Check out our fantasy football Start’em or Sit’em picks for Week 4 of the NFL season before setting all of your lineups.
Whether you have had the great fortune of starting 3-0, the massive misfortune of going 0-3 or anywhere in between, the start and sit decisions we all make each week are the difference between a win and a loss. Here are my Start’em and Sit’em candidates for Week 4.
QB Start of the Week: Jared Goff (LAR) vs. DAL
After being the first overall pick in the 2016 draft, Jared Goff inherited lofty expectations to produce quickly and fix the deplorable Rams offense. Unfortunately, he did not come close to those expectations and led the charge in the wrong direction. This failure, along with skill player instability, caused many fantasy football owners to look elsewhere for quarterbacks in 2017; leaving the Rams signal caller with a 3.3% ownership to start this season. However, Goff has been a delightful surprise through the start of this season, finishing as the QB12 through three weeks with a monster game last Thursday against the 49ers (292 yards and three TDs). He has proven thus far that he has progressed as an NFL QB and is well on his way to become what he was promised to be for Los Angeles.
This week the Rams face off against the Cowboys in what should be an offensive shootout. The Cowboys also have a suspect passing defense, ranking 23rd best against quarterbacks so far in 2017, which should be an excellent matchup for Goff to take advantage off. Both his hot start to 2017 and his choice matchup gives me the confidence to grab Goff off of the waivers and plug him into my Week 4 starting lineup.
QB Start’em: Carson Palmer (ARI) vs. SF
Carson Palmer is playing in his 14th season in the NFL this year, making him one of the oldest active quarterbacks in the league. If the reports are true and this season will be his last, he is having a great swan song. Palmer is the QB15 through three weeks with 925 yards, four TDs and four INTs. After having a rough game in Detroit to start the season, Palmer has progressed nicely with two consecutive 300 yard games. Look for Palmer to keep the streak going in this next matchup against the 49ers, a defense that scorched by Jared Goff last week.
QB Start’em: Tyrod Taylor (BUF) vs. ATL
Tyrod Taylor surprised many fantasy owners last week with an impressive showing against a stout Denver defense. Taylor finished with 213 yards through the air, two TDs and 13 rushing yards; placing him as a high end QB2 for the week. Through his shaky tenure in Buffalo, Taylor has shown time and time again that he can be a productive and startable QB in fantasy football. His mobility gives him not only an ability to extend plays and create outside of the pocket; but also gives his owners some rushing yards at the QB position, a very nice scoring advantage that can make or break a week’s production. In Week 4 the Bills play the Falcons, a defense that has allowed 607 passing yards and three TDs in the past two weeks. With this excellent matchup I would start Taylor confidently in Week 4.
RB Start of the Week: Joe Mixon (CIN) vs. CLE
Anyone that drafted Joe Mixon at his ADP to start the season is surely to be disappointed in the rookie Oklahoma prospect. Many owners had to snag him in the fourth round, passing over great options such as C.J. Anderson and Tyreek Hill. Through the first two weeks of his career, Mixon was caught in the quagmire known as the Bengals RB committee, getting a whopping eight and nine carries in both games respectively. The Bengals offense as a whole struggled immensely in those games. So much so that the Bengals relieved offensive coordinator Ken Zampese of his duties on Sept. 15th. Quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor stepped in and will take over this position for the remainder of the season. His first mission as the OC was to expand the offense and give the ball to the best Bengals playmakers; and in Week 3 that included Mixon, who finished with 18 rushes for 62 yards and three receptions for 39 yards. It appears Lazor has confidence in the young RB and he should have remarkable upside going forward into the rest of 2017.
In Week 4 Cincinnati faces off against Cleveland, a defense that has allowed 208 rushing yards and two TDs to running backs over the past two weeks. While some may be worried about Mixon and that he will go back be the non-relevant RB he was to start the season, I think he will have a great game this week due to his matchup and Lazor’s new found faith in him. Start Mixon this week.
RB Start’em: Mark Ingram (NO) vs. MIA
Even though he is a part of the three headed monster that is the New Orleans Saints’ backfield, Mark Ingram has shaken off the limited work load and is still a fantasy relevant RB. Ingram is the RB25 so far in 2017 with 28 rushes for 125 yards and 11 receptions for 108 yards, leadings all Saints running backs in both categories. He has certainly made the best of what was a very questionable situation to start the season, and has proven to be a reliable option going forward. For this week, the Saints play the Dolphins, a defense that allowed 96 yards on the ground to a subpar Jets offense. When the Saints come to town they will be able to light it up, giving Ingram a lot of opportunity and good production. Look for a big game from Ingram in this week’s matchup.
RB Start’em: Duke Johnson Jr. (CLE) vs. CIN
Duke Johnson Jr. is a peculiar case in fantasy football. His situation is one I would normally steer away from in the past. He is the back-up/pass catching running back on a bad offensive unit. Cleveland’s offense as a whole has been shaky in 2017, averaging 18 points per game through three weeks, one of the lowest in the league. While his situation is less than ideal, what makes Johnson Jr. a great player to have on your fantasy team is how important he is to the offense. So far this season he is the leader in targets (18) and receptions (11) for the Browns, and has more rushing TDs than starting RB Isaiah Crowell. His ability to be the top receiver on the team while also being able to get good rushing numbers gives him a safe floor for fantasy football and he should be relevant going forward. Though Johnson Jr. has a tough matchup against the Bengals this week (10th in the league against running backs), they did give up 10.2 points (0.5 PPR scoring format) to a running back with a similar skill set in Ty Montgomery last week. Start Johnson Jr. as your RB2/Flex this week.
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WR Start of the Week: Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) vs. SF
Larry Fitzgerald, like his QB Carson Palmer, is figuratively on the back nine of his career and could also potentially hang up his cleats after this season. Though his is one of the oldest wide receivers in the league, he has kept up with the kids so far in 2017. Fitzgerald is a WR1 with 22 receptions for 244 yards and one TD with most of that production coming against Dallas last Monday Night. Fitzgerald has kept to the status quo of his career in 2017, be a solid possession wide receiver with big play upside. He has been a stable target for the slew of quarterbacks he has played with during his career and looks to continue this for the rest of this season.
In Week 4, Arizona plays San Francisco, who was eaten up by the receiving weapons of Los Angeles last week. Plus, Fitzgerald has a history of going off against the 49ers with an average of six receptions, 80 yards and 0.6 TDs a game versus them in his career. Expect another big game from Fitzgerald this week.
WR Start’em: Golden Tate (DET) vs. MIN
If the Minnesota Vikings elite passing defense had a kryptonite, it would be the Detroit Lions. In both of their games last season, Matthew Stafford and the Lions gave the defense fits and carved them up, leading to two last minute wins by Detroit via pass plays. While Stafford was good in those games, one of his wide receivers stood out above the rest and left the biggest impact on those games. That man is Golden Tate. He combined for 16 receptions on 19 targets for 156 yards and one TD in both matches, leading the way in targets and being a key component versus Minnesota. So far in 2017 Tate has been doing well, he is currently the WR17 and is once again leading the Lions in targets this season. As the Lions and Vikings square off in their first matchup of the season, some owners will be concerned about the matchup and will be tempted to sit the Lions WR; but I would keep him in your lineup. His production last season against the Vikings combined with how well he has done so far in 2017 gives me the confidence to start Tate in Week 4.
WR Start’em: Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) vs. OAK
With the WR weapons that the Denver Broncos have, it is sometimes hard to decide which wide out to grab in your draft. Much like other teams around the NFL (the Raiders and Packers for example), the Broncos have two great wide receivers where one goes much earlier in the draft than the other. Demaryius Thomas went in the fourth round in most of this year’s drafts while Emmanuel Sanders was drafted in the sixth round on average. For those of you that waited for Sanders are getting the more fantasy relevant player so far in 2017. Sanders is the WR18 with 16 receptions, 163 yards and two TDs, exceeding his ADP expectations. In Week 4, Denver will play Oakland, a matchup that is not very scary at all with the Raiders being the 16th best defense against the WR. While Thomas and others will get their share of the work, expect Sanders to get his fair share and make the most of it, making him a start-able player this week.
TE Start of the Week: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (NYJ) vs. JAX
A deep, deep sleeper name that some fantasy experts threw around to keep on owners’ minds was that of the New York Jets TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He has been a big play TE in the past with the Bucs back in 2015 but missed a lot of 2016 with a mix of injuries and a DUI arrest that lead to his suspension for the first two games of this season. After going through some offseason rehabilitation and counseling, Seferian-Jenkins has stated he is past his alcohol problems and is looking forward to having a successful and healthy 2017. In his season debut last week, Seferian-Jenkins did well with five receptions for 31 yards. One upside for the Jets TE is that he was tied for the lead in targets this game with six. This shows he has some rapport with current starting QB Josh McCown, which is always a positive thing to have. Another upside for Seferian-Jenkins is the Jets offense took a large step forward last week against the Dolphins. If the Jets as a team can improve from their previously poor offensive play, this will be an improvement for all the Jets players, and especially Seferian-Jenkins.
For this week the Jets play the Jaguars, a defense that has been susceptible to the TE so far in 2017. They rank as the 30th best defense against that position, a very positive matchup for the Jets tight ends. With a large role in the offense and a good matchup, I would pick Seferian-Jenkins up off of waivers and look to start and stream him in Week 4.
TE Start’em: Cameron Brate (TB) vs. NYG
Cameron Brate came into 2017 as a curious case. He finished as a TE1 in 2016 with 57 receptions, 660 yards and eight TDs. Rather than develop Brate and find a way to expand his role in the offense this offseason, the Buccaneers went out a drafted TE O.J. Howard in the first round in this past year’s draft. This situation caused a lot of questions in the fantasy football community, such as who will be the leading receiver between the two? Who will start/end the season as the starter? Can both players be relevant in the offense? And so on and so on. Through their first two games, Brate has answered most of these questions as he has been the top TE in Tampa Bay with six receptions, 57 yards and one TD. In Week 4 Tampa Bay faces off against the Giants, the 29th best defense against the position. Look for Brate to benefit from this good matchup and be a good start this week.
TE Start’em: Ryan Griffin (HOU) vs. TEN
Ryan Griffin was a top three TE in Week 3 with five receptions for 61 yards and one TD. Ever since the injury to starter C.J. Fiedorowicz in the first game of the season, fantasy owners have been waiting to see who would take over as the top TE in Houston, knowing how Coach Bill O’Brien loves to use that position in the passing game. Thus far, it looks like Griffin is that man. This week the Texans square off against the Titans, a team that just allowed 125 yards and one TD to the tight ends of Seattle last week. Griffin and the Houston offense will capitalize on another positive matchup, which has me feeling good about starting Griffin in Week 4.
D/ST Start of the Week: Cincinnati Bengals vs. CLE
To this point in 2017, almost no other team in the NFL has been better to play your D/ST against than Cleveland. They have averaged three turnovers a game, which is a huge plus for opposing D/ST units. Their offense is not entirely bad however; DeShone Kizer is a promising QB prospect who has the potential to be good someday. But for now, he is a young player who will make some mistakes, to the benefit of the defense. In Week 4, Cleveland plays Cincinnati, who is already a top ten D/ST unit. Look for the Bengals to pounce in this matchup and be a great D/ST start this week.
QB Sit of the Week: Derek Carr (OAK) vs. DEN
For those of you who started Derek Carr last week against Washington, I send my sincere condolences. Carr was a major let down with 118 passing yards, one TD and two INTs; in what has been a fairly good season for the Oakland QB, who was a QB1 before Week 3. Carr and the whole Oakland offense had one of those off nights that can sometimes happen in the NFL, which they will recover from in due time. However, I would hold off putting your faith back in him for right now.
In Week 4, the Raiders play the Broncos, an elite defense that is a tough matchup for any QB. What makes it especially rough for Carr are his struggles against his division rivals. Over his 3+ year career with the Raiders, Carr has had issues in games against fellow AFC West teams with an average statline of 212 yards, 1.3 TDs and 0.8 INTs in such games. This is especially true for when he faces the Broncos, as he only averages 183 yards, 1.2 TDs and 0.8 INTs against that team specifically throughout his career. Carr’s recent struggles along with the extra difficult matchup have me looking elsewhere for my QB in Week 4.
QB Sit’em: Case Keenum (MIN) vs. DET
The #3 QB from Week 3 was none other than Case Keenum, the Vikings QB that was thrust into the starting role in Week 2 when Sam Bradford was injured. After a poor game in his first start, he erupted this week with 369 yards and three TDs and looked like a solid fantasy QB. He has shown that he has talent and could be a great streaming option in a positive matchup, but I would look elsewhere this week. The Vikings face off against the Lions, the 8th best defense against the QB who forced two turnovers last week against Matt Ryan of the Falcons. With the tough matchup I would sit Keenum and look for other options on the waivers in Week 4.
QB Sit’em: Cam Newton (CAR) vs. NE
To say that Cam Newton has been a disaster so far in 2017 is almost an understatement. Newton had what looked like to many fantasy experts as an easy opening schedule this season with the 49ers, Bills and Saints. Even with this great beginning schedule, Newton is only the QB26 with 566 passing yards, two TDs, four INTs and only 46 rushing yards on 14 rushes and one TD. Newton’s lack of rushing yardage lowers his upside; and with his questionable throwing accuracy so far in 2017, Newton looks like a QB I would stay away from right now. Even in what should be another positive matchup for the Carolina QB versus New England, I would keep Newton on the bench this week and look for more favorable streaming options.
RB Sit of the Week: Marshawn Lynch (OAK) vs. DEN
One of the hottest storylines of this past offseason was the drama surrounding Marshawn Lynch. Lynch came out of retirement this summer and expressed interest in returning to his hometown Oakland Raiders. After lots of back and forth between Oakland and Seattle, his former team, Lynch was officially acquired by the Raiders and has been a sparkplug for their offense so far in 2017 with 139 yards on 36 rushes and one TD. While he has had a decent season so far, he had a very rough game versus Washington, only getting six carries for the whole game before seceding carries to Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. This was a fear that some fantasy experts had going into this season. With Lynch’s age and skillset the Raiders may not always be willing to play him in games they are down in, which limits his fantasy upside.
This week the Raiders face the Broncos, the 3rd best defense against running backs, which proves to be a bad matchup for Lynch. Plus, with the Broncos being a good team there is a potential for the game to get out of hand for Oakland, causing Lynch to take a seat and leaving his owners in limbo. This possible game script along with the matchup has me benching Lynch this week and looking forward to better matchups ahead.
RB Sit’em: C.J. Anderson (DEN) vs. OAK
After a monster game in Week 2 where C.J. Anderson went for 118 yards on 25 rushes and one TD, Anderson looked like he was going to be a new hot weekly-play RB. Unfortunately, Anderson discouraged many of his owners this past week where he only put up 36 yards on eight rushes and zero TDs against the Bills. Not only did he himself not perform well, he was outshined by his running back companion Jamaal Charles, who out rushed him 9 attempts to 8. Charles proved that he still has something to contribute, which is bad news for Anderson if Coach Vance Joseph decides to continue to spread the ball around. In Week 4 Denver faces Oakland, the 18th best defense against running backs this season. This matchup along with Anderson’s now murky role in the offense is concerning enough for me to keep him on the bench this week.
RB Sit’em: Ameer Abdullah (DET) vs. MIN
Ameer Abdullah was on many experts’ lists this offseason as a player to keep an eye on for a big breakout year in 2017. Though he has shown flashes at times this season, he still has been largely disappointing through three games with only 163 yards on 46 rushes for zero TDs, ranking him as the RB28 so far this year. His usage in 2017 has been a positive though, Abdullah is the team leader in all rushing categories, so it seems as though he will get the workload; but unfortunately he cannot do much with it. The Lions have struggled running the ball and are among the league’s worst rushing teams. This week the Lions play the Vikings, the 1st best defense against running backs that allowed only 19 rushing yards to a more established rushing attack in Tampa Bay. With a very grime matchup and a low upside due to his team’s inability to run effectively, Abdullah belongs on the bench for Week 4.
WR Sit of the Week: Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. LAR
Dez Bryant is one of the top WR talents in the NFL and is a big playmaker for the Dallas offense. While this ability can help the Cowboys win games, it does not perfectly reflect back into fantasy football. Through three games, Bryant has 114 yards on 11 receptions and two TDs, ranking him as the WR33 in 0.5 PPR formats. A major problem that has affected Bryant’s production to start the year is the defensive back gauntlet he has faced so far. In Week 1, he was matched up with Pro Bowler Janoris Jenkins who held him to two receptions. In Week 2, he faced the Broncos duo of All-Pro cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. In Week 3, he was matched up with All-Pro Patrick Peterson, who held him to two receptions. Week 4 does not look any more promising as the Cowboys face off against the Rams, who have another talented cornerback in Trumaine Johnson. With the Cowboys playing another good defense, I would lower expectations for Bryant and look for better options on your bench to start over him.
WR Sit’em: Martavis Bryant (PIT) vs. BAL
With his reinstatement back into the NFL this offseason, Martavis Bryant became a popular name to be a high upside guy with big play potential. So far in 2017, he has not lived up to his hype with only seven receptions for 135 yards and one TD. Big Ben has looked elsewhere so far this season, and while Bryant will surely get his shot and will have big performances, I do not project that for this matchup. Pittsburgh plays the Ravens in Week 4, who are the 4th best defense against wide receivers in 2017. This matchup along with his limited work in a great offense has me benching Bryant in Week 4 and looking to better matchups in the future.
WR Sit’em: DeSean Jackson (TB) vs. NYG
DeSean Jackson was a bright spot in what was an overall poor performance for the Tampa Bay offense. The Vikings defense limited Jameis Winston throughout the game and his wide receivers felt that effect. Jackson did manage to get a late touchdown to put him at 16.4 points in 0.5 PPR formats. This finish may intrigue some owners and cause them to expect this production again this week versus the Giants, but I would be cautious. Jackson was third in targets this game so it seems Winston likes some of his other receiving options more so than Jackson. Plus, Jackson scored his TD after the game was already over in the 4th quarter, meaning he more so capitalize on a garbage time play as opposed to scoring when it counts. These concerns along with the tough matchup (the Giants are the 4th best defense against wide receivers), have me benching Jackson this week.
TE Sit of the Week: Jason Witten (DAL) vs. LAR
One of the best surprises of the 2017 season so far is Jason Witten. Witten has had a couple of down years recently, seeing a decrease in fantasy production in 2015 and 2016. But this year the 35 year old tight end is back to his old self with 18 receptions for 159 yards and two TDs, ranking him as the TE3 through three games. He did take a big step back however in Week 3 finishing with three yards on one reception, a statline that disappointed many of his owners. The flow of the game lead to less passing plays from Dak Prescott (18 attempts for the whole game), which trickled down into his receiving weapons and had a big effect on Witten’s performance.
This week the Cowboys face the Rams, the 9th best defense against the TE so far this season. While I expect Witten to bounce back for more than one reception in this game, I would still bench the Cowboys TE and look for better streaming options to start over him.
TE Sit’em: David Njoku (CLE) vs. CIN
David Njoku, much like fellow rookie tight ends O.J. Howard and Evan Engram, was a fantasy prospect that potential owners did not know what to expect from. Rookie tight ends generally have a harsh learning curve in adjusting to the NFL and so far in 2017 Njoku is still learning. He has 59 receiving yards on seven receptions and two TDs, ranking him as a TE1 so far in 2017. While some owners will want to grab him off of waivers and start him this week after he caught TDs in two consecutive games, I would consider that a reach. His low reception totals show he does not have a featured role in the offense yet. Plus, all of his fantasy production has come from the TDs he scores, which makes him a non-factor if he does not score. With this week’s rough matchup against the Bengals, the 7th best defense against tight ends, I expect Njoku to be kept out of the endzone and therefore should be kept on your bench this week.
TE Sit’em: Hunter Henry (LAC) vs. PHI
Ladies and Gentlemen, what a colossal failure Hunter Henry has been so far in 2017. Last season’s TE darling has been anything but this season, with only seven receptions for 80 yards and zero TDs. What is left out of his total season stats is the fact the put up two zero point performances so far this season, leaving his owners out to dry in Weeks 1 and 3. The Chargers have clearly shown they still like what Antonio Gates brings to the table and Henry has been delegated to a non-factor in their offense for the time being. His nonexistent role along with a tough matchup against the Eagles defense has me benching Henry and not looking back.
D/ST Sit of the Week: Houston Texans vs. TEN
The Houston Texans D/ST is one of the most owned and frequently started units in all of fantasy football with a 98.7% ownership in ESPN formats. They have a very talented front seven led by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, which strikes fear into offenses that have to face them on the field. For fantasy purposes they have been an alright unit, ranking as the 12th best in the NFL. While they do have talent and have been an elite fantasy D/ST in the past, I would look elsewhere for a unit to start this week. The Texans will face off against the Titans, who are coming off a 33 point game against Seattle and are a great offense in their own right. With the bleak matchup facing them, I would bench the Texans D/ST and look for a more favorable matchup this week.