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2020 Fantasy Football: Players to start or sit in Week 4

Dalton Del Don
·11-min read

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.

Minnesota Vikings @ Houston Texans

Start: Kirk Cousins, Jordan Akins

Cousins hasn’t played well this season, but that means he’s likely available in your league, and Minnesota’s decimated defense to go along with Justin Jefferson’s emergence (No. 3 in yards per route run!) point to better fantasy numbers ahead for Cousins (as does his 8.0 YPA). This week he gets a Texans defense that’s yet to record an interception and has allowed a 112.2 Passer Rating to open the year (admittedly against a tough schedule).

[Week 4 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

Akins quietly has a healthy routes/dropback rate, and he faces a vulnerable Minnesota defense that’s been shredded for 8.5 YPA this season, making him an underrated tight end option in Week 4 (and over the rest of the season).

Seattle Seahawks @ Miami Dolphins

Start in DFS: Russell Wilson ($42)

Start: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Wilson has the most TD passes through three weeks ever and is on pace to record a 75:5 TD:INT ratio this season (and his one pick was all Greg Olsen’s fault, while DK Metcalf cost him another TD pass). Given that Seattle is “letting Russ cook,” the team’s defense is allowing yardage at a record pace (and have since lost Jamal Adams) and Seattle has two elite wide receivers (with banged-up running backs), the setup remains for Wilson to keep putting up historically great numbers (he’s a comical 9-for-9 on end-zone pass attempts this year). He gets a Miami defense in Week 4 that ranks last in DVOA this season.

Fitzpatrick quietly ranks No. 4 in CPAE and gets a Seahawks defense that’s the first in NFL history to allow 1,200 passing yards through three weeks, has ceded the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and is now without Jamal Adams. The Seahawks are finally letting Russell Wilson pass more, and it’s resulted in a 75-TD pace, so Miami is going to have to score a lot of points to keep up Sunday. The Seahawks have a funnel defense that ranks No. 4 against the run and No. 29 versus the pass in DVOA, and DeVante Parker is hopefully healthier with extra rest coming off a Thursday night game (Seattle has allowed 27 more receptions and 400 more yards than any other team to wide receivers).

Treat Fitzpatrick as a top-10 fantasy QB in Week 4 and consider Parker ($21) in DFS; wide receivers facing the Seahawks defense have been targeted 105 times this season (the next closest team has seen 74 WR targets). I also have Mike Gesicki (who plays the slot and has the second-most air yards among tight ends this season) ranked as my No. 3 TE this week.

Indianapolis Colts @ Chicago Bears

Start: Colts D/ST, Jimmy Graham

The Colts defense ranks #1 in DVOA and has allowed the fewest yards per play this season, so they are the real deal. Expect them to overwhelm a Bears team that’s lucky to be undefeated.

The Bears are unlikely to have any success running the ball against DVOA’s #1 rushing defense, and the Colts have shut down receivers this year, so Graham figures to stay busy again. He’s running as many routes as any tight end these days and was targeted 10 times last week (including three times inside the five). Graham is tied for the fourth-most end-zone targets among all pass catchers this season.

New Orleans Saints @ Detroit Lions

Start in DFS: Alvin Kamara ($36)

Start: T.J. Hockenson

Kamara has the second-most fantasy points by an RB through the first three weeks of a season all-time despite having just 31 carries. His usage as a receiver will drop some when Michael Thomas returns, but this version of Drew Brees (his 4.8 average intended air yards is last in the league by a mile) is as good as it gets for Kamara’s value, and he gets a Lions run defense that ranks 29th in DVOA. Usually, I’d fade a player coming off such a monstrous week in DFS, but Kamara is hard not to pay up for in Week 4.

Hockenson had a season-high in routes run per dropback last week, and he gets a Saints defense that’s weak up the middle and has allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends. With plenty of strong options this week, I have Hockenson as my #4 tight end.

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers

Start in DFS: Kenyan Drake ($28), Mike Davis ($17)

Drake has without question disappointed this season, and his lack of targets is a season-long concern, but he’s gotten the fifth-most carries in the NFL this season, and the Panthers have ceded the second-most fantasy points to running backs. You know he’ll have that huge game when you don’t use him in DFS. The “hate/love the Drake” Seinfeld joke has become real life.

Davis is getting the CMC treatment as Carolina’s clear lead back, as he’s seen 17 targets essentially over the last six quarters. Since he’s also in there at the goal line, I have Davis ranked as my #6 RB this week, and he’s a terrific DFS play in a game that projects to be one of the fastest-paced this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cincinnati Bengals

Start in DFS: James Robinson ($23)

Start: Joe Burrow

Robinson may not have a big pedigree being undrafted out of college, but he was historically productive in high school (he once had 478 yards and seven touchdowns before halftime in a game), and he’s currently on pace to finish with 1,808 yards and 16 touchdowns. Just as importantly, he’s being treated like a true workhorse by Jacksonville. The Bengals have yielded the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs, so treat Rb1nson as a top-10 RB this week.

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Burrow is on pace to shatter the NFL record for pass attempts, leads the league in end-zone targets this year, and gets a Jacksonville funnel defense that ranks #32 against the pass, top-10 against the run in DVOA, and has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. The rookie should be treated as a QB1 in Week 4.

Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow has been getting ready week-to-week. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Cleveland Browns @ Dallas Cowboys

Start: Baker Mayfield, Dalton Schultz

Mayfield should be forced to throw more than usual with the Browns facing a Cowboys offense likely to score a bunch of points at home, and the Dallas defense has yielded the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.

Schultz has more targets than Michael Gallup this year and should remain a big part of Dallas’ potent offense, and he gets a Browns defense that’s ceded the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sit: Joshua Kelley

Start: Ronald Jones

Kelley has impressed at times but lost a fumble last week, should cede most passing downs to Austin Ekeler, and now gets a Tampa Bay defense that ranks #2 in DVOA while on the road with his team touchdown underdogs.

It’s usually not smart to rely on Buccaneers running backs, who are seemingly one miscue away from getting benched, but with Leonard Fournette dealing with an ankle injury, Jones could be in store for a nice role in a game script that projects favorably. Tampa Bay has an elite defense and no Chris Godwin (and Mike Evans got just two yards last week), so their rushing attack figures to be prominent Sunday.

Baltimore Ravens @ Washington Football Team

Start: Mark Ingram

Sit: Antonio Gibson

Even if we see a lot of Gus Edwards to close it out, Ingram is in a favorable spot with Baltimore as two-touchdown favorites and likely to score a ton of points coming off a disappointing Monday night game against the Chiefs. Washington will likely be missing Chase Young and Matt Ioannidis this week too.

Gibson is trending in an encouraging way for his rest of season outlook, but Week 4 he’s better benched against a Ravens run defense that ranks #2 in DVOA and has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season (they are also one of only two teams yet to allow a rushing touchdown to an RB).

New York Giants @ Los Angeles Rams

Start: Golden Tate

Start in DFS: Darrell Henderson ($23)

The Giants should be forced to pass heavily as big underdogs Sunday, and Darius Slayton should be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey, while Sterling Shepard remains sidelined (and Evan Engram remains frustrating). Tate should be healthier now, and he gets a Rams defense that’s allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to the slot this year.

Henderson looks like a completely different back in Year 2 and every bit the one who holds the collegiate record for YPC, and he’s also looking at another heavy workload with Cam Akers likely sidelined again. The Rams’ offensive line has been dominant, and the lead RB role for this team has scored the most touchdowns in the NFL over the last three seasons. The Giants aren’t the easiest run defense, but Henderson is PFF’s highest-graded runner after three weeks and is in arguably the league’s best RB system, so I have him ranked as a top-five fantasy back in Week 4.

New England Patriots @ Kansas City Chiefs

Sit: Sony Michel

Start: Sammy Watkins

The temptation might be there to start Michel coming off a nice game and facing a KC run defense that ranks #30 in DVOA, but his lack of breakaway speed (and upside) was evident in Week 4, and he’ll continue to lose most goal-line work to Cam Newton (and Damien Harris was just removed from IR). Kansas City ranks fourth in pressure rate, so New England is likely to rely heavily on its passing-down backs Sunday.

Watkins looked healthy last week, and he’s now led the Chiefs in targets two of three games this season (and the other he left hurt). New England has taken a major step back in pass defense and enters ranked #27 in DVOA, and Stephon Gilmore is likely to give most of his attention to Tyreek Hill.

Buffalo Bills @ Las Vegas Raiders

Start: Devin Singletary, Hunter Renfrow

Zack Moss has returned to practice, but the Raiders have allowed the most fantasy points to running backs this season and rank last in rush defense DVOA. Singletary has to compete with Josh Allen (and Moss) for the short touchdowns, but he’s been much more active than expected in the passing game early on, ranks top-five in Elusive Rating this year, and has a highly favorable matchup in Week 4.

Las Vegas will likely be without Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, so Renfrow (and Darren Waller) is going to be busy Sunday against a Bills defense that’s ceded the fourth-most fantasy points to the slot this season. Renfrow finished top-20 in yards per route run as a rookie and is a sneaky PPR start moving forward.

Philadelphia Eagles @ San Francisco 49ers

Start: Greg Ward, Brandon Aiyuk

The Eagles are dealing with a ton of injuries to their receivers, also losing Dallas Goedert to IR. Ward isn’t explosive, but he led Philadelphia with 11 targets last week and could easily do so again Sunday night against a San Francisco defense that’s dealing with a ton of injuries.

It’s possible Deebo Samuel returns (Week 5 is likelier), but Aiyuk should be among SF’s leader in targets Sunday night against a beatable Eagles secondary. Aiyuk possesses the same wingspan as Calvin Johnson, benefits from seeing carries in Kyle Shanahan’s system, looks like a strong dynasty league pick, and a fine Week 4 start.

Atlanta Falcons @ Green Bay Packers

Start: Brian Hill, Robert Tonyan

If you’re looking for a deep sleeper this week, Hill is your guy. He emerged as the Atlanta (backup) running back to stash with an impressive performance last week, and he could see more action Monday night on passing downs against a Green Bay defense that’s given up the second-most receiving yards to running backs (and the third-most fantasy points to RBs) as well as the most yards per play. PFF grades Todd Gurley 52nd out of 54 backs this season.

Tonyan has emerged as Green Bay’s #1 tight end and should continue to benefit from a Packers offense that’s averaging the most points per drive (3.73) in NFL history. The Falcons have been gashed for the second-most fantasy points by tight ends this season, and this game features an over/under that’s a whopping 56.5 points.

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