Start’em Sit’em Week 4
Week 3 was an interesting one. Looking back, it will be remembered as the reemergence of Mike Evans and the week in which Daniel Jones became a top waiver wire add. Hopefully, you were on the positive ends of those performances but either way, this is the Gridiron Experts Start’em Sit’em column. This week, I will harp on a particular matchup, and I will recommend sitting a player for the first time ever. As usual, there are plenty of injuries and emerging names to sift through following last week, so let’s get to some of those names that you should start and others that you should sit in Week 4.
Recapping Week 3, it was probably the worst week that this column has had. The numerous turnovers by the 49ers put Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers running backs in a bad spot. Kenny Golladay, another bust pick, managed just two receptions for 17 yards. Some of the bright spots in my column was suggesting you start Greg Olsen, even with the Panthers change at quarterback as well as recommending that you play Larry Fitzgerald who wound up scoring another touchdown. As always, if you any other start or sit questions that are not answered here, please feel free to reach me at my twitter handle.
- Scoring and stats are based on half-point per reception scoring and come from fantasydata.com
- Start percentages originate from ESPN.com
- Start options range from 0-60%
- Sit options range from 50-100%
Start’em Sit’em Quarterbacks
Giants vs. Redskins
ESPN Start Percentage: 3.4%
Just like we all predicted it, in his NFL debut, Daniel Jones absolutely shipwrecked the Buccaneers defense. The new Giants signal-caller would finish as the number two quarterback on the week as he threw for 336 yards, two passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns. What was even more impressive was that his performance came against a Buccaneers defense that had previously been in the top ten in fewest points allowed to the position. Jones may have been previously booed out of Yankee Stadium in the past, but he will now return to New York as a hero when the Giants welcome in the Redskins this weekend. So far, the Redskins have not faired well against NFC East quarterbacks. Against the Eagles and the Cowboys in the first two weeks of the season, the opposing quarterbacks had finished those weeks inside the top eight. As far as Jones’ ability to run, so far this season, the Redskins are in the top five of most rushing yards allowed to the quarterback position. The fantasy schedule will get harder for Jones, but for Week 4, the coast is clear to plug Jones in.
Seahawks @ Cardinals
ESPN Start Percentage: 56.7%
So far this season, Russell Wilson has only made this column as a sit candidate. This week, we are going to change things up and recommend that you start the Seahawks signal-caller. After finishing outside the top 15 among quarterbacks in the season opener, Wilson has wound up as a top-five quarterback in Weeks 2 and 3. I fully expect that to continue in Week 4 when Wilson and the Seahawks head to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. For all the optimism on the offense side of the ball in Arizona, the defense has been a safe haven for opposing quarterbacks. In each of the first three weeks this season, opposing quarterbacks have finished their weeks among the top 10 quarterbacks in fantasy. In this early season, the Cardinals defense is allowing the second-most touchdown passes and are also just one of five teams that have failed to record a single interception. As if you are looking for more reasoning to start Wilson, in four out of seven career starts in Arizona, Wilson has finished the week as a QB1.
Redskins @ Giants
ESPN Start Percentage: 2.7%
Just a heads up now, there is going to be a trend of Giants and Redskins players in this article, just go with it. Recommending that you strat Case Keenum in Week 4 is my dart throw of the week. There isn’t a way to sugar coat this, Monday night football was gross for Keenum. Against the Bears, Keenum would throw for three interceptions and would fumble the ball twice. Doing your best to forget about the turnovers, Keenum has been quietly putting up some decent fantasy numbers as Monday would mark his second 300-yard game of the season. He is currently tied for fourth in passing touchdowns with seven. Then there are the yards, on as Keenum is fourth in passing yards with 933 yards. That is more yards than names like Dak Prescott and Tom Brady. The matchup will be much more favorable for Keenum and the Redskins as they head to MetLife Stadium to take on the Giants. Quarterbacks opposing the Giants have finished their week’s no worse than the seventh-best fantasy quarterback and the Giants are also the only team in the NFL to have allowed over 1,000 passing yards. If your current quarterback has a tough matchup, believe me when I tell you that you can do a lot worse than Case Keenum in Week 4.
Falcons vs. Titans
ESPN Start Percentage: 69.0%
To be completely honest, the NFC South has gone from being one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL, to be the epitome of ‘up for grabs’. One aspect of the NFC South’s strange path in 2019 has been the consistently inconsistent offensive play from the Atlanta Falcons. At the forefront of that Falcons offense is Matt Ryan, who I say will not finish as a QB1 in Week 4 against the Tennessee Titans. So far this season, the Titans have yet to let an opposing quarterback finish a week inside the top 12. Yes, that even includes Gardner Minshew. Headed into Week 4, the Titans have six touchdowns passes, have had four interceptions, and are allowing an average right around 211 passing yards per game. Ryan will still put up yards in this matchup, but I don’t envision enough touchdown passes to make him a top play this week.
Start’em Sit’em Running Backs
Patriots @ Bills
ESPN Start Percentage: 24.4%
Last week, James White was unable to play due to the birth of his child. So as of this writing, one would expect that he will be available to play in Week 4. If he is able to go, I think White has flex consideration against the Buffalo Bills. On top of White’s usual value, he might be relied on more so than usual. Last week against the Jets, Julian Edelman exited the game with a chest injury and while x-rays did come back as negative, I still question if the Patriots will have Edelman at a hundred percent. With that in mind, White could be called on to handle even more of the short and intermediate routes that make the Patriots offense go. In two games this season, White has had eight receptions for 75 yards and a score. As far as the Patriots opponent, the Bills have played well defensively thus far but they have allowed two receiving touchdowns to pass-catching running backs. If White is unable to go for any reason, you can practically copy and paste this for Rex Burkhead. Either way, one of these Patriots running backs will be a nice flex play against the Bills.
Redskins @ Giants
ESPN Start Percentage: 12.5%
If you find yourself in half-point or full point per reception leagues, Chris Thompson is a player that you should be targeting in Week 4. The potential is there as he is tied for first in the NFL in targets among running backs. While he finished as the nineteenth best running back in Week 1, he hasn’t been inside the top 20 since. I think that changes this week in the Redskins matchup against the Giants. You are going to read this several times in this week’s article but I think that this matchup has plenty of fantasy value in it. Thompson and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is a big part of that. On paper, this doesn’t look like the greatest matchup for Thompson as the Giants are allowing just 10 receptions for 99 yards to opposing running backs. That being said, Thompson, who is second in the league in receiving yards among running backs, is one of the best pass-catching backs that the Giants will see this season. Again, Thompson deserves flex consideration.
Rams vs. Buccaneers
ESPN Start Percentage: 96.9%
As much as those who drafted Todd Gurley wanted to be right, three weeks into this NFL season, Gurley truthers are inching closer and closer to the panic button. So far, the Rams running back has had just one game inside the top 20 at his position. Last week, against the Browns, Gurley had just 14 carries for 43 yards. He finished the week behind names like Kyle Juszczyk and JD McKissic. Let’s all be honest and say what needs to be said here, Todd Gurley is only being started because of his previous work and he has become a touchdown-dependent running back. Until proven otherwise, that is the inconvenient truth of it. Now, a touchdown-dependent running back is going up against a defense that has a yet to allow a rushing or receiving touchdown to the opposing running backs. Yes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are better on defense than we have been giving them credit for. Last week, even prior to Saquan Barkley’s ankle injury, the Giants running back had just 10 yards rushing off of eight carries. In Week 2, they held Christian McCaffrey to just 37 yards rushing. If Todd Gurley didn’t have the history that he has, you wouldn’t even think twice about this.
Start’em Sit’em Wide Receivers
Redskins @ Giants
ESPN Start Percentage: 16.8%
While Terry McLaurin did not make my column last week, I did not envision McLaurin having the best of outings against the Chicago Bears. Clearly, I was incorrect as the Redskins wide receiver finished the week as top 20 wide receiver. His play so far in 2019 is not something that we are used to seeing from Redskin wide receivers. McLaurin has not had one week outside of the top 20 and is currently tied as the eighth-ranked wide receiver, in half-point formats. Now, McLaurin will take his hot streak into the big apple against a Giants secondary that is allowing the second-most points to oppose wide receivers. Even with that Giants ranking being inflated by Mike Evans monster Week 3 performance, I still think that we see McLaurin score his fourth touchdown of the season on Sunday.
Giants vs. Redskins
ESPN Start Percentage: 8.5%
I know, enough with the Giants and the Redskins. This is the last time I will mention this game in this column, but I have a good reason. Week 3 didn’t just serve as the first start for Daniel Jones. The Giants game against the Buccaneers would also serve as Sterling Shepard’s return from the injury report. It was the right place and right time for Shepard as he was given a team-high nine targets. The Giants wide receiver would take those targets and manage seven receptions, for 100 yards, and a touchdown. Next week, Golden Tate will return to the Giants and the targets will thin out a little bit more. For now though, in Week 4, I’m suggesting that Shepard owners take full advantage of their opportunities as, yes, the Giants will take on the Washington Redskins. After just three weeks, the Redskins have allowed a league-high eight touchdowns to opposing wide receivers. Couple that with them being tied for third in allowing 48 receptions to opposing wide receivers and it should come as little shock to hear that the Redskins sit atop the NFL in most points allowed to wide receivers.
Patriots @ Bills
ESPN Start Percentage: 0.0%
Much like my Case Keenum selection, this too is a pretty big dart throw that is contingent on a couple of things. If all things pan out, and if you are in a deeper league, I think a player like Jakobi Meyers might be one of the most surprising plays in Week 4. What this selection hinges on the most are the health of both Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman. In their matchup against the Jets last week, Josh Gordon was in the medical tent multiple times with a hip and finger injury. On top of that, Julian Edelman, whom we discussed earlier, left the game in the second quarter with a chest injury. Both of these players are expected to be good to go, as of this writing. Still, the Patriots work in mysterious ways and use plenty of smoke and mirrors with their injury reports. If either of these players is slowed down by injury against the Bills, it could be a prime opportunity for Tom Brady to lean on Jakokbi Meyers. Last week, Meyers had minimal usage but managed to snag two of his three targets for 38 yards. Also, for what it is worth, Meyers was the leading receiver in the preseason with 20 receptions for 253 yards and two touchdowns. If you are in a 1o team league, unless you are playing in daily fantasy, you should disregard this recommendation. However, to reiterate, if you are in a deeper league, this could be a flex gamble that could pay off for you.
Vikings @ Bears
ESPN Start Percentage: 68.6%
When you hear the name, Stefon Diggs, you generally think of a dynamic big-play wide receiver. While the talent is still there, the results are not. So far this season, Diggs has had just one game with more than three targets. In that lone game that h was targeted more than three times, he only hauled in only one of seven targets for a 49-yard touchdown. Perhaps, with the way the Vikings are calling plays these days, Diggs is boom or bust now more than ever. While Diggs truthers will cling to the second half of last season, you might not want to gamble with starting Diggs in Week 4. On Sunday, the Vikings are headed to Chicago to take on the Bears. So far, the Bears defense has allowed just three touchdowns to opposing wide receivers and the Bears have not allowed a quarterback to finish a week inside the top 15. To me, until Kirk Cousins and the Vikings open up this offense more, Diggs is not a slam dunk start, especially against a defense like the Bears.
Start’em Sit’em Tight Ends
Panthers @ Texans
ESPN Start Percentage: 40.9%
Last week, even with Cam Newton missing the game, I knew that Greg Olsen would still have a fantasy worthy outing against the Cardinals. Olsen ended up delivery on my prediction as he finished the week as the number one tight end in fantasy. While repeating as the number one tight might be up for debate, I still envision Olsen delivering yet again in Week 4. Even between a hobbled Newton and Kyle Allen, Olsen has still managed to be tied for the fourth-most targets at the tight end position. Translation, regardless of the quarterback or the opponent, the volume is there for the veteran tight end. Even with Olsen previous two opponents being a matchup dream for opposing tight ends, I still like the Panthers tight end in a less favorable matchup. Next up for the Panthers is the Houston Texans and Kyle Allen will once again be the starter. While the Texans have yet to allow a touchdown to the position, their previous opponents are all teams that have not targeted their tight end like the Panthers have Olsen. Texans opposing tight ends are only averaging five targets per game. So really, it is not as if the Texans are shutting down tight ends, they just have yet to be tested. As long as Olsen continues to stay healthy, the targets will be there.
Can’t believe this kid was Kyle Allen pic.twitter.com/WCbK4i3BY8
— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) September 23, 2019
Seahawks @ Cardinals
ESPN Start Percentage: 15.0%
If you are the tight end that is looking for a good time, Arizona is the place to be. As previously mentioned, Greg Olsen took full advantage of his matchup against the Cardinals. So far this season, forget about top five, Cardinal’s opposing tight ends haven’t finished a week worse than second best. Let that sink in. On top of the Cardinals being a wonderland for opposing tight ends, the Seattle Seahawks are coming to town with a tight end that has been playing well. After three weeks, Will Dissly is leading tight ends with three touchdowns scored. Those touchdowns have come in the last two weeks as Dissly has finished those weeks no worse than the sixth-best tight end in fantasy. Then there is looking at the way the Seahawks have utilized their tight end over those past two weeks as his three touchdowns have all come in the redzone. Against the Cardinals last week, Olsen’s two touchdowns, both came in the redzone. Here is the thing with Dissly, averaging just 41.3 yards per game, the Seahawks tight end is certainly touchdown-dependent. All of that being said, I’m still more than willing to take that gamble against the Cardinals in season-long and daily fantasy formats.
Saints vs. Cowboys
ESPN Start Percentage: 56.5%
Those of you who read this column know that despite the percentages that I go by, which you can read above, I sometimes tend to break the rules. Being in the position of having to select a player to sit that is 60% or higher, in good faith, I could not recommend that you sit any of the players that were in that range. Long story long, I’m breaking the rules and recommending that you sit Jared Cook this week. To be completely honest, given how many league he is started in, we might as well consider this an intervention. For all of the talk about Jared Cook this offseason, after three excruciating weeks, Cook has just five receptions for just 69 yards. To me, this feels like that nightmare when I told folks to buy-in on Coby Fleener. As far as the Saints opponent, the Cowboys did not play well against Evan Engram in Week 1 as he finished the week with 116 yards receiving and one touchdown. Since that time though, the Cowboys have hunkered down, allowing just 76 yards receiving yards to opposing tight ends. This doesn’t even have anything to do with the Saints quarterback situation, I think that it is time we call the lemon law on Jared Cook.
Start’em Sit’em Defense
Jaguars @ Broncos
ESPN Start Percentage: 56.4%
I have to be honest, I didn’t expect that I would be able to nominate the Jaguars defense. Be that as it may, the Jaguars are being started in under 60% of ESPN leagues so I’m officially nominating them as someone you should start as they prepare to take on the Denver Broncos. The Broncos currently have just four giveaways on the year but I still expect the Jaguars to be a top-five defense this week. It is pretty understandable that against the Chiefs in Week 1, the Jaguars DST was one of the worst in the NFL. Since that time, the Jaguars have been a top 10 defense and I do not see that changing, even if Jalen Ramsey is doing his best Ferris Bueller impersonation. The Jaguars are once again safe to start everywhere.
Titans @ Falcons
ESPN Start Percentage: 58.5%
I figured that some trolls on twitter would be upset with me for only nominating a defense as obvious as the Jaguars are. With that in mind, I’m nominating a second defense worth starting. This week, the Titans will head into Atlanta to take on the Falcons and I like their chances of putting up some solid DST numbers. The Titans may not have faired so well last week against Gardner Minshew, but the Titians DST was a top 10 defense in each of their first two weeks. On top of that, the Falcons are second in the NFL with seven takeaways in three weeks. It won’t take a music city miracle for the Titans to put up some top 10 numbers in Week 4.
Bills vs. Patriots
ESPN Start Percentage: 79.7%
I want to make something clear here, by recommending that you sit the Bills, I’m not suggesting that the Patriots are going to steamroll the Bills. As a matter of fact, I think this is a much closer game than the Patriots have been used to in 2019. From a fantasy football perspective though, no matter how close this game might be, I don’t see the Patriots turning over the ball all that often. So far, the Patriots have just three giveaways on the season. While I recommend that you sit the Bills DST, I do not suggest dropping them. This is one of those prime scenarios in which I would suggest that you if you have extra bench spot to burn for a week, you should pick up a second defense to use, perhaps the Falcons or the Colts.