by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Just hours before the start of Week 4’s Sunday action 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:
Doug Baldwin – Wide Receiver – Seattle Seahawks
According to Brady Anderson (via Twitter):
Pete Carroll said during his weekly radio show that Doug Baldwin will play Sunday at Arizona. Baldwin missed the last two games with an MCL injury. “He looked great [in practice],” Carroll told KIRO Radio 97.3 FM in an interview that aired Friday. “He… https://t.co/GP1fTR4JhP
— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) September 28, 2018
Obviously having sat out the past two games there are going to be questions about his usage in his first game back and concerns that he’s not going to be 100%. That said there hasn’t been anyone who has truly stepped up in his absence, with Tyler Lockett being the closest (though he’s been TD dependent, with just 196 yards and 17 targets).
There’s a good chance Baldwin is immediately the go to option, averaging over 7 targets per game in ’17 and scoring 29 TD over the past three seasons. Barring a change in news early in the day, consider him a borderline WR2 and a must start in all three-receiver formats.
Verdict – Start ‘Em
Leonard Fournette – Running Back – Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville plays at 1:00 PM EST so at least we’ll have clarity before the bulk of the games start for the week. That said, even if he dresses is it possible that he’s given limited opportunities as the Jaguars are careful in nursing him back from a hamstring injury that’s cost him two games already? Fournette himself was uncertain of his status on Friday, with the team’s official website publishing the following quotes (click here for the article):
“It’s wait and see,” Fournette said Friday as the Jaguars (2-1) prepared to play the New York Jets (1-2) at TIAA Bank Field in downtown Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.
“It’s tricky with hamstrings,” he added. “You feel good one day, then something else happens. It all depends on you and your mindset.”
That risk is going to downgrade him, even if he does play. If he’s on the field he’ll be a viable option, but more as a RB2 as opposed to a must start option.
Verdict – Viable RB2 if he dresses
Josh Gordon – Wide Receiver – New England Patriots
Expectations are that Gordon will make his Patriots’ debut, despite being listed as questionable, but ever since he’s been acquired he’s been limited in practice. How good of a rapport he has with Tom Brady and how many chances he gets are obviously questions, though the team desperately needs playmakers and he has the highest upside in the current receiving corps. He has significant boom or bust potential, as he could easily go off (even with limited targets) or he could be used more as a decoy. Whether he’s in your lineup or not solely depends on your alternatives.
Verdict – Boom or bust WR3 (but usable depending on alternatives)
Matt Breida – Running Back – San Francisco 49ers
With the 49ers playing at 4:25 PM EST this one is an extremely tricky situation. The Chargers have struggled against opposing running backs, allowing the sixth most points per week, but after practicing on a limited basis on Friday (due to a knee injury) his status for the game is truly in question. That said, with Alfred Morris also banged up and this tweet from Adam Schefter this morning things appear to be pointing in the right direction:
49ers’ running backs Matt Breida and Alfred Morris, both listed as questionable for Sunday with knee injuries, are expected to play vs. Chargers barring any setbacks, per source. Breida was further along physically at end of week than Morris, but both expected to go.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 30, 2018
With C.J. Beathard under center, if Breida is healthy enough to play he’s going to be a must use option so the decision comes down to whether or not you can protect yourself in case of a last minute scratch. Potential options include Rashaad Penny (with Chris Carson also questionable), Austin Ekeler or Javorius Allen, though in many formats they likely aren’t available.
If you are truly desperate and want to roll the dice, grab Kyle Juszczyk as your safety valve. The Chargers have struggled to defend pass catching running backs (186 yards and 2 TD), and that’s a role Juszczyk could easily fill (he’s had at least 33 catches in each of the past three seasons and has converted 6 of 10 targets in ’18). It may not be ideal, but it’s a viable alternative to consider and one who should play a big role if Breida is sidelined.
Verdict – High risk, high reward (stash Kyle Juszczyk as a safety valve)
LeSean McCoy – Running Back – Buffalo Bills
McCoy sat out Week 3 and there were significant questions about his ability to suit up for Week 4. However, it appears that he’s set to take the field this week as per Ian Rapoport via Twitter:
#Bills RB LeSean McCoy, trying to return from cracked rib cartilage, was adamant this week that he’s playing. Source said the week went well, and he is slated to go vs. the Packers.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 30, 2018
Obviously the question then becomes, how many touches will he actually get? As it is McCoy averaged just 8 carries per game over the first two weeks (averaging 3.8 yards per carry), and given the injury it’s hard to envision Buffalo giving him a full workload. Couple that with Green Bay only allowing 99 receiving yards to opposing running backs and the risk appears to outweigh the potential reward (especially with the risk of Buffalo going down early and needing to take a pass heavy approach).
Verdict – Desperation FLEX play only
Jordan Wilkins – Running Back – Indianapolis Colts
There’s a chance that Marlon Mack plays, though with Jeremy McNichols being signed off the practice squad that clearly is in doubt. Wilkins has thus far been far more productive then fellow rookie Nyheim Hines:
- Jordan Wilkins – 30 carries for 120 yards (4.0 YPC)
- Nyheim Hines – 14 carries for 44 yards (3.1 YPC)
The Texans have surprisingly been middle of the pack against opposing running backs, so consider Wilkins a viable RB2 (assuming Mack is out).
Verdict – Viable RB2
Mike Williams – Wide Receiver – Los Angeles Chargers
With Travis Benjamin out the past two weeks Williams has thrived, scoring 3 TD, and he is coming off a big day (4 receptions, 81 yards, 2 TD). While Williams did get 6 targets in Week 1, if Benjamin is able to return you are going to have to wonder how many opportunities he’s going to get. As it is, even without Benjamin he was only targeted twice in Week 2.
The 49ers have struggled against opposing wide receivers, and things could be even worse this week with Richard Sherman out. That said it’s Keenan Allen (who was also listed as questionable, but was always expected to play) and Melvin Gordon who will lead the team in usage and if Benjamin returns (which early reports makes it seem highly likely) Williams will be battling for the opportunities that are left. He’s a viable WR3, but he’s hardly a trustworthy option depending on your alternatives.
Verdict – High Risk, High Reward WR3
Golden Tate – Wide Receiver – Detroit Lions
Whenever a player is added to the injury report late in the meeting it’s a concern, so Tate being listed as questionable with a hip injury on Friday is going to raise some red flags. The Cowboys actually have allowed the second fewest points per week to opposing wide receivers (including the third fewest yards, at 327) and Tate is going to have to battle for targets with Marvin Jones (23 targets) and Kenny Galladay (28 targets).
It seems likely that he plays, and with a 1:00 PM EST start we’ll know early in the day, but it’s possible he’s more of a decoy/sees limited action given the depth of alternatives. While he’s still viable, depending on your alternative, assuming he’s on the field we’d slide him down closer to the WR3 range (at best).
Verdict – Risky/Borderline option depending on your alternatives
Alshon Jeffrey – Wide Receiver – Philadelphia Eagles
Fantasy owners had hoped to get Jeffrey back this week and everything appeared to be heading in that direction. However, as tweeted by Ian Rapoport this morning an illness (and not his shoulder injury) could ultimately cost him from suiting up:
#Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery would be making his season debut today based solely on the health of his shoulder, sources say. However, as sick as he was over the past 3 days, his status is best described as a game-time decision, I’m told.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 30, 2018
He would’ve been a decent start, but even if he plays there’s a good chance that the Eagles limit his opportunities (with the looks instead going to Nelson Agholor and Zack Ertz). That’s going to basically take him out of the conversation for viability, unless you are truly desperate.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em
Larry Fitzgerald – Wide Receiver – Arizona Cardinals
According to Adam Schefter (via Twitter):
Cardinals’ WR Larry Fitzgerald, listed as questionable for today with a hamstring injury, will play vs. Seattle, per source.
He is “nowhere near 100 percent and “probably shouldn’t have played last week” but Fitzgerald is tough to keep down.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 30, 2018
Last week Fitzgerald was targeted twice, “delivering” 2 catches for 9 yards. On the season he’s totaled 12 catches for 113 yards and he has yet to find the end zone. With a rookie quarterback under center and the potential for David Johnson to shoulder the load, Fitzgerald becomes an impossible player to trust given the risks and lack of production.
Verdict – Must Sit
Sources – NFL.com, ESPN
Make sure to check out all of our Week 4 rankings: