How to Crush the Fantasy Competition: Week 4

Just three weeks into the Fantasy Football regular season, nearly all expert pre-draft predictions are absolutely meaningless and most teams look like a dumpster fire. David Johnson, the consensus number-one overall pick this August, injured his wrist in week two, rendering him useless for half the season, and the supposed Chicago Bears stud starting running back Jordan Howard has all but lost his starting job to fourth round rookie Tarik Cohen. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in all of the mayhem that is Fantasy Football.

Now may seem like a good time to just mail it in for the rest of the season — I’m considering doing it in one of my three leagues — but don’t give up yet. If there’s two certainties in Fantasy Football, it’s that no one really knows what they’re doing and that the only real thing that’s important is the inevitable bragging rights that come with winning.

So without further adieu, here are my three strategies for moving forward.

Buy Low, Sell High

Everyone knows that the first few weeks of the season are the most dangerous for Fantasy Football. A guy has one big week, and everyone thinks he’s a certified star for the rest of the year. Don’t fall for the hype! Here are the top “Buy Low, Sell High” candidates.

Buy Low

Amari Cooper: Considered a second or early third-round pick in nearly all Fantasy leagues, the wide receiver has been nothing but frustrating to his fantasy owners, getting just 39 yards combined over these last two weeks. Don’t forget that he’s on one of the most electrifying offenses in the NFL, and his otherworldly skills are soon to result in points. Michael Crabtree is good, but when the Raiders play, Cooper is the best receiver on the field.

Joe Mixon: After a shockingly bad first two weeks for the Cincinnati offense, they finally seemed to find their rhythm against their rival Packers. While their outlook as a team may not look great as they’re 0–3 on the year, this does bode well for rookie Joe Mixon, who racked up 101 total yards on the night. In what has been the year of the rookie running back so far, it might not be a bad idea to offer up a trade for Mixon, whose jaw-dropping athleticism and raw talent had scouts wondering if he would be the first running back taken in the NFL draft, if not for his off-the-field concerns.

Sell High

Todd Gurley: Coming off a monster 149-total yard, 3-TD performance, it’s easy to think that Gurley is back to being one of the top fantasy running backs in the league after a disappointing season last year, in which he finished as the 20th Fantasy RB. Don’t be fooled. Showtime is not back in Los Angeles, and all of the reasons for Gurley to fail again are there. Gurley is an elite running back talent, and while his supporting cast of second-year dud Jared Goff has been efficient against the Colts and the 49ers — two of the worst teams in the league — the Rams will finish a disappointing 6–10, and Gurley will stand to lose the most when their offense inevitably falters.

Ezekiel Elliott: After posting a dominant 94 total yards and a touchdown on Monday night, Zeke got back at the NFL the only way he knows how: feasting on a mediocre defense. However, in all of the banter about Elliott’s overturned suspension, it’s easy to forget that the NFL is still actively trying to get him suspended, and that if he is, he’ll likely miss valuable end-of-the-year or postseason Fantasy games. He’s a top-three running back in the league, and it’s best to trade him while he’s still playing.

Stefon Diggs: Not even Stefon Diggs thought he would have been the highest-scoring receiver in all Fantasy Football scoring formats through three weeks. While there’s no denying his talent, betting on the Vikings’ passing attack is like betting on the Chargers not to blow a fourth-quarter lead. If you have him, sell while you still can.

Free Agent Finds

The biggest myth in Fantasy Football is that the most important day of the season is draft day. Between swindling your enemies in trades and working the waiver-wire, every day is as, if not more, important than the last. And the only day that really matters is when you parade your championship trophy around and concoct the worst “sacko-punishment” you can think of when you win the league. Here are this week’s sneaky steals that will catapult your team to first place, whether by giving you a viable flex or strengthening your bench.

Wendell Smallwood: With Darren Sproles out for the year after suffering an ACL tear and broken forearm on the same play, Smallwood is set to absorb all of the yards the explosive 34-year-old veteran was going to get. Last season, Smallwood proved he can be successful, and despite his small sample-size, he is certainly worth the risk.

Jamaal Charles. CJ Anderson has had the lion’s share of carries in Denver many times and has squandered that opportunity at every turn. Jamaal Charles could never turn his inhuman speed, quickness, and talents into the career he deserved because of countless ACL tears and surgeries, but in Denver’s modest offense, he should be able to carve out enough of a role to make owners proud.

David Njoku: The Browns have few options on offense, and rookie tight end David Njoku proved last week that he has all the physical tools promised when the Browns took him with the 29th overall pick this summer. Consider him a high-floor, low-ceiling tight end in a season where nearly all players at his position have been underperforming.


If you haven’t figured it out by now, a defense’s production is almost impossible to predict, and very dependent on their matchups. It’s too late to warn you not to be the person that drafts a defense in the eighth round, but still, here are the defenses that should be available, and you should try to get based on matchups.

Jaguars: They’re going against the Jets.

Bengals: If I could pick up the defense of the team that plays the Browns each week, I would, so this week offers a rare opportunity. The Bengals aren’t doing too well so far, but they should take care of business against the Browns’ abysmal offense.

Start and Sit

There’s so much to say about all of the players you should want and you should be allergic to, but the toughest decisions in Fantasy Football are who to start and who to leave on the bench. There’s no feeling worse than looking at your bench and seeing that your wide receiver racked up 32 points, then going on to lose your game by five. I know that sometimes it seems like Fantasy Football just hates you, and the better scoring player will always be the one you choose not to start, but choosing your starters is the biggest and most stressful decision you will make all week, so you’ve got to try. Some people go by matchups, and some try crystal balls, but the rest of you can just read here.

Marshawn Lynch – Sit.

He’s been shaky this season, as the Raiders want to keep him fresh for their inevitable post-season run. Against the Denver defense that absolutely silenced Ezekiel Elliott, it’s best to sit Lynch for a week and let their offense regroup after a 27–10 trouncing by Washington.

Lamar Miller – Start.

Miller has been good, not great. While it’s tough to be mad with his performance, it’s certainly not what owners wanted when they spent a second or third round pick on him. Miller hasn’t found the end-zone yet, and that’s bound to change soon. When it does, make sure it doesn’t happen on your bench, for your sanity as well as mine.

Larry Fitzgerald – Start.

The old faithful of Fantasy Football, Larry Fitzgerald’s immaculate career may never see a Super Bowl championship, but it certainly has seen a few Fantasy championships. As he gets older, he seems to expend all of his best performances for the beginning of the year, so it’s best to cash in now, especially when he’s going against the San Francisco 49ers, whose defense should probably be playing in college football.

Cam Newton – Sit.

In the season that was supposed to be SuperCam’s return to MVP form, he’s been absolutely awful. With coaches on his own team worrying that all of the hits he’s taken in his career have affected his game, it’s best to leave him on the bench against the New England Patriots.

Eli Manning – Start.

Maybe it’s because I’m a Giants fan, but you just have to do it. He beat Brady twice.