Start Odell Beckham? Sell High On Tyler Lockett? Drop Justin Fields? Answering Your Week 4 Fantasy Questions
Getty Images. Pictured: Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr., Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett, Bears QB Justin Fields
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Fantasy Start/Sit Questions
Start Deebo Samuel In Half PPR?
Tim writes: “0.5 PPR, [Michael] Pittman or Deebo [Samuel]? Thanks.”
Both are the WR1s in their respective offenses, but I trust the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo over the Colts and Carson Wentz.
Pittman has seen a significant uptick in production in Weeks 2 and 3 with 12 targets in each of those games. He is currently WR35 in half PPR through three weeks and has been hindered somewhat by Wentz’s struggles. Guard Quenton Nelson was carted off the field last week with an ankle injury, which means this team could be lacking in pass protection.
Samuel is WR8 in half PPR and leads the 49ers in targets, receptions and receiving yards. He has at least eight targets every game this year and has the slightly better matchup against Seattle while Pittman faces the Dolphins.
Start Odell Beckham As WR3/Flex?
Ahaan writes: “Hello! Mailbag question is a start/sit question of epic proportions. Have to start one guy at FLEX in a 0.5-PPR league. Kenny Golladay vs. NO, Ty’Son Williams vs. DEN, Odell Beckham Jr. vs. MIN, or Tim Patrick vs. BAL? Thank you!”
The former Giants star looked phenomenal against the Bears last week in his return from injury and made five catches on nine targets for 77 yards and had a rush for 10 yards, finishing as WR30 in half PPR. When healthy, he’s going to be the unrivaled No. 1 option in this offense, especially while Jarvis Landry is sidelined with a MCL sprain.
Beckham also has the best matchup of the quartet and is a strong WR3/flex play this week with high upside.
Golladay has been brutal this season and is WR60 through three games in half PPR. It’s a disappointing start for the 2019 receiving touchdowns leader, who is looking more like an expensive decoy for the Giants. In theory, he should see an increased target share if either Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton miss time, but Golladay is far from a reliable start, especially with his own lingering health issues (hamstring, hip).
Patrick has been serviceable through three weeks and is currently WR26 in half PPR. His production has likely seen an uptick with the loss of Jerry Jeudy and now K.J. Hamler, who just tore his ACL in Week 3, but Patrick remains the No. 3 option in this mediocre offense behind Noah Fant and Courtland Sutton.
The lone running back of the group, Williams, had a quiet Week 3 against the Lions after a hot start to the season. He was the team’s third-best rusher behind quarterback Lamar Jackson and running back Latavius Murray, each of whom saw seven carries to Williams’ five. Don’t ever forget that Jackson is this team’s top rusher, and he will inevitably vulture fantasy points from anyone out of this backfield.
Williams has RB3/flex appeal this week in a messy Ravens backfield and has the worst matchup of the group — it’s worth noting that, when considering flex plays, the expected value of a RB3 is significantly lower than a WR3 or even WR4 in this instance.
James Robinson Has Edge Among These 3 RBs
Cameron writes: “Who of these two should I start this week: James Robinson, Damien Harris and Ty’Son Williams?”
Previte: It’s really close for me between Robinson and Harris since both are solid starts this week, but Robinson gets the slight edge based on the matchup.
After a fairly slow start, Robinson has seen an uptick in workload over the past couple weeks. He finally delivered against Arizona in Week 3 and tallied 15 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown and caught six of six passes for 46 yards, finishing as RB3 in half PPR. The Jaguars face the Bengals this week, who have been surprisingly good against the run this year, but I still anticipate Robinson to see a fair bit of work.
Harris is actually trending in the other direction and has seen his role and production decrease as a function of time. He saw 23 rushes in Week 1, 16 rushes in Week 2 and just six rushes in Week 3. The loss of James White will likely have a minimal impact on Harris’ workload given their roles were very distinct. He gets the Buccaneers’ tough run defense this week, which has allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game this season.
Williams was a dud in a plush Week 3 matchup against the Lions. He has a less-guaranteed role than Robinson and Harris has a difficult matchup against the Broncos, who have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game this year.
Fantasy Trade Questions
Sell High On Melvin Gordon?
Tim writes: “Would you trade Melvin Gordon and Marvin Jones for DJ Moore/James Conner?”
Previte: This is a really tough one. For reference, in half PPR through three weeks, Gordon is RB10, Jones is WR21, Moore is WR11 and Conner is RB32.
Let’s start with the running backs: Gordon is definitely a sell-high candidate for me given how the workload has been split between him and rookie Javonte Williams. The 2021 second-rounder represents the future for the team and I foresee his role increasing as the season progresses. The Broncos as a whole have also looked really good due in large part to their soft schedule. I’m not faulting them for that, but most teams would look pretty good starting the season against the Giants, Jaguars and Jets.
Conner is also in a split backfield situation with Chase Edmonds as the alpha. Conner did deliver big time in Week 3 against Jacksonville and tallied 11 rushes for 43 yards and a pair of touchdowns and caught a pass for 10 yards. I predict he will remain in that timeshare for the rest of the season.
Gordon gets the edge between this pair for now, but it’s closer than RB10 vs. RB32 would suggest.
In terms of Moore vs. Jones, the pair may seem close on first glance given just 10 spots separate them, but they’re hardly in the same stratosphere for me. Moore is the unrivaled WR1 in the Panthers offense and has seen at least eight targets every game this year. He posted a monster Week 3, reeling in eight of 12 targets for 126 yards and finishing as WR11. I anticipate he will continue to be targeted heavily, especially with pass-catching running back Christian McCaffrey sidelined temporarily.
Jones is the Jaguars’ top receiver through three weeks and leads the team in targets, catches, receiving yards and touchdowns (tied with D.J. Chark). Chark is averaging significantly more yards per catch (22.0 vs. Jones’ 11.4), however, and all three receivers — Jones, Chark and Laviska Shenault — have a fairly close target share. The Jaguars’ offense is significantly worse than the Panthers’; Moore gets the massive edge.
In summary, I think the actual delta between Gordon and Conner is smaller than the delta between Moore and Jones. Therefore, I favor the latter half of that trade and think you should accept it.
Buy Low On Jonathan Taylor?
Spencer writes: “Hi Samantha! I am needing your advice on a trade offer. I was offered Jonathan Taylor for [Tyler] Lockett and Eli Mitchell in a non-PPR league. My Keenan Allen, [Brandin] Cooks, [Christian] Kirk, and Michael Thomas are my other receivers, and [Aaron] Jones, [Antonio] Gibson, [David] Montgomery, and Ty’Son Williams are my other RBs. Is giving up Lockett worth buying low on Taylor, or would you counter with anyone else on my team? Thanks, and I appreciate your analysis!”
Previte: I think it’s a good trade on paper by buying low on Taylor and selling high on Lockett, but it’s significantly less attractive with your roster build.
Losing Lockett would leave you super lean at receiver because I don’t think Cooks or Kirk will finish anywhere near WR6 and WR13 in half PPR, respectively, which is what they both are through three weeks. Thomas isn’t coming back for another few weeks at the earliest, and I don’t know what kind of production you can expect from him out of the gate.
Adding Taylor means you’ll need to sit at least one of Antonio Gibson, David Montgomery and Ty’Son Williams (potentially all three). You’re stacked at running back, so I don’t think it makes sense to deal for Taylor if it costs you your WR2 .
As for a counter assuming you really want Taylor, perhaps you could offer a better running back than Mitchell (like Montgomery or Williams) since you’re quite deep there, plus a worse receiver like Cooks or Kirk. I’d feel much more comfortable with Lockett/Allen as my two starters versus Lockett/Cooks or Lockett/Kirk (at least until Thomas comes back).
James Robinson For Saquon Barkley? (And Others)
khoi_tran11 writes: “Would you trade James Robinson, Julio Jones and Darren Waller for Saquon Barkley, Adam Thielen and T.J. Hockenson?”
Previte: This is a fairly balanced trade but let’s begin with the tight ends.
Rest of season, I think Waller and Hockenson are fairly close in value. Waller — who is TE4 in half PPR through three weeks — was drafted higher than Hockenson due in large part to the offense he’s in (versus the lowly Lions). The Raiders have a decent number of weapons, however, and even with quarterback Derek Carr playing MVP-caliber football, Waller has significantly more competition from Henry Ruggs, Hunter Renfrow and Bryan Edwards. The Lions’ receiving depth chart is bereft of star power and Hockenson — who is TE3 in half PPR — is the unrivaled No. 1 option in that offense. Let’s call that a wash.
As for the receivers, Jones is currently WR46 while Thielen is WR4 in half PPR. I do think Jones is a buy-low and Thielen is a sell-high since each is due for touchdown regression (in opposite directions), but rest-of-season, their values are very close. Thielen might even get the slight edge over Jones.
Looking at the running backs, both Barkley and Robinson started fairly slow this season, though for vastly different reasons. Barkley is returning from a major injury and it was the Giants’ plan all along to ease him back into play. Robinson is in an Urban Meyer-led offense which has yet to look competent all year. Both had a strong Week 3 and made trips to the end zone.
Barkley is currently RB25 and Robinson is RB15 in half PPR, but rest-of-season, I view Barkley as a low-end RB1, while Robinson is squarely in RB2 territory.
Smash accept on that trade and don’t look back.
What To Do With Justin Fields After A Debut Dud
Kenzie writes: “Justin Fields is on my bench (Matthew Stafford is my starter) — what should I do with Fields? Thank you!”
Previte: I have this exact predicament in one league and waffled over starting Fields or Stafford last week. Hope you chose wisely, as Stafford finished as QB3 and Fields finished as QB34. Ouch.
I do think better days are ahead for Fields and this entire Bears offense because it’s only a matter of time before either (1) Matt Nagy learns how to wield Fields as an offensive weapon and stops trying to make him into a pocket passer behind the Bears horrible offensive line or (2) Nagy gets fired.
That said, if this is a one-quarterback league with 12 or fewer teams, I would consider dropping Fields if you need the roster space. Stafford is a locked-and-loaded stud rest-of-season and in most leagues, you probably don’t need to roster two quarterbacks.