Every week, at least one player becomes my fascination of whether he’s worthy of a fantasy football start or bench. The decision can be a mental wrestling match, but for the purpose of brevity, only one player can be chosen as the fantasy football gamble of the week.
The best fantasy football gamble for Week 4
Tracking my predictions: 0-3-0
Win: Player produces ≥ 75% of projected fantasy points
Loss: Player produces >75% of projected fantasy points
Tie: Player is ejected or leaves with an injury
Sitting 0-3 isn’t a great feeling, but I’ve been close enough with my rationale each week that sooner or later a break will go my way. Even through three unsuccessful attempts, sticking to the process is a must.
QB Mac Jones, New England Patriots vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In Week 4, my approach is slightly different than usual, because there won’t be too many scenarios in redraft or keeper leagues in which gamers are compelled to gamble at quarterback.
New England will see Tom Brady return to Gillette Stadium, but the more interesting storyline in fantasy is not necessarily the pressure of a primetime showdown vs. football royalty but how the rookie rebounds from a three-INT outing. Brady and Jones aren’t playing against each other in the way the broadcast narrative likes to paint it, so Jones mentally shaking off the worst outing of his young career is the more important factor.
The Buccaneers present the second-worst defense of the position in fantasy football, and the only reason Washington ranks worse is due to giving up a pair of QB rushing scores. There also is a strong possibility we see Tampa come out swinging for the fences, which puts the Patriots in a “keep pace” mentality, at least to a degree more than usual.
The ideal game plan for the Patriots is a ground-control approach that disrupts Tampa from getting into a rhythm by keeping Brady at bay. If that is how New England addresses the game and is able to stick with it, this doesn’t do much for Jones, so understand it is a legitimate concern. It’s unlikely the Patriots can contain all of these weapons and keep Brady’s guys out of the end zone for long.
The Bucs have given up 403-3-1 to Dak Prescott (Week 1), 300-2-3 to Matt Ryan (Week 2 garbage time), and 343-4-0 to Matthew Stafford (Week 3). Jones isn’t close to being on the same level as any of those veterans, but serious injuries to Tampa Bay’s secondary can make the rookie look like a seasoned pro. Pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) missed last Sunday and began this week of practice with a DNP. The Buccaneers have the fewest sacks in the league, and no team has a worse percentage of sacks in relation to opposing QB drop-backs (2.04 percent).
New England’s unheralded cast of receivers stepped up last week, and these guys are capable of making some noise against a battered Tampa secondary. The tight ends should be a larger factor after James White (hip) was lost for the year, and running against the Bucs is never ease, which promotes more short-area passing as an extension of the running game. This was a favorable matchup for tight ends in 2020, and it has carried over into this season.
If you’re in a two-QB setting, or face a tough matchup for a rotational passer, Jones should be on your radar. Don’t get cocky and bench a safe starter for the rookie. Play Jones only where you feel comfortable taking a sizeable risk. This recommendation isn’t for everyone, and it will require the Alabama first-rounder to play his best football to date in the NFL.
My projection: 295 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and 10 rushing yards (26.75 fantasy points)