We’re heading into Week 4 already, almost 30% through the fantasy season. It’s been rough. The injuries seem especially heavy this year (even though they’re probably not), and for many of us still reeling from the David Johnson injury, the bye weeks look like nightmare incarnate. But, this is fantasy football, and just about anything can happen with a little luck. You could play Jacquizz Rodgers and Kerwynn Williams and still win by two points thanks to your opponent starting the Ravens defense against the Jaguars in London. This fantasy life of ours is full of surprises.
So we move on to Week 4, try to develop a strategy, and hope our educated guesses end up paying off like a Chris Thompson, Kirk Cousins stack. That’s a nod to you Zero RB players.
Start of the Week
The Saints were finally able to play Saints football and unleashed the monster that stepped into Brandin Cooks’ shoes. Michael Thomas finished Week 3 with 7 receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown, and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to dominate against the Dolphins, who can’t even stop the Jets wide receiver corps. Furthermore, Sean Payton knows he needs to get the ball into Thomas’ hands often if the Saints will continue their high-flying offense. He told ESPN: “He had a number of big plays, and I think it helps to get him going, certainly early on.”
He draws a lot of penalties too. That would be a cool little way to earn points in a customizable league.
Tyrod Taylor: The Falcons are giving up yards and touchdowns all over the place as the sixth-worst defense against the pass in the NFL. Taylor isn’t great on the road, but as a deep-league play, or even better as a DFS play, Taylor could produce. He’s $5,300 on DraftKings. He’s a good sport, too.
Trevor Siemian: The Siemian drum will be beaten until it isn’t, and the Broncos will play an Oakland team that was carved to pieces by Kirk Cousins in Week 3. They’re especially weak against the pass, and with Siemian throwing at a high volume to his reliable receivers (with few threats of Oakland picking him off), this could be a nice get-right game after a rough afternoon in Buffalo, where he threw two picks.
This can happen again:
Carson Palmer: First off, grats to Palmer to becoming the 13th player to reach 45,000 career passing yards. Secondly, he started 11/11 tonight against the Cowboys, and just might not be done. The 49ers are giving up 11.2 yards per pass play and with their running game nonexistent, Palmer might do some damage. So fear not, Luck owner who drafted Palmer — you have a pretty decent matchup before you absolutely must start streaming.
Derek Carr: Two weeks of bad play in a row is likely to happen here. History shows Carr playing mediocre at best against Denver, hovering around an 80 QB rating and usually putting up overall weak numbers (despite over the last two seasons having 3 TDs to 1 INT over the last three games he’s played against them). If you absolutely have to play Derek Carr this week, roll him out, but with byes still a week away there could be better options out there. That said, Denver isn’t quite as dominant as they used to be against QBs. But if Washington can harass him…
Cam Newton: He just lost his best receiver for an unknown amount of time, he doesn’t look accurate, and he’s still recovering from shoulder surgery. He simply doesn’t pass the eye test and it’s affecting the entire team. This shouldn’t be happening against the Saints:
The Patriots do give up a lot of yards to opposing QBs, but Cam shouldn’t be played in anything lower than a 14-team league until he shows he can perform.
Matt Ryan: You’ll probably roll him out anyway, but keep in mind that Buffalo has yet to give up a touchdown this year, and Ryan has yet to show why he was last year’s MVP. Maybe it’s the offensive coordinator change, maybe his players aren’t making the big plays in space that made last year so special, or maybe Matt Ryan is what we thought he was.
WIDE RECEIVER STARTS
Martavis Bryant: He’s stunk it up, now the Steelers are playing the Ravens in a divisional game after losing to the lowly Bears, who can’t even lose when they’re supposed to. That’s how bad they are. Anyway, the Steelers will play the Ravens who just made Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee look like Gods. Bryant should be able to bounce back after a quiet week. That’s how this works, right? Week 1: 2 receptions for 14 yards. Week 2: 3/91/1. Week 3: 2 for 30 yards on 8 targets. They’re looking his way. It’s coming.
DeVante Parker: A garbage time king if there ever was one. Parker had a flukey four catches and a touchdown with three seconds left on the clock after the Dolphins called a meaningless timeout, but playing the Saints in England could lead to a shootout, or a blowout. Either way, the chances of Parker getting some of that Smokin’ Jay action is real.
Pierre Garcon: As expected, Garcon has turned a bad situation overall into PPR gold. Garcon had 10 targets, catching 7 of them for 142 yards against the Rams on Thursday. Garcon has seen 25 targets in the first three games. Why shouldn’t this continue?
WIDE RECEIVER SITS
Brandon Marshall: No. This is one of those performances that will come from Eli Manning (who was terrible in the first half) a few times a season, then you’ll roll Marshall back out, feeling nice and comfy about it, and he’ll put up a two-catch performance. Eli Manning threw the ball 47 times compared to 38 and 32 attempts to open the season.
T.Y. Hilton: It was nice seeing Jacoby Brissett and Hilton connecting, but the Colts traveling to the Seahawks could be a nightmare scenario for anyone hoping for another nice game. There’s a chance that the stud plays well, but Seattle is currently giving up the eight-least yards to opposing wide receivers. You likely don’t have a better option, and getting cute usually ends up backfiring, but his first two weeks showed you the void. Do you want to continue to stare into it in Week 4?
Terrelle Pryor: It’s time to give up until further notice. He’s seen 8 targets and hauled in only 4 catches for 50 yards total over the last two weeks. He’ll probably get right and catch a deep pass soon, but for now, he’s lacking opportunity with Josh Doctson playing more snaps and Cousins leaning on his TEs and Crowder.
RUNNING BACK STARTS
Joe Mixon: It’s time. The new OC is feeding all of his young studs lest his head be the next on the chopping block. Mixon had 21 total touches in Week 3 after playing behind Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard the last two weeks, and he turned his 3 catches into 39 yards and his 18 carries into 62. His rushing average isn’t great, and the gameplan will get away from him at times, but the job is clearly his now. He can easily score against the Browns this week.
LeGarrette Blount: Darren Sproles is out, and now the Eagles run game goes through their offseason signing, Blount. Wendell Smallwood will get some touches and is worth getting off waivers, but Blount is likely to get a bunch of work now. If Smallwood was truly that great, he probably would’ve run away with the job last year. Blount is the safe option and only owned in 65 percent of Yahoo leagues. More on him in the Waiver Wire section.
Duke Johnson: The Browns are using Johnson like they said they would, and it’s working out extremely well for the offensively-challenged team out of Cleveland. Johnson caught 6 of 7 targets for 81 yards and is showing big-play ability whenever he touches the ball. He had two rushed for 23 yards and a touchdown as well. You can only depend on him in PPR leagues right now, but he’s serving Zero RB owners well as Theo Riddick disappoints.
RUNNING BACK SITS
Isaiah Crowell: At what point are you rolling him out comfortably? If he’s one of your top two backs, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, but the Bengals have a decent run D, and we’re coming off a season-high 44 yards rushing for Crow. He’s once again the backfield and team touch leader, but he’s an RB2 at best and I don’t want to play him in DFS.
Bilal Powell: What a disappointment. If Forte is out, be advised — he could be decent — but now there might be a three-headed monster in the Jets backfield. Elijah McGuire is taking snaps, and if Forte suits up, it’s not worth it. Maybe Powell will be another late-season savior?
Jacquizz Rodgers: Do we continue to trust in a workload that might not come? He led the backfield with five touches, gaining 15 yards, whereas last week, it took him 19 carries to stumble into the end zone with just over 3 YPC. It’s concerning. Will he get a massive workload against the Giants, who can give up yards on the ground? You’re in a unique situation if you’re using his as a top 24 back this week. He’s probably somewhere in the flex or RB3 discussion with potential upside.
TIGHT END STARTS
Charles Clay: Dude continues his consistent play with Tyrod Taylor. It’s not sexy, but he’ll get you points if you’re in a deep league. Hell, any league. He’s the fifth-ranked TE in PPR leagues, and he should be snagged now with bye weeks coming. Someone needs to catch the ball in Buffalo, and Clay loves catching touchdowns.
Look at this:
Evan Engram: Another week, another solid outing from the utterly un-sexy Engram. 5/45 and a touchdown this week, 19 targets in the first three weeks, and the positional scarcity and overall weak play makes him someone worth playing in DFS and 12-team leagues.
Vernon Davis: If Jordan Reed continues to miss time, which he could (there’s always that chance), Davis will eat. Reed is currently out with a toe injury, a shoulder injury and a chest injury, so anything can happen. He’s currently day to day and has extra rest with Washington visiting Kansas City on Monday, but who knows if he’ll play? If he doesn’t, put Davis in your lineup. He caught all 5 of his targets last week, and Cousins trusts him.
TIGHT END SITS
Hunter Henry: Again, Henry is started. Again, Henry gets unpredictable targets. It’s not worth the potential zero. Mitigate all risk. Jared Cook, Charles Clay, even Ben Watson might be better.
Delanie Walker: The prophecies are coming true — there are too many mouths to feed in Tennessee and while he was serviceable in the first two weeks, standard league players are wondering where Walker is. He needs touchdowns, and they’re coming, but when? The Texans have the third-best defense against opposing tight ends. It could get ugly.
Martellus Bennett: Week 3 was THE week for Bennett to do well with Cobb out and Jordy nursing an injury, but instead we got 3 catches for 12 yards. If you’re in a 12 team or shallower league, it’s not worth it. He’s worth shouting out for this, though.
PHI RB Wendell Smallwood: Darren Sproles is done for the season, so now it’s finally time for Smallwood, who should cede touches to LeGarrette Blount, but could do damage through the air if he takes over the Sproles role in the offense.
PHI RB LeGarrette Blount: See above. The Chargers have a weak run defense, and there’s a chance Blount could be in a familiar Kill the Clock situation that he’s seemingly born for.
JAX WR Marqise Lee: Like Allen Hurns, Lee is getting increased looks thanks to Allen Robinson being done for the year. He had the second-highest target share on the team a 23.3 percent (7 targets). If that sustains, he might have his weeks. Bortles will revert to being Bortles soon enough.
ARZ RB Andre Ellington: Things are shaking out in the post-David Johnson world, and it looks like Kerwynn Williams is out of the backfield situation in Arizona. Chris Johnson will handle the between-the-tackles, and Ellington will get peppered with targets, as expected. He’s an injury risk, but his 5 catches for 59 yards is near flex-worthy come bye week time. It’s not a great situation and you can’t trust it, but desperate times…