Due to COVID-19, last week wound up being the first week fantasy owners dealt with the bye week blues. This week, two more teams go on their bye week. Adjust your line-ups accordingly. Nobody likes a fantasy owner who abandons their team early on because they suck, and not adjust their starting line-up through the season. And don’t be that guy who forgets to take out your players who have a bye week. Anyway, here are the players I’m into, in addition to the players I’m not into this week.
Quarterbacks To Play
- Deshaun Watson: Through the brutal first quarter of the Houston Texans season, Deshaun Watson has been solid given the circumstances. Currently listed as QB13 for the season, Watson has ample opportunity to improve upon that ranking this week, as the Texans, with a new head coach in place, host the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the Jaguars giving up two top-10 QB performances over the last three weeks, expect Deshaun Watson to shine and prove why he was picked within the first seven rounds in fantasy football leagues.
- Kyler Murray: Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is playing very well through the first quarter of the season. Currently the sixth-highest scoring QB in fantasy directly behind Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, Murray is poised to have another big week in fantasy; as the Cardinals travel to MetLife Stadium to take on the moribund New York Jets. Though the Jets have been surprisingly stout against fantasy quarterbacks this season, they haven’t had to defend many good quarterbacks this season other than Josh Allen. Kyler Murray will run all over the Jets.
- Kirk Cousins: Yes, I like that, Kirk. I like listing you as someone I would play this week. It helps when you have a fantastic match-up on paper, because this week, your Minnesota Vikings travel to the pacific northwest to take on the Seattle Seahawks, who give up the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, and the most yards to quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins is not an every-week starter, but this is a week I would start him if I had to replace Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford.
- Drew Brees: The future Hall of Fame quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees, has not been good this season. Currently the 20th-highest scoring quarterback in fantasy football, Brees looks like a shell of himself; especially after losing Michael Thomas. This week, however, Thomas could be returning from injury. And with the Saints hosting the Los Angeles Chargers, a team who will be without both Derwin James and Chris Harris, Jr., Brees has a great opportunity to show he still has something left in the tank. Start Brees this week.
- Sleepers: Daniel Jones, Teddy Bridgewater
Quarterbacks Not To Play
- Matt Ryan: After starting off the season with two strong performances in fantasy football, Matt Ryan has reverted from “Matty Ice,” to “The Matt-ural Disaster,” by scoring a combined 23 fantasy points in two weeks, trailing the likes of Philip Rivers, and Dwayne Haskins. This week, the Atlanta Falcons host the division rival Carolina Panthers, who give up the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. With the looming possibility of Julio Jones being absent for Sunday’s game, sit Matt Ryan.
- Carson Wentz: Believe it or not, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is on a two-week stretch of scoring over 21 points a game. However, all good things must come to an end, because Wentz and the Eagles travel to Heinz Field to face their in-state rival Pittsburgh Steelers, a top-10 defense against quarterbacks in fantasy football. Another week Wentz is deprived of quality weapons, means another week I tell you not to play Wentz.
- Tom Brady: Arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady had a vintage performance last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, completing 65% of his passes for 369 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. Even more impressive, he had this kind of day without star receiver Chris Godwin. This week will provide a much tougher test, however, as the Bucs travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears, whose defense gives up the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. With Godwin ruled out for Thursday Night Football, I would prefer not to start Tom Brady this week.
- Joe Burrow: The first overall pick from LSU has demonstrated why the Cincinnati Bengals were wise to draft him. Currently the ninth highest-scoring quarterback in fantasy football, Joe Burrow is enjoying a nice start to his rookie season. That will change Sunday, as the Bengals head to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Baltimore Ravens. This is actually a great match-up on paper, as the Ravens give up the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. So, why is Burrow a sit? Because historically, the Ravens defense have been especially tough for rookie quarterbacks to deal with. Heed my warning; Joe Burrow will not produce great fantasy numbers this week.
- Lowered Expectations: Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott
Running Backs To Play
- David Johnson: Good news; Houston Texans running back David Johnson has scored double-digit fantasy points in three of the past four weeks. The bad news? He’s the 23rd highest-scoring running back in fantasy football currently. With all things considered, why do I recommend starting Johnson this week? Because his Houston Texans host the Jacksonville Jaguars, who give up the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. After getting gashed for 151 yards rushing, six catches for 30 yards, and three total touchdowns by Joe Mixon, start David Johnson this week. And he’s not the only AFC South running back I would play this week.
- James Robinson: An early candidate for best waiver-wire pick of the 2020 season, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson has the sixth-most fantasy points scored among running backs, outscoring the likes of Josh Jacobs, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Joe Mixon. This week, Robinson has another favorable match-up, as the Jaguars travel to Houston to take on the winless Houston Texans, who give up the fourth-most points to running backs in fantasy football. Confidently start Robinson this week.
- Todd Gurley: It’s been an up-and-down season for Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley this season. He hasn’t had any games reminiscent of Gurley from 2017 and 2018, but he’s scored double-digit fantasy points in three out of four games. This week, he has a chance to play up to his old standards, as the Falcons host the division rival Carolina Panthers, who give up the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season, and the most catches to running backs. Given how good the Panthers have been at stymying opposing passing games this year, the Falcons need to implement a more run-heavy approach at home this week, which will result in a big day for Todd Gurley. Start the Gurley man.
- Jerick McKinnon: An afterthought in the San Francisco 49ers backfield because of his injury two years ago, Jerick McKinnon has recovered, and is a top-10 running back in fantasy football this season. This week, McKinnon and the 49ers host the Miami Dolphins, who have given up the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs this season. The return of Raheem Mostert could intrude on this feel good story, as Mostert is the team’s starting running back, and returned to practice. However, if Mostert is out again, Jerick McKinnon is a great play this week. Start McKinnon.
- Sleepers: Mike Davis, Mark Ingram
Running Backs Not To Play
- Joe Mixon: Will the real Joe Mixon please stand up? After a three-week span of scoring a combined 26 points, the Cincinnati Bengals running back exploded last week, finishing with 25 carries for 151 yards rushing, catching all six of his targets for 30 yards, and three total touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars. This week, however, the Bengals travel to M&T Bank Stadium to face the division rival Baltimore Ravens, who give up the ninth-fewest points to running backs in fantasy football this season. Historically, Mixon hasn’t had great fantasy against the Ravens, scoring double-digit fantasy points just twice in six prior match-ups. If you start Mixon this week, temper your expectations.
- Miles Sanders: Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders was effectively shut down last week in a victory against the San Francisco 49ers, totaling 76 yards from scrimmage, and catching two of his four targets. This week, he goes from one tough match-up to another, as the Eagles travel to Heinz Field to face the in-state rival Pittsburgh Steelers, who give up the second-fewest fantasy points, and fewest catches to running backs this season. With another difficult match-up looming, temper your expectations for Sanders if you start him Sunday.
- Melvin Gordon: Going into the season, I wasn’t sure how productive Melvin Gordon would be this year. I was worried he would be stuck splitting carries with fellow Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay. Once Lindsay got hurt, Gordon took off and scored the 11th-most fantasy points among running backs through four games. This week, however, Gordon and the Broncos travel to Foxboro to play the New England Patriots, who have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. With Phillip Lindsay potentially returning on Sunday, count me out on Melvin Gordon this week, in addition to the rest of the season. Sit Gordon.
- Joshua Kelley: With Austin Ekeler sidelined for the foreseeable future, Los Angeles Chargers rookie running back Joshua Kelley is primed to receive more touches in the Chargers offense. And though the New Orleans Saints haven’t exactly stonewalled opposing running backs, giving up the 13th-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season, they only give up 3.5 yards per carry to running backs. Don’t start Kelley this week.
- Lowered Expectations: Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry
Pass Catchers To Play
- Adam Thielen: After a huge season opener against the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen had a quiet two weeks prior to his performance against the Houston Texans last week. Thielen caught eight of 10 targets for 114 yards and a touchdown, becoming the sixth-highest scoring receiver in fantasy football this season. This week, Thielen is rewarded with a great match-up against the worst defense against wide receivers this season, the Seattle Seahawks. Through four games, the Seahawks have given up by far the most fantasy points, catches, and receiving yards this season. Thielen is a must start this week; especially given the favorable match-up on Sunday Night Football.
- Darius Slayton: Outside of a huge Week 1 performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton has been extremely quiet since then, posting a combined nine of 20 total targets for 134 yards in three games. This week, however, Slayton has an opportunity to return to his Week 1 form; as the Giants travel to Big D to face the rival Dallas Cowboys, who have given up the most touchdowns to wide receivers, and the third-most fantasy points to the position. Start Darius Slayton this week. With a favorable match-up looming, expect Slayton to finally bounce back.
- Tyler Lockett: I’m honestly at a loss with Tyler Lockett’s performance last week. Having finished with the most fantasy points scored among receivers in Week 3, and having had a favorable match-up against the Miami Dolphins last week, he finished the game catching a measly two of four targets for 39 yards. Speaking as a Lockett fantasy owner in one league, I was stunned to say the least. However, with the Seattle Seahawks hosting the Minnesota Vikings, who have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, I won’t panic. Lockett can and will bounce back this week. He’ll have such a huge game, I’ll never have to list him as a wide receiver to play again; because he’s an obvious start every week.
- Hunter Henry: After scoring double-digit fantasy points in each of the first three games of the season, Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry was shut down last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, catching two of three targets for 39 yards in a 38-31 loss. This week however, the Chargers travel to the bayou to face the New Orleans Saints, who give up the second-most fantasy points to tight ends this week. Therefore, with a stellar match-up looming on Monday Night Football, Hunter Henry has ample opportunity to bounce back with a big week. He’s a must-start this week.
- Sleepers: Deebo Samuel, Robby Anderson, Mo Alie-Cox
Pass Catchers Not To Play
- Keenan Allen: Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has had a solid start to the season. By virtue of being WR14 in fantasy football, Allen is demonstrating he can produce regardless of who is throwing him the ball. This week, the Chargers travel to the bayou to face the New Orleans Saints, who have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to receivers this year. Considering it’s likely cornerback Marshon Lattimore will be following Allen for most of the day, Allen will have a tough time producing fantasy points this week. If you start Keenan Allen, lower your expectations this week.
- Robert Woods: Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods has been okay through the first four games of the 2020 season. As a result of scoring double-digit fantasy points in three of the first four games, Woods is currently WR18 in fantasy football. This week, however, both he and his teammate Cooper Kupp may struggle to put up points this week, as the Rams travel to FedEx Field to face the Washington Football Team, who have given up the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season. If you have better fantasy options on your bench, start them over Robert Woods.
- Terry McClaurin: Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McClaurin has had a great start to the season. Due in large part to scoring double-digit fantasy points in every game this season; including two 20-point performances, the second year wide receiver is a top-10 wide receiver in fantasy football currently. This week however, McClaurin may struggle to get open, as a match-up with Jalen Ramsey and the Los Angeles Rams is looming. Considering the Rams have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers this season, I advise lowering expectations for “Scary Terry” this week.
- Mike Gesicki: Outside of Week 2, where Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki put up eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown, the third year tight end has been a serious disappointment this season. Due to another difficult match-up on the west coast against the San Francisco 49ers this week, I fully expect Gesicki’s struggles to continue against the second stingiest defense against tight ends. Bench Mike Gesicki.
- Lowered Expectations: Mike Evans, Calvin Ridley, Travis Kelce
Defenses To Stream
- New England Patriots: Although Stephon Gilmore won’t be playing this week due to testing positive for COVID-19 the Denver Broncos, led by third-string backup Brett Rypien, aren’t good enough on offense to exploit that. Start the New England Patriots defense.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In spite of the quarterback change from Mitchell Trubisky, to Nick Foles, the Chicago Bears managed a measly 11 points last week. Start the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.
- Los Angeles Rams: As a result of giving up 13 sacks, and committing eight turnovers this season, the Washington Football Team has benched starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins in favor of Kyle Allen, a quarterback with a losing record for his career, and nearly as many touchdowns as turnovers. Start the Los Angeles Rams defense.
- Arizona Cardinals: Due to an injury to starting quarterback Sam Darnold, the New York Jets are starting former Ravens and Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco against the Arizona Cardinals. Before the QB change, the Cardinals were a must-start fantasy defense this week. Start the Cardinals defense.
Bye week: Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions