What a brutal week it’s been for fantasy owners. Massive injuries to Dalvin Cook and Chris Carson shattered many a backfield. Meanwhile, dreaded bye weeks are here so we have to eliminate our options from Washington, Denver, Atlanta and New Orleans. Given the high-octane offenses of all four teams, this has left many of with slim pickins’. Per your specific requests, let’s examine the Startability of several players that will actually suit up this weekend. As a remind, Startability Index is a confidence meter between 1-10 with a 10 being our highest recommendation.
Jay Cutler (vs. Tennessee): 4
The only reason Cutler is even this high is because the Titans have allowed a whopping 11 passing touchdowns. Let’s be real, though, Cutler should only be owned in 14-team 2 QB leagues. He’s had two lousy back-to-back games and his first as a Dolphin wasn’t exactly fantasy gold either. Cutler’s only positive is that he has yet to throw a muti-INT game as a Dolphin. As Bears fans well know, that day will come soon and you don’t want to be starting him when it does.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Jacksonville): 5
That Big Ben is not even owned in 4 of my five fantasy leagues is a bit surprising given his WR corps. But also telling. At this point, he’s a middle of the pack fantasy play with a ceiling of appx 250 yards and 2 TDs. When Roethlisberger starts exceeding those benchmarks regularly he should be considered a strong QB2/streaming option. But for now he’s not mandatory, especially against a Jags defense that has allowed the fewest points to opposing QBs.
Alex Smith (at Houston): 7
After Smith’s Week 1 bonanza (368 yards, 4 TDs), he has come back to down to Earth a bit yet still is second behind only Tom Brady for total fantasy points. Tough matchup against the Texans, and Smith’s numbers may be lower than his average 8.8 yards per attempt. But the Texans are fiercer shutting down opposing running game than passing attacks, and even so Smith can rack up yards on the ground (as evidenced by his 56 yards and touchdown last week). The Chiefs love to involve Smith’s legs in the red zone, and all over the field.
Derrick Henry (at Miami): 5 if Mariota out
Whether ot not Marcus Mariota (hamstring) can play Sunday will go a long way into determining Henry’s value. If Matt Cassel is under center the Titans will need tor rely heavily on DeMarco Murray and Henry. The split between the two backs has been mostly even, with Murray seems a few more snaps. Unless one of them really explodes, Mike Mularkey seems content to keep them in tandem, which is devaluing. But both could be in more productive days if Mariota’s out, assuming the Titans are not getting blown out like last week.
Eddie Lacy (at LA Rams): 5
Lacy, on the heels of a modest 52 yards last week, should play plenty of snaps given Chris Carson’s leg fracture. But remember it was Carson, not Lacy, who established himself as the team’s lead back which should be an indicator of Lacy’s overall value. He’s likely to split carries with Thomas Rawls and could very well play a change of pace role. But given that the Rams are allowing the most fantasy points to opposing RBs, Lacy may be worth the risk as a low end RB2 or flex.
Ty Montgomery (at Dallas): 3
With Montgomery missing practice Thursday with multiple broken ribs, there is an increasingly likelihood he will miss this game. If Monty does play, it would have to be limited, and even if he is active he is in a major fantasy slump the past two weeks.
Jonathan Stewart (vs. Lions): 4
The good news for JStew owners if you know what you’re getting. Double digit touches. 40-65 yards. The slim possibility of a touchdown. Not remotely a threat in the air. The issue lies in the existence of Christian McCaffrey. While McCaffrey hasn’t exactly been Kareem Hunt in the early season, its only a matter of time that Stewrat’s workload gets further reduced as the reins are handed over.
Michael Crabtree (vs. Baltimore): 5
Crabtree has been looking sharp at practice in his return from injury. But this game features the massive unknown of whether the Raiders can have any semblance of an aerial attack with EJ Manuel under center. Crabtree will likely be targeted but we have less confidence in Manuel’s ability to read his stem routes.
Will Fuller V (vs. Kansas City): 7
Fuller had a mesmerizing return from a broken collarbone last week, catching 4 of 6 targets, two of them for TDs. His chemistry with Deshaun Watson is apparent and should only build. With Marcus Peters likely smothering DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller is poised for many looks in this one.
T.Y. Hilton (vs. San Francisco): 7
After an explosive Week 3, Hilton was quiet last week with only 30 yards on 3 catches. The good news is he’s been targeted at least 6 times a game. The better news is the opponent. 49ers CB Rashard Robinson has been getting annihilated by speedy opposing WRs.
Cooper Kupp (vs. Seattle): 6
Take away the Week 3 clunker vs. San Francisco and Kupp has been relatively consistent in the early season: 5-7 targets, an average of about 50 yards, a touchdown every other game. Those numbers likely won’t increase against a Seahawks secondary that can still stuff opposing receivers. But I did have a lot of faith in Kupp generally benefitting from Jared Goff and Sean McVay’s dynamic offense.
Charles Clay (at Cincinnati): 8
Clay is in a smattering of TEs performing well on a regular basis – in three of four games he either has 100 receiving yards or a touchdown. Tyrod Taylor loves looking for his hefty tight end in the red zone and the Bills should be drawing up more plays accordingly.
Hunter Henry (at New York Giants): 7
Henry is a high risk, high reward play. The Giants have allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, including at least a touchdown per week. On the other hand, Henry splits opportunities with Antonio Gates and has been held without a catch in two games. But the Chargers want to get him more looks and this is the perfect game to do so.
If you have a player for which you’d like a Startability score, please tweet me @thefootballgirl.