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NFL Fantasy Week 4: Start ‘em, Sit ‘em- Quarterbacks

Call me an old fart, but I remember when quarterbacks held clipboards and gave inquisitive and admiring looks to their veteran counterparts for years before anyone even thought of putting them in a game.

Sure, there were a few exceptions, but I blame the AFL for that. No, that’s not a typo. The AFL was a thing back in… Go ahead. “Old Fart”… you can say it.

Today, these whipper-snapper young guns expect to walk in and take over before they even know which vending stations have the best nachos. It’s not limited to first-rounders, either.

Before someone defibrillated Eli Manning this week (I think it was his new right tackle), I was set to write an article discussing when fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta should take over in New York.

Week 3 saw five grizzled veterans in the top ten NFL Fantasy quarterback scoring slots. But that was rookie Josh Allen, playing behind one of the worst lines and with the second-fewest weapons in the league, in the QB-4 spot.

Youngsters Jared Goff, Pat Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson were right behind him.

Baker Mayfield managed 10 NFL Fantasy points in a little more than a half without practicing with the first team all week.

Josh Rosen looked like he might pull victory out of the air before an errant toss went to the wrong team. Sam Darnold almost had his second victory until Mayfield made throwing to Browns look so easy, Darnold thought he’d try it.

What’s it all mean? It means you should start or sit these guys in Week 4:

Start this guy: Joe Flacco (at Pittsburgh)

Pittsburgh’s defensive numbers are skewed after playing against Patrick Mahomes and the tail end of the Fitzmagic phenomena. They also gave up 23 NFL Fantasy points to Tyrod Taylor, but 13 of those came on the ground, something Joe Flacco is not likely to replicate.

The Steelers came up with three picks against Fitzpatrick, but if you watched the game, you know none of those came because of stellar efforts of defensive backs. They were overthrown into the hands of defenders. That is something Flacco won’t replicate, either.

Flacco didn’t have to do much in two of the Ravens three games. In Week 2, he threw for 357 yards and a pair of touchdowns, as well as two picks. My bet is Flacco throws for three scores and only one pick against the Steelers and puts over 20 NFL Fantasy points on the board for Week 4.

Sit this guy: Andrew Luck (vs. Houston)

Head coach Frank Reich has Andrew Luck releasing the ball quickly to adjust for the continuing offensive line woes in Indianapolis. That is the same strategy the Giants use with Eli Manning, but with Jadeveon Clowney returning to the Texans’ lineup, JJ Watt kicked into gear and grabbed his first three sacks against the Giants last week.

Clowney and Watt lead a Houston defense just rounding into shape. The Colts don’t have a Saquon Barkley in their lineup this week to distract the defensive rush. Luck will be under siege most of the day and limited again to the short passes. Until his supporting cast starts turning those into big gainers for him, Luck is in for some unimpressive NFL Fantasy results.

Start this guy: Ryan Tannehill at New England

What if I told you there was an NFL quarterback who threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in each of his last four games against New England? What if I told you that quarterback was Ryan Tannehill?

Tannehill goes against a Patriots team reeling after a rare two-game losing streak. Miami’s defense has quietly nestled into a top-ten position on the NFL Fantasy leaderboards, but they have not faced an offense like the Patriots in desperation mode at home. The Dolphin offense should be chasing points.

Miami has asked their quarterback to make only about 20-25 throws per game. With strong pass protection and a variety of deep threats, that has been enough for Tannehill to flirt with a low-end QB-1 NFL Fantasy rating. Last week, his 25 throws included 3 touchdowns. Expect the same in Week 4

Sit this guy: Aaron Rodgers (vs Bills)

No, this is not an overreaction to the Bills’ surprising Week 3 demolition of the Vikings’ potent offense. If it is an overreaction at all, it is to Rodgers’ noble, but mediocre, performance on one leg.

Rodgers was absolutely hobbled by the end of last week’s upset at the hands of the Redskins. His passes were not as accurate or strong as he tries to avoid pressure on his damaged knee. It is obvious he is compensating, and it is not working.

Buffalo has two of the top ten rated edge pass rushers (per Pro Football Focus). That will not make life any easier for Rodgers and the Packers. Look for a heavy dose of Aaron Jones in an effort to save some abuse of Rodgers.

The Green Bay passer managed 19.9 NFL Fantasy points (QB-13) in Week 3 against an average Redskins defense. Don’t be surprised by a shaky showing in the mid-teen range Sunday.

Start this guy: Andy Dalton (at Atlanta)

Dalton gave away 8 NFL Fantasy points with 4 interceptions last week, but it’s hard to resist playing a quarterback facing a defense that just lost its third starter and allowed 500 yards of offense before that player went down.

Cincinnati might be without their star receiver, AJ Green. Joe Ross will need to step up enough to be a distraction and let the three Tylers go to work with Dalton. That would be Tyler Boyd, Tyler Eifert, and backup tight end, Tyler Kroft. Okay- Kroft might be a stretch. I just think its neat they have three Tylers.

Matt Ryan looks like the 2016 NFL Fantasy points leader version of Ryan and not the 2017 NFL Fantasy flop. If he keeps up his performance, Dalton will have no choice but to throw early and often, enhancing Dalton’s odds of putting up another top-ten performance of his own.

Sit this guy: Baker Mayfield (at Oakland)

Baker Mayfield jumped off the bench to throw a touchdown, win a game, and take over the starting quarterback job on a team loaded with offensive talent.

He faces a near-ideal situation for his first NFL Fantasy start. No pressure from a home crowd, facing a defense with one sack and no turnovers in their first three games.

Naturally, you have to sit him.

Oakland has not been as bad as their record indicates and they come home for the first time since playing the LA Rams tough for a half in the season opener. Coach Jon Gruden will come up with something to slow down the Browns momentum.

I can’t look past the ineptitude of Hue Jackson, either. I see a lot of Carlos Hyde and a conservative game plan for Mayfield contributing to a good, but not top-twelve, NFL Fantasy performance by the rookie Mayfield.

Overtime!

Eli Manning intrigues me this week in a home game against the New Orleans defense. The Giants came up with their most points in a game since 2016 last week despite JJ Watt single-handedly shutting them down for most of the second half.

The loss of Evan Engram will not have much impact. Manning to Sterling Shepard accounts for a chunk of Manning’s first 20-point NFL Fantasy game of the year and the Giants first 30-point NFL game since 2015.

Green Bay suffered a major loss to their defensive line this week. So, I can’t blame owners for betting Josh Allen runs for enough NFL Fantasy points to offset Buffalo’s lack of offensive talent. But I don’t see the Packers getting surprised by the Bills like the Vikings were. I’m sitting Allen.

Julio Jones does not have a touchdown. Mohammed Sanu has been an afterthought. Imagine how much better Matt Ryan will be when he gets those two going? Ryan is moving into weekly must-start territory.

Full disclosure: looking smarter

Perfection was within my grasp in Week 3. My three featured sit em’s failed to make the top 15 and my three start em’s managed 17.5 points or more. Unfortunately, Matthew Stafford’s 17.5 was only good for the QB-14 position, so I have to take that as a miss.

In my overtime picks, results were split with Russell Wilson falling short as a start ‘em and Jared Goff exploding for the sixth-best showing despite my advice to sit him.

Overall, that is 7 out of 10 correctly picked as over or under the QB-12 ranking for the week. This week will be even better if those young whipper-snappers don’t upset my apple cart.