Week 4 (Pandemic-Proof) Starts, Sits, And Sleepers

Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan. Photo Credit: Brook Ward | Under Creative Commons License

Fantasy owners are in a panic as the “second wave” is beginning to peep its ugly head into the NFL schedule. Steelers vs. Titans is currently re-scheduled out of its Week 4 slot and players like Derrick Henry, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ben Roethlisberger, and other fantasy hopefuls are no longer options.

Now is the time for all fantasy whisperers to shine.

We’re here to discuss why there are still plenty of Week 4 Starts, Sits, and Sleepers that will help your team nab a win.

First, we look back on our Week 3 picks for any hits and misses that we can own up to, or brag about.

Jeff Wilson Jr. Is A Diamond In The Rough

Jeff Wilson Jr. had two games last year where he played a role as a featured back due to injuries that are reminiscent of the 49ers’ situation this season. In both contests, Wilson scored two touchdowns. His potential with this team is based on the high ceiling that John Lynch and the 49ers see with Wilson but manages to be buried in a depth chart complete with RB1 and RB2 talent. We plugged Wilson in as the hot sleeper start for Week 3, and he delivered. If still available in your league, Wilson can be a great RB2 in Kyle Shanahan’s offense if Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, or Jerick McKinnon miss any time going forward. Follow LAFB for more fantasy gems.

Escape From New York (Giants)

There were two long, considered pieces on why you should have started Daniel Jones and Darius Slayton in last week’s piece. To be fair, Jones was considered a sleeper pick which can easily be a scapegoat, but we’ll own up to it.

It has become clear after three miserable weeks that once Saquon Barkley went down, the rest of the Giants offense was a fair bet to store on a shelf and wait until next year for any fantasy relevance. While Slayton has upside as the team’s primary target, matchups like this week against a decent Rams secondary and Aaron freaking Donald will give Slayton no shot at being a down the field threat. Basically, avoid this offense until the Giants trade for Bill Belichick. Whether the fanbase knows it or not, Gettleman may be the only reason why the Giants aren’t facing college teams, being responsible for the posed (yet losing) Daniel Jones over Dwayne Haskins. But they’re not ready for that conversation. *sip of Sprite*

Tyler Boyd, Worthy Successor To A.J. Green

Our sleeper starter at wide receiver last week is a player that has all the talent of Jarvis Landy, but no name recognition. Tyler Boyd’s success has been built on easily weaving into the open pockets on the field — a true target magnet. In Week 3, Boyd was targeted 13 times, catching 10 receptions, and gaining 125 yards in what appeared as the nail in the coffin for all A.J. Green hopefuls. Green’s inconsistency on the field — meant quite literally — gave Cincinnati time to start elevating the role players and Tyler Boyd found his groove. With an improvement at quarterback by what looks like a confident Joe Burrow, showing great resilience with each loss, Boyd may end the year as a top-15 receiver if Green continues to take the backseat. For a final comparison, think of him as this fantasy season’s DeVante Parker.

Logan Thomas Remains A Long Term Option

And to anyone who scoffed at the idea that Haskins is not as good as Jones, the former player is completing 56% of his throws and threw three interceptions to a Browns defense, making the talented Logan Thomas look ineffective and my sleeper pick look dumb. But if Haskins can be worth his salt for the remainder of the season, Logan Thomas should be considered a low-end TE1. Still a blocking and receiving threat, Logan Thomas can be an easy target for Haskins, the only option outside of Terry McLaurin. Pick him up now over Evan Engram or if you lost Dallas Goedert.

Now, for the pandemic-proof picks of Week 4!

Week 4 (Pandemic-Proof) Starts, Sits, And Sleepers


Start – Matt Ryan vs. Green Bay Packers

The Falcons have found a way to transform what should be a team elevated by their great offense into the most tragic team in the league. After blowing consecutive leads in the 4th, the Falcons have a problem that has Atlanta scrambling for an answer. Matt Ryan ended Week 1 with 450 yards passing and 511 ever since. With Julio Jones returning from a hamstring injury and Aaron Rodgers playing at MVP levels, this is the offensive matchup of the weekend and Ryan’s hit-or-miss start to the season can get on the right track with a needed win to avoid an 0-4 record. He clearly plays like one of the only strengths under Dan Quinn’s management of the team, but Ryan needs to outshine his situation in Atlanta with a talented group of receivers, tight ends, and running backs. The Packers may be a matchup nightmare over the middle on defense, but Ryan’s deep ball to Calvin Ridley or Julio Jones still looks in great shape against decent secondaries.

Another start — Jared Goff vs. New York Giants

Sit – Baker Mayfield vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Browns are slowly realizing that their success is not bent on Baker Mayfield having a standout performance. With their run-first offense led by tandem Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, head coach Kevin Stefanski is zeroing in on perfecting this offense with an upcoming challenge against the Dallas Cowboys. Mayfield has passed for less than 200 yards in two of the last three games and expecting him to outscore Dak and Ezekiel Elliott’s run attack is a recipe for failure. If Baker gets hot you can sound off on the Week 5 column, but until then we’ll bet on Nick Mullens having a better week.

Another sit — Philip Rivers vs. Chicago Bears

Sleeper Start — Joe Burrow vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Bengals are beginning to look like one of the better 0-3 teams. After three weeks of seeing rookie Joe Burrow sling the heck out of the ball (2nd in the league in pass attempts), it’s clear that the current cause of their gameplay as a bottom-tier team is head coach Zac Taylor’s inexperience with leading this team — the strangest of hires from the Sean McVay coaching tree. His unproven air attack offense will continue to give Burrow moments to shine.

His season stats thus far have been stellar: 5-1 TD:INT, 64% completion rate (2nd in the league in pass attempts), 9th in pass yards. Joe Mixon is playing like a solid to high-end RB2 and Tyler Boyd is slowly looking like a lead receiver. Burrow has displayed the poise to read defenses and adjust as the game progresses.

Jacksonville’s defense has yet to recover from the gutting of the defense. Rookie C.J. Henderson may be the only thing in Burrow’s way, but he’ll take that challenge. And you can still expect Zac Taylor’s game plan to be the words JOE BURROW in the middle of a blank page with tiny arrows surrounding it.

Another sleeper — Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Seattle Seahawks

Running backs

Start — Darrell Henderson vs. New York Giants

While my general opinion that Darrell Henderson is destined to complement an offense as a committee running back rather than a lead back has not wavered since Week 3’s performance, the 5.7 yards per attempt, 120 total yards, and one touchdown against the Buffalo Bills is an outstanding performance that could have me eating crow sooner than later. However, in a scheme that looks to integrate Cam Akers and give some relief snaps to Malcolm Brown, Henderson’s prospects as a 20+ rushing attempt running back does not build much confidence.

And then there are great matchups.

The Giants’ aimless strategy of being awful on offense AND defense has elevated every opposing matchup to be must-starts if facing the Giants. Either in relief, after Goff throws his fourth score, or a mere exploitation of the talented, but misled Giants defensive line, Henderson should still be slated to get the majority of snaps as Cam Akers (OUT officially) and Malcolm Brown get 100% healthy. After Sunday, they’ll be facing stout defenses and mixing things up on offense to stay ahead. Enjoy another elite performance!

Another start – James Robinson vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Sit – David Montgomery vs. Indianapolis Colts

Stock in David Montgomery took a slight boost after the injury to Tarik Cohen and after another week of mediocrity and the Foles resurgence, it’s best to keep Montgomery on the bench for the foreseeable future. 51 combined passes were thrown on Sunday between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, making Matt Nagy’s throw-first formula an interesting point to watch out for in a Week 4 matchup against an elite Colts’ secondary that is giving out the lowest quarterback ratings in the NFL (64 average). The confidence for Montgomery to evade Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, or DeForest Buckner’s impact on the defensive line remains faint for the developing running back and this backfield so far has been desperate for a better option.

Another sit – Ronald Jones II vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Sleeper Start – Mark Ingram II vs. Washington Football Team

The impact Chase Young entered the league with has boosted Washington into a threat for opposing running backs. Now that Young is sidelined with a hamstring issue, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens backfield is looking to take full advantage of Young’s absence this Sunday and Mark Ingram can reinvigorate fantasy owners’ belief in the veteran running back with a great upcoming matchup. Posting a combined 26 rushing attempts after three weeks, Ingram’s momentum after another 1,000-yard season is coming into question now that J.K. Dobbins is looking like the fresher talent.

The Ravens are looking to bounce back after a telling loss against the Chiefs in primetime, and *spoiler alert* no one is stopping Lamar Jackson from marching down the field in Week 4. We can expect Ingram to be re-inserted on power-option plays despite Gus Edwards’s improved performance in Week 4. Ravens OC Greg Roman appears to be slowly introducing J.K. Dobbins by giving him looks in the passing game and Ingram is still seen as the preferred back. Let the slow start for Mark Ingram be more of a shaking off the rust rather than a fall off a cliff.

Another sleeper – Chris Thompson vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Wide Receivers

Start – Julian Edelman vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Now that we can safely re-insert the Patriots as a playoff-caliber team, it’s time to revisit a duo that can take the fantasy season by surprise. That surprise connection is Cam Newton to Julian Edelman. Through three games, Edelman is posting a modest 15 catches for 259 yards. Currently completing 68% of his passes, new Patriots QB, Cam Newton, is having a resurgence in the scheme of Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick’s option plays. While Edelman’s connection is still in development after catching passes from Brady his whole career, we think his career-high Week 2 stat line of 8 catches for 179 yards has been a better predictor for the receiver’s season compared to his other two performances.

Cam has a knack for hitting the quick pass — which gave way for D.J. Moore to emerge in Carolina — and Edelman still finds a way to be open in the slot. Facing the Kansas City Chiefs, this candidate for game of the week has the potential for an upset if McDaniels can get the Newton-Edelman connection hot. Patrick Mahomes will put up points, and New England will have to match. We like Edelman to be an 80+ yard receiver this week, with reasonable potential for multiple scores.

Another start — Cooper Kupp vs. New York Giants

Sit — Allen Robinson vs. Indianapolis Colts

Seen by many fantasy sites as a top-10 pick at wide receiver for Week 4, Allen Robinson has long been a fantasy favorite receiver for all fantasy owners that once rostered the underrated receiver during his days in Jacksonville. Ever since arriving in Chicago two years ago, Robinson’s frustrations with Mitch Trubisky have been warranted given the performances he is capable of having as a primary receiver (10 catches, 123 yards in Week 3). By going with Nick Foles as the full-time starter, Robinson will maintain high-end WR2 status for as long as the Philadelphia legend can stay healthy.

However, this week’s matchup tells a different story, facing the Indianapolis Colts who have been a fierce secondary to throw against. Robinson will be drawing plenty of attention from Xavier Rhodes, whose 89 overall PFF grade for this season is among top-5 status. With DeForest Buckner providing pressure off the line, Foles and the Bears offense may find themselves in a trap. Consider Robinson’s Week 3 performance a good sign for his outlook going forward, but don’t be afraid to sit him out for this contest.

Another sit – Marquise Brown vs. Cleveland Browns

Sleeper Start – Brandon Aiyuk vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Deebo Samuel may return to the team this week, which could put a damper on Brandon Aiyuk’s potential against the Eagles, but the flashes of the first-round talent certainly showed up in Week 3 against the Giants. Rushing three times for 31 yards, and catching five passes for 70 yards, Aiyuk can be a sleeper to watch for the remainder of the season in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. With injuries to Jerick McKinnon, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert, Aiyuk may see more touches coming out of the backfield against an average Eagles run defense. If Nick Mullens is looking to establish a groove as he did against New York, he will have to go back to Aiyuk and test the rookie against Nickell Robey-Coleman, which favors the rookie this time.

Another sleeper – Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. Atlanta Falcons

Tight Ends

Start – Mo Alie-Cox vs. Chicago Bears

The Colts “backup” tight end has posted 181 receiving yards through three weeks and is proving to be an upgrade over Jack Doyle’s inconsistency on the field. Once Colts OC Nick Sirianni can feature Alie-Cox as a primary target for the tight end-friendly Philip Rivers, consider him a high-end TE2 for the rest of the season. His come up is resembling that of Jonnu Smith’s last season behind Delanie Walker’s eventual regression in the depth chart. Facing Khalil Mack and the Bears this week, Mo Alie-Cox’s 6’6” build will help keep him in the game as a blocker, but also slipping out for some catches.

Another start – Jimmy Graham vs. Indianapolis Colts

Sit – Hayden Hurst vs. Green Bay Packers

Never shy of putting a previous week’s starter in the Sit section. Hayden Hurst did not play as stellar as we had hoped against the Bears in Week 3 despite catching a touchdown. This week against the Green Bay Packers, Hurst definitely is part of a potential shootout featuring two great offenses, but the threat of Za’Darius and Preston Smith is a real deal.

Last week, Jared Cook was held to two catches in the 37-30 victory for the Packers against the Saints which supports the concept that a shootout is hardly sure money for tight ends to get involved. Hurst is an exceptional pass-catching tight end, but the Falcons could potentially be playing from behind if Davante Adams returns. Atlanta has also had trouble stopping the run, which means green pastures for Aaron Jones and less field time for Hurst.

Another sit – Jordan Akins vs. Minnesota Vikings

Sleeper Start – Mike Gesicki vs. Seattle Seahawks

It’s been taking a while to board the Mike Gesicki train, but with Ryan Fitzpatrick having a surprising, yet expected spark for this offense, the tight end could be a favorable pick going forward. The three catches for 30 yards against New England is hardly a sign of hope, but Fitzpatrick’s 97 pass attempts through three weeks is a positive foundation for Gesicki to get in his groove. Preston Williams, Miami’s assumed no. 1 receiver, has been lackluster and the run game, while having flashes, still hasn’t been a good complement to Fitzpatrick’s momentum. Averaging roughly six targets a game, Gesicki is especially a factor in the endzone for this offense, which has shown it can move down the field either by FitzMagic or unexplainable strokes of luck.

Another sleeper – Dalton Schultz vs. Cleveland Browns

Defense/Special Teams

Start – San Francisco 49ers vs. Philadelphia Eagles

With much of the recommendation to start Giants players against the San Francisco 49ers last week came the idea that the defense would be a bit thrown off by the injuries to Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, and Richard Sherman. Giving up only 9 points against any team is quite the opposite of a deflated performance. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh still has this unit working in cohesion after their Super Bowl season and facing a dumpster fire Eagles offense without Dallas Goedert and potentially Greg Ward is the best set-up a recovering defense can ask for.

Another start – Dallas Cowboys vs. Cleveland Browns

Sit – New Orleans Saints vs. Detroit Lions

The Detriot Lions are displaying no game plan against opposing teams outside of having Matthew Stafford throw them into a win, or out of the game. With deficient support at the receiver position as Kenny Golladay continues to find his footing as a primary target, and T.J. Hockenson not becoming the standout tight end from Iowa so far, Stafford is faced with another challenge against the Saints. Thankfully there is such an idea that even in the midst of bad games, fantasy gold can be found. The Saints have surrendered at least 34 points per contest this season, most notably to the Raiders in Week 2, and Stafford’s efficiency as a passer may be enough to continue cutting through this slightly overrated Saints defense. With Marshon Lattimore posing the only threat in the secondary and being possibly out for the game, poses bad news for the aging Malcolm Jenkins and burnable cornerback P.J. Williams. Marvin Jones still has a downfield threat in his arsenal and can catch this defense by surprise at least once this Sunday.

Another sit – Cincinnati Bengals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Sleeper Start – Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots

While we’re still in the camp of calling this a high scoring game, the Chiefs have a matchup against Cam Newton that is still in the early stages of what looks like elite quarterbacking. Still looking for his rhythm with notable Brady-favorite Julian Edelman, and N’Keal Harry still looking to prove his role in this offense may keep New England in a hole if the Chiefs manage to score big early. Which they probably will. If the night is a rough one for New England, it’ll come down to the undisputed lack of skill players on their roster, giving the Chiefs defense a potentially high ceiling for this match.

Another sleeper — Houston Texans vs. Minnesota Vikings

Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan. Photo Credit: Brook Ward | Under Creative Commons License

Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan. Photo Credit: Brook Ward | Under Creative Commons License