Assembling a championship-winning fantasy football roster in the draft is only half the battle. Now, knowing which of your players to start and who to sit on a weekly basis is the best way fantasy football managers can improve their chances of winning each week.
Here are some undervalued players to consider starting and others to sit in Week 4 of the 2021 season. And as always, be sure to consult FullTime’s Week 4 fantasy football rankings.
Mac Jones (QB) New England Patriots
Fantasy owners understandably fear the Tampa Buccaneers’ defense after watching them steamroll through the playoffs and dominate Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl. However, while the Bucs simply can’t be run on, they are among the worst in the league when it comes to slowing down anyone involved in the passing attack.
Jones doesn’t have huge upside being that when you watch him an 11-yard pass feels like he’s throwing a bomb and his weapons fall well short of elite. Nonetheless, if you’re searching for a QB this week he has a high floor and will likely have a high volume of pass attempts as every has against the Bucs. He’s likely on your waiver wire and if you are streaming quarterbacks you should scoop him up and plug him in as a safe option on Sunday.
Peyton Barber (RB) Las Vegas Raiders
We can all collectively accept that Barber isn’t good. You will get no argument from me. But for reasons beyond me, old-time style coach Jon Gruden loves him a big-tough running back that can fall forward. We have just described Peyton Barber. Despite a lack of overwhelming ability, Barber saw an unreasonable amount of touches last week and there is no reason to believe that won’t be the case Week 4 as long as Josh Jacobs remains sidelined.
This past Sunday against the Dolphins, Barber carried the ball 23 times for 111 yards and a touchdown and added three more catches on five targets and 31 yards. Kenyan Drake ran the ball just eight times and caught three passes. As long as the Raiders are competitive in this game, you will see another significant workload from Barber. The Chargers are also in the bottom 12 when it comes to allowing points to Fantasy running backs so everything is aligning for another strong game in this one.
Alexander Mattison (RB) Minnesota Vikings
Mattison quieted a lot of the chatter last week that even when Dalvin Cook is out, Mattison isn’t the man in Minnesota. He saw 26 carries and eight targets Week 3 and totaled 171 yards. Cook is dealing with a high-ankle sprain and it seems unlikely he plays this week or isn’t at least limited. Especially after Mattison showed last week there is no reason to rush him back. Even with a tough matchup against the Browns, I wouldn’t be afraid to plug him into your lineup this week. The volume will be there as long as Cook doesn’t make a miraculous recovery.
Jakobi Meyers (WR) New England Patriots
This goes right along with Mac Jones. No one in the NFL has given up more points to Fantasy wide receivers than the Bucs. Meyers is the top target in New England and perfect for dumping the ball off quickly which is a necessity against the Tampa defense and that’s especially relevant with James White now out of the lineup for the foreseeable future. Meyers already has 29 targets on the season and should expect another double-digit target day on Sunday Night Football.
His upside may be a bit capped in standard leagues being that Jones’s idea of a deep pass is a 9-yard out, but in PPR leagues he should be gold. If you have Meyers roster he should be plugged in this week as your WR3 or Flex option. If he can find the end zone this week don’t be surprised if he puts up numbers that can win you your week.
Odell Beckham (WR) Cleveland Browns
With Jarvis Landry injured and Odell Beckham coming off serious ACL surgery, we all scrambled to figure out which little-known Browns’ receiver was the guy to snatch off the waiver wire. Turns out most of the targets just went to Beckham and Kareem Hunt. Beckham saw nine targets and caught five of them for 77 yards. The catch rate still isn’t good as we’ve seen in the past between OBJ and Baker Mayfield, however, without Landry there or anyone of note really to suck up targets, the volume alone should be enough to make Beckham startable. Combine the volume with the upside we all know he has and it’s tough to keep him out of your lineup against a putrid Vikings secondary who are bottom four in the league when it comes to slowing down opposing Fantasy wideouts.
Tyler Conklin (TE) Minnesota Vikings
As far as streamer-worthy tight ends go, Conklin exploded last week. He was hyped up all preseason and gained a ton of buzz once Irv Smith went down to injury. He was okay the first few weeks but nothing to write home about. However, this week he saw eight targets for seven receptions, 70 yards, and a TD. It’s not fair to expect that every week, but I see no reason why you can’t grab him off your waiver wires and plug him in if you need a tight end. This may have been his ceiling, nonetheless, the eight targets make him an intriguing start this week against the Browns. He has 16 targets and 13 receptions on the season so far.
Ryan Tannehill (QB) Tennessee Titans
You look at a matchup with the lowly Jets and think, smash start for my quarterback. However, that’s simply not the case. This isn’t because the Jets have a sneaky good secondary and the Fantasy industry hasn’t caught on yet. Oh no, that’s not the case at all. Quite the opposite. The issue is the Jets stink so bad that they are forever losing and the games are essentially over before they even get started. They can’t score and they can’t stop the run. They are surprisingly giving up the third-fewest points to fantasy signal-callers.
The Jets are going to lose and they are going to lose by a lot. This will be a Derrick Henry game. Compounding the issue, even more, Tannehill will be without his best wide receiver A.J. Brown who is week to week with an injured hamstring. Quite frankly, Tannehill has for the most disappointed this season anyway under a new offensive coordinator. If you have another option this week, bench him.
Damien Harris (RB) New England Patriots
For all the reasons we are starting the Patriots’ passing options, we are benching Harris. I like Harris a lot and he will be a start again soon, but you just can’t run on the Bucs. With limited opportunity as a pass-catcher, you just can’t start him against Tampa. I would love to drone on and throw numbers at you to sound smart and get my word count up, but it’s just this simple, and further explanation is unnecessary. Just leave him on your bench this week.
Ty’Son Williams (RB) Baltimore Ravens
I’m out on the Ravens’ backfield for the time being. It’s just too volatile. Williams had an ideal matchup against the Lions last week and completely flopped. He carried the ball five times for 22 yards and failed to reel in his only target. We saw both Lamar Jackson and Latavius Murray run the ball seven times and Devonta Freeman even chipped in with three carries.
Williams simply isn’t getting enough carries and is barely utilized in the passing attack at all. Even when given the ball he’s been just okay and issues in pass protection have kept him off the field at times. I don’t see any circumstance or matchup in which you could start him with confidence right now barring an unforeseen injury that he benefits from. Even then I’m not so sure he’s startable.
Brandin Cooks (WR) Houston Texans
Cooks has been great this season, however, the stars aren’t aligned for him this week. He faces off against the Bills who are allowing the second-fewest points to wide receivers, which is incredible considering how often they’ve had a substantial lead. As the Texans’ only option on offense, Cooks will be blanketed by Tre’Davious White all game, and let us not forget Davis Mills will be throwing him the ball. If you need him in your Flex you can plug him in and hope for the best, just temper expectations this week in this matchup.
Michael Pittman (WR) Indianapolis Colts
I’m at a place now with Xavien Howard where I am doing what I can to not avoid receivers he’ll be shadowing. Particularly wideouts that fit the profile of Pittman. Howard is a big, long corner and Pittman is a big-bodied wideout. On the off chance, a receiver is going to get the best of him, it needs to be a quicker more precise route runner. When you watch Miami, quarterbacks are doing their best to avoid throwing at him and when they do target him it tends to not go well. Pittman is playing great and is in store for a breakout year. I just don’t want to start him this week against X in Miami.
Tyler Higbee (TE) Los Angeles Rams
The Arizona Cardinals for years were notoriously awful against opposing fantasy tight ends. Arizona bras went out of their way to address those issues in the draft and that is no longer the case. Additions like Budda Baker and Isaiah Simmons have made a tight ends job against the Cards very difficult.
Arizona is currently allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to TEs and to make matters worse, they are allowing the eighth-most to opposing wideouts. This is not lining up to be a Higbee game. Start your receivers against the Cardinals and bench your tight ends. The exact opposite of what we did for years when Patrick Peterson was roaming the secondary in Arizona.
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