Fantasy Football Rankings: Week 4 Matchups To Consider
Nearly a month into the season, it’s time for fantasy football managers to be settling into their rosters and working to fine-tune the holes their teams may have. Of course, none of the rosters have holes, which is why I’m here to take a look at important matchups for Week 4 to get your time on the right track for another W!
Jordan Love (GB) vs Detroit
It’s been as great of a start to Jordan Love’s first full season as a starter for Green Bay as you could have planned. After sitting behind Aaron Rodgers for 3 seasons, we have finally gotten to see what Love in a full-time starting role looks like for fantasy, and the returns have been really good thus far. Through 3 weeks, Love has finished inside the top-6 QBs twice and he’s done it in different ways, which might be the most impressive thing about his start. Love’s Week 1 was driven by high efficiency throwing 3 TDs on just 27 passing attempts, meanwhile, his QB6 finish last week came behind just 1 passing TD that was aided by another on the ground. Personally, I’m not quite sure how to gauge Love’s ability to consistently be a strong fantasy asset, but he’ll have to improve upon his 53% completion rate to convince the masses going forward.
Thursday night’s matchup with Detroit provides a chance for Love to add to his hot start against a defense that’s willing to give up fantasy points to the QB. Through their first 3 games, the Lions have allowed 2 top-10 QB finishes and we really won’t give them much credit for not allowing Desmond Ridder to get there last week. If we exclude the miserable Atlanta offense, the Lions are giving up 2 TDs per game to competent QBs, which should be enough for Love to find himself back in the fantasy-relevant zone. What could be an interesting wrinkle to this week’s matchup is Love’s ability to run the ball when needed. Both Geno Smith and Patrick Mahomes each had 20 rushing yards against the Lions and Love is averaging right around that range so far this season. I wouldn’t be forcing Love into my lineup, but would be willing to ride the hot start until we see Love’s TD rate come back down to Earth.
Kirk Cousins (MIN) at Carolina
It might be odd to even have to talk about if you’re starting Kirk Cousins given his tremendous start to the season. Through 3 weeks, Cousins is leading the league in passing yards, passing attempts and touchdowns, yet the Vikings are currently 0-3. When it comes to having a fantasy QB who is throwing the ball more than anyone else and whose defense is allowing 27 points per game, that could be a great recipe for success.
While the 0-3 Panthers might seem like the perfect spot to continue using Cousins in your lineup, this defense hasn’t been the best fantasy matchup for QBs. Through 3 weeks, Carolina’s defense hasn’t allowed a top-15 finish from an opposing QB, with QBs averaging just 13.6 points against them. What’s more troubling for Cousins is the Panthers have allowed just 2 passing TDs on the season, but are allowing the 4th-most rushing TDs thus far. While the Vikings don’t seem concerned with running the ball, this week might be the time they try to amend that portion of their offense, which could lead to some disappointing results for fantasy managers relying on Cousins.
Brian Robinson Jr. (WASH) at Philadelphia
Volume has been the name of the game to start the season for Brian Robinson Jr. In his first 3 games, Robinson has seen 82% of the RB carries for the Commanders and a third of the team’s total opportunities. Possibly the only negative thing to say about what fantasy managers have seen from Robinson this year is he’s just been on the field for 51% of snaps, including just 37% last week in their loss to Buffalo. That limited work can be attributed to the shift offensively for the Commanders. Last season Washington ran the ball the 4th-most times in the league, while this season they currently have the 5th-fewest rushing attempts through the first 3 games.
If Robinson’s inclusion in the offense is game-script specific, Week 4 might be a week to pass on him in your lineup. The Eagles’ defense has been suffocating against opposing RBs, only allowing 27.8 total fantasy points this season. Over the last 2 weeks, opposing starting RBs have finished as the RB51 and RB40 against Philadelphia. Fantasy managers have gotten great returns from Robinson early on, but this might be a week to stick him on your bench and wait for a better matchup.
Alvin Kamara (NO) vs Tampa Bay
The return of Alvin Kamara should be welcomed by the banged-up New Orleans backfield. Through their first 3 games, the Saints offense hasn’t taken the step forward that many expected it could behind Derek Carr, scoring just 5 TDs thus far. Part of the offenses’ struggles have come from the running game averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, the 5th-lowest in the league. Kamara’s return comes at a great time with Jamaal Williams, who was starting in Kamara’s absence, placed on IR after Week 2.
Kamara’s return to the Saints doesn’t come with the best matchup if New Orleans is trying to get their running game back on track. Tampa Bay’s defense has allowed just 309 yards rushing on the season, and 65% of those yards came on Monday night against Philadelphia. That means prior to Week 3, the Buccaneers were only allowing 54 yards on the ground per game. Still, Tampa Bay has allowed a top-20 RB finish in 2 of their 3 matchups this year, so there’s still production to be had for Kamara. Assuming the Saints give Kamara the workload we’re used to seeing him get, fantasy managers should be pleased having him as their RB2 this week.
Khalil Herbert (CHI) vs Denver
The summer of expecting Khalil Herbert to take over the RB duties for the Chicago Bears has not proven to be what was expected. While the Bears offense as a whole has struggled, Herbert hasn’t shown that he’s the solution at RB either. In their first 3 games, Herbert is seeing just below half of the team’s RB snaps and averaging only 31 yards per game, with his fantasy output trending downward each week. What’s less encouraging for Herbert is that rookie Roschon Johnson’s snaps have continued to increase, though he’s been just as ineffective in his opportunities.
It might seem kind of silly to not be targeting the Broncos’ defense this week after they allowed 350 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs, and a whopping 97.6 fantasy points to the Miami Dolphins RBs, but here I am. Getting real numbers on the Broncos’ defense will be hard after giving up such a ridiculous amount of yards, but prior to last week, the Broncos had only allowed a 100-yard rusher once since Week 13 of last season. Meanwhile, let’s not forget the mess that the Bears offense currently is. The RBs in Chicago have combined for just 45 carries on the season, and their leading rusher is still going to be Justin Fields. While the matchup seems juicy for this week given what happened to the Broncos in Week 3, I’d be staying away from Herbert until we see actual signs of life from this offense.
Tank Dell (HOU) vs Pittsburgh
One of my favorite players in this rookie draft class, Tank Dell has firmly put himself in the fantasy-relevant category over the last 2 weeks. Since Week 2, Dell has seen 17 targets that he’s turned into 217 yards and 2 TDs which was good enough for WR19 and WR6 finishes. The most encouraging thing about being confident with a Texans WR in your fantasy lineup has to be the 121 passing attempts we’ve seen from Houston so far this season. For reference, that’s 21% of the passing attempts from the Texans for the entire year in 2022.
If Dell is going to continue his hot streak, he’s got the right matchup in Week 4 to do it. Pittsburgh’s passing defense is currently allowing 37.9 points to opposing fantasy WRs and has given up the overall WR2 finish twice already this season in just 3 games. Houston is currently averaging the 7th-most yards per passing attempt and should be able to continue growing their young aerial attack against a Steelers defense that’s given up multiple passing TDs in 2 of their 3 games this season.
Adam Thielen (CAR) vs Minnesota
Count me surprised to be putting Adam Thielen in an article as a fantasy-relevant option this season. While the old man bit has been fun, Thielen has really been solid through the Panthers’ first 3 games, most recently with back-to-back top-20 finishes. Carolina’s offense hasn’t been great, but Thielen is seeing the amount of volume that can keep him as a solid FLEX option at the minimum with 23 targets over the last 2 games. What’s possibly more surprising is that the Panthers have attempted the 2nd-most passes in the league, aided by Week 3’s 58 attempts from Andy Dalton. Still, even when Bryce Young is under center, they’ve thrown the ball at least 30 times so the passing opportunities look like they’re here to stay.
Continuing Thielen’s hot start stands a good chance in Week 4 with another strong matchup against the Vikings. Minnesota’s defense has allowed the 7th-most passing yards, 3rd-most passing TDs, and 5th-highest yards-per-attempt in the league through 3 weeks. The Vikings have given up 4 top-15 WR finishes already this season, and with 45 points expected between the two teams this week, there’s a chance that Thielen can be the 5th. It will be hard to predict how much longer Thielen will be able to keep up his top-10 WR start, but fantasy managers should be confident about having him in their lineups this week.
Tutu Atwell (LAR) at Indianapolis
If you told me that Tutu Atwell would have had 11 points in every game thus far this season I wouldn’t have believed you, but it’s true. Atwell has been extremely involved in the Rams offense, seeing 87% of snaps and nearly 9 targets a game which he’s turned into two top-15 finishes. What’s more impressive is Atwell is getting plenty of fantasy production without having to rely on getting in the end zone with just one TD on the season, so there could be even bigger days ahead.
The Colts have exceeded expectations so far this season, currently sitting atop the AFC South. While the offense with rookie QB Anthony Richardson has been the point of interest, their defense has kept them in games, despite giving up the 8th-most yards per game in the league. Indianapolis has given up a handful of strong fantasy days already to opposing WRs, allowing 4 top-20 WRs finishes in the first 2 weeks. If Atwell can continue to be one of QB streaming option Matt Stafford’s favorite targets, he should still be a strong FLEX option for fantasy managers.
Luke Musgrave (GB) vs Detroit
It was the Packers’ 2nd-Rookie TE Luke Musgrave that everyone thought would be the big fantasy producer this year right? Musgrave has carved himself out a strong role in Green Bay’s passing attack, with a 16% target share through 3 weeks. The most encouraging part about Musgrave’s usage has to be the 3 red zone targets he’s seen. While they haven’t turned into pay dirt just yet, continuing to get those valuable targets is what could push Musgrave into a must-start fantasy option from week to week.
Detroit’s defense has been one of the best matchups for fantasy TEs to start the year. The Lions have given up at least 12 fantasy points to opposing team’s TEs in each game this season and have allowed 14 receptions for 119 yards over the last 2 weeks. If Musgrave continues to stay involved in the offense and see targets, fantasy managers might be able to rely on him to have a safe fantasy football floor with a top-6 TE upside.
Pat Freiermuth (PIT) at Houston
What many expected to be a big season for Pat Freiermuth has been a little disappointing for the first 3 weeks. The Steelers 3rd year TE has been much less involved in the offense to start the year compared to 2022. Last season Freiermuth averaged around 6 targets per game, but hasn’t hit that mark once in 2023. Freiermuth still ranks as one of the better-receiving options at TE, with his average depth of target at 8.8 yards, good enough for 5th in the league for TEs with at least 5 targets. While Week 3’s TE6 finish was encouraging for Freiermuth’s fantasy managers, seeing him more involved in Pittsburgh’s struggling offense more consistently will be key to have any optimism about putting him into your lineup.
Houston presents another chance for Freiermuth to get into the top-10 TEs for fantasy managers. The Texans have allowed the TE7 finish in back-to-back weeks for a combined 19.3 points, so the opportunity should still be there for the Muth to produce again. Possibly the biggest worry for fantasy managers getting Freiermuth into their lineups is the 41 expected points in this game, the second-lowest on the week. If you’re playing Friermuth in your lineup, you’re doing so just hoping he can fall into the end zone.