Early Fantasy Football Start/Sit Week 4: Jamaal Williams, Allen Lazard, James Robinson, and more

PFN's early fantasy football Week 4 start/sit preview gives managers an early glimpse into who might have matchups to take advantage of or avoid.

This Monday morning, it’s time to start thinking ahead to fantasy football Week 4 start/sit decisions. Which players have nice matchups next week, and who has a tougher matchup that you might want to avoid?

As a general rule of thumb, we will only try to select players who were started in less than 40% of leagues last week as recommended starts. Equally, we will generally look to only recommend players that were in lineups in more than 50% of ESPN leagues last week as sits.

Week 4 fantasy football start ’em, sit ’em

Start ’em | Jacoby Brissett, QB | CLE at ATL

It is a somewhat strange week for selecting starting QB options. A lot of the good matchups for quarterbacks this week come for QBs we already know we are starting in most leagues (Joe Burrow against Miami and Josh Allen against Baltimore, for example). Therefore, we are diving a little deeper and catering more to Superflex with our starting selections this week.

The first of those is Jacoby Brissett, who faces a Falcons defense that is allowing 19.8 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. In Week 3, Atlanta allowed Geno Smith to throw for 325 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, in Week 1, Jameis Winston threw for 269 yards with two touchdowns to finish with his best fantasy performance of the season. If you are starting Brissett in a Superflex league, you’re looking for around 15-20 points, and this matchup is the perfect one to seek that.

Start ’em | Geno Smith, QB | SEA at DET

I just mentioned Smith having a strong performance in Week 3, and he has another opportunity in Week 4. The Seahawks travel to Detroit to take on the Lions, who have allowed an average of 23.6 fantasy ppg to opposing QBs.

Smith did a solid job in Weeks 1 and 3, finishing with 17.2 and 18.9 fantasy points, respectively, in those weeks. His only struggle came in a predictable situation against the 49ers in Week 2. Smith should be more than capable of giving you that 15-20 fantasy-point performance you look for from a streaming QB2 option in Superflex leagues.

Sit ’em | Justin Herbert, QB | LAC at HOU

This call on Justin Herbert as a sit could very well change as the week goes on. If we see Herbert take a more active part in practice and look more like himself, then things will change somewhat.

The Texans have been a surprisingly tough matchup for opposing QBs this season, allowing just 10.4 fantasy ppg. However, a healthy Herbert in this Chargers offense would be their stiffest test, given what we’ve seen from Russell Wilson and the Broncos this year.

Herbert is coming off the back of his fifth-worst game all time in terms of QB rating. He did manage to throw for 297 yards and a touchdown but completed just 55.6% of his passes, threw an interception, and lost a fumble. Given the circumstances he was facing with the injury — no Keenan Allen or Corey Linsley — it was hardly surprising to see.

We just need to wait and see what this offense and Herbert look like healthwise this week. However, if things look similar to Week 3, you may have to look to bench him in a 1QB league if you have other options.

Start ’em | Jamaal Williams, RB | DET vs. SEA

Update: This article was written before we found out about D’Andre Swift’s shoulder injury. If Swift does miss time, then Williams becomes a must-start in all leagues.

At this point, Jamaal Williams has established himself as a fantasy starter, independent of D’Andre Swift. Williams has handled 11 of the Lions’ 14 carries inside the 20 this season. He has 40 yards and four touchdowns on those attempts. Williams has been the recipient of all five of the Lions’ carries from inside the 5-yard line.

Add in that Swift appears to still be limited by his ankle injury, and it all adds up to Williams being a solid starting option this week. In the loss to the Vikings, he carried the ball 20 times and had two targets, despite playing on just 45% of the offensive snaps. Swift — and Craig Reynolds — will continue to mix in, but for now, Williams is the lead back in a juicy matchup. The Seattle Seahawks have allowed 21.4 ppg to opposing RBs, including 394 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Sit ’em | Josh Jacobs, RB | LV vs. DEN

When Jeff Wilson Jr. was breaking a massive run through the Denver Broncos’ defense, I was slightly rethinking this. However, the Broncos stiffened against the run and held Wilson to just 38 yards on his other 11 rushing attempts. While they did give up 31 yards to Wilson on three targets, they also managed to force a fumble.

In total, through the first three weeks, Denver’s defense has allowed just 9.1 fantasy ppg through the first three weeks. Jacobs will arguably be their toughest test, but they’ve yet to allow a touchdown to an RB this season.

The Raiders have also been quite pass-heavy inside the red zone. They’ve thrown the ball 26 times, compared to 11 runs. While Jacobs has handled nine of those, he’s yet to find the end zone and has had just two carries inside the 5-yard line through the first three weeks.

If you don’t have other solid options to start, then you can’t bench Jacobs, but if you’re loaded at the position, he’s a player to consider sitting in a matchup that appears quite tough.

Sit ’em | James Robinson, RB | JAX at PHI

On the surface of it, the Eagles don’t look like that tough of a matchup, with 19.4 fantasy ppg allowed to RBs and four rushing touchdowns given up. However, there is a game-flow concern here as the Jaguars take on Philadelphia. James Robinson’s lowest usage of the season came in Week 1 when the Jaguars were chasing the game in the second half against the Commanders.

In the two games that Jacksonville has been leading, he saw heavy usage. The concern here is that this is a week we see the Jaguars struggle to keep up. If that is the case, it could push Travis Etienne Jr. onto the field more. Week 1 saw Etienne’s highest snap share of the season at 51%. He also had 10 targets through the first three weeks, compared to seven for Robinson.

Again, you need to consider your roster here. Blindly sitting Robinson would not be a smart move. The only time to do it would be if you have lots of other options with solid matchups. In deeper formats, Robinson is still likely to see 10+ touches and goal-line work, so he’s not someone to sit in 14-team leagues or deeper.

Start ’em | DeVonta Smith, WR | PHI vs. JAX

There really is not that much to say here other than DeVonta Smith should be started in far more than the 25.5% he was in Week 3. After his performance last week, this is hardly my boldest Week 4 start/sit, but Smith meets the criteria for eligibility, and I just wanted to hammer home his usage.

After seeing four targets in Week 1, Smith has 19 through the last two weeks. He’s caught 15 of them for 249 yards and a touchdown. He also had a rushing attempt in Week 3, which he took for 12 yards. Additionally, Dallas Goedert was limited in Week 3, so Jalen Hurts could lean on Smith and A.J. Brown even more if Goedert is limited or out in Week 4.

Start ’em | Allen Lazard, WR | GB vs. NE

This selection is not so much about the matchup, but the fact Allen Lazard is set to be the No. 1 receiver in Green Bay this season. While Romeo Doubs will take the headlines with an eight-reception performance for 73 yards and a touchdown, his playing time was increased with fellow rookie Christian Watson out. The absence of Sammy Watkins, placed on the IR, should benefit everyone, but Lazard could be the biggest winner.

After missing Week 1, Lazard has played 111 snaps in the last two weeks, which is around 85% of the Packers’ total offensive snaps during that period. His targets doubled from Week 2 to Week 3, and he responded accordingly with four receptions, 45 yards, and a touchdown. The Patriots’ numbers against WRs look good in terms of fantasy points, but under the surface, there are concerns.

In Week 1, they allowed 165 yards and a touchdown through the air to the duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. They then faced the Steelers with Mitch Trubisky under center and the tight-end-centric passing game of the Ravens. Expect the Patriots to focus heavily on stopping the Packers’ one-two punch out of the backfield, which should open things up for Lazard in the receiving game.

Sit ’em | DJ Moore, WR | CAR vs. ARI

The Cardinals present a very average matchup this week, allowing 20.8 fantasy ppg to opposing receivers in non-PPR. However, this selection is more about fading DJ Moore in the current environment in Carolina. Through three weeks, Moore has just seven receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown. His catch rate is a woeful 38.9%, thanks in large part to getting credited with targets that have been from uncatchable passes.

When you look at the underlying numbers, such as the average depth of target, things do not look amiss. The problem right now is volume. He’s averaging six targets per game, but as mentioned, several of those have been uncatchable. That’s also a big drop on the 9.59 he saw in 2021 and is down nearly two targets per game from his career average. Until that usage increases, it’s almost impossible to start Moore.

Start ’em | David Njoku, TE | CLE at ATL

We’ve already talked about the great job the Falcons have done making middling QBs look good. Well, a big part of that has been their inability to cover the tight end position. The 14.1 fantasy ppg allowed to tight ends in non-PPR is the second most among all NFL teams through two weeks. In Week 3, they allowed the combination of Colby Parkinson, Noah Fant, and Will Dissly to have nine receptions on nine targets for 102 yards and a touchdown.

Now they go up against David Njoku, who is coming off a performance of nine catches, 89 yards, and a touchdown. The 10 targets Njoku saw in Week 3 were tied for the second most in his career, while his nine receptions were a career high, with the 89 receiving yards sitting second. The reason I point out where those numbers rank is that it’s easy to be skeptical of career highs, but this is a little different.

Njoku is second on the team in targets this year with 16 and has played on more than 85% of the snaps in all three games. The snap percentages he has played through the first three weeks have been three of the top eight games in his career for that statistic. Cleveland is looking to involve Njoku more and more this year, and this matchup against Atlanta is one they can very much exploit this week.

There are no tight ends started in more than 50% of leagues in Week 3 that I consider a player you should look to sit in Week 4. 

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