Sink or Swim: Week 4 Edition

By Sal Leto (@letosal)

 I ran smack into an iceberg last week with my QBs. Like I said this week on the FLAFFL House podcast (available on  iTunes and Stitcher ) “you can drop Jay Cutler in all leagues.” Well, maybe not in two Quarterback leagues, but he’ll never grace this column as a Swim again. Nonetheless we were pulled ashore and are right back at it this week. With three weeks in the books we can start to get a better picture of a player usage and what the defenses will look like.



 Andy Dalton @ Cleveland Browns


Don’t stop reading, I’m serious. Andy got back in synch with AJ Green last week (what a novel concept) and had a very efficient game on the road in Green Bay. He completed nearly 80 percent of his throws for 212 yards two TDs.  Most importantly, he had no turnovers. He’s on the road again this week vs Cleveland who gave up the most touchdowns and fantasy points to QBs in 2016. They are near the bottom in both categories again this year. In his last four starts against the Browns he has thrown nine touchdowns, added one rushing (Cleveland gave up 2 rushing TDs to Brissett a week ago) to go with zero interceptions.

Eli Manning @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Yup, these are some doozies this week. But the Giants are fighting to save their season. They’re a better team than how they’ve played and they can’t run the ball. Tampa got lit up by Case F’ing Keenum last week (369-3-0). Yes, read that again. Eli and the crew came alive for seven minutes last week and it was an explosion of points. Just the start of what this offense can do when clicking on all cylinders. Eli has a chance to really get going with all the weapons finally involved.


 Derek Carr @ Denver Broncos

This worries me as a Raider fan. The Broncos have actually given up seven touchdowns in three games in 2017. But Carr has never played well in any of his five games vs Denver. Only breaking 200 yards passing once and turning the ball over nine times (five fumbles) while only passing for six touchdowns. We know the Broncos have been stout against the run so, in order to win, the Raiders will have to throw. Carr will probably have respectable numbers but the possibility of turnovers will bring the fantasy points down

Ben Roethlisberger @ Baltimore Ravens

He’s on the road against an angry division rival that was embarrassed a week ago. How many times over the years have we tuned into this game only to see a field goal battle? Too many. Baltimore was out of sorts in London last week and I expect much more pressure and a tough game in store for Big Ben.

Running Backs


 Jay Ajayi vs. New Orleans Saints in London


Raise your hand if you know where Jay Ajayi was born. That’s right London. He returns there to face the woeful run defense of the Saints. With over 600 total yards given up to running backs and 29 RB receptions through three games there’s plenty of ground to be gained. After a rough week against the Jets you can expect the Dolphins to run the ball to keep it out of both Drew Brees’ and Jay Cutler’s hands.

LeSean McCoy @ Atlanta Falcons

You wouldn’t expect to have to think about sitting McCoy but after a nice opener in week one it’s been tough for Shady to find room to run. Add in no touchdowns through three weeks and you aren’t getting what you thought you were getting from a first round RB. What’s the cure? The always welcoming Falcons defense. The backs who can both run and catch always clean up when facing the Falcons and this should be McCoy’s get right game.

Javorius Allen vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Let’s face it, that game got out of control early last week and no Ravens starters were relevant. The Steelers have specifically struggled with pass catching backs dating back to last season. If the Ravens watched the game film from the last week’s Steeler match up with the Bears they know running the ball and quick outs to the running Backs is the way to go. With Terrance West fumbling last week and not looking like the back he was a year ago Allen should be in line for 20+ touches.


 Ameer Abdullah @ Minnesota Vikings

A week after posting his highest career rushing total, 86 yards, Abdullah had the dream Falcons matchup and came up small with only 47 yards on the ground. Who’s up this week? Just the team with the best defensive stats against running backs through three games. Allowing only 86 combined rush and receiving yards to running backs and no touchdowns, I don’t see a scenario where he comes off my bench this week.

Mike Gillislee vs Carolina Panthers

Without at least one touchdown Gillislee’s numbers get ugly. With his lowest touch total through three games he averaged only 2.6 yards a carry. Meanwhile, Tom Brady is reliving his youth so Gillislee didn’t even sniff the end zone. He faces a solid Panther run D this week that has given up only one TD so far and has been a little more vulnerable to pass catching backs. Expect this to be more of a James White game.

Wide Receivers


 Marvin Jones Jr. @ Minnesota Vikings

Marvin Jones.jpg

Marvin Jones? Why not Golden Tate? Through the first three games the Vikings have held number one receivers to modest totals (Michael Thomas, 45 yards; Antonio Brown, 62 yards; Mike Evans, 67 yards). On the other hand, two weeks ago Martavis Bryant went for 91 yards and a touchdown and last week DeSean Jackson had 84 yards and a touchdown. If he’s been collecting dust on your bench and you’re trying to decide on a WR3 or a flex, this is the week to get him in there.

DeAndre Hopkins vs Tennessee Titans

Here it is. This is the big one. I’m predicting Nuk to have his first big blow up game of the season. In three of the four previous matchups with the Titans he’s posted seven catches for117 yards and a touchdown, eight catches for 94 yards and a touchdown and seven catches for 123. The Titans have been subpar defending WRs this season giving up 42 receptions, 502 yards and five touchdowns. The league leader in targets in 2017 should see plenty more this Sunday.


 Jermaine Kearse @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Kearse has been a nice waiver wire add for those who acted quickly and scooped him up. He adjusted quickly to the new offense and paid dividends immediately. I’ll be taking a week off from him though. The Jags have given up a league low 19 receptions and 201 yards while yielding only one touchdown. If this defense resembles the one from weeks one and three games, this has beat down written all over it.

Tyreek Hill vs Washington

The Washington defense has been much improved thus far this season and they’ve done their best work keeping WR1’s in check. Alshon Jeffrey only had three catches for 38 yards, Sammy Watkins catches two for a measly 30 yards and Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree combine for two catches for 14 yards. They’ve been much more susceptible to TEs beating them so look for Travis Kelce to be the focal point.

Tight Ends


 If you’re looking for some sneaky plays outside of the plug and play top guys here’s a few who have solid matchups:

Ed Dickson @ New England Patriots

Pats have given up a TE Touchdowns in each game in 2017.


OJ Howard/Cameron Brate vs New York Giants

 New York has also given up a TE Touchdowns in each game in 2017.

Jesse James @ Baltimore Ravens

Ravens have given up a league lead four TE touchdowns in 2017.


 Jermaine Gresham vs San Francisco 49ers

Gresham looked pretty good Monday night. Better than old man Witten. Usually I tell you don’t start a TE against the Cardinals but this week I tell you don’t start the TE from the Cardinals.