2013 NFL Scouting: Week Four’s Top Match-ups to Watch and More

Andrew LuckThursday night's action still wasn't pretty, with two starting quarterbacks going down and some very sloppy play resulting. On the bright side, we did see the emergence of Travis Benjamin, as well as proof that CJ Spiller still has big play ability. 

Now we'll move on to the bulk of the week 5 schedule, and we've got some of the best match-ups of the year thus far to look forward to. 

 

Top Match-ups to Watch

Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck vs Seattle's Defense

With both of these young teams off to a strong start to the 2013 season, this may end up being the game to watch this weekend when the Colts and Seahawks face off. While Russel Wilson and the Seattle offense will need to have a good showing, there's little doubt that there's far more pressure on Andrew Luck and the Colts offense in this one as they face one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.

Seattle has the fourth ranked pass defense in the league, and that all starts with Richard Sherman. Even though he struggled at times with Andre Johnson last season, he still proved it's not a good idea to throw his way too often has his pick six turned the game around against the Texans. Luck would be wise to focus on getting passes to TY Hilton and Darius Heyward-Bay, which still won't be an easy task against Brandon Browner.

The biggest key for Luck will be playing well under pressure. His offensive line hasn't given him much time to work with thus far in the season, and he's not responded particularly well. His throws while under duress haven't been as accurate as we'd expect, and he's taking too many sacks. Against a defense that loves getting after the quarterback, Luck could have a long day ahead of him if he can't cope with the rush.

 

Dallas WR Dez Bryant vs. Denver's Secondary

Since actually slowing down Peyton Manning and the Denver offense appears to not be a realistic option, the next best plan of attack against the Broncos is just to have your offense try and keep pace with them. For Dallas, that will likely mean heavy doses of Dez Bryant this weekend.

While it's not an ideal match-up for any team, Dallas should feel at least slightly optimistic heading into this game. Bryant is playing the best, most consistent football of his career, and with Champ Bailey still sidelined this is a secondary he can thrive against.

Bryant is at his best when he's playing opposite smaller defensive backs, and that's exactly what he'll be seeing this week. Whether Denver decides to go with Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, Chris Harris, or even Tony Carter to cover Bryant, the wide receiver will have the advantage of being larger and stronger in all cases. On paper, Bryant figures to be running open a good portion of the time – will Tony Romo be able to get him the ball?

 

Houston DL JJ Watt vs. San Francisco's Interior OL

Facing JJ Watt in any scenario is a tough assignment. Facing an angry Watt, however? That's borderline nightmarish, and that's exactly what the 49ers will be dealing with on Sunday night as Watt and the Texans look to bounce back from their loss to Seattle.

In past seasons this would be considered a battle of strength versus strength, but through four games the 49ers offensive line hasn't been the same sort of dominating force it has been in the past. Even though Colin Kaepernick has taken most of the heat, the lines' struggles has been a big part of their slow start.

With 3.5 sacks already, Watt is playing at mid season form, and the offensive line must play at their 2012 levels if San Francisco wants to leave this game with a win. Falling to 2-3 would be devastating, and the fact that the division rival Seahawks won in Houston last week would make the loss even tougher to swallow. Will San Francisco be able to avoid that?

 

Fantasy Notes

- Plenty of fantasy owners jumped to grab Trent Richardson when he was traded to the Colts, but to this point there hasn't been a huge payoff for those investments. Don't expect one this week either, as the running back will be dealing with one of the stingiest defenses in the league. Tuesday morning should prove to be a good opportunity to buy low on Richardson.

CJ- Calvin Johnson's last three stat lines against the Packers? 11-244-1, 5-143-1, 10-118. If you own him you're obviously starting him every week, and this week will be no different. If you're facing him this week however, you may want to play some of your high risk/high reward players, because it's a sure bet you're going to need to put up some big numbers if you're looking to come out on top.

- He didn't start the season like this, but Torrey Smith is now a player you've got to find a spot for on your starting lineup every week. He's been targeted 42 times this season, making him by far the most targeted player in the Ravens offense. The volume of touches will continue to be there, and he'll continue to cash in.

– Looking for a flex play this week? Look no further than Kendall Wright, who's probably a free agent in your standard scoring leagues. With Nate Washington likely erased by Brandon Flowers, and Wright seeing getting plenty of looks from Ryan Fitzpatrick, this should be a good day for Wright. When you factor in the fact that Wright will be facing off against Dunta Robinson, the match-up looks even better.

- If you use the streaming defenses strategy (and you should), it's likely you and the rest of your league jumped at the chance to grab the Panthers' defense early this week. Don't worry if you missed out, as the Falcons' defense is probably still available in your league, and the match-up against the spiraling Geno Smith-led Jets offense is an exciting one.

- Terrell Pryor isn't a clear cut QB1 every week at this point in his career, but he's got a chance to be the top scoring quarterback this week. The Chargers defense was already giving up more fantasy points to quarterbacks this season than any other defense, and that was with Dwight Freeney rushing the passer. Now that he's out for the season, Pryor should be ready to explode in this match-up.

- Tavon Austin has been seen as a high upside start early in the season, but even though he's getting a ton of targets, the Rams aren't using him effectively enough to justify keeping him on your roster. Unless you invested a ton in him, it's probably time to look for a replacement on the waiver wire.

- Darren Sproles isn't a prototypical RB1 in standard leagues, but thanks to all the attention Jimmy Graham gets, Sproles is now a player you can start with confidence in any league. His match-up is tougher this week with Chicago, but he should still do no worse than RB2 numbers.  

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