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Fantasy Football: Last-minute start/sit for Week 4

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Who should, and should not, be in your lineup?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Somehow it’s already Week 4 in the NFL (weird) and byes have already started (weirder). For fantasy players that starts to shorten the pool of available players and can sometimes put a little more pressure on start/sit decisions. Well, luckily we’re here to help ... hopefully.

Running back

Start: Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

Seattle took a running back in the first round, yet the Seahawks have not let that stop Chris Carson from reigning as the No. 1 back. Carson has outcarried Rashaad Penny 45-20 and outsnapped him 49.5 percent to 28.7 percent on the season. That was a 32-3 and 74 percent to 14 percent advantage last week against the Cowboys. The Seahawks want to run the ball and they’re playing the Cardinals, who have allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.

Start: Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos

Royce Freeman has a 36-33 rushing attempt over Lindsay this season, but that’s partly because Lindsay was ejected after just four rushing attempts this past week for throwing a punch. Still, Freeman only got 13 carries on the day. Lindsay has been the Broncos’ top back and per Next Gen Stats, he’s been the most “efficient” runner in the league with just 2.73 yards run per positive yard gained. The Broncos might find themselves in a shootout with the Kansas City ChiefsDevontae Booker is the team’s top receiving back — but the Chiefs are also giving up the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs.

Sit: Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Barber is Tampa Bay’s top back, but his production hasn’t really supported that role. He has just 124 yards on 43 carries and has only four targets and one reception for seven yards in the passing game. Barber and the Buccaneers are playing the Chicago Bears who have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs and have faced the fifth-fewest rushing attempts through three weeks.

Sit: Dion Lewis, Tennessee Titans

This year was supposed to be different. The Titans were going to run an NFL offense and the signing of Dion Lewis was a key. But Marcus Mariota has been hurt and the offense really hasn’t taken off. Lewis hasn’t had more than five receptions in a game this season and that came in Week 1 and he only has 193 yards from scrimmage. Now Tennessee will face the Eagles, who are second in DVOA against the run, 10th against running backs in the passing game, and have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs so far.

Wide receiver

Start: Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Williams is finding his place in the Chargers offense. He’s the No. 2 wide receiver — third in targets behind Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon. Allen has yet to practice this week, which could even increase Williams’s role. The San Francisco 49ers are likely to be without Richard Sherman and have struggled to find a second corner to play across from him. The Chargers haven’t gotten the attention of the Chiefs, Buccaneers, or Rams, but through three weeks they lead the league in percentage of offensive plays that have gained 20 or more yards. Williams has a team-leading 17.2 yards per reception.

Start: Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

Boyd has unquestionably taken over as the Bengals’ No. 2 receiver. He’s second in targets, receptions, and touchdowns — all behind A.J. Green. He also has six receptions and a touchdown in each of the past two games. Cincinnati has been the seventh-most pass-heavy team this season and will be facing a Falcons defense that has struggled to stop the pass. Atlanta is 23rd against opposing No. 2 receivers.

Sit: Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders

In three games, Cooper has seen three, 10, and five targets. He’s had one, 10, and two receptions. He’s being out-targeted by Jared Cook and has the same number of targets as Jalen Richard. That production probably isn’t going to get much better against a Browns teams that has shut down opposing wide receivers. Cleveland is no worse than eighth in DVOA defending against all positions in the passing game except for running back, where the Browns are 31st.

Sit: Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans

Everything about Corey Davis screams production, except for the actual production. He has a 30 percent target share (ninth-highest in the league), has gotten half of Tennessee red zone targets, and has the third-highest rate of his team’s air yards. But all of that has led to 13 receptions, 151 yards, and no touchdowns. A productive game should be coming eventually, but if you have better options, you might be better off waiting for it with him on your bench.

Tight end

Start: Trey Burton, Chicago Bears

You probably had higher hopes if you drafted Trey Burton. He’s been around TE16 for the season, which is streamable territory. But this week could be the week Burton and the Bears offense gets on track. Chicago is playing Tampa Bay, a team with linebackers who struggle in coverage. The Buccaneers are 25th in DVOA against tight ends and have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. This, hopefully, is the Burton week you’ve been waiting for.

Sit: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

This pains me because I’m a big fan of George Kittle’s game, but everything is working against him this week. He has C.J. Beathard at quarterback and will face a Chargers defense that is second in DVOA against tight ends and has allowed an average of 29 yards to tight ends and the third-fewest fantasy points per game.