Week 4 fantasy football power rankings and full slate guide

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/29274/" data-ylk="slk:Sterling Shepard">Sterling Shepard</a> and <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/6760/" data-ylk="slk:Eli Manning">Eli Manning</a> have a chance to do damage against a leaky Saints secondary. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Sterling Shepard and Eli Manning have a chance to do damage against a leaky Saints secondary. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Here, I’ll run through every Week 4 game and rank them from best to worst from a fantasy perspective. We’ll also look at betting lines to project possible winners and game script, and examine one key matchup to watch in each game.

1. Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons (1:00 pm EST)

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Total: 51
Favorite: Falcons (-5) 

The Bengals (5th) and Falcons (9th) both enter Week 4 among the top-10 offenses in scoring percentage. It’s easy to see why this game carries the second-highest total of the week. Atlanta has sustained major losses across their defense. While Cincinnati has a strong pass rush and players with great pedigree in the secondary, they’re still in the top half of the league in terms of points allowed (77). These teams are also among the most up-tempo units in the NFL, recording the 10th (Bengals) and (13th) fastest seconds per play in neutral situations, per Football Outsiders. All the ingredients are here for a shootout game and you should break ties in favor of players in this contest for fantasy.

Matchup to watch

The Falcons have been devastated right in the heart of their once-athletic defense. Both starting safeties are now on IR and their all-star middle linebacker Deion Jones is out for the foreseeable future. The Falcons have resumed their place at the top of the league in terms of catches allowed to running backs (36) for the fourth-year running. This year, backs averaged over seven yards per catch against them without Jones and Keanu Neal around to complete the design of the defense and clean those plays up. If Joe Mixon sits for the second-straight week, Giovani Bernard will have double-digit catch upside in Week 4. Bernard is a proven pass-catcher and would follow in the footsteps of Christian McCaffrey (14) and Alvin Kamara (15) among backs to have plastered this team with receptions. Given those personnel deficiencies, Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert could be set for an overdue big outing. Eifert is coming off season-highs in catches and yards against the Panthers.

2. New Orleans Saints at New York Giants (4:25 pm EST)

Total: 50
Favorite: Saints (-3.5) 

We’ve already seen the best and worst of Eli Manning so far this season. After a ho-hum performance in Week 1 against the Jaguars, Manning was an outright disaster against the Cowboys on national television in Week 2 before dicing up the Texans last week. The Next Gen Stats player tracking data shows that Manning is outperforming his expected completion percentage by 4.1%, sixth-best in the NFL. The Saints will no doubt do their part on offense and defense to help push this into a shootout. With Manning showing over the first month of the season that he can operate this offense with efficiency against pushover defenses, the Giants offense can get over on a defense allowing a league-high 10.9 yards per attempt.

Matchup to watch

The Giants offense is stacked with top-level skill position talent, but that makes the target distribution quite thin among Odell Beckham, Evan Engram, Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard. With Engram removed from the equation for at least this week, that widens the range of volume outcomes for the other three. The direct beneficiary should be Sterling Shepard in Week 4. With Engram vacating targets in the middle of the field, Shepard should be able to boost an already strong 18 percent target share. With Patrick Robinson out for the Saints, Shepard will draw coverage from P.J. Williams, who has allowed a perfect 158.3 passer rating in coverage this year, per Pro Football Focus.

3. Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (8:15 pm EST on Monday)

Total: 56
Favorite: Chiefs (-4) 

The Chiefs once again participate in the game with the highest projected total of the week. Kansas City ranks second in yards per drive (41.2) and first in points per drive (3.6), so there’s no question that they can hold up their end of the bargain. But can the Broncos? Their offense has been a middling unit thus far, ranking 20th in points per drive. Denver’s defense has been particularly vulnerable through the air, ranking 19th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA while carrying a fifth-place ranking against the run. Denver playing at home should be able to stay competitive given their opponent’s defensive deficiencies. Yet, this is still an aggressive total given we have one elite offense in this contest, not two.

Matchup to watch

Despite scoring twice in Week 3, Kareem Hunt still fell out of the RB1 range. Hunt’s utter lack of passing usage (three targets in three weeks) is a major anchor to his fantasy floor. If he isn’t able to rip off big rushing numbers or find the end zone, that type of usage indicates he will legitimately hurt your fantasy roster. In Week 4, Hunt will draw a matchup with the once proud Denver defense, a shell of what it was in the secondary, yet still allowing just 3.5 yards per carry to opposing rushers.

4. Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (8:20 pm EST)

Total: 51
Favorite: Steelers (-3) 

We think of the Steelers as a high-flying offense and they certainly are. However, the Ravens rank seventh in points per drive. With a trio of new wide receivers — notably John Brown who owns team-high 222 receiving yards — Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense is cooking. They’ve also received contributions from both running backs, Alex Collins and Buck Allen. The Steelers defense is an absolute joke as currently constructed. They run little press coverage at the line and have allowed 7.5 yards per pass attempt this year, a full yard more than their 2017 finish. The Ravens can do their part to make this a high-scoring game.

John Brown looks primed to rip through a Steelers secondary that has been generous this season. (Getty Images)
John Brown looks primed to rip through a Steelers secondary that has been generous this season. (Getty Images)

Matchup to watch

After an explosive Week 1 performance, you can bet there are overly-demanding fantasy owners who are disappointed by James Conner’s last two games. Heading into a matchup against a Ravens defense that allows just 3.8 yards per carry, you can bet there will be some who even consider benching him. Don’t. Conner currently fourth in the NFL with 54 carries and while he doesn’t bring quite the receiving volume in the passing game once held by Le’Veon Bell he’s still caught five balls in each of his three starts with 9.3 yards per catch average.

5. San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Chargers (4:25 pm EST)

Total: 46.5
Favorite: Chargers (-10.5)

Coming into this game getting 10.5 points from Vegas, the 49ers look to have lost all hope with C.J. Beathard coming in for the now-disposed Jimmy Garoppolo. Beathard was mostly a nightmare last year, losing all but one of his five starts while getting dropped for 19 sacks and posting a 2.7 percent interception rate. The Chargers defense hasn’t been up to par with Joey Bosa out of the lineup in the early going of 2018 but this is a smash spot for them at home as a double-digit favorite.

Matchup to watch

C.J. Beathard showed little ability to get the ball down the field to perimeter playmakers during his run as the 49ers starter last year. He was so willing to check down that Carlos Hyde, a player with little to no passing game pedigree on his resume, averaged 8.3 targets per game during Beathard’s starts. Neither of the 49ers current running backs, Matt Breida or Alfred Morris, are big-time receiving weapons either but with how hot Breida is as a runner (leads the NFL in yards), it might make sense for Beathard to get the ball out to him on swings and screens. He also might not be able to help himself. The Chargers haven’t ceded many catches (14) to running backs but have been ripped for big plays, allowing the seventh-most yards. Don’t rule out versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk chipping in as a receiver, either. He’s averaging over 17 yards per catch this year.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 46.5
Favorite: Bears (-3)

Here’s a case of one immovable object facing an unstoppable force, and an extremely stoppable force going against an easily-moved object. Ryan Fitzpatrick and his lights-out Buccaneers passing game will face their stiffest test so far, going against a Bears defense that is top-five in scoring rate allowed and No. 1 in sacks (14). If the Bucs can move the ball against the Bears defense, Chicago’s offense will need to come out of its shell. Luckily, the Tampa Bay defense has been extremely generous, allowing league-highs in completion rate and yards through the air. Mitchell Trubisky is one of the most limited quarterbacks in the league right now, manning a Bears offense loaded with talent to just 29.3 yards per drive (22nd). This is one of the most difficult games to predict on the Week 4 slate.

Matchup to watch

Over 74 percent of DeSean Jackson’s yardage has come on deep passes (20-plus yards) this season, where he’s caught all five targets for 232 yards. Chicago has allowed 7.7 yards per pass attempt, which is in the top half of the league. However, it’s fair to wonder if Khalil Mack and the Bears pass rush doesn’t give Fitzpatrick the time he’ll need to find Jackson downfield. Chris Godwin has the far more bankable usage for consistent production trailing only Mike Evans in overall targets and leading the team in red zone looks and targets inside the 10-yard line.

7. Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 48
Favorite: Patriots (-7) 

It looks like a clear bounce-back spot here for the Patriots, as a seven-point home favorite over the 3-0 Miami Dolphins. New England can’t get off the field on defense, ranking 25th in seconds per defensive play this season, while their offense looks utterly ordinary. Of course, we don’t expect the latter to last long. The Dolphins offense has been making splash plays through the air, with Ryan Tannehill trailing only Patrick Mahomes and Ryan Fitzpatrick in touchdown percentage (9.5 percent). This is still a low volume attack overall, as the team ran just 155 plays (31st) through three weeks and is bottom-20 in yards per drive and drive success rate. Given the way these teams have performed through three weeks, this spread looks generous. However, if they regress back toward their expected means, a touchdown-plus victory is well within the Patriots’ grasp.

Matchup to watch

The fantasy community may well have Josh Gordon fatigue. No one can blame us. Who knows just how much, if at all, Gordon will play for the Patriots on Sunday but it’s painfully clear how much they need him. Tom Brady’s 21.6 passer rating on deep throws ranks dead last among quarterbacks with 10-plus attempts, per Pro Football Focus. New England’s offense does not have any consistent vertical separator. Gordon would theoretically be a gargantuan upgrade in that spot. Even if he gets on the field to try his hand, he’ll do so in the crosshairs of Dolphins emerging star perimeter corner, Xavien Howard. 

8. Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 47
Favorite: Colts (-1)

We aren’t getting the play we expected out of either quarterback here. With Deshaun Watson, we’re still getting the same approach: he currently ranks third in the NFL in deep ball percentage but has been dying by the sword more often this year. Watson has thrown three picks with a 77.0 passer rating on deep throws after making his money on those plays last season. The Texans rank 23rd in passing success rate, per Sharp Football Stats. Andrew Luck, on the hand, has thrown just 5.6 percent of his passes 20-plus yards down the field. Only Blaine Gabbert checks in with a lower deep ball rate among starting quarterbacks. Luck has played much more like late-career Drew Brees this season than the reckless gunslinger he was in his youth. This makes sense given his injury history but unfortunately, Luck doesn’t have near the quality of players around him that Brees has down in New Orleans. With both front-sevens heating up, a 47-point total for these AFC South teams feels generous.

Matchup to watch

After scoring touchdowns in Weeks 1 and 2, we saw Eric Ebron lose a contested pass in the end zone against the Eagle last week. He looked much more like the player many fantasy owners came to dislike over the first few years of his career. However, Ebron saw 11 targets and ran 38 routes, fourth-most among Week 3 tight ends. As of Thursday, Jack Doyle has yet to practice this week. If Doyle sits again in Week 4, Ebron makes for a nice contrarian play after he whiffed last week. The Texans have allowed tight ends to catch 13 of 14 targets at a 15.1 yards per reception clip with two touchdowns tacked on top.

9. Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders (4:05 pm EST)

Total: 45
Favorite: Raiders (-2.5)

While the Saints and Chiefs are two of the most nationally picked-on defenses, Oakland is right up there with them inside the top-three in yards per play allowed (6.9). The Raiders provide an ultra-soft-landing spot for Baker Mayfield’s first official start after he diced up a superior Jets secondary in relief duty last week. Oakland ranks dead last in sacks (three) through three games, and of course, Jon Gruden isn’t sure why. The Browns offense looked like it was made for Baker Mayfield all along, passing out of their 11 personnel sets 66 percent of the time and requiring precision throws. Mayfield now takes the controls in the easiest possible matchup, despite it being a road spot.

Matchup to watch 

Derek Carr has thrown just 24.8 percent of his passes under pressure this season, per PFF, because he’s getting rid of the ball in under 2.5 seconds. When teams do get near him, the veteran quarterback wilts. He’s chucked an NFL-high four picks in those instances and his passer rating (32.1) when pressured is trailed only by both Cardinals and Bills quarterbacks. Carr will run into major problems against an underrated pass rushing group spearheaded by the otherworldly Myles Garret and underrated Larry Ogunjobi.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett will make life difficult for a wilting Derek Carr in Week 4. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett will make life difficult for a wilting Derek Carr in Week 4. (AP Photo/David Richard)

10. Buffalo Bills at Green Bay Packers (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 45
Favorite: Packers (-9.5)

The Bills certainly feel at their most optimistic since training camp opened as they head into Week 4. Yet, despite their shocking trounce of the Vikings last week, going into Lambeau as a 10-point dog is yet another fierce challenge. The Packers have not been the same explosive offense in the wake of Aaron Rodgers’ knee injury, totaling 46 points over nine quarters since Week 2. The team should have enough firepower to outwork the Bills, who have yet to record 20 first downs in any game this year.

Matchup to watch

LeSean McCoy might be the first player in fantasy history to gain value in a game where he sat out with an injury. With Josh Allen making the Bills offense look at least competent, McCoy gets a boost to what looked like his cratering stock after Weeks 1 and 2. The veteran back will get to run against a Packers defense in Week 4 that has allowed 4.7 yards per carry this season, a top-10 mark in the NFL. This is the first time in 2018 you can feel confident in rolling him out.

11. Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 41.5
Favorite: Eagles (-3)

Despite Tennessee dropping both of their top division rivals the last two weeks, they still check in as home dogs here to the defending world champs. Clearly, the football universe isn’t ready to believe in this Tennessee squad simply because they’ve clawed their way out of two games by way of craftiness and resolve. The Eagles squeaked out a win against the Colts in Week 3 with Carson Wentz back behind center. Marcus Mariota looks like he’ll be back starting for the first time since Week 1 but he’s visibly not the same thrower as he deals with this nerve issue. Outside of starting a small handful of Eagles you consider every-week plays, this game feels like a total stay away.

Matchup to watch 

With the Eagles hurting at wide receiver, we saw the offense feature tight ends in Week 3. Philly tight ends saw a whopping 21 targets against the Colts. The Eagles are no strangers to this approach, as they threw out of their two-tight ends sets over 55 percent of the time in 2017. Rookie Dallas Goedert got in the paint and caught all seven of his looks, while Zach Ertz still led the way with 10 targets. Ertz has double-digit targets and at least 5 catches in all of his games so far. It’s clear this is the engine of the Eagles passing offense for the time being. The Titans have been vulnerable to wide receivers this season but have allowed just seven catches for 69 yards (both tied for second-fewest) to the tight position so far.

12. Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 43.5
Favorite: Cowboys (-3)

Chasing the under in any game that Dallas participates in feels like a winning strategy until we get new information. Dak Prescott has now thrown for under 200 yards in his last five games and nine of his last 11. This passing offense is utterly broken. The Cowboys can’t even get Ezekiel Elliott going in the passing game, as they have a zero percent success rate when throwing to the running back position, per Sharp Football Stats. The Lions are a tough team to trust but they have one of the premier three-wide receiver sets in the NFL along with an emerging player in the backfield. Detroit’s defense has also begun to stabilize, ranking second in the NFL in sack percentage (12.1 percent).

Matchup to watch

Beyond the fact that he shed the Lions of their “lack of 100-yard rushers” scarlet letter last week, it’s time Kerryon Johnson assumes lead back duties for the team. Detroit’s other two backs are the two biggest dead giveaways in the NFL, just at opposite ends of the spectrum; LeGarrette Blount is a screaming run play signal and Theo Riddick a pass route waiting to happen. The Cowboys will play without Sean Lee for this week and likely beyond. He’s one of the biggest difference-makers in the entire NFL, as Dallas allowed a full yard more per carry without Lee on the field last season. Johnson saw a team-high 18 touches against the Patriots in Week 3 and that should be a minimum projection for the team this week.

13. Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (4:05 pm EST)

Total: 39
Favorite: Seahawks (-3)

A few years ago, this matchup would provide both offensive fireworks and entertainment factor. Here in 2018, it looks like one of the least interesting matchups on the slate. The only appeal to this contest is observing what Josh Rosen brings to the currently dead in the water Cardinals offense. Arizona ranks dead last in plays run and has had more drives (22.9 percent) end in a turnover than any other team in the NFL. With a lack of stellar personnel along questionable deployment and play-calling from Mike McCoy, Rosen has his work cut out for him. The Seahawks turned in a resounding victory over another putrid offense last week in their trouncing of the Dallas Cowboys. The ‘Hawks are on the road in Week 4 but this is another tempting spot to chase them, even as favorites.

Matchup to watch

Tyler Lockett is red hot to start the 2018 season, scoring a touchdown in all three games. With Doug Baldwin out, Lockett has taken 67 percent of his snaps in the slot this year. Even if Baldwin returns in this game, Lockett should see some inside routes, as he took 51.7 percent of his snaps inside in 2017. Patrick Peterson is not traveling with opposing receivers this season and has played at left cornerback on 78.5 percent of his plays. Lockett is in another solid spot this week.

14. New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 38.5
Favorite: Jaguars (-8.5) 

This game justifiably has the lowest total of any contest in Week 4. The Jaguars had their moment in the sun in their win over the Patriots but have cratered into the bottom-10 in scoring percentage (30.3 percent) on offense. The Jets looked like they would be a competent offensive unit but mistakes have crept into the flow. New York’s 18.9 percent turnover rate is the third-highest in 2018. A road team manned by a rookie passer who is making mistakes is a disastrous recipe when going into Jacksonville.

Sam Darnold’s struggles could continue against Jacksonville’s vaunted defense. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Sam Darnold’s struggles could continue against Jacksonville’s vaunted defense. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Matchup to watch

After T.J. Yeldon turned in an injured and ineffective game last week, odds are we see Leonard Fournette back in Week 4. The hulking running back could be saddled with plenty of carries, considering the touchdown-plus spread on this game. The Jets might provide the runway he needs to get going. New York has been a stout pass defense and is Football Outsiders’ No. 1 ranked unit by DVOA, but check in at 19th in run defense.

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