Injuries, holdouts, and weirdness abound as we enter Week 4 of the NFL season, teaching us it’s sometimes (almost always) better to be lucky than smart at fantasy football.
Most of this weirdness has to do with the running back position – as the revolving door of productive and healthy backs continues to shift.
Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants is expected to be out 4-6 weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, leaving fantasy owners scrambling for backup Wayne Gallman Jr. Meanwhile, out in Los Angeles, the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon announced that he’s ending his holdout, which is likely to eventually end the prospects of long-term dominance for Austin Ekeler and fantasy relevance for Justin Jackson. It does seem that Ekeler will get one more week to shine with Gordon’s status uncertain for this week.
Even if you are an owner that’s been hit with a case of unluckiness, there are still opportunities to make some shrewd plays this week with the help of Stats Perform’s projections, which are based on both our experts’ opinion and our proprietary advanced analytics.
Stats Perform has pinpointed players at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end in a standard-scoring format that we project are either higher or lower than other experts’ rankings. For the consensus rankings, we’re using FantasyPros, which aggregates major fantasy sites’ picks, to compare our projections with others in the industry.
Here’s to hoping that you are both lucky and smart with your lineup decisions this week after reviewing Stats Perform’s top undervalued and overvalued players for Week 4:
Quarterback – Undervalued:
Case Keenum, Washington Redskins
Redskins’ fans may be unhappy with the team’s 0-3 start, but Keenum had been a bright spot until struggling against the vaunted Chicago Bears defense. Still, he’s second in the league with 28.7 completions and fourth with 311.0 passing yards per game.
Keenum also had five touchdowns and no interceptions in two games before recording three interceptions and two fumbles in Week 3. He should be able to bounce back against a Giants defense that has one interception and is allowing a league-worst 332.3 passing yards per game. Of course, all of this is assuming Keenum starts. Fantasy owners would be wise to keep tabs on the Redskins quarterback situation as Keenum is recovering from a foot injury and an easy matchup versus New York could be an ideal platform for Dwayne Haskins’ first career start.
Quarterback – Overvalued:
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
For a rookie, Murray has put in some admirable performances against solid defenses, but he’s simply not a polished fantasy football product yet. He ranks near the bottom of the league in our quality throws metric and completion percentage (61.3) on his NFL-high 45.7 attempts per game.
Arizona’s offensive line also continues to be an issue – Murray has been sacked 16 times in three games – and it could continue to struggle against an effective Seattle Seahawks front.
Running Back – Undervalued:
Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts
Mack has quietly developed into a workhorse back for the Colts this year, piling up about 20 carries and 100 yards per game with two touchdowns. His recipe for success is a simple one – he gets plenty of touches behind a strong offensive line.
Mack figures to be strong play again this week against an Oakland Raiders defense that got gouged for 211 rushing yards on 5.6 per carry by the Minnesota Vikings last week.
Running Back – Overvalued:
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
It’s no secret that Zeke is one of the best running backs in the NFL, and he gets enough carries within an impressive offense that he doesn’t have much downside. However, he hasn’t been very involved in the passing game this year, recording just five catches over the first three games.
This noticeable change from last year, when Zeke caught 77 passes for 567 yards. Now the Cowboys face the Saints, who rank 29th with 301.7 passing yards allowed per game. Zeke’s still a strong starting option, but he might not have as much upside as he’s had in past seasons.
Wide Receiver – Undervalued:
Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs
Watkins remains high in our projections because he’s tied for fourth in the league with 10.7 targets per game and plays on one of the NFL’s most high-powered offenses. What’s not to love? Well, the last two weeks have actually been disappointing relative to his Week 1 explosion, but the targets are still there, and it feels like only a matter of time before Watkins breaks out again.
That’s more likely to happen this week if Detroit Lions’ shutdown cornerback Darius Slay (questionable) is unable to play after he tweaked his hamstring in Week 3. The stars are aligning for Watkins.
Wide Receiver – Overvalued:
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Last week against the Seahawks, Thomas was able to salvage a decent fantasy performance with a short-yardage touchdown. Without quarterback Drew Brees, though, Thomas managed just seven targets after totaling 26 over the first two games.
With a tough matchup against the Cowboys and physical corner Byron Jones, the Saints will likely look to run the ball early and often. This spells trouble for Thomas, whose fantasy value is predicated on frequent targets and short passes. Thomas led the league with 125 receptions last season, but it’s tough to envision him replicating that with Brees out for a lengthy stretch.
Tight End – Undervalued:
Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
Hooper broke out last week with a two-touchdown performance in Atlanta’s loss at Indianapolis. If he can continue to be a red-zone threat and keep up his pace of 7.3 targets per game, Hooper will become a strong mid-level tight end option.
The Tennessee Titans, the Falcons’ upcoming opponent, have allowed a tight end to score in each of the first three weeks, making Hooper a strong start.