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Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 4

D.J. Moore - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Week 3 of the NFL season is over and we're onto Week 4. It was a pretty wild week of NFL action this week, with some big surprises, including the Jaguars knocking off the Chargers in a blowout, and the Dolphins doing a butt punt but still winning.

In this weekly column, we'll be looking at players whose arrows may be pointing up, and players whose arrows may be pointing down based on the previous week's games. We'll try not to overreact, but instead, use relevant data to make informed decisions about certain players.

Here are the key risers and fallers coming out of Week 3 of the NFL season.

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Week 4 Fantasy Football Risers

Trevor Lawrence, QB - Jacksonville Jaguars

In Week 2, Trevor Lawrence had arguably the best game of his career, going 25-for-30 for 235 yards and two touchdowns. In Week 3, he followed that up with what might have been an even better game: 28-for-39 for 262 yards and three touchdowns.

Lawrence has now gone two consecutive games without throwing an interception, which is notable since he led the NFL in interceptions last season. The increased quality of his receiving weapons and the resurgence of James Robinson has helped Lawrence make a pretty sizable leap from what he did as a rookie. Having Doug Pederson as his head coach has also been key.

Trevor Lawrence has become a viable fantasy quarterback. His ceiling isn't where it will eventually be because he could still use another top receiver to pair with Christian Kirk, but he's a long way ahead of where we thought he would be.

DeVonta Smith, WR - Philadelphia Eagles

Smith had one of the best performances of the week, as he was targeted 12 times, catching eight passes for 169 yards and a touchdown. I don't think there's ever really been doubts about Smith's talent—the issue is just that there were concerns about how that talent would show in Philly with Jalen Hurts throwing the ball.

But Hurts has made a notable step forward, and it's benefitting Smith. His completion percentage has risen from 61.3% to 67.3%. His aDOT is down, but his completed air yards are up, partly because of an increase in accuracy. Per PlayerProfiler, he's seventh in accuracy rating and 12th in true completion percentage; last year, he was 26th in accuracy rating and 31st in true completion percentage.

If Hurts keeps up this level of play, Smith will continue to find success. He's being used down the field this year, ranking 11th in the NFL in air yards so far at 310.

Marquise Brown, WR - Arizona Cardinals

Hollywood Brown was targeted just six times in Week 1. In Week 2, that number jumped to 11, and in Week 3, it jumped even more up to 17. Brown brought in 14 of those for 140 yards.

When you think about Brown, you think about his speed. Last year in Baltimore, he ranked 11th in the NFL in air yards and eighth in deep targets, as the Ravens worked to get him the ball in the deep passing game.

This year, he's still getting deep looks, but he's down to 18th in air yards and 14th in deep targets, plus he's 71st among wide receivers in aDOT. The Cardinals—partly out of necessity—have expanded Brown's role, asking him to kind of just do everything. Until DeAndre Hopkins is back, Brown should continue to see this kind of heavy workload, with 10-plus targets each week.

Khalil Herbert, RB - Chicago Bears

David Montgomery's availability will determine how much Herbert rises.

With Montgomery missing much of Sunday's win against the Texans, Herbert saw 20 carries, finishing with 157 yards and two touchdowns. The Bears saw that the Texans run defense wasn't stopping them, so they leaned heavily on Herbert over throwing the ball with Justin Fields.

If Montgomery misses time, Herbert is a must-play in fantasy. Fields—who'll will get to in the next section—can't really be trusted. The Bears lead the NFL in run rate this season, as 65.41% of their offensive plays have been runs. Cleveland is second at 54.29%.

Cordarrelle Patterson, RB - Atlanta Falcons

Last year, Patterson made the full-time switch to running back, and it worked, as he finished with 618 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

But you'd be forgiven for thinking that the production wouldn't continue. Here was a then-30, now-31-year-old player who had played wide receiver for most of this career—he wasn't going to be able to actually be a good NFL running back, right? Last year was just a little thing—nothing repeatable or anything, right?

Well, uhh...after having 22 carries for 120 yards in Week 1, Patterson had his second 100-yard game of the season this week, carrying the ball 17 times for 141 yards and a touchdown. Patterson is an electric player when the ball is in his hands, and the Falcons are working to get the ball into his hands as much as they can to take pressure off Marcus Mariota. He's a borderline RB1.

Kyle Pitts, TE - Atlanta Falcons

FINALLY. After being nearly invisible for the first two games of the season, posting identical lines of two catches for 19 yards in both, Kyle Pitts finally had a game that looked like what we expected from Kyle Pitts, catching five passes for 87 yards.

Pitts should be leading the Falcons in targets every week. He's their best receiving threat, even if he hasn't necessarily shown that. On Sunday, he was targeted a team-high eight times, and of the 14 passes thrown by Mariota, 14 went to either Pitts or London.

It really looks like the Falcons are working to get the ball to Pitts. Maybe that won't be the case—but if Atlanta knows what it's doing, then this is the start of Pitts living up to the hype.

 

Week 4 Fantasy Football Fallers

Justin Fields, QB - Chicago Bears

It's probably time for Fields to fall all the way down to the waiver wire in your fantasy leagues.

As I mentioned above, the Bears lead the NFL in the percentage of plays that have been runs, which means that they also are last in the NFL in passing play percentage, with just 34.59% of the team's plays being passing plays. Only four teams are under 50% in that stat.

Fields threw for just 121 yards in Week 1, but poor weather conditions took the blame there. But he followed that up with a 7-for-11 night against the Packers for just 70 yards, and then followed that up with a terrible showing against the Texans: 8-for-17n for 106 yards and two interceptions.

Fields is, uhh...not doing well. Fantasy managers should take note of that.

D.J. Moore, WR - Carolina Panthers

Does Baker Mayfield just hate D.J. Moore? I wouldn't say that, as Moore has been targeted exactly six times in each game. He leads the team in target share despite his low production.

The problem is what Moore is doing with those targets. Week 1: three catches for 43 yards. Week 2: three catches for 43 yards. Week 3: one catch for two yards.

Maybe the biggest issue here: per PlayerProfiler, Moore ranks 93rd among wide receivers in target accuracy. If the ball isn't getting to you smoothly, you won't produce. And if your team's passing attack remains low volume and you're getting six inaccurate targets per game, your floor and ceiling will both suffer.

Brandin Cooks, WR - Houston Texans

Serving as the No. 1 weapon in a bad offense can be fine, but this week reminded me of the downside that comes with Cooks' role. Cooks was targeted seven times this week, his lowest mark of the season. He caught just two passes for 22 yards.

The Texans don't have a very good offense. They have the fourth-fewest yards in the NFL and rank eighth-to-last in passing yards. Cooks has also seen fewer targets each successive week this season as quarterback Davis Mills has spread the ball around more. Pharaoh Brown and Jordan Akins each had four targets this week, for instance.

We thought Cooks would have 10-plus targets each week and be a solid fantasy WR2/3 play. But if the Texans aren't going to pepper him with significantly more targets than the rest of the options on the team, he won't be able to consistently produce like you drafted him to.

Raheem Mostert, RB - Miami Dolphins

One week after Mostert was a popular waiver wire add because of his increased role against the Ravens, his production crashed down to earth against the Bills, as he carried the ball eight times for just 11 yards.

This might have just been one of those things, where a player has a good game but the good game winds up not really mattering. Mostert saw 11 carries for 51 yards in Week 2 against Baltimore, plus had three catches for 28 yards. A week later, we're wondering why we picked him up in the first place.

And that's a good question. Despite his strong play in Week 2, his snap share remained virtually the same, but because the Dolphins weren't having an explosive game like they did in Week 2, that equaled a drop from 39 to 24 snaps. Maybe he's only playable in games where we can project a huge amount of offensive snaps for the Dolphins offense?

Irv Smith Jr., TE - Minnesota Vikings

Tight end is a tough position to talk about. The top guys all were fine this week, but one guy from the group below that top tier who struggled was Irv Smith Jr.

I've long been a fan of Smith. He's got the physical tools to be a good player in this league, but he hasn't had the injury luck. After catching five touchdowns in 2020, he missed all of last season.

In Week 2, Smith was targeted eight times, catching five passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. This week, he was targeted six times, catching two passes for 32 yards. I like the targets, but I also think I might have just been a little too early when I moved Smith up my theoretical tight end rankings.



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