BY DUSTIN BREWER
With one week to go before the BYE weeks start & multiple fantasy managers still trying to figure out how to deal with an injury-plagued start to the season, we’re back to help bring you to Week 4 glory.
Well, we had a good run but it finally happened. The Tennessee Titans have seen an explosion of Covid-19 cases in their facility that is now up to 11 positive cases between players and staff. This led to their facility being shut down all week, the Vikings having to shutdown their facility as a precaution since they just played the Titans last week, and left the Steelers out in the cold as they now see their Week 4 game moved to Week 7, giving them a much earlier BYE and now they’ll have to play like 13 straight weeks without a break.
It was probably bound to happen given all the moving parts it takes to run the NFL but it’s making fantasy football managers tear their hair out as they have to find replacements for top players like Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, Jonnu Smith, Juju Smith-Schuster, James Conner, and one of football’s best defenses in Pittsburgh.
If you’re stuck scrambling and have to take these guys from your lineup, we’re here to help you figure out what players you can turn to in a pinch to help you navigate what is sure to be a crazy weekend of games.
– Joe Burrow – The Jaguars just let Ryan Fitzpatrick work his Fitzmagic all over them for 4 quarters last week and this week, Joe Burrow and the Bengals try to get their first win of the season. Joe’s accuracy & smart decision making thus far in his rookie season has been lightyears ahead of where most thought he would be at this point so early in his career & given all the unusual circumstances this season. Burrow is sure to attempt another high volume of passes & if his line can buy him time, he should be able to have a pretty big game against this weak defense.
– Jared Goff – The Giants defense has been surprisingly strong the first few weeks this season but Goff has played at a level that many thought he wouldn’t be able to return to after seemingly regressing so much last year. Goff played great in attempting to lead the Rams’ comeback vs. the Bills last week with great ball placement and crisp decision making that brought that offense back to life in the second half. The Giants offense is still sputtering & ransacked by injuries so the Rams defense should be able to generate short fields & turnovers for Goff & Co. to take advantage of.
– Matthew Stafford – The Saints’ defense just hasn’t looked the same since their Week 1 showdown with the Bucs. The return of Kenny Golladay to the offensive helped Matt Stafford greatly with another sure-handed target to turn to. If he can continue to avoid his tendencies to force throws and turn the ball over, he can find plenty of holes in the Saints D to take advantage of.
– Ryan Fitzpatrick – Fitzmagic has run wild this year so far but as all fantasy managers know, eventually that balloon will run out of air and Fitz will come back down to earth. The Seahawks can generate a ton of pressure despite underwhelming on defense thus far but the real issue comes from the Seahawks’ offense. If they can continue bullying teams with Russell Wilson & their explosive offense, the pressure will rest on Fitz to keep the Dolphins in the game and that’s a potential powder keg of a disaster. Start him at your own risk on this one.
–Philip Rivers – Nobody loves dinking and dunking more than Phil “Dink & Dunk” Rivers and with two top receivers hurt and lackluster chemistry with TY Hilton, this Bears D is in a prime spot to create some havoc and maintain their surprising undefeated start to the season. Similarly, Nick Foles may also be a risky start as the Colts D is coming off a shellshocking of poor Sam Darnold & the Jets.
– James Robinson– He’s almost all the Jaguars have on offense and can easily take advantage of a weak Bengals defense from the back field and in the passing game.
– Austin Ekeler– With Justin Herbert under center, Ekeler has seen his fantasy upside soar back to 2019-2020 levels. Against a stout Bucs defense, Herbert will likely have to resort to checkdowns and quick passes to his running backs to avoid pressure. In PPR leagues specifically, Ekeler could be in for a massive game.
– Adrian Peterson – Rumors of Peterson’s demise have been greatly exaggerated as All Day finds himself running harder than ever over the last few weeks. The Saints do have Cameron Jordan but their defense as a whole is vulnerable to outside runs & chunk plays.
– Josh Jacobs – This is tough because if the Raiders continue to keep him involved in the passing game & giving him volume, he’ll likely be able to produce even against an unbelievable Bills front seven. If the Bills are able to continue to maintain their explosive offense though, the Raiders will quickly abandon the gameplan and try to go toe-to-toe with Buffalo, possibly limiting Jacobs’ touches in the process.
– David Johnson – The Vikings are bad. The Texans are bad. This whole game might be unwatchable. I don’t trust David Johnson. Poor Deshaun Watson.
– Sony Michel – Banged up all week, Michel will go up against a Chiefs defense that has absolutely been a force so far this season. The Patriots will likely be running all day to try to play the clock management game but a banged up Michel may have an even harder time getting touches in Bill Belichick’s unpredictable backfield.
– Tyler Boyd – Still just so good. The Jaguars D is still so bad. And Burrow is still slangin it.
– Kenny Golladay – He came back from injury last week and instantly made an impact, giving Matt Stafford another sure-handed receiver he can depend on. Golladay absolutely ate up the CBs that the Cardinals tried to cover him with and the Saints secondary is dealing with injuries of their own.
– Marquez Valdes-Scantling– Allen Lazard had a monster game last week so of course this week he underwent abdominal surgery and is now out indefinitely. With Davante Adams a true game-time decision, Valdes-Scantling is potentially in line for a very busy day against a beatable Falcons defense on Monday Night.
– TY Hilton– It’s been a disappointing start for TY as he’s yet to really get on the same page as Philip Rivers. With Paris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr both out with injury, Phil Rivers is going to have to likely turn to Hilton & Mo Alie-Cox and the Colts’ backs to make plays. Of course, if I realize this, then hopefully the Chicago Bears hard-hitting defense is also aware of this.
– DJ Moore– The Cardinals are looking to get back to their winning ways after laying an egg against the Lions. Their CB depth & talent should help them limit the Panthers’ passing game greatly as they’ll likely be looking to make a statement about their place in NFC’s best teams conversation.
– Mo Alie-Cox – There’s only one thing Phil Rivers loves more than having kids and checkdown passes and it’s athletic, pass-catching tight ends that happened to once play basketball. Alie-Cox has quickly become a go-to option for Phil and that trend is likely to continue as he’ll force passes to Cox against the Bears defense.
– Dalton Schultz – TE is a wasteland. The Browns have let TE’s score TD’s like nothing. If you don’t have a premium star at the position, he may be your best bet.
-Logan Thomas – Hey, we’re throwing everything at the wall here and so far he’s in the top two of targets for the Washington Football Team. The Ravens just got clowned on Monday Night Football last week and will likely be pissed and looking to make a statement. Haskins will likely be looking for Thomas on short routes and safety routes to help avoid pressure or making mistakes trying to force big plays downfield.
– Drew Sample – I started him last week like an idiot thinking that Burrow would pass to him like he was utilizing TE C.J. Uzomah before he went down with a season-ending injury. I was wrong. Burrow attempted like 45 passes last week and happened to find Sample for 1 catch for 1 yard. Until he does anything to prove himself a bit more, you should never be that desperate to take that risk.
– Zach Ertz – It’s still never a good look when your top TE is publicly questioning if the team wants to keep him during contract negotiations leading up to this weekend.
– Rams – Daniel Dimes turns the ball over at a rate that would make Eli Manning proud. This week he gets to avoid an Aaron Donald pass rush and a Jalen Ramsey secondary. Something’s got to give here for sure.
– Bills – Derek Carr has never met a checkdown pass that he didn’t love. If that’s what the Bills are giving him, that’s what he’s taking. With Henry Ruggs III likely to be sidelined with an injury, The Raiders are probably going to try for a ball control offense that doesn’t attempt too many deep plays. This is the perfect chance for the Bills D to keep scoring at a minimum.
– Giants – They’ve been good but the Rams offense has been great. Maybe they force a turnover or two but maybe also the Rams hang 40 on them with short fields from Danny Dimes turnovers.
– Saints – This is a terrible week of matchups as far as defenses. The Lions may continue to find their groove with Golladay or Matt Stafford may turn it over 3 times.
Let’s keep the good times rolling through Week 4. Good luck out there, if you have a sleeper, drop ’em in the comments or let us know on Twitter.