Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 4
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One thing that we know for sure is that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was "inactive" last week (and the other two weeks of the 2013 season), but it appears that there is a greater chance that Gronk plays (than he doesn't) in Week 4.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen puts the chance he plays at 60-40.
If you own Gronk, you would like to start him when he's active, but it's unfortunate for fantasy owners that he plays against the Falcons on Sunday Night Football. Fantasy owners will be left with limited options in the event that Gronkowski does not make his season debut in Week 4.
Considering Jimmy Graham, who plays on Monday Night, and Tony Gonzalez are likely owned in all leagues, Miami's Charles Clay, who also plays on Monday Night, should be added, if available, in your league as a fall-back option for Gronk.
Every week, I put together a list of players that may worthy of starting in your fantasy league(s) and those that deserve to be on your fantasy bench.
Of course, a huge factor in determining which players to start (or sit) is the rest of your roster and depth of your league.
That said, here are some players to consider starting in Week 4:
QB - Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (vs. DAL)
With a couple of stud quarterbacks — Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton — on bye this week and a favorable matchup, Rivers is a top-12 fantasy quarterback for this week. Although Rivers had a down performance last week (184 yards and a TD), he currently ranks fifth in fantasy points among QBs through three weeks. In addition, the Cowboys have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season.
QB - Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (at SD)
While Rivers has the possibility of delivering QB1 numbers for fantasy owners this week, the other quarterback in this game has even more upside. After finishing third in the NFL in passing yards last year, Romo has yet to reach 300 yards in a game this season as he is averaging 257 yards per game.
There is an excellent chance that Romo ends his 300-yard drought this week as the Chargers are allowing the most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season. They have allowed at least 23 points to a quarterback in all three games this year.
RB - Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (vs. WAS)
While McFadden averaged less than a yard per carry and failed to reach double-digit rushing yards last week against the Broncos, McFadden threw a TD pass and ran for a score as he scored double-digit fantasy points for a third consecutive week. On the season, McFadden ranks 10th among RBs in fantasy points scored.
This week, he has an extremely favorable matchup against the Redskins, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season. In all three of their games, they have allowed at least 18 fantasy points to a running back.
RB - Bilal Powell, New York Jets (at TEN)
With Chris Ivory dealing with a hamstring injury and Mike Goodson finishing up his four-game suspension this week, it should be a lot of Bilal Powell against the Titans this week. And then some more Powell.
Against the Bills last week, Powell carried the ball 27 times for a career-high 149 yards. While those numbers are unlikely to be repeated, Powell has a chance to be a solid RB2 in Week 4.
RB - Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (at CLE)
The Browns have a solid defense overall and they have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs this season. That said, Bernard has scored the ninth-most fantasy points at the position this year.
Over the past three weeks, he has seen his carries increase from four to eight to 10 and he has scored touchdowns in back-to-back games. In fact, he has three scores in the past two games. Meanwhile, Bernard (5.0 YPC) is averaging nearly twice as many yards per carry than BenJarvus Green-Ellis (2.8).
WR - Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns (vs. CIN)
After serving his two-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, Gordon made a huge statement in Week 3. Only Antonio Brown (31 points) had more fantasy points than Gordon (22) last week. Provided he does not get traded, Gordon is a perfect fit in the team's vertical passing attack and has the size/speed combo to give him WR1 upside the rest of the way regardless of who's under center.
This week's matchup is far from favorable as the Bengals have not allowed a 300-yard passer in 18 games. Coincidentally their last 300-yard game allowed was to the Browns last September.
WR - Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. IND)
Despite a tough matchup last week against the Seahawks, Shorts was able to deliver for fantasy owners that took the chance on him as he capitalized on his garbage-time opportunities. He finished the game with eight receptions for a career-high 143 yards.
With Justin Blackmon suspended for one more week, Shorts, who leads the NFL in targets (39), should see a healthy dose of balls thrown his way in Week 4.
WR - Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (at MIN)
As noted earlier, no receiver had more fantasy points in Week 3 than Brown. One week after a sideline confrontation with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, which Haley says did not happen, Brown went off for nine receptions for 196 yards and two scores. He now ranks fourth in the NFL in receiving yards (324).
After getting torched by Cleveland last week, the Vikings secondary can be exploited and Brown should have a strong performance across the pond.
TE - Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (at MIN)
Now that Miller has a game under his belt since suffering his ACL injury, he is a low-end TE1 against the Vikings. Only the Cardinals have allowed more fantasy points to opposing TEs so far this season. In the past three weeks, the Vikings have allowed TEs to catch a total of six TD passes.
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Here are some players to possibly sit for Week 4:
QB - Eli Manning, New York Giants (at KC)
With an 0-3 start, there are plenty of things wrong with the Giants and Eli is one of them. In those three games, Manning has a league-high eight interceptions and only five passing touchdowns. In addition, their offensive line woes led to seven sacks last week against the Panthers.
The Chiefs have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs this season, which means it may be (at least) another week before Eli gets back on track.
RB - Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams (vs. SF)
After getting only one snap last week before reaggravated his foot injury, Richardson is listed as probable and is expected to play against the 49ers on Thursday night. That said, he's not more than a flex option against the 49ers. The 49ers gave up a lot of rushing yards to the Colts last week, but I expect their defense to bounce back and limit D-Rich's success.
RB - Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers (vs. DAL)
Averaging only 3.6 yards per carry, Mathews has 45 carries for 164 yards in addition to three receptions for 25 yards. Those numbers put him on pace for 1,008 yards from scrimmage.
Despite getting only two touches in Week 1, Danny Woodhead has 29 touches including 15 receptions in the past two games combined. There was talk in the offseason that the Chargers would use a rotation and that is what is happening.
Through three weeks, the Cowboys have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs and rank second in the league in rushing defense (66.3 yards per game allowed).
With pedestrian numbers, Woodhead in the mix and a tough matchup, Mathews is better left on your bench in Week 4.
RB - David Wilson, New York Giants (at KC)
Turnovers have been a huge problem for the Giants. Not only has Manning thrown the most interceptions this season, but Wilson's two lost fumbles in the opener has reduced his workload in Weeks 2 and 3. Wilson did get a season-high 11 carries in Week 3 and actually had a touchdown called back due to a penalty.
It may not be long before a bigger workload and more production is on the horizon for Wilson, who has only one fantasy point year-to-date.
WR - Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons (vs. NE)
The good news is that I have White ranked about 10 spots higher this week than I had him ranked last week. The bad news is White is coming off another mediocre performance. Through three games, White has seven catches for 56 yards. By White's standards, that would be considered a bad game for the reliable fantasy option (when healthy).
Like I stated last week, I rather be one week too late than several weeks too early as he continues to recover from his high-ankle sprain.
WR - Santonio Holmes, New York Jets (at TEN)
Only Brown and Gordon scored more fantasy points than Holmes last week, but it's unrealistic to expect another monster performance from Holmes this week. In addition, Holmes is still not 100 percent after having Lisfranc surgery and says that "still [has] a long way to go."
WR - Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIA)
Through three games, Moore has only four receptions for 44 yards and no touchdowns. Moore is currently tied for 127th in targets (11) with several players. Although I expect him to be more involved and productive than he has been, it makes sense to keep him on your bench for now.
TE - Owen Daniels, Houston Texans (vs. SEA)
After scoring three touchdowns in the first two games, Daniels had five catches for just 29 yards and no scores last week against the Ravens. This week, Daniels has a tough matchup against the Seahawks, who have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.
For Week 4 discussion, check out our Week 4 fantasy football podcast Sunday morning at 10 a.m. ET.