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Inside the Matchup
Week 4
9/27/17; Uupdated: 9/29/17

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Jake Gordon





- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Bears @ Packers - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: Mike Glennon ranks 31st in fantasy points per game with 15.2, with only Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco scoring fewer points per game this season. With a depleted wide receiving corps and injuries on the offensive line to the starting guards, the Bears rely on their running game and passes out of the backfield to their tandem of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. The two backs have combined for just over 60% of the passing targets this season, far and away the most of any backfield in the league.

The wide receiving quad of Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton, Deonte Thompson, and Josh Bellamy should be avoided in all but the deepest of leagues, as no Chicago wide receiver ranks in the top 60 in fantasy points per game. Tight End Zach Miller appeared to be a viable option with six catches for 42 yards on nine targets against the Bucs Week 2 but then burned fantasy owners with one measly reception on three targets last week against the Steelers.

Considering the fact that the Packers have allowed zero receiving touchdowns and the fewest points to opposing tight ends this season, starting Miller is a risky proposition. Look for the Packers to dare the Bears to beat them outside with single coverage on wide receivers, while stacking the box with safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix up in run support.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: The Bears are the only team in the league with two running backs who average double-digit fantasy points. The offense runs through Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, with the former posting 23 carries for 138 yards and two scores last week against the Steelers, despite the fact that he is dealing with a painful shoulder injury.

The Packers rank 9th in fantasy points allowed to opposing backs after three weeks after allowing both Atlanta and Cincinnati to rush for more than 100 combined yards on the ground. The Bears will look to pound the ball with their tandem of Howard and Cohen, with Cohen getting the majority of third-down carries and receptions out of the backfield. Both players are must-start plays, with the shoulder injury concern of Howard making him a risky, but lucrative start on Thursday night.

Value Meter:
QB3: Mike Glennon (Low-Ed)
RB1: Jordan Howard (Mid-Range)
RB2: Tarik Cohen (High-End)
WR3: Deonte Thompson (Low-End)
TE2: Zach Miller (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers continues to be an elite fantasy quarterback with at least 300 yards passing in each of his first three games, highlighted by a 313, three-touchdown game last week against the Bengals. His 66% completion rate is right on par with his career average, although his three interceptions in 2017 has him on pace for the highest number of picks in his hall of fame career.

Vic Fangio’s defense has been surprisingly effective against the pass this season, considering the fact that starting linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Nick Kwiatkoski are likely out for the season, and safety Quinten Demps suffered a broken arm. No quarterback this season has thrown for more than one passing touchdown in a game against, with the Bears limiting Ben Roethlisberger to 16.4 fantasy points on 235/1 passing last week.

The Bears ability to limit opposing quarterbacks will be tested by a Packers passing attack that will likely include the return of Randall Cobb, who missed Week 3 with a chest injury. Also, Jordy Nelson made it through last week without a flare up to his strained quad, giving Rodgers a full complement of receivers for Thursday’s matchup.

Starting tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga were limited participants in practice on Tuesday and remain questionable to play against the Bears on a short week. Bulaga started against the Bengals Week 3 after missing the first two games of the year but managed only 47 snaps before re-aggravating his ankle injury. Rodgers has managed to post the second-most fantasy points per game without his starting bookends to the offensive line, but there is no doubt that a return to action for either or both players would be a boost for the offense.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: Ty Montgomery looks primed for a bounce-back game after posting a disappointing 12/35/0 line last week against the Bengals. Montgomery did come through with eight receptions on 12 targets, boosting the stat line for owners playing in PPR formats.

Montgomery continues to be used at a ridiculous rate of 97% of the snaps, well above any other running back in the league through the first three games. His usage, mixed with his injury history, begs the question if the Packers would be better off working in rookies Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones.

The Bears have allowed a rushing touchdown in all three games, including just under 100 total yards and a touchdown to Le’Veon Bell last week. Look for Montgomery to continue that trend with at least one rushing TD on Thursday night, while adding at least five receptions out of the backfield. Injuries to the Chicago linebacking corps have significantly limited their ability to cover running backs that excel in man coverage on hip routes, something that Montgomery excels at as the No.2 running back this season in both targets and receptions.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers (Elite)
RB1: Ty Montgomery (Low-End)
WR1: Jordy Nelson (Elite)
WR2: Davante Adams (Low-End)
WR3: Randall Cobb (High-End)
TE1: Martellus Bennett (Low- End)

Prediction: Packers 27, Bears 10 ^ Top

Steelers @ Ravens - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: With two road games and a tough home matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, it is not surprising that Ben Roethlisberger ranks outside the top 12 of fantasy quarterbacks (No. 14) through the first three games of the season. Ben’s history of struggling on the road is well documented (He averages just over 10 fewer fantasy points per game on the road over the past four seasons), and he has another tough divisional road matchup this week against the Ravens.

John Harbaugh and the Ravens have excelled at limiting the Steelers passing game at M&T Bank Stadium, with Baltimore winning four of the last five meetings between the two teams on their home field. Also, Big Ben has not thrown a touchdown pass against the Ravens on the road since 2013.

Despite Roethlisberger’s struggles, Antonio Brown continues to be an elite fantasy wide receiver and is a must-start in all games. Brown has two double-digit catch, 100-yard games this season, highlighted by an 11/182/0 game on opening day against the Browns. With touchdowns in each of his last two games against the Ravens, Brown should be considered an elite No.1 wide receiver regardless of where the game is played.

As the 49th ranked wide receiver, Martavis Bryant has not lived up to the preseason hype that made him a trendy pick in drafts this summer. He has yet to post a 100-yard game this season, with his one big game at home boosted by a 51-yard touchdown on an otherwise pedestrian four target game. He is not receiving enough volume to be considered a must-start, especially on the road where his splits are significantly worse than at home.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: The Ravens rank in the middle of the pack (15th) in points allowed to opposing running backs after limiting division foes Cincinnati and Cleveland to less than 100 yards. Leonard Fouenette, Chris Ivory, and Corey Grant combined for 151 yards and a score on 29 carries last week in Jacksonville’s lopsided win over Baltimore in London.

After receiving limited action in Pittsburgh’s opening day win over the Browns, Le’Veon Bell is once again the recipient of elite volume in both the running and receiving game, with the sixth most carries and the ninth-most targets through the first three weeks of the season. Unfortunately for Bell owners, that volume has not resulted in elite level fantasy points, with Bell currently ranked 15th in fantasy points per game, just .7 points per game better than 34-year-old Frank Gore.

Look for Bell to continue to receive between 20 and 20 touches on Sunday, but don’t be surprised if he fails to have a monster game. The former Michigan State Spartan has yet to score a touchdown in Baltimore in his career, and Baltimore has allowed only one top 12 running back game at home in the last nine games.

Value Meter:
QB2: Ben Roethlisberger (Low-End)
RB1: Le’Veon Bell (Mid-Range)
WR1: Antonio Brown (Mid-Range)
WR3: Martavis Bryant (High-End)
TE2: Jesse James (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: To say that Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing game were abysmal last week would be an understatement, as Flacco completed just eight of 18 passes for 28 yards and two interceptions. A late garbage touchdown from Ryan Mallett to Benjamin Watson (calf) saved the Ravens from their first shutout since 2002.

Ravens wide receivers rank dead last in the league, with a combined stat line of 13 receptions for 132 yards. Jeremy Maclin is the only wide receiver on the team worth owning in fantasy, and his value is based on the fact that he scored a touchdown in two of the team’s three games. Maclin is a risky start this week against a Steelers pass defense that has allowed the fewest touchdowns to opposing wide receivers over the past 16 games. That statistic is somewhat buoyed by the fact that the Steelers play in a division with only one elite opposing wide receiver (A.J. Green), but none the less, it does not bode well for Maclin to have a big game on Sunday.

After consecutive games with at least 90 receiving yards or a touchdown, tight end Benjamin Watson is a decent play against a Steelers defense that allowed Dennis Pitta to post a 8/75/0 line the last time the two teams met. With Flacco’s struggles to stretch the field to his wide receivers (league-worst 5.7 depth of target), Watson on underneath routes could be the only viable option in the Ravens passing attack.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: The Buck Allen hype train derailed somewhat last week with Allen receiving only 14 touches for 28 yards, as the Ravens continue to use a three-man rotation with Terrence West, Alex Collins, and Allen. Collins finished with a team-high 82 yards on nine carries, while west posted a pedestrian 6/26/0 stat line.

Starting any of the Ravens running backs is a risky proposition due to the fact that Harbaugh is not committed to naming a lead back and peppering that player with carries. This is unfortunate for owners of Ravens running backs, as the Steelers gave up two rushing touchdowns and over 200 yards on the ground last week against the Bears. You can run on the Steelers, but it is anyone's guess how the usage will be divided between the three backs.

The loss of starting right guard Marshal Yanda to a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 is a significant hit to the Ravens offense, as Yanda finished 2016 as the top-ranked right guard according to His absence in the London game was a big factor in the pass protection struggles for the Ravens, and his run blocking skills will certainly hurt all three Ravens running backs going forward.

If faced with the decision to start one of the running backs, Buck Allen makes the most sense based on the fact that the Steelers have allowed the third-most receptions to RB’s this year. Allen should receive at least five receptions out of the backfield, making him an excellent flex option in PPR leagues.

Value Meter:
QB3: Joe Flacco (Low-End)
RB3: Terrance West (High-End)
RB3: Javorius Allen (High-End)
WR3: Jeremy Maclin (Mid-Range)
WR4: Mike Wallace: (Low-End)
TE1: Ben Watson (Low- End)

Prediction: Ravens 21, Steelers 14 ^ Top

Bengals @ Browns - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: The change at offensive coordinator from Ken Zampese to Bill Lazor provided an immediate improvement for Cincinnati, with the Bengals scoring 21 first-half points and the much-maligned Andy Dalton completing 20-of-27 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Quick throws and having Dalton get rid of the ball quickly appeared to be a successful move for Lazor and the offense, as two weeks of Dalton holding onto the ball and getting sacked behind a subpar offensive line was clearly not working.

As is often the case with a complaining squeaky wheel superstar, A.J. Green was peppered with a season-high 13 targets in route to 10 catches for 111 yards and one touchdown. Green should once again be started with confidence against a Browns secondary that has allowed a touchdown and/or 100 yards to opposing No. 1 receivers, including T.Y. Hilton gashing Cleveland for 7/153/1 last week.

Andy Dalton went from being a trendy preseason late-round quarterback option to waiver wire fodder after failing to record a passing touchdown in his first two home games of the season. With the new offensive philosophy and an attractive matchup against the Browns, Dalton is once again in consideration as a streaming option this week. He has finished as a top-12 QB in his last four games against the Browns, while the Browns appear to have regressed in their pass defense with the release of veteran Joe Haden.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: Another change to the Lazor scheme appears to be a move toward using rookie Joe Mixon as the primary ball carrier instead of Jeremy Hill. Mixon saw his usage in Week 3 jump up to just north of 55% of the snaps after spending the first two weeks behind Hill and Giovanni Bernard on the depth chart.

The Browns run defense appeared to be much improved from the previous season after limiting Le’Veon Bell to 32 yards on 10 carries. But that improvement appears to have been a mirage after the Ravens running backs torched the Browns for nearly 200 total yards and a score, and the venerable Frank Gore scored a rushing touchdown last Sunday. The possible return of first overall pick Myles Garrett could boost the pass rush of the Browns, but their inability to stop the run should play well into Mixon owners hands.

Value Meter:
QB2: Andy Dalton (Low-End)
RB2: Joe Mixon (Mid-Range)
WR1: A.J. Green (Elite)
Flex: Giovani Bernard (Mid-Range)

Passing Game Thoughts: With rushing touchdowns in two of the first three games of his rookie season, DeShone Kizer ranks 11th in fantasy points per game. His 21.7 FPts/G is better than Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger, yet he continues to be ranked outside of the top 20 on most fantasy football sites.

The Bengals’ pass defense ranks 18th in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, but those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt as Cincinnati faced a limited Joe Flacco (career-low 17 pass attempts), and rookie Deshaun Watson on Thursday Night Football. In their only matchup against a viable passing offense, Aaron Rodgers threw for 313 yards and three scores against the Bengals defense.

The return of Vontaze Burfict from suspension will provide a much-needed boost to the Bengals linebacking corps, as Burfict was an honorable mention to ProFootballFocus’ All-Pro team this year and is a force in the middle of the field.

After a breakout Week 2 performance against the Ravens in which he caught seven passes for 95 yards, second-year player Rashard Higgins came crashing back down to Earth with two catches for 10 yards last week against Indy. Veteran Kenny Britt returned to top dog status, at least for one week, with three catches for 54 yards and a score after managing just two catches combined in his first two games.

The most trustworthy pass catcher on the Browns and arguably the most talented pass catcher is running back Duke Johnson. Johnson ranks seventh among running backs in targets and is third behind Chris Thompson and Christian McCaffrey in receiving yards. If Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense can create a negative game script, which is highly likely considering the Browns are the only team this season yet to have a lead during a game, Johnson will continue to be active out of the backfield and could be a nice flex play in all formats, especially PPR leagues.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: A favorite of many fantasy football writers to be the next breakout running back, Isaiah Crowell is off to the worst start of his young career, with 114 yards on 39 carries and zero touchdowns. Head coach Hue Jackson mentioned numerous times this offseason that getting Crow the ball more on the ground would be a point of emphasis for the offense. But even the best-laid plans can go out the window when your team has yet to play a second of football with the lead.

The return of Burfict will boost a run defense that has allowed only one rushing touchdown on the season and appears to be playing better after limiting Ty Montgomery to just 35 yards on 12 carries. Attacking the Bengals with running backs out of the backfield has worked well so far this season (third-most passes allowed to opposing RB’s), making Johnson even more of an attractive flex play and No.2 RB in PPR.

Value Meter:
QB2: DeShone Kizer (Low-End)
RB2: Duke Johnson Jr. (Low-End)
WR4: Kenny Britt (Low-End)
WR5: Rashard Higgins (Low-End)
TE3: David Njoku (High-End)

Prediction: Bengals 28, Browns 14 ^ Top

Lions @ Vikings - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: Quarterback Matthew Stafford is one controversial overturned Golden Tate touchdown from leapfrogging Alex Smith as the No.3 fantasy QB after three weeks of action. Stafford faces a tough defense against Vikings defense that has yet to give up more than two passing touchdowns per game, including limiting Drew Brees to just 291/1 Week 1 on Monday Night Football.

The strength of the Lions offense has been their ability to avoid relying on one player in the passing or running game while using different players to attack opponent's weaknesses. For example, Stafford stretched the field with Kenny Golladay against an aggressive Arizona secondary for two scores, while utilizing the tight end and running back underneath routes against the Giants in the following week.

With Xavier Rhodes shutting down Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown, and Mike Evans in consecutive weeks, it would not surprise me to see Stafford avoid Marvin Jones on the outside and focus his attention on Golden Tate in the slot. Golden Tate’s move to working almost exclusively out of the slot has been golden for both Tate and his fantasy owners, with the veteran wide receiver on pace for a career-high in receptions (112).

Receptions to running backs out of the backfield have been difficult to come by this season, as the Vikings limited Le’Veon Bell to four yards on four catches and Charles Sims to just one catch for nine yards in their last two games. The Saints had more success Week 1 with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combining for nine catches for 74 yards, but no running back has managed to reach paydirt against the Vikings in 2017.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs this season than the Vikings, an impressive feat considering the fact that Minnesota has played against Pittsburgh and New Orleans, two teams that ranked near the top of fantasy points scored by RB’s in 2016.

The Lions backfield of Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Dwayne Washington, and Zach Zenner has been a disaster for fantasy owners so far this season. Abdullah leads the team in carries and ranks 34th overall in fantasy points per game, but he does not receive work inside the red zone, drastically limiting his value in standard leagues. Theo Riddick leads the backfield in receptions, but he is not getting enough work to start in anything but the deepest of PPR leagues.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford (Mid-Range)
RB3: Ameer Abdullah (High-End)
WR1: Golden Tate (Mid-Range)
TE2: Eric Ebron (High-End)
Flex: Theo Riddick (Mid-Range)

Passing Game Thoughts: After a disappointing game against the Steelers Week 2, journeyman backup Case Keenum delivered a career-best 369-yard, three-touchdown performance against an injury-depleted Tampa Bay defense Week 3. Keenum completed 25-of-33 passes, included eight of 11 throws to Stefon Diggs for 174 yards and two scores. The breakout third-year campaign for Diggs continued after a 2/27 hiccup against the Steelers Week 2. Diggs currently ranks first in fantasy points per game at 17.7, but his numbers are a bit inflated considering his two big games came at home against a terrible New Orleans defense and a Tampa Bay defense that was missing four key starters on defense.

Diggs will likely receive the shadow treatment from Darius Slay on the outside, with Adam Theilen working out of the slot against Quandre Diggs. The Lions rank 15th in fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers this season. Not great, but certainly better than the Bucs and Saints, who rank first and seventh in points allowed respectively. Both wide receivers are must-start options in all formats, but expectations should be tempered somewhat.

Kyle Rudolph has been a disappointment this season as the 18th ranked tight end in fantasy points per game. After finishing 2016 with the most targets and receptions of any tight end, Rudolph is being used more as a blocker. His 11 targets through three games is tied for 20th among tight ends, a far cry from his usage last year.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Davlin Cook continues to impress, with double-digit fantasy points in two of his first three games, including a 22.9 point game last week against the Bucs. Cook posted an elite level of touches (32) Week 3 while scoring his first touchdown as a professional.

Cook should feast on a Lions defense that has allowed the 11th-most points to opposing running backs, highlighted by Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combining for over 200 total yards and a score last week. Cook’s usage in the passing game limits the threat of negative game scripts forcing him off the field for a receiving back, although this game appears to be a close matchup between evenly matched divisional foes.

Value Meter:
QB2: Case Keenum (Low-End)
RB1: Dalvin Cook (Mid-Range)
WR1: Stefon Diggs (Mid-Range)
WR2: Adam Thielen (High-End)
TE2: Kyle Rudolph (High-End)

Prediction: Vikings 24, Lions 23 ^ Top

Titans @ Texans - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: The coaching staff would prefer to limit their quarterback to about 30-35 passing attempts per game and pound it on the ground. Making matters worse for anyone invested in this passing attack, Marcus Mariota is only completing 60-percent of his passes through three games. For fantasy purposes that doesn’t leave a whole lot of upside and really forces you to evaluate whether Houston’s offense is going to score enough points to force the Titans into throwing more than they normally do in the second half. Need proof? Delanie Walker leads the team in receptions after three weeks with 15 catches. The silver lining in this numbers game is that when Corey Davis is sidelined-like he is for Week 4 (hamstring)-the Titans’ dynamic duo in the passing game gets just enough volume to be worthy fantasy starters. Both Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker are riskier plays going up against the Texans but I still like Mathews’ chances of seeing double-digit targets with the current state of the defense.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: The Tennessee backfield is a true RBBC these days with Demarco Murray the slightly better fantasy option. Murray nursed a hammy injury last week but was able to start and give the Titans a huge 75-yard touchdown run to pad his fantasy line for the day. He has another tough matchup this week as Houston has given up the eighth fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this young season. Derrick Henry dealt with a bruised thigh against Seattle but is still expected to suit up against the Texans. He is coming off two straight games with double-digit carries and I don’t think that trend is going away anytime soon. It is tough to support either one of the Titans’ running backs as anything more than a low end RB2/Flex option for Week 4.

Value Meter:
QB2: Marcus Mariota
RB2: DeMarco Murray
WR2: Rishard Matthews
TE2: Delanie Walker
Flex: Derrick Henry
Bench: Eric Decker, Corey Davis (out)

Passing Game Thoughts: After failing to amass double-digit points scored in each of the first two contests, the Texans fared well in a shootout loss against the Patriots last week. Houston’s passing game is tough to trust on a weekly basis as the offense continues to evolve under their rookie quarterback. Deshaun Watson is going to make a few mistakes like any rookie, but he is also going to make things tougher on the Titans revamped secondary by using his legs to extend plays. Watson will be brimming with confidence and Tennessee’s inability to generate much pressure on the quarterback (only five sacks this year, tied for fourth fewest in NFL) creates a favorable atmosphere for DeAndre Hopkins and the rest of the pass catchers.

One of those receivers is Will Fuller. The speedster can easily add a whole new dimension to the offense when he is going right. With the upside of playing him in his first game back, fantasy owners should expect some potential downside considering he hasn’t had much practice to with Watson and still needs to improve on the drops that plagued him throughout 2016. Fuller’s return will squeeze WR Bruce Ellington off the fantasy radar. TE Ryan Griffin’s fantasy stock is on the rise. He returned to the lineup last week after dealing with a concussion to open the year and promptly scored one of Deshaun Watson’s two touchdown passes in Week 3. The Texans have placed on C.J. Fiedorowicz on the IR with a concussion so Griffin is going to get enough work to be a top 15 TE option against Tennessee.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: It is starting to look like Lamar Miller is repeating last season all over again. It has only been three weeks, but Miller has yet to find the end zone or rack up 100 total yards in a single game. A good matchup this week could be Miller’s best shot to produce like the quality RB2 he was drafted to be before the season. He should approach 20 touches in this game so long as Houston can get out to an early lead (I think they will). That could spill over to rookie D’Onta Foreman. The rookie has done well in small doses backing up the veteran Miller. He’s separated himself on the depth chart and is the clear “next man up” should something happen to Miller but his upside is too low to plug him in this week.

Value Meter:
QB2: Deshaun Watson
RB2: Lamar Miller
WR1: DeAndre Hopkins
TE1: Ryan Griffin
Flex: Will Fuller
Bench: Braxton Miller, Jaelen Strong, Tyler Ervin

Prediction: Texans 34, Titans 20 ^ Top

Giants @ Buccaneers - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: I would like to think Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo are going to force feed the ball into Odell Beckham’s hands in Week 4. The abysmal rushing game places a lot of pressure on Manning to keep the chains moving. That means secondary targets like WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram will have plenty of room to work underneath as Tampa tries to contain OBJ. Fortunately for Giants fans and anyone owning New York Giant pass catcher, the Bucs pass defense has been dreadful. Tampa Bay is one of only three NFL teams allowing opposing offenses to throw for over 300 passing yards per game on the year. If New York can execute their offense and make smart decisions they shouldn’t have much trouble putting points on the scoreboard and Eli will post strong overall numbers. Nothing is certain with the Giants being prone to untimely penalties and plenty of miscues but I’d roll out Eli and company and hope this game turns into a shootout.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: New York’s backfield situation is best described as a headless RBBC. Nobody has emerged and now Orleans Darkwa (back) and Shane Vereen (calf) are dealing with injuries that have caused them to miss practice time this week. Of the two, Vereen’s injury seems to be more of a concern but the reality is that your roster needs help if you need to start anyone from this backfield. Paul Perkins is the defacto starter and best shot to deliver for fantasy purposes but I wouldn’t want to count on this offensive line until they prove they have figure things out. If Vereen or Darkwa are unavailable for Week 4, Wayne Gallman could enter the mix to make things even muddier in the Big Apple as the calendar flips to October.

Value Meter:
QB1: Eli Manning
WR1: Odell Beckham Jr.
TE1: Evan Engram
Flex: Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard
Bench: Paul Perkins, Orleans Darkwa, Shane Vereen

Passing Game Thoughts: Despite taking the loss a week ago against the Vikings, Jameis Winston took a step forward as a passer. In a tough match up he was still able to find his favorite target Mike Evans nine times while notching his second and third touchdown passes of the season to guys not named Evans. If the passing attack can continue to find ways to beat defenses without force feeding Evans the ball, Winston’s fantasy value will continue to rise as the season progresses. TE Cameron Brate has seen his role lessen from a year ago when the team lacked a target opposite Evans. Consequently, his fantasy value is limited to “touchdown or bust” consideration this week. The G-men have been solid on the defensive side of the ball and the pass rush could be an issue if the Bucs don’t have enough time to use Evans or Jackson down the field. As a result, A few short fields from New York’s mistakes and a conservative offensive game plan should keep this game close enough for the regular fantasy starters to finish the day with respectable fantasy totals.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No25.
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Doug Martin will finish out his current suspension this week, giving Jacquizz Rodgers owners one more chance at delivering solid RB2 numbers in Week 4. After hitting a wall against the Vikings a week ago, Rodgers faces a New York Giants defense that is yielding the fewest rushing yards per game in the league. Tampa Bay is doomed if they simply abandon the run so don’t expect Rodgers to finish with a mere five carries like he did in Week 3. Charles Sims is sucking up most of the work on passing downs so Rodgers and his fantasy owners will need a long run or two to get him into the top 20 at his position this week. The lower floor should give risk adverse owners pause about using ‘Q’ this week and I’d only consider him as a flex in 12+ team standard formats.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jameis Winston (low end)
WR1: Mike Evans
WR3: DeSean Jackson
TE2: Cameron Brate
Flex: Jacquizz Rodgers (non PPR)
Bench: Doug Martin (suspended), Adam Humphries

Prediction: Giants 23, Buccaneers 17 ^ Top

Bills @ Falcons - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Tyrod Taylor currently ranks 27th in passing attempts so it’s slim pickings for fantasy owners of the Bills passing game. Taylor hasn’t been horrible. He has tossed two touchdown passes in two of three games and added 106 rushing yards to make him a solid backup for fantasy owners in two-QB leagues. On paper, Jordan Mathews is the best fantasy receiver this team has to offer but Zay Jones has more targets. Neither player is accounting for much offense and both are borderline ownable in 12-team leagues. Charles Clay has already secured two touchdown passes in 2017 and has been the most consistent fantasy player in this passing game. If you are going to choose anyone from the Bills’ passing game go with Clay and cross your fingers. Taylor has never played against the Falcons, let alone in their building. There is a path for someone to post a quality fantasy line by the time this game ends but it involves Atlanta getting up big on the scoreboard relatively early to force the Bills into more passing situations. I don’t think Buffalo’s defense is going to allow that to happen.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: The Bills love to run and then run it a little more. LeSean McCoy is going to be in everyone’s starting lineup this week and it will be interesting to see if the Falcons’ improved run D can keep him contained. McCoy has nobody looking over his shoulder and simply needs gear up for another heavy day of work at the office. Atlanta has been decent against the run this year but they haven’t faced an attack like Buffalo so I’m guessing that ranking will look less appealing by the end of Week 4.

Value Meter:
QB2: Tyrod Taylor
RB1: LeSean McCoy
TE1: Charles Clay
Bench: Zay Jones, Jordan Mathews, Mike Tolbert

Passing Game Thoughts: Julio Jones always misses a little time with an injury during the practice week then suits up on Sunday. This week the team is giving him a little rest on account of his back but it doesn’t look like anything fantasy owners need to be concerned over as he gets ready to clash with the Bills. Mohamed Sanu continues to post boring stat lines that play up in PPR leagues but leave his value in standard leagues far too dependent on his ability to score a touchdown. It just so happens that Buffalo has yet to give up a single passing touchdown in 2017 so I’m not loving Sanu outside of PPR formats where he can still be used as a flex in deeper leagues. Taylor Gabriel reminded everyone that he has plenty to offer fantasy owners. If teams load up against the run or spend too much time trying to stop Julio, Matt Ryan can use Gabriel to strike for big plays down the field-oftentimes resulting in a touchdown. He may be too inconsistent to trust from week to week and this game figures to be “shortened” with both teams keeping the clock ticking with heavy rushing attacks so I wouldn’t take a shot on him this week.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: He may only have one touchdown under his belt but Tevin Coleman has started off the season looking mighty “flexy.” Devonta Freeman has been exactly as advertised leading the way so Coleman may never be more than the 10-15 touch guy he currently is this week but his consistent role and output in the offense makes him a valuable fantasy asset. Atlanta is also never short on rushing touchdowns (four and counting so far in 2017) so Coleman’s chances are still better than the average “backup.” Buffalo won’t be pushed aside easily and they know a thing or two about what it takes to run the ball in the NFL. Look for everyone to grind out their typical fantasy day in this “strength on strength” battle with Atlanta’s one-two punch sealing the deal in the second half.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matt Ryan
RB1: Devonta Freeman
WR1: Julio Jones
Flex: Tevin Coleman, Mohamed Sanu (PPR only)
Bench: Taylor Gabriel, Austin Hooper

Prediction: Falcons 23, Bills 10 ^ Top

Eagles @ Chargers - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has one of the highest ratios of deep pass attempts but he has been missing his receivers at an equally high pace when he attempts to throw down the field. While the efficiency is troubling, the attempts give us hope that things could get better down the road. Unfortunately, the deep passing game is very unpredictable at the moment. Still, Alshon Jeffery is being targeted nearly 10 times per game, giving him plenty of opportunities to give his owners a high floor with high-end potential if he and Wentz can finally get in sync. With Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett out for the season, Casey Heyward will likely shadow Jeffery, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a downgrade for Jeffery who should be deployed as a WR2.

After a breakout performance in Week 1, slot receiver Nelson Agholor has fallen down fantasy boards with just three catches over his past two games and should not be trusted in this matchup. Torrey Smith is still a player to look at but he should be on fantasy benches until he starts seeing a higher target share. Target share is not a concern for tight end Zach Ertz, however, who is currently tied with Jeffery as the most-targeted player on the team. Ertz has already made a whopping 21 receptions over his first three games and given the numerous injuries to many of the league’s top tight ends, Ertz has established himself as an elite option until proven otherwise.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: There was much fanfare when the Eagles brought in LeGarrette Blount this offseason, but the entire backfield situation is a complete disaster so far this season. While it technically became less crowded when Darren Sproles broke his arm and tore his ACL, things really aren’t much better without Sproles than it was prior to his injury. Blount and Wendell Smallwood are both below-average receivers but are splitting carries in a pass-first offense. Smallwood appears to have taken over as the team’s top option in the backfield, but he’ll still only likely see two-thirds of the carries out of the backfield at most. Blount’s role remains primarily as a short-yardage back which means he can produce those multiple-touchdown performances and provide his owners with some big weeks, but he’s extremely difficult to rely on as he has one of the lowest floors of any possible fantasy starter in the league.

Value Meter:
QB2: Carson Wentz (low-end)
WR2: Alshon Jeffery
TE1: Zach Ertz
Flex: Wendell Smallwood, LeGarrette Blount (touchdown-only leagues)
Bench: Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor

Passing Game Thoughts: The start of the 2017 season hasn’t been great for the Chargers or quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers threw three interceptions this past week in a loss to the Chiefs and failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time since Week 3 of the 2016 season. What’s even more shocking is that the game could’ve been even worse. In Week 4, however, he’ll get a Philadelphia defense that hasn’t been quite as strong.

This looks like a must-succeed game for Tyrell Williams who has been disappointing thus far and is beginning to lose attention to Travis Benjamin. If he can’t produce something of value this week, it might be time to move on. Fellow receiver Keenan Allen has firmly reestablished himself as the Chargers’ top pass catcher and is a very strong play this week in all formats. Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates continue to be in a 50-50 share at tight end, but Henry has failed to see a target in two of the team’s first three games. Gates is a low-end TE1 at best while Henry can likely be let go in non-keeper formats.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: Running back Melvin Gordon continues to produce RB1 numbers in his third season and his workload has made him one of the most trustworthy week-to-week plays in seasonal formats. Gordon has scored a total of 15 touchdowns over his past 16 games and no player is pushing him for carries as long as he’s healthy. Unfortunately, health has indeed been a problem and he’s beginning to feel soreness in the same knee he’s had problems with in the past. While the coaching staff insists that his limited participation in practice is solely for precautionary reasons and that he’ll be ready to suit up against the Eagles, owners of Gordon might want to consider picking up Branden Oliver in deeper formats where they can spare a bench spot. Oliver doesn’t offer nearly the upside that Gordon does but he would seem to be the next in line for carries should Gordon be unable to play against this Eagles defense that Kareem Hunt exploited back in Week 2.

Value Meter:
QB1: Philip Rivers
RB1: Melvin Gordon
WR1: Keenan Allen
TE1: Antonio Gates (low-end)
Flex: Tyrell Williams
Bench: Travis Benjamin, Hunter Henry

Prediction: Chargers 24, Eagles 21 ^ Top

49ers @ Cardinals - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: The 49ers finally put some points on the board in Week 2 and while they fell short in a divisional matchup against the Rams, there was at least some reason to believe that they’ll be improved going forward. For Week 4, however, wide receiver Pierre Garcon is one of the more interesting “sits” of the week in most leagues which is unfortunate because he’s coming off of such a nice game in Week 3. He’ll likely be shadow-covered by Patrick Peterson who has only been targeted against three times so far this season, including none while covering Dez Bryant this past week. Garcon does move around the field a lot, including going into the slot, but the Cardinals have used Peterson in slot coverage to shadow Bryant and T.Y. Hilton already in 2017. While the coverage from Peterson might benefit other players in the San Francisco offense, it’d be extremely difficult to predict who is likely to see an increased target share, so avoiding this whole situation seems like a wise decision.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: Carlos Hyde’s usage makes him a viable RB2 this week but this is a tough matchup. While Ezekiel Elliott did get into the end zone against the Cardinals week ago, he was only able to muster 80 yards on 22 carries – fewer than four yards per carry. The 49ers will almost certainly need to lean heavily on Hyde in order to have a chance in this game, but there’s also a real chance that he’ll be held in check. In fact, Hyde rushed for just 14 yards on 13 carries the most recent time these teams played in Week 10 of the 2016 season.

Value Meter:
RB2: Carlos Hyde
Flex: Pierre Garcon
Bench: Brian Hoyer, Marquise Goodwin, George Kittle

Passing Game Thoughts: Week 3 started off strong for the Cardinals as they marched right down the field and scored on the Cowboys, but the game fell apart from that point on. The biggest worry for the Arizona offense right now is their offensive line, particularly in pass protection. They were absolutely abused by a below-average Cowboys defensive line this past week and San Francisco’s defensive line is probably better across the board. Palmer will likely be looking to get the ball out quickly, which could bode well for another potentially high-usage game for Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz has twice as many receptions and twice as many targets as any player in the Arizona offense, but there are rumors that John Brown could finally be able to get back on the field in this game. If he does, look for the team to try to get him the ball more often than they’ve been looking to J.J. Nelson or Jaron Brown. In fact, John Brown’s return to the offense could essentially mean that both Jaron and Nelson move into fantasy irrelevance. Either way, every other player in this Arizona passing game is extremely unreliable and should not be trusted for fantasy purposes unless Fitzgerald misses time as the season goes on.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: Chris Johnson appears to have taken the starting job from Kerwynn Williams, but what does that really mean at this point? None of the backs in this offense have been particularly effective and Andre Ellington still being used in the passing game really limits Johnson’s upside. San Francisco’s defense has been very exploitable, however, so Johnson does have some potential as a Flex option, particularly in non-PPR formats. The Cardinals offensive line is quite bad, however, so don’t expect a huge explosion for any of the players in this backfield even in what should be a good matchup against a bad San Francisco defense.

Value Meter:
QB1: Carson Palmer
WR2: Larry Fitzgerald (high-end)
Flex: Chris Johnson
Bench: Kerwynn Williams, Andre Ellington, John Brown, Jaron Brown, J.J. Nelson

Prediction: Cardinals 31, 49ers 17 ^ Top

Raiders @ Broncos - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: After a strong start to the season, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr finally had a bad game – and it was a truly bad one – against the Redskins in Week 3. Carr was held to just 118 yards passing and one touchdown with two interceptions in an ugly loss. This obviously led to receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree both having terrible performances. This passing game, and particularly receivers Cooper and Crabtree could be in for a very tough matchup again this week. With the Seahawks struggling, the Broncos might be the best overall defense in the league. One of the biggest reasons why the Raiders passing attack struggled in Week 3 is that their offensive line took a huge step back. We have to expect that the line will get back on track but a game against the Broncos and Von Miller is not going to be the game they start looking elite again.

It’s hard to bench Cooper and Crabtree given their upside, but neither player is better than a low-end WR2 in this extremely difficult matchup. Carr himself is not worthy of being in fantasy lineups other than as a low-end QB2. The one player who is a bit intriguing in this matchup is tight end Jared Cook. With Crabtree and Cooper being shutdown against the Redskins, it was Cook who saw an uptick in usage, particularly in the red zone where he caught Carr’s only touchdown pass of the day. That could play out again this week as the Broncos have given up touchdowns and overall big games in back-to-back weeks to opposing tight ends.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: While he’s still getting roughly 60 percent of his team’s carries, Marshawn Lynch has not yet proven to be the true workhorse back that many expected him to be coming into the season. Not only that, but aside from a short-yardage touchdown against the Jets in Week 2, Lynch hasn’t been particularly effective with the opportunities he’s been given. Coming into a matchup against a Broncos run defense that has already shut down Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott and LeSean McCoy – three consensus top 10 running backs – there is certainly reason to be concerned about the fantasy outlook for Lynch here in Week 4. Lynch is a bit better in non-PPR formats but he’s still only a low-end RB2 in this matchup.

Value Meter:
RB2: Marshawn Lynch
WR2: Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree
TE1: Jared Cook
Bench: Derek Carr, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, Seth Roberts

Passing Game Thoughts: The larger, more physical, less agile corners in Oakland should have an easier time keeping up with Demaryius Thomas than Emmanuel Sanders in this Week 4 matchup. Neither receiver was particularly effective in their two matchups against the Raiders a season ago, but the Oakland defense seems to be taking a step back this season. They’ve given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and they’ve conceded at least 10 receptions to opposing wide receivers in each game thus far. This is a game where you could stream Trevor Siemian as a QB1, replacing struggling quarterbacks like Derek Carr, Cam Newton and Eli Manning.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: C.J. Anderson’s Week 2 breakout reminded us of the player who broke out during the Broncos’ Super Bowl run a few seasons back, but his lack of usage and overall ineffectiveness in Week 3 reminded us quickly that he is not a set-and-forget fantasy starter. Game script forced the Broncos to pass much more against the Bills than they wanted to, but the concern is that Anderson was not utilized in the passing game. He caught just two passes for seven yards and has not caught more than three passes in any game yet this season. Jamaal Charles is also beginning to work himself into more of a timeshare which could help his value should Anderson go down, but the split backfield makes it risky to use either player in fantasy. Anderson certainly remains the player that you want to own and potentially start in this backfield.

Value Meter:
QB1: Trevor Siemian
RB2: C.J. Anderson
WR2: Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas
Bench: Jamaal Charles

Prediction: Broncos 23, Raiders 21 ^ Top

Colts @ Seahawks - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: Jacoby Brissett has been better than almost anyone could’ve expected but he has still only thrown one touchdown pass in two games. He did rush for two scores against the Browns, but the speedy linebackers in Seattle should be able to contain that a bit better. T.Y. Hilton will not be shadowed by Richard Sherman which should give him an opportunity to pick up where he left off in Week 3 when he caught seven of his nine targets for 153 yards and his first score of the season. Don’t expect a replication of those numbers, but he’s still very clearly the top option in this passing game and should see a healthy share of targets especially if the Colts fall behind on the scoreboard.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: After being an elite unit for years, the Seahawks defense has been surprisingly bad against the run so far this season. It started in Week 2 when Carlos Hyde ripped off a long run against them and it continued in Week 3 when both DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry had long runs. If you can look past those runs, though, the Seahawks defense is still who they have been for the past few seasons: one of the best units in the league. Don’t fall for the trap of thinking Frank Gore is a great play in what appears to be a good matchup based on the aggregate numbers. Gore is still a decent runner but his days of long touchdown runs are in the past.

Value Meter:
Flex: T.Y. Hilton, Frank Gore
Bench: Jacoby Brissett, Donte Moncrief, Jack Doyle

Passing Game Thoughts: Seattle finally got things going in their passing game this past week, but it was too little, too late as they fell to the Titans. Wilson showed the type of playmaking ability that we’re used to seeing from him, though, as he threw for a whopping 379 yards and four touchdowns. Wilson has also been more active as a runner, making him a fairly safe option going forward. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about wide receiver Doug Baldwin who also had his first big performance of the season in Week 3, but suffered a groin injury in the contest. He has missed practice time during the week and his status for Sunday’s contest is up in the air. Even if he does play, there’s some reason to be concerned that the team will opt to shut him down for the day should the Seahawks get out to a lead at home against the Colts who are one of the worst teams in the league. That could limit his upside pretty significantly, making him a WR2 this week as opposed to a WR1 if he were fully healthy.

If Baldwin is limited or out, look for Paul Richardson to step up and take a larger share of the team’s targets. Richardson has been very touchdown-dependent so far this season but he’s scored in each of his past two games so there’s hope that he could make it three in a row in what figures to be a good matchup. Tight end Jimmy Graham is also a must-start this week. While he struggled in the Seahawks’ first two games of the season, Graham remains one of the most physically gifted pass catchers to ever play the position and the team does look his way quite often when they get down in the red zone.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: On paper, this looks like the possible Chris Carson breakout game that many have been looking forward to. Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls are barely seeing the field and C.J. Prosise is unlikely to play after suffering another injury so Carson could be in line for 20-plus touches in this game against a bad Indianapolis team. If the game does end up getting out of control, this could even be a 25-plus touch game for Carson, which would almost certainly translate into a top-12 performance for him in fantasy. The opportunity and situation are ideal for fantasy production so he’s a high-end RB2 heading into this game.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson
RB2: Chris Carson
WR2: Doug Baldwin
TE1: Jimmy Graham
Flex: Paul Richardson
Bench: Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, Tyler Lockett

Prediction: Seahawks 28, Colts 13 ^ Top

Redskins @ Chiefs - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Redskins finally got the first “big game” out of the season from their quarterback Kirk Cousins, but things just have not been working out for their offseason acquisition, wide receiver Terrelle Pryor. Through three games, Pryor has made just 10 receptions for 116 yards and no touchdowns. This week he’ll probably see some attention from cornerback Marcus Peters, but it is not believed that this will be a “shadow” situation as Peters typically plays one side of the field, which happens to be the opposite side from where Pryor typically lines up.With Jamison Crowder typically lining up in the slot, that could mean that Ryan Grant, who caught three of his four targets this past week, will likely be lined up quite a bit against Peters.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Crowder is also a concern at the moment as he had his biggest game of the season this past week but it was only six receptions for 62 yards and no score. The Kansas City defense has avoided allowing a single passing touchdown in two of their three games so far this season, and those games were against Philip Rivers and Tom Brady. While Kirk Cousins is a decent quarterback who typically has a high volume, he’s also a risk taker who is capable of throwing multiple interceptions in games, so he’s a risky play in this contest. Tight end Jordan Reed is expected to play on Monday but fantasy owners need to take the proper precautions to make sure that they’re not left with a zero on their bench if Reed does end up sitting. Vernon Davis continues to be an excellent streaming option in games where Reed is out and he’s still available in most formats. Pick him up if you own Reed so you can make an informed decision prior to Monday night’s game.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Samaje Perine fell short of some fantasy experts’ lofty predictions by rushing for just 49 yards on 19 carries this past week in his first game without Rob Kelley. Kelley is practicing again this week and is expected to play, which really limits the upside that either player has as long as they’re both touching the ball. Chris Thompson is now owned in almost all leagues after another big performance in Week 3. He looks like the clear cut most talented and explosive back in this offense, but the team seems to be worried about giving him a full workload. Thompson continues to be one of the better pass catching backs who actually has the ability to produce big plays and get into the end zone, so feel free to continue to deploy him as an RB2 in PPR formats.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kirk Cousins (high risk)
RB2: Chris Thompson (PPR)
TE1: Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis (if Reed is out)
Flex: Rob Kelley, Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder (PPR only)
Bench: Samaje Perine, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson

Passing Game Thoughts: Through three games, Alex Smith has already thrown for seven touchdown passes while throwing zero interceptions. He’s also been using his legs more this season than he did in 2016, which is a good sign for his overall value as a fantasy quarterback but especially for increasing his point floor. Tyreek Hill continues to be the clear cut WR1 in this offense and has caught 16 passes through three games for 253 yards and a pair of scores. While it might seem like he’ll see a lot of coverage from Josh Norman, the reality is that he might actually be lined up against Bashaud Breeland more, as Norman has not been shadowing opposing WR1’s. The Chiefs have no problem moving Hill into the place on the field that he’ll do the most damage in, whether that’s the right side, left side, slot or even running the ball.

Fantasy owners who are panicking over Travis Kelce’s stumble in Week 3 where he caught just one pass for one yard should relax. Kelce plays a position where there’s a ton of volatility, especially depending on what the opposing defense is doing. The Chargers clearly came in with the intention of shutting down Kelce, which they did, but that left huge running lanes open and deep passing routes poorly guarded. Kelce remains a rock solid TE1 option and needs to be started in all season-long formats.

Running Game Thoughts: Kareem Hunt continues to make a strong case to be the 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as he still leads all players in fantasy scoring after three weeks. Hunt has scored in every game he’s played in so far this season and it’s not just his explosion on long runs, but also his ability to shrug off defenders and force missed tackles that has made him into an instant fantasy star. While Alex Smith is enjoying one of the best stretches of his career, the Chiefs offense seemingly revolves around Hunt and there’s no reason to think that’s going to change anytime soon. Another 18-to-20 touch game seems very likely in this contest, which again makes him one of the premier options in all of fantasy football.

Value Meter:
QB2: Alex Smith
RB1: Kareem Hunt
WR1: Tyreek Hill
TE1: Travis Kelce
Bench: Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, Charcandrick West

Prediction: Chiefs 28, Redskins 20 ^ Top

Saints at Dolphins (London) - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Drew Brees’ road struggles are well documented and this game is really far from home, but he was every bit a QB1 at Carolina last week, albeit without the passing volume, throwing for 220 yards and three touchdowns. This week, he heads to London to face a Dolphins team that just got embarrassed by the Jets. Michael Thomas scored his first touchdown of the season en route to a solid 7-87-1 performance. With the exception of Robby Anderson’s long touchdown, the Jets mostly ate up the Dolphins underneath which is the area Thomas excels. While I still do not believe Thomas is a true number one wide receiver, he is currently the top target for Brees and this is a favorable matchup.

The return of Fast Willie Snead from his three-game suspension helps Brees and this offense as a whole, although it’s unclear how significant Snead’s Week 4 role will be. Regardless, Thomas’ volume is not in jeopardy. As for Snead himself, he was running behind Ted Ginn Jr in two-receiver sets so if you can afford to keep Snead on your bench for a week, it’s probably a good idea. Ginn is what he is – a boom or bust WR3. You hope he scores like he did last week. Brandon Coleman scored a touchdown for the second consecutive game, but that was his only reception. He falls to fourth in the pecking order with Snead’s return and therefore is not a fantasy option.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: In half PPR, Mark Ingram has scored exactly 9.6 fantasy points in each of his first three games. That’s hard to do. His fantasy owners surely wish he could improve, but Sean Payton is making it quite difficult with his insistence upon putting Adrian Peterson on the field. AP is old and has overcome too many injuries. It’s over. The sooner Payton accepts this, the sooner we can get to an Ingram-Alvin Kamara split backfield that benefits everyone, including the Saints. Peterson’s entire season thus far hasn’t even been a good game for vintage AP (23-77-0) while Kamara is averaging 5.8 ypc and Ingram 4.5 ypc. Ingram’s 14 carries last week matched his total from the first two weeks combined. He is an RB3 at his current volume, as is Kamara, who busted off a 25-yard touchdown run against the Panthers. Kamara is averaging 4.5 touches over his last two games.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees (high end)
WR2: Michael Thomas (high end)
Flex: Mark Ingram, Ted Ginn Jr.
Bench: Alvin Kamara, Willie Snead, Coby Fleener, Adrian Peterson

Passing Game Thoughts: Jay Cutler still does not care about football. Winning or losing, it’s all the same to him. But even Cutler’s apathy is not immune to benefiting from the generosity of the Saints defense. Cam Newton couldn’t do much against the Saints, but that’s because Newton is having a terrible start to the season. Cutler has been surprisingly consistent, averaged 225 yards and a touchdown over his first two games. The Saints have gotten torched by Sam Bradford and Tom Brady and while both are better than Cutler, he should have no trouble lighting up this secondary across the pond.

This is a great spot for Jarvis Landry to have one of his vintage double-digit reception/double-digit yardage games and could actually score in this one. Landry has caught 19 balls over his first two games and looks well on his way to a 100-catch season. DeVante Parker found the end zone last week and while he hasn’t been targeted as much as Landry, he’s Cutler’s primary red zone option. Parker has blow up potential in Week 4, but he is still not an appealing long-term prospect. I just don’t believe the talent is there. He is a strong play this week, though.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: Jay Ajayi faceplanted along with most the Dolphins offense against the Jets last week. Ajayi spent last week on the injury report with a knee issue that was reportedly minor. While I don’t think Ajayi is at any risk of missing this week’s game, the fact that he only saw 11 carries against the Jets is disconcerting, to say the least. The fact that he turned those 11 carries into just 16 yards is troublesome. We can chalk it up to a bad all around game for the Dolphins, but this is a reminder that Ajayi is not a reliable RB1. When things are going well, he looks as good as anyone, but this is what his floor looks like. Expect Ajayi to be heavily involved in the passing game as well after the Saints just coughed up 100 receiving yards to Christian McCaffrey last week. As long as Ajayi is healthy, it’s all systems go against the Saints.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jay Cutler (low end)
RB1: Jay Ajayi (mid-range)
WR2: DeVante Parker (low end)
WR2: Jarvis Landry (mid-range)
Bench: Damien Williams, Julius Thomas

Prediction: Dolphins 27, Saints 23 ^ Top

Panthers at Patriots - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: If I told you one of the QBs in this game was done, wouldn’t you immediately think it would be the 40 year-old? You’d be mistaken. Cam Newton, at the ripe old age of 28, is done. He was never actually a good passer, but posted elite rushing numbers for a quarterback. Those days are gone along with Newton’s fantasy value. When you only post eight fantasy points against the Saints, you know it’s over. Newton threw for just 167 yards last week and added three interceptions. Kelvin Benjamin caught both of his targets for eight yards before departing with a knee injury. Tests showed nothing serious, but he remains questionable to suit up. If Benjamin can’t go, Devin Funchess will see a boatload of targets by default. He only caught four if his ten targets, but that’s just as much of an indictment on Newton than it is on Funchess. The Patriots defense just got ripped apart by Deshaun Watson in a game they probably should have lost. The Panthers will have to throw in this one, but if Benjamin doesn’t play, there’s not a single member of this passing attack that is appealing for fantasy. Recent reports are promising, however, so fantasy owners should feel safe inserting Benjamin into lineups.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: Jonathan Stewart dominated carries last week with 12, but the story was Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers finally unlocked McCaffrey’s talent by utilizing him as the pseudo-WR that he is. CMac caught nine of his 11 targets for 101 yards. He’s not going to score many touchdowns, but his PPR floor is relatively high. McCaffrey could be featured even more this week if Benjamin is out. Stewart, on the other hand, is what he is. He will touch the ball 12-15 times and be useless if he doesn’t score a touchdown.

Value Meter:
RB2: Christian McCaffrey
WR3: Kelvin Benjamin
Flex: Jonathan Stewart (touchdown or bust)
Bench: Cam Newton, Devin Funchess

Passing Game Thoughts: After losing Week 1 to the Chiefs, Tom Brady decided he had enough of the whole running the ball thing. The Patriots threw the ball 35 times last week against just 19 runs. Brady threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski led the team in targets and is a lock to finish as the overall TE1 if he stays healthy. Chris Hogan was not hampered by Danny Amendola’s return as he went off for 68 yards and two scores. But the man I’d like to formally welcome to the Patriots is Brandin Cooks. Finally, we got that blow up game we all knew Cooks was capable of. Cooks caught five of his seven targets for 131 yards and two touchdowns, and it could’ve been even better. Brady and Cooks are still not fully in sync, but it’s getting there. Cooks is going to win a few weeks for fantasy owners by himself. The Panthers defense is in rapid decline and they just got shredded at home by the Saints. Now they’re on the road facing Tom Brady. Unleash all of your Patriots.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: Nope. Move along. No running game to see here. Mike Gillislee didn’t score a touchdown so he was completely useless last week. As I’ve stated before, you knew what you were getting into with Gillislee so this should come as no surprise. James White had a surprisingly poor game, only catching one pass. It goes without saying that he will be better going forward. Dion Lewis played a few more snaps with Rex Burkhead out, but was nowhere near a fantasy factor. Gillislee’s odds of scoring remain unchanged so deploy him as usual against the Panthers. White will likely have a better performance as well so I would not overreact to one bad game. Burkhead’s expected absence for a second week in a row only serves to help the other backs see more snaps.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (the top option)
RB2: James White (PPR only), Mike Gillislee (low end, touchdown or bust)
WR1: Brandin Cooks (mid-range)
WR3: Chris Hogan
TE1: Rob Gronkowski (the top option)
Bench: Danny Amendola, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis

Prediction: Patriots 31, Panthers 20 ^ Top

Jaguars at Jets - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Blake Bortles played what might’ve been the best game of his career in a systematic destruction of the Ravens previously elite defense. He completed 20-of-31 throws for 244 yards and four touchdowns. It was his first game with more than two touchdown passes since the second to last game of 2015. More impressively is the fact that Bortles didn’t turn the ball over. It’s hard to say how much the Ravens were truly negatively impacted by the trip to London. John Harbaugh has no so subtly suggested the answer is “a lot.” Regardless, Bortles played well and now he has a road matchup against the Jets, who are supposed to be terrible, but basically shut out the Dolphins last week. One game does not make Bortles a viable fantasy option, even against the Jets. His wide receivers are also not reliable fantasy options. Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee are the starters with Lee being a low-ceiling PPR option. Hurns is a touchdown or bust option. Marcedes Lewis re-entered our lives with three touchdowns last week, but I can’t imagine that happening ever again. His Week 3 performacne feels very fluky. This is still a passing game to be avoided.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: The running game, however, should be welcomed with open arms. Leonard Fournette is a true workhorse. Fournette is averaging 19 carries and a couple receptions per game. He has rushed for exactly one touchdown in each of his first three contests. He sees all the early down work and all the goal line work with Chris Ivory filling a supporting role. The Jets shut down Jay Ajayi last week, but I would not look too much into that when assessing Fournette. Fournette is going to touch the ball at lest 20 times and looks every bit like an RB1. The Jaguars’ elite defense should dominate this game, thus creating a ton of positive game script. Corey Grant’s 75 yards last week had more to do with him playing late because the score was so crooked. He is no threat to Fournette’s workload.

Value Meter:
RB1: Leonard Fournette (mid-range)
Flex: Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns
Bench: Blake Bortles, Corey Grant, Marcedes Lewis

Passing Game Thoughts: Josh McCown only threw five incompletions last week and he hasn’t turned the ball over in his last two games but he’s also only thrown 47 passes in those two contests. Robby Anderson caught a bomb from McCown for a touchdown that led to his 95-yard day, but otherwise, it was the status quo for Jets WRs – no one is particularly useful. Jermaine Kearse came back down to earth, only seeing three targets as McCown spread the ball around very evenly between Anderson, Kearse, Jeremy Kerley, and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Let’s talk ASJ for a moment. There were concerns that he was out of shape and may not be active. ASJ played and looked just fine. He is the primary TE for the Jets and given the state of the position in fantasy, could be a viable back end option. He should see six to eight targets and could be inundated with checkdowns this week as McCown seeks to avoid throwing at Jalen Ramsey or A.J. Bouye. The Jaguars are one of the league’s best defenses with one of the league’s best corner duos so no wide receiver is startable here.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: At least one-third of this annoying three-way timeshare is going away. Matt Forte suffered a toe injury last week and looks unlikely to play Sunday. This could be the opportunity Bilal Powell has been waiting for. We’ve all seen how effective he can be in a featured role. He still won’t have that with Elijah McGuire around, but a 60-40 split in Powell’s favor would do wonders for a guy that was on the precipice of being dropped. He only played 28 out of 63 snaps last week, which is far too few to be fantasy viable, but he did score his first touchdown of the season after Forte went down. In limited work, Powell is averaging just 2.6 ypc and he’s not catching many passes (no catches his last two games). The Jaguars have been vulnerable on the ground, currently allowing the fifth most yards per game. I’d still hesitate to deploy any Jets in this matchup, but if anyone has a shot to produce, it’s Powell.

Value Meter:
TE2: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Flex: Bilal Powell (assuming Forte sits)
Bench: Josh McCown, Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, Matt Forte (toe)

Prediction: Jaguars 24, Jets 7 ^ Top

Rams at Cowboys - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Very often, coaches get too much credit and too much blame for the performance of players. The impact of coaching is overstated. However, that’s not to say the coach does not matter at all. The difference between the 2017 version of Jared Goff and the 2016 version is the embodiment of that difference. In an offense built for the 1950s, worst coach in NFL history Jeff Fisher did everything in his power to prevent his players from succeeding. Young buck Sean McVay is unlocking the talent of everyone on this roster that Fisher mishandled.

Goff had the best game of his career last week with 292 yards and three touchdowns. He looks like a new player. He’s playing with more confidence and that has made all the difference for a guy we knew had the physical tools. Sammy Watkins finally got going as well with an almost identical line to Robert Woods. Both caught six of their seven targets. Woods had 108 yards. Watkins had 106 yards. Watkins was the one who scored though, finding the end zone twice. Last week’s game was unusually fast paced and high scoring, especially given the two teams involved. Do not overreact to the offensive explosion and expect Goff, Watkins, and Woods to do that again. Nevertheless, the Cowboys have a beatable secondary that allowed Larry Fitzgerald to channel his inner 2008 and Carson Palmer to not look 57 years old. Goff is definitely a streamable option in a game where the Rams should score points.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Todd Gurley still does not look like the elite talent we saw in 2015. But for fantasy purposes, make no mistake, he’s an elite RB1. As it has forever been in fantasy, opportunity trumps talent. Gurley certainly has talent, but that doesn’t matter if the opportunity isn’t there. This year, it’s there in spades. Gurley touched the ball 33 times last week. He’s now amassed 76 touches across his first three games. Most promising is his intentional involvement in the passing game, having reception counts of five, three, and five. Gurley’s volume floor is incredibly high and Denver has already shown Dallas can be beaten on the ground. Gurley is scoring touchdowns at an unsustainable rate, but he doesn’t need to score to be productive. The touchdowns are a bonus. The matchup is not a concern and based on his usage, Gurley is match-up proof anyway.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jared Goff (low end)
RB1: Todd Gurley (mid-range)
WR3: Sammy Watkins
Bench: Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tavon Austin

Passing Game Thoughts: You know how sometimes you see a player and you go, “he has ‘it,’” but you can’t really articulate or illustrate what “it” is? Dak Prescott’s touchdown to Brice Butler last week is the closest you will get to a tangible version of “it.” Prescott is the QB8 through three weeks and his schedule only gets easier. The only concern for Prescott this week is how many of his touchdowns are stolen by Ezekiel Elliott. Jason Witten is still the most reliable Cowboys pass catcher. He’s old and slow, but he’s still really smart and knows how to find the holes in coverage. He will be Prescott’s safety blanket as Cole Beasley continues to be an afterthought in this offense.

As for Dez Bryant, he is not an elite WR anymore and hasn’t been since 2014. He has just 11 catches in three games and hasn’t topped 100 yards receiving since Week 9 last year. He is still a red zone force and will probably finish the season with double-digit touchdowns if he stays healthy, but the WR1 days are over. Bryant only saw two targets last week and even when he saw 16 the previous week, he only caught seven of them, the majority of which came in garbage time. The Rams are a plus matchup for the Cowboys passing game, but it will be difficult to trust Bryant as a WR1/2.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: Ezekiel Elliott bounced back from the worst game of his career to post 80 yards and a score on the Cardinals. He struggled mightily early on, but got rolling in the second half. He has a very good chance of meeting or exceeding Carlos Hyde’s production against the Rams last week (25-84-2). This week begins a four-game stretch of favorable matchups for Elliott. The Rams have allowed the second most rushing yards on the season meaning Zeke should be in line for his first big game of 2017.

Value Meter:
QB1: Dak Prescott (mid-range)
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott (high end)
WR3: Dez Bryant
TE1: Jason Witten
Bench: Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams

Prediction: Cowboys 31, Rams 20 ^ Top