Outside the Huddle: Week 4

Fantasy football suggestions for when you face the player whowon’t realize until Sunday afternoon that he had to replace his whole lineup full of Steelers and Titans.

We’ve had a dog pile of injuries the last couple weeks, the most bizarre of them caused by the doctor who administered a pain injection to Tyrod Taylor’s ribs and punctured the quarterback’s lungs. Then last week we lost Michael Thomas, George Kittle, Julio Jones, Chris Godwin, Davante Adams, and a roster full of potential Pro-Bowlers. And now Covid has taken hold of the NFL season with the suspension of the game between Pittsburghand Tennessee, which means no Derrick Henry, no JuJu Smith-Schuster, no James Connor, no Ben Roethlisberger (which might be a good thing), no Ryan Tannehill, and no Eric Ebron. Perhaps the biggest loss in this whole tragedy is Stephen Gostkowski, who I took no later than the eighth round in every draft from 2012-2018. I love my kickers. Waivers and trades the next couple weeks will never be as hot, so if last week’s goal was to flaunt those nobodies so you could take somebodies like Justin Jefferson, Kareem Hunt, and Fitzmagic, who’s available in 88% of ESPN leagues, then consider this your mission before Sunday.

Here’s who to talk up for Week 4:

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts (@ Bears)

One of the best combinations in fantasy football is good quarterback, good receiver, but one of the most deceptive is has-been quarterback, has-been receiver. Once Andrew Luck’s favorite target after the departure of Reggie Wayne, Hilton made four straight Pro Bowls then saw a drop-off with the quarterback carousel following Luck’s early retirement and Jacoby Brissett’srapid descension from best backup in the league to below-average starter to highest-paid backup in the league. But this offseason, the Colts added Phillip Rivers, who’s going to play as long as someone’s willing to pay him because he has fifteen kids and will soon be looking at two decades of continuous college tuition payments. T.Y. hasn’t had a 100-yard game in 14 outingsgoing back to 2018 when he had the worn-down Luck, who always looked like I do after a day of hybrid teaching. So this week will be no different when the Bears secondary covers Hilton like spotted lanternflies on every single tree in my yard.

Your angle: Two hall of famers are bound to connect sometime. And why not against da Bears?

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Carolina Panthers (vs Cardinals)

Speaking of best backups in the league, remember last year when everyone was touting Teddy Bridgewater as the next big thing? Bridgewater, who studied under Drew Brees for one season, was chosen to replace that stiff Cam Newton and get the Panthers back to the Super Bowl. Man, is there anyone in the league laughing harder than Newton. Whenever I think of Bridgewater, I think of his pre-arranged Pro Day at Louisville when he threw the ball all over the dome field except in his receiver’s hands. It was the lights, we know. The Vikings still took him in the late first round because all he had to do was hand the ball off to AP, who ran for 150 yards a game even with teams stacking the box. But after an unfortunate knee injury during his second season, Bridgewater was never the same. He sat behind Sam Bradford and Case Keenum then went to the Jets, who traded him away. If that wasn’t a red flag then I don’t know what is.

Your angle: Push those efficiency numbers. Who cares that his passes don’t go farther than 5 yards.

Patriots D/ST (vs Kansas City Chiefs)

Can Newton is out as the latest player to test positive for Covid-19, which means Brian Hoyer will get the nod against the Chiefs, if the game is played. Even better for you if they don’t. We all know the Chiefs can put up points, but the Patriots D/ST ranks 6th in fantasy, which will tempt every New England homer like a cheesesteak in Big Red’s vicinity. They gave up 11 points to the Dolphins (big deal) and 20 to the Raiders (a little shocking) but had 4 fantasy points against the Seattle Seahawksand Russell Wilson, who threw for five touchdowns in the Seahawks 35-30 win. The Patriots are ranked first in the league in run defense and second in takeaways, but will have to stop Patrick Mahomes and company, who are a thinly diced filet compared to the freezer-burned Steak-Ums the Patriots are used to playing in the AFC East. I expect a lot of celebrating with carboard cutouts as both offenses push high twenties, low thirties.

Your angle: The defense is out to prove they can win without a quarterback.

Greg Oldfield’s stories have appeared in Hobart, Carve, Barrelhouse, and Maudlin House, among others. He also writes about soccer for the Florida Cup and the Brotherly Game and often rambles about soccer on Twitter. 

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