Five Week 4 Storylines: Can the Backup Quarterbacks Compete?

Is Matt Flynn capable of putting up relevant fantasy quarterback numbers this weekend?

Playing Matt Cassel over Christian Ponder is like going to Applebees instead of Ruby Tuesday.

We all know the Vikings have plenty of issues outside the quarterback position, but, as always, the quarterback is first to go. Cassel will get the start against the Steelers in London on Sunday, in a game that Londoners probably thought would at least be somewhat meaningful at the beginning of the season.

Cassel’s not the only backup taking on the starting role this week either. We’ve got Matt Flynn more than likely starting for a concussed Terrelle Pryor against Washington, and Mike Glennon’s taking the field for the Bucs in his debut against the Cardinals.

Man, this is going to be great.

Which backup quarterback will perform best?

If we want to count Brian Hoyer, we’ve got four backups starting in Week 4. That’s a solid 12.5 percent of NFL teams.

Are any of them worth it in fantasy? Well, matchup-wise, it’d be tough to trust Brian Hoyer against a Cincinnati defense that held Aaron Rodgers to just 244 yards passing and forced two interceptions. And although the Steelers have been brutally bad offensively, their defense has allowed just two passing touchdowns and two sub-200-yard passing games. No way you’d start Cassel.

Glennon’s an interesting case, as Arizona’s defense has allowed the 30th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford had two touchdowns against them, and Brees had three. But you’d have to take on a giant, giant risk to start the rook, especially considering how bad that offense – as a whole – has been so far this season.

That leaves us with Matt Flynn. Known for his 480-yard, six-touchdown performance against the Lions in 2011’s Week 17, Flynn is probably the most intriguing option this week. He has some experience, and faces a Washington defense that’s allowed 8 hundred and freaking 65 yards through the air over the last two weeks. If there’s a team to start a backup quarterback against, it could be Washington.

I’m not advocating you slot him in your lineup, but if you’re in a deep league with little options at quarterback, there could be worse plays than Flynn. And if you’re a daily fantasy gamer, Flynn has extraordinary value given his cost. There’s risk, sure, but there’s also immense reward given how putrid the Redskins defense is.

Will the Giants be able to move the ball against the Chiefs?

Kansas City’s defense has arguably been the best in the NFL through three weeks, and face off against a Giants offense in Week 4 that’s been anything but. Logic tells us that the G-Men’s offense will struggle, but then again, Eli Manning constantly defies logic.

The matchup I’m looking forward to most is David Wilson against the Chiefs front seven. Though the team has been great, Kansas City is coming off a game where they allowed 165 running back rushing yards on 23 attempts to the Eagles. And yes, while that’s the Eagles, the Giants have to get things going on the ground if they want to win any sort of game this season. (Remember, Wilson had a touchdown called back last week.)

Is Tom Brady a safe fantasy option on Sunday night?

Brady is the 24th-ranked standard-scoring quarterback, struggling each week to post better numbers than Alex Smith and Ryan Tannehill. He’s posted 288, 185 and 225 passing yards in each of his first three games, including just a total of five touchdowns. Didn’t Peyton Manning throw seven in the first week of the season alone?

Brady needs Gronk, and it’s not looking optimistic for his tight end’s return in Week 4. Until Gronkowski is back, Brady’s upside is limited. He’s still a high floor play given his matchup against Atlanta, but don’t expect him to compete against the elite options this week at quarterback.

How many fantasy points will Peyton Manning score?

1,000? I think 1,000.

Pey Pey gets the Eagles secondary this weekend in Denver; a secondary that allowed Philip Rivers to throw for 419 yards and three scores in Week 2, and Donnie Avery to run wild in Week 3.

Manning’s an obvious must play, and could easily end up as the best quarterback option this week in fantasy. We have him ranked number one, scoring almost two points more than Drew Brees (which is a lot considering it’s a projection). If you have any of his starting pass catchers, you have to play them – they’re going to be shredding this defense in Denver.

Can anyone stop Jimmy Graham?

Though Jimmy Graham is easily the best at his position, I do want to introduce a little skepticism about his fantasy potential. He’s faced the Falcons, Buccaneers and Cardinals so far this year, and has posted four touchdowns. His stat line against the Falcons wasn’t spectacular, catching four passes for 45 yards and a lone score. The other two games were monstrous, sure, but is it possible that they occurred due to matchup?

Here me out: Jimmy Graham is the best tight end in the game. Jimmy Graham also, however, is going to have a hard time keeping this up. Tampa Bay, the team he faced when he put up 10 catches for 179 yards a score, gave up 7 receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown to Kellen Winslow in Week 1. Since, Winslow has caught three passes for 16 yards.

In Graham’s other huge game, this one against the Cardinals, he caught nine balls for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Arizona's not the best at defending tight ends either, as they were the ones who allowed seven receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns to Jared Cook. Since that Week 1 game, Cook has 10 receptions for 99 yards, including a four reception, 45-yard game last night.

Again, Graham is the best fantasy tight end out there, but I wouldn’t expect him to come close to this type of production throughout the season. He does face a Miami team that’s allowed a tight end touchdown in each of their first three games, but the schedule will get tougher for Graham down the stretch.