Week 4 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Which Wide Receivers Are Trending Up?

The start-or-sit dilemma is virtually synonymous with managing a fantasy football team.

Having the foresight to start the wide receiver who erupts for 100 yards and a touchdown in a cakewalk matchup while sitting a receiver against a shutdown cornerback feels so good.

And that's why hundreds of fantasy articles each week are dedicated to start-or-sit scenarios. But answering the question of, "Should I start Player X?" is hard. Context matters.

Mostly, when it comes to answering the question of, "Who do I start?," the real answer is, "Well, who else is available?"

That's why for this version of a start-or-sit column, I'm going to be listing out all relevant fantasy football players each week and bucketing them into tiers.

No player is ever a must-sit. I mean, sure, your tight end might have a terrible matchup and be playing in a game with a low over/under, but what if the only option left is second-stringers who see no run?

However, we also know that, yes, there are players you should want to sit if you have any other viable options. That's my overall goal with this start-or-sit column.

And to take some of the guesswork out of it, I'll be leveraging thousands of slate simulations that are based on numberFire's player projections with dynamic measures for variance, such as quarterback rushing, running back receiving, and receiver target depth.

The results will boil down to three tiers: players we should be confident about starting, players we can consider starting whenever we don't have better alternatives but who aren't must-plays, and players we should try to bench whenever we do have better alternatives (i.e. players listed above them on the list).

These players are listed in order of frequency of hitting the stated threshold (i.e. QB12, RB24, WR24, and TE12 performances and higher on the list means more startable).

The groupings reflect a 12-team, single-quarterback league with the following hypothetical in mind: if I had other viable options on my bench or the waiver wire, should I start this player this week?

Players not listed should be presumed sit-worthy in a shallow or standard-sized league, and all fantasy points references and rankings reflect half-PPR scoring.


Start With Confidence: These players are at least 50% likely to finish the week as a top-12 quarterback, according to the slate simulations.

- Patrick Mahomes at PHI (71%)
- Josh Allen vs. HOU (69%)
- Lamar Jackson at DEN (55%)
- Dak Prescott vs. CAR (55%)
- Jalen Hurts vs. KC (55%)
- Matthew Stafford vs. ARI (54%)
- Kyler Murray at LA (54%)
- Justin Herbert vs. LV (53%)
- Tom Brady at NE (50%)
- Russell Wilson at SF (50%)

Consider If Needed: This tier has odds between 35% and 49% to post a top-12 week.

- Derek Carr at LAC (42%)
- Kirk Cousins vs. CLE (40%)
- Joe Burrow vs. JAC (40%)
- Aaron Rodgers vs. PIT (40%)
- Baker Mayfield at MIN (39%)
- Ryan Tannehill at NYJ (39%)
- Taylor Heinicke at ATL (36%)

These players usually waffle around throughout the three designations, but the matchups are generally good here.

Kirk Cousins plays a Cleveland Browns team that is just 16th in adjusted fantasy points per drop back against quarterbacks and is playing in a dome, which is more conducive to big games. Since 2018, passers have gotten to the 300-yard mark 32% of the time when playing indoors compared to 24% when playing outdoors.

Baker Mayfield also plays in a dome on the other side of that game, and he's off to an efficient enough start for the matchup and game environment he'll have against the Minnesota Vikings.

Taylor Heinicke might be a bit of a surprise here, but the Atlanta Falcons pose a very positive matchup (they're 28th in adjusted fantasy points per drop back allowed). This game also is indoors and profiles as the fastest expected matchup of the week.

Bench If Possible: These quarterbacks are under 35% likely (17th or worse) to net a top-12 result and likely aren't in the one-quarterback-league conversation.

- Matt Ryan vs. WSH (32%)
- Sam Darnold at DAL (31%)
- Teddy Bridgewater vs. BAL (30%)
- Trevor Lawrence at CIN (30%)
- Daniel Jones at NO (26%)
- Jimmy Garoppolo vs. SEA (25%)
- Mac Jones vs. TB (25%)
- Jacoby Brissett vs. IND (25%)
- Zach Wilson vs. TEN (23%)
- Jared Goff at CHI (23%)
- Jameis Winston vs. NYG (22%)
- Ben Roethlisberger at GB (21%)
- Carson Wentz at MIA (21%)
- Davis Mills at BUF (17%)

Running Back

Start With Confidence: These running backs are at least 60% likely to finish the week inside the top 24, according to the slate simulations. You're starting them.

- Derrick Henry at NYJ (83%)
- Alvin Kamara vs. NYG (78%)
- Joe Mixon vs. JAC (73%)
- Aaron Jones vs. PIT (71%)
- Najee Harris at GB (71%)
- David Montgomery vs. DET (70%)
- Ezekiel Elliott vs. CAR (70%)
- Austin Ekeler vs. LV (69%)
- D'Andre Swift at CHI (66%)
- Nick Chubb at MIN (65%)
- Antonio Gibson at ATL (64%)
- Chuba Hubbard at DAL (63%)
- Saquon Barkley at NO (61%)
- Jonathan Taylor at MIA (60%)

Consider If Needed - This tier is sitting between 40% and 59% for an RB2 week, and you're probably starting some of them even if they're shy of that top tier.

- Chris Carson at SF (58%)
- James Robinson at CIN (57%)
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire at PHI (56%)
- Myles Gaskin vs. IND (52%)
- Miles Sanders vs. KC (51%)
- Mike Davis vs. WSH (48%)
- Leonard Fournette at NE (45%)
- Michael Carter vs. TEN (42%)
- Chase Edmonds at LA (42%)
- Dalvin Cook vs. CLE (41%)*
- Melvin Gordon vs. BAL (41%)
- Javonte Williams vs. BAL (40%)
- Sony Michel vs. ARI (40%)**

A few injury notes here. Dalvin Cook is currently partially projected due to his uncertain status. If he plays, you play him. If he doesn't you play Alexander Mattison if you have him. Cook has averaged 21.0 carries and 5.0 targets in his healthy games. Last week, Mattison took over that role with 26 carries and 8 targets.

The same goes for Sony Michel and Darrell Henderson with partial projections. When Henderson has played, Michel has had a very difficult time getting on the field. That may have changed after his 20-carry, 4-target game while playing 73.0% of the Los Angeles Rams' snaps. If Henderson is healthy, we can trust him. If you're really in a bind, Michel's potentially increased workload could keep him in the low-end flex mix in such a promising game.

Keep an eye on the status of Giovani Bernard, who was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' lead back last week. He played 45.1% of the team's snaps and had 10 targets with no carries. If he's good to go, we should bump down Leonard Fournette.

Bench If Possible: These backs are under 40% likely to net a top-24 result.

- Kareem Hunt at MIN (38%)
- Devin Singletary vs. HOU (37%)
- Alexander Mattison vs. CLE (36%)*
- Cordarrelle Patterson vs. WSH (36%)
- Kenyan Drake at LAC (34%)
- Jamaal Williams at CHI (33%)
- Tony Pollard vs. CAR (33%)
- Trey Sermon vs. SEA (31%)
- Zack Moss vs. HOU (30%)
- Damien Harris vs. TB (29%)
- James Conner at LA (28%)
- J.D. McKissic at ATL (27%)
- Nyheim Hines at MIA (26%)
- Darrell Henderson vs. ARI (22%)**

Wide Receiver

Start With Confidence: You're starting these guys in a 12-team league.

- Cooper Kupp vs. ARI (71%)
- Tyreek Hill at PHI (70%)
- Davante Adams vs. PIT (67%)
- Stefon Diggs vs. HOU (65%)
- Justin Jefferson vs. CLE (64%)
- DeAndre Hopkins at LA (61%)
- Amari Cooper vs. CAR (60%)
- Calvin Ridley vs. WSH (59%)
- D.K. Metcalf at SF (58%)
- CeeDee Lamb vs. CAR (57%)
- D.J. Moore at DAL (56%)
- Ja'Marr Chase vs. JAC (56%)
- Tyler Lockett at SF (56%)
- Keenan Allen vs. LV (55%)
- Deebo Samuel vs. SEA (54%)
- Chris Godwin at NE (50%)
- Terry McLaurin at ATL (50%)
- Adam Thielen vs. CLE (47%)

Consider If Needed: These players are more matchup dependent for Week 1 than the tier above but are likely where we are looking for a lot of our WR2, WR3, and FLEX plays this week.

- Marvin Jones at CIN (44%)
- Odell Beckham at MIN (44%)
- Mike Williams vs. LV (44%)
- Allen Robinson vs. DET (44%)
- Robert Woods vs. ARI (44%)
- Tyler Boyd vs. JAC (43%)
- Brandin Cooks at BUF (43%)
- Mike Evans at NE (42%)
- DeVonta Smith vs. KC (42%)
- Courtland Sutton vs. BAL (40%)
- Chase Claypool at GB (38%)
- Corey Davis vs. TEN (37%)
- Jakobi Meyers vs. TB (36%)
- D.J. Chark at CIN (34%)
- Brandon Aiyuk vs. SEA (33%)
- Kenny Golladay at NO (32%)
- Marquise Brown at DEN (31%)
- Michael Pittman Jr. at MIA (31%)

Marvin Jones has a really great workload right now. He has played on 92.4% of the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive snaps while running a route on 93.5% of their drop backs. That's led to a per-game line of 9.3 targets and 64.7 yards -- but also 117.3 air yards per game and 2.3 downfield targets per game. That high-leverage work should have us bullish on Jones for Week 4 and moving forward.

Odell Beckham returned to an elite role in Week 3. He ran just 29 routes (to lead the team at an 80.6% clip in a blowout win) but accrued 9 targets (31.0% of the Browns' targets) and 144 air yards (50.9%). That included four downfield looks, as well.

Don't fear the Baltimore Ravens' defense right now. They are 29th against the pass based on numberFire's metrics, and Courtland Sutton's workload is impossible to hate. Sutton has averaged 8.5 targets and 98.0 yards in two contests without Jerry Jeudy. That's good for a 29.3% target share and a 49.8% air yards share -- along with 2.5 downfield targets and 1.5 red zone targets per game.

Brandon Aiyuk's role seems to be back. Aiyuk ran a route on 88.6% of the San Francisco 49ers' drop backs last week. That led to only 6 targets and 37 yards, but he did lead in average depth of target (8.5 yards) while generating 3 end zone targets.

Michael Pittman Jr. got off to an inauspicious start in Week 1 but has since been a focal point in the Indianapolis Colts' offense. Pittman, over the past two weeks, has a 34.3% target share and a 57.3% air yards share. Players with such shares across all three games? Nobody.

Bench If Possible: These players finished as a WR2 or better under 30% of the time.

- Cole Beasley vs. HOU (29%)
- Will Fuller vs. IND (27%)
- Tim Patrick vs. BAL (25%)
- Henry Ruggs at LAC (24%)
- Darnell Mooney vs. DET (23%)
- Jaylen Waddle vs. IND (20%)
- Emmanuel Sanders vs. HOU (20%)
- A.J. Green at LA (19%)
- Christian Kirk at LA (19%)
- Rondale Moore at LA (19%)
- Laviska Shenault at CIN (19%)
- Robby Anderson at DAL (18%)
- Nelson Agholor vs. TB (17%)
- DeVante Parker vs. IND (17%)
- Hunter Renfrow at LAC (17%)
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. PIT (16%)
- Marquez Callaway vs. NYG (16%)
- Mecole Hardman at PHI (15%)
- Zach Pascal at MIA (15%)
- Jalen Reagor vs. KC (15%)

Tight End

Start With Confidence: These guys are the Big Five now. (Sorry, Kyle Pitts.)

- Travis Kelce at PHI (87%)
- Darren Waller at LAC (82%)
- George Kittle vs. SEA (71%)
- Mark Andrews at DEN (60%)
- T.J. Hockenson at CHI (53%)

Consider If Needed: You'll likely be starting these options if you don't have a top-tier tight end.

- Noah Fant vs. BAL (47%)
- Logan Thomas at ATL (47%)
- Rob Gronkowski at NE (45%)
- Kyle Pitts vs. WSH (44%)
- Dalton Schultz vs. CAR (40%)
- Tyler Higbee vs. ARI (39%)
- Dallas Goedert vs. KC (33%)
- Austin Hooper at MIN (32%)
- Mike Gesicki vs. IND (30%)

Take your pick here, really. They all have some sort of concerns -- aside from maybe Logan Thomas, who is in an elite game situation this week.

Noah Fant has had just nine targets the past two games without Jerry Jeudy. That's led to just 24.0 yards on a lowly 5.2-yard average depth of target.

It'll be impossible to bench Rob Gronkowski in New England. I get it.

Don't sleep on Mike Gesicki, though. Gesicki was on the receiving end of 12 of Jacoby Brissett's passes in Week 3, and that led to 86 receiving yards. Not many tight ends have 80-yard upside, but we know Gesicki does -- especially when he can be featured with double-digit targets.

Bench If Possible: These tight ends aren't in the starting conversation in 12-team leagues unless you're desperate.

- Jared Cook vs. LV (29%)
- Jonnu Smith vs. TB (27%)
- Robert Tonyan vs. PIT (26%)
- Evan Engram at NO (26%)
- Tommy Tremble at DAL (25%)
- Hunter Henry vs. TB (24%)
- Zach Ertz vs. KC (24%)
- Tyler Conklin vs. CLE (22%)
- Cole Kmet vs. DET (22%)
- Dawson Knox vs. HOU (21%)