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Inside the Matchup

Week 4

By: Andy Swanson | Mike Krueger | Nick Caron | HC Green



Sunday Early:



Sunday Late:

ARI @ LAR | SEA @ SF | PIT @ GB | BAL @ DEN | TB @ NE



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

Jaguars @ Bengals - (Green)
Line: CIN -7.5
Total: 46.0

Passing Game Thoughts: A year ago, the likes of Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow made the transition from college to the pros look like no big deal. So far this season four first-round QBs have started games with a combined record of 1-9 -- that one win belongs to Mac Jones, who beat fellow rookie Zach Wilson. Lawrence, the consensus top prospect in this year’s draft, is winless in three tries and is tied with Wilson for the NFL-lead in picks with seven. For the season, Lawrence is averaging 223 yards, 1.7 TDs and 2.3 INTs per game under first-time NFL head coach Urban Meyer.

Despite the presence of young wideouts D.J. Chark (3-49-1) and Laviska Shenault (4-48-0), veteran Marvin Jones (6-62-0) has been Lawrence’s go-to receiver thus far. The 31-year-old Jones leads the team in targets (28), receptions (17), yardage (194) and TDs (2). He also carries the most fantasy appeal in J-Ville’s passing attack as a strong WR3. Chark is next, offering risky upside as a downfield threat that’s averaging 22.0 yards on seven catches with a pair of touchdowns. Shenault ranks second on the club in receptions with 13, but he’s averaging just 7.3 yards per grab and hasn’t scored.

Cincinnati is currently 14th against the pass this year, allowing 238.7 yards per game. Their pass rush has been potent with only three teams logging more sacks than the Bengals, and their 4:3 TD-to-INT ratio is rock solid. There’s a ton of long-term upside associated with Lawrence, but right now he’s experiencing the type of growing pains most quarterbacks do learning the NFL game. Keep him benched.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: Used sparingly in the first two weeks, James Robinson posted 21 combined touches for 134 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals in Week 3. He emerged as a top offensive weapon as a rookie, and there’s no good reason he only has 12 more carries than Carlos Hyde on the year. Regardless of how the Jags deploy their backs, the Bengals pose a challenge. They’re allowing 78.3 rushing yards per game (8th) and 3.3 yards per carry (5th). Let’s assume Meyer learned something last week and give Robinson the nod as an RB2 here.

Value Meter:
RB2: James Robinson
WR3: Marvin Jones
Flex: D.J. Chark
Bench: Trevor Lawrence, Laviska Shenault

Passing Game Thoughts: Joe Burrow absorbed 10 sacks in his first two games, which likely had something to do with him passing just 18 times last Sunday. He hit on 14 of them for 172 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT, which maximized his fantasy impact. Burrow also did a little running in Week 3, so perhaps he’s starting to feel more comfortable on his surgically repaired knee. In a battle of the last two No. 1 overall picks, Burrow holds fringe value as a risk/reward QB1.

A big reason for Burrow’s borderline status is the expected absence of Tee Higgins (shoulder), who didn’t play in Week 3 due to a shoulder injury. Higgins has already been ruled out of this Thursday night contest which means rookie Ja’Marr Chase (4-65-2) and veteran Tyler Boyd (4-36-1) will be counted on once again. Chase has quelled all the preseason talk about dropped passes by scoring four TDs in his first three NFL games, while Boyd is a steady possession option.

It's been a struggle for Jacksonville to stop the pass as they are one of just five clubs allowing 300-plus yards per game through the air. They’ve done a better job of keeping receivers out of the end zone, though that may have more to do with game situation than their actual strengths. Don’t hesitate to plug Chase into your lineup as a WR2 with Boyd checking in as a low-end No. 3 fantasy wideout or strong flex play.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: Joe Mixon is the Bengals running game. Thus far, Mixon has 67 of the team’s 73 runs by backs, a whopping 92 percent. His 4.3 YPC average is solid, though he’s managed just one touchdown on the year. Perhaps he can add another one or two Thursday. Only KC and Baltimore have yielded more scoring runs than the Jags, though to their credit they’ve allowed just 3.4 YPC despite being one of only three teams to have faced more than 100 rushing attempts. Mixon is playable as a solid RB1.

Value Meter:
QB1/QB2: Joe Burrow
RB1: Joe Mixon
WR2: Ja'Marr Chase
WR3: Tyler Boyd
Bench: Tee Higgins (inj-shoulder)

Prediction: Bengals 27, Jaguars 20 ^ Top

Chiefs @ Eagles - (Krueger)
Line: KC -7.0
Total: 54.5

Passing Game Thoughts: You know what to do with the KC trio so let’s talk macro for minute. The highest total on the board this week is a good bet to produce some fantasy fireworks. As if the Chiefs offense needs any help, the KC-D is doing their part in allowing the opposition to rack up the points (29, 36, 30 the last three games) keeping Patrick Mahomes involved until the bitter end. Mahomes has tossed 3 TDs in every game this season, posting fantasy finishes of QB2, QB5 and QB5. Not to be outdone, Travis Kelce lives near the top of the tight end list each week (TE3, TE1, TE4). The same can’t be said for Tyreek Hill (WR2, WR68, WR42) who seemed to be bothered by a rib injury last week against the Chargers. Mecole Hardman is a big-play threat but it appears he’s not cutout for a traditional WR2 role. Perhaps Josh Gordon will fulfill that spot in weeks to come, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Defenses are electing to play two safties deep taking away deep shots to Hill, allowing underneath routes to Kelce and daring the Chiefs to run the ball. Will the Eagles follow suit? If so, we could see another solid outing from Clyde Edwards-Helaire who finally found the endzone and rushed for 100 yards last week against the Chargers. The lack of involvement in the passing game for CEH is concerning and puts a damper on his fantasy value but if the Eagles choose to defense KC the way they did Dallas last week allow running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott (17-95-2), CEH will return RB2 value.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes
RB2: Clyde Edwards-Helaire
WR1: Tyreek Hill
TE1: Travis Kelce
Bench: Darrel Williams, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle

Passing Game Thoughts: Jalen Hurts is providing that rushing boost we expected, averaging 8.7 rushing attempts per game. His 26 rushes are second only to Lamar Jackson among quarterbacks and keep him firmly in the QB top 10. Some offensive line woes and injuries are a concern but I’d expect another solid fantasy outing as the Eagles attempt to keep pace with the Chiefs offense. KC is allowing the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and has already been throttled by Lamar Jackson on the ground, something well within Hurts’ range to mimic.

Rookie DeVonta Smith is the lone wideout with fantasy appeal but has topped out at 71 yards, 1 TD (Wk1) to go along with two duds (WR86, WR70). He’s on the field for just about every play (98% last week) and capable of WR2 upside in this matchup given the weakness of the Kansas City corners.

Dallas Goedert and Zack Ertz both have 11 targets on the season which doesn’t help fantasy owners. One of them is capable of low-end TE1 numbers this week but it’s a guessing game. I’ll side with the younger Goedert.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: I don’t know if you heard, but Miles Sanders got two Eli-Manning double-bird rushing attempts last week… count ’em one, two… and the Eagles gave their running backs three total carries in the entire game. I’d expect that number to be slightly higher this week against the Chiefs who have a difficult time stopping RBs, allowing the 4th most fantasy points to the position. The Eagles can employ the Ravens strategy and simply chew up the clock running option plays with Hurts and Sanders if they choose. Sanders high-water mark for carries is 15 (Wk1) but I would expect him to equal that total in this matchup and should push for 20 total touches. This is a nice bounce-back spot for Sanders.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jalen Hurts (mid-range)
RB2: Miles Sanders (mid-range)
WR3: DeVonta Smith
TE2: Dallas Goedert
Bench: WR Jalen Reagor, RB Kenneth Gainwell, WR Quez Watkins, TE Zach Ertz

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Eagles 24 ^ Top

Giants @ Saints- (Swanson)
Line: NO -7.0
Total: 42.0

Passing Game Thoughts: What do Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers, and Ryan Tannehill have in common? They all are averaging fewer fantasy points per game than Daniel Jones, the much-maligned third year quarterback for the Giants. Jones has yet to throw an interception, has more passing yards than Rodgers and Tannehill, and has more rushing yards and touchdowns than Saquon Barkley.

Jones is a sneaky fantasy weapon in the right matchup because of his rushing ability. But not this week on the road against a Saints defense that has shut down both the Packers and the Patriots. Only the Bills, Broncos, Panthers, and Jets have given up fewer points to opposing quarterbacks through three weeks of the season, and Jones did struggle at home against a Falcons defense that is one of the worst in the league.

Injuries will also limit the effectiveness of the Giants passing offense this week, with Sterling Shepard likely out with a hamstring injury and Kenny Golladay continues to be limited with a hip ailment. Darius Slayton is also limited with a hamstring injury and did not practice on Thursday.

If you are feeling lucky, you could pick up and start rookie Kadarius Toney as a boom or bust play with Shepard and Slayton likely out, as he should see an increase is snaps. Perhaps this is more of a DFS play, but the talent is there and so is the opportunity.

On a positive note, TE Evan Engram returned last week and is not listed on the injury report. If you are in need of a tight end option, Engram could be a decent play in PPR, as the Giants will have trouble running the ball against the Saints and quick throws to Engram with Shepard out will be plentiful.

The Saints do have top corner Marshon Lattimore practicing in full on Wednesday and Thursday and should play this week. His return to the lineup is a negative factor that should be weighed when considering starts of Golladay or Toney.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: With 94 total yards and a score last week against the Falcons, Saquon Barkley provided his first top-10 performance in quite some time. His snap counts continue to increase as the team eases him back from his knee injury in 2020, with 86% of the snaps last week compared to 48% in Week 1.

You are starting Barkley based on his usage and he could be a threat to score, but expecting a big game against the Saints may be a mistake. The Saints have given up the seventh-fewest points on the season to opposing running backs and did an excellent job shutting down both Aaron Jones and Damien Harris.

Look for around 20-25 touches for Barkley, with more of his production coming in the passing game than in rushing yards. Jason Garrett should design a quick passing game to help negate the pass rush of the Saints and target both Engram and Barkley.

Value Meter:
QB2: Daniel Jones High-End)
RB1: Saquon Barkley (Low-End)
WR3: Kenny Golladay (Low-End)
WR4: Kadarius Toney (Low-End)
TE1: Evan Engram (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: 2021 has been a roller coaster ride for Jameis Winston fantasy managers, with the former Tampa Bay Buc first overall pick throwing five touchdown passes on just 20 attempts against the Packers to start the season, only to post 111 passing yards and no passing touchdowns the next week against the Panthers.

Winston bounced back with a pair of touchdown passes against the Patriots in what turned out to be a lopsided game script created by the New Orleans defense.

We are still gathering information on how the Saints offense will run in 2021, but we have enough data so far to know that Winston is not going to be a volume passer based on his average attempts of just 21 passes each game. We also know he is not going to be a yardage monster based on the fact that he has yet to top 150 passing yards in a game.

The Saints are a defense and run first team and the passing game is secondary.

This game projects to have a similar game script as the game against the Patriots, with the Saints defense giving Daniel Jones fits in coverage and with pressure. The Vegas odds makers do not see this as a high scoring game with an over/under of 41 points.

After a rough start to the season, breakout candidate Marquez Callaway finally scored a touchdown with 41 receiving yards against the Pats in Week 3. While you may want to continue playing Callaway after his solid game, he may be in a tough position this week with James Bradberry lined up against him. It would make sense for a skilled offensive mind like Sean Payton to avoid that matchup and focus on the run and other pass options.

An injury of note that will help both the passing and running game of the Saints is the unfortunate knee injury to stud middle linebacker Blake Martinez. Martinez is a tackling machine who’s absence will be a huge boost for Alvin Kamara in both the passing and running game.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Three games is not a large enough sample size to gauge the effectiveness of Kamara in his first season without Drew Brees under center. The team is still looking for their identity without the future hall of famer as their signal caller, and Michael Thomas has been out, effectively limiting Jameis Winston to no more than 150 passing yards in any game.

You are starting Kamara in all formats, even though he is averaging a career-low 3.4 yards per carry and has yet to get a rushing touchdown. Luckily, he continues to be a large part of the passing game has hit pay dirt twice this season on receptions.

The Giants rank in the middle of the pack in points allowed to opposing running backs. If you take out one long touchdown run Melvin Gordon, they would be in the top ten in fewest points allowed. However, that was with their best run stopping linebacker in the game, and with Martinez out for the year, the Giants are no longer a team you should worry about in fantasy matchups.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jameis Winston (High-End)
RB1: Alvin Kamara (High-End)
WR3: Marquez Callaway (Low-End)
TE2: Juwan Johnson/Adam Trautman (Low-End)

Prediction: New Orleans 20, New York 13 ^ Top

Texans @ Bills - (Krueger)
Line: BUF -17.0
Total: 47.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Houston ranks in the bottom third in just about every passing category and with rookie Davis Mills making his 2nd career start, this isn’t the time to get cute and insert him into your starting lineup… even in two-QB leagues. Considering the Texans’ lack of outside weapons and poor offensive execution, it’s difficult to see Mills throwing for more than 1 TD in this game. Buffalo has given up a total of 3 passing TDs in three games and only one quarterback (Taylor Heinicke) has thrown for more than 200 yards against this defense.

The only fantasy viable option in the Texans passing attack is Brandin Cooks who’s been the WR23, WR9 and WR11 in PPR leagues the first three weeks. Chris Conley and Anthony Miller are starters in three wide receiver sets but aren’t viable due to lack of volume.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: If you think Houston’s passing attack stinks, get ready to hold your nose because the running game is just as bad. Mark Ingram is checking in as the RB44 in PPR leagues, thanks mostly to his 26-carry performance in Week 1 that netted him 85 yards and a rushing TD. It’s been slim pickings ever since and that includes David Johnson (RB48) and Phillip Lindsay (RB51). The Bills have given up the 5th fewest fantasy points to the running back position. Safe to say, avoid the Texans running game this week.

Value Meter:
RB3: Mark Ingram
WR2: Brandin Cooks
TE2: Jordan Akins (Low-End)
Bench: QB Davis Mills, RB David Johnson, RB Phillip Lindsay

Passing Game Thoughts: Josh Allen shrugged off his mediocre start to the season and erupted to lead all quarterbacks in fantasy points last week (358-4, 9-1). It was only a matter of time and the Washington defense was the victim. Allen is capable of supporting two fantasy wideouts on a weekly basis so choose wisely between Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders. Diggs (32) and Beasley (30) are leading the team in targets and are safer bets in PPR leagues with Sanders taking on higher aDOT throws.

Tight end Dawson Knox has found the endzone twice which is why you see him inside the top 10 but his 12 targets are tied for 17th at the position. He is playing a very high percentage of snaps (78% last week) and Houston has given up the fifth most points to tight ends which makes Knox a viable option this week.

It’s difficult to see the Bills passing offense reaching a ceiling game given the 16.5 point spread, although Houston has given up a couple of 300-yard games to Trevor Lawrence and Sam Darnold. If Buffalo races out to a sizeable lead in the first half, we could see more ground game from the Bills in the second half which would put a cap on Allen and the pass-catching trio.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: Remember when Zack Moss was left for fantasy dead after landing on the Inactive list in Week 1? Not so fast. Moss was back in the mix as a complementary piece in Week 2 then got more involved in Week 3 out-touching Devin Singletary 16-12 while Matt Breida was made Inactive. This situation seems fluid and will be tough to digest on a weekly basis but it if I had to guess, I’d say Moss would be the beneficiary during clock-killing time in the fourth quarter.

Value Meter:
QB1: Josh Allen (mid-range)
RB2: Zack Moss (low-end)
WR1: Stefon Diggs (mid-range)
WR3: Emmanuel Sanders
Flex: WR Cole Beasley, RB Devin Singletary
TE1: Dawson Knox (low-end)

Prediction: Bills 30, Texans 17 ^ Top

Panthers @ Cowboys - (Krueger)
Line: DAL -4.5
Total: 52.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The entire Panthers’ offense suffered a major blow last week when Christian McCaffrey injured his hamstring. During the time he will miss (a couple weeks?) don’t be surprised to see a little more reliance on the passing attack keeping Sam Darnold (68.2% competition) in the high-end QB2 conversation. D.J. Moore (the WR12 in PPR leagues) has been the clear WR1 for Darnold, dwarfing Robby Anderson in targets (31-11) through three games and remains an easy start. Anderson and Terrace Marshall Jr. (14 targets) could see their usage increase this week as Carolina tries to keep pace with the Cowboys offense, making them sneaky stack considerations in DFS. For what it’s worth, HC Matt Rhule noted this week that Robby Anderson needs to get more involved.

Attacking Dallas through the air has been a good idea thus far as they’ve given up the 6th most fantasy points to WRs, the 4th most fantasy points to QBs and the 2nd most fantasy points to tight ends. Speaking of TEs, Carolina doesn’t have a viable one to consider. Dan Arnold has been traded (JAX) with the assumption the team would like to get rookie Tommy Tremble more involved but neither Tremble or Ian Thomas are fantasy worthy right now.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: Rookie Chuba Hubbard will get his first crack at a lead role and while we can’t expect McCaffrey-like usage, he is a viable RB2 in a game with a 50-point total. Royce Freeman will be involved as well, capping Hubbard’s upside. Dallas has yet to yield a rushing touchdown but did give up 9 catches to Austin Ekeler in Week 2 if the Panthers want to take advantage of Hubbard’s receiving chops. Hubbard is a RB2 volume play in Week 4.

Value Meter:
QB2: Sam Darnold (High-End)
RB2: Chuba Hubbard
WR2: D.J. Moore (High-End)
WR3: Robby Anderson (Low-End)
WR4: Terrace Marshall Jr. (Low-End)
Bench: RB Royce Freeman, TE Tommy Tremble

Passing Game Thoughts: Dak Prescott is sitting at QB14 (FPts/G) after three weeks. It’s safe to assume we’re not going to see the rushing production (19 yds) we’ve come to expect from him given his ankle injury last season. That means fantasy owners need to come to terms with the fact that Dak is more of a low-end QB1 with a slightly lower ceiling than you may like.

According to Fantasy Pts Allowed data, Carolina has been stingy against the QB position (2nd fewest FPts/Allowed) but don’t be fooled. Games against low quality producers (Zach Wilson, Jameis Winston and Davis Mills) are responsible for that ranking. As a result, it’s hard to get a read on how good/bad the Panthers defense is against the pass. This will be their real first test against a legitimate aerial attack. To make matters worse, Carolina lost CB Jaycee Horn to a broken foot last week.

With Amari Cooper playing, but nursing a rib injury, it’s CeeDee Lamb (WR18) who currently has the most juice in this passing offense and the preferred play among the two. With only 1 TD on the season, I’d be shocked if Lamb doesn’t find the endzone after being tackled at the one-yard line last week against Philadelphia. Tight end Dalton Schultz is currently seeing more snaps than Blake Jarwin and also has the target lead (15-10) through three weeks but both ran the same number of routes (20) last week. Schultz is worth a look as a TE2 if you’re needy at the position.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: Zeke has yet to garner 20 rushing attempts in a game (11, 16, 17) and the reason is Tony Pollard. The backup running back has been very efficient with his touches (6.8 ypc) and is deserving of a significant role in this offense. Zeke’s been on the field roughly 70% of the time and his use around the endzone (3 TDs) still demands he be ranked as a low-end RB1. Pollard has seen 16 and 12 touches the last two weeks and is a worthy Flex option given his efficiency.

The Panthers stifled the Saints and Alvin Kamara in Week 2 (8 carries, 5 yds; 4 rec, 25 yds) in their only real test of the season and much like their passing stats, will look good defensively on paper heading into this game but don't let that deter you from starting Zeke or deploying Pollard in your Flex spot.

Value Meter:
QB1: Dak Prescott (low-end)
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott (low end)
WR1: CeeDee Lamb (mid-range)
WR2: Amari Cooper (mid-range)
Flex: Tony Pollard
TE2: Dalton Schultz
Bench: WR Cedrick Wilson, TE Blake Jarwin

Prediction: Cowboys 27, Panthers 23 ^ Top

Browns @ Vikings - (Green)
Line: CLE -2.0
Total: 51.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Last Sunday was the usual blueprint for Cleveland’s offense as the team leaned on the run and let Baker Mayfield pick his spots. The numbers were on brand for Mayfield as he completed 19 of 31 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked five times, but that may be a bit deceptive as it was apparent early on that the Bears couldn’t move the ball, so Mayfield avoided taking chances. He’ll likely need to do more in Week 4, but he’s still not a starting option in standard leagues.

For the first time since Oct. 25, 2020, Odell Beckham Jr. was back in uniform, catching five passes for a team-high 77 yards and adding 10 more as a runner. It was a solid effort from OBJ and a needed one after Jarvis Landry (knee) wound up on IR with a knee injury of his own, albeit a far less severe one. Still, without Landry, Beckham steps in as a WR3 with upside and the only receiving option of note for the Browns. Austin Hooper caught a touchdown last week, but the presence of David Njoku and Harrison Bryant make it unlikely that he’ll ever regain the fantasy acclaim he enjoyed in Atlanta.

Minnesota’s offseason effort to improve their secondary remains a work in progress with the pass defense currently ranked 27th at 290.3 yards per game. The Vikings are also the only team in the NFL allowing a completion percentage above 70 percent along with 10-plus yards per attempt. The Browns will focus on the run, but if it comes to it there should be opportunities for the passing game.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: It’s difficult to make much of a case for a better one-two punch among NFL backfields than Nick Chubb (22-84-0) and Kareem Hunt (10-81-1), who also doubles as arguably the club’s most reliable receiver -- he had six catches for 74 yards last Sunday. Minnesota has been nominally better against the run (119.3 yards per game; T-20th), but just three teams have allowed more yards per carry (4.8). Chubb is a solid RB1 with Hunt as an RB2 with the potential for more.

Value Meter:
QB2: Baker Mayfield
RB1: Nick Chubb
RB2: Kareem Hunt
WR3: Odell Beckham Jr.
Bench: Austin Hooper, Jarvis Landry (IR-knee)

Passing Game Thoughts: Is it possible we’re seeing Kirk Cousins taking his game to another level in his 10th NFL season? A year ago, defenses wanted to force the ball into Cousins’ hands because he was prone to big mistakes. This year, the veteran has yet to turn the ball over. Through three games he’s seventh in the NFL in pass yardage (918) and fourth in touchdowns (eight). This Sunday represents his biggest test to date, however, in part because of Cleveland’s defensive talent, but also because his former OC Kevin Stefanski is the Browns’ head coach. If anyone would have added insight on how to unnerve Cousins, it just might be Stefanski.

Justin Jefferson (9-118-1) and Adam Thielen (6-50-1) remain one of the top receiving duos in the NFL, though what exactly they have behind them is still unclear. After two strong games to open the season, K.J. Osborn (2-26-0) did little last week, while Tyler Conklin (7-70-1) stepped up and appears well ahead of Chris Herndon, who some thought could be a factor when he was acquired from the Jets. Cousins has also done a nice job utilizing his RBs in the passing game. Still, Jefferson and Thielen are the names to know with the former a borderline WR1/WR2 and the latter a steady WR2.

If defensive momentum from one week to the next is a thing, Cleveland comes into Minnesota riding the highest of highs. Last Sunday, the Browns held the Bears to one net yard of passing offense, battering first-time starter Justin Fields for nine sacks in a one-sided win. A performance like that skews the numbers this early in the season, so it’s debatable if the Browns are really the NFL’s fifth-best pass defense or possess the second-best pass rush. Still, it’s best to view Cousins as a borderline starting option.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: With Dalvin Cook (ankle) inactive due to an ankle injury, Alexander Mattison stepped in and contributed 171 yards of total offense on 32 touches (26 runs, six receptions). Cook is back at practice this week and optimistic about his chances to return in Week 4. If he starts, Cook is an RB1. Mattison, meanwhile, would be an RB2 if Cook misses another game. Otherwise, he should remain benched as the Vikings have never shown interest in featuring more than one back. On the other side of the ledger, the Browns are fifth in the NFL at just 67 yards rushing per game allowed. This is a strength-on-strength matchup.

Value Meter:
QB1/QB2: Kirk Cousins
RB1: Dalvin Cook (inj-ankle)
WR1/WR2: Justin Jefferson
WR2: Adam Thielen
Bench: Alexander Mattison, K.J. Osborn

Prediction: Browns 30, Vikings 24 ^ Top

Colts @ Dolphins - (Krueger)
Line: MIA -2.0
Total: 42.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Carson Wentz (QB27) left Week 2 with a couple of sprained ankles and gutted through Week 3 on his way to a 19-37, 194-0-0 line with zero rushing yards. Yuck. Without his mobility, Wentz is unplayable in fantasy.

It’s hard to get excited about this passing offense with no difference makers on the outside and with a gimpy QB. Michael Pittman Jr. (WR34) has back-to-back games with 12 targets but has yet to find the endzone. Zach Pascal (WR33) is the other receiver worth mentioning, has found the endzone 3 times but is trailing Pittman in targets 28-18. Pittman is the play as we hope for some TD regression in the near future. The tight ends are getting lost in the mix with only Jack Doyle registering as a low-end TE2 option. Doyle missed practice on Thursday with a back injury. You can find better options.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: Marlon Mack was a surprise Inactive in Week 3 and we eventually found out why. Adam Schefter reported earlier this week that the team is exploring trade options for Mack. He seems disgruntled as he plays behind Jonathon Taylor and pass-catching guru Nyheim Hines. With the potential of a three-headed RBBC narrowed, the value of both Taylor and Hines gets a boost.

Taylor has had a disappointing start after solid usage in Week 1 (17 carries, 7 targets). He’s topped out at 64 rushing yards and has a grand total of 10 yards receiving the last two weeks. The Dolphins have already given up a couple of 100-yard rushing performances this young season (Damien Harris, Peyton Barber), signaling this could be the Taylor breakout game in 2021.

Hines is T-7th among RBs with 16 targets and is a good bet for at least 4 receptions as Wentz looks to dump the ball off instead of take off with his legs. With Wentz likely to be hobbling around in the pocket, it would make sense for the Colts to employ a run-heavy approach making both backs viable options in Week 4.

Value Meter:
RB2: Jonathan Taylor (High-End)
WR3: Michael Pittman Jr. (High-End)
WR3: Zach Pascal (Low-End)
Flex: Nyheim Hines
TE2: Jack Doyle (Low-End)
Bench: QB Carson Wentz, TE Mo Alie-Cox

Passing Game Thoughts: In two games this season subbing in for the injured Tua Tagovailoa, Jacoby Brissett has yet to throw a touchdown pass on 56 attempts. His low yards per attempt (4.3) isn’t inspiring either. The Colts have given up 9 passing TDs in three games so perhaps there’s some light at the end of this tunnel for Brissett if the coaches can game plan a more downfield approach.

Jaylen Waddle (WR27) and DeVante Parker (WR60) lead to the team with 27 and 23 targets respectively and are the only fantasy viable options at receiver. Waddle is the preferred choice until this offense demonstrates it can throw the ball downfield. Will Fuller returned to the field in Week 3 but isn’t a good fit with Brissett’s short field throws. Also, Fuller missed practice on Wednesday with an undisclosed injury.

The Dolphins had been rotating their tight ends the first two weeks making Mike Gesicki unplayable. That changed in Week 3 as Gesicki saw 12 targets on his way to a 10-86-0 line with a 24% target share. That kind of usage is TE1 worthy and could stick if Brissett keeps up his short passing game trend.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Myles Gaskin (RB33) is getting the most work out of this RBBC but is still only on the field about half of the time. As a result, his upside capped and can’t be trusted as anything more than a Flex option in PPR leagues. Salvon Ahmed could be phased out of the offense as he is playing behind Gaskin and Malcolm Brown. Brown is not catching passes (2 targets on the season) and averaging 6 rushes per game. With the Colts being somewhat stingy to opposing RBs, this isn’t the best setup for the Dolphins running attack. Deploy Gaskin as you typically do and don’t expect any fireworks.

Value Meter:
Flex: Myles Gaskin
WR3: Jaylen Waddle
TE1: Mike Gesicki (low-end)
Bench: QB Jacoby Brissett, RB Salvon Ahmed, RB Malcolm Brown, WR Will Fuller, WR DeVante Parker

Prediction: Colts 20, Dolphins 17 ^ Top

Titans @ Jets - (Krueger)
Line: TEN -7.0
Total: 44.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Ryan Tannehill underperformed expectation the first two weeks of the season (QB19, QB21) before righting the ship last week (QB9) against the Colts that included 56 yards on the ground. Hopefully the rushing yardage continues this week as both A.J. Brown (hamstring) and Julio Jones (hamstring) are nursing injuries potentially leaving the receiving duties to Chester Rogers and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.. Not good. We could see a couple of deep shots off play-action but any kind of consistent passing attack should not be expected. While this isn’t a bad matchup on paper, the lack of weapons and the likelihood Tennessee can just hand the ball to Henry 30 times a come out with a win, makes Tannehill a very risky QB2.

The tight ends are afterthoughts in this offense but perhaps Anthony Firkser (knee) could see more usage as he returns from a knee issue that’s caused him to miss the last two games. The Jets have given up the 2nd fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks but that’s because their offense can’t score any points leaving little for the opposing passing game to do, especially in the fourth quarter. It’s probably best to avoid the Titans passing game in Week 4.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: It’s nice to see Derrick Henry (13 targets) getting involved in the passing game. It took him until Week 6 last year to see his 13th target. He’s been on a workload tear with 65 rushing attempts the last two weeks and it’s hard not to see that trend continuing given the injuries Tennessee is facing in their wide receiver group. New York could sellout to stop the run and if they are successful early, this game could have a different flow than what’s expected. However the Jets have given up the 3rd most fantasy points to running backs so it should be another day at the office for King Henry with a touch total near 30.

Value Meter:
QB2: Ryan Tannehill
RB1: Derrick Henry (Elite)
Flex: Julio Jones (if he plays)
TE2: Anthony Firkser (inj)
Bench: WR A.J. Brown, WR Chester Rogers, WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine

Passing Game Thoughts: The Jets have looked lost on offense scoring a grand total of 20 points in three games. Zach Wilson has thrown 2 TDs and 7 INTs, which isn’t the kind of TD-to-INT ratio you’d like to see. He’s also not providing any value with his legs either with only 4 rushing attempts for 21 yards and has been sacked 15 times. Corey Davis leads the team in targets is the only fantasy consideration among the pass catchers unless you want to get unique with Braxton Berrios who has been working out of the slot while Jamison Crowder (groin) has been out. The only ray of sunshine is that Tennessee is not the best defense and does like to play man-to-man which could lead to some successful deep shots if Wilson is afforded time in the pocket. Still, this is an obvious avoid situation for the entire Jets passing game.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: Same can be said for the running game. It appears that Tevin Coleman (illness) has been demoted to third string in the Jets three-man committee which leaves Michael Carter and Ty Johnson as fantasy considerations. The team’s offensive woes leave them both as desperation plays at best with Carter showing slightly more usage in the running game and Johnson more in the passing game. Tennessee it middle of the pack against opposing RBs but your fantasy team is probably in a world of hurt if you’re contemplating a piece of the Jets running game which has yet to score a TD.

Value Meter:
Flex: Corey Davis
Bench: Zach Wilson, Ty Johnson, Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman, Elijah Moore, Braxton Berrios

Prediction: Titans 27, Jets 13 ^ Top

Lions @ Bears - (Green)
Line: CHI -3.0
Total: 42.0

Passing Game Thoughts: For the third time in as many weeks, the Lions put together one good half of football, and once again it wasn’t enough. Granted, it took an NFL-record 66-yard field goal from Justin Tucker as time expired, but Detroit has yet to play four quality quarters in the same game. Jared Goff looked scaled back. After throwing 93 times in the first two games with 5 TDs and 3 turnovers, Goff went 22-for-30 for 217 yards, no scores and no INTs. It was mostly underneath and intermediate stuff, too, with no completions of beyond 25 yards.

That’s not a surprise since his most reliable options are T.J. Hockenson (2-10-0), D’Andre Swift (7-60-0) and Jamaal Williams (2-25-0). None of whom are downfield threats. The receiver position remains in flux with Kalif Raymond (6-68-0) leading the way last week after Quintez Cephus (1-8-0) had done the most damage in Week 2. Unless or until someone emerges as a steady option, none of Detroit’s WRs are playable. That leaves Hockenson, who remains a solid TE1 even though he’s coming off a quiet performance against Baltimore.

Chicago has been uneven against the pass this season, getting torched in Week 1 and then picking off Joe Burrow on three straight passes in Week 2. Last Sunday split the difference. They put some heat on Baker Mayfield, sacking him five times, but never took the ball away. While this version of the Bears defense isn’t great, they’re not bad enough to get Goff off your fantasy bench.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: Swift (14-47-1) and Williams (12-42-1) are the focal points of Detroit’s offense, both in the running and passing games. Swift is dealing with a bit of a groin injury this week, being limited in practice, so that’s something to keep an eye on. Assuming good health for both backs, Swift is a solid RB2 while Williams operates as more of an RB3 or flex type. If Swift can’t go, Williams would ascend to RB2 status. The Bears sit in the bottom half of the league against the run, allowing 119.3 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry.

Value Meter:
RB2: D’Andre Swift (inj-groin)
RB3/Flex: Jamaal Williams
TE1: T.J. Hockenson
Bench: Jared Goff, Quintez Cephus

Passing Game Thoughts: If you ever wondered what 1920s football probably looked like go ahead and fire up last week’s Bears-Browns tape and watch as Justin Fields (hand) completes 30 percent of his passes, gets sacked nine times and nets one yard through the air. It’d be grossly unfair to pin all of that on Fields, but Matt Nagy has said all three QBs (Fields, Andy Dalton and Nick Foles) are under consideration to start in Week 4. It’s unclear if Dalton will be sufficiently recovered from his knee injury to play, so at this point we’re guessing Foles gets the nod with Fields appearing in specific packages, assuming his hand is alright.

Chicago’s passing woes have neutered Allen Robinson (2-27-0) so far, sending him from legitimate WR1 status to a fringe WR2/WR3 play. Even that designation is based more on his talent and reputation that anything that’s happened this season in terms of production. Theoretical up-and-comers Darnell Mooney (1-9-0) and Cole Kmet (1-11-0) entered 2021 with a little buzz, but they’re not even worth owning outside of deeper leagues any longer. It’s a mess, and Robinson is the only one worth playing.

Had Week 3 not been a toxic dumpster fire, Chicago’s skill players may well have been in for a bump against the Lions, which rank 23rd in pass defense and are likely worse than that following a spate of early injuries to the secondary. Week 3 happened, however, and it’s impossible to rely on anything related to the Bears passing game right now.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: When your offense averages 1.1 yards per play for a full game you can safely assume there were no standout performances. David Montgomery was the best of the bench, though, turning 12 touches into 45 yards. He has trended down ever since his strong effort in the opener, but he remains the focal point of the offense and thus retains RB2 value. The Lions are 15th against the run at 114.3 yards per game, which is pretty respectable considering they’ve faced traditional top-tier running teams Baltimore and San Francisco sandwiched around a meeting with Aaron Jones.

Value Meter:
RB2: David Montgomery
WR2/WR3: Allen Robinson
Bench: Justin Fields, Damien Williams, Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet

Prediction: Bears 20, Lions 19 ^ Top

Football Team @ Falcons - (Swanson)
Line: WAS -1.5
Total: 47.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Tyler Heinicke and the Washington Football Team head south to Atlanta this Sunday to take on a Falcons defense that has given up the third-most points to opposing quarterbacks through three weeks of play. Jalen Hurts and Tom Brady combined to throw eight touchdown passes in the first two weeks, while Daniel Jones struggled a bit last week, with 266 passing yards but zero touchdowns.

The Falcons are a plus matchup and a unit that Heinicke should have little trouble attacking through the air. When the Falcons struggle to get pressure on the quarterback their subpar and injured secondary struggles in coverage. Through three games, the Falcons rank 22nd in sacks per game

Dante Fowler leads the team with two sacks, Grady Jerrett is still one of the best interior lineman in the league, and Deion Jones leads the team with three TFLs in three games.

Outside of those three players, especially if starting corner AJ Terrell is out again with a concussion, there are few playmakers on the defensive side of the ball for the Falcons.

As a unit, the wide receiving corps for the Football Team have somewhat disappointed this season, with Terry McLaurin, Adam Humphries, Dyami Brown, and Cam Sims combining to score the fourth-fewest points as a group, with only the Bears, Saints, and Browns scoring fewer fantasy points at the position.

McLaurin is currently the No. 25-ranked WR with 12.9 fantasy points per game in Half-Point PPR scoring. He has one solid game sandwiched between two mediocre performances. On one hand, you are happy that he has an average of nearly nine targets per game. Yet on the other, he has scored just once and Washington ranks 25th out of 32 teams in pass attempts, and they continue to be a run-heavy team.

One of the biggest surprises of the season has been the ineptness of the Washington defense. They have given up the most points to opposing quarterbacks and the vaunted defensive front is not getting sacks. This bodes well for the offensive players on the Football Team, as the defense has yet to create a negative game script.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: Antonio Gibson ranks 19th in average fantasy points per game over the first three games of the season. He has not exactly lived up to his top-15 ADP, but he has outscored Saquon Barkley and Jonathan Taylor.

Gibson’s yard per carry average is down .5 from last year and he has yet to score a rushing touchdown. Despite this frustrating fact, he is on pace for 68 receptions and did score on a long pass play against the Bills last week.

A troubling trend for Gibson managers has been the steady decline in snap percentage for Gibson and the correlating increase for J.D. McKissic. Gibson is down from 65% in Week 1 to 57% last week, while McKissic has jumped from 36% to 46%.

Both players are worthy starts this week, with Gibson as a high-end No.2 RB and McKissic as a solid flex.

Value Meter:
QB2: Taylor Heinicke (High-End)
RB2: Antonio Gibson (High-End)
WR1: Terry McLaurin (Low-End)
WR4: Dyami Brown (Low-End)
TE1: Logan Thomas (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Matt Ryan is currently ranked 26th at quarterback with 707 passing yards and four passing touchdowns in three games, along with three interceptions and no added value in the running game.

We did not expect Ryan to be a fantasy star with Julio Jones leaving and new head coach Arthur Smith brining in his run-heavy scheme from Tennessee. But we did expect for Calvin Ridley to still perform as a top-tier WR 1, and we hoped the Falcons would make the most of their new weapon in tight end Kyle Pitts.

Unfortunately, Ridley has not been heavily targeted and currently sits with just 24.8% of the team’s targets through three games, which is barely above Jakobi Myers and Cole Beasley. Not only are the Falcons not throwing the ball as much, Ridley is not getting the 28% to 30% share we had hoped as a fantasy industry.

Even more troubling is the fact that Matt Ryan is not targeting his wide receivers downfield, which is where Ridley has excelled as one of the best route runners in the league. Ryan’s 6.0 yards per attempt is near the bottom of the lease, just ahead of Davis Mills, Trevor Lawrence, and Andy Dalton.

From a matchup perspective, Washington has been playing poor football on the defensive side of the ball and has been lit up by two great offenses and a long touchdown run by Daniel Jones. Ryan is no threat to run and the Falcons pass blocking is dreadful. It would not surprise us to see the Football Team bounce back in a big way this week.

You are starting Ridley with the hope that he scores. Ryan should only be a consideration in super flex leagues.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: Starting running back Mike Davis has not topped 50 using yards in any game this season, and the Falcons are using converted WR Cordarrelle Patterson as a flex player who lines up as a WR and a running back. Patterson does have a rushing touchdown, but he has been just as ineffective running the ball as Davis, with 85 yards on 21 carries.

Neither option is great in this matchup against a defense that has given up the 9th-fewest points to running backs. As bad as Washington has been at stopping the pass and opposing quarterbacks, they continue to be one of the better run defenses. When you consider the Falcons are one of the worst run blocking offensive lines in the league, this does not bode well for Davis or Patterson.

Value Meter:
QB2: Matt Ryan (High-End)
RB3: Mike Davis (High-End)
RB3: Cordarrelle Patterson (High-End)
WR1: Calvin Ridley (Low-End)
WR4: Olamide Zaccheaus (Low-End)
TE1: Kyle Pitts Low-End)

Prediction: Washington 24, Atlanta 17 ^ Top

Cardinals at Rams - (Caron)
Line: LAR -4.5
Total: 55.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Murray remains one of the best running quarterbacks in the league and he added his third rushing touchdown of the year last week. While his rushing yardage hasn’t been what we’ve come to expect, Murray remains a threat to go for 50-plus yards on the ground. Until that changes, he remains one of the highest floor quarterbacks while also giving fantasy owners the benefit of a massive, week-winning ceiling in just about any matchup.

A banged up DeAndre Hopkins gutted through Week 3 but didn’t deliver for fantasy owners as he caught just three passes for 21 yards. Unfortunately things get tougher this week as he’ll likely see star cornerback Jalen Ramsey lined up across from him throughout much of the game on Sunday afternoon. After missing more practices with a rib injury, it’s not hard to say that both Hopkins’ ceiling and his floor are limited here in Week 4. While he’s still a must-start for most fantasy owners, if there’s ever been a week to bench one of the league’s top pass catchers, it has to be this one. Hopkins is currently listed as questionable and is expected to play, but Ramsey could end up being lined up against another veteran receiver, A.J. Green, if Hopkins does end up being out.

Green has been a pleasant surprise, having scored a touchdown in Week 2 before catching five passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in Week 3. His age and lack of production in recent years has meant that he’s still rostered in a very small percentage of leagues, but he’s now been targeted six times in three straight games and he’s played the second-most snaps of any Cardinals receiver, behind only Hopkins.

Another player who struggled to do much this past week against Jacksonville was rookie wide receiver Rondale Moore. Moore was coming off of a breakout game in Week 2 wherein he delivered his first 100-yard receiving performance as a pro and that likely incentivized a lot of fantasy owners to start him in what we thought would be a good matchup against Jacksonville. Two catches for one yard later, and we were all left scratching our heads. Moore played just the fourth-most snaps for the Cardinals in that contest and hasn’t yet shown us that he’s going to see significant opportunities each week. He’s a bench-worthy player in most formats, but someone we need to keep an eye on, especially if Hopkins ends up missing any sort of time.

Certainly other players in the Arizona offense have been more exciting than Christian Kirk, but few have been more productive. Kirk has now caught 15 passes in three games to go along with 239 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’s playing out of the slot on almost two thirds of his snaps which is a big step up from what he had to do in recent years when Larry Fitzgerald was on the roster. Kirk is now playing a much more natural position for his skill set and he’s proving a lot of his doubters wrong. He’s not an every week must-start yet, but he’s getting there.

Tight end Maxx Williams saw a big boost in ownership following his Week 2 blowup game against Minnesota in which he caught seven passes for 94 yards, but things came back down to reality in Week 3 when he was targeted just three times. Williams is not an every week starter by any means and he’s a borderline rosterable player in even deep leagues.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: While Chase Edmonds continues to out-snap James Conner by about a three-to-two ratio, the fantasy production has remained somewhat close, especially in non-PPR formats. Conner’s two close-range rushing touchdowns this past week helped solidify the reality that this backfield is likely going to be a frustrating one for fantasy owners all year long.

Conner had only scored 5.3 and 2.6 fantasy points over his first two games, but he was taking enough work away from Edmonds that neither of them was turning in great fantasy performances. Edmonds has been buoyed in PPR formats by his 16 catches through three games and he’s playing on most passing downs, but he’s failed to exceed 12 carries in a single game this season. It is worth noting that he was in near the goal line and got a carry in Week 3, but he fell just short of the goal line and the subsequent goal line carries throughout the afternoon all went to Conner.

For now, Edmonds is a PPR RB2 and probably more of a Flex play in non-PPR formats. Conner will remain a non-starter in most leagues just due to his lack of overall usage, but he will almost certainly continue to see goal line carries going forward which will in turn lead to some useful weeks. Don’t expect that to happen much against the Rams, however, who have one of the league’s most talented defenses.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kyler Murray
RB2: Chase Edmonds
WR2: DeAndre Hopkins (low-end)
WR3: Christian Kirk (PPR only)
Flex: A.J. Green (low-end)
Bench: James Conner, Rondale Moore, Maxx Williams

Passing Game Thoughts: Another big week from Matthew Stafford helped propel the Rams to a huge win over the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Stafford threw for 343 yards and a season-high four touchdowns in the victory and he’s now sitting firmly as a QB1 for fantasy.

This week Stafford and the Rams get to face a Cardinals defense that is devoid of any sort of talent in their secondary. While Arizona has held all three quarterbacks they’ve faced to under 250 yards, they did allow Kirk Cousins to throw three touchdowns against them and they haven’t yet faced another pass-heavy team. The Rams will certainly put pressure on this Cardinals defense and it’d be surprising if they end up being up to the task.

As things stand right now, the top-scoring PPR fantasy wide receiver is Los Angeles’ Cooper Kupp. Certainly we’ve seen him get off to hot starts and have hot streaks throughout his career, but this one just feels different. Kupp has been targeted at least 10 times in all three games and he’s now exceeded 95 yards in each game while scoring a total of five touchdowns. Of course we can’t expect this type of production to continue, but even a step back would keep Kupp firmly entrenched as a must-start WR1 right now. This is a player who is truly making an impact for fantasy owners.

Robert Woods hasn’t been nearly as productive, but it does seem likely that he will get things going soon. Woods does have two 12-point PPR days so it hasn’t been a disaster, but he did give fantasy owners a dud this past week. It’s obvious that Kupp is the priority target leader in Los Angeles, but there’s still plenty to go around for Woods to be a quality low-end WR2, which is about what he was drafted to be anyway.

The third wide receiver spot in Los Angeles has been interesting to follow because it’s second-year receiver Van Jefferson who is playing by far the most snaps, but it’s actually been veteran DeSean Jackson who’s had the only usable fantasy day. A long highlight reel touchdown caught the eye of many fantasy owners and he’s now likely being thrown into DFS lineups because of that, but it’s important to be careful. Jackson played less than half as many snaps as Jefferson in Week 3 and he only played three snaps to Jefferson’s 54 in Week 2. It’s possible that Jackson ends up taking over as the team’s third option, especially if he continues to produce splash plays like he did this past week, but don’t trust him in your lineups for now.

Tight end Tyler Higbee has now delivered two solid fantasy days and he looks like a pretty solid TE1 for fantasy, especially given how weak the position is overall this season. His Week 2 dud against the Colts is something that we can’t forget, but Higbee is in a good situation to continue to produce as likely the third-best option in this high-powered Rams passing game.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: Darrell Henderson missed Week 3 with a rib injury which led to former Patriots running back Sony Michel dominating the running back snaps for the Rams. Unfortunately, even in a double-digit victory which saw the Rams up multiple scores over the Buccaneers for much of the game, Michel still finished with just 67 yards. He did see 20 carries and three receptions, which tells us that the Rams are likely to lean heavily on their running game when they do get into significant positive game scripts, but Michel simply doesn’t seem like a player any of us should be particularly excited about for fantasy, especially now that Henderson is expected to be back on the field.

Henderson delivered two quality fantasy performances in Weeks 1 and 2 against the Bears and Colts and he should again take over as the team’s lead back here in Week 4 against the Cardinals.

The Cardinals did contain Derrick Henry in Week 1, in what was a very weird game script, but they’ve since given up a 148 total yard day to Dalvin Cook and a 132 total yard day to James Robinson in back-to-back games.

If he’s able to get back to the significant snap share advantage that he had over Michel in those first two weeks then Henderson should again be a useful fantasy asset in this contest. If Henderson is unable to play, Michel’s usage would indicate that he should again be a low-end RB2 or Flex play.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford
RB2: Darrell Henderson (high-end)
WR1: Cooper Kupp
WR2: Robert Woods (low-end)
Flex: Sony Michel (only if Darrell Henderson is out)
TE1: Tyler Higbee
Bench: Sony Michel, Van Jefferson, DeSean Jackson

Prediction: Rams 27, Cardinals 24 ^ Top

Seahawks at 49ers - (Caron)
Line: SF -3.0
Total: 52.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The early fantasy season has been decent for Russell Wilson thus far, but we did see a bit of a disappointing performance from him this past week in what should’ve been a more pass-heavy game against the Vikings. Wilson remains a QB1 and he’ll almost certainly continue to be one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league, but he’s now 26th in the NFL in pass attempts. He’s actually thrown one fewer pass than Lamar Jackson and he’s even behind Jacoby Brissett who’s only started one game.

Add that to the problem that he’s only rushed for 32 yards so far this season and it’s easy to see why Wilson is only barely hanging on as a QB1 for fantasy.

Now this week Wilson will face a 49ers defense that has been good against opposing quarterbacks. They did allow Jalen Hurts to rush for 82 yards and Jared Goff actually had a 338-yard, three touchdown game against them in large part due to garbage time points, but they’ve been very good when the game script has been relatively neutral.

With Wilson being a low volume passer, we’re still limited to really only his top two pass catchers, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, being every week starters. Lockett got off to the hot start this season with back-to-back 100-yard games and three scores in his first two games, but he was hampered this past week by a hip injury and struggled to get things going against the Vikings. He’s been practicing, albeit in limited fashion, this week and he’s expected to play, so he should be back in fantasy lineups against the 49ers.

San Francisco has really only played one true alpha receiver this year, that being Davante Adams, and he lit them up for 12 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown this past week. Now they face another premium outside receiver in Metcalf and that could mean another nice game for the third-year receiver who is coming off of his best game of the season. Metcalf caught six passes for 107 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota and could be in line for an even bigger target share with Lockett a bit banged up.

The only other pass catcher of any interest in this offense is tight end Gerald Everett, who was placed on the COVID-IR list on Wednesday, making him unlikely to suit up on Sunday. Backup tight end Will Dissly should see an increase in playing time and becomes a potential DFS option if you’re punting at tight end, but he otherwise should remain outside of starting fantasy lineups.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: The low volume of the Seahawks passing game continues to affect just about everyone in the offense, but running back Chris Carson remains one of the league’s most consistent producers due to his rushing workload. Carson has carried the ball at least 11 times in nine straight games going back to 2020 and it would’ve been an even longer streak if he hadn’t been injured midway through that season. He’s only caught five passes and remains a low volume option in that regard, but Seattle is a good offense and he gets regular goal line work. He won’t often contribute the huge ceiling games and his floor can sometimes be relatively low given the lack of passing game work, but he’s a consistent 10-to-15-point producer, which makes him a solid RB2 in just about any matchup.

This week he’ll face a 49ers defense that has mostly contained opposing running backs on the ground, but they’re giving up about four yards per carry and that should be enough to allow Carson to contribute about his usual point totals, assuming he gets into the end zone and/or catches a couple of passes.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson (low-end)
RB2: Chris Carson
WR1: DK Metcalf
WR2: Tyler Lockett
Bench: Travis Homer, Alex Collins, Freddie Swain, Will Dissly

Passing Game Thoughts: Jimmy Garoppolo continues to play just well enough to avoid any real push for the 49ers to move on to rookie Trey Lance, but fantasy owners have to be chomping at the bit to see the first round pick in some real action. Garoppolo has been fine from a fantasy standpoint as he currently ranks as about a mid-level QB2 which is what we expected, but there’s always the concern that he struggles in a game and gets benched.

For now, we’ll have to assume that it’ll be Garoppolo behind center and that might be a good thing for the top pass catchers in the San Francisco offense. Deebo Samuel has now seen a whopping 30 targets in his first three games, catching 20 of those for 334 yards and a touchdown. Samuel was not even the top wide receiver being selected on his team, let alone did we expect him to be outperforming tight end George Kittle, but that’s where we’re at right now. Samuel’s volume has made him a safe option and while we’ll still only be ranking him as a WR2, there’s a real possibility that he squeaks on into the WR1 rankings if he sees another 10 target game here in Week 4.

Speaking of Kittle (calf), the superstar tight end finally got things going this past week when he caught seven of the nine passes that came his way for 92 yards. He failed to get into the end zone for the third straight game, but a nine target game should have fantasy owners confident again in him for fantasy. He’s a must-start in all formats but monitor his injury situation over the weekend.

The other wide receiver in this offense, who we’ve been incredibly disappointed with thus far, is Brandon Aiyuk. Aiyuk didn’t see a single target in Week 1 and only saw two targets in Week 2, but he finally seemed to be out of the dog house - at least to some extent - in Week 3, when he was targeted six times. He caught four of those passes for just 37 yards but did get into the end zone with one of them, which should give fantasy owners some hope this week. He’ll be up against a Seattle defense that just gave up double-digit fantasy points to both Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson a week ago, so there’s some hope that Aiyuk can make it two straight solid fantasy games. He’s a low-end Flex or bench player for now, but all hope is not lost.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: The 49ers running back situation continues to be a complete crapshoot on a week to week basis. We thought things might be more clear this past week with so many injuries leading to rookie Trey Sermon being the only viable running back on the roster, but even that didn’t lead to much. Sermon was the only 49ers “running back” who even saw a snap in Week 3, but he carried the ball just 10 times, adding just two receptions. Meanwhile, fullback Kyle Juszczyk carried the ball an additional five yards and added four receptions of his own. Needless to say, this was not the kind of performance from Sermon that should be instilling confidence in fantasy owners, especially now other running backs are expected back on the field. If Kyle Shanahan can’t trust Sermon to carry the ball more than 10 times in a game when no other backs are even seeing the field, then it’s hard to believe that he has any value at the moment.

Instead, we should be looking to Elijah Mitchell to return to his role as the top back on the roster. Mitchell missed Week 3 with a shoulder injury and has been practicing in limited fashion throughout the week. It’ll be a situation to monitor as he could again miss the game or even be severely limited, but Mitchell saw 38 touches over the 49ers’ first two games and it would seem likely that he’ll return to a role of seeing a significant touch number if he’s able to suit up this weekend.

The Seahawks have given up a total of 524 total yards (rushing and receiving) through three games to the top running backs they’ve faced on opposing offenses, so this is a potentially big opportunity for whoever is starting for the 49ers.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jimmy Garoppolo (low-end)
RB2: Elijah Mitchell
WR2: Deebo Samuel (high-end)
TE1: George Kittle
Flex: Trey Sermon (if Mitchell is inactive), Brandon Aiyuk
Bench: Sermon (if Mitchell is active), Kyle Juszczyk, Mohamed Sanu, Trent Sherfield

Prediction: 49ers 27, Seahawks 23 ^ Top

Steelers @ Packers - (Green)
Line: GB -6.5
Total: 45.5

Passing Game Thoughts: A Week 1 upset win in Buffalo feels like a long time ago now as the Steelers have dropped two straight games in which they looked an awful lot like the team that lost five of their final six last year. Ben Roethlisberger (pectoral) has been sacked eight times already and is playing though an injured pec. He threw 58 passes last Sunday, completing 38 of them for 318 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. On the surface those aren’t terrible numbers, but it led to just 10 points.

It didn’t help that Diontae Johnson (knee) missed last Sunday’s game or that JuJu Smith-Schuster departed early on with a rib injury. Chase Claypool played the whole game, posting a 9-96-0 line, but was added to the injury report this week with a hamstring issue. Of the three, Smith-Schuster appears the most likely to miss Sunday’s game, though you’ll want to track them all leading up to kickoff. Keep in mind, though, that it appears none of them will be fully healthy even if they suit up.

10/2: Update: Claypool has been downgraded to Out.

While the Packers are ninth against the pass (206 yards per game), they’ve allowed nine TD passes, which is tied for most in the NFL. Five of those came in their Week 1 disaster against the Saints, and they’ve been much better over the past game and a half. Kevin King (concussion) missed Week 3 and is TBD for Sunday, but Eric Stokes has played well opposite Jaire Alexander. It’s tough to project value based on all the injuries, but assume Johnson is a WR2/WR3 if he can play with the others baselining at WR3.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: First-round pick Najee Harris has rushed 40 times this year for 123 yards, a meager 3.1 yards per carry. He’s picked up the slack the past two weeks in the receiving department but be careful not to read too much into his 14-catch outing in Week 3 as that’s a telltale sign of playing from behind against soft coverage. Although the Packers have been a middling run defense this season, they looked much improved Sunday night in San Francisco, holding the 49ers to 3.2 yards per carry.

Value Meter:
RB2: Najee Harris
WR2/WR3: Diontae Johnson (inj-knee)
WR3: JuJu Smith-Schuster (inj-ribs)
Bench: Ben Roethlisberger (inj-pectoral), Chase Claypool

Passing Game Thoughts: Even without Pro Bowl OLs David Bakhtiari (knee) and Elgton Jenkins (ankle), Aaron Rodgers never looked rattled Sunday night, completing 22 of his 33 attempts for 261 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was the reigning MVP’s second straight efficient performance coming off the Week 1 meltdown to seemingly right the ship. Despite that, we haven’t seen huge numbers for Rodgers thus far, especially in the yardage department where he ranks 26th in the NFL with 649.

With that number so low, it’s not surprising that Green Bay’s dangerous offense has produced only one fantasy-worthy pass catcher this year. That, of course, is Davante Adams, who was targeted on 18 of Rodgers’ 33 passes on SNF with a dozen receptions, 132 yards and a touchdown as a result. Adams survived a nasty hit and came out none the worse for wear, and he remains an elite WR1. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (hamstring) enjoyed his best game of 2021 Sunday night with 59 yards and a score on three grabs, but he tweaked his hammy late and looks unlikely to play in Week 4.

Minus MVS, Allen Lazard (1-42-0) and Randall Cobb could see more work, though neither figure to mean much to fantasy owners. Robert Tonyan, who had 11 TDs last season, was used to chip and help the offensive line last Sunday. He may be called upon in that role again if T.J. Watt (groin) returns from a groin injury, though if you’re in need you could at least try Tonyan as a low-end TE1. Pittsburgh is 20th against the pass this season (266.3 yards per game) and allowed three TDs in 14 completions last week.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: After he scored four times in Week 2, Aaron Jones (ankle) was due for a quieter night this past Sunday. Given the level of competition, however, Jones’ 21-touch, 96-yard, 1-TD effort was arguably more impressive. The Packers offense runs its best when Jones is the centerpiece, and despite being limited in practice by an ankle issue this week he should function as an RB1 come Sunday. The Steelers seem to always have a formidable run D, and so far in 2021 they rank 10th at 88.3 yards per game. If Jones is a surprise inactive, AJ Dillon (back) should step in as an RB2.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers
RB1: Aaron Jones (inj-ankle)
WR1: Davante Adams
TE1: Robert Tonyan
Bench: AJ Dillon (inj-back), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (inj-hamstring)

Prediction: Packers 31, Steelers 20 ^ Top

Ravens at Broncos - (Caron)
Line: DEN -1.0
Total: 45.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Lamar Jackson continues to be an every week QB1 for fantasy, largely due to his incredible rushing upside. He has now rushed for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns, putting him on pace to rush for a ridiculous 1,422 yards and 11 touchdowns. Normally we’d be saying something like, “that pace is unsustainable,” but with a guy like Lamar Jackson - no, it really isn’t.

Jackson hasn’t yet thrown for 300 yards in a game, but he’s also on pace to throw for a career high in yards. The one main problem thus far is that Jackson has only thrown three touchdown passes, along with three interceptions, so the efficiency in those two categories has limited his fantasy point total. We know that Jackson isn’t the most accurate passer, but he’s typically been fairly good at avoiding turnovers so this shouldn’t be something that we expect to continue.

His top wide receiver, Marquise Brown, has exceeded all expectations thus far and is on pace to shatter any previous career season bests that he’s had. Brown has seen at least six targets in every game and he’s typically seeing passes down the field so he always has the potential to make big plays and produce nice fantasy days. With that said, we know that he’s a streaky player and he’s had a few costly drops, so there will certainly be times when he’s difficult to own, but that’s why he shouldn’t be in your lineup as anything more than a Flex.

Fellow wide receiver Sammy Watkins has also been productive thus far, having caught four passes and been targeted at least seven times in each game, which is interesting to see given that he was never this involved in the Chiefs offense. This week, the Ravens face an excellent Broncos defense that has been completely shutting down opposing offenses thus far. Now is not the time to be dropping Watkins into your lineup.

Tight end Mark Andrews is really the only Ravens pass catcher who we should be very confident in most weeks, and especially this week. Andrews obviously has the benefit of playing a position that is largely devoid of much fantasy production to begin with so the measuring stick isn’t nearly as high, but he’s produced back-to-back double-digit PPR fantasy days, including a 100-yard game against the Lions this past week. With the Broncos’ pass rush being among the best in the league, look for Jackson to target passes closer to the line of scrimmage this week which should make for more opportunities than usual for Andrews.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: The first two weeks of the season had most of us thinking that Ty’Son Williams was going to be the primary back in the Ravens’ committee, but things got a little cloudy in Week 3 when Williams saw just five carries. He was out-touched by veteran Latavius Murray, who carried the ball seven times, and even Devonta Freeman got involved with three carries.

While Williams still dominated the total snap count, it should be concerning to fantasy owners that this backfield appears to be melting into a full blown committee, with none of them being particularly useful in the passing game. Worse yet, Murray appears to be the primary goal line back, having scored close touchdowns in both Weeks 1 and 2.

Against a Broncos defense that has been lights out against opposing offenses, it’s just too difficult to trust any of these Ravens backs here in Week 4. Let’s use this week as a “show me” week and hopefully one of the backs will emerge for us to use next week in what should be a less difficult matchup against the Colts.

Value Meter:
QB1: Lamar Jackson
Flex: Marquise Brown
TE1: Mark Andrews
Bench: Ty’Son Williams, Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay

Passing Game Thoughts: Teddy Bridgewater was a strong fantasy option in each of the Broncos’ first two games, but they really didn’t need him to do much in what was a blowout win over the Jets. New York was held scoreless on the day while the Broncos easily cruised to victory, leading to just 25 pass attempts from Bridgewater on the afternoon.

We should expect a much more competitive contest here in Week 4 as the Broncos host the Ravens and that should lead to a much higher passing volume day for Bridgewater and the entire Denver passing game. We’re still not looking at Teddy as being anything more than a QB2, but he’s proven to be much more efficient than most of us expected that he would be, albeit against fairly weak defenses. Baltimore’s pass defense should be the best he’s faced thus far, but they have given up big fantasy days to both Derek Carr and Patrick Mahomes.

Bridgewater’s top pass catcher, Courtland Sutton, is someone to watch closely this week. The Broncos lost KJ Hamler so that should in theory funnel even more targets to the remaining proven pass catchers, and that’s a great thing for potential fantasy production. We’ve seen Sutton have a 159-yard game already this season and if Denver falls behind on the scoreboard then he could be in line for another double-digit target day.

Tim Patrick has probably been picked up and dropped more than almost any player in fantasy this season as he’s had plenty of opportunities to produce but hasn’t been able to do it quite yet. He’s been targeted four, four and five times in the three games he’s played thus far, but he did catch all five passes that came his way for 98 yards this past week. He’s a reliable pass catcher for the Broncos, but not someone who has a huge ceiling for fantasy. With that said, he’s someone who could be a low-end Flex in PPR this week if you’re in need.

Tight end Noah Fant is really the player we should be paying closest attention to this week, as he produced decent games in both Weeks 1 and 2 before dropping a complete dud in Week 3. Of course, the game script certainly didn’t help given that he wasn’t going out for many passes in a blowout win, but three targets was a real disappointment. The Ravens have had an absurdly difficult schedule against opposing tight ends this season that has included Darren Waller, Travis Kelce and T.J. Hockenson so their stats are definitely skewed, but they’re a defense that is beatable over the middle. Fant should be a TE1 this week.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: The touch split between Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams continued this past week and once again it was Gordon who emerged as the more productive player. Still, both backs got into the end zone against the Jets in what was a heavy rushing attack game for the Broncos, so it ended up being a decent fantasy day for both players.

Gordon continues to get a bit more playing time than Williams, but this is about a 60/40 split at the moment, which is enough to make it tough to trust either player against a good Baltimore defense. They haven’t faced particularly good rushing offenses, but the Ravens haven’t allowed any running back to even reach 50 yards on the ground against them this season. They have allowed five rushing touchdowns, so it’s not a complete disaster matchup, but there’s not much to be excited about for Gordon or Williams in this one.

Value Meter:
QB2: Teddy Bridgewater
RB2: Melvin Gordon (low-end)
WR2: Courtland Sutton
TE1: Noah Fant
Flex: Javonte Williams, Tim Patrick (low-end)

Prediction: Broncos 24, Ravens 23 ^ Top

Buccaneers @ Patriots - (Krueger)
Line: TB -7.0
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Antonio Brown has been activated off the Covid-19 list and is expected to play this week. His presence will give Brady another weapon in the passing game to go along with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. All three have weekly WR1 ceilings given how dynamic this passing offense has been. Brady leads the league in passing TDs (10), is 2nd in yards (1087) and first in attempts (141). Play these guys where you can. Rob Gronkowski took a shot to the ribs last week and has missed practice time but I doubt he’s going to miss the contest against his former team on Sunday Night Football. Gronk is second among fantasy tight ends behind only Travis Kelce and is a threat to score a TD anytime he’s on the field.

10/2: Update: Gronk has been downgraded to Out.

It’s been a few years since these teams have faced off so it’s difficult to judge which skill player Bill Belichick will focus on stopping. The Patriots represent a negative matchup on paper but considering they’ve faced the likes of Tua Tagovailoa, Zach Wilson and Jameis Winston, I wouldn’t put too much stock in their FPTs Allowed to QB data. Tom Brady should be just fine and I’d expect one of his pass catchers to post a WR1 finish.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: Ronald Jones can be left on your bench until further notice. His carry totals through three weeks are 4-6-5 and he’s barely noticeable in the passing game. When the Bucs get down on the scoreboard it’s going to be Giovani Bernard racking up the catches as we saw last week (9-51-1). Bernard is nursing a knee injury and missed practice on Thursday. That leaves Leonard Fournette to soak up the majority of early-down work in an offense that favors the pass. Uncle Len has topped out at 15 touches (Wk 2) which doesn’t do much for his fantasy ceiling but makes him a middling Flex option in likely game scenarios as we have here in Week 4, especially if Bernard sits with his knee injury.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady
WR2: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin
WR3: Antonio Brown
Flex: Leonard Fournette (PPR only)
Bench: RB Ronald Jones, RB Giovani Bernard (knee), WR Scotty Miller, WR Tyler Johnson, Rob Gronkowski (ribs)

Passing Game Thoughts: Mac Jones (QB28) currently sits near the bottom of the QB ranks with only 2 TDs and 3 INTs on the season. Those kind of quarterback numbers lead to undesirable wide receiver production with Jakobi Meyers checking in at WR44 (FPts/G) in PPR leagues. Meyers did receive 14 targets last week as the Patriots were in catchup mode most of the game against the Saints. A similar game flow could take place this week and with the Bucs having allowed over 300 yards passing in their first three games (DAL, ATL, LAR), Meyers could be a somewhat sneaky WR3 play in Week 4.

The tight end usage and production continues to be puzzling and lacks any clarity. Hunter Henry was in on 72 percent of the snaps last week posting a 5-36 line on six targets and seems to be the preferred option at the moment over Jonnu Smith who isn’t running nearly as many routes. Don’t expect anything more than TE2 production from either of these tight ends until the passing offense becomes more proficient.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: With James White (hip) out for the season the Patriots are searching for someone to fill the pass-catching RB role in the offense. Brandon Bolden is typically a special teamer but did get some run after White went down in Week 3. The team doesn’t trust Damien Harris in pass protection which limits his third-down usage so perhaps we’ll see J.J. Taylor or Rhamondre Stevenson mixed into this role against the Bucs?

Harris is the primary early-down option but how useful he’ll be in this game is questionable. The Bucs have been stout against the run in recent memory and as a result, most opponents have opted for a pass-heavy approach. The Rams did run Sony Michel 20 times last week against this defense but they were leading much of game. That scenario is unlikely here, making Harris more of a Flex option than a solid RB2.

Value Meter:
WR3: Jakobi Meyers
TE2: Hunter Henry
Flex: Damien Harris (low end)
Bench: WR Nelson Agholor, TE Jonnu Smith, QB Mac Jones

Prediction: Buccaneers 27, Patriots 17

Raiders at Chargers - (Caron)
Line: LAC -3.0
Total: 51.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The NFL’s leading passer through three is probably a surprise to most -- it’s Derek Carr. Carr’s 1,203 yards through the air are over 100 more than the next-closest quarterback. It helps that the Raiders have already been in two overtime games, but it’s not completely unreasonable to think that Carr and the Las Vegas passing game might be much better than many of us expected.

Carr now faces his toughest matchup as he heads to Los Angeles to face a Chargers defense that has been excellent against opposing quarterbacks. Despite facing two of the league’s most high-powered offenses led by Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott, the Chargers have only given up a total of four passing touchdowns along with forcing three interceptions. Carr has been playing like a QB1, but he’s really a borderline QB1/QB2 in this game, given the difficulty of the matchup.

Second year wide receiver Henry Ruggs III has stepped up in a big way and currently leads the team with 237 receiving yards. He followed up his big Week 2 explosion with a solid fantasy day in Week 3, and has to be considered at least a Flex option this week against the Chargers.

Fellow second-year wideout Bryan Edwards hasn’t had quite as hot of a start as Ruggs, but he’s been someone to keep an eye on as well. The Raiders have been trusting him late in games, particularly in game-winning drives, which bodes well for his opportunities going forward. He’s not someone who should be in your lineup until we see him getting more targets coming his way, but he should be owned in just about every league.

Hunter Renfrow is actually the highest-scoring Raiders receiver in PPR formats, but obviously he is not as flashy as Ruggs and Edwards. Still, he’s caught 16 passes already this season and he did get into the end zone. He’s a much more reliable option if you need 10 to 15 PPR points in a given week, but he’s not someone who has much upside in really any matchup. He’s a situational PPR Flex option.

Tight end Darren Waller had the monster Week 1 performance that had many believing that he might unseat Travis Kelce as the TE1 for fantasy this season. He hasn’t had quite that type of success since, but Waller remains the best fantasy option on the Raiders roster. He’s been targeted at least seven times in every game which is almost unheard of for a tight end and he’s a must-start as usual.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Raiders running back Josh Jacobs returned to practice on Thursday and there’s a decent chance that he suits up to play on Monday night. Unfortunately, because it is a Monday game, fantasy owners need to make sure that they have a contingency plan in place, as we likely won’t have verification on his status until a few hours before the game.

If Jacobs is ready to go, he’ll get to face a Chargers defense that has struggled mightily to contain opposing running backs this season. They’ve given up over 100 rushing yards to opposing backs in every game this season, including this past week to the struggling Clyde Edwards-Helaire, as well as 180 total rushing yards to Cowboys the duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.

Assuming he plays, Jacobs should be looked at as an RB2, given the matchup and his previous usage in the Las Vegas offense. However, if he’s unable to go, look for the Raiders to again utilize a backfield split with Peyton Barber handling the majority of the rushing work and Kenyan Drake handling the pass catching work. Barber turned in a shockingly impressive performance this past week when he carried the ball 23 times for 111 yards and a touchdown while adding three receptions for 31 yards as well. If he ends up in the same role, he should be viewed as an RB2.

Either way, Drake’s role doesn’t appear to be changing much. We expected that he’d see an uptick in carries with Jacobs out, but that hasn’t really been the case in either game. He’s carried the ball just 15 times over the past two weeks, totaling just 33 yards on the ground with those carries, while Barber has been the clear best runner on the team. Drake has, however, already caught 13 passes this season, so he’s turned in some decent fantasy performances despite his lack of rushing production, but he’s not someone we should be particularly excited about in any scenario this week.

Value Meter:
QB2: Derek Carr (high-end)
RB2: Josh Jacobs, Peyton Barber (if Jacobs is inactive)
TE1: Darren Waller (high-end)
Flex: Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow (PPR only)
Bench: Kenyan Drake, Barber (if Jacobs is active), Bryan Edwards

Passing Game Thoughts: Justin Herbert got out to a slow start in his second season, but a gigantic four-touchdown performance in the win over the Chiefs this past week should have fantasy owners excited again as we head into a potential shootout in Week 4 against the Raiders. Herbert now sits fourth in the NFL in passing yardage through three weeks and he’ll face a Raiders defense that gave up a near-300 yard game to Ben Roethlisberger - who looks terrible - as well as productive fantasy days (albeit largely due to rushing) to both Lamar Jackson and Jacoby Brissett. The Chargers passing offense is by far the best that the Raiders have faced thus far and it could be another big week for Herbert and everyone involved.

Wide receiver Mike Williams has been a surprising breakout this season and it’s now come to the point where it’s no longer fluky. Williams has produced big in all three weeks and currently sits as the No.2 PPR fantasy wide receiver on the season. He’s been targeted a whopping 31 times thus far, catching 22 of those passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns. It’d be shocking if he was able to keep up this type of production, but even if he regresses a bit, he can continue to be a borderline WR1 if he’s seeing anywhere near this kind of volume.

Keenan Allen has taken a back seat to Williams’ huge production thus far, but he’s been as steady and reliable as ever, providing three great PPR fantasy days in a row. He’s been a borderline WR1 as well and should be looked at as nothing short of a high-end WR2 in this matchup. He’s an excellent floor play with upside - exactly what we want in fantasy football.

The only other pass catcher of note in Los Angeles is tight end Jared Cook, who has turned in back-to-back junk performances. We know that almost all of the targets are going to Williams and Allen, so until that changes, don’t look for Cook to be anything more than a bust tight end who has occasional boom games due to touchdowns.

LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: With 15 targets over his past two games, it’s now safe to say that Austin Ekeler’s catchless Week 1 performance was something that we shouldn’t be worried about going forward. Ekeler has since been back to his PPR studly ways, contributing enough on the ground to add with his 15 catches in Weeks 2 and 3 to give him back-to-back 22-point performances.

Ekeler now gets to face a Raiders defense that gave up five catches to Najee Harris and has already given up four touchdowns to the running back position as a whole on the year. The Raiders haven’t faced particularly scary running backs thus far, so this will be a test, but Ekeler should be up to the test. He’s a very safe option, especially in PPR, and should be a locked in RB1.

Value Meter:
QB1: Justin Herbert
RB1: Austin Ekeler
WR1: Mike Williams (low-end)
WR2: Keenan Allen (high-end)
Bench: Justin Jackson, Larry Rountree III, Josh Palmer, Jalen Guyton, Jared Cook

Prediction: Chargers 31, Raiders 23 ^ Top