Something I talk about a lot during draft season but probably need to do a better job of emphasizing sometimes: In Fantasy Football, you need difference makers in as many spots as you can manage.
I'm thinking about this as I look at a couple of my worst-performing teams so far this season, which have kind of opposite problems entering Week 4. One was a salary cap draft where I dropped $78 out of $100 on Austin Ekeler, Cooper Kupp, and Josh Jacobs, so the struggles there are understandable. However, I also have Darren Waller in that league and snagged a couple of $1 guys like Puka Nacua, Nathaniel Dell, and Jakobi Meyers who look really good in the early going. I still think that team has a real chance to make a significant run if Kupp's recovery doesn't get delayed and Ekeler gets back soon. I'm as optimistic as I could be for a last-place team.
My other 0-3 team? I'm decidedly less optimistic about, unfortunately. Here's what the roster looks like:
Seeing it laid out like that, it's not as bad as a last-place standing makes me feel. There are plenty of starting-caliber players there. But TE is a black hole with little hope outside of a trade, and there just aren't enough difference makers elsewhere, especially for a 10-team league. I've got too many guys in the same ranges at both RB and WR, and that leaves me with coin-flip start/sit decisions, which is often the worst place to be.
Depth has value, but when you look at a roster like this, with solid enough depth but few must-start studs, you can see how easy it can be to overrate depth. Maybe I'll feel better about it when the attrition of injuries and bye weeks catches up to other teams, but there are usually enough 8-11-PPG types available on waivers throughout the season that I'd rather have to worry about replacing a difference maker for one week than trying to decide between a bunch of decent, but ultimately same-y options every week.
Which is to say, my path forward probably lies in consolidating some those same-y options into a few more dynamic options. That might leave me painfully thin at multiple spots, but it also might be the only way to come back from a 0-3 start. When you're down bad like that this early, you've got a narrow needle to thread as it is, and it doesn't much matter whether you got .500 the rest of the way or winless; you're still missing the playoffs.
I hope that bit of navel-gazing can help some of you off to disappointing starts figure out how to proceed moving forward. Your situations won't be exactly like mine – like Leo Tolstoy said , all good Fantasy Football rosters are alike; each bad Fantasy Football roster is bad in its own way … it's not an exact quote – but hopefully that window into my thought process can help you figure out what your plan needs to be.
And now, let's turn our attention to Heath Cummings' Week 4 Position Previews:
🔍Week 4 Position Previews
Every Tuesday, Heath Cummings previews each position, providing injury insights, key stats to know, the best waiver-wire adds, DFS targets, and more for, , , and . Here's a brief rundown of each position, along with some key details you need to know before you go read Heath's full breakdowns:
"Since the start of last season the Titans have had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL and one of the best run defenses. The only quarterback this season who has failed to top 20 Fantasy points against them was Derek Carr, and Carr threw for 305 yards. It is a choice matchup, and we're about to find out if that is enough to make Joe Burrow a Fantasy starter in 2023.
"Burrow valiantly played through his calf injury again in Week 3 and pulled out a much needed win. It may have been enough to save the Bengals' season, but it was not enough to make Fantasy managers feel good about starting him. While there were a couple of great throws mixed in, the story mostly remained the same; Burrow is not taking deep shots and he's not accurate when he does. Both his 6.5 air yards per attempt and his 55.4% completion percentage are career lows. That's an unfortunate combination."
- Injuries: Anthony Richardson (concussion), Derek Carr (shoulder), Bryce Young (ankle), Jimmy Garoppolo (concussion) and Kyler Murray (knee)
- Number to know: 29.6 -- Kirk Cousins leads all quarterbacks at 29.6 FPPG. Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert are the only other quarterbacks above 27 FPPG.
- Matchup that matters: Jordan Love vs. DET (18th vs. QB)
- Waiver add/streamer: Kenny Pickett, Steelers: "Pickett finally played a defense that wasn't elite and turned in a 22-point performance. The matchups against the Texans is more complicated, but nowhere close to as difficult as what he saw the first two weeks of the season. Even with those tough matchups, Pickett has shown marked improvement statistically in yards per attempt, yards per game, and touchdown rate. That being said, Dak Prescott is the only guy who was maybe drafted as a starter who I would start Pickett over this week."
- Stash: C.J. Stroud, Texans: "t's early and I don't want to overreact, but C.J. Stroud's first three NFL games have gone about as well as anyone could have hoped. His 906 yards are the third best mark ever for a QB's first three starts, behind only Cam Newton and Justin Herbert. He's done that without throwing one interception and playing behind a patchwork offensive line. This is a big test in Week 4 against Pittsburgh's pass rush. If Stroud passes the test we may be talking about him as a top-12 QB in Week 5 against the Falcons."
"After what we saw from the Dolphins running back duo in Week 3, it's frankly hard to think or write about anything else. Raheem Mostert and De'Von Achane combined for 285 yards rushing, 11 receptions, 90 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. I can't ever remember seeing anything quite like it.
"As disorienting as it is, there seems to be some consensus forming as to what we should do with the Dolphins duo. Mostert is a clear sell; he's 31 years old with a laundry list of past injuries, and Achane is a must-add. While I can't argue with that consensus, and Achane is the top waiver wire add in that section below, I'm not sure it answers the most interesting question. What do they do for an encore?"
- Injuries: Aaron Jones (hamstring), Austin Ekeler (ankle), Saquon Barkley (ankle), Jonathan Taylor (ankle), David Montgomery (thigh), Gus Edwards (concussion), Justice Hill (toe), Jamaal Williams (hamstring), Cordarrelle Patterson (thigh), Jeff Wilson (abdomen) and Salvon Ahmed (groin)
- Number to know: 51% -- More than half of Derrick Henry's rush attempts have come against an eight-man box, the highest rate in the league.
- Matchup that matters: Josh Jacobs @LAC (21st vs. RB)
- Waiver add: De'Von Achane: "If you are desperate for help at running back and Achane is available, I cannot argue against spending all of your FAB, especially in leagues where zero dollar bids are available. His speed in Mike McDaniel's offense has the potential to produce record-breaking efficiency, as we saw this week. The ceiling is Tony Pollard's 2022, which could win you your league off the waiver wire."
- Stash: Kendre Miller, Saints: "With Alvin Kamara back, we expect Miller to work his way into the RB2 role, which should mean 5-10 touches per week as long as the 28-year-old back is healthy. But there's real injury risk for Kamara, and Miller should see a bigger role than Tony Jones if the star goes down."
"I could understand the instinct to sell high on Keenan Allen. He's 31 years old, he leads the NFL in receptions, he missed seven games due to injury last year, I get it. I just can't get behind it.
:Allen probably can't be this good rest of season. He's averaging a career-best 10.3 yards per target and he's caught an insane 82.1% of his targets. No one does that over an entire season. The thing is, with Kellen Moore calling plays, Justin Herbert throwing the football, and Mike Williams out for the year, Allen could see major efficiency regression and still be a top five wide receiver. In fact, you should expect him to be a top five wide receiver as long as he stays healthy, and I'm not selling a wide receiver based on a perceived injury risk, especially when Allen had played at least 16 games in four of the past six seasons."
- Injuries: Mike Williams (knee), Deebo Samuel (ribs), Brandon Aiyuk (shoulder), Jaylen Waddle (concussion), Cooper Kupp (hamstring), Christian Watson (hamstring), Diontae Johnson (hamstring), Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle), Rashod Bateman (hamstring), Zay Jones (knee) and Jonathan Mingo (concussion)
- Number to know: 35.9% -- Rashee Rice has been targeted on 35% of his routes. Among players who have run at least 39 routes, only Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams have been targeted at a higher rate.
- Matchup that matters: Mike Evans @NO (13th vs. WR)
- Waiver add: Nathaniel Dell, Texans: "Dell is winning all over the field, lining up outside and in the slot, and absolutely thriving with C.J. Stroud. At this point I think it's fair to wonder if Dell or Stroud will be the top Texans wide receiver rest of season. I prefer Nico Collins in Week 4, but they are both startable in a three-receiver league. "
- Stash: Quentin Johnston, Chargers: "You still can't start Johnston until he shows something, but the Mike Williams injury means we should at least see the rookie on the field more. I said it last week, but it's far more true now: You cannot leave this first-round rookie who plays with Justin Herbert on the waiver wire. He's a must-stash."
"Looking at the top 12 tight end rankings after three weeks, it's hard not to chuckle. Even after sorting per game to bump Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews up, you've got Sam LaPorta, Hunter Henry, Logan Thomas, Donald Parham, and Luke Musgrave who all rank inside the top 12 at the position. And so many guys who were drafted as top 12 tight ends have disappointed.
"Pat Freiermuth ranks at TE16 despite scoring two touchdowns in three weeks. Kyle Pitts is TE23 despite leading his team in both target share and air yards share. Dallas Goedert is TE28 despite having the same number of catches as TE2 Travis Kelce. David Njoku is TE30 despite...well there's no real positive for Njoku. Same for Dalton Schultz, who currently ranks as TE43 and the No. 4 option on his own team."
- Injuries: Greg Dulcich (hamstring), Irv Smith (hamstring) and Logan Thomas (concussion)
- Number to know: 4.2 -- Dallas Goedert is averaging 4.2 yards per target this season. The past two years he's averaged more than 10 yards per target. Regression is coming.
- Matchup that matters: Jake Ferguson vs. NE 3rd vs. TE)
- Streamer: Luke Musgrave, Packers: "Musgrave is coming off of a season-high eight targets in Week 3 and now gets a fantastic matchup against the Lions on Thursday night. He's the only streaming option I rank as a starter this week, and if he has a good game in an island game he won't be a streaming option any longer because he'll be rostered in too many leagues."