Welcome to the Fantasy Football Rundown: a weekly article written by yours truly in which I give at least one sentence on every single fantasy relevant player for Week 4. Starts, sits, sleepers, busts, you name it, I talk about it here. Be warned, this is a beast of a piece. If you’re looking for a specific player, I recommend using your web browser’s search function to head straight to said player. Otherwise, enjoy reading!
Tennessee Titans at New York Jets
QB Ryan Tannehill — Great match-up, brutal situation. WRs Nos. 1 and 2, A.J. Brown (hamstring) and Julio Jones (leg) are both dealing with injuries. Fortunately for Tannehill, the Jets’ pass rush is middling and their pass defense efficiency ranks 19th per NEFF ratings. Expect a low-volume passing outcome from the Titans’ passer in a cake walk win. He’s a mid-to-low QB2.
WRs Josh Reynolds, Chester Rogers, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine — Per Dr. Edwin Porras, hamstring injuries result in an average of two games missed for “skill players” (oftentimes considered quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, and sometimes tight ends). Players with this injury will sometimes miss either one game or no games at all, both outcomes occur around 33% of the time. Regarding Julio:
Nature of "leg injury" unknown. Known? That Julio has long hist. of hammy issues. In Aug, @DrJesseMorse expressed concern for #Titans hammy protocols. I think this was prescient. If you have Julio rostered & can get WR2 trade value 4 him, I would take it. https://t.co/JeIlMouPSP https://t.co/pJSLWXOGW5
— Nic Bodiford (@Ginger__Nic) September 29, 2021
Reynolds was signed to presumably play the No. 3 WR role this off-season but missed Week 1 with a foot injury. He was a full practice participant in Week 2 and not listed on the Week 3 injury report at all, but has yet to take a snap. As covered by Clark mentioned on the NerdBall Fantasy Football Show earlier this week though, players with no special teams role may be inactive even if they’re better than some of the depth players who are active on game day. This could be the case for Reynolds, who may step into No. 1 WR duties this week. Consider Reynolds a risky WR5 in redraft but a savvy option in DFS.
Westbrook-Ikhine took over for AJB in Week 3, operating as the designated inside/outside WR, taking 12 reps in the slot and 15 on the perimeter, per PFF. Treat NWI similarly to Reynolds this week.
Rogers has operated as the primary slot receiver all year and could push for a top-36 WR finish in full-point PPR leagues. Jets’ starting slot corner Michael Carter II (no, not the running back) has allowed 11 completions on 15 targets this year en route to a 77.1 NFL passer rating against him, per PFF. Good, not great.
TEs MyCole Pruitt, Geoff Swaim, and Tommy Hudson — Ignore this group. It’s a three-way committee.
RBs Derrick Henry and Jeremy McNichols — King Henry is the 17th most targeted running back in the NFL this year (13). Last year he was 38th. Incredibly, the new-born dual threat has failed to secure just one pass this year and will be tied with Rogers as the most-targeted active Titan this week. The Jets will be without defensive starters DL Carl Lawson, SS Lamarcus Joyner, and LB Jarrad Davis. Week 4 brings Ragnarok and with it The Big Dog becomes The Great Wolf Fenrir, devouring earth, sun, and Odin. Henry is the overall RB1. McNichols could factor in as a rotational pass catcher. He’s a borderline RB4/5 who could produce in full-point PPR leagues.
New York Jets
QB Zach Wilson and WR Corey Davis — Wilson is on the QB2/3 borderline. The offensive line is lacking and the team is just in general disarray. Davis will likely do battle on the perimeter with second-year CB Kristian Fulton as rookie first-round Pick CB Caleb Farley has been sidelined with a shoulder injury. Tennessee’s unholy 42.4 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing WRs (3rd most) makes this an intriguing match-up. FS Marcus Maye (ankle) was recently announced out for the next 3-to-4 weeks as well. Adding spice to the mix; this is a revenge game for Davis as the fifth-year player spent the first four years of his career a Titan. Davis is on the WR2/3 borderline in what should be a can’t-miss opportunity. If does, we’re hitting the panic button.
WRs Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios, and Elijah Moore — Moore failed to practice on Wednesday (concussion protocol) but Crowder (groin) returned, likely nuking any WR6 full-point PPR value that Berrios had. None of these are advised starts this week.
TE Ryan Griffin — TEN is allowing a league-low 1.6 .5PPR PPG to the position. Avoid Griffin even with Tyler Kroft battling a chest injury. Rookie Kenny Yeboah is a name to notice in dynasty.
RBs Michael Carter Jr., Ty Johnson, and Tevin Coleman — Coleman (illness) missed last week’s contest and the other two flopped. The team bizarrely had one-cut rusher Johnson run 20 routes to Carter’s 11, per PFF. The latter is the superior pass catching back. Carter’s Week 3 15.4 PFF pass blocking grade shows obvious pass pro issues but the route differential is unacceptable. The duo would be low-ceiling RB4s if Coleman is out. If Coleman is out again, the none of these backs should be anywhere near a starting lineup in redraft.
Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles
Kansas City Chiefs
QB Patrick Mahomes — Top-3 QB every week.
WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce — Opponents have been blanketing Hill as KC has struggled to get a legitimate No. 2 WR threat. We’ll see if their recent signing of Josh Gordon pays off. Gordon’s not likely to do much and has been hit or miss on the field in recent years. He can be added to very deep benches. Regardless, this should be a bounce-back week for Hill as Philly’s safety situation is subpar. FS Anthony Harris is no one to write home about a stud do-it-all SS Rodney McLeod has yet to take the field this year in his quest to return from a 2020 ACL tear. Keep Hill in your WR1 plans. Kelce is a the TE1.
WRs Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, and Byron Pringle — Bestball and DFS-only plays. Do not start them in redraft.
RBs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams — Sell-high on CEH after last week’s blow-up performance. The Eagles had largely kept RBs in check before facing a Cowboys squad that served up 35 touches to their backfield on Monday. Edwards-Helaire is just a back-end RB2. Williams is a bellcow bench stash.
Related: Best NFL Prop Bets for Week 4
QB Jalen Hurts — Hurts 26 carries and 179 rushing yards are both No. 2 at the position. Kansas City happens to be No. 2 in rush attempts (7), No. 1 in rushing yards (43.3), and T-No. 2 in rushing TDs (0.7) allowed to opposing quarterbacks per game. Hurts is a locked-in QB1.
WRs DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor — Smith has the team-lead in WR snaps (57), routes (111, per PFF), and targets (20) but neither he nor Reagor, who’s second in each category, are doing much with the usage. Team can’t afford to go away from them against KC though. Smith is a WR3 and the far less talented Reagor is a WR5.
WR Quez Watkins — Preseason star/second-year man Watkins has caught all 7 of his 2021 targets for a whopping 186 yards, yet he continues to see less work than Reagor. The second-year receiver’s play-making ability jumps off the screen every week. In Week 2, he posted the season’s second highest recorded speed, 21.62 MPH, on a 91-yard reception. With an expected shootout on tap, Watkins should absolutely be utilized in DFS. In redraft, he can really only be justified in a Hail Mary type of match-up. He’s a great bench stash though.
WR Greg Ward — Not relevant with Watkins in the mix.
TEs Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz — The duo had a predictably solid outing last week but that shouldn’t be expected against KC. Goedert and Ertz are just TE2s.
RBs Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell — Sanders continued their 1A/1B roles on Monday. While each back was given four targets, they troublingly combined for just three carries. Sanders was understandably irked by that but it’s unclear whether the notoriously salty Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman will grease the squeaky wheel or banish it a la the Doug Pederson method. If the former, KC’s run defense is as bad as it gets, coming in at No. 31 in run defense NEFF rating. Sanders can only be trusted as an RB3 though. Gainwell is an RB4.
Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys
QB Sam Darnold — Jets, Saints, Texans, and now the Cowboys; one juicy match-up after another. Fantasy’s QB12 should stay in the back-end QB1 mix once again this week.
WR D.J. Moore — Moore’s 31 target tower over the rest of the WR group—Terrace Marshall is second on the team with 14. Moore will face off with standout CB Trevon Diggs from time to time but the CAR WR is just too good to shy away from. Moore remains a borderline fantasy WR1.
WRs Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall — HC Matt Rhule proclaimed a need to get Anderson and his 18.4 average targeted air yards (3rd highest in the league) more involved in the offense. Dallas has allowed a monstrous 13 completions of 19 yards or more this year. Is there a more perfect receiver to take advantage of that number? Anderson is a WR3 this week. Marshall’s situation is entirely up in the air. Dallas is dealing with a litany of absences throughout the front-seven and LB Micah Parsons may be asked to play edge once again. It’s possible that Marshall gets to run some of his slot routes against linebacker coverage as the team loves to run with three LBs but we do know that nickel CB Jouran Lewis will be his primary cover man. Lewis has played well outside of a Week 1 flop vs. Chris Godwin. Marshall is a WR5 whose snaps and targets continue to grow.
TE Tommy Tremble — CAR sent TE Dan Arnold packing this week, making way for the athletic Tremble. Managers must understand that Tremble’s floor is a full-on zero. But the match-up is there and Tremble’s Week 3 usage, post-CMC injury, was intriguing. He secured his lone target for 30 yards and also saw a carry from the Houston 7-yard line that he rumbled in for a touchdown. The fact that Dallas is allowing 17.4 .5PPR PPG to the position, most in the NFL, certainly bodes well for his Week 4 potential. Fire up at least one DFS lineup with Tremble in the mix and only utilize him in redraft in a do-or-die setting.
RBs Chuba Hubbard and Royce Freeman — Christian McCaffrey exited last week’s Thursday night game early in the second-quarter with a hamstring injury. The team opted not to place him on Injured Reserve, indicating he should return in three weeks or less. Hubbard is the next man up and a good bet for 15+ dual threat touches against a vulnerable Dallas front-seven. CAR promisingly shot the rookie five targets in relief duty, tying slot receiver Terrace Marshall for the second highest target total. He’s a high-end RB2 in what should be a high-scoring affair. Freeman is just an RB5, although rostering him during CMC’s absence is not a bad idea. This could turn into a 1A/1B committee if Hubbard flops.
QB Dak Prescott — Dallas’s offensive circumstances have led to RB-centric game scripts over the last two weeks. Carolina’s brilliantly coached/loaded passing game should be able to keep pace, ensuring a top-5 QB finish for Dak this week.
WRs Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Cedrick Wilson Jr. — Variance has made things strange as of late but both Cooper and Lamb are still firmly in the WR1 conversation. Week 4 offers massive bounce-back potential. Cornerback Jaycee Horn (CAR’s 2021 No. 8 overall Draft Pick) is on IR (foot), along with SS/slot corner Justin Burris (groin), and fellow starting CB A.J. Bouye’s status is entirely unknown. The latter was expected to return from suspension in Week 3 but was a mystery inactive instead. CAR traded for JAX CB C.J. Henderson in the aftermath. The Cowboys’ top two WRs should manhandle this hapless bunch. Wilson, primarily operating in the slot while mostly rotating with Cooper (per PFF), has a sneaky solid setup as Burris and Horn were the two main nickel defenders thus far. A third string match-up should help Wilson to WR3/4 numbers this week.
TEs Dalton Schutlz and Blake Jarwin — Schultz and Jarwin’s snaps (155 vs. 120) and routes run (74 vs. 71, per PFF) are close but their targets aren’t. Schultz (15), holds a commanding lead over Jarwin (9) and the former has been a beast in the red zone, converting two of his four targets for touchdowns, per PFF. That won’t go unnoticed. Tentatively treat Schultz as a TE1 streamer.
RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard — Zeke and Elliott are a 1-2 backfield-punch at this point with one clear distinction: Zeke has the scoring position role all to himself. His 10 red zone attempts dwarf Pollard’s lone tote (PFF). That said, Pollard’s still playing well between the 20s. His 6.8 yards per carry (YPC) blows Zeke’s 4.5 out of the water and that’s not due to small sample size (27 carries to Elliott’s 44). Both backs are killing it through the air with lead back Zeke going 7-of-7 for 53 yards and Pollard showing out at 8-of-8 for 65. The former is a top-5 play, the latter a back-end RB3.
New York Giants at New Orleans Saints
New York Giants
QB Daniel Jones — Don’t let Joe Judge’s idiocy overshadow Jones’ poor play. The subpar passer flopped against one of the NFL’s worst defenses last week. The hamstring strains of WRs Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton played a factor but Jones is just a limited quarterback. He’s a volatile QB2 against the Saints.
WR Kenny Golladay — Golladay’s clashing style doesn’t fit Dimes’ see-it-throw-it needs. He’s a borderline WR3/4.
WRs Collin Johnson and Kadarius Toney — The exception to the rule above is Johnson, whose 6-foot-6, 220 pound frame is big enough that Jones can’t miss him. He led the team in targets last week vs the Atlanta Falcons. Johnson isn’t bad and could figure into the WR5/6 range. Toney is bad and shouldn’t be on redraft rosters.
TE Evan Engram — Volatile TE2.
RB Saquon Barkley — Barkley’s back to full-time duties. New Orleans’ front-seven is very good so expectations for the elite RB should be lowered to the mid-to-low RB1 range. He’s a weekly top-12 play regardless of opponent though. Devontae Booker is an RB6 with little upside even if Barkley were to miss time.
New Orleans Saints
QBs Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill — Sean Payton disliked what he saw from Winston last week to the point that he tripled Hill’s per game rushing sum, going from two in consecutive weeks to six in Week 3. Winston did manage a pair of touchdown passes but one of them was thrown while he was nearly horizontal, falling backwards. (Payton colorfully inquired as to what possessed Winston to consider throwing the pass after the fact.) Neither player can be started in redraft right now.
WRs Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, and Kenny Stills — Callaway, the lucky recipient of Winston’s touchdown-moon ball, is likely at the peak of his sell-high window. He’s a WR5 outside of that random touchdown occurrence. Harris and Stills are not redraft-relevant.
TEs Adam Trautman and Juwan Johnson — Trautman run blocks while Johnson runs routes for cardio. Avoid both.
RBs Alvin Kamara and Tony Jones Jr. — The Giants’ 24.1 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing RBs is 9th most in the NFL and they’re especially geared towards getting beat up by pass catching RBs. The G-Men are being had an average of 7 times per game through the air (T-6th most) for a total of 63.7 receiving yards per game (2nd most) by opposing RBs. Kamara is this week’s No. 2 RB in fantasy. Jones Jr. is purely a bellcow bench stash.
Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings
QB Baker Mayfield — Baker’s beautiful efficiency will continue to shine against the Vikings’ “coverage” unit this week. The Browns’ signal caller is No. 5 in both completion percentage, 73.8%, and Completion Percentage Above Expectation (CPAE), 7.7%, (per NextGenStats) and the Vikings are surrendering 23.4 FPPG to the position, T-6th most in the NFL. Mayfeild is the preeminent QB2 of Week 4.
WR Odell Beckham Jr. — OBJ popped up on the injury report after a limited practice, due to an apparent in-game shoulder subluxation that quickly resolved itself. The veteran WR showed no ill effects from his surgically repaired ACL, catching 5-of-9 team-leading targets for 77 yards. Beckham resumed his old downfield role with a 16.0 average intended air yards mark, per NextGenStats, while seeing a 50.86% team-air yards share that was 7th most in the NFL. Treat Beckham as a WR2 against CBs Patrick Peterson and Breshaud Breeland this week:
Bashaud Breeland and Patrick Peterson this season:
157.2 and 157.9 passer ratings allowed pic.twitter.com/K1sqI1YtBz
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 29, 2021
WRs Rashard Higgins, Donovan-Peoples Jones, and Anthony Schwartz — As predicted, Higgins filled in for the still-injured Jarvis Landry, hogging primary slot snaps (PFF), but it was a box score flop. The tides seem to be turning in the Peoples-Jones vs. Schwartz battle. We’re playing in the margins but the former saw a season-high 53 snaps while the latter saw a season-low 28. DPJ’s 31 routes were second most on the team and he looked great reeling in his two targets. Both are holds but prioritize DPJ in dynasty. Both are boom/bust WR6s, yet savvy DFS plays. The Vikings are allowing 40.2 .5PPR PPG to opposing WRs, 4th-most in the NFL.
WR/RB Demetric Felton – Still only viable in leagues that favor return yardage but the kid can play.
TEs Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and Harrison Bryant — Too many talented cooks here and S Harrison Smith is not the guy you want to test.
RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt — Hunt leap frogged Chubb for the route total lead (45 to 40, per PFF) and was just far more efficient with his touches. Hunt remains an every-week RB2 and Chubb’s got a get-right RB1 opportunity on his hands. The Vikings’ are allowing RBs to rush for 103 yards and 0.7 touchdowns on a weekly basis. Both Bottom 10 marks in the league. The take also gets the Paddi Cooper Stamp of Approval as the Vikings’ run defense has earned just the T-27th worst run defense NEFF rating through three contests.
QB Kirk Cousins, WRs Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson — Minnesota’s 55% FH/ED throw rate is leagues better than the 50% and 47% that they’ve utilized over the last two seasons. As a result all three are eating. Captain Kirk is fantasy’s QB6. Thielen and Jefferson, who own the respective first and fifth highest snap totals at the WR position, are both WR1s. They’ll keep the party going this week. Start them all in-line with their 2021 scoring sums.
WR K.J. Osborn and TE Tyler Conklin — Osborn racked up 12 catches on 15 targets, 167 yards and 1 touchdown through the first two weeks before posting a 2-of-2 for 26-yard dud in Week 3. Conklin did the opposite; 4-of-6 for 56 yards in Weeks 1-2 before hanging 7-of-8 for 70 and 1 touchdown on Seattle last week. Per PFF, Conklin notably went from seeing zero red zone/end zone usage to have four passes come his way on Sunday. It’s possible that the coaching staff prefers Conkling to Osborn but it’s also possible that the team just wanted to use Conklin’s sizable frame as a weapon in scoring position with RB Dalvin Cook (ankle) out. Cook should be back this week so we’ve got a brief wait-and-see window to deal with. Osborn is a WR4 while Conklin floats in the mid-to-low TE1 ether.
RBs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison — Cook (ankle) resumed practicing this week meaning he’s back on the elite RB1 radar for Week 4. Mattison should be relegated to fantasy benches.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
QB Jared Goff — Goff’s Baltimore performance reminds us he’s a match-up based QB and he’s got a solid one this week against Chicago. Variance has been on Chicago’s side in the sack department as their 11 QB takedowns rank 3rd in the NFL. The Bears are Bottom 10 in hurries, knockdowns, and pressures. Khalil Mack might get loose once or twice but expect the Lions’ beefy boys up front to keep Goff clean. He’s on the streaming radar again this week.
WRs Quintez Cephus, Kalif Raymond, and Amon-Ra St. Brown — Perimeter receiver Cephus had a commanding lead of the DET WR targets entering Week 3 but Goff betrayed him, instead launching 10 balls towards inside/outside man Raymond. Cephus saw just two. Raymond’s likely to deliver another usable line this week as the Bears’ 3 main slot DBs have allowed 17 catches on 19 targets for 204 yards and 3 touchdowns, per PFF. He’s a WR4/smart DFS play. It’s possible for rookie slot receiver ARSB to get going but he’s seldom used and not recommended for redraft. Cephus is just a WR6.
TE T.J. Hockenson — Baltimore blanketed Hock last week but the Bears will have a tough time repeating that feat as starting strong safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. is trending towards Out with a hamstring injury. Hock’s back on the Tier 2 TE1 radar.
RBs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams — Sublime usage for both backs. Swift’s 23 targets are 2nd at the position. Williams’ 14 are 13th. Swift’s a fringe RB1/2 with top-5 upside right now. Williams is a locked-in RB2.
QB Justin Fields — HC Matt Nagy should be tied with Urban Meyer in the “first coach to be fired sweepstakes”. He’s employed this week though which makes Fields tough to trust after a week against the vaunted Browns’ front-seven demolished the Bears’ offense completely. Fields is the most volatile high-end QB2 on the Week 4 slate. Detroit recently cut standout linebacker Jamie Collins. Edge player Trey Flowers was unable to play last week with shoulder and knee injuries and started this week off with a DNP. DE Da’Shawn Hand is on IR.
Update from idiot head coach Matt Nagy: The starting QB will be determined as a game-time decision. Fortunately this game is part of the first slate so you’ll know what the deal is before all Sunday games kickoff. Fields remains a volatile QB2. Andy Dalton would be a low-end QB2.
WR Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, and Marquise Goodwin — Robinson and Mooney saw far more targets than Goodwin last week. A good sign after Goodwin had drawn even with them during Fields’ on-field time prior to Week 3. Robinson should run free with CBs Jeff Okudah and Ifeatu Melifonwu on IR. He’s a boom/bust WR2 with a decent shot at success. Mooney is a boom/bust WR4. Goodwin is not usable in redraft.
TE Cole Kmet — Kmet dominated TE snaps and looks to have the No. 1 TE job to himself. He’s still nothing more than a TE2 though.
RBs David Montgomery and Damien Williams — Chicago’s FH/ED run rate was 58% per SharpFootballStats last week, 5th highest in the NFL. Unsurprisingly, the Lions’ undermanned front-seven is allowing 25.4 .5PPR PPG to opposing RBs, 6th most in the NFL. The usage + the match-up = a high-end RB2 rank for Monty. Williams is a bellcow bench stash.
Houston Texans at Buffalo Bills
WR Brandin Cooks and RB David Johnson — Cooks’ 32 targets are 4th in the NFL. He’s likely to be shadowed by Tre’Davious White but Davis Mills isn’t going to chuck it to anyone else. Cooks is on the WR2/3 borderline. DJ could see some targets come his way as the Texans feign catch-up mode down multiple scores in the second-half. That workload still only lets him enter the RB4 range. Do not start David Johnson outside of extremely deep—we’re talking 6 flexes or something—full-point PPR formats. You’d likely have to have gone Zero RB for him to even be a consideration.
QB Josh Allen — As predicted, the success of mobile QBs vs. the WAS defensive-front continued last week. Allen was the highest scoring QB of Week 3 and he’s got a great shot at a repeat against the NFL’s worst team in Week 4.
WR Stefon Diggs — Diggs’ kept his 60+ yard streak going, adding 6 catches for PPR purposes. His version of a slow start puts him on pace for 107.6 catches, 175.6, targets, 1,082 yards, and 5.6 TDs, which comes out to 195.6 .5PPR points. That sum would’ve made him the No. 7 WR in fantasy last year. He’s a weekly WR1 with a chance at world domination against the hapless Houstonians.
WR Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley — Sanders and Beasley are respectively Nos. 2 and 3 in BUF WR snaps (192 to 168) and routes run (per PFF—123 to 118). Beasley is No. 2 in targets (30) and No. 1 in receptions (23). The duo is tied for a team-leading 194 yards but Sanders has 2 scores to Beasley’s 0. Both players are WR3s at worst this week and either one could shred the Texans en route to a top-15 finish. Start both.
WR Gabe Davis — A redraft boom/bust WR5 in a good match-up. A good long shot option in DFS.
TE Dawson Knox — Knox is 4th on the team with a respectable 90 routes run, per PFF. His 2021 receiving line: 10-of-12 for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns. While not a high-ceiling, the guy actually has a high-floor right now and the Texans 15.4 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing tight ends is 4th most in the league. Knox is startable as a mid-tier TE1 this week.
RBs Zack Moss and Devin Singletary — Both the snap share and touches are shifting towards Moss as being the No. 1 RB in BUF. In their two games active together, Singletary has a slight lead in total touches but Moss has begun taking over the scoring position role while also seeing more passing game work. The latter two regions are the most valuable at the running back position. Both backs are RB3s, with Moss a few spots ahead.
Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins
QB Carson Wentz — Wentz and his sprained ankles may have to face the vaunted Miami pass defense without starting OL Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith. He’s a mid-to-low QB2.
WR Michael Pittman Jr. — Pittman’s 28 targets are nearly double that of No. 2 WR Zach Pascal (18). He’s squaring off against the league’s best 1-2 CB punch this week though so don’t count on him as more than a low-end WR3.
WR Zach Pascal — While CB Byron Jones operates mostly on the perimeter, Xavien Howard will travel into the slot. Any amount of time against Howard is too much for Pascal and the Indy passing game. Pascal’s just a WR5.
WR Parris Campbell — N/A.
TEs Mo Alie-Cox and Jack Doyle — Back to a committee. Avoid.
RBs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines — Miami’s run funnel defense will welcome the RB duo with open arms. The ‘Fins front-seven is allowing 28.6 .5PPR PPG to opposing RBs, 2nd most in the league, earning Paddi Cooper’s third worst RDNEFF run defense efficiency score (37.1%). Expect JT’s league-high inside-the-five-yard-line usage (six carries per PFF) to pay off this week en route to an RB1 finish. Hines is a sturdy RB3.
QB Jacoby Brissett — Brissett and his rushing floor are on the high-end QB2 streaming radar this week as Indy’s pass defense comes in at No. 29 in Paddi Cooper’s PDNEFF pass defense efficiency metrics (31.8%)
WR Jaylen Waddle and TE Mike Gesicki — HC Brian Flores drew up a brilliant game plan against the Raiders last week, giving both Waddle and Gesicki (who had previously been fighting for the No. 1 slot receiver gig) heaps and heaps of slot snaps. The shifty Waddle and the big-bodied Gesicki made for easy-to-see targets in the short to intermediate areas of the field. Waddle’s quick-hitting 2.7 average targeted air yards (TAY — 2nd lowest in the league) allowed Brissett to hike and release a whopping 13 times. Gesicki’s 7.2 TAY came on a likewise ridiculously high-volume — 12 targets — and allowed Brissett to test the deeper waters just a hair. Waddle belongs in the WR3 conversation this week and Gesicki gets TE1 treatment for the duration of Brissett’s time at the helm.
WRs DeVante Parker and Will Fuller — Parker out-targeted Fuller seven-to-six but it was Fuller’s number they called for the two-point conversion, which he secured. Fuller got a little dinged up but returned to practice on Thursday. Indy’s 37.4 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing WRs make both players intriguing WR4s/DFS options.
RBs Malcolm Brown and Myles Gaskin — Brown owns the red zone role (PFF) and Gaskin owns the passing game work. Indy might be without rookie DE Kwity Paye (hamstring) but with Darius Leonard (ankle) looking like he’ll play, this unit won’t be a pushover. Both are in the RB4-5 range.
Washington Football Team at Atlanta Falcons
Washington Football Team
QB Taylor Heinicke — Heinicke has been a QB1 in consecutive weeks and that trend should continue against Atlanta’s bottom-dwelling defense. They grade out as the 7th worst pass defense per NEFF rating.
WR Terry McLaurin — Heinicke’s go-to man is a high-end WR2 at worst vs. the Falcons. A mid-range WR1 finish is well within his range of outcomes.
WRs Dyami Brown and Curtis Samuel — Brown’s box scores under Heinicke have been largely barren but that could change at any moment. The rookie deep threat is surprisingly tied with McLaurin in terms of red zone targets (four) and end zone targets (two) over the last two weeks, per PFF. Boom/bust WR6 in redraft; sneaky boom/bust play in DFS.
Update: On Friday morning, Ron Rivera said WR Curtis Samuel (groin) will be active this week. Brown’s chance of producing is severely hurt by this. Groin injuries can nag but this is a fantastic match-up. Consider Samuel a volatile WR4.
— Edwin Porras, DPT (@FBInjuryDoc) October 1, 2021
TE Logan Thomas — The Tank Engine has efficiently caught 9-of-11 targets for 87 yards and 1 touchdowns through Heinicke’s two starts. The Falcons 13.6 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing TEs is 6th most in the NFL. He’s a firm TE1.
RBs Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic — Gibson popped up on the injury report with a shin issue, registering a DNP on Thursday. Dr. of Physical Therapy Adam Hutchison doesn’t expect it to keep Gibson from playing this week. From the Week 4 Standouts section of my RB rankings:
“Both Washington backs should run (and receive) wild this week. The Falcons’ defense has allowed 1,121 yards from scrimmage (14th most) and 94 points to opposing offenses. Running backs are totaling 20.8 .5PPR PPG (14th most), crushing the Dirty Birds through the air—6.3 receptions and 45.7 receiving yards per game. While JDM still owns rights to the passing down work, Gibson’s seeing respectable dual threat usage while on the field, running 46 routes to McKissic’s 51, per PFF.com. Plus, The Team has to be eager to put more receiving work on Gibson’s plate after this 73-yard beauty. Treat Gibson as a mid-tier RB1 and JDM as a back-end RB3.”
QB Matt Ryan — Ryan is a back-end QB2 who could be sacked five or more times this week. The Washington pass rush is devastating.
WR Calvin Ridley — Hardly anyone can actually cover him but Ryan will be under duress all day. Ridley’s just a mid-to-high WR2 this week.
WR/RB Cordarrelle Patterson — Patterson’s put the team on his back through three weeks, playing as a running back, a wide receiver, and a return man. He’s a weekly flex play until otherwise stated.
WR Olamide Zaccheus — Zaccheus scored what may be his only touchdown of the year in Week 3. Don’t bank on a repeat — he’s never scored more than one receiving touchdown in a single season. Zaccheus enthusiasts may point to 2019 where he scored twice but the second was on a fumble recovery. That check won’t cash at the Variance Bank.
WR Russell Gage — Back-to-back DNPs so far this week (ankle).
TE Kyle Pitts — Pitts is 10th in TE snaps (158), T-3rd in TE routes run (118 per PFF), 7th in TE targets (17), T-12th in TE receptions (11), 8th in TE receiving yards (139), yet just 3 red zone targets (T-11th with 11 other TEs per PFF), and just 1 end zone target (15-way tie for 9th most per PFF). There is so much good stuff going on here, the scoring position work is just sorely lacking. More stable, if lackluster players like Dawson Knox or Dalton Schutz may bring peace of mind but as soon as the red zone usage begins, you’re going to regret having Pitts on your bench. Keep him in as a TE1.
RB Mike Davis — Brutal matchup. Usage keeps him in the RB3 range. This is a slight buy-low window as matchups against the Jets (Week 5) and Dolphins (Week 7) are upcoming.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
QB Russell Wilson — Pete Carroll is already taking control back from OC Shane Waldron:
#Seahawks are dead last in time of possession, by over a minute versus 31st place JAX.
Situation-neutral seconds per snap
Wk 1: 27.9
Wk 2: 28.6
Wk 3: 33.1
Situation-neutral no-huddle rate
Wk 1: 27%
Wk 2: 10%
Wk 3: 6%
This was the up-tempo concern. Pete already lost his nerve.
— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) September 28, 2021
Wilson’s talent, efficiency, and WRs make him tough to fade but his weekly ceiling expectations do need to be reined in. He’s more of a top-15 QB than he is a top-5 with Carroll enacting his out-dated mantras.
WRs D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett — Lockett missed a little time last week, evidently with a hip injury. He was able to practice on Wednesday though so he looks fine for Sunday. Metcalf remains an elite WR1 while the boom/busty Lockett is a firm WR2.
WRs Dee Eskridge and Freddie Swain and TEs Gerald Everett and Will Dissly — Eskridge is trying to make it through the concussion protocol and Everett ended up on the COVID-19/Reserve List on Wednesday, just as he’d begun establishing himself as the team’s No. 1 TE. Should neither play, Swain would garner WR4 treatment. If active Everett’s a TE1. If not, Dissly assumes automatic streamer consideration. Wilson and Dissly have torn it up in the red zone in years past.
RBs Chris Carson, Alex Collins, and Travis Homer — Carson’s the lead back but no guarantee of sizable passing game work, relegating him to the high-end RB2 ranks. Collins is the primary rushing stash. Homer is mostly a stash, yet somewhat viable in extremely deep full-point PPR leagues.
San Francisco 49ers
QB Jimmy Garoppolo — Jimmy G can’t be trusted to perform better than a mid-tier QB2 even in a decent match-up. He flopped last week against Green Bay’s awful defense.
WRs Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk — Aiyuk is officially out of the doghouse. The second-year WR caught 4-of-6 passes for 37 yards and 1 touchdown, carried the ball once for 8 yards and even got in some return game action. He’s a high-floor/high-ceiling WR3. Deebo is still the alpha pass catcher though, averaging 10 targets per week and looking great doing it. He’s a locked-in WR2 against the division rival. As mentioned below, there’s a chance Kittle can’t play on Sunday. Were that the case, the ceilings of both Samuel and Aiyuk would rise considerably.
WR Mohamed Sanu — Sanu got a season-high six targets but that was likely due to the back-and-forth nature of Week 3’s game. He’s a WR6 this week.
TE George Kittle — Kittle looked great, going 7-of-9 for 92 yards, even taking a carry for 9 on top. Unfortunately, he failed to practice on Wednesday and Thursday due to calf “soreness”. He still has a chance to play—and would be a TE1 if he does—but the situation needs to be monitored. If Kittle can’t go, TE Ross Dwelley would be a TE2. The latter’s had chances in the past and never really seized the moment.
RBs Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon and FB Kyle Juszczyk — Trey Sermon last week was the only “RB” to take a single snap (41, 59%). He saw 10 carries and 3 targets and was on the field for 24 passing snaps, running 20 routes. Meanwhile, “fullback” Juice (48, 69% snaps) had 5 carries, 4 targets, while blocking on 9 runs and 5 pass attempts which was a massive drop in percentage of blocking snaps. Interestingly, he doesn’t pass block (PPBLK) much but saw season 5 five PPBLKs last week. Mitchell was able to practice in limited fashion on both Wednesday and Thursday, putting him in line to play on Sunday, per Dr. Edwin Porras. Should that be the case, it’s anyone’s guess as to whom will start (ie. Mitchell or Sermon) but Juszczyk is likely to resume his blocking-centric role. The trust that Kyle Shanahan showed in giving Sermon the full “running back” workload but Mitchell did play very well pre-shoulder injury. Sermon and Mitchell would sit near the RB2/3 borderline if both are active.
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams
QB Kyler Murray — Elite QB1 with an unfathomable ceiling in what should be the highest scoring game of Week 4.
WR DeAndre Hopkins — Shutdown CB Jalen Ramsey made life very hard on Hopkins last year. In two games, Hopkins was held to 12 catches on 23 targets for 87 yards and 1 touchdown. Hopkins should stay in your lineup as a WR1 because that passing volume can make magic happen but It’s possible he finishes in the WR3 range.
WRs Christian Kirk, A.J. Green, and Rondale Moore — Moore has sadly settled in as the team’s No. 4 WR in both snaps and targets. The electric play-maker would assume high-end WR3 duties if one of the top three receivers were to miss time but he can’t be trusted as more than a boom/bust WR4 right now. Kirk is playing out of his mind— his 15 catches, on 17 targets for 279 yards and 3 touchdowns make for the 13th highest .5PPR total at the position. He’s a WR2 until further notice. Green is playing just good enough that he actually deserves multi-flex consideration.
RBs Chase Edmonds and James Conner — Conner punched two TDs in but Edmonds tied Kirk for the team lead in targets (eight) and continues to see fantastic dual threat usage. In what’s sure to be a high-flying shootout, Edmonds checks in as a mid-range RB2. Conner is a TD-dependent RB4.
Los Angeles Rams
QB Matthew Stafford — Rock-solid QB1.
WR Cooper Kupp — Tied for an NFL-leading 25 receptions through three weeks. Elite WR1.
WRs Robert Woods, DeSean Jackson, and Van Jefferson Jr. — D-Jax stole the show (3 catches, 5 targets, 120 yards, and 1 touchdown) but did so on a highly restricted snap count. While he might be able to keep things hot as a WR3 in a surefire shootout this week, that’s not the kind of usage that we want to chase. The Rams did try to feed Woods early on, making it clear that he was a featured part of their game plan. They know how good he is. Stick with him as a WR2. Jefferson Jr. is just a WR5 but not necessarily a bad DFS option with the impending gaudy point totals.
TE Tyler Higbee — Higbee’s 5 catches on 5 targets for 40 yards and 1 touchdown ended his buy-low moment. He’s a solid TE1.
RBs Darrell Henderson Jr. and Sony Michel — Henderson (ribs) returned to practice on Wednesday, signaling a split Rams backfield. Michel’s Week 3 performance wasn’t good enough for him to take lead back duties but he’ll be a factor. Bill Henderson for back-end RB2 value and Michel as a back-end RB3.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Green Bay Packers
QB Ben Roethlisberger — Roethlisberger is awful. Even in a great match-up he can only be expected to return mid-to-low QB2 value.
Guys like this could never play in today’s league pic.twitter.com/kuFu2PU520
— Steven Ruiz (@theStevenRuiz) September 27, 2021
WRs Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Washington — Both Johnson (knee) and JuJu (ribs) are practicing but Claypool tweaked his hammy on Thursday though so keep an eye on him. If all are active, X-receiver Johnson should return to low-end WR2 status, Claypool a high-floor/Top 15 WR3, and JuJu as a WR4, WR3 in full-point PPR. If Claypool is unable to play, James Washington would assume Z-receiver duties in his stead as a fantasy WR5.
TE Pat Freiermuth — The rookie TE filled in as the short area pass catcher after JuJu left last week’s contest. With the WR set to return, Freiermuth returns to the TE2 doldrums.
RB Najee Harris — Mike Tomlin gave game planning a try and dished out 19 targets to Harris last week, just as we’d hoped. With that perfect match-up in the rearview, Harris must be downgraded to a low-end RB1. His offensive line is impossibly bad. Benny Snell Jr. remains the primary bellcow bench stash with Anthony McFarland Jr.
Green Bay Packers
QB Aaron Rodgers — PIT will be without stud DL Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu who are both on IR, making life easier on Rodgers this week. He remains on the back-end QB1 radar.
WR Davante Adams — Elite WR1.
WRs Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard and TE Robert Tonyan — MVS registered back-to-back DNPs (hamstring) on Wednesday and Thursday, putting his Sunday availability in serious doubt. Lazard should see enough of an uptick in usage to be considered as a WR4 or WR5. Big Bob Tonyan, one of Rodgers’ more recent favorites should see an increase in targets as well, making him a boom/bust TE1 option.
RB Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon — The Pittsburgh defensive-front is still a solid but bunch their defensive line absences will hurt. Jones is a mid-to-low RB1. Dillon seems to be taking No. 3 RB Kylin Hill’s passing game work away, with the latter being relegated to return duties last week. Dillon’s status as a premier bellcow bench stash is solidifying.
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos
QB Lamar Jackson — Jackson registered back-to-back DNPs with a back injury. So far the team is saying that it’s not “anything serious”. He’s an elite QB1 if active. If not, gun-slinging backup Tyler Huntley would make for a wild ride.
WRs Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernary, Rashod Bateman and TE Mark Andrews — Dr. Edwin Porras of FantasyPoints.com believes a Week 4 debut for Bateman would be hair too early. Continue to monitor. Should Bateman be active, he’d be a volatile WR4 but would likely immediately take over as the No. 1/X-receiver WR in the Ravens’ offense. Ignore Brown’s drops from last week. They happen, they’re sporadic. Ignore them. He’s a borderline WR2/3 against a tough Denver defense. Bateman’s presence would certainly draw attention away from Brown. Watkins would go from underwhelming WR4 to nearly obsolete if Bateman is active. Duvernay would stay a fun, largely fantasy-irrelevant return man who could one day become Baltimore’s primary slot receiver.
RBs Ty’Son Williams, Latavius Murray, and Devonta Freeman — Freeman only saw three carries last week but even that can hurt the other two. Williams is still the primary back and his 22 routes run (per PFF) were still more than Murray and Freeman’s 15 combined. Against Denver’s fearsome front, Williams is just an RB3 while Murray’s an RB4.
QB Teddy Bridgewater — Teddy’s 18 attempts of 20 yards or more third in the league. We love to see that. The ever-brilliant Dwain McFarland thought to ask what the Broncos’ play calling might be like if they end up trailing by three or more points though, a scenario the Teddy-led bunch has yet to encounter. While we may get that answer this week, Bridgewater should remain on the high-end QB2 streaming radar against a banged up Ravens’ secondary.
WR Courtland Sutton — Sutton’s 38.49% team air yards share is 13th most in the NFL and that number might actually grow this week now that K.J. Hamler’s been placed on IR (ACL). He’s a locked-in WR2.
WRs Tim Patrick and Diontae Spencer — While Sutton locks horns with stud starting CB Marlon Humphrey (who’s had an up and down year likely caused by a back injury), Patrick should run free vs. fill-in No. 4 CB Anthony Averett giving the WR4 easy access to a WR3 finish. Spencer replaced Hamler as the primary slot receiver and will run routes mano y mano against the once promising Tavon Young. Young’s short career has been hampered by tearing and later retearing an ACL, most recently in 2020. Per PFF, Young’s 2021 has had mixed results. While he’s allowed 6-of-7 passes to be completed for 71 against him when lined up as a nickel CB, he managed to pick off the 7th. Spencer is a low-floor/high-ceiling WR5.
TEs Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam — Fant saw snaps shift in his favor last week and could stand to benefit more than Spencer from Hamler’s absence. Ravens safety DeShon Elliot is trending towards being out (quad) after registering back-to-back DNPs. He’s a shaky TE1.
RBs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams — Gordon maintained a lead in Denver’s 1-2 RB punch last week, playing more snaps and running more routes (per PFF) than Williams. Gordon also ran better than Williams and got more work in scoring position. The team won’t veer away from the rookie Williams but his fumble isn’t going to aid his quest to take over lead back duties. Baltimore’s 25.3 .5PPR PPG allowed to the RB position is 7th most in the NFL, solidifying both backs’ spots on either side of the RB2/3 borderline.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Tom Brady — Brady will try to run up the score as much as possible against the team that cast him aside. He’s an elite QB1 this week.
WRs Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Tyler Johnson — With CB Stephon Gilmore still on Reserve/PUP, the Pats have little hope of slowing the Bucs WRs. Evans and Godwin are both WR1s right now. Antonio Brown was reactivated from the COVID-19/Reserve List on Thursday. He’s likely to resume his old role but the veteran receiver did suffer symptoms so it’s tough to know how he’s feeling. Tentatively treat him as a WR3. Gronk missed both Wednesday and Thursday’s practices with a rib injury, putting his availability in jeopardy. With Gronk potentially out and WR Scotty Miller on IR and Justin Watson on PUP, Johnson could get some run this weekend. He’s a boom/buts WR5.
TEs Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate — Should Gronk play, he’s an elite fantasy TE1 but if he’s inactive, Brate would be the preferred spot-play over O.J. Howard.
Update, Saturday 9:30am PST: Gronk did not travel with the team. He should be announced as Out shortly. Brate is a fine fill-in TE1 for fantasy purposes. He’s played very well in the red zone for much of his career.
RBs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones — Gio Bernard is all but already ruled out with a sprained MCL. Fournette is more likely to get lead back/dual threat duties. He’s a mid-range RB3 while Rojo is an RB4.
New England Patriots
QB Mac Jones — Jones is a low-end QB2 against the dominant Bucs’ defense.
WRs Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor — While Tampa Bay has been somewhat downfield thanks to the absence of Sean Murphy-Bunting, Agholor is a risky WR5 against this DB unit. Slot receiver Meyers may be the diamond in the rough though. The fourth-year receiver saw a whopping 14 targets last week and thanks to his quick-hitting slot route prowess could be the biggest beneficiary of White’s absence (discussed below). He’s a high-end WR4 with high-end WR3 upside. Bourne has quietly developed a role in scoring position, tying Meyers and Agholor for a team-leading four red zone targets. Kyle Shanahan made Bourne the second most red zone-targeted Niner in two of the last three seasons, a trait that must’ve stood out to Bill Belichick as he quickly signed Bourne this off-season. He’s a low-floor/touchdown dependent WR5.
TEs Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith — Per PFF, Henry has run over twice as many routes as Smith (63 to 29). While it’s yet to really register in the box score, Henry’s usage is trending towards far more fantasy-friendly waters than Smith’s is. Neither are on the TE1 radar yet but if Henry’s available, he’s worth an add.
RBs Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, J.J. Taylor — After James White injured his hip last week, veteran special teamer Bolden largely filled in for him, much to Taylor’s dismay. Bolden cannot be trusted at all in this match-up. With Harris destined for a run-centric workload against the NFL’s best front-seven he’s not the pass catching back answer either. Harris is a mid-tier RB3. Taylor is just a bench stash.