Daily fantasy (DFS) brings a breath of fresh air to the industry, with an emphasis on the excitement of drafting a new team every week. We all know that the late summer drafts and the thrill of analyzing the weekly matchups are the best part of playing fantasy football. The daily game merges those two together to form the newest wave rocking the fantasy world.
Here in the weekly daily fantasy roundup column, we'll break down everything you need to know to pick the best plays on the Week 4 slate. If any of the terminology goes over your head. Please refer to the "what you need to know" preview of the roundup.
Top quarterback plays
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins - The Browns have allowed seven touchdowns through three games facing Carson Wentz, Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill. Their weakest point in the pass defense might be their ability to stop tight ends. They rank 22nd in the NFL at defending the position, per Football Outsiders, allowing 81.3 yards per game. This should be the week where Jordan Reed, and Kirk Cousins by proxy, gets going.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys - The 49ers are the fastest paced team in the NFL, averaging 24.5 seconds/snap per Pat Thorman of Pro Football Focus. Their speed should bring more volume to a usually morosely slow Cowboys offense and pump up Prescott's pass and rush attempts. Even if Dez Bryant sits, Prescott is playing well enough to justify a play against the 49ers defense, and this could be the week where Prescott finally has to be fully unleashed as a runner.
Trevor Siemian, QB, Denver Broncos - The gamble to roll with Siemian is paying off big for Denver. The Bengals tried to bait the young quarterback into mistakes on Sunday, but he didn't bite. Cincinnati blitzed on eight plays against the Broncos and Siemian averaged a 134.9 passer rating on those plays. Gary Kubiak dialed up his classic rollout plays on 17.1 percent of Siemian throws and his quarterback completed 66.7 percent of those throws. He also attacked down the field when the Bengals dared him to do so, averaging 9.16 air yards on his passes (second-highest in Week 3). The Buccaneers pass defense does not present a formidable challenge ranking 25th in Football Outsiders' pass defense DVOA and coming off letting up a solid week to Case Keenum.
Top running back plays
LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots - Still not valued as a top-10 play, we'll continue to ride this Blount gravy train until it all runs out. This could be the last week to use Blount as a clear RB1 with Tom Brady coming back in Week 5, where the touchdown chances will remain but the carry volume will decrease. The Patriots are heavy home favorites over the Bills which should mean plenty of second-half mashing for Blount.
Dwayne Washington, RB, Detroit Lions - Theo Riddick averaged under one yard per carry in Week 3, failing in his audition as a full-time back for the Lions. Washington saw 10 carries in an extremely negative rushing game script. Detroit travels to Chicago to square off with an injured and floundering Bears squad. If the Lions gain and early lead, Washington could nearly double his carry count from last week. He'll show off his athletic talent in this spot.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears - The Lions lead the NFL with 5.3 yards per carry allowed to running backs, they just haven't let up a touchdown yet. Howard is a threat to play nearly 85 percent of the Bears' team snaps in Week 4. He was on the field for 40 passing plays in their Week 3 loss to the Cowboys and even took three snaps in the slot.
Top wide receiver plays
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos - Demaryius Thomas has been overtaken as the No. 1 receiver in Denver. Sanders owns a 31 percent share of the team targets and has played more snaps than Thomas this year. The Broncos can roll over their stellar output in the passing game from Week 3 into another good outing against Tampa Bay. The Bucs have allowed a league-high seven touchdowns to wide receivers and 15.9 yards per catch.
Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys - 49ers slot corner Jimmie Ward will miss this game with a quad injury after going down in Week 3. Seahawks slot receiver Doug Baldwin amassed 101 of his 164 yards when he lined up in the slot in that contest. Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley has lined up in the slot for 89 percent of his snaps and accumulated 90 percent of his yards from the inside. With Dez Bryant's availability in question, Beasley could flirt with 12 targets on Sunday (he already leads the team).
Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins - At this point, it is past time to take Crowder's emergence seriously. Not only does he lead the team in red-zone targets, weird as that may be, but he's the primary slot receiver for a high volume passing offense taking 78 percent of his snaps inside. The Browns slot cornerback Tramon Williams has given up 11 receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 12 targets to slot receivers this year.
Top tight end plays
Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers - The Falcons have allowed 22 catches (third-most), 247 yards (fourth-most) and four touchdowns (most) to the tight end position in three weeks. Even Coby Fleener got off the schneid against them in Week 3 after posting two terrible games. Olsen is the clear cut top tight end play on the board.
Stack(s) of the week
Alex Smith/Spencer Ware/Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs - The Steelers defense has injury issues in the middle of their defense. Ryan Shazier is out for this game while strong safety Robert Golden is on the injury report. The Chiefs have the type of offensive attack to take advantage of that. Travis Kelce primarily runs crossing routes over the middle of the field and is coming off his best game of the season. Kelce leads the NFL in yards after the catch (108) at the tight end position. The Steelers allowed the 10th most yard to tight ends through three games. They've also allowed the most receiving yards to running backs in the NFL. Spencer Ware leads the NFL in receiving yards recorded by a running back. Even if Jamaal Charles plays, Ware should get the most touches as the veteran is eased back in. Alex Smith has a strong chance to top 40 pass attempts if the Steelers offense puts up points and gets them out of their shell. A Chiefs triple stack has a strong chance to be low-owned and high-scoring this week.
Philip Rivers/Melvin Gordon/Tyrell Williams, San Diego Chargers - The Chargers are playing the Saints in San Diego. Melvin Gordon has touched the ball 47 times in the last two games and New Orleans allows 5.3 yards per carry and the most touchdowns among any NFL defense. Tyrell Williams is also emerging as a clear top threat in the Chargers offense. He leads the team in red-zone targets, and should hold that role down with Antonio Gates set to miss this game and Danny Woodhead on IR. This contest should be high-scoring and stacking your Chargers is advised. Even mixing in some Hunter Henry sounds appealing.
Best contrarian plays
Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans- The volume is there for Lamar Miller and this is the week the fantasy scoring follows. Miller is second in the NFL with 74 carries but averages just 3.6 yards per carry and has yet to score. There's some positive regression coming for Miller, who we know is an explosive playmaker. The Titans give up 4.1 yards per carry and just surrendered 122 yards to the Raiders stable of running backs. With Bill O'Brien back in place as the play caller, this is a prime get-right spot for Miller and the public will be all over David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell at the top of the running back board.
Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals - The quarterback's value predictably cratered after a nightmare game in Buffalo. However, Palmer now returns home to face a Rams defense that just surrendered 400 yards and three touchdowns to Jameis Winston. Palmer's decreased value makes him an easier stacking candidate with running back David Johnson, giving you access to all the Cardinals touchdowns.
Best obvious play
Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers - He's back and in full swing. Bell is a strong play in his first game back. The Chiefs give up 4.3 yards per carry to running backs and are not quite the fearsome group they once were. Even better, Bell looks in line for plenty of work as a pass-catcher. A group that already clearly misses Martavis Bryant has Eli Rogers on the injury report. Bell is a candidate for seven receptions and well over 100 total yards. The Steelers won't take it slow with him.
Player to fade
Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks - After the big unveil of The Awakening, Michael may be a popular play this week. However, he's a clear fade candidate in Week 4. Not only do the Seahawks travel across country with Russell Wilson likely playing at less than 100 percent, the Jets are still as tough a run defense as ever, allowing just 3.7 yards per carry. Playing on the road with an injured quarterback against a tough front just isn't the recipe for many scoring chances.
The near 100 percent exposure player
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers - The Cowboys allow 4.9 yards per carry and over 10 yards per reception to the running back position. The 49ers showed on Sunday that they will be happily content to run Hyde even in garbage time. Hyde ranked seventh in the NFL in carries headed into Week 4, and has the volume to take advantage of the Cowboys talent-deprived defense at home.
Cheat code of the week
Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears - White leads the Bears in targets and it appears the team is set on getting him up to speed even though it is clear he is still quite raw. Top Lions corner Darius Slay should shadow Alshon Jeffery in this spot, which would leave Nevin Lawson to cover White. Normally it's not advisable to use the "cheat code" designation on a wide receiver, but no player valued this low is seeing the type of volume White owns. He's still a true physical talent and a big game will come at some point. This could be the spot for it.