Exploiting the Matchups: Week 4 Start/Sit and Streamers

Exploiting the Matchups: Week 4 Start/Sit and Streamers

This article is part of our Exploiting the Matchups series.

Week 3 Target Breakdown (advanced stats, waiver picks, usage rates)

Week 3 Backfield Breakdown (advanced stats, waiver picks, usage rates)

Streaming Defenses

Unless otherwise noted, references to 'fantasy points' are based on PPR scoring with 25/10 yards per point and 4/6 points for TDs. Start % comes from Yahoo, as of Wednesday night / Thursday morning.

Start/Upgrade 

Quarterbacks 👍

  

Russell Wilson (at LV) — 56% started

Start Over — Matthew Stafford (at SF), Kirk Cousins (at NO)

The Raiders were already playing without CB Anthony Averett (IR - thumb) and S Trevon Moehrig (hip) before they lost CBs Nate Hobbs (concussion) and Rock Ya-Sin (knee) in the Week 3 loss to Tennessee. This is an above-average matchup for Wilson even if one or two of those guys is ready by Sunday, as the Vegas defense lacks standout talent beyond Maxx Crosby. If Wilson puts up another dud here, his 2022 might just be doomed. 

      

Other Good Matchups: Jared Goff (vs. SEA), Daniel Jones (vs. CHI), Geno Smith (at DET), Cooper Rush (vs. WAS), Mitchell Trubisky (vs. NYJ)

  

Running Backs 👍

   

Jamaal Williams (vs. SEA) — 40% started

Start Over — TBD (top-15 RB if Swift is out)

The Seahawks haven't done anything well so far, apart from special teams. The Lions, meanwhile, have been good on offense and bad on defense, which makes a lot of sense if you look at the roster (besides the QB). Anyway, the Lions are favored

Week 3 Target Breakdown (advanced stats, waiver picks, usage rates)

Week 3 Backfield Breakdown (advanced stats, waiver picks, usage rates)

Streaming Defenses

Unless otherwise noted, references to 'fantasy points' are based on PPR scoring with 25/10 yards per point and 4/6 points for TDs. Start % comes from Yahoo, as of Wednesday night / Thursday morning.

Start/Upgrade 

Quarterbacks 👍

  

Russell Wilson (at LV) — 56% started

Start Over — Matthew Stafford (at SF), Kirk Cousins (at NO)

The Raiders were already playing without CB Anthony Averett (IR - thumb) and S Trevon Moehrig (hip) before they lost CBs Nate Hobbs (concussion) and Rock Ya-Sin (knee) in the Week 3 loss to Tennessee. This is an above-average matchup for Wilson even if one or two of those guys is ready by Sunday, as the Vegas defense lacks standout talent beyond Maxx Crosby. If Wilson puts up another dud here, his 2022 might just be doomed. 

      

Other Good Matchups: Jared Goff (vs. SEA), Daniel Jones (vs. CHI), Geno Smith (at DET), Cooper Rush (vs. WAS), Mitchell Trubisky (vs. NYJ)

  

Running Backs 👍

   

Jamaal Williams (vs. SEA) — 40% started

Start Over — TBD (top-15 RB if Swift is out)

The Seahawks haven't done anything well so far, apart from special teams. The Lions, meanwhile, have been good on offense and bad on defense, which makes a lot of sense if you look at the roster (besides the QB). Anyway, the Lions are favored by more than a field goal (4.5 points) for what must be the first time in a few years. That makes Williams a decent RB2 even if D'Andre Swift (shoulder, ankle) suits up, while Swift's absence would push Williams to low-end RB1 range. The former Packer is already averaging 14.3 carries for 56.0 yards and 1.3 TDs per game, and he should get most of the passing-down work if Swift is out, with Craig Reynolds likely subbing in to take some carries on early downs.

   

Kareem Hunt (at ATL) — 48% started

Start Over — Clyde Edwards-Helaire (at TB), Antonio Gibson (at DAL)

Don't be fooled by Atlanta giving up the sixth fewest fantasy points to RBs through three weeks. None of the Falcons' opponents (NO, LAR, SEA) has played well on offense in their other games, and the Week 1 loss to New Orleans saw both Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram suffer injuries. There should be enough meat on the bone for Hunt and Nick Chubb this Sunday, with both backs (and Cleveland's offensive line) arguably looking better than ever this year. 

An easy early schedule has allowed the Browns to give Hunt exactly 15 touches every week, even with Nick Chubb topping 20 each time. That's not sustainable all season, but it might be for another week. Consider it a testament to the other offensive players in this game that a contest with Marcus Mariota and Jacoby Brissett starting at QB has the third highest over/under (49.5) of Week 4.

     

Other Good Matchups: Javonte Williams & Melvin Gordon (at LV), Rashaad Penny (at DET)

  

Wide Receivers 👍

   

Brandin Cooks (vs. LAC) — 47% started

Start Over — DJ Moore (vs. ARI), DeVonta Smith (vs. JAX), Adam Thielen (at NO)

The Chargers have big names and early draft picks in their secondary, but none besides Derwin James is playing well this year, with new cornerback J.C. Jackson (ankle) notably missing two of the first three games. Even worse, Joey Bosa's absence leaves the Chargers with a mediocre front seven and only one pass rusher (Khalil Mack) for offenses to worry about, giving Davis Mills more time to find Cooks downfield. The veteran wideout is off to a slow start in terms of production, but he's averaging 9.7 targets per game (t-13th) and ranks 22nd in air yards (275). 

      

Tyler Lockett (at DET) — 44% started

Start Over — Allen Robinson (at SF), Garrett Wilson (at PIT), JuJu Smith-Schuster (at TB)

With third overall pick Jeff Okudah finally emerging as a quality corner and now shadowing top wideouts, Lockett figures to run most of his routes against Mike Hughes and Amani Oruwariye, who account for two of the 10 cornerbacks that have allowed more than 65 yards per game into their coverage this year (per PFF). Oruwariye missed Week 2 with a back injury and then looked like the worst guy on the field Week 3, and even his 2021 breakout was based on interceptions (six) rather than shutting down opposing receivers. 

In any case, Lockett was undervalued by fantasy drafters all summer and apparently remains undervalued, started in less than half of Yahoo leagues after averaging  8.7 targets and 70.3 receiving yards over the first three weeks. Now he gets to play on turf while likely running nearly all his routes against two struggling corners.

Fun fact: Lockett has seen 28.3 percent of the targets from Geno Smith the past two seasons, compared to 23.9 percent for DK Metcalf, but the big fella has a 5-0 TD advantage, accounting for all but four of Smith's passing TDs.

  

Other Good Matchups: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool & George Pickens (vs. NYJ), Courtland Sutton & Jerry Jeudy (at LV), Joshua Palmer (at HOU), Tyler Boyd (vs. MIA), DJ Chark (vs. SEA), Noah Brown (vs. WAS), Isaiah McKenzie (at BAL)

  

Tight Ends 👍

   

David Njoku (at ATL) — 28% started

Start Over — Dawson Knox (at BAL), Dalton Schultz (vs. WAS), Gerald Everett (at HOU)

Njoku was the hot TE pickup of the week, and rightfully so after he exploded for 9-89-1 on 10 targets in his third game handling an every-down role. He figures to take a step back this week, but perhaps not by too much, facing a terrible defense with good cornerbacks. Juwan Johnson and Tyler Higbee had their season highs for yardage in matchups with Atlanta, before Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson and Noah Fant combined for 9-105-1 in a close loss to the Falcons in Week 3. Now it's Njoku's turn to take advantage of the Falcons, playing on turf in a game that's tied for the second highest over/under (48) of the week (I'll be betting the under, FWIW).

   

Other Good Matchups: T.J. Hockenson (vs. SEA), Gerald Everett (at HOU)

         

Sit/Downgrade 

Quarterbacks 👎

    

Matthew Stafford (at SF) — 49% started

Start Instead — Aaron Rodgers (vs. NE), Tua Tagovailoa (at CIN)

Stafford got the win in January when it mattered most, but the 49ers were one of the few teams that gave him trouble last year, notching nine sacks and four interceptions in three matchups while holding the QB to 17.5 fantasy points per game (he averaged 21.0 in his 15 other regular-season games). The Niners defense looks nearly as good this year as last, while the Rams offense has fared much worse after losing LT Andrew Whitworth  to retirement, RG Austin Corbett to the Panthers and C Brian Allen (temporarily) to a knee injury. Even if he has confidence in his troublesome elbow -- no sure thing -- Stafford may not have confidence in his blocking, especially on the road against arguably the best front seven in the NFL.

   

Other Tough Matchups: Patrick Mahomes (at TB), Trevor Lawrence (at PHI), Carson Wentz (at DAL) 

       

Running Backs 👎

    

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (at TB) — 66% started

Start Instead — James Robinson (at PHI), Josh Jacobs (vs. DEN), AJ Dillon (vs. NE)

The 40.5 percent snap share and lack of touches (11.3) make Edwards-Helaire a walking red flag even after three straight games with 14.9 or more PPR points. We can expect efficiency in Kansas City's offense, just not 5.3 YPC and 9.6 YPT for a running back. His solid work in the passing game gives hope to avoid a complete dud here, but there's little chance for a blow-up effort against a Tampa defense that shuts down RBs every year and has yielded the fewest points to them so far this season. 

It's also worth noting that Edwards-Helaire was brutal on the ground last week, finishing with seven carries for no gain while missing seemingly obvious gaps in the defense at least twice (Patrick Mahomes pointed it out once). That's not to say he'll lose his job, but it does make it less likely that his role is expanded this week -- something that seemed like a possibility last week after his excellent showings in the first two games. It didn't happen, and his production in the Week 3 loss was all volume/opportunity based (five short catches and a goal-line TD run).

   

Antonio Gibson (at DAL) — 53% started

Start Instead — AJ Dillon (vs. NE), Breece Hall (at PIT),  Jamaal Williams (vs. SEA)

After putting up 130 total yards in the season opener, Gibson needed short goal-line TDs to reach double-digit fantasy points the past two weeks. He's averaging only 3.1 YPC behind a mediocre offensive line, and J.D. McKissic still gobbles up snaps in obvious passing situations. Gibson perhaps seemed to threaten McKissic with a 7-72-0 receiving line Week 1, but the third-year pro has since been targeted just five times in two games, including a pair of drops in the Week 2 loss at Detroit. Gibson gets a road matchup with a tough front seven this week, followed by Brian Robinson's potential return from IR the week after.

  

Other Tough Matchups: Jeff Wilson (vs. LAR), Cam Akers & Darrell Henderson (at SF), Raheem Mostert (at CIN)

   

Wide Receivers 👎

   

Terry McLaurin (at DAL) — 71% started

Start Instead — Diontae Johnson (vs. NYJ), Gabe Davis (at BAL), Drake London (vs. CLE)

McLaurin, one of my favorite real-life players, is in the downgrades section for a second straight week despite proving me wrong with his first 100-yard game of the season (and first against the Eagles since they traded for Darius Slay). The talented wideout gets another tough draw this week with potential shadow coverage from Trevon Diggs, but the bigger problem is Carson Wentz and a banged-up offensive line squaring off with a Dallas pass rush led by Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. We saw Wentz crumble against a good defense last week, and there's no guarantee if it happens again that McLaurin can fill up on garbage-time production (half his catches last week came with Washington down three scores in the fourth quarter).

      

Other Tough Matchups: Zay Jones & Marvin Jones (at PHI), Allen Robinson (at SF), DeVante Parker (at GB)

      

Tight Ends 👎

  

Tyler Conklin (at PIT) — 22% started

Start Instead — David Njoku (at ATL), Gerald Everett (at HOU), Evan Engram (at PHI)

This isn't really about the matchup in terms of the opponent; Pittsburgh's defense without T.J. Watt is far from scary. The real problem is Zach Wilson's return to the lineup, along with the unsustainable nature of Conklin's target volume (he's averaging 8.0 per game, but it's only 16.2 percent of the team total). The Jets will throw fewer passes per game as the season moves along, and they now have a QB who is more likely to scramble or look downfield under pressure rather than checking it down to the RBs and TEs.

     

Other Tough Matchups: Tyler Higbee (at SF), Irv Smith (at NO)

         

Streaming Picks

For Shallow Leagues (40-66 percent rostered)

QB Jared Goff (vs. SEA)

RB Nyheim Hines (vs. TEN)

WR Romeo Doubs (vs. NE)

WR Robert Woods (at IND)

WR Tyler Boyd (vs. MIA)

WR Russell Gage (vs. KC)

WR DJ Chark (vs. SEA)

LOGO] WR Isaiah McKenzie (at BAL)

TE David Njoku (at ATL)

K Jake Elliott (vs. JAX) - check weather

D/ST Giants (vs. CHI)

     

For Medium-depth Leagues (16-39 percent rostered)

QB Marcus Mariota (vs. CLE)

RB J.D. McKissic (at DAL)

WR Greg Dortch (at CAR)

WR Joshua Palmer (at HOU)

WR Noah Brown (vs. WAS)

WR Nico Collins (vs. LAC)

TE Robert Tonyan (vs. NE)

TE Evan Engram (at PHI)

K Chris Boswell (vs. NYJ)

D/ST Vikings (at NO - London)

   

For Deep Leagues (0-15 percent rostered)

QB Geno Smith (at DET)

RB Eno Benjamin (at CAR)

RB Jerick McKinnon (at TB)

WR Richie James (vs. CHI)

WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (at ATL)

TE Cameron Brate (vs. KC)

K Brett Maher (vs. WAS)

D/ST Cardinals (at CAR)

     

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Donabedian
Jerry was a 2018 finalist for the FSWA's Player Notes Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year awards. A Baltimore native, Jerry roots for the Ravens and watches "The Wire" in his spare time.
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