2018 Play or Stay Away – Week 4

Play

QB

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons vs. Cincinnati Bengals Is it too late now to say, sorry? I personally would like  to apologize to the Whisper Nation. I am sorry I was so wrong on Matt Ryan coming into this year. It was more of an indictment on his Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Last year the entire offense took a step back from Ryan’s 2016 MVP season. Additionally I thought the Falcons defense was going to be quite a bit better this year. Due to injuries in their secondary including Pro Bowler Keanu Neal, the Falcons are getting torched defensively through the air. Over the first three weeks of the season only 4 other teams have allowed more passing plays. Matt Ryan seems locked in going forward as long as health permits to some of his offensive weapons. This week is a week to continue to fire him up in your lineup as Atlanta will host the Bengals who have been second to only Kansas City in terms of passing plays allowed on the year.

Case Keenum, Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs This is not a suggestion based on how awesome Case Keenum is, but he does hold the record for most passing yards in a college football career… so there’s that. Case has a group of talented WRs in Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and Cortland Sutton. The Broncos also have a decent line and running game rolling right now. Maybe more importantly for Case’s case….wait…..yeah….is that he is playing the Kansas City Chiefs at home on Monday Night Football. The Chiefs on average have allowed the most passing yards per game with 375.7. Additionally they boast a potent offense that could cause Keenam to throw more than usual.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Don’t look now but Joe Flacco is ELITE! Jk! He is not elite but he is about the 13th best Fantasy Quarterback in most fantasy formats this year. He has much improved weapons than he has had over the last few years, a strong defense and a decent compliment of running backs. Enter in a match-up with the Steelers who have given up finishes of QB5 to Tyrod Taylor, QB1 to Pat Mahomes, and QB4 to Fitzmagic. He is a good option this week based more on the Steelers deficiencies.

RB

James White, New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins The common theme of the NFL in this young season is that the pass catching running back reigns supreme! Is this not what we have all predicted to be the case as rule changes take effect and offenses cater to creating mismatches for defenses across the league? This has been the case for James White who has 2 receiving touchdowns and 125 receiving yards through 3 games. Additionally the Patriots have now sent Rex Burkhead to the IR. This essentially means that James White has a role in this offense barring injury for the foreseeable future. This has been the case as all other Patriot backs aside from White have dealt with their own injuries thus far this year. He is set up for another sizable workload this week against a Dolphins squad that funnels yards to their defensive interior based on their strong boundary play.

Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals After playing some intensely frustrating committee games with his running backs, Pete Carroll gave Chris Carson 32 carries which is the league high for any back in any game this year. It is maybe no coincidence that in the games Carson has played more snaps and seen more carries the Seahawks have been effective. Much like the game last week that saw Seattle control the game flow, I see them having their way with a bad Cardinals team in the desert this week. Additionally the Cardinals have been very generous to the running back position this year, surrendering finishes of RB3 & RB7 in week one, RB2 in week two, and finally RB14 last week to Jordan Howard. Carson should see plenty of work and has been effective enough to trust in a plus match-up.

Carlos Hyde, Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders Carlos Hyde and Seek. That is what I am playing this year. One week I hate him, the next I love him. It is like a sad, strange playground crush. But, possibly no one benefitted more with Baker Mayfield entering the game than Carlos Hyde. He had a monster performance with his signature volume, racking up 98 yards on 23 carries and scoring 2 TDs. This week the Browns get the porous run defense of the Oakland Raiders. I cannot imagine the Browns moving away from Hyde’s volume, and with Baker’s accuracy and ability to move the chains, Hyde should find success.

WR

Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons vs. Cincinnati Bengals When the Falcons drafted Ridley, who was probably the most NFL ready wide receiver in the 2018 NFL Draft, Falcons fans were excited about the possibility of him and Julio attacking opposing defenses. After the last two weeks, Atlanta’s faithful are stoked to see what is happening. Not only is Ridley blossoming as a strong option after his monster 146 yard 3 touchdown game against the Saints, but Matt Ryan has been QB3 on the year so far in most formats! I am loving the prospects for not only Ryan in this weeks tilt against a exposed Cincy secondary, but for Ridley as well.

Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Last week I keenly advised the Whisper Nation to steer clear of Allen Robinson against a heavy dose of Patrick Peterson in Arizona. He not surprisingly underwhelmed and only posted 50 yards on 3 catches. I do, however see much brighter days in Robinson’s future starting as soon as this week as he is set to play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We have seen Tampa give up massive numbers to opposing team’s number one receiving option including allowing each opposing WR1 to score a touchdown. Robinson is as good a bet as any to score this week as he faces a depleted secondary.

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons If you haven’t sensed a theme yet, Myself and the “experts” in Vegas (cough, Vikings, Bills, cough, cough) expect a shootout in the Mercedes Benz Dome between Atlanta and Cincinnati. The over/under for the game is 51.5 total points and one of the larger beneficiaries from that and potentially the inactive status of one A.J. Green is Tyler Boyd. Through the first two weeks he was quietly having a solid year as a compliment to Green in Bill Lazor’s offense, but now he has emerged as not only a compliment but a player with stand alone value. Last week he dusted Carolina for 132 and 2 TDs and looks poised to attack a constantly weakening Atlanta secondary. Boyd manager’s should be salivating at the match-up!

TE

Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons Eifert was a risky prospect coming into this year as he was fresh off of multiple back surgeries. The good news is that Eifert has been fully healthy and eased back into the mix on offense with the Bengals thus far. Although he has yet to score a touchdown, he equaled his target totals from both weeks 1 and 2 combined in his most recent contest with 7 targets.  A.J. Green could be sitting this one out and as noted above the Falcons defense has been exposed thus far this year through the air. Eifert has an established relationship with Dalton and his usage has gone up each week this year so far.

O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears Two words: FITZ MAGIC! Ok so maybe it’s technically one word, who knows!?!? I don’t think anyone really knows. Either way, Fitzpatrick’s magical season has spelled success for most of the Buccs offense and that includes Howard who has increasingly separated himself from Cameron Brate as THE Tight End to roster on your fantasy lineup. His targets have increased each week from 2 in week one to 4 in week two and 8 in week 3. He is now the TE2 in all of fantasy and those of us with him on our roster should start him and never look back.

Stay Away

QB

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings Jared Goff is tied for Fantasy QB11 this year in most scoring formats. The Rams offense has been excellent this year, picking right up where they left off from last year. I think Goff will have a lot more streamable good match-ups than he won’t, but I am not confident rolling him out there this week against the Vikings. Following the Vikings embarrassing loss to the Bills, I predict that Zimmer’s defense will be fired up and on their wits against the Rams. This is  Thursday contest as well, and we have seen in the past how sloppy these games can be offensively. I imagine this could turn into a defensive and run game focused chess match. I think you can find better options with plus match-ups than Jared Goff this week.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams If you have been paying attention to either of these teams in the TNF match-up then you know that both Pro Bowl corners for the Rams Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters are out for this game. So why on earth would I suggest that you bench Kirk Cousins? The Vikings are loaded with talent especially at the WR and TE position and if Cook suits up, that’ll another solid piece. My concern is with Kirk himself who has looked inconsistent at times this year. This is a short week after a poor performance and while the corners are lacking for Los Angeles, Thursday night games don’t always yield the best Fantasy Football performances.

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals As I write this Pete Carroll states that Doug Baldwin “may” play on Sunday. This would significantly improve Russ’ prospects this week. I, however in the minority I may be on this issue, see this match-up as not as fortuitous as it may seem at first glance. The Cardinals defense while not the fearsome No Fly Zone it has been in the past, has yet to allow a top 12 Fantasy QB finish this year. This is most likely because both the Redskins and Rams got up early on them and merely ran the ball the rest of the game. Nevertheless, The Seahawks should fair pretty well against this unit to start and could be pulling away via a strong run game the rest of the contest. Wilson’s lack of perimeter talent also don’t help his case this week.

RB

Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans First of all, Jay Ajayi would need to suit up this week for this “Stay Away” to be valid. That being said, I am not confident in his output this week even if he is starting. The Jay Train has been joined by a gaggle of other backs in Philly including Corey Clement and now Wendell Smallwood who have both been effective in the passing game where Ajayi has been nonexistent in his tenure with the Eagles. What we have seen this year from the young NFL season, is that teams are using backs as receivers at a high rate causing your more traditional running backs to have lower fantasy outputs. Jay Ajayi does not lack talent, he is a physical runner who in his first two weeks served as Philly’s goal line back. The problem is as he comes back from this injury I am not confident that Head Coach Doug Pederson will want to give him a full complement of snaps and carries. We saw Pederson ease Jay into the NFL opener during the first half and if that workload is replicated Jay will be set up for failure in week 4.

Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs After spending all offseason as the fantasy community darling, Freeman saw his starting job get threatened by local undrafted standout Phillip Lindsay. Then in week two and three Freeman was able to score. Additionally in week 3 Lindsay got himself ejected by throwing punches in a scrum, causing Freeman to see even more looks. My concern, however with Lindsay back in this game, is the fact that the over/under and match-up suggest the Broncos will be playing from behind and forced to throw to stay with KC. This means potentially Freeman getting phased out in favor of Lindsay and even Devontae Booker. Lindsay and Booker have combined for 80 yards receiving compared to only 5 for Freeman. Freeman could have game script enemy in this game and if you can do better you should.

Jamal Williams, Green Bay Packers vs. Buffalo Bills I realize the Packers are playing the Bills at home and are 10 point favorites, but Jamaal Williams has not looked very good this year and is in major danger of losing the starting job to Aaron Jones. In fact he may have already. Last week in Jones’ first game back from suspension It was Jones who saw the team high in carries with 7. This was a game the Packers were mostly trailing in for the majority but the fact remains that Green Bay experienced a much needed boost in their running game due to Aaron Jones’ explosiveness. He is clear and away the better running back and it is a matter of when and not if he takes this backfield over. For this week it is hard to say Williams will get enough looks to post a start worthy fantasy performance.

WR

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks Larry Fitzgerald is a walking, or should I say, running LEGEND. What has not been legendary is his fantasy output this season. He continues to battle a hamstring injury and I do not feel confident rolling him out this week with a brand new and rookie quarterback in Josh Rosen. Rosen has also showed in brief game time last week and in the preseason an affinity towards Christian Kirk. Hold Larry out of your lineups for one more week and see how the chemistry works out and if he can successfully battle back from this injury.

Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Chargers Marquise Goodwin’s potential was there after some success late last year with the handsome Jimmy Garoppolo. He came into this year highly hyped and primed to build on their connection, however his early injury and Jimmy’s season ending ACL tear spells bad news for Goodwin. CJ Beathard is not the right stylistic fit for Goodwin, and their first game of the season together is not a plus match-up against a strong defensive Los Angeles Chargers unit.  

Josh Gordon, New England Patriots vs.  Miami Dolphins If you celebrated Christmas as a child then you know about the excitement of the night before, the master negotiations with your mother to open “just one gift!” Josh Gordon being traded to the Patriots has that similar nostalgic feel for not only Tom Brady, but those with Gordon on their roster. I am just as excited to see what Brady and co. can produce with Flash but you need to be patient. Don’t unwrap this gift just yet! I imagine, if he plays, he will be worked into this offense slowly. Think of Josh Gordon as the long play. Additionally the match-up is not that great. Miami has a young and legit “lockdown” corner in the making in Xavien Howard. Pump the brakes on the Gordon play this week, your time will come.

TE

Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens Has the outlaw finally been outlawed from the #1 TE position in Pittsburgh? As Vance McDonald has returned to the team and steadily been implemented into the offense, Jesse James has seen his snap and target counts diminish. He is only one week removed from a monster outing but the Steelers brought in Vance and paid him for a reason. He looks to be a ancillary piece to one of the top passing offenses on the year. If you picked James up in an effort to spot start or stream him, considering looking elsewhere as he shapes up as more of the backup TE for Pittsburgh.

Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Will Dissly, or as Russell Wilson refers to him as: a young Jason Witten, had a rude awakening last week at home against Witten’s old team the Dallas Cowboys. He was only able to corrall one of his measly three targets for a whole 4 yards! The fact is we could have guessed this was due to happen based on the lack of sustainable usage he was seeing. He only had 3 catches in weeks one and two and then the regression hit. No more touchdowns, no more Dissly! This week may seem like a decent matchup against the Cards but he is only seeing minimal targets and can’t be trusted.

#FantasyFootball #PlayorStayAway

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