💥 This Offense Is A Fantasy Powder-Keg

Week 4 looks like a blow-up spot...

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Breaking news: Travis Kelce spotted in Kansas City…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Underdog Fantasy:

  • Don’t sleep on the Colts

  • Rankings & Tiers: Go back to Kyren?

  • QUICK HITTER: The Hammer team has picked a side for TNF

  • The Dolphins get a key piece back

  • Freedman’s Favorites: 5 gold-star plays

  • It’s 9/28. Take it away, Peter Overzet…

The Colts are a team with lots of moving pieces, and they also happen to be squaring off in one of the more interesting games of the week vs. the Rams on Sunday:

Colts Gamehub

Only the Dolphins/Bills (53.5) and Raiders/Chargers (47.5) matchups project for more points, so it’s worth decoding what is going on with Jim Irsay’s franchise heading into Week 4…

🤷 Anthony Richardson is on track for Sunday

I’m still slightly confused as to why the NFL keeps players in the concussion protocol while allowing them to fully practice, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth when it comes to Anthony Richardson’s potential return to action:

Gardner Minshew was perfectly serviceable in Week 2, leading the team to a surprising upset over the Baltimore Ravens, but this is Richardson’s team when healthy.

It’s still early, but our consensus ranks slot Richardson in as the QB6 on the week, and I can’t imagine sitting him in this nice spot at home in the dome.

🔔 Bellcow Zack Moss here to stay?

Since returning to the team in Week 2, Zack Moss has dominated the snaps, rush attempts, and RB targets:

Zack Moss

The team did give practice squad call-up Trey Sermon a sprinkling of work in Week 3, but this is clearly Moss’ backfield until Jonathan Taylor returns.

Oh, about that last part…it might never happen. Yesterday, Dan Graziano reported that Taylor “still doesn’t want to play for the Colts” and that the Colts “still don’t want to give him a long-term contract.”

That means we are back to where we started, and the most likely outcomes are 1) a Taylor holdout or 2) a Taylor trade.

Either of these scenarios would result in Moss continuing to serve as the team’s lead back.

Despite missing Week 1, Moss sits as the RB13 on the year. We have him as a consensus Top 12 RB this week. Let the good times roll.

🔮 Is Josh Downs our generation’s Tank Dell?

In Week 1, rookie Puka Nacua burst onto the scene.

In Week 3, Tank Dell formally introduced himself to fantasy nation.

And this week, I think Josh Downs will become the next rookie sleeper sensation at the WR position.

Here’s what Dwain had to say about Downs in his Utilization Report:

“Downs delivered 14 fantasy points on the back of a 27% target share in Week 3 against the Ravens. The Colts have opted to utilize more three-WR sets this season under Shane Steichen, a departure from their old ways under Frank Reich, where heavy TE groupings were the norm.

Indianapolis ranks first in the NFL in plays per minute at 2.49. No team leaves more time on the play clock in neutral situations than the Colts. This is an offense that wants to play fast.”

Dwain McFarland

Downs has only topped 10 points in PPR leagues once this season, but his 7 targets per game average hints at a big game sooner rather than later.

You probably have safer options to start in managed leagues this week, but I love Downs in Underdog Contests (speaking of which, keep reading) and in DFS (only $3500 on DraftKings).

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Good luck, and may the best draft win.

Rankings and Tiers

It is time to make those tough lineup decisions for Week 4 of the fantasy football season. Below you’ll find Dwain’s thoughts on some must-start players. Find all of our positional rankings here.

👑 Quarterback

🥈 Tier 2 – Justin Fields

Fields is off to a rough start in 2023. He was drafted as a top-six option as fantasy managers dreamed of a leap in passing production after the Bears added D.J. Moore. All the brain power in fantasy football land pointed to how much Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts improved after adding Stefon Diggs and A.J. Brown, and thought Fields would do the same.

Unfortunately, Fields has gone in the opposite direction. His completion rate is fourth-worst in the NFL at 57%. Only Zach Wilson and Bryce Young average fewer passing yards per game.

Despite all of this, fantasy managers should show patience with Fields. While he hasn’t yet broken any of the long-rushing TDs that boosted his box scores in 2022, the underlying utilization is present.

Fields UR

Fields has accounted for 21% of the Bears’ designed rush attempts, which ranks third only behind Daniel Jones and Jalen Hurts. His 11% scramble rate is the second-highest in the NFL.

Fields also has 25 total rushing attempts between designed rushes and scrambles – the most in the league. At 8.3 carries per game, he is on pace for 142 totes. Since 2011, QBs with at least 130 attempts average 22 fantasy points per game. If we limit that to QBs who also threw for less than 3,000 yards, it is 19.3.

Fields remains a great BUY-LOW candidate and is due for a big bounce-back game.

Broncos defense enters scene stage left

Sorry for being overly dramatic, but Denver’s defense is atrocious. According to PFF grades, they can’t do anything right.

  • Overall defense: 40.4 (32nd)

  • Run defense: 41.3 (31st)

  • Tackling: 28.9 (32nd)

  • Pass rush: 63.7 (27th)

  • Coverage: 42.0 (31st)

To put it in simple terms, The Broncos allow the fifth-most passing yards (292) and most passing TDs (three) per game. Things don’t improve against the run, where they cough up the most yards (178) and the most TDs (2.3) per contest.

Labeling a struggling player like Fields as a SMASH play is risky, but all the data points towards a blowup game. Look for Fields to break a long run this weekend and register his best passing game of the season.

Week 4 Rankings

💥 Running Back

🥈 Tier 2 – Kyren Williams

Williams came up small in the Week 3 boxscore with only nine points thanks to some misfires by Matthew Stafford, but the underlying utilization was once again pristine.

Kyren Williams

The second-year RB won’t be confused with Christian McCaffrey with the ball in his hands, but he sees similar usage. Combining attempts and targets, Williams registered 17, 23 and 17 opportunities over the first three weeks.

No other back has a higher snap share than Williams’ 86%. With his ascending role in the passing game and high-leverage snaps inside the five-yard line, Williams is a serious threat to finish as a top-12 RB. He can thrive in any game script.

The Rams know Williams can’t handle this large of a workload, but they don’t trust their other options right now. We are currently projecting Williams below all of his utilization averages in Week 4 because he is in outlier territory. While things could come down some for the undersized back, we shouldn’t expect a dramatic dip unless the Rams add stronger competition.

The overall market remains slow in adjusting to the reality of Williams’ role.

Williams is my 12th-ranked player in Week 4, seven spots ahead of industry consensus.

Our friends over at The Hammer Betting Network have been adding their favorite Week 4 bets to our Free Bet Tracker. Looking for a side for TNF Fabian Sommer has you covered…

Hammer Bet
Around the Watercooler (August 2022)

📺 Best sides, totals, props, (and hot takes!) for Week 4. The Bears will do WHAT?!

🐬 The Dolphins will be even more explosive on Sunday. An embarrassment of riches.

👀 Can these RBs keep it up?! Six fantasy football SURPRISES so far.

✍️ Hammer a 14-point underdog? Hammer a 14-point underdog. Why you should tail and more best bets.

🧐 We need to closely monitor the Ram’s backfield. Other guys could be getting involved soon.

😆 Kellen Moore to Quentin Johnston. Sounds about right.

🚦 The pass defenses to attack in fantasy. Hi, Justin Fields.

🗺️ Will we ever see a full-time overseas NFL team? Hmmmm.

📉 Sounds like the Jags will be down a WR in London. Bummer.

Freedman's Favorites

Every week, Matthew Freedman publishes a piece highlighting some of his favorite fantasy plays. Naturally, this piece is called “Freedman’s Favorites,”. We told him to get more creative, to which he answered with a resounding “No”. Anyway, here are his favorites for Week 4…

For my fantasy teams and for NFL teams and players, Week 4 is where we really have a sense of what we’re looking at.

With just one game of data, we can always say, “Well, it’s just one game.” With two games, we can say, “Yeah, but look at the matchups.”

But with three games, we can start to say something somewhat definitive or at least reasonably probabilistic:

  • “This team is good.”

  • “That team is likely bad.”

  • “This guy is actually an RB1.”

  • “That guy can’t consistently produce.”

Week 4 is the place where I bury many lifeless prior assumptions carried with me from the offseason.

On the trail from Texas to Montana, Week 4 is the Oklahoma panhandle. Better to let your misguided expectations die a quick death early in the journey than drag them with you through the Great Plains of Weeks 5-13 only to put them in the ground just outside the promised land you’ll never reach: The fantasy playoffs.

Week 4: The assurances of the 2022 season are dead. Long live the 2023 campaign.

🌟 QB Josh Allen (Bills) vs. Dolphins

  • Bills: -3

  • O/U: 53.5

  • TT: 28.25

Allen was abominable in Week 1 (three INTs, two fumbles, one lost fumble, 3.0 AY/A), but in Weeks 2-3, he returned to form with 492-4-1 passing on a 73.9% completion rate and 7.6 AY/A and 6-53-1 rushing.

He has been the No. 1 QB in FFPG (27.4) and No. 3 in composite EPA + CPOE (0.149, per RBs Don’t Matter) since 2020 when the team gifted him No. 1 WR Stefon Diggs.

With 3,176 yards and 39 TDs rushing across his career of five-plus years, he has an elite week-to-week fantasy floor and was a QB1 last year in all but two games (per RotoViz). In 2022, he was the No. 1 QB with 50% of his team’s carries inside the five-yard line.

The Dolphins defense under new DC Vic Fangio is still developing. Last year, Allen averaged 29.6 FPPG in three games against the Dolphins on 1,056-9-2 passing with a 63.4% completion rate and 8.1 AY/A and 22-144-0 rushing.

🌟 RB Christian McCaffrey (49ers) vs. Cardinals

  • 49ers: -14

  • O/U: 44

  • TT: 29

In his 17 games with the 49ers, McCaffrey has 1,932 yards and 16 TDs on 259 carries and 92 targets (including playoffs). That seems good.

Although he ceded some work to No. 2 RB Elijah Mitchell last week, he still has 89% of the snaps for short down and distance, 94% long down and distance, and 100% two minutes.

McCaffrey leads the league with 353 yards rushing, and the Cardinals are No. 31 in defensive rush SR (50.6%).

I have a +8000 ticket (acquired after Week 2) on McCaffrey to win MVP. I fully expect to lose the bet, but if a non-QB producer wins the award, it will likely be him.

Freedman's Favorites

🌟 WR Stefon Diggs (Bills) vs. Dolphins

  • Bills: -3

  • O/U: 53.5

  • TT: 28.25

Diggs managed to show out in Week 1 on Monday Night Football (10-102-1 receiving on 13 targets) even with QB Josh Allen doing his human impersonation of the Halifax Explosion, and in Weeks 2-3, he maintained his form with 15-177-0 receiving on 19 targets.

Diggs is No. 4 in the NFL with 4,468 yards receiving since the Bills acquired him in 2020.

The Dolphins are No. 27 in defensive dropback SR (50.0%) and without No. 1 CB Jalen Ramsey (knee, IR).

🌟 WR Davante Adams (Raiders) at Chargers

  • Raiders: +5.5

  • O/U: 47.5

  • TT: 21

Adams might be without No. 1 QB Jimmy Garoppolo (concussion), but he also might be the league’s most QB-proof pass catcher, given his overall talent (8.6 yards per target since 2018) and volume (10.8 targets per game since 2018).

Since joining the Raiders last year, he has 125-1,838-17 receiving on 217 targets in 20 games, and this year, he has 25-322-3 receiving on 37 targets in three contests and is the No. 3 WR with 428 air yards and a 47.7% air yard share.

Last year, Adams had 18-318-3 receiving on 29 targets in two games against the Chargers, who are No. 1 in most fantasy points allowed to WRs (47.3 FPPG).

 🌟 TE Travis Kelce (Chiefs) at Jets

  • Chiefs: -9.5

  • O/U: 42.5

  • TT: 26

Kelce might already be the greatest receiving tight end of all time with seven consecutive seasons of 1,000-plus yards receiving. Last year, he had a position-high 8.9 targets per game and 648 yards after catch.

Kelce (knee) missed the season opener with a bone bruise but has returned to form since then, with 11-95-2 receiving on 17 targets.

The Jets are No. 3 in most fantasy points allowed to TEs (14.3 FPPG) and could be without S Tony Adams (hamstring).

Cooterdoodle's Favorite Tweets (Aug 2022)
Underdog