Ten Things We Learned in Week 4 (Fantasy Football)
We have now flown through the first four games of the 2021 NFL season. Is it just me, or did that go by fast, almost too fast? Now that we are basically a quarter into the season, we have more information to help us make our decisions and know what we should do with certain players. Although we have a decent sample size of games, there is always brand new information to adjust to, and Week 4 is no different. Let’s look at ten things that we learned this week and the fantasy implications involved.
1. D.J. Moore May Finally Have a Top-12 Finish
The talent of D.J. Moore has never really been a question with fantasy managers. The issue has always been that Moore lacks when it comes to touchdowns, keeping Moore from finishing as a top-12 wide receiver in fantasy football. Moore finished with four receiving touchdowns in the last two seasons but already has three in four games this year. That would put Moore on pace to score 12 times this year. While that may not happen, it’s possible that we finally get the touchdown production that has kept him from being in the top-12 in each of the last two seasons.
Another concern that had fantasy managers fading D.J. Moore this season was how Robby Anderson performed last year. Anderson had the same number of targets in Week 4 (11) as in the first three weeks combined. Moore has dominated the target share, with almost double the amount of targets than Anderson, and he is being used as more than just a deep threat this year.
2. Cordarrelle Patterson is the Falcons Fantasy MVP
In a turn of events that nobody saw coming, Cordarrelle Patterson is the Falcons leading fantasy producer among the Falcons skill position players. Not Mike Davis, not Kyle Pitts, and no, not even Calvin Ridley! Patterson is currently averaging 18.6 fantasy points per game in half-point PPR formats. He is mainly getting it done through the air, but he also has a rushing touchdown this season. In Week 4, Patterson caught 5-of-6 targets for 82 yards and three touchdowns. On one of the touchdown receptions, Patterson straight-up “Mossed” the defender. Patterson has always been dynamic but has never been utilized as he has so far this season. With no true starting running back in Atlanta, Patterson is set up for continued success as we advance in the 2021 season; even if he doesn’t keep up his current pace of production, he should still be valuable.
3. Deebo Samuel and George Kittle Run the San Francisco Offense
Honestly, writing this is going to break my heart. I have been a Brandon Aiyuk truther all off-season, and now it’s time that I, and those who believed with me, accept that he is unlikely to live up to his ADP. This acceptance isn’t a slight to the talent that Aiyuk has, but instead, just accepting that the concerns about the 49ers’ offense were legitimate and are coming to fruition.
Aiyuk only caught 1-of-3 passes in Week 4. We are well beyond the hamstring issue that may have hindered Aiyuk in the first couple of weeks. The Seattle Seahawks took a 14-7 early in the 3rd quarter and kept a solid lead throughout the rest of the game. Despite trailing, Aiyuk was a non-factor in the 49ers’ passing game. George Kittle had 11 targets, and Deebo Samuel had 12 targets. Mohamed Sanu and Kyle Juszczyk even had more targets than Aiyuk. There seems to be little hope that Aiyuk breaks out this season unless his role increases due to an injury to Samuel or Kittle.
4. Trey Lance May Have an Opportunity to Become the Starter
Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a calf injury and did not return to begin the second half of the 49ers’ Week 4 game against the Seahawks. Trey Lance came in and played well, completing 9-of-18 passes for two touchdowns and had 41 rushing yards on seven attempts. Kyle Shanahan seemed like he wasn’t too impressed with Lance’s performance. Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News quoted Shanahan saying, “it looked like a typical first game,” adding in, “That’s why he’s a No. 2 quarterback.” Garoppolo said in a post-game interview that he expects to miss a couple of weeks. Despite what Shanahan may say, Lance will have the opportunity to prove he belongs out there if he continues to make plays and leads the team to some victories. As a dual-threat quarterback, Lance has tremendous upside if he keeps the job.
5. Alvin Kamara Doesn’t Receive a Target for the First Time in His Career
Those that drafted Alvin Kamara were hoping for more involvement in the passing game this year. Unfortunately, Kamara did not get targeted in Week 4, which was the first time in his entire career (64 games). Kamara is only on pace for 59 receptions in the 2021 season, which is a significant drop in production based on what we are used to with the stud running back. The fear was that we didn’t know what life would be like for Kamara post-Drew Brees, but it’s not off to a good start, fantasy-wise. Kamara did see 26 carries, which was a career-high, but we all know that a target is worth more than a carry in fantasy football, so hopefully, he gets back to being heavily targeted.
6. The Cardinals are Legit Contenders
The Arizona Cardinals made a statement with a win against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4. Led by possible MVP front-runner Kyler Murray, the Cardinals beat the Rams 37-20. The Cardinals are now in first place in the NFC and are one of two undefeated teams, with the other being the Las Vegas Raiders, who play on Monday Night Football. As of writing this article, the Cardinals are also first in the NFL in points forced and 10th in points allowed. This team is a legit Super Bowl contender to go along with an offense with many great fantasy assets.
7. Chuba Hubbard Probably Wasn’t Worth a lot of FAAB
When Christian McCaffrey went down with a hamstring injury, Chuba Hubbard was an instant target for fantasy managers on the waiver wire. Unfortunately, if you spent a high dollar or high waiver priority for him, you are going to be disappointed. In Week 4, Hubbard had 13 rushes for 57 yards and caught 2-of-2 passes for 14 yards. Hubbard was vultured on the goal line touches by Sam Darnold of all players and wasn’t as involved in the passing game as expected. McCaffrey wasn’t sent to the IR, and there were reports that he could play as early as Week 5. Hopefully, you didn’t invest much into Hubbard if you did get him.
8. Big Ben is Holding the Steelers Back
Ben Roethlisberger continued to disappoint on the field in Week 4. He has yet to throw multiple touchdowns in 2021 and has four interceptions in four games. As of writing this article, the Steelers rank 27th in points forced in the NFL. Big Ben does not seem to have improved from last season and may be getting worse. He is holding the Steelers’ offense back with his play, and we may be seeing his tenure with the Steelers coming to an end if he cannot turn it around. The good news for those who invested in the Steelers’ other fantasy assets is that there is a ton of volume, despite the inefficiency from Big Ben.
9. Van Jefferson is a Factor in the Rams Offense
Believe it or not, other receivers play for the Rams, too, not just Cooper Kupp. Van Jefferson looks to be carving a role in this offense and has outscored Robert Woods in fantasy points in 3-of-4 weeks in half-point PPR scoring, and they even caught touchdowns in the same games. Jefferson and Woods both have six targets in the last two games played. Jefferson is proving to be fantasy-relevant and could be worthy of flex consideration in this high-powered offense.
10. Brady Beats Belichick
In reality, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the New England Patriots, but we all know the storyline was Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick. Everyone knows each of them wanted to win badly. Brady received a welcoming cheer from the crowd, and I’m sure emotions were high for everyone, as Brady admitted in his post-game interview. For the most part, the game was sloppy, in part due to heavy rain and bad weather. The Bucs struggled in the RedZone in particular, having to settle for multiple field goals. The excitement picked up more in the second half and into the 4th quarter. Although there were some questionable penalties and playcalling, the Buccaneers ended up winning on a field goal after back-to-back deep passing attempts to Antonio Brown. Mac Jones just about led the Patriots to the win, as the Bucs left some time on the clock, but the field goal attempt bounced off the crossbar and didn’t have a Justin Tucker-like bounce. Although this may not have been the shootout or game that viewers wanted or expected, I’m sure Tom Brady is just happy to get the win.