With injuries to a lot of big-name players, fantasy managers may be struggling to figure out who to start in Week 4. Christian McCaffrey, A.J. Brown and Dalvin Cook all were injured or did not play in Week 3, among others. Hopefully, fantasy managers have their backups or at least other options on their bench (or waiver wire) but if not, they may be looking around to see who they can turn to fill out their lineup. Keep an eye on the injuries to be sure that your players will be active as a lot of big names did not practice at the beginning of this week.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status, and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide.
Jameis Winston, QB, New Orleans Saints vs. New York Giants
The Saints play the Giants in Week 4, who have allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for two touchdowns in each of their three games. After Winston’s five-touchdown performance in Week 1, he (as expected) hasn’t repeated. He didn’t throw a touchdown in Week 2, but threw two last week up in New England. Winston has yet to throw for more than 150 yards, but he does find the end zone. He is ranked No. 24 but he’s a QB2 option for Week 4.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Swift is ranked No. 14 ahead of Week 4 where the Lions face the Bears. He hasn’t done a lot of damage running the ball (he has yet to have more than 50 rushing yards in a game), but Swift has been catching passes from Jared Goff. He had eight receptions in Week 1, four in Week 2, and seven in Week 3. He had two games with more than 60 receiving yards and he had a touchdown catch in Week 1. Look for Swift to continue to be involved in the passing game, which boosts his value, especially in PPR formats. He’s an RB1 in PPR leagues.
AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Dillon is Aaron Jones’ backup, but he also sees the field when Jones is active. Fantasy managers should monitor this situation because Jones did not put in a full practice on Wednesday or Thursday this week. He is dealing with an ankle injury and while it likely won’t cost him Week 4, if the Packers want to preserve him, it will be Dillon that gets the carries. He’s averaged five carries this season, but it is possible that increases in Week 4. Dillon has been dealing with a back injury, but there are no indications that he will miss the game. He’s ranked No. 43, but with Jones banged up, he should exceed that.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team at Atlanta Falcons
Taylor Heinicke knows that in order to succeed, he needs to get the ball to McLaurin. So far this season, he has four receptions for 62 yards in two games (yes, the exact same stat line) and 11 receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown in the third game. McLaurin is ranked No. 21 for the Week 4 matchup against the Falcons, but he is at least a WR2 with the potential to exceed that. Fantasy managers disappointed with his Week 3 totals should keep in mind it was a much more difficult matchup.
Will Dissly, TE, Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
Dissly is not ranked in the top 35 tight ends, which seems way too low. Gerald Everett was added to the COVID-19 list, which means it would be nearly impossible for him to play in Week 4. Dissly would be the next man up for the Seahawks. In Week 3, Dissly did have one catch for 39 yards. He hasn’t had a role in the offense this year, but with Everett out, it provides him with a window of opportunity. Prior to his injury in 2019, Dissly was looking like a solid fantasy option. He struggled in 2020, but this may be the opportunity he needs to find success this season.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans at New York Giants
Tannehill has looked good this season, but he may be without his top wideout, A.J. Brown, in Week 4. With Julio Jones also banged up, it is going to be tough for Tannehill, even against the Jets. Despite their 0-3 record, the Jets are giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. New York's offense has been abysmal, but teams are having more success running the ball than throwing it (perhaps because they don’t have to throw it?). Either way, Tannehill is ranked No. 11 but isn’t a QB1 this week.
Trey Sermon, RB, San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Sermon is ranked No. 21, which puts him on the RB2 radar. However, it will be hard to trust him as such this week. Sermon was a healthy scratch in Week 1. He had one carry for eight yards in Week 2. Finally, in Week 3 with Elijah Mitchell out, Sermon played a bit more. With 31 yards on 10 carries, it was the rushing touchdown that saved his fantasy day. Sermon didn’t exactly run away with the role, so if Mitchell is active, Sermon may not see as many touches. Even if Mitchell sits, Sermon likely will not reach his borderline top-20 ranking.
Ronald Jones II, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots
The Buccaneers have looked good this season, but it's not been due to Jones. He’s had 15 carries – total – in three games. The most rushing yards he’s had in a game is 27. Jones isn’t a factor in the passing game, and Sunday night’s game will likely showcase Tom Brady. Jones is ranked No. 39, but he shouldn’t be started in most fantasy leagues. In fact, it may be time to consider cutting him for a better option.
Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans at New York Jets
Jones didn’t get injured in Week 3 that we know of, but he did miss practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Fantasy managers may have noticed that he didn’t play as much in the second half of Week 3, but it didn’t seem like it was injury-related (in hindsight, it very well may have been). With A.J. Brown coming up lame in Week 3, the Titans likely are going to want to have Jones out there. However, veteran fantasy managers remember what it was like when Jones tried to play injured during his Atlanta days. More often than not he was used as a decoy. He’s ranked No. 19, but it’s hard to imagine him finishing with WR2 numbers.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs
It’s hard to imagine Goedert reaches his No. 10 ranking with Zach Ertz back in the picture. In Week 3, Goedert only had four targets. He did catch two of them for 66 yards, but he only has one touchdown on the year (Week 1). In Week 3, it was Ertz who had success, posting a 4/53/1 stat line. The problem with having two tight ends is that one will have a better game than the other, but it is impossible to predict who it will be.
Full Disclosure from Week 3
Up (3/5 correct)
- Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears (Ranked: 23, Actual: 33)
- Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (Ranked: 17, Actual: 9)
- Sony Michel, RB, Los Angeles Rams (Ranked: 31, Actual: 28)
- Quintez Cephus, WR, Detroit Lions (Ranked: 61, Actual: 111)
- Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns (Ranked: 18, Actual: 15)
Down (2/4 correct)
- Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans (Ranked: 9, Actual: 7)
- Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots (Ranked: 13, Actual: 58)
- Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts (Ranked: 39, Actual: 32)
- Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (Ranked: 31, Actual: DNP, knee injury)
- Jonnu Smith, TE, New England Patriots (Ranked: 13, Actual: 51)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.