- Helping with some of your tougher lineup decisions for Week 4
For purposes of this article, I am assuming that fantasy owners are playing in 12 team leagues and have roster sizes of 16-20 spots. While I will try to avoid giving out obvious players as starts, I will add some top players in the sit category if I feel that they have bad matchups.
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
It seems like every team who plays the Miami Dolphins is in a smash spot, so for Week 4, Philip Rivers has the distinction of playing against the worst team in the league. Miami is the second-worst team against opposing quarterbacks, and Rivers’s fantasy floor (meaning his worst-case scenario) is 240 yards passing and two TDs. His ceiling is 300-plus yards passing and three TDs.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants
Back in April, New York Giants fans were screaming loudly from the rooftops that Daniel Jones was a bad pick at No. 6 overall. Now, after a great comeback win vs. Tampa Bay on the road in Week 3, Jones is arguably the better young quarterback in the Metropolitan area. In Week 4, Jones faces the awful Redskins who just let Bears QB Mitch Trubisky throw for three TDs on Monday night. I know CB Josh Norman and S Landon Collins will be motivated in this game (they hate Giants GM Dave Gettleman), but Jones is in a great spot to succeed.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Simply put, the New England Patriots are the best team in the NFL against opposing quarterbacks. Bill Belichick has an exceptional talent of taking away the one thing that a team likes to do. This week, I expect the Patriots to take away Josh Allen’s running lanes and force him to stay in the pocket. Allen is horribly inaccurate and staying in the pocket might end up being a nightmare scenario for him.
Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders
Normally, I try not to pay any attention to what I call “coachspeak,” but when Raiders head coach Jon Gruden says that the Raiders have to do a better job of including Jacobs in the passing game, I am paying attention. Helping matters is that the Colts might be without All-Pro LB Darius Leonard once again (Leonard is out with a concussion), and the fact that the Colts are the fifth-worst team in the NFL against opposing running backs. If the Raiders want to win this road game, Jacobs is going to have to be a main contributor.
James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
Without question, Conner has been a HUGE fantasy disappointment this season. Through three games, he has 97 yards rushing and 70 yards receiving. These are not the stats that fantasy owners (or the Steelers) thought they would be getting from Conner this season. The good news is that this week Conner gets to play against the Bengals, who are the second-worst team in the NFL when it comes to stopping the run. If Frank Gore can run for 76 yards against the Bengals defense, Conner should easily have over 100.
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
Green Bay plays on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, but I can give you three good reasons why I think you should consider benching him: 1) The Eagles have one of the top-five run defenses in the NFL and held Lions RB Kerryon Johnson to 36 yards on 20 attempts last week. 2) Jones is slightly banged up with an injured shoulder. 3) Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has stated that he wants to include RB Jamaal Williams more in the offensive game plan to keep Jones fresh. I am fine with starting Jones in standard formats as he is the goal-line back, but in PPR leagues there are better options.
Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins
The New York Giants are the most generous team in the NFL when it comes to covering opposing wide receivers. (Note: this is a very nice way of saying the Giants’ secondary stinks.) Without question, McLaurin has been a revelation thus far this season and if Washington wants to keep this game close, they will have to take their chances downfield. Look for McLaurin to make at least one big play and possibly two if the Redskins are playing catch-up during garbage time.
Randall Cobb, Dallas Cowboys
Cobb was a major disappointment to his fantasy owners in Week 3, but I think he is a very sneaky start in Week 4. Look at the last two games that the New Orleans Saints have played—which receivers ate them up? Slot receivers. Who is Dallas’ slot receiver? Randall Cobb. With Saints CB Marshon Lattimore draped all over Cowboys WR Amari Cooper, look for Dak Prescott to find Cobb over the middle multiple times in this game.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccanneers
With a little luck, I think I might end up being the Mike Evans-whisperer this season. Last week in this column, I told you that he was a must-start against the Giants. This week, I highly recommend that you sit Evans (if you have better options, of course). Let’s discuss that for a second—would I bench Mike Evans for Mack Hollins? No. Would I bench him for Geronimo Allison? No. I am recommending that you bench him only if you have another option of similar ability. So, would I sit Evans for Tyrell Williams? Yes, because I think they will score a similar amount of points this week. I am wary of starting Evans, mainly because the Rams have been incredibly stingy with their pass defense. They are the number two ranked team in the NFL against opposing wide receivers, and CB Aqib Talib is one of the toughest matchups that Evans will see all season. Moreover, I think Jameis Winston will have DT Aaron Donald in his face all game long.
Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks
Sometimes fantasy football is easier than it looks, and this week the easy play is starting Will Dissly at tight end. The Arizona Cardinals are the worst defense against opposing tight ends in the NFL, and Dissly has five TDs in only seven career starts. Last week the Panthers' Greg Olsen lit the Cardinals up for 75 yards and two TDs and in Week 4 Dissly might just do the same.
Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders
Occasionally, fantasy owners need to be convinced that a player is going to be a star. It was obvious from the beginning of last season that Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes was a special talent, and I think it is equally as obvious that Raiders TE Darren Waller is a special talent in his own right. Waller is the ultimate success story, coming back from addiction issues and finding a starting role in the NFL. For the season, Waller has 26 receptions on a whopping 29 targets in three games. Moreover, the Colts are the fifth-worst team against opposing tight ends. Start Waller in all formats.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Why can fantasy football be so frustrating? Because on a week-to-week basis things change depending on the matchups. Just last week, I wrote that Greg Olsen was a must-start against the Cardinals, but this week I am recommending that fantasy owners sit Olsen against the Texans. The Texans are a top-five defense against opposing tight ends, and with Kyle Allen starting at QB once again, I worry that Olsen might be overlooked in the passing game.
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