Kickoff: Sunday, October 1st, 2023 at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
Betting Odds: PHI -7.5, 44.5 O/U Total on Oddshark
Writer: Dustin Ludke (@theDunit13 on Twitter)
Sam Howell (Sit, QB2)
Week 1 looked promising for Sam Howell. In Week 2, he looked like he was the prospect some of us thought he would be. Yet in Week 3, he looked like a guy who might lose his starting job. Now, he has to face the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s a tough defense with a really good secondary. Despite that, they are giving up the fourth most points to quarterbacks. Does that mean you should start Howell? Probably not. I think last week was a fluke against a really tough Buffalo Bills defense. The Eagles can bring pressure and can cover on the back end. It’s a divisional game under the national gaze, which might be a stage too big for Howell this early in his career. His confidence might be shaken after last week, which could lead to poor play. He must guard against forcing throws to try to prove himself because that’s a dangerous game to play against the Eagles’ secondary. Sit him this week unless you need him to serve as a QB2 in a superflex league.
Brian Robinson (Start, Flex), Antonio Gibson (Sit)
The Eagles have given up points to quarterbacks, but not running backs. In fact, they are giving up the fewest amount of points to running backs so far this season after facing Rhamondre Stevenson, Ezekiel Elliot, Alexander Mattison, and Rachaad White. Where do Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson fit into that group? Somewhere towards the back. Robinson has been the bellcow back this season. Up until last week, he was seeing close to 20 carries a week. When the Commanders fell behind in Week 3, the game script changed to Gibson’s favor as the better pass catcher. I expect something similar this week: I still believe Robinson gets his opportunities but the volume will be capped. He should end up in flex range and could get out if he scores a touchdown. Gibson should see late-game targets but hasn’t been explosive or dynamic with them. He is truly touchdown-dependent. The Eagles’ defense is so stout up front but can also cover backs in space, so I’m sitting Gibson this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Terry McLaurin (Start, WR3), Jahan Dotson (Sit), Curtis Samuel (Sit), Logan Thomas (Sit), Cole Turner (Sit)
Normally, I like Terry McLaurin as a solid WR3. I’m not loving what I saw from Sam Howell last week and as I’ve stated, I expect the same this week. McLaurin will see a lot of Darius Slay. Despite ranking as the 74th-best cover corner by PFF, he is one of the best in the league. Don’t be fooled by the fact that Mike Evans had a good game last week against Slay. McLaurin is not Mike Evans, but I’m still willing to start McLaurin this week. The hope is that the Commanders get into a game script where they have to pass and that they move him around enough to get him better matchups. Start him as WR3.
A ton of people had high hopes for Jahan Dotson this season. Up to now, he has been a major letdown. Outside of Week 1, he hasn’t even finished as a flex play. Part of that is due to Howell’s up-and-down play. I love that Dotson is playing over 85% of the team’s snaps but the lack of targets on routes runs concerns me. He should get a fairly good coverage matchup against Josh Jobe who rates as the 101st best coverage corner out of 107 on PFF.com. Last week, the Eagles moved Jobe to the outside and assigned James Bradberry to the nickel corner role. I expect the Eagles to similarly shuffle their defensive backfield alignment or bring over safety help. Even so, I’m still not starting Dotson.
I’m more inclined to start Curtis Samuel. He is seeing close to the same number of targets as Dotson but running 27 fewer routes. The issue will be coverage. James Bradberry started playing slot corner last week; he rated at 67.3 and the league’s 43rd-best coverage corner, which seems surprisingly low. Samuel plays primarily in the slot, lining up there 72 percent of the time. Even in a passing game script he just doesn’t have the quarterback to overcome tough coverage. I love that they are getting Samuel involved in the offense in creative ways so it’s something to monitor but you can’t start him this week.
No team in the NFL has been more generous to tight ends than the Eagles. However, it looks as if Logan Thomas will play this week, and his presence leads to a division of labor that renders all tight ends for the Commanders as non-starters. Cole Turner is the best of the rest of the crew, but Thomas will vulture enough of his snaps and targets to make both of them just gross. Sit them both.
Jalen Hurts (Start, QB1)
Jalen Hurts hasn’t been firing on all cylinders in the passing game just yet, but after posting his first 300-yard game of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he’s the QB6 in fantasy football through three weeks. Enter the Washington Commanders, who gave up 308 yards passing and 56 rushing yards to Russell Wilson in Week 2 during Jerry Jeudy‘s first game back from injury. Thanks to a healthy cache of weapons in the passing game and the inevitable “Brotherly Shove” inside the 1 yard-line (formerly known as the “Tush Push”), expect Hurts to finish as a Top 3 quarterback in Week 4 with overall QB1 upside.
D’Andre Swift (Start, RB1), Kenneth Gainwell (Sit), Boston Scott (Sit)
D’Andre Swift, a Philadelphia native, had quite a homecoming in Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings, his first game in his hometown as a member of the Eagles. His 181-yard, one touchdown performance was an absolute statement game in which he threw down the gauntlet and claimed his rightful role as the alpha in this backfield. Last week, he followed that effort with 130 yards on the ground against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that had allowed 144 yards to all opposing running backs combined in Weeks 1 and 2. Swift is for real, and as long as he’s healthy behind one of the best offensive lines in football, he has the ability to put up the kind of season that will make Eagles fans fondly remember peak LeSean McCoy. Confidently start him as an RB1 this week. For now, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott are mere afterthoughts in this offense and belong on benches or waiver wires.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
A.J. Brown (Start, WR1), DeVonta Smith (Start, WR1/WR2), Olamide Zacchaeus (Sit), Quez Watkins (Sit), Dallas Goedert (Start, TE1)
A. J. Brown has not scored a touchdown yet this season and is the WR22 on the season so far. If you had suggested that Nico Collins, Tank Dell, Tutu Atwell, Adam Thielen, and Puka Nacua would all outscore a healthy Brown through three weeks, you would’ve been laughed all the way out of your town. Expect last week’s 131-yard effort to serve as a baseline for Brown to build, not just in Week 4, but going forward. Start him with confidence as a WR1.
Meanwhile, DeVonta Smith‘s numbers in Week 3 were microscopic, to say the least. Whatever you do, don’t panic: he’ll get more than his share of looks going forward from Jalen Hurts. Expect Smith to score on the cusp of WR1/WR2 production. The speedy Quez Watkins has been out, opening up even more playing time for Olamide Zaccheaus, who caught his first touchdown as a Philadelphia Eagle last weekend. However, the volume won’t be steady for either Watkins or Zaccheaus, who serves as a Sit in Week 4 and going forward.
After kicking off the season with a goose egg, Dallas Goedert has been the TE12 in PPR formats over the past two weeks, barely hanging in there as a TE1. Unfortunately, only three teams have allowed fewer points per game to the tight end position than the Washington Commanders, including a New England Patriots team that served him his Week 1 doughnut. Nevertheless, with the tight end position a veritable wasteland in fantasy, Goedert still weighs in as a low-end TE1 in advance of this skirmish against the Commanders on his home turf.