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Tue Oct 5th 2021

2021 Week Four Review

It was a great weekend of football with many games coming down to the wire. The 2:30 to 3:15 window when all the early games are ending was a blast to watch on the Red Zone Channel this Sunday. Most of the games were competitive this week, as have been my fantasy match-ups

 

On Monday night, I eeked out wins in three out of four close games, finishing the week at 5-5 in my leagues. It's not a great week, but at least Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, and Austin Ekeler spared me from a much worse fate. As always, on Tuesday mornings, I remind myself that win or lose, it's a joy to watch football all weekend and cheer on all of my dynasty teams.

 

After following all of the games this week, here are a few of my thoughts on players and situations and their impact on our dynasty teams.

Ten Observations From Week Four

Urban Meyer Is Close To Figuring It Out

  • Whether it was only because of Carlos Hyde's sudden pregame injury or not, Meyer finally gave James Robinson the share of touches he needs to help the Jaguars compete and help his fantasy managers score points. Robinson was on the field for all but three plays, and his two touchdowns were almost enough to win the game. If Meyers has any common sense, he'll keep Robinson on the field to this degree every week. Whether it was because D.J. Chark broke an ankle or Meyer's play-calling, Laviska Shenault had his best game of the season too. He's the young weapon in the passing game that needs to be the focus of the passing game. He was on Thursday night, and they almost won the game because of it. I'm hopeful that Meyer will take this long week of practice to make Robinson and Shenault the featured players in the offense. So far, he's not made the best coaching decisions, but maybe Thursday night's near miss will wake him up to what he needs to do to give his team a chance to win.

Giants' Alphas Are Back

  • The Giants roared back to a comeback win in overtime on the backs of their alpha running back and wide receiver, Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay. Barkley finally had his long-awaited breakout game, scoring 27 fantasy points and playing all but seven of the Giants' snaps. He looked like his old self, too, with tremendous burst and agility. He seems to trust his knee fully because he made several tough cuts and jukes throughout the game. While he rushed the ball only 13 times in four and a half quarters, he was actively involved in the passing game, including a 54-yard touchdown reception among his five catches. Kenny Golladay had his first 100-yard receiving game for the Giants and since week seven of last season. He appears to be recovered and is fully active after getting limited snaps in previous weeks. If Golladay and Barkley are full strength, they're able to lift the entire offense significantly and make Daniel Jones a startable quarterback even when playing a great defense like the Saints. Dynasty managers who have waited patiently for Barkley and Golladay's return will be rewarded this season. 

Cordarrelle Patterson Is A Thing, And Mike Davis Is Not

  • Mike Davis continues to outsnap Patterson, but he's been far less productive. Patterson was the surprise of the week, scoring three touchdowns on Sunday on just 23 snaps. Patterson has a unique role in the offense and is a primary target when he is on the field. Patterson touched the ball on eleven of his 23 snaps (nearly 50%), while Davis touched the ball fifteen times on his 51 snaps (less than 30%). Touches are more critical than snaps between these two. Patterson has 346 yards on the season while Davis has a total of 231, even though he has touched the ball 20 more times this season. Davis had a great run after catch to score a touchdown in week four, but Patterson is the one to trust on this team. Patterson and trust have never been compatible words in fantasy football, but they are now. He was in my starting lineup the last two weeks in the one league where I picked him up off the waiver wire, and he will continue to start for that team, especially over the next player I mention here.

It's Time To Give Up On Miles Sanders

  • This Sunday was the last week that I will have Sanders in my starting lineup until something changes, and I doubt that anything will. After getting two carries last week, I thought the criticism coach Sirianni received would cause him to give Sanders the ball more this week, but he only received seven carries this week. I can't trust Sanders anymore because Sirianni clearly doesn't. Kenny Gainwell stole another touchdown from Sanders this Sunday and is way more involved in the passing game than Sanders. I did not see this coming and will admit to being wrong about Sanders. He was one of my favorite players in his draft class. I drafted him and traded for him over the last few years and have him on five of my ten rosters. It pains me to admit that I am wrong, and my teams are suffering for it, but they certainly are. From now on, these are the players I'll be starting ahead of Sanders: Kareem Hunt, Chase Edmonds, Darrell Henderson, Melvin Gordon, and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Taylor Heinicke Can Win The Job

  • Don't look now, but Heinicke has scored more than twenty fantasy points in each of his three starts this year. When Ryan Fitzpatrick got injured in week one, it appeared that the fantasy value of each offensive player would take a hit, but Heinicke has kept the whole team afloat and led his team to a comeback win Sunday with three touchdown passes. He adds sneaky value running the ball, too, with 24 yards per game. Logan Thomas was a top-ten tight end headed into this week, and Terry McLaurin will be a top-fifteen wide receiver headed into next week after his 27-point fantasy day on Sunday. The Washington backfield frustrates fantasy managers because J.D. McKissic gets passing work ahead of Antonio Gibson, but both have had very productive weeks. This Sunday, it was McKissic who won the game after catching an incredible pass from Heinicke and beating the rest of the Falcon defense to the pylon. If Heinicke continues to move the offense like this, he could retain the job even after Fitzpatrick is healthy. One of the best feelings in dynasty superflex leagues is when you stumble upon a backup quarterback that you add off of waivers, and he becomes the teams' starter. It feels like a free quarterback. Heinicke managers are going to experience that feeling.

Dallas Is Too Good At Too Many Things

  • The Cowboys' offense is on fire, but they're spreading the ball around more than dynasty managers would like. Dak Prescott threw four touchdowns to four different players, including both of his tight ends. Amari Cooper's touchdown saved his fantasy day, while CeeDee Lamb had only two catches for 13 yards. The Cowboys had 245 yards rushing on Sunday as their stout offensive line took over the game, and Zeke got fed. A few things are becoming apparent, such as Dalton Schultz getting 25% more snaps than Blake Jarwin. Lamb and Cooper play almost every down, but they've each had two good weeks and two bad weeks from a fantasy perspective. Every week the Cowboys' offense takes on a new form, which is incredible for Cowboy fans like myself, but rough on dynasty managers. You can't bench any of the Cowboys' weapons, but we're going to be disappointed with at least once a week. I'm convinced that Kellen Moore, Dallas' offensive coordinator, will be a head coach for an NFL team next year, and I hope it's Dallas. 

Two Target Hogs Are No Longer

  • Two of my favorite players, that for years have provided a steady floor based on their target count are not reliable this season so far. DeAndre Hopkins is not getting the volume that he's used to receiving. Hopkins is receiving six targets a game this season, whereas he received ten targets per game last season. He's not the only weapon on the team anymore. A.J. Green is way more involved in the offense than I ever thought he would be at his age and has outplayed Hopkins each of the two weeks. Maxx Williams is surprisingly a very active part of this offense (more on him later), and Chase Edmonds is very involved in the passing game. I can't bring myself to bench Hopkins, but I'm now bracing myself to expect some dud weeks, which rarely happened in the past. Robert Woods has never provided the upside of Hopkins, but he's been as steady as it gets in providing a fantasy floor each week. That's not the case this season with Matthew Stafford. He's also receiving six targets per game when he had more than eight targets per game last year. He has fourteen fewer yards per game than he had last year too. I benched him in one league this week and believe I will bench him in three more leagues this week. Over the last few years, I've loved having Woods as my WR-3 or 4, counting on a safe 12-15 points each week, but it's not happening this year. The involvement of Van Jefferson has me very concerned for Woods' future with the Rams. Jefferson's 4.5 targets per game are eating into Woods' opportunities, and he's outscoring Woods in fantasy points this season. Two of my favorites and most rostered players are hurting my teams more than helping them.

Two Tight End Breakouts This Season

  • The most volatile position in fantasy football needs a few more rising starts that can provide consistency at the position. I believe two guys fit that bill, even though their rise to fantasy relevance has looked very different. Dawson Knox is having the prototypical third-year breakout, as often happens with tight ends. He was a top-six tight end heading into the week, and after his two-touchdown day, he'll be among the top three tight ends heading into this week. What's wild about Knox's day on Sunday was that he could have had four or five touchdowns. Three other times he was the first read on red-zone passes but could not come down with the ball or get into the end zone. The Bills seem set on using him in the red zone, where he and Zack Moss are their primary weapons. Knox, a third-round draft pick who never caught a touchdown pass in college, is proving he's able to now. The other rising tight end is Maxx Williams. He was a touchdown maker in college, which is why he was drafted in the second round by Baltimore six years ago. He never amounted to much, though and barely managed to stay in the league. His sudden emergence in the Arizona offense has come as a surprise to everyone, which is why he was on the waiver wire in dynasty leagues until a few weeks ago. Thankfully I was quick to add him in many of my leagues, including a tight-end premium league. He scored again on Sunday, which alone makes him a top-12 tight end on the week. What's more important, though, is the work he's getting. In the last three weeks, he's averaged five targets per game, and he's playing two-thirds of the snaps on a team that runs among the most plays per game in the league. I'm never one to shy away from older tight-end prospects. At 27 years old, Williams could become this year's Logan Thomas.

Two Stifling Defenses

  • It always takes a few weeks to learn which defenses become a significant factor when setting fantasy lineups, but I think it's become clear that two defenses need to be considered when starting players against them. Cleveland humbled the Vikings, who were one of the most fantasy potent offenses in the league the first three weeks of the season. Kirk Cousins was a top-12 quarterback each of the first weeks of the season, and Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Theilen benefitted from his excellent play. This week they could hardly move the ball against the Browns. The Vikings drove down and scored on the game's first possession but were shut out after that. Miles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney wreaked havoc on Cousins, and the Browns' secondary blanketed the Viking receivers. The week prior, they held the Bears to 47 yards of offense and sacked Justin Fields nine times. It's time for dynasty managers to consider benching marginal players when playing the Browns. The same can be said of the Bills defense, who pitched a shutout on Sunday, intercepting Davis Mills four times. Granted, the Texans have one of the worst offenses in the leagues, but they crushed Taylor Heinicke and the Football Team the week before too. Tre'Davious White is capable of dampening the fantasy value of any WR-1 he faces from week to week. He did with Terry McLaurin last week and did with Brandin Cooks this week. Dynasty managers can fade on the bubble players facing the Bills this season. You can't bench a WR-1 facing the Bills, but you need to expect far less productivity from them.

Latavius Murray Is The RB-1 In Baltimore

  • To the surprise of everyone, Ty'Son Williams was a healthy scratch on Sunday, and Le'Veon Bell saw his first work with the Ravens this season, but it was Murray that far and away led the team in carries and snaps. He scored another touchdown on Sunday too. Murray just fits the offense and is the veteran presence they need to protect Lamar Jackson and move the chains. He's not going to do anything spectacular, but he can do what the Ravens need. As a result, he'll be a startable running back once bye weeks begin. He'll be less viable in full PPR leagues, but in half-PPR and non-PPR leagues, Murray can help dynasty teams in a pinch. He's going to be one of the most likely players to score a touchdown each week, which more than makes up for his lack of involvement in the passing game. I consider his value this season very comparable to how I valued Gus Edwards after J.K. Dobbins got injured. He's a journeyman on this fourth NFL team, but he can get the job done, and he will.

Week Four Waiver Wire

As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster leagues, so the players I list here are for deep leagues only. If you play in shallower leagues, there are certainly better players than these to pick up off the waiver wire, but if you're in deep dynasty leagues, these are the players I would make bids on this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.

Alex Collins

  • Collins played only three fewer snaps than Chris Carson on Sunday, and he looked like the better back on the field. He has passed Travis Homer and always-injured Rashad Penny to become the number two back in Seattle. I picked Collins up in several leagues late in the offseason when I heard that Penny struggled to recover from injury. I kept him in a few leagues and unfortunately dropped him in a few leagues on the roster-cut day. He's been fantasy-relevant in spurts before and could so do again in deep leagues. He'll become an every-week starter if Carson gets injured. Collins is easily the first player I'd make bids on this week.

Dan Arnold

  • Arnold only played 18 snaps Thursday night on a short week after getting traded to Jacksonville early last week, but he was targeted as the first read on two plays, catching both passes.  Jacksonville's injuries have opened a door for Arnold, and the fact that they traded to get him means he's going to be involved in the offense.  I think he'll get far more targets than the other tight ends I list here, so he'd be the first tight end I'd aim to pick up this week if I was streaming the position or had a droppable player on my roster.

Ricky Seals-Jones

  • Seals-Jones played 100% of the snaps after Logan Thomas left the game with a pulled hamstring. What we loved with Thomas, playing 100% of the snaps, we'll love with Seals-Jones too. He's an athlete much like Thomas, who was a converted quarterback. I am sure he'll contribute in the passing game while Thomas is injured. A whole week of practice with the starting team will help him get more involved in the next week or two while Thomas recovers. It's a short-term move more than a dynasty move, but I'd consider adding Seals-Jones if I have injuries at the tight end position or have Logan Thomas on my roster, as I do in five of my ten leagues. 

Mo Alie-Cox

  • For the first time this season, Alie-Cox got more snaps and targets than Jack Doyle, but that's because Doyle was battling an injury this week. Even if that's the case, he made the most of his opportunity with two red-zone touchdown catches. Alie-Cox and Doyle will be very unreliable this season as they split playing time, but they do have a coach and quarterback that target tight ends in the end zone, and one touchdown catch by a tight end often makes them a top-12 tight end for the week. I'd only aim to pick up Alie-Cox in the deepest of leagues.

Week Four Trades

Trades are hard to grade in a vacuum since scoring systems are different in each league, and every team has a diverse roster construction. That's why I write about trades made in my leagues and give context for why the dynasty owners made the trades. I grade the trade, but in the context of what each team was attempting to accomplish with the trade.

Here are my thoughts on trades that took place in my leagues this week. I hope these trades give you an idea of how other active owners value these players and future picks.

It's early in the season, so there were only two trades in my leagues last week.

Clyde Edwards-Hellaire <=====> Nico Collins and 2022 1st and 2nd round picks

  • This trade is a pretty typical trade between a top contending and a rebuilding team. The team that acquired the picks went into full rebuild mode last season and appeared ready to bounce back this year until Cam Akers, and J.K. Dobbins went down with injuries. He decided to continue his rebuild due to those injuries and his 1-2 start to the season. The team that acquired Edwards-Hellaire has already made trades to compete this season and added running back depth behind Aaron Jones and Joe Mixon. He did so just in time, too, now that Mixon will miss a few weeks with an ankle injury. I've never liked CEH because I don't believe the Chiefs' offense under Patrick Mahomes will feature a running back. He scored on a little pop pass this week but was also taken out in favor of Darrel Williams on goal line carries. I like what each team did here and considered it an even trade.

 Tyler Higbee <=====> 2022 2nd round pick

  • The manager who sold Higbee is in full rebuild mode and announced it to the league this week on GroupMe. "Come shopping," he announced, and one manager did. The team that picked up Higbee in the trade had a better performing tight end on his team in Dalton Schultz but must have worried about the time he was splitting with Blake Jarwin. Higbee is an every-down tight end in L.A. and a better dynasty value than Schultz for the time being, but I would not be surprised to see their dynasty value flip by midseason. Second-round picks are usually a toss-up in one-quarterback leagues like this one, but I think I would rather have a second-round pick than Higbee. In fact, the manager offered the same trade to me throughout the offseason, and I declined it.

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