The 4th Down Decision: Week 1

Written by Zach Lyons, co-host of Football & Other F Words and The Flex, “The 4th Down Decision” will look at various fantasy topics from whether you should “Punt” or “Go For It”. When reading the advice please keep in mind: 12-team league, PPR, 6-pt passing TDs. All ADPs based on FantasyPros.com‘s website.

Football is back, y’all! I needed that Kansas City vs Houston game last night on an emotional level. It felt great. It felt real. It was perfect. One game down and only fifteen more to go.

I am also writing a weekly DFS column with some must-starts for the week. (check that out here). Let’s just jump right in with some more fantasy football advice covering a different group of players.

Go For It: Jaguars skill players

Look, unlike the rest of the NFL media world, I am not drinking the Indianapolis Colts Kool-Aid. This vaunted defense, after adding DeForest Buckner, has somehow gotten worse, because believe you me, I do not think this Colts offense has gotten better.

We haven’t heard a peep about these defenders in Indy making any kinds of training camp plays. Sure, that may amount to diddly squat when the regular season starts, but does no one else think it’s odd that this offense is absolutely torching and gashing this defense? Which leads me to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Over at our Broadway weekly pick ’em column, I predicted the Jacksonville Jaguars to win this one. I just have a feeling that this team is going to be underestimated by the Colts. Which is why you should heavily consider starting most of the Jaguars skill players.

[Editor’s note: “starting most of” and “Jaguars skill players”… okay, Zach]

However the game goes, it will work out in your favor. Either they will be behind and have to pass a lot, they will be in a close game providing balance on offense, or they’ll jump out ahead and grind it out with James Robinson.

Speaking of Robinson, this is a darkhorse pick. Jay Gruden believes he can be a workhorse running back for the Jaguars. He is a UDFA who has gained a lot of buzz this camp, and with Armstead and Ozigbo both on IR, it’s just him and Chris Thompson, each with a clearly defined role. This means you can safely play both or either of them in the flex if other injuries have already popped up on your roster (like Mike Evans, Deebo Samuel, Kenny Golladay, Courtland Sutton… been a rough week already).

Let’s not forget Laviska Shenault and D.J. Chark. Shenault will see playing time, he’s a big-bodied wide receiver with athleticism out the wahoo. They want to find ways to get him the ball, much like Antonio Gibson over at the Washington Football Team. This has been cemented with Shenault taking snaps at running back, and according to reports, Gruden has some tricks up his sleeve for the Colts with Shenault.

We know Minshew and Chark have undeniable chemistry. This Colts defense has a banged up defensive back unit that can’t even contain an aging TY Hilton. I really do expect Chark and Minshew to keep their streak rolling and produce some fantasy points.

Just do not start Tyler Eifert.

Punt: Lions, Rams, and trash. Oh my!

What a stinky situation the Rams are in. No one has proven themselves to be “the guy” in this backfield, according to reports. It’s such a disappointment so far that Cam Akers has yet to differentiate himself from guys like Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson.

This is a bad situation for Week 1. It could really end up being the Akers show on Sunday, but we have no reason to be at all confident. You cannot play anyone in this backfield this week, and if there is no clarity provided in their game versus the Cowboys, you may have to wait another week.

I do not really have any good advice for what to do with Akers long term. You’re kind of stuck with him, and maybe you should just be patient. We will probably have more answers after this week, but for now bench them all.

We talked about the Lions on the latest episode of THE FLEX, but it has somehow gotten even worse in just 24 hours. Some of my co-hosts believe there is very little to fear with Adrian Peterson, but then earlier today we hear that he is being asked to do a lot.

I contend that he will do just enough to screw everything up for everyone in that backfield. I am not 100% confident in this staff’s ability to pull this off, and on top of that, the game script won’t be great for any running back, as Swift is having a hard time getting his feet underneath him as a pro.

Adrian Peterson is essentially just the Frank Gore of Motor City, here to vulture touchdowns and take away snaps from better running backs.

Go For It: Trading immediately after this week

You see it all the time, this is overreaction week. Everyone does it when it comes to Week 1 of the NFL season, and it’s the perfect time to buy low, sell high.

Injuries happen, and that can help push deals forward, but for the most part, a player will either underperform or over-perform, and everyone is itching to make a move.

Take last night for example: Deshaun Watson underperformed. He looked out of sync with his receivers, the offensive line is not protecting him, and thus he looked uncomfortable. Then look at his schedule: Ravens, Steelers, and Vikings. You may think I am going to encourage you to trade him, but actually, you should try to trade for him.

He is a prime buy-low candidate. We know he will always be passing, running, and scoring, it may not look pretty, but he’ll always be fantasy relevant. While he faces some stiff competition in the next three weeks, he’s still going to be fantasy relevant. You could give it a week or two to see if his value continues to fall with the tougher schedule, but if you have a less than desirable quarterback, I wouldn’t wait.

On the flip side, last night was the start of Sammy Watkins’s fifth breakout season (sarcasm, by the way). Dump him to another team now. We’ve seen this story before. Last year he blasted the Jaguars for 199 yards and two Week 1 scores and never saw the end zone again. It happens all the time. There will be another owner in your league who will be wide-receiver needy, and you should trade Watkins to that fool (DeSean Jackson is also gonna be a prime candidate for this after Sunday).

So just remember: keep calm, and make some moves… by taking advantage of other people’s freak-outs after the first week.

Go For It: Stashing Damien Harris

Not much to say other than before he broke his pinky, he was going to have a substantial role in this offense. I would stash him, I think he is on the good side of this coaching staff, and that can go a long way.

You may be saying, but what if Michel really looks good?? Well… he won’t. I am not a big believer in Sony Michel, he has had too many injuries, and he just cannot break a tackle to save his life. He is very much “just a guy.”

They cut Lamar Miller, and when Damien Harris comes back and starts getting some action, I think you will see the Patriots flip Sony Michel to another team.

Go For It: Browns vs Ravens

There isn’t a bad play to be made here. Everyone in this game should be started, anyone and everyone from both teams.

If the Ravens jump out to a massive lead, they’ll do so easily because the Cleveland Browns defensive backfield is decimated by injuries. Hollywood Brown, Miles Boykin, and Mark Andrews are all going to see action.

You know the studs like Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram are going to impose their will on the Browns. Not to mention rookies like Devin Duvernay, and more importantly J.K. Dobbins, are going to be involved.

On the flip side, when the Ravens eventually do jump out to a massive lead, the Browns have the firepower to attack through the air. The only person who does not benefit from the Ravens jumping up is Nick Chubb.

Spoiler Alert: you drafted Nick Chubb too high. This team believes in Kareem Hunt, they extended him, and Hunt is going to be their 3rd Down back. If they get behind early, Hunt will be see more snaps than Chubb. Chubb is atrocious in the passing game, so if the Ravens build an early lead, or if this becomes a shootout, Chubb’s value diminishes.

This doesn’t mean you don’t start Chubb, just that you overdrafted him. Too late now. No use crying about it.

Meanwhile, Oell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, and Hunt are all must starts. To be honest, I would not start either of these defenses (or Willie Snead).

Good Advice Couch: Using the flex

On The Flex this week, I debuted the “Good Advice Couch.” (Want to sponsor? Email: zach@broadwaysportsmedia.com). I’ve decided to turn it in to a closing segment on these Friday articles.

Here is my good advice for the week: If you have a star player that is a game time decision in the afternoon, or any primetime games not on Thursday, put him in your flex.

Take for example Mike Evans, who has an injured hamstring and is listed as doubtful. His game is at 3:25p. So put him in the flex, not in one of your starting WR slots. The reason is that if at 3:20p, he is declared out, you have the option of putting either another WR or even a RB/TE in that slot, as long as you have someone playing that afternoon or in a primetime game.

If you kept him in your WR slot, and your flex guy played earlier that day, you’re stuck scrambling for a wide receiver to play that position with limited options so late in the day.

Thanks for sitting on the “Good Advice Couch.”


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