My claim to fame is winning my $100 dollar money league fantasy football championship against nine other guys over the age of 45 the semester before I started college. I used my $232 dollars of earnings to buy all my college textbooks that semester.
This is my 13th season playing fantasy, and if you’re like me, you over obsess over who you should start each week. Do I know everything there is to know about the players you should start? Absolutely not. But, I know enough that many people throughout the week come asking me for advice, and follow it.
Now, while I’ll still be reading Jamey Eisenberg’s “Start Em, Sit Em” every week, probably more than once, I was talked into making my own predictions and giving it a shot.
I’ll do my best to keep to just three starts, three sits, one sleeper and one bust alert per position weekly (aside from kickers and defensive units), unless the matchup is just too good. My predictions will be based off of 10 team, No PPR leagues. But let’s be honest, if a receiver has a top-ten matchup, they’re going to be catching balls anyway. Might as well still read whether this is your exact set up or not.
Here are my top three starters by offensive position for week four:
1) Russell Wilson, Seattle @ Arizona
Wilson scored at least 48 fantasy points in a majority of leagues that have touchdowns score as six points. Even if they only count for four points, you still saw his fantasy score against New Orleans climb into the high 30’s with 406 passing yards. Wilson elected to rush for not just one, but two rushing TDs last week instead of handing it off to RB Chris Carson. Although he found tight end Will Dissly in the end zone as time expired, he still had better numbers than most QBs last week. This week he takes on the 30th ranked Arizona defense who just allowed a beaten up Carolina team to come cross country and steal a win with a rookie QB. Wilson likes Dissly and wide receiver Tyler Lockett a lot, and adding WR D.K. Metcalf in there with his attempted rushes should give Wilson another huge day.
2) Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers @ Miami
A 1-2 start is not something the Chargers envisioned, but they should turn it around this week against Miami. The Dolphins are doing better about the big-play ball, but they still leave guys wide open all over the field. Having Keenan Allen to throw to will be a field day for both. Allen had 17 targets last week against Houston and 15 the week before against Detroit. Rivers could also feature Travis Benjamin who has been quiet this week and still has RB Austin Ekeler in the passing game as well. With RB Melvin Gordon reporting this week, Ekeler will want to prove that he still deserves to be the starter and does whatever Rivers calls.
3) Daniel Jones, New York Giants vs Washington
Jones had a favorable matchup last week, where like Wilson, had two passing scores and two rushing scores. I’m not sold on one-performance-wonders, but he has another favorable matchup against the Redskins on Sunday at home. Even with RB Saquon Barkley out, and the uncertainty of the wide receiver core, I still think Jones will have at least two TDs. All QBs who have played against the Redskins this year have had at least two TDs.
1) Baker Mayfield, Cleveland @ Baltimore
I expect the Ravens to hunker down and cause Mayfield to disappoint fantasy owners and Browns fans for the fourth time in four tries. Mayfield has only completed 20 or more passes in one week, week one against Tennessee, where he tried to be the hero and we saw how that panned out. Cleveland also barely used WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry (again) even with TE David Njoku out until at least week 11. If those guys aren’t in the Browns’ game plan, then they don’t have a plan to win.
2) Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay @ Los Angeles Rams
Thank God Winston came through in fantasy last week on one of his best chances of the season. I would’ve really questioned Tampa’s choice to keep him as the starter for this game had he not given them a true chance to win. That being said however, he has to be the QB with the hottest seat in the NFL. The Bucs are going cross-country to play the Rams and they might be missing WRs Chris Godwin (hip) and Breshad Perriman (quadriceps). Although Mike Evans had a huge week last week, he won’t be able to do it all. There won’t be many distractions on the field for him and Winston does horrible when he feels rushed. He will feel very rushed this weekend and he will be sacked/hit probably the most out of any QB this week.
3) Carson Wentz, Philadelphia @ Green Bay
Excuse me, what? This is supposed to be one of the best Thursday night games all year. I don’t think so. Wentz is either missing wideouts or dealing with ones that aren’t 100% in tonight’s game. I also don’t think the Eagles’ RB committee is talented enough to keep the game close or make big plays if they’re down to keep them in the game– despite Denver’s Phillip Lindsay having two rushing scores last week. Lindsay can make plays in the open field consistently, I have yet to see that this season from Philadelphia. The game could be close for a little while, but Green Bay’s defense has allowed just one passing TD this season and had six sacks against Joe Flacco last week alone against a decent offensive line. The Packers defense is better and I think the Eagles need to rely on someone other than TE Zach Ertz, but with a banged up receiving core that seems like a tall order.
Sleeper: Matthew Stafford, Detroit vs Kansas City
Stafford is at home and he’s going to have to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ receiving core. I expect Detroit to be behind, which also turns RB Kerryon Johnson into more of a pass-back option too. I think the Lions’ game plan this week in practice was to get more people involved through the air and Stafford will need guys like TE T.J. Hockenson and WR Danny Amendola to be more consistent. However, WRs Kenny Golloday and Marvin Jones (especially) know how to get open and that will be key for Detroit keeping up with the Chiefs.
Bust Alert: Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis vs Oakland
I’m worried that without T.Y. Hilton (DNP), Brissett will be forced to use his three TEs– something he’s struggled with so far this season. WR Zach Pascal is the only WR on Indy’s depth chart that is recognizable and it’ll be left up to him, Deon Cain and Parris Campbell to catch balls from Brissett. I don’t see the Colts putting up many scores on offense.
1) Kerryon Johnson, Detroit vs Kansas City
Kansas City has the 26th ranked rush defense and allow nearly 138 yards on the ground per game. In a game where QB Matthew Stafford will have to pass to keep up, Johnson will have to (and should be able to) transform into more of a pass-catching back this game too. That, plus being a change of pace and possibly a difference maker on the ground, should get Johnson good fantasy numbers this week.
2) Josh Jacobs, Oakland @ Indianapolis
Although Oakland has WR Tyrell Williams and TE Darren Waller through the air, I think this game either stays low scoring and close or the Raiders run away with the game on the road. Jacobs is due for another big showing, as he has been quiet since his heroics on Monday Night Football in week one. Indy has the 20th ranked rush defense and allows 114 yards on the ground per game. If Jacobs can put a TD on a 100-yard performance, which I think he can, he should be a top-10 RB this week.
3) Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers @ Miami
Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn is convinced that Melvin Gordon will take over as the lead back in week five, and if I was Ekeler I’d be pissed off. He has the best chance of any running back this week to prove why he should be a starter as he vital to the team’s success in the air and on the ground. He has two rushing and two passing scores in three games this season and has seen consistent targets in the air (6+ per game). LA should have no problem exploiting the holes in the Dolphins defense, although it has improved over the first three weeks, and Ekeler is in for a big day.
1) Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay @ Los Angeles Rams
Barber does better both in fantasy and games as a whole when the Bucs don’t have to pass to keep up. Duh, he’s a RB. But what I mean is, his counterpart, Ronald Jones, is used more as a passing-back than Barber is and this week, as well as the next few weeks, Tampa Bay should be down early and often. Barber will see carries on the ground, but I doubt he’ll be used enough to make an impact.
2) Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers @ Miami
I was really high on him this week, even behind Ekeler, because of the matchup and the Chargers’ WR injuries. I expected him to be like Dallas RB Tony Pollard last week who got more than 100 yards and a TD against the Dolphins, but Jackson has been added to the injury report with a calf injury. He practiced fully on Wednesday, but something must’ve happened in practice, because he was very limited on Thursday. I’d monitor his situation, but if he has a the injury label one hour before kickoff, I’d bench him. If he’s off the report, you have to flex him.
3) Carlos Hyde, Houston vs Carolina
The Texans have been off this season. Hyde has been given just 10 carries in two games (week one and three), and even when he doubled it and got 20 carries, he had just nine fantasy points in week two against Jacksonville. A TD salvaged a horrible game last week, 19 yards on 10 carries, and even though Carolina’s defense is ranked 24th in the rush I don’t think his numbers have a big jump. Mainly because the Panthers’ pass defense is ranked second. If Houston’s WRs struggle, so will its RBs.
Sleeper: Derrick Henry, Tennessee @ Atlanta
The Falcons have the sixth best pass defense, but Tennessee has the fourth best. With lock downs in the passing game, the ground opens up. Atlanta allows 100 yards per game on the ground and Henry should be able to succeed. Henry will also benefit if TE Delanie Walker is out.
Bust Alert: Chris Carson, Seattle @ Arizona
What a fumbling machine. Carson has lost a fumble in every game this season and he could be punished for that if Rashad Penny returns after injury. Head coach Pete Carroll did say that the Seahawks believe in him, so they’re going to continue to use him to show him that. But, at the end of the day, you need to win your football game. If Penny comes back, I expect Carson’s share of carries to be limited as punishment for at least this week.
1) Terry McLaurin, Washington @ New York Giants
McLaurin has a TD in every game this season and doesn’t have less than seven targets in any game. The Giants are 31st against the pass, and with QB Daniel Jones showing that he is capable of moving the ball, Washington should be able to do the same. His TD stat becomes important because two of those three games were against borderline great defenses in Dallas and Chicago. We all saw QB Case Keenum’s horrendous game last week, yet amid his turnovers, McLaurin’s consistent stat line didn’t change.
2) Sterling Shepard, New York Giants vs Washington
Shepard benefitted the most from QB Daniel Jones last week after returning from a concussion, and he should again this week with RB Saquon Barkley out. Washington’s defense allows a lot of yards through the air, no matter if it gets off to a fast start or a slow start (see week one at Philadelphia and week three vs Chicago). Shepard had a team-high nine targets last week for seven catches, 100 yards and a score. New York will rely heavily on him this game.
3) Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers @ Miami
No one in the league has more targets on the season than Allen: 42. Allen has topped the 100-yard mark twice this season in three tries, and was 17 yards from the 200-yard mark last week. His targets will only continue in Miami this week, especially if fellow wideouts Mike Williams (back) and Travis Benjamin (hip) don’t play. Neither practiced yesterday, and that paired with the holes the Dolphins leave open on offense, Allen has the chance to be the No. 1 WR in the NFL this week.
1) Stefon Diggs, Minnesota @ Chicago
Welcome back to the list, buddy. In Minnesota’s win against last week, although Diggs caught every ball thrown his way, he had three receptions for 15 yards. Maybe the bright side is, his three catches are his season high? The good news is, Chicago is in the middle of the pack for pass defense so he may see some more looks his way. I don’t think it’s enough to have him in your lineup though, as the Vikings just haven’t been a pass-prevalent team.
2) Jarvis Landry, Cleveland @ Baltimore
Welcome back to the list, buddy. Landry saw a season-high nine targets last week against the Rams, but hauled in just three of them. QB Baker Mayfield has been off and head coach Freddie Kitchens is calling less pass plays as of late. WR Odell Beckham Jr. also had a quiet game last week, but he’s going to get more targets than Landry even in a low-pass-play game.
3) Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia @ Green Bay
I don’t have high hopes for Philadelphia on TNF, and with WR Alshon Jeffery back in action, Agholor will see a decrease in targets. In Jeffery’s absence, Agholor caught eight balls in each of those two weeks, but when Jeffery played he had just two catches in week one. I don’t think Philly’s RB committee is strong, but this game should be close at first and the Eagles’ time on the ground will take away opportunities in the air, from Agholor especially. I don’t expect him to even have five catches this week with his season pattern.
Sleeper: Preston Williams, Miami vs Los Angeles
This is the first time I’ve thought of starting any Miami Dolphin this season. Williams has dropped a TD pass in each of his last two games, which is a stab to the heart of Dolphins fans who have seen Miami score just one TD on the year. However, Williams is Miami’s most successful receiver, leading the team in yards over the course of the past two weeks. I expect the Dolphins to lose, but I think Williams finally gets a TD. LA gives up a lot of yards in games and I think Rosen and Williams could have some sort of success this week. Williams is probably also available in all leagues except deep. In PPR, his consistent six catches help bolster him this week also.
Bust: John Brown, Buffalo @ New England
I think this could actually be a low scoring game with the talent of these defenses. It doesn’t really help anyone in fantasy for this matchup, but I think Brown could be one of the players that suffers the most. The Patriots haven’t allowed a receiving TD (granted, they’ve played Pittsburgh, Miami and the New York Jets…come on), but Buffalo’s team doesn’t scream great wide receivers. I know QB Josh Allen will need to throw to someone, but I think Buffalo will have more success running the football also. While he may help move the chains, he won’t help move your fantasy team to a win. The hope I have for him is a broken play and a long score.
1) Darren Waller, Oakland @ Indianapolis
Waller has just three drops in 2019 and is coming off a 13-catch, 134-yard day against Minnesota who has been successful limiting the pass. I expect Waller to light it up this week with two key Colts defenders already ruled out (Darius Leonard concussion, Malik Hooker knee). I will be surprised if Indy keeps this game close and if it does, it’s because Oakland is beating itself. Start Waller in all formats.
2) Jason Witten, Dallas @ New Orleans
I would’ve loved to see him score last week against Miami, but I still think he’s a solid starting option this week. Dallas doesn’t have WR Michael Gallup again and New Orleans should put more pressure on loading the box for RB Ezekiel Elliott and outside on WR Amari Cooper. This game could be high scoring for both teams, and Witten’s addition should give QB Dak Prescott a solid and favorable option. Witten may be a starter for deeper leagues, but his consistency is promising. The Saints also allowed TE Will Dissly to score a TD and haul in six catches for 62 yards last week.
3) Will Dissly, Seattle @ Arizona
Arizona has been destroyed this season by TEs and Dissly’s stock is only rising. Yes, his TD came as time expired last week, but QB Russell Wilson still likes him better than everyone else on the team aside from WR Tyler Lockett. All three TEs to face Arizona this season have scored 25 PPR points each and he should be a favorite target again this week. The targets could also increase through the air if RB Rashad Penny is still out because RB Chris Carson has fumbled once in each game this season.
Sleeper: Vernon Davis, Washington @ New York Giants
Davis is starting for Jordan Reed again and I expect him to be relied on in New York. Head coach John Gruden isn’t using RB Adrian Peterson correctly, and if QB Case Keenum can limit turnovers and the Redskins’ offensive line can stop having all their big plays and first downs called back by penalties, Davis has a chance to shine. I think he and WR Paul Richardson are in a battle for the No. 2 WR on the team and Washington should rely on Davis’ size and skill to help them win this game.
Bust Alert: Delanie Walker, Tennessee @ Atlanta
I’m worried about Walker’s injury, or he’d be a Start Em. Walker has missed both practices on Wednesday and Thursday with a knee ailment and I don’t think he’ll be 100-percent if he suits up Sunday. Walker is coming off his best week target/catch-wise, so if he does play, although we’ve seen him help block more, he should have a steady increase in targets. Atlanta is also not a good football team to start this season, and Tennessee could use Walker to help pounce on its defensive problems.