Fantasy football start ’em, sit ’em: Can Justin Fields be trusted in Week 4?

A number of stars and unexpected standouts excelled during Week 3 of the 2023 NFL season, while other notable names continued to underperform. With that in mind, here’s what to do about some players who you might be on the fence about plugging into your starting lineup for Week 4. 


Start: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Broncos at Bears / 1 p.m. ET Sunday

One of the biggest letdowns of the season, Fields hasn’t justified the preseason QB6 price tag he commanded in drafts in the slightest and there’s not much time to turn things around. The Bears have a case as the NFL’s worst team and while they may not beat the Broncos, Fields should have his best outing of the season playing against a Denver defense that allowed 70 points last weekend. 

Denver’s humiliating loss skewed its defense’s fantasy points against, so estimating Fields’ results is tricky. Even so, the fact of the matter remains that the Broncos have allowed a league-high nine passing touchdowns this season and just gave up five scores on the ground in their last game. Fields should be able to make good use of his legs and hopefully replicate some of the elite rushing upside that made him such a high draft pick. 

Other starts: Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos; Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts; Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

Sit: Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns

Ravens at Browns / 1 p.m. ET Sunday

Just as Watson was showing signs of improvement, he’ll now have to battle through a throwing shoulder injury in a pivotal AFC North matchup with Baltimore. Watson played easily his finest game as a Brown in Cleveland’s 27-3 win over Tennessee, throwing for 289 yards and two touchdowns. But considering his limited participation throughout this week’s practice sessions and having to face a defense allowing 12.7 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, it’ll be difficult to maintain the momentum. 

Other sits: Jimmy Garoppolo, Las Vegas Raiders; Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers; Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

Running backs

Start: D’Andre Swift, Philadelphia Eagles

Commanders at Eagles / 1:00 p.m. ET Sunday

Most of us are probably sick of seeing and hearing the name Swift, but the running back’s hometown return has been a perfect fit for his fantasy prospects. After a lackluster Eagles debut, during which he recorded just two touches, Swift has found his stride and solidified himself as an important weapon in Philadelphia’s offense. 

Despite backfield mate Kenneth Gainwell’s return from injury on Monday, Swift followed up his 181-yard effort from Week 2 by leading the Eagles backfield in touches (17) and racking up 138 all-purpose yards. While Gainwell will get his opportunities, expect Philadelphia to continue riding Swift’s hot streak into its divisional clash with Washington.   

Other starts: Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints; Miles Sanders, Carolina Panthers; Zack Moss, Indianapolis Colts

Sit: Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs at Jets / 8:20 p.m. ET Sunday

Typically, we want to start as many pieces from the NFL’s best offenses as often as possible, with the exception of those in an ambiguous situation, such as Pacheco’s in the Chiefs running back room. Pacheco salvaged his fantasy output in last week’s blowout win against the Bears by scoring a touchdown, although it came after fellow backs Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire combined for three scores. 

Regardless of whether Kansas City, listed as an 8.5-point favorite against the Jets, makes multiple trips to the end zone, Pacheco simply doesn’t receive enough touches to be fantasy-relevant if he isn’t the one scoring. 

Other sits: Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings; Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders

Wide Receivers

Start: Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals at Titans / 1 p.m. ET Sunday

Quarterback Joe Burrow’s calf injury has diminished Higgins’ fantasy value, resulting in two weeks where he has scored fewer than 4.5 fantasy points through Cincinnati’s first three games. However, there’s still a reason to start Higgins aside from the substantial draft capital you invested in him.

In addition to Burrow having another week to recover, the Bengals are taking on an awful Tennessee secondary that has surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers and 10th-most points to quarterbacks. Higgins delivered an encouraging showing in Week 2 to be optimistic about his outlook and even in his two unproductive games, he has drawn at least eight targets. 

Other starts: Gabe Davis, Buffalo Bills; Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos; Tank Dell, Houston Texans

Sit: Nico Collins, Houston Texans

Steelers at Texans / 1 p.m. ET Sunday

Although Collins’ 260 receiving yards are the 11th-most in the NFL, and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has had a seamless transition to the NFL, the third-year wideout’s target share is a growing cause for concern. Collins led the Texans in targets in Week 1, but over the last two games, he has earned fewer targets than rookie Tank Dell, a receiver Stroud urged Houston to draft.

In last week’s upset win over Jacksonville, it became clear that Dell is officially the top priority in Houston’s passing game. Collins caught two of his three targets for 34 yards, while Dell broke out for 145 yards and one touchdown on five receptions. Even though Stroud has been stellar, Pittsburgh is a tough matchup for any quarterback, let alone a rookie. If Collins isn’t Houston’s No. 1 receiver, it’s difficult to imagine him having a strong performance. 

Other sits: Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens; Brandin Cooks, Dallas Cowboys; Christian Kirk, Jacksonville Jaguars

Tight Ends

Start: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Falcons at Jaguars (in London) / 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday

Yes, if Pitts weren’t the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history, he probably wouldn’t warrant a roster spot, though that’s mostly due to his frustrating situation in Atlanta’s offense. Nonetheless, Pitts still leads the team in targets (17), and if quarterback Desmond Ridder can be more effective, there’s hope for the tight end.

According to Pro Football Focus, Pitts has 30 expected fantasy points this season, which would’ve ranked fifth among tight ends if Ridder connected with him on more passes. Jacksonville has allowed 20.9 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season, so if Ridder performs well, Pitts and the Atlanta receiving corps should thrive. And for what it’s worth, Pitts recorded nine receptions for 119 yards and one touchdown the last time he played in London.

Other starts: Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys; Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars; Logan Thomas, Washington Commanders

Sit: David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

Ravens at Browns / 1 p.m. ET Sunday

Njoku, last season’s TE11 in PPR scoring formats, has struggled to be productive in 2023 and has just 10 catches for 92 yards on the year. A lot of the regression is caused by Watson’s own difficulties, though the quarterback still hasn’t tried to get Njoku involved much. Njoku’s 11 targets are the 25th-most among tight ends, and if he’s not scoring touchdowns, which he hasn’t done this season, it’s tough to start Njoku blindly. 

Additionally, Baltimore is a tough matchup for tight ends no matter what team it faces, as the defense has allowed the second-fewest points per game to the position (1.5). 

Other sits: Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals; Donald Parham Jr., Los Angeles Chargers; Tyler Conklin, New York Jets

Source link