Thumbs Up of the Week: Jared Goff (v TB)
Goff is averaging just 14.2 fantasy points per game through three weeks, but I don’t think teams have “figured out” Sean McVay’s offense like some have suggested, and LA’s signal-caller may be primed for a breakout on Sunday. Of course, the Buccaneers were just exposed by Daniel Jones for 336 yards and two touchdowns, but even without taking that into consideration, Todd Bowles’ man-to-man defense is a good matchup for Goff, who has shredded man coverage throughout his career. I have the 24-year-old ranked as my No. 2 quarterback for Week 4.
Thumbs Up: Daniel Jones (v WAS)
After a phenomenal performance in his first career start, Jones is in an excellent spot to build on it as the Redskins come to town. In general, this matchup feels like a potential shootout because both teams have struggled to cover on the backend this year, and even without Saquon Barkley (ankle) in the lineup, Jones has enough weapons around him to put up big numbers once again. Washington is the only team in the league to allow at least three passing touchdowns in all three games to start the season.
Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (@ IND)
Carr is coming off a quality performance in a tough matchup (@ MIN), and the passing attack should continue to improve as the current group builds chemistry. Last season, Oakland’s starter was 21-of-28 for 244 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions against the Colts, so an improved supporting cast will hopefully lead to similar success in 2019. Consider Carr a solid QB2 option and streaming candidate.
Thumbs Up: Marcus Mariota (@ ATL)
Tennessee has crashed back to Earth since their 43-13 beatdown of the Browns in Week 1, and the inability to protect Mariota has been a big reason why. However, a few extra days to prepare will hopefully lead to a better offensive game plan, and Atlanta’s bottom-five pass rush should give Mariota the time he needs to find Corey Davis, A.J. Brown, and Adam Humphries in a game that they will likely need to score points in. The former Heisman winner is a top-20 play.
Others: Matthew Stafford (v KC), Jacoby Brissett (v OAK)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Tom Brady (@ BUF)
Fantasy owners might not want to take Brady out of lineups as a top-five quarterback through three weeks, but a matchup with the Bills is reason to if you have other options. In four matchups against Buffalo since Sean McDermott took over as head coach, Brady has averaged just 10.7 fantasy points per game, including a high of just 15.6 fantasy points. Especially because of how fired up the crowd will be in a battle of 3-0 division rivals, I wouldn’t anticipate a big game.
Thumbs Down: Josh Allen (v NE)
The rushing upside will always make Allen worth considering, but the Patriots look absolutely dominant on defense, so this could be the week to look elsewhere. In one matchup against Bill Belichick last year, Allen was held to 11.7 fantasy points, and it would have been even worse if not for a 31-yard touchdown pass to Zay Jones with 68 seconds to play in a 24-12 defeat. The second-year quarterback has quietly been a top-ten option so far this year, but the monster games should come after this weekend.
Thumbs Down: Baker Mayfield (@ BAL)
As stated last week, Mayfield hasn’t looked great this season, and it would be a surprise if he suddenly became the top-five option people drafted him to be in this matchup. Through three games, Mayfield has gone for fantasy point total of 9.4, 15.0, and 9.7, while the Ravens are much stingier in the secondary than their numbers so far this season indicate (facing Patrick Mahomes obviously didn’t help). I wouldn’t put much stock into Mayfield throwing for 359.0 yards per game against Baltimore in 2018.
Thumbs Down: Jameis Winston (@ LAR)
Winston is coming off a 380-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Giants, but unless you want to eventually get burnt, he isn’t a guy that you should roll with for prolonged stretches. The Rams have allowed just one passing touchdown this season, and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will likely find ways to force Jameis—who has thrown four interceptions in three games—to make more boneheaded mistake. There are better options out there.
Others: Kirk Cousins (@ CHI), Gardner Minshew (@ DEN)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Kerryon Johnson (v KC)
If Week 3 was any indication, Johnson should be a workhorse for Detroit with C.J. Anderson now released, and fantasy owners shouldn’t be discouraged by just 2.6 yards per carry so far this season. That average is sure to climb against the Chiefs—who have allowed a whopping 6.2 yards per carry—and the Lions would be wise to also get Kerryon more involved as a receiver, too. The lone concern is Kansas City jumping out to a huge lead in Patrick Mahomes’ first career dome game, but Johnson should be viewed as a low-end RB1.
Thumbs Up: Wayne Gallman (v WAS)
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Giants haven’t signed anyone to pair with Gallman as Saquon Barkley’s replacement, which is a sign that they feel good about him in the lead role for the next several weeks. The Clemson product is basically in the same boat as Latavius Murray last year (if you don’t remember, most “experts” laughed at the notion that he could be a fantasy difference-maker replacing Dalvin Cook), but I really like the talent. Get Gallman in lineups as a low-end RB2 option against the 0-3 Redskins.
Thumbs Up: Jordan Howard (@ GB)
Everyone but the Eagles themselves seem to believe Howard should get more touches, but his first touchdown and a highlight, truck-stick run—combined with two Miles Sanders fumbles and a 1-2 record—will hopefully force them to simplify the game plan for a trip to Lambeau Field by feeding the guy has the third most rushing yards (behind Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley) since entering the league in 2016. As for the matchup, Howard had at least 13.2 fantasy points in both games against the Packers last season, and only the Dolphins and Bengals have allowed more fantasy points to the position in 2019.
Thumbs Up: Sony Michel (@ BUF)
This is a gut feeling more than anything else, but I don’t think you should be jumping off the Michel bandwagon without a suitable replacement. Defensively, the Bills have one of the best units in the NFL, but they can be run on at times, and this seems like a game where Michel will breakout with three scores just when everyone is down on him. He is difficult to trust as an RB1, but the 2018 first-rounder remains a strong RB2 and is an excellent contrarian play in DFS.
Others: Chris Thompson (@ NYG), Rashaad Penny (@ ARI)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Chris Carson (@ ARI)
Carson has a great matchup to rebound from three lost fumbles over the past two games, but could his starting job be in danger? Seattle has a very rare situation in which a former seventh-rounder (Carson) easily won the lead role over a first-round pick (Rashaad Penny), but the team certainly has a reason to give more touches to the player they invested premium draft capital in—making Carson increasingly more difficult to trust. Assuming Penny (hamstring) suits up in Week 4, Carson will be a risky RB2.
Thumbs Down: David Montgomery (v MIN)
It may not have seemed like it because Tarik Cohen drew the start and Cordarrelle Patterson was also mixed in, but the Bears gave Montgomery the bulk of the touches on Monday night, and that will ideally continue the rest of the way. That said, Minnesota will be a tough draw this weekend, as Mike Zimmer’s defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown or a rush of 20+ yards all season, and Vikings-Bears is expected to be a slugfest. Montgomery is a low-floor play.
Thumbs Down: Miles Sanders (@ GB)
Sanders fumbled twice on the same drive last week, but head coach Doug Pederson has suggested the rookie won’t have his workload dialed back. It will be interesting to see if that’s just talk for the media, though, as the Eagles cannot afford to drop to 1-3, and Sanders’ fumbling issues (he’s coughed it up on 5.0% of his touches, compared to a 0.6% career fumble rate for Jordan Howard) have dated back to college. Overall, Sanders doesn’t look quite ready for a featured role to me, and Philly would be wise to take some things off his plate against an opportunistic Green Bay defense.
Thumbs Down: Latavius Murray (v DAL)
I thought not having Drew Brees (thumb) in the lineup would lead to increase usage for Murray, but he saw just two touches against Seattle in a game that New Orleans led throughout, so he gets a big downgrade ahead of Week 4. Instead of a balanced running game, the Saints’ strategy to stay afloat without Brees is clearly feeding Alvin Kamara (25 touches against the Seahawks), so fantasy owners can expect more of the same on Sunday night. Murray remains a hold based on talent and potential opportunity down the line.
Others: Royce Freeman (v JAX), Duke Johnson (v CAR)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Sammy Watkins (@ DET)
Watkins hasn’t had a takeover game in either of the past two weeks following a 9/198/3 line in the opener, but that doesn’t mean his WR1 star is any less bright. The 26-year-old has still caught 11 combined passes since his week-winning performance, and he will start to see more favorable coverage with Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson burning opponents in back-to-back games. Keep rolling with Watkins as a top-eight play against a Lions defense that has been beaten by Larry Fitzgerald (8/113/1), Keenan Allen (8/98), and Nelson Agholor (8/50/2).
Thumbs Up: Sterling Shepard (v WAS)
It didn’t take long for Shepard to show chemistry with Daniel Jones, as the two connected on seven-of-nine targets for 100 yards, one touchdown, and a two-point conversion in last week’s comeback victory against the Bucs. The next matchup is arguably even better, as Washington has really struggled to cover through three weeks (I thought the Bears actually left some big plays on the field in Week 3), so Shepard will remain a focal-point with Saquon Barkley out of the lineup. He’s a low-end WR2.
Thumbs Up: D.K. Metcalf (@ ARI)
Metcalf somehow became a highly-scrutinized prospect coming out of Ole Miss, but Seattle is proving that most people were overthinking the evaluation, as he’s been great on a vertical route tree with nine receptions for 217 yards (24.1 average) and a touchdown to start his career. This week, the Cardinals (without Patrick Peterson) will have to rely on Byron Murphy (five-foot-11) and Tramaine Brock (five-foot-ten) to defend the six-foot-three Metcalf on the outside in a probable shootout.
Thumbs Up: Alshon Jeffery (@ GB)
The last thing you want is for Jeffery to be a decoy or to suffer an in-game setback, but the fact that he’s no longer listed on the injury report should have fantasy owners confident about his calf injury being a non-issue. It will be interesting to see if Jaire Alexander follows Nelson Agholor into the slot, but even if he doesn’t, Green Bay’s top corner may not be used exclusively on Jeffery because Kevin King (six-foot-three) has the size to match up with him, and that would be a matchup to attack for Philly. Alshon is back in play as a low-end WR2/FLEX option.
Others: Christian Kirk (v SEA), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (v PHI)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Michael Thomas (v DAL)
This blurb is unlikely to get fantasy owners to take Thomas out of lineups (and he’s still a top-15 option, so you probably don’t have better-ranked alternatives anyway), but expectations should be tempered. The Cowboys held Thomas to five receptions for 40 scoreless yards last season, and that was obviously with Drew Brees under center for New Orleans, so I think it’s overly ambitious to take solace in a 5/54/1 line for Thomas against a soft Seattle secondary in Teddy Bridgewater’s first start.
Thumbs Down: Adam Thielen (@ CHI)
Thielen has been saved by three touchdowns to start the year (including a rushing score last week), but the run-first offense has undoubtedly put a drain on the long-term outlooks of he and teammate Stefon Diggs, so they should both be downgraded for a trip to Soldier Field. In six career starts against the Bears, Thielen has averaged 3.7 receptions and 34.3 yards per game with zero touchdowns. I have him as my No. 24 wideout for Week 4, but that might even be too high.
Thumbs Down: Josh Gordon (@ BUF)
Gordon faced the Bills once last season, and he was limited to four receptions for 42 yards against Tre’Davious White and what I believe to be the best secondary in the league. That came with Rob Gronkowski on the field and drawing White’s attention at times, so now, it could be full-blown shadow coverage for Gordon. He has the talent to overcome any matchup, but this is a week New England may be more reliant on the running game and short passes to James White.
Thumbs Down: Allen Robinson (v MIN)
Quite a bit of production has been left on the field for Robinson because Mitchell Trubisky has either missed him (which happened on the game’s opening possession in Week 3) or made a bad throw (like last week’s red zone interception), and I doubt Chicago’s quarterback is suddenly more locked onto his No. 1 target when he draws the coverage of Xavier Rhodes this weekend. Robinson may be able to escape him in the slot, but until the Bears make it a point to consistently target him as the first read, he needs to be faded in tough matchups.
Others: Mike Evans (@ LAR), John Brown (v NE)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Will Dissly (@ ARI)
With Nick Vannett now in Pittsburgh, Dissly is a full-time, featured player for Seattle’s offense, and that’s just part of the reason to be optimistic about him as a TE1 option in Week 4, as he will take on an Arizona defense that has allowed lines of 7/146/1, 10/127/2, and 6/75/2 to opposing tight ends this season. The 23-year-old has only played more than 60% of the offensive snaps once in his career, so the time to invest is now.
Thumbs Up: Gerald Everett (v TB)
He only caught two passes for 15 yards last week, but Everett played 88% of the team’s offensive snaps, and if the Los Angeles passing attack takes off as I expect it will, the former second-round pick could put up some big numbers against the Bucs. Even before they allowed Evan Engram to get loose for a 75-yard touchdown last week, Tampa Bay had shown vulnerability to opposing tight ends, including a 100-yard performance by Greg Olsen.
Thumbs Up: Vernon Davis (@ NYG)
Davis is a highlight hurdle away from a quiet start in place of Jordan Reed (concussion), but the blown coverages on the backend for New York makes him a worthwhile TE2 or streaming option in Week 4. Plus, the Redskins could potentially have some turnover at quarterback with Case Keenum (foot) banged up and Colt McCoy set to return, and relying on the veteran tight end is a good way to keep the offense moving by avoiding big mistakes.
Other: Jason Witten (@ NO)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Mike Gesicki (v LAC)
I hope we can see Gesicki get more targets (particularly in the red zone) as the season progresses for the struggling Dolphins, but don’t chase the matchup based on the Chargers allowing 122 yards and three scores to Houston tight ends in Week 3. The larger sample size proves that LA is very stingy against the position, including containing T.J. Hockenson to seven scoreless yards after his record-breaking debut just a couple of weeks ago.
Thumbs Down: Jordan Akins (v CAR)
Akins is coming off a two-touchdown performance, but the tight ends aren’t suddenly a huge factor in Houston’s offense, as things will still be centered around their headlining quartet of wide receivers. Sunday feels like a spot for DeAndre Hopkins (5/40 and 6/67 over the past two games) to blow up, so Akins could disappoint if he doesn’t find the end zone.
Thumbs Down: Trey Burton (v MIN)
The snap count climbed to 61% in Week 3 and should increase again against Minnesota, but Burton remains an avoidable TE2 until he shows he’s 100% healthy and a bigger part of the game plan. Last season, the Vikings held Burton to a combined six receptions for 41 scoreless yards in two matchups, so you’re better off chasing a streamer in a game that projects to feature more scoring.
Other: Dawson Knox (v NE)