Darnold, Anderson Set for Big Day against Big D

Carolina Panthers WR Robby Anderson
Carolina Panthers WR Robby Anderson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 4 - Week 4 takes us to the brink of October, but weather remains on the backseat of matchup concerns with forecasted temperatures all in the 60-degree Fahrenheit or higher range this weekend. Watch out for possible rain with the Texans and Bills in Buffalo and the Lions and Bears in Chicago in particular. But by and large, home/road splits and opponent tendencies carry the bulk of the matchup considerations this week.

The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him with a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven)—home and road and dome and outside—the forecasted weather (Wea), and opponent tendencies (Opp). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.

You can see our full weekly projections with projected stats, matchup adjustments and fantasy points by subscribing to FO+.


Best Week 4 Matchups - Quarterbacks
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
J.Fields CHI 1 DET Rk 24 26 26 16  
Pts   -0.5 0.0 +3.0 +2.5
T.Heinicke WAS 0 ATL Rk 21 16 16 11  
Pts   +1.5 0.0 +1.0 +2.5
S.Darnold CAR 0 DAL Rk 20 15 15 16  
Pts   +1.4 0.0 +0.2 +1.6
K.Cousins MIN 1 CLE Rk 12 9 9 10  
Pts   +1.6 0.0 -0.1 +1.5
M.Stafford LAR 1 ARI Rk 18 14 14 15  
Pts   +1.5 0.0 -0.3 +1.2

Of course. After Justin Fields contributed just 80 combined passing and rushing yards in a debut in which he took nine sacks and saw constant pressure, he draws by far the best possible matchup against the Lions this week. It isn't worth spending a ton of time on this. Bears head coach Matt Nagy hasn't even named Fields his Week 4 starter. I just wanted to complain. I also wanted to point out that, anchored by All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett, the Browns carry the second-highest projected sack rate of 0.083 sacks per dropback while the Lions are in the back end of the top 10 with a 0.069 rate. I wouldn't be stunned if the matchup difference and the fact that this game is at home in Chicago allowed for a completely different experience for Fields. I don't necessarily trust my true talent ranking of 24th—I had to make manual adjustments to his projected passing efficiencies because his numbers last week torpedoed even his heavily regressed projected ones to an unrealistic degree. But you could make Fields a streaming starter in deeper and two-quarterback formats based on the matchup, and you would have ultimate bragging rights if you won your fantasy matchups that way. Just keep an eye on the weather forecast. There is a 61% chance of rain as I write this.

For the rest of the world of fantasy players, Taylor Heinicke and Sam Darnold are your better bets to stream for the week. Heinicke is on the road in the dome in Atlanta. Domes increase passing yards by 4% per attempt and passing touchdowns by 8% per attempt even for visiting quarterbacks. Unsurprisingly for a bottom-three defense by DVOA, the Falcons boost passing yards and touchdowns by 5% and 41%, respectively, and cut interception rate by 61%. And Heinicke has a higher fantasy floor than one might expect of a quarterback forced into action by injury. He has thrown six touchdowns in his four career starts, including last year's playoff game against a Bucs team that had the No. 5 pass defense DVOA.

Darnold is on the road in the dome in Dallas. I'm going to wear out my fingers this year typing that the Cowboys increase pass plays by 2% and passing yards and touchdowns by 8% and 27% per attempt. That isn't all defense, either—the Cowboys have a respectable 14th-ranked pass defense DVOA so far this season. It's also the fact that their No. 5 DVOA offense is so explosive that lesser teams will likely fall behind them and need to pass to catch up, and thus have a chance to throw for extra yards and touchdowns in garbage time. I'm not sure the Panthers fall into that category after their unexpectedly strong start to the season. But Darnold earned his 20th-place true talent ranking with 7.3 expected passing and rushing touchdowns the first three weeks, the fifth-highest total at the position. I would confidently start him as a QB2 in your leagues where that makes sense.

Best DraftKings Values: Derek Carr ($500 underpriced at $5,900), Dak Prescott ($400 underpriced at $6,700), Joe Burrow ($300 underpriced at $5,900)

Best FanDuel Values: Justin Herbert ($600 underpriced at $7,600), Dak Prescott ($400 underpriced at $7,700), Sam Darnold ($200 underpriced at $7,200)

Weirdly, Dak Prescott is the more difficult fantasy call in the Cowboys-Panthers game—at least in daily formats where his $6,700 and $7,700 price tags make him the 11th- and eighth-most expensive quarterbacks in DraftKings and FanDuel. The Panthers have the No. 1 pass defense so far this season. But it seems possible that ranking has been inflated by a soft schedule of opposing offenses in the Jets and Texans with rookie quarterbacks, and in the Saints without eight of their coaches in COVID protocols when they played in Week 2. The Cowboys offense will be a different sort of test, and with the boost of their home dome to counterbalance the Panthers' projected cutting of passing yards and touchdowns by 12% and 13%, I would risk playing Prescott.

For my money, the Raiders have been an even bigger defensive surprise this season than the Panthers. They reduce their opponent's passing yards and touchdowns by 8% and 37% per attempt, both top-10 in football. Still, I would have expected a featured win over the reigning conference champion Chiefs to push Justin Herbert's DFS prices sky-high. But he's just the 10th-most expensive quarterback at $7,600 in FanDuel. That either started too low or overcorrected for the Raiders matchup. Herbert is my true talent No. 5 fantasy quarterback and a bona fide NFL star. Meanwhile, Derek Carr across the field is a top DraftKings bargain at just $5,900. His draw of the Chargers defense is less appealing than one would expect with their bottom-third defensive DVOA rating—they are dramatically worse in defending the run (31st in DVOA) than the pass (15th) and increase run plays by 11% and cut pass plays by 4% accordingly. But Carr should fend off his usual top-10 home/road splits since this game will be on the road in the dome in Los Angeles. He's my No. 14 quarterback this week thanks to the venue boost, but he is tied for 16th in salary in DraftKings.

Worst Week 4 Matchups - Quarterbacks
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
T.Brady TB 0 NE Rk 4 6 6 7  
Pts   -0.6 0.0 -1.5 -2.1
L.Jackson BAL 0 DEN Rk 6 7 7 7  
Pts   -0.4 0.0 -1.2 -1.6
J.Allen BUF 1 HOU Rk 2 4 4 3  
Pts   -0.7 -0.1 0.0 -0.8
A.Rodgers GB 1 PIT Rk 10 12 13 11  
Pts   -0.5 -0.2 0.0 -0.7
R.Wilson SEA 0 SF Rk 8 8 8 7  
Pts   -0.6 0.0 -0.1 -0.7

It's overwhelmingly stars-and-scrubs among the worst Week 4 quarterback matchups. But while you probably never would bench Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, or Russell Wilson in a traditional format and probably never would start David Mills, Trevor Lawrence, or Mac Jones, I had to write something here. So let's talk the Brady revenge game in New England! Brady leads all quarterbacks in both actual (10) and expected passing touchdowns (8.0) this season. Clearly, he hasn't become complacent at 44 years old with seven Super Bowl rings. But however much he wants to stick it to his old team and coach this Sunday night, Brady may fall short of his standout 2021 standard facing an opponent that cuts passing yards and touchdowns by 7% and 17% and increases interception rate by 127%, the latter being the most in football. None of that kicks the now-No.-4 quarterback in my true talent rankings outside of my top 10 this week. But I have him seventh and don't consider him an appealing DFS option, in particular in FanDuel where he remains the fourth-most expensive quarterback at $7,800.

Worst DraftKings Values: Lamar Jackson ($1,000 overpriced at $7,500), Josh Allen ($800 overpriced at $8,000), Russell Wilson ($700 overpriced at $7,100)

Worst FanDuel Values: Tom Brady ($300 overpriced at $8,100), Ryan Tannehill ($200 overpriced at $7,500), Josh Allen ($200 overpriced at $8,500)

The Texans look like an odd team to call a bad fantasy opponent. But I think Josh Allen may suffer as much a fall in his fantasy production this week as Jackson, Rodgers, and Wilson, who face the more obvious bad matchups in the Broncos, Steelers, and 49ers on Sunday. That's because of a 69% chance of rain in Buffalo and because the Texans defense is a more extreme version of the Chargers defense. The former team ranks seventh in DVOA against the pass and 30th against the run and correspondingly shifts some plays from the pass to the run. Allen can overcome any matchup—he showed as much last week—but he may not have to do much if the Bills victimize Davis Mills in his second-ever start. Zack Moss and Devin Singletary may carry the team's fantasy day in what should be an easy one at home in Buffalo. I would look at other options if I wanted to spend money at the position.

Ryan Tannehill righted the fantasy ship after a disastrous Week 1 loss to the Cardinals with 347 passing yards in Week 2 and three passing touchdowns in Week 3. I think you can trust him now like you would have last year when he had Arthur Smith as his offensive coordinator. But don't overlook the fact that Tannehill leads current starters in averaging 7.3 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road. His next two games in New York and in Jacksonville are not as appealing as one might assume for a Jets and Jaguars opponent. In fact, the Jets are a top-10 cutter of pass plays (3%) and booster of run plays (12%) and further cut passing touchdown rate by 35%. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Titans ride on Derrick Henry's broad shoulders for a win with less fantasy production through the air.

Running Backs

Best Week 4 Matchups - Running Backs
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
D.Montgomery CHI 1 DET Rk 20 21 21 15  
Pts   0.0 0.0 +1.6 +1.6
N.Chubb CLE 0 MIN Rk 15 15 15 12  
Pts   +0.3 0.0 +0.7 +1.0
J.Mixon CIN 1 JAX Rk 9 9 9 6  
Pts   +0.1 0.0 +0.6 +0.7
A.Kamara NO 1 NYG Rk 5 5 5 4  
Pts   +0.1 0.0 +0.5 +0.6
Z.Moss BUF 1 HOU Rk 36 37 35 33  
Pts   -0.1 +0.1 +0.6 +0.6

You may not be able to trust Justin Fields, but I do not have the same concerns for his running back David Montgomery, especially with how the Lions tip the scales for opposing running backs. They increase run plays by 4%, yards per carry by 9%, and touchdowns per carry by 55%. And if it does rain, then that adds another 10% to a team's expected run plays. All told, Montgomery jumps from his typical borderline RB2 status to the front end of the range at 15th at the position this week.

From the outside looking in, Zack Moss appeared to have lost favor in Buffalo when he was a healthy scratch in Week 1 and played just 28% of snaps in Week 2. But head coach Sean McDermott clarified that he slow-played Moss' start to the season since the back suffered an injury in the preseason. And in Week 3, Moss asserted his previous piece of the team's backfield committee with a 56% snap share, 16 touches, 91 yards, and a touchdown. That role doesn't make Moss a slam-dunk fantasy start every week. I have him 36th in my true talent rankings at the position. But the possible precipitation and the Lions' boosts to run plays (4%) and rushing touchdown rate (55%) seem more likely to benefit Moss than his teammate Devin Singletary and jump the former player to 33rd at the position this week, squarely in the flex discussion, especially in deeper, standard leagues.

Best DraftKings Values: Mike Davis ($1,400 underpriced at $5,100), Chuba Hubbard ($1,000 underpriced at $5,900), David Montgomery ($600 underpriced at $5,800)

Best FanDuel Values: Mike Davis ($1,400 underpriced at $5,400), Chuba Hubbard ($900 underpriced at $6,300), Myles Gaskin ($800 underpriced at $5,500)

In daily formats, it's all about former and future Panthers backups this week. Cordarrelle Patterson has been the more compelling fantasy story in Atlanta as he has transitioned to a legitimate No. 2 running back, but lead back Mike Davis has answered the bell with 54.5% carry and 14.5% target shares that rank 15th and seventh at the position. Those rates have not translated into tremendous fantasy value yet, but that should change when Davis' touchdown fortunes take a positive turn. He has yet to score but has 1.7 expected rushing plus receiving touchdowns, and his 1.7-touchdown shortfall is third-highest at the position.

Davis is part of the reason I see Chuba Hubbard as an excellent daily value. The former player produced consistent RB2 numbers in relief of an injured Christian McCaffrey last season, and I believe Hubbard will take a similar bell-cow role with McCaffrey out this year. Hubbard may have been a fourth-round draft pick, but BackCAST saw him as the third-best back in the 2021 class behind just first-rounders Najee Harris and Travis Etienne. He may not have an elite skill, but Hubbard seems capable in every aspect of the position. He's fast with a 4.48s 40 time; he dominated his Oklahoma State backfield in carries; he's big enough at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds to handle a heavy NFL workload; and he had a decent 8.3% college receiving ratio and out-targeted his major competition for work in Carolina, Royce Freeman, five to one in relief of McCaffrey last Thursday. All told, we project Hubbard for close to 20 touches this week in Dallas. Even with a modestly unfavorable matchup, that volume sneaks Hubbard into the back end of the top 10 at the position. But he barely cracks the top 20 in salary in both DraftKings and FanDuel this week.

Worst Week 4 Matchups - Running Backs
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
D.Cook MIN 1 CLE Rk 1 1 1 1  
Pts   +0.3 0.0 -1.3 -1.0
S.Barkley NYG 0 NO Rk 13 12 13 16  
Pts   +0.2 0.0 -1.1 -0.9
T.Williams BAL 0 DEN Rk 28 30 30 31  
Pts   -0.2 0.0 -0.6 -0.8
D.Harris NE 1 TB Rk 32 32 32 34  
Pts   0.0 0.0 -0.8 -0.8
M.Ingram HOU 0 BUF Rk 35 35 35 38  
Pts   -0.1 0.0 -0.6 -0.7

Dalvin Cook and Saquon Barkley have some injury concerns, but if they can play, then you should start them in fantasy each week whatever their matchups. The latter back has slipped from the top 10 of my true talent rankings at the position, but that says more about other players than him. He has returned to his pre-injury bell-cow role with 84% and 86% snap shares the last two weeks. And even if he can't contribute a ton of rushing against the Saints' No. 3 DVOA run defense, he can overcome the matchup with something like the six catches and 43 yards he produced as a receiver last week.

As mostly a run-only running back option, Damien Harris was a major fantasy victim of a Saints matchup last week. He had just six carries and 14 yards on the ground, and he decidedly did not counterbalance that poor production with -3 yards receiving. Harris will have better days this season, but I'm not sure this Sunday will be one of them. The Bucs rank seventh this year and ranked first last year in run defense DVOA. And they cut opponent run plays by 33%, yards per carry by 17%, and touchdowns per carry by 64%, all top-four in football. The Patriots do not have the same standout passing attack that the Cowboys could lean on with 58 pass plays versus just 18 run plays in the Week 1 game that kicked off the season. But an attempt at balance won't help Harris produce in fantasy if the Patriots fail to consistently move the ball.

Worst DraftKings Values: Tony Pollard ($800 overpriced at $5,700), Miles Sanders ($700 overpriced at $6,400), Aaron Jones ($500 overpriced at $7,700)

Worst FanDuel Values: Najee Harris ($1,100 overpriced at $8,200), James Robinson ($800 overpriced at $6,900), Chris Carson ($600 overpriced at $7,300)

Ezekiel Elliott quieted down the public calls for a decreased workload with 213 total yards and three total touchdowns the last two weeks. It's almost like his underwhelming 39 yards on 13 touches in Week 1 had a matchup to blame. Change-of-pace back Tony Pollard deserves credit for some bigger Week 1 catches and his generally tremendous efficiency of 58.2% rushing and 52.1% receiving DVOA rates this season. But unless we saw Pollard jump further from his 24%, 34%, and 38% snap shares the first three weeks, he's a non-starter at $5,700 in DraftKings in what is trending as a difficult opponent matchup in the Panthers and their No. 1 run defense DVOA.

Najee Harris found a way around the league's worst run-blocking offensive line (2.46 adjusted line yards) that has limited him to a meager 3.1 yards per carry this season. He literally ran around them and caught 14 passes for 102 yards on 19 targets. That sort of receiving ceiling justifies a significant salary bump, but his jump to fourth-highest at $8,200 in FanDuel is too rich for my taste. I suspect Harris owes his ridiculous receiving afternoon to injuries to teammates Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster—the latter during the game in Week 3 and therefore unprepared for. Both wideouts are expected to practice this week, and if either can play, I would rather avoid Harris with his hefty price tag.

Wide Receivers

Best Week 4 Matchups - Wide Receivers
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
O.Beckham CLE 0 MIN Rk 23 20 20 15  
Pts   +0.8 0.0 +1.4 +2.2
A.Cooper DAL 1 CAR Rk 9 6 6 5  
Pts   +1.4 0.0 +0.4 +1.8
C.Kupp LAR 1 ARI Rk 2 2 2 2  
Pts   +1.6 0.0 +0.1 +1.7
T.McLaurin WAS 0 ATL Rk 17 13 13 10  
Pts   +1.0 0.0 +0.6 +1.6
R.Anderson CAR 0 DAL Rk 49 45 45 38  
Pts   +0.8 0.0 +0.6 +1.4

Odell Beckham's 2017 ankle injury and 2020 ACL tear may have been fluke injuries, but it's difficult to trust the veteran receiver after an unexpectedly delayed start to his 2021 season in Week 3. Apparently, Beckham did not make it a quarter before another injury scare, this time to his shoulder. Still, I can't help but want to use Beckham in every traditional and daily lineup this week. His 31.0% target share has him fifth at the position—albeit against wide receivers that mostly have played three games instead of one. And his matchup in the dome in Minnesota is one of the best for receivers. The Vikings increase yards and touchdowns by 37% and 162% per target to No. 1 receivers, both the most in football. And with that advantage, Beckham jumps from 23rd in my true talent receiver rankings to 15th this week.

Robby Anderson may have the Jets connection with new Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, but that has not translated into last year's target split with DJ Moore. The former wideout has a 10.6% share through three weeks that is only 91st at the position and just over a third of Moore's 29.8% rate. But I'm not quite ready to panic for Anderson. The Jets, Saints, and Texans are better than you might expect with the 18th, sixth, and seventh pass defense DVOA rates. And while the Cowboys are in that same range at 14th this year, their game this week is in the pass-favoring dome and the Cowboys project to defend No. 1 receivers better than they do No. 2 and slot receivers. Against the Cowboys, those latter receivers enjoy a boost of yards by 18% and 16% per target and a boost of touchdowns by 81% and 44% per target. All four rates are top-five in football. Don't move on from Anderson until you see how he fares this Sunday.

Best DraftKings Values: Amari Cooper ($1,300 underpriced at $6,000), Davante Adams ($1,000 underpriced at $7,900), Odell Beckham ($800 underpriced at $5,800)

Best FanDuel Values: Cole Beasley ($800 underpriced at $5,900), Jaylen Waddle ($800 underpriced at $5,400), Odell Beckham ($500 underpriced at $6,600)

With Amari Cooper and Davante Adams having the seasons you would expect, Cole Beasley and Jaylen Waddle deserve some attention for their quick 2021 starts. Beasley saw less fantasy production than his new Bills teammate Emmanuel Sanders in Week 3 since the latter played caught a pair of touchdowns. But overall this year, Beasley has seen a lot more work with a 24.4% versus a 16.3% target share. Beasley is one of just 10 receivers with 10 or more targets per game and three games played this year. He's in my top 15 true talent receivers but, at $5,900, he's tied for just the 40th-highest salary in FanDuel.

The rookie Waddle has nearly matched Beasley with a 23.3% target share that is 26th at the position. And while that rate could take a hit with Will Fuller back from a Week 1 suspension and Week 2 off-field matter, that wasn't the case in Week 3. Waddle dominated his receiver group with 13 targets versus six for Fuller and seven for DeVante Parker against the Raiders. That massive target total did not translate to major fantasy production, but I like Waddle's chances to have some this week against a Colts team derailed by injuries. After a finishing eighth in pass defense DVOA in 2020, the Colts rank just 29th in pass defense so far this year.

Worst Week 4 Matchups - Wide Receivers
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
B.Cooks HOU 0 BUF Rk 4 7 8 11  
Pts   -0.7 -0.1 -0.9 -1.7
D.Metcalf SEA 0 SF Rk 13 18 18 19  
Pts   -0.6 -0.1 -0.5 -1.2
T.Hill KC 0 PHI Rk 3 5 5 6  
Pts   -0.7 0.0 -0.4 -1.1
C.Godwin TB 0 NE Rk 18 21 21 23  
Pts   -0.6 +0.1 -0.5 -1.0
M.Brown BAL 0 DEN Rk 39 41 41 45  
Pts   -0.4 0.0 -0.5 -0.9

Worst DraftKings Values: DeAndre Hopkins ($1,300 overpriced at $7,700), Allen Robinson ($700 overpriced at $5,800), Marquise Brown ($500 overpriced at $5,400)

Worst FanDuel Values: Chris Godwin ($900 overpriced at $7,500), DeAndre Hopkins ($700 overpriced at $7,600), Marquise Brown ($400 overpriced at $6,400)

Brandin Cooks suffers the biggest matchup fall at his position on the road in possible rain in Buffalo and facing one of the game's premiere cover corners in Tre'Davious White. White allowed 6.8 yards per target (21st among regular corners) in 2020, very low given the caliber of receivers he defended, and he limited Terry McLaurin to four catches and 62 yards on seven targets last week. The question is whether Cooks has entered McLaurin's range of every-week starter no matter the matchup. And after a bananas 37.6% target share the first three weeks that just nipped Davante Adams (37.4%) for the top spot, I think the answer is yes. Even with Davis Mills at quarterback, Cooks is up to my fourth-ranked true talent receiver. And even with the difficult matchup this week, Cooks clings to a back-end WR1 ranking of 11th. Start him in your traditional formats. But probably not in DFS.

Marquise Brown's 39th true talent ranking seems low following the same Cooks logic. Brown is a surprising ninth at the position with a 28.4% target share this season. His drop comes from my expectation that first-round rookie Rashod Bateman will play this week after the team activated him from injured reserve. As excited as I am for Bateman, I don't expect him to seize a No. 1 receiver role in his first NFL start. But his addition to the target mix in a Ravens offense already skewed toward the run and to tight end targets for me renders Brown a flex consideration in his better weeks, and I don't think this will be one of them. The Broncos cut No. 1 receiver catch rate by 13%, yards by 25% per target, and touchdowns by 55% per target, all top-six in the NFL.

Worst DraftKings Values: DeAndre Hopkins ($1,300 overpriced at $7,700), Allen Robinson ($700 overpriced at $5,800), Marquise Brown ($500 overpriced at $5,400)

Worst FanDuel Values: Chris Godwin ($900 overpriced at $7,500), DeAndre Hopkins ($700 overpriced at $7,600), Marquise Brown ($400 overpriced at $6,400)

DeAndre Hopkins made me look stupid with two touchdowns in Week 1. But his three-catch, 21-yard Week 3 letdown renewed some of my faith in Kyler Murray's extreme home/road splits. Murray has averaged 4.6 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road in his career, and Hopkins will carry the bulk of that loss among his receivers as the No. 1 guy of the group. I'm also not sure it would matter where Hopkins played this week with his draw of the Rams and the game's best cover corner, Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey allowed a miniscule 4.7 yards per target in general in 2020 and held Hopkins specifically to 52 and 35 yards in their first two matchups as division rivals. Hopkins is a clear stay-away with salaries over $7,500 in both DFS platforms.

With better circumstances, Allen Robinson would be his usual no-brainer fantasy starter. He hasn't seen a standout target total this season, but his 24.7% target share is right in line with his 25.3% share from last year that landed him ninth at the position in PPR formats. But the Bears' poor pass protection and inexperienced possible quarterback starter Justin Fields scares me off this week, especially with Robinson's $5,800 DraftKings salary that is tied with Beckham's for 25th-highest at the position. Robinson needs a modest matchup boost to make it into my top 40 receivers for the week.

Tight Ends

Best Week 4 Matchups - Tight Ends
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
T.Kelce KC 0 PHI Rk 1 1 1 1  
Pts   +0.4 0.0 +0.5 +0.9
T.Conklin MIN 1 CLE Rk 18 16 16 15  
Pts   +0.3 0.0 +0.3 +0.6
C.Kmet CHI 1 DET Rk 26 26 26 21  
Pts   -0.1 0.0 +0.7 +0.6
T.Hockenson DET 0 CHI Rk 3 3 3 3  
Pts   +0.2 +0.1 +0.3 +0.6
L.Thomas WAS 0 ATL Rk 6 6 6 6  
Pts   -0.1 0.0 +0.7 +0.6

I'm not convinced that Tyler Conklin's Week 3 breakout of seven catches and 70 yards makes him a consistent shallow-league fantasy option. Without Irv Smith or Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings have leaned more heavily on 11 personnel such that third receiver K.J. Osborn has out-paced Conklin with a 14.7% versus a 13.8% target share on the season. That said, I should have included Conklin in my waiver wire article if only because of his Week 4 matchup. Domes increase home team tight end yards and touchdowns by 6% per target apiece. And the Browns boost that latter rate by another 92%, the second-most in football. With improved expectations and a plus matchup, Conklin comes close to TE1 status for the week. I rank him 15th.

Best DraftKings Values: Dalton Schultz ($600 underpriced at $3,400), Tommy Tremble ($500 underpriced at $2,500), Evan Engram ($500 underpriced at $3,000)

Best FanDuel Values: Adam Trautman ($400 underpriced at $4,300), Dalton Schultz ($300 underpriced at $5,000), Zach Ertz ($200 underpriced at $4,700)

With the typical DFS markups for the handful of elite fantasy tight ends, everyone is stuck overpaying or bargain-hunting with third-tier tight ends. Among the latter group, Dalton Schultz and Tommy Tremble stand out as inexpensive options. I expected Schultz to take a back seat to his teammate Blake Jarwin who returned this year from a torn ACL. But as Football Outsiders scouting expert Derrik Klassen explained in the most recent waiver wire episode of the Football Outsiders Fantasy Podcast, Jarwin offers the team a different skill set as more of a field-stretcher for the position. Schultz is one of the Cowboys' only underneath targets, and he has parlayed that near-uniqueness into a 13.5% target share that is 18th-highest at the position. Playing at home in the dome, I rank him 10th among tight ends this week, and he's outside the top 20 in both DFS platforms.

Across the field in Dallas, Tommy Tremble should face the better defensive matchup. And while he has a lesser reputation as a third-round rookie who saw just 35 career targets in two years at Notre Dame, I don't think it's a coincidence that the Panthers traded their leading receiving tight end Dan Arnold to address the team's need at cornerback. Even before the trade, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule told reporters that Tremble was this year's version of Jeremy Chinn, a second-rounder last season who made defensive rookie of the year waves with 117 total tackles and a pair of fumble return touchdowns. You shouldn't conflate Tremble's tremendous career ceiling with his expectations in what could be his first ever NFL start. But with the timing of the Arnold trade, Tremble carries the same $2,500 salary minimum in DraftKings that he did in the first three weeks. If you need to save some money at tight end, he's a worthwhile lottery ticket.

Worst Week 4 Matchups - Tight Ends
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
R.Gronkowski TB 0 NE Rk 4 4 4 4  
Pts   +0.2 +0.1 -1.5 -1.2
T.Higbee LAR 1 ARI Rk 9 9 9 12  
Pts   +0.3 0.0 -1.0 -0.7
E.Engram NYG 0 NO Rk 22 23 23 25  
Pts   -0.1 0.0 -0.3 -0.4
R.Tonyan GB 1 PIT Rk 14 14 14 14  
Pts   -0.2 -0.1 0.0 -0.3
M.Andrews BAL 0 DEN Rk 7 7 7 8  
Pts   +0.2 0.0 -0.5 -0.3

At this point, I've stopped betting against Rob Gronkowski scoring touchdowns. Full stop, he looks as good this year as he did before he retired from the Patriots. But it is worth mentioning that Gronk's old team is the No. 2 cutter of tight end touchdowns per target at 71%. That didn't knock the future Hall of Famer from his new perch as my No. 4 true talent tight end. But it at least makes him a player to fade in daily formats.

The sometimes tight end starter I'd consider benching is Evan Engram. He returned from a calf injury that cost him the first two weeks in Week 3 only to hear his Giants crowd boo him when he suffered his second career fumble. That seemed harsh to me, and so maybe Engram is eager to play this week away from the city. The trouble is that he faces a Saints team that cuts tight end yards and touchdowns by 22% and 42% per target, both top-10 in football. Whatever the Giants fans want to see, I can't imagine how Engram avoids a heavy target volume this year, especially if Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton miss any time for their hamstring injuries. Engram did finish fourth at his position with 109 targets in 2020. I just don't see this as the week to try to benefit in fantasy. He's outside my top 20 for the week.

Worst DraftKings Values: Mark Andrews ($1,200 overpriced at $5,300), Rob Gronkowski ($900 overpriced at $5,700), Kyle Pitts ($900 overpriced at $5,000)

Worst FanDuel Values: Mark Andrews ($1,100 overpriced at $6,500), Rob Gronkowski ($500 overpriced at $6,500), Kyle Pitts ($300 overpriced at $5,800)

I feel like I started the year pessimistic for rookie tight end Kyle Pitts and have gotten more hopeful with his 14.5% target share that is 14th-highest at the position, and I feel like everyone else started the year hopeful and have gotten more pessimistic as Pitts has fallen short of 80 yards and failed to score in his first three NFL games. In a few more weeks, the public and I may meet in the middle. But at least for Week 4, I think his $5,000 and $5,800 DFS prices as still too expensive. By rank, those prices aren't bad. With a plus home matchup against Washington, Pitts is my seventh fantasy tight end this week, but he has just the seventh- and ninth-most expensive tight end salaries. My issue is with the steepness of the pricing declines at the position. For me, the top tier at the position is dramatically more valuable. I project Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and T.J. Hockenson for between 2.3 and 6.3 more PPR points this week. And if you plan to overspend on a tight end in DFS, I suggest you do it on one of the small handful of players with a high floor for production.


4 comments, Last at 30 Sep 2021, 6:59pm

2 how to understand those stats

This is great information but is there a breakdown how to understand those stats? Like "ven" and "wea" and so on.


thank you

3 Re: stats

TT = True Talent, which represents projected points and rankings independent of game context

Ven = Venue Adjusted, which represents projected points and rankings with adjustments made for home/road and dome/outside

Wea = Weather Adjusted, which represents projected points and rankings with adjustments made for home/road, dome/outside, and forecasted temperatures, wind, and precipitation

Opp = Opponent Adjusted, which represents projected points and rankings with adjustments made for home/road, dome/outside, forecasted temperatures, wind, and precipitation, and the opponent faced; these are my actual projections and rankings for the week

Let me know if you still have questions.