Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 4: Fantasy Lineup Advice Before Thursday Night Football

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2015

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs against the San Diego Chargers in the second half of an NFL football game in Minneapolis, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015.  (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

Through three weeks, fantasy football start 'em, sit 'em decisions have been as unpredictable as the Oakland Raiders' 2-1 start to the season.

Things figure to even out soon, but Week 4 presents some interesting challenges with big names such as Rob Gronkowski on bye and a Thursday Night Football showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers featuring a quarterback duel between Joe Flacco and Michael Vick.

It seems there is at least one more odd week on the horizon, but it's not an environment in which fantasy owners can't find success. In fact, this week could prove quite lucrative for owners who know where to look.

QB 

MatchupVerdict
Aaron Rodgers (at SF) vs. Carson Palmer (vs. STL)Aaron Rodgers
Tyrod Taylor (vs. NYG) vs. Andy Dalton (vs. KC)Andy Dalton
Matt Ryan (vs. HOU) vs. Derek Carr (at CHI)Matt Ryan
Peyton Manning (vs. MIN) vs. Andrew Luck (vs. JAC)Andrew Luck
Russell Wilson (vs. DET) vs. Philip Rivers (vs. CLE)Russell Wilson
Author's opinion.

Start: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (vs. DET)

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Russell Wilson has been one of fantasy's bigger disappointments so far with his high point coming in Week 2 with 21 points. A great matchup last week saw him on autopilot en route to just 15 points.

While not horrible numbers, it's probably not what owners expected given where they drafted the Seattle Seahawks' superstar.

Things figure to get better this week with Detroit in town, though. It should be a competitive matchup, which means more relevant fantasy numbers for the versatile back. It helps that the Lions have surrendered five passing scores and a minimum of 18 points per game to quarterbacks so far. 

Sit: Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (vs. NYJ)

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

With Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler and Drew Brees facing varying degrees of injuries, owners need someone to turn to at quarterback for at least a week. 

It just shouldn't be Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins.

Touting an ownership percentage of 82.3 and grand expectations before the season thanks to a loaded offense (on paper), Tannehill has surpassed 20 points in a game just once and needed an encounter with the Jacksonville Jaguars to do so.

Next up is the New York Jets, the team surrendering the second-fewest points on average to quarterbacks without a single one breaking into double digits yet.

RB  

MatchupVerdict
Adrian Peterson (at DEN) vs. Carlos Hyde (vs. GB)Adrian Peterson
Jamaal Charles (at CIN) vs. Frank Gore (vs. JAC)Jamaal Charles
Le'Veon Bell (vs. BAL) vs. LeSean McCoy (vs. NYG)Le'Veon Bell
Matt Forte (vs. OAK) Latavius Murray (at CHI)Matt Forte
Jeremy Hill (vs. KC) vs. Devonta Freeman (vs. HOU)Devonta Freeman
Author's opinion.

Start: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (at DEN)

Jim Mone/Associated Press

Normally this is a "no kidding" sort of ordeal, but owners might have some pause with Adrian Peterson this weekend as he heads to Denver for an encounter with one of the league's best defenses.

After all, Denver sits undefeated and has allowed more than 20 points in a game just once.

Reading between the lines, though, the Broncos have allowed the last two opposing backfields to total at least 20 points and in the same span allowed three rushing scores.

As for Peterson, he's scored 16 and 24 points in his last two games after an odd Week 1 usage rate of just 10 carries. Minnesota might be playing from behind this weekend, but Peterson will still get around 20 touches.

Sit: DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (at WAS)

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Clearly fantasy owners are still all-in around the idea of DeMarco Murray with the Philadelphia Eagles, hence his ownership percentage of 99.4.

Most who drafted him high don't have a choice, of course. Still, Murray burned owners as a late scratch last weekend with a hamstring issue, meaning he continues to have just 11 rushing yards to his name over the course of two games.

Healthy or not, owners will want to sit Murray this weekend against Washington, even if it means playing a waiver add. Murray's backup, Ryan Mathews, rushed 25 times for 108 yards last week and Washington ranks second-best against backs, having allowed just one touchdown and 26 points total to three backfields.

It's never easy to sit a guy like Murray, but the perfect storm has ruined the opening quarter of his season.

WR

MatchupVerdict
A.J. Green (vs. KC) vs. Steve Smith (at PIT)A.J. Green
Julio Jones (vs. HOU) vs. Brandon Marshall (at MIA)Julio Jones
Larry Fitzgerald (vs. STL) vs. Keenan Allen (vs. CLE)Keenan Allen
Demaryius Thomas (vs. MIN) vs. Amari Cooper (at CHI)Demaryius Thomas
DeAndre Hopkins (at ATL) vs. Odell Beckham (at BUF)Odell Beckham
Author's opinion.

Start: Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (vs. CLE)

Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

There might not be a bigger under-the-radar superstar in the league than Keenan Allen. 

Sure, Allen scored in the negatives during a rough Week 2 outing in Cincinnati, but he has a minimum of 12 catches and 16 points in his other two showings to date. As Ricky Henne of Chargers.com revealed, Allen is on a historic pace:

At this rate, the Cleveland Browns might be on pace to make history, too.

Cleveland just can't stop wideouts. Over three contests the unit has allowed 26, 22 and 31 points along with five touchdowns. It doesn't matter if the defense knows Philip Rivers wants to spam the ball to Allen all day long—the Browns won't be able to stop it.

Sit: DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (at ATL)

Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Look, it's never easy to sit a No. 1 wideout such as DeAndre Hopkins of the Houston Texans, either.

Still, Hopkins' erratic play this year shows owners should consider him a matchup-based play. He scored 23 in Week 1 and 16 in Week 3, but sandwiched between those performances was a five-point outing against Carolina.

Those Panthers rank sixth against wideouts this year on average. Three spots better rest the Atlanta Falcons, Hopkins' next opponent. They have allowed just one touchdown to wideouts in three games and more than 20 points just once.

Hopkins looks like a target sponge this year, but it won't always translate to passable outings.

TE

MatchupVerdict
Greg Olsen (at TB) vs. Jimmy Graham (vs. DET)Jimmy Graham
Charles Clay (vs. NYG) vs. Jordan Reed (vs. PHI)Jordan Reed
Travis Kelce (at CIN) vs. Jason Witten (at NO)Jason Witten
Tyler Eifert (vs. KC) vs. Eric Ebron (at SEA)Tyler Eifert
Heath Miller (vs. BAL) vs. Martellus Bennett (vs. OAK)Martellus Bennett
Author's opinion.

Start: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (at NO)

Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

It doesn't matter who lines up under center for the Dallas Cowboys this weekend—Jason Witten looks poised for a major day.

Witten hasn't managed a double-digit outing since the first week of the season, but the guy battled through two sprained ankles and a sprained knee last week on the way to six catches for 65 yards and six points.

He figures to be healthier this week, and just in time, too, considering the New Orleans Saints surrender the second-most points on average to the position. 

To date, the Saints have allowed three scores to tight ends and 14- and 26-point outings. Witten will hit double digits for the second time on the season. 

Sit: Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. BAL)

It's been a rough season for Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller to date. 

Things won't get better for Miller and his owners Thursday with Vick under center and leading the offense. The Baltimore defense has had its struggles this year, but not against tight ends—the Ravens lead the league against tight ends on average, having allowed just a single point.

In theory, Miller will see plenty of targets with a backup QB needing a safety blanket. But Baltimore silenced Denver's tight ends in Week 1 and kept Cincinnati's Tyler Eifert in check last weekend.

Miller's usefulness as a fantasy stud isn't dead by any means. Now isn't the week to feel confident in his outlook, though.

All scoring info courtesy of ESPN standard leagues, as is points-against info and ownership stats as of October 1. Statistics courtesy of ESPN. Tennessee, New England on bye.

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