If you don’t want any politics, just skip past the short video below and get right to the fantasy football information. But in regards to the national anthem protests last week, here is something to think about:
— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 27, 2017
As always, you can check our weekly rankings for all your lineup decisions. This article will give a description as to why I have certain players higher (“Thumbs Up”) or lower (“Thumbs Down”).
Thumbs Up of the Week: Jay Cutler (v NO)
Dolphins head coach Adam Gase called his team’s offense “garbage” after last week’s 20-6 loss to the Dolphins, so why is Cutler the headliner here? Well, first off, any changes that an angry Gase might make wouldn’t include benching Cutler. More importantly, he gets to play the Saints’ bottom-barrel pass defense in a game that Miami will need to score points to keep up with Drew Brees. Cutler is a top-10 option for me this week.
Thumbs Up: Jared Goff (@ DAL)
Does anyone still think Goff is a “bust”? Last year’s first-overall pick is completing 70.4% of his passes for 817 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception through three games, helping lead the league’s top-scoring offense in the process. Goff now gets a banged-up Dallas secondary with a bunch of playmakers to exploit it, making him a great streaming option.
Thumbs Up: Deshaun Watson (v TEN)
Watson played great in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, as the Clemson legend had Tom Brady and Bill Belichick on the ropes before Brady proved again that he’s the most clutch quarterback in NFL history. After a 300-yard game from Watson, Houston’s entire offense should have confidence heading into a divisional matchup with the Titans, whom just allowed 373 yards and four touchdowns to a slumping Russell Wilson.
Thumbs Up: Tyrod Taylor (@ ATL)
If there’s a week to stream a quarterback, this is it. Tyrod hasn’t put up big-time numbers so far this year, but he will have to in Week 4 if the Bills are going to make it a game in Atlanta. While Taylor doesn’t have many weapons on the outside, he can make plays with his legs and won’t kill you with turnovers. He’s a solid streamer.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Derek Carr (@ DEN)
As most quarterbacks do, Carr has struggled against the Broncos over the past few years. The 26-year-old has completed just 58.2% of his passes for 184 yards per game and a 6:4 touchdown-interception ratio through five career starts against Denver. Playing away from home, you should stream a quarterback in Carr’s place for Week 4.
Thumbs Down: Ben Roethlisberger (@ BAL)
I think it’s been a suitable period of time to consider the road struggles a real issue for Roethlisberger, and despite Blake Bortles throwing for four touchdowns against Baltimore last Sunday, Big Ben should stay out of lineups this week. I would be shocked if the Ravens didn’t come ready to play after they were embarrassed in London, and they have a better defense than they had a year ago when Roethlisberger barely completed 60% of his passes and tossed three interceptions against them.
Thumbs Down: Matthew Stafford (@ MIN)
Stafford is definitely earning his money so far this year, as he’s thrown for seven touchdowns and one interception, picking up wins against the Cardinals and Giants and coming up literally inches short of a win against the defending NFC champions. Last season, the Lions swept Minnesota, but for as well as Stafford played in the two games, he only averaged 225.5 passing yards with a 3:1 touchdown-interception ratio. He’s not a QB1 this week.
Thumbs Down: Jameis Winston (v NYG)
At 0-3, the Giants badly need a win, but it’s not like their defense is letting them down. New York is allowing less than 189 yards per game through the air, and that was against passing attacks in the same tier as Tampa Bay’s in the Cowboys, Lions, and Eagles. Winston returns home after a poor showing in Minnesota, but he’s not a good starting option on Sunday.
. . .
Thumbs Up of the Week: Jay Ajayi (v NO)
I’m going to chalk up last week’s one-point effort from Ajayi to an unfocused team, but Adam Gase’s tough talk should make everyone play a lot better at the risk of getting benched. Returning to London and playing in front of his hometown fans, I expect a monster bounce back from Ajayi against a New Orleans team allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. He’s the top play at the position for me in Week 4.
Thumbs Up: Joe Mixon (@ CLE)
In last week’s “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” I said of Mixon, “I expect new offensive coordaintor Bill Lazor to commit to the talented rookie, and he will be an RB1/RB2 if he gets 20-25 touches a game like he should.” Fortunately for those who were able to buy low on Mixon, he got 21 touches last week and turned in a 101-yard effort against the Packers. He’s a must start against Cleveland.
Thumbs Up: Chris Carson (v IND)
Carson’s fantasy day was saved by a receiving touchdown with the Seahawks playing from behind last week, but he’s solidified his spot atop the depth chart with his 4.5-yards-per-carry average behind a weak offensive line. I still think Thomas Rawls is probably the best running back on the roster, but he’s seen just five touches this year. For now, Carson is an RB2/FLEX, especially this week against the Colts.
Thumbs Up: Tevin Coleman (v BUF)
I have Coleman here a lot, but that’s because he continues to be underrated by most of the fantasy community. He’s only handled 29 touches through three games, but he’s ripping off chunk yardage (6.62 yards per touch) better than anyone not named Kareem Hunt, and that’s without even having a huge game or play yet. He’s a high-upside RB2 against Buffalo.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Marshawn Lynch (@ DEN)
Besides running over a defensive lineman in Week 1, Marshawn hasn’t looked like many hoped so far with the Raiders. He only rushed six times for 18 yards in Sunday night’s loss to Washington, and he’s averaging 3.9 yards per carry through three games. Now, he faces a Denver run defense that has shut down Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott, and LeSean McCoy so far in 2017. Look elsewhere if you can.
Thumbs Down: Jonathan Stewart (@ NE)
If Cam Newton ever figures things out, Stewart will be a solid RB2/FLEX option in standard leagues, but until then, he’s just a touchdown-dependent FLEX. That’s especially true this Sunday, as it would be a surprise if New England didn’t play from ahead and force Carolina to abandon the running game.
Thumbs Down: Isaiah Crowell (v CIN)
Like Stewart, I think the quarterback situation in Cleveland is holding Crowell back. I wasn’t as high on him as some fantasy “experts” just because I don’t think he’s that good of a player, but the opportunity was there for the 24-year-old behind an on-paper-elite offensive line. Unfortunately, he’s seeing a bunch of stacked boxes with DeShone Kizer under center, and that will continue against the Bengals.
Thumbs Down: Jacquizz Rodgers (v NYG)
Fantasy “experts” also thought that Rodgers would have a chance to unseat a suspended Doug Martin as the starter, but that was never going to happen. He rushed just five times for 15 yards in last week’s loss, and with a matchup against the stout run defense of the Giants this week, you can probably drop Rodgers already, even if you spent a mid-round pick on him.
. . .
Thumbs Up of the Week: Sammy Watkins (@ DAL)
I built last week’s article around how ESPN and other fantasy sites basically have little-to-no idea what they’re talking about, and Watkins was one of the guys to help prove me right, as he was ranked 40th in ESPN’s standard rankings. All he did was catch six passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns, but I guess without all that ESPN was pretty close. Having caught 13-of-14 targets as a Ram, Sammy will look to keep it up against the Cowboys’ injury-plagued cornerback group.
Thumbs Up: Alshon Jeffery (@ LAC)
As long as Alshon is healthy, he deserves WR2 consideration when the matchup is right. People might see Casey Hayward and be worried, but Jeffery has a big height advantage on him, and this is his best matchup so far this season. Get the Eagles receiver in lineups; he’s a top-15 play for me.
Thumbs Up: Devin Funchess (@ NE)
With Kelvin Benjamin questionable due to a knee injury that knocked him out of last week’s loss, Funchess could find himself as the team’s top wide receiver on Sunday against New England—a game the Panthers will need to score points in. Even if Newton continues to struggle with inaccuracy, Funchess should see enough volume to be worth FLEX consideration with Benjamin healthy and potentially low-end WR2 status if KB is out. The Patriots are allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts.
Thumbs Up: Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin (v PHI)
Philadelphia’s secondary was able to awaken the Giants’ offense in Week 3, and now they head to the west coast to face Philip Rivers and the Chargers. There’s almost no way Rivers plays as poorly as he did last week, and he should give Williams and Benjamin plenty of opportunities to make plays downfield against a beatable cornerback group.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Mike Evans (v NYG)
Evans was a “Thumbs Down” for Week 3 because of a matchup with Xaiver Rhodes, and he was the latest receiver to be contained by the elite cornerback, causing a sideline outburst in the process. This Sunday, he’ll have to contend with Janoris Jenkins and a tough New York defense that needs a win. I’m not saying to bench him, but consider Evans a low-end WR2.
Thumbs Down: Pierre Garcon (@ ARI)
Playing almost exclusively on the outside, Pierre Garcon should face a lot of Patrick Peterson this week. While Garcon is a competitive player who might make some plays against him, I’d look elsewhere for this one, especially in standard leagues.
Thumbs Down: T.Y. Hilton (@ SEA)
Fantasy owners might see Hilton had 153 yards and a touchdown last week and think they need to play him, but not in Seattle you don’t. If Andrew Luck was healthy it’d be one thing, but while Jacoby Brissett has looked good so far with the Colts, he’s making his first career road start in arguably the toughest environment imaginable. Sit Hilton.
Thumbs Down: Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree (@ DEN)
No one saw a combined 13-yard effort from Cooper and Crabtree last Sunday night coming, but while Crabtree didn’t kneel/sit for the national anthem, most of the team including Cooper did, and that seemed to have an impact in such a dominant win for the Redskins. It would be a shock if they didn’t do better than 13 yards, but don’t expect a big game from either player.
. . .
Thumbs Up of the Week: Coby Fleener (@ MIA)
Fleener has caught a touchdown in two-of-three games to start the season, but the matchup is the main reason he’s the “Thumbs Up of the Week.” The Dolphins allowed 10 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown to tight ends in their season opener, and Drew Brees will look for Fleener in a potential shootout. He’s a top-five option.
Thumbs Up: Charles Clay (@ ATL)
Clay also has two touchdowns in three games, and he’ll look to keep it up against the Falcons. Atlanta held Eric Ebron in check last Sunday, but they allowed 69.5 yards per game to tight ends in the first two weeks of the season. Tyrod Taylor will look for his tight end to make plays in Week 4.
Thumbs Up: Hunter Henry (v PHI)
I’ve talked about what I got right last week, so it’s only fair that I also say that I had Hunter Henry as a top-five option after a 7/80 line in Week 2. Unfortunately, the talented tight end was used mostly as a blocker like he was in the first game of the season. At 0-3, though, Los Angeles needs to get their best players on the field and involved. Henry is one of them.
Thumbs Up: Julius Thomas (v NO)
Limited to six catches for 42 yards through two games, Thomas has shown a low floor so far in 2017. However, in a potential shootout on Sunday morning, his touchdown upside might be realized. He’s a decent streaming option in standard leagues.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Jordan Reed (@ KC)
Reed (chest/toe) is still questionable for Week 4, and with the Redskins playing on Monday night, it might be to risky to wait on him if you don’t have Vernon Davis as an insurance policy. Assuming he plays, Reed barely cracks the top-10 for me, as he could turn out to be limited or used as a decoy against a team that’s tough on opposing tight ends.
Thumbs Down: Delanie Walker (@ HOU)
I doubt fantasy owners are able to sacrifice a roster spot to place Walker on the bench and pickup either Fleener or Clay, but it might not be a bad idea. The veteran tight end is averaging just over 30 yards per game and had two career touchdowns against the Texnas (in nine games). He’s still a TE1, but a riskier one than usual.
Thumbs Down: Evan Engram (@ TB)
Engram has been steady to start his career, as he’s been between 44 and 49 yards in each game, but that streak may end against the Bucs, as they’ve allowed just 23 yards per game to tight ends—including just four yards for Kyle Rudolph last week. Engram is a great athlete, but so are the Tampa Bay linebackers, making him a risky start. [Note: Tampa Bay will not have LB Kwon Alexander, and LB Lavonte David and S T.J. Ward are both doubtful, giving Engram a huge boost]
Thumbs Down: Martellus Bennett (v CHI)
Bennett looks like he’s droppable with 102 scoreless yards to start his tenure with the Packers, as he’s averaging just 4.85 yards per target. There’s a reason he’s on the fifth team of his career.
. . .
Thumbs Up of the Week: Jacksonville Jaguars (@ NYJ)
Despite a negative-one-point performance in Week 2, the Jaguars have the second-best fantasy defense, as they are averaging 14.0 points per game with 29 points against the Texans and 14 points last week against Baltimore. The only concern is a let down after playing London, but Jacksonville is used to it more than any other team, and the matchup is obviously great here.
Thumbs Up: Cincinnati Bengals (@ CLE)
The biggest targets for fantasy defenses right now are probably the Jets and Browns, and the Bengals are fortunate to get Cleveland this Sunday in a game they need to win. Cincy also gets linebacker Vontaze Burfict back to give them a boost against 21-year-old DeShone Kizer.
Thumbs Up: Green Bay Packers (v CHI)
There’s a chance Jordan Howard carries the Bears and runs wild like he did on Sunday, but there isn’t much downside for Green Bay’s defense at home. At worst, I expect a solid performance with room for more if Mike Glennon is forced to try to keep up with Aaron Rodgers.
Thumbs Up: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (v NYG)
Outside of a three-touchdown fourth quarter against the Eagles last week, the Giants have been held to one touchdown through three games. The final quarter against the Eagles obviously counts, but New York is a streaky offense, and there’s a pretty good chance the blocking falls apart again against a defense led by Gerald McCoy anchoring the middle.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Carolina Panthers (@ NE)
You know the rule… Don’t start defenses against Brady and New England, especially in Foxborough.
Thumbs Down: Buffalo Bills (@ ATL)
Sean McDermott’s defense has looked great so far this season, but going to Atlanta and facing the explosive offense of the Falcons is a tough test.
Thumbs Down: Philadelphia Eagles (@ LAC)
The Eagles might be an appealing option after Philip Rivers threw three picks last week, but I doubt he does that again, especially with a weak secondary traveling across the country across the field. Also, the Eagles no longer have Darren Sproles (knee) to return punts for a boost.
Thumbs Down: Houston Texans (v TEN)
As mentioned, the Jaguars defense had negative points in Week 2, and that was against Marcus Mariota and the Titans. Houston isn’t likely to have a huge game against Tennessee’s elite offensive line and careful quarterback.