the best set of targets of any quarterback in the league with Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez and to top it off has quite an easy schedule the rest of the way. He gets to face the Saints and their hilariously bad defense twice, and during the playoff weeks he gets to take on the Panthers, the Giants at home in a dome, and then the Lions in another dome game. Stick with Ryan and expect top 4 QB production as you march into the playoffs.

Case Against (Dan Drobnis) – If you’ve got him, you know how productive he’s been early in the season. But he must have had you scratching your head last week when he threw three picks and failed to reach 300 yards against a Raiders defense that came in ranked 28th in the league against the pass.  The Falcons’ margin of victory has been slim each of the past 3 weeks, and I believe that’s a direct result of the league  starting to catch up to what Dirk Kotter and the Falcons offense has been doing here in early in the season. Being undefeated can have that effect. I’m not saying he won’t be a productive fantasy quarterback the rest of the way, but fantasy owners have already seen the best they’ll get from Ryan, and should move him now while his value is still sky-high. There are not as many cupcakes on the schedule in the second half and his most recent performance hints that there is some regression right around the corner. Give me any one of the other top 5 QBs over Ryan the rest of the way.

RB: CHRIS JOHNSON

Case For (MD) – It may seem odd that I’m going to defend Chris Johnson here since I own him in one of my leagues and I’ve mercilessly trashed him in this column repeatedly, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. The Titans have quite possibly the worst offensive line in the NFL, but they’ve actually started to play better and last week’s 114 total yard output by Johnson was very encouraging. Looking ahead, Johnson has games against Buffalo and their joke defense, two games againt Indianapolis who just got run all over by Shonn Greene, Jacksonville, Green Bay, and the Jets. I’m not saying he’s an every week guaranteed starter, but he has the opportunity to rack up some very solid games for your squad. Also, with Kenny Britt now healthy, it should help open things up for Johnson as defenses won’t be able to stack the box nearly as often.

Case Against (DD) –  He’s got two juicy matchups over the next two weeks against the Bills and Colts respectively, and then the sledding gets much tougher for the artist formerly known as ‘CJ2K’. Let him build off of what was a solid performance against the Steelers last week and then ship him off to any sucker in your league that’s dumb enough to trade for him. He’s much too hesitant when hitting the hole, and leaves a lot of yards on the field even when he does produce a decent fantasy day. Their O-line doesn’t open up any running lanes for him and Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck won’t exactly have defenses scared of the pass. Let him be someone else’s headache, and target a back like a Willis McGahee or Doug Martin who have easier schedules in the second half of the year and have shown they can consistently produce in the early part of the season.

WR: JORDY NELSON

Case For (DD) – Jordy Nelson isn’t going to surprise defenses the way he did in his 2011 breakout campaign when he scored an astounding 15 TDs, and  won fantasy football championships for people all across this great country. But Nelson will make up for the inevitable regression in the TD department with the increased targets he’s seen being as an every-down player in one of the NFL’s most explosive passing attacks. Aaron Rodgers hit Nelson early and often against the Texans last week, and he should see less double-teams and safety help once Greg Jennings returns from a groin injury that has had him on the shelf for most of the season. He does have a tendency to disappear some weeks, as Aaron Rodgers likes to spread the ball around. But as long as you aren’t relying on this guy to carry your team, he should be locked into your lineup each week as Aaron Rodgers’ go-to guy.

Case Against (MD) – Nelson is a prime example of a guy who you shouldn’t be tricked by after one great week. That does not offset 5 weeks of mostly mediocre play, not by a long shot. Aaron Rodgers is not going to throw 6 touchdowns every week, and as we’ve seen this year, he spreads the ball around to many different receivers, so Nelson won’t be the prime target every week — especially when Greg Jennings returns. The Packers offense has not been the same dominant force it was last year as the league has seemingly caught on to their schemes. I’m not saying Nelson won’t have his moments, but I wouldn’t rely on him week in and week out. If you can pawn him off while his value is high right now, I’d recommend doing so.

WR: HAKEEM NICKS

Case For (MD) – Yes, I know Nicks has been a disappointment to those who drafted him this year as he’s missed most of the season due to injury, but there are few receivers I’d rather have from here on out. When Nicks is on the field, he’s always performed really well, highlighted by his 199 yard effort in week 2. He’s always going to be the #1 option on this Giants offense, and with Victor Cruz playing so well, defenses won’t be able to key on Nicks like they have in the past. If you take a look at his schedule the rest of the season it’s extremely promising, as he gets to face the Redskins twice, the Packers, the Steelers, the Bengals and then the Saints, Falcons, and depleted Ravens secondary during the playoff weeks. Nicks is the kind of guy that can single-handedly win you a championship.

Case Against (DD) – I’m calling this one more of a feeling than anything else.  I won’t deny it. Nicks is a beast when he’s on the field, and plays with arguably the best quarterback in the game today in Eli Manning. But he rushed back from a broken foot and aggravated his knee trying to compensate for the foot injury. Not to mention, in the games that he’s already missed, guys like Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden carved out larger roles in the Giants offense. If Nicks were given time to let his injuries heal, I wouldn’t be so down on him. But this just looks like it’s going to be a down year for one of the most talented, young receivers in the game and a headache for fantasy owners trying to figure out when, if, and how effective he’ll be on Sundays dealing with all of the lingering issues stemming from the preseason foot injury.

TE: TONY GONZALEZ

Case For (MD) – Just like with Matt Ryan, I don’t think you should be giving up on this Falcons offense at all, and quite frankly I’m surprised Mr. Drobnis is so down on them. Gonzalez has been the clear-cut top Tight End this year, and there’s little reason to think that’s going to change going forward. The Falcons simply have too many weapons for defenses to deal with, and with Jones and White getting so much attention, Gonzo has been torching everyone over the middle of the field. Plus, he’s a great red zone target and the opportunity for touchdowns are always there. The only thing to worry about now is if the Falcons run away with the #1 seed and start to rest veterans like Tony down the stretch, but I don’t anticipate that happening. Gonzo is a stud.

Case Against (DD) – As the blueprint for slowing down the Falcons offense gets around the league, you’ll see more and more teams taking away Gonzalez and forcing Matt Ryan to throw into double coverage down the field as he did Sunday against the Raiders. I always like to sell high on players, and with the way Gonzo has produced early on, you’d be wise to shop him around and see what you get. He’s been the #1 fantasy TE through the first 6 weeks of the season, something no one saw coming from the 36-year-old future hall of famer when the season started. With guys like Kyle Rudolph, Heath Miller, and Brent Celek (just to name a few) outperforming their draft-day price tags, there are cheaper options at tight-end that will produce about the same if not more fantasy points than Gonzalez the rest of the way. Put his name out there and see what you can get.

Recommended Bye Week Fill-Ins

QB- Josh Freeman

QB- Brandon Weeden

RB- Felix Jones

RB- Danny Woodhead

RB- Montario Hardesty

WR- Denarius Moore

WR- Randall Cobb

WR- Stephen Hill

TE- Dustin Keller

TE- Dennis Pitta

Turn On The Jets Week 5 Fantasy Football Preview

Mike Donnelly with his weekly fantasy football preview. Who should you bench and start?

This has been a rough NFL week for me. The Jets debacle speaks for itself. But almost as importantly, I lost in all three of my fantasy leagues this week due to stink bomb performances from a combination of Dennis Pitta, Percy Harvin, Darren McFadden, and Mikel Leshoure. All of these things added up put me in quite a foul football mood. In honor of that I’m going to list all the players I dislike for this week. It’s all negativity, all the time this week!

QB- Ben Roethlisberger vs. Phi – Yes, the Iggles are coming off a big win and are set up for a letdown performance, while Big Ben is coming off a bye. I don’t think it matters, because the Steelers are likely getting Rashard Mendenhall back and are going to look to establish some semblance of a running game, starting this week.

Prognosis: Borderline start in 12-team leagues.

QB- Michael Vick @ Pitt – I wasn’t kidding when I said I think the Eagles are primed for a letdown game this week against a rested Steelers defense. Could be a rough one for the Dog Murderer.

Prognosis: Wouldn’t start in a 12-team league.

QB- Kevin Kolb @ StL – I certainly hope you aren’t relying on Kevin Kolb, but if your starting QB is on a bye this week and you’re weak at backup, I could see the thought process. Unfortunately, these Thursday games have not gone too well for offenses, especially road teams, except for Eli throttling Carolina of course. This isn’t quite breaking news, but Kolb is no Eli, and St. Louis has a tough defense.

Prognosis: Would rather take a shot on Tannehill or Matt Hasselbeck.

RB- Alfred Morris vs. Atl – I’ve seen him ranked as an RB1 this week, and I just don’t see it. This game very well could turn into a shootout, and the running opportunities just may not be there for Alf this week.

Prognosis: Low-level RB2 this week.

RB- Stevan Ridley vs. Den – As a Ridley owner in all my league, this one pains me. Brady vs. Peyton could easily turn into a shootout, and when the Pats go to their no huddle, up-temp attack, they like to get Danny Woodhead in there, so unless Ridley gets a TD, the yardage total may leave you disappointed.

Prognosis: Slightly behind Alfred Morris.

RB- Ryan Williams @StL – Another Thursday Nighter. Everyone is pumped he’s going to be getting all the carries in Arizona now that Beanie Wells is hurt, but the fact is Arizona just stinks at running the ball for whatever reason (TERRIBLE O-LINE. That’s the reason). I see him as worth a shot as a flex play, but not the RB2 slam dunk most have him as.

Prognosis: RB3 or Flex option.

RB- Benjarvus Green-Ellis vs. Mia – Miami has a very stout run defense, and as I’ve said all season, BJGE just isn’t that good of a player.

Prognosis: Low-level RB3 or Flex.

RB- Shonn Greene vs. Hou – Sigh.

Prognosis: Again.. Sigh..

WR- Demaryius Thomas @ NE – In general, I love Demaryius this year. But this week against Belichick and the Patriots, I can see him being swarmed and Peyton Manning relying on the underneath stuff to Decker and Tamme all day. Obviously he’s worth starting, just keep the expectations in check.

Prognosis: More of a WR2 than an elite option.

WR- Brandon Lloyd vs. Den – Mr. Lloyd, meet Champ. Keep expectations in check, even though I would never recommend benching Tom Brady’s #1 wide receiver.

Prognosis: Low-level WR2 option.

WR- Pierre Garcon vs. Atl – Apparently Garcon isn’t going to be healthy for a few more weeks still, so even with him playing he may not get the amount of snaps necessary to make a big impact. And sadly, I don’t think we can rely on fumble recovery touchdowns every week.

Prognosis: WR3 or Flex option.

WR- Mike Wallace vs. Phi – Nnamdi Asomugha and the Eagles defense are fully aware of where Mike Wallace will be at all times. I wouldn’t expect a monster performance at all this week, especially since I think the Steelers will go out of their way to establish a run game.

Prognosis: Low-level WR2 or Flex option.

WR- James Jones @ Ind – Here is some friendly advice you should never forget: Do. Not. Trust. James. Jones. Ever. Every time he makes you think it’s safe to start him, he throws up a stat line along the lines of 2 catches/13 yards/1 fumble lost.

Prognosis: Never trust James Jones.

TE- Vernon Davis vs. Buff – The 49ers are going to run the BIlls over — literally. They’re going to run left, run up the middle, and run right. Then they’re going to do it again. And again. Davis will have his chances, but I don’t see him having a monster game.

Prognosis: Low-level TE1, not top 5.

TE- Greg Olsen vs. Sea – Seattle has a tough defense, and you better believe Olsen is going to be keyed on all day. This could be the week Carolina wakes up their sleeping run game as well.

Prognosis: TE2 option, or low-level Flex.

Turn On The Jets Week 4 Fantasy Football Preview

It has only been three weeks of fantasy football so far, and I totally understand your natural reactions to your team’s start. If you’re 3-0, you think the good times will never end, while if you’re 0-3, you’re cursing Evan Silva and the other “experts” who insisted you draft guys like Ryan Mathews and Cam Newton with top 5 picks. I get that, it’s perfectly natural to feel like that. But no matter what has happened so far, and no matter how well you drafted, you’re going to need to add some pieces off the waiver wire. The key to keeping your 3-0 team on top is going to be building solid depth for bye weeks and protect yourself against an injury. If your team looks poor now, all it takes is one big time waiver wire pick up and you’ll be right back in it.

Every year, starting players get injured and the backup steps in to take the league by storm. Some of these players single-handedly win fantasy leagues for people. Already this year we have seen a few players seemingly come out of nowhere to have monster games and are now mainstays on teams. Take a look around your fantasy league and you’ll see guys like Mikel Leshoure, CJ Spiller, Andre Brown, Christian Ponder, and Dennis Pitta already littering rosters and contributing in a big way. The key for your team going forward is to identify possible break-out candidates that are almost always running backs, stash them on your bench, and then keep your fingers crossed. Let’s identify some of these potential break through guys.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers – Readers of this column will know that I have been beating the Jacquizz drum since before the season. I think Michael Turner is absolutely useless, and you can see that the Falcons coaching staff is close to fully agreeing with me. Last week Jacquizz recorded 10 carries, 5 catches, 67 total yards, and a touchdown. In PPR leagues, he should already be on a roster in your league, but if he’s still there no matter what kind of league you are in, stop reading this now and pick him up.

RB Bilal Powell – Shonn Greene’s struggles this season have been well documented amongst Jets fans, and after last week’s game in Miami it appears as though the team is starting to lean more towards a running back by committee approach with Bilal Powell getting more and more touches. He was already the full-time 3rd down back and the preferred passing target out of the backfield, but now it seems as though he’s going to get a steady 10 carries or so a week with a chance for that number to greatly increase.

RB Kendall Hunter – The 49ers are going to remain a predominantly running team as long as Alex Smith is the quarterback, and I don’t think you can rely on starter Frank Gore all season long. The guy has a history of nagging injuries, and now that he’s getting older the team may err on the side of caution and start working Hunter in more and more, perhaps even getting a few starts.

RB Robert Turbin – The Seahawks loved the bruising RB in the preseason, and he’s the clear backup to Marshawn Lynch, who has been playing through a lingering back problem. Should Lynch break down from the 30 touches a week the Seahawks are forcing on him, Turbin would be in line for 20 or so touches a week, which makes him a real candidate to be a breakout star.

RB Lamar Miller – Jets fans everywhere are now rooting for Reggie Bush to get injured after his Darrelle Revis comments, and judging by the disgraced former Heisman winner’s history, it’s only a matter of time until he does indeed get injured. When he does, rookie Lamar Miller looks poised to take over rather than the terrible Daniel Thomas. If and when that happens, Miller could become a stud, even on a crappy Dolphins team.

RB Ronnie Hillman – Willis McGahee is a prime candidate for “starting RB who gets injured” status, and I believe rookie Ronnie Hillman will be the man to step in and get the bulk of the carries rather than Knowshon Moreno (who the coaches clearly hate), or Lance Ball (who isn’t that good).

RB Mike Goodson – If you own Darren McFadden and don’t have Mike Goodson on your bench to protect yourself, you need your head examined. If, or WHEN, McFadden suffers his yearly injury, Goodson should be in line for 15+ touches and some solid production.

WR Jeremy Kerley – Just a hunch…

WR Jerome Simpson – The Vikings are supposedly in love with Simpson and can’t wait to get him out on the field starting in week 4. He’s gotten a lot of buzz, but it’s guys like this who could end up turning your middle of the pack fantasy team into a legit contender.

WEEK 4 ONE-LINERS

“Get em in there!”

QB Christian Ponder @ Det – Few QB’s are playing better than Ponder, while few pass defenses are playing as poorly as Detroit.

QB Andy Dalton @ Jax – The Jags pass D is anemic, and AJ Green is dominating defenses.

RB Mikel Leshoure vs. Minn – The Vikings no longer have the dominant run defense they once did, and Leshoure is clearly the Lions bellcow, especially with Stafford hurting.

RB Ryan Williams vs. Mia – Yes, the Dolphins have a stout run defense, but Williams is a very talented runner and he no longer has to split reps with the useless Beanie Wells.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers vs. Car – The Panthers defense stinks, but the game could turn into a shootout where Rodgers gets lots of targets from Matt Ryan.

WR Jordy Nelson vs. NO – As a disgruntled Nelson owner, I feel your pain. But make sure you keep him active in week 4 as he catches up on 3 weeks worth of stats against that garbage Saints defense.

WR Lance Moore @ GB – I’d normally never recommend starting Moore outdoors, but this game is going to likely be a shootout, and someone has to rack up the yards.

WR Kenny Britt @ Hou – The Texans have a tough run defense, and this could be Britt’s 2012 coming out party.

WR Brandon Marshall @ Dall – I’ve seen him ranked in the late 20’s on plenty of ranking lists this week. I don’t get it at all, he’s a #1 receiver still.

TE Dennis Pitta vs. Cle – His season has not been a fluke. He’s the most targeted TE in football.

TE Martellus Bennett @ Phi – The Eagles linebackers still stink.

“Not this week”

QB Matt Stafford vs. Minn – Reports say he’s going to play. Unfortunately those reports don’t say he might just end up leaving the game after a few series.

QB Michael Vick vs. NYG – There’s a really great chance he doesn’t finish this game.

RB Frank Gore @ NYJ – I think the Jets D steps it up big time this week.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw @ Phi – Just don’t trust him to take back the job from Andre Brown quite yet.

RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis @ Jax – I’d still start him if you got him, but I wouldn’t expect the kind of production many are calling for this week.

WR Hakeem Nicks @ Phi – The Eagles are going to stick Asomugha on him and do everything they can to slow him down.

WR Marques Colston @ GB – I don’t expect Colston to rack up big numbers this week, despite the game likely turning into a shootout.

WR Dez Bryant vs Chi – The Bears cover 2 defense limits the big plays, and that takes away from Bryant’s output this week.

TOJ Staff Thursday Night Football “Race For The Steak” Picks:

Joe Caporoso – Baltimore (-12)

Chris Gross – Cleveland (+12)

Mike Donnelly – Cleveland (+12)

Chris Celletti – Cleveland (+12)

Rob Celletti – Cleveland (+12)