We have reached Week 4, and with it comes the first byes of the 2019 season. The New York Jets and the San Francisco 49ers get the early rest this weekend. Sucks, but hey, we still have 13 games on Sunday and a bonus one on Monday! We have seen more than enough football already to know who’s working and who’s not. Some early-season trends and player outcomes might still be hard to believe, though, so that is why I’m here to help you address the information and make the most important decisions of your weekend.
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Whether you’re playing in an 8-, 10- or 12-team league, you must have doubts about who to put in that widely open flex position, who to stream at quarterback or how could you address all of the uncertainty surrounding the tight end slot. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options you should consider if you have the following players on your team.
Phillip Rivers, LAC (at MIA) - START
This whole “start whoever plays against Miami” strategy is getting more real by the day. Forget about game script and teams turning to the run-game once they get the lead against the Dolphins. Miami has allowed the second-most QB fantasy points so far, and every quarterback they have faced has scored at least two touchdowns passing (and both Brady and Prescott added one running). Rivers has almost reached 1,000 in three games, comes off a 318-yard, two-touchdown outing against Houston, and has the overall WR1 in Keenan Allen working for him.
Daniel Jones, NYG (vs. WAS) - START
Let’s be clear: this is a risky start. Did Jones have one of the best debuts ever for a rookie quarterback? Yes. Did he pile up 353 yards with two touchdowns passing, and also score two more touchdowns on the ground? You bet! But remember, Daniel Jones is handling a horrid Giants team who has just lost his No. 1 weapon with Saquon Barkley’s injury. There is at least one good reason to start Jones, though. The Giants face Washington and they have allowed at least 24 fantasy points each week to quarterbacks (those to Trubisky; Wentz and Prescott logged 28 and 32 each). With an O/U total of 49 points, expect a high-scoring game of two middling teams without much defensive presence.
Josh Allen, BUF (vs NE) - SIT
While the game can turn into a blowout New England’s way, and Buffalo might find itself looking for answers and catching up through a heavy pass-game, that doesn’t mean it will work against the Patriots. New England has yet to allow a touchdown (!), the most fantasy points they have given up to a quarterback are 14.5 in Week 1, and they have intercepted six passes already. Allen has a cannon of an arm, and it could very well be used against the Patriots. The downside of it, though, is that he has as many (three) interceptions as touchdowns, and has fumbled the ball four times in three games. Most of Allen’s upside comes from his air yards, as his receivers’ YAC only amount to 4.8 yards on average. Tough day coming for the sophomore.
Joe Flacco, DEN (vs JAX) - SIT
This game makes the slate as the second-worst in terms of total points expected. Denver itself has an implied 21 points going its way, and in their three losses they have scored as many touchdowns on the ground (two), as they have passing. If you’re happy fielding someone who will finish the game with an 80 percent completion rate on 20-of-25 passes for 250 yards, Flacco is your guy! But don’t add fantasy points anywhere else, because that is all he offers (assuming he doesn’t throw one or two interceptions...). He’s lucky Jalen Ramsey will probably miss this weekend’s game, but as always, if you play Flacco you’re trusting more his receivers running ability that his actual passing prowess. Also, the Jaguars didn’t give up a score against neither Deshaun Watson nor Marcus Mariota in the past two games.
David Johnson, ARI (vs. SEA) - START
I was a firm believer in Johnson entering the season, and he’s been able to keep up the expectations so far. Although he didn’t have a great performance in Week 2, he produced as an RB1 against Detroit (25.7 points) and Carolina (18.5). Johnson is playing all of the snaps he can handle (79 percent of Arizona’s offensive plays through Week 3) and is also targeted 13 percent among all his teammates (WR/TE included). Even more encouraging are his red zone numbers, as he has six rushes in it to go with two passing targets. Seattle allowed 20 points to the Steelers and was torched by Kamara to the tune of 37 points. The best thing for Johnson is that they are allowing 55 receiving yards to RBs, something that fits the profile of the tailback. All of this added to the ultra-high pace of both Arizona and Seattle can make for a great performance from Johnson.
Chris Thompson, WAS (at NYG) - START
The situation in Washington is a little fuzzy. Keenum could have played his last game as a starter as he was on the injury report this week and Dwayne Haskins looks closer than ever to make his first start. Even if the latter doesn’t, minimal mistakes from Keenum could call for a mid-game change. Those doubts are not present in the backfield. Chris Thompson is eating all he wants and then some from Adrian Peterson’s chances, and playing much more efficiently. Although he only has 12 rushing attempts, Thompson leads the league in RB targets with 23. He has 237 yards from scrimmage, with 195 of them coming via receptions. The Giants have still to face a runner with this receiving-over-rushing profile, but they have been mediocre stopping the run through three weeks, allowing three touchdowns and 330 yards already to the position. Again: bad teams, horrid defenses, high-scoring game, and potential rookie QB. All points in Thompson’s direction to mash.
Nick Chubb, CLE (at BAL) - SIT
The Ravens already destroyed the Dolphins and Cardinals backfields and did all they could against the Chiefs last week. All in all, they are the eighth-best team against running backs in fantasy points allowed to the position, and the second-best in yards given up at just 152. Chubb, on the other hand, is nothing close to “best.” Although he has 233 on the ground, that number is all about volume. He has rushed the ball 58 times, averaging just 4.02 Y/A, which doesn’t even rank him as an RB2. Will Chubb remain as the go-to option in the backfield? Sure. Will it work? Let me doubt it. Teams have stayed away from running against the Ravens (league-low 38 attempts against them), and the game script could kill Chubb’s chances at it. Combining a potential catch-up gameplan with Baker Mayfield as the QB screams pass-bombs to me. I’d stay away from Chubb at least this week.
Sony Michel, NE (at BUF) - SIT
It is not that the Bills pose a bad matchup (they’re average, though), it is that Michel is starting to lose a lot of his credit. And it must be taking a good effort from the running back. Michel has just 23 total points through three weeks. That ranks 43rd among RBs. He has faced Pittsburgh, Miami, and the Jets, and even having favorable game scripts in all of those games, and having attempted the 10th-most rushes of all tailbacks in the league, he’s still performing as bad as one can. New England couldn’t field James White last week, but he’ll be back this weekend. Even with that, Michel has lost a lot of touches to Rex Burkhead, and Michel’s situation doesn’t look good going forward. Just this weekend, against Buffalo, the Patriots will face their first “real” competition, and if the game is close he won’t be able to produce much. Not that an early blowout has made him any good through three weeks either...
Sterling Shepard, NYG (vs. WAS) - START
It’s a shame Shepard is a pure slot receiver, because had he been a sideline player he’d have faced Josh Norman and that torching would have been a sight to behold. But fear not! Shepard came back in Week 3 after being sidelined in Week 2 (concussion) and played up to his abilities if not more. He finished the game against Tampa with 121 total yards and a score on seven receptions and two rushes. His first game of the season also yielded him 10.2 points points (25.1 in Week 3). Washington’s defense looks as bad as any in the league, and their only “lucky” break comes in the shape of facing a rookie (albeit phenom-looking) quarterback in Daniel Jones this week. Washington has given up more WR-touchdowns than the Dolphins (eight to seven) and conceded the fourth-most receptions. Field day coming for Shepard.
Terry McLaurin, WAS (at NYG) - START
Weird back-to-back picks here, I know. But the game calls for it and it is normal that a few of the picks are related to just one matchup this week. If Washington’s defense is bad, the Giants’ isn’t far away. New York has yet to see a group of WRs drop fewer than 41.3 points points on them. They have allowed a receiving touchdown to every team they have faced, and no less than 209 receiving yards to WRs. And, can you name a wide receiver from Washington other than Terry McLaurin? Correct, you can’t. Which means McLaurin—who has already proved himself as one of the surprises of the season and a sure-thing rookie—will be in for the kill. No rookie WR has posted three games over 15 points points this season; McLaurin worst ended at 17. Washington always loses, they need to play catch-up, and even if Keenum is benched McLaurin comes with a built-in rapport with Dwayne Haskins from his college days. Bright weekend ahead.
Robert Woods, LAR (vs. TB) - SIT
The three-headed monster that is the Rams attack seems to be too much for the food available at the table. And Woods could be the odd man out. Looking at opportunity, the Rams are spreading the ball and feeding all of Cooper Kupp (31 targets), Brandin Cooks (22) and Woods (23), but this last one is failing to produce anything substantial. Woods is the only one of those to not reach 150 yards while the other two have already surpassed 225 yards. Kupp has two touchdowns and Cooks another one. Woods has zero, and an alarming 56.5 percent catch rate. Although Tampa Bay should give Woods a good chance to rebound, it could also mark the end of multiple relations between the players and fantasy GMs. I’d recommend sitting him this week, see if the team keeps trusting him with targets, and monitor his production. A permanent sit (aka drop) could be on the way.
Dede Westbrook, JAX (at DEN) - SIT
Playing for Bortles was always going to be a struggle. Moving from him to Nick Foles looked like an improvement until Foles was no more. But wait! Gardner Minshew has shown more than enough to make us believe he’s capable of leading a team, so that is no excuse to underproduce while being the team’s No. 1 offensive target. Believe it or not, Leonard Fournette has more yards receiving (94) than Westbrook (79) on the same 20 targets. DJ Chark and Chris Conley are behind him in the pecking order, yet they have 277 and 200 yards, respectively. Westbrook’s outings so far have been well worth a cut, and I’m not joking. Denver will put on the field one of the best defenses so far: the Broncos rank fourth in points/G allowed to WRs and lead the league in yards given up to the position. Sit Westbrook and don’t hesitate to move from him long-term if he lays another egg.
Will Dissly, SEA (at ARI) - START
Second week in a row for Dissly here, and I’m afraid we’ll wave goodbye to him soon because he’s becoming a staple in the fantasy world. At this point, though, Dissly keeps going under the radar in more than 50 percent leagues. Explain it to me. If you’re streaming the position or drafted a middling, underperforming tight end, you have to get Dissly in your lineup this weekend. It sounds crazy but Arizona is allowing a staggering 87.8 points to TEs through three games (32.8 more than second-worst Tampa Bay!). They just don’t know how to cover the position, giving up five touchdowns already. Not that Dissly doesn’t merit the start on his own terms — he comes from back-to-back 18-plus points, 50-plus yards, 5-plus receptions games in which he scored three combined touchdowns. Pick Dissly before it’s too late.
T.J. Hockenson, DET (vs KC) - SIT
Hockenson came to the league, smashed some fools in his Week 1 game against Arizona, and we all fell for it. Then, reality struck. Hockenson couldn’t even reach two points in his next two games, catching only two of seven targets for eight yards. But I’m still trusting him and Matthew Stafford. And I’m doing it, even more, this weekend against a Chiefs defense that has fared badly versus the position. Both the Raiders and Ravens tight ends fell just short of 100 yards but racked up 18.6 and 17.7 points in their games. Not elite, but not bad either. We know what happens when one team faces the Chiefs: they either score big-time points or are done. What better to keep the scoreboard tight than throwing and throwing? Yes, there are other options in wide receiver form for Stafford to exploit, but I’m betting on a T.J. Hockenson bounce-back happening this week.
Dawson Knox, BUF (vs NE) - SIT
I already offered a little bit of my point of view for this upcoming game. While I think Josh Allen might end being forced to throw the ball, that is probably not going to work against the toughest defense in the league. And if Allen puts his cannon to work, Knox could be one of the harmed by it. I hope the guy above serves as a cautionary tale: one just can’t trust one-off rookie TE performances. If Knox was to put on another good performance, it would probably have to be way downfield in throws to get as many yards as possible, and I don’t trust Allen exploiting short routes while boasting that blasting arm. Even in a performance for the ages, the Patriots probably have Knox’s upside cut at 10 points points at most, so you better skip this one.
Greg Olsen, CAR (at HOU) - SIT
I must be one of the few guys out there happy for Olsen’s start of the season. The vet is back to his old ways, producing solid numbers and being one of the Panthers weight-bearers so far. But I’m also starting to feel afraid of how sustainable those outcomes are. This is Olsen’s best start to a season (50.1 points) since 2014 (53.4 points). The game against Houston this weekend should be an entertaining one, and it is even probable that it remains tight as to make Olsen feature heavily on the passing game — but the Texans rank seventh-best in points allowed to TEs through Week 3. They have yet to give up a touchdown to the position, and Kyle Allen will be manning the Panthers quarterback position again. While he will probably rely on his big guy again (Olsen finished last week’s game with 75 yards on six receptions to go with two scores), Houston’s defense is not Arizona’s. Allen will face more pressure, and Olsen will be better covered. I’d give the old man a week off and come back to him if he keeps racking up numbers.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is chapulana) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.