Week 4 Fantasy: To Play or Not to Play

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We’re approaching the end of the first quarter of the fantasy football season. Week 4 is upon us, and due to Tennessee Titans players and personnel testing positive for Covid-19, the NFL postponed this weeks Titans-Steelers game, essentially making this week their bye week.

And now, here are my choices for playing or not playing for this week’s slate of games.

You won’t see the likes of Russell Wilson or Alvin Kamara mentioned in this list. No matter who they play, you had better play your stars. Don’t bench someone like Wilson for Joe Burrow, even if Burrow plays against the Atlanta Falcons.

And now, onto the list:

QUARTERBACKS TO PLAY

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  • Aaron Rodgers: Going into the season, there were fantasy “experts” that were feeling bearish about the longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback. To this point, Aaron Rodgers has made them eat their words. Currently just outside of the top-five quarterbacks in fantasy football, Rodgers has had a nice return to form this season. Coming off a 24-point performance against the New Orleans Saints, Rodgers looks to take advantage of the hapless Atlanta Falcons, who have given up the most points to opposing quarterbacks this season. With Davante Adams set to return this week, barring any setbacks, confidently start Rodgers.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick: Will there be more “Fitzmagic” this week? Or will Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick revert back to “Fitzception?” The latter might occur soon; however, he has another fantastic match-up to take advantage of this week, against a Seattle Seahawks defense that has given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Fitzpatrick could revert back to his turnover-prone ways this week, but I like him against the Seahawks. Fitzpatrick is a great QB stream this week.
  • Matthew Stafford: Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has had a less-than-ideal start to the season so far. Currently QB19 in fantasy, he’s looking to improve his start to the season. This week, Stafford and the Lions host the New Orleans Saints, who have given up the third-most touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks this season. With last week’s victory against the Arizona Cardinals, including the return of Kenny Golladay, Matthew Stafford is a great play at home this week.
  • Joe Burrow: Geaux Bengals? The Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback has been better than advertised to start the season. Joe Burrow is a top-10 quarterback in fantasy football at the moment. The Bengals play host to a Jacksonville Jaguars team, whose defense gave up top-10 performances to the likes of Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. If you’re looking for a quarterback to stream this week, Joe Burrow is also a fantastic option.
  • Sleepers: Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield

QUARTERBACKS NOT TO PLAY

Gardner Minshew
  • Gardner Minshew: One of the most disappointing performances last week, Gardner Minshew failed to take advantage of a bad Miami Dolphins defense. It was as if he was too tired from evading the Mexican cartel and Anton Chigurh. (Yes, I will keep up with the Llewelyn Moss comparisons; no, I don’t care if you’re tired of reading about it, reader. And if you haven’t seen ‘No Country For Old Men,’ shame on you. Watch that movie.) The Jacksonville Jaguars‘ second-year quarterback put up just nine points against a bad Miami Dolphins defense. This week, they travel to the Queen City to take on a Cincinnati Bengals defense, who currently give up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Minshew should not be in your starting line-up this week… and neither should this next AFC South quarterback…
  • Kirk Cousins: I don’t like this, Kirk Cousins. So far, you, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen are making me look foolish in including the three of you in my bold prediction for the season. Hopefully, you’ll get it together now that Justin Jefferson is starting to emerge. That said, I can’t advocate starting him in fantasy leagues. That includes this week against the Houston Texans, whose defense has allowed one quarterback to score more than 20 points against them all this season. I can’t bring myself to trust the former Pro Bowl quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings this week.
  • Kyler Murray: I imagine you’re wondering if I’m overreacting to one lackluster performance by the first-overall pick in the 2019 draft. I’m not, because Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray owners need to play him every week, no matter what. However, this week against the Carolina Panthers, whose defense give up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing passers, points could be hard to come by. This could be a much bigger game for Kenyan Drake this week; therefore, temper your expectations for Kyler Murray.
  • Lowered Expectations: Patrick Mahomes

RUNNING BACKS TO PLAY

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  • Kenyan Drake: An abject bust through three weeks, Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake looks nothing like the player he was a season ago. He failed to take advantage of a quality match-up last week. However, he has a fantasy football running back’s dream match-up this week, as the Arizona Cardinals take on the Carolina Panthers, whose defense has given up the second-most points to opposing running backs in fantasy football this season. If it’s not this week, it won’t be this season. Start Kenyan Drake.
  • Darrell Henderson: Darrell Henderson is showing why the Los Angeles Rams made him a third-round pick. In back-to-back weeks, he received the most touches out of the Rams backfield, scoring 20 points against the Philadelphia Eagles, and 19 against the Buffalo Bills. This week, the Rams host the New York Giants, who give up the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs. Start Henderson this week.
  • James Robinson: In spite of the Jacksonville Jaguars being a bad team, undrafted free agent James Robinson has been a major bright spot for the team. Robinson has scored the fifth-most fantasy points among running backs this season. This week, he goes up against a Cincinnati Bengals defense, who have given up the second-most rushing yards to running backs this season. Start Robinson with confidence this week.
  • David Johnson: After a nice season debut, Houston Texans running back David Johnson has been quiet for the past two weeks, having faced two of the tougher defenses against running backs in fantasy football. This week, Johnson has an opportunity to bounce back, as the Texans play host to the team with the eighth-worst defense against running backs in fantasy: the Minnesota Vikings. Johnson is worthy of a flex play this week, and has RB2 potential.
  • Sleepers: Zack Moss, Todd Gurley

RUNNING BACKS NOT TO PLAY

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  • Miles Sanders: An elite running back by the end of last season, Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders has had an okay start to the season. Over the past two weeks, he’s been a top-15 running back in fantasy football; not exactly what fantasy owners had in mind when drafting him in the first two rounds. This week, the Eagles play against a San Francisco 49ers defense, who give up the fewest fantasy points to opposing runners this season. With the Eagles struggling the way they have been on offense, I would recommend benching Sanders if you have the depth to do so. Otherwise, temper your expectations.
  • David Montgomery: With Tarik Cohen being out for the season, David Montgomery has an opportunity to become the bell-cow back a few experts thought he would be. He may have to wait a week for that level of production, however, as his Chicago Bears host the Indianapolis Colts this weekend. The Colts give up just under four yards per carry to running backs, and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. Temper your expectations for Montgomery this week.
  • Ronald Jones: Turns out, I was wrong. I thought Leonard Fournette became the number-one back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after his performance against the Carolina Panthers. However, it was Ronald Jones II who had the most touches last week with 15, compared to Fournette’s nine. This week, the Bucs host the Los Angeles Chargers; whose defense have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. With Fournette being out this week, Jones should see more carries on Sunday. I would still not start him, however.
  • Jerick Mckinnon: Jerick McKinnon coming back from the ACL tear he sustained right before the 2018 season is one of the nicer storylines of the 2020 season. He and Jeff Wilson, Jr. had close to an even split with touches last week, with 17 for McKinnon and 15 for Wilson, respectively. This week, McKinnon and the San Francisco 49ers host the Philadelphia Eagles, who give up 3.5 yards per carry to running backs, and the second-fewest catches to running backs this season. I wouldn’t start Jerick McKinnon this week. Jeff Wilson, Jr. might be the better option, instead.
  • Lowered Expectations: Ezekiel Elliott, Nick Chubb

PASS CATCHERS TO PLAY

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  • Devante Parker: Devante Parker has had a slow start to the season. Currently WR31 in fantasy football, Parker is looking more like a one-year wonder than the top-flight receiver the Miami Dolphins paid him to be. This week, he has a great opportunity to produce, as the Dolphins play host to the Seattle Seahawks, who have already given up over 1,100 yards to opposing receivers this season, 400 more than the next-closest team. If Parker is going to get right and be a viable receiver in fantasy football, this is his best opportunity to do so. Start Parker.
  • Will Fuller: After a hot start to the season, Will Fuller has cooled off considerably. The de facto number-one receiver for the Houston Texans since they traded away DeAndre Hopkins this past off-season, Will Fuller has put up 15 fantasy points in two weeks. This week, he’ll have an opportunity to bounce back; as the Texans take on the Minnesota Vikings; who currently give up the fourth-most fantasy points to receivers this season. This is a great match-up for Fuller to get right. Put him in your line-ups this weekend.
  • Odell Beckham Jr: Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. has been a massive disappointment this season. He has put up fewer than 10 fantasy points in every game except Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Fortunately, the Browns play the Dallas Cowboys this week, who have given up the most touchdowns, and second-most fantasy points to receivers this season. If Beckham is going to play better than his current ranking of WR38 in fantasy, he has a great opportunity to do so this week. Start him.
  • T.J. Hockenson: A tight end I had listed as a sleeper coming into this season, Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson is off to a solid start to the year. He has an opportunity to be even better this week, as the Lions host the New Orleans Saints, who have given up the most fantasy points to tight ends this season. With Kenny Golladay returning to game action last week, look for Hockenson to take advantage of a defense preoccupied with defending Golladay.
  • Sleepers: Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Ceedee Lamb, Dalton Schultz

PASS CATCHERS NOT TO PLAY

Photo credit: philadelphiaeagles.com
  • Zach Ertz: While most of the Philadelphia Eagles receiving options for Carson Wentz are hurt, Zach Ertz is one of the only options Wentz has left at his disposal. Currently ranked just outside of the top-10 tight ends this season, Ertz will likely fall further down those rankings, as the Eagles travel to Santa Clara to face the San Francisco 49ers. In spite of the likely volume increase for Ertz this weekend, he will struggle to produce against a 49ers defense who gives up a mere four points per game to opposing tight ends. Bench Ertz, and any Eagles offensive player this week.
  • D.J. Moore: Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has been a disappointment through the first quarter of the season. Being outscored by the likes of Keelan Cole, Corey Davis, and Darius Slayton through three games, that’s not exactly the return-on-investment that fantasy football players expected when they drafted him. This week, he faces a difficult match-up, as the Panthers host the Arizona Cardinals, who give up the fewest fantasy points to receivers this season. With a difficult match-up against the Cardinals looming, and free agent acquisition Robby Anderson posting a much better catch-rate while also leading the team in receiving, D.J. Moore is nothing more than a low-end flex option this week. I’d highly recommend exploring better options.
  • Allen Robinson: Coming off of a quiet two games to start the season, Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson exploded last week, once the Bears made a change at quarterback. This week, he’ll be facing stiffer competition, because the Bears face the Indianapolis Colts, who give up the third-fewest fantasy points per game to receivers. They have also given up four touchdowns to wide receivers. Therefore, if Robinson doesn’t find the end zone against the Colts, expect a long day for the Bears star receiver.
  • Terry McClaurin: A victim of a touchdown vulture known as Dontrelle Inman, Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McClaurin had a mildly disappointing outing against the Cleveland Browns last week, putting up four catches for 83 yards. This week could prove to be just as difficult for McClaurin, as Washington hosts the Baltimore Ravens. Though they rank middle-of-the-pack in fantasy points surrendered to receivers, with newly-paid Marlon Humphrey likely to shadow him for much of the game, expect McClaurin to have a long afternoon. Temper expectations for Terry McClaurin in the “Battle of the Beltway.”
  • Lowered Expectations: Travis Kelce, Kenny Golladay, Mike Evans

DEFENSES TO PLAY

Photo credit: baltimoreravens.com
  • Baltimore Ravens: Even though the Baltimore Ravens defense was torched by the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night, the Washington Football Team doesn’t pose that same threat, having given up three sacks and committing five turnovers last week. Start the Ravens.
  • Los Angeles Rams: After a less-than-stellar showing against the Buffalo Bills, the Los Angeles Rams host a New York Giants team who have given up nine sacks and seven turnovers in three games. I fully expect the Rams to bounce back this week.
  • San Francisco 49ers: I’ll keep this short and sweet. In spite of all the injuries the San Francisco 49ers have sustained, the Philadelphia Eagles are a dumpster fire, having given up 11 sacks and eight turnovers in three games. Start the Niners defense.
  • Sleeper: Arizona Cardinals

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