The game of fantasy football changes on a dime. Injuries, bye weeks, trades, suspensions, and plenty more play a role in the value of players on our rosters week-to-week. So, I will be identifying risers and fallers in value prior to the week ahead. In addition, I’ll identify one player each week who is on “the hot seat” as far as whether or not we can trust them in lineups moving forward. Let’s take a look at the risers, fallers, and our hot-seat player ahead of Week 4.
Week 4 Risers, Fallers, and Who is on The Hot Seat
Sam LaPorta, Tight End, Detroit Lions
Sam LaPorta’s 18 receptions so far this season are the most by any rookie tight end in NFL history in their first three games. He has at least five receptions in all three games. LaPorta’s 14.2 fantasy points per game ranks second amongst tight ends who have played in all three games this season. So, it’s hard to consider him a riser when he’s already hovering at the top.
LaPorta’s success should continue all season long as one of Jared Goff’s most trust-worthy targets in the Lions passing game. He is a set-and-forget top-six option at the position from here on out. If he’s sitting on someone’s bench that has an every-week stud tight end locked into their starting lineup, it’s worth making an offer for LaPorta before Week 4 kicks off.
Tutu Atwell, Wide Receiver, Los Angeles Rams
One of the biggest stories of the 2023 fantasy football season thus far is the emergence of Los Angeles Rams rookie wide receiver, Puka Nacua. However, not far behind Nacua in rankings is his teammate, and fantasy riser, Tutu Atwell, who’s averaging a healthy 16.8 points per game. In fact, he’s one of just four wide receivers in the top-15, in total points, that has scored at least 15.0 points in all three games this season. The others are Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, and Mike Evans. Not bad company.
Tutu Atwell, Puka Nacua, and Van Jefferson have all played 85% or more of the Rams’ offensive snaps this season. Cooper Kupp is due back off of Injured Reserve as soon as Week 5, so someone’s playing time and role is going to diminish as a result. Based on Atwell’s 21.4% team target share, compared to Van Jefferson’s 9.9% thus far, the answer may lie there. Tutu Atwell should probably be in starting lineups ahead of Week 4.
Jordan Love, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers
After three straight games with 20.0 or more fantasy points, there’s no doubt that Jordan Love is a riser in the rankings. He proved himself in an unanswered 18-point comeback in Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints. Now Love gets back-to-back games against the Detroit Lions and the Las Vegas Raiders before a Week 6 Bye.
Love is averaging 22.9 points per game without his full complement of weapons in the passing game. Running back Aaron Jones has missed the last two weeks with a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, he’s still fourth in the league in receiving yards (86) amongst running backs. Christian Watson, Love’s presumed top target, has yet to make his 2023 season debut, as well. Both should be back quickly, as soon as Week 4, making Love that much more reliable to stash and start in most leagues.
Rashee Rice, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
In three games this season, quarterback Patrick Mahomes has targeted 12, 12, and 11 players in each game respectively. To say their second-round pick, Rashee Rice, is enough of a riser to consider the top wide receiver in their offense would be overblown. However, Rice played 39 total snaps in Week 3 compared to 32 total in Weeks 1 and 2. With increased playing time, Rice hauled in five of his seven targets for 59 scoreless yards.
Up next for Rice and the Chiefs are the New York Jets on Sunday Night Football. Then, he takes on the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, and Broncos again. All four teams rank inside the top 10 in receiving yards allowed. They’re also four of six teams that have allowed five or more touchdowns to wide receivers through the first three weeks. Rice is enough of a riser ahead of this stretch to warrant stashing on your bench. You could do worse than one of Patrick Mahomes’ targets.
Breece Hall, Running Back, New York Jets
After gashing the Buffalo Bills’ defense for 127 yards on the ground in Week 1, Breece Hall has just 27 rushing yards on 16 carries since. Unfortunately for fantasy managers, Hall has likely been in starting lineups in both Weeks 2 and 3 after such a strong start to the season. Ahead of Week 4, Hall and Dalvin Cook have seen an equal number of opportunities (carries and targets) this season. Hall has just one more carry than Dalvin Cook, but one less target. This committee approach likely continues when the Jets host the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football.
Breece Hall’s next best chance at producing fantasy-friendly numbers is Week 5 against the Denver Broncos. We all saw what the Miami Dolphins run game just did to them. However, immediately after, Hall and the Jets face the Philadelphia Eagles who are allowing just 40.3 rushing yards per game to running backs. Then New York is on a Week 7 Bye. All things considered, it’s going to be hard to start Hall in the near future making him a fantasy faller for now. I would see if someone is willing to trade for him with the idea of starting him against the Dolphins in Week 5.
Antonio Gibson, Running Back, Washington Commanders
Gone is the idea that Antonio Gibson can play the “Jerrick McKinnon role” in offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s Washington offense. He’s drawn just a 9.7% team target share in the first three weeks. Furthermore, he and Brian Robinson are the only Commanders running backs that have drawn a target combining for a 15.2% target share. So, not even an absence of Robinson looks like it would expand his receiving role.
Gibson has played just eight total snaps less than Brian Robinson this season. However, Robinson has logged 47 carries to Gibson’s seven ahead of Week 4. Robinson is the clear RB1 with Gibson operating as a distance second option. He is averaging 6.85 yards per touch, on just 14 total touches, but already has two fumbles this season. It’s always been a problem for him and a justifiable reason to keep the ball out of his hands. Gibson is enough of a faller this early in the season that he can be dropped, but if you lack depth at the position, I understand the need to save a bench spot for him.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks
It’s been a slow start for rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. After rising in the preseason, then breaking his wrist, only to rise back on with sooner-than-expected Week 1 availability, Smith-Njigba is back to being a faller ahead of Week 4. He played just 44% of snaps in Week 3 running the third-most routes and logging just 10 yards on three targets. He has yet to record double-digit fantasy points in any given week. It’s becoming a concern as some expected, that the rookie will need DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett to miss time in order to carve out a role worth investing in for the 2023 season. He’s a bench stash that can be cut in desperate situations.
The Week 4 Hot Seat
Najee Harris, Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s been worse than expected so far for Najee Harris. His 5.7 points per game lands him as RB54 as well as my Week 4 hot seat. Najee Harris continues to concede playing time to Jaylen Warren playing 53% to Warren’s 42.4% this season. He’s seen a decline in snaps year-to-year from 83% as a rookie in 2021 to 65.7% last season.
Najee has yet to find the end zone this season or rush for more than 65 yards in a single game. In Week 4, he heads to Houston against a Texans defense allowing 88 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs. If Warren continues to earn a role, Najee could fail to meet that average in this one.
The most concerning projection for Najee Harris that heats up the Week 4 hot seat the most is his receiving game usage. Just two seasons ago, Najee drew 94 targets in the Steelers’ passing game. He’s on pace for just 34 targets in 2023. Without the receiving upside, especially with wide receiver Diontae Johnson sidelined, Harris is just barely a flex in Week 4, relying on a favorable matchup to resuscitate his season and trust from fantasy football managers.