Three weeks of NFL action are in the books, and after a wild Thursday Night Football game, it’s time to turn our attention to this weekend. Disappointments litter every position, so it’s highly likely that you’re in a 1-2 do-or-die game with a guy that has gotten you multiple bad games in a row. If you want to switch things up to try to get a victory, or if you’re just tired of his stupid face, then we have you covered with the week four streaming candidates. To make this list, a player must be available in at least 50% of leagues (David Njoku barely missed the list with a 51% roster rate). For all of you who go “well he’s not available in my league, this is useless!” we have some Prozac for you to calm down, as well as a player available in at least 90% of leagues, and a reminder that data does not trump anecdotes.
Jared Goff versus Seattle (49% rostered)
Raise your hand if you saw Jared Goff tied with Russell Wilson for eleventh in EPA (expected points added) per play, ahead of Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, and Joe Burrow. Put your hand down, you liar! Goff is slinging it all over the field, and his bevy of weapons are seemingly endless. Goff lost Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift last weekend, and in came Jamaal Williams with two touchdowns and Josh Reynolds with 6 catches for 96 yards on 10 targets. Goff finished as QB16 last week, but he took on a middle-of-the-road Minnesota pass defense. This week, he gets a Seattle defense that had Russell Wilson threw for 340 yards against them, Jimmy Garoppolo and Marcus Mariota both score two touchdowns against Seattle as well.
Goff’s been sneaky decent this season for fantasy points, too. He’s averaging 250 passing yards and 2.33 touchdowns per game while throwing just two picks in three games. He’s finished as a top-18 quarterback in all three games this year, and if you’re in a bind, then you can go ahead and stream him in what should be a high-scoring game between two questionable defenses.
Marcus Mariota versus Cleveland (22% rostered)
Don’t look now, but the Atlanta Falcons offense is looking somewhat functional! Mariota is helming an offense that has him looking good more often than it doesn’t, which has led to two top-fifteen finishes for Mariota this season, including multiple touchdowns in two straight games. Mariota has 25 rushes this year, which is fourth at the position, just one behind Lamar Jackson and two behind Justin Fields.
This week, Mariota gets the Cleveland Browns, who allow the eleventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, while yielding the fifth-most yards, and they’ve played Joe Flacco, Baker Mayfield, and Mitchell Trubisky. Toss in Myles Garrett likely still being sore from flipping his car earlier this week, and you have a recipe for Marcus Mariota to show people why he is a good fantasy football option.
Geno Smith at Detroit (10% rostered)
The Lions allow the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks on the season, and they were the team that tricked us into thinking that Carson Wentz was going to be good, as he finished with 360 total yards, 3 touchdowns, and a pick against the Lions. This should be a track meet in Detroit, and the Lions have allowed the eighth-most passing yards this season, and they’re tied for the eleventh-most touchdowns allowed. The Seahawks made an effort to get their two best players (D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett) the ball last week, and Geno finished with 325 passing yards and 2 touchdowns, as he threw the ball more than 35 times for the first time with Seattle and the first time since November 1, 2015. He should get to air the ball out again this weekend against the Lions, and he makes for a great streaming candidate if you’re in a bind.
Isaiah McKenzie at Baltimore (45% rostered)
This one is likely to be a massive shootout between two of the top three teams in the AFC so far this year. The Ravens and the Bills are both still licking their wounds from getting beat down by the Dolphins and they’re going to take it out on each other, meaning that I haven’t seen the over/under on this, but whatever it is, I’m taking the over. That means that I want to get bits and pieces of this one, and specifically, whoever it is that might be playing slot receiver for the Bills. In week one, the Bills, through Cris Collinsworth, basically said that they would be running a “slot receiver by committee” with Crowder and McKenzie. Well, that really hasn’t played out, as McKenzie out-targeted, and outplayed, Jamison Crowder last week. While McKenzie has just 15 targets in three games, he plays over 20 snaps per game out of the slot.
Why all this obsession with the slot? The Ravens are the worst team in the NFL at stopping opposing slot receivers. They’ve given up 104.7 PPR points to the position, per The 33rd Team. The Buccaneers rank sixteenth in fantasy points to wide receivers overall, with 104.9 fantasy points allowed. which means the Ravens have given up more fantasy points just to slot receivers than half of the rest of the league has given up to all receivers.
Greg Dortch at Carolina (27% rostered)
At this point, I’m going to be a little sicko who just rides the Dortch Train until the wheels fall off. Dortch will undoubtedly take a backseat once DeAndre Hopkins returns, but he is cruising right along for the Cardinals as their release vale for Kyler Murray. He has 23 targets in three games, and he’s currently tied for twelfth in the league with 20 receptions. Dortch is a PPR machine, turning into Desert Jakobi Meyers, at least for now. Rondale Moore is practicing this week, and his return will throw some uncertainty into The Dortch, but for now, I’m believing in Dortch. The Cardinals get the Panthers this week, who have given up the fourth-most catches and eighth-most yards to receivers this season, with the average completion against them going for a bottom-ten 11.6 yards. That means a lot of short stuff over the middle, and given Dortch’s 4.9 average depth of target, that means a lot of targets for Dortch this week.
If Dortch makes you nervous, how about a bonus receiver?
BONUS: George Pickens versus N.Y. Jets (40% rostered)
Through three games, George Pickens ranks second on the Steelers in air yards behind Diontae Johnson, and first in average depth of target (I am ignoring Miles Boykin’s one target for 33 air yards). He’s run just three fewer routes than Chase Claypool and is quickly becoming the #2 passing option for the Steelers this year. This week, he gets the Jets, who allow the tenth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. It gets worse for the Jets, from there. They allow wide receivers the most fantasy points per target, with 2.36 PPR points per WR target, as well as the third-highest yards per target (9.7 YPT). Should Trubisky and the Steelers put the pedal to the metal, and let it fly, then George Pickens should have a good game.
Richie James versus Chicago (8% rostered)
Through three games, Richie James was the de facto WR2 in New York behind Sterling Shepard. Wan’Dale Robinson and Kadarius Toney were too hurt, Kenny Golladay was too checked out, and nobody knows what a “David Sills V” might be. James has at least five targets in each of the first three games this season and has at least ten fantasy points in two out of the three games. He’s a plug-and-play option against Chicago this week as it’s likely that he gets above five targets. Chicago looks like a stout defense on paper, giving up the eleventh-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. But, three wide receivers have at least six targets against them this season. Two of the three (including Jauan Jennings) have had double-digit PPR days.
DOUBLE BONUS: Josh Reynolds versus Seattle (3% rostered)
I write these on Thursday, and sometimes news breaks that makes me want to rethink things. I almost put Josh Reynolds in my initial receiver rundown, but I thought that Amon-Ra St. Brown would be back. Well, he isn’t going to be back, as the Lions ruled him out for Sunday. That means that Reynolds and Goff get to rekindle that L.A. Rams connection once again. Last week, Reynolds had ten targets, six receptions, and 96 yards. It marked the 20th time that Jared Goff threw the ball to Josh Reynolds more than five times in a game. In those games, he averaged 7.5 targets for 4 catches and 53 yards. Reynolds is going to get way more than five targets and has a good shot at another double-digit target game this weekend. He and Goff have four such games together, and Reynolds averaged 6 catches for 81 yards in those games. The Lions take on the Seattle Seahawks this weekend, who allow the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers on the year, but that’s just because they haven’t faced a team that really targeted their receivers that much yet. They’ve faced just 44 targets (the fewest in the league) but are averaging 1.88 fantasy points per target, the eighth-most in the NFL. If you lost Michael Thomas or even Amon-Ra St. Brown, then Josh Reynolds is a good pivot for you this weekend.
Kenneth Walker at Detroit (50% rostered)
The Lions-Seahawks game is likely to be a shootout, with defense not being either team’s strong suit, and with the run game specifically being a weak spot for Detroit, this could be Kenneth Walker’s big breakout game. The second-round back is yet to really get going this year, with just twelve touches for 48 yards across two games. But, given that Rashaad Penny has been equally lackluster (4.3 yards per touch across 35 touches), this could be the game where the Seahawks set Walker loose and see what they got out of him. The Lions allow the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, mostly because they’ve allowed a league-high six rushing touchdowns to the position, but also because Miles Sanders had 106 yards on 15 touches, and Alexander Mattison & Dalvin Cook took their 24 combined carries for 124 yards.
J.D. McKissic at Dallas (27% rostered)
J.D. McKissic has quietly had himself a decent little season so far in PPR leagues. He’s finished as at least a flex option in each of the last two games, as he was RB13 in week two and RB31 in week three, thanks to his receptions. McKissic is second among running backs in receptions and third in receiving yards while ranking fifth in running back air yards. That is to say: he’s getting a bunch of targets, and in a PPR league, that’s gold. With Antonio Gibson struggling on the ground recently, as well, McKissic is also getting more snaps, too: he played over 50% of the snaps last week. McKissic is a receiver at RB, as his 19 targets on the season are as many as Adam Thielen, Tee Higgins, and JuJu Smith-Schuster this season. The Cowboys get an incomplete when it comes to defending pass-catching running backs, as they’ve seen the sixth-fewest targets this season, but their yards per reception is eleventh. McKissic should get another 7 or 8 targets this week, which means he should get you at least ten PPR points. It’s a nice floor to have.
Justice Hill versus Buffalo (1% rostered)
This isn’t a great matchup against the Buffalo Bills, who have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, while holding them to under 3 yards per carry and 5 yards per reception. But, J.K. Dobbins didn’t look to be back to full game shape last week (and who can blame him) and the Ravens traditionally share the backfield. Both those come to the forefront in what should be a shootout this week. Hill had six carries for 60 yards last week, which gives him 8.4 yards per carry over the last two games. This game has high-flying potential written all over it, and Hill has a great shot to be a part of it. It’s bleak down below 10% roster, but he has the best chance at getting 10 touches out of guys that low this week.
Tyler Conklin at Pittsburgh (34% rostered)
Through three weeks, only four tight ends have had at least 10 PPR points in every game: Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, and… Tyler Conklin?! Conklin finished last week as the #4 tight end, finishing with eight catches for 84 yards against the Bengals. Through three games, he ranks third in tight end targets, second in catches and seventh in yards. He’s been a must-start tight end through three games, yet he’s available in two out of every three leagues. And, it makes sense. Think about where Head Coach Robert Saleh and Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur came from San Francisco. And, who was the focus of that offense the entire time they were there? George Kittle, the tight end. It makes sense that he becomes the focus with Joe Flacco throwing him the ball, and remains the focus once Zach Wilson makes his return this week. Wilson makes his return against a Steelers team that made David Njoku look like an absolute superstar last week to the tune of 10 targets, 9 catches, 89 yards, and a touchdown. You can start Tyler Conklin with confidence that he should get you some fantasy points, with a chance at a big game.
Robert Tonyan versus New England (30% rostered)
If there’s one thing you can count on out of Aaron Rodgers, it’s that he will go on the Pat McAfee Show and say something that a guy in your freshman dorm would say. If you can count on two things out of Aaron Rodgers, it’s that, and that he will hyperfocus his targets on the guys that he trusts. Through three games this year, that seems to be Romeo Doubs and the guy he once made a top-ten tight end, Robert Tonyan. Ironically, the very reason I didn’t like Tonyan going into 2021 is the same reason that I like Robert Tonyan in 2022: targets. Tonyan is tied for fifteenth in targets with 14, and he had seven targets for five catches and 37 yards last week. In Tonyan’s big 2020 season, he had just one game of seven targets. This week, the Packers take on a pretty good Patriots defense with one major glaring weakness: they’ve given up the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. While a lot of this has to do with Mark Andrews doing Mark Andrews things last week, they also gave up a touchdown to Josh Oliver, and let Pat Freiermuth score in week two.
Noah Fant at Detroit (10% rostered)
I want to get a piece of this shoot out, and if I have to get Noah Fant to do it, then so be it. Fant is a decent streaming target, but I don’t expect a big spike week out of him. He has four targets in two-of-three games this season, and the Lions give up the ninth-most fantasy points to the position and the third-highest yards per reception on the year to tight ends. This one is a touchdown-or-bust play, but he should get enough targets and is talented enough to take one to the house against a not-great-against-tight ends Lions’ defense.