Start ‘em: Quarterbacks
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Hampered by a knee injury, Aaron Rodgers hasn’t looked like, well, Aaron Rodgers since Week 1. However, he’s still been a serviceable starter, and his play should only improve as the injury heals. He’s poised for a strong outing this week against the Bills in Lambeau. Buffalo absolutely stole Kirk Cousins’ lunch money last week, but it still has one of the worst defenses in the league against fantasy QBs. Don’t get cute here: play Rodgers.
Tom Brady, Patriots
I find it absolutely ludicrous that I have to pitch the two best quarterbacks in football as viable fantasy starters, but here we are. After being the highest projected QB last week against a putrid Lions defense, Tom Brady put up 7.5 fantasy points. Why? Well, nobody really knows. Perhaps Matt Patricia, former New England defensive coordinator and current head coach of the Detroit Lions, just had the perfect gameplan. One game shouldn’t change the outlook for Brady. As Bill Belichick would say, we’re on to Miami. Start the GOAT in Week 4.
Matt Ryan, Falcons
After an MVP season in 2016, Matt Ryan had a down year in 2017. Now, in his 2nd year in Steve Sarkisian’s offense, Ryan is back in fine form. In the past two weeks, he’s has scored 9 total TDs (7 passing, 2 rushing). You just can’t argue with that type of production. He’s a great option this week against Cincinnati, who has allowed the 7th most points to fantasy QBs so far this season.
Other names to consider: Joe Flacco, Ravens; Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
Sit ‘em: Quarterbacks
Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Does anybody remember that time Dak Prescott went 13-3 in his rookie season, scoring 29 total TDs and throwing only 4 INTs? Yeah, me neither. This season, Dak is averaging 165 passing YPG and has thrown only 2 TDs. It’s a low-volume offense that is stocked to the brim with mediocre pass-catchers. If you have Prescott on your roster, it’s time to move on.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buccaneers
In Week 3, we saw the FitzMagic begin to fade, if only just a little bit. Fitzpatrick did throw for 400 yards and 3 TDs (which, I’m told, is good), but he also threw 3 interceptions. Of course, the Steelers defense that he faced has been an absolute sieve all season long. This week he faces a much tougher matchup against the Bears, and Jameis Winston, fresh off a three game suspension, will be waiting in the wings if anything should go wrong. I’m nervous about Fitzpatrick this week.
Start ‘em: Running Backs
Carlos Hyde, Browns
Carlos Hyde has the two most important traits that you look for in a fantasy player: talent and opportunity. He’s averaging 21 touches per game, he’s dominating the goal line work (4 TDs in 3 games), and his entire offense should get a boost with rookie Baker Mayfield making his first start this week. Throw in a matchup with the Raiders, who are allowing the 6th highest YPC to running backs this season, and Hyde is an easy top-20 play.
Matt Breida, 49ers
Typically when a team’s starting quarterback is lost for the season, the surrounding offensive weapons should be downgraded. I do not believe this is the case for Matt Breida. Breida, who is already having an impressive season on the ground (8.6 YPC), figures to see a significant increase in passing work now that C.J. Beathard will be starting. Here is a stat that will shock you: last season, Carlos Hyde — the 49ers starting RB at the time — received 8.3 targets per game when Beathard was playing, but that number dropped to less than 4 when Beathard was out. If that trend continues, Breida will see a significant uptick in receptions. He’s currently dealing with an injury, but if Breida is active, fire him up against the Chargers.
Kerryon Johnson, Lions
The curse has been lifted! On Sunday night, the Detroit Lions had their first 100 yard rusher since the 2013 season. His name? Kerryon Johnson. Oh, and by the way, he did it with only 16 carries. Johnson looks like the real deal, and he’s playing on a high-scoring offense. For now, Legarrette Blount will continue to steal some work, but the upside is there. Kerryon is a solid flex play this week against the Cowboys, and his value only figures to increase.
Other names to consider: Jay Ajayi, Eagles; Javorius Allen, Ravens
Sit ‘em: Running Backs
Jamaal Williams, Packers
With Aaron Jones suspended, Jamaal Williams had a chance to secure the top spot in the Packer’s backfield. Instead, he continued a trend of severe inefficiency that began last season. Jones returned to the lineup in Week 3 and led the team in rushes (although only with 6) and rushing yards, despite playing half the snaps. This is a full-blown committee now, and Aaron Jones has the opportunity to leapfrog Williams on the depth chart as soon as next week. Stay away.
Kenyan Drake, Dolphins
Kenyan Drake is one of the most perplexing players in all of fantasy football — he’s right up there with Amari Cooper. Drake is the type of player that will have a huge game as soon as I suggest that you sit him, but the fact remains that Drake is not getting enough work to meet the expectations of those that drafted him. He’s averaging 13 total touches per game, and the explosiveness from last season just hasn’t been there. You might have to start Drake this week if you drafted him high, but don’t expect more than flex-level production.
Derrick Henry, Titans
Remember when I said that opportunity is one of the most important aspects of a successful fantasy player? Well, Derrick Henry has opportunity. He’s had 18 rushes in each of the past two games, yet he hasn’t cracked 60 yards, he hasn’t scored any TDs, and he’s averaging 3.0 YPC. Of course, the Titans top two tackles have dealt with injury, and the whole offense seems to be in a funk, so things may get better for Henry; however, it won’t be this week against a stout Eagles’ run D. Leave Henry on the bench.
Start ‘em: Wide Receivers
Sterling Shepard, Giants
So far this season, Sterling Shepard has played on 92% of the Giants’ offensive snaps (that’s a lot). He’s been steady, averaging roughly 5 catches for 50 yards each week; the only issue with Shepard is that he’s been 4th in line for targets behind Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, and Evan Engram. Now, with Engram set to miss a few games, Shepard should absorb a lot of short to intermediate targets. He’s a solid play this week against the Saints.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
Emmanuel Sanders is clearly Case Keenum’s favorite toy in Denver; however, Demaryius Thomas is still receiving nearly 25% of the targets (9.0 per game). The results have been so-so thus far, but with that kind of volume he’s bound to breakout at some point. This week, the Broncos face a Chiefs team that has scored over 30 points in every game this season. The assumption here is that the Broncos will have to throw a lot to stay in this game, and that both Thomas and Sanders will have success against a weak Chief’s secondary.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals
Where did this kid come from? In his past two games, Tyler Boyd has 12 receptions for 223 yards and 2 TDs. A.J. Green left the game with an injury in Week 3, which obviously gave Boyd a boost, but, even before the injury, Boyd had run just one fewer route than Green. We’ve seen a lot of receivers break out in their third year (think Nelson Agholor last season), and that seems to be the case here with Boyd. Moving forward, he should be a decent flex play nearly every week. Start him against the Falcons on Sunday.
Other names to consider: Mike Williams, Chargers; Corey Davis, Titans
Sit ‘em: Wide Receivers
Marquise Goodwin, 49ers
While Matt Breida may be immune to the effects of Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury, Marquise Goodwin will not be. With C.J. Beathard at the helm, the 49ers offense is almost guaranteed to take a step back. There will be fewer pass plays, fewer scoring opportunities, and more checkdowns to running backs on top of the obvious talent dropoff. It’s just impossible to have confidence in Goodwin right now. Look elsewhere this week.
Jordy Nelson, Raiders
It is never wise to chase points in fantasy football, and that is especially true of the Oakland Raiders, who have had a different 100-yard receiver in each of their first three games. Jordy Nelson was “the guy” in Week 3, but this offense likes to spread the ball around. Maybe Jordy will have one or two more big games this season; however, predicting them will be nearly impossible. Remember, before this game, Jordy hadn’t eclipsed 35 receiving yards since October of last year. He is still who we thought he was: an aging receiver that struggles to get separation on an inconsistent offense. There are much better options than Jordy this week.
Kelvin Benjamin, Bills
In Week 3, Kelvin Benjamin had 6 catches for 58 yards and a TD. Just kidding, that’s his stat line for the ENTIRE season. Even in last week’s game, when his team scored 27 points, Benjamin was not involved in the way a “number one” receiver is supposed to be. It’s hard to even have Benjamin on your roster at this point. Stay away.
Start ‘em: Tight Ends
Trey Burton, Bears
Many had high expectations for Burton this season after he signed a four year deal with the Bears, and, thus far, he hasn’t lived up to the hype. With Matt Nagy coming over from Kansas City, the feeling was that Burton would fill the “Travis Kelce” role in Nagy’s offensive scheme. The good news is that, as far as usage, he has been in that role. Burton is playing on 85% of the snaps and lining up all over the field. The main issue has been the ineffectiveness of Mitchell Trubisky, but things should improve as the offense begins to gel. This week, Burton is a solid start against a Buccaneers team that has been gouged by Zach Ertz and Vance McDonald in back to back games.
O.J. Howard, Buccaneers
Delanie Walker is out for the season. Greg Olsen is out indefinitely. Evan Engram got hurt last week. O.J. Howard has essentially been thrust into fantasy relevance by injury alone. To his credit, though, Howard has surpassed expectations thus far. He has at least 50 receiving yards in every game this season, and he is out-snapping fellow tight end Cameron Brate by a significant margin. Howard was taken in the first round for a reason. As a highly talented player with opportunity on a powerful offense, Howard is a set-it-and-forget-it tight end for the rest of the year.
Other players to consider: David Njoku, Browns; Jared Cook, Raiders
Sit ‘em: Tight Ends
Will Dissly, Seahawks
Well, it was fun while it lasted. After blowing up the stat sheet for two straight games, Montana alumnus Will Dissly finally came back down to earth. He had 1 catch for 4 yards against the Cowboys last week. Realistically, there was no way Dissly’s success could continue. He’s splitting time fairly evenly with fellow tight end Nick Vannett on a Seahawks offense that has struggled mightily. I know the pickings at tight end are slim, but you’re better off avoiding Will Dissly this week and every week.
Jesse James, Steelers
Behold, fantasy football’s 7th ranked tight end. With Vance McDonald banged up for the first couple of games, Jesse James feasted (8 catches for 198 yards). In Week 3, however, it was McDonald who broke out (4 catches for 112 yards and a TD) while James was relegated to blocking duties. It’s hard to trust any tight end in a committee, but McDonald is the better bet for fantasy production moving forward. Avoid Jesse James if you can.