After three weeks of football, fantasy owners have a better idea of what their team looks like. They know the players that are performing and those that are struggling. Fantasy owners can look at opposing defenses and have a better sense of what is a good matchup and what is not. Picking a starting lineup is still difficult, especially with the bye weeks starting. The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets are off this week, so keep those guys on your bench. In the meantime, look at the injuries, look at the matchups and put your best lineup forward.
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.
Teams on bye: New York Jets, San Francisco
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
After throwing the ball 45 times in Week 1, Stafford came back down to earth. The past two weeks he had 30 and 32 pass attempts. The Lions face Kansas City this week, and it has the makings of a shootout. While it seemed like last week, against the Eagles, it would be a high-scoring game, this game looks like one where Stafford will be throwing the ball a lot. He has six touchdowns through three games and may even be available as a streaming quarterback if needed (he's available in just under half of Yahoo! leagues). He's ranked No. 16 but should finish higher than that.
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
When looking at just rushing yards, Conner has had a rough start to the 2019 season. His season high is 43 yards and he only has one rushing touchdown. He's seeing an average of four targets per game, but he still hasn't had more than 70 yards from scrimmage yet this year. It has been tough with the switch to Mason Rudolph at quarterback, but this week should be a chance for Conner to rebound. He's ranked No. 11 but is an RB1 this week against a Cincinnati defense that gives up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers
Samuel caught his first touchdown of the season in Week 3 from Kyle Allen. With Cam Newton dealing with a Lisfranc injury, Allen will be throwing him the ball for the foreseeable future. Allen seemed to look for Samuel and Greg Olsen as his preferred options. Both had seven targets in Week 3. The Panthers face the Texans in Week 4, and the Texans have allowed an opposing wide receiver to score a touchdown each week so far this season. Samuel is ranked No. 32 but is a solid WR3 with upside.
Devin Smith, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Michael Gallup is still out for Week 4, and Amari Cooper just had an MRI on his ankle (it came back clean). Based on guys that are dropping like flies for Dallas, Smith may have a chance to get some desperate owner some fantasy points. He did have a touchdown in Week 2, but then only had two receptions for 39 yards in Week 3. Smith is ranked No. 51, but this is someone to look at in daily leagues or to add in leagues that start three or more receivers.
Will Dissly, TE, Seattle Seahawks
With three touchdowns in the past two games, Dissly has made a name for himself as a TE1. In Week 4, he faces Arizona. The Cardinals have given up five touchdowns to opposing tight ends so far this season. In Week 3, Greg Olsen was the No. 1 tight end after facing Arizona. The Cardinals made T.J. Hockenson look like a star in Week 1 and allowed Mark Andrews to have an 8/112/1 stat line in Week 2. Fire up Dissly wherever possible as he should exceed his No. 9 ranking.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Brady has had multiple touchdowns in three games so far this season. However, he's also played one of the easiest schedules in the NFL. It's hard to say that Brady is back because he had at least 264 yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers, Dolphins, and Jets. He's ranked No. 6 this week against the Bills, in Buffalo. The Bills haven’t allowed more than 250 yards to an opposing quarterback yet. They also have not allowed an opposing quarterback to throw for more than one touchdown. Brady has a tough challenge this week, and he won't be in the top six QBs.
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
With a fumble in each game so far this season, the team and Carson's fantasy owners should be a little worried. He's had 15 carries in each game and hasn't had more than 60 rushing yards. Besides the two touchdowns in Week 1, he hasn't found the end zone. Carson is ranked No. 12 for Week 4, but especially if Rashaad Penny is active, he is more of an RB2, not a fringe RB1.
Duke Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
Drafted as a possible RB2 in PPR formats, Johnson has been a disappointment. Fantasy owners thought he'd play a role in the passing game. Through three games, he has six receptions for 55 yards. His rushing performance isn't much better. In Week 1, he had 57 yards, which seemed promising. However, his numbers have dropped since. In Week 2, he had 31 rushing yards, and in Week 3, he had two. Somehow, Carlos Hyde has surpassed him on the depth chart, and even being ranked No. 39, Johnson is barely worth being in a starting lineup.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After Evans' monster Week 3, it seems wrong to include him on the 5 Down list. However, he's not going to repeat his 8/190/3 stat line, especially against the Rams. Through three games, the Rams are giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. They haven't allowed a wide receiver to score a touchdown or reach 100 yards. Evans is ranked No. 11 this week, but he's more of a WR2.
O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It's hard to consider Howard a TE1, even with George Kittle off this week, but that's where his No. 7 ranking puts him. Howard gave fantasy owners a goose egg in Week 2. In Weeks 1 and 3, he has seven receptions for 98 yards combined. The Rams have only allowed one touchdown to a tight end (Demetrius Harris last week) despite facing Jared Cook and Greg Olsen. It's hard to picture Howard finding the end zone in Week 4.
Full Disclosure from Week 3
5 Up (2/5 correct)
Josh Allen, QB, Bills (Ranked: 12, actual: 15)
Frank Gore, RB, Bills (Ranked: 41, actual: 9)
Marquise Brown, WR, Ravens (Ranked: 25, actual: not in top 50)
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos (Ranked: 42, actual: not in top 50)
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers (Ranked: 14, actual: 1)
5 Down (3/5 correct)
Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans (Ranked: 3, actual: 4)
Le'Veon Bell, RB, Jets (Ranked: 12, actual: 35)
Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles (Ranked: 28, actual: 21)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers (Ranked: 16, actual: 15)
Jared Cook, TE, Saints (Ranked: 10, actual: 46)
— Rankings 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.