First up, well done to anyone who followed our advice in Week 3 – what a week our picks ended up having! (and yes, I’m completely aware this is a self-indulgent, no-so-humble brag, what of it?!) 9 out of our 12 picks performed as expected, and it would have been a 10 had Raiders TE Clive Walford not been robbed of a 24 yard TD, costing a juicy 8.4 points. Anyhow, that’s enough trumpet blowing for me, time to move straight on to this weeks must start and must sit players.
MUST START QBs
Blake Bortles – Jacksonville Jaguars (v Indianapolis Colts)
Bortles has had a mixed start to the 2016 season, throwing for a respectable 843 yards while managing 5 TDs but worryingly, 6 interceptions. Mind you, the defences he’s come up against in losses against the Packers, Chargers and Ravens have not been too shabby. This all changes in Week 4 when the Jags host Andrew Luck and the Colts. In a matchup featuring two of the leagues lesser passing defences, I’m expecting both QBs to post big numbers, with Luck being being the more obvious starter for owners. Last season Bortles was amongst the leagues most productive starters, while Allen and Allen (Robinson and Hurns) were both grateful recipients of numerous TDs. With TE Julius Thomas playing a larger part so far this season, look for Bortles to share the ball around with great effect.
Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions (v Chicago Bears)
The long time Lions QB went large in the second half whilst trying to overcome a 28 point half time deficit against the Packers. Fortunately for this writer (and other Green Bay fans), Stafford and co fell agonisingly short. But that’s not to detract from a truly impressive display, perhaps the finest so far in the post-Megatron era. Chicago’s defence has been plagued by injury this year and, frankly, just plain sucks. The emergence of Jones and Ebron as genuine passing threats for the Lions bodes well in this matchup, and without a first class run offence, Detroit will be once again looking to their franchise QB to lead from the front.
MUST SIT QBs
Eli Manning – New York Giants (v Minnesota Vikings)
Manning, Beckham and the Giants travel to Minnesota in Week 4 and to say the noise generated in brand new US Bank Stadium appears to make life difficult for travelling offences is an understatement. On top of that, the Vikings defence has been a dominant force to be reckoned with this year, dominating two of the games best QBs – Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton – whilst helping their Bridgewater-less team start the season with 3 straight wins. This defence has produced 15 sacks, 5 picks, 4 recovered fumbles, 2 TDs and a safety, and is the top scoring “player” on this writers 3-0 fantasy team. I don’t care who you are or who you play for, if you’re coming up against this purple menace – I’m sitting you.
MUST START RBs
Spencer Ware – Kansas City Chiefs (v Pittsburgh Steelers)
This particular Chiefs backup RB has been a revelation during Jamaal Charles extended early season absence. His dual threat abilities have so far yielded 200 rushing yards plus a TD, whilst almost achieving the same yardage via the pass. With Kansas City coming up to the bye in Week 5, it’s looking likely they won’t rush Charles back until the week after, given the starter is still not quite at 100%. The other attractive thing for Ware this week is his matchup, with the once feared Pittsburgh defence now one of the league’s most susceptible to a good running offence. With Ware potentially starting for the last time in a while, he’ll no doubt be looking to put in a big one to ensure he stays in the Chiefs plans even after the return of their regular superstar.
DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans (v Houston Texans)
The Titans new RB has had a huge start to 2016, notching up big numbers on the ground and through the air. Last week, as predicted, he also picked up his first rushing TD to go alongside his pair of TD catches. Despite this, Murray still isn’t being given the attention he deserves from fantasy coaches and pundits alike. Even I sat him in week one! But as I said last week, I doubt I’ll be doing that again, even against the Texans, who I normally wouldn’t be highlighting as an ideal matchup for a RB. But given the loss of JJ Watt and the ease in which they were shredded by LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots in last Thursday nights embarrassing shutout, I’m prepared to roll the dice against them this week. Look for Murray to pick up another 100 yards and add to his growing number of TDs for the year. Oh, and consider him an obvious pick for the rest of the year unless something drastic changes.
MUST SIT RBs
Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers (v Kansas City Chiefs)
I’m not sure who is more excited to see the Steelers superstar RB take the field this week. The man himself, after a frustrating year long layoff due to injury and suspension, or all the fantasy coaches who spent a high pick drafting him in the hope of getting 13 huge weeks from 2014’s top player. But I can definitely tell you who isn’t – me. Much like last week when I wasn’t buying the hype surrounding Jerick McKinnon, I’m also fairly cold on the long-awaited return of Le’Veon Bell. For starters, with DeAngelo Williams producing outstanding numbers in Bell’s absence, there is no urgent need to rush him back into a full workload. Secondly, the Chiefs are no mugs when it comes to stopping the run. Thirdly, Big Ben is coming off an absolute stinker against the Eagles and will no doubt be looking to bounce back big time and stamp his authority on this one. As I said with McKinnon last week, if the RB crisis has hit you hard Bell (obviously) isn’t the worst you can do in that position. But if you have depth, I wouldn’t be pinning my hopes on an explosive day out and would let him cool his heels on the bench for one more week.
MUST START WRs
TY Hilton – Indianapolis Colts (v Jacksonville Jaguars)
I’ve predicted a big year for the Colts number 1 WR provided he has a healthy Andrew Luck throwing him the ball all year. However in his first two weeks he somewhat underwhelmed fantasy owners. That all changed last week, when Hilton produced a massive game, catching 8 passes for 174 yards and a TD. His targets were highest for the season and given this weeks opponent, it looks likely he’ll continue to get plenty of attention as Luck looks to dismantle the Jaguars defensive unit. In what I’m predicting to be a high scoring shootout, look for Hilton to have plenty of opportunities to rack up yardage and scores.
Terrelle Pryor – Cleveland Browns (v Washington Redskins)
Last week sure was a crazy week for the Browns WR/RB/QB! The former QB managed to pull in 140 odd yards as a receiver, 21 yards and a TD as a RB (or was he a QB in that play?) and 35 yards throwing the football. Given the Browns appear to be willing to try a raft of different options across the field, the triple threat who can score via catching, running or passing the ball is a must pick up from the waiver wire, and a must start in Week 4. Make no mistake, this isn’t chasing last weeks points either. With the Browns coming up against the Redskins, Pryor is in the rare, perhaps unprecedented, situation of having strong match ups wherever he lines up. Washington give up more points than most to WRs, RBs and QBs – so why wouldn’t you want to start a guy against them who can score from all three positions?!
MUST SIT WRs
Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (v Denver Broncos)
This pick may come as a bit of a shock, given the Bucs number 1 WR has had a prolific start to the year, producing 300 odd yards and a TD in each game. But as I mentioned when discussing Andy Dalton last week, I’m vary wary of starting any offensive players who are up against the might of Denver’s defence. And when the system works, you don’t tinker with it. The Broncos kept both Cam Newton and Andrew luck to under 200 yards and a TD each, whilst giving up a miserly 206 yards with no TDs to Dalton. Naturally, when QBs are limited in this fashion, it’s the star WRs who feel the full effect, and this was no different in weeks 1 through 3 with the likes of AJ Green and TY Hilton having quiet days at the office. I feel a similar day out for the big man, Mike Evans, especially given the workload Adam Humphries seems to be enjoying so far in 2016.
MUST START TEs
Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings (v New York Giants)
It would appear at this early stage that the acquisition of Sam Bradford has proved a masterstroke for the Vikings offence. Stefan Diggs, in particular, has reaped the rewards. But so to has the Minnesota TE, Kyle Rudolph, who has started the season with 166 yards and 2 TDs. The Giants defence has improved in leaps and bounds this year, so much so that I don’t feel they’re as vulnerable to TEs as they have been previously. But that’s not stopping me from including Rudolph this week. However my reasons for doing so are more due to his own performance rather than the matchup. With their offence revolving around Adrian Peterson for so long, having their star RB out injured along with a passing QB at the helm, I’m expecting good, consistent performances from the likes of Rudolph, with this week no exception.
Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers (v Atlanta Falcons)
Olsen has been a top passing threat for some time, and he has started the season in top form, registering over 250 receiving yards and a TD. The same can not be said for the Atlanta defence, who on Monday night were torn to shreds Coby Fleener – the man who has quickly become this columns arch-nemesis! Cam Newton and the Panthers will be looking to stop the early rot and make a statement after a surprising 1-2 start, and this week looms as the perfect match up to do so. Look for Newton to target his dependable TE option regularly and effectively.
MUST SIT TEs
Clive Walford – Oakland Raiders (v Baltimore Ravens)
The Raiders TE was listed as a start last week, and should have rewarded coaches with a top game had a 24 yard TD not been called back. Unfortunately for owners, his matchup this week is far from favourable. The Ravens have been extremely effective in shutting down TEs, giving up the second least fantasy points to the position. Any receiver with Derek Carr as their QB shapes as a TD threat, but this week against a strong Baltimore defence I’m expecting a somewhat subdued game from one of this years top TEs.