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2017 STATS Fantasy Football: Week 4 Tiers


Back at it for Week 4. Remember, things can change between now and the full Sunday slate of games, so keep up with me on Twitter (@The_Oddsmaker) and I’ll help out the best I can with any major shakeups.

Also, please note these tiers are for standard scoring. The numbers in parentheses are how many tiers a player moves up or down in PPR, where applicable.


Tier 1

Aaron Rodgers (vs CHI)
Tom Brady (vs CAR)

When it comes to two of the greatest fantasy/real-life quarterbacks we have ever seen, you will rarely have a decision to make. This week is no exception.

Tier 2

Russell Wilson (vs IND)
Matt Ryan (vs BUF)
Drew Brees (@ MIA, in London)

We finally had our Russell Wilson Blow-Up Game last week with a massive 373/4/0 and 26 rush yards chipped in. It couldn’t have come at a better time with a home matchup against the lowly Colts up next. This is certainly a somewhat risky spot considering blowout potential. Wilson typically posts stinkers in blowouts. He’s still a must-play nonetheless.

Ryan/Brees are great plays this week and have a bit of an added edge since other top 10 QBs have tough draws.

Tier 3

Matthew Stafford (@ MIN)
Trevor Siemian (vs OAK)
Carson Palmer (vs SF)
Kirk Cousins (@ KC)
Dak Prescott (vs LAR)
Jameis Winston (vs NYG)
Alex Smith (vs WAS)
Philip Rivers (vs PHI)

Stafford doesn’t have the best draw on the road against a fairly stout Vikings defense. When it comes to Stafford, though, one stat that gets overlooked is just how much of his team’s TD shares he accounts for. He never has a true goal-line vulture to contend with. As a matter of fact, he often finds himself in that role too. Last season, Stafford was involved in 78.8 percent of his team’s offensive TDs, and this year it has been all seven so far.

Tier 4

Jay Cutler (vs NO)
Marcus Mariota (@ HOU)

Jay Cutler flopped in what was supposed to be a great matchup against the Jets. If it wasn’t for a typical garbage-time 3-yard TD toss to DeVante Parker, we would have a lot more people refusing to play him this week. Despite the ideal matchup against the Saints, Cutler is still a middling QB2 option.

Tier 5

Ben Roethlisberger (@ BAL)
Cam Newton (@ NE)
Tyrod Taylor (@ ATL)
Carson Wentz (@ LAC)
Deshaun Watson (vs TEN)
Case Keenum (vs DET)
Derek Carr (@ DEN)
DeShone Kizer (vs CIN)
Andy Dalton (@ CLE)
Eli Manning (@ TB)

One of the biggest flops of Week 3 was Cam Newton’s abysmal game at home against the infamous Saints defense. Abysmal is an understatement, actually, as he failed to clear 170 passing yards while throwing no TDs with three INTs. He did manage to rush for a TD, but it was hardly enough. Some of Newton’s struggles certainly had to do with Kelvin Benjamin suffering what appeared to be a serious leg injury in the first quarter and being forced to leave the game. Not to mention, he was already without his trusty TE in Greg Olsen. His rotator cuff is not quite 100 percent as he’s still working on getting full range of motion back and trying to regain his form. He is completely off my radar for all these reasons, which hasn’t happened in quite some time.

Derek Carr has a brutal matchup at Denver. He certainly needs Michael Crabtree to be active in order to make me look bad for ranking him this low. Crabtree is shaping up to be questionable with the chest injury he suffered Sunday night.

Tier 6

Blake Bortles (@ NYJ)
Jared Goff (@ DAL)

The general public can’t seem to make up its mind on these two. We were led to believe these two flat-out stink and to never even utter their names when recommending good plays. Last week we had both QBs generate offenses that put up 40+ real-life points. I’m finding people all of a sudden trying to figure out just how “good” these QBs are.

When it comes to Bortles, I think we need to still treat him as a low-end QB2 despite the good matchup. You have to remember that the Jags are going to try their best to hide him by running the ball with Fournette/Ivory as much as they can. Bortles offers upside with his legs, but I think the four passing TDs will be his high-water mark for the season.

Goff has progressed a ton in his second season and certainly made us remember that coaching can make a huge difference in the NFL. I think we still need to pump the breaks on him just a bit, considering the two defenses he picked apart were the Colts and 49ers. This week against the Cowboys, I think we have to worry about his play volume being a bit too low to generate huge numbers.

One thing that needs to be addressed on Goff before I move on is that he does NOT run the ball – ever. In order to justify playing a guy with zero rushing stats to offer, you need to be fairly certain he at least has a shot at 300 yards and two TD in a game, something Goff has yet to accomplish in the NFL.

Tier 7

Joe Flacco (vs PIT)
Jacoby Brissett (@ SEA)
Josh McCown (vs JAX)
Mike Glennon (@ GB)
Brian Hoyer (@ ARI)

After Flacco managed to throw for a laughable 28 yards before getting pulled in the beatdown by the Jaguars, he gets to join the bottom tier this week. Congrats Joe.

Jacoby Brissett erupted in Week 3 with a 259-yard three-TD game (one passing, two rushing). Now he gets to face Seattle on the road and is not even in play in two-QB leagues. I’ve always been a fan of his rushing potential, so it should be noted that he faces the 49ers next week at home. It may be worth going out of your way to add him in advance if you have any of the QBs on BYE next week (Brees, Cousins, Siemian) and have a fairly thin waiver wire.

Running Backs

Tier 1

Kareem Hunt (vs WAS)
Ezekiel Elliott (vs LAR)

It took three weeks, but I think it’s time to seriously consider Hunt as a top-3 fantasy RB – and quite possibly the No. 1. However, he simply cannot maintain the current pace he is on, so I’m sure expectations on a week-to-week basis are going to be unreasonable for a few weeks. That said, he has a favorable draw this week against the Redskins on Monday Night Football. If you are down 17 going into MNF – with only Hunt remaining – you will have about a 50 percent chance of winning your matchup.

Tier 2

Le’Veon Bell (@ BAL)
Todd Gurley (@ DAL)

Bell has yet to really have a huge game this year, and I think we may have to wait at least another week before he does. An average game for Bell is still usually a top-10 weekly RB finish, so I’ll never rank him outside the top 5.

Gurley has certainly taken advantage of his early season schedule against poor run defenses. The Cowboys currently rank 22nd in my own personal rush DEF vs. RB rankings, so this isn’t a fantastic spot, but he is a must-play until further notice with his bankable workload. His pass-game usage has certainly boosted his value in PPR as well as standard.

Tier 3

Devonta Freeman (vs BUF)
Leonard Fournette (@ NYJ)
LeSean McCoy (@ ATL)

All three RBs in Tier 2 are volume monsters and thus unlikely to bust. McCoy’s matchup is especially good considering the Falcons have struggled against pass-catching backs so far this season, surrendering 35+ receiving yards to four different RBs in just three games.

Tier 4

Melvin Gordon (vs PHI)
Jay Ajayi (-1, vs NO)
Dalvin Cook (vs DET)
Carlos Hyde (@ ARI)

Ajayi was a huge disappointment in what should have been a great matchup against the Jets. You have to think it was due to a mixture of his injured knee and the negative game script. He now gets the Saints in the London game, and even though we’d like him to have more momentum than he does, he is a must-play this week. Just to magnify the lack of consistency Ajayi seems to have in his young career, he currently has more 200+ rushing yard games (3) than he does 100-199 yard games (2).

Tier 5

Ty Montgomery (+1, vs CHI)
C.J. Anderson (vs OAK)
Jordan Howard (@ GB)

This tier is a bit too volatile for the comfort you crave out of RB1 plays. I always treat Montgomery with caution and still wonder if he can maintain this sort of volume going forward. He is a bonafide PPR stud, and you need to roll him out with confidence every week in those formats. I’m a bit worried he’s a bit too TD dependent in standard formats, though, and would have probably tried to sell high after his Weeks 1-2 explosion.

Jordan Howard is a reminder that it’s not wise to write people off after starting the season slowly. It’s fair to think his shoulder injury is still a major concern as he seemed to be in pain on almost every play. He’s a bit risky given he’s on a short week, but I feel he’s back into the high-end RB2 mix again.

Tier 6

Chris Carson (-1, vs IND)
Christian McCaffrey (+1, @ NE)
Joe Mixon (@ CLE)

We finally have a prime opportunity to see just what Carson can do in a game the Seahawks will control enough to give him a huge workload. Wilson can keep the Colts defense honest enough to not sell out to stop Carson.

There is also just as much excitement that we will likely get to see the rookie leash removed from Joe Mixon against the Browns. Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor wisely gave him 20+ touches last week against Green Bay, and we can safely say he is going to be their lead back going forward. Time to buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Tier 7

Mike Gillislee (-1, vs CAR)
DeMarco Murray (@ HOU)
Mark Ingram (@ MIA)
Jacquizz Rodgers (vs NYG)
Lamar Miller (vs TEN)
Tarik Cohen (+1, @ GB)
Marshawn Lynch (@ DEN)
Jonathan Stewart (@ NE)
Javorius Allen (vs PIT)
Ameer Abdullah (@ MIN)
Chris Thompson (+1, @ KC)
Tevin Coleman (vs BUF)
Isaiah Crowell (vs CIN)

Cohen had a 77-yard TD called back in Week 3 that eventually led to another Jordan Howard TD. While this did not help his cause last week, I think it allows him to be overlooked quite a bit in a matchup with the Packers that could be the perfect game flow for him to get touches. We also have to be aware that a Howard in-game aggravation of his shoulder is still possible, which would blow the lid off Cohen’s involvement. I

f I own Chris Thompson in a standard league, I am selling high. There is no way he can keep this up with his playing style. He is rarely going to see more than 10-15 touches so he pretty much has to score a TD to hit value. Even his early season TD production is surely to regress. He only had five total TDs last year in a nearly identical role. PPR is a much different story and he should continue to be started there until further notice.

Tier 8

Frank Gore (@ SEA)
Chris Johnson (vs SF)
Derrick Henry (@ HOU)

Hard to really trust any of these backs heading into Week 4, but we can at least assume they will see the majority of their team’s touches out of the backfield, and with Henry we have such a talented player he doesn’t need to see many carries to hit value.

Tier 9

LeGarrette Blount (-1, @ LAC)
Duke Johnson Jr. (+2, vs CIN)
Bilal Powell (vs JAX)
Andre Ellington (+1, vs SF)
Wendell Smallwood (@ LAC)
Jamaal Charles (vs OAK)
Theo Riddick (+3, @ MIN)
James White (+3, vs CAR)

This tier is mostly PPR heroes and Eagles RBs. Blount will always be a pesky TD vulture that is more likely to infuriate newly-minted Smallwood owners. Speaking of Smallwood, I think it’s safe to say that with Darren Sproles placed on IR, it is now time for him to see possibly 15+ touches a game. He appeared ready for the task during Week 3 and put up 71 yards on just 12 carries. It seems as if any time we think we will see him breakout he predictably flops. RB is a position that is so scarce that I would be willing to bet on him yet again. I just would set my expectations fairly low.

Wide Receivers

Tier 1

Antonio Brown (@ BAL)
Julio Jones (vs BUF)
A.J. Green (@ CLE)

Let Week 3 be a reminder that A.J. Green is one of the top WR in the league. Lazor seems to have the right idea getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers in Green/Mixon. They get the Browns this week.

Tier 2

Odell Beckham Jr. (@ TB)
Michael Thomas (@ MIA)
Mike Evans (vs NYG)
Jordy Nelson (vs CHI)

OBJ is back into the mix as an elite WR1 and so is Michael Thomas! I promised you that last week was the last time for a while that you will see Thomas ranked so low. His brutal stretch of matchups has passed and things should open up for him even more this week in London as they face the Dolphins.

Tier 3

Tyreek Hill (vs WAS)
DeAndre Hopkins (vs TEN)
Stefon Diggs (vs DET)
Demaryius Thomas (vs OAK)
Dez Bryant (vs LAR)
Larry Fitzgerald (vs SF)
Keenan Allen (vs PHI)
Emmanuel Sanders (vs OAK)
DeVante Parker (vs NO)
Doug Baldwin (vs IND)
Brandin Cooks (vs CAR)

Parker just sneaks in as a high-[end WR2 play based on the fact he gets the juicy Saints draw this week. The preseason hype seems to finally be real this year as Jay Cutler is forcing the issue with 19 total targets through 2 games.

Baldwin is considered questionable with a groin injury so you’ll want to monitor that closely this week. They don’t play until Sunday night so it would be wise have some sort of back up in place.

Tier 4

Golden Tate (+1, @ MIN)
Amari Cooper (@ DEN)
Adam Thielen (vs DET)
Alshon Jeffery (@ LAC)
Jarvis Landry (+1, vs NO)
Pierre Garcon (@ ARI)
Davante Adams (vs CHI)
Sammy Watkins (@ DAL)
Michael Crabtree (@ DEN)
T.Y. Hilton (@ SEA)
Rishard Matthews (@ HOU)
Chris Hogan (vs CAR)

Both Raiders stud WRs in Cooper/Crabtree suffer the worst draw for a WR. They are so good that they are still squarely in play as solid WR2/3 types, though. Crabtree is questionable with a chest injury so Cooper could bump up a tier if Crabtree is out.

Davante Adams will be involved in quite a few sit/start decisions ahead of Thursday night’s game. He’s currently ranked as if Cobb is active. He would likely move up to the top of this tier if Cobb ends up missing Week 4.

Tier 5

Terrelle Pryor Sr. (@ KC)
Kelvin Benjamin (@ NE)
Sterling Shepard (@ TB)
DeSean Jackson (vs NYG)
Tyrell Williams (vs PHI)

Kelvin Benjamin seems to have avoided a significant injury after having his knee buckle under him, which forced him to leave the game early. He’s now in a spot where the Panthers should be forced to throw as they attempt to outscore the Patriots. If he ends up getting in a full practice before Sunday and is active, I think you have to roll him out with confidence.

Tyrell Williams could be in an eruption spot against a leaky Eagles defense that has been getting lit up lately. I also think that may make Travis Benjamin a deep TD threat as well.

Tier 6

Allen Hurns (@ NYJ)
Jamison Crowder (@ KC)
Marqise Lee (@ NYJ)
Martavis Bryant (@ BAL)
J.J. Nelson (vs SF)
Jeremy Maclin (vs PIT)
Kenny Stills (vs NO)
Devin Funchess (@ NE)
Taylor Gabriel (-1, vs BUF)
Willie Snead (@ MIA)
Paul Richardson (vs IND)
Mohamed Sanu (vs BUF)
Eric Decker (@ HOU)

Martavis Bryant, J.J. Nelson, and Kenny Stills make for extreme high risk/reward plays this week I’m afraid. In traditional H2H season-long leagues, I tend to go with safer/high-floor plays. They are certainly still in play in DFS tournaments that actually reward such plays and in H2H matchups where you might find yourself as a fairly big underdog this week. You can use high-ceiling players to give yourself a better chance of an upset, in theory.

Tight End

Tier 1

Rob Gronkowski (vs CAR)

Tier 2

Travis Kelce (vs WAS)
Zach Ertz (@ LAC)

The time has come to seriously consider Ertz a permanent top-3 TE ever week. Guys like Jimmy Graham and Jordan Reed battling nagging injuries have seriously opened the door for Ertz. He hasn’t disappointed, with at least 90+ yards or a TD in all three of his games.

Tier 3

Jimmy Graham (vs IND)
Jason Witten (vs LAR)
Delanie Walker (@ HOU)
Kyle Rudolph (vs DET)
Charles Clay (@ ATL)
Jared Cook (@ DEN)
Evan Engram (@ TB)
Jordan Reed (@ KC)

At this point, it seems like Reed is going to have to play through his nagging foot injury for the rest of the season. I highly doubt he plays in every game the rest of the way. Whenever he in fact misses a game we should be trained enough by now to upgrade Vernon Davis to a borderline TE1.

Tier 4

Eric Ebron (@ MIN)
Jack Doyle (@ SEA)
Coby Fleener (@ MIA)
Martellus Bennett (vs CHI)
Benjamin Watson (vs PIT)

I keep reiterating that the TE positions is extremely TD dependent. This means that nearly every TE has basement level floors and could put up close to 0 any given week. We saw this with Ebron and Doyle last week, even in great matchups on paper. It also sets up for major mistakes of playing Whack-a-Mole where you tend to start a guy each week who is coming off of a good game the week before. I urged this caution with Jesse James and Austin Hooper after they exploded Week 1. This is the last tier of TE I would be comfortable rolling out in a 12-team league.

Tier 5

Jesse James (@ BAL)
Julius Thomas (vs NO)
Hunter Henry (vs PHI)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (vs JAX)
Zach Miller (@ GB)
Ryan Griffin (vs TEN)
Cameron Brate (vs NYG)
Austin Hooper (vs BUF)
Marcedes Lewis (@ NYJ)
Antonio Gates (vs PHI)
Jermaine Gresham (vs SF)
Vernon Davis (@ KC)

This is the desperation-only, or DFS, tier. As I mentioned earlier, Vernon Davis would shoot up to Tier 3 or 4 if Reed were to miss Week 4. He is a rare TE handcuff that I think all Reed owners should keep, given the high correlation between the two that would put you in a safer position week-to-week.


Tier 1

Matt Bryant (vs BUF)
Stephen Gostkowski (vs CAR)
Dan Bailey (vs LAR)
Blair Walsh (vs IND)

Tier 2

Wil Lutz (@ MIA)
Harrison Butker (vs WAS)
Phil Dawson (vs SF)
Brandon McManus (vs OAK)
Mason Crosby (vs CHI)

Tier 3

Jake Elliott (@ LAC)
Younghoe Koo (vs PHI)
Kai Forbath (vs DET)
Nick Folk (vs NYG)
Cody Parkey (vs NO)|
Ryan Succop (@ HOU)

Tier 4

Ka’imi Fairbairn (vs TEN)
Dustin Hopkins (@ KC)
Matt Prater (@ MIN)
Chris Boswell (@ BAL)
Jason Myers (@ NYJ)
Randy Bullock (@ CLE)
Justin Tucker (vs PIT)
Giorgio Tavecchio (@ DEN)

Tier 5

Stephen Hauschka (@ ATL)
Graham Gano (@ NE)
Aldrick Rosas (@ TB)
Robbie Gould (@ ARI)
Greg Zuerlein (@ DAL)
Chandler Catanzaro (vs JAX)
Connor Barth (@ GB)
Zane Gonzalez (vs CIN)

Tier 6

Adam Vinatieri (@ SEA)

Defenses/Special Teams

Tier 1

Cincinnati Bengals (@ CLE)
Jacksonville Jaguars (@ NYJ)
Seattle Seahawks (vs IND)

Tier 2

Green Bay Packers (vs CHI)
Arizona Cardinals (vs SF)
Atlanta Falcons (vs BUF)
Tennessee Titans (@ HOU)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs NYG)

Tier 3

New York Jets (vs JAX)
New England Patriots (vs CAR)
Pittsburgh Steelers (@ BAL)
Philadelphia Eagles (@ LAC)
Kansas City Chiefs (vs WAS)
Dallas Cowboys (vs LAR)
Cleveland Browns (vs CIN)
Houston Texans (vs TEN)

Tier 4

Minnesota Vikings (vs DET)
New York Giants (@ TB)
Los Angeles Chargers (vs PHI)
Denver Broncos (vs OAK)
Baltimore Ravens (vs PIT)
Detroit Lions (@ MIN)

Tier 5

New Orleans Saints (@ MIA)
San Francisco 49ers (@ ARI)
Indianapolis Colts (@ SEA)
Chicago Bears (@ GB)
Los Angeles Rams (@ DAL)
Oakland Raiders (@ DEN)
Washington Redskins (@ KC)
Miami Dolphins (vs NO)

Tier 6

Buffalo Bills (@ ATL)
Carolina Panthers (@ NE)