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2021 Fantasy Football: Week 4 Loves & Hates

Has the panic meter officially been on for you since the end of Sunday games this past weekend? Are you sitting below .500 and already doubting every decision you made during draft season? Calm down; one week at a time. You can’t win the league overnight so let’s help you go 1-0 in your next 1 matchup. Welcome back to my Fantasy Football Weekly Loves & Hates.

In this series, we identify the best and worst value plays at each skill position for fantasy football purposes. We take into account matchups, game scripts, advanced statistics, and any other relevant news. This won’t be your spot for trying to rank the top players at each position or suggesting deep waiver wire digs every week. Rather, whether you are playing DFS or season-long formats, your start/bench/cut decisions can be informed based on the players that stand out the most at each position—the ones that could go off (loves) and the ones that could disappoint and lose you a matchup (hates).

We will review the previous week’s picks and grade our performance before giving out picks for the upcoming week. I firmly believe that the most important part of the process of winning is to evaluate your winning and losing decisions. We’ll do exactly that in our evaluations of the previous week’s picks. 

Week 3 Review

My Week 3 loves and hates can be viewed here. Here are self-evaluations of those picks, with grades for me in parentheses.

Week 4 Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | PPR | Flex

Quarterback (C)

We waited till Monday Night Football for our quarterback love of the week to take the field. For many of you entering the final game of the week, you needed Jalen Hurts to play like a star under the bright lights in Dallas. Personally, I had to have high, high hopes for my boy this week. Instead, the Eagles offense comes out and lays an egg, partly thanks to a stinking showing from Hurts in the air.

He was indecisive and inaccurate early and Philadelphia fell behind in a hurry. Still, in garbage time, Hurts moved the chains enough to boost his fantasy box score and his rushing ability provided some assistance. He finished the contest with 326 passing yards on 39 pass attempts, both of which were season-highs. He threw his first two interceptions of the season but also racked up a pair of passing touchdowns to give himself a fantasy performance that “got the job done.” Hurts finished as the QB11 of the week thanks to his outstanding floor but it wasn’t quite the boom that we anticipated. 

Lesson learned: new Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is as good as advertised and the Dallas defense is far from their historically bad self from 2020. You can’t just target them as a fantasy punching bag for mobile quarterbacks.

On the other hand, our quarterback hate of the week was a man generally not easy to bet against. Against the tough Rams defense, I anticipated some struggle for Tom Brady, who lost to Sean McVay in 2020. Indeed, this time with an improved offense, the Rams got off to another fast start and led early. In typical Brady fashion, the contest was seemingly not over until very late and in the comeback effort, he passed for 432 yards, his highest in a regular season game since 2017. Although he threw for only one touchdown, he rushed for one as well and utilized the big day in the air to finish as the QB4 of the week. Rough call and another day the insane passing volume of the Buccaneers makes Brady one of the strongest fantasy plays of the week. 

Running Back (B-)

As if I hadn’t suffered enough on “Prime Time” already—as someone who picked Antonio Gibson the previous week despite a Thursday Night Football matchup, I went unconventional with what I thought was an underrated ceiling for David Johnson. I demanded serviceable pass-catching volume for the former RB1 and expected Davis Mills to utilize those short passes to move the chains against a tough Panthers defense. Instead, Brandin Cooks gobbled up nine receptions for the second straight game on an impressive 11 targets and Anthony Miller scored Houston’s only touchdown. 

The running game for Houston was essentially irrelevant as Johnson handled only 38% of the Texans’ offensive snaps and rushed for 11 yards on 2 carries. Johnson was targeted 0 times for the first time this season and his involvement in the offense is now in serious question as he still hasn’t been able to even contest the starting job despite his track record. Probably the single worst love pick I’ve ever made.

On the other hand, at least I read my own team correctly—against the grueling Saints run defense, with a depleted offensive line, the impressive rookie quarterback Mac Jones wasn’t enough to create a competitive level of offense. New England’s starting running back Damien Harris, who still hasn’t surpassed 53% offensive snaps in a game (Week 1), was involved minimally and inefficiently as he rushed for 14 yards on 6 attempts and caught his only 2 targets for -3 yards. 

After pass-catching back James White left the game with an injury, Harris’ number wasn’t called. Instead, the Patriots confused even more fantasy owners as they turned to Brandon Bolden for 3 carries and 4 targets. Great love pick at least as I hope you faded Damien Harris in all formats in Week 3. 

Wide Receiver (B-)

For the second straight week, I targeted the abysmal Atlanta Falcons’ attempt to restrict a passing game. In Week 2, it worked out as I produced one of the best calls of the season so far—a 2-touchdown game from Mike Evans. In Week 3, things didn’t go so swimmingly as we ran into arguably the ugliest game of the week in the NFL. In a brutal matchup of offenses where several New York Giants fell to injury, Kenny Golladay watched as his team crumbled to 0-3 and put up serviceable numbers of 64 receiving yards on 4 receptions (5 targets). While he was a decent FLEX play, he didn’t boom the way we would have liked despite his fellow offensive weapons Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard dissipating from the game due to the health. 

On the other hand, we faded the boom-or-bust wide receiver with crazy talent, Terry McLaurin. Facing the Buffalo Bills, the Washington Football Team were down big early but in their comeback effort, McLaurin led his team in targets (7) but he only caught 4 of those passes for 62 yards. It’s the second time in three weeks this season that he has had that exact reception and yard count, down from his 107-yard explosion in Week 2. McLaurin continues to show boom/bust potential and this week, he did not live up to the WR1 price he established for himself in Week 2 against the Giants. Successful fade but not a complete dud either.

Tight End (B-)

I’ll keep saying that tight end is a labyrinth of randomness and whimsical decisions for quarterbacks and offensive coordinator. It sounds like an excuse but so far, it has deemed fairly true. This week, the leader of the pack at the position—Dalton Schultz on Monday Night Football and Tyler Conklin stealing the show from popular waiver wire add K.J. Osborn. With Noah Fant beginning the season with a solid pair of games with volue and production to make him fantasy-relevant, it felt like a lob to call him to establish his presence in Week 3 against the Jets. Instead, he put up a stinker as he only caught 2 of 3 targets for 15 yards and did not sniff the end zone. Instead, Teddy “Two Gloves” Bridgewater focused his passing energies on wide receivers Courtland Sutton (5 targets, 5 receptions, 37 yards) and Tim Patrick (5 targets, 5 receptions, 98 yards).

With K.J. Hamler now down for the season, both Fant and Patrick could get more fantasy-relevant usage until second-year stud Jerry Jeudy returns.

On the other hand, at least I spotted you a favor with a fade of Robert Tonyan. After a fiery Week 2 where he scored a touchdown and racked up 52 yards, Tonyan was nowhere to be seen on Sunday Night Football against the 49ers. He participated in a season-high 73% of the offensive snaps but to no avail. He was targeted only once and caught the pass for 6 yards. And that’s all she wrote. Tonyan, like many tight ends, is a possibility for a touchdown in a ton of matchups but without it, he is likely irrelevant from the fantasy scene and a liability to start unless the Packers decide to force their hand at involving him more in the air game. 

More fantasy football fun for Week 4: Waiver Wire | FAAB Guide | Buy-Low, Sell-High Trade Targets | Start & Sit | Loves & Hates | Stock Watch | Sleepers & Streamers | QB Streamers | D/ST Streamers 

Week 4 Loves & Hates

We’ve already learned some lessons through two weeks of the 2021 season that features an extra game. Let’s grow as a team and make ourselves even better for what looks to be a slate filled with pivotal storyline games. 


Love: Taylor Heinicke (WSH)

Through the first three weeks of the season, the Atlanta Falcons are a bottom 3 fantasy defense against quarterbacks. Only three teams have allowed more passing touchdowns than them and only three teams have allowed more rushing yards to quarterbacks than them. Granted, two of their matchups were Jalen Hurts and Daniel Jones but they are clearly prone to quarterbacks having their way against their lousy secondary and lazy defensive scheme.

Taylor Heinicke, one of the best stories among active players in football, built his early reputation off of exactly that dual ability. Although he hasn’t been relying heavily on designed rushes, his ability is clearly there as a scrambler and he has tallied two passing touchdowns in two straight weeks. He can do exactly that on his way to a win against the Falcons and it only helps matters for his offensive ceiling if wide receiver Curtis Samuel makes his season debut in Week 4 coming back from a stint on the injured reserve. 


Hate: Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)

On a short sample size, you might naively think this is a sneaky good matchup. The Packers are a bottom 5 fantasy defense against quarterbacks so far this season but “Big Ben” couldn’t take full advantage of a matchup right now if I was at cornerback. Obvious hyperbole but consider this—many of the Packers’ defensive struggles going back to last season have come via Kevin King at cornerback with his 85.7% completion rate, 21.9 yards per target, and perfect passer rating allowed in two games this season. If Eric Stokes is a permanent replacement for King as a starter, the Packers secondary is boosted and with multiple receivers dealing with nagging injuries, Roethlisberger could be deprived of options for productive pass plays. Even on 58 passing attempts last season, the Bengals were enough to stop the Pittsburgh air game and Roethlisberger still threw 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions and hasn’t broken 20 fantasy points yet this season. It’s simply time to move on from Big Ben and stream quarterbacks via more effective options.

Running Back

Love: David Montgomery (CHI)

The question being asked around the world—what do I do about this damned Bears offense? Is Allen Robinson going to put up fantasy numbers that match his talent? Is David Montgomery going to get trusted like the monster that he is? 

The matchup between the reeling Bears and the shallow Lions could actually be a surprisingly good one and telling for fantasy purposes. With all three quarterbacks for Bears head coach Matt Nagy on the table for Week 4, where do we go if we don’t know what the passing game is going to look like? How about just trust in a bounceback game from the strong, elusive back David Montgomery? So far this season, the Lions have been mediocre against running backs and in what should be a close game, the Bears might simply choose to make Montgomery the main man on offense moving the chains. Regardless of who is at quarterback, why not let Montgomery get to work in the red zone against the team that has given up the fourth-most standard fantasy points to running backs this season? Montgomery is a safe start for me this week; this is not the moment to panic about him and accidentally watch him drop 20 points on your bench.

Hate: James Robinson (JAX)

This is what you call growth. You are witnessing how a fantasy football player develops during a season. This is how evolution works in decision-making. After two straight weeks of falling prey to seemingly juicy value on Thursday Night Football, I’m finally doing the right thing by fading the short rest. So far, the Jaguars backfield has been a 2-headed demon, primarily featuring James Robinson who finally exploded for 134 scrimmage yards on 15 carries, 6 receptions, and 1 rushing touchdown.

But at this point, starting a Thursday Night Football running back is simply asking for trouble—even more so when there are already signs of an imperfection in workload. While Jacksonville backup running back Carlos Hyde hasn’t come close to taking over Robinson’s role as a starter, he did get 9 carries in Week 1 while Robinson only got 5. Then in Week 3, Hyde didn’t come close to stealing the spotlight from Robinson but he did get 8 carries and notched a decent 5.5 yards per carry on them. On a short-rest game against the Bengals, who have the highest rushing defense EXP in the NFL this season, Hyde and Robinson could see a split frustrating for fantasy managers, making Robinson a very risky start and an instant hate for Week 4.

Wide Receiver

Love: Antonio Brown (TB)

Narratives are the most underrated variable to consider in fantasy football. Statistics and matchups run the analysis world as we love and often use in this segment. But some storylines just make too much sense. If Antonio Brown is healthy and a full-go for Week 4’s return to Foxborough on Sunday Night Football, he is an auto-start in all formats for me.

While Mike Evans will likely be shadowed by stud cornerback J.C. Jackson and former Patriots legend Rob Gronkowski will likely play through a rib injury, expect all the attention to be on those two top targets while Antonio Brown makes a statement in the red zone with volume and touchdown potential. Remember when Brady offered Brown to live in his house so that they could be teammates on the Patriots? They’re back together and they aren’t leaving New England without letting people know how dangerous they are.

Hate: D.J. Moore (CAR)

Just a week after attempting to target the Dallas Cowboys defense, I’ve learned to respect what defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has done with this team. He’s built a scheme that plays aggressively against great offensive players and has helped the team draft players that fit the style they want to play. One of the leaders of the pack? Cornerback Trevon Diggs, who now has 3 interceptions and 6 passes defended on the season. Expect him to spend a lot of time toe-to-toe with top receiver D.J. Moore

It makes no sense that Moore is currently being projected as a top 5 PPR fantasy wide receiver for Week 4 at the moment—is it because of Christian McCaffrey’s injury possibly sending more volume Moore’s way? If anything, the Cowboys have less to worry about in the backfield and more to worry about against wideouts, easing up their job on containing Moore. 

Tight End

Love: Jonnu Smith (NE)

Another pick from that Sunday Night Football storyline that will have so many emotional moments? It might seem like a bold move to buy into anything related to the Patriots offense right now but rookie Mac Jones has actually had some excellent moments in every single game. At a tight end position that has been a wild card to predict on a weekly basis, we’re going a route here that has been a rare path of security in volume but also with touchdown potential. 

While Jones has made some classic rookie mistakes already, his highlights have been impressive and his trust in the new acquisition tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry has been a narrative rarely advertised. 

After Smith dropped a good pass that turned into an interception in Week 3 against the Saints, expect him to redeem himself by showing off some of that athleticism that got him a contract with New England. While both tight ends have been involved in a true platoon so far, there haven’t been too many passing opportunities for either in the red zone so far in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ scheme. Smith has the only tight end reception in the red zone for the Patriots this season and I expect him to get back in that column in Week 4. 

Hate: Tyler Higbee (LAR)

Rams head coach Sean McVay has never lost to the Cardinals in his NFL career. He’ll look to continue that streak in Week 4 and this season, he has an MVP-trending quarterback at the helm and a superstar wide receiver in Cooper Kupp leading the statistical board on the team. But don’t forget about the talent and versatility of Robert Woods, who was reportedly a tad frustrated with Stafford not finding him on some routes where he was open. Expect both Woods’ involvement and Kupp’s stability to tattoo the passing attack of the Rams while Higbee remains sidelined from the spotlight. 

This season, the Cardinals are a top 3 fantasy defense against tight ends but a bottom 10 fantasy defense against wide receivers in standard scoring. Higbee’s floor is clearly concerning and thus only an option in your starting lineup if streaming elsewhere provides an even slimmer market. Don’t look for any security here whatsoever.

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