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As we enter week 4 and get closer to closing out the first quarter of the season, many of our theories and perceptions of both teams and players start to take shape. For instance, Chicago’s defense is terrible. If you have started your players against them, you have been rewarded.
This Sunday, the Bears host the Lions, who’s offense has put up big fantasy numbers so far this season. With that said starting Matthew Stafford and Marvin Jones is a given, but which running backs should you start from these teams? We’ll get to them in a min, but I also want to touch on some other offensive games like Indianapolis vs Jacksonville, and New Orleans vs San Diego.
All these teams have to offenses to put up big number but have be very inconsistent this season. Deciding which receiver to start on each team has been a crap shoot, but if we drill down to the individual matchups, we may be able to find some gems.
Be sure to check back with our start/sit column on Thursday’s each week to make sure you have your lineup set for Sunday. As new information becomes available, we’ll update the column to reflect the latest changes.
Andy Dalton (vs. Miami)
Dalton and the Bengals have gotten off to a slow start this year, but this is the week they should break out. A.J. Green, one of my best Daily Fantasy plays of the week, faces the Dolphins on a short week. After getting burned by Jimmy Garoppolo and struggling against Cody Kessler and Terrelle Pryor Sr (8 receptions for 144 yards) last week, Green who is 6’4” should have no problem against Byron Maxwell and Xavien Howard who are both 6’ 1”. My bet is Dalton should hook up with Green all night long.
Joe Flacco (vs. Oakland)
After 2 weeks on the road the Ravens face a Raiders team at home that has been struggling against the pass giving up the most passaing yareds and the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. They were lit up by Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, and even had trouble with Marcus Mariota, this past week without Delanie Walker in the lineup. Vegas sees this game as a 47 O/U and Flacco and the Ravens laying four points which equates to a nice 24.75 implied team total. which should make for a good fantasy week for Flacco (Wallace too) considering the Ravens struggle to run the averaging 82.3 yards per game and 3.3 YPC.
Kirk Cousins (vs.Cleveland:
After a slow start to the season, Cousins looked good last week, 296 yards (8.5 YPA) and a 2 TD’s , against the Giants hooking up with DeSean Jackson deep a few times. Redskins’ red-zone issues have been a problem so far this season which they did not have last season. . Washington has scored a touchdown on just 21.43 percent of its red-zone trips. Only the Texans (14.29 percent) have been worse.
This week Cousins gets a weak Cleveland pass defense. The Browns are allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Philip Rivers (vs. New Orleans):
Rule #1 this season, start any quarterback playing against the Saints. Even though Rivers didn’t throw a single touchdown against the terrible Colts secondary, the New Orleans defense is yielding 309 passing yards per game and Saints are one of two teams yet to pick off a pass.
The Chargers are playing at home this week, and in his only home start this season, Rivers carved up the Jaguars defense throwing four touchdowns. Its not only the Saints back end that has issues, their front end is just as bad as they have just four sacks.
Russell Wilson (at New York Jets)
This is a tough one for Wilson. Not only is he still dealing with a sprained left ankle, he also has a sprained MCL in his right knee, he faces a stout Jets front this week that will put an enormous amount of pressure on Wilson. This will make it tough for Wilson to roll out and scramble and with the Jets tough against the run and the Seahawks coming east for a 1pm game… I have to sit him, there are better option out there.
Eli Manning (at Minnesota)
Manning is another guy not on my list this week. The Minnesota defense has proven to be stout this year doing a number on Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers the last two weeks. With the terrible Giants O-Line and Eli’s susceptibility to turnovers, well you get it.
Theo Riddick (at Chicago)
Not much to say here, Bears defense bad, a RB that rushes and catches passes out of the backfield good. The Bears’ defensive front has been decimated by injuries, so we should se a lot of scoring from the Lions offense on Sunday. Riddick is going to split carries with Dwayne Washington, but he’s pair primary back out of the backfield.
Isaiah Crowell at Redskins:
It’s hard to believe, but as bad as the Browns are, Crowell is third in the league in rushing with 274 yards and fourth in yards-per-carry average at 6.1. They have a rookie QB so Im sure the Browns will keep feeding the Crow.
The Redskins have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to the running back position surrendering over 4.62 YPC and the most rushing touchdowns. Browns O-Line has been playing well. Pro Football Focus’ has Thomas ranked the No. 12 run-blocking tackle, and Bitonio is their No. 5 guard.
Jordan Howard (vs. Detroit)
We finally saw the last of Langford (for a while at least) Langford was dead last among running backs making tacklers miss. He broke only one tackle on 36 touches. To put this in perspective, Howard has already slipped three tackles on 18 touches.. Let me quote some more bad stats incase your not convinced. The Lions allow 5.31 YPC to running backs. The Lions are last in yards per carry allowed in the NFL (5.1 per carry). Here is the clincher, the Lions’ run defense allowed Eddie Lacy to run for 100+ yards against them. I expect Howard to get 20+ touches and break 100+ total yards and at least a TD this week.
Matt Jones (vs. Cleveland)
Washington’s backfield is terrible, but with that said so it the Cleveland defense. Jones is not fast or elusive at all, but he won’t have to be against the Browns. I expect Cousins to throw a ton, but you have to run every now and again which should allow Jones to get about 15 or more touches. One may even be a goaline carry!
Jerick McKinnon (vs. New York Giants):
The Vikings’ and McKinnon couldn’t get much of a running game going against the Panthers last week and I expect the same this week when they face The Giants. With the addition of ex New York Jets NT Damon Harrison, they are allowing just 3.31 YPC . The Giants secondary is banged up, so I would expect Bradford to air it out and McKinnon to get his yards out of the backfield. There are definitely better choices out there.
Christine Michael (at New York Jets)
Michael is now the main back in Seattle after Rawls went down. As good as that is for his fantasy owners, he gets a very tough match up this week against the a Jets’ defense that has allowed the third-lowest yards per game rushing this season.
Michael has struggled his whole career so far and last week he played the 49ers let’s not forget. I don’t see a big upside week here with Wilson and Graham Banged up.
Jamison Crowder vs. Browns:
Crowder has been getting very consistent targets the last few weeks. He leads the team in targets with 25, running most out of the slot. Crowder has even seen 7 targets in the redzone. Crowder show face off against Browns slot CB Tramon Williams how has struggle to stop receivers this season. The Browns as a whole have struggle to shut WR’s down, but it’s good to know Crowder has a great one on one matchup.
Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams (vs. New Orleans):
Both guys have a great matchup this week against a Saints team that can’t stop the run OR the pass. Pro Football Focus gives all three Saints CB’s negative grades. The Saints have allowed the fifth-most yards to receivers this season and with Vegas giving this game a O/U of 53.5, the Chargers’ are expected to put up about 29 points
Tyler Lockett (at New York Jets)
With Locket and Russell Wilson at less than 100%, Its hard for me to start any Seahawk other than maybe Baldwin. I’d look to play other options such as Emmanual Sanders, Kevin White, Tyrell Williams or Sammie Coates.
Zach Miller (vs. Detroit):
Brian Hoyer may have put Zack Miller back in the fantasy relevant list. Hoyer targeted 9 times last week and Miller caught 8 of themf or 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hoyer seems to like his tight end on third downs and near the goal line especially with Jeffery banged up. Detroit has been terrible against the pass this season, especially when it comes to defending opposing tight ends. Last season Detroit allowed the 4th most fantasy points to tight ends and this year they already give up the most to the positon
Dennis Pitta (vs. Oakland)
Pitta has finally emerged as I stated in my waiver wire picks for week 4 column. Not only is he Flacco’s favorite target, but he gets the porous Raiders defense this week. Oakland has given up the ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Pitta will get a nice amount of targets, but we could really use one in the redzone.
Gary Barnidge (at Washington)
Barnidge has had a slow start to the season. It looked like McCown would have helped his fantasy value, but now with Kessler at QB it has not gotten better. Pryor as seen the ball a ton and Crow has been getting touches. At some point I think Barnidge as to see some more targets. Until then his she stay on your bench.
Dwayne Allen (at Jacksonville)
Allen has been a disappointment one again. Even without Fleener in town, he is getting out produced by another tight end, Doyle. If its not lack of production its an injury. Pass on Allen.
Detroit Lions (at Chicago)
Im banking on the Lions capitalizing on a number of Chicago mistakes this week. As much as I like Hoyer and Howard this week for DFS, with Jeffery banged up I expect Howard and or Hoyer to turn the ball over at least once each.
Washington Redskins (vs. Cleveland)
Washington forced 3 turnovers last week against the Giants and had 2 sacks. I expect them to force a few more against rookie QB Cody Kessler this week.