FANTASY PLAYS: Players to start and sit for Week 4
Quarterback play has dominated the fantasy football scene during the first three weeks, which, in turn, has not led to fruitful results from the majority of running backs who were selected long before the first passer came off the boards.
Outside of Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara, most of the high-end backs need a fantasy wake-up call, and several should be able to answer in Week 4.
That being said, don’t expect the grip that quarterbacks_and the receivers who have benefited from them_have on fantasy leagues to slip this week, especially with a handful of passers sitting on favorable matchups that will keep their strong starts afloat.
START: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: Looking more like the fantasy beast he was in 2016, Ryan has thrown for 646 yards and seven touchdowns in his last two games. The rise of rookie receiver Calvin Ridley and the ability to finally convert red zone visits into touchdowns have been key factors for Ryan, who gets a Bengals defense that allows 270 passing yards per game and is 25th in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. It’s also another home game, which is where Ryan has been devastating the past two weeks.
SIT: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles: Half of the Eagles’ 120 passing attempts have gone to either Nelson Agholor or Zach Ertz. Agholor owns 75 percent of the team’s targets to wide receivers. Add the fact that the Titans are 11th in pass defense and the numbers don’t favor Wentz in his second game back into the lineup. Don’t expect too many downfield shots from Wentz — he has no receiver to take long shots. Philadelphia has just five completions of better than 20 yards.
START: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: Hilton would be among the highest-paid receivers in the game if he could face the Texans’ defense on a weekly basis. In 12 career games against Houston, Hilton has 63 catches for 1,131 yards and nine touchdowns while recording five 100-yard games. This should be the game Andrew Luck and the Colts ditch the short, safe stuff and improve upon a 7.8 yards per catch average.
SIT: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Jets: Yes, Crowell did score a pair of short touchdowns in last week’s loss to the Browns, but that doesn’t hide the fact he has rushed for 69 yards on 28 carries over his last two games. That 2.4 yards per carry isn’t going to get much better against a Jaguars run defense that is eighth in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs and has given up one rushing touchdown.
START: Trey Burton, TE, Bears: The Buccaneers defense has been shredded by the Eagles and Steelers tight ends in consecutive weeks, and while Burton has been disappointing so far, he gets a great chance to rebound. Chicago is 29th in yards per attempt (5.7) but need to take the gloves off quarterback Mitchell Trubisky as he lines up against a Tampa defense that has allowed a league-high 1,088 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air.
SIT: Jordy Nelson, WR, Raiders: Last week’s six catches for 173 yards against the Dolphins will likely be Nelson’s high watermark for the season. It’s easy to get sucked into believing Nelson is trending upward, but keep in mind that he had just five receptions for 53 yards in his first two games. The Browns are sixth in pass defense and have allowed just two touchdown tosses. With the kind of pressure quarterback Derek Carr will face, Oakland’s passing game will be short-circuited.
START: John Brown, WR, Ravens: The Steelers are one of three teams that have allowed at least 200 yards per game to opposing wide receivers. Brown has shown his big-play prowess with Baltimore, having recorded a reception of at least 29 yards in each game this season. He averages 18.5 yards per catch and won’t need too many targets to put up big fantasy numbers against a Pittsburgh defense that has given up 15 completions of better than 30 yards.
SIT: LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: Shady is no longer a must-start caliber back. He’s rushed for 61 yards on 16 carries and missed last week’s win over the Vikings with a rib injury. McCoy plans on giving it a go, but it looks like the Bills are showing an increased commitment to Chris Ivory in what will be a favorable matchup against the Packers, who are 27th in rushing yards allowed. There will be mild affection for McCoy in PPR leagues, but it’s time to accept the fact the wear and tear of a decade of excellence is starting to show on McCoy.
START: Case Keenum, QB, Broncos: Held without a passing touchdown the last two games, Keenum gets a Chiefs defense that has allowed 363 yards per game and seven touchdowns. There is some risk in playing a quarterback on Monday night who is on a downward trend, but the Chiefs have shown no inclination toward bolstering their pass defense. A fast-paced game works into the strengths of Keenum, who has the receiving corps to light up Kansas City throughout the night.
SIT: Dion Lewis, RB, Titans: After getting 24 touches in Week 1, Lewis has a combined 27 touches in the last two games. He has not been the PPR weapon he was with the Patriots, having been targeted just four times in the last two contests. Not having quarterback Marcus Mariota available has hurt Lewis’ receiving production, and with Blaine Gabbert slated for at least one more start, Lewis is a huge risk, especially against an Eagles defense that has allowed a league-low 185 rushing yards in their first three games.
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