Time to act like the last Boy Scout in Week 4

My first experience of what it’s like to be in a fantasy football league was the Cub Scouts.

Think about it. It’s a big group of guys with similar interests who get together weekly with food and beverages to do their best and compete for individual accolades. At least that’s how I remember it.

The Cub Scouts — through the Pinewood Derby and the pursuit of merit badges — not only helped socialize me as a youngster, but they honed my competitive edge. I always wanted to stand out in the group for my achievements. I always wanted to win.

After Cub Scouts came the Boy Scouts. By that time, sports and girls had begun to fill in these social and competitive gaps for me in a way that scouting could no longer do. I didn’t last very long in the BSA, but I did take one thing away from the experience. I learned the motto “Be Prepared.”

Week 4 of the NFL season brings with it the first round of bye weeks. Both the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers will be on vacation this week and that means you’ll have to make like a Boy Scout and be prepared to go into fantasy football battle shorthanded.

Here are some plays that could help you survive this week’s matchups without the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Randall Cobb, Steve Smith, Jordy Nelson, et al:

* Alex Smith – Provided Terrelle Pryor is unavailable in your league, Alex Smith likely constitutes your next best option as a Week 4 fill-in. Smith is averaging almost 20 points per game so far and has a home matchup with the New York Giants looming. After seeing how healthy the Giants defense has made opposing quarterbacks look so far in 2013, Smith is an obvious choice. Don’t be tempted by seemingly better players like Carson Palmer, Matt Schaub, or Sam Bradford. Smith should be better than all of them and quite adequate in place of Rodgers or Newton. In fact, if you’ve been starting Eli Manning at QB, this would be a prime opportunity to snatch up his opposite number and utilize him.

* Jason Snelling – Assuming that Fred Jackson, Bernard Pierce, Bilal Powell and Joique Bell have long since been rostered in your league, Snelling is the back I want this week if I’m looking to replace DeAngelo Williams or an underachiever like Daryl Richardson this week. Snelling is nothing special, but he’s big and he’s versatile and he knows the Falcons offense inside and out. He may not repeat his Week 3 stat line of 111 total yards and one touchdown, but 80 yards and 1 TD are certainly within the realm of possibility.

* Heath Miller – The Steelers tight end returned to their lineup last night without a lot of fanfare. Chances are he was undrafted and that all of the TE hullabaloo so far this season has overshadowed his return. This is your chance to add a Pro Bowler and a vital, productive cog in the Steelers offense before many people notice he is back. So whether or not you’re looking for a Greg Olsen or Jermichael Finley replacement this week, Miller is worth the add and should improve greatly over the coming weeks as his knee strengthens and a healthy Le’Veon Bell gives Pittsburgh at least a semblance of a reliable running game.

* Veteran Receivers – This is not a cop out. Really. The bye weeks mark the point in the fantasy football season where you’re probably not looking to take a whole lot of chances. Players like Brian Hartline, Nate Washington, Santonio Holmes, Nate Burleson and Sidney Rice — all widely available in leagues — make up for what they lack in long-term upside by offering a reliability that the Michael Floyds and Cordarrelle Pattersons do not. Chances are good that you’re looking to cover for at least one of this talented group of receivers on bye, and you could do worse than adding one of these vets to do just that.

As usual, you can follow me on Twitter (@FantasyBuddha) if you have any questions you’d like to ask me and if you’re streaming defenses, it may be time to just add the Chiefs and just settle in for a while. Those guys can play.

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