Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 4
Another week, another mix of huge performances, disappointing turnouts, and injuries. We are fully in the mix of the fantasy football season and we are seeing the contenders separate from the pretenders. As the injuries keep piling on, unfortunately, fantasy football managers are forced to scramble to keep their team together while struggling to figure out who to play (or not play) where. So I take a look once again at the matchups to take advantage of and the ones to stay far away from. So let’s dive into Week 4.
Recapping last week
In reviewing last week’s picks, it wasn’t a good week overall. Gardner Minshew and Ryan Tannehill finished outside the top-24 in scoring for quarterbacks while Josh Allen had the third highest-scoring week. James Conner did have a top-10 week while David Johnson had a top-24 performance and Joshua Kelley fumbled his way to just barely having a top-50 week. Cooper Kupp had a top-12 game while Darius Slayton and Ceedee Lamb both finished outside the top-36. Logan Thomas continued to disappoint with a finish outside the top-30 but Evan Engram didn’t score within the top-36. With that being said, like any stud football player, we have a bad week and rebound in the next one. Let’s get to it!
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Quarterbacks
Lions vs Saints
ESPN Starting Percentage: 23.5%
While he isn’t putting up the huge numbers we saw from last season prior to his injury, Stafford has been consistent to this point. He has thrown for at least 240 yards and a touchdown in each of his three games this season, with the last two games being multi-touchdown performances. After getting Kenny Golladay back from injury, Stafford had his best game in an upset victory over the Arizona Cardinals (22/31, 270 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions). This week, he faces a Saints defense who has given up two straight games of 280+ yards and three touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. Now that Stafford has his top receiver back from injury, Stafford is in a terrific spot to have a top-12 week.
Dolphins vs Seahawks
ESPN Starting Percentage: 3.1%
After a disastrous Week 1 performance (20/30, 191 yards, zero touchdowns, three interceptions) against the New England Patriots, Fitzpatrick has had two really great weeks. He has scored at least 24 fantasy points in each of his last two games while throwing for zero interceptions. This week, he faces a Seahawks defense that is hemorrhaging fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. They have given up the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the first three weeks and have given up at least 30 fantasy points in each game. They have allowed for almost 400 yards passing in each game (Cam Newton had 397 in Week 2) and at least two touchdowns in each contest as well. In what is expected to be another high-scoring affair for both teams, Fitzpatrick is in line for another strong performance.
Buccaneers vs Chargers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 34.7%
Despite coming off his best performance of the season (25/38, 297 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions), Brady’s time with Tampa Bay has been filled with ups and downs. He came into Week 3 with two performances below 250 yards passing and as many passing touchdowns (three) as interceptions. He faces the Chargers in Week 4, who have proven to be a tough defense for opposing quarterbacks. In the two matchups they’ve had against quarterbacks not named Patrick Mahomes, they’ve given up 428 yards passing (224 per game) and one passing touchdown to one interception. Brady may also be down his number one receiver yet again as Chris Godwin suffered a hamstring injury that had him quickly ruled out for the rest of the game after departing. He’s a scary play this week, regardless of whether Godwin suits up or not.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Running Backs
Panthers vs Cardinals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 44.3%
Despite being without Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers didn’t struggle much to get good production at the running back position. Davis shouldered the bulk of the work and rewarded fantasy football managers who trusted him. While his rushing numbers (13 carries for 46 yards) aren’t too impressive, he now has two straight weeks of at least eight receptions. Over the last two games, Davis has 16 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown. He’s quickly become one of Teddy Bridgewater’s most trusted targets. The Cardinals are one of five teams in the league that’s given up 200+ receiving yards to running backs and only one of four that given up two receiving touchdowns. Davis is a weekly 20+ offensive touch candidate with plenty of receiving work in McCaffrey’s place and has a plus matchup this week.
Rams vs Giants
ESPN Starting Percentage: 17.2%
In between Malcolm Brown’s Week One performance and the hype around second-round draft pick Cam Akers, Henderson has been the Rams’ running back leading the way over the last two weeks. He’s coming off his second-straight performance of at least 100 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown. He’s entrenched himself as the clear lead running back for the Rams and now faces a Giants defense that has given up four double-digit performances to opposing running backs, including 171 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns to 49ers running backs in Week 3. In what could very well be a blowout game, Henderson could be relied upon to chew the clock for a majority of the game. He is in for another big game in Week 4.
Ronald Jones/Leonard Fournette
Buccaneers vs Chargers
ESPN Starting Percentages: 16.6%/55.1%
Week over week, the Buccaneers’ running back situation continues to be a mess to figure out. Jones has had 19, nine, and 15 touches while Fournette has had six, 16, and nine. They seem to be alternating at this point as to who is the lead back and is frustrating for fantasy owners. Week 4 is no easier for those trying to decipher this backfield as they face the Chargers, who have given up only 309 scrimmage yards and one touchdown to opposing running backs this season. They only gave up a combined 17.6 fantasy points (half point-per-reception) to Joe Mixon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Even if it wasn’t a split backfield, this would be a tough matchup regardless. It’s best to avoid this situation for this weekend.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Wide Receivers
Dolphins vs Seahawks
ESPN Starting Percentage: 39.7%
While Parker hasn’t played up to the pace he set in the second half of last season, he has been consistent to this point. He has at least five receptions and 53 yards over his last two games while playing with an injured hamstring. But after playing in Thursday Night Football in Week 3, he has the chance to rest up before his big matchup against the Seahawks. Seattle has allowed six different wide receivers to go for at least five receptions and 100 yards so far this season, including one to someone named Cedrick Wilson (five receptions, 102 yards, two touchdowns) this past weekend. Much like his quarterback, Parker is in a blow-up spot for Week 4.
Packers vs Falcons
ESPN Starting Percentage: 13.1%
This was originally supposed to be Allen Lazard but following his mid-week surgery and subsequent placement on the Packers’ injured reserve. So now “MVS” steps in as the undisputed number two receiver for the Packers besides Davante Adams. Prior to Lazard’s big Week 3 performance, Valdes-Scantling had seen 13 targets in the first two games with seven receptions, 160 yards, and a touchdown to show for it. Going into Week 4, he and the Packers face the Falcons, who have given up 90 yards receiving to five different wide receivers so far, including a 10 reception, 123 yards, and one touchdown performance by Allen Robinson last weekend. Regardless of whether Adams returns or not, Valdes-Scantling is poised to be one of the most targeted players on a team averaging over 40 points per game in what’s expected to be a shoot-out on Monday Night Football.
Colts vs Bears
ESPN Starting Percentage: 51.7%
Despite being the number one receiver on a team who spent big money to bring in Philip Rivers this offseason, Hilton hasn’t put up big numbers to this point. He hasn’t surpassed four receptions or 53 yards receiving in a game this season while also scoring zero touchdowns. He has three straight single-digit performances in half PPR scoring. This week, the Colts face a Bears team that is somehow 3-0 and playing very well on defense. They have only given up two 50+ receiving yard performances to opposing wide receivers with zero touchdowns. Despite them allowing Calvin Ridley to go for 110 yards in Week 3, Hilton isn’t performing close to the level of Ridley at the moment. Hilton could very well turn it around soon as he develops chemistry with Rivers but this isn’t the week to bank on it.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Tight Ends
Lions vs Saints
ESPN Starting Percentage: 26.5%
Hockenson has been consistent so far this season, which is hard to come by for fantasy tight ends. He has at least four receptions and 53 yards receiving. As the number three option (at worst) on a Lions team being forced to pass the ball so much because of their putrid defense, he should continue to see plenty of work. He faces a Saints defense that has given up over 100 yards and at least one touchdown over the last two games, including 104 yards and two touchdowns to the trio of Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger and Marcedes Lewis in Week 3. Going up against a defense that has surprisingly given up at least 34 points over the last two games, this could suddenly become a high-scoring game for both offenses. Hockenson has a terrific match-up this week and could easily have a top-eight performance.
Falcons vs Packers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 43.7%
Hurst has been a difficult player to figure out to this point. He had a decent performance in Week 1 (three receptions, 38 yards), a breakout game in Week 2 (five receptions, 72 yards, one touchdown), and then a so-so (?) performance this past weekend (one reception, one yard, one touchdown). It’s concerning that he was only able to see three targets in a game where Julio Jones was inactive and Russell Gage was taken out with an injury. But his one-yard touchdown catch saved his day. Unfortunately, he faces a Packers defense that has only given up more than five fantasy points in half-PPR leagues to tight ends once so far and no touchdowns thus far. Jones could be back after being a game-time decision and Gage’s status is up in the air. Even still, he is tough to feel confident about in Week 4 regardless of who is on the field for the Falcons.
Doug Moore is a fantasy football writer for Gridiron Experts. He has previously written for sites such as ESPN, SBNation, FFToday & Inside The Pylon. He also was the co-host for the highly-rated fantasy football podcast Overtime Ireland for several years. You can find him on Twitter at @DMooreNFL