Tuesday - Dec 11, 2018

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START/BENCH: Week 4

There’s no denying it anymore. By just about any and every measure, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a stud.

OK, maybe not every measure. Some things are best left unsaid. And unknown. And unthought.

Great. Now that’s going to be stuck in my head all day.

After lighting up the San Francisco 49ers for 313 yards and three touchdowns Sunday (his “worst” game of the season statistically, Mahomes is completing two-thirds of his passes for 1,180 yards and 13 touchdowns with no interceptions and a passer rating north of 130.

I’m not making that up. Mahomes average game in 2018 is a share under 400 yards and over four scores.

That’s not the NFL. That’s freaking “Madden.” On rookie.

That pace probably isn’t sustainable. And from an NFL perspective, the Chiefs have a real problem that’s getting buried under all those TD passes—the defense is hot stinky poo. But the list of quarterbacks I’d start ahead of Mahomes right now in fantasy is pretty danged short. As in zero. None. Not Aaron Rodgers. Not Drew Brees. Not even Baker “Please God Be Good So the Browns Can Win Some Games” Mayfield.

Let us pray.

In fact, if I backed up a big name under center with Mahomes this year, I would be shopping either that big name or Mahomes as we speak. Some may think the latter strategy blasphemy, but if you have another high-end starter at the position and a hole on the roster, there’s isn’t a player in fantasy football who would net you a higher return right now than Mahomes.

If you can find the unicorn that is the team willing to pay what it would take to pry him away.

With that (deserved) fawning over the NFL’s newest wunderkind out of the way, let’s get to the Week 4 recommendations.

Before we do, a quick note.  It’s bye-bye time. Two teams are off in Week 4—the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins. No Adrian Peterson or Cam Newton this week.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

SPOT-START OF THE WEEK

Baker Mayfield, CLE (at OAK)

Browns head coach Hue Jackson admitted to ESPN’s Pat McManamon that he’s surprised Mayfield is already the starter in Cleveland. “This is sooner than what I thought it would happen, because I thought that we would have played much better earlier on offense,” Jackson said. “We did not. There was a stark difference in how we performed when [Mayfield] got in there. That is the nature of this business. That is the way that it works. It is an earned business. The young man went in there and he earned the right to be the starter.”

Given how he looked last week against the Jets, the fact that Mayfield wasn’t the Week 1 starter may be the most damning indictment of Jackson as a head coach yet. But the important thing is he’s in there now against an Oakland defense that isn’t scaring anyone right now. Mayfield threw for 200 yards in just over a half last week and led scoring drives on four of six possessions. If you lost Jimmy G this past week, Mayfield’s your best bet on the waiver wire.

ROLL THEM OUT

Andy Dalton, CIN (at ATL)

Dalton’s quietly off to a solid start this season—he ranks inside QB1 territory in 12-team fantasy leagues despite his four interceptions against the Carolina Panthers Sunday. If AJ Green can’t go it knocks some of the shine off of this one, but the Atlanta defense has been ravaged by injuries and is giving up the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2018.

Eli Manning, NYG (vs. NOS)

Manning’s coming off easily best game of the season—he completed over 80 percent of his passes for 297 yards and two scores against the Houston Texans in Week 3. That sets him up well for this week’s home tilt with the Saints. No team in the NFL is allowing more fantasy points to quarterbacks—in part because the Saints’ potent offense forces shootouts.

Philip Rivers, LAC (vs. SFO)

The Chargers are 1-2 not because they aren’t a good team—they’ve just had the misfortune of playing the offensive buzzsaws that are the Chiefs and Rams over the first three weeks of the season. This has the distinct feeling of a “get right” game for the Chargers at home against a free-falling 49ers team that just got roasted by KC themselves and lost their starting quarterback in the process.

SIT THEM DOWN

Kirk Cousins, MIN (at LAR)

If you’re trying to figure out what the heck happened in Minneapolis last week, just stop—that game shall forever be one of the great mysteries of the universe. However, it’s no mystery that the Rams are rolling right now—no team in the NFL has allowed fewer fantasy points per game to quarterbacks so far this season.

Matthew Stafford, DET (at DAL)

The Lions finally got win No. 1 last Sunday night, but Stafford isn’t off to a strong start this season, ranking 15th in fantasy points among quarterbacks after three weeks. That’s’ not all that likely to change Sunday in Dallas. The Cowboys offense is terrible, but the defense has quietly been pretty stout—27th in the league in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks.

Carson Wentz, PHI (at TEN)

Wentz gutted out a win last week against the Indianapolis Colts, but he looked the part of a quarterback coming off a lengthy layoff. The whole Eagles offense is banged up right now and nowhere close to firing on all cylinders, and while the Titans aren’t a fearsome opponent what they are is a 2-1 team getting wins by making opponents come down to their level.

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 a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 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.