Week 4 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Advice on Fantasy Football Stars to Play or Bench

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2017

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 24:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints warms up during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Fantasy football feels normal again as owners barrel toward tough start 'em, sit 'em decisions for Week 4.

Names like Tom Brady and Russell Wilson came up big in Week 3 for owners. This doesn't mean there weren't surprises like Blake Bortles and Jacoby Brissett turning heads, but guys drafted high who are mostly irreplaceable seemed to get back on track.

With fantasy fireworks set to erupt between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football, let's pause and compare the best matchups to help form matchup rankings while also looking at notable start/sit options for top names.

          

QB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Drew Brees (at MIA) vs. Aaron Rodgers (vs. SEA)Drew Brees
Russell Wilson (vs. IND) vs. Matthew Stafford (at MIN)Matthew Stafford
Eli Manning (at TB) vs. Jared Goff (at DAL)Jared Goff
Carson Wentz (at LAC) vs. Tom Brady (vs. CAR)Tom Brady
Andy Dalton (at CLE) vs. Marcus Mariota (at HOU)Marcus Mariota
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Drew Brees (at MIA) 

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 24:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Drew Brees is consistent and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.

The thing with Brees now is targeting the massive outbursts. He has two games in a row of hitting at least 20 fantasy points and five passing scores in that span.

He shouldn't have any problems blowing past the 20-point mark when his New Orleans Saints play the Miami Dolphins in London. Those Dolphins only allow the 19th-most points to quarterbacks on average right now, but that's skewed since that includes facing Josh McCown, who threw a touchdown with no interceptions.

Rest assured Brees can excel where McCown simply managed.

       

Star to Sit: Tyrod Taylor (at ATL)

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills participates in a post game television interview after the game against the Denver Broncos on September 24, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo defeats denver 26-1
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor isn't a bad option most weeks because of the way he moves with an offense seemingly lacking weapons.

Taylor seems to have fallen into a sweet spot, though, having yet to fall below 10 fantasy points but never hit 20. It's a problem capable of being amplified against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons aren't the first team many would think of when it comes to strong defensive squads, yet the unit has held both Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers to fewer than 20 points.

At a solid streaming position, Taylor isn't worth the risk.

             

RB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Ezekiel Elliott (vs. LAR) vs. Le'Veon Bell (at BAL)Ezekiel Elliott
Kareem Hunt (vs. WAS) vs. Joe Mixon (at CLE)Joe Mixon
Todd Gurley (at DAL) vs. Dalvin Cook (vs. DET)Todd Gurley
LeGarrette Blount (at LAC) vs. Tarik Cohen (at GB)Tarik Cohen
Leonard Fournette (at NYJ) vs. DeMarco Murray (at HOU)Leonard Fournette
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Joe Mixon (at CLE)

Mike Roemer/Associated Press

Time to hop on the Joe Mixon train.

The Cincinnati Bengals fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese before Week 3 and promoted Bill Lazor, who turned around and did the obvious thing by making the rookie a workhorse.

Mixon wound up dropping 10.1 fantasy points on 18 carries after failing to receive double-digit totes over his first two games. Now he gets the Cleveland Browns, which is about as easy as it sounds.

Those Browns have had an easy schedule over the past few weeks against quarterbacks, but Mixon's ability on the ground and through the air suggest a massive breakout game is on the way soon.

       


Star to Sit: Melvin Gordon (vs. PHI)

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 24:   Melvin Gordon #28 of the Los Angeles Chargers eludes  Dee Ford #55 of the Kansas City Chiefs on a run play during the first half of a game at StubHub Center on September 24, 2017 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffe
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Melvin Gordon has been the model of consistency for owners so far, hitting the 13-point mark and higher in all three games

Owners, of course, will judge the output based on where they drafted the Los Angeles Chargers' lead back.

Regardless, best to avoid what might be a dud from Gordon in Week 4 against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles allow the 11th-fewest points to running backs on average, with the electric breakout Kareem Hunt the exception (22.9 points).

Gordon isn't going to touch Hunt's numbers, though he might be more in line with the various dud performances against the Eagles already.

      

WR

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
A.J. Green (at CLE) vs. Doug Baldwin (vs. IND)A.J. Green
Jarvis Landry (vs. NO) vs. Odell Beckham Jr. (at TB)Jarvis Landry
Antonio Brown (at BAL) vs. Stefon Diggs (vs. DET)Antonio Brown
Keenan Allen (vs. PHI) vs. DeAndre Hopkins (vs. TEN)Keenan Allen
Michael Thomas (at MIA) vs. Sammy Watkins (at DAL)Sammy Watkins
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Jarvis Landry (vs. NO) 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 24: Jarvis Landry #14 of the Miami Dolphins runs the ball against the New York Jets during the second half of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Jets defeated t
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Even outside of a points-per-reception league, Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry can be a monster of an option.

Such is the case this week when Landry, who has yet to hit the 10-point mark in a game despite 19 catches, takes on the Saints in London.

The Saints defense has lived up to past expectations this season and is allowing the seventh-most points to wideouts. Three receivers of note haven't had a problem blowing past the 13-point mark.

Given the Dolphins will want to keep Brees off the field, Landry should have a big day against a unit with droves of issues.

             

Star to Sit: Alshon Jeffery (at LAC)

Ed Zurga/Associated Press

Best not to overreact with Eagles wideout Alshon Jeffery in Week 4.

The Eagles and Jeffery have opened up the vertical passing game this season, which is nice. But one problem: It isn't connecting.

For whatever reason, Carson Wentz and Jeffery aren't hitting on these big plays yet, which explains why his 15.2-point outburst in Week 2 gets sandwiched between outings of five points.

So while the Chargers allow the eighth-most points to wideouts on average, numbers skewed by names like Tyreek Hill aren't anything to lean on, and especially not with Jeffery and the offense on the road.

           

TE

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Jimmy Graham (vs. IND) vs. Travis Kelce (vs. WAS)Travis Kelce
Cameron Brate (vs. NYG) Coby Fleener (at MIA)Coby Fleener
Rob Gronkowski (vs. CAR) vs. Ben Watson (vs. PIT)Rob Gronkowski
Charles Clay (at ATL) vs. Jared Cook (at DEN)Charles Clay
Delanie Walker (at HOU) vs. Austin Hooper (vs. BUF)Austin Hooper
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Travis Kelce (vs. WAS)

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 17:  Tight end Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs in action during the 2nd half of the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Arrowhead Stadium on September 17, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Ge
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Fantasy owners sure wouldn't mind an apology from Travis Kelce.

The Kansas City Chiefs star tight end erupted for 16.3 points in Week 2...then followed with 0.1 in Week 3.

With the way Hunt is playing, Kelce has turned into a boom-or-bust option. This isn't a bad thing for owners leaning on him in Week 4, though, thanks to a matchup against the Washington Redskins.

Washington is notorious for giving up big days to tight ends in fantasy, with this year no exception considering they enter the weekend coughing up the fifth-most points to the position, a number spread out evenly among big days for all three opposing starters faced.

       

Star to Sit: Jason Witten (at LAR)

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 17:  Tight end Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys on the field before a game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 17, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

It looked like Jason Witten was finally back to fantasy relevancy. He scored 11.9 points or more in each of his first two outings on a combined 22 targets.

Then Week 3 happened.

The Dallas Cowboys took him out of the game plan, only giving him four targets, resulting in 0.3 points.

It's hard to imagine Witten will be a big part of the plan against the Los Angeles Rams, a team permitting the 11th-fewest points to the position despite a matchup with Jordan Reed. Given how unpredictable the position has been so far, owners have plenty of options to compensate.

           

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues.