Fantasy Football: 10 Lessons Learned in Week 4

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With all the scoring we’re seeing in the NFL this season (a historical high), we’ve learned a new overarching fantasy lesson: upside trumps floor. Take a look at the recent matchups in your league and you’ll probably notice higher fantasy scoring than you’re used to. That means that in order to win, you’ve got to nail at least a few weekly stud muffins.

Fortunately, you and I will be up to the challenge, for we are armed with the mighty ammunition of the Lessons Learned! Let’s check out what the fantasy classroom holds for Week 4.

1. The “Stud” QBs Are Fading

In a week that saw nine quarterbacks top 30 fantasy points, where were the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, etc? Outside the top-12 is where. Instead, we saw Mitchell Trubisky and Jared Goff top the Week 4 results, with Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota, Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, and Joe Flacco all finishing as QB1s.

We’ve all been told the merits of the “late-round QB” strategy, but this year is taking that maxim to new heights. There is simply so much passing and scoring in today’s NFL, that almost anyone becomes streamable week to week. We’ve got to adapt, and that means strongly considering starts like Bortles vs the Chiefs and Matt Ryan vs the Steelers, even over typical locks like Wilson, Brady, and Brees.

2. We Know the Target Teams

Now that we’re a third of the way into the fantasy season, we’ve got a solid set of data to determine the 2018 target matchups. By that, I mean the opponents you look for when seeking out streamers, DFS plays, and even deep league starters.

All the teams on my list share two common traits: they score points and their opponents score points on them. How many, you ask? In their games so far, all five of these teams have seen an average combined total over 54 points: Steelers (54.5), Falcons (59.5), Buccaneers (62.8), Saints (64.5), and Chiefs (65.0). A quick glance at Vegas over/unders will tell you how obscenely high those numbers are. And that’s good for fantasy. I’d be willing to stream just about any QB playing these teams (Mitch Trubisky, anyone?), build massive DFS stacks off these games, and even throw bench guys like Mohamed Sanu (vs Steelers) or Corey Grant (vs Chiefs) into my starting lineups.

3. Corey Davis Can (Probably) Play NFL Football

Corey Davis owners, especially in dynasty, have been waiting for this day for over a year. Coming out of college in 2017 with a mountain of hype, and widely drafted as a top three pick in rookie drafts, Davis had done diddly-squat in the NFL. As in, zero 100+ yard games and zero NFL touchdowns, despite a wealth of targets in Tennessee.

He finally blossomed for fantasy in Week 4, hauling in 9 receptions for 161 yards and his first touchdown. Now, to be crystal clear, he did add 14 yards and the touchdown in overtime, so it apparently takes Davis five quarters to properly dominate. But the arrow is pointing up for Davis. Hopefully, he can take the next step forward and log a score in regulation soon, but he at least avoided potential “last straw” regulation and should be a WR2 moving forward.

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4. Nyheim Hines is an Andrew Luck‘s Best Friend

Fortunately, Andrew Luck has made enough progress that he is no longer being benched for Jacoby Brissett when the Colts need a hail mary. That said, he is still leaning heavily on the check down options in Indianapolis, and Nyheim Hines is the perfect recipient. Hines, who has seamlessly assumed the Danny Woodhead/Darren Sproles role in Frank Reich‘s offense, accumulated 11 targets, 9 receptions, 63 receiving yards, and 2 receiving TDs in Week 4 as Luck racked up a whopping 62 pass attempts.

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With the unsettled nature of the RB position in Indy, the injuries to T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle, and the productiveness Hines has shown so far, he’s nearly cemented himself as an every-week PPR starter. With a big game on Thursday Night Football (which I expect), he may do just that.

5. T.J. Yeldon is a Must-Own With Fournette Hampered

We couldn’t quite make the call after Yeldon’s first couple weeks subbing in for Fournette, but Week 4 just about sealed the deal. When Fournette reaggravated a hamstring injury that looks unlikely to disappear anytime soon, Yeldon stepped up with 100 scrimmage yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Since Week 1, Yeldon is now averaging 4.4 yards per carry, 3.7 receptions per game, and nearly 90 total yards per contest. And given Fournette’s history of lingering lower-body ailments, there’s a non-zero chance that Yeldon ends up in the starter role for a majority of the fantasy season. If you can get him for a handcuff price, do it now.

6. The Patriots, Yet Again, Are Back in Business

For the umpteenth time in recent memory, the NFL and fantasy communities were freaking out about the Patriots losing record and questionable offense through the first few weeks of the season. And, for the umpteenth time, the Patriots have already turned the ship around.

New England hung 38 points on the 3-0 Dolphins last week, and that was with minimal contributions from Josh Gordon and Rob Gronkowski. Julian Edelman, the unheralded grease that makes the Patriot engine hum, is back in Week 5. And, with Rex Burkhead on IR, rookie Sony Michel posted 25 carries for 112 yards and a TD. The Pats are a go for fantasy once again — unless you’re waiting on Chris Hogan, who is a non-starter until future notice.

7. The Eagles Defense is a Running Back’s Worst Nightmare

Here’s some fun statistical info for you: the Eagles are allowing a league-low 40.0 rushing yards per game to running backs, and have not allowed a single back to top 36 yards so far this season. In Week 4, they held the heralded combo of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis to 24 total rushing yards on 12 carries (a brilliant 2.0 yards per carry).

To translate, this is bad news for your fantasy RBs against Philly. Unless they have a good chance at 5+ receptions, don’t expect much from anyone against this front. For the most part, you’ll have to start your studs, but I would even consider sitting a guy like Dalvin Cook in Week 5, or whichever Jaguars RB gets the start in Week 8.

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8. There is Hope for David Johnson

If you listened to the pod earlier this week, you finally heard the sweet, sweet sound of David Johnson’s name sung from the mountaintops (aka the Fantasy Footballers recording studio). In his first game with Josh Rosen as the starter, DJ totaled 25 touches for 112 yards and a rushing touchdown, temporarily quieting the mass hysteria his first three weeks had caused.

Getty Images Sport / Joe Robbins

We still need to see whether this was truly a product of Rosen’s ascension, or simply a side-effect of a gritty game against a sub-par Seahawks team. But there is hope. If he torches the 49ers in Week 5, we will all happily join in the David Johnson sing-along. If not, we’ll be right back to silent panic.

9. The Beathard-Kittle Iowa Connection Might Actually Be a Thing

There was some speculation that George Kittle might be one of the few 49ers to retain value after the loss of Jimmy Garoppolo, as he and backup QB C.J. Beathard were teammates at Iowa. And while the one-game sample size we have so far doesn’t quite answer the question, we did see Kittle lead the team in targets, receptions, and yards in Week 4.

With Marquise Goodwin banged up, Beathard looking a little less incompetent through one week than he did last season, and the general atrocity of the tight end position in fantasy, this is a big deal. Kittle’s 6 receptions, 125 yards, and 1 TD are like pure unobtanium for a tight end, making him a legitimate candidate for top-6 consideration rest of season. I would spend at least 44 FAAB dollars on him (shout out to Andy Holloway).

10. Alvin Kamara is Very, Very, Very Good

This one is a bit of a gimme, but it has to be mentioned. With 181 scrimmage yards and 3 TDs in Week 4, Kamara is now on pace for 544.4 PPR fantasy points. Why must this be mentioned in this week’s Lessons Learned? Because, if he were to hold that pace for 16 games, Kamara would set a new fantasy football record for points in a season. That’s right, more than LaDainian Tomlinson‘s 2006, more than Peyton Manning‘s 2013, you get the picture.

With Mark Ingram coming back from suspension, Week 5 will be very telling for Kamara’s rest of season potential. But with the incomparable ability he’s shown, and the regression of the Saints defense this year, all signs point to a continuation of Kamara’s elite usage and production. He’s just about untradeable in fantasy, but if his owner is even a bit trepidatious about Ingram’s return, it might be worth sending out some feelers.

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