Start ‘EM Sit ‘EM Week 4
Start ‘EM Sit ‘EM Week 4
After a brutal first two weeks of football, we finally got through week 3 fairly unscathed. However, it was too much to expect to finish the week without any major injuries, and so we lost Chargers WR Mike Williams to a season-ending ACL tear. Besides Keenan Allen becoming even more dominant than he has been, this will also pave the way for the other pass-catchers in the offense to contribute. Chief among them might be Austin Ekeler who could return from injury in week 4. The injury to Williams, though, wasn’t the only head-turning event in week 3. The Miami Dolphins put up a whopping 70 points against the struggling Denver Broncos. Yes, 70. In an NFL game. This was without Jaylen Waddle, after he failed to clear the concussion protocol. The Chicago Bears continued to look completely inept offensively (and defensively, for that matter) making fantasy managers everywhere panic about any Bears player they’ve chosen to roster, and C.J. Stroud and Company continue to look much better than advertised as they put on a show against the Jacksonville Jaguars. So what does all this mean for week 4? Which storylines are to be believed and which will come crashing back down to earth? It may still be too early to say for sure but after three weeks things are bit more clear.
Week 4 Starts
*Start Stat Percentage, Via Sleeper
Daniel Jones (QB)
New York Giants vs. SEA (21% Start)
After failing to surpass four fantasy points in week 2, Jones may seem like a curious choice as a start candidate, but hear me out. Jones has proven to be extremely boom or bust through three weeks, with lines of 4.46, 34.74, and 3.98 fantasy points. One thing is becoming abundantly clear. Jones is a matchup-based option. Week 4 against the Seahawks is one of those plus matchups to exploit. To begin the season, the Seahawks have faced Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, and Andy Dalton, giving up an average of 23.64 fantasy points per game. This included a week one anomaly against Stafford, where he failed to throw a single touchdown while passing for 334 yards and no interceptions, leading the Rams to a 30-13 victory. In week two, Goff threw for 323 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, and in week three, Dalton threw for 361 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Needless to say, this Seahawks defense can be thrown on, but Jones adds an extra dimension so his game that none of those other QBs do…the ability to run. With his rushing ability and going up against one of the weaker defenses in the league, week 4 should be another boom week for Jones.
C.J. Stroud (QB)
Houston Texans vs. PIT (11% Start)
So far, throughout his rookie campaign, Stroud has looked poised and sharp. After putting up 10.18 fantasy points against the Baltimore Ravens in week 1, Stroud has put together two 20+ games. As the leader of a young team with a lot of swagger, having attempted 121 passes this season, and as the QB13 on the year, Stroud has to be considered a borderline starter moving forward. This is a team without a lot of proven pieces, but with the emergence of young talents Nico Collins and Tank Dell at wide receiver, we should see Stroud continue to develop and improve. Now he gets to face a Steelers defense that, while solid, isn’t necessarily scary for opposing QBs. Over the first three weeks, the Steelers have given up 260 yards and just under two touchdowns per game through the air. The Steelers offense has looked inconsistent so there is a chance this game stays close, leading to a more balanced game plan from the Texans, but as difficult as it’s been for the Texans to find any success running the ball, their best chance at winning is to rely on Stroud’s arm. Another 20+ point game is likely.
Zack Moss (RB)
Indianapolis Colts vs. LAR (52% Start)
I’m still not convinced that Moss is a talented running back. I’ve seen him fail to produce far too much to have my opinion of him changed by two solid games. Still, I can’t deny what he has done on the field since becoming the starting running back for the Colts. Moss has carried the ball 48 times in two games, rushing for over 200 yards and one touchdown, adding a second touchdown through the air. In his two weeks as the starter, Moss has finished with 18.7 points (RB10) and 21.5 points (RB4.) His snap share went down in week two from a ridiculous 98% to a more reasonable 76%, but he still handled 30 of his teams’ 35 carries. The Rams aren’t particularly easy to run on, but after the two weeks Moss has had, you have to stay in the fire with him until he flames out.
De’Von Achane (RB)
Miami Dolphins vs. BUF (4% Start)
Last week Achane’s teammate, Raheem Mostert, was in this column, now it’s Achane’s turn. As of this writing, Achane is only 47% owned. That is sure to change once waivers clear. Going into week three there was a lot to like about the opportunity facing the Miami offense against Denver, but no one could have predicted that they would go nuclear to the tune of 70 points. It seemed like everyone on Miami’s offense got in on the action. Tagovailoa threw four touchdowns. Tyreek Hill and Robbie Chosen both caught a touchdown pass. Achane and Mostert accounted for eight total touchdowns. Even backup QB Mike White threw a touchdown, and yet, through it all, Achane stood out, looking electric with every touch, finishing with 203 rushing yards on 18 carries, four catches for 30 yards, and four total touchdowns. There is risk in playing Achane against the Bills. We still don’t know how involved he’ll be on a weekly basis, but, after what he did on Sunday, the coaching staff would be wise to continue to get him touches, and, in what is predicted to be a shootout, there could be plenty of production to go around once again.
Tank Dell (WR)
Houston Texans vs. PIT (13% Start)
As goes C.J. Stroud, so too, do his wide receivers. Nico Collins and Tank Dell have been solid through three weeks, but as the WR8 in fantasy, Dell may have overtaken Collins as the WR1 on this team. In week 3 against the Jaguars, Dell caught five balls on seven targets, for 145 yards and one touchdown, finishing as the WR6. This was after a week 2 effort where he had seven receptions on 10 targets for 72 yards and a score. Dell has proven to be a nightmare for opposing defenses with his elite speed and solid route running, constantly finding the hole in the defense. Now he faces a defense that can be thrown on. WR1s have averaged 130 yards and over a touchdown per game against the Steelers. There might be some debate as to who the WR1 is on the Texans, but I’m planting my flag firmly in Dell’s camp.
Courtland Sutton (WR)
Denver Broncos vs. CHI (17% Start)
Don’t get me wrong, this is not an endorsement of Sutton or the Denver Broncos offense. Through three games the Broncos have averaged just 23 points, and even that’s inflated by a broken coverage that left rookie Marvin Mims wide open for a 60-yard score, and a 50-yard Hail Mary that landed in the hands of WR Brandon Johnson. This is not a good offense. Yet, Sutton has been solid, if not spectacular, serving as a safety blanket for Russell Wilson and scoring double-digit fantasy points in two of three contests. In week 4 he will face a Chicago Bears team that can’t seem to stop anyone, giving up a total of 865 yards and seven touchdowns through the air in their first three games. QBs, WRs, TEs, RBs, it doesn’t matter. If they are playing the Bears they should be in your lineup. Sutton has the skill and size to be a problem for this defense and could have his best statistical output of the season.
Kyle Pitts (TE)
Atlanta Falcons vs. JAX (68% Start)
Kyle Pitts should not ever appear in this column. With his talent, he should be a set-it-and-forget-it weekly starter. Still, up to this point, other than his rookie season, which saw him surpass 1000 yards receiving, he has been a disappointment from a fantasy perspective. At some point, you would think it would have to turn around for him, but as long as he has QBs like Marcus Mariota in 2022 or Desmond Ridder this year distributing the ball to him (or, at least, trying to) he’s going to be a fringe starter in the fantasy world’s eyes. But while his situation is less than ideal, his usage in week three was encouraging. Against the Detroit Lions, he saw a 78% snap share and nine targets. Those targets only amounted to five catches for 41 yards, but it was an improvement, and if Ridder hadn’t completely missed him on a few deep balls we’d be having a much different conversation. In week four, Pitts and the Falcons take on the Jaguars in London. The Jaguars have allowed 808 yards and five touchdowns through the air this season. The Falcons do like to run the ball and will do so, but if the Jaguars get out to a hot start, Ridder could be forced to air it out and, as one of the premiere pass-catchers on the team, Pitts would benefit. The targets and receptions should be there. Hopefully, he can gain a few more yards and find the end zone as well.
Week 4 Sits
Justin Fields (QB)
Chicago Bears vs. DEN (65% Start)
If you’ve seen Fields and the Chicago Bears play any football this season, you’ve probably already decided to sit Fields until further notice. If you do still find yourself in a situation where he is the best, or only, QB on your roster, I highly recommend trying to find an option on the waiver wire. At this point, I would start C.J. Stroud ahead of him, and, in the right matchup, Kenny Pickett, Matthew Stafford, and Baker Mayfield might even be options. That may sound crazy, but through three weeks Fields has failed to score more than 17 fantasy points and has often looked completely confused when dropping back to pass. This might be okay if the coaching staff was calling a game that played to his strengths, namely getting outside the pocket to pass or allowing him to take off and run, but they seem to have very little interest in doing so. It’s hard to believe that a team can add a player of D.J. Moore’s caliber, another pass-catching TE in Robert Tonyan, and bulk up their offensive line, and be worse than they were last year, but so far the Bears have proven it’s possible. I wouldn’t play any Bears players (regardless of opponent) until they prove they still know how to play football.
The Justin Fields experiment is over pic.twitter.com/CdkOMNnTBV— Stuckey (@Stuckey2) September 18, 2023
Rhamondre Stevenson (RB)
New England Patriots vs. DAL (92% Start)
I know it might sound crazy for me to suggest you sit someone who is being started in 92% of leagues, but that is exactly what I am suggesting. This is less about the dropped passes in week three. Having caught all nine of his targets through the first two weeks, I’m chalking up his struggles in week three to slick weather conditions. No, I suggest you search for other options because Stevenson and the New England Patriots’ middle-of-the-pack offensive line find themselves going up against Micah Parsons and the Cowboys’ top-eight defensive line. The Cowboys are hungry to take out their week three loss to the Cardinals on someone, and unfortunately, that someone is the Patriots. Stevenson has been extremely inefficient as a runner, failing to average more than 3.33 yards a carry in a single game. I don’t see that changing against the stifling run defense of the Cowboys. Stevenson does provide some pass-catching upside, but not enough to make him an exciting option in week four. If at all possible, keep him on your bench.
Joe Mixon (RB)
Cincinnati Bengals vs. TEN (94% Start)
Yes, that’s right. I’m telling you to sit Stevenson and Mixon in the same article. I like Mixon as an NFL running back. He’s solid and dependable, but throughout his career he has been a volume-based play, running behind an offensive line that finds it very difficult to create any space for him to operate. Through the first three weeks of the NFL season, he has finished as the fantasy RB27, RB20, and RB15 in half-PPR formats, and even his best week (week three) required 20 touches and a touchdown for him to reach 13.5 fantasy points. Even then he has averaged just four yards a carry through three games, and it won’t get any easier in week four against a Titans defense that is designed to stop the run. The Titans have allowed a total of 208 yards and one touchdown on the ground this season. RBs against them have finished as the RB37, RB49, and RB7. Don’t let that RB7 finish by Jerome Ford fool you. He was 10 for 18 yards on the ground, but managed to punch in a touchdown from the three-yard line and then added two catches for 33 yards and a score through the air. Mixon will be the most talented RB they’ve faced so far, but with elite talent at the QB and WR positions, the Bengals would be wise to attack the Titans through the air where they are far more vulnerable. If you have Mixon, it may be impossible to sit him, but you should if you can.
Garrett Wilson (WR)
New York Jets vs. KC (86% Start)
It’s time to have that conversation. I know. You drafted Garrett Wilson in the second round. You had high hopes with the addition of Aaron Rodgers. He was now going to have a talented QB throwing him the ball. The sky was the limit. Then with one season-ending Achilles injury, those hopes were dashed. Garrett Wilson is an elite talent who, under the right circumstances, could’ve been a top 5-7 player at the position, but having to catch passes from Zach Wilson is not the right circumstance. Wilson (Garrett) has not finished better than WR22 in half-PPR formats and is currently the WR28 overall, and even that needs to be taken with a grain of salt because, without a ridiculously acrobatic touchdown catch on a bad throw by Wilson (Zach, man that’s confusing) and a catch on a slant route that Garrett Wilson took 68 yards for the score, it could’ve been much, much worse. The simple fact is Zach Wilson’s struggles (four interceptions and only two touchdown passes) will continue to impact everyone on the team. I wish I could say it will get better in week four, but in facing a sound Chiefs secondary, it might get worse.
Mike Evans (WR)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. NO (85% Start)
Through three weeks, Mike Evans has been solid, finishing in the top 20 at the position every single week, and inside the top 15 twice, so this is much less about the player and his production so far, and more about this one particular matchup. Evans has found it difficult to produce when facing off against New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. In fact, since 2017 there have been 10 games where Evans has played at least 75% of snaps against the Saints. In those games, he only went over 100 yards receiving once. This stretch also included two single-catch games and one zero-catch game, with that 100+ yard game being the only one in which he had more than five receptions. That type of history should make you shy away from this matchup. Evans is a great talent, but in week four he finds himself with a capped ceiling and an incredibly low floor. I’d replace him for a higher upside play, like Tank Dell. Zay Flowers, or Puka Nacua, for one week.
Jake Ferguson (TE)
Dallas Cowboys vs. NE (15% Start)
It’s difficult to predict with any consistency which touchdown-dependent TE you should start and which you should sit, but the matchup facing them is a good place to start. In week four, Ferguson draws an opponent that has been brutal so far to fantasy tight ends. The Patriots have allowed just six receptions for 49 yards to the position through the first three weeks, including a zero-catch outing to Eagles TE Dallas Goedert. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has also struggled at times, passing for over 250 yards and multiple touchdowns in only one of three contests. He does tend to target Ferguson, with the 2nd year TE receiving 18 targets so far, many of which come near the end zone, so there is the chance for a TD, but I wouldn’t count on it. In what could end up being a low-scoring affair, I’d rather get away from Ferguson in week four if I could.
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A die hard Bears fan and fantasy sports fantastic, T.J. Besler earned his journalism (and theatre) degree from The University of Iowa. When he isn’t busy writing parodies for his YouTube channel Parodies for Charities he can be found either on stage performing or doing all things fantasy football related. Besler has traveled to nearly all 50 states either for work or leisure, and is grateful to everyone who has helped him along the way, especially his lovely wife Elsa, without whom much of this would not be possible. BEAR DOWN!