Philip Rivers

USA TODAY Images

Fantasy Football: Philip Rivers, Carlos Hyde, And Other Sweet & Sour Starts For Week 4

Matt Citak
September 27, 2018 - 2:00 pm
Categories: 

Sweet & Sour is back for Week 4 of the NFL season!

Players who look poised for a big week will fall under the "Sweet" category, while guys who might be in for a tough matchup will fall in the "Sour" section. In addition, I'll add a couple of sleeper picks at each position for those in need of a streaming option.

Let me preface this article by saying I won't be telling you the obvious. You don't need me to tell you to start Todd Gurley or Antonio Brown each week. And a player falling in the "Sour" section doesn't necessarily mean you should bench him -- it means you should lower your expectations for that player given the circumstances that week (matchup, injuries, etc.). While I want these recommendations to help you make lineup decisions, at the end of the day you have to go with your gut.

Let's get right into it.

Quarterbacks

Sweet

Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers- The 36-year-old has completed 69.4 percent of his passes this year for just over 900 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. He has a great opportunity to cushion those stats this week. The Chargers will welcome the reeling 49ers to LA in a battle of 1-2 teams. San Francisco has allowed Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Patrick Mahomes to combine for 905 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and no interceptions this season. Rivers should be considered a top 5 QB option in Week 4.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals- Dalton's four interceptions against the Panthers last week dilute his stats a bit after he threw just one interception in his previous two games, but the veteran has still looked solid thus far, totaling 860 yards and eight touchdowns on the year. In Week 4 the Bengals face a Falcons defense that is missing safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, along with linebacker Deion Jones. Cam Newton and Drew Brees have exploded against Atlanta over the last two weeks, and Dalton should continue that trend.

Andy Dalton
USA TODAY Images
Sour

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions- Stafford has rebounded after a disastrous start to the season, but he could run into some trouble in Week 4 against a surprisingly tough Cowboys defense. Dallas enters this matchup in the bottom 10 for fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. In past weeks they have significantly limited the production of Newton, Eli Manning and Russell Wilson. Detroit's wide receivers could prove to be a tough matchup for the Cowboys secondary, but Dallas' pass rush will have Stafford running for his life all game. Stafford is a borderline QB1 this week.

MORE: Citak: Fantasy Football Week 4 Waiver Wire Adds

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders- Whatever happened to Jon Gruden being the quarterback whisperer? Carr has just two touchdown passes through the first three games of the season, but has racked up five interceptions. Despite these horrid stats, the 27-year-old has been able to accumulate 936 yards passing on a 76.6 completion percentage. Those numbers make you think a bounce back is coming, and it might, but not this week. Believe it or not, the Browns have a stingy defense this season that will cause a lot of trouble for Carr and the Raiders on Sunday.

Sleepers

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins- Tannehill has gotten the Dolphins off to a surprising 3-0 start, and will look to continue the team's hot streak in New England against a Patriots defense seemingly unable to stop anyone at quarterback at the moment.

Case Keenum, Denver Broncos- Keenum has had two rough outings in a row after a great Week 1 performance, but he has the perfect matchup to get back on track this week as the Broncos will welcome the Chiefs and their awful passing defense to Mile High Stadium.

Running Backs

Sweet

Carlos Hyde, Cleveland Browns- One of the biggest beneficiaries of Baker Mayfield taking control of the offense will be Hyde, who did most of his damage against the Jets last week after the number one overall pick entered the game. Hue Jackson has been feeding Hyde the ball every week, with the veteran back recording at least 17 touches in each game. Oakland has been struggling to stop running backs in the run and pass game, which sets Hyde up for a big performance in Week 4.

Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks- Blame it on the play call, the game script, or whatever else you want, but Carson's 16 touches through the first two weeks were a cause for concern. However, things changed against Dallas last week as Carson ran the ball a whopping 32 times for almost 125 total yards from scrimmage. The 24-year-old has another encouraging matchup this week against an Arizona defense that has been gashed for six touchdowns by opposing running backs this year. Starting Carson has its risks, but it could prove to be a worthy gamble.

Chris Carson
USA TODAY Images
Sour

LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills- McCoy is expected to return from a rib injury that held him out of last week's contest, but you may still want to keep him out of your lineup regardless. Buffalo will likely be chasing points at Lambeau Field against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, so, unless lighting can strike twice in the same place, the Bills are not going to like the outcome of this one.

MORE: Silverman: Jimmy G Injury Can’t Deter QBs From Running With The Ball

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans- The third-year back is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry on 46 rush attempts, and he has been unable to find the end zone thus far. This week the Titans take on the defending Super Bowl Champions and their tough run defense. The Eagles are allowing the fewest rushing yards to opposing running backs in 2018. Dion Lewis could have a good game catching passes out of the backfield, but Henry's outlook is rather dark and gloomy.

Sleepers

James White, New England Patriots- This isn't the first time I've had White as a sleeper, and it probably won't be the last. The pass-catching back has 14 receptions and two touchdowns so far this year, and with Rex Burkhead landing on IR, White should see his role in the passing game expand even further.

Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers- In his first game back after serving a two-game suspension, Jones carried the ball only six times, but gained 42 yards. It won't be long before Jones is named the starting running back, and that holds a ton of value in a Rodgers-led offense.

Wide Receivers

Sweet

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers- The 2017 first round pick has tallied three touchdowns over the last two weeks and has looked impressive along the way. LA should continue its offensive roll this week against the 49ers, who will be playing without top corner Richard Sherman. You're obviously starting Keenan Allen, but Williams also makes for a great start as the 49ers have allowed seven different receivers to either catch a touchdown or gain at least 100 receiving yards in their first three games.

Sterling Shepard, New York Giants- While the injury to Evan Engram was a devastating blow to the Giants offense, it should do wonders for Shepard's fantasy value. Shepard is coming off a six-catch, 80-yard performance against the Texans last week that saw him find the end zone for the first time this season. Most of that damage came once Engram left the game. The Giants are facing a Saints secondary this week that has been torn apart recently by opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers. Odell Beckham Jr. will be covered by Marshon Lattimore, which should open up the rest of the field for Shepard and New York's other pass-catching options.

Sterling Shepard
USA TODAY Images

Sour

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals- Fitzgerald has been awful over the last two weeks, but then again so has the entire Cardinals offense. The veteran has totaled just seven targets and 37 yards over that span, and it seems like he's playing at less than 100 percent. It doesn't help that Arizona might have the league's worst offense. Josh Rosen taking over at QB might provide a spark to that Cardinals offense, but until he actually does it, I'm steering clear from any Cardinals receiver.

Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets- Enunwa has been a rock for rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, but he may find it difficult to create any space this week going up against the Jaguars. He should avoid coverage from Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye for most of the day by lining up in the slot, but it won't matter if Darnold is struggling, which I expect will happen. Enunwa certainly has better days ahead, but it's hard to consider him anything more than a mid WR3 this week.

Sleepers

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals- Boyd has exploded onto the fantasy scene over the last two games with 12 catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns. The Falcons have allowed seven different receivers to score a TD or gain at least 75 yards in the past two games alone, and Boyd could easily add to this list.

Antonio Callaway, Cleveland Browns- Although his final stat line wasn't great, Callaway finished last week with 10 targets. Jarvis Landry was the only Browns player targeted more. Oakland's secondary is not good this year, paving the way for Callaway to have a strong Week 4 performance.

Tight Ends

Sweet

Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts- With Jack Doyle likely to miss another game, Ebron could play a big role in the Colts offense again this week. The tight end led the Colts with 11 targets last week, although that only turned into five receptions for 33 yards. Things should come easier for Ebron this week against a Houston defense that has allowed two touchdowns to opposing tight ends already, including one to New York's backup tight end Rhett Ellison last week. Ebron sat out practice Wednesday so make sure he's active first. If he is good to go, start him with confidence.

Eric Ebron and Andrew Luck
USA TODAY Images

Trey Burton, Chicago Bears- Burton has not been the fantasy darling I expected him to be thus far, but a Week 4 matchup against the Buccaneers could help get the tight end on the right path. Tampa Bay's pass defense has been nothing short of awful, tying with the Chiefs for the most pass yards allowed on the year. Opposing tight ends have been lighting up the Bucs, so expect Burton to finally have a breakout performance.

Sour

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers- Kittle was not good with C.J. Beathard at QB last year, totaling 11 catches for 103 yards and no touchdowns in five games. Granted they were both rookies, but I still don't expect things to get much better for the young tight end this week. The Chargers have given up just nine catches for 87 yards to opposing tight ends, and they completely shut down Travis Kelce in Week 1.  I'm avoiding Kittle and the 49ers offense this week.

MORE: Giants' Evan Engram Expected To Miss 2-4 Weeks

Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers- McDonald had the play of the year last week, stiff arming a Bucs defender and rumbling 75 yards for a touchdown. He isn't likely to repeat the performance this week against the Ravens. Baltimore has kept opposing tight ends out of the end zone and has given up just 136 yards to the position through three weeks. McDonald will need to score to have any fantasy value this week.

Sleepers

O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Howard looks to be on the verge of a breakout season. The young tight end should keep the good times rolling against the Bears, who have allowed touchdowns to tight ends in two consecutive weeks.

Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints- Watson is coming off his best game of the season and will look to keep it going against a Giants defense that allowed the Texans' tight ends to combine for five catches for 115 yards last week.

 

Matt Citak is a Web producer for WFAN Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewCitak.