Week 4 start/sit fantasy advice for IDP leagues
Week 3 of the NFL season is in the books and it was one of the wildest weekends that I can recall. There were many upsets as well as late-game heroics and a heartbreaking call reversal that ended a game and cost my beloved Lions a win.
I digress. There was also the opportunity to bring the IDP landscape into a bit more focus as most of the teams have now played three games. That being said, we are about a week or two away from having enough data to have the scoring trends clearly defined. Let’s got on to the Week 4 options to start or sit.
This one doesn’t need a whole lot of explaining. Lawrence has started the season on fire, posting seven sacks in the first three weeks. He has been virtually unstoppable and has 26 total pressures on 94 pass-rush attempts. It doesn’t matter what team the Cowboys are lining up against as we ride the hot hand here and start Lawrence on a weekly basis moving forward.
Ingram was a preseason darling that fellow PFF IDP pundit Ross Miles and I were both were extremely high on. He is coming off a dominant three-sack performance last week against the Chiefs and added six solo tackles as well. He is a top-five defensive lineman through three weeks and will continue to roll against the Eagles. Philadelphia has allowed 6.5 sacks along with an interception and two forced fumbles to defensive linemen so big play opportunities will be there for both Ingram and teammate Joey Bosa.
Through the first three weeks Griffen has been consistently racking up sacks, having posted four — halfway to his 2016 total output. Griffen has been credited with eight quarterback hurries as well as two hits and has a nice matchup this week. The Lions will once again be without starting left tackle Taylor Decker and while his his replacement Greg Robinson has given up just a single sack he has allowed 14-quarterback pressures.
To say that Wilkerson is off to a slow start this season would be an understatement. Through the first three games he has just eight total tackles and has yet to record a sack. Wilkerson hasn’t been able to generate much pressure at all, having been credited with no quarterback hits and just six hurries. He is also dealing with a shoulder issue and has what appears to be a negative matchup against Jacksonville. The Jaguars have not allowed a sack to a defensive lineman to date.
At first glance, this appears to be a positive matchup for Casey, as the Texans have allowed 12.5 sacks to defensive linemen this season. A closer look shows that 8.5 of those sacks came back in Week 1 against the Jaguars. Since Deshaun Watson has taken over at quarterback, the Texans have been stingier in allowing sacks to defensive linemen. Casey hasn’t gotten to the quarterback yet in 2017 and that doesn’t look to change this week in Houston
He’s back! The Bengals “bad boy” has served his three-game suspension and will be ready to return in what should be an inviting matchup. Early in the season the Browns have been allowing nice fantasy production to linebackers. They have allowed 52 solo tackles to the position as well as eight sacks, along with a forced fumble and two interceptions. Journeyman linebacker Jon Bostic posted double-digit tackles against Cleveland last week and Burfict will shine against this offense.
Through the first three weeks of the season Jones has gotten off to a slow and currently sits outside the top-30 in most scoring formats. This could have some owners doubting whether or not they should continue to keep rolling him out. The answer is yes. The Bills have been a good matchup for linebackers having allowed 80 total tackles, five sacks, and a forced fumble to the position. Four linebackers have registered double-digit stops against Buffalo in the first three weeks.
There hasn’t been a more productive linebacker than Shazier over the last two weeks, as he’s racked up 19 total tackles (16 solos) with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. The main issue for Shazier has been his health, as he’s yet to play more than 13 games in a season. He’s healthy right now, so Shazier’s fantasy owners need to keep riding him on a weekly basis. The Ravens are offering up plenty of tackles in 2017 having already allowed 52 solo tackles to linebackers.
The Dolphins have reinstated Timmons from the indefinite suspension they placed on him following his going AWOL before their Week 2 season opener. That doesn’t mean fantasy owners should immediately reinstate him into starting lineups. Miami has a tough matchup, as the Saints have been among the tougher offenses in giving up points to linebackers. Let’s wait to see just how much Timmons plays and exactly where he lines up before thinking about starting him.
Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Detroit)
Kendricks has been very underwhelming to start the season, managing just eight solo and 19 total tackles while playing 186 of 189 defensive snaps. He’s also failed to produce a big play and has one pass defended. This is not a week where things are likely to turn around for Kendricks. The Lions have not given up double-digit tackles to a linebacker and have allowed the fewest total tackles to LBs of teams that have played three games.
The rookie safety is coming off a huge game that saw him produce 12 total tackles and a pair of sacks. We are not chasing that stat line as much as we are chasing the way Jones is being utilized. He played 100 percent of the snaps and has been lining up much of the time in a hybrid linebacker role. Of the 40 run snaps he’s played, Jones has lined up within eight yards of the line of scrimmage 35 times. Big tackle totals will continue to roll in.
It turns out that Branch is the veteran safety that fantasy owners need to be starting and not preseason favorite Antoine Bethea. Branch has put up double-digit tackles twice in three games and now has 30 total stops. He’s played all but two defensive snaps and much like the rookie Jones is lining up in the box on many of those snaps (59 of 79 run snaps). The only thing missing is big plays but that could change this week as the 49ers have given up an interception and two fumble recoveries to defensive backs.
Brian Poole, Atlanta Falcons (vs. Buffalo)
Poole has been an early-season surprise at defensive back, putting up top-15 fantasy totals. He’s coming off a nine-total-tackle game against Detroit and has 22 for the season with a sack. Savvy fantasy owners likely snapped him up off the waiver wire but should not start him this week. The Bills are the stingiest team in giving up points to the defensive back position having allowed only an average of 17 tackles per game. There are too many better options out there to consider starting Poole in this minus matchup.
It’s taking Ward a bit longer to fit in with the Buccaneers defense that I thought it would. Through two games he’s played only 74 of 138 snaps while fellow strong safety Keith Tandy has played 64. The matchup is irrelevant until Ward assumes a full-time role and can begin to post the tackle numbers we’ve come to expect. I suggest a wait-and-see approach regarding Ward until he assumes three-down duties.