And so begins one of the most dreaded aspects of fantasy football: bye weeks. At quarterback, byes are much less feared than at other positions, due to the fact that you only need one starter and there are usually multiple strong options on the waiver wire week in and week out. For Week Four, only two teams are on byes, but those two teams have two very significant quarterbacks in fantasy football: Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, and Carolina’s Cam Newton. Rodgers is in the top three fantasy quarterbacks to date – as you would expect of a guy that probably cost you a second or third round pick – but he gets a week to regroup after a dreadful outing against the Bengals.
On the flip side, as I predicted last week, Newton had his biggest game of the season, going off for 28 standard fantasy points against the New York Giants. After a lackluster start to the season, Newton owners must be relieved to see their quarterback back into the fantasy top 10 at his position. Now on to this week’s five quarterbacks to watch for:
5. Michael Vick, Philadelphia (at Denver)
Many eyes will be on what promises to be an offensive shootout at Mile High, as Chip Kelly and Michael Vick carry the Eagles into Denver to face off against Peyton Manning. The offense is going to have to do everything it can to keep the Eagles in this game. Vick seems renewed this season, at least from a fantasy perspective. Despite traveling and playing in the higher elevation this week, Vick has had a long time to prepare after a disappointing Thursday night performance against a Chiefs defense that is much better than what the Broncos have. Start Vick this week, no questions asked.
4. EJ Manuel, Buffalo (vs. Baltimore)
Manuel could be described as shaky in his road debut, as he went just 19-of-42 passing in the loss to fellow rookie quarterback Geno Smith and the Jets. The Bills are banged up in the backfield as well, with CJ Spiller injured and missing a large portion of the Jets game. Spiller should be in the game against the Ravens, but Manuel will have to have a better passing game this week, and he could have it against a Ravens secondary that gave up that monster game to Peyton Manning in their only road appearance thus far. The home crowd in Buffalo will definitely be behind Manuel after that come-from-behind win against Carolina in Week 2, and that should be a boon for the young quarterback. He’s also available in more than 80% of ESPN standard leagues.
3. Robert Griffin III, Washington (at Oakland)
I’m doubling down on RG3 this week, who had his most disappointing fantasy performance of the season last week against a much-improved Detroit defense. Oakland’s secondary has not been impressive thus far, and this could be a game that Griffin can point to as a game where he turned the corner in returning to form following his offseason knee surgery. Despite passing for more than 320 yards in each game so far this season, Griffin hasn’t become the running threat he was in his rookie year. This would be a good game for Mike Shanahan to break out the read option again and see what the young quarterback can do.
2. Tony Romo, Dallas (at San Diego)
Romo had a great week against St. Louis as the run game helped Romo become more of a game manager, accumulating 210 passing yards and three touchdowns. On the road against San Diego, it could be a bit of a different story for the Cowboys. Miles Austin figures to still be limited this game, but Romo still has Dez Bryant and Jason Witten leading the way in what is a threatening passing attack when needed. Philip Rivers has proven capable of directing a surprising Chargers offense thus far, so Romo will have to keep pace in this one.
1. Peyton Manning, Denver (vs. Philadelphia)
You don’t need me to tell you to start Manning this week, but I will anyways. With the pace that Chip Kelly’s offense plays at, Manning and the Broncos offense could easily see something in the range of 35 minutes of possession time, and that gives them enough time to rack up the points and get some serious stats through the air. Philly’s secondary ranks just 24th in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, but Manning should knock them down a peg heading into next week.
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Down and Distance Columnist Joe Ray – @joeray119