One nice thing about Thursday night games is, when we have a bunch of injuries to worry about, we at least know we'll have clarity early on. And this week's game has some pretty significant ones to worry about, with Aaron Jones (hamstring), Christian Watson (hamstring), and David Montgomery all listed as questionable on the official injury report Wednesday. And, as of Wednesday night, all three seem legitimately questionable.
But we'll know whether they're playing 90 minutes before kickoff, which leads to some easy calls. If Jones and Montgomery are active, I'm probably starting them; I'm probably steering clear of Watson for this week, although I did just trade for him (giving up Nathaniel Dell), so I'm excited to see what he looks like in his first game with Jordan Love. I'll take a big game on my bench if it means I've got a high-upside WR2 moving forward.
Those decisions are pretty easy, but we're here to help you out with all the rest. In today's newsletter, I've got my Week 4 game previews here for you, with the latest injury news as of Wednesday afternoon plus my thoughts on the toughest lineup question for each game as well. And, of course, the entire FFT team has our Week 4 Start/Sit calls for you right here:
- Week 4 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: | |
- Week 4 Position Previews: | | |
- Jamey, Dave, Heath's Rankings
- My Week 4 Rankings: | | |
And, if you still need help, you can email me at Chris.Towers@Paramount.com with the subject line "#AskFFT" to be included in a Sunday morning mailbag where I'll answer some of the most pressing questions heading until Sunday's lineup lock. Plus, I'll be on the Fantasy Football Today YouTube channel at 7:30 tonight to answer as many of your Start/Sit questions as we can fit into 90 or so minutes before kickoff.
Now, here's my Week 4 preview:
🔍Week 4 Game Previews
There's something to watch in every game on the NFL schedule every week, even if you have to squint to see it sometimes. Here's a look ahead at every Week 4 game, with some notes on what Vegas is expecting to see, the latest injuries, and the toughest lineup decisions:
- Thursday, 8:20 p.m.
- Line: Lions -1.5; 46 O/U
- Implied totals: Lions 23.75, Packers 22.25
The Packers look about as close to full strength as they've been so far this season, and yet they are underdogs at home. I'm not 100% sure this one makes sense.
- Toughest lineup decision: Christian Watson -- Sit. IF Watson is a legitimate alpha wide receiver, the start of this season has set up perfectly for him. The Packers have gotten some flashes from Romeo Doubs, Luke Musgrave, and Jayden Reed, but none of them really looks ready to step up as the No. 1 option in an offense. Watson could be that, and the aggressiveness with which Jordan Love has played -- would you be surprised to learn that the Packers have the highest average intended air yards in the league this season by a full yard? Watson could be set up for a big season, but I'm a bit wary of trusting him in his first game back from an extended absence due to a hamstring injury. There's big upside here, but he's not such a sure thing that he's a must-start in his first game back.
Injuries to watch: There are, unfortunately, plenty of moving pieces on both sides. For the Lions, David Montgomery (thigh) was limited all week and is questionable for this game, but I'd be willing to trust him as a top-20 RB as long as he plays. On the other side, Christian Watson (hamstring) and Aaron Jones (hamstring) are both limited as they worked their way to limited practices Thursday. David Bakhtiari (knee) has been ruled out for Thursday's game.
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- Sunday, 9:30 a.m.
- Line: Jaguars -3; 43.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Jaguars 23.25, Falcons 20.25
Friendly reminder that we have to make sure our lineups are set a little earlier this week thanks to our first London game of the season, the first of three consecutive weeks with a 9:30 am start. That -3 line feels awfully low, to me -- I know the Jags have had a weirdly disjointed start, but they've also been hurt by drops more than any team in the league and have had several close calls on would-be touchdowns. This offense is about to explode.
- Toughest lineup decision: Kyle Pits -- Start. "Hello darkness, my old friend ..." Yes, I'm still here telling you to start Kyle Pitts. He's once again being held back by miserable QB play, and this season, the Falcons aren't even forcing 24% of their targets to him -- he's down to a 19.3% target share, with only nine of his 17 targets deemed catchable so far this season. And yet, he was a good Desmond Ridder pass away from at least a 40-yard gain last week, and potentially an 85-yard touchdown, and there just aren't many tight ends who can do that. He has to be viewed as just a touchdown-or-bust guy right now, but there still aren't many tight ends with this kind of upside out there. I'd start Sam LaPorta over him, but that's the only guy you might have picked up I'd do it for.
- Injuries to watch: Zay Jones (knee) didn't practice Wednesday, the only relevant name on either injury report.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Bills -2.5; 53.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Bills 28, Dolphins 25.5
Can you indulge me in a little personal gripe here? On a day when there are only three games in the 4 o'clock window -- none of which are particularly compelling matchups -- it's just inconceivable that the NFL would bury by far the best game of the week alongside eight other games in the early window.
- Toughest lineup decision: De'Von Achane - Start. I don't expect Achane to just be the Dolphins starting running back moving forward, and I think the gigantic role the backs received in the passing game last week was probably a function of Jaylen Waddle's absence. But this is an offense that can basically do whatever it wants right now, and if the Dolphins want to give Achane and Raheem Mostert 35 touches, they probably could. I would expect more like 10-15 for both, and this Bills defense is a lot tougher than Denver's. But given how explosive Achane is, I want him in my lineup when I'm expecting that kind of role, even with the tough matchup.
- Injuries to watch: Jaylen Waddle (concussion) was a full participant in Wednesday's practice, a good sign for his chance to return. The Dolphins featured Achane and Raheem Mostert in the passing game with Waddle out, but I'd still bet on both being useful with Waddle back.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Broncos -3.5; 46 O/U
- Implied totals: Broncos 24.75, Bears 21.25
How bad are things for the Bears right now? The Broncos just lost by 50 points, and they are 3.5-point favorites on the road. They've forced a punt on just one of their past 21 drives, and yet I can't really argue with them being favored, because the Bears have looked completely hopeless.
- Toughest lineup decision: DJ Moore-- Start. Moore salvaged his game last week with a touchdown, but he had just two catches for 32 yards before that, so I can't say I'm starting him with confidence. Patrick Surtain is a tough cover corner, and Moore is likely to see plenty of him, as the Broncos dare the Bears to let someone else beat them. Still, Justin Fields is pushing the ball down the field, and Moore is the only WR he's had any success throwing to -- he's averaging 5.2 yards per attempt on throws to everyone but Moore. If they have any hope of moving the ball through the air, it'll have to be through Moore, who remains one of the most talented of the boom-or-bust WR3 class.
- Injuries to watch: Jerry Jeudy (knee) was limited in Wednesday's session, the only notable injury on either side for Fantasy. See, I knew I could find something positive to say about both of these teams!
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Browns -2.5; 40.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Browns 21.5, Ravens 19
One of the more interesting wrinkles from Week 3 was how the Browns sported a +3.6% Pass Rate Over Expected, throwing 33 times despite winning 27-3. How much of that was going against a Titans defense that has just been impossible to run on this season, and how much of it was a conscious decision to embrace a more pass-heavy approach with Nick Chubb out for the season? I kind of think it might've been the latter after we heard a lot of talk in the preseason about the Browns adopting more spread principles for Deshaun Watson's benefit.
- Toughest lineup decision: Jerome Ford -- Sit. Ford had 19.1 PPR points the week after being anointed as a must-add waiver-wire option, so I don't know how many people actually took the time to look into his game, but there were some definite red flags here. He carried the ball just 10 times, compared to five for Kareem Hunt, who also matched him with three targets. Ford did have the edge in playing time, but it was only 56% of the snaps, so I don't know how excited we should be about that. It was a blowout, and Ford didn't do much in the fourth quarter, so it might be a non-issue. But he also got lucky to score his two touchdowns, and this may not be as good a situation for running backs as we hoped it might be if they're going to be more pass-heavy. Ford is startable, but I prefer him as an RB3.
- Injuries to watch: Deshaun Watson (shoulder) was limited Wednesday, which is the first we're hearing of this injury. It's probably nothing, but it's worth monitoring. On the Ravens side, they remain beat up, with Justice Hill (foot), Rashod Bateman (hamstring), and Odell Beckham (ankle) all missing Wednesday's practice. However, Gus Edwards (concussion) was a full participant already, so he should be good for Week 4. He's an RB3, especially if Hill is out, while Melvin Gordon is just a touchdown-or-bust RB4 if Edwards plays.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Colts -1; 46.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Colts 23.75, Rams 22.75
These two teams rank fifth and sixth in total plays through three weeks, a sign that they want to play at a pretty fast-tempo, and that's good for Fantasy. That doesn't mean they are great offenses, necessarily, but they're going to create a lot of opportunity for big games, and this matchup could be one to lean to in DFS or as a tie-breaker in your start/sit calls as a result.
- Toughest lineup decision: Tutu Atwell -- Start. Atwell's 20.6% target share isn't necessarily a massive number, but it's important to keep in mind that downfield targets tend to happen less frequently, and Atwell's average depth of target is 13.0 yards down the field, a pretty big number. That's where a number like Weight Opportunity Rating can tell us a little more -- Josh Hermsmeyer created this stat and defines it like this: "It takes a player's target share and share of team Air Yards and combines them in a way that best predicts both PPR and standard fantasy points." Atwell's 54.3% WOPR is in the same range as the likes of DeVonta Smith, DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett, and he has the benefit of playing in a high-volume passing game with a very good QB. I don't know how much he'll matter when Cooper Kupp is back, but I like Atwell as a high-upside WR3 right now.
- Injuries to watch: The Colts have some injuries on the offensive line to monitor, but the key one here is Anthony Richardson's (concussion) status, and he was a full participant in practice, so it looks like he'll return after missing just one game. Tyler Higbee (oblique) was a new addition to the injury report for the Rams, and it looks like there's a real chance he won't play this week.
Bengals at Titans
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Bengals -2; 41 O/U
- Implied totals: Bengals 21.5, Titans 19.5
The Bengals got the win Monday night with Burrow at well less than 100%, but this offense continues to have problems. Burrow just isn't pushing the ball down the field at all, as Burrow has the third-lowest intended air yards per attempt among all quarterbacks this season. I think this offense is probably going to continue to struggle until he's at full strength, and against the Titans, we'll likely see another strong helping of quick passes to try to negate what looks like a very good defensive front. It could be another ugly game.
- Toughest lineup decision: Tee Higgins -- Start. It's been a rough start to the season for Higgins, who has caught just 10 of 28 passes through three games. On the other hand, his 28 targets are just four fewer than Ja'Marr Chase, as he continues to operate as a 1b in this offense. Higgins didn't do himself any favors in Week 3 with some awful drops, but I'm still going to bet on a talented player getting volume to turn things around, even if he's more like a WR3 for me right now.
- Injuries to watch: With Joe Burrow (calf) practicing without limitations, Irv Smith (hamstring) is the only injury we're watching here. He didn't practice Wednesday, and with just nine targets and 27 yards through two games, he probably shouldn't be in your lineup anyway.
Buccaneers at Saints
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Saints -3; 40.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Saints 21.75, Buccaneers 18.75
- Toughest lineup decision: Alvin Kamara -- Start. I could see the Saints working Kamara back in somewhat slowly in his first game back from a suspension, but I'm not expecting it. They just haven't gotten enough from their running backs so far to justify that, which is why the first three games of the season worked out really well for Kamara. I'm expecting something like 15 carries and a 15% target share, and that's enough to put him on the RB1 periphery.
- Injuries to watch: Carr didn't practice Wednesday, and I'd be very surprised if he played. That's the only Fantasy-relevant injury on either side right now.
Commanders at Eagles
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Eagles -8; 44 O/U
- Implied totals: Eagles 26, Commanders 18
The Eagles are 3-0 with an average margin of victory of 8.3 points, and their passing game really isn't even clicking yet. That's pretty terrifying for whichever team they finally figure it out against.
- Toughest lineup decision: Terry McLaurin/Jahan Dotson - Sit. I don't want to fade this duo entirely, because I still think they're clearly very talented, but this offense just isn't working for them. Neither has ever been a target hog, but it feels like one of the things that makes Sam Howell a fun QB -- his creativity and ability to make plays -- might be holding them back, as evidenced by their identical 16% target shares. They are both in the WR4 range for me against a brutal matchup, though I also still like the idea of buying low on either or both of them.
- Injuries to watch: Boston Scott (concussion) worked his way back to a full practice Wednesday, but somehow, I don't think D'Andre Swift's role is at risk at this point.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Vikings -3.5; 45.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Vikings 24.5, Panthers 21
It'll be interesting to see if the line in this one moves in the Panthers direction as it becomes clear Bryce Young will play, but so far whatever movement there has been has been in the opposite direction, as the Vikings opened at -3.
- Toughest lineup decision: Alexander Mattison -- Start. I think it's fine to view Mattison as a sell-high candidate -- I moved him, Tee Higgins, and Michael Thomas in a trade for Austin Ekeler this morning -- after his first good game of the season, because who knows how much job security he has at this point. However, his success in Week 3 probably bought him at least another week as the clear lead back even if Cam Akers starts to work in more. Now, it's risky, of course, because Mattison might be another bad fumble from getting benched, but for now, the projected workload makes him a short-term starter still.
- Injuries to watch: There are no Fantasy-relevant injuries worth monitoring at this point on either side, it seems.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Steelers -3; 42 O/U
- Implied totals: Steelers 22.5, Texans 19.5
C.J. Stroud has been so impressive as a rookie, thrown into a high-volume passing offense behind a patchwork offensive line, but he faces his toughest test yet against this Steelers line. If he performs well in this one, we might be talking about a top-15 Fantasy QB the rest of the way.
- Toughest lineup decision: Nathaniel Dell -- Start. As impressive as Stroud has been, it would be wrong to imply he hasn't had help. It wasn't viewed that way coming into the season, but the Texans receiving corps might actually be a strength at this point, with Robert Woods looking decent and Nico Collins and Dell looking like they might be a lot more than decent. Dell has turned a strong preseason into a significant role in the offense already, with a team-high 22% target share over the past two games after being the WR4 in Week 1. I'm viewing him as a solid WR3 for the time being, with upside even beyond that. Collins is right there with him, and even Woods isn't a terrible option, though I'd steer clear if I could in this matchup.
- Injuries to watch: The Texans are still missing numerous offensive linemen, but are pretty healthy otherwise. The Steelers are as well, with Allen Robinson (ankle) the only name Fantasy players need to know who missed Wednesday's practice. And even that is stretching the definition of "need to know" at this point.
- Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
- Line: Chargers -5.5; 47.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Chargers 26.5, Raiders 21
We could be looking at one of the biggest QB gaps in the league in this game, though I will say, I'm not sure the gap between Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Hoyer or Aidan O'Connell is as big as it might seem at first blush.
- Toughest lineup decision: Jakobi Meyers -- Start. I want to use this opportunity to answer a separate question you might have: No, do not sit Davante Adams. Meyers isn't Adams, but he's also shown over the previous three seasons that he can consistently earn targets no matter who the quarterback is. In that way, he's very much a poor man's Adams, and I do not mean that as an insult. Both of these guys just get open at a high rate, and they're going to earn targets at a high rate, especially in an offense that is funneling 63% of their targets to these two guys. I'm just going to keep betting on them.
- Injuries to watch: Jimmy Garoppolo (concussion) didn't practice Wednesday, which is the biggest concern for the Raiders. On the Chargers side, Austin Ekeler (ankle) improved to a limited practice, which bodes well for his chances of returning from his two-game absence. That's very welcome after Joshua Kelley totally flopped in his place.
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
- Line: Cowboys -7; 43 O/U
- Implied totals: Cowboys 25, Patriots 18
I thought the Cowboy' passivity on offense through the first two games was a function of the fact that they haven't been challenged yet. However, Dak Prescott had the second-lowest intended air yards average in Week 3, despite the Cowboys trailing for the game's final 57:29. This might just be what Mike McCarthy wants this offense to look like, which would lower the ceiling for the passing game, at least; Tony Pollard still leads the NFL in expected Fantasy points.
- Toughest lineup decision: Jake Ferguson -- Sit. Ferguson had his best game so far in Week 3, but I remain pretty underwhelmed by what he's shown so far. He's in a valuable role, to be certain, but I just haven't seen much evidence that he brings much to the table beyond that role. That role remains valuable, and if you're deciding between Ferguson and someone like Zach Ertz or Cole Kmet, Hunter Henry, I can see defaulting to the valuable role. But ultimately, my expectations for Ferguson remain quite low, is the point here. You're hoping for a touchdown, and even that may not guarantee double-digit Fantasy points.
- Injuries to watch: The Cowboys offensive line remains pretty beat up, with Tyler Biadasz (hamstring), Zack Martin (ankle), and Tyron Smith (knee) missing Wednesday's practice. That bears watching heading into a matchup against a very tough defense.
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
- Line: 49ers -14; 44 O/U
- Implied totals: 49ers 29, Cardinals 15
Boy, all that preseason hype for the Steelers offense feels like a long time ago, huh? The Steelers rank 27th in yards per attempt in the passing game and in yards per carry, and things look about as hopeless as they have the past couple of seasons.
- Toughest lineup decision: Zach Ertz -- Sit. I may have to start Ertz in one league, but there's no real reason to be excited about being in that situation. The Cardinals will almost certainly have to throw more than 21 times in Week 4, but the fact that he was targeted just two times last week is a major red flag for a guy who has no case for Fantasy relevance except volume. Even with a 24% target share through three games, Ertz is averaging just 7.4 PPR points per game. Is that really a profile you want to bet on?
- Injuries to watch: Deebo Samuel (ribs, knee) didn't practice Wednesday, so that certainly bears watching over the next couple of days. He left last week's game early, and the fact that he still couldn't practice despite a couple extra days off is a concern. James Conner's (back) status is less serious, seemingly, because he was limited, but it's a new injury, so we'll note it and keep an eye on it.
- Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
- Line: Chiefs -9.5; 46 O/U
- Implied totals: Chiefs 26, Jets 16.5
Are we absolutely certain the NFL can't use flex scheduling until Week 5? When Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay was asked what he sees on tape from Zach Wilson and the Jets offense, he tried to be kind, but ultimately settled on this assessment: "A team that wants to run the ball." He added, knowing the cameras were on, "That wasn't to be funny or anything." It was a tough question.
- Toughest lineup decision: Breece Hall -- Sit. Honestly, I don't really know. I expect Hall to be a must-start Fantasy option at some point, and his workload trended up in Week 3 after being stagnant in the first two games. I still think he can be an explosive runner, but the rest of this offense gives me very little to be optimistic about. So, I'm back to where I was in Week 1: I'd rather him show me he's worth starting from my bench than bet on him being worth starting without having shown it first.
- Injuries to watch: There are plenty of names on the injury report across these two teams, but not a ton to be worried about. Kadarius Toney played through his toe injury in Week 3, but played just two offensive snaps, and hasn't shown anything to believe he can be a useful Fantasy option, so there's no way you can use him at this point, no matter what.
- Monday, 8:15 p.m.
- Line: PUSH; 47 O/U
- Implied totals: Seahawks 23.5, Giants 23.5
Neither of these teams has necessarily looked like they are clicking on all cylinders so far. The fact that the Seahawks are fourth in scoring while the Giants are 31st probably says something about what the expectations for these teams should be moving forward.
- Toughest lineup decision: Darren Waller -- Start. I don't actually think Waller is a tough start decision. I mean, sure, if you picked up Sam LaPortas, go ahead and sit Waller. But LaPorta is one of just six tight ends I have ranked above Waller, who hasn't quite taken off yet, but is still the clear lead target in this offense and should be fine moving forward when the Giants are playing in more competitive games than they've had so far.
- Injuries to watch: These teams won't practice until Thursday for Week 4, but the biggest thing we'll be watching is obviously Saquon Barkley's (ankle) status. I'm not expecting him to play at this point, but the extra day does help his chances.