Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 4
This article was written in 2017, click to read our Week 4 Start’em Sit’em for 2018
Start’em Sit’em Week 4
With three weeks of game action now complete, there are currently seven quarterbacks that have passed for over 800 yards, while eight signal callers have generated at least six touchdowns. Eight receivers have accumulated over 250 yards, while six running backs have bolted for over 200 yards. It is noteworthy that high profile rookies continue to reside among the league leaders in rushing, as Kareem Hunt and Dalvin Cook are the league’s top two runners, while Leonard Fournette now resides seventh overall. These newcomers are joined within the top 10 by veteran backs who continue to perform at the high level that was expected. Unfortunately, there are a collection of less favorable storylines that many of you are fully aware of. Because you own the players who have failed to deliver the level of production that you had anticipated.
The uncertainty that remains concerning how many fantasy points each player in our lineups will deliver, is inherent during the process of owning a fantasy team. By using various forms of research, through concocting your personal mixture of analytics and viewing, you will generate what you perceive to be your best lineup, and eventually, witness what ensues. The recommendations that you will find in this Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em column for Week 4, are specifically designed to assist your critical decision-making, toward constructing this week’s compilation of players that you will trust, and those who will be avoided.
As we proceed into this week’s breakdown of the Start‘Em and Sit‘Em selections for Week 4, it should be mentioned that this will be the final slate of games before dreaded bye weeks invade the fantasy landscape. Anyone who owns a member of the Saints, Falcons, Broncos, or Redskins, can blend the absence of those players during Week 5 into your planning now before waiver wires lock for the week.
Start’em Sit’em Podcast
Check out Phil Clark and Andrew Erickson (who writes Gridiron Exerts Waiver Wire article) in this week’s FINAL CALL podcast dedicated to Start’em Sit’em
With that in mind, let’s begin this week’s strategic approach toward recommending your best starts, along with the players that should be excluded from this week’s lineups. Kickoffs are approaching, so let’s get started. Enjoy the games, and good luck in Week 4.
Russell Wilson vs. Colts
They have also surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing signal callers while being shredded for 300+ yards by Jared Goff (306), and Carson Palmer (332). This unit also allowed 286 total yards to Deshone Kizer last Sunday and will be susceptible to yielding another significant yardage total, even if Vontae Davis returns to their lineup. Now that Wilson’s excruciating start has reached its conclusion, owners can finally allow themselves to start him without hesitation.
Also Start: Matt Ryan vs. Bills, Carson Wentz at Chargers
Cam Newton at Patriots
Entering Week 3, there were conflicting opinions among fantasy analysts, regarding Newton’s viability as a starter when Carolina faced the Saints’ 32nd ranked pass defense. While I was not prepared to list him as a Week 3 sit, sufficient evidence did not exist that he could be confidently inserted into lineups. As he has yet to inspire significant trust in his ability to accumulate sizable output in Carolina’s current offense, or that he could do so amid several injuries. In the aftermath of what can charitably be called a disappointing performance, it is now realistic to question his feasibility as a QB1, until his health improves considerably. After Carolina’s first three games, he is 24th in passing yards (566), and has manufactured only two touchdowns That includes his unsightly Week 3 production, when he only managed 167 yards, and struggled to a disconcerting 0:3 touchdown to interception ratio, versus a New Orleans unit that had surrendered 389 YPG and six touchdowns through the air. While he did generate a touchdown on the ground, it was his first of the season. As his diminished ability to accumulate significant rushing yardage, has increased the need for him to perform proficiently as a pocket passer. Which has resulted in a perfect weekly storm of unwanted numbers as the prevailing result for owners. While Newton’s Week 4 opponent (New England) now ranks dead last versus the pass (331 YPG), and certainly presents a favorable matchup, the belief from here is that he simply cannot be recommended as a starter.
Also Sit: Derek Carr at Broncos, Marcus Mariota at Texans
Joe Mixon at Browns
Start’em Running Back
Okay Mixon owners… It’s time. You can finally elevate him into your starting lineups, after you have (hopefully) shown restraint since the season began. As you have remained patient while watching questionable decision making by a Cincinnati coaching staff, that wasn’t fully committed to placing their most dangerous runner on the field. Or on utilizing his immense talent when he was deployed. Because even though Jeremy Hill provided ongoing evidence that he was clearly an inferior running back, Mixon operated with just 21 touches during the Bengals’ initial two contests. Which only served to decrease the team’s chances for success, and required you to leave the explosive rookie on your bench. But in Week 3, Mixon was allotted a 21 touches, and responded by accruing 101 total yards. Including 62 yards on the ground with his 18 carries (3.9 YPC). New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor should continue to entrust his most dynamic runner with an expanded workload, even though Hill (19 carries/66 yards/3.5 YPC), and Giovani Bernard (20 touches/144 total yards) will remain involved within the newly constructed attack. But Mixon will now be presented with a sufficient number of chances to exploit overmatched defenders. That scenario should exist this Sunday, when Mixon lines up against division rival Cleveland. The Browns’ run defense currently ranks 14th, which represents considerable improvement from 2016, when they ranked 31st, and yielded the second most fantasy points to opposing runners. But Jarvorius Allen did attain 101 total yards when they faced Baltimore in Week 2, and Mixon is fully capable of exceeding that output. Which should compel owners to start him with confidence.
Leonard Fournette vs. Jets
Start’em Running BackHe launched his NFL career in impressive fashion, rumbling for 100 yards in Week 1 against Houston. While Fournette only managed 40 yards in Week 2 against the Titans, he did discover the end zone for a second consecutive week. There was reason for concern that he would be smothered by Baltimore’s respectable run defense in Week 3, as the Ravens appeared justified in stacking the box, without concern that Blake Bortles would penalize them for that strategy by launching proficient deep throws, or generating passes of any kind to the Jaguar tight ends. Instead, Bortles astoundingly located his receiving weapons for four touchdowns, including three to Marcedes Lewis. Fournette ultimately collected 80 total yards, while generating his third rushing touchdown of the season. He should deliver high quality production again this week, as he will be the beneficiary of another appealing matchup. Despite the fact that the Jets did capture an unexpected win in Week 3, their roster nonetheless contains numerous talent deficiencies on both sides of the ball. They currently rank 27th against the run, are permitting 133 YPG, and have also surrendered the seventh most fantasy points to running backs (21 PPG). New York has already been eviscerated by LeSean McCoy for 159 total yards, including 110 on the ground (5.0 YPC), and were gashed for 180 rushing yards at a combined 6.7 YPC by Oakland’s consortium of Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Cordarrelle Patterson. Fournette remains the undisputed centerpiece of the Jacksonville’s offense, and will be given an extensive number of opportunities to accrue yardage, and at least one more touchdown during this contest.
Also Start: Carlos Hyde at Cardinals, Christian McCaffrey at Patriots
Marshawn Lynch vs. Broncos
Sit’em Running Back
The 31-year-old Lynch’s return to the NFL was largely successful during his first two games. As he demonstrated to owners that he could be utilized consistently as an RB2, by producing a respectable 121 yards on 30 attempts (4.0 YPC), along with a touchdown. However, he only manufactured 18 yards on a mere six attempts in Week 3, as the entire Raider offense managed 128 yards. During a horrendous performance that can accurately be described as inept. While Lynch’s underwhelming yardage total was the byproduct of an overall offensive debacle, there is little reason to believe that his numbers will be favorable this week. As Derek Carr and the Oakland aerial attack will be confronted by a Bronco pass defense that remains elite. This will only place more pressure on the Raider running game, although navigating yardage on the ground will be equally difficult. During the 2016 regular season, Denver struggled regularly to stop the run, ranking just 28th in that category, while allowing 130 YPG. But in their first three contests this season, the Broncos have dramatically reversed what had been their glaring defensive weakness, and have vaulted to the league best in that category (yielding 59.7 YPG). Lynch and the Raider offense must not only contend with Denver’s imposing unit, but must do so on a short week. Owners will undergo an uncomfortable experience, if they start him during this formidable matchup.
Terrance West / Javorius Allen vs. Steelers
Sit’em Running Back
Allen entered Week 3 as a clear RB2 option, particularly in PPR leagues. This also remained true, even after it became clear that Terrance West would perform against the Jaguars in London, despite missing several practices with a calf issue. Meanwhile, West had emerged as a viable RB2 option in his own right, entering the encounter with Jacksonville. But the tandem proceeded to manufacture just 54 yards in 19 touches within a nightmarish game script, while also contending with an aggressive Jaguar defense, that rekindled the high level of play that they had exhibited in Week 1. An exact replication of that particular game flow is unlikely, this week, and the thoroughly embarrassed Ravens should be extremely focused toward performing more proficiently than they did during their debacle in London. But talent limitations, and injuries to both Joe Flacco and Marshal Yanda are creating too many obstacles for what was already a somewhat limited offense. Now, second-year back Alex Collins presents a theoretical threat for touches. Plus, they must contend with division rival Pittsburgh, who will enter the contest ranked an impressive second overall in total defense (259 YPG). The Steelers had placed constraints on Isaiah Crowell (33 yards/ 1.9 YPC), Dalvin Cook (64 total yards), before Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 216 yards on the ground in Week 3. However, it would be unwise to expect anything remotely resembling that level of production from West and Allen. As there are an abundant number of reasons to avoid both backs this week.
Also Sit: Ameer Abdullah at Vikings, Isaiah Crowell vs. Bengals
Michael Thomas vs. Dolphins
Start’em Wide Receiver
In his first game of his 2016 rookie season, Thomas ignited for 156 yards and a touchdown. He then proceeded to finish the year with the ninth most yards among all receivers (1,137), tying for sixth with nine touchdowns, and averaging 76 YPG. All while establishing a series of new franchise records for rookie receivers. But in his first two games this season, he had only manufactured an average of 67 YPG, and had failed to generate a touchdown. Which had created uneasiness among many owners. However, his output had been negatively impacted by several imposing matchups. As he contended with substantial coverage from Minnesota’s proficient cornerback Xavier Rhodes in Week 1, then garnered extensive attention from the Patriots in Week 2. However, there were reasons for owners to remain patient. As Thomas’ place among the Saints’ collection of offensive weaponry was secure, his snap count was entrenched above 90%, and he still led the team in every major category beyond touchdowns. Then, despite a seemingly difficult matchup versus Carolina’s sturdy second-year cornerbacks James Bradberry and Daryl Worley, Thomas supplied his best fantasy point total of the season, by amassing 87 yards and a touchdown. That momentum should continue this week, as he will draw coverage from a vulnerable Miami secondary that has contributed mightily to the Dolphins lowly ranking of 28th against the pass. They were scorched for 323 yards through the air in their Week 2 opener (including 100 by Keenan Allen), and even yielded 95 yards and a score to Robby Anderson last Sunday. Thomas has a genuine opportunity to accumulate a season high 100+ yards, and discover the end zone once again during this matchup.
Keenan Allen vs. Eagles
Start’em Wide Receiver
Also Start: Brandin Cooks / Chris Hogan vs. Panthers, Larry Fitzgerald vs. 49ers
Amari Cooper at Broncos
Sit’em Wide Receiver
Anyone who drafted Cooper, did so through the investment of a second round pick. If you are among the owners who opted to secure him for your rosters, then your decision was made amid ongoing conjecture regarding Cooper’s ability to elevate slightly beyond Michael Crabtree, and become Oakland’s undisputed primary receiving option. In Week 1, there was clearly a concerted effort to designate him as a red zone priority, which propelled him to a season best 62 yards and a touchdown. But that has degenerated into scant usage during the Raiders’ last two contests. As his reception and yardage totals have declined with each successive week (5/62-4/33-1/6). His single catch for six yards last Sunday Night, compounded by the undesirable fact that the former fourth overall pick has accumulated six drops, might have left owners feeling as though his overall situation has entered the proverbial abyss. Unfortunately, Cooper’s output might remain stationary in that unwanted location during his decidedly brutal Week 4 matchup. As he will be confronted by the stellar pass defense of Denver. His challenge will become even more arduous if he encounters the Bronco secondary without Crabtree, whose chest issue could still force him to the sideline. As Crabtree’s presence would create another weapon that Denver’s secondary must account for, while his absence would allow the Broncos to devote even more attention to stifling Cooper. While there is still genuine reason to hope that the 23-year old can still generate career-best numbers during his third season, the obstructions that he will face in coverage this Sunday will prolong the wait for any potential high quality outing to occur.
Terrelle Pryor at Chiefs
Sit’em Wide Receiver
When Pryor gathered six of his team high 11 targets in Week 1, there was a level of concern among many that he did not fully exploit Philadelphia’s burnable cornerbacks during that matchup. That sentiment was justified, since he dropped several passes, and didn’t appear fully comfortable functioning within his new offense. Unfortunately, that remains his most productive outing of the season. As he has been targeted a total of eight times during Washington’s two most recent contests, caught only four of those throws, and has assembled only 50 more yards. That includes Week 3, when Kirk Cousins launched 30 passes, did not have Jordan Reed available as an option, yet still only attempted to connect with Pryor on four occasions. That should leave owners with a strong sense of uneasiness, as Pryor has yet to ascend into the role of Washington’s WR1 as many (including myself) expected. The unexpectedly low level of involvement is especially problematic heading into this week’s encounter with Kansas City. From solely a statistical standpoint, the Chiefs’ pass defense does not reside among the league’s elite, and have been gouged for 90+ yards by Danny Amendola (100), Alshon Jeffery (92), and Travis Benjamin (105). But the Chiefs are stocked with defensive playmakers, and should be extremely motivated while performing in Arrowhead Stadium on a Monday Night. They are also second among all teams with 11 sacks, should deliver sustained pressure on Cousins, and are otherwise capable of consistently disrupting the Redskin passing attack. That likely scenario, coupled with Pryor’s moderate involvement in the offense, should induce owners to bench him. Until he demonstrates that he can provide a satisfactory number of fantasy points.
Also Sit: Jeremy Maclin vs. Steelers, Jordan Matthews at Falcons
Jesse James at Ravens
Start’em Tight Ends
If you are reading this and you do not own one of the very few dependable options at the tight end position, then you probably have not been elated with your situation. Considering the massive disappointment and continual uncertainly that surrounds the position, you could have progressed beyond dissatisfaction, and are now among the burgeoning legion of owners who are continually exploring their streaming options. Either way, the decision that you ultimately make will now play an essential role toward your chances of winning each week’s matchup. One potential remedy for your Week 4 lineup, is to stream James as your starter. In hopes that he will deliver a respectable level of production, by exploiting his outstanding matchup. He has been targeted at least four times by Ben Roethlisberger during all three of Pittsburgh’s contests, is tied for third among all Steelers in that category, and should be even more highly involved this week. As the Steelers can certainly attack what has been a massive coverage issue for their division rival. The Ravens have surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, and have permitted a league worst four touchdowns. After yielding 61 yards to Seth Devalve in Week 2, they were burned for 62 yards and three touchdowns by Lewis, who had not garnered a catch in 2017 before the inexplicable explosion. If you are searching for a tight end option, you can do much worse than James this week.
Also Start: Evan Engram at Buccaneers, Cameron Brate vs. Giants
Jack Doyle at Seahawks
Sit’em Tight Ends
After Doyle caught just two passes in Week 1, much of that disappointing output could be blamed on the fact that Scott Tolzien was under center. But when Jacoby Brissett guided the Colt offense in Week 2, Doyle caught all eight of his targets for 79 yards. This created growing optimism that Doyle could be trusted in Week 3 when Indianapolis faced a Cleveland defense that has failed to neutralize opposing tight ends. However, Doyle only managed two receptions for an anemic 16 yards against the Browns, who entered the contest having surrendered the most fantasy points to his position in both 2017 and 2016. In the aftermath of that discouraging production, he must now contend with a unit that is significantly more resistant to tight ends. When he lines up against a Seattle unit that has already held Martellus Bennett to 43 scoreless yards in Week 1, limited San Francisco’s George Kittle and Garrett Celek to a combined 19 yards in Week 2, and also contained Delanie Walker last Sunday (31 yards). Although they did allow a 24-yard score to rookie backup Jonnu Smith. However, that is the only touchdown that they have surrendered to the position. While finding a viable tight end can be an increasingly tedious process, you should contemplate the situation further, and utilize an alternative this week.
Also Sit: Eric Ebron at Vikings, Austin Hooper vs. Bills