Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Week 4
By Isuf Gega
Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is our weekly look into NFL match-ups and how they will affect your starting lineup. Starting guys like Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Ezekiel Elliot are easy decisions and that is not the reason you are reading this article. For the most part these are borderline starting players you are considering placing in your lineups due to injury, poor play, bye week, etc.
Quarterbacks Start ‘Em
Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming off back-to-back games of over 24 fantasy points. Fitzpatrick and Miami played last Thursday, which means they have had a couple extra days to prepare for the Seahawks this week. The Seahawks defense has allowed the most passing yards this season along with the most receiving yards. Their defense has allowed 400 more yards to opposing wide receivers than any other team this year. And if things were bad enough for the Seattle defense, they also will be without star safety Jamal Adams this week, who has a groin injury. Fitzpatrick should be considered a very solid streamer this week with high-end QB2 numbers.
Joe Burrow has had at least 300 passing yards and two touchdowns without any interceptions in his last two games. This week he takes on the Jaguars who have allowed the fifth most points to fantasy quarterbacks along with an NFL worse 80% completion rating. The quarterbacks they have played against have been Phillip Rivers, Ryan Tannahill, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Not exactly what one would call stud quarterbacks. Play Burrow this week with the mindset of a low-end QB1 finish.
Jared Goff is the QB9 through the first three weeks and his matchup only gets easier this week against the Giants. To put into perspective how bad the Giants defense was last week, they allowed Nick Mullens, a backup quarterback playing without his starting wide receiver, tight end, and running back to drop 343 passing yards and a touchdown. There is also a chance the Giants are without safety Jabrill Peppers. Goff should have a safe floor and finish as a QB1.
Quarterbacks Sit ‘Em
Tom Brady may have finished as the QB9 last week, but I do not expect him to do the same this week against the Chargers. Since last year the Chargers have only allowed three quarterbacks to finish inside the top 12. Two of those quarterbacks were Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Brady will also be without Chris Godwin (hamstring) this weekend while Scotty Miller (hip/groin) has not been practicing. Brady is no more than a QB2 this weekend.
Justin Herbert has looked very good this year in his first couple games. He has had a few rookie errors, but those will change with more NFL experience. Herbert will face the Buccaneers this week who have been phenomenal at preventing quarterbacks to score fantasy points. They have allowed the fifth fewest points to quarterbacks and not a single one has had more than 15 points against them. Herbert should finish as a low end QB2 at best.
Carson Wentz finished last week with 23.5 fantasy points good enough for QB11. While this may seem like a good thing, it took him all game plus a full 10 minutes of overtime against one of the worst defenses in the NFL to finish this high on the week. Wentz has been brutal this year having at least two interceptions in each of his games this season. He will be playing against the 49ers this weekend without Dallas Goedert (ankle) and Jalen Reagor (thumb). Fellow wide receivers DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Alshon Jeffrey (foot) are also battling injuries and not very likely to play. The 49ers have their own injury concerns however I expect them to pressure Wentz and force him to keep making more mistakes. Expect him to finish as a low-end QB2.
Running Backs Start ‘Em
David Montgomery was a big winner last week, even if his fantasy production didn't show it. While we do not root for injuries, backup and pass catching back Tarik Cohen tore his ACL. Mitch Trubisky also got benched for Nick Foles. Most of Cohen’s opportunities should be going to Montgomery now and with a better quarterback they should have the offense flowing more efficiently. Montgomery should easily see 20 plus touches a game moving forward. This makes him a low end RB2 this week.
Darrel Henderson has totaled 241 yards along with two touchdowns in the last two weeks. Henderson plays the Giants this week who allowed back up Benny Snell to go for 113 rushing yards week one, and David Montgomery for 127 total yards and a touchdown week 2. They followed that up by allowing 146 total yards and three touchdowns to Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson Jr. last week. The Ram are 13 (!!!) point favorites in this game. Expect Henderson to get going quickly and to share some garbage time carries with Malcom Brown. Henderson is a top 20 play this week with tremendous upside.
Carlos Hyde is going to be in for a big week if Chris Carson does not play after suffering a sprained knee last week. It is my assumption that he would play this week if it were a tougher matchup, but they are playing the Dolphins who should be relatively easy to beat. If Carson is out, I expect Hyde to get around 15 carries and a few targets. And even if Carson does play, Hyde should still see an expanded role. First, Seattle will likely want to limit Carson’s usage, and also the Seahawks are expected to be up big and Hyde should be getting a lot of garbage time carries. I foresee Hyde as a solid flex play even if Carson plays, with higher upside if he is out.
Running Backs Sit ‘Em
New York Giants Backfield is still a backfield to avoid until we get more information as to how the carries and snaps will be divided. The snap count last week was Dion Lewis with 20, Wayne Gallman with 18, and Devonta Freeman with 15. Freeman is probably the running back you want and last week Freeman barely knew half the playbook so it will be interesting to see how he does this week. The Giants are 13 point underdogs against the Rams so I do not expect them to give many carries to any of their running backs. If you have to play one it should be Freeman but he is a poor RB4 option this week at best.
Antonio Gibson was someone I liked last week and said to start him as a solid flex play as Gibson finished as the RB25. This week however they play the Ravens and are expected to fall behind early. The Ravens have allowed the sixth fewest points per opportunity to running backs which means Gibson will need a lot of volume to be fantasy relevant. J.D. McKissic is still the pass catching back for this team and is utilized more when Washington is playing from behind which they are expected to in this game. Gibson should be considered a low-end RB3.
Detroit Lions Backfield is not to be trusted this week, or any week for that matter baring an injury. Individually they are talented and can produce fantasy points, but together they are a mess. Through three weeks the snap count is Peterson with 79, Swift with 60, and Kerryon with 59. If you had to start one, my advice would be to start Peterson. Although Peterson has yet to score this season and does not have a single carry inside the 5 yard line unlike Johnson and Swift, he did see 22 carries last week. And even though Swift is more of the pass catching back, Peterson is your best bet if you are stuck and have to start one. Consider him as a low upside RB4.
Wide Receivers Start ‘Em
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (MVS) has incredible upside this week after finding out fellow wide receiver Allen Lazard will be out indefinitely due to a core muscle surgery. Furthermore, Davonate Adams is questionable to play with a hamstring issue. He has been limited in practice this week and if he does play Monday night, I do not see him being 100% and sitting out the instance there appears to be a chance at a reinjury. The Packers have a bye next week and rushing Adams back too quickly can cause him to further aggravate this soft tissue injury. Secondly, the Packers are 3-0 and have aspirations of reaching the Super Bowl once again and they cannot afford for Adams to miss significant time. MVS could very well be the number one option for Rodgers to throw to all night in a game that should be a shoot out. The over/under is 56.5 points so regardless if Adams plays or not, MVS should see a plethora of targets this week against the Falcons. MVS is a WR3 this week with top 10 upside.
Tyler Boyd is the best fantasy receiver for the Bengals. Over the last two games Boyd has 17 receptions from 21 targets for 197 yards and a touchdown. While A.J. Green is still there demanding targets, Burrow has been chucking the ball every game and has looked great doing so. There will be plenty of targets to go around and I expect Boyd to receive around 9 targets this game, good enough to finish as a WR2.
CeeDee Lamb has received at least six targets in every game he has played so far. This includes last week's game where he had a low 49 snaps compared to Gallup with 70 and Cooper with 65. I expect Lamb to play more snaps this week and be on par with Gallup. Lamb should be back in the WR3 conversation this week as he is expected to be in another shoot out.
Wide Receivers Sit ‘Em
Brandon Aiyuk had 101 total yards and a touchdown last week good enough for WR12 on the week. This week he faces the Eagles and star cornerback Darius Slay. Slay has been playing out of his mind this season. He has held Terry McLaurin, Robert Woods, and A.J. Green combined 10 of 16 passing for just 87 total yards. Aiyuk may be good, but he is not better than those wide receivers currently. With George Kittle expected to play this week, Aiyuk should see less opportunity. Consider him a WR4 this week.
T.Y. Hilton this season has been brutal to own. He currently sits as the WR69 on the season and is playing against the only team in the NFL who has not given up a touchdown to wide receivers, the Bears. However, Philip Rivers has nowhere else to throw the ball. Both Parris Campbell (knee) and Michael Pittman (calf) are out this game. I do not expect Hilton to be the first wide receiver to score against the Bears. Therefore, Hilton should not be considered anything more than a WR3 with some upside.
Tight Ends Start ‘Em
Dalton Schultz is going to be a great streamer this week. He has a 15.4% target share and Dak Prescott leads the NFL in pass attempts. The target share should not see a dip this week as the Cowboys are expected to be in another shoot out with the over/under being at 56 points. Schultz will face the Bengals this week who have given up the fourth most fantasy points to tight ends. I expect Schultz to finish as a high-end TE2.
Robert Tonyan had himself a good game last week in the absence of Davante Adams. This week Adams is still questionable to play and Allen Lazard has been ruled out indefinitely. Tonyan plays the Falcons who have allowed a touchdown to every starting tight end they faced. Greg Olson and Dalton Schultz each scored a touchdown and Jimmy Graham scored two. With all the injuries to the Packers receiving core, expect Tonyan to have himself a great game. He is a deep sleeper that I believe has the upside to produce as a TE1 this week.
Mike Gesicki has had a very up and down season so far. He has had two week where he had 30 receiving yards or less, and one week when he blew up and had 130 receiving yards. While I do not see Gesicki having 130 receiving yards again, I expect him to have high usage in this game against the Seahawks. Jamal Adams has done a great job covering tight ends for the Seahawks, however he is not expected to play this week. Gesicki should be considered a TE1 this week in what will likely be a high scoring game.
Tight Ends Sit ‘Em
Greg Olsen finished off last week with 5 receptions for 61 yards. If Jacob Hollister had not vultured the touchdown away from him, Olsen would have had a good fantasy day. This week he faces the Dolphins, who have not allowed any tight end to have more than 35 yards against them. Olsen is fighting Hollister for targets and fellow tight end Will Dissly is slowly recovering from his achilles injury. I don’t expect Olsen to make much of an impact this week and there are better streaming options.