Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen to Week 4 of the 2022 NFL season!
Hopefully you’re surviving the chaos of the first part of the NFL season and you’re stringing together some victories in your fantasy football league! There’s a lot of injury updates and news to sort through and some key players are going to be out today. If you have questions – and I know you do – make sure that you’re tuning in to the Youtube Livestreams at 11:00am EST and 12:00pm EST over on The Fantasy Playbook Youtube Channel!
In the meantime, grab that cup of coffee, settle in, and let’s get the information we need to dominate our matchups here in Week 4!
The Injury Hub
Each week, you’ll find a section of the cheatsheet providing the latest injury updates to key players.
Breshad Perriman (Not Expected to Play)
Dak Prescott (OUT)
Mac Jones (OUT)
D’Andre Swift (OUT)
David Montgomery (OUT)
Amon-Ra St. Brown (OUT)
Michael Thomas (OUT)
Keenan Allen (OUT)
AJ Green (OUT)
Brevin Jordan (OUT)
Hunter Renfrow (OUT)
Jameis Winston (OUT)
Wan’Dale Robinson (OUT)
Kadarius Toney (OUT)
Boston Scott (OUT)
Jakobi Meyers (OUT)
DJ Chark (OUT)
Alvin Kamara (OUT)
Gabe Davis (Expected to Play)
Christian McCaffrey (Expected to Play)
Rondale Moore (Expected to Play)
Marquise Brown (Expected to Play)
Dawson Knox (Expected to Play)
Velus Jones Jr. (Expected to Play)
Zay Jones (Expected to Play)
Julio Jones (Expected to Play)
Jarvis Landry (Expected to Play)
Chris Godwin (Expected to Play)
Russell Gage (Expected to Play)
Dalvin Cook (Expected to Play)
Dalton Schultz (Game Time Decision)
Melvin Gordon (Game Time Decision)
Michael Gallup (Game Time Decision)
Cordarrelle Patterson (Game Time Decision)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Game Time Decision)
The Starts of the Week
QB: Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Trevor Lawrence has actually been really good. Man, we knew Urban Meyer was awful but he has to be in the running for worst NFL head Coach of all time with seeing how Lawrence is performing so far in 2022, right? Regardless, Lawrence is the QB10 on the season currently and he’s taken care of some pretty solid defenses up to this point. It’s a tough matchup on paper going up against the Eagles, but I wanted to provide a little bit more context into the numbers. The Eagles are currently the 4th best team in Pass DVOA, per Football Outsiders. And they’re allowing just 12.3 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. However, we’re still at the point of the season where sample sizes aren’t large enough to draw massive conclusions from. Philadelphia has faced Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins in primetime, and Carson Wentz so far this season. That’s not exactly going up against Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Justin Herbert and still putting up those numbers. The Eagles are a solid defense…but so were the Chargers and Lawrence just threw for 262 and 3 on them. I think – with all the uncertainty right now with a lot of the other QBs – we can confidently start Lawrence here.
RB: Travis Etienne (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Now, for as much as Etienne was hyped up coming into the year, he has done really next to nothing. Just the RB37 on the season in Half PPR scoring and he’s averaging just 11 touches per game. The thing is though is that Jacksonville hasn’t needed him much. Yes, James Robinson’s re-emergence off of the Achilles plays a role in that, but the Jaguars have been in positive game scripts. Part of the allure with Etienne going into the season was, “Well Jacksonville’s probably not going to be very good this year so at least he’ll be used as a pass-catcher more as they try to play catch up.” But that hasn’t been the case…Jacksonville’s been dominating the past two weeks particularly and that’s led to Etienne taking a backseat to Robinson as the primary ball carrier. The thing is though is that we have clear and defined roles for these two players in this backfield. Robinson is the grinder and Etienne is the pass catcher. In positive game scripts, Robinson’s getting the work. In negative game scripts – when they happen – Etienne’s going to be more involved.
We potentially have that negative game script here this week going up against Philadelphia. This Eagles offense is insane right now and I fully expect Jacksonville to fall behind in this one. Etienne’s not a locked in top-24 play for me this week, but he is right in that range and he’s someone that I’m intrigued with due to the projected game script. If Jacksonville can keep this one pretty even throughout, or even lead in this one, we might not see the opportunity there for Etienne. But his big play ability – as evidenced by his 10.1 Yards Per Reception on the season – could push your lineup over the top as a FLEX play this week.
WR: Richie James (New York Giants)
Richie James of the New York Giants is someone that I think you can plug in as a FLEX option this week. Kenny Golladay is real bad, Kadarius Toney is in the doghouse and can’t get healthy, Wan’Dale Robinson is out for this one, and Sterling Shepard – unfortunately – just went down for the year. Even with Shepard in the lineup, James was averaging nearly 5 receptions per game and he’s providing a pretty high floor actually. Now with Shepard out of the lineup and David Sills as his main target competition, Daniel Jones is going to be looking James’ way regularly. He’s not going to be a top-24 play, but for someone that you can plug in into your FLEX and get a solid floor out of, he’s worth looking at. And he’s currently at WR60 in ECR.
TE: Pat Freiermuth (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Freiermuth had a down week last week, but everything about this matchup screams a bounce back performance. Before last week against the Browns, Friermuth had finished inside the top-10 TEs both weeks and has an impressive target share from Mitchell Trubisky. And can you guess which defense is currently the worst in both Pass DVOA and Rush DVOA? That’s right, the New York Jets. We should see the Steelers offense have a bit more room to operate this week and that should create some space for Trubisky to move back to targeting Freiermuth.
Players To Avoid
Each week, you’ll find a section of the cheatsheet here with players that Kyle Yates has concern over their matchups, etc. and you should look to avoid if you can.
QB: Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings)
Finding a QB inside the top-10 of FantasyPros’ ECR to sit isn’t exactly the easiest exercise in the world. Russell Wilson’s at QB10 right now in ECR, but the matchup against Las Vegas is at least good enough on paper where we can still consider starting him if we don’t have any other options. Otherwise, let’s go to QB9 in ECR and Kirk Cousins. First off, this is a London game. For those who are new to fantasy football and have never experienced playing players in a London game, there’s a rule that anything can happen. Players body clocks are all jacked up, it’s a completely different environment…you never know what’s going to happen. On top of that, Kirk has to take on the Saints defense. I don’t know how they did it after having to move on from so many players this off-season due to the salary cap, but New Orleans once again has a top-tier defense. They’re allowing just 13.3 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs and they rank 5th and 11th in Pass DVOA and Rush DVOA respectively. I talked about this on the Wednesday podcast, but QB has been a minefield so it’s highly unlikely that you have another option to turn to versus Kirk this week. But I wouldn’t be shocked if we get out of this one and Cousins is outside the top-15 QBs on the week.
RB: Dameon Pierce (Houston Texans)
I’m going to recommend being a bit cautious with one of “my guys” this week. Dameon Pierce had a really good Week 3 against the Chicago Bears defense. 20 rush attempts, 80 yards, 2 receptions for 21 yards, and a touchdown and that led to a RB10 finish on the week. However, the concerning part is that – just like with Jacksonville now – we have clear and defined roles in this backfield. Pierce is the grinder and Rex Burkhead is the receiving option. Per Pro Football Focus, Burkhead took all 15 snaps on third-and-3 or longer and in two-minute drill situations. Last week, Chicago and Houston were in a close game until the very end and that meant that Houston could lean on the ground game versus having to air it out and play catch up. I don’t think that’s going to be the case this week against the Chargers and a ticked off Justin Herbert coming off an embarrassing loss. Vegas doesn’t think so either as Houston is 5 point underdogs in this one and that usually equates to needing to throw it more. When the Texans need to throw it more, Burkhead’s coming onto the field. He’s at RB18 right now in ECR and I have him at RB22, so he’s definitely someone that you can still start. However, we should just be prepared for the situation where Houston falls behind and Burkhead sees more playing time than Pierce’s managers would like.
WR: DK Metcalf (Seattle Seahawks)
The one player I will put out that I have some concern with in Week 4 is DK Metcalf. Now, he had a really good Week 3, right? 12 targets, 5 receptions, 64 yards, and the score. The concern there though is that Geno Smith threw the ball 44 times compared to 28 and 30 the two weeks prior. So either this is a completely new offensive shift or that was a one-time fluke. The 27% target share is encouraging though, but you also have to add onto that this week that Detroit’s giving up a ton of rushing production on the ground. 142.3 rushing yards per game and this could be a matchup that Pete Carroll wants to take the ball out of Smith’s hands and feature his running backs. Additionally, Metcalf is expected to see coverage primarily from Jeff Okudah. He’s not a household name yet for fantasy managers, but he should be. When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best young corners in the league and he could make life a bit more difficult here for Metcalf this week. He’s just inside the top-30 WRs for me this week, so you can absolutely play him. However, don’t rush out there and plug him into your starting lineup and think that he’s 100% back to being a top-12 play or anything.
TE: George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers)
Just like with QB, finding a top-10 TE that I want to bench is an impossible task. And again, it’s not about completely sitting these players…it’s just a way to raise some flags on them as we head into the week. George Kittle came back into the lineup last week and wasn’t at 100%. He was needed more as a blocker in a close game, so the target opportunities weren’t there even when he was out on the field. He could be back to full strength now after getting back into game action and a week of practicing again, but he gets an absolutely terrible individual matchup. The Rams are allowing the second fewest fantasy points to opposing TEs this year and this is a divisional matchup that promises to be a defensive battle. It’s Kittle, so you’re obviously still starting him versus benching him and playing Robert Tonyan instead….but we do at least have to be a bit concerned about the overall upside.
Down The Stream
Each week, you’ll find a section of the cheatsheet with streaming options for the QB, TE, and DST positions in fantasy football that are under 50% rostered in Yahoo leagues.
QB: Marcus Mariota (Atlanta Falcons)
There aren’t very many good options out there on the waiver wire this week, but Mariota could be considered for fantasy managers that just lost Jameis Winston. This game has a remarkably high over/under from Vegas and there’s the expectations that points are going to go up on the board here. Mariota isn’t going to throw for 350+ yards this week, but he does bring enough rushing ability to at least provide a decent floor and he’s got some playmakers around him. He’s only rostered in 26% of Yahoo leagues, so he can be considered if you’re in a pinch.
TE: Daniel Bellinger (New York Giants)
You want a desperation play that’s only rostered in 1% of Yahoo leagues? Bellinger – the rookie TE – became involved in this offense last week against the Cowboys and he’s going to be needed a ton in this one against Chicago. No Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, or Wan’Dale Robinson this week and Kenny Golladay can’t catch a cold at this point. He should see a solid target share and he could do enough to put himself into the mid-range TE2 conversation.
DST: New York Giants
There’s absolutely the possibility that Khalil Herbert has himself a game on the ground this week and gashes the Giants run defense, but you want to go after streaming defenses that are involved in low over/under games. That’s just what we have here in Chicago. They’re not a top-12 play for me this week, but as an option that you can find essentially everywhere on waiver wires they’re a decent option.