Something that is a guarantee in fantasy football is that you can meticulously plan out all of your moves, draft strategies and lineups, but reality is often times way weirder than fantasy. Take a couple of fantasy defenses from Baltimore and Tampa. They had, on paper, very favorable matchups which should have been gimmes for them in a fantasy sense. But... nope. But as we reach the quarter pole of the season, more trends from this season will become crystallized, allowing you to make better decisions going forward. Or, at the very least, be tricked less.
Start of the Week: RB Jay Ajayi (MIA) vs. NO LONDON:
Didn't his matchup against the Jets last week look so promising? Well, it was one of week three's best tricks. He was awful against the Jets, but the question will be can he take another promising matchup here against the Saints in London and reverse last week's dud? One would hope so. If Ajayi can't do what he needs to do here, then it may be time to start asking questions.
Who to Start:
QB Marcus Mariota (TEN) at HOU: The Texans secondary is a mish-mash of injuries and bad luck through the first three games of 2017, and they were lit up by Tom Brady last week. Mariota has been one of the more reliable fantasy QB's through the early part of this season, and that should likely continue against this rough Texas secondary.
RB Joe Mixon (CIN) at CLE: Finally, it seems that Mixon is getting the bulk of the workload in the crowded Bengals backfield. While he's not a RB1 at this point, he is decent number two or flex option against Cleveland, whose defense hasn't stopped anybody this season.
WR DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) vs. TEN: Logic would suggest that this Titans-Texans game will be a defensive slugfest, but it will likely be the exact opposite. Hopkins has been lethal against the Titans in his career, including a nine catch, 238 yard, two TD performance a few years ago. Tennessee's defense has given up fantasy points to wideouts this season at a bigger clip than expected, so Hopkins is a solid option here.
WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) vs. SF: Hopefully Fitz doesn't think about retiring anytime soon if he can continue to put in performances like he did Monday night against Dallas. He has owned the 49ers in his career, and if Kyle Shanahan's defense plays like it did against the Rams, Fitz will go off again.
TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) vs. DET: The tight end position has been awful this year in fantasy, so even for a player like Rudolph, whose production has declined the first three weeks of the season, it's hard to bench him against the Lions even with QB uncertainty. Evan Engram had a good game against them two weeks ago when the Lions had a lot of road defending to do.
DEF Seattle vs. IND: Jacoby Brissett hasn't exactly been bad for the Colts this season, but heading into Seattle to play a defense that got bullied last week who needs a strong performance badly is probably a sure bet. Even with Brissett, teams have been able to find success against the Colts backups before.
Sit of the Week: QB Jameis Winston (TB) vs. NYG
Winston is still not a bad fantasy option down the line, but this week against the Giants, he might be a desperation play at best. For everything the Giants haven't done well, they have played well against opposing signal callers, holding down Prescott, Stafford and Wentz already this season.
Who to Sit:
QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) at BAL: He is a horrible fantasy option away from home against almost every team at this point in his career, and going up against a motivated Ravens team in a rivalry game doesn't bode well for him if he can't set poor defenses like Cleveland's and Chicago's alight.
RB Ameer Abdullah (DET) at MIN: In spite of the Lions increased focus on running the football, Abdullah hasn't quite met expectations. 46 carries for 163 yards and six catches for 50 yards won't cut it. The Vikings defense has been stout this season, especially at home, so Abdullah, despite his draft position, is a risky play.
WR Amari Cooper (OAK) at DEN: Where did Amari Cooper, and the entire Raiders offense, go last week in Washington? They almost entirely disappeared, and going up against that "no-fly zone" in Denver, Cooper could be in big trouble. In four career starts against Denver, Cooper only has 14 catches for 142 yards and one TD. This bodes poorly for him on Sunday.
WR Terrelle Pryor (WSH) at KC MON: Before the season, I had my concerns about Pryor as a viable high end WR2. His successes last year with Cleveland seemed like a brief flash more than anything else, and though he's getting his targets, he's not producing for fantasy owners. Marcus Peters lining up on the other side of him on Monday won't make his owners feel any better, I'd bet.
TE Julius Thomas (MIA) vs. NO LONDON: Remember when Julius Thomas and Adam Gase worked together in Denver? Thomas was one of the most dominant tight ends in football. Through two games, Thomas has only 42 receiving yards and has been targeted eight times total. Even though the Saints defense is awful, with Thomas, you should still be in wait and see mode.
DEF Tennessee at HOU: Even though the Titans D looks like a good matchup on paper against a rookie QB, DeShaun Watson isn't just any rookie. He's looked solid in his first two starts, and the Titans have been prone to giving up yards and points.
Three Super Sleepers:
QB Carson Palmer (ARZ) vs. SF: He's still so feast and famine that it's hard to recommend starting him, but if you're in a pinch and in a two QB league for example and need another quick fix option, Palmer against the 49ers isn't exactly a bad one. Over the long haul, the 49ers defense is likely to look more like it did against the Rams than the Seahawks, so Palmer has a chance this week to be quite successful.
RB Chris Carson (SEA) vs. IND: He's starting to get his fair share of touches and looks, but the concern with Seattle running backs is the offensive line they're playing behind. But against the Colts, there should be a little bit of a reprieve for Carson, because the Colts can't really stop anyone right now.
WR Keenan Allen (LAC) vs. PHI: The Eagles secondary is banged up, and while Allen hasn't quite hit the heights many of us expected him to quite yet, the Eagles secondary could be a decent tonic for those problems.
RB Leonard Fournette (JAX) vs. NYJ: Fournette has gotten his touches and his touchdowns, but not a ton of yards. He has 199 yards on 57 carries, good for only 3.5 yards a carry. Eight catches for 66 yards doesn't exactly make up for that. The Jets defense was surprisingly stout against Miami, and you know they'll key in to stop Fournette as best they can as that might be their only chance of success. You're likely starting Fournette if you have him, but know the risks if you do.
Good luck in Week 4!