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Week 4 Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

Jamaal Williams

Jamaal Williams

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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


Start of the Week: Justin Herbert at Texans – This is assuming Herbert gets Keenan Allen (hamstring) back in the lineup, though that seems to genuinely be up in the air after Allen practiced in a limited fashion again Thursday and was spotted leaving the field early with trainers. It could just be part of Allen’s maintenance routine after missing the last two games. Playing through fractured rib cartilage, Herbert is coming off the QB21 performance against the Jaguars in Week 3 where he threw for 297 yards and a 1:1 TD:INT mark. The Texans are sixth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, fifth in adjusted sack rate, and ninth in pass-defense DVOA, but Houston has not exactly faced a murderers’ row of quarterbacks in Week 3, teeing off on the carcass of Matt Ryan in the opener, followed by Russell Wilson and Justin Fields. Houston is middle of the pack in Pro Football Focus coverage and pass-rush grades. Herbert tossed three touchdowns apiece in each of his first two outings and is fantasy’s overall QB8. Favored by 5.5 points, the Chargers’ implied team total of 24.75 points is the seventh-highest of Week 4. L.A. is fourth in pass rate over expectation and calls a pass play at the eighth-highest rate.


Derek Carr vs. Broncos – Seventh in the NFL in pass attempts through three weeks, Carr went over 300 yards last week in Tennessee and has tossed two touchdowns in three straight games to open the year as fantasy’s overall QB12. The Broncos are fourth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and fourth in pass-defense DVOA, but they’ve faced Geno Smith, Davis Mills, and Jimmy Garoppolo to this point. Under coach Josh McDaniels, the Raiders are second in pass-to-run ratio and eighth in pass rate over expectation. Carr isn’t going to give us anything with his legs, but his sheer volume as a passer is attractive as a floor play. Vegas’ implied team total of 24 points is the ninth-highest of Week 4 as 2.5-point home favorites. The Broncos missing stud FS Justin Simmons (quad, I.R.) only boosts Carr’s matchup.

Jared Goff vs. Seahawks – Fantasy’s QB11 after three weeks, Goff’s Lions are second in the NFL in points behind the Bills. Goff now gets a Week 4 date with a Seattle defense that is 31st in pass-defense DVOA, 31st in Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades, and dead last in opponent yards per attempt despite only facing Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Marcus Mariota. While this matchup looks great on paper for Goff, I’d have to downgrade his outlook if Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle) is unable to play after missing practice Wednesday and Thursday. St. Brown was able to return to Week 3 against the Vikings after missing a few plays following the injury. Seahawks-Lions sports the second-highest total of the weekend at 48 points, and the Lions’ implied total of 26 is the third-highest of Week 4. Goff doesn’t have much of a ceiling since he doesn’t use his legs at all, but his floor looks solid in this one. He’s got streamer appeal.

Jacoby Brissett at Falcons – Brissett is coming off the QB12 week and is the overall QB17 on the young season after a flawless Week 3 against the Steelers where he threw for 220 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Brissett completed over 81% of his throws the week before against the Jets. Coach Kevin Stefanski has Brissett taking care of the football, making quick decisions, and playing some of the best football of his career. He now gets a date with a Falcons defense that is 24th in pass-defense DVOA, 23rd in opponent yards per attempt, and dead last in opponent completion percentage. Geno Smith just cooked this Atlanta coverage unit for 325 yards and two touchdowns last Sunday. All three quarterbacks to face the Falcons thus far have produced top-10 fantasy weeks. That would be best-case scenario for Brissett in the Browns’ run-heavy offense, but he looks like a solid two-quarterback league option with a budding connection with both Amari Cooper and David Njoku in a game with a solid 47.5-point total.


Matthew Stafford at 49ers – Coming off a summer where he barely threw, Stafford is tied for the league lead with five interceptions already and is coming off a win over the Cardinals where he attempted just 25 passes, his fewest since joining the Rams. This offense seems to still be knocking the rust off while Stafford is still trying to sharpen his connection with WR2 Allen Robinson. The Rams remain top-10 in pass rate over expectation, but they’re running it more in the red zone. Los Angeles’ offensive line is still trying to gel after offseason departures and early-season injuries up front. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s defense is No. 1 in opponent yards per play, No. 5 in opponent plays per game, No. 2 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and No. 5 in pass-defense DVOA. This game’s 42.5-point total is one of the lowest of Week 4.

Trevor Lawrence at Eagles – Lawrence was one of September’s best stories for the 2-1 Jaguars, and he’s coming off the QB4 week against the Chargers. Over the last two weeks, Lawrence has a sparkling 5:0 TD:INT mark, completing 53-of-69 passes (76.8%) at 7.2 YPA as a top-five fantasy quarterback. Philadelphia will be Lawrence’s toughest test to date, with the Eagles coming in at No. 9 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, third in pass-defense DVOA, third in Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades, and first in opponent yards per attempt. Darius Slay and James Bradberry form one of the best outside cornerback duos in the sport. Carson Wentz (QB30) and Kirk Cousins (QB25) have both failed to produce even QB2 weeks against the Eagles the last two weeks. Lawrence may also be without his WR2 Zay Jones (ankle) after he was DNP Thursday. Jacksonville is implied to score just 20 points on the road.

Carson Wentz at Cowboys – Fantasy’s QB4 after two weeks, thanks largely in part to garbage time in the Week 2 blowout loss to the Lions, Wentz bombed in his first date against his former Eagles teammates last week, completing just 58% of his throws for 211 scoreless yards at 4.9 YPA. The Eagles rocked Wentz’s world with nine sacks, and he’s absorbed 14 over the last two games. Wentz now gets a road date with a Cowboys defense that is No. 8 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, No. 6 in pass-defense DVOA, and No. 1 in adjusted sack rate. One could argue Dallas’ defense is a better fantasy play than Wentz. Washington is implied to score just 19.72 points, the fifth-lowest of the week, as three-point road underdogs.


Start of the Week: Jamaal Williams vs. Seahawks – D’Andre Swift tweaked his ankle in Week 1 and saw his snaps dialed back in Week 2 only to then sprain his shoulder in Week 3. He hasn’t practiced this week. The Lions have said Swift might benefit from sitting out the next two games and returning after the Week 6 bye. That would make Williams, the NFL’s leader in red-zone carries and rushing touchdowns, a plug-and-play RB2 with RB1 upside. Craig Reynolds would assume at least part of the Swift role, likely seeing double-digit carries plus targets, making him a passable FLEX option. But the coaches love Williams because he does all the little things right. The Seahawks are 28th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 21st in run-defense DVOA, and 22nd in opponent yards per carry. Cordarrelle Patterson just had the best rushing day of his career in Seattle last Sunday, earning Player of the Week honors following his 17/141/1 outburst. The Lions are implied to score 26 points, Week 4’s third-most.


James Conner at Panthers – Conner injured his ankle in Week 2 but played through it last week against the Rams. However, the Cardinals also kept both Eno Benjamin and Darrel Williams involved behind him. That would be bad news for Conner’s ceiling moving forward, though he still played 60% of the snaps versus Los Angeles. After dominating at the goal line last year, Conner has failed to find the end zone on either of his inside-the-five looks through three weeks. He needs the Cardinals to start playing with some leads. Conner looks extremely unlikely to replicate his 2021 stats, but coach Kliff Kingsbury has said he’s going to try and get Conner more involved going forward. Carolina is middle of the pack against the run, checking in at 13th in DVOA and 18th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. A two-point spread suggests this game should be close, allowing both teams to get their running games going if they so choose. Seeing 15.5 touches in his healthy games, Conner remains a solid RB2 option.

Josh Jacobs vs. Broncos – Jacobs has a stranglehold on the early-down and goal-line work for the Raiders. Rookie Zamir White hasn’t even made a dent in Jacobs’ usage, though the veteran is still a pretty TD-dependent RB2 who doesn’t produce big plays or do much in the pass game. Jacobs has yet to find the end zone and is due against a Denver run defense that is allowing 5.2 YPC to opposing running backs. Jacobs’ ceiling is pretty low, but he offers a valuable floor with 19 touches per game over the last two weeks. As a home favorite, Jacobs should be stapled to lineups in another spot where he has a chance to rack up volume.

Kareem Hunt at Falcons – Hunt ran for a touchdown and caught a second one in the Week 1 win over the Panthers as the week’s overall RB6. But he’s since been held out of the end zone on 30 touches over the last two weeks despite leading the Browns with 11 red-zone carries. He and Jamaal Williams are tied for the NFL-lead in red-zone attempts. Hunt was fantasy’s RB32 across Weeks 2-3, but his excellent usage would suggest better days are ahead. It’s just been Nick Chubb scoring all the touchdowns the last two weeks. Chubb is obviously the better fantasy bet week in and week out, but Hunt’s 15 touches per game have earned him every-week RB2 treatment, especially in a game with one of the loftier totals at 47.5 points. Only the Bears run the ball at a higher clip than the Browns.


Clyde Edwards-Helaire at Bucs – Edwards-Helaire is fantasy’s overall RB4, but he’s involved in a three-way committee and has been out-snapped by McKinnon in back-to-back games. There’s simply no way CEH can keep up this touchdown-to-touches surge he’s on and is a screaming sell-high candidate. His seven carries last week netted zero yards, but one of them was a goal-line plunge for a touchdown. The Chiefs are expected to keep deploying this three-man backfield. Week 4 will be their toughest test yet, as the Bucs are No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to running backs, No. 8 in opponent yards per carry, and No. 10 in run-defense DVOA. Running backs are averaging just 3.8 YPC against Tampa Bay, and Edwards-Helaire has seen carry counts of 7, 8, and 7 in the Chiefs’ first three games. He’s a risky RB2/FLEX.

Michael Carter at Steelers – The Jets thankfully scrapped the Ty Johnson idea from Week 2 and again eliminated him from the backfield mix in Week 3. Carter continues to handle the slight majority of the early-down work, but in Week 3 the Jets let rookie Breece Hall loose a bit, giving him the short-yardage and third-down snaps. Hall saw 11 targets and registered 14 touches. New York has done something different in the backfield every week to this point, but Hall’s arrow is pointing up for the time being, while Carter is trending downward. He’s yet to find the end zone and is never going to be a big touchdown-scorer. Now, Hall is getting the valuable touches. The Steelers have been vulnerable against the run, but Hall is the better fantasy bet of the two.

J.K. Dobbins vs. Bills – Dobbins made his season debut last week against the Patriots and handled the bulk of the early-down work with Justice Hill coming in on third downs and in passing situations. Dobbins is trying to get his legs back underneath him and will be a solid-if-unspectacular low-end, TD-dependent RB2 going forward. Lamar Jackson is the Ravens’ true RB1 if we’re being real. Dobbins now gets a Week 4 date against a Bills defense that has surrendered the fewest rushing yards and fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Not that Dobbins contributes much as a pass-catcher, but Buffalo has also yielded the fewest catches to running backs. Dobbins would have to find the end zone to be an optimal RB2. Both of these offenses figure to be dialing up the pass in an AFC shootout.


Start of the Week: Brandin Cooks vs. Chargers – Tied for 14th in the NFL with 29 targets, Cooks is seeing a robust 27.1% target share in Houston, but he’s managed to turn those looks into a scoreless 13/158 line across three games as fantasy’s WR53. Mills isn’t doing Cooks any favors, as the sophomore quarterback has taken a step back and is 29th in EPA, only performing better than Jimmy Garoppolo, Justin Fields, and Baker Mayfield. It’s hard to fade Cooks’ sheer target volume, even if the quarterback play has been subpar. Top Chargers CB J.C. Jackson underwent offseason ankle surgery and missed Week 1, played every snap in Week 2, and then was back on the shelf in Week 3. The Bolts are 27th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers and 18th in pass-defense DVOA. They also just lost top edge rusher Joey Bosa to hernia surgery and injured reserve. Installed as 5.5-point underdogs against an injury-riddled Chargers defense, Cooks deserves WR3 treatment with WR2 upside.


Elijah Moore at Steelers – Moore leads the Jets in routes run and is second on the team with 21 targets, but he has just 12 catches for 139 scoreless yards and has yet to hit 50 yards in a game through three weeks. Joe Flacco was locked onto Garrett Wilson, Tyler Conklin, and the running backs in his three games as starter, but New York is getting Zach Wilson back under center for Week 4. Wilson and Moore had a crisp connection down the stretch last season when Moore was fantasy’s overall WR8 in half-PPR points per game from Weeks 7-13. The Jets may be miscasting Moore as an outside receiver, though, so that’s a change for him. The Steelers are 24th in fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts. Moore is a passable WR3/FLEX.

Tyler Lockett at Lions – Lockett and DK Metcalf have each commanded 25 targets through three weeks, and no other Seahawks pass-catcher has seen more than 10 in that span. It’s Lockett, Metcalf, and a bunch of guys rotating in behind them for Geno Smith. Lockett has hauled in 21 of his 25 looks and has posted back-to-back nine-catch efforts. Smith doesn’t challenge defenses deep, and he and Lockett have something going in the short-to-intermediate areas. Lockett now gets a date with a Lions defense that is 25th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers and 19th in pass-defense DVOA. This game’s 48-point total is one of the highest on the board and will be played in the friendly fantasy confines of Ford Field.

D.J. Moore vs. Cardinals – Moore paces the Panthers with 98 routes through three weeks, but he’s turned 15 targets into just 7/88/1 receiving as fantasy’s overall WR60. Baker Mayfield has been bad in OC Ben McAdoo‘s offense, coming in at 32nd in EPA among quarterbacks. The Cardinals, however, have been creamed by opposing passing offenses, allowing 8.1 yards per pass attempt, and checking in at 30th in pass-defense DVOA. If Moore can’t get it done against this undermanned secondary and a defense that has no pass rush whatsoever, it then might be time to rethink his status as a WR2/3. This is one of the softest spots he’ll see all year.


Marvin Jones at Eagles – 32-year-old Jones is coming off a 4/33/1 week against the Chargers and is seeing six targets per game on 80% of the offensive snaps as the Jaguars’ WR3. And he may get a boost up the depth chart this week if Zay Jones (ankle) is unable to play after being DNP in Thursday’s practice. But even if Zay doesn’t play, Marvin is likely to see a whole lot of Darius Slay and James Bradberry on the outside Sunday. Slay and Bradberry are tied as Pro Football Focus’ 10th-best cover corner through three weeks, and the Eagles are No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA. On the wrong side of 30 in a difficult matchup, Jones is merely a WR4/5.

DeVante Parker at Packers – With Jakobi Meyers inactive last week, Parker saw his most extensive work as Mac Jones’ default WR1. Parker entered Week 3 with one catch but was able to turn 10 targets into a 5/156 day against the Ravens as a big-play threat on the outside. Meyers is expected back from his one-week hiatus this Sunday, and Parker will likely see the most of Jaire Alexander on the outside. On top of that, the Patriots lost starting QB Mac Jones to a high-ankle sprain and will start 36-year-old Brian Hoyer. New England’s implied team total of 15.5 points is easily the lowest of Week 4. Parker is best left on fantasy benches.

Josh Palmer at Texans – With Keenan Allen (hamstring) out the last two weeks, Palmer has parlayed 17 targets into 10/129/1, but he needed the final minutes against the Chiefs in Week 2 and garbage time against the Jaguars last week to produce meaningful box-score results. Palmer hasn’t been particularly impressive on tape, and now Allen might be returning this Sunday after getting in a couple of limited practices Wednesday and Thursday. The Chargers have been installed as 5.5-point road favorites. Being the fourth or fifth option in the passing game when Allen is healthy, there may not be enough meat on the bone for Palmer in this one. Houston has also allowed the 12th-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.


Start of the Week: David Njoku at Falcons – This is assuming Njoku is healthy after he didn’t practice Thursday with what some are calling rest and some are calling a knee issue. Njoku had a breakout game against the Steelers last Thursday night, turning in a 9/89/1 night, and he’s been in on over 90% of the Browns’ offensive snaps through three weeks. Njoku has run 79 routes to TE2 Harrison Bryant‘s 46 for Cleveland. Playing heavy snaps and becoming a top-two option in the Browns’ passing game, Njoku is worthy of TE1 status against a Falcons defense that is 31st in fantasy points allowed to the position. This game also has a lofty 47.5-point total.


Zach Ertz at Panthers – Among tight ends, only Tyler Conklin has run more routes than Ertz, and only Mark Andrews has seen more targets. And across the whole league, only Ja’Marr Chase and Garrett Wilson have drawn more red-zone targets. After a limited Week 1, Ertz has played 84% and 93% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps the last two weeks. On the field a ton and seeing the money looks in the scoring area as one of Kyler Murray‘s most-trusted targets, especially with DeAndre Hopkins still out, Ertz has earned every-week TE1 treatment at fantasy’s shallowest position.

Robert Tonyan vs. Patriots – Coming off last season’s torn ACL, the Packers have been easing Tonyan back into the offense, increasing his snap rate each week, from 36% to 40% to 58% last Sunday against the Bucs. Tonyan reeled in 6-of-7 targets in Week 3 and remains one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite weapons in the scoring area. He now gets a date with a New England defense that has already given up four touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points to tight ends. Green Bay’s implied team total of 25 points is the week’s sixth-highest.

Evan Engram at Eagles – Engram has played 72% of the Jaguars’ offensive snaps through three weeks and is ninth amongst tight ends in routes. He hasn’t made much noise in the box score with a scoreless 12/83 line, but Engram was close to toe-tapping in a touchdown last week against the Chargers. While the Eagles are really strong on the boundaries with CBs Darius Slay and James Bradberry, they’re susceptible in the middle of the field. Irv Smith drew eight targets against Philly in Week 2 and was able to find the end zone while dropping a would-be second touchdown. We can do worse than Engram as a Week 4 streaming option.