It’s time for our Week 4 Starts & Sits! Last week we hit on a few of our calls (Sam Darnold, Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley) and we also missed a few (Justin Fields, Rondale Moore and Ty’Son Williams). The Fields one was especially tough as he looked very much like a rookie out there, with no help from his coaching staff. Remember we’ll do our best to predict outcomes based on what’s given to us. That’s diving into the numbers, digging through the juicy matchups, examining trends, watching the film, and collecting data that should lean towards certain players being better starts than others. While it won’t always play out that way, fantasy is a game of what’s most “likely” to happen and we need to attack it that way.
Every week I plan to try to make some of your decision-making easier with what I’ve collected but ultimately it’s your call on what you want to do with your team! We’re going to discuss Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, & Tight Ends on each week’s slate, and I hope that we can win you the week!
Now, let’s roll.
Quarterbacks to Start:
Jalen Hurts | Philadelphia Eagles: There were many that called Hurts the QB1 going into this season, and they may be on to something. Hurts has averaged over 24 PPG during the first three games which is good for QB4. This is with Hurts ranked 16th in passing yards and 14th in passing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Why is he QB4? That’s because he ranks 2nd amongst quarterbacks and 15th in all of football in rushing yards.
Hurts is a must-start quarterback going into this week against Kansas City. Through three weeks, the Chiefs have allowed the second-most fantasy points (25.2), the most rushing yards (130), and t-2nd most rushing touchdowns (2) to the position. Hurts has scored at least 21.8 fantasy points in each of the first three games and he’s averaging 59.7 rushing yards per game for the year. The floor for Hurts is safe and he needs to be in your lineup.
Baker Mayfield | Cleveland Browns: The Cleveland Browns travel to Minnesota where head coach Kevin Stefanski gets a revenge game against his former team. Not only do the Vikings rank in the bottom 3rd of the league in team DVOA against the pass according to Football Outsiders, but they’ve given up the 5th most passing yards and 6th most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Baker Mayfield in this matchup with a seemingly healthy Odell Beckham Jr., a mix of capable tight ends, and Kareem Hunt/Nick Chubb catching out of the backfield will be too much for this defense. While Baker may only be QB22 on the season, he should finish this week closer to QB13-15.
Taylor Heinicke | Washington Football Team: How can you not root for this guy? The quarterback that put a scare in Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans last year in the playoffs has done a good job of stepping in for the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick. In the 2 1/2 games he’s played in, Heinicke has tossed for 670 yards 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions to go along with a 97.7 passer rating.
In games in which Heinicke has started (2), he’s averaged 21.7 fantasy points per game. He gets a much easier matchup this week against the Falcons who have allowed 24.9 fantasy points per game (2nd most) & the fourth-most rushing yards (107) to quarterbacks. He’s a good streamer in every sense of the word this week.
Quarterback to Sit:
Ben Roethlisberger| Pittsburgh Steelers: Shield your eyes when watching the Steelers passing game this season. It’s looked just plain putrid. If Ben is done, he’s really going out on a sour note. After 3 weeks, Roethlisberger currently ranks as QB26 at 14 PPG and there’s not much optimism for him to finish better than this.
Roethlisberger this season has averaged just 267 passing yards per game on 6.2 yards per attempt and was even worse last week when he averaged just 5.5 yards per attempt. That just won’t get the job done. He could be without both Diontae Johnson and Juju Smith-Schuster this week in a game featuring Jaire Alexander. There’s no way he sniffs my lineup even in 2 quarterback leagues until I see something different in his profile.
Running Backs to Start:
David Montgomery | Chicago Bears: Montgomery’s first game against the Rams had him looking like a bonafide start this year, continuing what we saw in the second half of last year. In his first game, Montgomery had 108 yards at 6.8 per carry, but he has since rushed for 95 on 3.25 per attempt in the next two games combined. He also scored more PPR fantasy points (18.8) in that first game than the next two combined (18.4).
Anytime you need a get-right, feel-good game, play the Detroit Lions. Ask the Packers about that. Sorry to my Lions fans who read this article but they know that I love them. The Lions are a great matchup for Montgomery who have allowed six touchdowns (3 rushing & 3 receiving) and given up the 10th-most fantasy points to running backs this season. If Fields starts, I expect a lot more RPO and a better game plan from Nagy to help him succeed, which should open up running lanes for Montgomery. I would be surprised if Montgomery doesn’t reach the century mark in rushing yards with a touchdown to boot in this game.
Elijah Mitchell/Trey Sermon | San Francisco 49ers: I’m putting both these names here because I’m not sure who gets the start in this game. If Mitchell is healthy and plays, he’s the start. If he can’t go, Sermon seems to be the next man up. The Seattle defense has been BAD. They have given away the most fantasy football points to running backs on the season.
What also is intriguing about this matchup is the amount Seattle lets the running back get involved in the passing game. The Seahawks have given up the 2nd most receptions to running backs in 2021 with 27. In a game with a 52 O/U, I think this game is a shoot out and you’ll want the 49ers starting running back in this matchup.
Zack Moss | Buffalo Bills: In a game I expect the Bills to wallop the Texans, it’s a safe bet that a running back will get a touchdown in this game. Using Week 3 as a measuring stick, I’m going to assume the back you’ll want from the Buffalo side in this game is Moss over Singletary.
While Singletary has one more catch than Moss, Moss has more than double his receiving yards and the lone touchdown catch out of the backfield. The usage seemed to change last week as well as Moss played 56 percent of the snaps compared to 43 percent for Singletary. Moss only helped his case with 60 yards at over 4 yards per carry and recording three catches in the process. He’s also scored three touchdowns in the last two games. Continue to ride the hot hand and start Moss in this game.
Running Back to Sit:
Damien Harris | New England Patriots: Insert running back against Tampa Bay here. In all seriousness, barring the bonafide studs, you’re not playing a running back against the Buccaneers. They rank 7th in DVOA against the rush according to Football Outsiders and have given up the 7th fewest yards to opposing running backs. They also have only allowed just 57.2 rushing yards per game and one rushing touchdown through three games.
Harris is coming off his worst game of the season, where he rushed 6 times for 14 yards and caught two pass for -3 yards en route to scoring 3.1 PPR fantasy points. This is not a game that looks to have a positive game script for New England and Harris is not the pass catcher on this team out of the backfield. Avoid at all costs.
Wide Receivers to Start:
Robert Woods | Los Angeles Rams: It’s been a Kupp season for sure. A 38% target share and tied for 2nd in the league in targets. He’s also got 5 TDs to boot. Regression is coming and this might be the week. With his regression, it looks to be Robert Woods’ gain.
It’s been a struggle for Woods this year to put it lightly. Robert Woods is currently WR47! He’s averaging just 10.4 PPR points per game, so why are we optimistic? Well besides Arizona giving up the 9th most PPG to WR’s this season, according to research done by Michael Fabiano, “Robert Woods has beaten Arizona for at least 18.5 fantasy points in four of his last five games, including three with 20-plus points.” That track record and this matchup seem too juicy to not trust Woods in this one. Make sure you’re starting him.
Odell Beckham | Cleveland Browns: We talked about Baker, now let’s talk about his number one wide receiver. OBJ returned last week to lead the Browns with five catches on 9 targets and 77 receiving yards. What’s even more encouraging is Odell played the second-most snaps amongst the Browns wide receivers (52) and had a 64% offensive snap rate. In his first game back in roughly a year, that’s incredible usage. Those numbers could be a lot higher in this game against the Vikings.
Speaking of those Vikings, they have allowed a Top-15 WR in every game this season. They also have allowed the 5th highest PPG to opposing wide receivers. You want Beckham in this game over any other Browns receiver and a floor of targets and production should be there without Jarvis Landry in the lineup.
Jaylen Waddle | Miami Dolphins: How about that game for Waddle last week? 12 catches on 13 targets for 58 yards. While the production isn’t great overall, you have to be happy if you’re a Waddle owner with how much Brissett looked to get Waddle the ball.
Waddle gets a much easier matchup in this one going against a poor Colts secondary. Indianapolis is tied for first in the NFL with seven touchdowns allowed to receivers and they given up the 7th most PPG to the position. The targets are already there and the production should come this week.
Wide Receiver to Sit:
DJ Moore | Carolina Panthers: Let me preface this by saying, you’re probably only benching Moore if you’re in a 10 team league or shallower. You most likely have to play him in anything larger. Temper your expectations when having him go against Dallas this week with Trevon Diggs, who as of this writing is expected to shadow him in this matchup.
The games so far this season where Diggs was the primary defender: Mike Evans 3 receptions for 24 yards. Keenan Allen 4 receptions for 108 yards. DeVonta Smith 3 receptions for 28 yards. Diggs is the 14th overall corner according to PFF and the No. 1 Cover Corner. He’s allowed 10 receptions on 20 targets. This to go along with a Passer Rating of 41.3. I think Terrace Marshall or maybe even Robby Anderson benefit more in this game and especially in DFS, I’ll be looking at those two more than Moore.
Tight End to Start:
Dawson Knox | Buffalo Bills: Dawson Knox is always a gamble, but we’re coming in hot. Knox has a touchdown in each of his last two games. We know that touchdowns are the name of the game at a position that relies so heavily on them for relevance. There is as good a chance as any that Knox gets in the end zone against the Houston Texans, even if he remains the fourth option behind Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, and Emmanuel Sanders.
So far this season, Knox has caught 10 of his 12 targets, averaging 10.7 yards per catch. Josh Allen is expected to light up this secondary like a Christmas tree, so the question will be if Knox gets to be on the receiving end of one of Allen’s 3 or more touchdowns.
Tight End to Sit:
Evan Engram | New York Giants: Please look somewhere besides Evan Engram if you need a tight end this week. Even if Slayton and Shepard sit. Engram started his first game of the season last week, but recorded just two catches and lost a fumble.
While people may argue the targets may be there, I think Colin Johnson and Kadarius Toney benefit more than Engram and they’ll soak up the targets that’ll be missing. Engram has shown he can’t catch and he’s facing a Saints defense that has allowed 8.6 PPG to tight ends with 0 touchdowns in 2021. The Saints are also a top 6 team in terms of pass DVOA. There are way better streamers this week at tight end and make sure to look elsewhere for them.
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