Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 4
One of the things that makes fantasy football so captivating is the variance. Even throughout Cooper Kupp's historic, unflappable season, he was the top wideout for the week just three times in 2021. That means, on individual weeks, some very strange players may pop in terms of fantasy points at their positions.
That opens the door for some room to be "spicy" and make some fun predictions. In a landscape increasingly set ablaze by "hot takes," it can be difficult to understand the difference between a bold prediction -- based on a particularly strong spot for a team or player -- and a senseless take with the prayer of becoming correct based on variance.
Let's shoot for the former with five interesting spots to target during this weekend's NFL games.
(All predictions are for half-PPR and FanDuel scoring for quarterbacks.)
1. Hero in Hell's Kitchen: Russ Cooks Up 20+ Fantasy Points in Vegas
Yes, the Broncos struggled a majority of Sunday night, but really, their lack of points to begin the season isn't exactly telling the full story. Denver has posted 0.08 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back this season, which is 14th in the NFL. Yet, only the Colts have scored fewer points per game.
It's sensible to still believe in this offense long-term considering they're moving the ball effectively through the air. They can absolutely turn it into points this week against Las Vegas.
The winless Raiders have allowed the fourth-most Passing NEP per drop back (0.24) in the league this year. All three passers against them have walked away with at least 19.5 fantasy points.
Considering Russ has yet to break the 15-point barrier, it might be enticing to bench him for Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota, or other guys getting better results off the waivers. I'd stick it out one more week through this pristine matchup.
2. First Overall Flashback: J.T. Finally Lives Up to His Billing With 100 Yards and a Score
If you drafted Jonathan Taylor first overall, you've got to be frustrated.
Of course, he started strong against Houston with 25.8 fantasy points in Week 1, but he's posted just 17.4 fantasy points in two weeks since. Some impatient managers might be looking to trade this year's consensus top asset. Hold strong, friends.
Taylor's role is still incredible. He's played 75.2% of the offensive snaps in the past two weeks, and in Week 3, he still got 21 carries and 5 targets. That's good for 31 adjusted opportunities, which was fourth among backs this past week.
Run defense has been a historical strength of Mike Vrabel's Titans, but they've struggled to open 2022. They're allowing the fifth-most Rushing NEP per carry (0.18) in the league so far.
Taylor and the Colts' offensive line are arguably the toughest match for Tennessee yet, too. This seems like a spot where J.T. finally turns his supreme role and talent into fantasy points.
3. Slay-ing the Beast: Christian Kirk Gets Held to Single Digits in Philadelphia
Philadelphia has allowed the fewest adjusted fantasy points to wideouts in the NFL, and they've also allowed the third-fewest Passing NEP per drop back (0.15) as well. Early in the season, it appears the Birds are a place where dreams of monster games by your fantasy wideouts go to die.
Kirk appears to have been a steal in most drafts. He's paced a surprisingly-competent Jags passing attack with a 25.5% target share, and he's caught exactly six passes each game. He's also found the endzone three times.
He's likely a starter in most formats moving forward, but I'd really check my alternatives this week. Outside of garbage time points for Amon-Ra St. Brown and Terry McLaurin, this Eagles secondary hasn't let up much production in game situations that have mattered.
4. Dawson's Week: The Bills' Tight End Posts His First Score of the Year
Week 4 is right around when your preseason hunches face judgment day, and that'll include one of my favorite targets in drafts this year.
I loved Dawson Knox coming out of season-long drafts. He was a later-round pick with access to football's best quarterback, and Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley vacated sizable target shares this offseason. In addition to Gabriel Davis, Knox seemed to be in line for one of the best secondary roles in the sport.
However, it's been Isaiah McKenzie that's emerged -- so far. Despite just running 52.5% of the routes, McKenzie has seen 5.0 targets per game. Knox has run 61.0% of the routes but only seen 3.7 looks per contest.
That's a bit of a surprising breakdown, personally. Knox was a TE1 last year and caught nine touchdowns. It's bizarre a journeyman slot receiver has jumped him in targets.
Baltimore allows the seventh-most adjusted fantasy points to tight ends, so this is a get-right spot for my -- and potentially your -- preseason tight end sleeper. Expect him to see more action soon spending 74.2% of the snaps on the field with Josh Allen.
5. It's Primetime Somewhere: Saints D/ST Turns Over Kirk Cousins Multiple Times in London
Is a London game a "primetime" game? It's at the very least on an island, right?
Of course, that's -- for whatever reason -- a huge deal for Kirk Cousins. The Vikings quarterback has his noted struggles under the lights, but he's also just going to have his hands full with a talented New Orleans D/ST.
The Saints have been -- as usual -- mean to quarterbacks to open the year. They've allowed the lowest passing success rate in the league, and they've also allowed the eighth-fewest adjusted fantasy points per drop back to signal-callers.
That "adjusted" moniker is a huge note considering the quarterbacks at hand (Marcus Mariota, Tom Brady, and Baker Mayfield) aren't lighting it up. Cousins (0.03 Passing NEP per drop back) has better efficiency marks than any of them, but he's still not been a top passer.
Plus, the Vikings' offensive line hasn't been particularly strong in pass protection in 2022, ceding the fifth-highest pressure rate (27%) in the NFL. The Saints' 31% pressure rate as a defense is the 13th-best mark.
New Orleans has a weak offensive line to attack, and the signal-caller in question has melted in spots with plenty of eyeballs before. They're a fine streaming option in Week 4 if the usual suspects are off the wire in deeper leagues.