Ranking the Week Four defensive matchups
The bye weeks start in Week Four, with the Panthers and Redskins having the week off. While next to no one has rostered the Redskins’ defense, the Panthers could cause some Fantasy owners to make a tough decision. Do you release your DST and pick up another? If you like your DST, do you release a position player to pick up another DST that you can start this week? Do you just take a zero at DST this week? If I have a top-notch DST, I’m not releasing them for a much lesser one, not unless I play in a league in which DST is getting a massive amount of points. My opinion on this could change if I’m 0-3. Desperate teams need to do desperate things. As for releasing a position player and keeping your current DST, this could be an option if that position player is really nothing but a roster filler. You can always try to pick that player or a similar one back up next week. I don’t like taking zeroes, but let’s face it, if you don’t have anyone you want to drop and you’re 3-0 or 2-1, you don’t have much to worry about. Odds are your week won’t be decided by the DST anyway and even if it is, the player you kept may end up paying off for you down the line.
As always, the top of this list are teams to make sure you start players against, while the bottom are defenses you want to start.
- Buffalo Bills (against Green Bay Packers): I’ll be the first to admit that Aaron Rodgers may not be an automatic start anymore due to his troublesome knee (especially if you have someone like Patrick Mahomes as a backup), but don’t overthink things too much; he’s still great. The run game concerns me more. Aaron Jones performed the best of a sad lot last week even though the Packers stated he would be last on the depth chart. I really don’t want to start any of them, but if you must, Jones it is.
- Kansas City Chiefs (against Denver Broncos): Case Keenum could be an interesting plug in at QB this week. The Chiefs can score points, but they also give them up. Emmanuel Sanders has emerged as a bigger threat in this Broncos’ offense than Demaryius Thomas, but you’re still starting Thomas, as well.
- San Francisco 49ers (against Los Angeles Chargers): As if you needed any more convincing, Mike Williams is the much better player than Tyrell Williams, although both could be an option in this game. The 49ers’ secondary gives out more gifts than Santa and they won’t have Richard Sherman this week. I’d rather not start Antonio Gates, but with TEs dropping like flies, you may not have any better options.
- Indianapolis Colts (against Houston Texans): You wouldn’t have thought so from watching the game last week, but Deshaun Watson accounted for over 400 yards of total offense. Watson starts along with Will Fuller as the Texans should be able to move the ball via the pass at will.
- Denver Broncos (against Kansas City Chiefs): Who doesn’t start for KC here? All of your usual suspects go here, even in Denver against what is supposed to be a good defense.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (against Baltimore Ravens): Joe Flacco could make for an interesting start for those owners who need to replace Cam Newton. Everyone else is lighting up the Steelers’ secondary, why not him? John Brown and Michael Crabtree are must-starts as well. Alex Collins is a definite start and Javorius Allen is a flex option.
- New York Giants (against New Orleans Saints): The only real questions here are whether or not to start Ben Watson and any other receiver not named Michael Thomas. I’m not a huge fan of Ted Ginn, especially outside of that dome. He’s a flex play at best. If you’re thinking long term, you might want to grab Cam Meredith for later on this season, as he should only get better. As for Watson, well, if you lost Evan Engram, Greg Olsen, Jordan Reed (bye), Jack Doyle (questionable) or Delanie Walker, he may just end up being the best of what’s left.
- Cincinnati Bengals (against Atlanta Falcons): Tevin Coleman hasn’t been quite as good as expected since Devonta Freeman went down with a knee injury, but that may not be any fault of his. The team drafted Ito Smith and he has looked good in a complementary role as well. If Freeman returns for this game, he starts, and Coleman goes back to being a flex play. Calvin Ridley is quickly becoming a must-start, whereas Mohamed Sanu is not. Austin Hooper could also be a replacement for one of the TEs mentioned above, although I’m not dying to get him into my lineup.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (against Chicago Bears): Maybe this will be the game where everything clicks for the Bears’ offense. I still can’t start Mitchell Trubisky in anything but a superflex or 2QB league, but there is upside here. I’m still waiting for Tarik Cohen to be that weapon that Chicago promised; he’s a flex play this week.
- Baltimore Ravens (against Pittsburgh Steelers): The Steelers are playing at home this week, but Ben Roethlisberger is a must-start no matter where the team is playing. So is everyone else outside of the TEs and James Washington. Deciding which TE to start is a problem as one week it’s Jesse James, the next, Vance MacDonald. I’d pass on both unless you’re desperate. James Washington could be a play if you’re a Devin Funchess owner.
- Miami Dolphins (against New England Patriots): The Patriots’ offense will get better, and that may start this week if Josh Gordon can play. This doesn’t mean I would start Gordon, but his presence will open up the middle of the field for Rob Gronkowski and should make life a little easier for Chris Hogan. The only RB I’m interested in right now is Sony Michel and only as a flex play.
- Atlanta Falcons (against Cincinnati Bengals): J. Green may have cost quite a few Fantasy owners a win last week, as he didn’t play the second half thanks to a groin injury. As of this writing, we don’t know if Green will play Sunday, but even if he does, we also don’t know if he will be at full strength or if he will be able to finish the game. All that said, if he starts for the Bengals, he starts for your Fantasy team. Tyler Boyd also starts for me and so does Giovani Bernard. As for Tyler Eifert, it’s nice to see he finally had a game worth remembering. Eifert is also in play if you need a TE.
- Dallas Cowboys (against Detroit Lions): Now that the Lions have broken their streak of not having a 100-yard rusher, can they do it in back-to-back games? I’m not convinced. Kerryon Johnson is still nothing more than a flex play for me. I will start all three WRs, however, and Kenny Golladay has passed Marvin Jones on the depth chart.
- New Orleans Saints (against New York Giants): Can we trust Eli Manning to have a solid game against the Saints? Every other QB has so far this season, and the game is at home. If you were starting Newton, I’m as comfortable as you can be with Manning. I’m also starting Sterling Shepard this week, as the Giants will be forced to throw quite often.
- Oakland Raiders (against Cleveland Browns): Baker Mayfield looked good in his professional debut. Still, you’re not starting him in any single QB league. Antonio Callaway is a different story, however. He’s a boom-or-bust guy but can get open deep, and Mayfield can reach him. He’s at least in flex consideration, if not a WR3. Duke Johnson sits, however, as I’m about ready to move on.
- Los Angeles Chargers (against San Francisco 49ers): Who do we trust on the 49er’s offense now that Jimmy Garoppolo has been lost for the season? George Kittle is still a TE1, just not with as much upside. Pierre Garcon is now a depth WR for your Fantasy team and Marquise Goodwin a flex option each week. The run game remains the same as both Matt Breida and Alfred Morris come in as RB3s. As for C.J. Beathard, he’s only usable in 2QB leagues.
- Chicago Bears (against Tampa Bay Buccaneers): It would be a surprise if Jameis Winston starts this week over Ryan Fitzpatrick. Remember, Tampa is on bye Week Five, which would give Winston almost three weeks of practice to prove he deserves to get the starting job back. No matter who starts this week for TB, it’s not a great matchup. They are playing on a short week in Chicago against a good defense. Still, Fitzpatrick has to be considered. Chris Godwin is not a WR3 and Cameron Brate could be started along with O.J. Howard as TB can’t run the ball and likely won’t solve that problem Sunday.
- Tennessee Titans (against Philadelphia Eagles): It was predictable that Carson Wentz would be rusty in his first start this season and the Titans are no picnic either. Still, you’re back to starting him. I’m not starting Alshon Jeffery even if he makes his debut this week. Only Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz start as far as pass catchers are concerned. Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles should both return this week. You’re starting Ajayi, but he’s a low end RB2 at best.
- Houston Texans (against Indianapolis Colts): Am I concerned about Andrew Luck’s arm strength? Yes, but he’s still a low-end QB1. The problem is the Colts just don’t have many offensive weapons for him to get the ball to. I’m not touching the run game until someone shows something. We still don’t know about the status of Jack Doyle, but you probably don’t have a choice but to start him if he’s back this week. If he’s not, Eric Ebron is a good option.
- Cleveland Browns (against Oakland Raiders): Marshawn Lynch is back to being a must-start. Say what you want about him, he at least finds the end zone. Amari Cooper has been up and down and perhaps this is an up week. He’s a WR3. I know Jordy Nelson had a big game against Miami, but that seems like an outlier more than a sign of things to come.
- New England Patriots (against Miami Dolphins): The Patriots’ defense looks old and slow and they just gave up 100 yards rushing to a team that hadn’t had single rusher accomplish that feat in quite a while. If you’re not starting Kenyan Drake in this game, then when? I’ll have to start Kenny Stills also but I’m worried that Bill Belichick will choose to take him away. What about Jakeem Grant? I can’t start him, but his speed was impressive, and he could be a player to watch as the season progresses. It’s not like Miami is loaded with offensive talent.
- Arizona Cardinals (against Seattle Seahawks): Everyone seems to be worried about Russell Wilson. Yes, I get it, but he still starts as he is still a Top 12 Fantasy QB. Tyler Lockett can be a sneaky play, but he is still more boom-or-bust than a consistent threat. Chris Carson is a low end RB2. Even with all of the injuries to TEs, Will Dissly still doesn’t crack the Top 10.
- New York Jets (against Jacksonville Jaguars): Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon are both considered questionable to play Sunday. As a Fantasy owner, you’re hoping—if you own both—that one starts and the other is inactive. If they both play, you’re probably forced to go with Fournette, but it does worry me that he may not be able to finish the game. I trust Keelan Cole the most out of the receivers, but none is more than a low-end WR3 this week.
- Minnesota Vikings (against Los Angeles Rams): The Rams’ offense looks pretty close to unstoppable, and they haven’t even hit their full stride yet. I’d still rather not start Jared Goff, though, especially not on a short week against a good defense. I’m starting all of the WRs, but I’d be lying if I said I’d be able to do that with any amount of confidence.
- Green Bay Packers (against Buffalo Bills): I’ll hate myself, but I’m starting LeSean McCoy if he starts for the Bills, and I’m starting Chris Ivory if he doesn’t. If I own both, I’m hoping McCoy is deactivated, as I won’t trust that he can finish the game. If you own Kelvin Benjamin and aren’t starting him here, you either have really good depth at WR, or Benjamin shouldn’t be on your roster.
- Detroit Lions (against Dallas Cowboys): It’s still just Ezekiel Elliott and I’m not sure this changes at all this season.
- Los Angeles Rams (against Minnesota Vikings): Dalvin Cook is going to be a problem this week. It’s a short week. He’s got a bad hamstring. He’s been limited in practice. Can you sit him even if he does play? Yes, I think you can, but it would depend who you can put in at RB over him.
- Seattle Seahawks (against Arizona Cardinals): Larry Fitzgerald is dealing not only with a bad hamstring, but also a rookie QB. I no longer view him as a must-start. A couple of waiver wire pickups I would start over Fitzgerald are Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd. Perhaps Fitzgerald should’ve retired after last season.
- Philadelphia Eagles (against Tennessee Titans): It doesn’t matter who starts at QB for the Titans, I want nothing to do with the passing game. I’m not big on the run game either, but Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry are both flex plays.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (against New York Jets): I like Bilal Powell more than Isaiah Crowell this week, as I expect the Jets to hit Powell with short passes out of the backfield. Quincy Enunwa is the only WR I would consider starting here.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.