Fantasy Football Hot Takes: Patrick Mahomes, Austin Ekeler, Cooper Kupp, Amon-Ra St. Brown (Week 4)
The first thunderous cannonball has been shot over the bow of the fantasy football community’s ship. I have perfectly predicted my first “PICANTake” of 2022. I hate to say it (I love to say it), but there’s plenty more where that came from! Where most football fans were whining about what an utterly unwatchable abomination the 49ers and Broncos put forth on Sunday night, I was laughing maniacally about this prediction. Jimmy G and Mr. Unlimited were awful. Calling their performances “mid” is an insult to mediocrity. San Francisco and Denver served us raw chicken with a flat soda pop on the side in a game with only 21 total points…just like I said would happen.
— Bo McBrayer; 👑 of 🌶 (@Bo_McBigTime) September 26, 2022
Not only did I have that game pegged, but I was also a shrieking voice in a small crowd of people who picked the Dolphins to upset the mighty Bills in Week 3. However, my hot take was not perfect, as Josh Allen easily outscored the woozy and wobbly Tua Tagovailoa in fantasy points. As I had petitioned last week, the Mike McDaniel-led Miami Dolphins are for real. Tua was effective versus a vaunted-but-tattered Bills defense. The Dolphins held Josh Allen down, successfully turned him over, and made numerous key stops on third down. The game was just as riveting as everyone hoped, which bodes well for the future of this budding rivalry.
Week 4 is a whole different animal. We have traipsed neck-deep into the NFL schedule. There is a game in London this week. I’ll spare them a hot take since most of my British friends have no tolerance for capsaicin. To reiterate, I will never sacrifice the heat level to strive for a higher hit rate. My disclaimer is that each hot take is thoroughly outlandish and unlikely but plausible and conjured with supporting reason and data. Put on a bib. This week could get messy.
Patrick Mahomes is Intercepted Three Times, and Bucs’ Defense Holds Chiefs Under 15 Points
It sure feels like I rag on Patrick Mahomes a lot. I don’t hate him; I acknowledge he is a generational QB with truly elite talent. He also reminds me a lot of Brett Favre (on the field). The ridiculous throws that make the highlight reels are the ones that work, where there are quite a few each game that are remarkably ill-advised. Mahomes finally threw his first interception of the season last week. He was in such a groove dating back to the middle of last season when he turned the corner from the most intercepted QB in the league to one with ruthlessly surgical precision.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been playing world-class defense in 2022. Their historically forgiving secondary has improved dramatically. They completely shut down the Cowboys, who were the number one offense in football last year. The Bucs then held the Saints to only 10 points, followed by a narrow 14-12 defeat to the Packers. If they can limit Travis Kelce, the Bucs can feasibly lock down a putrid WR corps and force Mahomes to scramble for his life and play hero ball. I don’t think the Chiefs have enough firepower this season to beat really good defenses. This matchup will be a real test of that theory.
Austin Ekeler is the RB1, With 170 Scrimmage Yards and Multiple Touchdowns
The undrafted “household name” from Western Colorado was the RB2 in PPR formats last season. Austin Ekeler is getting a lot of touches this season, but his rushing efficiency has been lacking. Enter the Houston Texans: the ultimate RB slump-busters. Ekeler hasn’t broken off very many of his signature, air guitar-shredding big plays yet this season, but he is overdue for a mega performance. Some fantasy managers have let their hopes slip, but I’m not one of them. Imagine a slingshot. The first three games were a whole lot of buildup, the draw-back that stores the quivering tension needed for an explosion forward.
While others are concerned with Joshua Kelley and Sony Michel earning red zone snaps over Ekeler, I am ultimately envisioning those gravitating back to the more-talented player as the Chargers fight for the toughest divisional crown in the NFL. Worry about a healthy superstar RB? Couldn’t be me. It is just a matter of time before the fireworks go off, and Austin and Matt Harmon are popping bottles on their Yahoo podcast. It might as well happen versus the defense, who missed a ton of tackles and got torched by Khalil Herbert last week.
Cooper Kupp is Monday Night Magical, Eviscerating the 49ers with 200 yards and Three Touchdowns
In order to make a Cooper Kupp prediction that is spicy enough for this column, I had to really aim high. Stefon Diggs single-handedly turned seven fantasy wins into losses for me with his gargantuan Monday night performance in Week 2. I am already looking to see how many of my Week 4 opponents roster Kupp, whom I fear will break the internet against a shoddy 49ers secondary. Kupp has owned every defense since last year, with the 49ers certainly not an exception. Matthew Stafford seems to only have eyes for his wife and Cooper Kupp, who might as well be fraternal twins. The target barrage is on schedule for prime-time against bitter divisional rivals.
Diggs put up 44.8 PPR points in Week 2 on a 15/12/148/3 line. For Kupp, I am picturing something similar, but with a few more yards per reception. He averaged 29.3 points in three meetings with San Francisco last season, including a crazy 37-point performance in the NFC Championship. It might not sound spicy with how good, and consistent the Eastern Washington star has been, but I believe this is the first time I’ve predicted a 45-point performance for any player at any position. For it to happen to my least-favorite team (and fanbase) would make it all the more glorious.
You might have seen the post-game presser after the Detroit Lions played the Washington Commanders. Second-year WR Amon-Ra St. Brown continued his torrid production with a 41-point outburst against one of the teams that selected a different WR over St. Brown in the 2021 NFL Draft. “The Sun God,” told reporters he remembers every team and every WR that went before his fourth-round selection that year. One of whom was Washington’s Dyami Brown, who only played one snap in the game versus St. Brown’s Lions. This week, Detroit welcomes the Seattle Seahawks to Ford Field. They famously reached on WR Dee Eskridge from Western Michigan in the second round, well before the Lions finally took Amon-Ra St. Brown off the board. So far this season, Eskridge has logged 23 snaps in three games.
If Eskridge does not see the field in Week 4, I would still need more than 23 fantasy points for this prediction to come true. If the pattern continues, the Seahawks’ oft-injured slot receiver will see between 7-15 snaps. This would push the hot take into Scotch Bonnet territory for spiciness. I believe St. Brown will absolutely try to make John Schneider watch in horror as he eviscerates one of the worst defenses in the NFL, while Eskridge watches from the sidelines as Pete Carroll rolls out three-TE packages instead of putting his draft capital on the field. This revenge narrative is petty and diabolical (and I love it). I was wrong about St. Brown’s role in the Lions’ 2022 plans. Now, you won’t find me rooting harder for any other USC Trojan alum.
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