Last week was my best article of the season! We had some risky flex options heading into the week, but most of them came up huge. Kirk Cousins, Zack Moss, Raheem Mostert, George Pickens and Sam LaPorta all came through for us, and I’m hoping to keep that going here. What’s funny is that when these players play so well, they might not be eligible for the next article because they become must-start players.
That means we’re doing something right, so let’s get to the smash start flexes that we love for this week.
The premise behind this article is simple. Identifying fantasy football smash plays that are on the fringe of your starting lineup. We will rarely recommend a top 20 player at any position, but we want to help you fill those critical flex spots.
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- Weekly Fantasy Football Expert Rankings
- Fantasy Football Trade Tools
9 Fantasy Football Smash Starts for Week 4 (2023)
Anthony Richardson (IND) vs. LAR
It sucks that this rookie got injured so early in his career because he had a historical first five quarters in the NFL. The young quarterback dropped 25 fantasy points in an impressive Week 1 and then had 18 fantasy points through the first quarter of Week 2. A concussion knocked him out for the final three quarters of that game and the Week 3 matchup with Baltimore. He’ll be ready to return here, and we can’t overlook his elite per-minute production thus far in what looks like a decent home matchup.
Miles Sanders (CAR) vs. MIN
Some of the statistics are far from exciting for Sanders, but this is a spot we can’t fade him. Let’s start there because this Minnesota matchup couldn’t be better. The Vikings have allowed the sixth-most yards in the NFL and the seventh-most points. They can’t stop anyone right now, and we love that since Sanders is the bellcow back for this Panthers team. He played in nearly 70% of the team’s snaps last week and is one of the league leaders with 18 touches per game.
He also scored 15 fantasy points last week despite receiving just nine carries. That means the game script doesn’t really matter for Sanders because he can be a threat on the ground or through the air while receiving almost all of the goal-line work. The game script couldn’t be better this week, though.
Zack Moss (IND) vs. LAR
We had Moss in here last week, and we’re going back to the well for all the same reasons. He played nearly every snap in Week 2 and then backed it up with 30 carries in Week 3. That means Indy will run him into the ground until Jonathan Taylor returns, but he’s an elite fantasy option until then. Moss has 19 and 22 fantasy points in those two fill-in spots and now has at least 19 fantasy points in three straight games dating back to last season. He did that damage against a tough Baltimore defense last week, and LA is far from that.
In fact, the Rams are allowing 4.5 yards per carry so far this season, one of the worst marks in the league.
Najee Harris (PIT) at HOU
Nobody will want to start Najee this week, but this is the prove-it week for the former stud. While Harris looks like he’s running in mud at times, he’s still getting most of the rushing work for this team. Najee had 19 carries in Week 3 and could be in for a similar workload here. We say that because Pittsburgh faces Houston, who are allowing the most yards and fantasy points to opposing backs since the start of last season.
In the 12 games that Harris got at least 15 carries last season, he averaged 14.5 fantasy points per game. That’s all you can ask for from a flex, especially in the best matchup possible.
Terry McLaurin (WAS) at PHI
Every “fantasy expert” was raving about Jahan Dotson in the offseason, but the sophomore has been invisible in this offense. Scary Terry is still the go-to guy, recording five receptions in back-to-back games. He’s done that with just six targets in each outing, but the double-digit target games should be right around the corner. It’s more likely in this matchup because Washington will have to throw to keep up with Philly. It’s not like the Eagles have a stout secondary either, surrendering the eighth-most passing yards in the NFL. In his two matchups with the Eagles last year, McLaurin picked up 14 catches for 240 yards.
Michael Thomas (NO) vs. TB
We only want to use Thomas in PPR leagues, but he’s a must-start flex in that format every week. The former stud doesn’t have a huge upside, but he’s one of the safest bets to record five catches every week. He’s done that in all three games this season and has done that in nine of his last 10 games over the last three years. That three-year stretch was the worst period of his career, too, because Thomas was the best receiver in football through the first four years of his career. He can return to glimpses of that, particularly in this matchup.
Tampa has allowed the ninth-most passing yards in the NFL, with Thomas averaging eight catches for 96 yards in 10 career matchups with the Bucs.
Jakobi Meyers (LV) at LAC
Meyers has always been a solid PPR option, and he’s found a tremendous role in this Vegas offense. The former Patriot has at least seven catches and 81 yards in each of his first two games, averaging 18 fantasy points per game. More importantly, he’s playing over 80% of the team’s snaps and has a 35% target share in those games. It’s clear that Davante Adams is opening things up for Meyers, which should remain the case all season.
The matchup with LA is the icing on the cake, with the Chargers allowing the most passing yards in the NFL this year and the most fantasy points to opposing wideouts.
Darren Waller (NYG) vs. SEA
Everyone is panicking about Waller, but sitting him for a waiver wire tight end is the worst mistake you could make. Almost anyone would struggle against San Fran and Dallas, but this is still one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He’s actually been a top 3 tight end on a per-game basis three times over the last five years and remains the top option in this offense. He’s actually led the team in targets in all three games thus far while also positing a team-high 26 percent air yardage share.
The matchup with Seattle is sensational, too, surrendering the second-most passing yards in the NFL.
Cincinnati Bengals D/ST (at TEN)
Cincy has gotten off to a slow start this season, but there’s one glaring mismatch in this game. The Bengals’ defensive line was ferocious on Monday Night, and the Titans’ offensive line has been one of the worst in the NFL. We could see at least five sacks if that trend continues, and it’s hard to overlook the Titans’ terrible statistics. Tennessee ranks 29th in points scored and 30th in total yardage while allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing D/STs.