Posted: Wednesday, October 4, 2017
This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 4 of the 2017 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
Please Note: This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, or Antonio Brown. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em Deshaun Watson (HOU, QB)
Don't look now, but rookie Deshaun Watson is legitimately in contention for Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Chiefs are giving up 248 yards through the air and have allowed Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz to put up 22 fantasy points. They also kept Tom Brady and Philip Rivers in check, but Watson can beat them on the ground as well - he's averaging 37 yards rushing per game. Watson is ranked inside our Top 10 this week and is worth starting.
Start 'em Alex Smith (KC, QB)
The #2 quarterback in fantasy is ranked 12th this week among all QBs on FFN making him a starting option in 12-team or deeper leagues. Mariota put up 15 points before getting hurt and Brady put up 33 points the week before. There do not appear to be any concerns with his ankle as he's practicing in full. He's averaging 250+ yards through the air, 2 touchdowns, and 22 rushing yards per game this year. The Chiefs are on a roll and so is Smith.
Start 'em Bilal Powell (NYJ, RB)
Ranked 20th this week is Bilal Powell who shined brightly last week with Matt Forte sidelined. Forte has been dealing with a knee and turf toe issue that has kept him on the sidelines at practice this week. That's good news for Powell owners. He'll face the Browns who have given up double-digit fantasy production to Gio Bernard, Frank Gore, and Buck Allen over the last three games.
Start 'em Carlos Hyde (SF, RB)
Carlos Hyde is having a great year averaging over 80 yards per game. The Colts defensive line has allowed both Todd Gurley and Duke Johnson to average 21 fantasy points (ppr) this year. Hyde is dealing with some hip pain, but that doesn't seem to be stopping him. He's ranked as an RB1 this week, and if he can't finish the week as a Top 12 back, he's a lock to at least be an RB2 for you.
Start 'em T.Y. Hilton (IND, WR)
Ranked 13th this week is T.Y. Hilton who hasn't quite lived up to our expectations this season. Not having one of the league's best quarterbacks will do that to you, but he's ranked as a high-end WR2 in a plum matchup against the Niners who have given up an average of 17.4 fantasy points (ppr) to #1 wide receivers over the last three weeks.
Start 'em Larry Fitzgerald (ARI, WR)
At 34 years old, Larry Fitzgerald continues to produce for Arizona fans as well as fantasy owners. He didn't get many targets last week but he certainly made the most of them. He's a Top 10 wide receiver this week against the Eagles who have given up double digit fantasy points to Tyrell Williams (22.5), Keenan Allen (18.8), Brandon Marshall (14.6), Sterling Shepard (26.3), and Odell Beckham Jr (28.9) over just the last two weeks. Start Fitz with confidence.
Start 'em Charles Clay (BUF, TE)
Charles Clay is ranked 6th this week and has been a Top 5 TE in fantasy this year. His 5 for 112 yards against Atlanta last week was impressive, and he has been Tyrod Taylor's favorite target this year. The Bengals look tough on paper but they haven't really faced a tight end like Clay yet. Keep him locked into your lineups.
Start 'em Austin Seferian-Jenkins (NYJ, TE)
One of the bright spots on the Jets is Austin Seferian-Jenkins who is also one of the biggest targets for Josh McCown. The Browns have been horrendous against the tight end position this year giving up 16.4 fantasy points (ppr) per game to them. He's ranked 10th this week and should be able to finish that way. He's still available in more than 60% of leagues across virtually all platforms.
Start 'em Minnesota Vikings (MIN, DEF)
The Vikings come into this game ranked 2nd among all defenses this week on FFN. In what is expected to be Mitchell Trubisky's first NFL start, the Vikes will likely see some takeaways while taking advantage of the rookie.
Start 'em Jake Elliott (PHI, K)
Unless you're a Philly fan, there's a good chance that you don't know much about Jake Elliott...but you should. He was plucked from the Bengals practice squad and is filling in for injured Caleb Sturgis. He knocked in the game-winning, 61-yard field goal in Week 3 and followed that up with 4 field goals last week. He's ranked 2nd among kickers this week on FFN and available in nearly 70% of most league platforms.
Sit 'em Cam Newton (CAR, QB)
Leaving aside Newton's dumb comments about females asking about routes, he looked more like his old self last week against a terrible Patriots secondary. One week does not a trend make. It's curious that Newton is ranked in the Top 10 this week given the fact that the Lions defense has been solid and kept Case Keenum, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, and Carson Palmer to an average of 10.7 fantasy points.
Sit 'em Philip Rivers (LAC, QB)
Ranked 18th this week among all QBs on FFN is Philip Rivers facing a Giants defense that give up just 216 yards through the air. With the exception of Jameis Winston last week, the Giants have given up just 14.3 fantasy points to opposing signal callers. Rivers has to fly cross country to New York with his 0-4 Chargers. He has almost as many picks as he does touchdowns. Rivers is a risky play this week.
Sit 'em Eddie Lacy (SEA, RB)
The Seahawks backfield is a mess. Whether you have Eddie Lacy or Thomas Rawls, neither is a good option this week even against a Rams defense that has given up the third most yards on the ground to running backs this year. Lacy did better than expected coming in for Chris Carson last week averaging 5 yards per carry, but the rotation of Rawls, Prosise, and McKissic dilutes whatever value he may have had.
Sit 'em Tarik Cohen (CHI, RB)
This year's waiver wire darling came back down to Earth last week as he was outsnapped and outplayed by Jordan Howard. A matchup with division rival Minnesota and their 3rd-toughest run defense should leave us with some question marks. Starting running backs have had difficulty against the Vikings and the second on the depth chart have fared even worse staying under 8 fantasy points even in PPR formats.
Sit 'em Jeremy Maclin (BAL, WR)
Maclin is the WR to own in Baltimore, but the matchup this week isn't a good one. Only two wide receivers have managed to see double digit fantasy points this year (std): Jermaine Kerse and Josh Doctson. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas couldn't put up double digits combined. Now, some of that has to do with the fact that Denver's passing offense ranks 23rd, but the coverage from Oakland was solid as well. Combine that with a struggling Joe Flacco and Maclin is difficult to trust.
Sit 'em Eric Decker (TEN, WR)
The Dolphins give up the 6th-most passing yards per game, and even though this is such a nice matchup, Eric Decker is not worth starting. He has been a non-factor in fantasy this year with a healthy Marcus Mariota. He's averaging just 3 catches for 26 yards per game this season. The 2017 version of Eric Decker is not going to be the same as the 2015 version.
Sit 'em Martellus Bennett (GB, TE)
The reason Martellus Bennett is ranked 11th this week has more to do with potential than likelihood. Aaron Rodgers likes him and has indicated that they've got to get him more involved. The problem is that he hasn't topped 47 receiving yards or found the endzone this year despite being targeted 7 times each game. Combine that with the fact that the Cowboys have not allowed any TE to reach double-digit fantasy points in any format and Bennett becomes a risk/reward option.
Sit 'em Eric Ebron (DET, TE)
So much talent - such little usage. The Panthers give up the 7th-fewest yards through the air and have only allowed one tight end to see double digits (Rob Gronkowski) while keeping the rest to just 4 PPR points. Ebron is averaging less than three catches and 22 yards per game this year. There are much better options out there.
Sit 'em Green Bay Packers (GB, DEF)
The Packers have seen mixed results with their Nitro defense and a matchup in Arlington against Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant is on tap. The Pack have routinely given up double-digit fantasy points to opposing running backs (Jordan Howard, Gio Bernard, Joe Mixon, Tevin Coleman, and Devonta Freeman) and wide receivers (Kendall Wright, AJ Green, Mohamed Sanu, Julio Jones, and Doug Baldwin) this year. If they can't stop Zeke and Dez, the defense will struggle. There are better fantasy options to stream this week.
Sit 'em Blair Walsh (SEA, K)
What does the future hold for a kicker who can't seem to make kicks in his home stadium? Fortunately for Blair Walsh, he'll be playing further south this week against the Rams, but his inconsistency is cause for alarm.