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NFL Draft

Fantasy Football Week 4 Sneaky Starts

  • The Draft Network
  • October 2, 2020
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How has the start of the season treated you? Are you 3-0? 0-3? Somewhere in between? Regardless, Week 4 will present its own set of challenges. Whether you’re looking to stay undefeated, stay alive in the fantasy playoff race, or just tread water after losing your star players last week, this column is for you. Let’s take a look at some players flying under the radar who are sneaky starts in Week 4 (please note, all players below are currently starting in fewer than 20% of leagues):

QUARTERBACKS

Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB - MIA)

When you get a matchup against a historically bad passing defense, you absolutely have to be in consideration to start in fantasy lineups. And when I say historically bad, I mean historically bad. The Seahawks are the only team in NFL history to allow 1,200 passing yards through three games—and they cleared that mark by 92 yards. Marquise Blair: out. Jamal Adams: maybe out. That’s great news for Fitzpatrick at home with a little extra rest for top receiver DeVante Parker, who has been fighting through some nagging injuries. Fitzpatrick has back-to-back 24-plus point performances and should sling the ball all over the yard against a bad and injured Seahawks secondary while trying to keep up with Russell Wilson.

Jared Goff (QB - LAR)

I hate to double-up from my Start/Sit column, but Goff was surprisingly only the seventh-most added quarterback this week and continues to be rostered in fewer than half of leagues and starting in about 10% of lineups. He has a glorious matchup this week at home against a bottom-of-the-barrel Giants defense. The Rams’ offense is humming right now and Goff’s wide distribution of yards and targets has allowed him to start the season among the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks. Like Fitzpatrick, Goff bounced back from a subdued Week 1 performance to have consecutive big games in Weeks 2 and 3. Sunday should be his third consecutive 20-plus point game. 

RUNNING BACKS

Carlos Hyde (RB - SEA)

A gator roll courtesy of Trysten Hill will in all likelihood prevent starting running back Chris Carson from playing in Miami this week. While I expect somewhat of a rotation with Travis Homer and Deejay Dallas mixed in, Hyde should be the lead back. Hyde was seeing more than six touches per game with a healthy Carson and there’s no reason to believe he won’t double that workload (at a minimum) in this contest. Plus, there’s always a chance that despite how poor the Seahawks defense is, they run away with this contest and lean heavily on the run game in the fourth quarter. If you’re a Carson owner struggling to find a replacement, Hyde might be able to get you through this week. 

Jeff Wilson Jr. (RB - SF)

Although Wilson wasn’t terribly effective on the ground last week against the Giants, he caught three passes for 54 yards and a touchdown to finish with two total touchdowns and 21.9 fantasy points. It’s presumed Raheem Mostert will continue to be out this week, Tevin Coleman is on IR, and Jerick McKinnon is dealing with bruised ribs. That leaves a lot of room for Wilson touches. He’s the goal-line back anyway, so even though the Eagles aren’t a great matchup, he has a high probability of scoring, which is all you can ask for when hunting for value at the running back position right now.

Latavius Murray (RB - NO)

Every once in a while I’ll throw Murray on one of these “sneaky starts” lists. He’s a true RB1 when Alvin Kamara is out but is mostly an afterthought otherwise. However, given all the running back injuries, there aren’t a lot of startable backs hiding in the weeds this week. So if you’re desperate or in a very deep league, Murray could be an option. He got 15 carries in Week 1 against the Buccaneers and 12 against the Packers on Sunday Night Football this past week. The Lions are allowing the third-most rushing yards in the NFL this season and a 12- or 15-carry day for Murray could be enough to eke out a double-digit-point performance. 

WIDE RECEIVER

Hunter Renfrow (WR - LV)

The Raiders are likely playing without both Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards this weekend, opening up things for sophomore slot receiver Renfrow to have a big game following his 6/84/1 performance last week against the Patriots. He received a season-high nine targets in the loss to the Patriots and should see similar volume against the Bills at home. Buffalo ranks as one of the 10-worst defenses against fantasy wide receivers so far this season. Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller are going to have to shoulder the receiving load if the Raiders have any chance to beat the Bills this Sunday. 

Greg Ward Jr. (WR - PHI)

The statuses of DeSean Jackson and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside are up in the air heading into Sunday Night Football. Dallas Goedert’s status is anything but, he’ll be out. Just like last season when the Eagles were hit by a rash of injuries, Ward stepped up and proved to be a reliable fantasy option down the stretch. Ward had a whopping 11 targets from quarterback Nick Mullens last week and could/should lead all Eagles in targets again this week. The 49ers are banged up all over the field right now, including in the secondary. Ward’s path to 6-7 catches isn’t too arduous. 

Randall Cobb (WR - HOU)

After being fairly non-existent on opening night, Cobb is starting to be a bigger and bigger part of this Texans offense. He has nine catches and 10 targets over the last two weeks and caught his first touchdown with the Texans against the Steelers. The Vikings’ secondary is getting absolutely crushed right now and they’re allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers so far this season. Cobb has a few solid matchups in a row, so if you’re looking for a tie-breaker between him and another option, that might be it. 

Cole Beasley (WR - BUF)

Let’s continue the slot theme with Beasley, who is averaging nearly seven targets per game over the first three weeks of the season. The addition of Stefon Diggs isn’t cutting into Beasley production so far, as the maturation of Josh Allen is paying dividends for all parties involved. Like the other two receivers on this list, Beasley could benefit from a teammate’s injury, as John Brown’s calf injury may prevent him from playing in this game. If so, Beasley becomes a really exciting play against a young secondary. His ceiling isn’t super high because Diggs is way more likely to score, but in PPR he has a pretty high floor. 

TIGHT END

Mo Alie-Cox (TE - IND)

"We have to continue to keep him involved. He's made too many plays to now say, 'OK, Mo, now you take a back seat. … We want to get him the football and we have a variety of ways we want to get him the ball." -- Nick Nick Sirianni, Colts offensive coordinator.

That quote is music to my and many fantasy managers’ ears. How could you not make a concerted effort to get Alie-Cox the ball after how he’s performed after the last two weeks. He followed up his five-catch, 111-yard performance in Week 2 with a 3/50/1 stat line in Week 3. He’s a physical freak with a neutral matchup against the Bears on tap for Sunday and he’s a low-end TE1 in my rankings.

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