Fantasy Football Week 4 Rankings: Top Players, Sleepers and Positional Guide

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2018

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Ed Zurga/Associated Press

The same sage five-letter advice that helped Aaron Rodgers once calm the Green Bay Packers can now soothe fidgety fantasy owners who might be ready to panic with three weeks in the books.

R-E-L-A-X, folks. It's that simple.

As unconventional as this campaign has felt at times—Tennessee over Jacksonville, Buffalo over Minnesota, Detroit over New England and Washington over Green Bay in the same week?!the fantasy world tells a different story.

Look at the scoring leaders. Now, glance past Ryan Fitzpatrick as the surprise No. 1, and what do you see? A ton of familiar faces piling up points like we expected.

We're not advising you to feel comfortable about your record, regardless where it stands. Every team could be improved, even those 3-0 front-runners.

But don't let three weeks of football distort your reality, either. Trust your early rankings, expert opinions and your gut; you'll be alright.

After examining the top Week 4—the first week with byes, remember—options at every offensive position, we'll highlight our favorite sleeper at each spot.

                      

QB Rankings

1. Patrick Mahomes, KC (at DEN)

2. Drew Brees, NO (at NYG)

3. Aaron Rodgers, GB (vs. BUF)

4. Tom Brady, NE (vs. MIA)

5. Philip Rivers, LAC (vs. SF)

6. Deshaun Watson, HOU (at IND)

7. Russell Wilson, SEA (at ARI)

8. Matt Ryan, ATL (vs. CIN)

9. Carson Wentz, PHI (at TEN)

10. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (vs. BAL)

11. Andy Dalton, CIN (at ATL)

12. Andrew Luck, IND (vs. HOU)

                    

QB Sleeper: Eli Manning, New York Giants

Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

Few matchups are more inviting for fantasy quarterbacks than a date with the Saints defense. New Orleans has surrendered 95 points through three games, with a lot of that damage coming through the air.

The Saints are dead last in yards per passing attempt (11.2) and tied for the bottom in passing touchdowns (10). They are 30th in passing yards per game (336.7) and just allowed Matt Ryan to tally 374 yards and five scores in their Week 3 shootout.

But this recommendation isn't all about the defense. Manning, himself, is trending up, having increased his yardage, completion percentage and touchdown count in all three weeks.

Granted, that only got him to 297 yards and two scores this past weekend, but he assembled that line on an uber-efficient 25-of-29 effort (86.2 percent). Even without playmaking tight end Evan Engram, Manning still has three pass-catchers in Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and rookie running back Saquon Barkley, who leads all freshmen with 21 receptions.

"It's the perfect time to stream Manning for a spot start," Bleacher Report's Maurice Moton advised.

                    

RB Rankings

1. Alvin Kamara, NO (at NYG)

2. Todd Gurley, LAR (vs. MIN)

3. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (vs. DET)

4. Saquon Barkley, NYG (vs. NO)

5. Melvin Gordon, LAC (vs. SF)

6. David Johnson, ARI (vs. SEA)

7. Kareem Hunt, KC (at DEN)

8. Jordan Howard, CHI (vs. TB)

9. Leonard Fournette, JAX (vs. NYJ)

10. James Conner, PIT (vs. BAL)

11. Dalvin Cook, MIN (at LAR)

12. Carlos Hyde, CLE (at OAK)

13. Giovani Bernard, CIN (at ATL)

14. Lamar Miller, HOU (at IND)

15. Marshawn Lynch, OAK (CLE)

16. Devonta Freeman, ATL (vs. CIN)

17. Kenyan Drake, MIA (at NE)

18. Alex Collins, BAL (at PIT)

19. Chris Carson, SEA (at ARI)

20. Matt Breida, SF (at LAC)

                    

RB Sleeper: Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The Lions' years-long search for a dynamic back is over.

At least, it will be whenever the franchise realizes it is.

For now, Detroit is still utilizing a three-man committee with Johnson getting just one more rushing attempt than LeGarrette Blount (29 to 28) and seven fewer receptions than Theo Riddick (17 to 10). It's possible Johnson's Week 3 breakout—Detroit's first 100-yard rushing effort since 2013—will force the Lions to rethink their pecking order.

Johnson is almost doubling Blount in yards per attempt (5.6 to 3.0). Meanwhile, the rookie has also corralled a higher percentage of his targets than Riddick (83.3 to 77.3). In other words, Johnson looks like Detroit's best back in essentially every situation.

"I think he just does everything well," Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he's a smart player, he's got good vision. He's a slippery runner. He's got probably a little bit more strength than people give him credit for, a little bit more speed. … When he's out there, he's really efficient and does some really nice things."

Detroit draws Dallas next, a team seemingly content to make every game a grind-it-out affair. Johnson gives the Lions their best chance of maximizing their offensive opportunities. He's impressed on a short leash; imagine what he could do with no restraints.

                     

WR Rankings

1. Antonio Brown, PIT (vs. BAL)

2. Michael Thomas, NO (at NYG)

3. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (vs. NO)

4. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (at IND)

5. Julio Jones, ATL (vs. CIN)

6. Keenan Allen, LAC (vs. SF)

7. Mike Evans, TB (at CHI)

8. A.J. Green, CIN (at ATL)

9. Davante Adams, GB (vs. BUF)

10. Tyreek Hill, KC (at DEN)

11. T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs. HOU)

12. JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (vs. BAL)

13. Jarvis Landry, CLE (at OAK)

14. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (vs. KC)

15. Adam Thielen, MIN (at LAR)

16. Brandin Cooks, LAR (vs. MIN)

17. Golden Tate, DET (at DAL)

18. Will Fuller, HOU (at IND)

19. Stefon Diggs, MIN (at LAR)

20. Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs. KC)

                    

WR Sleeper: Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

Rich Barnes/Associated Press

While three weeks isn't quite enough time to erase all memories of a disappointing season, Williams is doing everything he can to put his quiet rookie campaign behind him.

The No. 7 pick in 2017 is 2018's No. 23 scoring receiver. Williams is just three spots back of Beckham, one behind Landry and ahead of Hilton, Allen and Sammy Watkins.

Williams has either delivered 80 receiving yards or a touchdown each week. Last weekend, he did both and produced the position's seventh-highest point total with four grabs for 81 yards and two scores.

"Williams made a huge play on a 42-yard touchdown reception for the Chargers, showing the playmaking skills that saw the Chargers draft him in the first round a year ago," Gordon McGuinness wrote for Pro Football Focus. "With 81 yards from 26 snaps in route, he ranked sixth among wide receivers with an average of 3.12 yards per route run."

Williams could be poised for another monster weekend. San Francisco's secondary has been among the league's most exploitable, ranking 27th in passing yards per game (287.7) and tied for 28th in passing touchdowns (eight).

                    

TE Rankings

1. Travis Kelce, KC (at DEN)

2. Rob Gronkowski, NE (vs. MIA)

3. Zach Ertz, PHI (at TEN)

4. Jimmy Graham, GB (vs. BUF)

5. Kyle Rudolph, MIN (at LAR)

6. George Kittle, SF (at LAC)

7. Jared Cook, OAK (vs. CLE)

8. Trey Burton, CHI (vs. TB)

9. Eric Ebron, IND (vs. HOU)

10. O.J. Howard, TB (at CHI)

11. David Njoku, CLE (at OAK)

12. Tyler Eifert, CIN (at ATL)

                    

TE Sleeper: Rhett Ellison, New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 31: Rhett Ellison #85 of the New York Giants runs with the ball during the second half at MetLife Stadium on December 31, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Giants defeated the Redskins 18-10. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/
Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

The list of tight ends who have found fantasy relevance running routes for Manning isn't short: Jeremy Shockey, Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard, most recently Engram.

With the latter down for the foreseeable future, Ellison has a great chance to join that group.

Known primarily for his blocking, he's had his best receiving days since joining Manning and the Giants. He had career bests in catches (24), yards (235) and touchdowns (two) last season. If this weekend was any indication (three catches for 39 yards and a score), he might be on his way to raising the bar again.

Assuming New Orleans throws Marshon Lattimore at Beckham, expect Manning to find other ways of exploiting a secondary that's vulnerable against big plays and banged up. Ellison won't be the first option, but he'll get enough looks to work as a streamer.​

                

Statistics used courtesy of NFL.com.

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