Ten Things We Learned in Week 4 (Fantasy Football)
We’ve made it through a quarter of the fantasy football season and things are continuing to heat up. There have been big surprises (both positive and negative), a large number of unfortunate injuries, and byes are starting next week. That went by fast, didn’t it? Scouring the waiver wire becomes ever more important. Navigate the trading landscape by buying low on players who have a hopeful future or selling high on players to bolster your roster. It’s time to lock in and learn each and every week.
1. Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams Are League Winners
Every season there are a couple of unknown players snagged off the waiver wire early in the season who end up being league winners. Both Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams went mostly undrafted in redraft leagues, making their status as the overall WR5 and RB4 so far through four weeks absolutely remarkable. The sample size is big enough now to confirm that this isn’t a fluke. Williams has no competition behind him so he should be locked in for the rest of the year. We have to wait and see if the return of Cooper Kupp will affect Nacua, but chances are he’ll remain a top option for Matthew Stafford. These two Week 1 waiver adds, ironically on the same team, could realistically finish in the top 12 at their respective positions.
2. Rhamondre Stevenson Isn’t the RB1 We Banked On
Rhamondre Stevenson hasn’t been bad per se, but he hasn’t been very good either. Blame it on Mac Jones or the offense as a whole, but Stevenson has been uninspiring through four weeks – his best finish coming in Week 2 as the RB17. He remains a weekly starter, but it’s time to start viewing him as a low-end RB2 or flex option as opposed to the RB1 with upside we hoped he’d be.
3. Kyle Pitts Has No Fantasy Value
As a Kyle Pitts manager, I take no pleasure in writing this, but I believe it’s time to cut bait with the third-year tight end. If you are having trouble smashing the drop button like I am, at the very least he needs to hit the bench for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to see a fantasy-relevant path moving forward for him as long as he remains in Atlanta. Teammate Jonnu Smith is the TE10 currently and has more value than Pitts, an unfathomable reality we all have to accept.
4. Anthony Richardson Has Weekly Top-5 Upside
It wasn’t difficult to see this one coming, as Anthony Richardson‘s ability as a runner was well-documented heading into the 2023 NFL Draft. Still, it was a risky proposition to draft him to be a starting fantasy QB. Richardson was likely a backup selection in redraft leagues, but he should be inserted into starting lineups for the rest of the season. He’s been better than advertised through the air and already has 100+ rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns in three games. He is currently the QB11 (he missed Week 3) and will continue to rise throughout the season.
5. Dak Prescott – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Like the fellas mentioned on Friday’s Week 4 matchups show, there are three scenarios for Dak Prescott every week. He either balls out and finishes as a top QB, he doesn’t need to do much because the defense is so explosive, or he flat-out underperforms. Two out of the three scenarios don’t bode well for Prescott, like in Week 4 when he didn’t have to do much because the defense dominated. He played a good game on Sunday, completing 28 of 34 pass attempts for 261 yards and a touchdown, but those numbers don’t translate to fantasy production (he finished as the QB16 with 14.3 points with the Monday night game remaining). You have to play the matchup game with Prescott and hope for a shootout, and probably bench him in contests where the defense will likely dominate. Speaking of which…
6. Dallas’ Defense Might Be the Greatest Fantasy Defense of All Time
The Cowboys’ defense has 80 points through four weeks. 80! That’s absolutely mind-boggling considering last year’s highest-scoring defense, the New England Patriots, had 186 points the entire season. Within the last 10 years, the highest-scoring defense was the Patriots’ defense in 2019 with 232 fantasy points. This Dallas unit is on pace to beat that number, easily. The fantasy playoff schedule isn’t favorable – Buffalo and Miami before facing Detroit in the fantasy championship – but it doesn’t matter with this unit. Dallas’ defense is matchup-proof, something we don’t see very often.
7. The Bengals Could Be the Bust of 2023
As a team, the Bengals have looked atrocious in all four of their games. Even their Week 3 win against the Rams was bleak. This is not to say that there won’t be fantasy production that comes out of Cincinnati, be it Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon, or Joe Burrow. But by the looks of it, all these players could end up way below where they were drafted. Chase was a top-three draft pick and he’s currently the WR26 with no touchdowns. Higgins was a late second-round pick and he’s currently the WR47 and suffered an injury Sunday that might keep him sidelined for a few weeks. Mixon has been okay, he’s the RB18. And Burrow has been a shell of himself dealing with a calf injury that’s been bothering him since training camp. Don’t do anything drastic if you roster these players, but temper expectations, chances are they aren’t finishing with elite numbers this season.
8. CJ Stroud Is a Weekly Starter
Last week I said you could do worse than stream CJ Stroud moving forward, but I’m going to take it up a notch. I think Stroud is a weekly fantasy starter for the rest of the season. The rookie has been sensational, throwing for 1,212 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. The Texans have won two in a row and look to keep that momentum rolling next week against Atlanta. He’s got legit weapons in Nico Collins and Tank Dell, a reliable tight end in Dalton Schultz, and a good running back in Dameon Pierce. Not to mention Houston’s schedule is enticing, particularly in the playoffs, with two games against Tennessee’s pass-funnel defense. Feel comfortable starting Stroud next week against the Falcons, and the following weeks against the Saints and Panthers.
9. Russell Wilson Has Been Good for Fantasy
It felt sacrilegious just writing that headline, but it’s true, Russell Wilson has been good for fantasy football this season. He’s thrown for 1,014 yards and nine touchdowns with only two interceptions through the first four weeks. He led his team back from a 28-7 deficit with 4:11 left in the third quarter on Sunday against Chicago, something he was incapable of doing last year. He is the current QB8, and while the schedule coming up isn’t advantageous, the latter half of the season is delectable with matchups against the Vikings, Texans, Lions, and Chargers (twice). Wilson could very well finish as a top-10 QB in 2023.
10. Fantasy Gold Can Be Found in Detroit
The Lions played on Thursday, but I’d be remiss not to mention David Montgomery‘s monster three-touchdown performance or another solid game from Amon-Ra St. Brown. Sam LaPorta has been a revelation at tight end and Jahmyr Gibbs will see brighter days ahead. The Lions are legit, both for fantasy and on the actual field. Jared Goff is a reliable streamer at home, so fire him up against Carolina next week and against the Raiders at the end of the month. Montgomery, St. Brown, LaPorta, and Gibbs should all be started every week. The return of Jameson Williams in a couple of weeks could add another interesting fantasy option to the rotation.