Last updated: September 28th at 1:58pm ET.
Titans at Falcons
Team Totals: Falcons 25, Titans 21
Even amid health concerns we’ll touch on momentarily, the Falcons’ D/ST is in Week 4 streamer play facing a Titans offense that can’t stop hemorrhaging sacks, permitting four, four, and nine in its first three games with LT Taylor Lewan (suspension) still a week away from return. Marcus Mariota is nearing in-game benching territory with Ryan Tannehill the next man up. Very much caused by his own inability to deliver the ball quickly, Mariota’s 17 sacks taken are the most by any quarterback through Week 3 since 2002. … Regardless of Tennessee’s quarterback identity, Derrick Henry is the clear focus of OC Arthur Smith’s attack with touch counts of 20 > 17 > 18 and touchdowns in all three games facing a Falcons defense that surrendered a mediocre 71/289/3 (4.01 YPC) combined rushing line to Vikings, Eagles, and Colts running backs in Weeks 1-3, lost tone-setting SS Keanu Neal (Achilles’) to I.R., and is nursing concerning injuries to DT Grady Jarrett (toe) and DE Takk McKinley (knee). Henry has earned every-week RB2 treatment, even in projected negative-script games like this. … Even as the Titans played most of last week’s game in Jacksonville from behind, Dion Lewis’ measly four touches reveal his game-plan nonexistence. Lewis has yet to exceed six touches in an individual week this year.
Mariota’s target distribution: Delanie Walker 21; A.J. Brown 14; Corey Davis and Adam Humphries 12; Henry 7; Lewis 6; Tajae Sharpe 5; Jonnu Smith 4. … Walker’s outlook is improved by Atlanta’s loss of Neal; the Falcons played stingy tight end coverage in Weeks 1-2, then coughed up nine catches for 125 yards on ten targets to Colts tight ends last Sunday. Assuming his knee holds up – he missed Thursday’s practice – Walker is a matchup-driven fringe TE1 as Tennessee’s No. 1 pass option. Update: Walker practiced fully on Friday and was removed from the injury report. … Brown logged 100 yards in the opener but has shared time as Tennessee’s third and fourth receiver ever since. Whereas interior WRs Nelson Agholor (8/107/1) and Adam Thielen (3/43/1) have excelled against Atlanta – and Colts WRs combined to catch a perfect 8-of-8 targets for 59 yards and two touchdowns on slot routes versus the Falcons last week – perimeter WRs like Davis and Brown have been slowed down. … Davis was a prominent part of this year’s Shy-Away 40 fade list and no longer warrants rostering in 14-team leagues. … Weeks 1-2 afterthought Humphries finally got involved in last week’s loss to the Jaguars but accrued half of his six catches and over half of his yards on the final drive of Tennessee’s two-score loss. Despite this being a plus matchup, Humphries’ scant to-date involvement caps his ceiling in WR4 range.
Their offense improving each week after a slow start, the Falcons return home to face an underrated Titans defense that has allowed the NFL’s sixth-fewest yards per pass attempt (5.9) while limiting its first three opponents to 13 (Browns), 19 (Colts), and 20 (Jaguars) points. Jacoby Brissett (QB12) and Gardner Minshew (QB18) did beat expectations against Tennessee in the last two weeks, suggesting Matt Ryanmaintains a high QB1 floor. I think it’s fair to question his ceiling versus a quality defense and slow-paced Titans team against which enemy offenses are averaging just 59.3 plays per game, seventh fewest in the league. … Devonta Freeman’s 19 Week 3 touches were spiked by Ito Smith’s concussion, and Smith appears likely to return against the Titans. Still, it was promising to see Freeman break a big play for the second straight week – his latest a 28-yard run on Atlanta’s first play from scrimmage – and handle close to a full workload. Tennessee’s run defense has struggled, yielding a combined 61/300/1 (4.92 YPC) rushing line to enemy running backs. Still painfully scoreless on the year, I like Freeman’s chances of finding the paint for the first time as a home-favorite lead back and solid-if-unspectacular RB2/flex play.
Ryan’s target distribution: Julio Jones 30; Austin Hooper 22; Mohamed Sanu 19; Calvin Ridley 17; Freeman 12; Justin Hardy 7; Luke Stocker 6; Smith 4. … Julio extended his league-best seven-game touchdown streak by beating double coverage from ten yards out in last week’s fourth quarter against the Colts. He should have scored on a first-quarter 34-yard catch but was underthrown by Ryan. With a massive size advantage (6’3/220) on Titans CBs Malcolm Butler (5’10/187) and Adoree Jackson(5’10/186), look for a jump-ball-happy Week 4 from the NFC’s premier wideout. … The Titans yielded 4/37/1 to Browns tight ends in Week 1, 5/46/1 to Colts tight ends in Week 2, and 3/26/1 to Jaguars tight ends in Week 3. Making a third-year leap, Hooper has earned every-week TE1 treatment with 82 catches over his last 16 games. … It’s obviously early, but Ridley’s targets per game have dropped from 5.8 as a rookie to 5.7 this year. OC Dirk Koetter did hint Ridley could be this week’s squeaky wheel following his one-catch Week 3 clunker, and Sanu figures to get lost in physical Titans slot CB Logan Ryan’s coverage. I’ve viewed Ridley as a volatile WR2/3 since before the season; Weeks 1-3 did nothing to change that.
Score Prediction: Falcons 24, Titans 17
Browns at Ravens
Team Totals: Ravens 26.5, Browns 19.5
The Browns visit Baltimore fielding the NFL’s most-discombobulated offense wherein overwhelmed rookie coach Freddie Kitchens’ route concepts aren’t aligning with down and distance and Baker Mayfield is playing in legitimate fear, dropping his eyes, seeing ghosts in the pocket, and bailing in anticipation of pressure even when it isn’t there. With to-date fantasy results of QB24 > QB16 > QB29, Mayfield is a drop in season-long leagues with minimal hope for short-term course correction. The Ravens don’t present a matchup to increase Mayfield’s comfort level with a top-five blitz rate and the most QB hits in the league (28). Mayfield ranks 33rd among 37 qualified quarterbacks in passer rating under pressure (28.3). … Nick Chubb warrants more Week 4 optimism after graduating to every-down usage in last week’s loss to the Rams with career highs in snaps (97%) and targets (7) en route to 131 total yards. Dating back to last season, Chubb has 100-plus yards from scrimmage and/or a touchdown in 9 of his last 11 games. Albeit versus a far-superior Chiefs offense, Baltimore showed Week 3 run-defense cracks by coughing up a combined 21/124/1 (5.90 YPC) rushing line to Kansas City’s backs.
Update: Ravens DT Brandon Williams was added to Saturday’s injury report as questionable with a knee ailment. One of the NFL’s premier run stuffers inside, Williams’ absence would benefit Nick Chubb‘s Week 4 draw.
Mayfield’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Odell Beckham 30; Jarvis Landry 23; Chubb 15; Damion Ratley 10; D’Ernest Johnson 6; Demetrius Harris 4; Rashard Higgins 3; Ricky Seals-Jones and Dontrell Hilliard 2. … The good news for OBJ is Baltimore’s injury-rattled secondary has surrendered the NFL’s sixth-most completions of 20-plus yards (15). The bad news is Beckham will likely draw top CB Marlon Humphrey’s shadow coverage, and Kitchens’ route combinations have shown no ability to get OBJ free. Beckham is averaging ten targets and over 100 Air Yards per game and can’t be benched in season-long leagues, but he’ll need more help from his playcaller and quarterback to come anywhere near his ceiling. … Landry catches the best matchup in Cleveland’s pass-catcher corps facing a Ravens secondary that yielded 224 yards on 27 slot targets (8.30 YPA) over the last two weeks. Although Landry’s to-date box-score results have underwhelmed, he’s drawn seven-plus targets in all three games and should benefit from the Browns’ loss of David Njoku (wrist, I.R.) from an opportunity standpoint. Landry also checks in as Week 4’s No. 5 buy-low receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Higgins (ankle/knee) is just a deep-bench stash until he shows he’s back to full strength. He’s been inactive for consecutive games, and neither Ratley nor Taywan Taylor has picked up the slack. … Harris was Cleveland’s lone tight end to play more than 16 snaps in last week’s loss to the Rams, drawing only two targets on 29 routes but delivering a goal-line score. Harris is a low-volume, TD-dependent streamer.
Lamar Jackson overcame a brutal 8-of-21 start for 75 yards (3.6 YPA) in last Sunday’s loss to Kansas City before luckboxing two desperation heaves and peeling off a nine-yard touchdown run to escape with Week 3’s QB10 score. The outcome serves as a reminder of Jackson’s floor even in games where he doesn’t play well. Back home after Baltimore played two of its first three games on the road, Jackson catches a Browns defense that has been its team strength but is dealing with hamstring injuries to CBs Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams and may again be without SS Morgan Burnett (quad). All three missed the entire week of practice. I like Jackson’s chances of bouncing back as a DFS-tournament play in stacks with Marquise Brown. … Mark Ingram took control of Baltimore’s backfield over the past two weeks with touch counts of 15 and 20 on 58% and 61% of the Ravens’ offensive snaps. Gus Edwards did reestablish himself as Ingram’s clear-cut handcuff with 68 yards on nine touches in last week’s loss to Kansas City, while rookie Justice Hill’s playing time has fallen in each game (29% > 20% > 12%). Hill is a deep-bench stash, but Edwards offers some standalone value and would become an immediate RB2 if Ingram went down. Even in a tough draw – Cleveland has held enemy backs to 63/234/1 (3.71 YPC) rushing – Ingram is a fringe RB1 play favored at home by a touchdown. In season long, Ingram is still a recommended sell high with just six targets in three games. He is 39th among NFL running backs in routes run. Hill remains an RB5/6 stash.
Jackson’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Marquise Brown 27; Mark Andrews 23; Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle 9; Willie Snead 8; Ingram 6; Hill and Miles Boykin 5; Seth Roberts 3; Edwards 2. … Brown is an exciting Week 4 buy-low play with the NFL’s second-most Air Yards (372) over the past two weeks facing Cleveland’s hamstring-hobbled secondary. Based on his overwhelming amount of opportunity, I’m viewing Brown as DFS cash-game and tournament viable in this plus draw. He’s a high-ceiling WR2 play in season long. … Even amid foot concerns, Andrews ran a season-high 37 pass routes and drew seven targets in last week’s loss to Kansas City. Still, beat writers noticed Andrews hobbling in pre-game warmups, his production was Andrews’ worst of the season to date, and he missed Wednesday and Thursday’s practices this week. Cleveland presents a plus draw — opponents are 8-of-11 passing for 77 yards and two touchdowns when targeting tight ends versus Steve Wilks‘ defense — but Andrews should be approached as a boom-bust TE1 until we see him shake the foot injury for good. He did return to practice on Friday. … Target shares for the remainder of Baltimore’s pass catchers are too low for season-long or DFS utilization. Behind Brown’s 466 and Andrews’ 224, slot receiver Snead’s 106 Air Yards rank third on the Ravens.
Score Prediction: Ravens 30, Browns 17
Patriots at Bills
Team Totals: Patriots 24.5, Bills 17.5
Patriots-Bills has Week 4’s third-lowest total in an exciting real-life football game short on fantasy appeal. Beginning with most recent, Tom Brady’s last four yardage/touchdown/interception lines against Sean McDermott’s teams are 126/1/2 > 324/0/0 > 224/2/1 > 258/0/1. TB12 has never faced a better Buffalo defense than this year’s, which has allowed the NFL’s fifth-fewest points. This is a week to look at streamers to play over Brady. … FB James Develin’s (neck) year-ending loss will eliminate New England’s 21-personnel fullback packages and hike its three-receiver rates, helping Rex Burkhead and James White but damaging already-struggling Sony Michel. Michel handled a career-low nine touches on 22% of last week’s snaps with White inactive and the Pats favored by 20-some points at home. I’m downgrading Michel to a touchdown-or-bust flex option. At PFF, Michel ranks 56th among 60 qualified backs in yards after contact per rushing attempt (1.7). … Burkhead was New England’s Week 3 alpha back, parlaying his 74% snap rate into 17 touches with seven targets and a third-quarter goal-line score. Buffalo is a run-funnel team exacerbated by NT Harrison Phillips’ ACL tear after conceding a combined 36/173/1 (4.81 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs over its last two games. An efficient runner and goal-line converter, Burkhead offers legitimate RB2 upside at Buffalo. White is a PPR-specific RB2/flex option.
Update: I received word Saturday that Rex Burkhead (foot) is in legitimate danger of missing Sunday’s game after suffering an in-practice injury that limited his reps throughout the week. If so, James White would be the likeliest beneficiary handling all passing-game work and as a means of circumventing Buffalo’s stingy secondary with quick hitters that match up White against the Bills’ linebackers.
Brady’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Julian Edelman 25; Josh Gordon 20; Burkhead 17; Phillip Dorsett14; White 11; Jakobi Meyers 4; Ryan Izzo 3; Matt LaCosse 2. … Assuming Edelman (chest) is good to go, Super Bowl 53’s MVP will be a no-brainer WR2 against a McDermott secondary he’s torn up for 6/70/1 > 9/104/0 > 4/37/1 in these clubs’ last three affairs. Buffalo conceded PPR-viable weeks to fellow slot WRs Jamison Crowder (14/99/0) and Tyler Boyd (6/67/0) so far this year. … Set to catch Tre’Davious Whitein coverage, Gordon is a fade-matchup WR2/3 in this probable low-scoring game. Gordon did overcome a Week 3 hand-injury scare to lead New England in yards (83), targets (11), and Air Yards (112) against the Jets. Gordon’s highlight-reel 28-yard catch down the left sideline showed his matchup-proof capability. … Including playoffs, Dorsett has been the recipient on five of Brady’s last nine touchdown passes. With no target-commanding presence at tight end, Antonio Brown gone for good, and Develin’s loss reinforcing three-receiver personnel featuring Dorsett as New England’s most-talented offensive package, Dorsett is Week 4’s top waiver receiver add, even if his initial matchup is unenticing at Buffalo.
Undefeated after consecutive wins over the combined 1-8 Jets, Giants, and Bengals, the Bills face their first real test versus New England, which held Josh Allen to last Week 16’s QB21 fantasy result on 5.3 yards per attempt with two picks and only 30 rushing yards. Playing near-league-best defense, the Pats have yet to allow a defensive touchdown while shutting down Ben Roethlisberger (QB27), Ryan Fitzpatrick/Josh Rosen (QB32), and Luke Falk (QB32), the latter two obviously carrying little predictive weight. In an imposing matchup regardless, Allen is a lower-floor play than usual with Buffalo’s paltry team total serving as an additional negative data point. … Regardless of Devin Singletary’s (hamstring) availability, this is a brutal matchup for Buffalo’s backfield as touchdown dogs facing a Patriots defense that has stymied enemy backs for 45/101/0 (2.22 YPC) rushing on the year. I’ll admit to playing a ton of Frank Gore in season long and DFS last week but won’t be going back to that well. Singletary’s return to Thursday’s practice further muddies the Bills’ backfield waters.
Allen’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: John Brown and Cole Beasley 23; Zay Jones 11; Dawson Knox 10; Singletary and Tommy Sweeney 6; Gore 4; T.J. Yeldon, Isaiah McKenzie, Patrick DiMarco, and Robert Foster 3. … Ex-Bill Stephon Gilmore has developed into the best corner in football and will likely chase Brown all over the field. PFF has charged Gilmore with 102 scoreless yards allowed on 17 targets (6.0 YPA), presenting a concerning enough matchup to downgrade Brown to a fringe WR3/flex. … The Pats have historically been willing to sacrifice underneath completions in exchange for limiting big plays, which could theoretically benefit slot WR Beasley. But enemy slot WRs JuJu Smith-Schuster (6/78/0), Jakeem Grant (3/22/0), and Jamison Crowder (2/25/0) haven’t exactly capitalized so far. Beasley is a PPR-specific WR4/flex. … Jones has 65 scoreless yards to show for his 11 targets. The Bills should look into using Foster more at Jones’ expense. … Athletic rookie TE Knox took advantage of his season-high 59% playing-time clip in last week’s win over Cincinnati to haul in a first-quarter goal-line score, then deliver a monster 49-yard gain in the fourth-quarter clutch with Buffalo trailing by three. Keyed by SS Pat Chung’s sticky man coverage, however, the Patriots always present tough tight end matchups. As Tyler Kroft (foot/ankle) continues to encounter setbacks, Knox is worth owning in all Dynasty leagues.
Score Prediction: Bills 21, Patriots 20
Chiefs at Lions
Team Totals: Chiefs 31, Lions 24
Patrick Mahomes visits Ford Field looking to extend his league record of seven straight road games with three or more touchdown passes. Although enemy quarterbacks’ fantasy results have been somewhat uneven against Detroit – QB13 (Kyler Murray) > QB26 (Philip Rivers) > QB9 (Carson Wentz) – Mahomes catches Matt Patricia’s defense at an opportune time with top CB Darius Slay (hamstring) and DT Mike Daniels (foot) nursing concerning injuries. Slay is questionable after a limited practice week, while Daniels has been ruled out. Matchup proof regardless, Mahomes is the top fantasy quarterback play on Week 4’s slate. I also like Kansas City as a sports-betting side in this spot; per Action Network’s Chris Raybon, the Chiefs are 33-16-1 against the spread in road games under Andy Reid. … With Damien Williams (knee) still on the shelf and LeSean McCoy battling a re-tweaked ankle, Kansas City’s backfield complexion is shaping up similarly to last week, when Darrel Williams led the unit with 14 touches on 54% of the snaps with McCoy (11, 38%) non-predictively hogging two touchdowns and Darwin Thompson (3, 7%) watching the other guys play. Detroit’s run defense is unimposing – enemy backs have touched it up for 69/306/2 (4.43 YPC) rushing – and Darrel’s Week 3 passing-game involvement was surprisingly promising with five catches on five targets, especially since the Lions have allowed the NFL’s second-most receiving yards to running backs (203) this year. I’m giving Darrel a confident low-end RB2 nod with McCoy as an RB2/flex sharing work in the NFL’s highest-octane offense against an RB-friendly opponent missing Daniels.
Mahomes’ Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Sammy Watkins 32; Travis Kelce 25; Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson 12; Damien 11; McCoy 7; Darrel 5; Thompson 1. … Fourth in the NFL in targets, Watkins draws a Lions defense that struggled to contain fellow interior WRs Larry Fitzgerald (8/113/1), Keenan Allen (8/98/0), and Nelson Agholor (8/50/2) in Weeks 1-3. With Tyreek Hill (shoulder) sidelined, Watkins is running 66% of his routes in the slot. … Kelce is due for positive regression with five red-zone targets – seventh most in the league – but zero TDs on them. Kelce is a fade-matchup play against a Lions defense that has excelled in tight end coverage under Patricia, checking Zach Ertz (4/64/0) last week. … Hardman’s modest target counts are 6 and 5 since replacing Hill, but the 4.33 speedster has proven an ideal match for Mahomes’ style with two long touchdowns and a third negated by penalty. Hardman reached 21.7 MPH on last week’s 83-yarder, the fastest mark clocked by an NFL ball carrier this season (Next Gen Stats). Although Hardman’s floor is concerning on such low volume, he remains an upside WR3 against a Lions secondary whose top corner is banged up. … Robinson saved his Week 3 box score with a second-quarter 18-yard TD against Baltimore, but his sans-Tyreek target counts are 6 and 4 without the playmaking ability of Hardman. Robinson is still an every-week WR3/flex until Hill returns.
Even as he ran in place against Philadelphia’s mean defensive front, Kerryon Johnson’s Week 3 volume indeed benefited from C.J. Anderson’s release with a career-high 20 carries on a season-high 77% of the snaps. So long as the Lions keep this game close – they’re seven-point home underdogs – Johnson’s Week 4 matchup is much softer versus Kansas City, which yielded a combined 55/335/3 (6.09 YPC) rushing line to Jaguars, Raiders, and Ravens backs in Weeks 1-3. Detroit’s overall run-game struggles keep Johnson’s value in the RB2 range, but he now looks ticketed for RB1-level usage. Per Sports Info Solutions, the Chiefs are surrendering the NFL’s most yards after contact per rushing attempt (3.6) and the league’s highest broken tackle rate allowed (19.4%). … Explosive rookie Ty Johnson remains Kerryon’s handcuff with touch counts of 7 and 5 on 20% and 18% playing-time clips in the last two weeks. … Playing run-funnel defense, Kansas City held Derek Carr to Week 2’s QB28 finish and previously white-hot Lamar Jackson to his worst to-date fantasy result (QB10). Fantasy’s QB14 (Chargers) and QB28 (Eagles) on attempt totals of just 30 and 32 in OC Darrell Bevell’s run-first attack the last two weeks, Matthew Stafford presents trap-play risk despite this game’s shootout chances. Update: Stafford was added to Friday’s injury report as questionable with a hip injury, lowering his floor.
Stafford’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Kenny Golladay 27; Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola 19; T.J. Hockenson 16; Kerryon and Jesse James 6; Ty Johnson 4; J.D. McKissic 2. … Golladay’s Week 3 target (8) and Air Yards (78) opportunity weren’t far off where we’d want them to be, but he didn’t win in contested situations and miserably finished with 17 scoreless yards against a bad Eagles secondary. Even as the Lions’ clear No. 1 wideout, Golladay’s production is likely to stay inconsistent on a run-first team, but he maintains WR2 usability against a Chiefs defense that has surrendered big stat lines of 4/146/1 (D.J. Chark), 6/97/1 (Chris Conley), and 5/46/1 (Tyrell Williams) to fellow perimeter receivers. … After a concerningly slow Weeks 1-2, Jones showed he can still ball with 6/101/1 receiving on team highs in targets (9) and Air Yards (130) at Philadelphia. Inconsistency remains Jones’ biggest obstacle in a deep pass-catcher corps hindered by its coaching staff’s run-establishment mantra, rendering Jones a boom-bust WR3/flex. … Amendola has 37 scoreless yards on six targets over the last two weeks and is in danger of missing Sunday’s game due to a chest injury. … Hockenson logged season lows in snaps (64%) and routes run (19) in last week’s win over the Eagles, dropped one of his three catch-able targets, and now has eight combined yards over the Lions’ last two games. Tight ends have been inefficient when facing Kansas City, managing 26 catches on 38 targets for 232 scoreless yards (6.1 YPA).
Score Prediction: Chiefs 34, Lions 20
Panthers at Texans
Team Totals: Texans 25.5, Panthers 20.5
With Cam Newton (foot) still hobbled, Kyle Allen earned at very least a short-term commitment from the Panthers’ coaching staff after engineering a prolific four-score Week 3 win at Arizona, moving Allen’s record to 2-0 in spot starts since last Week 17 on 35-of-53 passing (66%) for 489 yards (9.23 YPA), six touchdowns, no picks, and an additional rushing score. Allen showed resiliency by rebounding from an opening-drive strip sack and was a colossal upgrade on Newton’s Weeks 1-2 passing performances. After the secondary-deficient Texans yielded QB1-ish fantasy results to Drew Brees (QB12), Gardner Minshew (QB13), and Philip Rivers (QB12) in Weeks 1-3, Allen remains firmly in low-end streamer and DFS-play contention with dynamic weapons in this friendly draw. The over on this game is my favorite sports bet of Week 4 so long as you can find it totaled below 47 points. … Christian McCaffrey broke the game open on his career-long 76-yard scoring sprint during last week’s third quarter in the desert and now ranks second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (450) behind Dalvin Cook (454). Playing 98% of the Panthers’ offensive snaps, game-script-proof McCaffrey now draws a Texans defense that’s been drilled for 48/249/1 (5.19 YPC) rushing by enemy running backs plus 24 receptions, second most in the league.
Allen’s Week 3 target distribution: Greg Olsen and Curtis Samuel 7; McCaffrey 4; D.J. Moore 2, Jarius Wright, and Chris Hogan 2; Alex Armah 1. … Of Allen’s 57 career attempts, 13 have gone to tight ends (23%). For perspective, that target share would have ranked No. 4 at the position last year. His chemistry with Allen immediately apparent against the Cardinals, Olsen should be treated as an every-week TE1 for as long as he’s healthy. Only Travis Kelce (279) has more Air Yards than Olsen (253) among tight ends. Allen went a superb 10-of-12 passing for 191 yards and three touchdowns on intermediate throws last week. … Dating back to last season, Allen is 8-of-13 for 134 yards (10.3 YPA) and two touchdowns when targeting Samuel. Houston was touched up by Keenan Allen (13/183/2), Michael Thomas (10/123/0), Ted Ginn (7/101/0), Chris Conley (4/73/0), D.J. Chark (7/55/1), and Tre’Quan Smith (2/26/1) in Weeks 1-3. … Painfully slow in the secondary, the Texans will inevitably have problems handling the speed of Samuel (4.31) and Moore (4.42), who turned on afterburners for his 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown in last week’s two-minute drill at the end of the first half. Allen is now 4-of-8 lifetime for 124 yards (15.5 YPA) and the score when targeting Moore. Samuel and Moore are upside WR2s in this gorgeous draw.
Back home after a monster comeback road win over the Chargers, the Texans host a dangerous Carolina defense that contained Jared Goff (QB29), Jameis Winston (QB21), and Kyler Murray (QB15) in Weeks 1-3 and ranks top four in sacks (12) and quarterback hits (25). The good news is Houston’s offensive-line reconfiguration – installing rookies RT Tytus Howard and LG Max Scharping into the starting lineup – sparked their Week 3 pass protection enough that Deshaun Watson took season lows in sacks (2) and hits (6) against a similarly talented Bolts defense. Fifth among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring with two top-four weeks under his belt, Watson is a confidently elite Week 4 starter despite the Panthers’ strong to-date defensive play. Update: I liked this game’s over even more when Friday’s injury report revealed Panthers DT Kawaan Short (shoulder) and CB Donte Jackson (groin) appear unlikely to play. … Carlos Hyde has formally overtaken Duke Johnson as the Texans’ lead back, last week out-snapping Johnson 53% to 47% and out-touching him 10 to 4 in a game where Houston played from behind. Hyde still has only one passing-game target on the year and is a highly touchdown- dependent flex play. Even in his season-best game – Hyde rushed 20 times for 90 yards in Week 2 versus Jacksonville – he managed nine fantasy points. Johnson should be downgraded to an RB4 stash for now.
Watson’s target distribution: DeAndre Hopkins 28; Will Fuller 17; Kenny Stills 12; Jordan Akins and Darren Fells 10; Johnson 9; Keke Coutee 4; Hyde 1. … Hopkins’ last two stat lines following back-to-back sub-70-yard games are 6/82/2 and 8/224/1. Despite his relatively slow start, Hopkins is a prime buy-low candidate based on talent and opportunity with the NFL’s seventh-most Air Yards (346). In a Matchups column, it remains notable that likely shadow adversary James Bradberry has a miniscule 29.2 passer rating allowed. … Fuller isn’t far behind in Air Yards (310) and has seven targets in consecutive games. Assuming Bradberry chases Hopkins, Fuller will draw speedy Panthers CB Donte Jackson, who has yet to allow a gain of 25 yards on 20 targets. Fuller remains a boom-bust WR3/flex who hasn’t boomed yet but has come close. It does help that Fuller is popping in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Week 4 Air Yards Buy Low Model. Update: Jackson was listed as questionable on Week 4’s injury report after failing to practice on Thursday and Friday. His absence would deal a major upgrade to Fuller’s outlook. … Stills overtook Coutee as Houston’s main slot receiver in Week 3, out-snapping him 54% to 27% and delivering a team-high 89 yards in L.A. Stills is a DFS-tournament punt versus a Panthers secondary that is stingy on the perimeter but has conceded useful PPR games to interior WRs Chris Godwin (8/121/), Christian Kirk (10/59/0), Cooper Kupp (7/46/0), and Larry Fitzgerald (5/36/1). … Although Akins and Fells both capitalized on the Chargers’ sticky coverage of Fuller and Hopkins outside, they’re difficult to differentiate between with the exact same number of targets and nearly the same playing-time clips (60% for Fells, 59% Akins). Akins has run 66 routes to Fells’ 45, however, and the latter has historically been used to block. If I’m compelled to chase points, I’d take my chances on the former.
Score Prediction: Texans 27, Panthers 24
Raiders at Colts
Team Totals: Colts 26, Raiders 19
Outscored by 38 combined points in consecutive losses to Kansas City and Minnesota, the 1-2 Raiders travel to Lucas Oil Stadium for their second straight 1pm ET game with Derek Carr struggling to the tune of QB21 > QB28 > QB20 fantasy results. Although this matchup isn’t imposing on paper – Indianapolis has yielded top-ten weeks to 2-of-3 quarterbacks faced – Oakland is at risk of getting clocked in time of possession on limited drives. Only two teams are allowing enemy offenses to run fewer plays per game than the Colts (56.3), while Indianapolis’ goal under Cover-2 DC Matt Eberflus is always to permit its opponent to dink and dunk, directly in checkdown-machine Carr’s wheelhouse. Expect another low-YPA, high-completion-rate game from Carr lacking explosive plays. … Coach Jon Gruden’s stated intention to hike Josh Jacobs’ passing-game usage should be considered lip service until Gruden proves otherwise. Scripted out of each of the last two games once Oakland fell behind, Jacobs ranks 51st among running backs in routes run (30) and has three targets on the year. He was out-snapped 49% to 42% by Jalen Richard in last week’s loss to Minnesota. Jacobs will continue to be a high-risk RB2/flex option whenever the Raiders are underdogs, which will take place for most of the year. They’re touchdown dogs at Indy.
Carr’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Darren Waller 29; Tyrell Williams 17; Hunter Renfrow 15; Ryan Grant 9; Richard 6; J.J. Nelson and Derek Carrier 5; Foster Moreau 4; Jacobs 3; DeAndre Washington 2. … Waller ranks top four in the NFL in target share (30%) regardless of position and draws an optimal matchup against the Colts, who coughed up Austin Hooper’s 6/66/2 receiving line last week and invite checkdowns in exchange for limiting big plays downfield. Waller’s route depths match up perfectly; his 6.0-yard aDOT ranks 17th among tight ends with at least ten targets. His draw further upgraded by Colts FS Malik Hooker’s meniscus tear and MLB Darius Leonard‘s (concussion) continued absence, I would play Waller over Zach Ertz straight up this week. … Williams had 18 yards until garbage time of last week’s loss to Minnesota, salvaging some production with an 11-yard fourth-quarter score. Williams sees enough volume for every-week WR2/3 consideration, but with the exception of matchup-proof Julio Jones, the Colts’ zone hasn’t been kind to fellow perimeter WRs Corey Davis (3/38/0), Mike Williams (2/29/0), A.J. Brown (3/25/0), Travis Benjamin (2/12/0), and Calvin Ridley (1/6/0). … Following Grant’s release, Renfrow offers some PPR-specific WR4 appeal with the third-most targets on the Raiders facing an Indy defense that’s been more vulnerable to interior receivers like Keenan Allen (8/123/1) and Mohamed Sanu (6/75/0). A poor man’s Adam Humphries, Renfrow isn’t nearly as talented as Allen or even Sanu but is a sleeper for 5-7 catches on Carr’s trademark short-area throws. Renfrow is also popping in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Buy Low Model.
In away games under Jon Gruden, the Raiders are 1-8 and have been outscored by an average of 15.2 points. They won’t play another home game until November 3. Expect the butt kickings to continue in Indy spearheaded by Marlon Mack as a seven-point home-favorite bellcow. Although Mack’s Week 3 snaps (61%) and touches (18) were dialed back slightly following his calf scare, he set season highs in routes (20) and targets (3) and is not on the injury report this week. Oakland was eviscerated by Vikings backs for 31/196/2 (6.32 YPC) rushing last Sunday. … Jacoby Brissett turned in his season-best game in last week’s 27-24 win over Atlanta as coach Frank Reich dialed up a year-high 40% of Brissett’s attempts off play action, which has become a cheat code around the NFL. Brissett’s to-date fantasy finishes are QB18 > QB12 > QB11, while Oakland has yielded results of QB20 (Joe Flacco) QB1 (Patrick Mahomes), and QB26 (Kirk Cousins). I would have liked Brissett better as a QB1 streamer if T.Y. Hilton (quad) was likely to play.
Brissett’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Hilton 25; Eric Ebron 11; Nyheim Hines 10; Jack Doyle 9; Mack and Deon Cain 6; Parris Campbell 5; Chester Rogers and Mo Alie-Cox 4; Zach Pascal 3; Jordan Wilkins 1. … Per Action Network’s Chris Raybon, wide receivers that appear on injury reports with quad ailments lose roughly 25% of their expected weekly production. T.Y. owners should probably hope he takes this week off and returns at 100% for Week 5. Update: Hilton didn’t practice all week and was listed as doubtful on Friday. He almost certainly won’t play. … Aside from Hilton, Week 3 Colts receiver snaps were divvied as follows: Cain 55% > Campbell and Pascal 45% > Rogers 40%. … The Raiders have surrendered useful-or-better wideout stat lines of 6/172/2 (Demarcus Robinson), 7/120/0 (Courtland Sutton), 5/86/1 (Emmanuel Sanders), 4/61/1 (Mecole Hardman), and Adam Thielen (3/55/1). We know this is a plus spot, but selecting a non-Hilton receiver to use in fantasy is obviously difficult. I like Cain and Campbell as the top-two plays. … As Reich has an extensive history of two-tight end sets both in Philadelphia and Indianapolis, it’s entirely possible he would compensate for Hilton’s absence by playing Ebron and Doyle on the field together. Ebron did set season highs in routes run (22) and snaps (52%) in last week’s victory and makes for a compelling Week 4 streamer and DFS-tournament play. Teams targeting tight ends against the Raiders are a highly-efficient 13-of-18 passing (72%) for 207 yards (11.5 YPA) and a score.
Score Prediction: Colts 24, Raiders 16
Chargers at Dolphins
Team Totals: Chargers 30, Dolphins 14
As Melvin Gordon caved in his holdout, Week 4 appears to present Austin Ekeler’s final game of clear lead-back duties in the softest-possible matchup football offers. The tanking Dolphins’ defense has been generous enough that we’ve seen backfields in each game they’ve played field multiple fantasy-viable runners (Mark Ingram/Gus Edwards > Sony Michel/Rex Burkhead/James White > Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard), suggesting Gordon could offer immediate dart-throw flex appeal after coach Anthony Lynn ruled out Justin Jackson (calf) on Friday and revealed Gordon could play a limited role behind Ekeler. … In season-long leagues, I wouldn’t race to trade Ekeler. Ekeler’s floor is still a start-able RB2/flex – he was last year’s PPR RB25 despite missing two games, and undoubtedly has earned more trust – and Gordon is no lock to stay healthy after a protracted holdout. This week, Ekeler is a legitimate top-five RB1 option and figures to be the highest-owned DFS play on the slate. … Miami was ethered by Lamar Jackson (QB1), Tom Brady (QB5), and Dak Prescott (QB7) in Weeks 1-3, positioning Philip Rivers as an exciting Week 4 start. Rivers-Keenan Allen DFS stacks are squarely in play with Ekeler and the Chargers’ D/ST also in prime spots. Every defense to face the Dolphins so far has banked a top-12 week.
Rivers’ Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Allen 42; Ekeler 20; Mike Williams 15; Travis Benjamin 10; Jackson 8; Dontrelle Inman 6; Virgil Green 3; Lance Kendricks 2. … Fantasy’s No. 1 overall wideout three weeks in, Allen was ranked nearly a half-round above his high-stakes-league ADP in ETR’s Draft Kit. He enters another smash spot in Miami; Allen runs 63% of his routes in the slot (Sports Info Solutions), while the Dolphins permit 16.4 yards per target to slot receivers, most in the league by a whopping 4.5-yard margin. Allen also owns a massive 44% target share against man coverage, while Brian Flores’ Fins play man at the NFL’s third-highest rate. With Hunter Henry (knee) several weeks away from return and Williams (knee) ruled out, Allen will continue to vacuum targets and fantasy points from Rivers. … Allen will avoid Dolphins top CB Xavien Howard’s coverage for most of this game; Howard has logged just four snaps in the slot all year. Allen will be bookended on the outside by Geremy Davis and Inman because Benjamin (quad, doubtful) is also expected to miss. Inman should play nearly every snap and makes for a compelling plug-and-play WR3/flex on a team lacking target-commanding presences behind Allen and Ekeler.
I don’t expect the week-to-week story for the Dolphins to change anytime soon; you play fantasy D/STs against them, and that’s nearly it. … Kenyan Drake could perhaps be an exception with inclining touch counts (6 > 11 > 15) on inclining playing-time clips (53% > 55% > 66%). Drake has run the 14th-most routes among NFL running backs (63) and offers PPR-specific flex-play usability. … The Dolphins appear to have settled on a firm three-receiver set featuring DeVante Parker and UDFA rookie Preston Williams outside with Jakeem Grant in the slot. They’re all comeback-mode prayers every week with league-worst quarterback play on a team designed specifically not to win. … Checking in on 2018 second-round TE Mike Gesicki; he remains touchdown-less with zero outcomes above 44 yards in his 19-game career.
Score Prediction: Chargers 27, Dolphins 13
Redskins at Giants
Team Totals: Giants 26, Redskins 23
Coach Jay Gruden seems stubbornly intent on starting Case Keenum even though he is battling a foot injury on a short week coming off a disastrous five-turnover Monday nighter where at times Keenum appeared to be playing for the other team. It’s fair to wonder if Keenum will make it through this Sunday’s game based on the injury and Dwayne Haskins’ inevitable insertion. Keenum’s best-case-scenario matchup does keep him playable in two-quarterback leagues and as a YOLO DFS-tournament option. The Giants’ barely-there defense has been rinsed for fantasy results of QB1 (Dak Prescott), QB7 (Josh Allen), and QB5 (Jameis Winston). The Washington Post reported Friday that Gruden could be fired if the Redskins lose this game, although I’m not entirely convinced that would displease Gruden at this point. … Clocked for a combined 52/253/2 (4.87 YPC) rushing line by Bills and Bucs backs in Weeks 2-3, the Giants offer a favorable Week 4 draw for Washington’s running game. Adrian Peterson is among fantasy’s most script-dependent commodities, however, and the Skins’ road-dog status gives him a worrisome floor. Chris Thompson easily leads Washington’s backfield in snaps (52%) – Peterson has played just 26% — and ranks fourth among NFL backs in catches (16). Peterson is a boom-bust, TD-dependent flex option. Thompson is a higher-floor but PPR-specific flex. It doesn’t help Peterson that C Chase Roullier (knee) was ruled out on Friday, and RG Brandon Scherff (ankle) will be a game-time decision. Washington, of course, is already missing LT Trent Williams (holdout).
Keenum’s target distribution: Terry McLaurin 24; Thompson 23; Trey Quinn 20; Paul Richardson 19; Vernon Davis 15; Jeremy Sprinkle 6; Peterson 5. … Giants DC James Bettcher expressed confidence this week in Janoris Jenkins, which is good news for white-hot McLaurin. Over the past two weeks, Jenkins has conceded catches on 15-of-21 targets for 263 yards (12.5 YPA) and three touchdowns. Keep an eye on a hamstring injury that limited McLaurin in Thursday’s practice, but he will be a fringe WR1 play if healthy. Per Sports Info Solutions, McLaurin has been the intended target on six of the Redskins’ 20-plus-yard pass attempts this season. The Giants have allowed the NFL’s second-most yards (376) and touchdowns (4) on 20-plus-yard downfield throws. … NFL Films’ Greg Cosell this week described Giants No. 2 CB DeAndre Baker as “swimming.” Playing even worse than Jenkins, Baker has been beaten for completions on 13-of-17 targets for 296 yards (17.4 YPA) and two touchdowns this year. A bigger early-season factor than expected, Richardson makes for an enticing matchup-based WR3/flex and DFS-tournament punt, especially with McLaurin potentially hobbled. … Quinn is capable of making low-end PPR noise but still hasn’t cleared 50 yards in an NFL game. … Tight end streamers could do worse than Davis, whose production has been spotty but is playing 75% of Washington’s offensive snaps. The Giants are without two of their top-three inside linebackers, Alec Ogletree due to a hamstring injury and Tae Davis due to a concussion.
In his first-ever home-game start, expect rookie sensation Daniel Jones to stay hot facing a pathetic Redskins defense playing on a short week that got rocked for QB8 (Carson Wentz) and QB3 (Dak Prescott) scores before resurrecting Mitchell Trubisky for last week’s QB13 result. Although Washington boasts dangerous outside rushers in Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat, Jones went 12-of-16 for 192 yards (12.0 YPC) and a touchdown on pressured throws in a tough road matchup against a previously-stout Bucs defense in his debut. The Redskins also happen to have allowed the NFL’s fourth-most QB rushing yards, notable since Jones has been a dual-threat scrambler since college. … Saquon Barkley’s high ankle sprain forces 2017 fourth-round pick Wayne Gallman into lead-back work with UDFA Jonathan Hilliman behind him. A hard-charging, high-effort runner who lacks flash but can competently catch and block, Gallman is an almost entirely volume-based RB2/flex play favored at home in an offense that could push for 30 points. … Hilliman is worth adding in deep season-long and Dynasty leagues. An undrafted rookie who bounced from Boston College to Rutgers while battling injuries, Hilliman ran 4.43/4.49 at 5-foot-11, 216 during his Pro Day and caught 36 balls over the last two years.
Jones’ 2019 target distribution: Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard 9; Barkley, Russell Shepard, and Darius Slayton 5; Bennie Fowler 3; Gallman 2. … Jones nailed Engram on an 18-yard quick slant for his first-ever completion as the Giants’ starting quarterback, and the dynamic duo never looked back. On his third-quarter 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown, Engram reached 20.8 MPH, the fastest time recorded by any tight end this season (Next Gen Stats). Over the last two weeks, opponents are a perfect 10-of-10 passing for 74 yards and a touchdown when targeting tight ends against the Redskins. … Shepard ran a whopping 86% of his Week 3 routes in the slot, while Washington has been flamed for 19-of-24 passing for 195 yards and four touchdowns on slot targets this year. Jones’ superior willingness to push the ball downfield over Eli Manning provides a massive boost to Engram and Shepard’s stock. Shepard is a legit WR2 play in this cupcake draw. … Season-long leaguers should preemptively pick up Golden Tate anywhere he’s available on waivers. Tate will be back in Week 5, and his fantasy outlook has risen considerably with Eli benched. … I’m not sure he’ll get them with the Giants forcing Fowler and Cody Latimer down our throats, but Slayton warrants more snaps after delivering an early 46-yard catch, laying a big block on Engram’s 75-yard TD, and hauling in a 21-yard gain on last week’s game-winning drive. A fifth-round rookie, Slayton averaged a scorching 20.3 yards per catch at Auburn and runs 4.39 at 6-foot-1, 190. My pre-draft comparison for Slayton was Lions WR Marvin Jones, another day-three pick. Slayton plays on the perimeter, where Redskins CB Josh Norman has allowed a league-high four TDs.
Score Prediction: Giants 30, Redskins 21
Seahawks at Cardinals
Team Totals: Seahawks 26, Cardinals 21
Fantasy’s No. 4 overall passer coming off an over-40-point eruption game, Russell Wilson draws another optimal matchup in Arizona, where DC Vance Joseph’s defense was blowtorched by Matthew Stafford (QB4), Lamar Jackson (QB2), and Kyle Allen (QB6) with a combined 9:0 TD-to-INT ratio allowed in Weeks 1-3. Arizona has yielded the NFL’s fourth-most pass plays of 20-plus yards (15); Wilson ranks eighth in 20-plus-yard completions (13). He’s an easy top-five QB1 play against a pass defense still badly missing starting CBs Patrick Peterson (suspension) and Robert Alford (broken leg). … As Chris Carson’s third lost fumble of the three-game season was returned 53 yards for a touchdown by Saints FS Vonn Bell in last week’s second quarter, Carson wound up getting out-snapped by C.J. Prosise 54% to 45% and is at increasingly major risk of playing-time loss with Rashaad Penny (hamstring) due back soon. Coach Pete Carroll did throw Monday support behind his bumbling lead back, stating “We believe in him. We are going to continue showing him that.” Carroll also noted defenders are targeting Carson by punching at the ball whenever he goes to the ground. On paper, Week 4 presents a bounce-back spot – Arizona has permitted NFC highs in rushing yards (471) and rushing attempts (96) and got waxed by Christian McCaffrey on the ground last week (24/153/1), but Carson’s RB2 floor has dramatically lowered. Carroll stated Penny will be a game-time decision in the desert.
Wilson’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Tyler Lockett 28; D.K. Metcalf 19; Will Dissly 14; Carson 11; Prosise 8; Jaron Brown and Malik Turner 6; Nick Vannett 5; David Moore 2; Penny 1. … ETR has hammered home the DFS-tournament approach of building Wilson-to-Lockett stacks on every slate, and they’ve hit in consecutive weeks. We’ll go back to the well with Lockett projected to draw Cardinals journeyman Tramaine Brock in slot coverage. On his fifth NFL team, Brock has surrendered catches on 10-of-16 targets for 229 yards (14.3 YPA) and two TDs. Lockett is seventh in the NFL in Air Yards (246) and No. 2 in targets (26) over the last two weeks. … With over 60 yards in each of his first three games, Metcalf remains in the season-long WR3/flex mix and warrants DFS game-stack consideration based on Arizona’s penchant for allowing long completions. Metcalf ranks No. 2 in the NFL behind Mecole Hardman (26.3) in yards per catch (24.1). … Brown operated as Seattle’s No. 3 receiver in last week’s loss to New Orleans but should soon lose ground to superior playmaker Moore, who delivered a 29-yard catch in the first quarter. … Dissly’s Week 3 touchdown occurred in meaningless garbage time, but his route totals have risen in each game (9 > 25 > 28). Dusted by T.J. Hockenson (6/131/1), Mark Andrews(8/112/1), and Greg Olsen (6/75/2), no defense offers tight ends a prettier matchup than Arizona. Update: Dissly’s fantasy outlook further spiked when Seattle traded Nick Vannett to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Vannett was playing nearly 40% of the Seahawks’ offensive snaps.
Even as Kyler Murray’s Week 3 passing efficiency (4.0 YPA) and fantasy outcome (QB15) didn’t meet expectations amid severe protection breakdowns and two big-play drops by Christian Kirk and Trent Sherfield, there were promising takeaways as Kliff Kingsbury added designed runs to Murray’s plate, and Kyler logged top-15 fantasy results for the second time in three games. For now, Murray has settled in as a reliable QB2 who should be stream-able in plus matchups when byes set in. … David Johnson fell Week 3 victim to Carolina’s dominance up front but hit pay dirt for the third straight game and has six receptions in each of the two weeks he’s played start to finish. Johnson also set season highs in snaps (87%) and routes run (46) against the Panthers. Seattle has limited enemy backs to 46/176/2 (3.83 YPC) rushing, although only three teams have allowed more receiving yards (166) to Johnson’s position. Keep riding Johnson as an every-week RB1. Clear-cut handcuff Chase Edmonds’ touch counts are 1 > 3 > 4.
Murray’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Kirk 32; Larry Fitzgerald 31; Damiere Byrd 18; David Johnson17; KeeSean Johnson 16; Edmonds and Michael Crabtree 5; Charles Clay 4; Maxx Williams 2; Sherfield 1. … Kirk passed Fitz as the Cardinals’ leader in targets and catches (20) last week but dropped a would-be 50-plus-yard gain near the end of the first half. Kirk and Fitzgerald remain every-week WR2s in PPR leagues as target dominators on an Arizona team pacing the league in pass attempts at 45.7 per game. Both run over 84% of their routes in the slot, where Cooper Kupp (5/120/0) and Tyler Boyd (8/60/0) have piled up productive games against Seattle. The Seahawks have most often deployed LBs K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks in slot coverage. … Fitzgerald scored on his patented red-zone screen against the Panthers, then went quiet for most of the rest of the day in a game where Carolina’s physical tackling popped off the tape. Still averaging over ten targets and 108 Air Yards per game, Fitzgerald should stay implanted in season-long fantasy lineups and is worth DFS game-stack discussion. … Crabtree’s release should lock rookie KeeSean Johnson back into Arizona’s first-team outside receiver role. Byrd (hamstring) is out this week, elevating Sherfield to the starting perimeter job opposite KeeSean.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 28, Cardinals 24
Bucs at Rams
Team Totals: Rams 30, Bucs 20
Even after last week’s 380-yard, three-score spike against the lowly Giants defense, the best Week 4 approach to Jameis Winston may be to use the Rams’ D/ST against him. DC Wade Phillips’ unit held its first three opponents to putrid QB33 (Cam Newton), QB29 (Saints), and QB28 (Baker Mayfield) fantasy finishes, while Tampa Bay’s offensive line has surrendered the NFL’s tenth-most sacks (10) and fourth-most QB hits (25). The Bucs’ offense matches up poorly enough with the run-funnel Rams that another multi-turnover Jameis meltdown could be on the horizon. … Although Ronald Jones grabbed the hot hand in last week’s backfield with a career-high 121 yards on 15 touches, he was again out-snapped 35% to 31% by Peyton Barber, who logged the same number of touches with Dare Ogunbowale (24%, 3 touches) still sprinkling in. The good news is Los Angeles’ run defense is vulnerable, having permitted a combined 61/277/3 (4.54 YPC) rushing line to enemy running backs. The bad news is Jones has almost zero passing-game involvement with just two targets and 15 routes run on the season, while coach Bruce Arians appears intent on maintaining a three-way RBBC. In a game where Tampa risks playing from behind as a ten-point dog, Jones and Barber are high-risk, low-ceiling flex options. Fantasy owners of Jones should explore packaging him with another player to acquire a bankable every-week play.
Winston’s target distribution: Mike Evans 28; Chris Godwin 19; Breshad Perriman 11; O.J. Howard and Ogunbowale 9; Barber and Cameron Brate 7; Jones 2. … As foreshadowed in last week’s Matchups and Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model, Evans busted his two-game slump by reaving Janoris Jenkins’ soul for three first-half touchdowns and the second-most yards (190) in Evans’ 80-game career. While Evans never loses his season-long WR1 luster, a return to Earth seems likely versus a Rams secondary that has kept fellow perimeter WRs Michael Thomas (10/89/0), D.J. Moore (7/76/0), Odell Beckham (6/56/0), Curtis Samuel (3/32/0), and Ted Ginn (0/0) in relative check. … Evans’ hostile Week 3 takeover adversely impacted Godwin, even as he set season highs in routes run (43) and snaps (97%) and can’t be downgraded from an every-week WR2. Godwin does catch a tough Week 4 draw against feisty Rams slot CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, who helped quiet Jarvis Landry (3/62/0) last Sunday night and allowed 56 scoreless yards on 12 targets (4.7 YPA) in Weeks 1-3. Update: Godwin is increasingly risky after a light practice week due to a hip injury. He will be a game-time decision against the Rams. … Howard also ran his most routes of the season (29) in last week’s loss to the G-Men, delivering a year-high 66 yards. Unfortunately, the Rams present a near worst-case-scenario matchup. Teams targeting tight ends against Phillips’ defense have completed just 8-of-21 attempts (38%) for 77 yards (3.7 YPA) and last Sunday night’s Demetrius Harris goal-line TD.
Jared Goff’s stark 2018 home-road splits have spilled into 2019 with Week 1’s QB29 result at Carolina, Week 2’s QB9 bounce back in L.A. against the Saints, and last Sunday night’s QB19 clunker in Cleveland. Although Bucs DC Todd Bowles’ personnel-deficient defense cutely overachieved against up-and-down Jimmy Garoppolo and foot-hobbled Cam Newton in the first two weeks, Daniel Jones badly exposed it for Week 3’s overall QB2 performance in his first NFL start. Tampa Bay will miss do-it-all top-five-pick Devin White (MCL) for another game, further weakening a defense showing pass-funnel characteristics. Goff is a confident QB1 play with DFS appeal in stacks with Cooper Kupp. Per Sports Info Solutions, Goff has a 17:2 TD-to-INT ratio versus man coverage compared to a 14:12 TD-to-INT ratio versus zone since the beginning of 2018. Bowles is running man coverage at the NFL’s fourth-highest rate. … The Bucs have shown pass-funnel potential by holding enemy backs to 59/130/0 (2.20 YPC) rushing despite facing the high-production 49ers backfield, Christian McCaffrey, and eight Saquon Barkley carries in Weeks 1-3. And Todd Gurley’s lack of to-date passing-game usage suggests he’ll struggle to circumvent the Bucs’ defensive strength with a measly eight receiving yards on six targets three games in. Gurley did play a season-high 73% of the Rams’ Week 3 offensive snaps but has now fallen short of 20 touches in six straight games including January’s playoffs. Still a home-favorite lead back in an offense that should flirt with 30 points, Gurley projects as a relatively high-floor, questionable-ceiling RB2 against Tampa Bay.
Goff’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Cooper Kupp 31; Robert Woods 23; Brandin Cooks 22; Tyler Higbee 8; Gerald Everett 7; Gurley 6; Malcolm Brown 2. … As Sterling Shepard (7/100/1) can attest, attacking Tampa Bay’s slot coverage is a good-process approach. Offenses targeting the slot against the Bucs are 19-of-28 passing (68%) for 204 yards and two TDs. Kupp runs 78% of his routes inside, while Woods is a 43% interior receiver and popped as Week 4’s No. 3 buy-low wideout in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. Kupp is approaching fringe WR1 value, and fantasy leaguers should stay the course with Woods as a bankable WR3. Shepard, Curtis Samuel (5/91/0), D.J. Moore (9/89/0), and Giants rookie Darius Slayton (3/82/0) in his NFL debut all produced at or above expectation against the Bucs in the last two weeks. Kupp, in particular, excels against man coverage run heavily by Bucs DC Bowles. … Cooks leads the Rams in Air Yards (304) and has turned in consecutive WR2 weeks (3/74/1, 8/112/0) even if it feels like he’s had a slow start. Tampa Bay has allowed the NFL’s eighth-most yards per completi