Fantasy sit-start: Lineup advice for every Week 4 game

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/25718/" data-ylk="slk:Ryan Tannehill">Ryan Tannehill</a> should be forced to air it out against an angry <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/nwe" data-ylk="slk:New England Patriots">New England Patriots</a> team. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Ryan Tannehill should be forced to air it out against an angry New England Patriots team. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots

Start: Ryan Tannehill, Sony Michel

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Tannehill has quietly gotten 9.3 YPA with seven TD passes this season and should have to throw more than usual as underdogs against a New England team coming off back-to-back losses.

Michel hasn’t impressed early on, but he should get better the further removed from his knee scope (don’t forget how good he was in college), and he’s looking at a big workload with Rex Burkhead on IR. The Pats should finally have a positive game script with him for the first time.

Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts

Start: Eric Ebron

Sit: Lamar Miller

There’s clearly something wrong with Andrew Luck, and Indy will be missing both of its tackles Sunday, but Eric Ebron — who led all tight ends in Air Yards in Week 3 — should be targeted heavily with Jack Doyle out. The Texans rank last in DVOA against tight ends.

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Miller has averaged 56.5 rushing yards and 0.16 rushing TDs per game since the start of last season and owns the fourth-lowest Success Rate this year. The Colts’ defense has played surprisingly well so far.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Atlanta Falcons

Start: Giovani Bernard in DFS, Matt Ryan

Bernard was a true workhorse last week (no other Bengals RB got a touch), Joe Mixon is out again, and the Falcons have allowed running backs to average 12.0 catches and 85.0 receiving yards while dealing with a ton of defensive injuries this season (their 5.2 YPC allowed is also second-worst in the NFL). Bernard is a top-10 RB this week and remains underpriced in DFS.

Ryan sports a 10.3 YPA with a 9:1 TD:turnover ratio since a rough Week 1 in Philadelphia, and all the injuries to Atlanta’s defense really help his fantasy value. Sunday’s Over/Under is 53.5 points, so Ryan should benefit from yet another shootout.

Buffalo Bills vs. Green Bay Packers

Start: Aaron Jones

Sit: LeSean McCoy

Green Bay is sticking with a committee for now, but Jones looked great during his return last week and as near double-digit favorites, the Packers should have plenty of carries to hand out against a Bills defense that’s ceded the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs. Geronimo Allison also makes for a sneaky start should Randall Cobb sit out (Tre’Davious White should be locked onto Davante Adams).

Green Bay’s run defense has been soft, but this doesn’t call for a great game script for Buffalo carries. McCoy enters banged up and in continued decline (his Juke Rate ranks 56th among backs).

[Week 4 rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys

Start: Kerryon Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott in DFS

Johnson has looked terrific when given the opportunity (unlike other non-Saquon Barkley rookie backs) and should see increased work against a Dallas defense that’s been markedly worse without Sean Lee.

Can Kerryon Johnson be the back Detroit has been waiting for? (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Can Kerryon Johnson be the back Detroit has been waiting for? (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Dallas doesn’t give us many weekly options aside from Elliott, and Week 4 finds him in a terrific spot and worthy of paying up for in DFS. Elliott is seeing more work in the passing game (albeit he’s yet to take advantage of that) and is a strong candidate for 30 touches at home against a Lions front seven that’s allowed an NFL-high 5.4 YPC and the third-most fantasy points to running backs.

New York Jets vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Start: Quincy Enunwa

Sit: Keelan Cole

If you’re going to start any Jet this week against the tough Jaguars defense, make it Enunwa, who should mostly avoid Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye out of the slot. Enunwa’s target share (31%) ranks fifth among wide receivers, just ahead of Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham.

Jacksonville’s defense is the no-brainer No. 1 start this week at home against Sam Darnold, so the team may not have to throw a ton. While Cole has a bright future, he’ll be matched up plenty with Morris Claiborne, who’s allowed just 0.12 fantasy points per pass route this season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Chicago Bears

Start: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Gabriel

The Bears are at home and enter with the No. 1 ranked defensive DVOA and a league-leading 14 sacks, but Fitzpatrick just became the first player in NFL history to throw for 400 yards in three straight games and leads the NFL with a mind-boggling 11.1 YPA. Chicago has also ceded 7.7 YPA, and Tampa Bay brings in the second-fastest Pace (situation neutral) in the NFL, so keep Fitzmagic rolling.

That TB pace should speed up the usually slower Bears, and Gabriel has quietly seen 17 targets over the last two weeks. The Buccaneers have allowed the most fantasy points to the slot this year, where Gabriel has lined up about a third of the time even before Anthony Miller’s injury.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tennessee Titans

Start: Taywan Taylor

Sit: Jay Ajayi

Taylor’s already increasing role will expand with Rishard Matthews’ release, and he gets a Philly secondary that ranks bottom-10 in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Taylor ranks top-10 in fantasy points per pass route, making him an intriguing, cheap DFS option.

Ajayi is set to play this week but is dealing with a small fracture in his back that could knock him out at any moment, and Tennessee has yielded the sixth-fewest fantasy points to running backs.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals

Start: Arizona defense

Sit: Chris Carson

The Cardinals defense hasn’t played as bad as some stats might indicate (having to play the Rams in LA will do that), and Russell Wilson has taken 12 sacks (committing four fumbles) over two road games this year.

Carson has emerged as Seattle’s workhorse, rushing 32 times for 102 yards and a score last week, but that took an extremely favorable game script at home. The Cardinals have ceded the most fantasy points to backs this season but only 3.7 YPC (and rank 11th in run defense DVOA), and the team should play better with a different quarterback now.

Cleveland Browns vs. Oakland Raiders

Start: Antonio Callaway, Amari Cooper

Callaway went for 84 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 and saw 10 targets last week (when his day would’ve been much bigger if Tyrod Taylor didn’t miss him wide open for a 75-yard TD), as Baker Mayfield looked his way plenty after doing so throughout the preseason as well. All Browns get a huge fantasy boost with Mayfield taking over QB duties, and the rookie wideout gets a favorable matchup Sunday against an Oakland secondary that’s been burned for 8.7 YPA, ranked 31st in pass defense DVOA, and last in forced pressure rate. Fire up Callaway, Mayfield, Jarvis Landry and Carlos Hyde with confidence this week.

Antonio Callaway could become Baker Mayfield’s favorite target. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
Antonio Callaway could become Baker Mayfield’s favorite target. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)

Cooper is coming off another disappearing act and has now been held to less than 30 receiving yards in five of his last eight games — frustrating, to say the least. That said, Cleveland could force a shootout Sunday and while Cooper has been moved all over this year, the majority has come on the right side of the field, where the Browns have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points this season (while suddenly reversing course and shutting down tight ends).

San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Start: Matt Breida, Los Angeles defense 

Breida is questionable so be sure to check his status, but if he’s good to go he’s going to be used heavily in the passing game with San Francisco’s new QB situation. He was still tied for the NFL rushing lead before Todd Gurley played Thursday, and Breida’s six carries for 20+ yards this season are twice as many as any other back despite ranking 28th in rushing attempts. The Chargers have ceded the eighth-most fantasy points to backs, so there’s upside here.

The 49ers offense might not be a disaster with C.J. Beathard more comfortable in Kyle Shanahan’s system this time around, but his play was brutal last year. The setup here (10.5-point road underdogs) puts a bunch of sacks and turnovers in play.

New Orleans Saints vs. New York Giants

Start: Ben Watson, Sterling Shepard

Watson’s targets have increased every game this year and he faces a banged-up Giants defense missing Olivier Vernon and Eli Apple in a game with an Over/Under of 51.5 points.

Shepard is looking at a big role in Sunday’s shootout with Evan Engram out and Marshon Lattimore likely shadowing Odell Beckham. The Saints have been gashed for an NFL-high 11.2 YPA with a 10:1 TD:INT ratio (and a whopping 141.7 Passer Rating against) while ranking first in run defense DVOA and last in pass defense DVOA. Moreover, with Patrick Robinson out, Shepard will be matched up in the slot with P.J. Williams, who’s allowed an NFL-high 1.48 points per pass route. Giddyup.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Start: JuJu Smith-Schuster in DFS

Sit: Alex Collins

The Steelers face a tough challenge against a Ravens defense that enters yielding an NFL-low 5.1 YPA, but they always play better at home and Baltimore is by far most vulnerable to the slot (where JJSS has lined up 87% of the time this year).

Collins’ YPC is way down this year (3.4) compared to last (4.6) and after ranking fifth in Juke Rate (32.3%) last season, he’s No. 55 (4.9%) through three weeks in 2018. Collins continues to lose touches both in the passing game and at the goal line to Javorius Allen, and he gets a Steelers defense that’s ceded the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Game script may also not be as favorable as usual for Collins as underdogs in Pittsburgh, so he’s someone to consider benching in Week 4.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Start: All Chiefs, Case Keenum

Not much more can be said about the Chiefs, who are on pace to score the most points in NFL history early on. Denver’s defense hasn’t looked anything close to resembling a unit ready to slow KC down.

Keep your Chiefs running like The Cheetah on Monday night in Denver. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Keep your Chiefs running like The Cheetah on Monday night in Denver. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Keenum has been pretty awful in Denver, but he gets a home start against a Chiefs defense that’s allowed a 106.3 Passer Rating and the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.

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