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START/BENCH: Week 4

Week 3 in the 2017 NFL season was as weird and wild as I can remember in a very long time.

The week’s top-two scoring quarterbacks were New England’s Tom Brady and Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Which was not especially surprising. The fact that the No. 3 signal-caller was Minnesota’s Case Keenum —well that was another matter altogether.

The madness wasn’t just contained to the quarterback position. Two of the Top 10 running backs (Washington’s Chris Thompson and Cleveland’s Duke Johnson) were scat backs who topped 100 total yards despite limited touches.

Minnesota wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were huge beneficiaries of Case Keenum’s big game, and New York Giants’ Odell Beckham and Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald finally had their first big games. But then, three weeks in, Atlanta’s Julio Jones is still searching for his first touchdown grab of 2017.

Does this mean that Jones isn’t an every-week must-start, or that I’ve considered for one second pulling him from the “Studs” list at his position? No – and that’s rather the point of this intro.

We’ve reached the first true turning point of the 2017 season—a time when fantasy owners need to decide which players deserve patience and which ones just aren’t going to be the assets we thought they were.

Yes, Jones hasn’t been a dominant force yet, but he’s still a respectable 20th in points per reception leagues. All it takes is a big stat line or two and Jones will be right where we thought he would.

On the other hand, with a yards-per-carry average of 2.9 a pop and no scores through three games, it’s looking less and less like Cleveland tailback Isaiah Crowell is going to the upside RB2 that fantasy owners hoped for.

There are tough decisions to be made moving forward, lest fantasy seasons get away from us before it’s even Halloween.

So, let’s get to making them — for this week at least — with the Week 4 edition of “Start/Bench” here at Fantasy Sharks.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (vs. Chicago)

Tom Brady, New England (vs. Carolina)

Drew Brees, New Orleans (at Miami)

Matt Ryan, Atlanta (vs. Buffalo)

Russell Wilson, Seattle (vs. Indianapolis)

SPOT START OF THE WEEK

Trevor Siemian, Denver (vs. Oakland)

After throwing no touchdowns and two interceptions in Sunday’s loss to Buffalo, Siemian admitted to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold that he knows he can’t turn the ball over like that.

“I can’t do that, at home or on the road,” Siemian said. “Those two turnovers, obviously, they hurt you. The defense bailed us out one time. I felt good about getting points there [on the second one] if I don’t turn it over.”

Despite last week’s bad outing, Siemian’s still a Top-5 fantasy quarterback in most scoring systems. The third-year pro should be able to get things back on track at home Sunday against Oakland. Oakland has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to the quarterback position in Sharks League Scoring so far in 2017, and Oakland has yet to intercept a pass in 2017.

ROLL THEM OUT

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (at Cleveland)

Dalton threw his first two touchdown passes of the season last week in Green Bay and could have had a better game if Marvin Lewis knew that NFL games have two halves. Now that he’s learned that little intricacy of the game Dalton should be able to build on that success Sunday against a Cleveland defense that just made Jacoby Brissett look like Joe Montana.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (at Tampa Bay)

Yes, Manning has spent most of the 2017 season looking more like Chelsea Manning than Peyton Manning. But the New York offense started to show some signs of life last week against Philadelphia, Tampa Bay is third in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks and just gave up more than 350 passing yards and three touchdowns to Case Keenum.

SIT THEM DOWN

Derek Carr, Oakland (at Denver)

Carr’s coming off a miserable effort last Sunday night in Washington, where he passed for just 118 yards and threw a pair of ugly interceptions. Luckily for Oakland, all Carr has to do now is go into Denver and contend with arguably the NFL’s best pass defense. In one meeting with Denver last year, Carr passed for less than 200 yards and didn’t throw a touchdown pass.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (at Baltimore)

If Roethlisberger’s performance against Chicago last week was any indication, this could be 2016 all over again – a season in which Roethlisberger shined at Heinz Field but struggled on the road. Pittsburgh is more than just “on the road” Sunday – it travels to Baltimore to face its most heated rivals.

Alex Smith, Kansas City (vs. Washington)

After lighting up New England in Week 1, over the past two weeks Smith has looked quite a bit more like, well, Alex Smith – including a pedestrian 155 passing yards against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3. The sledding isn’t going to be any easier Monday night against a Washington defense that put the clamps on the Oakland passing game a week ago.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an eight-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last three years. He won the honor in 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.