Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire
Welcome to Week Four, dear reader, I am Brennen Gorman and I will be in charge of our On the Bubble column. These articles will focus on bubble and bench players that could make an impact this week, even if they might not make an impact every week, and on bubble and bench players that might not make an impact this week.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns [ESPN Own: 42% / Start: 12%]: Fresh on the heels of a game-winning fourth-quarter drive, Baker Mayfield is locked in as Cleveland’s starting quarterback. Although this is certainly quicker than most expected, spurred on by an injury to Tyrod Taylor, Mayfield is set to have a great game against a poor Oakland front seven. Mayfield has plenty of weapons at his disposal and is poised to elevate Cleveland’s offense in Week Four.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins [ESPN Own: 26% / Start: 11%]: Ryan Tannehill is facing a depleted New England defense in Week Four and may be the final nail in the New England coffin. Tannehill has been the focal point of Miami’s offense, paving the way with a career-high 73% completion rate and seven touchdowns, Tannehill is otherwise the same quarterback we have known for the past six years. Week Four presents a high risk/reward situation for the veteran quarterback.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings [ESPN Own: 93% / 48%]: Irrespective of Minnesota’s Week Three implosion, reminiscent of the Week One Detroit Lions implosion, Kirk Cousins may be in for another bad week against an iron-clad Los Angeles Rams defense. Los Angeles has let up 24.7 fantasy points total to quarterbacks this season, led by a defense that has a 39.8% pressure rate (4th in the league) and one of the best interior defensive lines in the league (despite four sacks). Dalvin Cook is still questionable and without Cook, Cousins’ value looks all the more perilous in Week Four.
Start: Running Backs
Alfred Morris, San Francisco 49ers [ESPN Own: 58% / Start: 15%]: With Jimmy Garoppolo out for the season and Matt Brieda quesitonable, Alfred Morris could quickly become the focal point of an otherwise lackluster San Francisco offense. The Los Angeles Chargers present a solid matchup to test that question as Morris should see plenty of carries against a beatable defense. It may be ugly, but its still an upside flex play.
Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions [ESPN Own: 20% / Start: 76%]: Sitting at a starting rate just above Christian McCaffery (BYE) in Week Four, Kerryon Johnson ignited in Week Three to the tune of 101 rushing yards on 16 carries. Detroit has ramped up Johnson’s workload each week and it finally paid off in Week Three. LeGarrette Blount still had more carries, but Johnson lead in the snap count. Johnson is set to take the leap into the team’s 1A back in Week Four against Dallas.
Sit: Running Backs
James Connor, Pittsburgh Steelers [ESPN Own: 98% / Start: 95%]: Despite finishing Week Three with a near passable performance, it is worth noting that 44 of James Connor‘s 61 yards rushing came in two plays. Although he is the clear top back on Pittsburgh without Le’Veon Bell, his Week Two and Three performances leave significant doubt in his actual ability. A Week Four draw against Baltimore, a team that has let up the fifth fewest points to running backs makes Connor a risky flex play.
Start: Wide Receivers
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions [ESPN Own: 85% / Start: 52%]: Matt Stafford has thrown the third most passes this season (despite a growing run game) and few players have benefited more than Kenny Golladay who is second in team receptions with 28 (16th most). Golladay is the 13th highest scoring wide receiver this season and will continue to capitalize on his large volume of work. He is well on the way to earning the nickname “Babytron.”
John Brown, Baltimore Ravens [ESPN Own: 58% / Start: 24%]: John Brown is only three targets behind team leader Michael Crabtree and has done more to capitalize on the opportunities he has been given thus far. Brown is currently the 18th highest scoring wide receiver and has a great matchup against a Pittsburgh defense that cannot stop the passing game. Brown is worthwhile flex start in Week Four.
Sit: Wide Receivers
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals [ESPN Own: 95% / Start: 35%]: Larry Fitzgerald has seen a decrease of work since Week One, punctuated by a hamstring injury in Week Three. As the top receiver on the team, he still only has 17 targets on the season and is on one of the worst offenses in the league. Even if he plays in Week Four, he is likely to make little fantasy impact barring a boom or bust touchdown.
Start: Tight Ends
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers [ESPN Own: 82% / Start: 59%]: San Francisco just lost Jimmy Garoppolo for the season and C.J. Beathard will be starting in his stead. George Kittle is already the fourth highest targeted tight end and should see a consistent uptick in work as an outlet for Beathard. Week Four does not present a good matchup, but volume could push Kittle’s value even higher.
Sit: Tight Ends
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns [ESPN Ownership: 67% / Start: 33%]: Despite 16 targets this season, David Njoku has made little with his opportunities, with only 59 receiving yards and no touchdowns. Cleveland’s passing game is focused on its wide receivers and Njoku saw even fewer looks under rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Cleveland Browns D/ST [ESPN Own: 51% / Start: 40%]: Cleveland has the fourth-ranked defense through the first three weeks of the season and has the highest turnover differential in the league (9) (Oakland is tied for last with -4). This could be another juicy matchup for the Browns.
Denver Broncos D/ST [ESPN Own: 59% / Start: 35%]: Denver draws against force of nature Patrick Mahomes in Week Four. Perhaps Denver can find how to stop Kanas City’s offense, but I would not want to bet on it.