Week 4 Starts and Sits
Week 4 Bye Weeks: Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers
Eli Manning (vs New Orleans)
The Saints pass defense is bad. Like, really bad. They are one of three pass defenses to give up over 1000 yards in the first three games of the season (Kansas City/Tampa Bay). They’ve allowed 10 touchdowns and only gotten 1 interception. They’ve also allowed opposing quarterbacks to have a 141.7 passer rating (the next closest is 119.9) while averaging 11.2 yards per completion. While the proposition of playing Manning is scary, he seems to be finding a groove behind a shuffled offensive line. Manning went 25 of 29 for 297 yards and a 2/1 TD/INT ratio against the Texans defense. With his weapons, he should be poised to be an excellent streaming option in week 4.
Phillip Rivers (vs San Francisco)
Rivers draws a great matchup in week 4, one week after he performed admirably against the LA Rams. Against a full strength (at the time) Rams defense, Rivers was able to throw for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. This week, Rivers draws a reeling 49ers defense, coming off an injury to Jimmy Garoppolo and a secondary that will likely be missing Richard Sherman. The 49ers also are 1 of 2 defenses who don’t have an interception so far in the 2018 season (Dallas). Unlike Dallas, the 49ers have given up 8 touchdowns through the air.
Case Keenum (vs Kansas City), Joe Flacco (at Pittsburgh), Matt Ryan (at Cincinnati)
Case Keenum is coming off a couple difficult weeks against the Raiders and Ravens, combining for 41 of 69 (59%) for 414 yards and 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. However, both of those defenses might as well be Fort Knox compared to the Chiefs porous secondary. The Chiefs are perfectly content getting into shootouts and seem to have no interest in stopping the opposing offense, so Keenum should have plenty of upside for week 4. While not amazing, Joe Flacco is having a solid 2018 with a revamped receiver corp around him. Flacco bounced back from a poor week 2 against the Bengals with 277 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos. This week he gets the start against a Steelers defense who have struggled against the likes of Tyrod Taylor, Patrick Mahomes, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. While they were able to generate three picks against Tampa Bay, a lot of that can be put on Fitzpatrick forcing the balls into windows he couldn’t hit. If you have Matt Ryan, he has just as much upside this week as he did last week. Ryan threw the ball all over the Saints in week 3, and he draws a Bengals defense that struggled to contain Cam Newton and his average by comparison weapons in week 4. Given the problems in the Falcons secondary, this game is poised to be a shootout (2nd highest over/under line in Vegas), which means that Ryan will have plenty of chances to air it out.
Chris Carson (at Arizona)
Chris Carson seems to have emerged as the lead back in Seattle after week 3. Carson ran the ball 32 times for 102 yards and a touchdown against Dallas last weekend. He also added 2 catches for 22 yards. Given Seattle’s focus in on a more balanced attack, and the simple fact that Arizona has given up the 4th most yards (394) and the most rushing touchdowns (5) in the NFL this season, Carson should have more than enough opportunity to build upon last weeks strong week. The Cardinals offense is also a mess, so this could be a run-heavy game script early for Seattle.
Giovanni Bernard (at Atlanta)
Gio Bernard is a great option again this week, especially since in Joe Mixon’s absence he was the only running back to register a carry (Tyler Boyd also had a rushing attempt). Bernard managed 61 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries while adding 5 catches for 25 yards against a Panthers defense that is at its strongest against the run. This week, he draws an ailing Atlanta defense missing Deon Jones, Keanu Neal, and Ricardo Allen. Atlanta has surrendered the 5th most yardage to running backs (377), the 2nd most touchdowns (4) and has a documented history against receiving backs that are less than stellar. Keep Bernard in the lineup if you have him.
Alex Collins (at Pittsburgh), Dion Lewis (vs Philadelphia), Carlos Hyde (at Oakland)
The Ravens finally decided to go with a more balanced approach in their backfield week 3, and Alex Collins seemed to be the biggest beneficiary. Collins got 18 touches for 68 yards and a touchdown while also adding 3 catches for 6 yards. If the Ravens can keep getting him double-digit touches (very possible against the Steelers) then he should be poised for a big game soon. While Dion Lewis had an underwhelming week against the Jaguars, a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that the Jaguars have the linebackers to take away receiving running backs with their aggressive linebackers. This week, that script flips as the Eagles boast the front 7 to stifle traditional running backs but lack the linebackers to keep up on the perimeter. Carlos Hyde has been the clear lead back in the Browns backfield. He has registered a minimum of 16 carries his first 3 weeks. He’s had at least one touchdown every game. Up until last week though, he was averaging under 3 yards per carry until last weeks 4.3 per carry. Oakland has been poor against the run in 2018. They’re giving up 5 yards per carry and 116 yards per game. Expect a run-heavy game script in Baker Mayfield’s (starting) debut, which means a whole lot of Carlos Hyde.
Adam Thielen (at LA Rams)
In the last two weeks, Thielen has been on the good end of 32 targets, catching 26 of them for 236 yards and a touchdown. His targets have gone up every week, topping out at 19 last week. While Stefon Diggs is still the more explosive option in this passing game, Thielen is still able to get his work in against lesser cover corners. On paper, the week 4 matchup seems to be a difficult one against the Rams, but this is a secondary that will be without Aquib Talib and (most likely) Marcus Peters on a short weeks rest. If the Vikings offensive line can hold up against the Rams pass rush, then there will be opportunities for a big day in the passing game. Even if they can’t hold off the rush, Thielen stands to benefit as the quick passing primary option.
Mike Williams (at San Francisco)
It would seem that Mike Williams is developing into the 2nd option behind Keenan Allen for the Chargers in 2018. He has three touchdowns in the last two weeks and has been the recipient of at least 6 targets in two of the last 3 weeks. Against the Rams, he got 7 targets, catching 4 of them for 81 yards and two touchdowns. As long as Keenan Allen is healthy, he will never get covered by the top corner by opposing defenses. San Francisco’s defense poses the perfect opportunity for him to have another big game with an injured Richard Sherman and struggling Aikello Witherspoon.
Tyler Boyd (at Atlanta), Sterling Shepard (vs New Orleans), Calvin Ridley (vs Cincinnati)
It’s clear after 3 weeks that Tyler Boyd has emerged as Andy Dalton’s second favorite receiver for the Bengals. One week after a 6/91/1 line against the Ravens, he exploded in week 3 for 6 catches, 132 yards, and a touchdown against Carolina. With AJ Green favoring an injury week 3, Boyd could be poised for an uptick in targets against an Atlanta defense that has had trouble stopping teams passing offenses. Sterling Shepard is another receiver who will be the week 4 beneficiary of an injury, with Evan Engram slowed by a knee injury. With Engram out, Shepard stepped into the clear number 2 role, catching 6 of 7 targets for 80 yards and a touchdown. This marks the 3rd time in 3 weeks he’s received 7 targets. New Orleans struggled heavily against the slot this season, and given the fact that Shepard primarily operates from there, he can have a massive 4th week. Calvin Ridley is emerging into a weapon for the high-powered Falcons offense. He had a huge week against the Saints (7/146/3) and has shown the ability to be an excellent compliment to Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu. Cincinnati has been the 9th worst passing defense, allowing 811 yards and 6 touchdowns. Ridley should be able to build upon his big week 3 this week as well.
Kyle Rudolph (at LA Rams)
While Rudolph doesn’t have the yardage, he maintains his role as Rudolph’s primary red zone option. He received 6 targets, catching 5 of them for 48 yards and a touchdown for a let down against the Bills. The Rams have been underwhelming against opposing tight ends this season, and Rudolph has the favor of Kirk Cousins and the target share to be an excellent play this week.
Trey Burton (at Tampa Bay)
While Trey Burton hasn’t been a consistent option in the passing game so far in 2018, he seems to have a set role in the offense. Burton is averaging 5 targets and 3 yards per week. He also has one touchdown on the season. This week, he has a fantastic matchup against a Tampa Bay defense that has given up an average of 21 fantasy points to tight ends this season (25/329/1 total on the season). If Burton is going to have a big week, this may be the one to play him.
Austin Hooper (at Cincinnati), Jared Cook (vs Cleveland), Jonnu Smith (vs Philadelphia)
Austin Hooper has been up and down this season, but that seems to be par for the course out of the tight end position in 2018. A week after catching 5 targets for 59 yards and a touchdown against Carolina, Hooper followed it up as the 3rd option against the Saints, posting a 3 catch for 23-yard performance. The Bengals have been disappointing against the tight end this season, allowing 18.5 points per week in fantasy to the tune of a 23/218/2 line. While the Browns are strong against tight ends, Jared Cook maintains a primary role in the Raiders passing game. Cook has 18 catches on 22 targets for 260 yards on the season, which means that he is a good play every week based on the problems of this position for this season. If you don’t have a top option (Gronk/Kelce/Ertz), then Cook is once again a solid play. Jonnu Smith hasn’t quite stepped into the Delanie Walker role since he ascended into the starting position, but he has all the physical tools of Walker. Given the fact that Mariota is still hampered by a UCL injury and will most likely be forced into a starting role given Blaine Gabbert’s concussion, that means Smith could see a high level of targets in the short to intermediate passing game.
Dak Prescott (vs Detroit)
The further we get from the 2016 season, the more it looks like Dak Prescott is a league average quarterback instead of the next great young passer. In 9 of the last 11 games, Prescott has thrown for under 200 yards. While he doesn’t make mistakes (19 career interceptions), he also doesn’t have the vertical weapons to really be a top option. Conversely, the Lions defense seems to have found their stride, allowing the fewest passing yards (456) and allowing only 5 passing touchdowns on the season. Find Dak a nice spot on the bench this week if you can help it.
Marcus Mariota (vs Philadelphia)
As mentioned earlier, Mariota is far from healthy with a strained UCL ligament, but may be forced into action week 4. The task doesn’t get easier as he faces an Eagles defense that has the secondary to limit downfield passing (not that Mariota can do that much anyway). The Titans found success keeping to the ground game against Jacksonville in week 3, and that game script may re-emerge in week 4 as well.
Josh Allen (at Green Bay), Derek Carr (at Cleveland), Blake Bortles (vs NY Jets)
Josh Allen was solid against the Vikings last week going 15 of 22 for 196 yards and a touchdown while also rushing 10 times for 39 yards and 2 other scores. However, don’t let that fantastic stat line against a top defense in the league distract you from the fact that he’s still a rookie with limited weapons around him. While it is good to know he has QB2 upside, it’s dangerous to rely on that for a second straight week. Derek Carr has been less than stellar in the Raiders new look offense, struggling for the 2nd time this season against a Miami defense that has been surprising, but not great. While he did throw for almost 350 yards, he tossed 1 touchdown to 2 interceptions. His average pass only traveled 8.85 yards. He gets the matchup against a decent Cleveland secondary on a cross-country trip in week 4, which means there is plenty of reason for concern in this matchup. As good as Blake Bortles looked against the Patriots in week 2, he looked just as terrible against the Titans in week 3. Bortles threw the ball 34 times, completing 21 for 155 yards and 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The Jets have been solid against the pass this year, allowing only 3 touchdowns while getting 5 interceptions. Look for the Jaguars to maintain their run-first approach again this week, especially with the potential return of Leonard Fournette.
Peyton Barber (at Chicago)
Given the fact that Ronald Jones has yet to be active this season, Peyton Barber is clearly the lead back in Tampa Bay. However, that title has not yet yielded production with Barber averaging 2.9 yards per carry and no touchdowns yet this season. Part of that problem is the fact that Tampa Bay has found themselves in shootouts and relied on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s arm so far in 2018. This week, Barber draws the rigid Bears defense, which has only allowed opposing running backs to carry the ball for 196 yards in 3 games. They are also one of 3 teams to not allow a rushing touchdown yet on the season. If you have Barber, look elsewhere for production this week.
Aaron Jones (at Buffalo)
After a two week suspension, Aaron Jones emerged as the most effective running option in week 3 for the Packers with 6 carries for 42 yards. However, this week Jones draws a matchup with the Bills, who are the 5th best team against the run allowing only 240 yards and 3.6 yards per carry. It is clear the Packers plan on gradually working Jones back into the fold, and while his production may see an uptick, he still isn’t a great start at this point.
Derrick Henry (vs Philadelphia), Isaiah Crowell (at Jacksonville), Dalvin Cook (at Los Angeles)
While Derrick Henry has been the featured back the past two weeks (36 carries), the results have been underwhelming as he has produced only 3 yards per carry. This could bode poorly against the Eagles, who have only allowed 185 yards on 54 carries for the season. Henry may lose work if the Titans decide to attack the perimeter with the more explosive Dion Lewis. Isaiah Crowell’s 4 rushing touchdowns may look appealing, but it doesn’t disguise the fact that Bilal Powell has been the better runner in the early part of 2018. Crowell’s numbers look much better than they actually are thanks to the week 1 explosion against the Lions defense. Since then he is averaging 2.5 yards per carry on 28 touches. He has a tall task against Jacksonville in a game where the Jets could end up relying on Sam Darnold’s arm more than they would like. Dalvin Cook is a risky play in week 4 given the tenuous nature of his hamstring and the Rams rushing defense. Between Cooks injury and the injuries in the Rams secondary, this could be a game where the Vikings decide to rely on Kirk Cousins’ arm instead of Cook’s legs to try and get him one week healthier.
TY Hilton (vs Houston)
I saw an interesting stat on social media the other day: from 2014 to 2017 the lowest amount of yards TY Hilton averaged per catch was 15.9. This season, Hilton is averaging 10.5 yards per catch. Combine this knowledge with the fact that when it came to the final Hail Mary against the Eagles the Colts subbed in Jacoby Brissett to make the 50-yard throw. It’s clear that Andrew Luck doesn’t have his fastball yet, and while Hilton has put up decent stats (17/179/2) he is far from being a return on investment on his 3rd round ADP. Avoid the start this week against a Houston defense that has the tools to take him out of the equation.
Corey Davis (vs Philadelphia)
I’ve talked about Mariota’s arm strength several times before this point, and the person who suffers the most here is Corey Davis. Davis has shown the ability to force missed tackles this year, but against an Eagles defense designed to keep receivers in front of them, Davis may struggle to fill up the stat sheet this week. Davis was severely held back by Jacksonville in week 3 (2 catches on 4 targets for 34 yards). Until Mariota is back to full strength, Davis is a risky play on a weekly basis.
Quincy Enunwa (at Jacksonville), Marvin Jones Jr. (at Dallas), Brandin Cooks (vs Minnesota)
As many targets as Quincy Enunwa gets on a weekly basis, he is still a risky play against the Jaguars staunch passing game. While he provides the safest floor in week 4 for this passing game, there is still a great chance he has underwhelming stats that you can find elsewhere. Marvin Jones Jr. has settled into the 3rd receiver role in Detroit behind Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay. Against the Patriots, he was highly efficient grabbing 4 of 6 targets for 69 yards and a touchdown. Dallas has been highly successful against the pass this season, allowing 548 yards and 6.6 yards per catch for only 3 touchdowns. Be mindful of putting him in your lineup week 4. Brandin Cooks has been excellent in LA his first season, catching 19 of 25 targets for 336 yards and zero touchdowns. Based on the matchup, he will most likely draw the unenviable task of finding separation against Xavier Rhodes in week 4. Given how much Jared Goff spreads the ball around to all of his weapons, it wouldn’t be shocking for Cooks to take a back seat this week to keep Xavier Rhodes busy.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins (at NY Jets)
Sefarian-Jenkins continues to get consistent targets in the red zone passing game for Jacksonville, however, this has yet to manifest itself into any meaningful production. Once again, ASJ got 5 targets, converting on 3 of them for 18 yards. This week’s matchup against the Jets looms dangerously as they have the linebacker and safety speed to attack Jenkins in the end zone and force Bortles to pivot off to Donte Moncrief or Keelan Cole.
George Kittle (at LA Chargers)
With Jimmy Garoppolo out for the season with an ACL tear, George Kittle probably sees the smallest dip in his overall production. However, it is very possible that the 49ers rely heavier on Matt Breida and Alfred Morris in the short term to make him comfortable. Also, because of the history of Kittle and Beathard, look for rookie sensation Derwin James to shadow him in coverage, which could provide a dip in production for week 4. It’s also worth noting that the Chargers are the 3rd best fantasy defense against tight ends, allowing them the average 5.9 points per week this season.
Vance McDonald (vs Baltimore), Will Dissly (at Arizona), OJ Howard (at Chicago)
A lot of people are going to be rushing to the waiver wire this week to acquire Vance McDonald after his big Monday Night Football performance against the Buccaneers. However, while he will emerge as the lead tight end in Pittsburgh given his clean bill of health, this week bodes as a bad matchup. The Ravens have only allowed an average of 9.6 fantasy points per week to tight ends and have the ability to matchup up Eric Weddle to take away the tight end. Will Dissly was a tight end revelation in the first two weeks, catching 6 of 10 targets for 147 yards against the Broncos and Bears. In week 3, Dallas was able to shut Dissly down, allowing 1 catch on 3 targets for four yards. He doesn’t draw a better matchup in week 3 against an Arizona defense allowing tight ends to average only 12.1 points per week against tight ends. The Seahawks recent re-dedication to the run game also significantly cuts into his possible production. OJ Howard has been a great tight end in his 2nd season, catching 11 of 14 targets for 222 yards and a touchdown, with most of the production coming in the form of 20+ yard catches. In week 4, he draws a difficult task against the Bears, whose defensive strength comes in up the middle with athletic linebackers and safeties. Howard will always have boom or bust potential, but you may be able to find stronger options in week 4.