News & Analysis

Sunday morning fantasy football decisions: Rankings, start/sit, sleepers, and busts for Week 4

(It’s Week 4 of the NFL season. This and every Sunday morning, we’ll wrap up the week in fantasy football content with our Study Session, a last-minute guide to our top advice of the week, featuring the highlights of that week’s analysis.)

I like thresholds. Easy-to-demarcate lines. It wasn’t actually that meaningful that the Lions had gone so long without a 100-yard rusher — Ameer Abdullah ran for 94 yards in Week 4 last year, and six extra yards doesn’t actually mean much — but “100” is just such a cool number to see.

To that end, one of my favorite things to track each year is 10-plus standard points in a game. Non-PPR scoring is fading in popularity, but PPR has no threshold as good as 10 standard points. One hundred yards. A touchdown with 40 yards. Reaching 10 points in a game doesn’t mean a player was dominant, but it means he had a good game. Doing it every week means a player is very good.

Every year, I start tweeting it after Week 3. Every non-quarterback with at least 10 standard points in every game. It’s a good week to start doing it—usually late enough that the list isn’t overwhelming, but not so late in the year that I’m just listing a single name or two.

This year, though? Well, let’s do it in a chart:

Number of non-QBs with at least 10 non-PPR points in every game through Week 3
Year Number
2014 9
2015 6
2016 10
2017 9
2018 18

Again, that doesn’t actually mean much. Three games with 10, 11, and 10 fantasy points isn’t somehow better than three games with 24, 9, and 27. It’s just a fun threshold to monitor. And this year, my monitoring has been bulky.

Anyway, with scores high like that, there’s more research to do for fantasy. It’s not enough to say that your fantasy player puts up X points per game; this year, so far at least, everybody has a player like that. So check out our weekly advice to keep your chances as good as possible.

This week on PFF Fantasy

Rankings and start/sit

These are the big-ticket items. Our overall look at what we’re doing and how we make those decisions. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week. Wednesday, he publishes his top 150 for that week. Thursday, Scott Barrett attempts to solve some of the top start-or-sit questions. Tuesdays also feature Mike Castiglione and Walton Spurlin offering advice for the key streamers (QB and DST, respectively). And Friday is the big blowout, where Jeff Ratcliffe highlights all the key lessons of the week and prepares fantasy players for the weekend to come. If you only read one piece of fantasy advice a week, it’s that.

Previewing the weekend in fantasy

There’s no good blurb to pull from this, because the whole thing is gold. Just click. Trust me on this.

A snapshot of the flex rankings

15.Rob Gronkowski, NE vs MIA (TE1)—You can’t keep a good Gronk down for long.
16.Keenan Allen, LAC vs SF (WR7)—Allen put up a dud last week, but he bounces back in this plus matchup.
17.David Johnson, ARI vs SEA (RB9)—Josh Rosen under center should help Johnson’s fantasy value going forward.
18.Davante Adams, GB vs BUF (WR8)—Even with Aaron Rodgers banged up, Adams is still getting his, at least for fantasy purposes.

Two starts, two sits

START Eric Ebron in medium-sized leagues: Last week, with Jack Doyle out, Ebron saw 11 targets. … Although the production wasn’t there, the volume surely was.
START Taylor Gabriel in deep leagues: If desperate for a spot-start at the wide receiver position, I’m quite fond of Gabriel. Over the past two weeks, he ranks 18th at the position in expected fantasy points per game.
SIT Golden Tate in shallow leagues: After three straight soft matchups, he now faces off against a Dallas defense that is surrendering only 3.5 fantasy points per game to opposing slot wide receivers.
SIT Chris Hogan in medium-sized leagues: Hogan has seen just 12 targets and ranks third-worst of 43 qualifying wide receivers in targets per route run.

Waiver claims to make

ADD John Brown in shallow leagues: Brown has started 2018 red hot with scores in each of his first three games. He’s now locked in as a WR3-plus and should be owned in all formats.
ADD Javorius Allen in medium-sized leagues: While Allen isn’t the lead back in Baltimore, he is seeing lots of work in the red zone with four carries inside the 5-yard line already this season.
ADD Ricky Seals-Jones in deep leagues: Seals-Jones got in the end zone and figures to benefit with Josh Rosen now in at quarterback for the Cardinals.

QB streamers

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns: Now that the cat’s out of the bag, Mayfield makes for an intriguing play against Oakland this week in DFS tournaments and 2QB formats. Mayfield’s impressive debut notwithstanding, the Raiders are exactly the kind of defensive unit to target in fantasy.

DST streamers

Los Angeles Chargers: While Joey Bosa will miss this Week 4 matchup it’s still one in which the Chargers DST should be able to excel. … San Francisco will have C.J. Beathard under center and that bodes well for the Chargers. In his seven appearances last season Beathard threw four touchdowns and turned the ball over eight times.

Deeper dives

You come to use for more than the surface material. Our writers go deeper with thoughts on situations down the road and looking deeper into each week’s games.

Snaps, Pace, and Stats

Ravens at Steelers: While it isn’t on the main slate, and past matchups have typically been low-scoring, head-hunting tractor pulls, the current incarnations of these teams can pile up plays and points – if they can keep from killing each other.

Trade value chart

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: A riser is JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has solidified himself as a fantasy WR1. Through three weeks, Smith-Schuster is the WR4 in fantasy with 356 yards on 36 targets. There’s room for both Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown to thrive in this offense.

Weather and venue adjustments

Green Bay Packers: The sneaky potential beneficiaries of the poor Green Bay weather are sophomore backs Aaron Jones (+0.4) and Jamaal Williams (+0.0), but it’s difficult to rely on either because of the other’s presence. I want to recommend Jones, who has been the more efficient runner in his career, but he had just one more carry than his teammate in his return from suspension last week. Definitely roster Jones in all of your leagues, but you should probably wait to see a change in their workload split before you start him.

RB committee report

Chris Carson trending UP: One week after logging six carries and riding the bench for two-plus quarters, not only did Carson grab the torch back from Penny, he led all running backs with 32 carries.
James White trending DOWN: White has had his moments, although he owns the league’s fifth-worst elusive rating on the season, with only a 7.4-percent missed tackle rate and an average of 1.46 yards after contact.

DFS advice

We hit weekly DFS from all angles — bargains, stacks, fades, locks. We also look at the best ways to build a DFS lineup on DraftKings (tournament or cash game) and FanDuel (tournament or cash game). And Tyler Loechner tracks the biggest salary-changers from one week to the next.

Bargains

Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals: There was a time where matching up against the Seattle Seahawks was the worst possible scenario for a rookie quarterback in his first career start. That time is over. Seattle ranks No. 31 in pass rush grades and their inconsistency getting pressure is the perfect situation for a rookie like Rosen.
Rhett Ellison, TE, New York Giants: Ellison played a Giants career-high 87 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 3 after Evan Engram got injured in the second quarter. He responded with three receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown.

Locks

Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns: Yeah, I’m doing it. The Browns draw the Raiders, who are a bottom-12 team so far this year against enemy quarterbacks while surrendering over 8.1 yards per attempt against.
Trey Burton, TE, Chicago Bears: Burton and the Bears draw the non-existent Bucs defense, which has given up the eighth-most fantasy points per target to opposing tight ends and the most fantasy points to the position overall, including a league-high 25 receptions and league-high 329 yards.

Stacks

Josh Rosen, QB; Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals: In a game PFF Greenline sees the over cashing by 3 points, we’ll take the Rosen/Kirk connection that looked on point during the preseason after the two rookies got to work on their chemistry from the start of rookie minicamp.

Fades/Contrarian Plays

Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions: Tate has a brutal matchup against a Dallas Cowboys defense that is surrendering only 3.5 fantasy points per game to opposing slot wide receivers (where Tate runs 79 percent of his routes). Not only is that best in the league, it’s best by a landslide, with the league average rate sitting at 13.8 fantasy points per game allowed.

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