A battle of NFC East teams features a pair of backfields that have gained clarity in the season’s first month for fantasy football managers. The Washington Commanders‘ fantasy storyline for Week 4 focuses on a potential sleeper at the tight end position, while the Philadelphia Eagles‘ fantasy preview dives into the sustainability of D’Andre Swift.
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Washington Commanders at Philadelphia Eagles
- Spread: Eagles -8
- Total: 43.5
- Commanders implied points: 17.8
- Eagles implied points: 25.8
Sam Howell: If you told me that Howell had a big game at some point this season, I’d believe you. He has some talent supporting him and an athletic profile that can result in some big plays.
If you told me we saw a game like that this week, I’d be shocked. The Eagles are capable of making Howell feel the heat like the Bills did last week, and that resulted in a nine-sack, four-interception afternoon.
Howell has been sacked 19 times this season and has failed to reach 20 completions twice in three weeks. With what we’ve seen through three weeks, you can find a better floor/ceiling combination in 25 quarterbacks this week.
Jalen Hurts: Since the middle of last December, Hurts has had more games with multiple interceptions than multiple touchdown passes. Yet, there are zero concerns about his status as an elite fantasy option due to the floor his legs provide.
He wasn’t overly efficient on the ground against the Commanders last season (48 yards on 15 carries), and that is enough for me to look elsewhere atop the QB board in DFS situations, but there are no decisions to be made in season-long formats: Play him.
Brian Robinson Jr.: I understand the concerns about Robinson in a tough matchup coming off a game in which he was out-snapped 33-20 by Antonio Gibson, but let’s all take a deep breath for a minute.
Breathe in. Breath out. Check out the Week 4 Cheat Sheet for more lineup advice, you can feel just fine in locking in Robinson this week.
The blowout nature of last week was to blame for the wonky snap count, and even though he wasn’t used a ton, no one is complaining with him averaging 7.0 yards per carry. I can’t calm your nerves about this matchup. The Philadelphia front seven is just as scary as you think they are.
But it is worth reminding you that the Commanders succeeded in taking the air out of the ball in this spot last season, ending the Eagles’ undefeated season in the process. In that game, Washington ran the rock 49 times and threw it just 29 times (Robinson’s line: 26 carries for 86 yards and a score).
The Commanders’ lead back is a safe RB2 that can be started across the board.
Antonio Gibson: With each passing game, it becomes more and more obvious that Gibson is a liability. He lost another fumble in Week 3 and has played his way off of fantasy rosters. He is no longer a threat to Robinson’s role, and this isn’t nearly potent enough of an offense to sustain a secondary back – even if Gibson were to turn in a few positive performances.
D’Andre Swift: We wanted clarity to this backfield last week, and we certainly got it with Swift cruising past 130 total yards. He has now posted consecutive top-15 finishes at the position, and I have him ranked to make it three straight, given how committed the Eagles are to the ground game.
Swift deserves all the credit he is getting, and yet, I just can’t shake the feeling that we are nearing peak value. Swift has cleared 155 carries exactly zero times in his NFL career, and while the production was impressive last week, here’s his percentage of running back carries:
- Week 2: 77.8%
- Week 3: 53.3%
Swift is the guy and should be locked into lineups for this weekend; I’m just proceeding with caution when it comes to projecting him for the rest of the season.
D’Andre Swift 💨 pic.twitter.com/H4TfDao6eD
— Fantasy Life (@MBFantasyLife) September 26, 2023
Kenneth Gainwell: In his return to action, Gainwell turned 15 touches into 48 yards and an RB41 finish. As long as Swift is healthy, that is about where I will have Gainwell ranked. This offense is gold, but with a productive yardage back in Swift and a touchdown vulture playing quarterback, there isn’t space for a third option.
Gainwell should remain rostered, if for no other reason than Swift’s fragility. While he split the work last week, there was no denying who the most explosive option was. With Gainwell getting stuffed on a red-zone fourth-and-short situation, this is Swift’s gig to lose.
Terry McLaurin: It’s been a tough run of matchups to open the season for McLaurin, and the sledding doesn’t get any easier this weekend. That said, he did rack up 128 yards in Week 10 against the Eagles last season, recording twice as many catches as any other Commander had targets.
He has yet to clear 55 receiving yards in a game this season, and while I think water will find its level with time – given his talent – this isn’t a spot where I’m comfortable locking him in. He is floating around WR30 in my ranks with names like Michael Thomas, Courtland Sutton, and Zay Flowers.
Jahan Dotson: I was asked a few times on the Tuesday Waiver Wire Livestream (1 p.m. ET) if Dotson could be cut due to a roster crunch. My answer was yes.
He’s finished outside of the top 80 in consecutive weeks, and the lack of production isn’t even what concerns me most. It’s the fact that he struggled in games where McLaurin had a tough matchup, thus making him a higher-priority target than he will be in most spots.
Until he proves capable of earning targets at even a league-average rate, the explosive play potential is just that: potential. In a perfect world, you have a deep roster where you can try to wait out this tough stretch and bet on his talent. But if that’s not the case, I can’t say that I blame you for moving on.
A.J. Brown: The man has a pair of top-25 finishes this season (WR11 in Week 3) without having found the end zone once. Brown has been interfered with in the end zone and dropped a valuable target last week – be patient. He scored 11 times a season ago, and let’s not forget that he had only one touchdown to his name through five games.
DeVonta Smith: As long as Hurts is struggling with consistency through the air, it’s inevitable that at least one of the three locked-in pass catchers from this offense will disappoint in a major way. Last week, that happened to be Smith (28 yards), and I wish I could tell you that this is the last egg he’ll lay this season. It won’t be.
But that doesn’t mean you stop playing him. Think about this: He had the same number of catches and targets in Week 2 (21.1 fantasy points) as he did last week (4.8). In rostering Smith, you’re betting on his talent to shine more often than not, but you do have to understand the risk in his profile (the risk that Brown and Dallas Goedert, to a degree, also come with).
Smith scored in both games against the Commanders last season, including a 169-yard explosion in Week 3. That’s enough proof of concept for me to go right back to him this week as a top-15 receiver.
Logan Thomas: The 32-year-old Thomas was concussed on his touchdown catch in Week 2, and it held him out of a revenge game last week against the Bills. With eight targets in Week 1 and then the score the following week, Thomas was trending in the direction of a situational streamer. Keep an eye on him, but do understand that he has been inactive for at least three games in four of his six NFL seasons.
If he does sit again, Cole Turner saw seven targets a week ago and proved more than capable while at Nevada. He isn’t someone you need to stream in most redraft leagues, but if you’re pinching pennies in DFS, remember his name.
Dallas Goedert: With seven targets in consecutive games after the one-target disaster in Week 1, I believe it’s safe to label Goedert as a weekly starter. Now, it’s worth noting that he’s done nothing with those opportunities (63 yards and zero touchdowns), but we chase quality volume at the TE position. In an offense averaging 28 points a game, Goedert satisfies that requirement. Hang in there; better times are ahead.
Should You Start Terry McLaurin or Nico Collins?
This is another one of those volume questions. I don’t believe Washington wants to decide games through the air, while Houston is motivated to learn what they have in C.J. Stroud and are airing the ball out as often as they can.
Collins’ dud in Week 3 wasn’t fun to deal with, especially if it was the first time you trusted him in your lineup, but I’m not hesitating in going back to the well against a Steelers defense that has allowed a receiver to clear 15 PPR fantasy points in each of the first three weeks,
Should You Start Dallas Goedert or Jake Ferguson?
While I like what I’ve seen from Ferguson, Goedert’s target share over the past two weeks has been right where we want it, and I expect that to continue. Neither of these options offers elite upside in their current role, so give me the player in the offense I expect to make more trips to the red zone.
MORE: Fantasy News Tracker
Goedert over Ferguson this week, though both are viable options in 12-team leagues.
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