NFL Week 4 Start 'em / Sit 'em
As 2020 marches on and continues to follow its trend of making life miserable, Week 4 of the 2020 NFL season is set to be even worse than the injury-plagued Week 2. This week there are two scratched teams off the schedule in the Titans and the Steelers, with the potential to see four more teams sit out in the Saints, Lions, Patriots, and Chiefs due to COVID-19 breakouts in their locker rooms. Six teams that feature fantasy studs who managers will have to scramble to replace this week.
Luckily, I've got some deep start/sit options for you to consider this week that will help you get a win in a week as chaotic as they come. Let's get into the picks. Stay healthy.
Here's a list of Joe Burrow's basic passing metrics thus far: second in attempts, second in completions, ninth in passing yards, and sixth in interception rate. Burrow has finished weeks as the QB20, QB9, and QB12 so far this season. This week, Burrow gets the Jaguars at home who have allowed performances of QB6 (Fitzpatrick), QB8 (Tannehill), and QB22 (Rivers). The Jaguars are a soft matchup in a home game where Burrow could be without his star running back, meaning he'd be required to have significant passing volume. Burrow has proved he can be a QB1 for fantasy this year, and the Jaguars have proved they can hand out QB1 performances, especially in recent weeks. Start Joe Burrow this week over guys like Brees, Minshew, Brady, and Wentz.
Honorable mentions: Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. SEA), Jared Goff (vs. NYG), Baker Mayfield (at DAL)
The Philadelphia Eagles just can't seem to stay healthy. This week Carson Wentz will be without Alshon Jeffrey, Jalen Reagor, Dallas Goedert, DeSean Jackson, Jason Peters, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. That's at least 5 starters and one backup wide receiver. When this was the case last year, Wentz was able to rely on mediocre wide receiver play, a solid running game, and two great receiving tight ends. As if it weren't already bad enough, Wentz also has the privilege of traveling coast to coast nearly 3000 miles, and meet one of the most difficult defenses in the league with a prolific pass rush. This will be a very difficult game for Wentz to pull off even a QB2 performance.
Honorable mentions: Derek Carr (vs. BUF), Justin Herbert (at TB), Daniel Jones (at LAR)
With Leonard Fournette out for this game, we're about to see a whole lot of Ronald Jones. Last season, when Jones saw at least a 40 percent snap count, he scored greater than 10 half-PPR fantasy points in six out of seven games and greater than 14 half-PPR points in five out of seven. The Chargers are currently allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, but this is skewed by a measly 5 half-PPR fantasy points to Joe Mixon in Week 1. More recently, the Chargers have lost stud linebacker Melvin Ingram and allowed 19.1 fantasy points to Mike Davis. I believe the Bucs will be able to move the ball against this Chargers defense and as a result of this, Jones will see a positive game script with a good chance at a touchdown.
Honorable mentions: Jerick McKinnon (vs. PHI), Myles Gaskin (vs. SEA), Mike Davis (vs. ARI)
The Ravens backfield has been a frustrating situation for fantasy managers so far. Since Week 1's standout performance, JK Dobbins has seen 20 and 24 total snaps against the Chiefs and Texans. This backfield has turned out to be quite possibly the ugliest timeshare in the league, and I don't anticipate it getting any better for Dobbins this week. In a game where the Ravens are favored by two touchdowns, this game could get out of hand quickly, meaning we could see a lot more Gus Edwards than we do JK Dobbins and Mark Ingram. Not only is there a timeshare issue for Dobbins, but Washington is also better than average in fantasy points allowed to running backs, and pretty much every statistic associated with running backs. Dobbins is essentially a touchdown or bust option that should only be played in desperate situations this week.
Honorable mentions: Joshua Kelley (at TB), Adrian Peterson (vs. NO), D'Andre Swift (vs. NO)
I'm all aboard the Justin Jefferson hype train. Reviewing the film from Jefferson's breakout game in Week 3 against the Titans showed Jefferson's ability to shake decent a solid NFL man-to-man cornerback in Malcolm Butler. The Vikings must have seen something on tape from their games against the Colts and Packers as their strategy for Justin Jefferson's usage changed from practically only being used in 3 wide receiver sets as a slot receiver, to taking over the Bisi Johnson wide receiver two role in the offense. In the matchup against the Texans this week, Jefferson will get an easier one on one matchup (Butler vs. Hargreaves), while still benefiting from a bad Vikings defense, and Thielen drawing all the attention. I'm not expecting Jefferson to put up 27 points again, but he's currently being ranked (in ECR) behind guys like Landry, Marvin Jones, Brandin Cooks, and Darius Slayton, all of whom I would rather sit for Jefferson. Roll out Jefferson as a solid flex play with legitimate WR1 upside if he can manage to break one loose again.
Honorable mentions: CeeDee Lamb (vs. CLE), Marvin Jones Jr (vs. NO), Tyler Boyd (vs. JAC)
After a monster Week 1 going for 100 yards and two touchdowns, Darius Slayton has come crashing back down to Earth. While this isn't necessarily Slayton's fault, in fact, a large portion of the blame can be placed on the quarterback play in New York, this is still an offense I'd like to avoid in anything besides a fantastic matchup. Among qualified quarterbacks, Daniel Jones ranks 27th in completion percentage, 33rd in touchdown rate, 30th in interception rate, 30th in yards per attempt, and 32nd in quarterback rating. These are not the statistics you want from the guy who's throwing the ball to your fantasy wide receiver. Not only has Jones been terrible to start the season, but Slayton will also likely draw Jalen Ramsey who's allowed just 11 receptions on 19 targets for 97 yards and just 8.9 yards ADOT in coverage. Avoid Slayton at all costs this week.
Honorable mentions: Brandin Cooks (vs. MIN), Emmanuel Sanders (at DET), Jarvis Landry (at DAL)
This may be a rather bold take, but with all the injuries and unexpected missed games for fantasy managers to deal with this week, you may be desperate for a diamond in the rough. May I present you with Rob Gronkowski, future hall of fame tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who has recently become relevant in the Bucs offense! Gronk went from just 4 targets in his first two games in a Bucs uniform, to 7 targets and 6 receptions in Week 3. Gronk could very well be sitting on your waiver wire right now, and I strongly believe we will see more games from him like we saw in Week 3 rather than Weeks 1 and 2. The Bucs will be missing both Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin this week, which means there's likely about ten extra targets to go around the offense. Gronk looks more comfortable in the offense, and more importantly, Arians and Brady look more comfortable with Gronk in the offense. Ask yourself one question, why would Bruce Arians bring in Gronk for nine million dollars when they already have OJ Howard and Cameron Brate? To me, the answer to that question is because he wants someone in the offense who Brady is familiar with already. Gronk likely needed the first few weeks to get his legs under him and completely learn the new playbook, as Gronk has gone from 69% snaps to 93% (the most among any skill position player) over the past two games. Be proactive instead of reactive and start Rob Gronkowski this week.
Honorable mentions: Mike Gesicki (vs. SEA), TJ Hockenson (vs. NO), Dalton Schultz (vs. CLE)
This is one of the more puzzling starts to a season to figure out. The Browns gave Hooper a $42 million dollar extension this offseason, $23 million of which is fully guaranteed, and yet through three games he has just 7 receptions on 10 targets for 62 yards. For reference, in 2019 Hooper averaged 5.7 receptions on 7.5 targets for 60.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game. What makes this situation even more worrisome is that Hooper is still getting plenty of snaps (77%, 98%, and 86%) with no production. Our fears for Hooper during fantasy draft season seem to be becoming true even to a further degree than we thought. Hooper is an afterthought in the Browns offense currently behind OBJ, Landry, Chubb, Hunt, and debatably even both backup tight ends. Hooper is showing no signs of encouragement for fantasy purposes, so I'm not playing him until he shows some signs of life.
Honorable mentions: Jimmy Graham (vs. IND), Mo Alie-Cox (at CHI), OJ Howard (vs. LAC)