The Yays and Nays: Our Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings and Projections
Fantasy Football Quick Hits
- Our Week 3 projections were the most accurate of all 205 FantasyPros submissions
- Week 4 Yays: Matt Ryan (QB13), Alvin Kamara (RB4), Adam Thielen (WR24), Romeo Doubs (WR25), Robert Tonyan (TE3)
- Week 4 Nays: Tua Tagovailoa (QB16), James Robinson (RB24), Drake London (WR37), Terry McLaurin (WR52)
It’s Week 4 already and seems like a good time to say thanks to those who have embraced The Analyst’s fantasy football coverage.
Why? Two reasons. First: Because last week, we had some misses in our article. That’s the beauty of sport, and yes, this is the ultimate sporting cliche, but anything can happen at any time between the lines.
Like, for example, Marcus Mariota rushing for negative three yards and fumbling on his final offensive play, docking him 2.3 fantasy points. You add those 2.3 points to his total and he ends the week as QB10, or exactly where our final projections had him. Instead, he finishes closer to his expert consensus ranking (ECR) than he does the top 10.
Like, for example, Raheem Mostert playing more snaps and having more carries than his backfield mate Chase Edmonds. Except, Edmonds gets his first two goal-to-go carries of the season, scores on both of them, and finishes as RB12, while Mostert, a Yay, finishes as RB69, with a whopping total of 1.1 PPR points.
Like, for example, having Clyde Edwards-Helaire as a Nay. This was his final rushing line: seven carries, ZERO rushing yards. But guess what, he also scored a rushing touchdown for the Kansas City Chiefs, caught five passes from Patrick Mahomes after having previously not surpassed three receptions in 12 of his previous 13 games, and finished the week as RB14. Again, despite having ZERO rushing yards.
But we bring these examples up because, despite some misses, this was all part of a larger Week 3 success:
Yes, that is our very own model, produced by the brilliant Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads each week, finishing with the most accurate set of rankings among 205 experts that submitted their fantasy football rankings to FantasyPros for Week 3.
Which is why we always tell you to refer back to our rankings. We only highlight a few players in this space every week. But we have 405 players projected to score some fantasy points this weekend. And our model goes through the same extremely unique process to produce projections for every one of them.
Because for every miss, we’ve also got quite a few successes.
Like, for example, D’Andre Swift, who our model was skeptical of because he was coming off a seven-touch performance and plays on a Detroit Lions team where he doesn’t get the critical goal line touches. That played out in Week 3. Jamaal Williams scored two rushing touchdowns and finished as RB3. Swift finished as RB39.
Like, for example, Jaylen Waddle, who was a Nay after coming off a scintillating 40.1-point PPR performance in Week 2 for the Miami Dolphins. Our model suspected he’d have a big play or two in him. And he did. He had a 45-yard catch and finished with 104 receiving yards in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills. But he also didn’t score a touchdown, only had four receptions, and finished as WR28. He entered the week with an ECR inside the top 10. He was our WR26.
Like, for example, Rhamondre Stevenson, who wasn’t in our article last week. Our model projected that he would finish above his teammate Damien Harris, despite Harris outscoring Stevenson in each of the first two weeks. Stevenson was playing the important snaps, getting most of the pass-catching opportunities and enough rushing volume to have a high floor. Both scored touchdowns for the New England Patriots in the Week 3 showdown with the Baltimore Ravens, but Stevenson, aided by the additional 4.8 PPR points that he scored over his teammate in the passing game, finished as RB8. Harris finished as RB22.
Granular play-by-play and participation data allows our model to pick up on those things.
As always, let’s jump around and evaluate some Week 4 projections gathered from some of the top data-driven projections available using several of our AI-powered models. Refer back to our fantasy football rankings for any questionable waiver wire or lineup decisions.
Week 4 Fantasy Yays
Note: We’re comparing our rankings to the expert consensus rankings (ECR) from FantasyPros. These rankings update throughout the week. (We pulled these numbers from Thursday.) Once again, we are using PPR unless noted otherwise.
Matt Ryan, QB (IND) vs. TEN (ECR: 24, Our Rank: 13, Projected Points: 16.60):
Ryan’s best weekly finish in an Indianapolis Colts uniform this year? QB16. Even Baker Mayfield has had a better weekly finish than that.
Offensive points scored by the Colts this season: 40 – half of which came in a tie against the Houston Texans. That’s good for dead last in the NFL, tied with the Seattle Seahawks and one spot ahead of Russell Wilson’s Denver Broncos.
And yet, despite all of that, Ryan enters this week inside our model’s top-15 quarterbacks. Because while the Colts offense has been dismal to start the year, the Tennessee Titans pass defense has been just as poor. Their eight passing touchdowns allowed are tied with the Washington Commanders for the most in the NFL and they’ve allowed 300 passing yards in two straight games.
And while our model isn’t quite projecting him to reach that mark, two touchdown passes would get him halfway to his projected point total. Ryan doesn’t have much boom potential, but if you are in dire need of a quarterback, you could do worse than Ryan’s high floor. It’s about value here rather than expecting a massive number.
Alvin Kamara, RB (NO) vs. MIN (ECR: 13, Our Rank: 4, PP: 18.39):
It’s been a tough start for Kamara, Jameis Winston and the entire New Orleans Saints offense. Maybe what they need is some magical intervention. They are based in New Orleans and even more conveniently, they’re headed to London this week – the Harry Potter studio isn’t far.
Of course, fantasy managers would just settle for Kamara to showcase the talents that made him a fringe first-round pick. This week, he and the Saints square off with a Minnesota Vikings defense that allows the third most yards per game and has allowed five rushing touchdowns in just three games this season. After 15 carries in Week 3, our model suspects he’ll have a chance to surpass that total this week. He’s fourth among all running backs in likelihood of scoring a touchdown.
Kamara’s ECR puts him firmly in the RB2 group of running backs, but our model likes Kamara’s chances of producing a top-five finish at the running back position. He’s going to challenge the likes of the Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey and Jonathan Taylor for the top spot this week.
Adam Thielen, WR (MIN) vs. NO (ECR: 38, Our Rank: 23, PP: 13.41):
Here’s a fun fact about Thielen. Touchdowns usually come in bunches for him. Since the beginning of the 2020 season, Thielen has significantly more games with a touchdown (19) than without one (12). Additionally, Thielen has scored a touchdown on six different occasions since 2020 after being held without a touchdown the previous game. In all six instances, he backed up his performance with a second straight game with a touchdown.
All of that is to say Thielen’s ECR of 38 is way too low considering his penchant for finding the end zone. He has the eighth-highest touchdown projection across the wide receiver position this week. So even though he’s being projected for the fewest receiving yards among the top 18 most likely receivers to score a touchdown, he’s still a worthy play.
With teams hyper-focused on taking away Justin Jefferson, Thielen should continue seeing less coverage, from lesser players. Look for him and Kirk Cousins to take advantage, especially in the end zone, and especially because Dalvin Cook is banged up. Thielen has already scored a touchdown in London in his career. Our model thinks he makes it 2-for-2 this week.
Romeo Doubs, WR (GB) vs. NE (ECR: 41, Our Rank: 25, PP: 13.08):
If we told you at the beginning of the season we’d have a rookie wide receiver on the Yay list in Week 4, how many receivers would you have had to name before correctly guessing Doubs, the rookie out of Nevada? Doubs was the 19th receiver taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, second on his own team even!
Which makes it all the more incredible that entering this week, Doubs is our highest projected rookie receiver. Or maybe not? Why, because well, for starters, he’s got Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball to him. And you might’ve heard that Davante Adams is now catching passes from Derek Carr for the Las Vegas Raiders. And you might’ve seen that the New England Patriots have been solid against the run, but not so much against the pass.
Becoming Rodgers’ favorite receiver takes time. Doubs saw eight targets in Week 3 against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and secured them all. That’s how to build trust with your quarterback. Our model likes his chances of making it two straight good games. He’s a fringe WR2 for this week, with some real rest-of-season upside.
Robert Tonyan, TE (GB) vs. NE (ECR: 18, Our Rank: 3, PP: 11.42):
Rinse and repeat with Tonyan. He’s got Rodgers throwing him the ball and our model is expecting the Packers to need to throw the ball more than normal against the Patriots defense. That should be extremely profitable to Tonyan, as the Patriots have allowed tight ends to win their matchups at a 45.5% clip this season, second worst only to the Arizona Cardinals.
Tonyan, like Thielen, is here partly because of his strength in scoring touchdowns. He hasn’t found the end zone yet, but after six catches in Week 3, things are trending up for Tonyan. Amongst all tight ends, only Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews are more likely to score a touchdown this week. There have already been six tight ends this season that have caught four or fewer passes, but scored a touchdown, and finished in the top five because of it.
As always, it’s slim pickings at the position. Unlike with wide receivers, where you want players that can be fantasy relevant without scoring touchdowns, touchdown-hunting with tight ends is a mostly fine strategy. If that’s your strategy, Tonyan, who’s ECR means he’s likely on the waiver wire in your league, is worth the play this week, especially with the higher floor he should have this week facing New England.
Week 4 Fantasy Nays
Tua Tagovailoa, QB (MIA) vs. CIN (ECR: 9, Our Rank: 16, PP: 15.40):
Tua finished as QB2 in Week 2, in the best game of his young career, just behind Lamar Jackson and ahead of Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts. As a result, he’s QB6 through three weeks, ahead of quarterbacks like Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals. In weeks 1 and 3, however, he finished 22nd and 25th respectively.
Coming off a short week dealing with some injuries, Tagovailoa and the Dolphins face a Cincinnati Bengals defense that has only allowed one touchdown pass in its last two games – none to the New York Jets in Week 3 and one to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 – and has held quarterbacks to the fifth-lowest quarterback rating in the league. Meanwhile, more than half of Tua’s passing yards came in Week 2, and he’s only thrown two touchdown passes in his other two games.
In his entire career, including Week 2, Tagovailoa has three games in which he’s finished as a top-10 weekly quarterback. He’s played 26 games. History suggests he finishes much closer to 20th than 10th. That’s what our model is expecting. Quarterbacks like Ryan Tannehill are better options this week. Look to the waiver wire for other options.
James Robinson, RB (JAX) vs. PHI (ECR: 15, Our Rank: 24, PP: 12.40):
Robinson, through three weeks, is RB3 on the season, making him maybe the single most valuable fantasy player so far this season, given his average draft position (ADP) entering the season was 112, coming off the board as RB38.
As for his Jacksonville Jaguars team, they’ve been one of the surprises of the season after dismantling the Los Angeles Chargers and Justin Herbert last week. Trevor Lawrence has risen to the cream of the crop amongst the first round 2021 first round quarterbacks (welcome back Zach Wilson!) and the Jags are firing on all cylinders.
However, they are running into a team that’s been even more impressive than they have, our Super Bowl favorite Philadelphia Eagles. And no team has been more impressive through three weeks. Among the many statistics that smile upon the Eagles favorably, maybe no statistic is more telling than first-half points scored.
They are outscoring opponents by 51 (!!!) points in the first half. Only one other team in the NFL has even scored that many first half points. As a result, teams are having to pass at an accelerated rate in the second half. 77.3% of the plays the Eagles defense has been on the field for in the second half have been passes – a rate that leads the NFL.
Which brings us back to Robinson. While he’s been excellent to start the season, a lot of his success has come on the ground, having only seen seven targets. Our model thinks Robinson will struggle to run, and Travis Etienne Jr. is the preferred pass-catching back. It’s a tricky matchup for Robinson this week.
Drake London, WR (ATL) vs. CLE (ECR: 19, Our Rank: 37, PP: 11.12):
London has been a revelation for the Atlanta Falcons this season, easily pacing all of their offensive weapons in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. In fact, Mariota has only thrown three touchdown passes all season, but two of them have gone to London.
This lower ranking is more of a byproduct of London’s surrounding circumstances than a knock against London himself. The Cleveland Browns have only allowed more than 215 passing yards in a game once this season, which also happens to be a number Mariota has only surpassed once. The Browns lead the NFL in time of possession and because of that, Mariota is projected for the third-fewest pass attempts.
With such little projected opportunity, it’ll be tough for London to reach his WR2 ECR. He’s been excellent to start his career, but it’ll probably be a struggle for the Atlanta offense this week. He’s touchdown dependent to reach WR2 status.
Terry McLaurin, WR (WSH) vs. DAL (ECR: 28, Our Rank: 52, PP: 8.89):
No, that ranking is not a typo. McLaurin has previously been a fantasy football stalwart because even though he was on bad offenses, he was the undisputed No. 1 receiver on his team. That has not been the case through three weeks, as McLaurin only sports an 18% target share, compared to a 26% rate last season. Thanks, Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson.
With fewer opportunities and facing a brutally tough Dallas Cowboys defense that just swarmed Daniel Jones and the New York Giants, McLaurin may experience some serious struggles to produce numbers worthy of being in your starting lineup. And if his lower target share isn’t enough to convince you, in two games against Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs and the Dallas defense last season, McLaurin had a combined three catches for 40 yards.
On top of all of that, Dallas has allowed significantly fewer passes of 21+ yards than any other team in the NFL, making a big play to salvage his day more unlikely. McLaurin is a big name and you likely spent lots of draft equity on him. You won’t feel good about benching him, but chances are, that’s exactly where he should be on your team this week.
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