- Fantasy football, NFL analyst for ESPN.com
- Member of Pro Football Writers of America
- Founding director of Pro Football Focus Fantasy
- 2013 FSTA award winner for most accurate preseason rankings
The Fantasy 32 analyzes the NFL from a fantasy perspective, with at least one mention of each of the league’s 32 teams. Though efficiency will be discussed plenty, the column will lean heavily on usage data, as volume is king (by far) in fantasy football. Use these tidbits to make the best waiver-wire, trade and lineup decisions for the upcoming week and beyond. Be sure to check back each week of the season for a new version of the Fantasy 32.
Throughout the team-by-team rundowns that follow, I’ll be referencing “OFP” and “OTD.” OFP stands for opportunity-adjusted fantasy points. Imagine a league in which players are created equal. OFP is a statistic that weighs every pass/carry/target and converts the data into one number that indicates a player’s opportunity to score fantasy points, or his “expected” fantasy point total. For example, if a player has an OFP of 14.5, it means that a league average player who saw the same workload in the same location on the field would have scored 14.5 fantasy points. FORP is the difference between a player’s actual fantasy point total and his OFP. OTD works the same way, except instead of fantasy points, it’s touchdowns. Volume is king in fantasy football, so this is not information you want to overlook.
That said, here is the post-Week 4 OFP leaderboard:
*Complete OTD and OFP positional leaderboards will be posted on ESPN+ this week.
Next, here are the players who exceeded their OFP by the largest margin this past week and are thus candidates to see a dip in fantasy production moving forward, assuming they see a similar workload:
And these players fell short of their OFP by the largest margin last week and thus you shouldn’t be too quick to overreact to their performance when making lineup, trade or waiver decisions:
Arizona Cardinals: What to do with Kenyan Drake? The team’s transition tag recipient has been a major fantasy dud this season despite playing at least 62% of the offensive snaps in all four of Arizona’s games. That was, of course, the case during a Week 4 game in which Drake wasn’t targeted and was limited to 35 yards on 13 carries. Drake is up to 67 carries (seventh most) for the season, but has only 254 yards and one score to show for it. Drake is easily averaging career-lows in YPC (3.8) and YAC (1.3), but the biggest mystery/problem has been his nonexistent role as a receiver (five targets in four games). Drake has fallen to flex territory, but his volume suggests he’s not an automatic bench. Consider him a borderline RB2 against an exploitable Jets’ defense in Week 5.
Atlanta Falcons: Todd Gurley II racked up 63 yards and two touchdowns on 17 touches against the Packers on Monday Night Football. Gurley’s early production looks very similar to his 2019 season with the Rams. He continues to struggle with efficiency (3.9 YPC, 1.1 YPT), but has made up for it in fantasy with decent rushing volume (eighth-most carries) and, of course, touchdowns (four). Gurley is a non-factor as a pass-catcher (9 yards on eight targets), but is fantasy’s No. 19 scoring running back, has posted three top-20 weeks and sits 14th in OFP. He’s a back-end RB2 with a low ceiling.
Baltimore Ravens: Let’s check in on the Ravens’ running back committee. On Sunday, Gus Edwards paced the unit with 22 snaps played, compared to 19 for J.K. Dobbins and 14 for Mark Ingram. Edwards put up 38 yards on nine carries, Ingram produced 37 yards and one touchdown on nine touches and Dobbins added 17 yards on six touches. For the season, Dobbins leads the trio in snaps (85) and routes (47) but sits third in carries (15) and has been held to seven targets. Ingram has carried the ball on 34 of his 76 snaps and has been targeted five times. Edwards has 27 carries on 69 snaps and hasn’t been targeted. No Ravens running back currently ranks better than 41st at the position in fantasy points. This is obviously a situation to avoid, though Ingram and Dobbins are fine to stash on your bench in case of an injury.
Buffalo Bills: Devin Singletary has been nothing short of a workhorse with Zack Moss sidelined over the past two weeks. Singletary has played 87% of the offensive snaps during the span, handling a total of 31 carries and 11 targets. That allowed him 197 yards, one touchdown and the 12th-most fantasy points among running backs during the span. Singletary ranks 22nd among backs in carries (50) this season, but he sits fourth in pass routes (91) and targets (21). Moss appeared close to playing in Week 4, so he very well could be back this weekend, which would limit Singletary to flex territory. However, if Moss remains sidelined, Singletary should be locked into lineups as a solid RB2 play against Tennessee.
Carolina Panthers: Is Robby Anderson a WR1 in fantasy? Perhaps we’re not quite there yet, but he’s certainly playing like it. Anderson’s “bad” performance this season was a 5-55-0 receiving line against the Chargers, and he has otherwise produced lines of 6-114-1, 9-109-0 and 8-99-0. Anderson currently ranks sixth among wide receivers in targets (35), fourth in receptions (28), seventh in receiving yards (377) and ninth in fantasy points. He’s averaging a career-high 8.8 targets per game and leads Carolina in target share (25%) and trails only DJ Moore in air yard share (34%). Anderson is set up with a great Week 5 matchup against the Falcons and should be locked into lineups.
Chicago Bears: Week 4 marked the Bears’ first game without Tarik Cohen, who was lost for the season because of a torn ACL. The result was a much larger role for David Montgomery, who was on the field for 50 of 59 offensive snaps (85%). The second-year back struggled on the ground (10-27-0) against a good Colts defense, but he also set a career high with six targets (three catches, 30 yards). That’s obviously notable with passing-down specialist Cohen out, as an increase in receiving work for Montgomery would obviously help his RB2 viability moving forward. Cordarrelle Patterson chipped in with four touches on 10 snaps, and Ryan Nall played only one snap. Montgomery sits 27th in fantasy points, but his heavy usage suggests better days are ahead. Week 5 presents a tough matchup against Tampa Bay, but Montgomery will still be a flex option.
Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green was held to one catch for 3 yards on five targets against the Jaguars on Sunday. Green missed a few snaps because of an injury but was on the field for 51 (or 72%) of the team’s offensive plays, which trailed only Tyler Boyd among the team’s wide receivers. Green, who led the NFL in air yards through Week 2, has seen his targets plummet from 22 during Weeks 1-2 to 12 during Weeks 3-4. With Boyd, Tee Higgins, Drew Sample and even Joe Mixon seeing more targets, Green is quickly fading from the fantasy radar. His early-season usage coupled with Cincinnati’s high-volume offense suggests hope remains for a rebound, but for now, Green and his 3.5 YPT belong on benches.
Cleveland Browns: Nick Chubb (knee) left Sunday’s game after only 13 snaps and was placed on injured reserve. In his place, Kareem Hunt played 25 snaps (34%) and produced 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 11 carries (he wasn’t targeted). D’Ernest Johnson was the next man up and delivered with 13 carries for 95 yards on 17 snaps. Dontrell Hilliard (15 snaps) racked up 21 yards on six touches. With Chubb out, Hunt is now a weekly RB1 lock, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering he was widely recognized as the league’s best insurance back during the offseason. Johnson is worth a look on waivers as it appears he’ll help replace a chunk of Chubb’s carries in what is one of the league’s run-heaviest offenses. Hilliard will get some run in passing situations but is unlikely to see enough work for flex consideration.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys’ offense is on a roll, and that has allowed a tremendous start to the career of CeeDee Lamb. The first-round pick has posted receiving lines of 5-59-0, 6-106-0, 5-65-0 and 5-79-2 on 29 targets (16th-most among WRs) while also carrying the ball three times through the first quarter of the season. Lamb, who sits 16th at the position in fantasy points, has been on the field for 73% of the team’s pass plays this season. His 60 snaps on Sunday matched Amari Cooper and was just behind Michael Gallup’s 64. Despite the positives, it’s hard to imagine that the ridiculous pace of the Cowboys’ passing game will continue (they’ve led on a league-low 2% of their offensive snaps). Lamb’s 14% target share isn’t going to cut it for WR2 numbers moving forward, so for now, he should be considered a flex.
Denver Broncos: Tim Patrick showed up in prime time on Thursday, posting a 6-113-1 receiving line on seven targets. Patrick has now found the end zone in back-to-back games, though keep in mind that he failed to eclipse five targets, four receptions or 43 yards during Weeks 1-3. Patrick is playing a lot — he has been on the field for just under 80% of the team’s snaps this season — but he has a long shot for consistent usage and production, especially once a healthy KJ Hamler (11 snaps on Thursday) and Noah Fant (32) are back on the field, which could be as soon as Week 5. Patrick should be added in only deep leagues.
Detroit Lions: Marvin Jones Jr. is off to a slow start this season and that was especially the case in Week 4. The 30-year-old was held to one 9-yard catch on two targets. Jones has posted target totals of two and three since Kenny Golladay’s return to the lineup and hasn’t cleared 55 yards in a game this season. The good news is that Jones has remained a full-time player, seeing the field on 90% of Detroit’s pass plays this season. Jones will return from Detroit’s Week 5 bye as no more than a flex option.
Green Bay Packers: Tight ends are breaking out all over the league this season, but no one has quite like Robert Tonyan. The 2017 undrafted free agent entered 2020 with 14 career receptions, but exploded onto the fantasy scene in all formats with a 6-98-3 receiving line on six targets against Atlanta on Monday Night Football. Tonyan has now scored in three consecutive games and sits second among tight ends in fantasy points. He has run a route on a decent 58% of Green Bay’s pass plays this season, but note that he entered Week 4 with only eight targets in three games, which included zero in Week 1. Both Davante Adams and Allen Lazard were sidelined on Monday and the Packers’ passing game obviously took advantage of a poor Falcons defense. If you’re shaky at tight end, Tonyan isn’t a bad flier, but note that the Packers are headed to their bye week and Adams will be back in Week 6. Tonyan has the look of a TE2 moving forward.
Houston Texans: Houston is off to an ugly 0-4 start, but that shouldn’t overshadow the strong production of Will Fuller V. The oft-injured former first-round pick delivered a 6-108-1 receiving line on seven targets against Minnesota on Sunday. That comes after he bookended a zero-target showing against Baltimore in Week 2 with 8-112-0 and 4-54-1 receiving lines in Weeks 1 and 3, respectively. Fuller is now 20th among wide receivers in receptions (18), 21st in yardage (274) and 20th in fantasy points (57). Houston is past the hardest part of its schedule, and Fuller’s usage and production suggests he can contribute WR2 numbers moving forward.
Indianapolis Colts: Trey Burton was activated from injured reserve and played 34 of a possible 68 snaps on Sunday. That was only nine fewer than Jack Doyle and was three more than Mo Alie-Cox. Burton’s 17 routes and five targets led the trio, with Doyle handling two targets on 13 routes. Alie-Cox is the biggest story here as he sits 14th at the position in fantasy points after producing 111 yards in Week 2 and one touchdown each of the past two games. Alie-Cox was limited to two targets on six routes Sunday. The Colts are operating a run-heavy offense and leaning on their defense, which is going to limit the output from the team’s top targets. Burton’s return further hinders Alie-Cox’s path to consistent fantasy production and means he’s no longer a player who must be rostered.
Jacksonville Jaguars: DJ Chark Jr. was quiet during Weeks 1-2 before missing Week 3 because of an injury. The 2019 breakout star got back on track Sunday with an 8-95-2 receiving line on nine targets. Chark had been limited to only seven targets during his first two games, but his 25% target share Sunday puts him back on track compared to where he was last season. Chark, who is suddenly among the top-25 wide receivers in fantasy points despite the missed game, is a strong WR3 play against Houston in Week 5.
Kansas City Chiefs: Sammy Watkins was targeted seven times against the Patriots on Monday night, which allowed him a 4-43-0 receiving line. Watkins also has 7-82-1, 1-11-0 and 7-62-0 performances on the board this season. Those numbers aren’t overly impressive, but 27 targets in four games in the Chiefs’ highly productive offense is nothing to balk at. Watkins, who played 84% of the snaps on Monday, sits 40th in fantasy points among wideouts this season. As long as he continues to see seven or eight targets per game, Watkins belongs on the flex radar.
Las Vegas Raiders: With rookie receivers Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards sidelined Sunday, it was Nelson Agholor who paced the team’s wide receiver room with 62 (90%) snaps played. Zay Jones (61 snaps), Hunter Renfrow (46) and Keelan Doss (three) were the only other Las Vegas wideouts to get run in the loss to Buffalo. Though third in line for snaps, Renfrow was unsurprisingly the most targeted of the four, hauling in five of eight throws for 57 yards. Jones (six targets) and Agholor (four) were held below 45 yards, though Agholor snuck in a touchdown. Should Ruggs and Edwards miss addition time, only Renfrow will be on the flex radar in PPR leagues.
Los Angeles Chargers: Austin Ekeler went down with an injury on his third snap of Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay. In his place, Joshua Kelley (29 snaps) and Justin Jackson (19) handled backfield duties. Both struggled against the Buccaneers’ strong run defense, with Kelley managing 7 yards on nine carries and 26 yards on three targets and Jackson managing 9 yards on six carries and 12 yards on two targets. Despite the rough showing, Kelley has risen to the weekly RB2 discussion with Ekeler expected to miss time, whereas Jackson is a deep-league flex option. Note that, even with Ekeler in the fold for all of Weeks 1-3, Kelley’s 59 touches rank 23rd among backs this season.
Los Angeles Rams: Tyler Higbee appeared to be picking up where he left off last season when he exploded for three touchdowns against the Eagles in Week 2. It appears that might have been a flash in the pan, as Higbee has otherwise posted receiving lines of 3-40-0, 2-40-0 and 3-21-0 this season. Higbee has yet to clear 54 yards in a game and hasn’t been targeted more than five times in a single outing. Higbee has run a route on only 48% of Los Angeles’ pass plays this season, which helps explain the low target totals and suggests he’s not a reliable TE1 play. He should be on benches until his targets increase, though that may be a long shot in the Rams’ run-heavy offense.
Miami Dolphins: DeVante Parker caught 10 of 12 targets for 110 yards against Seattle on Sunday. Miami’s top receiver has been solid so far this season, posting receiving lines of 4-47-0 (missed half of the game), 5-53-1 and 5-69-0 prior to Sunday. Parker is up to 10th in receptions and 19th in fantasy points among receivers. Injury-marred Week 1 aside, Parker has been on the field for 86% of Miami’s offensive snaps and is handling a healthy 23% target share. He’s right back in the weekly WR2 discussion and should, of course, be locked into lineups against the 49ers this week.
Minnesota Vikings: Irv Smith Jr. was an intriguing deep sleeper this year after being ignored in most drafts despite entering his second NFL season as a recent second-round pick. It appears ignorance was the right strategy in this situation. Smith has been limited to two receptions for 14 yards and zero touchdowns on six targets through four games. Smith actually played a season-high 40 snaps on Sunday, but he continues to run behind Kyle Rudolph and the Minnesota offense has run through Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook. Smith should be rostered in only dynasty and deep two-tight end leagues.
New England Patriots: Damien Harris and Sony Michel swapped places on injured reserve on Monday, with the former making his 2020 debut. Harris, a 2019 third-round pick, impressed with 100 yards on a team-high 17 carries. Essentially sliding into Michel’s old role, Harris was not targeted in the game. He was on the field for 22 snaps (30%), compared to 40 for James White and 26 for Rex Burkhead, though the split was much closer when the score was closer in the first half. Harris’ debut suggests we can vault him into the weekly flex discussion, especially in non-PPR, though he’s certainly going to be in for the occasional dud if he isn’t used in the passing game. He has the skill set, but it’s very possible he won’t be with Burkhead and White also in the fold.
New Orleans Saints: Latavius Murray rushed the ball 14 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns, adding a 19-yard catch on a pair of targets against the Lions on Sunday. Murray has now reached 12 carries in three of New Orleans’ four games but had not found the end zone prior to Sunday. Murray has been all but a nonfactor in the passing game, having now posted a 4-45-0 receiving line for the season. Despite the big Week 4, Murray remains no more than Alvin Kamara insurance and won’t be a reliable flex option most weeks.
New York Giants: At the one-quarter mark of the season, the Giants’ rank dead last in the NFL with three offensive touchdowns. Losing Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard obviously hurts, but second-year QB Daniel Jones has struggled, completing 61% of his passes and averaging 6.0 YPA. Jones hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1, has thrown at least one interception in all four games and has been sacked 14 times (third most). If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the Giants’ schedule has been brutal (vs. Steelers, at Bears, vs. 49ers, at Rams), and the struggling Cowboys’ defense is up next on the slate, followed by games against Washington and Philadelphia. It’s hard to recommend any Giants players in fantasy right now, but hope remains for the likes of Jones, Devonta Freeman, Darius Slayton, Golden Tate and Evan Engram against “easier” defenses.
New York Jets: Who is Jeff Smith? That’s the question many were asking themselves as the wide receiver rostered in only 1% of Draftkings Showdown Captain leagues posted a 7-81-0 receiving line on nine targets against Denver on Thursday. Smith, who went undrafted out of Boston College last year, played only 14 snaps during his rookie season and entered Week 4 having just been activated off injured reserve. Smith was busy right out of the gate for the receiver-needy Jets, playing a whopping 70 of 74 offensive snaps (95%). Smith isn’t the worst add in deeper PPR and dynasty leagues, but note that he played on the perimeter opposite Chris Hogan (who played 89% of the snaps) with Jamison Crowder (85%) in the slot. That perimeter situation will be cloudier once Breshad Perriman returns and that could be as soon as Week 5. Smith is unlikely to find his way to consistent fantasy production this season in the Jets’ struggling offense.
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles were without their top four wide receivers Sunday night, and the results were as follows: Greg Ward paced the team’s WR unit in both routes (25) and targets (seven) but was held to a 4-38-0 receiving line. Rookie John Hightower led the group in snaps (47) and posted a 2-22-0 receiving line on two targets. Travis Fulgham caught a winning 42-yard touchdown but was targeted on only three of his 19 routes. Deontay Burnett wasn’t targeted on eight routes, and Adrian Killins (listed as a running back but played receiver) handled two touches on seven snaps. Ward remains the best fantasy asset from this group, but he’s no more than a shaky flex against the Steelers and should be on benches if DeSean Jackson and/or Alshon Jeffery return.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Struggling at running back and looking for a Hail Mary option for your bench? Consider Anthony McFarland Jr. The fourth-round rookie made his NFL debut in Week 3 and managed six carries and a pair of targets on only nine snaps. The Maryland product showed well with 49 yards on seven touches. James Conner remains the main man in the Steelers’ backfield, but his durability concerns keep McFarland and Benny Snell Jr. on the insurance radar.
San Francisco 49ers: Deebo Samuel made his 2020 debut Sunday night. The 2019 second-round pick was limited in his first game back, with his 24 snaps and 16 routes ranking fourth among the team’s wide receivers. Samuel was targeted three times (3-35-0) and added a 10-yard carry. Fantasy’s No. 9-scoring wide receiver from Week 10 last season, Samuel obviously has tremendous upside, and his usage will only increase moving forward. Especially with Jimmy Garoppolo close to a return, Samuel is back on the WR3 radar and is fine to start against Miami in Week 5.
Seattle Seahawks: David Moore went off for 95 yards and a score against the Dolphins on Sunday, but don’t feel like you need to scoop him up off waivers this week. The 25-year-old entered the day having yet to clear three catches (he still hasn’t), three targets or 48 yards in a single game this season. Moore wasn’t even Seattle’s No. 3 receiver in the game, playing 22 snaps to Freddie Swain’s 26 behind Tyler Lockett (55) and DK Metcalf (54). Moore will hit for the occasional touchdown in this pass-heavy, high-scoring offense (he has two in four games), but that’s not enough to vault him into the flex mix.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With Chris Godwin sidelined Sunday, Scotty Miller delivered a 5-83-1 receiving line on seven targets. Miller’s big game came despite the second-year receiver playing only 52% of the snaps. That trailed both Mike Evans (73%) and Justin Watson (73%). Miller posted a dud in Week 2 (2-11-0 receiving line) but has otherwise been solid, with 73-plus receiving yards in his other three games. Godwin is expected to miss at least one more game, so if that holds true, Miller will be a flex option against Chicago in Week 5.
Tennessee Titans: Jonnu Smith has scored a team-high three touchdowns, whereas Derrick Henry has two through three games. Expect the script to flip moving forward. OTD suggests Smith is over his head (1.5 OTD, two end zone targets) and Henry is a candidate for a step forward (3.8 OTD, six carries inside the 5 yard line). Henry entered the Titans’ Week 4 bye as fantasy’s No. 11-scoring RB, and his usage suggests he’ll be even better moving forward. Smith might return to earth a bit, but as long as he continues to see 6.7 targets per game, he’ll remain a solid TE1 play.
Washington Football Team: Antonio Gibson’s heavy usage suggested a breakout game was coming and that’s what we got against Baltimore on Sunday. The rookie back carried the ball 13 times for 46 yards and one touchdown, while also catching four of five targets for 82 yards. Gibson only played 44% of the offensive snaps, compared to 54% for J.D. McKissic, but the two-man backfield split has been a trend since Week 2. Gibson has now scored in three-consecutive games and Sunday marked a season-high in carries, receptions, targets and receiving yards. More snaps would be ideal, but Gibson is 18th among backs in fantasy points in his current role and is clearly doing enough to warrant weekly RB2 consideration.
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