As fantasy football owners saw this past weekend, sometimes crazy, uncontrollable things happen to our players. Who would have thought the Baltimore Ravens would allow 44 points to Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars after holding their first two opponents to 10 points combined?
That’s just one example. The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled offensively in Chicago, and the Oakland Raiders offense laid an egg in the nation’s capital. All of those results were shocking and frustrating for fantasy owners.
Even so, it’s never a good idea to stop looking at the trends. Based on the small sample size of the first three weeks, here are five players fantasy owners should consider starting in Week 4:
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Time to toss Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy aside. Clearly, the Seahawks have forgotten about them. Carson, who was a seventh-round pick this past spring, is the favorite back in the Northwest.
Carson led the team with 11 carries and 34 rushing yards against the Tennessee Titans last week. While those numbers are uninspiring, the rookie did have 93 rushing yards the previous week at home versus the San Francisco 49ers. He figures to receive the majority of the carries moving forward.
Seattle’s home and away offensive splits last year were extremely polarizing, and that has continued this September. It’s alright to trust Carson at home, particularly with the Indianapolis Colts’ defense coming to town. The Colts yielded 15-plus fantasy points to Todd Gurley in Week 1 and to Duke Johnson Jr. last Sunday.
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Ellington really doesn’t qualify for this list because he’s owned in 1.4 percent of ESPN leagues. That means he’s not really a “bench player,” but fantasy owners would be wise to pick him up before Sunday’s slate.
If owners are in a real jam, go ahead and fire up the veteran back as a FLEX, particularly in PPR leagues. He had five carries for 22 yards but also five catches for 59 yards Monday night versus Dallas.
Bruce Arians and the Cardinals have a pass-happy team. Ellington’s catching and blocking ability should earn him more snaps than any other Arizona back in Week 4. Plus, the 49ers have allowed two passing touchdowns to running backs this year.
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
If readers take nothing else from this article, remember to stream wide receivers against the New Orleans Saints this season. The Saints have been ranked worst or second-worst in pass defense each of the last two years, and once again they are near the bottom through three games this season.
New Orleans is on pace to yield nearly 5,000 passing yards in 2017. In case you’re new to this whole football thing, that’s a lot.
Stills is a classic boom-or-bust fantasy wideout. Last year, he averaged 17.3 yards per catch and caught nine touchdowns. Stills has also posted a 16.6 yards per reception average throughout his five-year career.
If there’s ever a time he’s going to boom, it will be this week.
Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Starting Woods is dependent upon the injury report for Los Angeles heading into the matchup with Dallas. Fellow wideouts Sammy Watkins and Tavon Austin both suffered concussions last Thursday versus the 49ers and could be forced to sit this Sunday.
If that’s the case, Jared Goff, who quietly put together a strong September, should target Woods early and often. The Rams are third in completion percentage and sixth in passing yards through three weeks. Plus, the Cowboys have yielded the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
Even if Watkins plays, Woods could start in deep leagues. The Rams’ offense is steadily improving, and it won’t be long before it’s good enough to regularly feed two wide receivers.
Jesse James, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Fortunately for the Ravens, they will host the Steelers in Baltimore rather than face them in London this weekend, but the fact remains the Ravens yielded not one, not two, but THREE touchdowns to Jaguar tight end Mercedes Lewis last week. Before Sunday, Lewis hadn’t scored since Week 2 of 2016.
Covering the tight end was a problem for Baltimore against Cleveland as well. Rookie David Njoku scored a touchdown and second-year man Seth DeValve posted 61 yards on two receptions in Week 2 versus the Ravens’ defense, which has allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends this season.
James hasn’t done much since Week 1, but he has a high ceiling in Baltimore this Sunday.
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