Here we go for Week 4! Last week, we absolutely nailed it with our Kansas City Chiefs recommendation. On the other hand, we completely fumbled our Jacksonville Jaguars selection. As we look forward to Week 4, we notice the drop-off is steep. The more confident matchups tend to be with teams that are likely already rostered, leaving us with a collection of defenses that carry notable question marks. Still, we have to fill this slot in our lineup, so let’s dig into the stats and see what favorable matchups we can find. As always, we’re looking for teams that are rostered in around 50 percent of leagues or lower.
Please note: there’s a decent chance that better teams above this 50 percent threshold are out there in your league, but we cannot assume they’re out there for everyone; we have to draw the proverbial line somewhere. Stay active and monitor the league home page; someone might drop a desirable defense after the waivers clear.
Opponent: @ Tennessee Titans
ESPN % Rostered: 18%
Yahoo % Rostered: 38%
The Cincinnati Bengals pass rush just put on a monster performance, sacking Matthew Stafford six times last night. Throw in two interceptions as well, and this defense now has nine sacks and four turnovers in the span of three games. They take on the Tennessee Titans and a questionable offensive line that has had issues defending the pass rush: they have given up 13 sacks to Ryan Tannehill and company. Good news for Trey Hendrickson, who leads the Bengals in sacks. This Titans offense ranks in the bottom three in both total yards and passing yards on the season. The Bengals are Top 5 in defense of AYTT (Air Yards To Target) and YAC (Yards After the Catch). They are weaker against the running game but the Titans’ rushing attack is currently a shadow of its former self with Derrick Henry and the team ranking among the league’s ten lowest in rushing yards so far this season.
Opponent: vs. Los Angeles Rams
ESPN % Rostered: 4%
Yahoo % Rostered: 6%
Don’t look now but the Indianapolis Colts have racked up 25+ points over three games while registering a solid fantasy output in each of those weeks. The foundation of this success has been getting to the quarterback: the Colts have notched multiple sacks in each game for a total of 12 on the season. They have also generated a turnover in every game (five total so far this year). This defense is giving up only 3.5 yards per carry against the run despite seeing the third-highest total of rushing attempts against them. Zaire Franklin leads the league in solo and total tackles and will be a big part of their game plan to shut down Kyren Williams. The Colts rank in the bottom five in blitz attempts but haven’t needed to rely on it to get the job done: they have recorded the second-highest total of team sacks in the league. We will see how they match up against a Los Angeles Rams passing attack that features the previously mentioned Stafford, who went down six times on Monday night.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opponent: @ New Orleans Saints
ESPN % Rostered: 21%
Yahoo % Rostered: 29%
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have taken down opposing quarterbacks nine times in three weeks. They’ve snagged an interception in every game this season; add in two fumble recoveries to make a total of seven turnovers generated in three games. The Buccaneers now travel to the Big Easy to take on the New Orleans Saints, where Derek Carr is questionable, and the prevailing belief is that Jameis Winston will start under center (keep an eye on this situation to be sure). The Saints have given up four per game through 3 contests. They are also averaging a turnover per game. In the interest of full disclosure, the Buccaneers are middle of the pack of the NFL teams in rushing yards allowed and the Saints will be welcoming Alvin Kamara back this week. Prior to holding a talented Eagles offense to 25 points on Monday Night Football, the Buccaneers put up a good showing in the first two weeks. Meanwhile, the Saints have been generous to opposing defenses; only 10 of the 32 teams have allowed more points to DST (Defense/Special Teams) units this year.
As an honorable mention, the Detroit Lions are also worthy of consideration. They put up a great showing last week and now travel to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers. Which version of Jordan Love will they get from last week against the Saints? The one from the first three quarters, or the version from the final quarter who channeled Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre by leading his team to 18 unanswered points and a victory? The Lions bear monitoring as a potential option based on who the Packers are getting back on offense this week; they were without two starting offensive linemen, star running back Aaron Jones, and emerging stud wide receiver Christian Watson last week.
These teams did not meet the consideration threshold for the main highlight section, but you should check to see if they’re available in your league:
- Kansas City Chiefs– ESPN: 69% Y!: 87%. Super soft matchup against Zach Wilson and the Jets.
- Philadelphia Eagles – ESPN: 71% Y!: 98%. Sam Howell isn’t scary, but rookie phenom Jalen Carter and the rest of the Eagles’ defensive line are terrifying.
- New Orleans Saints– ESPN: 85% Y!: 66%. This unit will be hungry for some home cookin’ after last week’s fourth quarter embarrassment in Green Bay. Beware, Baker Mayfield.
- Cleveland Browns– ESPN: 78% Y!: 47%. Not an ideal matchup against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, but the Browns have quietly been one of the league’s better defensive units through three weeks.
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