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Inside the Matchup
Week 4
9/27/18; Updated: 9/28/18

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Justin Bales



Sunday Early:



Sunday Late:




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

Vikings at Rams - (Caron)
Line: LAR -7.0
Total: 49.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings completely collapsed last week in what was expected to be an extremely positive game script, which now leaves serious concerns about the team - especially the offensive line - heading into Thursday Night Football. They’ll face off against a red hot Los Angeles Rams defense, including one of the better interior pass rushing units in the league. The Vikings’ loss to the Bills was not only a disappointment from a team standpoint, but it was also a wild disappointment for fantasy owners of Cousins and Stefon Diggs, who both turned in by far their worst fantasy performances of the season. The positive was that the team was forced to pass the ball almost exclusively throughout the afternoon so Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph still turned in quality fantasy days, with Thielen snagging an impressive 14 passes, bringing his total 32 on the season - second only to New Orleans’ Michael Thomas.

Now the Vikings face a tough matchup against a good Rams defense that has held opposing quarterbacks to the fewest fantasy points in the league so far this season. Of course, they played against an anemic pass offense in Week 2 (Arizona), but the Rams also shut down Philip Rivers this past week, so there’s reason to be concerned for fantasy owners of Cousins. Still, while these are two very good defensive teams, there’s a real possibility that this game turns into a shootout, or even a Rams runaway win, which would lead to another big passing opportunity day for Cousins, Diggs, Thielen and Rudolph. All four players are viable fantasy starters this week, but stay away from the other pieces in this passing attack in Week 4. The Rams are likely to be without starting cornerbacks Marcus Peters (calf) and Aqib Talib (ankle).

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: One of the biggest missing pieces for the Vikings offense during their shocking blowout loss to the Bills in Week 3 was second-year running back Dalvin Cook who missed the contest with a hamstring injury. As of Wednesday afternoon, there still has not been a determination made on whether or not Cook will suit up for Thursday Night Football, but fantasy owners should do their best to steer clear of him if possible. The Rams did get beaten up a bit on the ground in Week 3 against the Chargers, but they’re a very talented defense and Cook does not seem to be anywhere near full health. Cook might be active, but he’d be a low-end RB2 at best in this difficult matchup, and would likely concede carries to Latavius Murray - enough to make his floor quite low. Murray himself would see an uptick in fantasy value and could go from a bench player to a low-end RB2/Flex play just due to potential volume.

Unfortunately, this past week we saw what can happen if the Vikings fall behind on the scoreboard as Murray carried the ball just twice all afternoon against the Bills. He did catch five passes, which helped buoy an otherwise horrendous fantasy day, but he turned that into just 30 yards receiving. Don’t expect that type of touch distribution again as long as the Vikings stay in the game, but Murray is a risky play due to his lack of skills in the receiving game, and this is a difficult matchup, so he’s still a potential fantasy bench player this week depending on your other options.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kirk Cousins (low-end)
RB2: Dalvin Cook (low-end)
WR1: Adam Thielen (low-end), Stefon Diggs (low-end)
TE1: Kyle Rudolph
Flex: Latavius Murray (if Dalvin Cook is out)
Bench: Laquon Treadwell

Passing Game Thoughts: Rams quarterback Jared Goff continues to be a steady QB1 producer in fantasy and his top weapons are benefiting from a consolidated target distribution that has seen four players - Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Todd Gurley – with 14 or more targets, with Woods leading the way at 29 targets. Those targets have been enough to place Woods, Cooks and Kupp all within the top-24 at the position in PPR formats, and we’ll get to Gurley below in a moment. Woods led the way in Week 3 with a 10-catch, 104-yard, two touchdown performance while Kupp scored the other touchdown from Goff on a four-catch, 71 yard day. Cooks was held out of the end zone for the third straight game, but he’s accumulated 19 catches for 336 yards this season - a monstrous 17.7 yards per reception and he isn’t slowing down. He’ll likely see quite a bit of attention from top Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes, so it might be wise to fade him in daily formats, but Cooks is still capable of going deep at any time, along with producing decent enough targets numbers to give fantasy owners a solid floor even in relatively tough matchups.

Woods might again be the most-targeted player on the team and while his targets don’t typically come as far down the field as Cooks’, he’s seeing almost 10 targets per week which makes him a viable WR2 once again. Kupp is also a player worth looking at, even against a tough Vikings defense that conceded just 81 receiving yards to Bills wide receivers in Week 3. He’s the least valuable of this group but he’s still a solid WR3 or Flex option in PPR formats. The other receivers and tight ends in this Rams offense are completely irrelevant for fantasy as long as the top three stays healthy. That’s great news for fantasy purposes as we’re rarely going to have to worry about touchdown vulturing for this offense, which again makes the floor on these receivers perhaps the highest of any three-WR group in the entire league.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: Those expecting a step back from Todd Gurley this season are being met with monster production once again as Gurley checks in as the No. 2 fantasy PPR running back through the first three contests of the season. While Gurley isn’t catching quite as many passes so far this season as he did in 2017, running back targets can often be game script dependent and the Rams are off to a hot 3-0 start with three double-digit victories over their opponents.

If the Vikings are able to make things more interesting this week, as many expect that they will in a bounce-back performance, there’s a good chance that Gurley will see more work in the passing game. Even if the Rams do end up running away with this game, Gurley is going to continue to touch the ball at a high rate. He’s caught at least three passes in all three games this season and he’s averaging almost 21 carries per contest so far, while scoring five total touchdowns. Gurley is perhaps the safest play in all of fantasy and a difficult on-paper matchup shouldn’t scare fantasy owners. You drafted him to be a stud and he’s performed as a stud - enjoy it.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jared Goff (low-end)
RB1: Todd Gurley
WR2: Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks
Flex: Cooper Kupp (PPR)
Bench: Malcolm Brown, John Kelly, Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett

Prediction: Rams 30, Vikings 24 ^ Top

Bills @ Packers - (Swanson)
Line: GB -9.5
Total: 45.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Josh Allen completed 15 of 22 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown, with 39 rush yards and two rushing touchdowns as the visiting Buffalo Bills went into Minnesota and shocked the Vikings 27-6 last week. Allen wowed Bills fans with both his rocket arm and his legs, including a highlight reel scramble in which Allen hurdled over safety Andrew Sendejo.

The former Wyoming Cowboy has averaged 18.5 points per game as the No. 23 ranked quarterback in fantasy, ahead of veterans Derek Carr, Carson Wentz, and Eli Manning. He is second behind Cam Newton in rushing attempts and rushing touchdowns.

Allen and the Bills passing game face another difficult NFC North road matchup against the Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 4. Although Green Bay has allowed the 10th-most points to opposing quarterbacks this season, including a four-touchdown performance at home to Kirk Cousins, the Packers enter the game on the heels of a disappointing road loss to the Redskins and will likely be fired up against the rookie Bills quarterback.

Field position played a huge role in the Bills’ upset win over the Vikings, as Allen and the Bills average starting position in the game was the Minnesota 40-yard line. That will likely not happen again this week against an Aaron Rodgers led offense that has six interceptions at home over the past two seasons.

Rodgers and the Packers will not give Allen short fields to work with and Allen will be forced to identify and exploit complex blitz packages from Green Bay defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

One area in which the Bills may look to attack the Packers in the air is with tight end Charles Clay. Green Bay was torched by opposing tight ends to the tune of 15 catches for 231 yards in the last two weeks, including 135 combined yards to Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed Week 3. Clay missed practice on Thursday with a shoulder injury so check injury reports over the weekend.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: Chris Ivory proved to be a bell cow running back last week against the Vikings with 56 yards on 20 carries and three catches for 70 yards, as LeSean McCoy missed the game with a rib injury. Marcus Murphy added eight carries for 33 yards spelling Ivory against Minnesota.

McCoy is slated to participate in limited practice this week, and his status should be monitored up until game time. Should Shady not play against the Pack, look for Ivory to once again be the primary running back against a Green Bay defense that ranks 15th in fantasy points allowed this season.

After limiting Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray to just 57 yards rushing Week 3, Green Bay allowed 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns to the ageless wonder, Adrian Peterson. The loss of defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson to a severe ankle injury hurt the Packers run defense in the game and will be a significant loss going forward. Green Bay also lost cornerback Davon House to a season-ending shoulder injury in the game.

Look for the Bills to try to take advantage of the injury to Wilkerson by utilizing a run-heavy scheme. Running the ball will limit the number of mistakes made by Allen and will keep Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense on the sideline.

Value Meter:
QB2: Josh Allen (Low-End)
RB2: LeSean McCoy (Low-End)
WR4: Kelvin Benjamin (High-End)
TE1: Charles Clay (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: A knee injury suffered Week 1 against Chicago has taken a toll on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense, as the mobile quarterback is unable to extend plays and evade potential tackles like in years past. A one-legged Rodgers is a better real-life quarterback than 80% of the players in the league, but for fantasy purposes, the gimpy Rodgers has been a massive letdown as the No.15 quarterback after three weeks.

Rodgers has yet to throw for 300 yards in a game, and his six passing touchdowns are tied with Joe Flacco, Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, and Tom Brady. On paper, the matchup at home against a Bills defense that gave up nearly 500 yards and six passing touchdowns to Joe Flacco and Philip Rivers over the first two weeks should give Rodgers and the Packers an excellent chance of delivering a strong performance.

The matchup of rookie Taron Johnson, who was thrust into a starting role with the abrupt retirement of Vontae Davis, against Geronimo Allison is one that Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy will likely look to exploit. Kirk Cousins and the Vikings were unable to exploit the Buffalo secondary because the Cousins was under constant pressure from the Bills front seven. If the Packers offensive line is able to give Rodgers time, Johnson may be in for a long day and Allison could be a stud performer in the game.

Another matchup to watch is strong safety Micah Hyde playing against his old team. Hyde and Rodgers go way back and have years of experience going against each other in practice. Both players know the tendencies of their counterpart, and it will be interesting to see what plays Rodgers uses to exploit Hyde’s aggressiveness.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: Through three games this season the Green Bay ground attack has been downright putrid, with a combined 231 yards and zero touchdowns on 53 carries. The unit ranks 29th in fantasy points scored out of 32 teams and no Packer running back currently ranks in the top 40 in fantasy points per game.

On the bright side, Aaron Jones returned to the field after a two-game suspension to run for 42 yards on six carries against Washington. Jones was clearly the best running back on the team in that game, and hopefully, McCarthy will start ramping up his carry load. The problem for Jones is that Williams is a far superior pass blocker in the backfield, making Williams a favorite of Rodgers with the former MVP QB hobbling around with a bad knee.

A home matchup against a Bills defense that allows the fifth-most points to opposing running backs looks attractive on paper for Jones owners, especially if Green Bay can jump out to an early lead and lean on the ground game to close out the day. Jones carries risk, but projecting a positive game script for him based on Rodgers lighting up Buffalo at home is well within the realm of possible outcomes, making him an upside low-end No.2 RB.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers (High-End)
RB2: Aaron Jones (Low-End)
WR1: Davante Adams (Low-End)
WR3: Geronimo Allison (Low-End)
WR4: Randall Cobb (High-End)
TE1: Jimmy Graham (Mid-Range)

Prediction: Green Bay 34, Buffalo 14 ^ Top

Bengals at Falcons - (Bales)
Line: ATL -3.5
Total: 53.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Andy Dalton has quietly been a top option this season, averaging 286.7 passing yards and 2.7 passing touchdowns per game. He has struggled with interceptions (5), but those are only a minor loss of fantasy points. Atlanta has struggled against quarterbacks, allowing 276 passing yards per game and 8 total touchdowns. They have also allowed a 70.5% completion percentage. The Falcons have proven that they can score points at home and Dalton will need a big game to keep up on the scoreboard.

A.J. Green (hip) was injured last week, but still found some success in limited snaps. Overall, he’s averaging a 5.3/73.0/1.3 line on only 8.3 targets per game. He has been a major factor in the red zone, as Green already has caught four touchdowns this season. John Ross has been another surprising red zone option, as he ranks second on the team in red zone targets, although he comes with terrible risk. Tyler Boyd has been one of the biggest surprises in the league, totaling 15 receptions for 249 yards and two touchdowns in three games. Tyler Eifert is coming off a big game for the Bengals, and he’s an option that comes with quite a bit of upside in this matchup.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Joe Mixon (knee)) is progressing, but he’s still expected to miss this game. If he’s out, Gio Bernard will draw a major workload. He was the only Bengals running back to touch the ball last week, totaling 86 yards and one touchdown on 17 touches. Most importantly, Bernard saw nine targets, and he’s playing against a team that struggles to cover running backs. Atlanta has allowed 33 receptions to running backs this season, and Bernard is another elite passing catcher out of the backfield that Atlanta has to deal with.

Value Meter:
QB2: Andy Dalton (high-end)
RB2: Giovani Bernard (high-end)
WR1: A.J. Green
WR2: Tyler Boyd (mid-range)
TE2: Tyler Eifert (high upside)
Flex: John Ross (high upside)

Passing Game Thoughts: Matt Ryan has been a better option at home throughout his career, and that has been the case this season. Through two home starts, Ryan is averaging 323 passing yards and 3.5 passing touchdowns per game. He has also scored two touchdowns on the ground at home this season. He gets a matchup against the Bengals this week, who have allowed 811 passing yards and six passing touchdowns through three games. This game should feature a ton of scoring, and Ryan is a major part of the Atlanta offense.

Julio Jones dominated the first week, but he has somewhat struggled in his last two games. His targets have been down a bit, but he’s still averaging 6.7 receptions for 109.7 yards on 11.3 targets per game this season. Calvin Ridley has stepped up his game over the last two weeks, totaling 11 receptions for 210 yards and four touchdowns, although he has only seen 13 targets in those games. He comes with clear upside, but expectations should be tempered due to his lack of target share. Mohamed Sanu also saw seven targets last week, and he could see a similar role this week. He’s a bit too risky to trust in this offense, though. Austin Hooper is the other receiving threat on this team. He hasn’t seen many targets early on, but he is a touchdown threat. Furthermore, Cincinnati has struggled against tight ends this season, adding to Hooper’s value.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: Devonta Freeman is questionable this week, and his status will be key for the Falcons running back situation. If Freeman is active, he will likely split time with Tevin Coleman. If Freeman is out, Coleman will be the featured back once again. In two games without Freeman, Coleman is averaging 86 yards and 0.5 touchdowns on 18.5 touches per game. The Falcons running game also gets an elite matchup, as Cincinnati ranks seventh to last against running backs, allowing 123.7 rushing yards per game. Atlanta is expected to win this game, suggesting Coleman (or Freeman) could see extra carries in the fourth quarter.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matt Ryan
RB2: Tevin Coleman (if Freeman is out)
WR1: Julio Jones
WR2: Calvin Ridley (high risk)
TE2: Austin Hooper

Prediction: Falcons 31, Bengals 27 ^ Top

Lions at Cowboys - (Katz)
Line: DAL -3.0
Total: 44.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Matthew Stafford has bounced back nicely after his opening week disaster against the Jets. Over his last two games, he’s thrown five touchdowns against one interception. Helping his cause has been arguably the best receiving trio in the league. Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay are playing nearly every snap while Golden Tate is in there a little less, but he leads the team in targets with 36. Golladay is next with 28, followed by Jones with 23.

The Cowboys defense has been stifling so far, particularly against the pass, allowing just 183 yards passing per game. However, Sean Lee is not going to play this week and the Cowboys allow approximately 11 more points per game without Lee. The Lions should have no trouble moving the ball but a bigger concern is the pace of play. While the Lions are one of the fastest moving teams in the league, the Cowboys are 28th in pace. This could limit the amount of time Stafford has to work and cap the overall ceiling of Lions players. Nevertheless, the Lions are a passing offense and the Cowboys are going to struggle to contain the Lions trio of receivers.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: At some point, Matt Patricia has to turn this backfield over to Kerryon Johnson. I was one of the biggest Johnson detractors this preseason both based on a lack of opportunity and a lack of belief in the talent. I misevaluated the talent. I don’t think Johnson is great, but he is a competent player that will do just fine if given the opportunity. The opportunity hasn’t been there to this point, but I sense it might be soon. Johnson rattled off 101 yards on just 16 carries last week but his opportunity in the passing game will forever be limited by Theo Riddick. The Cowboys are allowing 3.4 ypc to opposing running backs, but, again, everything changes without Sean Lee.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford (low end)
WR2: Kenny Golladay (mid-range)
WR2: Golden Tate (low end)
WR3: Marvin Jones
Flex: Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick (PPR only)
Bench: LeGarrette Blount

Passing Game Thoughts: I seriously don’t know how I am going to find words to describe the Cowboys passing attack for the next 14 weeks. It’s an abomination. Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan are running an offense straight out of the 1970s. Dak Prescott attempted 34 passes last week and exactly zero of them were 15+ yards downfield. I know the weapons are suspect with a rotating committee featuring Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, Tavon Austin, Michael Gallup, and Terrance Williams, but they’re not even trying. Prescott once again failed to reach 200 yards passing and only carried the ball twice because the Cowboys won’t even run read options and RPOs to play to Prescott’s strengths. The Lions are allowing 152 passing yards per game which about what we’ve come to expect from Prescott. Do not even think about starting any Cowboys not named Ezekiel Elliott.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Despite their pathetic passing attack, the Cowboys have been effective running the ball. Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 5.7 ypc and ranks fourth in running back DVOA (defense adjusted value over average). The Cowboys offensive line is top 10 in success rate and stuff rate. The Lions are allowing 5.4 ypc to opposing rushers, which is good for worst in the NFL. Despite the possibility of negative game script, we know the Cowboys offense runs through Elliott. They are going to pound Zeke like they always do until the score forces their hand, which wouldn’t occur until at least late third quarter. Zeke will have plenty of opportunity and we know he’s getting the goal line carries if the Cowboys can find their way near the end zone. He is the only trustworthy fantasy option on this team.

Value Meter:
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott (high end)
Bench: Dak Prescott, Tavon Austin, Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns

Prediction: Lions 24, Cowboys 16 ^ Top

Texans at Colts - (Bales)
Line: IND -1.0
Total: 47.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Deshaun Watson struggled in his first game before totaling 695 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, and 80 rushing yards over his last two games. The Colts have only allowed 242 passing yards per game this season but have been a relatively average defense against quarterbacks, allowing them to post a 92.5 quarterback rating this season. Watson should throw the ball 30+ times this week, as this game is projected to be close.

DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller are the top two options for Houston. Fuller has only played in two games this season, but this duo has combined for a 50.5% target share. Since returning from injury, Fuller and Hopkins have totaled 41 targets in only two weeks. With Bruce Ellington on injured reserve, Hopkins and Fuller could potentially see an even larger target share this week. Indianapolis struggles against the tight end, but Ryan Griffin, Jordan Atkins, and Jordan Thomas have been stealing snaps and targets from each other. Of the trio, Griffin makes the most fantasy sense. Overall, Hopkins and Fuller, who have proven they can find success together, will produce the majority of the passing stats for Houston.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Lamar Miller has quietly played a major role in the Texans offense. He has recorded 75.4% of the running back touchdowns this season, and he’s averaging 17.3 touches per game. He gets a great matchup, as Indianapolis is allowing 106 rushing yards per game. More importantly, they are allowing a 4.1 yards per carry to their opponents. As mentioned above, this game is expected to be close, meaning Houston could potentially be utilizing Miller for four quarters.

Value Meter:
QB1: Deshaun Watson (mid-range)
RB2: Lamar Miller (high-end)
WR1: DeAndre Hopkins (mid-range)
WR1: Will Fuller (low-end)

Passing Game Thoughts: Andrew Luck has struggled this season, but not because of volume. He’s averaging 41.3 passing attempts per game, but he has turned those only into 220.7 yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game. He gets a matchup against Houston, who is allowing only 238 passing yards per game. With that being said, the Texans have allowed 8.5 yards per attempt and a 119.9 quarterback rating. They got the benefit of facing Blaine Gabbert in Week 2 but gave up 5 total TDs to Tom Brady (3) and Eli Manning (2).

T.Y. Hilton has struggled a bit this season, but he has seen double-digit targets in each of his first three games and has turned those targets into a 17/179/2 line. Ryan Grant is the only other receiver worth noting. He hasn’t been an elite option, but he has scored double digit fantasy points in two of his three games. Grant has only seen six targets over the last two weeks, though, suggesting his role is a bit inconsistent. Jack Doyle (foot) is averaging 7.5 targets per game, but he looks to be doubtful for this week. If Doyle is ruled out again, Eric Ebron will make an elite option. Last week, he saw 11 targets, and he could see a similar target share this weekend. He has also been a major factor in the red zone for the Colts this season.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: There isn’t a lot to love above the Colts running back situation. Marlon Mack (hamstring) is expected to return this week, but he’s expected to split carries with Jordan Wilkins. Nyheim Hines is the third back in this timeshare, and he handles the majority of the passing down work. Hines is the highest upside back of the three, but there’s very little reason to trust anyone in the group for the time being.

Value Meter:
QB2: Andrew Luck
WR2: T.Y. Hilton (mid-range)
TE1: Eric Ebron (mid-range)
Bench: Marlon Mack

Prediction: Texans 24, Colts 21 ^ Top

Dolphins at Patriots - (Katz)
Line: NE -6.5
Total: 48.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Ryan Tannehill had another low volume, high efficiency game last week, completing 17 of 23 throws for 289 yards and three touchdowns. He did so while completing no more than three passes to any single receiver. If you are excited about Jakeem Grant’s talent, you should be. The explosive youngster scored on both of his receptions (one from Albert Wilson). If you are thinking about picking him up this week, don’t. Grant inexplicably played on just 20% of the Dolphins snaps, but who am I to question the undefeated Adam Gase? Kenny Stills led all receivers with 91% of snaps played, but only saw five targets. For reasons I’ll never understand, DeVante Parker was second with 75%.

The Patriots have allowed 263 passing yards per game and seven total passing touchdowns through three weeks of the season. They have been far more vulnerable on the ground, but that was the case last week with Oakland and the Dolphins burned them through the air anyway. Tannehill has 12 career touchdowns against 10 interceptions against the Patriots with a 60% completion percentage. Take that with a grain of salt, though, as those stats date back to 2012 and much has changed. Even though the Patriots have looked pedestrian lately, this is still a game that projects to feature negative game script for Miami. The spread it around approach of Tannehill makes it difficult to trust anyone in this passing attack.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: What happened to the Dolphins run game last week? Frank Gore rushed for 12 yards on six carries while Kenyan Drake rushed for three yards on five carries. Drake is still consistently out-snapping Gore (66%-34% last week), but the 24 year-old has just 30 carries compared to the 87 year-old’s 23 thus far. It appears the fears of all Drake drafters have come to fruition. This is a low volume offense with limited goal line opportunities and the main work is being split between Drake and Gore. The Patriots are allowing 4.7 ypc and have allowed three rushing touchdowns this season, but it’s hard to envision a scenario where the Dolphins are in a spot to comfortably pound the ball. Drake has become completely unreliable.

Value Meter:
QB2: Ryan Tannehill (low end)
Flex: Kenyan Drake
Bench: Frank Gore, Mike Gesicki, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Danny Amendola, Jakeem Grant, Albert Wilson

Passing Game Thoughts: The days of Tom Brady being a difference-making QB1 are over. Brady hasn’t provided fantasy owners with an edge at the position since 2016. He hasn’t done his “Brady sneak” for a cheap rushing score since 2015. In Brady’s last 19 regular season starts, he has just six games of three or more touchdowns and just six games over 300 yards passing. Brady’s last 300-yard passing game was November 19, 2017. I am reluctant to make any sort of proclamations about the beginning of the end because I did that after the infamous Chiefs game of 2013 and we all know how that turned out, but I have concerns.
I was all excited about Chris Hogan’s start to the season, but he’s been a huge bust. Despite playing 100% of the snaps last week, he saw just four targets, which is one less than the amount of targets he saw in each of the first two games.

The Dolphins have been the league’s fourth worst pass defense by yards allowed (288.3), but this matchup really comes down to the Patriots. If Brady is right, then nothing else matters. Until that happens, even Rob Gronkowski is suffering. Gronk has just six receptions for 66 total yards in his last two games combined. It remains to be seen if Josh Gordon will make his debut this week but the Patriots seriously need him. They simply cannot continue with Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson as the only other two receivers behind Hogan. I’m willing to hold off on declaring any sort of Brady decline unless and until we see him struggle with actual receivers.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Rex Burkhead is someone I was willing to write off as a bust after Week 3 but his move to IR after a neck injury seals the deal. James White played 52% of the snaps and Sony Michel 48% with Michel dominating carries over White 14-4 and both players saw three targets, but White is clearly the passing down back. Michel wasn’t very effective on the ground, totaling just 50 yards. Nevertheless, he will be the primary ball carrier against a Dolphins team allowing just 3.3 ypc. White remains the safer bet with the PPR floor while Michel is now the favorite for goal line carries, of which there have not been many (Michel has yet to receive one this season). Ultimately, everything hinges on whether Brady can get things back on track and get this offense humming.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (low end)
WR3: Chris Hogan
TE1: Rob Gronkowski (elite)
Flex: Sony Michel, James White
Bench: Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Josh Gordon

Prediction: Patriots 27, Dolphins 20 ^ Top

Jets at Jaguars - (Bales)
Line: JAX -7.5
Total: 38.5

Passing Game Thoughts: This will be a low scoring game that focuses heavily on the defenses. Sam Darnold has flashed promise this season, but this is a terrible matchup for a rookie quarterback. Jacksonville pressures the QB, while allowing only 171 passing yards per game. They have also allowed only two passing touchdowns through three games. Simply put, Darnold is a player to completely avoid this week.

Quincy Enunwa has been a major part of the New York offense this season, as he has seen a 31.5% target share through three games. He has also seen more than twice as many targets as the next receiver - Terrelle Pryor. With that being said, there simply isn’t anyone good enough in the Jets passing game to be considered against an elite defense. Darnold should struggle, causing the receivers to struggle as well.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: Jacksonville has struggled at times against the run, as they are allowing 115.3 yards per game this season, but they have also allowed only one rushing touchdown. Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell are splitting a workload, but they have both found success this season. Crowell has been dependent on touchdowns, and Jacksonville simply has not allowed their opponents to score. Powell seems to be the better option because of his work in the passing game, and New York should be playing from behind. Still, it’s difficult to trust anyone on New York’s offense this week.

Value Meter:
WR3: Quincy Enunwa
Bench: Sam Darnold, Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell

Passing Game Thoughts: The Jets have also featured one of the best defenses in the NFL this season. Blake Bortles threw at an elite level against the New England Patriots, but he struggled in his other two matchups this season. He has attempted 30+ passes in each of his three games, and he certainly comes with some upside. With that being said, New York is allowing only 204 passing yards per game this season. They have also allowed only three touchdowns, while recording five interceptions.

Keelan Cole has been the top receiving option for the Jaguars, as he has seen 17 targets over his last two games. Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief are two more options that come with upside for Jacksonville, but it will be tough for any receivers to find success this week. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has found some success this season, but similarly to the other positions, the Jets have looked outstanding against tight ends. Jacksonville is a sizeable favorite, meaning they could spend the majority of this game running the clock out leaving very little opportunity in the passing game.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: Leonard Fournette (hamstring) was injured in the first game this season, but he’s expected to return in Week 4. He saw 12 touches in the first quarter of that game, including three receptions. It’s clear that Fournette is the focal point of this offense, but his role will be a bit unknown because of his injury. T.J. Yeldon (ankle) could also see a bit of work, but he will essentially be in a reserve role if Fournette is healthy. The Jets are in the middle of the pack, allowing the 18th most fantasy points to running backs. Carlos Hyde did rack up 98 rushing yards and 2 TDs against them last week.

Value Meter:
QB2: Blake Bortles (low-end)
RB1: Leonard Fournette (risky)
WR3: Keelan Cole
Bench: Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Prediction: Jaguars 20, Jets 13 ^ Top

Eagles at Titans - (Bales)
Line: PHI -3.5
Total: 41.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Carson Wentz looked a bit rusty in his return, totaling 255 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He’ll likely need a few more games to get back into the groove of things, and he gets a tough matchup this week. Tennessee has only allowed 656 passing yards and four passing touchdowns this season. Wentz was due for regression from last season, so temper expectations for the time being, especially since he’s returning from injury.

Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) was expected to return from injury, but he’s now dealing with an illness and is questionable for this week. If he’s out again, tight ends Dallas Goedert and Joshua Perkins could see extended targets and snaps. Nelson Agholor has found quite a bit of success this season and leads the wide receiver group with 20 receptions. In his only game with Wentz, Agholor saw only five targets, making his role questionable. Zach Ertz has been one of the only consistent options for the Eagles, as he has seen double digit targets in each of his three games. The Eagles may not need to throw the ball more than 30 times, as they are favorites in a game with a low total.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: Philadelphia’s running back situation is a bit murky at the moment. Darren Sproles (hamstring) isn’t expected to suit up, while Jay Ajayi (back) and Corey Clement (quad) are dealing with injuries, but are expected to play. The Eagles announced that Ajayi would see a workhorse role after the first week, but he was injured in his next game. He’s the most appealing back on this team, but each come with plenty of risk, especially against a team that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown and has given up the 3rd fewest fantasy points to running backs this season.

Value Meter:
WR3: Nelson Agholor (high-end)
TE1: Zach Ertz
Bench: Carson Wentz, Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement

Passing Game Thoughts: Marcus Mariota (elbow) has played limited snaps this season because of injury and has barely 200 yards passing. He looked good in relief of Blaine Gabbert last week, but still only threw for 100 yards on 18 attempts. More importantly, he ran for 51 yards on seven carries. There have been suggestions that Mariota is still less than 100% and he may struggle against Philadelphia, who has featured an average passing defense this season.

Corey Davis has been the clear-cut top option for the Titans, recording a 30% target share through three games. He has struggled a bit to produce high-end WR numbers, but could see double-digit targets in a game where the Titans should be playing catchup. Rishard Matthews recently asked for his release and was waived, which should result in more snaps and targets for Taywan Taylor, who has seen more opportunities over the last two weeks. However, the Titans are a run-heavy offense, and there simply may not be enough volume to consider any other receivers on this team.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: Philadelphia is allowing a league-low 61.7 rushing yards per game, while holding their opponents to only 3.4 yards per carry. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis are in a timeshare, as Henry is averaging 15.3 touches per game compared to Lewis’ 16. Henry has out-touched Lewis in each of their last two games, though, and both were wins. Game script is seemingly the deciding factor in their touch totals at this point, and Philadelphia is expected to be leading in this game. It’s tough to trust any running back in a matchup against the Eagles, especially two that are splitting carries. Lewis is likely the better option because of his contributions to the passing attack, but neither back is overly appealing this week.

Value Meter:
WR3: Corey Davis (high upside)
Flex: Dion Lewis
Bench: Derrick Henry, Marcus Mariota

Prediction: Eagles 20, Titans 13 ^ Top

Buccaneers @ Bears - (Swanson)
Line: CHI -3.0
Total: 46.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The Fiztmagic hype train nearly derailed last week when Fitzpatrick threw three awful interceptions at home against the Steelers, including a pick-six that proved to be the difference-making play of the game. For fantasy purposes, Fitzpatrick came through in the end with 411 passing yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 400 yards in three games to start a season.

The bounce back from Fitzpatrick likely saved his starting job over Jameis Winston, at least for another week, as the Bucs coaching staff will be forced to make a tough decision in the near future. Do they continue to run with Fitzpatrick or put in Winston to see if he is the quarterback for the future.

We have Fitzpatrick ranked as a fringe No.1 QB this week as the Bucs head north to take on the Bears that rank fifth in total defense. On the positive side, the way to beat Chicago is through the air and not the ground, as the Bears rank 11th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 31st against the run. This falls in line with what the Bucs do well, as the passing game of Tampa Bay is No.1 over the first three games and the ground game is the third-worst in the league.

On the negative side for Fitzpatrick owners, it is conceivable that Dirk Cutter pulls the veteran quarterback at halftime if Fitz starts with another interception-filled performance against Chicago.

A matchup to watch in this game will be the Chicago defensive front and Khalil Mack against a Tampa Bay offensive line that is tied for the seventh-most sacks allowed through three games. If the Bucs can’t protect Fitzpatrick, it will be a long day, and Fitz may force the ball like he did last week against the Steelers. However, if the Bucs can give Fitz time, the wide receiving corps of Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Godwin should have no difficulty getting open and making plays against Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: The offensive explosion by the Tampa Bay passing game has done an excellent job making up for the deficiencies in the rushing attack of the Bucs. The combination of Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers ranks dead last in fantasy points, with the duo combining for 152 yards on 54 carries and nine catches for 59 yards.

Things will not get easier for Barber and Rodgers this week, as the Bears allow the second-fewest points to opposing running backs. David Johnson managed just 31 yards on 12 carries, while the Seahawks tandem of Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson were held to only 54 yards on 16 combined runs Week 2.

Starting Barber as anything other than a flex option in deeper leagues is a risky play based on the fact that Barber has not received more than 19 carries in a game this season and he has averaged a disappointing 2.9 yards per carry on that workload. In addition, the way to beat Chicago is through the air and not the ground, which increases the likelihood that Rodgers will get more action this week as the more skilled receiver of the two.

Value Meter: QB1: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Low-End)
WR1: Mike Evans (Low-End)
WR3: DeSean Jackson (High-End)
Flex: Chris Godwin
TE1: O.J. Howard
Bench: Peyton Barber

Passing Game Thoughts: Designing a sophisticated passing offense and signing high-priced wide receivers and tight ends to run the scheme does not work unless you have a quarterback who understands how to take advantage of the defense and has the accuracy to make plays. In the case of the 2018 Chicago Bears, the scheme by Matt Nagy looks to be solid, and the Bears certainly have the firepower of weapons to take advantage of mismatches created by the scheme. But it appears, at least through three games, that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is not ready to be the starting quarterback of this offense.

There have been numerous missed opportunities by Trubisky so far this young season, like when he failed to find a wide-open Trey Burton in the middle of the end zone against the Packers Week 1, or when he was unable to identify the perfect matchup outside for a bubble screen to Tarik Cohen that would have led to an easy touchdown. To make matters worse, even when Trubisky makes the correct read, he is inaccurate and often misses easy throws.

Perhaps this will be the week for Trubisky and the Bears passing offense to finally get on track against a Tampa Bay defense that is downright dreadful against the pass. Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger combined for nearly 800 passing yards and six touchdowns against Tampa Bay this season, and even Nick Foles managed to throw for over 300 yards despite missing Alshon Jeffery outside.

Look for Trubisky to lean on wide receiver Allen Robinson against cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Ryan Smith. Robinson’s nine targets per game make him an attractive start against a Bucs secondary that has allowed a touchdown top WR1s in each of the first three games.

With Anthony Miller sidelined with a shoulder injury, Taylor Gabriel is a sneaky flex start in what could be his best matchup of the season. Gabriel has seen his targets increase in each of the previous three games to 10 last week against Arizona. Secondary wide receiving options like Ted Ginn Jr., Nelson Agholor, and JuJu Smith-Schuster all posted double-digit games against Tampa Bay this year, and Gabriel could be the next guy in line to do the same. At very least, DFS owners should be giving Gabriel strong considerations in GPP formats this week.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: On paper, the Bucs defense looks to be a strong matchup for opposing running backs based on the fact that Tampa Bay has allowed the fourth-most points to opposing RBs through three weeks. But when you consider the fact that Tampa has faced Alvin, Kamara, James Connor, and the rushing backfield of Philly, their ranking against the run looks a bit skewed.

The Bucs boast one of the better run-stopping front sevens in football, led by Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul, Kwon Alexander, and Lavonte David. If you take away the three-touchdown performance by Kamara Week 1, the Bucs would rank in the middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to running backs.

Beating Tampa Bay through the air with their suspect secondary is the way to attack this unit, leading me to believe that Tarik Cohen will be a big factor in this game and a sneaky flex play. Matt Nagy is a smart play caller who will look to take advantage of the Bucs and where Tampa is weak. Stopping the pass, including passes to running backs out of the backfield is a weakness for Tampa and something that Nagy will exploit with Cohen and Jordan Howard.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mitchell Trubisky (Low-End)
RB1: Jordan Howard (Low-End)
RB3: Tarik Cohen (High-End)
WR2: Allen Robinson (Mid-Range)
Flex: Taylor Gabriel (Low-End)
TE1: Trey Burton (Low-End)

Prediction: Chicago 28, Tampa Bay 21 ^ Top

Browns at Raiders - (Caron)
Line: OAK -2.5
Total: 45.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The NFL got its first glimpse of No.1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield this past week as the rookie quarterback made his debut, filling in for the injured Tyrod Taylor and leading a come-from-behind victory for the Browns who have finally snapped their winless streak. There was a visible jump in excitement both in the play-calling department but also seemingly in the effort of the other Browns offensive players when Mayfield stepped onto the field and he’ll now take over as the team’s starter here in Week 4 as the Browns head to Oakland to face the Raiders. Mayfield lifts the entire passing game as he is a significantly more accurate thrower than Tyrod Taylor was. While Taylor was reasonably effective, he simply does not have the touch that Mayfield does and while Mayfield doesn’t have Taylor’s mobility, he’s still quick enough to make plays happen.

A matchup against the Raiders doesn’t sound like one to be worried about, but the Raiders secondary has actually played way better than people realize. Wide receiver Antonio Callaway was the hot pickup on fantasy waiver wires this week after the team moved on from Josh Gordon, but this depth chart might not be as obvious as it appears on paper. Callaway led all Browns receivers in snaps played in Week 3, but Rashard Higgins wasn’t far behind and Higgins slightly out-produced Callaway. Higgins and Mayfield have both spoken about the tight relationship they have which is often overstated from a fantasy standpoint, but it’s certainly something to consider given that Higgins is playing most of the in three-receiver sets. Jarvis Landry, meanwhile, continues to produce solid numbers and appeared to have a pretty good connection with Mayfield as well, so he’s someone who should continue to be rolled out as a rock solid high-end WR2, especially in PPR formats. Finally, at tight end, David Njoku is still available in many leagues and could be on the verge of breaking out. Njoku is playing more than twice as many snaps as any other Browns tight end and is an absolute weapon on the field. The tight end position is a total wasteland beyond the high-end elite options and few players at the position offer more upside than Njoku.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: He wasn’t a sexy fantasy draft pick this offseason but veteran running back and Browns free agency acquisition Carlos Hyde has been by far the most productive Cleveland running back. Rookie Nick Chubb, whom many expected would play a major role, is a non-factor at this point and even pass catching specialist Duke Johnson is not getting the type of targets that he has been in the past few seasons. This has led to Hyde seeing 61 of a possible running back 78 rushing attempts for the Browns so far this season - an average of over 20 per game. Hyde has also scored four touchdowns, including a pair of touchdowns this past week once Mayfield stepped in at quarterback. While the Browns will likely end up passing the ball more, now that Mayfield is behind center, the overall uptick in offensive production should lead to more opportunities for Hyde to score touchdowns and that’s really how fantasy points get scored in bunches.

The Raiders got ran over by the Broncos and Rams then decided to completely the shut down the Dolphins running game in Week 3. It’ll be interesting to see if the Browns end up leaning on their running game again as heavily as they did this past week, but Oakland’s front seven really isn’t very good and the Browns should have an opportunity to produce solid numbers on the ground if they stick to their running game.

Value Meter:
RB2: Carlos Hyde (high-end)
WR2: Jarvis Landry (high-end)
TE1: David Njoku
Bench: Baker Mayfield, Antonio Callaway, Rashard Higgins

Passing Game Thoughts: After praising his quarterback’s quick learning of the playbook this offseason, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has now been publicly critical of Derek Carr in the media after a loss. While there’s really no reason to be concerned that Carr is on any sort of hot seat, the truth is that the Raiders passing game stinks right now, and Carr simply doesn’t look very good. His fantasy production was at least acceptable this past week as he threw for 345 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins, but he still threw a pair of interceptions and just does not seem to be on his game. On the positive side, wide receiver Jordy Nelson finally started running routes primarily out of the slot in Week 3, which would seem to be ideal for him at this stage in his career. Doing so allows the duo of Amari Cooper and Martavis Bryant to primarily play outside while Nelson exploits weak points in the defense as opposed to having to try to stretch the field. This new offensive philosophy allowed Nelson to break out with 173 yards and a touchdown - his first game with over 30 receiving yards in a Raiders uniform - and he might just be the top player in this passing game going forward.

Cooper’s struggles continue as he posted just two receptions in Week 3 after a 10-catch Week 2. It’s very difficult to predict if and when Cooper is going to go off, but he’s always a player who has the capability of winning you a week. Because of that, he’s a player who should be in most fantasy lineups against a Browns defense that has conceded at least 10 receptions to opposing wide receivers in all three games so far this season. Jared Cook has taken a step back, as we all expected, since his monster Week 1 performance, but he leads the team in both targets (22) and receptions (18), as well as receiving yards. He’s a major part of this passing game and a viable TE1 given that the position is so bad right now throughout the league. The Browns have been good against opposing tight ends so far this season, but they really haven’t faced much competition at the position.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: Marshawn Lynch has now scored in all three games so far this season and his fantasy owners have to be happy about what he’s produced, especially given that the Raiders themselves are 0-3. The positive thing is that the Raiders have been in every game so that has allowed Lynch to see 55 total touches through three games. He’s barely averaging 3.5 yards per carry but he gets all of the team’s goal line touches and a heavy enough workload overall that he’s a pretty fantasy safe option, especially against a Browns defense that gave up a pair of touchdowns and over 100 rushing yards to the Jets backfield this past week.

Value Meter:
RB2: Marshawn Lynch
TE1: Jared Cook
Flex: Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson
Bench: Derek Carr, Jalen Richard, Martavis Bryant

Prediction: Browns 24, Raiders 20 ^ Top

Seahawks at Cardinals - (Caron)
Line: SEA -3.0
Total: 39.0

Passing Game Thoughts: He hasn’t been horrible, but there’s no question that fantasy owners of Russell Wilson have been disappointed in the production they’ve gotten out of their quarterback. Wilson ranks outside of the QB1 range in most formats and there isn’t a whole lot of reason to think that it’s going to get significantly better anytime soon. Whether it’s the uninventive play-calling, the lack of seasoned pass-catching weapons to throw the ball to, or the surprising absence of rushing yardage, Wilson just isn’t getting it done for fantasy purposes.

Now he’ll face a Cardinals pass defense that has given up just one touchdown pass over their past two games. One of the other things to consider with this matchup is that the Cardinals offense runs among the fewest plays per game in football which really grinds down the clock and doesn’t allow opposing offenses to get as many opportunities as they otherwise would. Wilson is still a potential fantasy starter depending on your matchups, but this is really not a great matchup on the road in Arizona. The one player to be excited about in this matchup is wide receiver Tyler Lockett who has now caught a touchdown in all three games so far this season and remains one of the best big play threats in the league. Lockett is a low-end WR2 but he has upside to finish as a high-end WR2 or even a low-end WR1 as long as Baldwin remains out. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall, Jaron Brown and tight end Will Dissly have all had their moments this season but aren’t catching the ball enough to be reliable fantasy starters.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: We came into the 2018 season not really knowing how this Seattle backfield would shake out but it appears that the Seahawks are going to roll primarily with second-year back Chris Carson over their 2018 first round pick Rashaad Penny. That might change as time goes on, but for now it’s safe to bench Penny and even drop him in shallow leagues while Carson should be a starter in most formats given the volume he’s seeing. Carson ran the ball a ridiculous 32 times in Week 3, which he converted for just 102 yards - a sub-3.2 yards per carry average - but the willingness of a coaching staff to give one player that many touches will make almost anyone into a weekly fantasy starter.

Value Meter:
QB2: Russell Wilson
RB2: Chris Carson
WR2: Tyler Lockett
Bench: Rashaad Penny, C.J. Prosise, Brandon Marshall, Jaron Brown, Will Dissly

Passing Game Thoughts: The Josh Rosen era has begun in Arizona as the Cardinals benched veteran Sam Bradford late in Week 3, moving to the quarterback that many scouts believed was the most NFL-ready passer in the draft class. Rosen didn’t play long and had moments of both brilliance and ugliness, but this will be his first opportunity to actually prepare all week as the team’s starter. We believe that he’ll have wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, but the veteran is still nursing a hamstring injury that has not allowed him to perform at the level that we’re accustomed to seeing from him.

With Fitzgerald hobbled and Rosen behind center, we finally saw the emergence of rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk in Week 3. Kirk led the Cardinals with seven receptions for 90 yards and could continue to be a big part of this passing game going forward, especially given the relationship he has with his fellow rookie QB. Don’t deploy Kirk into your starting lineup yet, though, as he’s still not an established part of the Cardinals offense and he’ll be against a Seattle secondary that has played better than most believed they would heading into the season. Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones is a potential boom-or-bust tight end, but he’s busted way more often than he’s boomed, so it’s probably best to avoid him until we see the type of connection he has with Rosen.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No19.
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: It’s been a tough start to the fantasy season for owners of Cardinals running back David Johnson who has yet to crack 50 yards on the ground and is averaging just barely over 3.4 yards per carry. Johnson’s usage in the passing game hasn’t been what it was in previous seasons, either, although he did finally catch a touchdown pass this past week. The reality is that the Arizona offensive system just isn’t setup to produce a high point total on a weekly basis, which really limits Johnson’s upside. He has touched the ball at least 14 times in each game, which does give him a decent enough floor to remain a fantasy starter, but he’s only an RB2 until we see the offense start to surge. There’s a chance now that Rosen is behind center, but this is still likely to be one of the worst offenses in football.

Value Meter:
RB2: David Johnson
Flex: Larry Fitzgerald (PPR only)
Bench: Josh Rosen, Christian Kirk, Ricky Seals-Jones

Prediction: Seahawks 21, Cardinals 16 ^ Top

Saints at Giants - (Katz)
Line: NO -3.5
Total: 50.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The biggest question concerning the Saints offense entering 2018 was whether their run heavy approach of 2017 was an anomaly or a trend. It looks like we have our answer. Over the first three games, Drew Brees is averaging 43 pass attempts and the air raid Saints are back. Nothing about Brees’ 2017 suggested any drop off in ability; it was purely volume that was the problem. Brees has thrown multiple touchdowns in every game this season against zero interceptions and is completing over 80% of his passes. He also added two rushing scores last week. Michael Thomas has an insane 95% catch rate, which is largely due to the fact that all 40 of his targets have been considered catchable. Brees is playing at a truly elite level. He’s even managed to make Ted Ginn Jr. relevant. Ginn has seen 19 targets on the season and caught a touchdown in two out of three games. It remains to be seen what his workload looks like as Cameron Meredith is integrated into the offense. Meredith scored on his only reception last week.

The Giants are only allowing 232 passing yards per game, but take that with a grain of salt given that two of the quarterbacks they’ve faced are Blake Bortles and Dak Prescott. This game projects to be a shootout and Brees is going to light it up, making him and Thomas extremely high ceiling options. For those in dire need of a TE streamer, you can also look to Ben Watson, who has quietly caught at least three passes in every game thus far. If you can manage five points from your TE position, that’s actually a win at the position this year.

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

Running Game Thoughts: One of the arguments against Alvin Kamara was that there was no way he was going to suddenly see 15+ carries a game. That is proving to be true as Kamara is averaging 12 carries a game. But, it just doesn’t matter given that Brees has targeted Kamara 38 times through the air. And this is exactly what fantasy owners drafted Kamara to do – catch passes. Kamara the running back isn’t even worth rostering in fantasy but Kamara the receiver is a legit WR1 at your running back position. He saw a whopping 20 targets last week, catching 15 of them for 124 yards.

The Giants have been a top five defense against pass catching RBs this season, but they have no prayer of stopping Kamara. That 28.7 receiving yards per game they allow to running backs is sure to skyrocket. This is Kamara’s final game without Mark Ingram and he is going to make the most of it.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees (elite)
RB1: Alvin Kamara (elite)
WR1: Michael Thomas (elite)
TE2: Ben Watson
Flex: Ted Ginn Jr.
Bench: Cameron Meredith

Passing Game Thoughts: Quietly, Eli Manning hasn’t been all that bad this season. He faced two excellent defenses the first two weeks in Jacksonville and Dallas. When he finally got a chance to face a weaker opponent (HOU), he completed 25 of 29 throws for 297 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. More importantly, he averaged 10.2 yards per attempt after hovering around 6.0 for the first two weeks. Manning lost Evan Engram last week, which is an obvious hit to the Giants offense, but he still has one of the best supporting casts in the league. Odell Beckham Jr. is matchup proof. Saquon Barkley is a fantastic pass catcher and Sterling Shepard is poised to step up in Engram’s absence. The Saints have allowed the third most passing yards this season at 336 per game and are one of two teams to have allowed 10 passing touchdowns, most in the league. The Giants will have to score to keep up with the Saints and that means plenty of passing.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: Saquon Barkley had his best rushing effort on the ground last week with 82 yards on 17 carries. His Week 1 ypc may have been higher, but it was bolstered by one 68-yard run. Last week, he was consistently effective. Game script may prevent Barkley from carrying the ball a ton, but he will still be heavily involved as a pass catcher (he caught all five of his targets last week for 35 yards) and will get opportunities near the goal line. Barkley has already seen seven red zone carries this season. The Saints surprisingly have allowed the fewest yards per carry to opposing teams this season at just 3.0, but Barkley is by far the best running back they have faced. He is an all-purpose back that is a lock to touch the ball at least 20 times. This is a game you want a piece of in fantasy.

Value Meter:
QB2: Eli Manning (high end)
RB1: Saquon Barkley (elite)
WR1: Odell Beckham Jr. (elite)
WR2: Sterling Shepard (low end)
Bench: Evan Engram (MCL)

Prediction: Giants 34, Saints 31 ^ Top

49ers at Chargers - (Caron)
Line: LAC -10.5
Total: 46.0

Passing Game Thoughts: With Jimmy Garoppolo out for the season with a torn ACL, the 49ers turn back to the player who Garoppolo took over for in 2017 - C.J. Beathard. Beathard takes over in an offense that’s physically depleted and wasn’t clicking even prior to Jimmy G’s injury, so he has to be considered one of the worst fantasy options among starters. Yes, he’ll be up against a Chargers defense that’s already given up eight passing touchdowns this season, but Beathard didn’t show us anything in 2017 that should give us much confidence about him suddenly becoming a reliable fantasy asset. With Garoppolo gone, all of the 49ers pass catching weapons have to move down the rankings, with the possible exception of tight end George Kittle who might remain about the same that he was before. It was a small sample size in 2017, but Kittle was actually targeted more often on average in games quarterbacked by Beathard than he was in games quarterbacked by Garoppolo.

Kittle is a low-end TE1 option going forward, even this week against the Chargers who shut down Travis Kelce in Week 1. The team will be happy to have wide receiver Marquise Goodwin back, but we don’t know if he’s fully healthy yet and it’s hard to believe that he’s going to continue to be as effective with Beathard as he was with Garoppolo. Leave your 49ers pass catching options, other than Kittle, on the bench this week.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No7.
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: The loss of Jimmy Garoppolo might lead to the 49ers running the ball more often, but it would be almost impossible for those carries to more valuable with Beathard behind center than they were with Garoppolo. Defenses will likely stack the box substantially more often now than they were before which means much worse running lanes for Alfred Morris who is primarily a between-the-tackles grinder in this San Francisco offense.

Morris is not a player that fantasy owners should be excited about in this difficult matchup but Matt Breida might actually have some value. Beathard is not a great downfield passer, but the one thing we saw from him in 2017 was a player who targeted his running backs at a rate higher than almost any player we’ve ever seen. That conservative nature plays right into the more agile Breida, who is much more capable of making plays in the open field than Morris is. Breida has low-end RB2 value even in standard scoring formats and is a relatively safe RB2 option in PPR with upside.

Value Meter:
RB2: Matt Breida
TE1: George Kittle
Flex: Alfred Morris (non-PPR)
Bench: C.J. Beathard, Marquise Goodwin, Pierre Garcon, Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor

Passing Game Thoughts: Reliable as they come, Philip Rivers has produced solid fantasy numbers in every game so far this season, and he’s doing so by spreading the ball around as he typically does. Sure, Keenan Allen remains the team’s top passing game weapon, but he’s seen some tough defensive back matchups over the past two weeks which has allowed former first round draft pick Mike Williams to step up. Williams has scored three touchdowns over the past two weeks, albeit on just six total catches, but more important is that he’s now creeping up into playing nearly identical snaps as Tyrell Williams. The difference is that Tyrell has just seven catches on the season for only 78 yards and one touchdown back in Week 1, meaning that the younger Williams has seemingly overtaken him as the second option out wide for the Chargers.

With no tight end of consequence on the roster (sorry Antonio Gates), Mike Williams has seemingly become Rivers’ red zone weapon of choice - a position which has yielded huge fantasy results in the past. Allen is still by far the top passing option in this offense, but Mike Williams does have upside, particularly in touchdown-heavy formats, and he’ll face a San Francisco defense this week that has already given up eight passing touchdowns this season. Both Allen and Williams are fantasy starters this week.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: A 16-point PPR day for Melvin Gordon in Week 3 was actually a step back for the stud running back as he had some monster performances in Weeks 1 and 2. Still, 16 points per game would make Gordon one of the best fantasy backs in the league, so there’s nothing to be worried about especially with the Chargers expected to run away with this game on the scoreboard. That could mean a big workload for Gordon and even some additional carries for backup Austin Ekeler, who usually makes things happen in the passing game. Gordon is one of the top plays in all of fantasy football this week and could be in line for a big game if he’s given enough touches. Ekeler himself does have a decent floor in PPR formats and presents some upside as well, so he’s an interesting Flex option.

Value Meter:
QB1: Philip Rivers
RB1: Melvin Gordon
WR1: Keenan Allen
WR2: Mike Williams
Flex: Austin Ekeler (PPR only)
Bench: Tyrell Williams, Antonio Gates, Virgil Green

Prediction: Chargers 31, 49ers 17 ^ Top

Ravens @ Steelers - (Swanson)
Line: PIT -3.0
Total: 50.0

Passing Game Thoughts: With an average of 23.3 fantasy points per game through the first three weeks of the 2018 NFL season, Joe Flacco is on pace to break his career-best mark of 21.6 fantasy points per game set back in 2015 (21.6). Flacco currently ranks higher than other highlight touted fantasy options like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson, and he should continue to put up solid fantasy production this week against a Steelers defense that has allowed the second-most points to opposing quarterbacks.

In 19 career starts against the Steelers, Flacco owns a 9-10 record with 4291 passing yards and 23 passing touchdowns, and his 12 interceptions against Pittsburgh are the second most against any one opponent. Although he has not thrown for more than two touchdowns against the Steelers in his previous four games, his 19.5 average fantasy points per game against his division rival makes him worthy of a start in 14-team and two quarterback leagues.

Flacco’s wide receiving corps led by John Brown, Michael Crabtree, and Willie Sneed rank as the No.15 unit in fantasy points scored in 2018, while the trio of tight ends in Baltimore, including Nick Boyle, Maxx Williams, and Mark Andrews is second in the league in targets and catches behind Philadelphia.

Using the tight end to attack the Steelers has been a point of emphasis by opponents this season, and something the offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will likely continue on Sunday. No other team has given up more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than Pittsburgh, with Travis Kelce and the duo of Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard each posting big performances.

Unfortunately, from a fantasy perspective, none of the Baltimore tight ends are valid plays based on the fact that the Ravens spread out targets and usage evening between the trio of players, effectively killing the fantasy value of each individual. There is little doubt that one of the Raven tight ends will have a solid game on Sunday, but discerning who that player will be is all but impossible.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: The duo of Alex Collins and Buck Allen have been a solid one-two punch for the Ravens this season, with the two players, along with Kenneth Dixon Week 1, ranking as the No. 6 backfield in total fantasy points through the first three games. Allen is tied for the NFL lead with four total touchdowns despite garnering only 16 carries. Allen’s value as the primary goal line back and favorite passing down option for Flacco will continue to give him flex appeal going forward.

Collins has not been the workhorse back that owners envisioned when he was drafted as a third or fourth round pick this summer. His 3.4 yard per carry average is well off the 4.6 YPC mark that he posted last season, but he does have two rushing touchdowns in three games and is averaging the same 10.1 fantasy points per game that he finished with in 2017.

The Ravens will look to run the ball with Collins and Allen in an attempt to control time of possession and limit the number of touches for Big Ben and the Steelers. If that game script comes to fruition, Collins could be in line for 20 carries with Allen working in on third down and short yardage. If the Steelers jump out to an early lead and the Ravens are forced to play catch up, then Allen would likely be the primary RB option in the second half.

The limited stats that we have from the first month of the season show that passing the ball to against the Steelers is the best course of action. Those stats are somewhat skewed based on the matchups against the Chiefs and the Bucs, two of the top four passing offenses in the league. But it is clear that the Steeler run defense, anchored by Cam Heyward, Javon Hargrave, and Stephon Tuitt, is stout, and attacking Pittsburgh up the middle of the defensive line is not a smart move.

Value Meter:
QB2: Joe Flacco (High-End)
RB2: Alex Collins (Low-End)
RB3: Javorius Allen (High-End)
WR2: John Brown (Low-End)
WR3: Michael Crabtree (High-End)
TE2: Nick Boyle (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: The struggling Pittsburgh defense that has allowed 90 points in the first three games of the season has been a boost for Big Ben fantasy owners, as the Steelers have been forced to put up gaudy numbers to keep pace with their opponents. Roethlisberger is tied with Kirk Cousins for the most attempts (139) on the season and ranks second behind Ryan Fitzpatrick in passing yards (1140). He is on pace to shatter his career high of fantasy points per game (22.7), with 31.1 FPts/G through the first three weeks.

One of the reasons why Big Ben is having so much success throwing the ball is the emergence of second-year wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster as a favorite target alongside Antonio Brown. Big Ben no longer forces the ball to Brown (to the chagrin of Brown owners), opting to throw to Smith-Schuster who is usually covered by less talented defensive backs. Although Brown leads the team in targets at 42, Smith-Schuster is third in the league in reception yards (356) and has at least 100 receiving yards in the last four regular season games dating back to 2017.

Although his QB rating and completion percentage against the Ravens is below his career averages, Big Ben threw for 506 yards and two touchdowns the last time these two teams played against each other at Heinz Field.

Add in the fact that the Ravens are still without top corner Jimmy Smith and the fact that Andy Dalton lit up Baltimore for four touchdowns and 265 passing yards at home in Week 2, and you have the recipe for a possible monster game for Ben and the Steeler passing offense.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: After an impressive 31.2 point performance to open the season against Cleveland, James Conner came back down to Earth in his last two games against the Chiefs and the Bucs. The second-year running back somewhat salvaged his Week 2 dud with a rushing touchdown and 48 passing yards but failed to reach the end zone last Week in the high scoring game against the Buccaneers.

With Le’Veon Bell still holding out, Conner will once again be the primary running back against a Baltimore defense that ranks 28th in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. No running back has totaled 100 total yards against the Ravens since Bell posted 115 yards and three scores Week 14 of last year.

A positive note for Conner and his chances of bouncing back is the fact that the Ravens are banged up on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback Brandon Carr and linebacker Terrell Suggs missed practice on Wednesday with knee injuries, and linebacker CJ Mosley was also limited with a knee injury. Safety Eric Weddle missed practice with a non-injury related excuse but is expected to play.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ben Roethlisberger (Elite)
RB1: James Conner (Low-End)
WR1: Antonio Brown (Elite)
WR2: JuJu Smith-Schuster (High-End)
TE1: Vance McDonald Low-End)

Prediction: Steelers 34, Ravens 28 ^ Top

Chiefs at Broncos - (Caron)
Line: KC -4.5
Total: 54.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Once was a fluke, twice was lucky, but three times? At this point, Patrick Mahomes has to be considered the top quarterback in all of fantasy football. With players like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady struggling, it’s Mahomes who leads all players in fantasy production this season with a ridiculous 13-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio and the Kansas City offense is just red hot with him behind center. Everyone seems to be getting involved in the scoring, from tight end Travis Kelce who is an elite play in any matchup, to wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, but even Chris Conley has now scored in back-to-back weeks. The Week 4 matchup on the road against the Broncos is probably the toughest matchup the Chiefs have played so far this season, but there’s still little reason to believe that the offense won’t continue to score points at a high rate. With the passing game looking as good as it has been, everyone has a chance to do something for fantasy owners.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: It’s been an odd start to the season for second-year running back Kareem Hunt. Running backs typically produce some pretty nice fantasy point totals when their offenses are leading the league in scoring, but Mahomes has been so efficient passing the ball down the field that Hunt has had a tough time contributing in the passing game. Through three games, Hunt has just three total targets and one catch. While he did turn that one catch into a five-yard touchdown, it’s still a serious concern for Hunt owners that he’s not seeing the ball in the passing game more often. It’s tough to have a high floor in today’s NFL without catching some passes. Still, Hunt did get into the end zone on the ground twice in Week 3 and he remains a player that probably has to be in most fantasy lineups despite an ugly yards per carry so far this season. Hunt is more of a high-end RB2, but the Broncos did surrender a pair of rushing touchdowns this past week to the Ravens and Hunt will likely have some carries near the goal line if the Chiefs offense continues to perform how it has been.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes
RB2: Kareem Hunt (high-end)
WR1: Tyreek Hill
WR2: Sammy Watkins (low-end)
TE1: Travis Kelce
Bench: Spencer Ware, Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas, Demetrius Harris

Passing Game Thoughts: Denver’s quarterback woes have continued this season and it’s beginning to look like Case Keenum might not be the answer for the franchise that appears to be the new Cleveland Browns in terms of the carousel they’ve had at the position in recent seasons. Keenum tossed three touchdown passes in the opening contest against the Seahawks but has yet to throw a touchdown since while throwing an interception in each of his past two games against the Raiders and Ravens. This week he’ll have a significantly better matchup, though, against a Chiefs secondary that has given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this season.

The Broncos don’t want to get into an offensive shootout with the Chiefs, but they might be forced to throw the ball quite a bit in this game if they do fall behind on the scoreboard as other teams have against Kansas City. If that happens, look for a high target day for wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. Sanders appears to be Keenum’s preferred option but there could be a nice bounce-back week in store for Thomas who has still leads the team with 26 targets so far this season. The Broncos did announce on Thursday that they will be without tight end Jake Butt for the remainder of the 2017 season as the tight end was injured during a non-contact walk-through practice. That unfortunate bit of news likely moves Jeff Heuerman up the depth chart, but he’s not much of a fantasy-relevant player and can probably be disregarded in most leagues.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: An ejection from Week 3’s contest removed Phillip Lindsay from the Denver backfield stable - at least for one week - allowing fellow rookie Royce Freeman to turn in his best fantasy day so far, which still really wasn’t all that great. Freeman rushed the ball 13 times for 53 yards, but did score his first NFL touchdown. Perhaps most telling, though, was that Freeman still was practically invisible in the passing game, catching just one pass for five yards - the first catch he’s had all year. Meanwhile, Devontae Booker stepped in with Lindsay gone and turned in a five catch performance despite not contributing much on the ground. Booker is still completely off the fantasy radar, but what this tells us is that the Broncos just don’t view Freeman as a pass catching weapon in any way whatsoever. That means that unless Lindsay faces further team discipline for his on-field actions that saw him attack a player after a play in Week 3, he’ll likely step back into his role as the team’s primary pass-catching back. Not only that, though, but Lindsay will almost certainly continue to see a decent number of carries as well, which not only helps his own fantasy value, but also hurts Freeman’s. With the Chiefs playing as well as they are offensively right now, there’s real chance that the Broncos fall behind multiple scores in the first half of this week’s game, which would almost certainly mean that this is a much safer week to play Lindsay than Freeman.

Value Meter:
QB2: Case Keenum
RB2: Phillip Lindsay (PPR only)
WR2: Emmanuel Sanders (high-end), Demaryius Thomas (low-end)
Flex: Royce Freeman
Bench: Devontae Booker, Courtland Sutton, Jeff Heuerman

Prediction: Chiefs 34, Broncos 24 ^ Top