Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Carlos Hyde, Jay Ajayi, Kelvin Benjamin & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Just hours before the start of Week 4 I know many people have questions running through their heads. Who should I start? Who should I sit?  Let’s take a look at how some of the recent news changes things:

 

Carlos Hyde – Running Back – San Francisco 49ers
Matt Barrow of The Sacremento Bee (click here for the article) recently published the following:

Hyde injured an oblique muscle last Thursday against the Rams and missed most of the first quarter before returning in the second and playing the rest of the game. He has practiced on a limited basis throughout the week, which usually suggests a player will take part in the upcoming game.

“He was out there a little more today,” Kyle Shanahan said Friday. “Definitely still hurting. He’s going to be a game-time decision.”

With a 4:05 PM EST start time the decision on Hyde becomes a bit more difficult, though having practiced all week and playing most of the game last week he appears likely to suit up.  To further help things, Ian Rapoport tweeted this morning that “RB Carlos Hyde, whose hip bothered him through last Thursday’s 25 carries, is expected to play today vs. #AZCardinals, I’m told.”

He also gets knocked down a bit due to the matchup, with the Cardinals allowing the sixth fewest points per week to opposing running backs.  At this point he appears like a safe play and he’s a locked in RB2, at worst, but have a backup plan in place just in case something goes wrong.

Verdict – Worth using, just monitor the news

 

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Kelvin Benjamin – Wide Receiver – Carolina Panthers
There were significant questions after last Sunday, but by Friday he was off the injury list and should be all systems go for Sunday.  Obviously he’s disappointed thus far, with 9 receptions (on 15 targets), 110 yards and 0 TD over the first three weeks.  However the matchup with the Patriots this week could offer him a chance to breakout, with the Panthers potentially needing to throw early and often to keep up.  The Patriots have allowed 572 yards to opposing wide receivers, which is among the fifth most in the league (that includes both the Bears and Packers, who have played four games).  That represents an opportunity (especially with Greg Olsen already sidelined and a questionable receiving corps behind him, and that makes him a must use option given the upside.

Verdict – Must use

 

Doug Baldwin – Wide Receiver – Seattle Seahawks
Baldwin is battling a groin injury and is going to be a game time decision.  While there’s hope that he’s going to play, and in an easy matchup we’d love to consider him a must own option, even if he does dress you have to think that he’s going to be limited in what he does.  Throw in that they play the Sunday night game, with limited options likely available as a safety net (the Colts, Redskins and Chiefs don’t offer much in the way of flier alternatives), and he becomes that much tougher to trust.  It all is going to depend on your alternatives, but consider Baldwin a flier at best.

Verdict – Too many questions to trust

 

Jay Ajayi – Running Back – Miami Dolphins
There are a few concerns facing Ajayi, given the knee injury he’s battling and the potential for him to be limited.  Of course he also is from London, so today’s game will be a homecoming for him and that will add a lot of motivation.  You also have a favorable matchup against a Saints’ team that is allowing the third most points per week to opposing running backs.  While a lot of the damage has been via the passing game, that’s an area Ajayi can contribute in and the Saints are also giving up 4.5 yards per carry.  While there may be a little bit of risk given the injury and last week’s struggles (16 yards on 11 carries), don’t shy away from him.  Fire him up as a RB1 in all formats.

Verdict – Must use   

 

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Bilal Powell – Running Back – New York Jets
This was supposed to be a big season for Powell, but he’s been a major disappointment as he hasn’t operated as the lead back despite a lack of talent on offense.  Over the first three weeks he’s managed 72 yards on 28 carries (2.6 yards/carry) and hasn’t caught a pass since Week 1.  However with Matt Forte already ruled out this should be his opportunity to grab the role and hopefully run with it.

Jacksonville isn’t a particularly favorable matchup, allowing the 21st most points per week against opposing running backs.  However they are yielding 4.7 yards per carry (320 yards on 68 carries), so you can’t just look at the ranking and write him off.  Powell is still going to share the backfield touches, with Elijah McGuire playing a role, but that shouldn’t be seen as a deterrent.  Powell can safely be utilized as a FLEX, and depending on your alternatives a RB2.

Verdict – Must use FLEX/usable RB2

 

Michael Crabtree – Wide Receiver – Oakland Raiders
Yes he was downgraded to doubtful, meaning it’s a longshot that he dresses (and even if he does there’s no chance that he’s at full strength).  Considering the matchup and the health concerns, consider him an absolute non-option in all formats.

Verdict – Must sit

 

Russell Wilson – Quarterback – Seattle Seahawks
Coming off a breakout game he should be an easy call to use this week.  However if you needed any additional help ESPN’s Matthew Berry offers two interesting numbers to lock it in:

  • Since 2015, Wilson is averaging 20.5 fantasy points per game at home (versus 17.5 on the road).
  • Since 2015, he’s averaging 19.8 fantasy points per game from October through the end of the regular season (versus 16.5 in September).

The Colts have allowed the ninth most points per week to opposing quarterbacks, and even with Doug Baldwin questionable Wilson is a must play option in all formats.

Verdict – Must use

 

Marshawn Lynch – Running Back – Oakland Raiders
It’s easy to see the name and assume Beast Mode is a must use each week.  However take note of this stat courtesy of NFL.com:

The Broncos have held Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott and LeSean McCoy to a combined 83 yards.

That’s an elite group of running backs who have done virtually nothing against Denver’s defense.  Lynch himself is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry in his first three games and has 1 TD.  He’s also watched his workload slow down in each game (18 carries to 12 to 6).  He’s going to be a TD dependent RB2, but I’d have a hard time trusting him if you have a viable alternative.

Verdict – High risk, low reward means desperation play

 

John Brown – Wide Receiver – Arizona Cardinals
According to Ian Rapoport (via Twitter):

WR John Brown (quad) is expected to play, but he’s not 100%. Figure he’ll be on a pitch count until he’s back to himself.

The Cardinals can certainly use Brown’s return and it’s possible that he puts up a strong performance, but there’s far too much risk utilizing him considering the limitations.  It’s not like he’s the top target on his own team (Larry Fitzgerald), so type of pitch count could cripple him.

Verdict – Must sit

Sources – ESPN, NFL.com

Make sure to check out all of our Week 4 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses

** FLASH SALE **
This weekend only, Pre-order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $5.75!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

Thursday Night Start 'Em or Sit 'Em: Week 5: Chris Hogan, Doug Martin, James White & More
Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (2017): Week 4: Dak Prescott, Chris Carson, T.Y. Hilton & More

19 comments

  1. Brandon says:

    Hey prof,

    need help with flex spot for ppr, D Baldwin, Duke Johnson, D Amendola or P Richardson

    thanks as always,

  2. Eric says:

    Hey prof- Baldwin or Sammie Watkins?

  3. Tiffany says:

    Good morning! Would you start Cooks, Hopkins or Parker? PPR league. Thanks!

  4. Wolverine says:

    Prof -
    Std
    Pick 2: CJ, Carson, Gordon, Mixon
    Evans or Tate?
    NE or TEN DST?
    Gracias

  5. Taylor says:

    Hey Prof,

    0.5 PPR, pick one:

    Crowell vs. CIN
    Maclin vs. PIT
    Smallwood @ LAC

  6. Too Tall says:

    Hi,

    What do you think of adding Matt Breida as Hyde is having some potential injury issues? 10 team standard league. Would you drop Jacquizz Rogers for Breida? Thanks.

  7. Sahel Kazemi says:

    Professor,
    Mixon or Andersen

  8. Frank says:

    Need help need 3 recievers C. Hogan, T.Hill, Odell, D.Thomas

  9. Frank says:

    Weak at RBs, start L.Blount, Chris Johnson or W.Snallwood, D Foreman. Need 2.

  10. Sheldon Williamson says:

    Hi, Prof! Tough FLEX choice to make: Doug Baldwin or Andre Ellington? Thanks.

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