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Booms and Busts for Week 4 Lineups

Another week goes by in fantasy football, and it was yet another wild one in terms of trends of scoring from the group of unheralded players. You know things are going unexpectedly when you see top performances from players like Sam Darnold, Peyton Barber, and Kendrick Bourne. All of these players came from out of seemingly nowhere with positive matchups to provide quality production in fantasy. But these performances likely went to waste on benches as fantasy managers deemed them unworthy of spots in a starting lineup. Bourne is very understandable as he was way off the radar in a Patriots offense that is not exactly setting the world on fire. But with Darnold and Barber, you had two players that had a very nice script written for them. If you followed the tea leaves, with an understanding of playing the matchups, managers could have capitalized.

That's just what it takes to be successful in fantasy football, a keen understanding of positive matchups regardless of the players involved in them. I preach this constantly and it will sound like a broken record, but paying attention to the analytics can be the difference between a win or a loss each week. The easy decisions on who to start tend to take care of themselves with some stars providing consistent production each week. Instead, the tough decisions typically come on the fringe of rosters. With players struggling with bouts of inconsistency but staying in starting lineups based on name value alone. It's a mindset that we have to get ourselves out of from time to time. Many casual managers will look at a player's projection and that will be the end all be all in their decision making. But there is more to it when you dive into the numbers to find matchups to exploit from under-the-radar players.

That is the purpose of these Woos and Boos each week. I take a detailed look at the matchups to find those diamonds in the rough that may go overlooked by most managers. These players are in line to exceed expectations and could help carry managers to a win. I will also point out some typical starters that could be headed for tough weeks and set up for disappointment.

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Week 4 Woos - The Good

Derek Carr @ Los Angeles Chargers

At some point, we just have to face facts, and that is that Derek Carr is playing at about one of the highest levels at the quarterback position currently. He's currently riding a streak of seven consecutive 300-yard games dating back to last season. Statistically, he ranks near the top in almost all the key categories. He's second in attempts (136) while landing in at first in air yards (1,244) and passing yards (1,203), which has led to his steady production (ninth in FPPG at 23.8). On paper, his matchup in Week 4 appears to be tough as he's facing a Chargers secondary that ranks 27th in the league in points allowed to the position (14.9). But managers may need to keep riding the hot hand as I expect to see this game with a high point total, meaning plenty of scoring opportunities for Carr and the passing game.

Zack Moss vs. Houston Texans

I can't believe I'm saying this but is Zack Moss all of a sudden "good?" After the healthy scratch in the first game of the season, Moss has seemed to come back with a chip on his shoulder and produced two straight RB2 scoring weeks. With touchdowns in back-to-back weeks, Moss has become a threat to score consistently. For a team that has been known as a steady passing offense, the Bills rank inside the top 10 in rushing attempts per game (29.3), and with Moss's involvement in the passing game (five receptions in two games), he has become a startable player. That should undoubtedly be the case in Week 4 as the Bills face a Texans defense that is allowing 21.3 FPPG to opposing running backs. Moss presents managers with the opportunity to start him as a flex play that should return RB2 value this week.

Robby Anderson @ Dallas Cowboys

Yes, I know there is a negative stigma surrounding Anderson and his disappointing start to the 2021 season. With only five catches on the year, he has found himself squarely on the bench for many fantasy managers as D.J. Moore continues to thrive with Sam Darnold under center. If you want to find any silver lining for him currently, it's that in his small sample size, his 17.7 average target distance shows that Darnold is looking for him down the field. Eventually, that will hit in the right matchup. That could be this week with the Panthers facing a Cowboys secondary that is among the league's worst in allowing big plays to receivers. With D.J. Moore likely facing shadow coverage from the emerging Trevon Diggs, the coverage could open up in Anderson's favor. I know he has lost a lot of trust, but starting him as a potential WR3 could finally pay off in Week 4.

Cole Kmet vs. Detroit Lions

Similar to Anderson, Kmet has found himself in the fantasy doghouse with managers. He's on the field a decent amount (76.6% snap share). But he's not seeing many opportunities as he has been asked to stay in as a blocker, limiting his routes run to just 54 (ranking 22nd). With the ineptitude of the Bears' offensive line, the trend to use Kmet as a blocker may continue, but having him on the field is better than not being there. With the potential switch in offensive play-calling for the Bears, the hope is that they begin to utilize their weapons better with rookie Justin Fields. Perhaps that changes this week as the Bears face a Lions defense that currently sits among the bottom teams in terms of points allowed to the position (10.2 FPPG). It would take guts to start him this week, but Kmet may be worth it if you are in a pinch and looking to stream the position.


Week 4 Boos - The Bad

Ryan Tannehill @ New York Jets

Even though he finished as a QB1 in Week 3, it has largely been a horrific start to the 2021 season for Tannehill. With just two touchdowns over the first two games, he found himself as QB24 after those two efforts. We are clearly seeing the downside to Tannehill when he is not operating at a massively efficient rate. The mainly run-operated offense has him ranking 17th in pass attempts (102) and 20th in both yards (756) and FPPG (17.7). In Week 4, he's facing the likelihood of missing his top two wideouts (A.J. Brown and Julio Jones), and a matchup against a tough Jets secondary that is next to last in points allowed to the quarterback (12.8). All these variables at play make Tannehill a candidate to land firmly on the bench this week.

Mike Davis vs. Washington Football Team

Many were anticipating Davis to be a bell-cow type back in Atlanta this year as the team avoided bringing in a true threat in the backfield to oppose him in free agency. But with the emergence of Cordarrelle Patterson and his unique skillset, the Falcons find themselves with a committee backfield suddenly. In each of the first three games, Davis has yet to produce any value above RB32, which has been disappointing. The only thing that is keeping his value afloat currently is his passing game usage (14 receptions). But without a touchdown to his credit, he has become a fringe play at best at the moment. I would not expect to see a sudden positive game in Week 4, as the Falcons face a Washington defense that is among the league's best in points allowed to the position (13.8 FPPG). Leave Davis on your bench for the foreseeable future until we witness a turnaround.

Brandin Cooks @ Buffalo Bills

Cooks has been largely a revelation to begin the fantasy season, even with the perceived poor QB play. He has been the entire Texans passing attack so far with 32 targets over the first three games and back-to-back games with nine receptions. He is also top three in the league in both receptions (23) and yards (322). This kind of production makes Cooks a surefire starter in fantasy, right? Wrong. He could be set up for a disappointing game in Week 4 as the Texans will be facing a Bills secondary that currently ranks as the top unit in points allowed to receivers (12.9 FPPG). The game script could be in Cooks' favor as the team will be trailing in this game, but his matchup individually against Tre'Davious White could make for a long day.

Evan Engram @ New Orleans Saints

Many may point to Engram as being someone worth starting this week as the Giants could be very thin at receiver with both Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton reeling and Kenny Golladay continuing to play banged up. But with the Giants going on the road to play a very tough Saints defense, the Giants offense, in general, could struggle this week. Allowing just 4.3 FPPG to opposing tight ends, the Saints could key on Engram in this game and limit the opportunities that he may see. With the tight end position being a crapshoot in general, fantasy managers may want to look elsewhere in Week 4.

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