Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 4
You ever drink hot sauce and beer at the same time? Neither have I. But it does seem bold.
Not to be confused with baldness, boldness would be sporting a mohawk at the ripe young age of 75. In an unrealistic football analogy, boldness would be trading the best receiver in football for a washed-up running back with a huge contract. Ehhh, no one would be that stup... oh, nevermind.
For this article, we'll focus the boldness on fantasy football. Think of this piece like Taco Tuesday -- it's better when it's spicy, but the spiciness is not what it's all about; it's there to add flavor. The point here is not to hit on 100% of the predictions. After all, I'm not a vomiting hippo. The goal here is to uncover insights that can help us win some dough in fantasy.
Now, let's go drink a bottle of Tabasco.
(All predictions are for half-PPR and Yahoo scoring for quarterbacks.)
Update: The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots game has been postponed and is expected to be played on Monday or Tuesday. Cam Newton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not play this week.
1. Joe Burrow Finishes as a Top-3 Quarterback
Fantasy football's QB10 through three weeks, Joe Burrow ($7,400) should be in for a breakout performance in Week 4. On paper, the Jacksonville Jaguars might not appear to be the most salivating matchup for quarterbacks, but this is not the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. In reality, Jacksonville has surrendered the eighth-most fantasy points to the position despite facing the second-fewest pass attempts in the league. In reality, the Jags' defense ranks dead last in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play this season. In reality, this defense is a pass-funneling machine -- they rank as the fifth-best squad in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. In reality, they're going up against the quarterback who's attempted the second-most passes in the league.
Should you avoid this matchup? To quote Michael Scott, "Fool me once, strike one, but fool me twice...strike three". There are seven passers with higher salaries on Sunday's main slate -- fading Burrow would be "strike three."
2. Kenyan Drake Finishes as a Top-2 Running Back
I predicted Kenyan Drake ($7,000) to finish as the RB1 last week -- he finished as the RB28 in half-PPR leagues, so I was only off by 27 spots. Yeah, I know, I'm basically a psychic. I'm going to roll it back with Drake this week, and I'll let Wendy's explain why.
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." - Wayne Gretzky
- Michael Scott
— Wendy's (@Wendys) January 3, 2017
Words of wisdom, Wendy's. Words of wisdom.
As good as Drake's matchup was when he bombed last week, it's even better this week. He'll face a Carolina Panthers defense that has allowed 33.9 half-PPR points to Josh Jacobs, 25.6 to Leonard Fournette, and 25.8 to Austin Ekeler. In addition, with Luke Kuechly in the fold last season, Carolina had 10 different backs record at least 17.1 fantasy points against them. And Kuechly isn't about to make a surprise appearance. The Arizona Cardinals have the ninth-highest implied total on the slate and are 3.5-point favorites, making this an ideal game script for a guy who has received 59 touches through three games.
Drake finished as a top-two fantasy back three times in eight games with Arizona last year. I expect him to repeat that success in Week 4.
3. Darrell Henderson Posts 120+ Total Yards and a Touchdown for the Third Consecutive Week
Last year, 80 running backs received at least 35 carries -- Darrell Henderson ($6,400) ranked 70th among them in Rushing NEP per carry and 55th in Rushing Success Rate (i.e., the percentage of carries that lead to positive NEP for a team’s offense). This year, among the 56 backs with at least 15 carries, Henderson ranks 5th in Rushing NEP per carry and 4th in Rushing Success Rate. That's quite the 180.
The New York Giants, Henderson's opponent, actually rank slightly above-average against the run (16th-best in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play). That said, Henderson dropped 121 total yards and a score on the Philadelphia Eagles, who are three spots higher than the Giants in that category. Game script should not be an issue -- the Los Angeles Rams are currently 13.0-point favorites, second-highest on the slate.
On FanDuel's main slate, 16 backs have higher salaries than Henderson, who is fantasy's RB9 over the last two weeks. Three backs have totaled at least 15.2 half-PPR points against the Giants in the last two weeks alone. Look for Henderson to keep that going.
4. DeVante Parker Finishes as a Top-8 Wide Receiver
DeVante Parker ($6,500) finished as a top-10 wideout in four of his final five games of the 2019 season, and I expect him to make a top-8 appearance for the first time this season in Week 4. That's because Parker will go up against the ever-so-generous defense of the Seattle Seahawks.
Just how generous have the Seahawks been? Through three contests, the Seahawks have surrendered 1,136 receiving yards to wide receivers. 1,136. That's a 16-game pace of 6,058.7. LOL. And Seattle's also allowed five scores to the positions. Somehow, nine different receivers have topped 70 receiving yards against them -- that's three receivers per game exceeding 70 yards. Six wideouts have exceeded 100 yards -- that's two per contest. They've also surrendered at least 130 yards to four different receivers. Bananas.
Parker is just fantasy's WR31 thus far, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Among the 56 receivers to receive at least 15 looks, Parker ranks 8th in Target Success Rate (i.e., the percentage of targets leading to increases in NEP). This game currently has a total of 54.5, and the Miami Dolphins are 6.0-point 'dogs. That's an ideal game script against a defense that has faced 19 more passing plays than any other team in the league.
5. Dalton Schultz Finishes as a Top-5 Tight End
To date, Schultz ranks seventh among tight ends in targets, and that should be enough for a solid day against this defense. Cleveland's allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the position. This matchup has the highest total on the slate (56.5), and the Dallas Cowboys have the second-highest implied total.
Schultz and his 68.6% snap share are a good play.