Dig in. And dominate.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles: Ajayi was a full participant in Thursday’s practice as he has apparently worked his way back from a fracture in his back. Ajayi is part of a running back-by-committee approach by the Eagles so at best he’s probably a flex play in Week 4. Update: As expected, Ajayi is going to play Sunday.
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: Allen did not practice Thursday as he’s battling an issue with his knee. Continue to monitor his status leading up to Sunday’s game against the 49ers.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks: Baldwin was limited in Thursday’s practice, and while he says he’s ready to go in Week 4, Seattle may consider easing him back into action. Update: Baldwin likely plays, but hard to recommend him until we see how healthy he really is for the Seahawks.
Matt Breida, RB, 49ers: Breida is a game-time decision for Week 4 as he has a banged-up knee. San Francisco lost QB Jimmy Garappolo last weekend and Alfred Morris would start in Breida’s place should he not be able to go.
Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots: A neck injury forced New England to place Burkhead on injured reserve. That means rookie Sony Michel and James White should see an uptick in touches. Though mostly used as a receiver out of the backfield, White has been contributing in fantasy and now potentially gets some additional reps.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: Fitzgerald continues to be hampered by a hamstring injury, but he practiced Thursday. However, until Arizona’s quarterback starts finding him, he probably needs to stay on your bench. Update: Fitzgerald is expected to play, but owners might want to wait a week to make sure he’s OK as well as the Cardinals QB situation.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars: Fournette was limited again in practice Thursday after a limited run in Wednesday’s session. Owners should monitor his status leading up to game-time, but Fournette probably will play and he should be in lineups if that’s the case. Update: Fournette was a full participant in Friday’s practice and appears good to go.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons: Freeman went through a limited practice Thursday; we’ll see if he does more on Friday in the run-up to Sunday’s game against the Bengals. Update: Freeman will not play Sunday.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles: The good news is Jeffery could return in Week 4. The bad news is he could be on a snap count. He’s a tough recommendation until we know he’s fully back.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans: Mariota was forced into action last week when Blaine Gabbert suffered a concussion. Mariota will start in Week 4, but until he shows he can do something, his fantasy value is minimal.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: McCoy (ribs) practiced Thursday and while he’s not a lock to play, his outlook is improving. If he is able to go, McCoy warrants flex consideration in a matchup against the Packers. Update: A limited practice for McCoy on Friday has him questionable going into Sunday. Continue to monitor.
Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: While Mixon (knee) has resumed drills, it’s looking like he’s more in line to return in Week 5. If so, Giovani Bernard continues to have upside in his absence. Update: Mixon has been ruled out for Week 4.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: This is probably not that hard of a decision. With Joe Mixon doubtful as he works his way back from injury, the Bengals will likely lean on Bernard as they did last week. Bernard received 17 touches, averaging more than five yards on 12 carries while scoring a touchdown and hauling in five receptions for 25 yards. Cincinnati will visit Atlanta on Sunday. The Falcons haven’t exactly been a stalwart defensively and that figures to make Bernard a strong play as an RB2/flex in Week 4 lineups. Bernard, who is nursing a thigh injury, could be a nice play in daily leagues as well.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: Can you believe there was a time when someone thought Drake could be the “Alvin Kamara of 2018″? And yet here we are in the fourth week of the season and Drake, whose average draft position was 35, has been so underwhelming that he could very well be benched by some owners this weekend when Miami visits New England. Count me among the Drake owners befuddled by the results thus far . . . but an argument can be made to extend the Miami tailback a one-week reprieve until he’s banished to the bench for his lack of production. So how does one look at Drake with a glass-is-half-full mentality? For one, the best game of Drake’s career came in 2017 against the Patriots (full disclosure: the game was in Miami). Secondly, that same Patriots team just surrendered the first 100-yard game to a Detroit Lions running back since 2013!!!! Kerryon Johnson’s big game allowed the Lions to dominate time of possession vs. the Patriots, holding the ball for more than 39 minutes. If the Dolphins are smart, they will do their best to keep Tom Brady and Co. off the field. That means making an attempt to establish some ball control; Drake represents their best chance at doing that.
Marvin Jones, WR, Lions: Aside from the disastrous season-opener, Jones’s owners have gotten by largely because the Detroit wideout has found the end zone the past two weeks. But he has yet to have five receptions or eclipse 69 yards in a game this season. Now Jones and the Lions face a Cowboys’ secondary surrendering the third-fewest points to wide receivers. On top of that, the emergence of Kenny Golladay has cut into Jones’s targets and yet Jones still has his supporters in the matchup against Dallas. It’s probably tough for some Jones owners to consider relegating him to the bench, but if you have depth and are uneasy about his declining presence in the passing game, then certainly consider other options.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants: Tight end Evan Engram is expected to be out a few weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament, and combined with a terrific matchup against a Saints’ secondary that has been lit up repeatedly, Shepard’s potential in Week 4 has tons of upside. This weekend also marks the beginning of bye weeks and perhaps Shepard, coming off his best game of the season with six catches for 80 yards and a touchdown, can work his way into becoming a weekly consideration.
Lottery Tickets That Could Pay Off
Javorius Allen, RB, Ravens: For a player who has just one game with double-digit touches, Allen has sure been efficient. While the bulk of Allen’s yardage is coming through the passing game, he’s also scooped up some key red-zone carries that’s resulted in three touchdowns. Allen has been a popular pickup this week but remains available in 50 percent of ESPN leagues. And while the bubble may burst at some point, there’s reason to be optimistic heading into Baltimore’s matchup against the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s defense hasn’t exactly been keeping opponents in check, so owners should consider Allen if they’re in need.
Aaron Jones, RB, Packers: Green Bay hosts Buffalo on Sunday, and if the Packers want to make life easier for Aaron Rodgers and his banged-up knee, then running the football would be to their advantage. Until last week, backup running backs had found success against the Bills. Jones and Jamaal Williams had virtually identical production in the team’s Week 3 loss, but Williams has had time to seize the job and has failed to do so. The timeshare is likely to continue, but if you’re in a pinch, the hunch here is that Jones provides enough yardage and finds the end zone for a serviceable week in fantasy. Jones is available in 45 percent of ESPN leagues.
***This post is updated each Friday afternoon with additional information on injuries and other player-related news.