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Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 4

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 4

Good news: I didn’t get a single pick wrong last week.

OK, that’s because I took a seat instead of telling readers who to sit for Week 3’s contests. Jason Katz filled in commendably as a high-end streamer worthy of staying in the starting lineup. Like Sony Michel and Stefon Diggs, I’m going to need to prove I’m not a draft bust.

Before we know it, it’ll already be time to wake up Green Day after Week 4. The Jets and 49ers are the first teams to take an early breather, but only George Kittle investors should feel any blow by their absence.

Let’s dip our toes into the other matchups by highlighting a few players to start and sit. Remember that everybody’s individual lineup decisions are different. I’m hesitant to start the quarterback in the “sit” section, but that changes if your alternative is playing Gardner Minshew. The included Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) were taken for half-PPR leagues on Tuesday night.

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Quarterback

Start

Philip Rivers (LAC) at MIA: QB7 ECR
Three weeks into the season, Rivers ranks sixth in pass attempts (116) and third in yards (944) as the Chargers continue to play without Melvin Gordon. The Dolphins have surrendered an eye-popping 10 passing touchdowns and 10.3 yards per pass attempt, so the veteran may only need three quarters to broach 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. Don’t worry about the blowout potential; Rivers will inflict plenty of damage to get there.

Sit

Baker Mayfield (CLE) at BAL: QB18 ECR
People were drafting Mayfield ahead of Matt Ryan. Yikes. Entering Week 4, the boisterous quarterback has mustered just one touchdown in each game, giving him fewer scores than Daniel Jones. He’s also tossed five picks with an anemic 56.9% completion rate. A whopping 22 quarterbacks have offered more fantasy points than 2018’s No. 1 pick. The Ravens have relinquished 290.3 passing yards per contest, but that’s what happens when Patrick Mahomes combines with a small sample size. Although Mayfield exceeded 300 passing yards in both bouts against the AFC North foe last season, there are too many good options out there to trust a struggling player against such a dangerous defense. All trolling and over-reactionary hot takes aside, Jones (QB12 ECR) is legitimately a better Week 4 fantasy option going against a Washington defense that has yielded a 79.0% completion rate and three passing touchdowns in each game.

Running Back

Start

Miles Sanders (PHI) at GB: RB24 ECR
Let’s try this again. Two weeks ago, I recommended Sanders on account to Atlanta’s poor 2018 results against running backs, particularly as pass-catchers. He totaled 37 yards. Its turns out I was one game too early. He pounced on the Lions for 126 yards (53 rushing, 73 receiving) on a concerningly low snap count (26 of 76 plays). Three weeks into 2019, no team has relinquished more receptions (26) and targets (33) to running backs than the Packers. The 3-0 squad has also ceded 131.0 rushing yards per contest and the fourth-most fantasy points to the position. While the risk remains significant despite a big Week 3, Sanders is once again a flex flier because of the matchup.

Justin Jackson (LAC) at MIA: RB30 ECR
The Dolphins have already permitted 624 rushing yards and an NFL-high 30.7 fantasy points per game to running backs. They’ve sanctioned double-digit points to a pair of backs in consecutive weeks, most recently allowing 125 rushing yards to Ezekiel Elliott and 103 to Tony Pollard. The Chargers are two-touchdown favorites on the road. Starting Austin Ekeler is a non-negotiable given, but Jackson only has 24 touches on the season. Los Angeles has yet to win in regulation, so that volume should skyrocket for a player averaging 5.1 career yards per carry. Given Jackson’s limited work thus far — Week 3’s 28 snaps easily set a season-high — this is a one-off play rather than the beginning of a breakout.

Sit

Adrian Peterson (WAS) at NYG: RB28 ECR
It’s getting easier to see why Peterson was a Week 1 healthy scratch. Pressed back into action to replace Derrius Guice, the 34-year-old dragged his way to 66 yards on 25 yards. Yet his early ECR — even in half-PPR formats — is higher than Chris Thompson, who has registered 195 receiving yards on 25 targets. Perhaps the thinking here is that Peterson could get a better game script against an atrocious Giants defense. After all, he amassed a season-high 149 rushing yards against them last season. However, Washington is a three-point road underdog against the NFL’s worst passing defense. This, along with just about any matchup, still bodes much better for Thompson than Peterson. Consider the latter a risky boom-or-bust flex play once again showing too low a floor on too many occasions. On the other hand, feel free to deploy Thompson in half-PPR and PPR formats.

Frank Gore (BUF) at NE: RB29 ECR
Let’s keep picking on the old geezers. This is nothing against Gore, who has defied Father Time by discovering pay dirt in consecutive games. He’s proven a worthwhile starter for the undefeated Bills, but that unblemished record won’t last into October. The Patriots have obtained their three victories by a combined 89 points, and they have yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing offense. They’ve allowed 110 rushing yards all season. With all this working against Gore, it’s surprising to see him still positioned in flex territory. You’re better off taking a chance on Rex Burkhead in the same contest.

Wide Receiver

Start

Sterling Shepard (NYG) vs. WAS: WR21 ECR
Back from a concussion after a middling Week 1 (six catches for 42 yards), Shepard returned to submit 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in Danny Dimes’ — yeah, I don’t like that nickname either — debut. Last season, he mounted just two triple-digit performances alongside Eli Manning. With Golden Tate suspended for one more game, Shepard is the clear-cut top wide receiver in an offense that just lost its bedrock in Saquon Barkley. All this coincides with a mouth-watering matchup against Washington, which just surrendered three touchdowns to Taylor Gabriel. Only the Giants have served up more fantasy points to opposing wideouts than their Week 4 adversary, so consider Shepard a legitimate top-20 WR this week.

Courtland Sutton (DEN) vs. JAC: WR48 ECR
This is one where further context is needed. Since wide receiver is loaded, plenty of teams will have three or four superior options in a standard league. You’re not starting Sutton over Mike Williams or Allen Robinson, but he’s an under-the-radar WR4 who could soon bring a bit more upside to his decent floor. This is more about liking him in relation to non-existent expectations. Joe Flacco has targeted the second-year pro seven or eight times in each game with an 11.67-yard average depth of target. While he’s already collected 247 receiving yards, Sutton has yet to reach the end zone despite drawing six red-zone targets. A Jacksonville matchup isn’t great. It also may no longer be a death sentence. Damaged by a Week 1 date with Kansas City, the Jaguars have capitulated 8.2 yards per pass attempt. Sutton could stand a puncher’s chance as a sneaky deep play if Jalen Ramsey calls in sick Sunday.

Sit

D.K. Metcalf (SEA) at ARI: WR36 ECR
Metcalf’s matchup at Arizona could prove a deceptive trap. Russell Wilson aired it out 50 times in Week 3’s 33-27 loss to the Saints, but this is a chance for Pete Carroll to indulge his run-heavy desires. The Cardinals have coughed up 157 rushing yards per game on 4.9 yards per carry. Having corralled nine receptions this season, the big-play-reliant Metcalf may even struggle to muster another six targets if Wilson only attempts 25-30 passes. Wilson, Chris Carson, Tyler Lockett, and Will Dissly — tight ends have pulverized the Cardinals every week — are all excellent options. Metcalf, however, remains no more than a dicey WR4 with upside.

Will Fuller (HOU) vs. CAR: WR38 ECR
Sutton is one of many receivers lower in the ECR worth starting over Fuller, who encounters a Panthers defense second in opposing yards per pass attempt (5.3) behind the impenetrable Patriots. Entering the season as a high-ceiling wideout who only needed health to excel, he’s settled for 160 yards in three games. A touchdown machine alongside Deshaun Watson throughout his career, the 25-year-old has yet to garner a red-zone target. While he has more overall targets (17) than Kenny Stills (12), Houston’s receiving corps is too crowded to trust anyone besides DeAndre Hopkins in a difficult spot.

Tight End

Start

O.J. Howard (TB) at LAR: TE8 ECR
One of September’s biggest letdowns, Howard has caught seven of nine targets for 98 yards all season. Jameis Winston has only looked his way once inside the 20. Those who drafted Howard expecting an ascension into the top tier must be wildly disappointed, as he’s dropped behind Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, Greg Olsen, and Dissly in this week’s ECR. Those lucky enough to pick up one of those guys could start him over Howard, at least after testing the trade market to leverage the surplus in a seller’s market. But don’t give up hope on Tampa Bay’s disappointing breakout candidate. He’s played 55-58 snaps in each game, a consistent workload that wasn’t a given last year. Averaging an 11.78-yard average depth of target, he’s still getting the downfield play conducive to eventually making a major splash. You don’t want Howard benched when he follows teammate Mike Evans’ lead with a ground-breaking bounce-back outing.

Sit

Jared Cook (NO) vs. DAL: TE14 ECR
Last season, Cook compiled nine receptions for 180 yards in an attention-grabbing Week 1. He now has five receptions for 69 yards through three games combined. In his first start replacing Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater found the well-traveled tight end once on two looks for seven yards. For some poor souls, this could simply be a case of not having any better alternatives. It gets mighty ugly behind him in the ECR, but I’d rather take my chances on Vernon Davis in what has the makings of a defense-optional brawl against the Giants. Maybe Jack Doyle gets more volume if the Colts are without T.Y. Hilton. Cook needs to at least show some simmer in New Orleans before inserting him back to any starting lineups.

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Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

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