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I like to think that our readers have a certain degree of fantasy acuity before they arrive, so my hope is that this start and sit list – which avoids the obvious – will be useful for all of you. I’ve made my opinions on start/sit implicitly known via my weekly rankings, so, you won’t see a lot of QBs inside my Top 6, etc. listed here. The idea of this post is to give you some deep names that will yield start worthy value and some entrenched starters that should be riding the virtual pine.
Week 4 QB Starts
Tony Romo vs. San Diego
San Diego has faced three Quarterbacks this season with just one of them ranked inside the ‘typical top 12′ (Michael Vick). A player you’re starting week in and out in fantasy leagues. They’ve made every one of their opponents very fantasy relevant. Jake Locker’s 299 yards passing are the lowest total given up by San Diego this year and if you add in his rushing yards they haven’t held a single QB under 346 total yards all season. It hasn’t been pretty and while Miles Austin sits this contest out, Romo still has plenty of options in the passing game. On that note, Terrence Williams is worth a look for owners facing an injury or early bye.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Minnesota
The Vikings have given up the most passing touchdowns in the league this season and are playing this game with a secondary that is even more depleted by injury. Big Ben did well against the Bears, finding Antonio Brown for what seemed like countless yardage and he did so while facing a lot of heat from the Chicago pass rush. That fact likely won’t change, given the state of the Steelers o-line but the poise Roethlisberger showed last week should be expected in Week 4 as well. Against a Vikings D that is having trouble in coverage it will make him a very viable low-end QB1 this week. I’m not the only one who thinks so, either.
Week 4 QB Sits
Eli Manning vs. Kansas City
This PSA is probably not news to anyone, but the point I’m making is that we shouldn’t expect much out of Manning until we see some improvement in his o-line. This week, the unit is facing a number of injuries on top of their ineffectiveness. Expect their problems in protection (they currently rank as the 4th worst unit in the league in terms of pass protection according to Pro Football Focus). Kansas City has a league high 15 sacks through three games – just about the worst matchup for New York to see given their struggles in keeping Manning upright. Further, the Chiefs have allowed just 185 YPG and 2 passing touchdowns this year, so it is definitely time to stay away from Eli.
Brian Hoyer vs. Cincinnati
Lets not get cute here. Hoyer performed well against a Vikings D that has been very generous to opposing QBs. He certainly looked like he had more to offer the offense than they’d seen the first few weeks and Josh Gordon is going to help the QB get his yards. Still, the Bengals present a much different challenge. They’ve allowed a max of 251 passing yards and just one multiple (passing) score game while posting four intercetions through three gaes. Cleveland will find a way to move the ball but you have a much better chance of seeing a repeat of those three interceptions than you do three touchdowns.
Week 4 RB Starts
Darren McFadden vs. Washington – With the news that Terrelle Pryor is looking unlikely to go, the outlook is not as good for DMC, but, he’s still got to be in your lineup against Washington. Their rush D just made Joique Bell look like Reggie Bush (nothing wrong with Bell, but, he’s not Reggie) and has given up 100 total yard games to every running back they’ve faced so far – two of them being backups in Bell and James Starks. It was tough sledding for McFadden against the Broncos but with Washington yielding 155 YPG on the ground (110 more yards per contest more than Denver) the result should look considerably different.
Trent Richardson vs. Jacksonville – Ahmad Bradshaw has already been declared inactive (before the news, he was a strong RB2 start himself) so Richardson is back to full workload against the Jags. He didn’t look like much in his first game in a Colts uniform but Jacksonville represents a great opportunity for him to get on track. With almost 500 total yards given up to the RB position through three games and with the likelihood that Indy will be trying to salt away a lead in the second half Richardson could be in for his best performance of this young season.
Week 4 RB Sits
Le’Veon Bell vs. Minnesota – I’m as excited as the next guy about Bell’s return but the Steelers would be foolish to give him a full workload in his first game back. With a bye up next perhaps the plan is to get him in there for Week 4 and have some snaps to build on as he heads for a full load coming in Week 6. Reggie Bush and Matt Forte posted great games against Minnesota to open the season but those efforts were largely built on their role as pass catchers. That’s not the MO of the Vikings or their rookie rusher, and he’s probably going to see 10-14 touches at best. If you’re in trouble at the flex spot, I can see rolling the dice, but the ceiling is capped for Bell this week.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Cleveland – Jay Gruden and the Bengals aren’t yet ready to give up on the Law Firm but I’m throwing in the towel (to the extent that I hadn’t already). Giovani Bernard has been the more impressive back – in both the real and fake games – in every game so far and eventually that is going to start chipping away at Green-Ellis’ touches. With just 129 yards on 46 carries (2.8 a pop) and a 50/50 goal line role at best there are more attractive plays just about everywhere you look.
Week 4 WR Starts
Torrey Smith vs. Buffalo – Smith has been one of the game’s most consistent receivers through the first four weeks with 92-85-92 yards in his three games. He hasn’t crossed the chalk yet, but given the state of Buffalo’s undermanned secondary (Smith owners, or Smith himself for that matter should watch the Jets tape from last week if they’re feeling at all leery about the Week 4 matchup). With Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill both crossing the chalk in Week 3 this could be the week that Smith finally delivers a score lifting him from an 8-9 point ‘solid’ performance to a 15+ point outing. The Bills lone DB who rates on the positive side of the pass coverage scale at PFF, Leodis McKelvin, is in danger of missing the game.
Aaron Dobson vs. Atlanta – I’ve been discussing it all week, but, Aaron Dobson simply played a much better game than did Kenbrell Thompkins last week, despite the two score effort from the undrafted free agent. This week, with Rob Gronkowski coming down to a game time decision, Dobson will again be the most targeted rookie WR. His 10 looks last week led the team and he made good on 7 of them. That is the type of performance that earns more looks from Tom Brady while Thompkins again caught fewer than 50% of the balls thrown his way. I like Dobson more if Gronkowski plays, in fact, but either way I think he’ll be a focal point of the Patriots offense against the Falcons. We’re not recommended him as a WR1 but if he brings up his yards per catch a bit (7.4 last week, compared to 18.7 the week prior) or finds the endzone he’ll deliver a nice line as a WR3 or backend WR2. If Amendola plays, which is looking increasingly likely, the outlook changes a bit.
Week 4 WR Sits
Andre Johnson vs. Seattle – while indications are that Johnson will take the field this week despite his questionable tag there just isn’t a lot to like in this matchup with Seattle. Yes, Cecil Shorts delivered a very useful day in the Week 3 blowout but many of those yards came late in the game against a second string pass defense but even with that big game they are still the toughest fantasy matchup in the league for opposing WRs. Wide receivers have caught just one touchdown against Seattle so far this season. With Johnson limited by his shin injury and expectations tempered against Seattle at the best of times its hard to trust him as anything but a WR3 this week.
Lance Moore vs. Mia – Moore’s targets are down considerably in the Saints offense this season. As a team, the Dolphins are allowing opposing WRs to make a catch on less than 50% of their opportunities through three games (37 of 76) and none of them have caught a TD. Conversely, they can’t defend the Tight End as they’ve given up a passing score to one in every game so far, suggesting that Jimmy Graham will remain New Olreans’ focal point this week. All of this indicates that a 3-4 catch, low output game from Moore is in the offing. Stay away this week and until his overall usage improves.
Week 4 TE Starts
Heath Miller vs. Minnesota – Jordan Cameron scored three times against the Vikings last week (though we won’t hold the defense accountable for the special teams tally) bringing the total of Tight End scores against them this season to six. Last week, in his first action of the season, Miller played 39 snaps, already considerably more than David Johnson, and caught 3 of 4 targets. Expect Miller to up his catch total, and to find the endzone this week. Do not expect him to break out fellow TE Rob Gronkowski’s London celebration, however.
Week 4 TE Sits
Brandon Pettigrew vs. Chicago – as with Moore, we discussed Pettigrew’s troubling lack of looks in our touches and targets piece this week. Facing a Bears D that gives up just 8.77 FPPG to the position Pettigrew won’t see a lot of work in the middle of the field, and if Week 3 was any indicator Joseph Fauria takes away any red zone potential that Pettigrew had to offer.
Week 4 Defenses to Stream
Kansas City vs. New York Giants – 76% owned – ok, so, they aren’t available in most leagues but Kansas City isn’t necessarily the top DST on your list every week. Check the wire. If you can find the Chiefs and their aforementioned 15 sacks through 3 games against a Giants line in shambles and a turnover prone Eli Manning pick them up. Period.
Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville – 40% owned – The Jags, of course, are just easy to pick on. With Blaine Gabbert returning things may not be any worse, but, they won’t be any better either. Jacksonville’s 4 interceptions are the 5th most in the league so far and they’ve scored just 28 points to date (for fun: four teams are scoring more points per game than Jacksonville has scored in three). Indy’s nine sacks and three picks through three games aren’t exactly DST gold, but, they’re enough to suggest that they can take advantage of the matchup against the Jags.
Arizona vs. Tampa Bay – 62% owned – the buzz is that Mike Glennon simply isn’t game ready. If that’s the case (and either way, in his first start, really) Arizona presents a strong stream option this week. Their defense has underwhelmed to date, but, they should be able to get right against a Bucs team that was struggling to score with Josh Freeman, starts a supposedly underwhelming QB, and will be playing with their top two receivers at less than 100% if they make it into the game at all.