My Week 4 studs and duds article will be a weekly series where I talk about five guys I’m locking into my lineup and five guys that I’m taking out if at all possible. These recommendations will match-up based and will vary greatly from week to week. I plan to try my best to stay away from the studs that you plan on starting anyways and dive a little deeper. All of these recommendations also assume a PPR format but would not change much, if at all, in standard.
Leonard Fournette (JAX) @ NYJ – If Fournette still hasn’t broken out to you, this could be the week it happens. Jacksonville goes to New York to take on the Jets, in what should be an easy win for the Jaguars. Fournette has faced three top-10 run defenses and still hasn’t finished lower than the RB14. He should see a lot of positive game script in a game that the Jags figure to lead early and often in. The Jets run defense isn’t what it used to be and Fournette will see a ton of carries and likely a couple goal line opportunities. Jacksonville is tied for the league lead in rush attempts and should be running a ton as their defense will likely suffocate the Jets offense and put them in great field position. Lock Fournette into your lineup as one of your studs who has immense upside this week!
Deandre Hopkins (HOU) vs TEN – Hopkins finally came back down to earth last week and only saw eight targets after seeing 16 and 13 targets in Week 1 and Week 2. Don’t let that discourage you from playing him though. The Titans are the only team to allow a top-12 WR every week this year. They have a weak secondary and Deshaun Watson will still target Hopkins a ton. Hopkins has had seven receptions in every game this season, giving him a safe floor but his upside against Tennessee is huge. He is the best offensive weapon on that team and the Texans are wise to keep him involved. He needs to be in your lineup this week as one of your bonafide studs.
Joe Mixon (CIN) @ CLE – This is the week, guys. Joe Mixon could blow up against a pretty weak Cleveland defense. After the Bengals switched to Lazor as their new OC, Mixon saw the lion’s share of the work at running back in Week 3. He had 21 total touches and is clearly the best back on that team. Gio Bernard will likely always be involved but Jeremy Hill may no longer be needed. Mixon’s usage should stay steady or go up from here and Cleveland’s defense has not looked good. This should be a game where Cincinnati actually leads for most of the game and that should lead to more carries and work for Mixon. He’s a stud RB2 this week with RB1 upside!
Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) vs SF – Larry just feasted against Dallas. Fitzgerald had 13 receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown. Well, San Francisco’s defense isn’t any better. The 49ers just gave up amazing weeks to Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins were both went over 100 yards on six receptions. With David Johnson out, Larry is easily the go-to option for the Cardinals and will likely be very involved. Carson Palmer has also played better when not being heavily pressured and the 49ers showed they were not able to generate much of a pass rush against the Rams this past week. This should allow Palmer to have a good game, which no doubt with lead to Larry having a good game. Fitzgerald is likely a solid, stud WR2 but possesses WR1 upside in a plus matchup.
Devante Parker (MIA) vs NO – Let’s try this again. I recommended Parker last week and he only had his week saved by the ultimate garbage time. This week, he takes on the terrible Saints defense. This game has a fairly high over/under of 49.5, so there figures to be a lot of scoring and passing. Cutler is still the ultimate DGAF and will likely chuck the ball up for Parker a number of times on Sunday. Miami will likely play from behind for a lot of the game, which will result in a game script where Cutler is throwing a lot. The Saints have shown they are a fantasy goldmine for both WRs and RBs. I would feel very comfortable locking him into my lineup as one of my studs and a good WR2.
Melvin Gordon (LAC) vs PHI – This may be a little contrarian but I don’t like Gordon this week. Sure, he may have an alright volume floor but this isn’t a great matchup. Philadelphia has a good front seven and a poor secondary. The Chargers will likely be playing from behind in this game and that will result in them passing the ball more than they’ll run. Gordon may still finish as an RB2 based on volume alone, but I expect it to be a lower end RB2. Why run the ball against a stout front seven, when they have a talented WR corps that should feast against a very weak secondary? Gordon may be an RB2 this week, but don’t be surprised if he duds.
Marshawn Lynch (OAK) @ DEN – Marshawn won’t be dancing this week. After being one of the league’s worst run defenses last year, the Broncos seemed to have turned things around and are now one of the best. They have seemingly shut down both LeSean McCoy and Ezekiel Elliott. Marshawn is also only playing 41 percent of the team’s total snaps, which is not good at all. He simply needs to be more involved and see more volume to put up the numbers you want in fantasy. Couple the low usage with a bad matchup and that’s a recipe for fantasy disaster. I would avoid starting him if you can, as he likely puts up a dud week.
Mike Evans (TB) vs NYG – Mike Evans is going from Xavier Rhodes to Janoris Jenkins, not ideal. Rhodes effectively shut Evans down last week, only allowing five receptions for 53 yards. Against Jenkins last week, Alshon Jeffrey only put up a line of four receptions for 56 yards. Poor Mike Evans will again be playing a shutdown corner. Janoris Jenkins has established himself as one of the top corners in the NFL. Jenkins will likely shadow Evans all game and follow him across the field. Now, I’m not saying you need to take Evans out of your lineups. He’s always a weekly must-start but you should temper your expectations for him this week and be okay with the potential of a dud game.
Terrelle Pryor Sr. (WAS) @ KC – Terrelle Pryor has been a ghost this season and I don’t expect that to change this week. He’s hardly been involved in the offense, only seeing four targets each of the past two games and this week he will see a lot of Marcus Peters. Peters in an outstanding corner that will likely phase Pryor out again. Cousins has shown that he prefers to target the WRs that he has a rapport with, like Jamison Crowder and even running back, Chris Thompson. He simply doesn’t have that connection with Pryor yet and still won’t have a chance to develop it this week. Josh Doctson is also seeing his snap count increase, and while that likely affects Ryan Grant more than Pryor, it may take red zone looks away from Pryor. Pryor isn’t droppable yet but I wouldn’t feel the least bit confident starting him.
Amari Cooper/Michael Crabtree (OAK) @ DEN – Denver has an elite secondary. In four games against Denver, Cooper and Crabtree average 7.3 receptions and 72.3 yards. Together. With only one total touchdown, coming from Cooper. Carr also struggles mightily against the Broncos and the undoubtedly hurts Cooper and Crabtree. You may be forced to start them, as you may not have better options but I would be looking for any other option besides the two of them. If you have to start one of them, you may need to pray that one of them gets lost in coverage for a big play or finds Bradley Roby and busts a big one. That may be your only chance for a salvageable week, otherwise, you’re probably looking at a dud.