By Cole Banker and Chris Blake
Week 4 is here, and we’re back to give our takes on who to start and who to sit as the NFL season starts to ramp up. To clarify, when we say we “love” a player, we mean that we expect him to outperform his projections for that week, and the opposite for players we “hate.” We are using PPR scoring when we refer to players’ fantasy points and rankings. With that in mind, let’s get to it. Enjoy.
Quarterbacks we love this week
Cole: Jared Goff (LAR) vs. New York Giants
Goff has quietly put together a solid start to the 2020 season, coming in at QB9 after his first three games. He has improved each game and led the Rams back against a stout Bills defense in a game in which he finished with 27 points. His success is tied into the team’s ability to run the ball, and they should be able to do that against a Giants defense that although has played well early on has a tendency to be leaky. Start Goff this week.
Chris: Deshaun Watson (HOU) vs. Minnesota
The Vikings have defended the pass poorly this season, but not as poorly as you might think. A bad game against Aaron Rodgers in week one set them far back statistically, but they were mediocre in weeks two and three. Deshaun Watson, however, could have a performance this weekend akin to Rodgers’ in week one. Watson and the Texans have faced a brutal schedule to kick off the season, but they are now presented with a very winnable game at home, and they should jump at the opportunity. The distractions surrounding the Vikings this week raise even more questions about them in this game. Watson looks to return to form against a Minnesota defense that is allowing 34 points per game this season.
Quarterbacks we hate this week
Cole: Tom Brady (TB) vs. Los Angeles Chargers
After struggling early on, Tom Brady seems to be finding his stride in Tampa Bay and is coming off of his best performance of the year last week in Denver. He’ll face a different animal defensively at home this Sunday against the Chargers, who have been tough against even the best offenses, like Kansas City. The Chargers are the 7th-best passing defense and the best against the run, and Brady is poised to struggle without being able to rely on the run. Look for a low-scoring game in Tampa this weekend, and I’d stay away from both QBs in this one.
Chris: Carson Wentz (PHI) @ San Francisco
Sorry Eagles fans, but Wentz has had a brutal season thus far, and I don’t think it will get much better this week as the Eagles head to San Francisco for a Sunday Night Football duel. The 49ers are allowing the second-least passing yards per game and points per game, trailing just the Colts in both categories. To make matters worse, the Eagles had four wide receivers sit out practice on both Wednesday and Thursday due to injury, and key pieces of the offensive line aren’t fully healthy either. Wentz has more turnovers than touchdowns this year, and he’ll likely end the week still in the red.
Running backs we love this week
Cole: Kenyan Drake (ARI) @ Carolina
One of the most-hyped players coming into the 2020 season, Drake has had some trouble finding his footing early on in the 2020 season. As efficient as he was a year ago, you would think him seeing 18 carries a game would be a perfect recipe for success, but he is averaging right abound four yards per carry and has only tallied five receptions and one touchdown thus far. I think this is the week we see him break out and return to his 2019 form. The Panthers have given opposing RBs a whopping 32 fantasy points per game, and I think Drake and the Cardinals can easily push this number considering their commitment to the run game.
Chris: James Robinson (JAX) @ Cincinnati
Robinson, who was signed as an undrafted free agent, has shot up the ranks and now finds himself as the workhorse running back for the Jaguars. He’s carried the ball 43 times this season to the tune of 4.9 yards per attempt, and he proved himself as a pass catcher last week when he recorded six receptions. His 220-pound frame also earns him plenty of goal-line looks. The bruising back should continue his breakout season this week against a Bengals defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs and the second-most rushing yards per game this year.
Running backs we hate this week
Cole: Miles Sanders (PHI) @ San Francisco
After missing Week 1, Sanders has wasted no time in establishing himself as the workhorse back in Philadelphia, seeing 38 carries and seven receptions in his first two games. This is an encouraging sign for Sanders moving forward, but I have questions about the rest of the offense. The passing game has been practically non-existent, with Wentz averaging under 250 passing yards per game against some of the league’s worst defenses, so Sanders’ early success is likely not be sustainable at this rate. Worse for Sanders, he faces the daunting 49ers defense which has held opposing backs to a 3rd-lowest 12 fantasy points per game.
Chris: Adrian Peterson (DET) vs. New Orleans
You could find a quote from last Sunday of me saying how impressed I’ve been by Peterson this season, but praise from a 19-year-old won’t do much to help him with a troublesome matchup this week. New Orleans has continued to stifle opponents’ rushing attacks this year, a trend that dates back to last season, when they allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game. Game script likely won’t favor Peterson this week either, as the Lions will have to move the ball mostly through the air to keep up with New Orleans.
Wide receivers we love this week
Cole: DeVante Parker (SEA) vs. Miami
Parker has had an underwhelming start to the 2020 season, and we are still waiting for a sign that he is the top 10 fantasy receiver we saw for much of last season. I think we see that and more on Sunday for the veteran Dolphin receiver against a Seahawks secondary that has been brutally picked apart the first few weeks. Seattle has been gashed by opposing WRs for a remarkably bad 47.9 fantasy points a game, easily the worst in the league. There will be plenty to go around for Parker in what should be a shootout in South Beach.
Chris: Cooper Kupp (LAR) vs. New York Giants
Kupp has seen his role in the Rams’ offense increase by the week. The Eastern Washington product is now tied for the team lead in targets and paces the team in receptions through three weeks. I expect New York’s James Bradberry to cover Kupp’s teammate Robert Woods for the majority of this game, which should force quarterback Jared Goff to frequently look Kupp’s way. The Giants have defended wide receivers with middling success this year, but have been more susceptible to short passes, once again favoring Kupp in this matchup.
Wide receivers we hate this week
Cole: DJ Moore (CAR) vs. Arizona
Moore is listed as the top WR on the Carolina depth chart, but it’s been the Robby Anderson show for most of the early season for the Teddy Bridgewater passing attack. While it is still early, it is a bit concerning that the first year Panther has emerged as Bridgewater’s favorite target so quickly, which is why I’m lowering my expectations for Moore and considering him as a low-end WR2/FLEX for the time being. He’ll likely receive a shadow from Patrick Peterson in a matchup with a perennially stingy Arizona secondary that has been the 2nd-toughest matchup for opposing WRs so far in 2020.
Chris: Terry McLaurin (WSH) vs. Baltimore
Scary Terry has continued to thrive with Washington in his sophomore campaign, but the Ravens come to town this weekend and present a daunting matchup. Baltimore cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey have a case for the best cornerback tandem in the league, which should cast doubt on McLaurin’s fantasy prospects this week. Baltimore’s season-long defensive statistics took a hit last Monday when they faced the reigning Super Bowl-champion Chiefs, but that should be viewed as an outlier. Baltimore should have little trouble containing McLaurin and a feeble Washington offensive attack this Sunday.
Tight ends we love this week
Cole: T.J. Hockenson (DET) vs. New Orleans
The second-year TE has found the favor of Matthew Stafford and has been a consistent presence for the Lions early on in 2020. Hockenson has racked up at least 50 yards and four receptions in each game thus far for the Detroit offense and can prove to be one of the biggest steals on Draft Day if he can keep us this kind of production. He’ll have a great opportunity for a big game against the Saints secondary that has been the most generous to tight ends in 2020, giving players of that position nearly 18 fantasy points per game.
Chris: Dalton Schultz (DAL) vs. Cleveland
Schultz makes the love list mostly for deeper leagues. I’m not at all suggesting that you start him over Travis Kelce or Darren Waller, but I do think Schultz is in line to have one of his better performances of the season this week against the Browns. Cleveland allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends last season, and has allowed the fourth-most to the position group so far this season. After week one, when Blake Jarwin tore his ACL, Schultz has collected 13 catches on 16 targets. The 24-year-old should play a role in what lines up to be another productive day for Dallas’ offense.
Tight ends we hate this week
Cole: Zach Ertz (PHI) @ San Francisco
If you have Zach Ertz on your team, you are probably not the biggest Dallas Goedert fan, as the latter has a tendency to steal receptions and vulture a few touchdowns from the All-Pro tight end. Goedert is Ertz’s biggest competition for targets, and he went down with an ankle injury and is likely to miss several weeks, so naturally would think this would benefit Ertz in terms of fantasy production. I actually think the opposite will happen. The Eagles have zero weapons in the passing game outside of Ertz, and opposing defenses know that. Most importantly, however, he’ll have to deal with the 49ers defense who have held opposing tight ends to just over one point per game.
Chris: Hayden Hurst (ATL) @ Green Bay
Hurst has seen just a 12.31% target share in Atlanta’s offense this season, and only hauled in one reception on three targets in last week’s contest (in all fairness, his one catch did go for a touchdown). The Falcons now travel to Green Bay, who has had success in limiting opposing tight ends in both this season and the last, for a Monday Night Football showdown. With Julio Jones expected to return to the offense after missing last week’s game, expect quarterback Matt Ryan to continue to focus the majority of his attention on the wide receiver corps.
Defenses we love this week
Cole: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. LAC)
Chris: Los Angeles Rams (vs. New York Giants)
Defenses we hate this week
Cole: Minnesota Vikings (@ HOU)
Chris: New Orleans Saints (@ Detroit)
Spreads we love this week
Cole: Cowboys -4.5 (vs. CLE), Bills -3.5 (@ LV), Colts -2.5 (@ CHI)
Chris:Cowboys -4.5 (vs. CLE), Texans -4 (vs. MIN), Bills -3.5 (@ LV)
Edited by Emma Moloney