This column is a part of a weekly series that offers Fantasy Football advice from Guy Ginsberg, Marty Schnapp, Jason Harward, Nirav Desai and Isaiah Freedman.
After three weeks, we’ve learned a lot about the NFL. Sleepers, busts and big injuries have changed the fantasy football landscape. Here’s some advice to sift through the mess that three weeks have left us.
Five players destined to exceed their expectations
QB: Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
Taylor has been a big surprise this season, as has his team, the Buffalo Bills. His three touchdowns and zero interceptions were just a start of things to come for Taylor. While the Giants secondary looked good against Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins, they did give up some big plays. Look for Taylor to score early and often against the Giant’s defense.
Week 4 Projections, 23 of 28 passing, 242 yards, two touchdowns, 38 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown
QB: Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Carr has five touchdowns and one interception in his past two games. When he plays the Chicago Bear defense that has given up eight touchdowns in three games, he should score many points for your fantasy team. While the Raiders have not recently been an offensive powerhouse, the pieces are coming together for Carr and the Raiders to score big each week. Get used to it; the Raiders are back.
Week 4 Projections: 21 of 26 passing, 387 yards, 4 touchdowns
RB: Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
The Chicago Bears are bad. They are so bad, in fact, that I am going to put two Raider players on this list. Murray has a five yard-per-carry average, and he should get a bunch of carries in garbage time, when the Raiders are dominating. With this logic, I can easily see Murray as a high-end RB2. Even though he is yet to score a touchdown, Murray has looked great between the tackles, and should get into the end zone twice.
Week 4 Projections: 23 carries, 148 yards, two touchdowns
WR: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Can somebody tell Emmanuel Sanders to stop stealing touchdowns? Thank you. Anyway, I am really sold on Thomas this week. Keenan Allen’s performance against the Vikings (two touchdowns), is a foreshadowing for the type of game Thomas could get your fantasy team. With the inability of the Bronco’s rushing game, look for Thomas to get plenty of targets from Peyton Manning.
Week 4 Projections: 10 catches, 121 yards, 2 touchdowns
WR: Rishard Matthews, Miami Dolphins
Matthews isn’t owned in many leagues. But, based on his touchdowns against the Bills defense, I think he’ll get one, even with Darrelle Revis maybe covering him. But, because of his use as a Flex player, one touchdown from Matthews would make me happy. The Dolphins will also probably be getting killed, so look for Ryan Tannehill to air it out, hopefully to Matthews.
Week 4 Projections: five catches, 60 yards, one touchdown
Five players destined to underperform for your fantasy team
QB: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Brees has become a fantasy staple after four straight seasons with 4,900 yards and 30 touchdowns. However, his repeated success isn’t possible after New Orleans shopped two of his favorite targets, Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, who combined for 148 receptions last year. With few targets available and a nagging shoulder injury that caused Brees to miss last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers, Brees can’t be expected to produce like he has during the last few seasons. Furthermore, the awful run defense of the Dallas Cowboys will make the Saints offense run more, which means fewer opportunities to throw for Brees.
Week 4 Projections: 28 of 38 completions, 255 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, 1 fumble lost
RB: C.J. Anderson, Minnesota Vikings
To say that Anderson has underperformed is a gross understatement. Though he was ranked seventh overall in ESPN Preseason Fantasy Rankings, Anderson has given owners a meager 6 points (in standard scoring) all year, which ranks 68th among running backs. Though Anderson could get more work as the season goes on and Peyton Manning is rested for postseason play, he is competing with too many weapons on his own team at this time. If Anderson is ineffective, which has been the case so far, the Broncos can easily fall back on their passing attack of Manning and receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, especially against the Minnesota Vikings secondary that gave up two touchdowns to San Diego Chargers receiver Keenan Allen.
Week 4 Projections: 12 rushes, 38 yards
WR: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
With 41 touchdowns in the last 4 seasons, Johnson was a no-brainer top 10 receiver. However, he has not produced so far this season. His best performance was a 10 reception, 83 yard, 1 touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings (see above, awful secondary), but his other two games combined for 10 points, which just isn’t enough for a top 10 receiver. This week he is at Seattle, which has spelled disaster for multiple receivers in the past few years, and they are even more dangerous now, with Kam Chancellor back for the Seahawks.
Week 4 Projections: 3 receptions, 23 yards
QB: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Stay away from Lions. With 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions this year, Stafford has shown that he is untrustworthy with the ball and unable to score for your fantasy team. The poor decision-making combined with the likelihood of him throwing over 50 times due to a poor running game, Stafford will absolutely throw at least 3 interceptions and get manhandled by Seattle’s defensive line. Though a high amount of attempts usually leads to increased touchdowns and yards, I can’t see the Lions scoring more than 20 points against the vaunted Seattle defense.
Week 4 Projections: 31 of 56 completions, 270 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions
WR: Deandre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Brian Hoyer, who had a four-game stretch last season with eight interceptions, is starting at quarterback for the Texans. Though Hopkins was very effective against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their week 4 opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, have allowed only three touchdowns in the air, while also allowing six rushing touchdowns. With that in mind, look for the Texans to run the ball a ton with Alfred Blue instead of passing. And, if they do pass, just know that Hoyer is not a good enough quarterback to consistently give Hopkins big scoring days.
Week 4 Projections: 8 receptions, 48 yards