Players to Avoid: Week 4

Daily fantasy football isn’t all about who you are going to use. Sometimes it’s just as important to determine who you aren’t going to use. That way, if the salary happens to fit for your last spot, you’ll know which names to disregard in order to produce the greatest overall fantasy point output. Here are the guys to cross off your list heading into the fourth week of the NFL season.

Eli Manning, Giants, $11,400 – Amazingly, the Vikings defense leads all defenses in fantasy points through games after having played both Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton. They’ve recovered four fumbles, intercepted five passes and haven’t allowed than 16 points in a single game…and they’ve played some of the best offenses in the league. If Rodgers and Newton weren’t able to get it done against them then Eli Manning is probably a poor bet as well considering he has only thrown for more than one TD in 1-3 games this season. Oppositely of the Vikings defense, Manning has actually drawn three pretty favorable matchups and failed to reach 20 fantasy points in any of them. His performance is concerning, and the Vikings quite obviously are a dominant defense (who may not have even shown their best yet), so there isn’t even tournament appeal to rostering Manning.

Lamar Miller, Texans, $13,300 – Last season, only five teams allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing backs than the Titans and no team allowed fewer receptions (RECs) to the position (56). In Week 2, Theo Riddick was basically shut down by this defense (four RECs for 28 yards) which contributed to the Titans defense only having allowed the second fewest receiving yards to the running back (RB) position so far this season (despite having faced one of the best receiving backs). Through three games, Lamar Miller has yet to crack the 20 fantasy point plateau but he has caught exactly four passes in his two best outings this season. If he isn’t able to get going in the passing game, then he’s going to have to rely on his volume on the ground, and he’s only averaging 3.6 yards per carry (YPC) this year. Miller is priced as the RB3 this week and yet there is a case to be made for at least five backs priced slightly below him who are in better spots to produce this week. When that is the case, a player becomes an easy fade at an inflated price tag.

Todd Gurley, Rams, $12,600 – Speaking of overpriced RBs, Todd Gurley and the Rams face a tough test in Week 4 against a Cardinals defense that allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to the position just a season ago. In 2016, they haven’t fared quite as well against the position but they rank in the bottom half of fantasy points allowed to the position. Game flow affected these numbers last week as the Bills got off to a 10—0 lead and never gave it back. While playing from ahead (and missing their top target in the passing game: Sammy Watkins), the Bills focused on establishing the run game. When all said and done, Tyrod Taylor only had to throw the ball 25 times. In this upcoming game against the Rams, the Cardinals are listed as 7.5 point home favorites so it’s doubtful they end up playing from behind. Instead, the Cardinals project as the team who should get out to an early lead and rely on the run game to kill clock and lead them to victory. The Rams, on the other hand, will probably have to pass and the Cardinals’ defensive line has graded as a solid unit, per Pro Football Focus. Usually, the way to beat this Cardinals defense would be to run due to this monstrous secondary, but all of their cornerbacks are superior to Rams’ receivers. Therefore, the Cardinals are going to load the box in this game and the Rams are in deep trouble. It would take a minor miracle for Gurley to go off in this game. While possible, the downside far exceeds the upside.

Brandon Marshall, Jets, $13,300 – With Eric Decker likely out this week due to a shoulder injury, an already vicious Seahawks defense will now be able to focus more closely on shutting down Brandon Marshall. According to Pro Football Focus, Richard Sherman has manned the right side of the field 92-percent of the team this season and Marshall lines up there 38-percent of the time…easily the most on the team. If Todd Bowles is smart, they will scheme him mostly on the left side of the offense, but that’s some wishful thinking. Even if Marshall lines up in the correct spot, Ryan Fitzpatrick is literally coming off of one of the worst football games ever played by a quarterback (QB). He threw six interceptions (INTs) and completed just 45.5-percent of his 44 pass attempts (for 188 yards and zero TDs). The matchup only gets more difficult this week and Quincy Enunwa is the receiver with a much safer matchup than Marshall’s…and at a much more reasonable price. Most of the Jets offense is an easy fade for me in this matchup but the poor QB play combined with a date with a top corner is enough to cross Marshall completely off of the consideration list.

Michael Crabtree, Raiders, $12,000 – Football Outsiders uses an excellent statistic called defense-value adjusted over average (DVOA). It measures how a defense fares against each skill position and even divides receivers into “number one WR,” “number two WR” and “other WR” (so it’s quite specific). What the statistic identifies is how opposing team’s players at the position have performed compared to their average performance. In other words, the statistic shows whether certain positions produce above or below average performances against a defense and to what degree. So far this year, the Ravens have allowed performances 33.3-percent above average to opposing number one WRs and performances 63.2-percent below average to opposing number two receivers. If starting a receiver against them, the top target is the one getting it done on a weekly basis. On the Raiders, Amari Cooper is the top dog while Michael Crabtree falls into the WR2 category. Therefore, Cooper is easily the preferred option of the two and Crabtree can be safely avoided.

Jason Witten, Cowboys, $8,400 – Even with Dez Bryant likely out due to a hairline fracture in his knee, the matchup is unfavorable enough where Jason Witten is still unusable. In 2015, the 49ers allowed the seventh fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends (TEs) including the seventh fewest yards. At 34 years old, Witten is a depreciated version of his former self and he hasn’t been targeted more than four times in either of his last two games. Over the course of the last two weeks, he has combined for 12.60 fantasy points and 76 receiving yards. Additionally, Witten’s best friend on the team is Tony Romo and he is much more potent with his buddy under center. Dak Prescott hasn’t relied on him in quite the same manner since Week 1 so there is no reason to believe that game wasn’t just an anomaly. If rostering any Cowboys pass-catcher in this game, Cole Beasley is the play, as he has pretty much emerged as the receiver Prescott trusts the most (25 targets and 20 RECs through three games).

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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