Week 4 is upon us and this when fantasy players begin to really sweat. Bye weeks have begun and that means our rosters have holes in them, with important players like Peyton Manning, A.J. Green and Marshawn Lynch. Well, we have good news for you, hope is not lost if you have Peyton on your bench. There are still plenty of options on free agency, or hopefully on your bench, and you can still find a way to squeak out a win this week.
With that in mind, we present you 10 players you should start this week and 10 players you should consider sitting. For the purposes of this list, we're not going to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers or sit Blake Bortles because those are pretty obvious. We're going to look a little deeper than that and hopefully give you a little bit of insight into this week's important match-ups..
Without further adieu, here's your week 4, start 'em and sit'em candidates.
20 San Francisco 49ers Defense – SIT
The 49ers have been a middle of the pack defense over the first three weeks of the season and it doesn’t get any easier for them this week, as the struggling 49ers are taking on the high-flying 3-0 Philadelphia Eagles. Based on standard scoring, defenses playing against the Eagles have only averaged 3.0 points per game ranking the Eagles as one of the 6 toughest offenses to play against thus far this season. The Eagles offensive line has been depleted by injuries which means that Chip Kelly will likely devise a game plan that will get the ball out of Foles’s hand quickly.
19 San Diego Chargers Defense – START
With so many starting caliber defenses on bye this week, it is important to find a quality replacement defense. This week that comes in the form of the San Diego Chargers who face off against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars have given up the most points on average so far this season with 15.0 points a week. The Jaguars have already given up 17 sacks to opposing defenses and though they have made the switch from Chad Henne to Blake Bortles, this doesn’t change the lackluster performance of the offensive line so far this season. Get the Chargers in your line-up
18 Jason Witten – TE, Dallas Cowboys – SIT
Jason Witten has improved on his numbers every game so far this season, and while this may been seen as a positive, the issue is that his best game was a 49 yard performance. Don’t expect things to change for Jason Witten this week as the Cowboys play the New Orleans Saints, who have been able to shut out opposing TEs so far this year. The Saints have only given up 5.07 points per game this year and have had a much easier time shutting down TEs than WRs. Sit Witten this week.
17 Delanie Walker – TE, Tennessee Titans – START
Delanie Walker has experienced a strong start to the season, accumulating 233 yards and 2 TDs over the first 3 weeks of the season and never put up less than 5.4 points in any given game. Walker is building a strong case for himself as a matchup-proof starter. Delanie Walker also has a juicy match-up this week as he faces off against the Indianapolis Colts, who have given up the 5th most points to TEs this season as they gave up an average of 12.87 per game. Given the Colts early season issues stopping TEs, along with the fact that Delanie Walker is the most consistent pass catcher on the Titans, make sure to get him in your lineup this week.
16 Eric Decker – WR, New York Jets – SIT
Eric Decker struggled with a hamstring injury all week leading up to the Jets Monday night match-up against the Bears. Decker was able to suit up, however, he aggravated this injury during the game on Monday. Even if Decker is active this week, your best bet would be to bench him, as there is a risk that he re-aggravates his injury and it just so happens he is going up against a very tough Detroit Lions defense who has shut-down opposing WRs. With the exception of the Patriots, there has not been a better defense against wide-outs than the Detroit Lions. What makes this stat more impressive is that the Lions already went up against one of the best passing teams in the NFL in the Green Bay Packers and held their receivers in check.
15 Jordan Matthews – WR, Philadelphia Eagles – START
After the Eagles week 3 game, it looks like Jordan Matthews has secured his spot above Riley Cooper in the Eagles pecking order at WR as he has outperformed Cooper to this point this season. With Cooper struggling with drops and Matthews making the big plays look for his role to continue to increase. This week, Matthews and the Eagles square off against the 49ers who have given up the second most points per game to opposing wide-outs. Much like the Eagles game against the Redskins last week, this game has the makings of a shoot-out, so look to get Matthews in your lineup as the fantasy points will be plentiful in this game.
14 Torrey Smith – WR, Baltimore Ravens – SIT
So far this this season, Torrey Smith has been a shadow of his former self having compiled only 85 yards over 3 games. Additionally, Steve Smith seems to have overtaken Torrey Smith as the WR1 in the Ravens offense, as he has accumulated 290 yards and a score. The Ravens play host to Steve Smith’s former squad, the Carolina Panthers, who have allowed the 8th least points to opposing WR. Between the fact that the Panthers field one of the best pass defenses in the league and the fact that Steve Smith will play like a man possessed, it’s best to keep Torrey Smith on your bench as he will continue to struggle this week.
13 Michael Crabtree – WR, San Francisco 49ers – START
Crabtree has just turned in back-to-back impressive performances in which he totaled 80+ yards and a score in each. What makes this more impressive is that one of those games came against the Arizona Cardinals, who had Patrick Peterson matched up against Crabtree for a large part of their week 3 matchup. While the 49ers have given up the most points to opposing pass catchers, their week 4 opponent isn’t too far behind as the Eagles have given up the 3rd most points to opposing wide-outs. Start Crabtree with confidence against the beatable Eagles secondary.
12 Roddy White – WR, Atlanta Falcons – SIT
Much like Eric Decker, Roddy White is battling hamstring issues. This injury kept White out of Atlanta’s week 3 thrashing of the Buccaneers. While it is still unsure if Roddy will be able to play on Sunday, our advice would be to keep him on your bench regardless as he will not be at 100% and will be playing the Minnesota Vikings, who surprisingly rank in the top 10 against WRs so far this season. Given the risks associated with starting a player dealing with a hamstring injury and the fact that Julio will continue to be Matt Ryan’s favorite target, keep White on the bench for another week regardless of if he is active or not.
11 Golden Tate – WR, Detroit Lions – START
Golden Tate has yet to find the end-zone in a Detroit Lions uniform and his yardage total has decreased each week as he started his campaign with 93 yards and followed that up with 57 yard and 51 yard performances in week 2 and 3 respectively. That being said, Golden Tate was targeted 7 times in week 3 and while he only had 51 yards, he did make 5 catches. Given the Lions match-up against the New York Jets, Tate will have a golden (pun intended) opportunity to find the end zone for the first time this year, given the fact that the Jets are a top 3 defense against the run yet a bottom 4 defense against opposing WRs. Get Tate in your line-up.
10 Joique Bell – RB, Detroit Lions – SIT
Joique Bell’s fantasy totals have decreased each week so far this season, as he saw his fantasy totals drop from 11.6 points in week 1 to 3.3 points in week 3. The worst part for Joique Bell and the Lions run game is that it doesn’t get any easier this week, as they take the field against the 2nd best run defense in the leagues (based on average fantasy points conceded to opposing RB). Opposing RBs are averaging a mere 6.7 points per game against the Jets and on the flip side of the coin, the Jets passing defense has been dreadful, so expect the Lions to attack them through the air as it will be extremely difficult to get the run game going. Bench Bell this week.
9 Frank Gore – RB, San Francisco 49ers – START
Frank Gore is coming off a brutal performance against the Cardinals, in which he only saw 6 carries for 10 yards. Last week, we recommended keeping Gore on your bench against a tough Cardinals run defense, however that was due to the strength of his opponent and not his personal ability. Frank Gore is no longer a match-up proof fantasy stud as was proved last week, however this week against the Philadelphia Eagles, in a game that will likely end up being a shoot-end, get Frank Gore back in your lineup as he will bounce back this week.
8 Chris Johnson – RB, New York Jets – SIT
It’s time to move on. If you drafted Chris Johnson, you are likely not too happy with what you see as he is being outplayed by his counterpart Chris Ivory. While Johnson started the season off well, he has yet to replicate a performance that even remotely resembles that game. The Jets play the Lions this week, who like the Jets field a top tier run-stuffing defense led by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. If the Lions show up to play this week, the Jets will likely find themselves in an early hole and forced to abandon the run as they attempt to keep pace with the powerful Lions offense.
7 Darren McFadden - RB, Oakland Raiders - START
It's difficult to endorse Darren McFadden at this point. He's been a running joke in the fantasy community for a couple of years now, but this might be the week to erase some of that. Playing in London versus the Miami Dolphins, expect McFadden to produce RB2 numbers for your team. The Dolphins have conceded the 5th most points to RBs this season, so maybe McFadden will be able to find some lanes. If Maurice Jones-Drew doesn't start, McFadden has a chance to make a big splash.
6 Pierre Thomas - RB, New Orleans Saints - SIT
We know what you're thinking. You're confused as to why we're telling you to sit an offensive player against the Dallas Cowboys and their Arena Football League caliber defense. Well, they've actually been pretty damn good against the run, as they've conceded the 8th least points to running backs so far this season. Does that mean he'll have a terrible game? No, not exactly, but he has been losing snaps to Khiry Robinson, so he's more of a boom-or-bust player at this point. Robinson got 18 carries, compared to Thomas' 8, last week so we'd recommend parking Thomas until we have a clearer picture in New Orleans.
5 Lamar Miller - RB, Miami Dolphins - START
Let's go back across the Atlantic and re-visit the Raiders vs Dolphins match-up. If you believed the pre-season hype, you probably drafted Lamar Miller decently early. Then you probably were disappointed when Knowshon Moreno stole the show in Week 1. Lucky for you, Moreno got hurt and Miller is the starter once more. This week, he gets a tasty match-up against the Oakland Raiders defense. They were much better last week against the New England Patriots, but they've still conceded the 7th most points to RBs. With the Dolphins lacking confidence in Ryan Tannehill, expect them to pound the rock with Miller. Get him in your line-up.
4 Alex Smith - QB, Kansas City Chiefs - SIT
Only one defense in the league has conceded less than 10 fantasy points a game to QBs this season and that's the New England Patriots. Guess who Alex Smith is playing this week? Without top tier options in his receiving group and with a hobbled Jamaal Charles, Alex Smith will likely struggle versus New England on Monday Night Football. Expect John Gruden to be unimpressed and expect Alex Smith to underwhelm. Sit him.
3 Kirk Cousins - QB, Washington Redskins - START
Welcome to the party Kirk Cousins. After replacing Robert Griffin III as the starter when he went down to injury, Cousins has ran away with the job. He torched the Jaguars to the tune of 250 yards and two TDs. Then he was even more impressive against the Eagles, going for 427 yards, three TDS and one pick. This week, he gets the Giants defense, who have given up the 6th most points to QBs. Expect Cousins to keep up his hot play and to further his grasp on Washington's starting job.
2 Cam Newton – QB, Carolina Panthers - SIT
It's been a rough year so far for Cam Newton. He has injured ribs and he's having trouble running the ball, which is when he's most effective. Since he's forced to be a one-dimensional QB, with only one quality WR in Kelvin Benjamin, it's hard to expect a lot from Cam. Now, he hasn't been terrible, scoring 21.14 and 14.7 points in the two games he's started. However, if you have a decent back-up QB, we suggest benching Newton this week against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens defense has been stingy this year and the Panthers have no healthy running backs. Don't expect big things from Superman this week.
1 Philip Rivers - QB, San Diego Chargers - START
Rivers has been great so far this season, but that's not why he's on this list. The Chargers are welcoming the Jaguars to San Diego this Sunday. That means you should start every relevant San Diego Charger player this week. The Jaguars have given up the most points to QBs this year and are on the road this week, starting a rookie QB of their own. Rivers has been lights out this year and that can only continue against Jacksonville. Get him in your line-up.