Fantasy Football: Week 4 sit-start advice

Sit and start is relative and league dependent, so consider some of these suggestions more “fliers” and “fades” (note that some are targeted for DFS).

Good luck with your Week 4 lineups.

Washington Football Team @ Atlanta Falcons

Start: Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Pitts

Heinicke is getting 7.9 YPA, is even running a little, and gets to play indoors this week against a pass-funnel Falcons defense that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Pitts is off to a disappointing start but he's run the third-most routes among tight ends. His air-yards share (24.6%) ranks second, so this is likely the last time he can be traded for at a discount. Pitts gets a Washington defense that’s taken a step back this year while facing a far tougher schedule. While the Arthur Smith tenure is off to an inauspicious start (Matt Ryan is the only QB yet to complete a pass more than 20 yards downfield), Pitts is good enough to overcome it.

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears

Start in DFS: D’Andre Swift ($16), David Montgomery ($21)

If Swift didn’t have any carries this season, he’d still be a top-15 RB in PPR leagues. Yahoo DFS is 0.5 PPR, but Swift remains way undervalued at $16 nevertheless. He has the second-most targets among running backs this season and has scored 12 touchdowns over the first 16 games of his NFL career despite having fewer than 150 carries. Chicago’s defense is average, and Swift isn’t even ranked as a top-25 back at this salary. Dan Campbell even said this week, “You’re going to see a lot more Swift” moving forward.

Montgomery averaged 20 touches over the first two games of the year before last week’s dud, and his tough schedule is about to ease up Sunday. Chicago’s shaky QB situation isn’t ideal, but Montgomery’s salary is low for a RB projected to see such a high workload and in a plus matchup against a comically bad Lions defense. Boosted by an easy schedule down the stretch last season, Montgomery totaled 824 yards with eight touchdowns over the final six games. Damien Williams has averaged just 2.3 YPC after opting out of last season, so Montgomery should carry the load.

Tennessee Titans @ New York Jets

Start: Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Corey Davis

With A.J. Brown and Julio Jones both highly questionable to play, Westbrook-Ikhine is a flier after easily leading Tennessee in routes run last week. The Jets aren’t a bad run defense and will likely sell out to stop Derrick Henry (especially if the Titans’ star wideouts don’t play), so NWI could get a real opportunity in Week 4.

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Davis has suffered from Zach Wilson’s struggles and an extremely tough schedule that’s included three top-eight defenses in DVOA. But he remains the Jets’ clear WR1 and is in a good spot in Week 4 versus a bad Tennessee defense. They've been gashed for the third-most fantasy points by wide receivers. Davis ranks No. 2 in Dominator Rating and No. 1 in Contested Catch Rate, and Elijah Moore’s hyped summer feels like forever ago. Davis’ ECR is WR32, but I have him ranked as a top-20 fantasy receiver this week.

Cleveland Browns @ Minnesota Vikings

Start: Baker Mayfield, Kirk Cousins

Mayfield ranks fourth in the league with a 9.8 YPA mark despite yet to have Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry healthy together. The three QBs ahead of him (in YPA) have averaged 7.7 passing TDs, so his two sure feel unlucky. Expect his touchdowns to positively regress in Week 4 during a game indoors with a high total (51.5 points) facing a struggling Minnesota defense that’s allowed the second-highest YPA (10.1) this season.

Cousins has been a “start” regular in this column to open the year, and it’s no different in Week 4 in a home matchup with a high over/under and a banged-up Dalvin Cook. Despite two road games, Cousins has opened the year averaging 306.0 passing yards with an 8:0 TD:INT ratio.

Indianapolis Colts @ Miami Dolphins

Start: Michael Pittman, Dolphins D/ST

Pittman ranks No. 8 in WOPR, directly in front of Justin Jefferson and Calvin Ridley, so he’s emerged as the Colts’ true alpha receiver. Only horrific QB play can prevent Pittman from truly breaking out in Year Two. I have him ranked as a top-30 WR moving forward.

Indianapolis Colts Wide Receiver Michael Pittman (11)
Michael Pittman's breakout can only be hindered by quarterback play this season. (Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Miami ranks No. 7 in defense DVOA and gets a severely hobbled Carson Wentz who managed just 5.2 YPA against a bad Tennessee defense last week. Wentz has already taken eight sacks in fewer than three games this season. Quenton Nelson is unlikely to play, and the Dolphins are favored in this game despite starting Jacoby Brissett at QB for a reason.

Carolina Panthers @ Dallas Cowboys

Start: Sam Darnold

Start in DFS: CeeDee Lamb ($24)

Darnold is the latest to thrive post-Adam Gase, as he’s getting 8.3 YPA after never reaching 7.0 in his career. He’s a strong fantasy start in Week 4 playing indoors in a matchup with an over/under of 50+ points against a Cowboys defense that’s allowed a whopping 347.7 passing yards per game. Darnold should be busier than usual throwing too, with Christian McCaffrey out and the Cowboys likely to score plenty of points. Robby Anderson is also a candidate to break out with Trevon Diggs likely shadowing DJ Moore.

Lamb is coming off a couple of quieter games, including seeing just three targets last week. But the game script should be much different Sunday, and Dak Prescott historically smashes at home. Amari Cooper is playing through sore ribs (but is also a strong start), and Lamb gets a Panthers defense that’s likely to keep Ezekiel Elliott quiet yet just lost Jaycee Horn from its secondary. Lamb is a borderline top-five WR start this week, but his salary has him outside the top-10.

New York Giants @ New Orleans Saints

Start: Evan Engram, Saints D/ST

Engram was booed off the field last week after another disastrous performance that included just 21 scoreless yards on six targets and a lost fumble. But Engram — at an extremely thin TE position — simply has to be projected for 7-10 targets with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton unlikely to play and Kenny Golladay limited with a lingering hip issue that will eventually need surgery. The Giants will be forced to throw frequently while having likely little success running against New Orleans’ front.

The Saints’ Week 2 blowout loss can be completely written off; New Orleans’ defense ranks No. 3 in DVOA this season anyway. The Saints now return home to the Superdome for the first time this year and get to face a shaky O-line with a quarterback who’s fumbled 32 times and tossed 22 interceptions over 30 career games.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles

Sit: Mecole Hardman

Start: DeVonta Smith

Hardman finally scored last week but continues to fail to take advantage of his situation, one that includes Sammy Watkins out of town and opposing defenses turning all attention to stopping Tyreek Hill. Hardman’s routes were way down last week when he also saw negative air yards and a lowly 10.0% target share. He ranks 80th in air-yards share on the season and 60th in yards per target despite having one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks ever throwing to him. Moreover, the recent Josh Gordon signing can easily be considered an indictment on Hardman.

Smith ranks No. 8 in air-yards share and No. 3 unrealized air yards, so he’s due for some positive regression even with Jalen Hurts’ accuracy questions. The Eagles just gave their running backs the fewest carries (three) in NFL history last week, and Sunday they get a Kansas City defense that’s been shredded for the eighth-most fantasy points by WRs and ranks dead last in pass (and run!) defense DVOA. The exciting rookie wideout should be fired up in fantasy lineups in Week 4.

Houston Texans @ Buffalo Bills

Sit: All Texans but Brandin Cooks

Start: Zack Moss

Cooks ranks first in the NFL in WOPR, so his volume makes him a must-start in fantasy leagues even in a tough matchup with a Bills defense that ranks No. 2 in pass DVOA (and has ceded the third-fewest fantasy points to WRs) and with Davis Mills as his QB. Your fantasy team has likely suffered countless injuries if you’re considering starting any other player on the Texans, who are 16.5-point underdogs.

Devin Singletary is also a fine flex option this week with Buffalo huge favorites at home, but Moss has been given more high-value touches (12) than Singletary (nine) despite playing one fewer game.

Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams

Sit: James Conner

Start: Robert Woods

Conner scored twice last week but goes from facing Urban Meyer to a team that just dominated the defending Super Bowl champs. He’s seen just one target all season and will lose a ton of work to Chase Edmonds with Arizona likely in passing mode for the majority of Sunday’s matchup.

James Conner #6 of the Arizona Cardinals
James Conner is a Week 4 sit candidate even after his big Week 3 game. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Woods has been a huge disappointment, and this comes with risk given he’s taken a clear back seat to Cooper Kupp while running a similar number of routes as Van Jefferson. But Woods scored in Week 1 and has seen 15 targets over the last two games, so he’s worth starting in a game in which the Rams have the third-highest implied team total this week. The Cardinals have been shaky against the run more so than the pass, but the Rams will likely lean on Matthew Stafford while Darrell Henderson deals with damaged ribs.

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers

Start: Dee Eskridge, Brandon Aiyuk

Keep your eye on Seattle's receivers, as both Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf have missed practice this week with injuries. If either (or both) miss Sunday’s game that figures to be high scoring, rookie Dee Eskridge (who’s returning from a concussion) would become a deep flier and minimum DFS ($10) option. Will Dissly is also a TE sleeper this week if Gerald Everett (COVID) is sidelined.

Aiyuk was back running a full set of routes last week, and he somehow ranks top-15 in targets inside the 10-yard-line this season (only Davante Adams saw more targets inside the five last year, and Aiyuk was a rookie who missed four games). Aiyuk should be busy Sunday in a game with a high total and with SF’s running back situation a mess (George Kittle is also dealing with a sore calf that cost him practice this week).

Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos

Sit: Ty’Son Williams

Start in DFS: Courtland Sutton ($19)

Williams saw just one touch during the first half last week, and if you can’t use him against the Lions, he certainly can’t be trusted against Denver. With the league’s best rusher at quarterback (Lamar Jackson somehow leads the NFL both in yards per completion and yards per carry) who rarely targets his RBs, no Baltimore back is worth using in fantasy leagues while in a committee.

Sutton’s quiet Week 3 was a result of game script, and he should dominate targets as long as Jerry Jeudy is out (KJ Hamler went down for the season as well). The Ravens have allowed the sixth-most yards per play this season (and they just faced the Lions), so their defense is hardly imposing right now. Teddy Bridgewater leads the NFL in completion percentage above expectation, so I rank Sutton as an easy top-20 WR in Week 4.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Green Bay Packers

Sit: Steelers D/ST

Start: Packers D/ST

Pittsburgh was among the first defenses drafted in all leagues entering the year yet ranks just 18th in DVOA after three weeks. It’s a bad matchup in Green Bay for the defense; telling you to sit Ben Roethlisberger is too Captain Obvious at this point.

The Packers defense isn’t exactly elite, but they’ve allowed just 6.7 YPA to open the year and are somehow the minimum in DFS this week despite being near-touchdown home favorites. The Steelers have the fifth-lowest implied team total (even Detroit is projected to score more points on the road), as Pittsburgh is dealing with a struggling offensive line, injuries to all their receivers, and a quarterback who looks flat-out washed. After getting 5.8 YPA over the second half of last season, Roethlisberger has already taken eight sacks and committed five fumbles/interceptions over the first three games this year. Big Ben has also played notably worse on the road throughout his career.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New England Patriots

Start: Leonard Fournette

Sit: Damien Harris

Tom Brady is likely to pour it on during his return to New England on Sunday night, but Fournette is a flex option with Gio Bernard suffering a sprained ACL and as the preferred passing-down back to Ronald Jones. A Bucs running back is going to benefit from Brady moving the ball at will one of these games by scoring a couple of short touchdowns.

Harris played fewer snaps than Brandon Bolden last week after missing multiple assignments in pass protection, and Sunday night he gets a Bucs defense allowing just 3.1 YPC in a game script that doesn’t project favorably. Rookie RB (and preseason star) Rhamondre Stevenson is a sleeper (but admittedly also a threat to be another healthy scratch).

Las Vegas Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers

Start: Peyton Barber, Jared Cook

As promised by Jon Gruden, Barber has acted as the Raiders’ clear lead back with Josh Jacobs out, earning 26 touches for 142 scrimmage yards and a TD last week. Jacobs returned to practice this week, but Gruden ominously called him “really questionable” for Monday night and said he wouldn’t hesitate to put Barber in a primary role after his Week 3 performance. It’s a role suddenly with upside in an offense that has Derek Carr leading the world in passing yards.

Cook is tied for fifth among tight ends in routes run and 10th in targets, so it’s safe to expect better production moving forward considering he has a star QB throwing to him. At a thin TE position, Cook is a viable starting option in Monday night’s matchup with a total of 51.5 points.

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