Fantasy Football: Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 4
Fantasy football is all about being a step ahead of your competition, and this weekly column aims to help you achieve that in a couple of ways.
First, I will identify players who could ultimately provide some value for your teams before they become hot waiver-wire adds. This will save you from spending an exorbitant amount of your free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) or using a high waiver priority on them, ultimately allowing you to save each of these for when you most need it.
Second, I'll dig through the data and player trends to illustrate why these players will be worth taking up a spot on your roster. I'm going to try to find the diamonds in the rough that inevitably emerge each and every year so that you don't have to sweat over whether or not you claimed them on waivers -- because you will already own them!
As promised, this is the first week I'll be posting my report card for how well the players I suggested a couple of weeks ago performed this week. My goal each week is to provide you with starting and flex-caliber players at each of their respective positions. That means I'm looking for top-12 quarterbacks, tight ends, and defenses, and top-36 running backs and wide receivers. If I've done that, then I've done my job.
So let's take a look.
|Player||Positional Ranking||Half-PPR Points|
|Green Bay Packers D/ST||5||13|
Unfortunately, Ito Smith left the game early due to a concussion, so he didn't offer up anything on the week. Additionally, despite Jacoby Brissett playing his best game of the year so far, Jack Doyle wasn't a big factor in the game. The Green Bay Packers continue their dominance, though, and have turned themselves into a weekly option with their ferocious pass rush.
After a down week, I will continue to trust the process and look to where the data points me with the hope that the results follow.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
ESPN Ownership: 16%
As one of the pass-happiest teams in the league, the Cincinnati Bengals have a pass to rush ratio of 2.7. On top of that, Andy Dalton has taken advantage of this opportunity by averaging 326 passing yards per game, the second-most in the league.
Unfortunately, due to several costly turnovers and lack of rushing ability, Dalton finds himself outside the top 10 of fantasy quarterbacks. That said, Dalton has still managed to put up at least 18 fantasy points in each of the first three games.
While his efficiency isn't spectacular, posting a Passing Net Expected Point just inside the top 20, Dalton's Week 5 matchup is one of the best. Dalton will be facing an Arizona Cardinals that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Amidst quarterback injuries and upcoming bye weeks, Dalton can be a serviceable fill-in.
Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots
ESPN Ownership: 39%
It's well known that the New England Patriots can cause headaches for owners with how they split their workload. However, an afterthought on draft day, Rex Burkhead has worked his way into a solid role in this backfield. In the first three weeks, Burkhead has seen the field for nearly half of the team's snaps (48%). While this is largely buoyed by his 74% snap share in Week 3, it's clear the Patriots are comfortable with him as a primary running back.
Not only are the Patriots using him between the 20s, but they are also using him in the red zone a considerable amount. Burkhead (six carries) is still behind Sony Michel (nine carries) in red zone rushing attempts, but he is tied for the team lead in red zone targets with three. The loss of James Develin could significantly hurt Michel's production as he was the lead blocker on Michel’s last 10 touchdowns before his Week 3 score (per PFF).
James White could be a threat to Burkhead's receiving ability when he returns in Week 4, but Burkhead has shown versatility in his ability to both run and catch the ball. In Week 5, the Patriots visit the nation's capital to play the Washington Redskins. Although the Redskins haven't been terrible against running backs (22nd in fantasy points allowed to the position), I would expect the Patriots to see another positive game script that could lead to Burkhead getting a sizable amount of work.
Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings
ESPN Ownership: 15%
Through three weeks, Alexander Mattison is the 44th-ranked running back in half PPR...and he's the backup for the Minnesota Vikings! To put this in perspective, he only has four fewer points than Joe Mixon. He's doing this all while averaging 8.4 carries per game at an impressive 5.3 yards per carry rate.
Not to mention, the Vikings are currently leading the league in run to pass ratio at 1.58 - one of only three teams to have run the ball more times than they have passed. Even with Dalvin Cook getting the majority of the carries, there's still enough room for Mattison to have a decent workload in blowout games as they've had against Atlanta and Oakland.
So, who do they get to visit in Week 5? The New York Giants, one of the worst defenses in the league, who is allowing 128 rushing yards per game to opponents. If not for his potential in Week 5, Mattison is worth an add in all leagues as the most valuable handcuff behind Dalvin Cook.
Golden Tate, WR, New York Giants
ESPN Ownership: 49%
After serving a four-game suspension, Golden Tate will once again be able to take the field in Week 5. Coming off of a less-than-stellar end to the 2018 season, Tate could once again be in line to thrive as a fantasy football receiver. Tate comes with an impressive career resume and can provide another weapon for the passing attack now led by Daniel Jones. Over the past five years, Tate has scored the 11th-most fantasy points in PPR leagues.
Additionally, per PFF, Tate is in top-four of wide receivers in missed tackles forced per reception in each of the last eight seasons. He has also ranked top-four in yards after the catch per reception in seven of these eight seasons.
With Saquon Barkley missing several weeks, Danny Dimes will need someone to dump the ball off to, and Tate can be that guy. The Giants have one of the least-concentrated passing attacks so far this season, so Tate should slot in nicely to some opportunities. As mentioned earlier, the Giants take on the Vikings in Week 5. This will surely be a tough matchup, but one in which the Giants will likely be forced to throw the ball a significant amount.
San Francisco 49ers, D/ST
ESPN Ownership: 35%
The San Francisco D/ST was one of the most-added defenses going into Week 3 as they went against Mason Rudolph in his first career start. So far this season, the San Francisco 49ers defense, and specifically, it's secondary, has been one of the most improved units since last year.
In 2018, San Francisco allowed opposing teams to accumulate 0.21 Passing Net Expected Points per throw - this year, they are allowing -0.19 Passing NEP per throw to opponents. Furthermore, after only recording two interceptions through all of 2018, the 49ers have already forced five interceptions through three games.
Additionally, after finishing outside the top 20 in sacks last year, San Francisco finds itself in the top 10 with 9 sacks so far. In Week 5, the 49ers will be playing the Cleveland Browns, who are tied for sixth in sacks allowed with 11.
Finally, San Francisco boasts the second-best defense in terms of yards allowed with an average of 283 total yards allowed per game. They are also in the top 10 in points allowed with an average of 18 points allowed per game.