Austin’s Fantasy Train: Week 4


Austin West, Contributing Writer

It’s officially that time of the fantasy season: you’re either in full panic mode or you’re still confident in your team. If you’re me, with five separate fantasy teams, I’m currently sitting at both ends of the spectrum. For example, in my home league, I have yet to break over 100 points and am 0-3 meanwhile my first dynasty team is 3-0 and number one in the league, so I truly get to experience the pain and joy that fantasy football can bring.  

Unfortunately, this column has given me a feeling of dread I haven’t felt in a couple of years. Let me take you back to 2020 when I was just a sophomore and COVID-19 was in full swing. My podcast, Football UNfocused (shameless plug), was in its second season and I had joined a radio show called Sports on The Edge (shameless plug #2) as a cohost. This was the year I first started doing fantasy picks and predictions and, unfortunately like this year there were some outliers. Every week I seemed to jinx whoever I picked to do well. The week Dak Prescott suffered his ankle injury, I picked him as a huge upside guy. I hyped up Ryan Fitzpatrick after one of his early games for the Dolphins, he’s benched for Tua the following week. Even college teams that I was excited about for that week or from the week before ended up jinxed and would lose in upsets. Now, while this never stopped me from talking about my favorite games and players from that week or giving fantasy football picks, it was a rough spot to be in for much of the season and one I’m hoping I don’t fall back into. 

As for last week, the jinx I may have brought about was David Montgomery being my favorite of my ticket-to-ride players this week, ending up leaving his game early with an injury and not returning. That being said, if he is to miss more time, Khalil Herbert becomes a waiver wire target and a strong FLEX play in some formats. My major misses ended up being David Njoku underperforming because Jacoby Brissett and the Browns realized that maybe when a guy is on the field so much they should target him and that they did. While the other is Christian Kirk showing out for the third straight week. At this point, Kirk is a lineup lock every week and barring anything crazy shouldn’t be considered an underperformer. Meanwhile, I sit uncomfortably once again at three correct picks as Higbee only matches his projection and my star David Montgomery, again, goes out with injury. Before we get into this week’s picks, I apologize for the possible jinx of people’s teams or favorite players.  

Tickets To Ride 

Quarterback, Kyler Murray: Don’t worry folks it isn’t a Call of Duty double XP weekend so I’ve got Kyler as overperforming. So maybe this joke gets overused but that’s been a true worry for fantasy managers since the contract deal and how the research done by people was released. This week Murray will have the chance to bounce back after his no-touchdown performance against the Rams with the worst defense the Cardinals have faced this year. Murray is passing for more and more yards each week, with 300+ yards last week, and has had five rushing attempts with almost 30 yards in two out of the last three weeks. The Cardinals are also the second highest scoring offense on average in the NFL and I should expect them to continue that trend after their loss to the Rams. 

Running Back, Dalvin Cook/Alexander Mattison: Notice the double running back spot here. This is because Dalvin Cook is currently day to day with the shoulder injury he sustained against the Lions in Week 3. If he is to miss time Alexander Mattison will come to fill in, who has been almost a carbon copy production-wise when Cook misses time. Against a 23rd-ranked rush defense of the Saints, in London, this game becomes interesting. The Saints have given up a bottom ten in the league 139 rushing yards per game but also top ten in the league with only 17.8 fantasy points allowed to running backs on average. Both of these running backs are also able to get themselves involved in the passing game so in a game that is projected to be close all morning long, usage for whoever plays could increase exponentially.  

Wide Receiver, Tyreek Hill: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls it’s the rematch you’ve all been waiting for: Tyreek Hill vs Eli Apple on Thursday Night Football. This is a game the Bengals desperately need to win and one that would keep the Dolphins undefeated. With Jaylen Waddle on the estimated practice report* on Monday, it doesn’t look too good for him to go for Thursday’s game. Another injury worth mentioning is Tua who is currently questionable and it will come down to pain tolerance and a game-time decision. If Tua is able to play, that leaves Hill and Mike Gesicki as the main targets against a Bengals defense ranked middle of the pack in passing yards allowed and only one receiving touchdown allowed after three games against subpar passing offenses. With Tyreek playing 75% of offensive snaps for the Dolphins expect his workload to be increased barring a return of Jaylen Waddle and Tua sitting out this game.  

Tight End, T.J. Hockenson: This all totally relies on Hockenson being able to go Sunday against the Seahawks. On Wednesday, Hockenson was held out of practice with a hip injury. Hockenson was able to find the endzone for the first time this season last week against the Vikings after reeling in at least three receptions in every game so far. The Seahawks are top 10 in fantasy points allowed to the position and with Amon-Ra St. Brown not practicing due to an ankle injury Wednesday, we could see an increase from Hockenson’s 17% target share this week.   

Missed The Train 

Quarterback, Tom Brady: Poor Tom Brady man. All of his receivers were gone in a matter of a week. Mike Evans, is suspended. Julio Jones and Chris Godwin, are out due. to injury. A rough outing in Week three against the Packers for Brady. Now he faces off against the Kansas City Chiefs with Evans returning but Godwin and Jones are still questionable. The Chiefs’ pass rush is nothing to scoff at either. They lead the league in pressure on dropbacks with 35% and the Bucs’ offensive line leads the league in pressures allowed per dropback with 30.5%. Jones is the receiver closer to playing in Week 4 between him and Godwin, but against a defense that has allowed an average of 281 passing yards per game with only one true wide receiver one could prove detrimental to Tom Brady and the Bucs’ offense fantasy outlook.   

Running Back, Jeff Wilson Jr.: The San Francisco 49ers face off against the LA Rams this week in an NFC Championship Game rematch. The Rams have been one of the best teams against running backs so far this season, not Tampa Bay good but good. Wilson has been something of a career backup throughout his career so he isn’t the best running back the Rams have seen by any means. While the 49ers are one of the highest rushing teams with 151 yards per game on the ground, I think the under 100 yards given up per game by the Rams’ defense will be the bigger story in this game. With injuries to the 49ers’ offensive line in the game against the Broncos, including Trent Williams who is currently likely out for 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain, the young core will be in trouble versus Aaron Donald and the Rams front seven. 

Wide Receiver, Curtis Samuel: Curtis Samuel has been looking like his old self again in this Carson Wentz-led offense but the NFC East looks to be his kryptonite. While he led in targets against the Eagles, he was held to only 48 yards while his counterpart Terry McLaurin was able to pick up 102 on one less target. The main concern with Samuel is actually his offensive line against the Dallas defense. Coming off a game with five sacks, Dallas is able to get pressure on the quarterback on 30% of dropbacks. Guess whose offensive line is second in the league in pressures allowed on dropbacks with exactly 30.3%? Carson Wentz will have to get the ball out fast to one of his many targets against a Dallas team fighting for a. top spot in the division.  

Tight End, Logan Thomas: Back-to-back Washington pass-catchers on the underperformers list. This is less of a knock against the Commanders’ offense and more of a prop to the defense of the Dallas Cowboys. If I could, much of the offense might be on this list because it’s a nervous matchup. I’ve also already mentioned how aggressive the Cowboys’ defense is against dropbacks. The Cowboys have allowed top half in the league receptions and fantasy points to the position and with Logan Thomas touchdown dependent and the fourth target for Carson Wentz, it could be a long day for Thomas managers.  

All projections and rankings are provided by FantasyPros experts in PPR scoring format 

To get more of your football fix check out Football UNfocused on Spotify, co-hosted by Austin West.