Fantasy Football: Start or Sit week four

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Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times/TNS

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41, right) celebrates his second touchdown of the game as Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) turns away during the second quarter on Sunday, Sept. 13, in New Orleans, La.

In week three of the NFL season, teams had to get creative with their game plans, because most had injuries in their starting roles. But when the NFL gets creative, it forces fantasy owners to do the same.

Notable injuries heading into week four. (Michael Lolley)

There were quite a few pleasant surprises last week in the NFL. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, projected to score just 4.1 points, earned 23.5. New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara racked up 31.7 points. Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox put up 11 points. And Green Bay’s wide receiver threat Allen Lazard had 20.4. None of these players should be considered “prime time’ performers, but during week three, they definitely played like it.

Another week three shocker was Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles. In the third quarter of the Bears-Falcons game, Mitch Trubisky was substituted out for Foles. The Super Bowl LII MVP looked better than ever last Sunday, only playing one half, and amounting 17.22 points, along with leading the Bears to a 16 point fourth quarter comeback win.

With the whole league shaken up, you probably are looking at your fantasy team with no idea what to do. Have no worries because I am here to help you out. 

Quarterback:

The Thursday night matchup between the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets will be interesting, to say the least. For the Broncos, you have third string Brett Rypien; on the Jets, Sam Darnold. Darnold is going to be eaten alive by the Denver defense, so he should be sitting out this week on your team. Although the Jets defense posted negative one fantasy points last week, it is not clear how many snaps the Denver quarterbacks are going to get. The Broncos have said that they are going to start their third quarterback in four weeks, Brett Rypien. However, Broncos Coach Vic Fangio stated that he wants to maybe switch it up in game and give Jeff Driskel some snaps. Because of this I believe neither quarterback is start-worthy in fantasy, due to the shared downs between the two.

Looking into Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts travel into Chicago and face off with the Bears. Now, I know I was talking about how great Foles was looking, but the Colts defense has been looking even better. Foles should stay on your team’s bench this week as the Colts have played the best defense in the league, averaging 16.7 fantasy points per week after putting up 27 points in week three. However, I like Philip Rivers of the Colts and I think you should start him this week against the Bears. He hasn’t had a great start to the 2020 season, only scoring three touchdowns and already having three interceptions, but I can see him going off next Sunday and putting up a good amount of points. Rivers has always been a pocket passer and if the Bears continue to struggle with the pass rush, with only seven sacks so far, they won’t be able to stop Rivers from getting comfortable and lighting them up in the secondary. 

On Monday night, we have Atlanta traveling north to Green Bay. As the weather starts to cool off for the fall, a team like the Falcons is probably going to struggle a little bit at Lambeau Field, especially in the passing game. Granted, Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan is getting his best receiver back this week from injury in Julio Jones, but that isn’t enough to make him a good starter this week, due to the weather. Ryan belongs on your team’s bench this week. However, Aaron Rodgers of the Packers will do the opposite. Now that he has found a new receiver in Allen Lazard, I believe he can really do something special this week. Given what Rodgers did without his number one receiver in Davante Adams, I’m excited to see what the Packers offense can do once everyone is healthy.

Running backs:

Thursday night, the Broncos have their running back, Melvin Gordon III, rushing against the Jets. New York has one of the worst defenses in the NFL after already falling to 0-3 this season. Gordon has always been an exceptional player in his long career and I don’t expect that to stop here. I predict Gordon to have a career night and run all over the Jets, so he should absolutely get the start. The Jets have been run all over so far this year, as they’ve allowed 133 rushing yards per game, and they still have yet to guard a Pro Bowl running back.

The Saints have both a defensive end, Marcus Davenport, and a defensive tackle, Malcolm Brown, listed as questionable, leaving the running game wide open for the Lions on Sunday. While the Lions probably won’t win this matchup, I can see Adrian Peterson having his best night of the season. Peterson is only rostered in 36% of ESPN Fantasy leagues so he would be a great waiver wire pickup.

The Falcons, after blowing three 10 or more point leads, will definitely be working hard this week to come into Green Bay and shut down the Packers offense. The Falcons are going to focus on stopping the run game as their pass defense has been up to par with the rest of the league so far. Green Bay running back Aaron Jones is going to be held to under 100 yards and maybe one touchdown, so he should stay on the bench for week four. However, since Atlanta won’t be able to throw very well in the colder weather, I see them coming out run heavy, giving Todd Gurley II plenty of touches and likely two touchdowns. Gurley is a must start for this week.

Wide Receiver/Tight Ends:

Thursday night we have a duel between two teams that haven’t won a game yet. For the Jets, their number one receiver is Braxton Berrios, who normally I would say he should start. But this week, he is going to be matched up against one of Denver’s best cornerbacks AJ Bouye. Bouye should be able to lock down Berrios easily, so I think Berrios should sit this week. For Denver, they have a top three tight end right now in Noah Fant. Although it is unclear who the Broncos will be playing at quarterback the most, I can see both Rypien and Driskel targeting Fant the most. So, Noah Fant should be your starting tight end.

The rest of the league start or sit for week four. (Michael Lolley)

Sunday night we have Philadelphia traveling into San Francisco. The 49ers are a team riddled with injuries and seem to be a little hopeless, especially in their defensive secondary. Meanwhile, Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert is now out with a broken ankle and the league hasn’t said for how long. This leaves a lot of room for Zach Ertz, who is now the sole tight end. I say Ertz should be starting in week four. On the other side of the football, the 49ers have a receiver who is only rostered in 5.7% of leagues and I think he could do something special this week. His name is Kendrick Bourne, and you should pick him up off of waivers and start him this week.

On Monday night, the Falcons will probably come out running heavy, especially in the first half, but now that Julio Jones is back, I say you can start him. But because he’s back, Calvin Ridley won’t be getting as many catches, so he should sit. However, Allen Lazard of Green Bay is looking really good, leading Green Bay in receiving with 254 yards and two touchdowns, I think he’ll continue to keep up his hot start in week four, so he should start as well.