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Week 4 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Deshaun Watson (v MIN)

I have been low on Watson through three weeks, but now is the time to get him back in lineups if you’ve been looking elsewhere. Although the Vikings played better against Ryan Tannehill and the Titans last Sunday, they are still very vulnerable on the backend, so Houston’s passing attack will be in a good spot to breakout in a possible shootout. Watson is a clear top-ten play, and you could make a case for him—along with several others—for high-end QB1 status in Week 4.


Thumbs Up: Kirk Cousins (@ HOU)

On the other end of a potential shootout for the Vikings-Texans game will be Cousins, and I’m not sure Minnesota will be able to compete if they don’t throw enough for their quarterback to crack 20 completions (he’s had totals of 19, 11, and 16 through three games). With first-round pick Justin Jefferson emerging, the Vikings have the personnel for Cousins to air it out, and I think that’s what we could see happen with Mike Zimmer’s squad needing to climb out of an 0-3 hole. Consider Cousins a strong QB2.


Thumbs Up: Nick Foles (v IND)

Facing a struggling Atlanta secondary helped, but Foles came off the bench to toss three touchdowns in the second half of last week’s comeback win, and he is immediately on the streaming radar in Week 4. While the Colts have been very stingy in back-to-back weeks, Chicago has the personnel to give them problems, and Foles—one of the NFL’s streakiest quarterbacks—should be in the zone coming off a scorching debut. I have the former Super Bowl MVP as a top-20 play.


Thumbs Up: Tom Brady (v LAC)

Brady is just the QB16 on the season, but he’s had 20+ fantasy points in two-of-three games, and the other performance was one in which Bruce Arians blamed the receivers for TB12 not putting up huge numbers. Now, he will take on a Chargers defense that will be without cornerback Chris Harris, and increased usage for Rob Gronkowski should make up for Chris Godwin (hamstring) being out. At home, Brady still has enough weapons to put up another 20+ fantasy points.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Carson Wentz (@ SF)

Philadelphia will apparently use more up-tempo so Wentz can just go out and play instead of thinking too much, but if that’s what needs to be done for a quarterback in his fifth season, I don’t know how you can feel optimistic about relying on the passing attack for a road matchup against the defending NFC champions. Wentz has thrown multiple interceptions in every game to start the year, and basically the only hope for him to return QB1 value in Week 4 is rushing production. I’d recommended looking elsewhere.


Thumbs Down: Ryan Tannehill (v PIT)

The matchup against Pittsburgh is tough enough for Tannehill, and he also will have to deal with not only limited practice time due to a COVID-19 breach for Tennessee, but also another likely absence for A.J. Brown (knee). I thought the Titans relied on Tannehill too much in a close win last week, and they should get back to basics by feeding Derrick Henry. Similar to Carson Wentz, you might need rushing production from Tannehill for him to pay dividends. [Update: Steelers-Titans has been postponed to a week later in the season]


Thumbs Down: Justin Herbert (@ TB)

He obviously hasn’t been perfect, but Herbert has thrown for 300+ yards in both games to begin his career, and fantasy owners might be hoping the streak continues as he looks to keep up with Tom Brady and the Bucs. However, Tampa Bay has a fast, aggressive defense, so the rookie’s progression as a passer will really be tested in his first road start with Todd Bowles throwing different looks at him. Sunday could be an inevitable bump in the road for Herbert.


Thumbs Down: Drew Brees (@ DET)

Fantasy owners that have stuck with Brees will take the production from Sunday night (288 yards and three scores), but much of it was due to Alvin Kamara’s run-after-catch ability, and the 41-year-old remains hesitant about pushing the ball downfield. Even a Michael Thomas (ankle) return might not be enough to get Brees into the QB1 ranks against a Detroit defense that showed some life in Week 3. Unless he suddenly changes his play style, Brees’ upside simply isn’t what it used to be.


Running back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Todd Gurley (@ GB)

Green Bay’s playoff run earlier this year ended by getting ripped on the ground, and even though they are 3-0, not much has changed this season (33.2 fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs). With defensive lineman Kenny Clark (groin) injured, Gurley—averaging a healthy 17.3 touches per game—should be able to take advantage with the Falcons hoping to finally get in the win column. For what it’s worth, Gurley totaled 195 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Packers two years ago. I have him as an RB1 for Monday Night Football.


Thumbs Up: Devin Singletary (@ LV)

The Bills finally featured Singletary in Week 3, and he looked great with 13 carries for 71 yards and an additional four receptions (on five targets) for 50 yards—showing tremendous contact balance and elusiveness. After seeing what New England running backs did against Las Vegas last week, Buffalo should again emphasize getting the ball to Singletary in a variety of ways. The second-year back is at least a high-end RB2 option, and I anticipate him breaking his scoreless streak of six games.


Thumbs Up: Sony Michel (@ KC)

Contributions from Rex Burkhead and J.J. Taylor overshadowed Michel some, but he actually led the backfield in total yards (140) last week, and his playing time (38%) was a season-high. Now, there is definite risk for Michel based on how often the Patriots change things up, but he was notably the focal point in both wins over Kansas City in recent years with 100-yard, multi-score performances, and he’s the favorite for carries if New England tries to control the clock and keep Patrick Mahomes off the field. You could do worse in your FLEX spot.


Thumbs Up: Carlos Hyde (@ MIA)

Chris Carson (knee) is expected to miss one or two weeks, so Hyde is in position to lead the Seattle backfield on Sunday in a game they should handle. There hasn’t been much to write home about in terms of the veteran’s standalone numbers this year, but Hyde has historically been a runner that gets going with heavier workloads (84.2 rushing yards and 0.7 rushing touchdowns per game in 33 appearances with 15+ carries). He’s a volume-based RB2 option in Week 4.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Leonard Fournette (v LAC)

Bruce Arians is known as a straight shooter that will speak his mind, but he doesn’t always tell the truth, and the “closer” role for Fournette wasn’t there last week in a 28-10 victory over Denver. There will surely be more multi-score outings like we saw in Week 2, but Fournette brings a very low floor right now, and he’s struggled in two career matchups against the Chargers with 32 carries for 83 scoreless yards (2.6 YPC) and just 26 receiving yards on ten targets. I have Fournette outside the top 30 at the position this week.


Thumbs Down: J.K. Dobbins (@ WAS)

Dobbins looked to be on a fast track towards RB2 status after two touchdowns in the opener, but he’s totaled just three carries over the past two weeks and needs to be downgraded in all formats. While I personally think the Ravens would be wise to unleash the rookie, he’s in a three-man committee, and the receiving work might not be there if Baltimore jumps out to a lead against Washington. Someone with a higher floor like Latavius Murray (12+ carries twice already this year) would be a better play.


Thumbs Down: Adrian Peterson (v NO)

Detroit leaned on Peterson last week and will probably look to do it again, but the Saints have an aggressive run defense, and AD will be at risk of a negative game script if the Saints—coming off back-to-back losses—are able start strong. Peterson will get the ball when he’s in the game, but the Lions notably played Kerryon Johnson on 30% of the snaps last week, and D’Andre Swift should be more involved when they need to air it out. Detroit’s starter is a touchdown-dependent FLEX.


Thumbs Down: Antonio Gibson (v BAL)

Gibson getting double-digit touches in three straight games to open his career is a great sign for his redraft value in 2020, but this week, I’d be worried about the matchup against a Baltimore defense that was just dominated by Kansas City and should be determined to get back on track. Also, the receiving work isn’t there yet for the rookie with just 16 scoreless yards in three games; it’d probably take a big play or another score to feel good about Gibson as a Week 4 start.


Wide receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: Stefon Diggs (@ LV)

The connection between Josh Allen and Diggs is already one of the best in football, and you could argue Buffalo’s top receiver should be a weekly WR1 after putting up a 4/49/1 line last week against Jalen Ramsey and the Rams. I wouldn’t be at all worried about the Raiders limiting Diggs to 15 yards last year, as Minnesota kept the ball on the ground in a 20-point win, and the Bills are basically the complete opposite with their “backyard football” offense. I have Diggs as a top-seven option at receiver.


Thumbs Up: Odell Beckham Jr. (@ DAL)

The run-first Browns having success with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt has limited Beckham Jr.’s ceiling so far this year, but it feels like a big game could be coming this week against a young Dallas secondary. Through three weeks, the Cowboys have allowed huge performances to perimeter wideouts Robert Woods (6/105), Calvin Ridley (7/109/2), and D.K. Metcalf (4/110/1), so OBJ could be added to the list with a 100-yard game on Sunday. Consider him a high-upside WR2.


Thumbs Up: Justin Jefferson (@ HOU)

Jefferson broke out last week with a 7/175/1 line on nine targets, and Minnesota should now be forced to feature him on a weekly basis after limited looks in the first two games. The Texans have actually been better against receivers than I thought they’d be (at least so far), but a possible shootout will give Jefferson a good shot to build on his Week 3 showing. The 21-year-old rookie will bring a higher floor as a full-time player.


Thumbs Up: Hunter Renfrow (v BUF)

For as good as Buffalo is in coverage, their biggest flaw has been defending slot receivers, and Renfrow will be an even bigger piece of Jon Gruden’s offense with Henry Ruggs III (hamstring) and Bryan Edwards (ankle) both out. Just this year, the Bills have allowed Jamison Crowder (7/115/1), Isaiah Ford (7/76), and Cooper Kupp (9/107/1) to all produce out of the slot. At worst, Renfrow is a top-40 option in 0.5 PPR leagues with a nice boost in full PPR formats.


Others: D.J. Chark (@ CIN), Allen Lazard (v ATL)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Terry McLaurin (v BAL)

Fantasy owners should be very happy with McLaurin so far, but now would be a time to get him out of lineups if you have another solid option. Aside from being determined after a disappointing loss, the Ravens project to have a substantial advantage in terms of overall talent—which will allow them to key on McLaurin and make someone else try to make plays. Especially with Dwayne Haskins struggling, McLaurin is more of a low-end WR2 for me this week.


Thumbs Down: T.Y. Hilton (@ CHI) 

We will see what happens if Indianapolis gets into more of a back-and-forth game like they did in the opener, but Hilton has played 58% and 52% of the team’s offensive snaps over the past two weeks, and it should be pointed out that Chicago—all things considered—did a decent job against Calvin Ridley last (4/47 on 12 targets after allowing a 63-yard reception on the first drive). The first deep connection with Philip Rivers will be difficult to predict, but I don’t feel great about the chances of it happening in a tough road matchup.


Thumbs Down: Darius Slayton (@ LAR)

Slayton hanging 6/102/2 on the Steelers in Week 1 had his value pointing straight up, but he’s had just 4.8 fantasy points in each of the past two games, and Jalen Ramsey probably isn’t the opponent to bounce back against. The first quarter of the year was always going to be tough for New York’s offense, and not having Saquon Barkley (knee) or Sterling Shepard (toe) has actually hurt Slayton as the clear No. 1 guy. Wait for Week 5 to get him back in lineups.


Thumbs Down: Robby Anderson (v ARI)

Although he already has a couple of 100-yard games under his belt with Carolina, I’m not sold on Anderson as a weekly start, and the Cardinals aren’t an easy matchup with the second fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers to date. In general, the Panthers remain a spread-the-wealth offense, so a quiet game for Anderson is possible as he sees a lot of Patrick Peterson on the outside.


Others: Corey Davis (v PIT), Preston Williams (v SEA)


Tight end


Thumbs Up of the Week: Noah Fant (@ NYJ)

Fant was very clearly the top target for Jeff Driskel last week (ten targets), and I would expect more of the same on Thursday night with Brett Rypien making his first career start. It’s odd because he’s a 22-year-old in his second season, but Fant is the veteran of the passing attack and brings plenty of upside to go along with his floor as Rypien’s security blanket. I have him as a midrange TE1 for Week 4.


Thumbs Up: Chris Herndon (v DEN)

Whether or not Jamison Crowder (hamstring) is back, New York needs more production from Herndon this week, and the playing time has been there with rising snap percentages of 71%, 74%, and 80%. Denver will be the easiest matchup yet for the Jets’ young tight end, so I optimistically have him ranked as a top-15 option for TNF.


Thumbs Up: Dalton Schultz (v CLE)

I was skeptical about Schultz being a weekly factor for Dallas, but he followed up a 9/88/1 line in Week 2 with four receptions (on six targets) for 48 yards in a tough matchup versus Seattle last week, and playing 67% of the team’s offensive snaps should continue leading to production on one of the NFL’s best passing attacks. Fantasy owners can consider Schultz as a streaming option against a Cleveland defense that remains vulnerable against opposing tight ends.


Thumbs Down of the Week: T.J. Hockenson (v NO)

While it was a surprise to see New Orleans allow the Green Bay tight ends to have success last Sunday night (especially with Davante Adams out), they are still a difficult matchup for the position, and the floor shown by Hockenson (53+ yards in every game) is at risk of being lowered this week. I’d look elsewhere if there are other options floating on the waiver wire and you have roster space.


Thumbs Down: Jimmy Graham (v IND)

Graham had a vintage performance last week with six receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns, but the Colts—who have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends—could make things tougher on him in Week 4. So far this season, Indy has surrendered just six receptions for 32 scoreless yards to the position.


Thumbs Down: Jack Doyle (@ CHI)

Doyle obviously missed a game, but Mo Alie-Cox has been the preferred target at tight end for Philip Rivers, and there are enough options at tight end that fantasy owners can look elsewhere until the veteran becomes more involved. Dating back to last season, Doyle has caught ten passes for 120 scoreless yards over his past five appearances.



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