Fantasy Football Week Four: Who to Start, Sit and Sleepers for the Weekend

 

Sep 25, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones (11) scores a touchdown on a reception during the fourth quarter of their game against the Green Bay Packers  at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

Sep 25, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones (11) scores a touchdown on a reception during the fourth quarter of their game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Jones led all NFL players in fantasy football scoring with with 38.5 points. It was his third straight week improving on his previous point total. Can he do it one more time?

Trends can be dangerous in fantasy football. We’ve all fallen victim to the classic frustration when you bench a struggling star just to watch him count of dozens upon dozens of points you don’t get credit for.

Likewise, we’ve all scoured the free-agent pool for breakout studs who flop the second you insert them into your starting lineup.

It’s a game of attrition for certain and sometimes the best move is the move you don’t make. I think John Elway recently said something similar.

So while Matthew Stafford stakes his claim to a Top-3 quarterback ranking and Eddie Lacy struggles to crack the Top-25 among running backs, one thing is reliable.

We’re here for our Week 4 fantasy football preview of every single game being played Sunday and Monday.

Sep 25, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) works out prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday, 02 October @ 4:05 PM

The Buccaneers host the undefeated Broncos looking to stop their two game skid.

 

START: WR, Emmanuel Sanders

The Broncos wide receiver has been one of the keys to young Trevor Siemian’s success in 2016. Leading his team in receptions with 17 catches, Emmanuel Sanders also has two of his quarterback’s five touchdown passes.

He’s been the favorite target for Denver attracting an impressive 13 passes in their Week 3 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Heading into Raymond James Stadium, Sanders and Siemian will find a defense which is reeling after giving up more than four touchdowns for the second week in a row.

The secondary has once again been the teams’ Achilles heel while getting little support from a Buccaneers front line struggling to get consistent pressure on their opposing quarterbacks.

Sanders should find room to operate against a Bucs secondary which may be playing a bit overly aggressive trying to get back on track in Week 4.

SIT: RB, Charles Sims

In 2015 there were more than just a few media

members and fans who thought Charles Sims would become the starting running back in Tampa following two subpar seasons for Doug Martin.

Following a season in which Martin finished with the second-most rushing yards in the NFL, Sims entered 2016 firmly pigeonholed as the backup.

However, in Week 3 he got his chance to start following a hamstring injury suffered by the Bucs starting running back against the Arizona Cardinals.

He turned his opportunity into 13 carries for 55 yards, one catch for six yards and a touchdown run.

This is good for around 12.6 points depending on your league’s specific scoring system. No matter what it is, it isn’t going to raise any eyebrows or start an RB-Coup for the Buccaneers.

Going against the Broncos defense isn’t going to make him look any better. While he should become the first running back on this team to cross the 100-yard rushing mark…. on the season – he still isn’t worth starting here unless you’re just that hard-up for a guy to put in.

SLEEPER: WR, Vincent Jackson

Vincent Jackson has all but disappeared this season thus far. With just nine catches for 99 yards in three games V-Jax currently sits fifth on the team in receiving behind the likes of Cameron Brate and the aforementioned Charles Sims.

At the end of last week’s match-up against the Rams however, Jackson seemed to get a bit more involved and even a bit more motivated.

I have to believe he doesn’t want to end his career with a whimper, but rather he wants to go out as the best guy on his team if he can.

Denver is going to be all over Mike Evans and will be looking to wreak havoc on Jameis Winston. Both of these makes Jackson with his veteran savvy and big body a great target for his quarterback as he is known for making tough catches in tight space when at the top of his game.

I like Jackson to have a breakout game here, and he’s a sleeper because he’s been asleep to this point.

Sep 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12)drops back to pass during their game against the San Diego Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Sunday, 02 October @ 9:30 AM

Football British Style: Early in the Morning and Nothing but Touchdowns

 

START: QB, Andrew Luck

The Colts continue to struggle without a defense to speak of and an offensive line which isn’t exactly opening up lanes for veteran running back Frank Gore.

Despite the 1-2 start and the lackluster play overall, Andrew Luck has been a Top-10 fantasy football quarterback and currently sits 7th overall with 58.8 points in standard scoring.

In Week 4 he and his teammates travel to London and play visitor to the Jacksonville Jaguars who may be the most disappointing team in the league to this point.

The Jags are giving up almost 20 points per week to quarterbacks making them the 8th worst when it comes to stopping the passing game.

Even without Donte Moncrief, Luck will get his yards and should get at least a couple touchdowns, making him a very attractive start in this match-up.

 

SIT: Indianapolis Colts D/ST

I fully expect this game to be a shootout with the Jaguars actually pulling out their first win of the year. This is the reason I’m choosing the Colts D/ST for the sit over the Jags; although I’m not exactly recommending Jacksonville’s unit either.

Chris Ivory should be able to soften the Colts’ front-seven and open up play-action opportunities for receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

Marquise Lee should also get into the action and Blake Bortles figures to throw for three scores in this one.

If Bortles was more trustworthy, he may even get the nod ahead of Luck here. As it sits though, the Indy defense is a tad worse than the home team’s in my opinion and they’re going to get taken advantage of just a bit more.

 

SLEEPER: RB, T.J. Yeldon

T.J. Yeldon hasn’t proven to be improved in his second season with the Jaguars and the Alabama product may not be the long-term solution this team hoped he’d be when they drafted him.

However, with a game against the Colts’ running back friendly defense coming up he’s primed to have a big game for gutsy owners to take advantage of.

Indianapolis is giving up the 2nd most points in fantasy football to opposing running backs with an average yield of 28.1 points per game.

Chris Ivory has returned to the lineup and may even get the start on paper, but when it comes to touches Yeldon is getting his opportunities and has a dual-threat angle with his 14 catches this season.

He’ll be a cheap DFS option and could save you some cap room to go after a bigger name or two.

There’s risk with all sleepers, but Yeldon looks like a safer sleeper than most others are.

Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) runs past Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson (25) for a touchdown during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots

Sunday, 02 October @ 1:00 PM

Brady-Eve as the Pats try to stay perfect

START: RB, LeGarrette Blount

The NFL’s leading rusher heading into Week 4, LeGarrette Blount is one major reason the Patriots have not only survived the Brady suspension – they’ve dominated it.

Showing their system is greater than the pieces they have in place, New England continues to find success no matter who or what gets in their way.

With a team mentality matching Blount’s own for the duration of his career this tough-nosed running back will look to continue dominating opposing defenses.

This one comes with the Ryan brothers and their 10th worst run defense when it comes to fantasy football statistics.

On average, the Bills give up 21.5 points per game to running backs, and Blount will be happy to eat up the monster share of those in his team’s last game without Tom Brady.

 

SIT: Buffalo Bills D/ST

No defense is a good start against a resilient New England offense, but especially not this week.

If the Patriots go 4-0 to start the year they not only show the league they are a force to be reckoned with, they get a moral victory against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who persisted for what felt like a decade to get these precious four games out of Brady.

Deflate-gate will finally be done, and we can all finally move on.

First though, the Bills will be subjected to a talented group with a mission on their mind and no interest in going 3-1 before their leader returns.

There will be plenty of Blount, plenty of Julian Edelman and in the end there should be just one more Patriots win with the Bills defense being exploited along the way.

 

SLEEPER: TE, Martellus Bennett

Rob Gronkowski isn’t fully healthy yet and he probably won’t be until Week 5, so in Week 4 Martellus Bennett is still the tight end to start in New England.

The Bills have given up just 2.0 points per week on average to enemy tight ends; an average which should inflate a bit after this one.

Bennett is the Patriots’ second leading rusher with 10 catches, 138 yards, and a touchdown in the first three games of 2016.

He should be a big part of the gameplan as Rex Ryan’s notoriously aggressive defensive scheme leaves room for the big-man to operate in and make plays.

Gronk still might play, but Bennett will get his opportunities, and I’m sure he has no plans to let them slip away this week.

Sep 25, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller (86) catches a touchdown pass against Dallas Cowboys free safety Byron Jones (31) in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears

Sunday, 02 October @ 1:00 PM

The NFC North cellar-dwellers try to gain an inch

 

START: TE, Zach Miller

Brian Hoyer came in for an injured Jay Cutler in Week 3 and connected with tight end Zach Miller eight times against the Cowboys.

Those catches led to 78 yards and two touchdowns surpassing his combined numbers from the two previous weeks.

The Detroit Lions have surrendered an average of 17.9 points per week to tight ends, ranking them worst in the league for fantasy football defenses against the position.

With Cutler a no-show at practice Thursday Hoyer should be the quarterback again as Chicago continues to seek-out their first win.

This will benefit Miller and give fantasy players a cheap tight end option who could turn-in back-to-back big weeks.

 

SIT: RB, Jordan Howard

Jordan Howard has 12 carries for 67 yards in his rookie season. Good average, not a good usage rate.

With Jeremy Langford looking like a Week 4 scratch nursing an injury the Hoosier should get more work, but it’s going to be against a defense bad against the pass and better than expected against the run.

Through Week 3, Detroit is allowing just 14.3 points to running backs per week in fantasy scoring.

Perhaps it’s their lack of secondary talent which simply encourages offensive coordinators to attack through the air, and maybe it’s talent up front. Either way the Bears will likely follow suit which will limit Howard’s touches significantly.

Unless he breaks some big runs Howard’s value is limited here, because you just can’t bank on a rookie turning little opportunity into big points.

 

SLEEPER: QB, Brian Hoyer

Brian Hoyer’s first start of the year saw him go for 317 yards against the Dallas Cowboys along with two touchdown throws.

The veteran quarterback is no stranger to being underestimated and facing fantasy football’s most QB friendly defense may give him a chance to make his DFS owners happy again.

27 points in standard scoring last week is a good output for the cost he would have carried with him.

He’s likely to cost a bit more this week, but taking the gamble on the quarterback in his 8th year and on his sixth team could pay dividends if he can take advantage of the porous Lions secondary.

 

Sep 25, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray (29) gets away from a tackle attempt by Oakland Raiders safety Nate Allen (20) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. The Raiders won 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans

Sunday, 02 October @ 1:00 PM

Mariota and Company try to take advantage of the Watt-less Texans

 

START: RB, DeMarco Murray

The Houston Texans defense has been giving up an average of 17.1 points per game.

DeMarco Murray is the second highest scoring running back in fantasy football entering Week 4 with 53.7 points to his name. Trailing only David Johnson from the Arizona Cardinals, the resurgent running back will look to build upon Houston’s average as they come in without defensive star J.J. Watt.

Entering the season a lot of folks expected rookie Derrick Henry to come in eventually and take over the lion share of carried from the veteran.

Henry may be the future still, but for 2016 Murray is the man, and with the Texans losing their most valuable player, expect him to continue his high production levels.

 

SIT: WR, Tajae Sharpe

Jun 14, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) pulls in a pass during minicamp at St. Thomas Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV/The Tennessean via USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s not that Tajae Sharpe isn’t what we thought he was, it’s defenses simply don’t have other receivers to focus on to explain the drop in production from the rookie.

Sharpe hasn’t broken the five-point barrier in the last two weeks and with the Titans running backs working so well I wouldn’t expect a huge change any time soon.

The alluring part of the rookie’s game is his big play ability and the youngster can turn a five-yard catch into a 40-yard touchdown play in a heartbeat.

The all-or-nothing mentality typically burns fantasy football players more than it helps, so leave this option on the bench and look elsewhere for target hungry receivers who give you more rolls of the dice.

 

SLEEPER: Tennessee Titans D/ST

Surprisingly enough the Titans defense isn’t the reason this team is where they’re at.

Through three weeks of play Tennessee is the only team in the NFL who’s given up fewer than 60 points to opponents and has a losing record.

After putting up a goose-egg in Week 1 this unit has put up back-to-back performances scoring above five-points for their owners.

Before you scramble to pick this team up because of those numbers (sarcasm), also consider this. The Houston offense and special teams unit is allowing the sixth most points to opposing units this year.

Quarterback Brock Osweiler is averaging more than an interception per week ranking sixth worst in the NFL as well.

The opportunities will be there for this defensive unit to make plays, so this could be the week they break double-digits for the first time in 2016.

 

Sep 18, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) reacts after the Falcons scored a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Falcons defeated the Raiders 35-28. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

 

Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, 02 October @ 1:00 PM

The Falcons are first in the NFC South, Carolina wants to change that
 

START: WR, Julio Jones

Last week the Falcons came in with a mentality they could just take what the defense gave them and still win the game. They were right.

They aren’t playing the Saints this week though. If this team is going to hand Carolina their third loss of the season they have to get Julio Jones involved and he should be able to take full advantage of a less experienced secondary than the 2015 version.

This is bad news for the Panthers and good news for fantasy football players who have Jones on their roster.

In the first of two games last season the Pro Bowl receiver brought in seven catches for 88 yards (12.3 points in .5 ppr leagues). Not mind blowing numbers, but enough to get a win.

In the second, Jones had nine catches for 178 yards and a touchdown (29.3 points) and the Falcons won.

Bottom line is this guy gets tons of targets and likes to play against division rivals. Start him in all formats.

 

SIT: Atlanta Falcons D/ST

The Falcons defense isn’t all that good, and the Panthers offense has the mismatch ability and explosive play potential to take advantage.

Through the NFL’s Week 3, Atlanta has scored just 12 points total while facing teams like New Orleans and Oakland.

Carolina will come in using whatever weapons they need to in order to re-establish their position in the NFC South.

Whether it’s Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin or Greg Olsen doing damage it’ll be an all-out attack from start to finish, and this defensive unit will pay for it on the fantasy football scoreboards.

SLEEPER: TE, Jacob Tamme

The Falcons’ leading receiver is tight end Jacob Tamme who has 14 catches for 154 yards and a score thus far.

While this may come as a surprise it’s somewhat all by design.

With threats like Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu lurking on the edges Atlanta also features two running backs with legit screen pass ability who can easily turn a dump-off throw into a 60-yard touchdown.

This draws defenders out and up from the line of scrimmage and forces teams to open up the middle of the field more than they’d like.

It just so happens Tamme is a classic type of tight end who lives in the middle of the field and still has the ability to get some run-after-catch (RAC) yards.

With Carolina giving up 11 points per game to opposing tight ends, this unit looks vulnerable to the skill set this player brings to the field, making him a true sleeper this week.

Sep 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael (32) rushes against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

 

Seattle Seahawks @ New York Jets

Sunday, 02 October @ 1:00 PM

A former Buc is in NY to welcome the Seahawks

 

START: RB, Christine Michael

The Jets pass defense has been so bad teams are barely even trying to run against them.

With just over 20 carries per game against them on average, New York has faced the sixth lowest amount of carries from opposing runners and only once has a running back seen 20 carries this year.

The Seahawks should be a different situation though. With their quarterback still experiencing lingering effects from early injuries, the run is Seattle’s best friend as they try and keep the defense off of their leader.

With Thomas Rawls being the name to watch entering the season, Christine Michael has kicked down the door of opportunity and taken advantage of his time on the field in 2016.

With 45 carries for 232 yards and two touchdowns, Michael is the NFL’s ninth leading rusher while ranking just 14th in touches.

His yards per carry average is fourth most among running backs with at least 40 carries.

 

SIT: New York Jets D/ST 

The Jets offense is coming off of a horrendous game where Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions.  SIX!

This shouldn’t happen again, but considering the match-up against the “Legion of Boom” is coming up, there’s not a whole of confidence the New York offense isn’t going to set their own defense up with short fields all game long.

Seattle’s offense is a little banged up and definitely isn’t as potent as it could have been last season, but with short fields points will come, and the New York defense is going to get credit (blame) for the points scored.

 

SLEEPER: RB, Matt Forte

Two of the three running backs who have faced the Seahawks defense came away with at least 95 yards of offense.

The first was a strong runner who could bounce outside or run between the tackles. The second was a receiving threat out of the backfield and didn’t have to rely on just carries.

Matt Forte is both of these things, and should be able to find success on Sunday.

I’m not saying he’s going to lead the Jets to victory, but his fantasy football owners should be happy with his production.

100 yards of offense is feasible, and a score or two makes him a Week 4 stud.

Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (34) against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens defeated the Browns 25-20. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

 

Cleveland Browns @ Washington Redskins

Sunday, 02 October @ 1:00 PM

Fantasy points to be had by all

 

START: RB, Isaiah Crowell

Isaiah Crowell has not been the most talked about player in Cleveland at all this year, but he’s quietly established himself as a Top-15 running back in fantasy football.

With 45.5 points this year he’s just one touchdown away from being a RB1.

The knock on Crowell is his lack of versatility as he’s not the Browns’ passing option out of the backfield.

Against the Redskins though, this should not be a problem. Washington’s defense has surrendered over 100 yards rushing each week this season and two rushing touchdowns to go with them.

Crowell’s numbers would be even better if his team could stay out of must pass situations, and facing a Redskins offense which is also in the bottom half of scoring should allow Cleveland to run a bit more than they’ve been used to.

 

SIT: TE, Gary Barnidge

It’s kind of hard to find someone other than both teams’ defenses to sit here, but we’re going to go with tight end Gary Barnidge.

The Redskins defense is allowing just 4.5 points per week to tight ends making them the ninth stingiest defense against the position. Of course, much of this is probably more to do with how much they’re giving up to other positions.

After going catch-less in Week 1 with Robert Griffin III under center, Barnidge has since had a four and five catch game with Josh McCown in Week 2 and Cody Kessler in Week 3.

Barnidge still has the talent to be a difference maker, but Cleveland can’t seem to keep a signal caller in the pocket long enough to make his time worth it.

Find a replacement for this player until the offense finds some consistency.

 

SLEEPER: WR, Terrelle Pryor

Gimmicks are fun and attract a lot of attention. They also tend to fizzle out just as fast as they rose to popularity.

The Wildcat quarterback is just one of these gimmicks, but Cleveland has preserved Rock-n-Roll and they may have preserved the Wildcat as well.

Pryor has an 81.2 passer rating, 5.3 yards per carry average and 244 yards receiving this year.

The all-purpose athlete has made his return to Ohio a legitimate one here in 2016, and will look to continue his three-dimensional attack against a weak Redskins defense.

He may be a sleeper, and a fantasy football trap waiting to happen, but I’m putting this guy in my lineup this week.

Sep 25, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (89) yells at Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) after a game at EverBank Field. Baltimore Ravens won 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

 

Oakland Raiders @ Baltimore Ravens

Sunday, 02 October @ 1:00 PM

Ravens look to stay perfect; Raiders trying to keep pace with the Broncos

 

START: WR, Steve Smith Sr.

Oakland’s defense has been horrible stopping opposing wide receivers.

Through Week 3 the Raiders have given up an average of 32.5 points per game to wideouts in fantasy football.

The faster they are the more problems they cause. Enter Baltimore’s Steve Smith Sr. and Mike Wallace.

Both men should prove to be troublesome for this secondary, and Smith gets the starting nod simply due to volume.

With more targets comes more chances and we all know how Smith likes to take advantage of every opportunity he gets.

 

SIT: QB, Derek Carr

Baltimore has yet to give up a 300-yard passer this season and held Blake Bortles to under 200-yards in their Week 3 win against the Jaguars.

Carr meanwhile has thrown for at least 249 yards in each of his first three games this year including 319 against the New Orleans Saints.

However, these performances have come against teams who don’t exactly consider defense their strong point.

For the Ravens, this defense has been a big reason they’ve started 3-0 and have started the season with Top-10 numbers against both the run and pass.

One of the trends is going to break, and my money is on the Ravens defense in this one.

 

SLEEPER: QB, Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco and his Ravens are 3-0 despite the fact he’s the 22nd ranked quarterback in all of fantasy football.

Baltimore’s passing offense is in the bottom half of the league with just 242 yards per game to this point, and their quarterback has three touchdown throws with four interceptions.

If ever a struggling Flacco needed a soft defense it’s this Flacco, and he’s getting one.

The Raiders have given up 21.3 points per week to quarterbacks and are the third worst defense when it comes to this category.

With fast targets like Steve Smith Sr. and Mike Wallace, Flacco should be able to pick up his fantasy performance and have a one week burst in his output.

If you’re struggling with cap space, this may be an option worth throwing out there.

Sep 25, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) intercepts a pass during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

 

Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals

Sunday, 02 October @ 4:25 PM

The Cardinals need a win to climb out of the NFC West basement

 

START: Arizona Cardinals D/ST

The Rams put some points up against the Buccaneers defense by taking advantage of a weak secondary who left themselves open to deep strikes and tackled poorly.

Arizona’s defense doesn’t do those things and the same Rams offense which struggled prior to Week 3 should show up again here in Week 4.

Even with the offensive number Los Angeles put up against Tampa Bay they’re still ranked as the seventh worst team when it comes to giving up points to D/ST units.

The Rams have the second worst passing offense with zero games throwing for more than 240 yards this year. Similarly, Todd Gurley has yet to break the 200 yard rushing mark on the year averaging just 2.9 yards per carry on 63 of them.

Take advantage of the match-up here and start this defense.

 

SIT: WR, Tavon Austin

Tavon Austin was given a nice new contract prior to the regular season and has done just about nothing to justify the big spending.

With just 14 catches for 145 yards so far, the big play star has been a short yard disappointment.

If not for a poor tackling performance by the Buccaneers secondary, the fourth year receiver is off to an even worse start than he is already.

Twice Austin failed to cross the 50-yard threshold and he didn’t get his first touchdown of the year until Bradley McDougald forgot he was stronger than the 5’8” receiver.

Against the Cardinals secondary Austin will once again be looked at to make big plays and seems likely to be stifled once again.

When Kenny Britt has a higher yards per catch average than your deep/big play threat you know something isn’t working.

SLEEPER: RB, Todd Gurley

In his rookie season, Rams running back Todd Gurley did just about nothing through the first three weeks of the year.

Week 4 however he exploded for 146 yards rushing against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was his breakout game and started a four game streak where the former Bulldog ran for no less than 128 yards until Week 9.

Well, this year through three weeks he’d done just about nothing, and now it’s Week 4.

Sure, it’s different circumstances, but wouldn’t this be just like Gurley to wait until the fourth game of the year to really blow up in 2016?

The Cardinals defense isn’t bad against the run; they just aren’t very good against it either. An elite running back should be able to find run through the blitzing linebackers and over-pursuing linemen.

If he finds green he’ll find fantasy football pay dirt. So will his owners.

 

Sep 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates after a touchdown pass against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

 

New Orleans Saints @ San Diego Chargers

Sunday, 02 October @ 4:25 PM

Drew Brees finally makes his return to San Diego

START: QB, Drew Brees

If you have Drew Brees on your roster, then you have to start him. If you have enough money in your cap to get Brees in your DFS match-up then you need to pay the man.

Don’t make the same mistake San Diego did by letting him walk for the price tag, put him in your line-up and enjoy the carnage.

San Diego is giving up the seventh most points to opposing quarterbacks, and that’s without facing guys like Brees.

Alex Smith, Blake Bortles and Andrew Luck have all thrown for over 300 yards and at least one touchdown against this defense.

Brees should make if a clean 4-for-4 sweep in the first quarter of the season as he looks to add another 300+ yard passer to San Diego’s ledger.

 

SIT: RB, Melvin Gordon 

Sep 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs with the ball during the second half of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego won 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Melvin Gordon is what Darren Sproles once was, a fantasy football start or sit nightmare.

He has the potential, and is finally playing up to it, to be a great fantasy impact player week in and week out.

Unfortunately, the Chargers offense is one which can feature any player on any weekend and only Philip Rivers is a reliable option when it comes to consistency.

The Saints defense is user friendly, but once an offense finds a weakness they can exploit they tend to stay there for the rest of the game.

If the weakness Rivers finds isn’t Gordon, then his targets and carries could be hurt significantly has his teammates try to win a shoot-out at home.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s the guy to sit here meaning mainly he’s the primary target who may perform the worst.

If he’s on your roster he’s an RB2 option for sure, so don’t panic.

 

SLEEPER: WR, Michael Thomas

I said it all off-season and he’s shown it all regular season. Michael Thomas is the Saints second best receiver and might be their most reliable target, period.

He currently stands as New Orleans’ leading receiver with 17 catches and he’s third on the team with 185 yards. His lone touchdown places him among many and his 10.9 yard per catch average will increase as he gets his feet under him a bit more.

He’s second on the team with 22 targets making his 17 catches even more impressive as it gives him a 77% catch rate.

In Week 3 Thomas had 11 targets which led the team and matched his combined total from weeks one and two.

Brees and Thomas are forming a really good relationship, and fantasy owners should be stashing this rookie to take advantage of it later in the year.

Sep 25, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) reaches for the pylon with the ball against Chicago Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd (94) in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

 

Dallas Cowboys @ San Francisco 49ers

Sunday, 02 October @ 4:25 PM

Classic Rivalry Renewed

 

START: TE, Jason Witten

Cole Beasley has surpassed every Cowboys player with 20 catches through three games, but with the injury to Dez Bryant he figures to get more coverage than ever before.

Witten has been steady this season bringing in 14 catches himself for 142 yards.

Beasley and Witten both have a significant statistical deficiency however, zero touchdowns.

Scoring is king in the NFL and in fantasy football so both players need to start scoring if they want to cement their position on every week rosters.

Witten’s performances have been dwindling throughout the year as well hitting a year-long low of two catches in Week 3.

Dak Prescott will need to rely on his veteran tight end without Bryant or even with a hobbled Dez in the lineup though, and the 49ers are one of the worst teams in the NFL against tight ends.

All of these things point to Witten having a good day.

 

SIT: RB, Carlos Hyde

Much of the talk this season for the Cowboys has been around the offense. Their run defense however, has been Top-12 in yards per game with 91 allowed and is third best preventing touchdowns.

Only one running back has scored against this defense, and no individual back has run for more than 75 yards.

Carlos Hyde has been a boom or bust running back so far this year as he’s collected two touchdowns and at least 88 yards rushing in two of the three games this year.

However, he was also held to just 34 yards in Week 2 and didn’t sniff the endzone all day.

Considering the Cowboys’ ability thus far to contain running backs, it’d be wise to look elsewhere for a starting RB on your roster.

 

SLEEPER: K, Dan Bailey

Facing the 49ers, Dallas should have plenty of opportunity to move the ball. With Dez Bryant banged up and the offense struggling to find scoring opportunities through the air though, San Francisco will likely stack up against Ezekiel Elliott and force the Cowboys to throw for scores.

If “America’s Team” can’t rise to this challenge, then there’ll be a lot of drives stalling in field goal range and could result in Dan Bailey getting on the field often.

So far this year Bailey has attempted two or more field goals in each contest and has only missed one coming in Week 3 against Chicago.

Fantasy football’s third ranked kicker currently could find the points needed to jump his competitors and give his owners a boost on the way.

  

Kansas City Chiefs @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday, 02 October @ 8:30 PM

The return of Le’Veon Bell

 

START: RB, Le’Veon Bell

How do you not start Le’Veon Bell? Sure, he gets suspended a lot. Sure, he even gets injured, but man for the one or three games he’s in he is the best running back in the league.

For this one game, put him in your lineup as he anchors an offense looking to rebound after a disappointing loss to the Eagles in Week 3.

If you need more reason to start him it should be the 20 points per game being given up by the Chiefs defense this year in fantasy football contests.

The only hesitation I would have is if Pittsburgh on some kind of designed split carry system with DeAngelo Williams.

This is a very real possibility however, considering Bell was only able to last a handful of games after returning to action last year. In those games Williams never got into the double-digits in touches and Bell ultimately went down with a knee injury against the Bengals.

Certainly, the carries may not have contributed to his injury, but mixing it up more than before may help the Steelers keep both backs healthy for a playoff push.

Keep an eye and ear open for split carry talks in Pittsburgh, but other than a 70/30 split in favor of Williams – start Bell.

 

SIT: WR, Jeremy Maclin

The Steelers defense has been very good against opponents’ wide receivers in 2016 and even in their shocking loss to the Eagles it was running backs doing the damage.

Philadelphia receivers combined for 12 catches, 93 yards and one touchdown between four receivers earning a total of 21.3 points. On average this comes out to a little over five points each with Jordan Mathews actually taking the majority of points (8.9).

Not good numbers for the receiving crew, and Maclin is facing the same system with the same kind of offensive weapons.

Eagles’ running backs and tight ends combined for the other 11 catches, 208 yards and another touchdown (32.3 points). Only they split these between three players.

Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West and Travis Kelce all have real shots at being fantasy contributors this week, but most likely it’ll be at the expense of Maclin’s value.

 

SLEEPER: TE, Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce is Kansas City’s leading receiver so it’s hard to call him a sleeper, but with all the focus being on the running back position between these two teams I think he qualifies.

17 catches for 197 yards and a touchdown should make fantasy owners happy.

Going up against a Steelers defense in the bottom half of fantasy points surrendered to tight ends will make them even happier.

Ryan Shazier hasn’t made the leap Steelers fans hoped he would make this year just yet and Kelce will be looking to take advantage of him if he still can’t get to the level expected.

Running backs will take center stage, but this tight end could give you a win this week.

Sep 25, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87) carries the ball against the Washington Redskins during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

 

New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings

Monday, 03 October @ 8:30 PM

Vikings Defense vs Giants Passing Attack

START: WR, Sterling Shepard

With the Vikings missing Adrian Peterson the defense is going to have even more pressure on them to stop the Giants passing attack, and this means stopping Odell Beckham Jr. specifically.

With all this attention being paid to his colleague, rookie Sterling Shepard should be able to continue building on his already impressive first season.

With 16 catches, 233 yards and two touchdowns already, the younger of the young receivers has enjoyed some space and a little less attention than he probably got in college.

Shepard currently sits as the 14th ranked wide receiver in fantasy football this year, and should find ways to climb the rankings a bit this Monday Night.

 

SIT: RB, Jerick McKinnon

When one starting running back goes down it’s a popular move to go snatch up his backup and hope the system produces success for this guy just as much as it did for the star.

Jerick McKinnon didn’t find any room to operate against the Carolina Panthers and he won’t find much more against a Giants defense which has stifled opponents’ running games so far.

Splitting carries already hurts the value Peterson’s handcuff had, but facing these two defenses back-to-back basically depletes it all-together.

 

SLEEPER: WR, Stefon Diggs

Stefon Diggs was held to 40 yards on four catches against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3 as teammate Kyle Rudolph took over as his offense’s primary target.

It was quite the fall from grace after Diggs began his season with back-to-back performances scoring at least 13.8 fantasy football points.

The Giants defense has held up pretty well this year and is even ranked in the top half of the NFL against the pass.

However, looking at their performances there’s a clear trend when playing this defensive unit: quick receivers and tight ends can take advantage of it.

Diggs has the route running and quickness to make things happen and if the trend holds true against the Giants defense then he’ll be able to leave his mark in this one.

Sep 25, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Charles Sims (34) runs with the ball against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s Recap our fantasy football selections for this weekend’s match-ups…

                                                                                     START: 

Sep 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) makes a throw in the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

QB, Drew Brees                                    

QB, Andrew Luck                                 

RB, LeGarrette Blount

RB, DeMarco Murray

RB, Christine Michael

RB, Isaiah Crowell

RB, Le’Veon Bell

WR, Emmanuel Sanders

WR, Julio Jones

WR, Steve Smith Sr.

WR, Sterling Shepard

TE, Zach Miller

TE, Jason Witten

Arizona Cardinals D/ST

 

 

 

SIT:

Sep 11, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan calls a play in during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 13-7. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

QB, Derek Carr 

RB, Charles Sims

RB, Jordan Howard

RB, Melvin Gordon

RB, Carlos Hyde

RB, Jerick McKinnon

WR, Tajae Sharpe

WR, Tavon Austin

WR, Jeremy Maclin

TE, Gary Barnidge

Indianapolis Colts D/ST

Buffalo Bills D/ST

Atlanta Falcons D/ST

New York Jets D/ST

 

 

Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) makes a catch for a first down against the Baltimore Ravens during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens defeated the Browns 25-20. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

SLEEPERS:

QB, Brian Hoyer

QB, Joe Flacco

RB, T.J. Yeldon

RB, Matt Forte

RB, Todd Gurley

TE, Martellus Bennett

WR, Terrelle Pryor

WR, Michael Thomas

WR, Stefon Diggs

TE, Jacob Tamme

TE, Travis Kelce

K, Dan Bailey

Tennessee Titans D/ST

 

 

Sep 25, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Adam Humphries (11) runs with the ball against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Week 3 Review

Top Starters

Three Top-5 finishes gives our starters a solid showing despite a miss on tight ends.

QB – Aaron Rodgers (26.4 Points – #3 QB)

RB – Christine Michael (23.1 Points – #5 RB)

WR – Jarvis Landry (26.6 Points – #8 WR)

TE – Dwayne Allen (6.5 – #20 TE)

D/ST – Kansas City (29 Points – #1 DEF)

Top Sit Performances

A 9-point swing in favor of Tavon Austin came on one missed tackle allowing him to break the Top-10 joining Jeremy Hill and the Bills D/ST who surprised us with breakout performances.

Aug 26, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins (3) attempts a field goal against the Buffalo Bills at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

QB – Blaine Gabbert (5.0 Points – #29 QB)

RB – Jeremy Hill (21.7 Points – #8 RB)

WR – Tavon Austin (16.4 Points – #10 WR)

TE – Jesse James (1 Point – #42 TE)

D/ST – Buffalo Bills (26.0 Points – #3 D/ST)

Top Sleepers

Sleepers stayed asleep for the quarterback and D/ST positions while three Top-10 guys showed up and Adam Humphries reached WR2 status.

QB – Marcus Mariota (4.8 Points – #30 QB)

RB – Devonta Freeman (26.7 Points – #2 RB)

WR – Adam Humphries (10.0 Points – #21 WR)

TE – Eric Ebron (6.9 Points – #9 TE)

K – Dustin Hopkins (19 Points – #1 K)

D/ST – Miami Dolphins D/ST (6.0 Points – #19 D/ST)

 

 

 

 

Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) kicks a field goal against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

 

Playing daily fantasy football games are not as simple as plug and play. It’s a delicate balance of fiscal responsibility and talent management. Here we provide a couple options which should prove affordable and full of possibilities.

The Pewter Projection

Your weekly lineup provided by the analysis and projections The Pewter Plank brings you every week.

QB – Drew Brees vs San Diego Chargers

RB – LeGarrette Blount vs Buffalo Bills

RB – Isaiah Crowell vs Washington Redskins

WR – Steve Smith Sr. vs Oakland Raiders

WR – Terrelle Pryor Sr. vs Washington Redskins

WR – Sterling Shepard vs Minnesota Vikings

TE – Zach Miller vs Detroit Lions 

K – Dan Bailey vs San Francisco 49ers

D/ST – Arizona Cardinals D/ST vs Los Angeles Rams

 

 

Sep 25, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks to throw a pass during the second half against the Los Angeles Rams at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

 

So there we have it. Week 4 NFL action already has one game in the books as the Cincinnati Bengals handled the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night.

Want to see your Tweets in digital print and get some crucial fantasy advice from the Pewter Plank staff? Send your questions, comments and individual analysis to our official Twitter feed, to any of our contributors, or simply use #PewterProjections. We can’t get to them all of course, but we’ll get to as many as we can each week.

Which of our starters will hit pay-dirt for your fantasy football team, which of our sits will bust through the doubt and put up top numbers anyway, and which of our sleepers will give a burst to your daily fantasy football lineups? Come back next week to see our recap and get your Week 5 insight and advice!

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