FFStatistics Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em Week Four
Week four is upon us all, fantasy football faithful. With that comes the FFStatistics Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em article. The aim to assist with start/sit decisions.
Week three took some interesting turns. Mike Evans blew the roof off and in a lot of cases, single-handily won some players their weekly matchup. Daniel Jones made the most of his first NFL start and rewarded owners who had the moxie to put him in their lineups. Unfortunately, the high-profile injuries continue to pile up. Between injuries and bye weeks beginning, roster scrutiny becomes more of an important aspect of the game within the game.
Friendly reminder, both the New York Jets and the San Francisco 49ers are on bye this week.
Let us jump right into who we should start and should grab a seat this week for fantasy football rosters.
Start ’em or Sit ’em Week Four Edition
Start: Phillip Rivers vs. Miami Dolphins
Entering week four of play and Philip Rivers ranks 13th overall among fantasy quarterbacks. He ranks third in passing yards (944) and sixth in attempts (116) while maintaining a five-to-two touchdown to interception ratio. While Austin Ekeler has done a significant amount of the scoring, Rivers has been a fringe QB1 to start the season. That production has led to Keenan Allen being the current WR1 in all of fantasy football.
The fact that the Miami Dolphins are hosting the Chargers certainly plays into the appeal. Through the first three weeks of the season, the Dolphins are allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. In fact, they have allowed 10 passing touchdowns in that span, including one to Robert Griffin III.
The immediate counterpoint is that the Chargers should score quickly and maintain a positive margin. The speculation that if they go up big quickly, they may abandon the pass in favor of the potent run game. This is possible. However, the Chargers have lost two in a row and should be hungry to make a statement and build some confidence. Look for Rivers to have a solid game and land squarely in QB1 territory for the week. Rivers can safely be started in single QB leagues but is a solid start in Superflex formats.
(A bonus for all of our readers out there; if you play in a league that still users kicker and defense, fire up the Chargers defense for some guaranteed points this week.)
Start: Daniel Jones vs. Washington Redskins
Football fans, both team fans and fantasy fans alike are fickle creatures. Just months ago many people had very little good to say about the first-round pick, Daniel Jones. There were questions about his talent and how highly the team selected him.
Within a handful of plays, the rookie silenced some doubters. “Danny Dimes” made the most of his first start and sauntered into the history books.
.@Daniel_Jones10 is the first rookie QB in the Super Bowl era with 300+ pass yards, 2+ pass TDs and 2+ rush TDs in a game…
And he did it in his FIRST start. 👏 pic.twitter.com/oj2f1m2XTp
— NFL (@NFL) September 23, 2019
Granted, all of this magic occurred against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that is currently allowing the 14th most fantasy points to quarterbacks. The poise, accuracy, and athleticism Jones displayed in his first career start was simply fantastic to watch.
This week the Giants host the Washington Redskins. The Redskins are allowing the fifth-most points to quarterbacks and have allowed nine passing touchdowns, including three to Mitchell Trubisky. That’s right, three touchdowns by Mitch Trubisky, who had yet to pass for a touchdown until facing the ‘Skins.
Jones did not look good, he looked great. There remains a bit of skepticism in starting him this week, which is understandable. However, in a home game against a team that has allowed opposing quarterbacks an average of 271 yards and three passing scores; the upside is worth the risk.
Jones can be a great upside start in single quarterback leagues and is a great option in Superflex format.
Sit: Josh Allen vs. New England Patriots
Make no mistake, Josh Allen has been a quality fantasy option thus far. His rushing ability has kept him fantasy-relevant despite having only three passing touchdowns to match his three interceptions.
However, a divisional matchup against the New England Patriots is certainly not ideal. The Patriots are allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing signal-callers and have yet to allow a passing touchdown. Full disclosure, Josh Rosen and Luke Falk were two of the three quarterbacks the Patriots have shut down.
In theory, Allen should fare better than those two, but still should not be counted on as a high-end option this week. The Patriots have six interceptions under their belt and Allen is prone to throwing a pick or two when facing a competent defense. In all honesty, Case Keenum would be a better start this week than Josh Allen.
Start: Chris Carson vs. Arizona Cardinals
In the great film The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) literally crawls through a river of excrement to come out clean on the other side. Chris Carson has been wading through some fumbling issues that have both the coaching staff and fantasy owners more than a little concerned.
He is averaging 15 carries and 3.6 targets-per-game and has one rushing and one receiving touchdown through three weeks. The volume has been there, unfortunately so have the fumbles. Three fumbles lost in three games is worrisome for a running back that previously had very little ball security concerns.
Pete Carroll says Chris Carson “needs to fix” his fumble issues, calls it three remarkable punch-outs that he’s lost the ball. #Seahawks coach still believes in Carson as RB1, it sounds like. @thenewstribune pic.twitter.com/DapyCkpjRu
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) September 23, 2019
For the time being, Carson remains in the circle-of-trust by Pete Carroll, but we have to assume that Carson’s leash is shrinking. With Rashaad Penny lurking in the background, it may be a matter of time – or fumbles – before we see Penny get more involved.
This week Carson and company head into Arizona to take on a Cardinals defense that is currently allowing the 11th fewest fantasy points to running backs. This is a get-right opportunity for a talented running back who maintains a very consistent workload. Expect Carson to come into this game with the mindset of redemption. He is locked in as a high-end RB2/low-end RB1 this week and should be started in all formats.
Start: James Conner vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Speaking of redemption opportunities, James Conner‘s name is bound to appear in bold, italicized, and underlined. The start of the season has not gone well for last season’s late draft pick/waiver-wire darling. Through the first three weeks, he has 34 carries for only 97 yards (2.9 YPC) and one rushing score. There are a plethora of conditions that have contributed to lack of production, including tough matchups, poor game scripts, and now the change at quarterback to Mason Rudolph.
This week, the Steelers take on the Bengals who have been ceremoniously thrashed by running backs to start the season. Chris Carson netted 80 total yards and two scores against them week one. The 49ers backfield combined for 317 scrimmage yards and three scores against the Bengals week two. Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon combined for 138 scrimmage yards and a score against them in week three.
There is a discernible pattern here, the Bengals struggle against running backs both on the ground and through the air. Both areas Conner has shown a previous proclivity to exploit. With Rudolph under center, rational coaching suggests the Steelers lean on their second-year starter to put this game away. Conner should be started in all formats as a high-end RB2/low-end RB1 this week.
Sit: Sony Michel vs. Buffalo Bills
Sony Michel has salvaged some rough outings with rushing touchdowns in weeks two and three. Through the first two weeks, the volume was present but the efficiency was noticeably absent. On the young season, he is averaging 2.4 yards-per-carry which lands him squarely in the abysmal territory.
I’m currently panicking a lot less about Chris Carson than I am about Sony Michel.
— John Hesterman (@john_hesterman) September 23, 2019
What is more worrisome is the elevated expectations in week three where James White was not active and Michel was simply outproduced by veteran Rex Burkhead. His nine carries for 11 yards were salvaged by a rushing score, but otherwise less than ideal.
The Buffalo Bills are allowing the 15th most points to running backs making it an okay matchup. At this point, it is difficult to trust Michel as anything much more than a touchdown-dependent back-end RB2 or flex play for the week.
Start: Terry McLaurin vs. New York Giants
Another impressive rookie has made his way into the week three start ’em list. Terry McLaurin has been nothing shy of impressive through the first three weeks of the season. He is currently the WR10 in PPR format and continues to impress both on the stat sheet and the eye test. In week three’s primetime matchup against a very good Chicago Bears defense, McLaurin put up six catches for 70 yards and one touchdown. That makes three straight games of 60 or more receiving yards and a score. While touchdown regression is expected, he has looked very impressive for a rookie while maintaining just over a 19% target share.
This week McLaurin gets to take on the New York Giants swiss-cheese secondary that has already allowed three 100-yard games to opposing wideouts. McLaurin looks legit and should be started in all formats this week as a Wr2 with scoring upside. This game has all the ingredients for a high-scoring affair and a fantasy buffet of points to be consumed.
Start: Randall Cobb vs. Houston Texans
Okay, I know this is where I potentially lose some people but stick this one out for a moment. Granted, there is some narrative-strolling to this pick, but there is also a sneaky aspect to it.
Allow me to begin by stating the obvious, Randall Cobb was a bit of a let down in his week three matchup, sans Michael Gallup. He was looked at a sleeper type of start with potential and limped away with 23 scoreless yards in what should have been a juicy matchup. This is a fair point.
Heading into week four the Cowboys travel to New Orleans. The Saints are allowing the third-most fantasy points to receivers. That is, however, a broad stroke to a finer point. In week one, DeAndre Hopkins simply dominated, which is to be expected. Week two it was Cooper Kupp who gashed them for 120 yards. In week three Tyler Lockett carved them up for 154 yards and a score. Both Kupp and Lockett operate primarily from the slot, which is where Cobb also lines up most frequently.
This is not a locked and loaded type of start, however, it remains a sneaky play that could pay off pretty well. Cobb is a great DFS play this week at his cost and a sneaky flex option in typical redraft leagues.
Start: Darren Waller
What more can be said about the impressive Darren Waller that has not already been stated? Thus far, the rookie has maintained a 30% target share for a Raiders team that seems to constantly be playing from behind. He also leads the team in most receiving categories. Through three weeks, he is averaging 9.67 targets and 89 yards-per-game. To top that off, he maintains the second-most targets and the third-most receiving yards among all tight ends.
If that’s not quite enough to incite owners to start him, this week the Raiders face the Colts who have allowed the fifth-most points to the position.
There is no question here, fire up Waller as a TE1 this week.
Sit: Jared Cook vs. Dallas Cowboys
It seems like fantasy owners have gravitated to tight ends that are tied to Drew Brees since the legendary days of prime Jimmy Graham. It has yet to come to fruition, despite some moderately talented tight ends that have come and gone. Jared Cook is the latest tight end that has faltered to meet expectations in this regard.
Through the first three weeks, he has yet to catch more than two passes and has only seen the endzone for teammates celebrations. While the Cowboys have allowed some points to the position, Cook does not appear to be a likely candidate to impress this week. With Drew Brees out for several more weeks, Cook’s speculative value takes a hit until we see more involvement or some type of connection between him and Teddy Bridgewater.
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