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Fantasy Football Week 4: Starters and Bench Warmers

After a surprising week of NFL football, from protests to game-winners, it’s time to get back to what really matters in professional football: Fantasy Football. To limit your Sunday morning tinkering of your lineup, I’ll provide the best insight I possibly can to make sure your lineup is perfect heading into the fourth week of the regular season.

Start

Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints: We’ve the slow rise of young receiver Mike Thomas in New Orleans, but Willie Snead is returning from his short three game suspension and he’s ready to go. He’ll matched up against a young and developing secondary when he faces the Miami Dolphins in London. Miami’s corners had a difficult time covering the Jets receiving core which is decent at best, especially when Josh McCown is throwing the ball to those receivers, so I can’t imagine what the duo of Thomas and Snead could do to this secondary with Drew Brees slinging the ball all over Wembley Stadium next Sunday. Expect five or more receptions out of Snead and a maximum of 75 receiving yards along with one touchdown out of Snead. He’ll be great for Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues in his return.

Devante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins: It’s easy to bench any Dolphins receiver after the atrocity Dolphins fans had to witness as the team shockingly lost to division rival, the New York Jets. But last week Parker got the stats he should’ve gotten and more against a very weak Jets secondary. Jarvis Landry also got six catches and 48 yards against the Jets but fantasy football players who own Jarvis should be starting every week simply because he’s an elite receiver at this point. The Saints cornerbacks and safeties aren’t very far behind the Jets as far as performance. In PPR standard leagues, Parker dropped 21 points against the Jets defense. I don’t expect the same level of performance from Parker due to the fact that while the Saints secondary isn’t great, the defense as a whole is more disciplined. Expect six to seven catches for about 65 yards without a touchdown. I can easily see Jarvis dominating this game as well, but Parker will get his targets.

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: As the year progresses, Mixon will most likely begin to get more and more carries to eventually emerge as the true starter for the Bengals. The Bengals offense effectively moved the ball up and down the field for the first time all season against the Packers in an overtime thriller, which should have fantasy owners of any Bengals weapon confident heading into their matchup this week against the weak Browns. It seems like anyone playing the Cleveland defense succeeds. That statement alone might as well be the universal rule of fantasy football at this point but even with the additions they made on the defensive side of the ball, they’re still prone to allow fantasy stars thrive. For example, in my own league I started Frank Gore because he was playing Cleveland and he produced a solid 12 points, which is something Gore doesn’t do too often. Expect a touchdown and 60-70 yards out of Mixon this week.

Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears: While his week 2 goose egg scared many of his fantasy owners, he ramped it up to new levels against the Steelers as he scored two touchdowns on 23 carries. If you’re stuck between choosing Howard or Cohen, go Howard this week and don’t start Cohen. Cohen has been filling his role as the Tevin Coleman of the Bears but Howard is the main man in Chicago. I think we’re inching closer to seeing glimpses of Howard’s rookie season lie we did last week against the Steelers. As far as the running game goes, I don’t think the Bears’ performance was a fluke. The Packers are missing key parts of their defense against Chicago like linebacker Nick Perry, defensive tackle Mike Daniels, and defensive tackle Quinton Dial. While I don’t see the Bears coming away with another upset this week, I do see Howard scoring a touchdown and rushing for 110 yards at the minimum.

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons:  Sanu has yet to score a game under 10 points in standard PPR leagues. His performance as the second target in Atlanta has been phenomenal and I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon and he hasn’t played any special particular secondaries. However, I pick the fast-paced Atlanta offense over the Bills’ young and hungry defense any day of the week. The Bills do have potential among their corners but I don’t think it’ll be enough to slow down Jones and Sanu. Jones will always be a lock-in for fantasy owners, but if you’re in a 12-man or more league, Sanu is a great flex option to have. Even if you’re in an 8-man league, Sanu is a secure option to have if you want 10 or more points out of your flex. If he’s lurking around in your bench since the beginning of the season, it’s time to bring him out now because he’s on a streak. Expect 4-5 catches, 50 to 60 yards receiving and one touchdown out of Sanu.

Bench

Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: The Redskins defense had a scary performance against the lethal Raiders offense last week. It was an interesting sight to behold considering how crisp the offense had been playing since the beginning of this season. The Norman-Hill matchup will be another fun encounter to watch as a fan unless you’re a Tyreek Hill owner in fantasy. The Redskins defense is coming off of an amazing all-around defensive performance against the Raiders and I see them carrying that momentum into Monday Night. Whether they win the game against the Chiefs Monday Night is a decision you can make for yourself, but team wins and losses typically don’t matter. I don’t see hill getting more than 3 catches and 35 yards at the most against Josh Norman and the rest of that defense.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts: I know the Seahawks have been struggling in recent weeks. Their defense produced negative four points as a group which is unheard of for the Legion of Boom and company. Although you should never count out such a dominant secondary like the Seahawks secondary, that’s not necessarily why you shouldn’t start T.Y. Hilton, even though they are a factor. The Seahawks defense will be Jacoby Brissett’s first real challenge as the starting quarterback for the Colts. He had an impressive performance against the Browns, but many quarterbacks have had impressive performances against the Browns. I don’t see Brissett rising from above what he’s already done. This will come at the expense of his number one target T.Y. Hilton. Also, the Legion of Boom aren’t the type of people to take losses lightly. This is affecting them along with the rest of the Seahawks team. I predict a slaughtering of the Colts by the Seahawks but more importantly, I expect 3 to 4 catches for about 25 to 30 yards from Hilton.

Chris Thompson, RB, Washington Redskins: Thompson has been having a breakout year. He’s had 15 or more points every game in standard PPR leagues. But, expect that to come to a screeching halt against the Chiefs defense. I don’t doubt we’ll see a low-scoring game out of these two teams, but I don’t see one of those coming from Thompson against this defense. The Chiefs defense is a different squad this year and they shouldn’t be taken lightly. I’m not confident enough in Thompson to produce high-caliber stats against elite defenses like the Chiefs defense yet. At the very best, I see him in a flex spot this week but I’m not to confident in his capabilities this week against the hot Chiefs.

Frank Gore, RB, Indianapolis Colts: As I stated before, stay away from anyone in the Colts offense. But I know Gore is in many owner’s starting lineups, especially in those leagues that consist of 12 and 14 members. Stay away from the Colts offense. I’m not predicting a shutout because someone has to score on the Colts offense but it won’t be enough to produce good fantasy numbers for your team. Work the waiver wire and do what you can to get Gore off of your starting lineup.

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