By Cole Banker and Chris Blake
As we turn the page to Week 4, KCOU Sports’ Chris Blake and Cole Banker break down their list of players to be confident in and be skeptical of. Note from the authors: “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’ rankings. Enjoy.”
Quarterbacks we love this week
Cole: Daniel Jones (NYG) vs. Washington
Jones silenced the haters last week with a massive fantasy performance in a huge comeback win against the Bucs. His two rushing touchdowns suggest that Jones possesses much more of a dual-threat repertoire than we thought, and if he can continue to produce on the ground, it will provide him with a solid fantasy floor. Against a Washington Redskins difference that was gashed by Mitch Trubisky Monday night and has surrendered the 5th most points to quarterbacks thus far in 2019, the sky is the limit for Jones and the reinvigorated Giants’ offense, despite the loss of Saquon Barkley.
Chris: Aaron Rodgers (GB) vs. Philadelphia
The fact that a healthy Aaron Rodgers qualifies for the love list is shocking, but the veteran signal caller is currently 21st among quarterbacks in terms of fantasy points per game this year. The Rodgers and LaFleur growing pains should be diminishing by the week, and the offense finally gets a favorable matchup in week four. After leaving fantasy owners to tread water through the first three weeks of the season against Bears, Vikings, and Broncos, Rodgers will get his shot at a weak Eagles secondary this week. A-Rod should finally have the breakout performance in week four that the rest of the NFL has been dreading.
Quarterbacks we hate this week
Cole: Tom Brady (NE) @ Buffalo
The Bills have heavily leaned on their defense, specifically their secondary, to get them to their first 3-0 start in eight years, and even the “GOAT” will struggle on the road against this stingy back line. The Buffalo defense is limiting opposing QB’s to 13 points a game in 2019 and is again top-5 in yards allowed. Expect New England to rely heavily on the run game in what should be a low-scoring football game. The Bills have been able to stifle Brady in the past, and he is not a preferred option in Week 4 against this elite defense.
Chris: Jameis Winston (TB) @ Los Angeles Rams
Just in case you were considering riding Winston`s week three performance into week four, which presents a road matchup against a Rams unit led by Aaron Donald, Aquib Talib, and Marcus Peters, I am here to advise against it. Wade Phillips is once again in control of an elite defense, guiding them to fourth in the league for total yards allowed per game. We saw the pass rush disrupt Cleveland`s offense last Sunday, and the poor offense line that Tampa Bay presents will likely be dismantled in similar fashion. The credit for Winston`s impressive stat line last week against the Giants can likely be directed towards the defense he faced, and if that was the case, week four will provide a harsh reality check for the Florida State product.
Running backs we love this week
Cole: Marlon Mack (IND) vs. Oakland
For the second straight week, Mack makes my love list. Dealing with a calf injury last week against Atlanta, Mack was still effective on the ground, putting up 74 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Expect a heavier dose of Mack this week against the defensively-challenged Raiders’ defense that is allowing 100+ yards per game over its first three weeks, and was just torched by Dalvin Cook a week ago. Mack might not catch a lot of passes, but his volume, effectiveness, and goal-line opportunities make him a top-10 week 4 matchup against a generous run defense.
Chris: Joe Mixon (CIN) @ Pittsburgh
After pacing the American Football Conference in rushing just one year ago, Mixon has been relatively disappointing for fantasy owners in 2019. A porous Bengals offensive line had held Mixon to just 27 rushing yards through the first two weeks of the season, but a solid performance in week three should provide owners with confidence heading into this weekend. The Steelers have been the third-most generous defense to opposing running backs through three weeks this season. The Minkah Fitzpatrick trade will improve the secondary, but a front seven allowing 139.3 rushing yards per game has not received reinforcements. Look for Mixon to return to his 2018 form Monday night.
Running backs we hate this week
Cole: Aaron Jones (GB) vs. Philadelphia
Aaron Jones has been one of the bigger let-downs of the young 2019 season. His big Week 2 made up for lackluster Week 1 and Week 3 in which he ran for just 58 yards on 23 carries. Matt LaFleur has also been consistent in keeping Jamaal Williams involved in the running game, who had two more carries than Jones last week in a win over Denver. Williams looked much better than Jones a week ago, and it’s safe to say that Jones will be stuck in a committee once again until he returns to the consistent effectiveness we saw in the second half of 2018. It also doesn’t help Jones’ case that the Eagles are the 5th best defense against running backs this season.
Chris: Frank Gore (BUF) vs. New England
The ageless Frank Gore has produced for fantasy owners in recent weeks, but that trend likely comes to a pause in week four against a stout New England defense. In a game that will likely force Buffalo to rely on the talents of Josh Allen to keep up with the Patriots offense, we could see the Buffalo run game become a non-factor very quickly. The Patriots have been the most difficult matchup for opposing running backs from a fantasy perspective thus far in 2019 and have allowed just 36.7 rushing yards per game. Curb your expectations for the veteran back in week four.
Wide Receivers we love this week
Cole: Sterling Shepard (NYG) vs. Washington
With the emergence of Daniel Jones comes a huge uptick in value, and we saw that last week when Shepard broke out for 7 receptions for 100 yards, a TD, and a 2 pt. Conversion. Sterling only figures to build on that performance against the Redskins, who rank dead last in points given up to wide receivers this season. Shepard also led the G-men in targets last week, leading us to believe that he is going to be Jones’ favorite target going forward, and without Saquon Barkley in the picture, the Giants will undoubtedly lean more heavily on the passing game.
Chris: Terry McLaurin (WAS) @ New York Giants
The third round pick out of Ohio State has emerged as Washington`s number one receiver in 2019, seeing a team-leading 24 targets in three games. McLaurin has been somewhat under the radar all season, as he is still available in about 20% of ESPN leagues. “Scary Terry,” who has at least 5 catches, 62 yards, and one touchdown in every game so far this season, now faces a Giants defense allowing the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in 2019. In fact, Washington and New York rank 30th and 31st, respectively, in the NFL in terms of points allowed per game, a sign pointing towards a high scoring affair in week four. Don`t expect the former Buckeye`s production to fall off in the Meadowlands this week.
Wide Receivers we hate this week
Cole: Mike Evans (TB) @ Los Angeles
As a St. Louis native, I hate putting anyone playing the Rams on the hate list, but it only makes sense for Mike Evans to return to earth in Week 4 after a staggering 45 point outburst against the Giants a week ago. The Rams have done a steady job in locking down the #1 receiver on the other side of the ball, limiting Michael Thomas to 54 yards and Odell Beckham to just 56. Especially if Chris Godwin returns to full health, look for Jameis to get the rest of the Bucs’ receivers involved if the Rams lockdown Evans. It’s also important to keep in mind that LA is holding opposing WR cores to just 12.8 FPG, which is 2nd only to the Patriots.
Chris: Adam Thielen (MIN) @ Chicago
This game is likely the lowest Vegas point total of the week, and rightfully so. The Vikings have been most effective through the ground game this year, leading to Kirk Cousins averaging just 21 pass attempts per game. The lack of volume in the passing game so far has forced Thielen to rely mostly on touchdowns (including a rushing score last week) to produce good fantasy numbers. Additionally, facing the Bears hard-nosed defense on the road will inhibit any offense, especially one that has been mostly one-dimensional this season. A low scoring game and a tough matchup limits Thielen`s value this week.
Tight Ends we love this week
Cole: Darren Waller (OAK) @ Indianapolis
Waller has come out of nowhere and quickly become Derek Carr’s favorite target, last week hauling in 13 of his 14 targets, yes you read that right, for 134 yards. With 7+ targets in all of his games so far in 2019, the Oakland tight end currently ranks 3rd among TEs in fantasy points. The Colts have ceded the 5th most points to opposing TE’s this year and just allowed Austin Hooper of the Falcons to score two touchdowns. Waller’s only deficiency is that he is yet to catch one in the endzone, and that could easily change Sunday afternoon in Indy.
Chris: Will Dissly (SEA) @ Arizona
The 23-year-old tight end who has hauled in three touchdowns in as many games this season now faces an Arizona Cardinals defense that has been awful against opposing tight ends. Arizona has allowed a combined 20 receptions, 318 yards, and 4 touchdowns to opposing teams` number one tight ends this year, good for the most fantasy points allowed to the position by a wide margin. Meanwhile, Dissly has seen 12 targets over the past two weeks. The Seahawks signing of Luke Wilson shouldn`t impact Dissly`s value too much this week, so look for him to prey on a weak Cardinals defense.
Tight Ends we hate this week
Cole: Greg Olsen (CAR) @ Texans
Not much was expected from the aging veteran tight end, but Greg Olsen has done more than return to fantasy football relevance, culminating in last week’s 25 point output against the Cardinals. However, this can only last so long, as Carolina’s QB situation is a mess with Cam Newton out for God-knows-how-long, and we don’t know what to expect on a weekly basis from Kyle Allen. The Texans have given opposing tight ends just 3.1 FPG, so expect a step back from the potential hall-of-Famer.
Chris: O.J. Howard (TB) @ Los Angeles Rams
Howard entered the 2019 season with high expectations, but the third-year tight end has underwhelmed fantasy owners so far. Howard is is yet to hit the 100-yard mark or reach double digit receptions on the season. Additionally, he find himself 5th on the team in targets. The Rams defense has done an above average job at limiting opposing tight ends in 2019, and the Bucs offense likely struggles as a whole in this game. Until Howard sees an expanded role in this Buccaneers passing attack, he should not crack your starting roster.
Defenses to stream
Cole: Houston Texans (vs.CAR)
Chris: Los Angeles Chargers (@MIA)
Defenses to avoid
Cole: Philadelphia Eagles (@GB)
Chris: Dallas Cowboys (@NO)
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org