Written by Mikey Ostrowski
I’m going to completely spoil my running back start of the week… What in the actual hell got into Cordarrelle Patterson?! The dude came into this season and chose absolute violence and has been this year’s James Robinson. Who would’ve thought that after arguing all off-season and who would be this year’s Robinson, that it’d be a guy who’s been in the league for 8 years and is already 30 years old?
If you say you guessed it, you’re lying. If you’re not lying… Message me on Twitter, I’ve got a job for you.
Not to toot my own horn here, but my picks last week absolutely crushed it. We had a record of 11-3-2 for starts and 11-4-1 for sits. Of course we only strive for perfection over here so 11 out of 16 wins will never be the gold standard, but I’ll always pat myself on the back on a job well done. Let’s get into this week’s picks!
Season-Long Record (“Ties”: I am counting as “no-contests” for players injured either right before or in the very early stages of a game): 42-15-7 (74%) on Start Ems, 37-22-5 (63%) on Sit Ems
*All season long, I will be keeping track of all of the starts/sits I get correct. I like to keep myself honest here…*
As a quick note, I’m not telling you to start these players over guys like Christian McCaffrey or Tyreek Hill… I just don’t include guys on here that are obvious every-week starters (because who in the world would that be helpful to?).
Start of the Week: Matthew Stafford vs SEA
This game might have a combined total score of 75 points. Seriously, this is going to be an absolute shootout. The Rams have a terrific defense, but in a divisional battle in primetime IN Seattle, you’ve gotta believe that this is just going to be a back and forth exchange of points. Stafford is going to be leaned on heavily to get the Rams going in this one and should have no problem waltzing to a top-6 fantasy performance for quarterbacks in this one.
Start: Sam Darnold vs PHI
Sammy D looks like the real deal. Who would’ve thought all it would take was dropping Adam Gase and setting him up with actual offensive weapons. Philly has been fairly average when it comes to containing opposing quarterbacks and I don’t think it’s going to be an issue for Darnold. Obviously, I expect his rushing touchdowns to decrease over time (5 in 4 games is absurd) but I also think his passing touchdowns are going to increase and balance him out. I’ve got a good feeling that he’ll come out guns blazing after last week’s loss. Sammy is a top-12 option this week (and maybe for the foreseeable future).
Start: Joe Burrow vs GB
Burrow has been a sit in three of the last four weeks for me but he finally gets tagged as a starter. He had a great game last week (granted it was against Jacksonville) and he’ll be forced into having another great game this week if the Bengals want any chance in taking down the Packers. Green Bay has been bottom 10 in the league against opposing quarterbacks for fantasy and I don’t see them suddenly turning into a roadblock in this one. Burrow will likely get Tee Higgins back this week, which is only going to help, especially in the red zone. I’m finally firing up Joey B with confidence as a QB1.
Start: Kirk Cousins vs DET
This one is self explanatory. Cousins will get a great rebound opportunity to go out and dice up the Lions. Last week was a mostly quiet week from him but he should have no problems against a significantly weaker defense. Detroit’s defense is severely average but will likely be forced to stay on the field for quite some time on Sunday, which is always great news for opposing quarterbacks’ fantasy points.
Sit of the Week: Zach Wilson vs ATL
I know some of you are going to be tempted to start Wilson after he found success last week (and has an easy matchup this week) but I wanted to send the reminder: he should not yet be starting in your fantasy lineup. Last week he went for 297 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception against Tennessee and draws a fantastic matchup against Atlanta in week five. Regardless of the plus matchup, Wilson cannot be trusted as a viable fantasy option just yet. Pump those breaks.
Sit: Jalen Hurts vs CAR
Hurts has yet to grab 20+ fantasy points in a game but I think there’s a real possibility that streak is broken against Carolina. All things considered, the Panthers did a great job against Dallas last week with the exception of a few massively blown plays (in which Dallas took full advantage of). I’d fully expect them to patch up those errors and come out hungrier than ever in week five. Their front seven will be heavy on Hurts and even with Jaycee Horn out with injury, that secondary is still far from friendly as well. Hurts will have to pull out all of the stops to stay afloat in this one, and he’s just not a guy that I believe in enough to trust him to do that.
Sit: Derek Carr vs CHI
Carr finally came down to Earth against the Chargers and I think we can expect to see more of that version of him moving forward. Chicago isn’t a bad matchup, but they’re not the best one either. With David Montgomery out, the Bears’ defense will need to be the reason that they win the game and I think they’re going to be up for the challenge. Carr looked shaky in week four and I’d expect that average-quarterback play style to follow him into the next week (after all, he’s been mostly average his entire career).
Sit: Baker Mayfield vs LAC
Mayfield is a much better real-life quarterback than fantasy quarterback. He simply does not put up big enough stats to warrant using him in almost any situation. Through four weeks, his highest fantasy output was only 18.5 points and he’s had two games of less than 14 points. This is a run-first team that has an excellent defense as well – this combo can (and has) single-handedly ruin a quarterback’s fantasy upside.
Start of the Week: Cordarrelle Patterson vs NYJ
How could you even consider benching a guy that is only being outscored by Derrick Henry at running back right now? Or what about the fact that he’s against the Jets (the team that has given up the most points to opposing running backs through the first four weeks)? He’s been awesome, the matchup is fantastic, and Matt Ryan has fallen in love with him. This may mean nothing, but Patterson and Julio Jones are practically the same size (1 inch height difference, 8 pound weight difference), so maybe Ryan just knows how to use a player like that. (I’m totally kidding guys, I know Patterson is far from the player that Julio Jones is, but I’m just having some fun with this…)
Start: Darrell Henderson vs SEA
Like I said, this game is going to be a total shootout. Henderson has been well-involved in the passing game and I’m confident that trend will continue. In each of the three games he’s played in, he’s had at least 15 fantasy points (PPR) and he’s cemented himself as a fantastic RB2. He’s got the ceiling that you want and the floor that you need in his week five date with the Seahawks.
Start: Leonard Fournette vs MIA
Fournette has taken the starting role in Tampa Bay. He had 20 carries for 91 yards and was even targeted 5 times against New England in week four – and he looked pretty damn good. It’s safe to say that Ronald Jones is well out of the picture and it’s officially Lenny Time. This is a game that Tampa Bay should have no problem with taking an early lead, which means they’ll rely on Fournette to keep the clock rolling. I think he’s easily a top-24 play at the running back position this weekend.
Start: Damien Williams vs LV
Montgomery is going to be sidelined for 4-5 weeks, which means that Williams is likely about to become a workhorse. While he’s not as strong as Montgomery, he’s still a fine running back and will be called on often out of the backfield while Monty is out. He had 70 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in week four (even though Montgomery did play a majority of the game) and will look to continue his success against the Raiders.
Sit of the Week: Miles Sanders vs CAR
Sanders has been so inconsistent. I don’t know if it’s his fault or his coaches’ fault, but he is just not seeing the field as often as you’d like him to. It’s also worth mentioning that Kenneth Gainwell is looking fantastic for them and could steal even more work moving forward. I think this is a game that will lean towards a passing-script for the Eagles and I just don’t foresee Sanders getting the touches he’ll need to be very fantasy relevant. He’s a tough guy to bench but there’s just not much to like about him right now.
Sit: Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs BUF
CEH has been money over the last two weeks, but it’s not going to happen for him this weekend. The Bills’ offense has been absolutely crushing opposing defenses, which means this game has shootout written all over it. The Chiefs will end up abandoning the run and CEH’s statistics will be nowhere to be found. He hasn’t been supremely involved in the passing game and I don’t think that’s going to suddenly change. In a game that’s going to be a teeter totter of scoring, the Chiefs will likely rely on other players to get the job done.
Sit: Josh Jacobs vs CHI
Chicago has been top-10 against the run this year and I don’t think they’re going to give much to Jacobs. Jacobs is sporting a lowly 3.2 yards per carry and has been extremely touchdown dependent in his two starts this season. This game could be close, which means Jacobs could see a new high in attempts (13 is the number to beat) but he has very little involvement in the passing game and will only be relevant if he finds pay dirt. Jacobs is likely a non-factor against the Bears.
Sit: Melvin Gordon vs PIT
Drew Lock is going to downgrade this entire offense. Combine that with a tough run defense and you’ll find Gordon (and Javonte Williams) being two players I want nothing to do this week. The Steelers have been BAD on offense, but even with that in mind, I think the Broncos are going to be forced to throw the ball if they want any shot at winning this one. The entire Denver offense (with the exception of one person… you’ll find out who soon) is a massive fade for me this week.
Start of the Week: Julio Jones vs JAX
With AJ Brown likely out another couple of weeks, Julio is going to be the focal point of the passing offense for Tennessee. We know that Julio is one of the best receivers in league history… and he’s still pretty damn good despite his age and injury issues. I’d be surprised if he didn’t suit up in this one – and if he’s playing, he’s a must start. A game against the severely disheveled Jaguars’ team as the only legitimate option in the passing game? Sign me up.
Start: Tee Higgins vs GB
Higgins is a surefire top-20 receiver in a match against Green Bay and arguably against any team. Ja’Marr Chase has become the team’s “WR1” but Higgins is nearly just as talented. This is more of a 1A/1B situation, but Chase is almost always going to be drawing the tougher matchups. Higgins is going to be able to take advantage of that, especially against the Packers. Higgins is also the best red zone target that Burrow has and should be utilized as such. Higgins is a low-end WR2 with excellent upside.
Start: Marvin Jones vs TEN
This is a game that Jacksonville might actually be able to compete in… just kidding, they’re awful, but I do think the passing attack will be working well (provided Urban Meyer and the team can put their… uhh… “issues” to the side for this one). Jones has been excellent with Jacksonville and has quickly improved his chemistry with Trevor Lawrence. Jones was only targeted 3 times last week, but was targeted 28 times over the first three games. We’ll chalk week four up as a weird one for him and I fully expect him to get back to the 8-10 target range against the Titans.
Start: Jakobi Meyers vs HOU
Meyers has been one fantasy’s most underrated assets this season. Through four weeks, he’s the WR30 overall on the season and has had back-to-back games of 16+ points. He’s been targeted an INSANE 26 times over the last two weeks and it seems like the Patriots are going to keep going back to him for more. He is the unquestioned WR1 on that offense and should find plenty of success against the Texans.
Sit of the Week: Odell Beckham Jr. vs LAC
Odell was sooooo close to having himself a great day last week, but Baker missed him in a big way. There’s no question that Beckham is still just as talented as he’s ever been, but this offense is just not going to work in his favor to produce big stats. Like I said before, this is a run-first offense and will limit the passing work. It’s also worth mentioning that OBJ is the only legitimate receiver healthy on that team right now, so opposing secondaries can completely sell out to lock him down. He gets a tough matchup with the Chargers and I’ll be benching him in week five if I’ve got the depth.
Sit: Cortland Sutton vs PIT
Sutton has done well this season… until Lock came under center. Granted, week four was a rough week for Denver, but I don’t see much changing against the Steelers. That defense has seen better days, but they’re still a great defense and are going to do whatever they can to lock down Sutton in this one. I’d consider him a boom-or-bust WR3 and will be looking for other options if I have them.
Sit: Bryan Edwards vs CHI
I really don’t understand why they don’t target this guy until there’s 5 minutes left in the game. Seriously, I think outside of the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter, he’s been targeted 2 or 3 times so far this year… It’s really, really weird. Either way, we can’t trust Edwards for fantasy purposes. He’s an excellent bench stash (just in case Vegas ever figures out that he’s actually talented) but should not be a starter in almost any fantasy league at this point.
Sit: Tim Patrick vs PIT
Is it a cop out to put two receivers from the same team on as a sit? I don’t think so, especially when both of those players’ fantasy productions suddenly halted when Lock took over as the quarterback. Patrick was awesome through the first three weeks but takes a massive hit to his upside without Teddy Bridgewater. He’s a touchdown dependent flex option at the very best.
Start of the Week: Tyler Higbee vs SEA
Higbee has been targeted 5 or more times in all but one of his games so far and should easily see another 5+ against the Seahawks. Like I’ve mentioned, this game is going to be a very high scoring game, and Higbee is arguably in the top-3 conversation for who’s going to find the end zone in this one. He’s only scored once so far this year, but is due for another and that could easily come in a divisional shootout.
Start: Noah Fant vs PIT
Fant is the only Denver player I’m going to be happy to start this week. He could be a target monster with Lock under center (he had 10 targets in week four) and should be relied on heavier than anyone else on that team. He’s scored two touchdowns so far and will need to contribute at least one in this one if Denver is going to pull off the upset. There aren’t many tight ends I’d start over Fant this week.
Start: Kyle Pitts vs NYJ
We haven’t seen the Pitts Show but I think this could finally be the week. The Jets offer an easy matchup for the struggling Falcons and they could use this game to get their players the confidence that they’ve been missing. Pitts has topped the 50-yard mark twice but has failed to score as a pro yet. I think that changes this weekend and that early draft capital we spent on him is finally going to pay off.
Start: Dalton Schultz vs NYG
Don’t look now, but Schultz is the TE4 on the season. He’s been targeted 15 times over the last two weeks and has accumulated 138 yards and 3 touchdowns over that span. He’s playing out of his mind right now and I think Dallas is going to keep feeding him until he gives them a reason not to. The Giants have been awful on defense and have been surrendering the 4th-most points to tight ends in 2021. He’ll be a great top-10 play at TE this week.
Sit of the Week: Evan Engram vs DAL
Rule of thumb: never Evan Engram. He’s been getting a good amount of targets for a tight end but has been doing nothing with them. His drop issues have followed him into 2021 and he cannot be trusted as your starter. Even in the positive matchup, you cannot get him into your lineup.
Sit: Cameron Brate vs MIA
Tampa Bay attempted to use Brate like they did with Rob Gronkowski, but he’s just not nearly as good. Brate is about as touchdown dependent as they come and likely won’t see many opportunities in a game that the Bucs should have no problem winning. He’s not a great spot-start this week.
Sit: Robert Tonyan vs CIN
I’m finally giving up. Tonyan has been a start for me for a few weeks now but I want nothing to do with him anymore. His only successful game was against Detroit in week two. He’s the definition of touchdown or bust and that sort of volatility doesn’t belong in a starting lineup. At best, Tonyan is a bye-week filler for the remainder of the 2021 season.
Sit: Maxx Williams vs SF
Williams has seen a decent amount of targets on the league’s best offense but he’s still not a guy I trust in my tight end spot. Granted, I would start him over the other three “sits” on this list, but we’ll need to see some consistency from him before I’d consider throwing him in my lineup. He has two games of 16+ points but also two games of 5 points or less (and the one game was a goose egg). You can do better than Maxx Williams at TE.