RB Christian McCaffrey (CAR) at Patriots- The Patriots defense is the worst in the NFL thus far and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Even with Cam Newton banged up, McCaffrey is still a top-notch play in Week 4. Newton’s favorite weapon, TE Greg Olsen, isn’t around, Kelvin Benjamin is looking to play through a knee injury and there isn’t much else after that besides McCaffrey. In PPR formats, he’s a must-start, but even in standard leagues, McCaffrey’s worth it because of the high volume he’ll get and the big play ability he possesses.
RB Derrick Henry (TEN) at Texans- Last week, we were all fooled by reports of Henry taking a large share of the backfield work with DeMarco Murray nursing a hamstring injury. Still, Henry got involved in the game plan and Murray’s hamstring is an issue. Henry’s a nice flex play in standard formats, especially in this matchup with the Texans, who will implement the same ground and pound philosophy. There are plenty of touches here for both Murray and Henry.
WR Martavis Bryant (PIT) at Ravens- He’s the biggest boom or bust player out there and a frustrating receiver to own. But the talent is just too real and too big to deny Bryant a chance in your lineups. Bryant dropped a 60-plus yard bomb early in last week’s game, which would’ve made his day; but he isn’t just dependent on the big plays. He received eight targets in that game and should continue to get open looks as he builds more chemistry with Big Ben Roethlisberger.
TE Evan Engram (NYG) at Buccaneers- Engram has been a consistent receiving option for the G-men and against the underwhelming secondary of the Bucs that should continue. Eli Manning loves to target his tight ends and he looked a lot better last weekend versus the Eagles. Also, with Odell Beckham back to full speed, the field will open for everyone else. He’s a solid start in all formats while he’s trending in the right direction; Brandon Marshall continues to be ineffective.
WR DeSean Jackson (TB) vs. Giants- Here’s another boom or bust play like Martavis Bryant, but I like Jackson’s chances to boom with “The Jack Rabbit,” Janoris Jenkins on Mike Evans. Although the Giants haven’t been able to stop the run so far, they should hold down Jacquizz Rodgers this week. Both teams may need to pass heavily in this game and Jackson will be the beneficiary of the defensive attention being focused elsewhere. Also, Jackson’s known to give the Giants fits in the past.
RB Buck Allen (BAL) vs. Steelers- Buck was in my Start’em dozen last week but didn’t come through against a tough Jags defense in London. He’ll bounce back nicely at home versus a Steelers defense that allowed over 100 yards on the ground to Jordan Howard and the Bears. Terrance West will, of course, be involved as well, but Buck’s the more versatile RB, and he’ll see most of the backfield targets. He’s a great flex play in PPR leagues. He takes a hit in standard formats but is still a viable option in Week 4.
The Sour Six
Isaiah Crowell (CLE) vs. Bengals- Crowell was a Fantasy favorite heading into the 2017 season, but he’s been completely ineffective through three games thus far. Last week at the Colts was Crowell’s best opportunity to break out, instead, backup RB Duke Johnson was the beneficiary of a TD and a better overall performance. I’m keeping Crowell on the hot seat until he shows signs of life, especially in a tough match-up against a division rival.
Matthew Stafford (DET) at Vikings- Stafford’s been efficient in his first three games, even when facing tough defenses like the Giants. Stafford’s efficiency won’t keep up this consistently for the entire season and on the road in a divisional battle versus the Vikings is a clear road bump in the season. The Lions may need to use the run more than the pass like they did against the Giants, especially after the Vikings romped against the Buccaneers’ promising offense in Week 3.
T.Y. Hilton (IND) at Seahawks- Hilton is an elite WR in the NFL, but with no sign of Andrew Luck coming back, it doesn’t look good for him. He did show signs of his elite status in his last game versus the Brown, but now on the road in one of the most hostile environments, against the stout Seahawks secondary, regression seems inevitable.
LeGarrette Blount (PHI) at Chargers- Although Blount had success on the ground against the Giants in Week 3, Wendell Smallwood is beginning to steal touches and looked good with opportunity. With Darren Sproles now on the IR it would seem like a positive for Blount, but he isn’t a pass-catcher so Smallwood will benefit more from the injury. In Standard leagues he’s still a decent flex option, but in PPR he rides the pine for me.
Mike Gillislee (NE) vs. Panthers- No team has been able to run all over the Panthers yet, LeSean McCoy was completely shut down versus their front seven in Week 2. The Patriots should put up points, as they do every week, but Gillislee is highly reliant on touchdowns, especially with so many RBs in this backfield. A touchdown could make Gillislee worthy in Standard formats, but in PPR there are much better options out there.
Ted Ginn Jr. (NO) at Dolphins- Ginn hasn’t been that effective through three games and now Willie Snead will be reinstated from suspension. Snead was a reliable target for Drew Brees last season, and he’s the clear No. 2 WR on this team once he gets going. This crowds the whole situation in the Saints’ pass game and may be the last opportunity for Ginn to make a substantial impact. He’s still a decent boom or bust play in DFS tourneys, but he’s bench fodder in season long, especially PPR leagues.