The fantasy matchup stats you need to know for Week 4
Jeff Ratcliffe goes through the remainder of the Week 4 slate to identify the most notable matchup situations.
The fantasy matchup stats you need to know for Week 4
Play the matchups in fantasy football, and you’ll win more often than you lose. With three weeks now in the books, patterns are starting to emerge in the matchup data. Bellow you’ll find the key matchup stats to know from each of the 14 remaining games this week. Don’t forget to also take a look at the best and worst wide receiver matchups for the week.
Just a quick note about the recommendations. Downgrading a player is not the same as sitting a player. If an RB1 is downgraded, that means he moves to an RB2 for the week, and vice versa for upgrades. These matchup recommendations and others are reflected in our weekly rankings, which are an invaluable tool in make lineup decisions each week.
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville
Chris Ivory is a sneaky flex play.
Last week didn’t go so well for Ivory owners, but he’s worth another shot in a strong matchup in London. Through the first three games, the Colts are one of just five defenses to yield at least three rushing touchdowns to opposing backs, and the five total scores Indy has given up to the position is tops in the NFL. The Colts are also surrendering a league-high 149.7 total yards per game to running backs. Ivory should slide in as a flex play and makes for an interesting GPP option.
Tennessee @ Houston
Don’t sweat the matchup for DeMarco Murray.
On paper, this matchup could potentially look like a tough one for Murray. But keep in mind that Houston will be without all-world DE J.J. Watt for the foreseeable future. Without his presence on the defensive interior, Murray will have a lot more room to work, and remains a viable RB1 play.
Cleveland @ Washington
Get Isaiah Crowell into your lineup.
Despite the Browns struggles on the offensive side of the ball, Crowell has been really effective so far, averaging an impressive 6.1 yards per carry on 45 attempts. This week he gets a buttery matchup against a Washington team that has yielded four rushing touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing backs so far this season. Crowell is a solid RB2 option this week.
Seattle @ NY Jets
Downgrade Matt Forte.
Stating the obvious a bit here, but it’s worth mentioning that Forte gets a brutal matchup this week. Through the first three games, the Seahawks give up an average of 2.9 yards per carry to opposing running backs and have yet to give up a touchdown to the position. Volume will still be there for Forte, but it’s risky to consider him anything more than an RB2 option this week.
Buffalo @ New England
The Patriots will continue to ride LeGarrette Blount.
He’s tied for the lead in carries through the first three weeks, and Blount could be all alone atop the league after another healthy workload this week. Through the first three games, the Bills have faced an average of 18.0 carries per game from opposing running backs. That’s seventh in the league. With one more week on Tom Brady’s suspension, the Patriots will keep feeding Blount. He’s inked in as an RB1 play this week.
Carolina @ Atlanta
Greg Olsen is the top TE play of the week.
This one isn’t going out on a limb, but fantasy owners should still be aware of Olsen’s matchup. Other than the Lions, Atlanta has been the best matchup for tight ends this season. The Falcons give up an average of 82.3 yards and 1.3 scores per game to the position. Olsen is an elite play in season-long formats and should be given strong cash-game consideration this week.
Oakland @ Baltimore
Joe Flacco is a QB1 this week.
Paging Mr. Flacco. Mr. Flacco, you have a great matchup in Week 4. Through the first three weeks of the season, no defense has given up more yards per game to quarterbacks than the Raiders. Marcus Mariota didn’t put up a big game last week, but he didn’t match up well. Flacco’s deep ball skillset is what really gives the Raiders fits. He’s a priority streamer in a very strong matchup.
Detroit @ Chicago
Fire up Zach Miller again this week.
After being mentioned as a start in a plus matchup in last week’s column, Miller finished as the No. 1 fantasy tight end in Week 3, posting 78 yards and two scores on eight catches. Fantasy owners will want to keep rolling with Miller this week in another extremely strong matchup. The Lions have given up at least one touchdown reception to opposing tight ends in all three of their games this season. Miller reaps the benefits yet again and is locked in as a top-10 play this week.
Denver @ Tampa Bay
This isn’t the week to start Jameis Winston.
Winston is coming off a strong Week 3 performance, but fantasy owners will want to look elsewhere this week. Through the first three games, the Broncos have given up just 199 passing yards per game, which is fifth-lowest in the league. Denver also averages 4.0 sacks per game. This has the makings of a long day for Winston.
Los Angeles @ Arizona
Todd Gurley comes back to earth in Week 4.
The second-year man took advantage of a strong matchup last week, finding the end zone twice against the Bucs. But Gurley owners should be prepared to be frustrated yet again, as the Rams take on a tough Cardinals defense on the road. You didn’t draft Gurley in the first round to sit him. That’s simply not an option, especially with his game-breaking ability. But owners should be prepared for another down week with the Cardinals currently ranking as the sixth-worst fantasy matchup for running backs.
New Orleans @ San Diego
Mark Ingram gets a strong matchup.
The Saints aren’t quite the same team on the road, but don’t let that trick you into thinking you should sit any piece of the New Orleans offense. There are good matchups nearly across the board in this contest, except for Brandin Cooks, who is likely to see a lot of Jason Verrett. However, it’s worth highlighting Ingram, who has some owners frustrated after a sluggish start to the season. He should be locked into starting lineups in Week 4 against a Chargers defense that gives up 4.7 yards per carry and a league-high 9.0 catches per game to opposing running backs.
Dallas @ San Francisco
More Ezekiel Elliott for the Cowboys this week.
The rookie running back saw a whopping 30 carries last week, making him one of just four backs to top that plateau so far this season. Expect another healthy dose of Elliott in this one against a 49ers team that just got torched by Christine Michael and gave up a 100-yard day to Fozzy Whittaker in Week 2. Elliott is a front-end RB1 play this week.
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh
Le’Veon Bell returns with a bang.
Sorry DeAngelo Williams owners. With Bell’s suspension over, Williams will go back to the bench just like he did last season. There will be no committee situation in Pittsburgh. That being said, don’t drop Williams. He’s still an elite handcuff. But it’s a great week for Bell to return. He faces a Chiefs defense that has struggled against the run, giving up an average of 82.7 yards per game to opposing running backs. They also yield the third most fantasy points per game to the position. Bell is behind only David Johnson in our rankings this week.
NY Giants @ Minnesota
Fade Jerick McKinnon on Monday night.
This isn’t the advice you want to hear if you picked up McKinnon in the wake of Adrian Peterson’s injury, but it’s wise to keep him on your bench this week. The Giants defense has really improved this season, and currently ranks as the fifth-worst matchup for running backs. The G-Men give up just 3.2 yards per carry and have not allowed an opposing running back to get into the end zone.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.