Fantasy Sit-Start: Lineup advice for every Week 4 game

Sits and starts are all relative, so consider these suggestions more “fliers” and “fades” (note that some are targeted for DFS).

Good luck with your Week 4 lineups!

Carolina Panthers @ Houston Texans

Start: Kyle Allen, Kenny Stills

Allen was a huge upgrade over an injured Cam Newton, and he gets another plus matchup against a Houston secondary that’s handed out a 101.8 Passer Rating in the early going. He’ll benefit from the many legit weapons at his disposal, which this version of Newton simply couldn’t properly utilize.

Stills has overtaken Keke Coutee as Houston’s slot receiver, where he’s leading the NFL in yards per route run by a mile (minimum 50 routes). Stills is a sleeper this week for those in deeper leagues.

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens

Sit: Baker Mayfield

Start: Marquise Brown

Thanks in part to poor coaching and suboptimal offensive line play, Mayfield has been one of the season’s biggest busts (Daniel Jones nearly has as many fantasy points), as he ranks last in Positive Percentage throws according to Sports Info Solutions (among QBs who’ve attempted at least 100 passes this season). He now gets a tough Baltimore defense on the road with Marlon Humphrey (who’s ceded a minuscule 0.20 fantasy points per route) locked onto favorite target Odell Beckham Jr., and David Njoku out.

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Cleveland corners Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams might be out, so fire up Brown with confidence despite last week’s disappointing box score. The rookie saw nine targets and had the second-most air yards in the league, so he’s a top-15 WR on my board against the injury-ravaged Browns secondary.

Washington Redskins @ New York Giants

Start: Paul Richardson, Wayne Gallman

Richardson has scored in back-to-back weeks and even saw nine targets last game, and he’s set to face off against rookie DeAndre Baker, who’s allowed the most fantasy points per route this season. The Giants have been exploited for an NFL-high 10.5 YPA and have ceded the second-most fantasy points to wideouts. Richardson would go from intriguing flier to WR2 territory if Terry McLaurin has to sit out (he was a late-week addition to the injury report).

Gallman is obviously a big downgrade in talent, but he took all of the snaps after Saquon Barkley left last week’s game, and he enters Week 4 as New York’s clear lead back with Elijhaa Penny the only other RB on the roster. Gallman reportedly struggled with drops during summer but saw 48 targets in limited work as a rookie in 2017, so there’s PPR appeal, and the Giants have an improved offensive line that’s only getting better.

Most importantly, New York’s offense is now interesting with Daniel Jones looking like a major upgrade at QB, and Gallman gets a favorable matchup right away. Both teams are top-five in pace and Washington comes in with the No. 25 ranked run defense DVOA, as this game features one of the highest totals of the week. Gallman was the starting RB for Clemson’s national championship team in 2016, and he’s now suddenly a feature back on a team led by Danny Dimes up against one of the league’s worst defenses, yet he’s the minimum $10 in Yahoo DFS this week.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Miami Dolphins

Sit: Kenyan Drake

I originally included Justin Jackson as a "Start" here, but it should be noted Jackson (who leads the NFL in YPC after contact) was added to the injury report Thursday, and was ruled out of Week 4 on Friday. He would've been this week’s backup RB to see extended work in clock-kill mode for a team heavily favored against a Miami defense that’s been gashed for the most fantasy points by running backs. With Jackson sitting out, Austin Ekeler might get all the touches he can handle in this highly favorable matchup and with Melvin Gordon returning to action from his holdout next week..

It wasn’t long ago Drake set the record for best YPC after contact, but he lost a fumble last week and continues to be graded as one of the worst blocking running backs. Tanking Miami has a dire situation along its offensive line, and it’s tough recommending players from a team that’s a 16.5-point underdog while at home against a squad with a losing record.

Oakland Raiders @ Indianapolis Colts

Start: Tyrell Williams

Start in DFS: Marlon Mack ($24)

Williams was invisible until a garbage-time TD late last week, but he gets a better matchup Sunday, ranks top-20 in air yards this year and should see a lot of coverage from struggling rookie, Rock Ya-Sin.

The Colts enter with arguably the biggest advantage up front this week, an implied team total of 26 points and a hobbled T.Y. Hilton against the league’s 29th ranked defense DVOA. Mack continues to quietly be more involved as a receiver (he’s running more routes than his reception numbers may suggest) and should be considered a top-five RB in Week 4.

Marlon Mack #25 of the Indianapolis Colts
Consider Marlon Mack a top-five option this week. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs @ Detroit Lions

Start: Mecole Hardman

Start in DFS: Kerryon Johnson ($19)

The inconsistent Sammy Watkins should see a lot of Darius Slay coverage, while the speedy Hardman should have fun playing catch with Patrick Mahomes during the QB’s first NFL game in a dome stadium (with Tyreek Hill still out and a banged-up rushing attack).

Johnson saw a big increase in usage without C.J. Anderson last week, and while the YPC remains ugly (in part thanks to seeing a big increase in stacked boxes compared to last season), that should improve against a Chiefs defense that ranks last in run defense DVOA (just like last season) and is allowing a league-high 6.2 YPC (next worst is 5.4). The Lions may even be forced to play quicker trying to keep up with KC’s offense during this game that features the week’s highest total (55 points), making Johnson a top-10 RB option.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

Sit: Tom Brady, John Brown

Brady’s off to a terrific start, but Julian Edelman is banged up, Antonio Brown was released, and he’s on the road against a stingy Buffalo secondary that yielded the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last season (and sixth-fewest this year). Brady is more of a QB2 this week.

Brown has a positive outlook moving forward but faces a tough task Sunday against shadow corner Stephon Gilmore, so you’ll want him on your bench in Week 4.

Tennessee Titans @ Atlanta Falcons

Sit: Marcus Mariota

Start in DFS: Julio Jones ($38)

It’s tough recommending anyone in the Titans passing game outside of Delanie Walker, and Mariota continues to hold the ball too long without attacking downfield. He’s in real danger of getting benched at some point this season.

Jones has scored 12 touchdowns over his last 12 games and this week gets Malcolm Butler and company, who’ve yielded the fourth-most fantasy points to his primary side this season. Jones is the No. 1 WR this week and worth paying up for in DFS.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Los Angeles Rams

Sit: Jameis Winston

Start: Jared Goff

Winston committed 12 turnovers in six road games last year, has a banged-up Chris Godwin’s availability in question and gets a Rams defense that’s allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Goff sports a 23:3 TD:INT ratio with a 9.1 YPA mark over nine games at home since the start of last season and faces a Bucs funnel defense that sports the No. 2 ranked run defense DVOA (and yielding the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season), yet is beatable through the air.

Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals

Start: Will Dissly, Christian Kirk

Dissly is up to three touchdowns on the year already and gets the league’s most inviting defense against tight ends. In fact, the difference between the Cardinals and the team with the second-most fantasy points allowed per game to tight ends is greater than No. 2 and No. 29. Dissly is a borderline top-five tight end option this week for the suddenly pass-happy Seahawks.

Kirk is still searching for his first touchdown, but his 32 targets tie him for fifth in the NFL, and Arizona continues to lead the league in pace (overall and in neutral situations). Moreover, Seattle’s once-vaunted secondary has ceded a 100.4 Passer Rating this season.

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears

Sit: Stefon Diggs, David Montgomery

Diggs won’t be this bad all season (just six catches through three games), but Minnesota’s run-heavy strategy is really killing his fantasy value, and he gets a Chicago secondary that’s limited receivers on his primary side to the second-fewest fantasy points this season.

Montgomery has emerged as Chicago’s clear lead back, although that hasn’t resulted in a ton of fantasy value yet, and while Mitch Trubisky plays better at home, Sunday’s matchup won’t be easy against a tough Minnesota defense.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Denver Broncos

Sit: D.J. Chark

Start: Phillip Lindsay

Chark has opened the season scoring in all three games and looks like a favorite of Gardner Minshew, but he’ll be locked up against Chris Harris this week in a game with weather that could wreak havoc on the passing attack, with gusts possibly reaching 40 mph.

This windy matchup should heavily feature the run, and Lindsay faces a Jaguars defense that’s ranked No. 26 in rush defense DVOA. He’s tied for the NFL lead with five carries inside the five-yard line this season, while Royce Freeman has been limited in practice and is hobbled by a shoulder injury.

Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints

Start: Devin Smith

Sit in DFS: Michael Thomas ($30)

Amari Cooper looks likely to go but will be playing at less than 100% while Michael Gallup remains sidelined, and the exciting Smith gets a New Orleans secondary that’s been shredded for 8.9 YPA while allowing the second-most fantasy points to his primary side.

Thomas is slated to be shadowed by Byron Jones and is going to suffer from having a struggling Teddy Bridgewater throwing to him. He’s not someone to consider paying up for this week in DFS and expectations should be held in check in season-long leagues.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sit: John Ross

Start in DFS: James Conner ($28)

Ross is having a nice breakout season, but Cincinnati’s offense Monday night is likely to flow through Tyler Boyd, as Pittsburgh has been the most vulnerable team in football to the slot this season. Meanwhile, Ross will be frequently lined up across Joe Haden, who’s allowed just 0.22 fantasy points per route.

While you’re fading Michael Thomas in the SNF/MNF slate, you can spend it on Conner, who’s struggled mightily this year but faces a Bengals front seven that’s allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season (and the Dolphins almost shouldn’t count).

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