With the first quarter of the NFL season coming to a close, the standings in your fantasy league should start to reflect who needs to scour the waiver wire and who is rolling comfortably to the playoffs. There were also some key injuries and surprising surges this week that might make streaming certain positions such as quarterback a lot more viable going forward.
Here are the players you should start, sit, pick up or trade for during week 4.
Editor’s note: Eddie Velazquez is a football fan with very little to do other than consistently check the waiver wire. His advice took Jimmy Garoppolo out for the rest of the season, so take it with a grain of salt. He is also playing for sums of money he has only seen once in his life. Wish him luck on twitter @ezvelazquez…and I guess also send him your fantasy questions there.
Quarterback start of the week: Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (at San Francisco 49ers).
Sorry 49ers fans, but your season just got three-times longer with Jimmy Garoppolo officially ruled out for the rest of the 2018 campaign. To add to the matter, facing Philip Rivers and an explosive Chargers offense this week is the first of many anxiety-inducing affairs.
The bolo tie virtuoso has thrived in offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s system for the second year in a row, putting up 29, 22.7 and 17 fantasy points respectively in each of the first three weeks of the season. The latest coming against the best defense in the league in the Los Angeles Rams’ defense.
Rivers’ production has stayed consistent in part to the emergence of playmaker Mike Williams. The second-year pass catcher out of Clemson is averaging 17.2 yards per reception according to CBS Sports. He also shocked the Rams with four catches for 81 yards and two scores, elevating his total to three touchdowns on the year.
Other QB starts: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (at Oakland Raiders). Andy Dalton (at Atlanta Falcons). Eli Manning, New York Giants (at New Orleans Saints).
Quarterback sit of the week: Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans (at Indianapolis Colts)
Watson is one of the most intriguing quarterback stories early in the season. Last year he jumped onto the scene as a force to be reckoned with, throwing for 19 touchdowns in seven games (six starts).
However, the magic simply hasn’t been there for the Georgia native this year. Standing behind a bottom-of-the-barrel offensive line (perhaps the worst in the league) and operating an unimaginative offense with no running game to speak of. Watson is not completely guilt-free here either, he holds on to the ball for too long and has been inaccurate in short, intermediate and deep throws at the beginning of all three contests this season.
On the other hand, the Colts defense looks like a completely different unit compared to last year’s faceless 3-4 scheme. So much so that defensive end Margus Hunt and rookie linebacker Darius Leonard lead the league in tackles-for-loss with eight and six respectively.
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus’ squad also got three sacks on Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz last week and limited the Philly offense to 156 yards from scrimmage in the second half.
Other QB sits: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (at Los Angeles Rams). Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears (vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (vs Detroit Lions).
Trade target: Buy low on quarterback Tom Brady (New England Patriots).
While seemingly unlikely, some leagues are bound to have desperate owners who might want to get rid of the greatest of all time (GOAT) because of his middling performances up to this point. However, give some credit to defensive coordinator Todd Wash and head coach Matt Patricia for astutely erasing tight end Rob Gronkowski from the Patriots’ offensive game plan and forcing Brady to throw to ham-and-eggers Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Chris Hogan.
None of these guys has been able to establish themselves as reliable weapons, but that is about to change when veteran receiver Julian Edelman comes back from a suspension after four weeks. Brady will also get some help in the way of freaky athlete Josh Gordon once he can fully be integrated into the offense.
It is too early to push the ejector seat button on Brady and this incomplete Patriot offense, but if anyone in your league is willing to sell at a reasonable price, this should prove a bargain at the end of your season.
Running back start of the week: Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions (at Dallas Cowboys)
Despite playing in a running back by committee situation, Johnson rushed for 101 yards on 16 carries on Sunday, becoming the first 100+yard-rusher for the Lions since Thanksgiving 2013 (Reggie Bush). This will likely result in an increase of carries for the Auburn product going forward.
His matchup against a good Cowboys defense that will be missing their star linebacker, Sean Lee, is favorable.
The Lions offensive line dominated a decent New England defense through the middle, with guards Frank Ragnow and TJ Lang especially having a field day with Patriots linebackers. The rookie Ragnow was named a part of Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) team of the week, while the line as a hold ranks 10th in run blocking using the site’s metrics.
Other RB starts: Carlos Hyde, Cleveland Browns (at Oakland Raiders). James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs Baltimore Ravens). Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (at Atlanta Falcons).
Running back sit of the week: Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins (at New England Patriots)
Drake had a pretty good game late in the season against New England last year (193 yards from scrimmage). I actually don’t doubt that the potential for a breakout game is there this season, however, Drake’s usage just hasn’t been there after three weeks.
Take last week as an example, according to NFL.com, even on a negative game script that favored the passing game, 36-year-old running back Frank Gore got one more carry than Drake.
His yards-per-carry and yards after contact are also not what they were over the stretch of 14 games last season. According to PFF, Drake averages 3.5 yards per carry and 2.9 yards after contact. A stark contrast when compared to the 4.8 yards-per-carry and 4.3 yards after contact he had last year.
Drake could be a great candidate for a trade where you sell high.
Other RB sits: Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray (at Los Angeles Rams). Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Chicago Bears).Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (vs Philadelphia Eagles).
Wide receiver start of the week: Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos (vs Kansas City Chiefs)
Sanders’ game log has been nothing short of explosive. He has had 19.5, 9.6 and 13.3 fantasy points respectively in this seasons’ outings thus far. He has also emerged as one of quarterback Case Keenum’s favorite receivers, as he has surpassed other veterans such as Demaryius Thomas in targets.
NFL.com has Sanders ranked 12th in touches among all wide receivers, and is facing a Chiefs defense who have had no answer to opposing wideouts. The secondary has allowed five touchdowns to opposing receivers.
Other WR starts: Juju Smith-Schuster (vs Baltimore Ravens). Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers (at San Francisco 49ers). Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears (vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Wide receiver sit of the week: Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets (at Jacksonville Jaguars)
Enunwa is rookie Sam Darnold’s favorite target, but he will be blanketed by one of two all-pro corners in Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye.
Not much for any Jets receiver to do when they face a good defense like Jacksonville’s.
Other WR sits: Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers (vs Los Angeles Chargers).Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (vs Buffalo Bills). Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles (at Tennessee Titans).
Pickup of the week and tight end of start of the week: Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles.
Owned in approximately 10-to-20 percent of all leagues (per PFF), Goedert might become a consistent weapon for Wentz and the Eagles going forward.
The uptempo offense displayed in Wentz’s opening drive against the Colts could very well be an indicator of Goedert’s potential role in this offense.
By going no huddle, the Eagles trapped the Colts in mismatch personnel with two tight ends and because of the offensive pace, Indy could not send substitutions to match up the Eagles formations in time. Goedert proved he’d earned coach Doug Pederson’s trust by capping off that drive with a touchdown catch.
He also happened to have one of the better fantasy stat lines of the week for a tight end. He caught all of his seven targets for 71 yards and a touchdown.
His usage might remain high (63 snaps in week 3, according to PFF) until receivers Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins come back from injury.
Other adds to look out for: Tyler Boyd, wide receiver, Cincinnati Bengals. John Brown, wide receiver, Baltimore Ravens. Aaron Jones, running back, Green Bay Packers.
Other TE starts: Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts (vs Houston Texans) Trey Burton, Chicago Bears (vs Tampa Bay), Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders (vs Cleveland Browns).
Tight end sit of the week: Rhett Ellison, New York Giants (vs New Orleans Saints).
ESPN fantasy stats has the New Orleans Saints as the fifth-stingiest defense in the league against tight ends. Dennis Allen’s crew has only allowed 26.3 fantasy points to opposing tight ends and they should continue to blanket them this week in a favorable matchup against a newly-promoted starter in Ellison.
Other TE sits: Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Chicago Bears). Ricky Seals-Jones, Arizona Cardinals (vs Seattle Seahawks). Ben Watson, New Orleans Saints (vs New York Giants).
Defense and special teams starts of the week: Jacksonville Jaguars (vs New York Jets). Los Angeles Chargers (at San Francisco 49ers). Detroit Lions (at Dallas Cowboys).
Defense and special team busts of the week: Denver Broncos (vs Kansas City Chiefs). New York Giants (at New Orleans Saints). Tennessee Titans (vs Philadelphia Eagles).
Kicker starts of the week: Matt Prater, Detroit Lions (at Dallas Cowboys). Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens (at Pittsburgh Steelers). Will Lutz, New Orleans Saints (vs New York Giants).
Kicker busts of the week: Steven Hauschka (at Green Bay Packers). Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs Baltimore Ravens). Robbie Gould, San Francisco 49ers (vs Los Angeles Chargers).