Week 3 saw some familiar names atop the fantasy wide receiver leaderboard, as Stefon Diggs, Brandin Cooks, Odell Beckham Jr., Sammy Watkins, T.Y. Hilton, A.J. Green, Antonio Brown, Doug Baldwin and Jordy Nelson all turned in top-10 performances in PPR leagues.
Of course, performances from Julio Jones (WR24), Mike Evans (WR33) and Alshon Jeffery (WR46) also served as reminders that there is still plenty of week-to-week volatility when it comes to the position.
Predicting the WR position is always difficult, but here’s an early look at some not-so-obvious Week 4 wideouts to start, and others to stay away from. I also have some tight end suggestions if you’re interested. But first, let’s see how my Week 3 calls fared.
DeVante Parker (21.6 fantasy points) – The Dolphins looked terrible against the Jets, but Parker was saved by some garbage-time catches and a touchdown. Hey, it all counts.
Sit Larry Fitzgerald (33.9 FP) – After stinking up the first two games, Fitz shined on Monday night, catching 13 balls for 149 yards and one touchdown
Start Terrelle Pryor (3.9 FP) – Pryor just isn’t on the same page as Kirk Cousins, and sometimes looks disinterested. Cousins might have more rapport with Josh Doctson, so this is something to watch moving forward.
Start Kyle Rudolph (4.5 FP) – This was under the false hope that Sam Bradford would start. Case Keenum doesn’t have the same rapport with the big tight end just yet.
START THESE WRs...
DeVante Parker, MIA (vs. NO, London)
A three-point underdog in a game that has the highest over/under (50) of the week, the Dolphins figure to end up throwing a ton against a Saints defense that is allowing 9.4 yards per attempt despite getting to play a struggling Cam Newton last week. Parker, meanwhile, has racked up 19 targets, 12 receptions, 161 yards and a score through just two games, establishing himself as Jay Cutler’s clear No. 1 downfield option. Throw it all together, and it’s the perfect storm for Parker being a top-10 WR option in Week 4.
Alshon Jeffrey, PHI (at LAC)
Jeffery may give you some headaches this year, but his volume is still worth starting. For the second time in three games, Jeffery was held to less than five catches and no touchdowns in Week 3. Despite the low output, his targets are still hovering at a decent level, with at least seven targets in each game this season. Philadelphia is going to pass often, and that shouldn't change Sunday against a Chargers team that has been good statistically against the pass (not allowing any receiver to gain more than 85 yards), but they are without star cover corner Jason Verrett, leaving plenty of room for Jeffrey.
Golden Tate, DET (at MIN)
Normally the smart decision would be to avoid all receivers against the Vikings, especially when the game is in Minnesota. But the Lions are going to have to pass the ball in this game if they are going to keep up, and Tate should have field day because he plays out of the slot and will avoid shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes. Tate should be in for a big PPR fantasy day.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Paul Richardson, SEA (vs. IND)
It’s hard to trust anyone in this offense with the way the offensive line has been trying to block, but the Seahawks showed signs of life in the second half against the Titans, finding the end zone three times in six possessions. Now, they’re back at home against a Colts defense that is allowing 7.9 yards per pass attempt. Enter Richardson, who has tallied 19 targets through three games, has scored in each of the last two and could see an increased role with Doug Baldwin dealing with a groin injury.
SIT THESE WRs...
Martavis Bryant, PIT (at BAL)
Bryant currently has an average depth of target of 22.4 yards, which is highest among players with more than two targets. This means he’s a big play waiting to happen, but it also makes him highly volatile, as we’ve seen through three games with weekly WR finishes of 75th, 12th and 69th. The two bad ones have come on the road, and that’s where Pittsburgh will be in Week 4, where they face a Ravens defense that has given up just one top-25 WR performance on the year and will look to make this a physical battle with limited big plays.
T.Y. Hilton, IND (at SEA)
Jacoby Brissett is proving to be a decent starting QB in the NFL. He gives an outlet to Hilton that brings back his fantasy value with most matchups. This one, though, doesn't work out as well. The Seahawks are still limiting the opposition to only 200 passing yards per game. And touchdowns are hard to find, too, with only three through the air this season. Hilton's prospects are heightened with Brissett's presence, but this is the wrong matchup. If you can find a better matchup on your bench, use it.
Terrelle Pryor, WAS (at KC, Mon.)
Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns in Week 3, and Pryor, the presumed No. 1 receiver, finished with four targets, two receptions and 19 yards. He has now finished as the WR27, WR73 and WR74 the first three weeks of the season, showing very little involvement in the offense. Even against a Chiefs defense that has allowed a top-24 WR performance in each of the first three weeks, Pryor can’t be trusted.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Michael Crabtree, OAK (at DEN)
After catching one of three targets for seven yards against Washington on Sunday night, Crabtree gets rewarded with a matchup at Denver against one of the best secondaries in the NFL. The Broncos have held Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams and Dez Bryant each to under 60 yards this year, and they did a fantastic job of limiting Crabtree last season, holding him to just seven catches and 74 yards in two games. Typically a solid WR2, Crabtree is more of a low-end WR3 option this week.
START THESE TEs...
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs. DET)
Rudolph has seen his fantasy production drop since Week 1. He had a season low 1.4 fantasy points last week in a game where Case Keenum threw for more than 300 yards. So why start him this week against Detroit? Last season, Detroit's defense allowed eight touchdowns and an average of 17.76 PPR points to tight ends on the road.
Jimmy Graham, SEA (vs. IND)
Not many people started Graham last week, because he was injured and he has been awful to start the season. Believe it or not, Graham is the second-best tight end on the Seahawks, at least if you go by fantasy points. Doug Baldwin is dealing with a groin injury, meaning that Graham could be in for a target increase this week against the Colts, a defense that allowed Browns rookie David Njoku to score a touchdown last Sunday.
Jared Cook, OAK (at DEN)
The Broncos’ defense is elite, we all know that. But their one weakness is at defending the tight end. Over the first three games of the season the Broncos have allowed 19 receptions, 184 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends. If Cook is still available in your league, go get him and start him this week
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Charles Clay, BUF (at ATL)
Clay can be hit or miss, which makes it hard if you like to stream your tight ends. But he is second on the Bills in targets (behind LeSean McCoy) and scored 15.9 fantasy points last week. In a game where the Bills are going to need to score lots of points to have any chance of winning, rolling the dice on Clay again this week makes a lot of sense.
SIT THESE TEs...
Coby Fleener, NO (vs. MIA, London)
Last week was more of a typical Fleener week, he didn’t score a touchdown to boost his value and had just one catch for 21 yards. This week the Saints travel to London to face a Dolphins team that is average at best against tight ends, but with Willie Snead returning from suspension, it’s safe to assume that Fleener’s targets are going to decrease, and so will his value.
Marcedes Lewis, JAC (at NYJ)
Never, ever chase touchdowns in fantasy football. Read that again. It’s worth noting. Touchdowns are so volatile and unpredictable. Lewis came out of nowhere last week to score three touchdowns. Most people forgot that he was even still in the league. Just because his 28.2 fantasy points from last week stand out on the waiver wire, doesn’t mean you need to start him this week. Even if you have Tyler Eifert.
Julius Thomas, MIA (vs. NO, London)
It was a great thought thinking that with Thomas reuniting with his old offensive coordinator (Dolphins head coach Adam Gase), that he would return to his glory days when he was a Bronco. Well so far, not so good. Thomas has totaled 42 receiving yards in his first two games as a Dolphin. Jay Ajayi is the focal point of the offense and when Jay Cutler drops back to pass, he looks for Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. That means Thomas is an afterthought in the offense and should be for fantasy owners too.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Evan Engram, NYG (at TB)
Rookie tight ends aren’t supposed to be contributing this much from a fantasy perspective this early in the season. Especially a rookie tight end on a team with Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard. But Engram is, scoring at least 8.4 PPR points in each game this season. That will change this week against a Bucs defense that is allowing only 5.8 PPR points to tight ends so far this season.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.