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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

Week 4 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: October 2, 2020, 9:51 pm ET

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.

 

QUARTERBACK

 

Start of the Week: Jared Goff vs. Giants -- Goff is enjoying a nice start to a potential rebound season. He leads the league in yards per attempt (9.6) and is completing a career best 70% of his passes, a significant leap from his 62.7% career average. Goff has tossed multiple touchdowns in back-to-back games on the road against the Eagles and Bills in Weeks 2-3, posting the QB12 and QB5 days. The overall QB9 to this point, Goff and the Rams are coming back home as 13-point favorites over the lowly Giants. The G-Men surrendered 9.53 YPA and 343 yards to Nick Mullens last week in a 36-9 loss. And Big Ben cooked them for 229 yards and three scores in Week 1. The Giants are 10th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks but check in at 30th in pass-defense DVOA. The Rams run the ball at the highest clip in football, but there’s still enough here for Goff to throw multiple scores and the Rams to put up 30-plus points in what should be a blowout. L.A. operates at the seventh-fastest offensive pace and currently comes in at 10th in offensive plays per game. The Rams are implied to score 30.5 points.

 

Starts

 

Joe Burrow vs. Jaguars -- The Bengals have unleashed the No. 1 overall pick right out of the gates. Burrow is the current QB10 in fantasy and No. 2 in pass attempts (141), trailing Dak Prescott by just two. Burrow is 32-of-33 qualified quarterbacks in yards per attempt (5.8), but the sheer volume of Cincinnati’s offense -- the Bengals are No. 2 in plays per game -- makes Burrow a quality weekly streamer. On top of the pass volume, Burrow has registered seven-plus rushing attempts in 2-of-3 games, raising his floor even higher. The Jaguars are 24th in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks and dead last in pass-defense DVOA after getting eviscerated by Ryan Fitzpatrick for the QB8 finish last week. Ryan Tannehill threw four touchdowns as the QB8 in Week 2. With no Yannick Ngakoue on the team, the Jaguars are 29th in adjusted sack rate. The only thing that worries me a bit with Burrow is the slow-paced, ball-control nature of the Jacksonville offense. It has helped the Jaguars come in at No. 6 in opponent plays per game through Week 3. Still, there are too many points in Burrow’s favor to not consider him a top-end streaming option. Jaguars-Bengals sports a strong 49.5-point total.

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Seahawks -- FitzMagic is coming off QB11 and QB8 performances in Weeks 2 and 3 against the Bills and Jaguars. Not many streamers come with the upside of Fitzpatrick, but he’s also prone to multiple interceptions and an in-game benching. We take the fun with the bad with him. A home date with a Seahawks team traveling cross-country for a 1 PM ET kickoff and facing a defense that is 29th in DVOA against the pass looks ripe for the picking. The Seahawks are dead last in opponent plays per game, 31st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and have faced the most pass attempts. That’s a product of #LetRussCook. Seattle is getting itself involved in far more shootouts, relying on Russell Wilson to carry the roster to make up for a defense that can’t rush the passer, checking in at 25th in adjusted sack rate. Matt Ryan (QB7), Cam Newton (QB2), and Dak Prescott (QB4) have all hung big numbers on this defense. The 54-point total for Seahawks-Dolphins is the third-highest on the board. Fitzpatrick has been known to take advantage of plus-plus matchups. This is one.

Kirk Cousins at Texans -- Cousins is coming off his best game of the young season, averaging 9.3 YPA against the Titans and compiling 251 yards and three scores through the air. The volume hasn’t been there with single-game pass attempts of 25, 26, and 27 through Week 3, but the 0-3 Vikings may soon be realizing they need to start throwing the ball more if they’re going to win games. Their defense is just too bad to play the ball-control game coach Mike Zimmer prefers. The Texans are No. 9 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks but 19th in pass-defense DVOA. Only two teams have faced fewer pass attempts, but Houston is 26th in opponent plays per game overall. Cousins is unlikely to throw the ball 40-plus times, but he should have a good chance at 30-plus attempts in a game with a 54-point total and four-point spread. Cousins is probably more of a two-QB league play, but this is a spot he can succeed with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson far more talented than the Texans’ cornerbacks.

 

Sits

 

Justin Herbert at Bucs -- Herbert has posted back-to-back 300-yard games to open his career, but he has just two touchdowns and two interceptions on 82 pass attempts. After lighting the Chiefs up for 9.42 YPA in Week 2, Herbert took several steps back in a juicy on-paper matchup with the Panthers, averaging a lowly 6.42 YPA in a devastating Week 3 home loss. The Chargers now head out on a cross-country road trip to face a Bucs team that is No. 4 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA, and No. 4 in adjusted sack rate. The Chargers have run the third-most offensive plays through three weeks, but Herbert is heading out on the road for the first time and looked like a Checkdown Charlie last Sunday. All things considered, this just doesn’t look like an ideal spot for Herbert. Chargers-Bucs has the lowest total of the weekend at 42.5 points, and L.A. is implied to score just 17.75 points.

Derek Carr vs. Bills -- Fantasy’s QB22 to this point, Carr has yet to post a top-12 week with finishes of QB25, QB14, and QB20. He’s now without starting WRs Bryan Edwards (ankle) and Henry Ruggs (hamstring) and saddled with an outside duo of Nelson Agholor and Zay Jones. The Bills are a middling 17th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 15th in pass-defense DVOA, but Carr has shown us nothing to warrant consideration for fantasy lineups outside of the deepest of two-QB formats. Carr is tied for 23rd with just eight pass attempts 20-plus yards downfield. Not having Ruggs has hurt in that area, but Carr is a no-upside, low-floor QB2.

Carson Wentz at 49ers -- Wentz is fantasy’s QB21 through three weeks, and his pass-catching arsenal has been straight up ravaged by injuries, losing Dallas Goedert (ankle) and Jalen Reagor (thumb) to I.R. already. And now DeSean Jackson (hamstring), JJ Arcega-Whiteside (calf), Alshon Jeffery (foot), and John Hightower (illness) were all sidelined at Thursday’s practice. That leaves Greg Ward and Zach Ertz as the healthy pass-catchers for an Eagles Offense that is dead last in pass-offense DVOA and 29th in sacks allowed. Wentz has been under intense pressure and playing bad football. Going across the country to face the 49ers with a depleted pass-catching group doesn’t seem like a spot to attack for fantasy. The Niners are No. 6 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, No. 7 in pass-defense DVOA, and No. 9 in opponent plays per game despite losing both Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas to season-ending injuries. Philly’s implied team total of 19.5 points is the week’s fourth-lowest.

 

RUNNING BACK

 

Start of the Week: Kenyan Drake at Panthers -- Drake hasn’t found the end zone since Week 1 and is fantasy’s overall RB25 in half-PPR. He’s playing 68% of the snaps and has seen a combined 59 carries and targets, so Drake’s workload is pretty secure in an Arizona offense that is No. 6 in offensive plays per game and No. 4 in pace. Drake’s counting stats leave a lot to be desired, however, especially after another disappointing Week 3 without a touchdown against the Lions. Drake has also seen his targets evaporate with just five on the year after averaging 4.4 per game in eight games with Arizona last season. Drake does draw the Panthers, Jets, and Cowboys in Weeks 4-6, but we need to start seeing some production. Drake is still someone I’d actively be looking to buy at a depressed cost before he blows up. Carolina is 31st in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 28th in run-defense DVOA. Austin Ekeler turned 23 touches into 143 yards and one touchdown as the RB5 last week against the Panthers. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones combined for 19-126-3 rushing in Week 2. And Josh Jacobs pasted Carolina for 139 yards and three scores in Week 1. Drake simply has to take advantage of this spot. Arizona’s implied team total of 27.25 points is the 10th-highest of Week 3.

 

Starts

 

Mike Davis vs. Cardinals -- In the Panthers’ first game without Christian McCaffrey (ankle, I.R.) last week against the Chargers’ top-notch defense, Davis played 76% of the snaps to Reggie Bonnafon’s 4% rate. Davis has seen a combined 17 targets in roughly a game and a half of action after McCaffrey’s injury. He went 8-45-1 as a receiver last week while handling 13 carries. Davis is a weekly threat for 20-plus touches in an offense that likes to use one back. Davis gets juicy draws with the Cardinals and Falcons the next two weeks. Arizona is 22nd in fantasy points allowed to running backs, surrendering the fifth-most receiving yards to the position. Davis isn’t going to light it up as a runner, but he’s a natural pass-catcher and plays with a quarterback who loves to check the ball down. Simply put, he’s a must-play as an RB2.

David Johnson vs. Vikings -- Duke Johnson (ankle) has been sidelined since the first half of Week 1. The Texans, however, are 0-3 and have run the second-fewest offensive plays. Despite the incredible snap rate for David Johnson (92%), the touches haven’t been as good as they should because the Texans have been getting creamed on the scoreboard. David has just 42 touches through three weeks. Duke is practicing again and should be back as soon as this week, but David will remain the every-down back, even when Duke is back. The Texans are four-point home favorites against the Vikings, setting David up for a potentially big workload and his first 20-touch game of the season. Minnesota is 24th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 23rd in run-defense DVOA, and have faced the most rushing attempts. Derrick Henry just posted over 100 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in Minnesota last Sunday after Jonathan Taylor went 26-101-1 the week before. David needs to be in all season-long lineups.

Darrell Henderson vs. Giants -- The Rams are the most run-heavy team in the league, and Henderson has emerged as the lead back over the last two weeks with a couple big games with 100-plus yards and a touchdown against both the Eagles and Bills on 35 total touches. While Malcolm Brown continues to pace the team in snaps and Cam Akers is expected back from injury, it’s Henderson who is the back to own for the Rams. He’s the starter moving forward, and the Rams host the Giants in Week 4 as massive 13-point home favorites. The G-Men are 23rd in fantasy points allowed to running backs and just gave up touchdowns to both Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson last week after letting David Montgomery lead the Bears in both rushing and receiving the week before while catching a touchdown. Benny Snell touched up the Giants for 100-plus yards on the ground in Week 1. Henderson is an RB2 with RB1 upside and has another shot at 20-plus carries. The Rams are implied to score 30.5 points Sunday.

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Sits

 

Adrian Peterson vs. Saints -- This is a three-headed Lions backfield we just have to avoid most weeks unless we can confidently project the Lions to win. Peterson played 60% of the snaps in the win over the Cardinals last week and turned in a 22-75-0 rushing line. Great volume. Not great production. Lions OC Darrell Bevell seems committed to Peterson, however, pretty much saying this week that Peterson is the team’s No. 1 back. Detroit hosts New Orleans as four-point road underdogs, and if this game gets out of hand, Peterson could be phased out of the game plan in favor of Kerryon Johnson and rookie D’Andre Swift. The Saints are No. 12 in fantasy points allowed to running backs and No. 6 in run-defense DVOA. New Orleans did a good job “holding” Aaron Jones to 16-69-1 on the ground last Sunday night after keeping Ronald Jones (16-69-0) and Josh Jacobs (27-88-0) out of the end zone in Weeks 1 and 2. The Saints’ pass defense has been more of a problem, but Peterson is a non-factor in that area.

Joshua Kelley at Bucs -- Kelley was projected to handle a big chunk of the early-down work in a game the Chargers were heavily favored last week against Carolina, but it was the Panthers who came into L.A. and won by five. Kelley was in on just 29% of the snaps after playing 52% the week before, and he carried the ball a season-low eight times for 43 scoreless yards and a lost fumble. Kelley will see better days in Chargers wins, but we were maybe too bullish on him last week, and now he draws a Bucs team that is allowing just 2.6 yards per carry to running backs and is No. 5 in run-defense DVOA. Tampa Bay successfully eliminated Melvin Gordon (8-26-0) in Week 3 and held Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara to a combined 75 yards on 30 carries (2.5 YPC) Weeks 1 and 2. The Chargers are six-point road underdogs. This definitely sets up as an Austin Ekeler game after he was in on a season-high 72% of the snaps last week.

Rex Burkhead at Chiefs -- Burkhead has carry totals of 7, 6, and 6 through three weeks, but he’s exploded in the passing game with 16 targets the last two weeks with James White missing action due to the death of his father. Burkhead also converted a pair of short touchdown runs last week. That’s pretty fluky since Cam Newton is the Patriots’ preferred short-yardage and goal-line runner, but Burkhead looks to be someone to at least add in 12-team leagues. With White now back at practice and Damien Harris healthy and eligible to come off I.R. this week, this backfield becomes an even bigger mess after all three of Burkhead, Sony Michel, and J.J. Taylor handled double-digit touches last Sunday. I’m not buying into Burkhead’s big Week 3 just yet until we see how the backfield playing time shakes out with White and Harris entering the mix. This game has shootout appeal, but there’s too much uncertainty in the Patriots’ RB room.

 

WIDE RECEIVER

 

Start of the Week: Odell Beckham at Cowboys -- Fantasy’s WR44 in half-PPR, OBJ is tied for 23rd in the NFL with 22 targets and is sixth in the league with his 42% share of the Browns’ air yards. Even if we’re unlikely to ever see the Giants’ version of Beckham in Cleveland, better days are ahead. His peripheral numbers are just too strong to not be producing at a WR2 level. This spot against the Cowboys has “breakout” written all over it. Dallas plays at the league’s fastest offensive pace by a wide margin and is 28th in opponent plays per game because they run the most offensive plays. The Cowboys are 31st in fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts and 24th in pass-defense DVOA. Starting CBs Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown are already on I.R., and rookie CB Trevon Diggs (shoulder) continues to miss practice reps. Dallas can’t cover on the back end and as a result can’t get pressure up front. It has forced Dak Prescott and the offense to get involved in fast-paced shootouts. The Cowboys can put up gobs of points, and the Browns are going to have to keep up in a game with a 56-point total, the highest of Week 4. This is basically a now-or-never spot for Beckham.

 

Starts

 

Brandin Cooks vs. Vikings -- Cooks is the overall WR71 in half-PPR points per game through three weeks. After logging just 53% of the snaps in the Week 1 opener, Cooks has been in on 90% and 87% of the offensive plays the last two weeks in very difficult matchups against the Ravens and Steelers. Cooks posted a respectable 5-95 line against Baltimore. He’s running plenty of routes and seeing 26% of the Texans’ air yards. And the Vikings present a much easier spot for success, as they’re 29th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and 30th in opponent plays per game. Kalif Raymond (3-118), Corey Davis (5-69), Davante Adams (14-156-2), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (4-96-1), and Allen Lazard (4-63-1) have all met or exceeded expectations against Minnesota. Vikings-Texans has a 54-point total, and the Texans’ implied team total of 29 is tied for seventh-highest of the week. Cooks is an upside WR3.

Tyler Boyd vs. Jaguars -- While A.J. Green is seeing the juiciest of the Bengals’ targets -- and doing nothing with them -- it’s Boyd who has been the most consistent week to week proposition in Cincinnati’s wideout group as the slot man. He’s secured 21-of-26 targets and coming off a 10-125 effort against the Eagles after going 7-72-1 versus Cleveland the week before. Cincinnati is No. 2 in offensive plays per game and gets a Jaguars unit that is 32nd in pass-defense DVOA. The Jaguars have yielded at-or-above expected results to fellow slot wideouts Parris Campbell (6-71) and Adam Humphries (5-48-1) over the first three weeks. Jaguars-Bengals has a healthy 49.5-point total and some sneaky shootout upside.

DeVante Parker vs. Seahawks -- Parker gimped around on a bum hamstring all of September, but he’s no longer on the injury report this week and played 92% of the Week 3 snaps. The closer to 100% he gets, the more usage Parker should see after drawing just 17 targets Weeks 1-3. He’s still made the most of them by catching 14 for 169 yards and one touchdown on 27% of the Dolphins’ air yards. Parker now gets a delicious Week 4 date with a Seahawks that has been bleeding fantasy points and production to wideouts. Seattle has already surrendered a combined 76-1,136-5 line to opposing receivers, coming in at 32nd in fantasy points allowed to the position at 47.9 per game. The Cowboys (31st) are giving up just 34.7 fantasy points per week to wideouts. Michael Gallup (6-138-1), Cedrick Wilson (5-107-2), Amari Cooper (9-86), Julian Edelman (8-179), N’Keal Harry (8-72), Damiere Byrd (6-72), Julio Jones (9-157), Calvin Ridley (9-130-2), and Russell Gage (9-114) have all crushed versus the Seahawks. Seattle is dead last in opponent plays per game. Parker should be fired up with confidence.

 

Sits

 

Marvin Jones vs. Saints -- Jones is the current WR51 in half-PPR and is averaging a seven year-low 11.7 yards per catch as a 30-year-old. He’s seeing just 13% of the Lions’ air yards with a 6.7 yards average depth of target. With Kenny Golladay back in the lineup and T.J. Hockenson’s role increasing, Jones is just a really tough sell as anything more than a WR4 against a Saints Defense that has yielded the third-fewest catches to receivers. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (1-5), Bryan Edwards (2-42), Henry Ruggs (1-4), and Mike Evans (1-2-1) have all struggled against New Orleans, with only Allen Lazard (6-146-1) producing the lone true outlier performance in three weeks. Golladay should draw Marshon Lattimore’s coverage, opening up more looks for Jones, but we need to see him do something before trusting him as much more than a fringe fantasy starter. There are better Week 4 options than Jones.

Darius Slayton at Rams -- Slayton has just 6-86-0 on 13 targets since popping off for 6-102-2 in the opener against the Steelers. Daniel Jones is playing some bad football, and the Giants don’t have any sort of rushing attack to alleviate some of the pressure. Slayton is expected to see the most of Jalen Ramsey in this one. As a team, the Rams are 12th in pass-defense DVOA and 14th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Look for the Rams to control the clock and the ball for most of this game. The Giants are massive 13-point road underdogs, and their implied team total of 17.5 is the week’s second-lowest. Garbage time production is always in play, but that’s wholly unpredictable. Golden Tate is the safer floor play among Giants wideouts for Week 4.

T.Y. Hilton at Bears -- Hilton has been a total bust through three weeks, checking in as the current WR73 in half-PPR scoring. He’s turned 17 targets into just 10-133-0, dropping a number of passes along the way. Hilton turns 31 next month, so perhaps Father Time is knocking on the door. After failing to produce in far easier matchups, Hilton shouldn’t all of the sudden be counted on to slip out of his funk against Kyle Fuller and the Bears. Chicago is No. 9 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA. Colts-Bears has one of the lowest totals of the weekend at 43 points. The Colts have run the ball at the sixth-highest clip.

 

TIGHT END

 

Start of the Week: T.J. Hockenson vs. Saints -- Hockenson played a season-high 82% of the snaps last week against the Cardinals and hung a respectable 4-53 line on seven targets in the win. He’s top-10 among all tight ends in yards per route this season and is emerging as the No. 2 option in the Lions’ passing attack behind Kenny Golladay. The Saints have coughed up the most catches, yards, touchdowns, and fantasy points to tight ends. Packers TEs combined for 9-104-2 last week after Darren Waller went for 12-105-1 the week before. And O.J. Howard (4-36-1) visited pay dirt in Week 1. Hockenson should be locked in as a top-12 tight end play in a game with a 54-point total, tied for third-highest of the week.

 

Starts

 

Dalton Schultz vs. Browns -- Schultz is the overall TE7 over the last two weeks after Blake Jarwin went down with a season-ending torn ACL in the opener. He’s drawn 16 targets in the Cowboys’ fastest-paced and most voluminous offense. Even if he’s not the Nos. 1, 2, or 3 option in the passing game, the Cowboys run so many plays and pass the ball so much that there’s enough to go around and support multiple pass catchers. Cleveland has surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends with Drew Sample (7-45), C.J. Uzomah (4-42-1), and Mark Andrews (5-58-2) all meeting or exceeding expectations. Even Logan Thomas (4-31) had a respectable Week 3 playing with an incompetent Dwayne Haskins. Schultz is a lock-and-load TE1 play in a Browns-Cowboys game that sports a robust 56-point total.

Robert Tonyan vs. Falcons -- Tonyan has played at least 60% of the Packers’ offensive snaps all three weeks and has scored in back-to-back games with 2-25-1 and 5-50-1 lines versus the Lions and Saints. With Allen Lazard (sports hernia surgery) out indefinitely and Davante Adams still not 100%, the Packers may continue to lean on multiple tight ends. Tonyan is a former college wideout and above-average athlete for his position. And the Falcons have surrendered the most touchdowns and second-most fantasy points to tight ends. Jimmy Graham (6-60-2), Dalton Schultz (9-88-1), and Greg Olsen (4-24-1) have all found the end zone against Atlanta. Green Bay’s implied total of 31.75 points is the highest of the week.

Mike Gesicki vs. Seahawks -- Gesicki made his lone catch count against the Jaguars last week, reeling it in for a 15-yard touchdown a week after hanging an 8-130-1 line on the Bills. Essentially operating as the Dolphins’ slot wideout, Gesicki is seeing high-percentage targets and is seventh among all tight ends in yards per route. The Seahawks have eliminated opposing tight ends but have been stomped by receivers, including slot men. This isn’t a defense to fear, especially with stud S Jamal Adams (groin) missing practice and possibly missing this one.

 

Sits

 

While tight end is deeper than it’s been in recent years, it’s hard for me to argue against anyone at the position. It’s a crapshoot, and all we’re looking for are tight ends who can find the end zone and/or see volume in terms of targets. Predicting touchdowns is the hardest thing to do in football. Just finding a tight end who is on the field enough and runs plenty of routes is difficult enough. It’s why having Travis Kelce, George Kittle, or Mark Andrews is such an advantage.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for NBC Sports Edge since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.