Fantasy Football: Sit/Start tips for Week 4 of the NFL season

Fantasy football sit-and-start advice should always be relative and league-dependent. Note that some players are targeted for DFS. Good luck with your Week 4 lineups!

Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints (London)

Sit: Kirk Cousins

Start: Chris Olave

Cousins isn’t a bad start this week, but you may have better alternatives (Marcus Mariota, Geno Smith — more on both later) given his matchup’s low total against a Saints defense that’s allowed just 191.1 passing yards per game, an NFL-low two passing scores and the 10th fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Andy Dalton will start for New Orleans, and Minnesota somehow has a lower neutral pass rate this season compared to last, so volume may not be there for Cousins this week.

Olave will have to adjust to a different quarterback this week, but he can be treated as a top-25 WR regardless with 150+ more air yards than any other pass catcher in the league (which historically portends big fantasy seasons). Michael Thomas was ruled out Friday and Alvin Kamara joined the Saints' inactives Sunday morning, so Olave’s looking at double-digit targets in Week 4.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Philadelphia Eagles

Start: Travis Etienne & James Robinson

Sit: Miles Sanders

The Eagles have somehow allowed a full yard more against the run (5.4 YPC) than the pass (NFL-low 4.4 YPA) this season, so Jacksonville figures to feature its running backs Sunday. While the Jaguars have trailed far less this season compared to last, Jacksonville is near-touchdown underdogs in Philadelphia, so game script could help Etienne more than usual this week. The Eagles have allowed the fourth-most targets to running backs this season, so both Jaguars RBs should be busy Sunday.

It’s nice to see Sanders getting goal-line work this season, and he’s a threat to lead the league in YPC, but Sunday could be Philadelphia’s first matchup this season in which they aren’t nursing a comfortable second-half lead. Game script may not be as positive against a legit Jacksonville team that’s vastly improved on both sides of the ball, including a run defense allowing the lowest EPA/rush (-0.31) in the NFL.

In fact, while the Jaguars have allowed some nice receiving games to running backs this season, Jacksonville has yielded an NFL-low 47.0 rushing yards per game and zero rushing touchdowns to open the year. It’s not exactly an ideal matchup for Sanders, whose 6.4 percent target share ranks 43rd among backs.

Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens

Start in DFS: Josh Allen ($40), Mark Andrews ($28)

Allen is second only to Lamar Jackson in fantasy scoring this season, so you can choose whichever QB you prefer in this matchup. Allen, however, gets a Baltimore secondary that continues to battle injuries and has allowed Tua Tagovailoa to throw for six touchdowns and Mac Jones to throw for a career-high 321 yards (10.0 YPA without his WR1) over the last two weeks.

This matchup has the highest over/under this week (50.5 points), and passing should be featured on both sides.

Given the huge positional advantage, Andrews has an argument as a top-three overall fantasy player. The tight end leads all pass catchers in target share and target-per-route run rate and is third in air yards this season. He’s recorded 116 catches for 1,420 yards and 12 touchdowns over his last 17 games. His quarterback, Lamar Jackson, leads the NFL by a wide margin in target percentage to tight ends (34%!) over the last five seasons and looks determined to win MVP in a contract year.

Andrews’ crazy splits without Marquise Brown have only gotten more extreme in 2022, so he’s a strong DFS building block in a matchup with this week’s highest total against a Buffalo secondary dealing with multiple injuries.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Houston Texans

Sit: Chargers D/ST

Start: Dameon Pierce

The Chargers defense ranks bottom-12 in EPA/play this season, will be missing Joey Bosa and faces a quarterback who’s played extremely well at home to start his career. Look for alternatives for your fantasy D/ST this week.

Pierce fumbled twice last week, but coach Lovie Smith says he’s sticking with the impressive rookie, who’s also shown more receiving ability than the box score may indicate so far. Rex Burkhead remains involved on passing downs, but Pierce has out-carried him 35-to-3 over the last two weeks, including six rushes inside the 10-yard line. Pierce looks legit and gets a Chargers defense missing Bosa this week. The Texans’ offense should also benefit from Davis Mills playing so much better in Houston, as his splits (5.5 YPA, 5:11 TD:INT ratio on the road) over the same number of games are extreme (7.7 YPA, 14:1 TD:INT ratio at home).

Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions

Start: Geno Smith, Jamaal Williams

The Seahawks are passing 10% more often with Smith than they did the past three seasons with Russell Wilson, and Detroit has allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. In a matchup that should be fast-paced and sports the second-highest total of the week (47.5 points), Smith is a sleeper to be a top-10 fantasy QB.

Williams was the No. 3 fantasy back last week thanks to a D’Andre Swift shoulder injury that will sideline him Sunday and potentially beyond. With the help of one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, it’s a good situation to be lead back, even if Craig Reynolds will see some work Sunday. Williams was getting the majority of Detroit’s all-important red-zone usage even before Swift went down, ranking first in the NFL both in carries inside the 10 and inside the five-yard line this season.

Jamaal Williams #30 of the Detroit Lions has fantasy value
Jamaal Williams is pretty much a must-fantasy start this week. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Williams doesn’t have nearly the same explosion as Swift, but he’s a capable receiver who should also see increased targets this week with Amon-Ra St. Brown being ruled out. The Lions are home favorites with one of the highest implied team totals this week and facing a Seahawks defense allowing 4.9 YPC and the third-most rushing scores this season.

Williams can be treated as a borderline top-five fantasy RB this week.

Cleveland Browns @ Atlanta Falcons

Start in DFS: Amari Cooper ($23)

Start: Marcus Mariota

Despite a slow Week 1 with his new team, Cooper ranks top-five in target share and third in air yardage share this season. He now gets to play his first game of the season indoors against a Falcons defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers and the fourth-most EPA/pass in a matchup with one of this week’s highest totals.

Cleveland enters with a middling defense that will be without Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney is questionable, while Mariota has averaged 8.1 YPA and 30.7 rushing yards (with two rushing TDs). He’s running as often as any quarterback not named Jalen Hurts and only a low Falcons pass rate has prevented bigger fantasy numbers from Mariota.

This week, however, Atlanta may throw more in a matchup tied for the second-highest over/under (47.5 points) of the slate and Cordarrelle Patterson tending to an injury. Playing indoors with Kyle Pitts and emerging star Drake London, Mariota is a strong fantasy start.

Washington Commanders @ Dallas Cowboys

Start: Curtis Samuel

Sit: Michael Gallup

Given his usage, Samuel has become the Washington WR you can trust most in weekly fantasy lineups. For what it’s worth, Trevon Diggs is expected to shadow Terry McLaurin (and the corner has been much better in coverage so far this season).

With Cooper Rush proving competent and him getting all those targets, I’ve moved CeeDee Lamb to my WR6 this week, but it’s safest to bench Gallup, who’ll be on a snap count during his season debut.

New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Start: Breece Hall, Diontae Johnson

Zach Wilson is unlikely to target his backs as frequently as Joe Flacco, but Hall’s arrow is pointing up anyway. The NFL’s leader in target per route run rate, Hall gets a Steelers defense missing T.J. Watt and allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.

The Jets have some young defensive backs with plenty of potential, but New York has ceded the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers and the third-most EPA/pass (0.32) this season. Johnson’s fantasy upside remains as limited with Mitch Trubisky as it was with Ben Roethlisberger, but good volume remains as well; Johnson ranks sixth in targets and, among the top-13 leaders in the category this season, he’s the only one without a touchdown.

Denver Broncos @ Las Vegas Raiders

Start: Jerry Jeudy

Sit: Derek Carr

Don’t judge Jeudy on his quiet last two weeks, when he’s played limited snaps while dealing with an injury. He’s returned to full practice this week and isn’t even listed on the injury report. Russell Wilson hasn’t exactly impressed this season, but Jeudy was a top-12 PPR WR in Week 1 when he was healthy. And this week, the Broncos play indoors against a pass-funnel Raiders defense that’s allowed the second-most fantasy points to the slot this season (where Jeudy has run 66% of his routes).

Meanwhile, Las Vegas has ceded the second-fewest fantasy points to outside receivers (where Courtland Sutton has run 85% of his routes). It doesn’t always work out the way matchups appear, but this certainly sets up for a Jeudy smash week.

Carr is the QB12 according to expert consensus ranks this week, but he’s a bench consideration against a Denver defense yielding just 5.4 YPA and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. A favorable schedule has helped, but a stingy Broncos defense has yet to allow a top-12 QB or a top-24 RB/WR fantasy performance this season.

Las Vegas is desperate for a win, but the Josh McDaniels hire is already looking disastrous.

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts

Start: Treylon Burks

Sit: All Colts but Jonathan Taylor & Michael Pittman

Burks remains a limited route runner, but his participation has increased each week, and the Titans figure to pass more than usual Sunday facing a Colts funnel defense allowing an NFL-low 2.6 YPC yet one that ranks bottom-five in EPA/pass (0.20).

Treylon Burks #16 of the Tennessee Titans
Will Week 4 provide Treylon Burks' breakout game? (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

A comical number of KC special teams mistakes helped the Colts secure their much-needed first win of the season last week, but this is an Indy offense that ranks dead last in the NFL in EPA/play (-0.20). Matt Ryan appears to have aged 10 years over the offseason, as he’s getting just 6.6 YPA with three touchdowns and nine interceptions/fumbles. That kills the fantasy values of all Colts outside of Taylor and Pittman.

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers

Sit: Kyler Murray

Start: DJ Moore

Volume has helped Murray’s fantasy value stay afloat, but the QB is off to an extremely rough start. In fact, his 5.6 YPA is better than only Mitch Trubisky's (5.5), and Murray has played every game indoors. Put differently, Murray ranks second in pass attempts yet 12th in yards. Volume may not be there Sunday in a matchup with a low total (43.5 points) and featuring an Arizona team that ranks last in Pace in neutral situations.

They also rank toward the bottom of the league in pre-snap motion and play action, so it’s not all Murray’s fault. The Cardinals don’t figure to be playing from behind as much this week either, after trailing a combined 31-0 after the first quarter over their first three games.

Murray has also curtailed running after signing a huge offseason contract, averaging 40% fewer carries and 45% fewer rushing yards over the first three games compared to his prior career marks. Now Arizona travels for a game outdoors against a Carolina defense that’s yielded just 5.9 YPA while allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Expectations should be tempered this week.

There’s some concern about Byron Murphy shadowing (and Baker Mayfield quarterbacking), but this is a struggling Arizona defense with an NFL-low two sacks that has allowed an NFL-high 0.34 EPA/pass and the fifth-most fantasy points to outside receivers (where Moore has run 77% of his routes) this season. And it stands to reason Carolina’s league-high pace should start leading to more plays on offense. Christian McCaffrey is reportedly likely to play with a thigh injury but could be limited, so Moore has potential to see a ton of targets Sunday.

New England Patriots @ Green Bay Packers

Start: Damien Harris & Rhamondre Stevenson, Romeo Doubs

Neither Patriots back appears like a great fantasy start with New England the biggest underdogs (+9.5 points) on the board this week, but the Patriots enter with the No. 1 rush offense in DVOA, while Green Bay comes in with the last-ranked run defense. New England also has a coaching advantage and will be relying heavily on its backs with Brian Hoyer starting a (trap) game that’s likely to be far closer than the spread indicates.

Weekly playing time can be highly misleading, as the NE backs rotate series. Either can be started as a flex option Sunday.

Doubs is a bit of a risk, but the rookie led Green Bay in targets and routes run last week and could quickly emerge as the team’s WR1 moving forward.

Chicago Bears @ New York Giants

Start: Khalil Herbert

Sit: All Giants but Saquon Barkley

Herbert would be a flex option if David Montgomery suited up Sunday. Since Monty has been ruled out, Herbert is to be considered a top-five RB on Sunday. Following an impressive rookie campaign, Herbert leads the NFL this season in explosive rush rate, was third among RBs in route involvement after Montgomery left last week and stands out in rush yards over expectation.

In other words, Herbert is a budding star capable of overcoming extremely shaky QB play. The Bears get a Giants defense allowing the second-most EPA/rush this season, so Herbert is a must fantasy start.

The Giants are a fantasy wasteland outside of Barkley right now, and Sunday’s matchup features the lowest total of the week. Richie James is a deep sleeper, while Barkley has produced his best fantasy performances when New York has been favorites.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sit: Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Start: Tom Brady

Edwards-Helaire has remarkably been the No. 4 fantasy back so far this year, but he’s been incredibly touchdown-dependent while averaging a modest 11 touches per game. He’s had a lower snap% than Jerick McKinnon every week, and Sunday the Chiefs face a stout Bucs run defense allowing the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. Temper expectations for CEH this week.

Brady should get reinforcements back in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and possibly Julio Jones this week in a matchup that will likely require plenty of passing up against a potent Kansas City offense.

Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers

Sit: Everyone except the stars

The 49ers have allowed an NFL-low 3.9 yards per play and enter with the highest pressure rate in football (the Rams have the lowest pressure rate).

San Francisco has also given up just six targets for three catches and 23 scoreless yards to all tight ends combined this season. Over his last six regular season games, Matthew Stafford has a 10:12 TD:INT line, and the Rams’ backfield remains muddled. The total has dropped down to 42.5 points in this game featuring two teams in the bottom-six in Pace (neutral situations).

The Rams have an elite run defense, and Jimmy Garoppolo must figure out his struggles without star left tackle Trent Williams. It’s all a recipe for a low-scoring game Monday night.

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