Have you seen Loki on Disney+ yet? You totally should, its awesome. But also minor spoilers ahead.
Maybe it’s the fact that a new Black Panther trailer came out this week, or maybe its just me being a colossal Marvel fan, but I found myself thinking about the Disney+ show Loki this week. And sure, I could shoehorn in a joke about how somewhere out there in the multiverse, there exists a universe in which George Kittle is playing like the guy you drafted him to be, or that that Javonte Williams is still healthy. But I think there’s another bridge between that series and here. In the final episode of Loki, the antagonist tells the heroes that “We just crossed…the threshold” revealing that despite his mastery over time, he doesn’t know how things are going to go from this point forward.
Not surprisingly being the nerd that I am, that struck me in the fantasy football sense. Four weeks into the season, I think we can safely say that we’re over the threshold of clinging to preconceived ideas of a player. We’re one-third through the fantasy regular season. We should be done clinging to 2021 in the hopes that a player this year will mirror production from last year.
And that, my friends, takes us to what you should be focusing on, The Stats You Should Know: Week 4 Edition.
1. Snap counts in Atlanta tell you…well…something?
If you’ve clicked into this piece, you don’t need me to bemoan the (lack of) production from Kyle Pitts. Through four weeks he’s TE21 in all of fantasy. But that’s not even the worst of it. For the second week in a row, he’s been out-snapped by another Tight End on his own team in Parker Hesse.
Now of course, reasonable minds can point to the blocking prowess of Hesse on a team that wants to run the ball, and the obvious opportunity differential between the two players. And that’s certainly a compelling case. The concern is simply moreso one that Pitts continues to come off of the field with such frequency that he’s functionally become a situational player for the team. This isn’t the reason to push the panic button on Pitts, but its certainly not nothing.
To that same end, the efficiency tells us another story – albeit for different reasons – in the Running Back room. Caleb Huntley had 10 opportunities in week 4 of the season – just behind Tyler Allgeier and ahead of the now-injured Cordarrelle Patterson. On the surface, this seems great, right? After all, 10 opportunities (and even more work than Allgeier in the second half of the game) is what you want from a waiver-wire running back. (See table below of Falcons, filtered by the second half of week4.)
Except for Huntley…it really isn’t. Those opportunities came on only 12 total snaps. This screams to me that there are other facets of the game in which the team is uncertain. He might be a serviceable runner of the football, but the scope of his usage is limited. He’s worth a stash in your leagues, but he’s not a player I’m going to count on until I see a more expansive role.
2. Pat Freiermuth is the only Steelers pass-catcher to start with confidence.
I know, it’s a one game sample size and thus hardly an indication of the future. But Mike Tomlin has announced that rookie Kenny Pickett is set to start for the Steelers. For that reason, fantasy managers have to have some kind of idea what to do with the pieces around him.
Looking at what the team did under Pickett in week 4, the two names that jump off the page at me are Diontae Johnson and Pat Freirmuth, for vastly different reasons. Johnson had his worst game of the season to date, but Freiermuth led the team in targets, even over rookie George Pickens, who had his first 100 yard game and might truly be on the verge of a true breakout.
Layering in the output of Trubisky, the reinforced thesis is that Freiermuth is moderately Quarterback-proof, receiving a total of nine targets on the day, split between the two passers. The same cannot be said for any of the other receivers, who have been riddled with inconsistencies of production thus far in 2022.
Going into this week’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills, I’d likely avoid trying to start any Steelers pass-catcher (the Bills defense is 6th best against the pass to WRs and 4th best against TEs), but the target volume of Freiermuth is at least respectable if you don’t have any other options.
3. Start your Tight Ends against the Seahawks. No, seriously. Do it.
Through four weeks, Seattle is without a doubt the worst defense in the league against the Tight End position, and worth chasing if you find yourself streaming the position. They rank as follows in a handful of key metrics:
- Receiving Yards – 32nd, with a total of 389 through four weeks
- The second worst is the Arizona Cardinals, having yielded 313 yards.
- Yards per Reception – 32nd, averaging 18.5
- The second worst is the Cleveland Browns at 14.0
- Average Yards After Catch – 32nd, averaging 10.48
- The second worst is the Detroit Lions, averaging 7.9
- Average Air Yards at the Point of Target – 32nd, averaging 10.7
- The second worst is the Los Angeles Chargers, averaging 10.4
- Opposing Touchdowns per Endzone Passes: 4/4
3. Breece Hall has officially surpassed Michael Carter.
We knew it would come eventually, but it seems Breece Hall has finally surpassed Michael Carter in terms of opportunities.
Starting in week three, Hall out-snapped Carter for the first time 40-38. This only strengthened in week four, now in favor of Hall 46-31. Not only that, but Hall seems to now be getting the lions share of the opportunities, out-working Carter almost 2-1 in week four. Even the passing-downs work that is normally a specialty of Carter has seemingly shifted, as Hall out-targeted Carter 6-3 on the game and critically 2-0 on third down.
This backfield will likely continue to be a committee going forward, but the tides have all but certainly shifted in such a way that Breece Hall can likely be in flex consideration moving forward.
And that will put a bow on week4 of the NFL season!
If you liked any of the charts above, you can go in and replicate any of them for YOUR team or favorite players in literally seconds. There are literally dozens of filter options. https://theffplaybook.com/advanced-report/team-running-back/?report=2022
Additionally, The Fantasy Playbook has a discord channel specifically dedicated to helping you win your league, including a specific place to discuss new report requests or share any need stats you found along your journey. I cant wait to see you there.
Go tell someone you appreciate them.