Freedman’s Favorites: Week 4 (2022 Fantasy Football)
I’ve never been.
Well, technically, that’s not true. I once spent seven hours in Heathrow Airport on a layover. So I’m basically British. (Side note: I was once paid $500 to talk to my wife in a British accent for 10 minutes. But that’s a separate story.)
At Heathrow, I remember seeing a pair of brown Adidas sneakers in one of the shops. They were the coolest shoes I’d ever seen. But they were just a tad too expensive, so I didn’t buy them.
Dear reader, I don’t have many regrets in life — but that’s one of them. If I had bought them, my whole life might be different.
I mean, if I had been wearing those shoes, I definitely would’ve had the courage to go talk to that one girl that one time.
Anyway, aside from the airport, I’ve never been to London.
But I really want to go there.
Not to see Buckingham Palace. Not to see Windsor Castle. Not to see the British Museum. Not to see the Abbey, be it Westminster or Downton. Not to see the Globe Theatre. Not to see the Harry Potter Exhibit at Warner Bros. Studios … although that would definitely happen too, who am I kidding?
Not to take a train to see Stonehenge or Canterbury or Bath.
Not to stop in at little shops for a spot of tea or a plate of crumpets.
And definitely not to take my wife shopping on Oxford Street or Bond Street or Regent Street or wherever it is that all the luxury brands rob willing tourists of their retirement savings.
Not to see the Tower of London. Not to see Big Ben … although we’re getting close.
I want to go to London … to see a football game. Not soccer. An NFL football game.
Played in a soccer stadium.
This is ridiculous, I know. But the heart wants what it wants. Like those shoes.
I don’t have a bucket list. I don’t like lists. Not a fan of buckets, either.
But if I had a bucket list, seeing a London NFL game would be at the top of it.
One day, it will happen.
Until then, I’ll just resign myself to watching the London games on TV, like all the rest of us American peasants.
We get the first one this Sunday, when the Vikings and Saints play at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 9:30 am ET.
Blimey, that’s early. Too early for a pint? I reckon. Too early for a Bloody Mary? Not bloody likely.
Enjoy your tea and crumpets this weekend.
The guys in this piece are my favorites for Week 4.
They’re the guys I think I’ll like more than the expert consensus rankings (ECR). The guys I’m probably starting in season-long leagues. The guys with underappreciated upside. The guys with advantageous matchups. The guys I’ll have in my DFS player pool. The guys I’d like to acquire in dynasty. The guys whose teams have player-friendly Week 4 betting odds. The guys who stand out in our industry-leading BettingPros NFL Prop Bet Analyzer. The guys with Week 4 projections that catch my eye.
The guys I want to write about.
Throughout the week, follow our NFL news desk. On Sunday, consult our NFL inactives list. If you see something there that 1) is published after my piece here and 2) goes against what I’ve written, then privilege the new information.
And always check out my rankings for my most recent thoughts on players. By Saturday night, I’ll update this piece with notes based on the week’s injury reports and news items, but after that any changing opinions I have will be reflected in my rankings, not this article.
So, again, consult the Week 4 rankings before setting your lineups.
Here are my Week 4 favorites.
Note: All fantasy points are half-PPR scoring unless otherwise stated. Players are ordered within position roughly (but probably not precisely) according to my rankings.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.
Freedman’s Favorite Week 4 Quarterbacks
Lamar Jackson (BAL) vs. BUF: Entering the season, Jackson was the No. 1 quarterback with 26.1 fantasy points per game (FPPG) since 2019 — his unrivaled MVP campaign — and he has kicked off 2022 with 749-10-2 passing and 26-243-2 rushing in three games. In Week 3, he lit up our FantasyPros Game Day Tracker with a slate-high 40.4 fantasy points per game (FPPG) … after having a slate-high 42.6 FPPG in the prior week.
Every game, Jackson is a candidate to do something historic.
Most games in NFL history with 3+ passing TD and 100+ rushing yards:
1. Lamar Jackson: 4
2. Lamar Jackson over the past 8 days: 2
3. 6 players tied with 1
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 26, 2022
Jackson is the No. 1 quarterback on the year with 34.7 FPPG (per our Fantasy Football Leaders Report), and the Bills secondary will be without No. 1 CB Tre’Davious White (knee, PUP) and S Micah Hyde (neck, IR) and maybe also No. 2 CB Dane Jackson (head, neck) and S Jordan Poyer (foot). Jackson trails only Bills QB Josh Allen at +600 to win MVP — and if he beats Allen in their head-to-head Week 4 matchup then he will likely be the frontrunner.
Jackson Update (Sat. 10/1): Bills No. 4 CB Christian Benford (hand) is out and Jackson and Poyer are questionable. The Bills secondary could be vulnerable. On top of that, the Bills are without DT Jordan Phillips (hamstring) and might be without DT Ed Oliver (ankle, questionable). And starting LT Ronnie Stanley (ankle) seems likely to make his 2022 debut. Everything seems to be going Jackson’s way.
Here are all the injuries to monitor for Week 4.
Jalen Hurts (PHI) vs. JAX: Last year, Hurts was a fantasy QB1 in 67% of his games and averaged 23.2 FPPG for the season (per RotoViz).
In 2022, he has been even better, progressing as a passer (67.3% completion rate, 916 yards, four touchdowns to one interception) and maintaining his incredibly high Konami Code floor as a runner (167 yards, three touchdowns). Perhaps most notable about Hurts is that he is now aggressively attacking defenses down the field: He’s No. 1 in the league with 40 attempts of 10-plus yards, seven attempts of 30-plus yards and five attempts of 40-plus yards (per our Advanced QB Stats Report). Against the Jaguars, Hurts has a five-star matchup.
I’m betting over 23.5 points for Hurts in the Week 4 No House Advantage Over/Under Challenge.
Hurts Update (Sat. 10/1): Jaguars No. 1 CB Shaquill Griffin (hip, questionable) is uncertain to play. If he’s out, then Hurts’ matchup will be even better.
Joe Burrow (CIN) vs. MIA: One the one hand, Burrow has been decidedly mediocre this year, ranking No. 25 with 6.0 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A). On the other hand, he has either 300-plus yards or three touchdowns passing in two of three games, and the Bengals pass catchers rank No. 1 in our FantasyPros unit power rankings and have a clear edge against the Dolphins secondary, which just played 90 snaps outdoors in the Miami sun and now has a road game on short rest.
|Rank||WRs & TEs||Opp Secondary||Secondary Rank||Edge|
The Dolphins have allowed a league-high 26.3 FPPG to quarterbacks this year (per our Fantasy Points Allowed Report).
Tua Tagovailoa (MIA) at CIN: Tagovailoa (back, ankle) is dealing with multiple injuries, but he (apparently?) did not suffer a concussion in Week 3 …
My understanding of the Tua Tagovailoa situation: He tweaked his back in the 1st quarter on a sneak and didn’t miss time. After the Matt Milano hit, his back locked up — leading to him wobbling. Into the locker room for a full concussion check. Fully cleared. Now on the field.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 25, 2022
… and so he isn’t in the league’s protocol. Based on reporting from NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, it looks like Tagovailoa isn’t at a great risk of missing Week 4: “Certainly Tua will continue to play, and play through this, and we will monitor how he’s doing.”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 26, 2022
If Tagovailoa is active for Thursday Night Football, he should be in fantasy lineups. He’s No. 1 in the league with a 9.9 AY/A and No. 2 — behind only Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes — with a 0.207 composite expected points added (EPA) and completion percentage over expectation (CPOE, per RBs Don’t Matter). I’m currently four spots higher than the consensus on Tagovailoa in our Dissenting Opinions Tool, but I’m fine with the divergence.
Marcus Mariota (ATL) vs. CLE: The Falcons are 3-0 against the spread (ATS) thanks largely to the overperformance of their offense, which has scored 26, 27 and 27 points through three weeks. And the Browns are beyond banged up on defense.
- All-Pro EDGE Myles Garrett (neck) played through an injury in Week 3 and then was involved in a car accident on Monday.
- EDGE Chase Winovich (hamstring), CB Greedy Williams (hamstring) and LB Anthony Walker (leg) are all on IR.
- EDGE Jadeveon Clowney (ankle), DT Taven Bryan (hamstring), LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (groin) and S Ronnie Harrison (hamstring) all missed either all or part of Week 3 with injuries.
This unit might not resemble itself in Week 4, and Mariota has an elevated floor, given his 25-92-2 rushing through three games. Among all quarterbacks with three starts, Mariota is No. 5 with his 17% rushing production rate (per our Fantasy Football Points Distribution Report).
Jared Goff (DET) vs. SEA: Due to his game-managing skill set (7.1 AY/A) and scrambling aversion (6-15-0 rushing), Goff has a depressed floor/ceiling combination in most matchups — but he has an edge against the Seahawks and their secondary in our unit power rankings.
|Rank||Quarterback||Offense||Opp Defense||Defense Rank||Secondary Rank||QB-Def Edge||QB-Sec Edge|
The Seahawks defense is No. 32 in dropback EPA per play (0.439), and the Lions have a slate-high implied total of 28 points in our Week 4 DFS Cheat Sheet.
Goff Update (Sat. 10/1): No. 1 WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle) is out and Nos. 2-3 WRs D.J. Chark (ankle) and Josh Reynolds (ankle) are questionable. Additionally, No. 1 RB D’Andre Swift (ankle, shoulder) is out. Goff still has a great matchup, but I am downgrading him in my rankings.
Jacoby Brissett (CLE) at ATL: Needless to say, Brissett is not “good.” With that out of the way, I’ll point out that he’s No. 8 in composite EPA + CPOE (0.127), and the Falcons defense is No. 31 in dropback success rate (56.9%, SR). He’s not good, but this week Brissett probably won’t be bad.
Freedman’s Favorite Week 4 Running Backs
Nick Chubb (CLE) at ATL: With QB Jacoby Brissett starting, the Browns offense has ranked No. 2 in rush rate (54.3%) and rush DVOA (22.3%, per Football Outsiders), so I expect them to rely on the running game this week as road favorites (-1.5 at DraftKings). Chubb has averaged 104.8 yards on 17.3 and 2.3 targets per game since his first start in Week 7 of 2018. Through three games, Chubb leads the NFL with 62-341-4 rushing and is the No. 1 fantasy back with 21.0 FPPG (per our Fantasy Football Stats Report). He’s probably the best pure runner in the league — and the Falcons defense is No. 32 in rush EPA per play (0.119).
DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average) is an efficiency metric that accounts for situation and opponent.
Dalvin Cook (MIN) vs. NO (London): Cook (shoulder) exited Week 3 early — but he has dealt with labrum issues for years and been able to play through them. Week 4 is likely to be no different.
Per source on Dalvin Cook, current expectation is he will wear a brace and play on Sunday vs. Saints in London.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 25, 2022
While Cook hasn’t been a prolific producer this year (240 yards, one touchdown), his usage (43 carries, 11 targets) has been strong, and he still seems likely to score this year more than the six touchdowns he had last year (per our Touchdown Regression Report). If Cook is unable to play in London, then No. 2 RB Alexander Mattison will be an elite plug-and-play fill-in.
Cook Update (Sat. 10/1): Cook was on the injury report earlier in the week, but he practiced fully on Thursday and Friday. He’ll play on Sunday.
Joe Mixon (CIN) vs. MIA: Mixon (ankle) is dealing with an injury, which is a little troubling on short rest, but no one in Cincinnati presently seems worried about his availability for Thursday.
Bengals RB Joe Mixon will be good to go for Thursday's game against Miami. Got his ankle nicked up yesterday, Zac Taylor said.
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) September 26, 2022
This year, Mixon is No. 1 in combined carries and targets (78, per our Advanced RB Stats Report), and he could benefit from a run-heavy game script as a home favorite (-3.5 at FanDuel). In his eight games as a home favorite with QB Joe Burrow, Mixon has 21.3 FPPG with an average of 108.0 yards and 1.38 touchdowns from scrimmage (per FTN).
Aaron Jones (GB) vs. NE: Whenever the Packers are at home, Jones is likely to be one of my favorites. Just so you know. Despite splitting work with No. 2 RB A.J. Dillon, Jones has 32-217-1 rushing and 9-76-1 receiving on 12 targets this year, and the Packers could run relentlessly as big home favorites (-10.5 at BetMGM). With QB Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are 66-34-3 ATS at Lambeau Field and 97-64-3 ATS as favorites (per Action Network). In his 26 games as a home favorite under HC Matt LaFleur, Jones has averaged 101.4 yards and 1.0 touchdowns on 13.2 carries and 4.6 targets per game.
Check out my Week 4 early betting breakdown on Patriots at Packers as well as our BettingPros matchups page, where you can see the percentage distributions of spread, over/under and moneyline bets tracked in the BettingPros App.
Jones Update (Sat. 10/1): Patriots DT Lawrence Guy (shoulder) is out, and S Kyle Dugger (knee) and LB Raekwon McMillan (thumb) are both questionable. A bad run defense could be even worse.
Leonard Fournette (TB) vs. KC: After scoring 10 touchdowns last year and getting six targets per game, Fournette has disappointed this year with zero touchdowns and an average of four targets. But the touchdowns will come, given that he has 19 carries per game (vs. 12.9 in 2021) and was literally the only Bucs back to touch the ball in Week 3 (per Andrew Erickson’s Usage Report). His overall usage this year has been elite.
Leonard Fournette's weekly share of backfield touches:
— John Daigle (@notJDaigle) September 26, 2022
On both DraftKings and FanDuel, Fournette is one of our top Week 4 DFS value plays.
Fournette Update (Sat. 10/1): LT Donovan Smith (elbow) seems likely to return after practicing limitedly all week, so the Buccaneers might have better run blocking. But WRs Chris Godwin (hamstring), Julio Jones (knee) and Russell Gage (hamstring) all have a chance to play through their questionable tags, so Fournette could have a reduced opportunity share … but the return of the receivers also might help the Buccaneers extend drives, which could mean more overall opportunities for the offense. I haven’t changed Fournette’s ranking yet, but I’m considering it.
Alvin Kamara (NO) vs. MIN (London): After missing Week 2 with a ribs injury, Kamara returned to action in Week 3 and dominated the Saints backfield with 15 carries and seven targets. The Saints could lean on Kamara even more this week given that QB Jameis Winston (back), WR Michael Thomas (foot), WR Jarvis Landry (ankle), WR Tre’Quan Smith (concussion) and TE Taysom Hill (rib) are all dealing with injuries, and the matchup could hardly be better: The Vikings defense is No. 31 in rush DVOA (13.9%).
Kamara Update (Sat. 10/1): Kamara (rib) is questionable, but I expect him to play after practicing limitedly all week. Thomas is out and Winston is doubtful, so I expect QB Andy Dalton to start. Thomas’ absence and Dalton’s presence could mean a superabundance of targets for Kamara.
Cordarrelle Patterson (ATL) vs. CLE: With 330 yards and two touchdowns on 49 carries and seven targets, Patterson is pacing to surpass last year’s career-best 1,166-yard, 11-touchdown campaign. Arguably the greatest kick returner in NFL history (No. 1 with eight touchdowns, No. 3 with 29.4 yards per return), Patterson last year — at the age of 30 — transformed himself into a legitimate lead back, and given how little usage he has accumulated to this point in his career it’s possible that he could play into his mid-30s. And if that happens …
This might be my hottest take ever, and it will likely age poorly …
Cordarrelle Patterson will eventually belong in the Hall of Fame.
I doubt he'll be inducted — but he should be.
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) September 27, 2022
… we’re talking about a player with a real case for Canton. As for this week, the Browns defense is beat up (see the Jacoby Brissett blurb for the full list of injuries). And the Falcons offense is No. 1 with 5.25 adjusted line yards (per Football Outsiders).
Patterson Update (Sat. 10/1): Patterson (knee, questionable) got in a limited practice on Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. I expect he’ll play.
Javonte Williams (DEN) at LV: What if I were to tell you that there’s a second-year running back with second-round draft capital, a three-down skill set and 19-20 opportunities (carries and targets) in every game this year playing in an offense quarterbacked by a future Hall-of-Famer and facing a defense that ranks No. 3 in most fantasy points allowed to opposing backfields (25.4 FPPG). Is that something you might be interested in?
Williams Update (Sat. 10/1): RT Billy Turner (knee) and RG Quinn Meinerz (hamstring) are both out. I expect LG Dalton Risner (ankle) to play after practicing fully on Friday, but even so the offensive line could struggle to run block. I’m downgrading Williams slightly in my rankings.
James Robinson (JAX) at PHI: Despite coming off a season-ending Achilles tear, Robinson has 263 yards and four touchdowns on 51 carries and seven targets through three games. Amazing. He’s in a negative situation this week as a road underdog (+6.5 at Caesars) — but he was in that same situation last week …
Put the doctor who oversaw James Robinson's Achilles recovery in charge of everything pic.twitter.com/fsOizQhdJa
— FantasyPros (@FantasyPros) September 25, 2022
… and we know how that turned out. Even as dogs, the Jaguars might lean on their ground game, given that the Eagles have a run funnel defense that ranks No. 3 against the pass (-31.1% DVOA) and No. 25 against the rush (8.1%).
Jamaal Williams (DET) vs. SEA: No. 1 RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder, ankle) might miss Week 4, so Williams could have an expanded role in the offense, especially as a big home favorite (-6 at PointsBet). Williams is No. 1 in the league with eight carries inside the 10-yard line (per our Red Zone Stats Report), and his scoring prowess this year has been unrivaled.
Jamaal Williams has more rush TD this season (4) than
— StatMuse (@statmuse) September 25, 2022
The Seahawks defense is No. 31 in adjusted line yards (5.10), and the Lions offensive line has a massive edge in their matchup, per our unit power rankings.
|Rank||Offensive Line||Opp DL||DL Rank||Edge|
Williams Update (Sat. 10/1): Swift is out. In his absence, Williams is a top-12 option, even without LG Jonah Jackson (finger).
A.J. Dillon (GB) vs. NE: I like both No. 1 RB Aaron Jones and Dillon in this spot. Dillon has 15-plus opportunities in every game this year, and the Patriots defense is No. 31 in both rush EPA per play (0.114) and rush SR (50.8%). With LT David Bakhtiari’s Week 3 return, the Packers finally have their full offensive line healthy, and they could straight-up bully the Patriots in Week 4.
Dillon Update (Sat. 10/1): Patriots DT Lawrence Guy (shoulder) is out, and S Kyle Dugger (knee) and LB Raekwon McMillan (thumb) are both questionable. A bad run defense could be even worse.
Dameon Pierce (HOU) vs. LAC: After splitting carries with veteran Rex Burkhead in Week 1, Pierce dominantly outcarried him (35 to 3) in Weeks 2-3 and is locked in as the early-down thumper. Burkhead is still the default receiving back (16 to 4 in targets), but the Chargers — with all their injuries — might struggle to force the Texans into a pass-heavy game script, and their defense is No. 5 in most fantasy points allowed to running backs (23.5 FPPG).
Jeff Wilson (SF) vs. LAR: No. 1 RB Elijah Mitchell (knee, IR) is out, as are third-round rookie RB Tyrion Davis-Price (ankle) and running QB Trey Lance (ankle, IR). Starting in place of Mitchell, Wilson is 30-159-0 rushing and 5-50-0 receiving on five targets over the past two weeks, and in his 12 career games with 15-plus opportunities Wilson has averaged 16.7 FPPG. Under HC Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers are 8-3 ATS against the Rams.
Check out my Week 4 early betting breakdown on Rams at 49ers.
Wilson Update (Sat. 10/1): LT Trent Williams (ankle) will almost certainly be out, and C Daniel Brunskill (hamstring) might be out. I have slight downgraded Wilson.
Kareem Hunt (CLE) at ATL: Even with No. 1 RB Nick Chubb dominating opponents, Hunt in every game has managed to earn 15-16 opportunities, which he has leveraged into 205 yards and two touchdowns. The Browns backs have an undeniable matchup edge in our unit power rankings.
|RANK||RBS||OPP DEFENSE||DL RANK||LBS RANK||RB-DL EDGE||RB-LB EDGE|
Both Chubb and Hunt can go off in Week 4.
Rhamondre Stevenson (NE) at GB: Without QB Mac Jones (ankle), the Patriots could lean more on the running game early in Week 4, but as big underdogs they might eventually be forced to throw. Either way, that works for Stevenson, who last week played ahead of teammate Damien Harris in snaps (41-25), carries (12-11) and routes (25-11, per PFF).
Rhamondre Stevenson stepped into an RB1 utilization profile in Week 3, per PFF data 😤😤😤
54% rushing atts
64% route participation
16% target share
60% short yardage
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland) September 26, 2022
The Packers defense is No. 32 in rush DVOA (14.0%) and adjusted line yards (5.36).
Stevenson Update (Sat. 10/1): No. 1 WR Jakobi Meyers (knee) is out, so the Patriots might lean into the running game even more.
Khalil Herbert (CHI) at NYG: No. 1 RB David Montgomery (knee, ankle) exited Week 3 early, but the early reports indicate that he has a real chance to play this week.
David Montgomery is going to be day to day according to Matt Eberflus. He said there are a “couple things going on” with his lower leg injury but said he’s “good” right now.
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) September 25, 2022
If, though, Montgomery doesn’t play, then Herbert will be a top-12 back in my rankings. He went off with 169 yards and two touchdowns on 22 opportunities last week as the in-game fill-in, and last year he had 388 yards and a touchdown on 78 carries and 10 targets in four games while playing in Montgomery’s place. He has lead back ability, and the Giants are No. 29 in rush EPA per play (0.079).
Herbert Update (Sat. 10/1): Montgomery is out, so Herbert is an automatic fantasy starter.
Freedman’s Favorite Week 4 Wide Receivers
Cooper Kupp (LAR) at SF: Last year Kupp had a position-high 56% boom rate with his Triple Crown 145-1,947-16 receiving performance (per our Boom/Bust Report), and he has continued to dominate in 2022, ranking No. 1 in the league with 35 targets and a 38.2% target share (per our Weekly Target Report and Advanced WR Stats Report). Even when he disappointed last week with just 4-44-0 receiving, he still had a 20-yard rushing touchdown.
Cooper Kupp's first career rushing TD 💪
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 25, 2022
In two games against the 49ers last year, Kupp had 14-210-1 receiving on 17 targets and 1-18-0 rushing. He’s not just my No. 1 wide receiver this week. He’s also the No. 1 player in my rest-of-season rankings.
Stefon Diggs (BUF) at BAL: Diggs is the only NFL player with 160-plus targets in each of the past two years, and in Weeks 1-3 he dominated with 27-344-4 receiving on 35 targets, ranking No. 1 at the position with 30.5 FPPG. For the season, Diggs is the No. 1 wide receiver with a 24% target rate on snaps played (per our Snap Count Analysis Report), and he has a good matchup against the Ravens defense, which is No. 1 in most fantasy points allowed to wide receivers (46.7 FPPG).
Diggs Update (Sat. 10/1): No. 2 WR Gabe Davis (ankle, questionable) is uncertain to play, and backup WR Jake Kumerow (ankle) is out, so Diggs could have even more targets than he usually does.
Ja’Marr Chase (CIN) vs. MIA: After balling out in Week 1 with 10-129-1 receiving on 16 targets, the 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year disappointed in Weeks 2-3 with just 11-83-1 receiving on 19 targets and 3-2-0 rushing. But Chase is still the No. 1 wide receiver this year with 35 targets and 226 snaps (per our Snap Count Leaderboard), and the Dolphins defense is No. 30 with a 55.0% dropback SR.
Amon-Ra St. Brown (DET) vs. SEA: St. Brown closed his 2021 rookie campaign with 51-560-5 receiving on 67 targets and 7-61-1 rushing (with a 2-point conversion) in six games, and he has picked up where he left off, putting up 23-253-3 receiving on 33 targets and adding 2-68-1 rushing in Weeks 1-3. This dude is just built differently.
We don't talk enough about this incredible Amon-Ra St. Brown moment from Hard Knocks pic.twitter.com/DDRv9Bc2MH
— Mallory Rubin (@MalloryRubin) September 19, 2022
The Seahawks defense is No. 31 in pass DVOA (43.3%). St. Brown (ankle) is dealing with an injury but seems likely to play.
St. Brown Update (Sat. 10/1): St. Brown is out.
Deebo Samuel (SF) vs. LAR: In QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s Week 3 return to the starting lineup, Samuel hit season-high marks with eight targets, five receptions and 73 yards — and of course he had five carries. Although his efficiency has declined (6.2 yards per target vs. 11.6 last year) and his scoring has diminished (one touchdowns vs. 14 in 16 games last year), Samuel is still pacing for a strong season with 242 scrimmage yards. Last year, Samuel had 13-269-2 receiving on 18 targets and 20-107-2 rushing — plus a 24-yard touchdown passing — in three games against the Rams (including playoffs), who are No. 2 in most fantasy points allowed to wide receivers (42.2 FPPG).
Samuel Update (Sat. 10/1): I doubt that CBs David Long (groin) and Cobie Durant (hamstring) will play, and the Rams are already without No. 2 CB Troy Hill (groin, IR). They could be severely shorthanded in the secondary. I have slightly upgraded Samuel in my rankings.
Michael Pittman (IND) vs. TEN: Pittman missed Week 2 with a quad injury, but he returned in Week 3 without a setback. Through two games, Pittman has 17-193-1 receiving on 22 targets, and in two games against the Titans last year he had 16-154-2 receiving on 27 targets with 1-5-0 rushing. Pittman has a great matchup against perimeter CBs Kristian Fulton and Terrance Mitchell, who respectively have allowed 1.19 and 1.20 yards per coverage snap for their careers (per PFF).
Pittman Update (Sat. 10/1): Titans S Amani Hooker (concussion) is out, and CB Roger McCreary (back) is questionable. If McCreary is unable to play, the Titans will be vulnerable against the pass, as they are already without CBs Elijah Molden (groin) and Chris Jackson (knee, IR).
Christian Kirk (JAX) at PHI: Before this season, Kirk had never been a No. 1 receiver. In his seven games last year without WR DeAndre Hopkins, he managed just 64.9 yards and 0.14 touchdowns on 7.3 targets per game. But with the Jaguars he has 18-267-3 receiving on 27 targets through three weeks. I mean …
Gotta be asked: Christian Kirk best contract in football?
— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) September 25, 2022
… there’s a non-zero chance that Kirk is actually good. We have the Eagles secondary ranked No. 3 in unit power rankings, so his overall matchup isn’t easy — but Kirk in the slot has the easiest matchup of any Jaguars wide receiver with CB Avonte Maddox (instead of CBs Darius Slay and James Bradberry on the perimeter).
Kirk Update (Sat. 10/1): Maddox (ankle) is out, so Kirk gets an upgrade in my rankings.
CeeDee Lamb (DAL) vs. WAS: Lamb has underwhelmed with “just” 17-191-1 receiving — but he has 34 targets on the year. He’s the epitome of a “buy the dip” player.
Expected PPR fantasy points per game on targets in the first three weeks. The distribution represents 10,000 random simulations of every target pic.twitter.com/OpG7vPNO8M
— Anthony Reinhard (@reinhardNFL) September 27, 2022
The Commanders defense is No. 28 in pass DVOA (30.2%).
Lamb Update (Sat. 10/1): WR Michael Gallup (knee) will play and TE Dalton Schultz (knee, questionable) seems likely to play. I’ve downgraded Lamb slightly in my rankings.
D.K. Metcalf (SEA) at DET: The Seahawks are substantial road underdogs to the Lions (+6 at Bet Rivers), so they could find themselves with a pass-heavy game script in a dome. That works. As for the Lions …
Career stats for DET CBs Jeffrey Okudah & Amani Oruwariye …
– 1.82 yards per coverage snap
– 11.0 yards per target
– 1.23 yards per coverage snap
– 9.0 yards per target
No way this guy doesn't go off in Week 4. pic.twitter.com/vdG01BsF9L
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) September 28, 2022
… they’re exploitable.
Diontae Johnson (PIT) vs. NYJ: Look, just tell me now if you’re too good — if you think too highly of yourself — to have any interest in a wide receiver who has averaged 10.2 targets per game since 2020 and 11 targets per game this year. If that’s the case, you and I might not be compatible — and then I won’t tell you about his matchup with the Jets defense, which is No. 32 in pass DVOA (47.9%). Because that sort of thing won’t interest you.
Amari Cooper (CLE) at ATL: Would it surprise you to learn that a guy who was a four-star recruit out of high school, the No. 1 receiver on a championship-winning Alabama team as an 18-year-old true freshman, a winner of the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the best pass catcher in college football as a junior, the No. 4 overall pick in the draft as a 20-year-old early declarant and a five-time 1,000-yard receiver in the NFL … is actually good at football? Would that surprise you??? Cooper has 19-219-2 receiving on 27 targets in three games with the Browns, and the Falcons defense is No. 31 in dropback SR (56.9%).
Drake London (ATL) vs. CLE: Entering the NFL, London had everything I’d want in a rookie receiver, given his size (6-4, 219 pounds), age (21 years old), NFL draft capital (No. 8 overall) and college production (88-1,084-7 receiving in eight games as a junior). At the time, I compared him to Larry Fitzgerald and Mike Evans, and through three NFL games he has lived up to the hype with 16-214-2 receiving on 25 targets (and a 2-point conversion). He already looks like one of the league’s most dominant receivers …
NFL target share leaders:
Mark Andrews 36%
Cooper Kupp 35%
Drake London 33%
A.J. Brown 32%
Diontae Johnson 31%
Amari Cooper 31%
Amon-Ra St. Brown 31%
Jaylen Waddle 30%
CeeDee Lamb 30%
Brandin Cooks 30%
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 26, 2022
… and the Browns (as noted in the Jacoby Brissett blurb) are massively injured on defense.
D.J. Moore (CAR) vs. ARI: I’m torn between which of these quotations to use.
Hamlet: There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: If you have warriors, now is the time.
Lindsey Buckingham: If you don’t love me now, you will never love me again.
I guess I’ll use all three. The Cardinals defense is No. 30 in pass DVOA (39.4%), No. 31 in dropback EPA per play (0.366) and No. 32 in dropback SR (57.4%). If it doesn’t happen now, it’s not to be.
DeVonta Smith (PHI) vs. JAX: Smith has 9.2 yards per target for his career and looked like a co-No. 1 receiver alongside teammate A.J. Brown last week with his 8-169-1 receiving performance.
DeVonta Smith #FlyEaglesFly
— Mojo Markets (@mojo) September 26, 2022
Honestly, I doubt there’s much of a difference between Tee Higgins as the marquee “No. 2 in reality, No. 1 in fantasy” receiver and Smith.
Smith Update (Sat. 10/1): Jaguars No. 1 CB Shaquill Griffin (hip, questionable) is uncertain to play. If he’s out, then Smith will get an upgrade in my rankings.
Curtis Samuel (WAS) at DAL: Samuel is at risk of tweaking a hamstring every time he steps onto the field, but when he’s healthy — fully healthy — he has impressed. While his 2021 season was a lost campaign plagued by injuries, in 2020 he had 1,051 yards and five touchdowns on 97 targets and 41 carries, and Samuel has brought that same playmaking ability to bear this year with 232 yards and two touchdowns on a team-high 30 targets and eight carries. With that kind of usage, matchup doesn’t matter.
Samuel Update (Sat. 10/1): RG Wes Schweitzer (concussion) is out, and that’s a big problem for the Commanders because he had been starting at center for them — because No. 1 C Chase Roullier (knee, IR) and No. 2 C Tyler Larsen (Achilles, PUP) are both out. Without Schweitzer, the Commanders will start C Nick Martin, whom they just signed on Sept. 20. The Commanders could be exceptionally weak running and pass protecting on the interior. It’s hard to say exactly how that will matter: Maybe they will have fewer pass attempts overall as an offense. Or maybe they will focus on the short passing game, which will benefit Samuel. I’m bumping Samuel down a little in my rankings, but not much.
Brandon Aiyuk (SF) vs. LAR: In the final 10 games last year, after finding his way out of HC Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse, Aiyuk led the 49ers with 693 yards receiving and 903 combined air yards and yards after catch (AirYAC), effectively serving as the No. 1 receiver. With QB Jimmy Garoppolo back on the field, Aiyuk has out-targeted teammate Deebo Samuel (15 to 13) and has a potentially exploitable matchup against the Rams, who are without CB Troy Hill (hamstring, IR) and maybe also CBs David Long (groin) and Cobie Durant (hamstring).
AirYAC is a leading indicator of fantasy output in that it measures both a pass catcher’s opportunity (air yards) and his playmaking ability (yards after catch).
Samuel Update (Sat. 10/1): I doubt that Long and Durant will play. The Rams could be severely shorthanded in the secondary. I have slightly upgraded Aiyuk in my rankings.
Chris Olave (NO) vs. MIN (London): In my Week 3 Favorites, I said that Olave’s breakout was a question of when, not if — and we saw the breakout last week with 9-147-0 receiving on 13 targets. With 29 targets in three games, Olave has elite usage.
NFL Leaders in AirYAC (Air Yards + YAC) per game:
1. Chris Olave: 192.4
2. Jaylen Waddle: 155.4
3. A.J. Brown: 152.7
4. Mark Andrews: 149
5. Cooper Kupp: 145.7
6. Marquise Brown: 140.7
7. Stefon Diggs: 139
8. Davante Adams: 138
9. Courtland Sutton: 135.7
10. Rashod Bateman: 133.4
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) September 28, 2022
Given that WRs Michael Thomas (foot), Jarvis Landry (ankle) and Tre’Quan Smith (concussion) were all forced from Week 3 with injuries, Olave could see double-digit targets again this week. Since last week, Olave’s DFS salaries have risen $900 and $1,000 on FanDuel and DraftKings.
Olave Update (Sat. 10/1): Thomas is out, but QB Jameis Winston (back) is also doubtful, so I expect QB Andy Dalton to start. Thomas’ absence would usually result in more targets for Olave, but Dalton lacks Winston’s downfield aggressiveness. I’ve given Olave a slight upgrade in my rankings, but not as large of one as I would if Winston were playing.
Treylon Burks (TEN) at IND: Despite ranking No. 3 on the Titans with 57 routes and No. 4 with 60 pass play snaps, Burks is No. 1 on the team with 13 targets and No. 2 with 115 yards receiving. His 95.0% route per snap rate and 8.8 yards per target speak to his potential. The Colts defense is No. 29 in dropback SR (52.1%).
Burks Update (Sat. 10/1): Colts S Julian Blackmon (ankle) is out, DT DeForest Buckner (elbow, doubtful) seems unlikely to play after missing practice all week and LB Shaquille Leonard (back, questionable) hasn’t played yet this year despite practicing fully in previous weeks. With the Colts defense in a diminished state, Burks gets a small upgrade in my rankings.
Romeo Doubs (GB) vs. NE: Last week, in the absence of WRs Sammy Watkins (hamstring, IR) and Christian Watson (hamstring), the rookie Doubs had a breakout 8-73-1 receiving performance on eight targets with an 89% snap rate against the Buccaneers, who have the No. 1 secondary in our unit power rankings.
— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) September 26, 2022
He could have similar usage this week in a much easier matchup against the Patriots.
Greg Dortch (ARI) at CAR: Amazingly, Dortch through three weeks has been the No. 2 pass catcher for the Cardinals with 20-198-1 receiving on 23 targets. WR Rondale Moore (hamstring) will likely send Dortch back to the bench when he returns — but he missed every practice last week: He doesn’t seem close to returning. And Dortch could see extra targets this week with WR A.J. Green (knee) expected to be out. As the team’s primary slot receiver, Dortch might have the best matchup of all the pass catchers against CB Myles Hartsfield, who has allowed a 73.8% catch rate for his career.
Dortch Update (Sat. 10/1): Green is out, and perimeter WR Marquise Brown (foot) popped up on the injury report on Friday with a limited practice, so there’s a chance he might not play — but Moore seems likely to make his 2022 debut after getting in three limited practices this week. If Moore is out, then Dortch will continue to see regular usage within the offense, but I’m downgrading Dortch in my rankings under the assumption that Moore will play.
DeVante Parker (NE) at GB: In the absence of No. 1 WR Jakobi Meyers (knee), Parker last week had 5-156-0 receiving on 10 targets. Meyers is uncertain to play this week, the Packers are No. 32 in pass DVOA against No. 1 wide receivers (45.8%) and No. 1 CB Jaire Alexander (groin) is dealing with an injury. As big road underdogs, the Patriots could be forced into a pass-heavy game script.
Parker Update (Sat. 10/1): Meyers is out again, so Parker will get a bump up in my rankings, although the absence of QB Mac Jones (ankle) will likely hinder him. Alexander is questionable. If he’s out, then Parker will get another upgrade in my rankings.
Julio Jones (TB) vs. KC: No. 1 WR Mike Evans will return from suspension this week, but No. 2 WR Chris Godwin (hamstring, knee) might still be out, so if Jones (knee) is able to play he could see some extra usage. That’s a big “if,” but …
The Bucs will have Mike Evans back from suspension this week. Todd Bowles said he expects Julio Jones to return too. He said it’s still too early to tell on Chris Godwin and Donovan Smith.
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) September 26, 2022
… I’m ever hopeful when it comes to Jones. In Week 1 he had a nice 3-69-0 receiving on five targets (as well as 2-17-0 rushing), and since his age-31 season (2020) Jones has averaged 10.5 yards per target. Yes, Jones is fragile — but when he’s on the field he still bangs.
Jones Update (Sat. 10/1): Godwin, Jones and WR Russell Gage (hamstring) all have a chance to play through their questionable tags.
Richie James (NYG) vs. CHI: No. 1 WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring) missed last week. No. 2 WR Sterling Shepard (knee, IR) suffered a season-ending injury on Monday Night Football. No. 3 WR Kenny Golladay (bad) is a nonentity. Slot WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) hasn’t played since Week 1. As a result, James has a livable 14-146-0 receiving on 17 targets in three games. For his career, James has a strong 11.0 yards per target, so he at least has some theoretical upside. He’s a desperation play — but sometimes the only option is the best option.
James Update (Sat. 10/1): Bears No. 1 CB Jaylon Johnson (quad) is out, as are Toney and Robinson. James gets a bump in my rankings.
Josh Reynolds (DET) vs. SEA: Since his midseason addition to the Lions last year, Reynolds has been at least a fantasy WR2 in 30% of his games.
He’s a boom/bust player, and in any given week he’s likely to bust — but what matters most is that he actually has the upside to go off, and this week he might actually do it: The Seahawks are N0. 28 in dropback SR (51.9%).
Reynolds Update (Sat. 10/1): No. 1 WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle) is out, and No. 2 WR D.J. Chark (ankle) is questionable. Reynolds (ankle) is also questionable, but I expect both he and Chark to play, and both will get upgrades in my rankings in St. Brown’s absence, as well as that of No. 1 RB D’Andre Swift (ankle, shoulder).
Mack Hollins (LV) vs. DEN: In Week 3, Jon Snow’s taller cousin went off.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) September 27, 2022
What was most notable about his Week 3 performance wasn’t the actual production, although 8-158-1 receiving is great. What was notable was the team-high 10 targets, especially on the heels of the eight targets he had in Week 2. Of course, his Week 3 usage came in the absence of No. 2 WR Hunter Renfrow (concussion) — but Renfrow is uncertain to play this week, and Hollins at least is always on the field with his 90.8% snap rate.
Hollins Update (Sat. 10/1): Renfrow and No. 2 TE Foster Moreau (knee) are both out, so Hollins gets an update in my rankings.
Freedman’s Favorite Week 4 Tight Ends
Mark Andrews (BAL) vs. BUF: Last year Andrews was the No. 1 tight end with 153 targets and a 25.8% target share (per our Advanced Tight End Stats Report), and he has been somehow even better this year, ranking No. 1 with 31 targets and a team-high 36.5 target share into 22-245-3 receiving. The Bills defense is No. 1 in pass DVOA against tight end (-97.0%) — but their secondary has been ravaged with injuries: No. 1 CB Tre’Davious White (knee, PUP) and S Micah Hyde (neck, IR) are out, and No. 2 CB Dane Jackson (head, neck), No. 3 perimeter CB Christian Benford (hand) and S Jordan Poyer (foot) are uncertain to play. Plus, QB Lamar Jackson needs to throw the ball to someone, and that guy will likely be Andrews: The Ravens have an NFL-high 51.8% tight end target share (per our Target Distribution Report). Among all NFL players, Andrews is No. 2 overall with a 40.6% market share of first-read targets.
First Read Target Market Share
1. Cooper Kupp (41.3%)
2. Mark Andrews (40.6%)
3. CeeDee Lamb (39.7%)
4. Courtland Sutton (39.6%)
5. Ja'Marr Chase (38.6%)
6. AJ Brown (38.5%)
7. Jaylen Waddle (37.5%)
7. Amari Cooper (37.5%)
My new favorite stat, courtesy of @FantasyPtsData
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) September 27, 2022
Andrews is No. 1 at the position (and No. 4 among all players) with 149 AirYAC per game. The guy who’s No. 2 — Darren Waller — has 80.7. Total domination.
Andrews Update (Sat. 10/1): Bills No. 4 CB Christian Benford (hand) is out and Jackson and Poyer are questionable. The Bills secondary could be vulnerable.
Zach Ertz (ARI) at CAR: No. 1 WR DeAndre Hopkins (suspension) is out. Veteran WR A.J. Green (knee) is expected to be out. Slot WR Rondale Moore (hamstring) is yet to play this year. Second-round rookie TE Trey McBride has just six snaps and no targets. Ertz is No. 2 on the team with 25 targets, which he has leveraged into 16-134-1 receiving with a two-point conversion. The Panthers are No. 27 in pass DVOA against tight ends (27.2%). Everything aligns. I guess.
Ertz Update (Sat. 10/1): I think Moore will likely play through his questionable tag, but Green is out, and perimeter WR Marquise Brown (foot) popped up on the injury report on Friday with a limited practice, so there’s a chance he might not play. I’ve given Ertz a slight boost in my rankings.
Pat Freiermuth (PIT) vs. NYJ: Despite playing in an offense with WRs Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and George Pickens, the second-year Freiermuth is No. 2 on the Steelers with 21 targets — and No. 1 with two targets inside the 10-yard line — and with that usage he has a respectable 11-138-1 receiving. He’s No. 3 at the position with 74.7 AirYAC per game. If I cared more about this blurb, this is where I’d write a third sentence.
Freiermuth Update (Sat. 10/1): Jets LB Quincy Williams (ankle) is out, so Freiermuth might face a backup linebacker on some snaps. He gets a slight upgrade in my rankings.
Tyler Higbee (LAR) at SF: Higbee is No. 2 on the team and tied for No. 3 at the position with 24 targets. The 49ers have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends (1.6), but …
Top 7 Fantasy Football Tight Ends — points per game.
21.7 Mark Andrews
17.4 Travis Kelce
12.7 Tyler Conklin 👀👀👀
11.8 Zach Ertz
11.4 Darren Waller
11.3 Dallas Goedert
11.0 Tyler Higbee 👀👀👀
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland) September 26, 2022
… you gotta start someone at the position.
Tyler Conklin (NYJ) at PIT: Conklin is No. 1 at the position with 134 routes.
Notable 2022 TE routes per @PFF:
1. Tyler Conklin (134)
2. Zach Ertz
3. Hayden Hurst
4. Travis Kelce
5. Darren Waller
6. Tyler Higbee
7. Dawson Knox
8. Dallas Goedert
9. Evan Engram
10. Gerald Everett
11. Logan Thomas
12. T.J. Hockenson
13. Mark Andrews
20. Kyle Pitts (75)
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) September 27, 2022
And he’s No. 1 among Jets pass catchers with 209 snaps and No. 2 with 134 routes and 24 targets. His 18-140-1 receiving stat line doesn’t make me hate myself.
David Njoku (CLE) at ATL: After disappointing in Weeks 1-2 with 4-39-0 receiving on six targets, Njoku went off in Week 3 with 9-89-1 receiving on 10 targets. He’s No. 1 among Browns pass catchers with 197 snaps and No. 2 with 16 targets and 13-128-1 receiving. The Falcons defense is No. 2 in most fantasy points allowed to tight ends (17.2 FPPG). There’s no way this ends well.
Juwan Johnson (NO) vs. MIN (London): Ugh. Johnson had just one target last week, but he has 13 on the season and is actually No. 4 at the position with 70.5 AirYAC per game. WRs Michael Thomas (foot), Jarvis Landry (ankle) and Tre’Quan Smith (concussion) were all forced from Week 3 with injuries, so he could see extra usage against the Vikings, who are No. 28 in pass DVOA against tight ends (29.3%).
Johnson Update (Sat. 10/1): Thomas is out, and QB Jameis Winston (back) is also doubtful, so I expect QB Andy Dalton to start. Thomas’ absence and Dalton’s presence could mean more targets for Johnson.
FantasyPros Accuracy Contest
Freedman’s Former Favorites
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