It’s injury time again, and with notable receivers like Eric Decker and Dez Bryant out (the latter probably for longer than just this week), fantasy teams are becoming pretty thin at a position that is necessary for success. The inconsistencies of quarterbacks who were supposed to be cornerstones of fantasy teams (Eli Manning, Blake Bortles) have also been an issue early on. So who to start in Week 4?
1. Matthew Stafford (@ Chicago) – I own Stafford in one league, and he’s performed well, even when his team hasn’t. That game against Green Bay is a prime example, even though they fell short in the comeback. Against an abysmal Bears defense, this one is obvious.
2. Joe Flacco (vs. Oakland) – This Raiders defense has been less than noteworthy so far, unless you want to count “bad” as noteworthy. They didn’t give up a lot of points to a bad Titans offense last week, but Flacco is a step up in competition. He torches Oakland for yards and points.
3. Derek Carr (@ Baltimore) – I know, they’re heading cross-country, and Oakland hasn’t generally been good with that kind of scenario, but they will be chasing points here. Carr has shown he plays best when his team is chasing points, at least for fantasy purposes. Count on him late in this one.
4. Trevor Siemian (@ Tampa Bay) – It’s only his second road game, but he sparkled in his first, against a defense that ranks quite a bit higher than the one he faces by the bay today. He will air it out again, and now he’s proven he can do it and produce fantasy points as well. Get him active.
AVOID: Eli Manning (@ Minnesota) – Have you seen how that defense manhandled Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton? I don’t know how many Eli apologists are out there, but he’s simply not a good play this week against what has been the best defense in football so far this season.
1. Spencer Ware (@ Pittsburgh) – You did see what the Eagles running backs did to the Steelers last week, didn’t you? Sure, Jamaal Charles is back, but they will undoubtedly ease him back into the workload. Ware has done a good job in his absence, and this matchup is too taste to ignore. I would play both backs if you own both, but Ware should produce more.
2. Jordan Howard (vs. Detroit) – I know Jeremy Langford was less than impressive as the lead back for the Bears, but with him hurt I think we’ll see what we should have seen all along: Jordan Howard exposing poor run defenses. This battle vs. Detroit counts as one of those instances. Get him active, and keep him active.
3. LeGarrette Blount (vs. Buffalo) – This one should be obvious, but Blount is somehow not universally starting on either Sportsline or ESPN. With a gimpy Garoppolo once again taking the reigns, what are the Patriots going to do a lot of in this game? They’re going to run early and often. Blount will be a workhorse.
4. Fozzy Whittaker (@ Atlanta) – No, the Falcons defense hasn’t suddenly figured anything out. They gave up a ton of points and yardage to the Saints last week, so Cam Newton should have time to work in the pocket. That opens up the screen passing game, and Whittaker excels in that capacity.
AVOID: Matt Forte (vs. Seattle) – It’s hard to find running room on the Seahawks, but with Fitzpatrick trying his best to avoid throwing it anywhere near Richard Sherman they will try to lean on the run game. The Seahawks know this though, and they will tighten the clamps even more on the running game. Avoid Forte if at all possible.
1. Allen Robinson (vs. Indianapolis) – Sure, Robinson has been a bit of a disappointment so far this year, and I’m not quite trusting Blake Bortles in this one, but if anyone should have a big game it’s Robinson against that abysmal Colts defense… even in London.
2. Emmanuel Sanders (@ Tampa Bay) – Remember how I’m trusting Siemian in this one? Sanders has blossomed as his go-to guy, and I don’t see anything changing in this matchup. He exposes matchup issues, and he has a penchant for making the near-impossible catch. I like him to score twice in this one.
3. Stefon Diggs (vs. NY Giants) – That Giants defense isn’t really scaring anyone. They’ve been solid, but not overwhelming. And Sam Bradford has looked — dare I say — impressive against the competition this season, and against the Giants from his Philly days. Diggs can burn the secondary, and he will do so often in this Monday night tilt.
4. Golden Tate (@ Chicago) – I’m not even sure why I feel like a resurgence of the Golden One is in order. Marvin Jones is the king in Detroit right now, but number 2 wide receivers have had good games against the Bears this season too. While Jones is a must-start at this point, Tate could have a sneaky good game. I’m counting on him here.
AVOID: Larry Fitzgerald (vs. Oakland) – Odds are you don’t have the luxury of sitting Fitz, but he’s been anything but automatic this season. This is due to erratic quarterback play, but also due to his age. Oakland has been vulnerable pretty much everywhere, but in the absence of Michael Floyd, Fitzgerald will be covered. I like John Brown as a sleeper in this one, but not Fitzgerald.
1. Eric Ebron (@ Chicago) – If you had any questions about it, yes, I’m up for starting everyone against the Bears. Why not? Stafford has good matchups all over the field, including this one for Ebron, who I believe will be active despite being questionable going into Saturday.
2. Zach Miller (vs. Detroit) – Who else is Hoyer going to target besides Alshon Jeffery? They won’t be able to run the ball all game and keep up, so Miller in the second half is a given against a soft pass defense in the Lions.
3. Jack Doyle (@ Jacksonville — really in London) – Sure, they’re playing early, but Doyle is the TE from the Colts to target in this one. Dwayne Allen obviously likes playing second fiddle for some reason, and Doyle has been a favorite of Luck’s. I like him to score in this one, which makes him a TE1 in my book.
4. Kyle Rudolph (vs. NY Giants) – Is he finally living up to his possibilities? I think so. With Sam Bradford in the fold, and playing well, Rudolph has been living up to long-held expectations. I don’t see it stopping here against a Giants team that is vulnerable to the position.
AVOID: Martellus Bennett (vs. Buffalo) – Bennett has done absolutely nothing for two out of the three weeks so far, and I don’t see anything changing in this one. You can run on the Bills, and Gronk will be active, which leaves Bennett nowhere. Maybe when Brady comes back next week things will change, but I am leaving him on the waiver wire this week.
1. Tevin Coleman (vs. Carolina)
2. LeSean McCoy (@ New England)
3. DeSean Jackson (vs. Cleveland)
4. Will Fuller (vs. Tennessee)
AVOID: Brandin Cooks (@ San Diego)