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The Primer: Week 4 Edition (2022 Fantasy Football)

Oct 1, 2022
The Primer: Week 4 Edition (2022 Fantasy Football)

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New England Patriots vs. Green Bay Packers

By: Pat Fitzmaurice

Quarterbacks

Brian Hoyer: In superflex leagues, sometimes you have to take an any-port-in-a-storm approach at the QB position. Brian Hoyer was picked up in a great many superflex leagues this week after Mac Jones sustained a high-ankle sprain in Week 3 that’s likely to keep him out for several weeks. But in single-QB leagues? Naw, don’t mess with Hoyer. The last time Hoyer started a game — Oct. 5, 2020, against the Chiefs — he was 15-of-24 for 130 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. His last start before that was for the Colts in November 2019, when he was 18-of-39 for 204 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions against the Dolphins. It’s highly unlikely that this 14th-year journeyman will put up useful fantasy numbers against the Packers in Lambeau Field, and it’s entirely possible that Patriots HC Bill Belichick will replace Hoyer with rookie Bailey Zappe at some point on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers is currently the QB26 in fantasy scoring, just behind Russell Wilson and just ahead of fellow senior citizens Matt Ryan and Tom Brady. After a disappointing Week 1 performance in Minnesota, Rodgers has been sharp in his last two starts, completing 76.7% of his throws and averaging 8.2 yards per pass attempt, with four TDs and one INT. But Rodgers hasn’t thrown for more than 255 yards in a game this season, and it’s unlikely he’ll have to stomp the accelerator and get into a drag race on Sunday with the Packers a 10-point home favorite against a Patriots team quarterbacked by backup Brian Hoyer. Rodgers is just a midrange QB2 this week.

Running Backs

Rhamondre Stevenson: Week 3 was very encouraging for Stevenson investors. For a second straight week, he out-snapped Damien Harris (42-27 in Week 2, 41-25 in Week 3). Stevenson had a season-high 16 touches in last weekend’s loss to the Ravens, with 12-73-1 rushing and 4-28-0 receiving. The touchdown was a 1-yarder, so maybe Harris won’t get the vast majority of goal-line carries after all (although Harris did have a 2-yard TD run earlier in the game). This week is going to be interesting. On one hand, the Patriots have an implied Vegas point total of 15.5, and the Packers might elect to have their safeties cheat up toward the line of scrimmage and not worry about backup QB Brian Hoyer beating them downfield. On the other hand, the Patriots’ running game ranks No. 1 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, while the Packers’ run defense ranks 32nd in DVOA. With Hoyer at quarterback, the Patriots might elect to lean heavily on their RBs as both runners and pass catchers. Consider Stevenson to be a high-end RB3 with a wide range of potential outcomes.

Damien Harris: The fact that Rhamondre Stevenson has out-snapped Harris 86-52 over the last two weeks doesn’t necessarily spell doom for Harris’ fantasy value. Harris has played 74 snaps this season and has 35 carries and eight targets. That means the ball has gone to Harris on 58.1% of his offensive snaps. For sake of comparison, the ball has gone to Stevenson on 39.2% of his snaps. Harris has banged in short TD runs in each of his last two games. He hasn’t been a complete zero in the passing game either, with two catches in each of his first three games (although those receptions have netted 31 scoreless yards). Harris is up against a Green Bay run defense that was roughed up by the Vikings and Bears in Weeks 1-2 but did a much better job against Leonard Fournette and the Buccaneers in a Week 3 rock fight. Green Bay is more valuable to the outside run than runs between the tackles, where ballcarriers must contend with NT Kenny Clark (currently graded sixth by PFF among 120 defensive linemen) and ILB De’Vondre Campbell. Treat Harris as an RB4 in PPR leagues and an RB3 in standard leagues.

Aaron Jones: This is a mouth-watering spot for Jones. At noted in this week’s installment of Freedman’s Favorites, Jones has played 26 games in which the Packers have been home favorites under head coach Matt LaFleur, and Jones has averaged 101.4 yards and 1.0 touchdowns in those contests on 13.2 carries and 4.6 targets per game. As of Wednesday night, the Packers were favored by 9.5 points, so they should have a run-friendly game script. With the Packers big home favorites against the Bears two weeks ago, Jones rampaged for 132 rushing yards, 38 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Even though he shares work with A.J. Dillon, Jones is a low-end RB1 this week.

A.J. Dillon: Dillon enters Week 4 as the RB27 in half-PPR fantasy scoring, but it seems only a matter of time before he pops. He’s had double-digit carries and at least three targets in all three of his games. He’s likely to be presented with a run-friendly game script with the Packers 9.5-point home favorites over the Patriots. New England’s run defense is 29th in DVOA. The time-share arrangement with Aaron Jones makes Dillon only a high-end RB3 for this week, but if you have a start/sit dilemma involving Dillon, we recommend that you err on the side of jamming Quadzilla into your lineup.

Wide Receivers

Jakobi Meyers: Meyers missed Week 3 with a knee injury but was able to practice on Wednesday, so there’s optimism he’ll be able to play Sunday in Green Bay. In his first two games, Meyers racked up 13-150-0 on 19 targets, with an impressive target share of 29.7%. It’s impossible to spin the Mac Jones injury as a positive for Meyers. He’s scored two touchdowns in 48 career games, so most of his fantasy value is derived from catch volume. Will backup Brian Hoyer be able to get Meyers the 6-8 receptions he needs to provide fantasy managers with a satisfying point total? It’s hard to rank Meyers inside the top 50 this week in light of the QB situation — and knowing that his knee still might not be 100%.

DeVante Parker: The enigmatic Parker was a ghost for the two weeks of the season, drawing only four catches and catching a single 9-yard pass. In Week 3, he exploded for 5-156-0 on 10 targets against the Ravens, with receptions of 31, 40, 36, 25 and 24 yards. It seems unlikely that Parker would turn in a second straight big game while paired with second-string QB Brian Hoyer. But with Parker, who knows?

Nelson Agholor: Agholor has averaged 11.6 half-PPR fantasy points over the last two weeks, tying him with Diontae Johnson for WR30 over that stretch. But Agholor played fewer than 60% of New England’s offensive snaps in Weeks 1-2, then saw a usage increase last week with Jakobi Meyers out. With Meyers expected back this week, and with backup Brian Hoyer replacing the injured Mac Jones at QB, Aholor isn’t a viable fantasy option in Week 4.

Allen Lazard: On one hand, Lazard has scored 10 touchdowns in his last 12 regular-season games. On the other hand, Lazard has averaged 3.3 catches and 39.5 receiving yards in those games. Those who were expecting Lazard to become a high-volume receiver following the offseason departure of Davante Adams should probably recognize that it’s not going to happen. But at 6-5 and 227 pounds, Lazard is an inviting end-zone target for Aaron Rodgers. Statistically, Lazard has become the Packers’ version of the Vikings’ Adam Thielen. It’s hard to know what to expect from a receiver as TD-dependent as Lazard in any given week, so consider him a midrange WR4 and pray he finds the end zone if you decide to start him.

Romeo Doubs: Was Week 3 the start of something big for Doubs? He went for 8-73-1, catching all eight of his targets against a tough group of Buccaneers cornerbacks. Doubs had an 89% snap rate in that game, and it’s clear that he and Allen Lazard are Green Bay’s top two receivers for now. One concern with Doubs for this week is that the Packers might have the luxury of rolling out a conservative offensive gameplan against the Patriots, who sail into Green Bay as 9.5-point underdogs with backup QB Brian Hoyer at the helm. But Doubs is now certainly in play as a potential fantasy starter.

Tight Ends

Hunter Henry: After finishing as the TE9 in half-PPR fantasy scoring in 2021, Henry has been a nonfactor for the first three weeks of 2022, drawing only five targets and producing 3-28-0. Henry has played 14 more snaps than Jonnu Smith this season, but Smith has six more targets and four more receptions. Henry simply isn’t playable in any fantasy format right now.

Jonnu Smith: Through three games, Smith has 7-58-0 on 11 targets. He’s seen more action in the passing game than fellow Patriots TE Hunter Henry has, but that still doesn’t mean Smith has become fantasy-viable.

Robert Tonyan: Tonyan had a season-high six catches against the Buccaneers in Week 3, but he went for only 37 scoreless yards. With 11 receptions through three weeks, Tonyan is on a respectable 62-catch pace, but he’s averaged just 7.6 yards per catch so far. Don’t expect Tonyan to punish the Patriots the way Baltimore’s Mark Andrews did last week (8-89-2 on 13 targets). Although Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is fond of Tonyan, it should be noted that the sixth-year tight end has played only 45% of the Packers’ snaps this year, as the Packers have rotated four TEs — Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Tyler Davis and Josiah Deguara. Consider Tonyan a midrange TE2.

Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders

By: Matthew Freedman

Quarterbacks

Russell Wilson: Wilson is the No. 25 quarterback with 13.0 fantasy points per game — but he has been better (albeit not great) in reality, ranking No. 14 in adjusted yards per attempt (7.0) and No.16 in composite expected points added and completion percentage over expectation (0.076). Wilson is no longer the scrambler he once was (9-22-0 rushing), but he still has the talent to exploit soft matchups — and that’s what he has this week: The Raiders are No. 4 in most fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks (23.3 per game). For at least one more week, Wilson is a keep-the-faith low-end QB1.

Derek Carr: Carr is the opposite of Wilson — he has been better in fantasy than reality. He’s the No. 12 quarterback with 18.9 fantasy points per game, but he’s No. 14 in EPA + CPOE (0.085) and No. 20 in AY/A (6.6). What explains the discrepancy? Volume and matchup. Carr is No. 7 with 120 pass attempts, and the Raiders opened the season against the Chargers, Cardinals and Titans, all of whom are in the bottom half of the league in defensive pass DVOA and the last two of whom are in the bottom eight. Carr’s unlikely to have the benefit of volume and matchup in this game. The Broncos are No. 26 in situation-neutral pace (32.28 second per play), so the Raiders could have fewer plays overall, and the Broncos defense is No. 3 in dropback success rate (39.5%). Carr is a fine QB2 but a questionable QB1.

Running Backs

Weeks 1-3

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Javonte Williams 44.0% 20% 50.8% 6
Melvin Gordon 40.5% 9% 29.2% 4

 

Javonte Williams: 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 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 per game). Is that something you might be interested in? Williams is a high-end RB2 this week.

Melvin Gordon: Gordon is the No. 33 running back with 8.7 fantasy points per game. This year he has exhibited a reasonable floor with 11-18 opportunities in each game, but his efficiency has declined (3.9 yards per carry, 5.4 yards per target), and he has lost a significant share of the receiving work to Williams. He has a good matchup: The Raiders defense is No. 24 in rush success rate (44.3%) and No. 29 in pass DVOA against running backs (63.0%). But with his diminished usage and production, Gordon is hard to trust as anything more than a fantasy RB3/flex.

Weeks 1-3

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Josh Jacobs 79.2% 6.5% 46.6% 9
Brandon Bolden 11.3% 3.7% 22.9% 1

 

Josh Jacobs: Jacobs is the No. 28 running back with 9.5 fantasy points per game. That’s what happens when a guy has limited receiving work (eight targets) and scores zero touchdowns. While Jacobs is unlikely to light it up as a pass catcher this year, it is encouraging that he was 5-31-0 receiving on six targets in Week 3, and he’s bound to find the end zone at some point: He has five of the team’s six carries inside the 10-yard line. But that probably won’t happen this week, as the Broncos are No. 30 in fantasy points allowed to running backs (10.6 per game). Jacobs is a usage-based RB3/flex this week.

Brandon Bolden: Bolden missed Week 2 with a hamstring injury, but he returned in Week 3 to steal 25 snaps, three carries and two targets from Jacobs. As the team’s preferred change-of-pace option, Bolden is rather inoffensive to the lead back but also totally useless to any would-be fantasy investors.

Wide Receivers

Courtland Sutton: Sutton has impressed with 19-291-0 receiving on 28 targets. It’s unfortunate that Sutton doesn’t have a touchdown yet, but he is No. 4 in the league with 354 air yards and has three targets inside the 10-yard line. The scores will come. Lining up most split out to the left, Sutton is slated to match up primarily with right CB Nate Hobbs (concussion), who is currently in the league’s protocol. If Hobbs is out for Week 4, Sutton could go off. As of now, he’s a solid WR2.

Jerry Jeudy: Jeudy exited Week 2 early with shoulder and ribs injuries, which he played through in Week 3, and that likely impacted his production and usage, as he had just 2-17-0 receiving on six targets and a 59% snap rate. But in Week 1, when he was healthy, he flashed with 4-102-1 receiving on seven targets. If Jeudy is able to get in a full practice this week, he could be an upside play as the Tyler Lockett-style slot receiver in a matchup with a Raiders defense that is No. 29 in dropback EPA (0.227). But if Jeudy is limited all week, he’ll likely be a WR3, which is where I have him ranked now.

Davante Adams: On the one hand, Adams has 34 targets, six of which have been within the 10-yard line, and three of those he has converted into touchdowns. In fact, Adams has scored in every game. On the other hand, he has just a 50% catch rate and 5.6 yards per target. Touchdowns are nice, but they are fickle, and since his Week 1 onslaught (10-141-1 receiving on 17 targets) Adams has been incredibly inefficient at turning his targets (17) into receptions (7) and yards (48). Volume matters most, and Adams is likely to see his connection with Carr improve — but I wouldn’t blame you if you were nervous about his matchup against the Broncos, who have allowed the fewest points in the league to opposing wide receivers (18.4 per game). Adams is a no-doubt WR1 … except there’s just a little doubt.

Hunter Renfrow: Renfrow (concussion) missed Week 3. We likely won’t know more about his health status until later in the week.

Mack Hollins: Hollins went off in Week 3 with 8-158-1 receiving — a fantastic performance. But what was most notable about it wasn’t the actual production, although that was 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 Renfrow (concussion) – but even if Renfrow returns Hollins should be on the field in three-wide sets, given his 90.8% snap rate. Given the tough matchup, Hollins probably shouldn’t be anywhere near your lineup, but if you’re desperate at the position you could do a lot worse than a guy who’s No. 1 on his team in targets (19) and receptions (14) and No. 1 in yards receiving (240). Hollins is a deep WR5 flyer.

Tight Ends

Albert Okwuegbunam: A hyped late-round sleeper in fantasy drafts, Okwuegbunam has disappointed this year. He’s No. 2 on the Broncos with 78 routes — but No. 4 with 10 targets, which he has “leveraged” into 6-45-0 receiving. The Raiders are No. 6 in most fantasy points allowed to tight ends (13.8 per game), so he has some theoretical upside, but Okwuegbunam is impossible to trust as anything more than a grasping TE2.

Darren Waller: Waller is the No. 2 tight end with 198 air yards, and he has had a steady 5-8 targets in each game. With Adams on the team, Waller no longer has the outrageous target ceiling he exhibited periodically in the 2019-21 campaigns, but he has a reasonable floor, as the Broncos are without Pro-Bowl S Justin Simmons (quad, IR) and rank No. 8 in most fantasy points allowed to tight ends (12.5). As always, Waller is a high-end TE1.

Foster Moreau: After doing nothing in Week 1 (zero targets, 31% snap rate), Moreau had 6-74-0 receiving on nine targets and a 56% snap rate in Weeks 2-3. That’s not much, but to the desperado even an empty gun can be a weapon. Moreau is an aspirational low-end TE2.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

By: Matthew Freedman

Quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes: After dominating Week 1 (34.9 fantasy points, 360 yards passing, five touchdowns), Mahomes was mortal in Weeks 2-3 (497 yards passing, three touchdowns, 7.1 adjusted yards per attempt), but for the season he is still — to quote King Lear — every inch a king, ranking No. 1 in composite expected points added and completion percentage over expectation (0.209, per RBs Don’t Matter). With just 9-30-0 rushing, Mahomes lacks the Konami Code scrambling security of other quarterbacks, and he has a brutal matchup against the Buccaneers defense, which is No. 1 in dropback EPA per play (-0.293), so expectations for Mahomes should be tempered. Still, if you have Mahomes, you’re starting him: He’s a locked-in top-five fantasy quarterback every week.

Tom Brady: After leading the league with 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns passing last year, Brady enters Week 4 as the No. 28 quarterback with 11.8 fantasy points per game. He has had difficult matchups against the Cowboys, Saints and Packers, all of whom have top-12 secondaries in our unit power rankings. And he has dealt with personnel issues to his surrounding cast: Last week, WRs Mike Evans (suspension), Chris Godwin (hamstring) and Julio Jones (knee) and LT Donovan Smith (elbow) were all out. This week Evans returns, Godwin, Jones and Smith all have a chance to play and the matchup isn’t as tough: The Chiefs are No. 9 in most fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks (20.9 per game). We shouldn’t expect a full bounceback, but Brady is a solid QB2 with top-eight upside this week.

Running Backs

Weeks 1-3

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 33.8% 11.9% 36.7% 5
Jerick McKinnon 22.1% 5.9% 42.5% 6
Isiah Pacheco 25% 0% 6.7% 4

 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Through three games, the main difference between Edwards-Helaire and the guys behind him has been efficiency. Of all running backs with 10-plus carries, he is No. 1 with 4.1 yards after contact per attempt (per our Advanced RB Stats Report). He has converted all 12 of his targets into receptions. And he has turned three of his five red zone opportunities into touchdowns. Eventually, that efficiency will regress. And when that happens, he’ll be revealed for what he is: An average lead back in a three-man committee. That revelation could happen this week against the Buccaneers, who have allowed a league-low 9.4 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields.

Jerick McKinnon & Isiah Pacheco: McKinnon and Pacheco are fantasy piranhas. You don’t want to swim in these waters.

Weeks 1-3

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Leonard Fournette 74.0% 12.1% 72.5% 7
Rachaad White 10.4% 3.0% 16.5% 2

 

Leonard Fournette: 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. On both DraftKings and FanDuel, Fournette is one of our top Week 4 DFS value plays, and he’s a volume-fueled RB1 in redraft leagues.

Rachaad White: White played six snaps and had zero opportunities in Week 3. He should be rostered everywhere as a high-upside handcuff, but he has no standalone value.

Wide Receivers

JuJu Smith-Schuster: Among all Chiefs wide receivers, Smith-Schuster is No. 1 in targets (19), receptions (14) and yards receiving (178). His 9.4 yards per target rivals the mark he had in his first two seasons (9.6), and he has lined up all across the formation (36 snaps wide left, 42 wide right, 54 in the slot). So he has upside. But he also has significant downside against the Buccaneers defense, which is No. 1 in pass DVOA (-43.1%). Smith-Schuster is a wide-range-of-outcomes WR3.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling & Mecole Hardman: Through three games, Valdes-Scantling has turned 107 pass plays and 99 routes into 18 targets, 10 receptions, 105 yards and no touchdowns. Oh, I almost forgot: He also has one carry for -3 yards. Similarly, Hardman has turned 79 pass plays and 72 routes into 11 targets, seven receptions, 67 yards and a touchdown. And let’s not forget about his one carry for -4 yards. Hardman’s prop of under 3.5 receptions in our BettingPros Prop Bet Analyzer has been free money. Obi-Wan Kenobi said it best: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

Mike Evans: Evans missed Week 3 with a suspension, and he was ejected from Week 2 for fighting, so Week 1 is the only full game he has played this year — and he was his typical self with 5-71-1 receiving on seven targets. Given all the uncertainty for the Buccaneers at wide receiver, Evans could see more than his usual share of targets and is a low-end WR1.

Chris Godwin: Godwin (hamstring) returned to practice on Wednesday and might have a shot to play this weekend. He has been labeled as a game-time decision. Too risky to wait on him for a Sunday night contest. 

Julio Jones: HC Todd Bowles has said that he expects Jones (knee) to return this week after missing the last two games, so I’m tentatively projecting him to play while continuing to track his progress in practice. He has been tabbed as a game-time decision for Sunday night. In Week 1, Jones 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. Even so, he could be on a snap count if he plays, so he’s a risky deep WR5 flyer for his first game back.

Russell Gage: Last week — without Evans, Godwin and Jones — Gage (hamstring) had a triumphant 12-87-1 receiving on 13 targets, but he’s dealing with a soft-tissue injury and should see limited usage moving forward as he’s pushed back down the depth chart. If both Godwin and Jones return, Gage will be a WR4. If only one of them returns, he’s a WR3. If neither returns, he’s a low-end WR2.

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce: With a rebuilt wide receiver unit, Kelce has predictably been the top pass catcher for the Chiefs this year, ranking No. 1 on the team with 24 targets, 17 receptions, 230 yards receiving and two touchdowns and No. 2 at the position with 12.4 fantasy points per game. Good matchup, bad matchup, it doesn’t matter. You’re starting Kelce. He’s a top-two fantasy tight end each week, and the gap between him and the guys vying for the No. 3 spot is massive.

Cameron Brate: Brate has 11 targets on the year — and that’s with the Buccaneers running thin at wide receiver. Yeah, no thanks.

Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers

By: Pat Fitzmaurice

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford: Stafford stakeholders are asking for refunds. Through three weeks, Stafford ranks as the QB23 in fantasy scoring and has tossed more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4). Faced with a plum matchup against the Cardinals in Week 3, Stafford was 18-of-25 for 249 yards with no touchdowns, making him the QB27 on the week. This week, Stafford is up against a 49ers pass defense that has earned PFF’s highest coverage grade and ranks fifth in DVOA. The Niners are giving up just 10.3 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, ranking only behind the Bills in that category. In three games against the 49ers last season, including a playoff game, Stafford averaged 272.7 passing yards and threw six TD passes and five interceptions. Give the struggling Stafford the benefit of the doubt and treat him as a low-end QB1.

Jimmy Garoppolo: Some people seemed to think Garoppolo would be a big upgrade over Trey Lance, who broke his ankle in Week 2. That may yet prove to be the case, but Garoppolo was uninspiring last week in his first start of the year, going 18-for-29 for 211 yards, with one TD and one INT. On the signature play from San Francisco’s 11-10 loss to Denver, Garoppolo dropped back from the 49ers’ 2-yard line and cluelessly stepped out of the back of the end zone in the face of a pass rush. (Garoppolo’s throw on the play would have resulted in a pick-six if not for the fact that both of his feet were out of bounds at the time.) Garoppolo faces a Rams defense that has been stingy against the pass in recent years but hasn’t found its mojo yet. The Rams will be without CB Troy Hill, who’s on IR with a hamstring injury, and might be without CBs David Long (groin) and Cobie Durant (hamstring). Still, Jimmy G is no better than a high-end QB3 this week.

Running Backs

Cam Akers: The tides continue to shift in the Rams’ backfield. Darrell Henderson out-snapped Akers in the first two weeks of the season, but Henderson and Akers both played 24 snaps in Week 3. Henderson had only four carries, while Akers ran 12 times for 61 yards and a touchdown. It’s too early to say that Akers now has a leg up in this two-man competition for touches, but at least the outlook is much brighter for Akers than it was after Week 1, when he barely saw the field. The 49ers are a tough matchup. They’re allowing just 2.9 yards per carry and 16.0 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. We recommend being cautious with Akers and treating him as a high-end RB4.

Darrell Henderson: After getting 18 touches and playing an 82% snap share in Week 1, Henderson’s usage has been trending in the wrong direction. He split snaps evenly with Cam Akers in Week 3 and had just 4-17-0 rushing, with one target that he failed to catch. Henderson has, however, started all three games for the Rams this season, so it’s too early to say that he’s losing his job to Akers. But with his usage in decline, it might be worth avoiding Akers this week in a difficult matchup against a good 49ers run defense.

Jeff Wilson: Wilson inherited a starting role in Week 2 after Elijah Mitchell sprained his MCL in the opener. Wilson shared work with rookie Tyrion Davis-Price in Week 2, but then Davis-Price sustained a high-ankle sprain. In Week 3, Wilson had the backfield mostly to himself, playing 73% of the offensive snaps and collecting 12-75-0 rushing and 3-31-0 receiving. Wilson’s role is attractive, but his matchup is not. He’ll face a Rams defense that’s yielding just 9.9 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs and has not given up a touchdown to a running back yet. Treat Wilson as a low-end RB2 or high-end RB3.

Wide Receivers

Cooper Kupp: Last week against the Cardinals, Kupp had 4-44-0 receiving on six targets. Those were his lowest reception and yardage totals since late in the 2020 season, and yet Kupp salvaged his fantasy day with a 20-yard TD run. The undisputed fantasy WR1, Kupp draws a Week 4 matchup against a Rams defense he feasted upon last season. In three games against the Rams (including a playoff game), Kupp caught 28 of 34 targets for 382 yards and three touchdowns, clearing the 100-yard mark in all three games.

Allen Robinson: The disappointment continues. Robinson has played 166 snaps this season and has drawn just 12 targets. He has a meager 11.9% target share. TE Tyler Higbee has drawn twice as many targets, Cooper Kupp has drawn nearly thrice as many targets, and even backup WR Ben Skowronek has drawn one more target than Robinson. Now, Robinson has to match up against a 49ers pass defense that ranks fifth in DVOA. Robinson is just a low-end WR4 this week.

Deebo Samuel: Deebo has yet to pop this season, but usage isn’t the problem. With Jimmy Garoppolo taking over at QB last week for the injured Trey Lance, Deebo had a season-high eight targets and caught 5-73-0. He also had 5-6-0 as a runner, and he’s averaged 5.7 carries per game. Deebo is facing a Rams defense that has allowed 56 catches and 667 receiving yards to opposing wide receivers. Only the Ravens have given up more receiving yardage to WRs, and the Rams and Ravens are tied for most receptions allowed to WRs. In three games vs. the Rams last season (including playoffs), Samuel had 13-269-2 receiving and 20-107-2 rushing, along with a 24-yard TD pass.

Brandon Aiyuk: Aiyuk scored his first touchdown of the season last week in the 49ers’ 11-10 loss to the Rams. Since Jimmy Garoppolo has taken over at quarterback for the injured Trey Lance, Aiyuk has out-targeted teammate Deebo Samuel 15-13. The Rams generally aren’t a great matchup for opposing receivers, but they’re really banged up in the secondary. CB Troy Hill is out with a hamstring injury, and CBs David Long (groin) and Cobie Durant (hamstring) are both ailing. Aiyuk is a low-end WR3.

Tight Ends

Tyler Higbee: The season is off to a good start for Higbee. His 24 targets rank second on the Rams and third among all TEs. He’s averaging 57 yards per game and 7.1 yards per target. He’s currently the TE10. But the 49ers are a tough matchup. They’re giving up a league-low 1.6 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, who have thus far combined for five receptions and 23 yards. The 49ers were also stingy to TEs last season, although Higbee managed to score three touchdowns against them in two regular-season games. Consider Higbee a low-end TE1.

George Kittle: After missing the first two games of the year with a groin injury, Kittle made a quiet season debut in Week 3, with 4-28-0 on five targets vs. the Broncos. This week, he’ll face a Rams defense that’s allowing only 4.1 fantasy points to tight ends. In three games against the Rams last season (playoffs included), Kittle had 12-87-2. It might not be realistic to expect a monster Kittle game, but he’s still a midrange TE1.

Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals

By: Derek Brown

Quarterbacks

Tua Tagovailoa: Seeing Tagovailoa as the QB6 might shock some, but he has been playing very well this season. Yes, his fantasy status has been puffed up by his immaculate Week 2. He has finished as the QB22, QB2, and QB23 in weekly scoring. Even excluding Week 2, though, his passing numbers stand up. Without that legendary performance (minimum 20 dropbacks), he is still 16th in PFF passing grade, second in yards per attempt and seventh in adjusted completion rate. This matchup against Cincinnati is tough. The Bengals are eighth in pass defense DVOA allowing the fourth-lowest success rate and EPA per dropback. They have given up the third-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Tagovailoa falls into the low-end QB1/high-end QB2 bucket this week.

Joe Burrow: Burrow busted out of his slump last week in a big way. He finished Week 3 as the QB5 in fantasy, ranking fifth in PFF passing grade and eighth in yards per attempt. He should continue the 2021 throwback vibes in Week 4. Miami has struggled as a pass defense. They have relinquished the tenth-highest passing touchdown rate and yards per attempt. They are also third in success rate and fifth in EPA per dropback. Burrow should crush this secondary with plenty of time in the pocket. Miami ranks dead last in pressure rate in 2022. Burrow is a top-five quarterback option this week.

Running Backs

Weeks 1-3

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Chase Edmonds 41.1% 8% 49.1% 2
Raheem Mostert 42.9% 6% 44.% 3

 

Chase Edmonds: When it seems like Miami has decided on a backfield leader, we get hoodwinked. Miami has alternated the 1A role in this backfield through three weeks which means that Edmonds and Mostert will be frustrating dice rolls all year long. Despite Edmonds’s slight lead in route run rate, he’s seen his targets dwindle each week (4, 3, 1). He’s averaging a pitiful 9.7 touches and 44.3 total yards. The Bengals are a terrible matchup this week. Cincinnati allows the fifth-lowest rush success rate, 11th-lowest explosive run rate, and eighth-fewest rushing yards per game. They have also shut down receiving backs ranking ninth in DVOA. Edmonds is a dart throw RB3.

Raheem Mostert: Mostert’s weekly volume is a mirror image of Edmonds. He’s averaging 9.3 touches and 40.7 total yards. Unlike Edmonds (50th), Mostert has shown some juice, ranking 15th out of 58 running backs with at least ten carries in PFF’s elusive rating. Still, with the uneven usage and crapshoot red zone work in a tough matchup, Mostert falls in the same risky RB3 bucket this week.

Joe Mixon: Mixon left last week’s game due to an ankle injury, but reports are he’ll be good to go, so that’s how we’ll approach it. Mixon has been one of the most inefficient rushers in the NFL. The offensive line hasn’t been great, ranking 26th or worst in adjusted line yards, second-level yards, and open field yards, but Mixon isn’t creating any yards for himself. Out of 59 rushers with at least ten carries, he ranks 49th in PFF’s elusive rating and has the third-lowest yards after contact per attempt. He’s averaged 23.6 touches and 88.6 total yards through three games. Considering Mixon’s struggles, the Dolphins are a scary rushing matchup. They have allowed the seventh-lowest rushing success rate while also ranking second and fifth in adjusted line yards and second-level yards. Mixon’s best chance of walking away with a solid day could come in the passing game. While his route run rate is nauseating (41.3%), he’s drawn a 15.9% target share (sixth-best). Sadly he hasn’t been inefficient through the air either, ranking 23rd in yards per route run (minimum five targets), so the prospects aren’t amazing here either. Miami ranks 27th in DVOA against receiving backs with the sixth-most receptions and receiving yards. Mixon is best viewed as a volume RB2.

Wide Receivers

Tyreek Hill: Hill hasn’t shown any dropoff with the move to Miami. He’s the WR5 in fantasy, ranking ninth in target share. He’s garnered 35.3% of the team’s air yards while ranking second in yards per route among wide receivers (minimum ten targets). Hill will run about 61% of his routes on the perimeter against Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple, but the Dolphins could move him inside more this week to get him away from Awuzie. Hill leads the team in slot routes. Awuzie has allowed a 40.7% catch rate and 51.8 passer rating. Apple has given up a 75% catch rate and a 99.3 passer rating. If Hill gets into the slot more this week, he’ll see Mike Hilton, who has permitted a 70.6% catch rate and 85.4 passer rating. Hill is a weekly top-12 option at receiver.

Jaylen Waddle: This hasn’t been a 1A/1B situation. Miami has the lucky fortune of co-alphas. Waddle is tied with Hill at ninth in target share while seeing 41.5% of the team’s air yards. Hill leads the team with seven deep targets, but Waddle’s aDOT has been a shade higher (11.6 vs. 10.0). Waddle leads all wide receivers in yards per route run (minimum ten targets). He’s edged Hill out with four red zone targets (Hill, three). Waddle is also a top 15 wide receiver option who will run about 75% of his routes against Awuzie and Apple.

Ja’Marr Chase: Chase is in the middle of a sophomore efficiency slump despite his usage metrics remaining stellar. He ranks 13th in target share (27.8%), 17th in air yard share (35.2%), and 14th in weighted opportunity as the WR14. All of those numbers look fantastic, but when we look under the hood, we see that Chase is 52nd in yards per route run and 37th in YAC per reception (minimum ten targets). Some of this could be tied to Burrow’s struggles early and not solely to be laid at Chase’s feet. It’s worth mentioning, though. This is a magical get-right spot for Chase, running about 75% of his routes against Xavien Howard and Nik Needham. Each of these corners has struggled massively to open the season. Howard allows a 64.7% catch rate and 140.7 passer rating. He’s second in the NFL in receiving touchdowns allowed (three). Needham hasn’t been any better, surrendering a 70% catch rate and 143.3 passer rating. Chase is a top-ten wide receiver.

Tee Higgins: Higgins practiced in full and is expected to play Thursday night. Since exiting Week 1 with an injury, the Bengals No. 2 WR as looked more the part of a WR1 in the Bengals offense. Over the last two weeks, Higgins owns a 42% air yards share and 24% target share. He also leads the team in receiving yards (164).  He’s top-15 WR option that should be started across the board versus a Dolphins defense that ranks eighth in yards per attempt allowed this season. 

Tyler Boyd: Boyd has a 13.5% target share with 18.9% of the team’s air yards. Apparently, Boyd’s ears were burning after I wrote last week that Hurst had supplanted him as the team’s third receiving option. He responded with a 19.4% target share and 105 receiving yards (one score) in Week 3. Boyd will run about 84% of his routes against Kader Kohou in the slot. Kohou has allowed a 76.9% catch rate and 100.5 passer rating. Boyd is a low-end WR3/high-end WR4 if Higgins plays. If Higgins is out, Boyd is a WR3 with WR2 upside.

Tight Ends

Mike Gesicki: Gesicki isn’t playable with his current snap rate. In Week 3, he only handled a 5% target share with a 31.8% route run rate. Sadly this isn’t far off his full season marks of 5% and 50%. Bench him until these rates climb (if they do).

Hayden Hurst: Hurst is a decent streaming option again this week who could find himself inside the top 12 in Week 4. After tanking last week with a 5.6% target share and 2.9% of the air yards, Hurst has fallen to TE23 in fantasy points per game. After dealing with a groin injury last week, his route per dropback rate dipped to 55.5%. This could happen again in Week 4, but him practicing in full on Tuesday suggests we should see him reprise his role from Weeks 1-2 when his route run rate was at 80.4%. Overall he’s handled a 13.5% target share and is staring down a beautiful matchup. Miami is 30th in DVOA against tight ends, allowing the most receptions and second-most receiving yards in the NFL to the position.

*All data utilized in this article courtesy of FantasyPros, PFF, 4for4, SharpFootball Stats, Rbsdm.com, Football Outsiders, FTN, Rotoviz, and Playerprofiler.com unless otherwise specified.*

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