Three weeks into the fantasy football season, things finally start to get interesting. NFL bye weeks start, meaning you're about to start scrambling for spot starters for the next two months. Surprising starts have now morphed into trends, and much of what you thought you knew about fantasy football just three weeks ago has gone the way of the dodo bird.
Naturally, you're seeking advice. The advice offered here may differ from the advice you're actually seeking; that's why the Internet invented comment sections. After the jump, however, you'll find tips on the fantasy game of the week, players that make interesting trade bait, and a couple of big names with interesting Week 4 matchups.
Fantasy Matchup Of The Week, Week 4: When the Patriots visit the Dolphins on Monday Night Football, you're liable to see fireworks - and not just because a Dolphins home game in primetime is creepily similar to a red carpet at an awards show. As explosive as New England's offense is, their defense is equally horrific. Ranked No. 27 in the NFL, the Pats have surrendered at least 23 points in each of its first three games - and the low total was to Buffalo, of all teams. Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and the gang can drop huge points on any defense in the league, but Chad Henne, Brandon Marshall and the Wildcat shouldn't have problems going blow-for-blow in their home stadium. This could be a very, very fun game to watch if you're not a fan of a team in the AFC North.
Rising Star In For A Down Week: Raiders running back Darren McFadden might be the best fantasy football player you didn't think would be that great. In three games, he has been the recipient of rather large rushing loads, carrying 18, 30 and 25 times. His 73 carries to this point are remarkable, given that his career high is 113. Currently ranked third in the NFL in rushing yardage, McFadden's in for a slow week, however, as Oakland takes on a very good Texans team featuring the league's second-best run defense. Houston is giving up just 54 rushing yards per game (partly because their pass defense is exploitable). In a game where Bruce Gradkowski and the Raiders will likely be playing catch-up, don't expect much from McFadden in Week 4.
Slow Starter About To Get Right: There may not be a bigger fantasy let-down to this point than Jets running back Shonn Greene. He's been banged up, has already lost his starting role to veteran LaDainian Tomlinson, and has just 106 rushing yards through three games. The good news, however, is that the Jets play the Buffalo Bills this week - and in case you're not aware, the New York Jets run over the Buffalo Bills like... well, usually the Bills are the butt of that joke, so we'll leave it at that. In two games last year, the Jets ran for a sickening 567 yards, or 283.5 per game for the mathematically challenged. Odds are fantastic that Greene - who probably won't be a reliable option in 2010, barring an injury to LT - will produce like the stud you thought he'd be this Sunday.
"Sell High" Trade Bait: Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton. Orton is off to a blistering start, throwing for 1,078 yards in Denver's first three games. That'd be the second-highest total in the league. Orton's schedule is going to be beneficial to his fantasy outlook for the remainder of the year, as he plays in a rather weak division on a team that will end up throwing a lot. Here's the thing, though: he's Kyle Orton. I get that fantasy is a numbers game, but Orton is still a pretty average quarterback, even from a numbers perspective. Odds are good that you drafted him as a backup, anyway, so if you need help elsewhere - and most importantly, if your real starter isn't under-performing - you should be able to swing a very nice deal for Orton.
"Buy Low" Trade Target: 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Yes, Crabtree has flat-out stunk this year (six catches, 81 yards). No, you didn't dream that the 49ers fired their offensive coordinator this week; that really happened. Absolutely, it's a huge concern that his quarterback is still Alex Smith. No, he is not a fantasy commodity that you can count on in any way, shape or form at the moment. But San Francisco, by the grace of whichever football deity decided to make the NFC West worse than the Big East, isn't out of this thing just yet. There's still every chance that the ultra-talented Crabtree breaks out over the next two to three weeks as the 49ers "surge" in the standings. If you've got an in with a frustrated Crabtree owner and any bench bum with a little upside, make the swap and see what happens.