Dak Prescott
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
The Fantasy Blueprint

The Fantasy Blueprint: Week 4

Updated On: October 4, 2020, 3:25 am ET

CTRL + F to search for players on desktop. Rotate if on mobile.

Posted Thursday and updated Friday with more notes, “The Fantasy Blueprint” will get you the stats and information that actually matter for fantasy football, and it will be produced in a way that doesn’t waste our time. If you don't know what "Fantasy Usage" is, read this. If you want my best bets, they’ll be at the top on Saturday. If you need live Vegas odds, go here. If you simply just want my weekly rankings, subscribe here for $3.99 per month and use promo code WINKS10 for 10% off. If you have other questions, reach out on Twitter (@HaydenWinks)

 


Best Bets of Week 4

Visit our live odds page. My all-time record: 55-39-1 (58%). 

Lions (+3) vs. Saints - One team getting healthy. The other missing 5+ starters.

Bucs (-7) vs. Chargers - LAC facing stud defense without 3 starting OL.

Colts/Bears over 43 points - Improved QB play and historical NFL scoring.

Seahawks/Dolphins over 54 points - Unhealthy defenses vs. healthy offenses.

Bills (-3) vs. Raiders - LV banged up and will be reliant on run game.

 


1. Packers (32.75 points, -7.5 spread) vs. ATL

Packers

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Aaron Rodgers

Fantasy Rank: 6th, Team Pass Att: 15th, Rush Att: 7th

RB3 Aaron Jones

RB3 overall usage with 32.75-point team total. Smash.

WR1 Davante Adams (Q)

Elite. 8-12 targets vs. ATL (30th vs. WRs).

WR59 Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Touches were up without Adams and in garbage time.

TE32 Robert Tonyan

GB’s top TE (60% routes). ATL is 31st vs. TEs. TE2 Streamer.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

6th in neutral pass rate with Davante Adams (hamstring) appearing likely to play after practicing Friday, Aaron Rodgers has QB1 value going into Monday night against Atlanta's 28th-ranked passing EPA defense. They're also dead last against fantasy quarterbacks, even allowing Nick Foles to torch them off the bench. Efficiency shouldn't be a problem for all pass-game weapons. The Packers are without Allen Lazard, however, moving Marquez Valdes-Scantling into the flex radar in the perfect home matchup. He's a boom-bust player with a 18.7 average depth of target as Rodgers' downfield weapon. The third receiver could be Darrius Shepherd, who has one career reception. Adams' return is bad news for Robert Tonyan's target share, but he's at least running a route on 60% of dropbacks and faces the NFL's 31st defense against fantasy tight ends. He's a low-end TE2 streamer. Aaron Jones (RB3 overall fantasy usage) is locked into top-5 RB rankings with the Packers' league-high 32.75-point team total.

 

Fantasy Rankings:

Rodgers is my QB8 this week. Subscribe to Rotoworld EDGE+ here to unlock the rest of my personal weekly positional rankings (posted Wednesday) for only $3.99 per month. Use promo code: WINKS10 for 10% off.

 

Postponed: Chiefs (30.5, -7) vs. NE

Chiefs

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Patrick Mahomes

Fantasy Rank: 3rd, Team Pass Att: 5th, Rush Att: 13th

RB6 Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Rec: 0 to 6 to 5. 6th in carries P/G. TDs are coming.

WR20 Tyreek Hill

NE to limit deep looks vs. Hill. Volatile WR1/2 still.

WR28 Sammy Watkins

24% targets share, WR28 usage. WR3 but vs. CB Gilmore.

WR90 Demarcus Robinson

Week 3 routes: Robinson (29), Hardman (22).

WR102 Mecole Hardman

Efficiency outlier. Still not playing enough. WR5.

TE3 Travis Kelce

Top-2 TE weekly. Has 18.0, 11.3, & 11.1 PPR vs. NE.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

Reid versus Belichick is the matchup of the week. Patrick Mahomes gives the Chiefs the clear advantage -- KC has scored 31, 23, and 40 points in Mahomes’ three games vs. NE -- and I’m not convinced this opted-out version of the Pats defense can slow things down much, if at all. I expect bracket coverage with safety help for Tyreek Hill (21.0 PPR in 4 games vs. NE), man-to-man coverage from CB Stephon Gilmore on Sammy Watkins (9.3 PPR in 3 games with KC vs. NE), and aggressive coverage on Travis Kelce (13.6 PPR in 6 games vs. NE). They’ll allow tertiary pieces (Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman) to beat them. I moved all three every-snap players down a couple spots than normal, but all three can be started. Expect New England’s coverage to keep things in front of them, potentially allowing Clyde Edwards-Helaire to touch the ball 15-20 times as a mid-range RB1. Chiefs' RBs have had 9, 10, and 10 targets in their three most-recent NE contests.

Updated Saturday: The game was moved from Sunday to either Monday or Tuesday, but even that seems optimistic now that a player from each team tested positive. The NFL, a capitalistic machine like no other, will want to push it if they can. I'm skeptical that can happen, especially because that'd mean Kansas City would play an NFL-record three games in nine days. I'd certainly plan to have backups in starting lineups.

 

3. Seahawks (30.25, -6.5) @ MIA

Seahawks

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Russell Wilson

Fantasy Rank: 1st, Team Pass Att: 20th, Rush Att: 22nd

RB19 Chris Carson (Q)

Strong RB2 if healthy (knee). MIA 28th in run EPA DEF.

RB70 Carlos Hyde (Q)

Plug-in RB2 if Carson is out but would lose some pass snaps.

WR9 Tyler Lockett

Efficiency outlier (career 9.9 YPT) with top-10 usage.

WR39 DK Metcalf

Efficiency outlier (career 9.8 YPT) with big, but volatile usage.

TE28 Greg Olsen

Only 26 air yards P/G. TD-dependent TE3 with high total (30).

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

The most passing touchdowns through three games (14), Russell Wilson is not only locked into the top-3 rankings but is in the QB1 overall conversation against a defense that’s 29th against fantasy QBs. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf have 76% of the team’s air yards, too, so volume is very concentrated. Miami’s top CB Byron Jones might return but won’t be fully healthy (groin, Achilles) if he suits up. Bombs away. Chris Carson nearly got his knee torn off illegally last week, but he’s expected to play through it after practicing Friday. Everyone’s matchup is good here, but Carson’s might be the best as an upside RB2. Game script as 6.5-point favorites is also on his side. 

Updated Friday: Both Chris Carson (knee) and Carlos Hyde (shoulder) are game-time decisions. Travis Homer would be the No. 2 (or perhaps the No. 1) if things go sideways. As 6.5-point favorites, it's an important injury report to monitor on Sunday. ... Miami CB Byron Jones is out. Good luck.

 

4. Rams (30.25, -13) vs. NYG

Rams

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Jared Goff

Fantasy Rank: 9th, Team Pass Att: 29th, Rush Att: 1st

RB30 Darrell Henderson

PFF’s RB1 in LAR’s new gap scheme. Strong RB2. Smash.

RB34 Malcolm Brown

LAR 1st in neutral run rate. Brown there to pass protect.

WR33 Robert Woods

LAR last in neutral pass rate but still is a high-floor WR2.

WR37 Cooper Kupp

NYG 31st in pass EPA defense. 94% routes is a good sign.

TE24 Tyler Higbee

Iffy volume but explosive (3rd in YPRR). NYG without top S.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

Sean McVay is hiding Jared Goff with the lowest neutral pass rate (38%), the second-lowest average depth of throw (6.0), and lots of play action. It’s worked, although it has taken some of Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Higbee’s upside appeal. They’ll have to get there on efficiency (NYG is 31st in passing EPA defense) because the game script as 13-point home favorites is setting up for a Darrell Henderson smash spot, particularly if Cam Akers (ribs) misses. He didn’t practice on Wednesday.

Updated Friday: It's Henderszn. No Cam Akers this week. ... Giants S Jabrill Peppers is out and S Julian Love is doubtful. That's helpful to all, but especially for Higbee.

 

5. Ravens (30, -13) @ WAS

Ravens

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Lamar Jackson

Fantasy Rank: 12th, Team Pass Att: 31st, Rush Att: 12th

RB43 Mark Ingram

2020 snaps: Ingram (66), J.K. (67), Gus (48). Yuck.

RB63 J.K. Dobbins

Most routes of BAL RBs but RB63 usage makes him a RB3/4.

WR56 Marquise Brown

Explosive but big-play reliant on only 6.0 targets P/G. WR3/4.

WR91 Miles Boykin

Simply not involved right now. Career 1.1 receptions P/G.

TE11 Mark Andrews

Rebound candidate. WAS 27th vs. TEs. 30-point team total.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

Coming off the ugliest game of his career, Lamar Jackson is set up to rebound against a Washington Defense that’s without DE Chase Young and others on defense. Jackson will scramble when pressured and should be more accurate throwing to Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown with the Football Team’s secondary beatable when the defensive line isn’t getting home. I’m far more comfortable with Andrews’ usage than Brown’s, but both are fantasy starters despite last week. A J.K. Dobbins breakout game is on the horizon, but it’s best to see it first before jamming him or any other Baltimore back into lineups. Snaps and touches are split, especially with Gus Edwards cleaning up late. 44% of Edwards’ touches have been in garbage time.

 

6. Cowboys (29.75, -4.5) vs. CLE

Cowboys

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Dak Prescott

Fantasy Rank: 4th, Team Pass Att: 1st, Rush Att: 18th

RB1 Ezekiel Elliott

DAL 1st in neutral pace. Leading in inside-10 carries (4 P/G).

WR8 Amari Cooper

Tied for 4th in targets P/G (11.7). CB Denzel Ward is hurt.

WR32 CeeDee Lamb

Injury played into fewer Week 3 snaps. WR3 from the slot.

WR54 Michael Gallup

Volatile WR3 usage but a stud (career 9.3 YPT). 

TE12 Dalton Schultz

16.6 & 9.9 xFPs w/o Jarwin. CLE 30th vs. TEs. Strong TE2.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

Dak Prescott is loaded with skill-position talent but is playing behind a decimated offensive line. For example, LT Tyron Smith (neck) is attempting to return this week and C Zach Martin played RT last week. It’s the only offensive concern, one that hasn’t been exploited too much yet (6th in adjusted sack rate) because Dallas opened up against three teams without edge rushers. Cleveland has them. Still, Dallas has a big advantage on the boundary, especially with CB Denzel Ward 50/50 to play and would be playing injured if active. Amari Cooper has a floor and ceiling as the alpha receiver, while CeeDee Lamb (floor) and Michael Gallup (ceiling) round out three-receiver sets. Based on team total (29.75) and offensive pace (1st) alone, Dalton Schultz can be treated as a recommended streamer most weeks with Ezekiel Elliott ready for receptions, NFL-leading goal-line work, and close-out carries as an elite RB1.

Updated Friday: Browns CB Greedy Williams is out and CB Denzel Ward (groin) is questionable after leaving last week's game. Ward has re-injury risk even if he's active. DE Olivier Vernon (abdomen) also is questionable.

 

7. Saints (29.25, -4.5) @ DET

Saints

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Drew Brees

Fantasy Rank: 19th, Team Pass Att: 17th, Rush Att: 25th

RB2 Alvin Kamara

Entire NO offense is Kamara’s YAC. Elite RB1 vs. 30th DEF.

WR61 Emmanuel Sanders

WR5 if Thomas returns. Only WR61 usage. Good matchup.

WR74 Tre’Quan Smith

98% Week 3 routes turned into 10.2 xFPs. WR5 if MT out.

NA Adam Trautman

Productive, small school prospect. 50%+ snap candidate.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

The NFL leader in shallowest average depth of throw (4.8 yards), Drew Brees looks like a shell of himself, and the Saints’ scheme has had to adjust. Against a man-heavy Detroit defense, Brees will have to be accurate and let his receivers win. That may be with Michael Thomas, but a limited version of Michael Thomas while he rushes back from the always-tricky high-ankle sprain. His presence would tank iffy-usage WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith to fantasy benches, even with Jared Cook (groin) not practicing this week. As always, the offense will run through Alvin Kamara, my top-ranked fantasy back this week. Detroit is 30th in rushing EPA defense.

Updated Friday: Michael Thomas and Jared Cook are out. Adam Trautman becomes a desperation TE2 streamer. The Saints hand selected him with one of their four draft picks this offseason with the idea of him being pro ready as an older DII prospect.

Updated Saturday: The Saints FB tested positive for COVID-19, and because Alvin Kamara was next to him on the plane, he's being tested as well. It's iffy this game is played.

 

8. Texans (29, -4) vs. MIN

Texans

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Deshaun Watson

Fantasy Rank: 18th, Team Pass Att: 27th, Rush Att: 31st

RB32 David Johnson

11.7 carries P/G will increase in better flow. 4-point favorites.

WR25 Will Fuller

Upside WR2 facing MIN defense that’s 29th vs. WRs.

WR50 Brandin Cooks

Getting healthier (75% routes so far) as boom-bust WR4.

WR78 Randall Cobb

7.7 expected FPs per game as a PPR WR5. Good matchup.

TE29 Jordan Akins

3-of-12 catches in garbage time. Facing stud MIN safeties.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

Now through NE, BAL, and PIT, Deshaun Watson gets to breathe against the Vikings’ 24th pass EPA defense. Watson’s dead-last offensive line should at least hold up enough this week to get the now-healthy Brandin Cooks involved with Will Fuller operating as a possession receiver when healthy. Fuller, of course, was added to the injury report Thursday. It’s a get-right spot for all involved, including David Johnson who’s production has been limited by game script and opponent. He’s a fantasy RB2 and has looked fine in space on tape. The only concern in Houston is total play volume with both teams bottom-8 in neutral pace.

Updated Friday: Will Fuller is healthy heading into Week 4. I'll be playing him in season-long and DFS tournaments. Starter CB Mike Hughes is out and CB Kris Boyd is doubtful. Rookie outside CB Cameron Dantzler is set to start. He ran the forty in a pitiful 4.64 seconds.

 

9. Cardinals (27.75, -3.5) @ CAR

Cardinals

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Kyler Murray

Fantasy Rank: 5th, Team Pass Att: 8th, Rush Att: 6th

RB23 Kenyan Drake

Low 49% route share won’t matter vs. CAR (31st vs. RBs).

RB41 Chase Edmonds

49 total routes run cutting into Drake’s upside. Elite insurance.

WR4 DeAndre Hopkins (Q)

1 of 2 WRs with 30+% target share as a top-3 WR weekly.

WR85 Christian Kirk (Q)

6.5 YPT with Kyler. 7.7 & 6.5 xFPs in two healthy games.

WR111 Andy Isabella

Career 15.2 YPT but only ran 38% routes with Kirk missing.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

The Cardinals No. 3 neutral-paced offense and Kyler Murray's rushing ability have hid some of his passing-game struggles. A few bad reads blew an eruption spot at home versus Detroit, but he gets a rebuttal against Carolina’s league-worst pass rush per adjusted sack rate. Murray is a candidate for 30-50 rushing yards. As long as DeAndre Hopkins is healthy -- he didn’t practice all week (ankle) and is questionable -- the offense should cruise, as evidenced by Vegas’ 27.75-point team total. Christian Kirk (groin) also is questionable after practicing in limited fashion all week. He's only playable if Hopkins is out after seeing 7.7 & 6.5 xFPs in two healthy games this year. Andy Isabella needs both Hopkins and Kirk to be confidently plugged into the flex. His route share (38%) was simply too low last week to trust despite another efficient outing. Kenyan Drake’s foot must be bothering him. He doesn’t look as explosive on tape and is losing valuable passing downs to elite insurance RB Chase Edmonds. Still, Drake can be viewed as an upside RB1 with the Panthers allowing the second-most fantasy points to RBs. This young defense will struggle diagnosing Kingsbury’s spread attack.

Updated Friday: DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) and Christian Kirk are both officially questionable. Hopkins insinuated on Twitter that he'll suit up despite practicing, but I moved him down in rankings to reflect his injury risk. I'd only play Kirk if Hopkins is out.

 

10. Bills (27, -2.5) @ LV

Bills

 

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Josh Allen

Fantasy Rank: 2nd, Team Pass Att: 7th, Rush Att: 21st

RB15 Devin Singletary

Expected FPs: With Moss (14.2), without (19.7). Upside RB2.

RB25 Zack Moss (Q)

Limited Friday. TD-dependent RB3 even vs. 32nd RB DEF.

WR12 Stefon Diggs

25% target share to climb if Brown is out. LV missing top CB.

WR18 John Brown

Practiced Friday. Averaging 14.5 xFPs in two healthy games.

WR27 Cole Beasley

Floor raised by BUF being 6th in neutral pass rate. PPR flex.

TE30 Dawson Knox

Practiced Friday. TD-dependent TE2/3 as a 4th/5th option.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

One of the smartest franchises in the NFL right now, the Bills have surrounded Josh Allen with elite coaches (spread concepts and heavy play action passing) and strong weapons. That paired with his goal-line role (4 inside-the-10 carries) make Allen a top-six fantasy QB option in most matchups. The Raiders, who are without surprise first-round CB Damon Arnette (thumb), are one of the worst passing defenses on tape, making Stefon Diggs an upside WR1/2 in the Vegas dome. John Brown (calf) practiced on Friday and is expected to play through his injury. It lowers his floor, but he was seeing WR2 volume before going down last week. As long as the Bills stay 7th in neutral pass rate, Brown can be an upside WR3 with slot man Cole Beasley projecting as a usable flex on WR3 volume. Devin Singletary had 19.7 expected fantasy points last week but was down at 14.2 in the two games with Zack Moss, who practiced on Friday and expects to play. Singletary does most of his work between the 20s as a fantasy RB2/3. Moss’ outlook is tied to touchdowns and garbage time (41% of his touches come then). They face the 32nd rushing EPA defense this week.

Editor’s Note: Unlock the brand new League Sync! Keep track of all your Yahoo! teams in one place and use our Trade Analyzer, Free Agent Finder, Lineup Adviser and custom projections to make all the right roster decisions!  Get all of our Season Tools, League Sync AND DFS Tools for as low as $7.99/month!

 

11. 49ers (26.25, -7.5) vs. PHI

49ers

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Nick Mullens

Fantasy Rank: NA, Team Pass Att: 25th, Rush Att: 10th

RB33 Jerick McKinnon

18 touches Week 3 as a PPR RB2. High team total (26.25).

RB44 Jeff Wilson

71% of touches from garbage time (most in the NFL). RB3.

WR35 Brandon Aiyuk

WR4 usage until Deebo returns. CB Slay has played well.

NA Deebo Samuel Will play. Practiced all week. Injury makes him risky WR4.

NA George Kittle

“Full go” on Wednesday. Elite TE1 vs. PHI (20th vs. TEs).

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

A multi-year disciple of Shanahan’s scheme, Nick Mullens (career 8.4 YPA) has looked poised in his spot starts despite lacking NFL-starter raw traits. He’ll continue getting the ball out quickly, dicing up opposing linebackers with motion, misdirection, and an elite run game. Mullens’ game will be elevated by the expected return of TE1 overall George Kittle (knee), who was a “full go” in practice. The Eagles’ injured LBs and Ss don’t stand a chance. Schemed touches in back-to-back contests, Brandon Aiyuk slides into the top receiver spot with Deebo Samuel still needing time, but he faces a recharged CB Darius Slay in individual coverage. Slay has only allowed 87 yards in coverage per PFF. Jerick McKinnon’s size and injury history always make me hesitant before going all in, but he’s a candidate for 10-15 carries and a few receptions here with Jeffery Wilson only getting involved later in Week 3 during garbage time. The 49ers’ RBs have combined for the most PPR points of any team despite a plethora of injuries. Target Raheem Mostert in season-long trades if you’re 3-0.

Updated Friday: Deebo Samuel will play but will certainly be on a pitch count and "eased into" game action. I think Samuel is best left on redraft benches with target competition and snaps working against him.

 

12. Bengals (26, -3.5) vs. JAX

Bengals

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Joe Burrow

Fantasy Rank: 10th, Team Pass Att: 2nd, Rush Att: 28th

RB22 Joe Mixon (Q)

Touch share: While leading (43%), trailing (22%). RB1 here.

WR13 A.J. Green

Won’t meet usage expectations. Still an upside WR4.

WR21 Tyler Boyd

18% target share in offense 2nd in attempts. PPR WR3.

WR58 Tee Higgins

Led CIN in Week 3 routes with Ross scratched. WR4/5.

TE25 Drew Sample

63% routes led to 1.3 xFPs Week 3. No-floor TE2 streamer.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

A mixture of rushing ability (21.3 yards) and raw passing volume (2nd) has generated QB10 overall fantasy numbers for Joe Burrow despite 5.8 YPA. Burrow’s chemistry and comfort will improve as the season progresses even if this offensive line has no shot at improving from bottom-three levels. The question is where targets will go. A.J. Green might lack explosion but is the volume leader through three weeks. Slot man Tyler Boyd exploded last week, Burrow’s best game. And Tee Higgins was the routes run leader as Cincy’s future of the position. All three could have value from week to week. There’s not a corner we’re scared of on Jacksonville (32nd in passing EPA defense). Joe Mixon will be an RB2 more times than he’s an RB1 until his 7% target share and passing-down involvement spike. As 3.5-point home favorites with a higher-than-normal 26-point team total, Mixon has a bounce-back game on paper. His touch share goes from 22% to 43% when the Bengals go from trailing to leading.

Updated Saturday: Joe Mixon was a late add to the injury report with a chest injury. We'll likely get a midnight tweet from ESPN's Adam Schefter to clarify his status tonight. If he's out, Giovani Bernard would be the favorite to start, but his floor remains low with Trayveon Williams around to be activated. 

 

13. Bucs (25.5, -7.5) vs. LAC

Bucs

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Tom Brady

Fantasy Rank: 17th, Team Pass Att: 13th, Rush Att: 24th

RB26 Ronald Jones

Kept job after Week 2 fumble. Wk 3 snaps: RJ (35), LF (25).

WR34 Mike Evans

20% air yards share bound to go up. WR2 vs. CB Hayward.

WR79 Scotty Miller (Q)

Had WR5 usage even without Godwin. Justin Watson is returning.

TE22 O.J. Howard

Week 3 routes: OJ (13), Gronk (27). No-floor TE2/3.

TE27 Rob Gronkowski

55% routes will climb with more 2-TE sets post-Godwin. TE2.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

Even if Tom Brady’s arm isn’t toasted, Tampa’s passing upside is limited three ways. The top-flight defense won’t create many shootout games, plus Tampa is 24th in neutral pace and 15th in neutral pass rate. With Chris Godwin (hamstring) out and Scotty Miller banged up (game-time decision), Mike Evans is the only player I’m comfortable with in redraft formats, but even he catches top-five shadow CB Casey Hayward on Sunday. At tight end, Rob Gronkowski set a season-high in all receiving categories and stands to benefit with more two-TE sets given the receiver injuries. O.J. Howard still has more receiving usage through three games, however. Leonard Fournette hasn’t practiced due to an ankle. If he’s out Ronald Jones can be fired up as a boom-bust RB2/3 with LeSean McCoy still around to handle passing downs as Brady’s more reliable pass protector and route runner from the backfield. If Fournette is active, Jones’ floor drops to the Earth’s mantle. Chargers DE Melvin Ingram (IR), CB Chris Harris (IR), and Derwin James (IR) are all sidelined with starting S Rayshawn Jenkins questionable.

Updated Friday: Leonard Fournette (ankle) is out, so Ronald Jones' floor is slightly higher although LeSean McCoy and rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn will complement him.

 

14. Vikings (25.5, +4) @ HOU

Vikings

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Kirk Cousins

Fantasy Rank: 28th, Team Pass Att: 32nd, Rush Att: 27th

RB20 Dalvin Cook

Strong RB1 but tracking catches P/G: 2019 (3.8), 2020 (1.7).

WR36 Adam Thielen

28% target share, 5th in air yards P/G (126) as upside WR2.

WR71 Justin Jefferson

91% routes & 13.5 xFPs in Wk 3. HOU 29th pass EPA DEF.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

28th in neutral pace and 30th in neutral pass rate, the Vikings Offense is severely condensed for fantasy purposes. Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen are every-week starters with first-round rookie WR Justin Jefferson now flex-able in plus matchups following a 91%-route Week 3. Already the identity of the offense, this matchup sets up as a run-based approach with Houston 27th in rushing EPA defense and 29th versus fantasy RBs. Another 15-25 carries are built into Cook’s projection as an RB1 despite his declining involvement in the passing game (2019 receptions: 3.8, 2020 receptions: 1.7) with Alexander Mattison stealing some snaps. Thielen’s 28% target share and matchup against Houston’s 29th-ranked passing EPA defense keep him in the WR2 upside range even if Minnesota ranks near the bottom in total pass attempts once again (32nd through three games).

 

15. Browns (25.25, +4.5) @ DAL

Browns

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Baker Mayfield

Fantasy Rank: 29th, Team Pass Att: 30th, Rush Att: 5th

RB17 Kareem Hunt (Q)

Efficient PPR RB2 but 44% of his touches from garbage time

RB27 Nick Chubb

Touch share: Leading 37%, trailing 23%. RB1/2 in iffy script.

WR31 Odell Beckham

Fast-paced game, 31st DEF vs. WRs help Odell as a WR2.

WR87 Jarvis Landry

Horrid usage on 15% target share. Flexible in this good script.

TE31 Austin Hooper

TE2 streamer on TE3 usage. DAL missing LB, 23rd vs. TEs. 

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

A run-first team at heart (28th in neutral pass rate), the Browns will be on team #EstablishIt for as long as game script allows. Nick Chubb, in particular, needs the game to stay close or else risks losing passing-down work to Kareem Hunt, who has been an upside RB2 so far with 44% of his touches coming in garbage time. They both will be inside my top-24 RBs this week with Dallas missing their top run-stuffing linebacker. Cleveland is 30th in pass attempts, rendering Baker Mayfield to the QB2/3 border even when we expect a few more passes than normal as 4.5-point road dogs. They’ll be fine in terms of efficiency -- Dallas is 26th in pass EPA defense and missing two CB starters -- but Jarvis Landry’s 15% target share makes him a risky flex play right now. Austin Hooper (TE31 fantasy usage) is in a similar spot as the slot man. Odell Beckham is the receiver with a ceiling, and he has the individual matchup to cash WR2 tickets. Dallas easily leads the NFL in offensive pace, setting up Odell for an extra couple of targets. He has 42% of the Browns’ air yards so far.

 

16. Falcons (25.25, +7.5) @ GB

Falcons

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Matt Ryan

Fantasy Rank: 8th, Team Pass Att: 4th, Rush Att: 17th

RB16 Todd Gurley

Only 3 avoided tackles on 52 touches. Volume-based RB2.

WR2 Calvin Ridley

560 air yards (2nd has 388). Star in pass-heavy offense.

WR6 Julio Jones

Returned Friday. More of a boom-bust WR1 with hammy.

WR7 Russell Gage

Upside WR3 with Julio, though his 18% target share will drop.

TE17 Hayden Hurst

Fifth among TEs in routes run (104) as low-end TE1.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

With the NFL’s 8th-worst pass EPA defense and little from the run game, the Falcons have once again found themselves 4th in pass attempts through four weeks. Matt Ryan is a volume-based low-end QB1 in most matchups, including this one against Green Bay’s 19th-ranked defense versus quarterbacks. That will especially be true if all three of his receivers are healthy. Julio Jones (hamstring) and Russell Gage (concussion practiced Thursday. Calvin Ridley (hamstring) didn’t, although that may’ve been out of precaution. Hayden Hurst is the 4th option despite finding himself 5th in routes run (104) among tight ends. I’m betting on his target share ticking up slightly as a low-end TE1 moving forward. Hurst has looked decent when given looks. Todd Gurley has only 3 avoided tackles on 52 touches, looking just as dusty as he did in 2019. Brian Hill is beginning to cut into Gurley’s workload as well, seeing 23 snaps to Gurley’s 35 last week. The Packers Defense ranks 25th in rushing EPA defense and 30th against fantasy RBs through three games. Gurley can stick around the RB2 mix for now.

 

17. Lions (24.75, +4.5) vs. NO

Lions

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Matthew Stafford

Fantasy Rank: 21st, Team Pass Att: 16th, Rush Att: 20th

RB35 Adrian Peterson

Bad Week 4 script, but 2020 snaps: AP 78, DS 60, KJ 59.

RB48 D’Andre Swift

Passing-down RB, but only 6 snaps in Week 3. Bench only.

WR23 Kenny Golladay

79% routes in 2020 debut. Faces CB Lattimore as a WR2/3.

WR52 Danny Amendola

Low aDOT & 4th in target tree. OK matchup as PPR WR5.

WR55 Marvin Jones

6.7 aDOT will increase. Faces easier CB matchup. WR3/4.

TE16 T.J. Hockenson

NO 32nd vs. TEs, but Hock’s 15% target share means TE1/2.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

Whether it’s Matthew Stafford’s back injury, Kenny Golladay’s absence, or just a straight-up coaching change, the early reports of the Lions Offense isn’t as promising as what we saw in 2019 when Stafford was on pace for 4,999 yards and 38 scores. Stafford’s average depth of target has moved from 10.7 yards to 8.6 this year. He needs more downfield targets to reach his low-end QB1 ceiling. This week is a good matchup to get back on track. Detroit is at home, facing a Saints secondary that’s 27th in pass EPA defense and could be without stud CB Marshon Lattimore. That’d be the difference between WR2 and WR1 status for Golladay. Marvin Jones’s 6.7 average depth of target has to rebound, and he catches the easiest matchup of the WR trio against CB Janoris Jenkins, who also is on the injury report. He has upside as a flex. Danny Amendola and his WR52 fantasy usage keep in the mix as a desperation flex with top-10 offensive pace on his side. T.J. Hockenson’s 15% target share keeps him on the TE1/2 border but catches S Malcolm Jenkins who was dunked on by Darren Waller and other tight ends thus far. New Orleans is dead last versus fantasy tight ends right now. At running back, Adrian Peterson figures to handle more carries than the benched Kerryon Johnson but will lose snaps to passing-downs-only RB D’Andre Swift, who somehow only played six snaps in Week 4. On paper, this sets up as a “Swift game” but those don’t exist yet.

Updated Friday: Saints CBs Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins are both out. DE Marcus Davenport is out as well. This is a great passing-game spot for Detroit.

Updated Saturday: The Saints FB tested positive for COVID-19, and because Alvin Kamara was next to him on the plane, he's being tested as well. It's iffy this game is played.

 

18. Raiders (24.5, +2.5) vs. BUF

Raiders

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Derek Carr

Fantasy Rank: 22nd, Team Pass Att: 22nd, Rush Att: 11th

RB8 Josh Jacobs

2nd in carries & faces 31st rushing EPA DEF at home. RB1.

WR70 Hunter Renfrow

BUF bad against the slot & less target competition. WR3/4.

TE1 Darren Waller

Tough matchup vs. BUF S & healthy LBs. Still elite volume.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

With rookie WRs Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards both trending towards not playing, Derek Carr is in a very tough spot. He can’t throw to the boundary with backups facing CB Tre’Davious White, and Darren Waller faces coverage LBs Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano, plus the stud Bills’ safety duo. Waller can get there on his TE1 overall volume, but it won’t be easy. Instead, Carr should focus on slot man Hunter Renfrow. Buffalo has been eaten alive by slot players Crowder, Gesicki, and Kupp this season, and Renfrow could approach 7-10 targets as a PPR WR3. Of course, the Raiders will try to slow the pace (22nd) and feature Josh Jacobs. That should work against the Bills’ 31st-ranked rush EPA defense.

Updated Friday: RT Trent Brown and WR Bryan Edwards are out. WR Henry Ruggs is doubtful, which means out in the NFL.

 

19. Panthers (24.25, +3.5) vs. ARI

Panthers

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Teddy Bridgewater

Fantasy Rank: 27th, Team Pass Att: 19th, Rush Att: 23rd

RB9 Mike Davis

13.9 & 28.2 expected FPs without CMC. Volume RB1/2.

WR15 D.J. Moore

Rebound candidate. 2nd in air yards share (48%).

WR29 Robby Anderson

Top-30 targets (8 P/G), usage (WR29), production (WR13).

WR60 Curtis Samuel

4 carries don't make up for 13% target share. Big-play WR5.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

Carolina would love to stay balanced on offense, but their young, zone-based defense is expected to struggle containing Kyler Murray given their league-low pressure rates. Unlike last week, that should force Teddy Bridgewater into more pass attempts, and he’s been an efficient passer (8.4 YPA) with spread concepts putting players in space. The favorite for touches is Mike Davis, who is doing his best in essentially the CMC role. On volume alone, Davis is on the RB1/2 border in PPR formats (8 receptions each game) with "Checkdown Teddy" dumping it to his back when pressured. It’s also a good bounce-back spot for D.J. Moore, who has been unlucky in a game and scripted out of the mix last week with Carolina jumping out to an early lead. Arizona’s third-paced offense sets up Moore for 8-10 targets as a WR1/2. Robby Anderson (23% target share) looks much better than Curtis Samuel (4 carries and 4 targets last week) and belongs inside the top-30 WR rankings, especially with CB Dre Kirkpatrick popping up on the injury report Thursday. We shouldn’t be scared of CB Patrick Peterson anymore (84th out of 110 CBs per PFF).

Updated Friday: Cardinals LB Devon Kennard (calf) and CB Dre Kirkpatrick (concussion) are questionable after not practicing Friday and safeties Budda Baker and Chris Banjo are already ruled out. 

 

20. Dolphins (23.75, +6.5) vs. SEA

Dolphins

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Fantasy Rank: 15th, Team Pass Att: 23rd, Rush Att: 15th

RB10 Myles Gaskin

Expected FPs: 9.7 to 15.3 to 26.8 (on 75% snaps). RB2/3.

RB52 Jordan Howard

8 of 16 carries have come inside-the-10. TD-dependent RB4.

WR45 DeVante Parker

SEA last vs. WRs with game script on Parker’s side. WR3.

WR57 Preston Williams

Faced NE, BUF, and bad flow this year. Still hope as a flex.

TE6 Mike Gesicki

SEA missing S & 2 LBs. Top-8 TE on 30% air yards share.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

With Seattle missing two linebackers and S Jamal Adams, the Dolphins could hang around offensively as they chase points against Russell Wilson. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a high-end QB2 streamer with game script, matchup, and production (QB15) queuing up a potential ceiling game. The Seahawks are 25th in pass EPA defense and 31 against fantasy quarterbacks. They simply aren’t creating pressure (25th in adjusted sack rate). DeVante Parker and Preston Williams have been slowed by injuries, matchups (NE, BUF), and game script (big lead Week 3), but this is an ideal spot against Seattle’s 32nd defense versus fantasy receivers. Typically a difficult matchup for tight ends, Mike Gesicki catches a break with Seattle’s back-seven injuries. With his 30% air yards share and elite athleticism, he can be started as a midrange TE1. Myles Gaskin has taken the reins at running back (75% snaps last week) with short-yardage RB Jordan Howard and change-of-pace RB Matt Breida only rotating in occasionally. Gaskin can have 10-15 carries despite poor game script, but he’ll need targets to pay off as an RB2. He’s had at least four targets each game.

Updated Friday: The Seahawks ruled out S Jamal Adams, LB Jordyn Brooks, and CB Quinton Dunbar. The final touch for an underrated blow-up spot for Miami.

 

21. Colts (23.5, -2.5) @ CHI

 

Colts

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Philip Rivers

Fantasy Rank: 30th, Team Pass Att: 24th, Rush Att: 8th

RB11 Jonathan Taylor

RB1 usage behind stud OL. CHI is 22nd in run EPA defense.

RB28 Nyheim Hines

Expected FPs: 23.1 to 1.4 to 14.4. Volatile PPR RB3.

WR67 T.Y. Hilton

18% target share will climb with injuries. Holding WR3 hope.

WR82 Zach Pascal

No Campbell, Pittman locks Pascal into 2-WR sets.

TE23 Mo Alie-Cox

30% Week 3 routes with Jack Doyle back. Messy rotation.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

27th in neutral pace and 23rd in neutral pass rate, the Colts want to win in the trenches as a run-heavy offense. Philip Rivers is the QB30 through three weeks and faces a Chicago defense that's 4th in pass EPA defense and 2nd against fantasy quarterbacks. In addition to the game plan, Rivers will be depleted at receiver with Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman, allowing Zach Pascal (96% routes Week 3) to join T.Y. Hilton in two-receiver sets. Hilton’s 18% target share should rise enough to get back onto a WR3/flex track, but it’s a below-average matchup against outside CBs Kyle Fuller and Jaylon Johnson, who are both top-20 in PFF’s CB grades. The tight end rotation is messy with Jack Doyle running more routes (16) than the more explosive Mo Alie-Cox (8) last week. Neither offer a floor against a quality opponent. Jonathan Taylor lost second-half touches due to a huge lead last week, but he’s set for at least 60% snaps this week as 2.5-point favorites against a defense that’s better defending the pass than the run (22nd in rushing EPA defense). Taylor’s RB1 status is locked in just about every matchup. Nyheim Hines needs negative game script to be a confident RB3/flex in PPR formats, and that may not matter if Taylor continues to look comfortable as a receiver out of the backfield. The injuries at receiver do help Hines’ snap share. 

 

Postponed: Patriots (23.5, +7) @ KC

Patriots

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

RB21 Rex Burkhead

13.6 & 26.3 xFPs without White. Unusable when he’s active.

RB53 James White (Q)

Returned Wednesday. Will cut into Rex’s 66% Week 3 routes.

RB58 Sony Michel

RB5 usage without White & Damien Harris. Happy to fade.

WR14 Julian Edelman

Rebound candidate with NFL-high 55% air yards share. 

WR22 N’Keal Harry

Can’t separate, only playable in the best flows. Flexible Wk 4.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

Given Cam Newton and the sturdy interior offensive line, the Patriots are set to run the ball, something the Chiefs have dared teams to do against them for years. This season, Kansas City is 29th against the run and 5th against the pass. I expect a heavy dosage of Newton carries in the first half with Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, and potentially Damien Harris rotating in at running back on clear rushing downs. Newton is a midrange QB1 on rushing volume alone. His passing targets boil down to Julian Edelman (55% air yards share, N’Keal Harry, and James White, assuming he’s available after returning to practice Wednesday. Edelman is by far the best bet as a pass catcher even with the Chiefs first against fantasy receivers. He’ll face slot CB Tyrann Mathieu this weekend as a PPR WR2. 

Updated Saturday: The game was moved from Sunday to either Monday or Tuesday, but even that seems optimistic now that a player from each team tested positive, including Cam Newton. The NFL, a capitalistic machine like no other, will want to push it if they can. I'm skeptical that can happen, especially because that'd mean Kansas City would play an NFL-record three games in nine days. I'd certainly plan to have backups in starting lineups.

 

23. Jaguars (22.5, +3.5) @ CIN

Jaguars

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Gardner Minshew

Fantasy Rank: 16th, Team Pass Att: 14th, Rush Att: 29th

RB24 James Robinson

14.3 carries P/G + 10% target share. RB1/2 in nice spot.

WR94 D.J. Chark

Hopefully slow start was injury related. No-floor WR4 for now.

WR68 Laviska Shenault

Bench hold. 13% target share should tick up. Stud on tape.

WR63 Keelan Cole

34 air yards P/G keep him off radar. 32nd neutral pace OFF.

TE26 Tyler Eifert

9% target share in iffy offense. TD-dependent TE3.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

The slowest offense in the NFL, the Jaguars will look to get emerging rookie James Robinson going early against the 20th rushing EPA defense. Robinson’s RB24 fantasy usage seems safe with expected neutral game script, especially with Cincy 26th against the position through three weeks. Gardner Minshew gets extra days to solve Week 3’s blunders, but expect the offense to continue spreading the ball around to a rotating three or four receivers. Hopefully D.J. Chark’s sluggish usage in Weeks 1-2 were injury related, which is what I’m assuming after shredding the NFL with Minshew last season. Chark needs to be treated as a boom-bust flex play for now, but he’s the only true alpha receiver in the rotation with Keelan Cole in the slot and Laviska Shenault emerging as a schemed-touch asset out wide and out of the backfield. I'd rank them Chark > Shenault > Cole > Conley moving forward.

Updated Friday: D.J. Chark was completely removed from the injury report... The Bengals will be without starting DTs Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels, plus LB Logan Wilson. Another positive sign for James Robinson. ... Cincy slot CB Mackensie Alexander is doubtful, too. 

 

24. Bears (21, +2.5) vs. IND

Bears

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Nick Foles

Fantasy Rank: NA, Team Pass Att: 6th, Rush Att: 14th

RB31 David Montgomery

RB2 usage coming with Cohen leaving 6.7 touches P/G.

WR10 Allen Robinson

WR1 volume + upgrade with Foles. Buy low if possible.

WR64 Anthony Miller

Cohen out helps Miller, as does Foles. WR4 rebound?

TE7 Jimmy Graham

Expected FPs: 15.1 to 1.5 to 22.4. Foles helps as a TE2.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

The offense with Nick Foles can begin targeting receivers downfield and with more accuracy underneath. It’s a huge win for Allen Robinson, who literally liked my tweet complaining about Trubisky’s sub-50% “catchable ball” rate. A-Rob already had top-10 usage prior to the quarterback change, locking him into WR1 rankings until proven otherwise. Pure slot receiver Anthony Miller not only gets a boost from Foles but also can play more snaps with Tarik Cohen out for the year (ACL) in theory. He’s still losing snaps to rookie outside WR Darnell Mooney in two-receiver sets. Jimmy Graham has had a quiet resurgence early on TE7 fantasy usage, but he’s only a TE2 streamer against the top-ranked defense against tight ends. At least the Colts will be without S Malik Hooker. When possible, Chicago wants to run (44% neutral pass rate). In addition to 15-20 carries including all goal-line work, David Montgomery is a candidate to increase his 1.6-catch per-game career average with Cohen out. The path to total upside is limited by this projected slow-paced game. The Colts are 27th in neutral pace. Chicago is 16th.

Updated Friday: Starting outside CB T.J. Carrie (hamstring) is out. Another slight positive for A-Rob, although CB Xavier Rhodes is still there.

 

25. Broncos (20.5, -1) @ NYJ

Broncos

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Brett Rypien

Fantasy Rank: NA, Team Pass Att: 11th, Rush Att: 30th

RB18 Melvin Gordon

Third-string QB & low total (20.5), but RB2 usage right now.

WR26 Jerry Jeudy

12.6 & 15.5 xFPs without Sutton but bad game environment.

WR47 KJ Hamler

94% Week 3 routes (mostly outside) as big-play WR5.

TE10 Noah Fant

NYJ 30th in pass EPA defense. Fant’s 103 routes are top 10. 

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

The 31st passing EPA offense battles the 30th passing EPA defense with injuries galore on both sides. Brett Rypien, an efficient Boise State alum (collegiate career 8.4 YPA), draws his first start on a short week and will be throwing to receivers with four combined NFL games. Unlike Driskel, Rypien offers no rushing ability. Melvin Gordon’s matchup is slightly more difficult on the ground -- the Jets are 8th in rushing EPA defense -- but he’ll be fed 20+ touches as a volume-based RB2 despite the low team total (20.5). He’s the best bet in fantasy for this brutal matchup with Noah Fant sliding in as a boom-bust TE1, Jerry Jeudy offering WR3/4 appeal against New York’s top corner Brian Poole, and KJ Hamler offering big-play appeal against the always burnable CB Blessuan Austin. Tim Patrick will be the third receiver for you DFS Showdown truthers.

 

26. Jets (19.5, +1) vs. DEN

Jets

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Sam Darnold

Fantasy Rank: 33rd, Team Pass Att: 26th, Rush Att: 26th

RB42 Frank Gore

You’ve been eliminated if you’re starting Gore in fantasy.

WR5 Jamison Crowder

13 targets in Week 1. Volume hog as underrated PPR WR2/3.

WR44 Braxton Berrios

No Perriman means Berrios (and Chris Hogan) start. 

TE19 Chris Herndon

18% target share on just 60% routes. TE2 vs. 26th TE DEF.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

The lowly Jets will be without stud rookie LT Mekhi Becton (shoulder) and Breshad Perriman, but at least get Jamison Crowder back for Sam Darnold, who is 34th out of 36 in EPA per dropback. Denver’s defense is banged up but is still well coached and the best overall unit on Thursday night by default. New York is just as bad rushing as they are passing, so I’m only interested in Crowder (against beatable slot CB Essang Bassey) as a volume play and Herndon as a TE2 dart throw with multiple linebackers on the injury report. A loss here gets coach Adam Gase fired.

 

27. Eagles (18.75, +7.5) @ SF

Eagles

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Carson Wentz

Fantasy Rank: 25th, Team Pass Att: 3rd, Rush Att: 19th

RB5 Miles Sanders

Top-5 usage on 50+ snaps weekly. SF is 1st in run EPA DEF.

WR46 Greg Ward

Had 19.2 xFPs in Week 3 as No. 1. 49ers CBs all hurt.

TE5 Zach Ertz

No Dallas Goedert (ankle) locks in volume-based top-5 TE.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

29th out of 31 in completion percentage over expected and 30th in EPA per dropback, Carson Wentz is broken behind an injury-rattled offensive line without many starting-caliber pass catchers. No Jalen Reagor. No Dallas Goedert. Likely no DeSean Jackson. That paired with the 49ers’ clock-controlling, slow-paced offense makes Wentz more of a QB3 than QB2 right now. Zach Ertz is the obvious winner and will be projected for 7-12 targets during Goedert and Jackon’s absences. San Francisco’s elite linebackers led by Fred Warner will make it tough on Ertz, however. Greg Ward is the sneaky play of the game as a PPR flex play. He had 19.2 expected fantasy points in relief last week and can sit in the 49ers’ zone defense against a banged-up corner corps. His primary coverage CB K'Waun Williams is on the injury report, too. Miles Sanders has RB5 overall fantasy usage on 78% snaps, locking him into RB1 rankings despite San Francisco’s top-ranked rushing EPA defense. Sanders could easily catch 5 passes here.

Updated Friday: DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are out. JJ Arcega-Whiteside is bad and doubtful. Greg Ward is a decent WR3/flex on volume, and the 49ers are without CBs Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Emmanuel Moseley.

 

28. Chargers (18, +7.5) @ TB

Chargers

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Justin Herbert

Fantasy Rank: 14th, Team Pass Att: 10th, Rush Att: 2nd

RB13 Austin Ekeler

Better in negative script and with Herbert. Low-end RB1.

RB29 Joshua Kelley

Needs positive game script. TB 4th in run EPA defense. RB3.

WR3 Keenan Allen

16.2 & 33.1 expected FPs with Herbert. Volume > matchup.

TE9 Hunter Henry

TB 2nd in pass EPA defense. LAC has 3rd-lowest total (18).

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

A stormy forecast, a 18-point total, no Mike Williams, and two starting offensive line injuries put the Chargers in a very bad spot against a defense that’s 2nd in passing EPA and 4th in rushing EPA. The Bucs are simply one of the best defenses in the NFL, one that brings pressure and could cause a rookie quarterback trouble. Justin Herbert still has QB2 upside with his athleticism and the Chargers’ 4th-ranked offensive pace, but he’s not a recommended streamer. Targets will be funneled to Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, and Austin Ekeler, all of whom are solid fantasy options despite game environment concerns. Keenan has WR3 overall fantasy usage on a 35% target share with Herbert under center. He’ll be a WR1 candidate in better matchups and can be confidently started in tough matchups like this one on volume alone. Ekeler has a higher touch share while trailing (33%) than while leading (25%) because Joshua Kelley cleans up as a power runner in short-yardage situations. We shouldn’t count on a depleted offensive line to open up holes against a top-five rushing defense, making Kelley a bench hold rather than starter Week 3. Ekeler’s 2020 status was saved by Herbert’s willingness to check down to him as a receiver. He’s on the RB1/2 border depending on league settings. 

 

29. Giants (17.25, +13) @ LAR

Giants

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Daniel Jones

Fantasy Rank: 32nd, Team Pass Att: 9th, Rush Att: 32nd

RB55 Dion Lewis

Week 3 snaps: Lewis 20, Gallman 18, Freeman 15.

RB92 Devonta Freeman

Snaps will trend upwards but can’t be started yet. Low total.

WR16 Darius Slayton

Boom-bust WR3 with 12.1 aDOT. Faces CB Jalen Ramsey.

WR41 Golden Tate

Slot WR in a bad offense but faces the easier CB. Flex play.

TE13 Evan Engram

2nd in TE routes (116), but the Giants stink. Low-end TE1.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

Daniel Jones’ is averaging 2.25 fumbles plus interceptions per game through his first 16 games. That’s a Danny Dimes problem. It’s also an offensive line problem, one that renders every Giants’ running back useless (32nd in rushing EPA) unless there’s a three-down role winner. That could be Devonta Freeman (15 snaps Week 3) but that’s a conversation for another day. With Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard sidelined, targets are funneled to Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, and Evan Engram, who has done little despite running the second-most routes (116) amond tight ends. He’s a low-end TE1 with the offense looking anemic. Slayton faces CB Jalen Ramsey on the outside this week, and he already is a boom-bust WR3 with a high average depth of target (12.1). The best bet for receiving production is Tate, who faces much easier coverage in the slot against the slow and undersized CB Troy Hill. He’s still only a flex play, but one I’d be okay trotting out.

 

30. Football Team (17, +13) vs. BAL

FootballTeam

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Dwayne Haskins

Fantasy Rank: 31st, Team Pass Att: 21st, Rush Att: 16th

RB36 Antonio Gibson

Vision is raw (video), but usage is increasing. Bench hold.

WR19 Terry McLaurin (Q)

WR2 usage but bad QB play and faces CB Peters. WR3.

TE2 Logan Thomas

2 starting WRs on injury report. Rebound candidate as TE1/2.

 

The Fantasy Blueprint:

Dwayne Haskins is on the verge of being benched. His accuracy is shot right now, which has hurt Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas in fantasy. McLaurin will have better days, but he was downgraded in practice this week (thigh) and would face CBs Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey in man coverage this week. McLaurin has a low floor as a WR3 if he suits up. If McLaurin is out, Thomas can be penciled in for an extra target or two, and he already had TE2 fantasy usage as a Fantasy Usage Model "Rebound Candidate". The only weak spot in the Ravens' defense (outside of playing Mahomes) is against tight ends (29th). Thomas is a low-end TE1. Dontrelle Inman could be the defacto No. 1 receiver if McLaurin and Steven Sims, who didn't practice this week, are out. Inman isn't a flashy player but was averaged 8.7 expected fantasy points per game with McLaurin and Sims in the lineup. He'd be a last-minute flex option depending on news. We know that comes with zero floor. Antonio Gibson's snaps and fantasy usage have increased in each contest, but he's still extremely raw as a runner, struggling to make correct reads on his carries. Gibson is athletic enough to break off a big play, but he needs more time to grow as runner or will need to run more routes than J.D. McKissic (Week 3 routes: McKissic 25, Gibson 14). A breakout game is coming. I'm not chancing it against Baltimore's 2nd-ranked rushing EPA defense.

Friday Update: Terry McLaurin (thigh) is questionable after he didn't practice again Friday. Steven Sims is out, allowing Isaiah Wright to start.

 


Charts of the Week

Week4

 

The Cowboys are playing at a much faster pace in neutral situations (no garbage time) compared to the rest of the NFL. They are almost literally off the chart. That’s great news for all involved, especially when they’re projected for nearly 30 points this week. The only surprise offense in a good spot this week is the Texans, who have been held back by KC, BAL, and PIT to begin the year. It’s safe to say the Vikings are an easier matchup for Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller

 

Week4Passing

 

We are blessed with Broncos vs. Jets on Thursday Night Football, the two teams in the “Bad O vs. Bad D” quadrant of this chart. Fun! On the flip side, the Rams and Packers have a chance for an efficient passing attack against the Giants and Falcons. The only downside with their pass catchers is if game script gets away from them and these two run out the clock. Still, it’s best to start players when we think efficiency will be solid.

 

Week4Rushing

 

The Patriots, Raiders, Vikings, and Ravens are all in nice spots to establish the damn run. All four have been efficient on the ground and face teams that haven’t stopped a rushing attack through three weeks. Dalvin Cook and Josh Jacobs are in smash spots if game script allows it.

 

Week4Spreads

 

Teams vary in how often they pass and run the ball in neutral situations (see the next chart below), but sometimes game script forces them into more passing or rushing. The Rams already run the ball a ton and are 13-point favorites in Week 4, setting up Darrell Henderson for 20+ carries if Cam Akers (ribs) is out. The same can be said about the Giants passing offense. The Chargers typically want to run the ball but may be forced into more pass attempts as 7.5-point road underdogs. Hello Keenan Allen.

 

Week4PassRate

 

Neutral pass rate filters out plays where the game situation typically dictates if a team passes or runs (i.e. no two-minute drills and no garbage time). The Chiefs, Bengals, Seahawks, Cowboys, and Giants are in Tier 1 as pass-first teams, although their quarterback situations range from elite to struggling. On the flip side, the two L.A. squads are establishing the run. Adam Gase’s Jets have given up (42% neutral pass rate).

 

Week4Defenses

 

It’s a bad week for streaming defenses. The Bucs, Ravens, Jets, and Colts are the top options if available given their blend of projected sack rate (x-axis) and projected points allowed (y-axis). Washington’s front-seven injuries will tank their sack rate, keeping them well off the radar against the Ravens despite the outlier placement on this chart.

 


Postponed: Steelers (25.25, -1) @ TEN

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Ben Roethlisberger

NA

RB12 James Conner

NA

WR11 Diontae Johnson (Q)

NA

RB43 JuJu Smith-Schuster

NA

WR72 James Washington

NA

WR101 Chase Claypool

NA

TE20 Eric Ebron

NA

 

Postponed: Titans (22.25, +1) vs. PIT

 

Fantasy Usage Rank

Notes

Ryan Tannehill

NA

RB4 Derrick Henry

NA

WR24 A.J. Brown (Q)

NA

WR40 Adam Humphries

NA

WR48 Corey Davis

NA

TE8 Jonnu Smith

NA


Source URL: https://www.nbcsports.com/edge/article/fantasy-blueprint/fantasy-blueprint-week-4