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Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 4


Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement. The same goes for fantasy football; managing rosters effectively is key to winning that championship.

Throughout the season, players get hot and see an increased role while others struggle and fight to stay relevant. Experienced fantasy players know this happens every year. In this weekly column, we’ll showcase those who have taken important steps forward and those who have taken steps back.

These are the key risers and fallers heading into Week 4 of the NFL season.

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Week 4 Risers

Daniel Jones (QB, NYG)

Mercifully, the Eli Manning era is over. Only about four years too late, but hey, better late than never! Daniel Jones made his first career start and engineered an impressive 18 point comeback that should have fallen just short, but Matt Gay is bad at kicking footballs. More importantly, Jones threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for two more. Jones showed pretty good awareness in the pocket and scrambled only when he had to. He's like Josh Allen with much better accuracy. The Giants have a horrendous defense, which means Danny Dimes will be tossing up the rock plenty, especially without Saquon Barkley. I'm not suggesting losing Barkley is a good thing, but the volume will be there for Jones. He likely just had the best game of his season, but he can be a useful streaming option in the right matchups, one of which is this week against Washington.

Phillip Dorsett (WR, NE)

Antonio Brown's departure thrusts Phillip Dorsett back into a starting spot in three receiver sets. Julian Edelman is no lock to play this week and Josh Gordon is banged up as well. Dorsett already had three touchdowns on the season and now has no fear of anyone coming to take his job. Impressively, Dorsett has only failed to corral one of his targets this season. He's on one of the league's best offenses with one of the league's best quarterbacks and has the looks of a weekly WR3 going forward.

Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)

The cheapest Rams WR looks like the most valuable Ram. Cooper Kupp was drafted behind Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, but Kupp is the one leading the team in targets with 31 and the one that seems immune to the "your week/my week" thing going on between Woods and Cooks. Jared Goff relies on Kupp more than the other two. Kupp looks healthy and he is picking up right where he left off last season when he was a WR1 before going down with his MCL sprain and then subsequent ACL tear.

Mike Evans (WR, TB)

For all the people that turned down Mike Evans for Chris Godwin deals before last week, shame on you. Evans finished as the WR1 on the week with a full stat line that far exceeded his first two weeks combined. He was his usual inefficient self, catching just eight of 15 targets, but he's been a WR1 doing that before and it's difficult to be efficient when Jameis Winston is your quarterback. Evans totaled 190 yards and three touchdowns. He's still a WR1 and you should have tried to buy him after Week 2.

Mark Ingram (RB, BAL)

The biggest concern for Mark Ingram's fantasy value was whether he would be used in the passing game. Lamar Jackson does not typically throw to running backs, but the Ravens also faced significant positive game script in their first two contests. With the team in catch up mode, Jackson targeted Ingram four times and Ingram caught all of them. Ingram's name was also called at the goal line three times. Ingram should average around 15 carries a game with a handful of targets and, evidently, all the goal line work, making him a legitimate RB1 in a season where there aren't many reliable ones.

Darren Waller (TE, OAK)

This was the week where Darren Waller truly ascended. Waller is not just an every week TE1. He is a top five TE1. Waller looks like a more athletic 2018 Zach Ertz. He is gobbling up all of the targets because the team has no one else. Waller has 29 targets through three weeks and a ridiculous 30% target share. If this volume keeps up, the touchdowns are coming, positioning Waller to be a potential league winner. If you are thinking of selling him to upgrade somewhere else, make sure you get what he is truly worth.

 

Week 4 Fallers

Baker Mayfield (QB, CLE)

So much for the Baker Mayfield ascension. Ranked as high as QB3 behind Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, the writing was on the wall for a massive breakout from Mayfield. Not only has it not yet materialized, but Mayfield has simply not looked good. Whether it is poor play calling or him pressing to make a play, Mayfield is holding onto the ball too long, not reacting well to pressure, and taking too many negative plays. He hasn't yet had a multi-touchdown game and he's turned it over in every game this season. Mayfield looks like a streaming option right now and not someone you need to roster. You're certainly not starting him in Baltimore this week.

Stefon Diggs (WR, MIN)

It is important to not overreact to just three games. However, there were fears that this would happen with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen entering into this season. The running Vikings are here and they aren't going anywhere. Diggs has just 12 targets through two games and has yet to reach double digit fantasy points in any single game. There are fantasy analysts out there telling you that you should buy low on Diggs. Why? The Vikings are a low volume passing offense and their schedule does not look like one where they will need to air it out. Weeks 9 and 10 at Kansas City and Dallas are the only two games that look like guarantees that the Vikings will have to throw to keep up. In every other game, they can and will execute their ball control offense where the give the ball to Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison 40 times. Diggs has the talent to be a WR1, but the usage suggests he is barely a WR3.

Dede Westbrook (WR, JAX)

As it turned out, the fact that Dede Westbrook spent all preseason not starting in two receiver sets meant something. Westbrook is definitively third on the Jaguars at receiver behind D.J. Chark and Chris Conley. I don't care how eccentric Gardner Minshew is, you do not need the third receiver on the Jaguars. Westbrook is nothing more than a bye week filler.

Le'Veon Bell (RB, NYJ)

Just to be clear, Le'Veon Bell is still the same guy we saw in Pittsburgh. He is incredibly talented with tremendous patience and vision. You can see it every week even when he's not really going anywhere behind the Jets' weak offensive line. The downgrade from Sam Darnold to Luke Falk is noticeable and it rears its ugly head in completely sapping Bell's upside. Bell has no hope of scoring touchdowns while Darnold is out and despite the massive volume, he just can't score fantasy points if his team can't block or sustain drives. Bell still has RB1 performances in him, but he's more of a middling RB2 for now.

Tarik Cohen (RB, CHI)

Imagine having one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league and not giving him the ball? Well, that's what the reigning Coach of the Year likes to do. Matt Nagy is secretly a bad coach and will be exposed as a fraud within the next couple years. As for Tarik Cohen, there's nothing we can do. He's just not getting the ball. Cohen has a 41% snap share and a 31% opportunity share. All the Bears want to do is get a lead and sit on it with David Montgomery. Cohen needs negative game script to even have a chance to thrive and predicting when that will happen is impossible. He may appear on the cut list next week.

 

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