Thursday Night Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Ravens at Steelers

Steve Smith set the fantasy world on fire last week. Can he keep it up against the Steelers on Thursday?

Mitch Stringer/Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the starts and sits for the Week 4 Thursday night game between the Ravens and Steelers.


QB: Joe Flacco, BAL

There aren’t many weeks when Joe Flacco will be a recommended starter, but this is one of them. The Pittsburgh pass defense still has plenty of holes and is low on talent, and Flacco has been cooking in his last two games (384 yards, 362 yards) under a more pass-heavy scheme. With the run game stuck in neutral, the Ravens should find more success through the air. Flacco is a low-end QB1 this week.  

RB: Le’Veon Bell, PIT

You better believe Bell is going to get his touches on Thursday. Whether it be on multiple handoffs or in the screen game, Bell is going to be the focal point of the offense with Ben Roethlisberger out. While that will mean more stacked boxes, the Steelers are going to stay consistent and make sure Bell gets his through sheer volume. He’s a top-5 RB play in Week 4. 

RB: Justin Forsett, BAL 

Standard league players are undeniably frustrated, but Forsett has maintained decent RB2 value thanks to his receptions through the first three weeks. More of the same is expected on Thursday, with Forsett getting check down throws and putting up stats that way. Pittsburgh’s defense is one to target, and while there will be weeks where Forsett can be sat down, this probably isn’t one of them. He’s an RB2 in PPR and a Flex option in standard leagues.

WR: Antonio Brown, PIT

Brown has been the most consistent fantasy contributor for two seasons in a row, but Michael Vick could change that in a hurry. While Vick will still look deep for Brown, he’s bound to miss him when he’s open more than a few times throughout the course of the game. Is that enough to bench him? Of course not! While Brown is probably no longer a must-have in DFS cash games, he’s still a top-5 WR option against a Baltimore defense that has been lit up by Amari Cooper and A.J. Green the last two weeks.

WR: Steve Smith Sr., BAL

With Crockett Gilmore sidelined and rookie Maxx Williams stepping in at tight end, it’s kind of scary to think that Smith could absorb even more looks from Joe Flacco against a bad secondary. While it’s unreasonable to expect Smith to keep this pace up, especially with how he fell off last season, get him locked and loaded for now in a great matchup. Baltimore just isn’t the same team running the ball this year, which means Smith is going to see plenty of action. He’s a low-end WR1 this week. 

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QB: Michael Vick, PIT

If you can, by all means, take a wait-and-see approach. Vick has an elite running back and receiver to play with, but he’s turnover prone and probably won’t be given the green light to air it out 35 times a game. If his relief appearance against St. Louis is any indicator, the Steelers are going to try and control the clock and ground out games. Vick can provide value with his legs, and there’s some fantasy revival appeal, but it’s wise to see how the 35-year-old looks under center before trotting him out if you can. He’s a high upside QB2. 

WR: Everyone else for BAL and PIT

Other than Steve Smith and Antonio Brown, there’s no one else I’d feel comfortable starting this week. Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown have been afterthoughts in Baltimore’s pass game, and Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey are almost completely dependent on long shots down the field and have seen hardly any targets the last two games. Stay away.

TE: Maxx Williams, BAL

He was a popular pickup in fantasy leagues this week, and the reasoning makes sense. Crockett Gillmore is out, which should leave Williams to get the majority of snaps. Pittsburgh is vulnerable to tight ends, as Rob Gronkowski showed in Week 1, but very rarely are rookie tight ends valuable fantasy contributors in the first few weeks of the season. Gillmore didn’t see a ton of targets the first three weeks (4,6,3), and Williams could see even less. He’s only a high-end TE2 in my mind. 

TE: Heath Miller, PIT

It might make sense to avoid using Miller in this one as well, just until we get a better read on Pittsburgh’s game plan without Ben Roethlisberger. While Miller is a favorite red zone target of Big Ben, that connection with Vick might not be there. Miller is a plodder at this point, and without an elite quarterback, he could struggle. You almost always need a touchdown for Miller to be worthwhile of a fantasy start, and those opportunities should drop with Roethlisberger out. 


It’s probably best to leave both defenses on the bench. The Ravens haven’t been able to stop the pass in the last two weeks, and the Steelers just don’t have the talent to or track record to justify a start. There are better streaming options elsewhere, but if you have to start one of these for some reason, I’d side with Baltimore against a possibly rusty Michael Vick. 

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