The 2023 NFL season has already given us a handful of fantasy football surprises, and we aren’t even officially through the first three weeks of action yet.
Need proof? In PPR formats, the Miami Dolphins running back duo of Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane currently sit as the RB1 and RB5, respectively, in all of fantasy football.
Let’s take a closer look at who some of my surprise start and sit candidates are for Week 4 of NFL action.
Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer and Start/Sit Optimizer to help you make the right decision!
Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Picks for Week 4 of the 2023 NFL Season
Start ‘Em Options
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
We start one off with a bit of a controversial selection, but if Joe Burrow is available for the matchup against the Tennessee Titans… he needs to be in your lineup.
The Titans’ pass defense is practically giving away yardage on a weekly basis in 2023.
Week 1: 282 passing yards allowed
Week 2: 281 passing yards allowed
Week 3: 263 passing yards allowed
When you realize that two of these games came against the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns — two teams who aren’t exactly considered elite passing offenses — this secondary could be having issues like this all season long.
I’m well aware Burrow is probably not going to be 100% — if available at all — for Week 4, but I don’t see how the Titans can slow down Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins if Burrow is in the lineup.
James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills
Don’t look now, but James Cook has registered back-to-back 90+ rushing yard performances while seeing a minimum of 15 carries both weeks.
Do you know how many times Devin Singletary did that during his four-year run in Buffalo? Zero.
Cook’s 6.1 yards per carry leads all running backs who have seen over 30 carries to this point of the season. Expect him to continue seeing plenty of work in what could be a very high-scoring game against the Miami Dolphins.
Zack Moss, RB, Indianapolis Colts
If we thought the 2023 debut of Zack Moss in Week 2 was pretty good… what do we think about his 145 total yards and a score against one of the better defenses in the league alongside a backup QB?
The word phenomenal comes to mind.
Moss’ 27 touches per game leads the RB position across the NFL. Despite missing a game, his 54 total touches during the 2023 season currently ranks ninth in the league amongst running backs.
While the potential return of Jonathan Taylor looms large in his fantasy value heading into Week 5, for the moment, we have to consider Moss a top-15 RB play.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Jones was a game-time decision against the New Orleans Saints but ultimately was unable to take the field in Week 3.
Well, after the Green Bay Packers failed to score a single point in the first three quarters of their narrow 18-17 victory on Sunday, it’s painfully obvious this team needs Jones back in the fold.
MORE: Fantasy/NFL News Tracker
AJ Dillon has generated just 88 rushing yards on 26 carries over the last two weeks without Jones in the lineup, which has left this offense without an explosive element out of the backfield.
Tank Dell, WR, Houston Texans
The Houston Texans’ passing offense has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2023 NFL season.
While Nico Collins and Robert Woods have certainly carved out their roles in this offense, rookie wide receiver Tank Dell has made a compelling case to see a significant amount of work on a weekly basis after catching 12 passes for 217 yards and two scores over the past two games.
Dell gives Houston’s offense an explosive element — both vertically and after the catch — which continues to throw the ball more than 30 times a game.
Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
Michael Pittman Jr. flew under the radar for many fantasy managers heading into the 2023 NFL season.
Well, after seeing a minimum of 11 targets while producing at least eight receptions on those looks, he has produced a minimum of 13 fantasy points in PPR formats, whether it’s Gardner Minshew or Anthony Richardson under center.
Pittman currently has one of the highest floors at the receiver position in all of fantasy football and should be in the top 15 picture amongst receivers on a weekly basis until further notice.
Adam Thielen, WR, Carolina Panthers
I’m not one for the revenge narrative against your former team, but Adam Thielen has been far more productive than most fantasy managers expected through the first three weeks of the season.
After exploding for 11 receptions, 145 yards, and a score against the Seattle Seahawks, Thielen now has his sights on the Minnesota Vikings.
The same Vikings secondary that has allowed three wide receivers — DeVonta Smith, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams — to post 100-yard performances through the first three weeks of the season.
Expect Thielen to be busy against his former team in Week 4.
Sam LaPorta, TE, Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions may have struck gold with rookie tight end Sam LaPorta. Through the first three weeks of his NFL career, LaPorta has seen his targets, yards, and receptions all improve on a weekly basis.
Sam LaPorta’s Weekly Production
Week 1: Five targets, five receptions for 39 yards
Week 2: Six targets, five receptions for 63 yards
Week 3: 11 targets, eight receptions for 84 yards and a TD
LaPorta has firmly and quickly established himself as a reliable option for quarterback Jared Goff.
His dynamic ability as a playmaker after the catch, quality route-running ability, and strength at the catch point could make him a weekly top-10 play at the TE position.
Sit ‘Em Options
Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears got absolutely bamboozled by the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Justin Fields looked incapable of getting through his progressions, his receivers dropped some passes, and the offensive line had protection issues.
In other words, it was a complete disaster on the offensive side of the ball.
While I believe better days could be ahead if the Bears can scheme up Fields into some easier completions and some QB-designed runs to help him start stressing opposing defenses with his dynamic playmaking ability, I have to see it before I believe it for this 2023 Bears offense.
On paper, a Denver Broncos defense that just surrendered 70 points to the Miami Dolphins’ high-powered offense could be a favorable matchup. However, until this offense finds any sort of identity, it’s hard to trust Fields in your fantasy lineup.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Maybe this is a contrarian take, but Derrick Henry doesn’t look like himself right now.
He picked up a toe injury during the team’s Week 2 win against the Los Angeles Chargers that many weren’t overly concerned about, given he finished the game and practiced in a limited capacity throughout the week.
However, Henry finished this past Sunday with just 20 yards on 11 carries against the Cleveland Browns.
Since 2019, Henry has seen fewer than 12 carries in a game on only one other occasion… and that was in a blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last season. His 20 yards rushing is the lowest total he has posted over the last four seasons.
It doesn’t help matters that rookie running back Tyjae Spears has seen a minimum of eight touches in this backfield over the last two weeks.
Now, the Browns’ defense has been really stingy through the first three weeks of the season, so it could just be a bad day at the office altogether in a tough matchup.
But if Henry really is hitting a wall or dealing with a more significant toe injury than we’re aware of, Henry’s lack of a pass-catching floor in PPR formats makes him a boom-or-bust option in your fantasy lineup.
Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Washington Commanders
After a breakout fantasy performance in Week 2, Brian Robinson Jr. saw just 10 carries with no receptions against the Buffalo Bills.
Sure, he was still efficient with his 10 carries, but Robinson proved capable of being a victim of game script and an offense that is still a work in progress.
That progress could be stunted again in Week 4 against an Eagles defense that has been very stout against opposing rushing attacks to start the 2023 season.
Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets
It’s heartbreaking that a talent like Garrett Wilson is appearing on my sit ’em list for a second consecutive week, but such is the fantasy life of a top receiver in a Zach Wilson-led offense.
An improved Chiefs defense just made life a complete nightmare for the Bears’ offense in Week 3, and they could be jumping at the opportunity to get after Wilson in Week 4.
Unfortunately, Wilson falls out of my top 30 at the WR position for a second straight week with another tough matchup.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans has been great through the first two weeks, but he has definitely had his fair share of issues when facing off against New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore over the years.
Since 2017, Evans has just one game where he went over the century mark in the receiving yards category against New Orleans. This same stretch includes two one-catch performances and one zero-catch performance.
While Evans has also won some of his battles against Lattimore over the years, why take the chance of putting him in your lineup if the ceiling is capped and the floor is scary low?
Jake Ferguson, TE, Dallas Cowboys
I’m not exactly as high on Jake Ferguson as other fantasy analysts, but I’m willing to admit he’s the only Dallas Cowboys tight end I want anywhere near my fantasy lineup. However, that won’t be the case in Week 4 against the New England Patriots.
Bill Belichick has been incredibly stingy against opposing tight ends to start the 2023 season.
Week 1: Dallas Goedert — zero catches
Week 2: Durham Smythe — three receptions for 23 yards
Week 3: Tyler Conklin — three receptions for 26 yards
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott also hasn’t exactly been lighting it up through the air this season. In what could be a low-scoring contest, I’d rather go in other directions at tight end for Week 4.
Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast
Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Fantasy Podcast on our Fantasy YouTube channel.