With Week 4 now in the books and over 25 percent of the regular season played, I think it’s important to take a look backward before moving on to Week 5. Fantasy football is a game of predictive analysis, but even sometimes the best-laid plans of trends and analytics go sideways because of injury or random chance. This role of the dice uncertainty can produce some uneven results week to week in fantasy from players and fantasy teams as a whole.
The one constant that gives consistency to it all is the manner in which games and matchups are broken down aka the “process.” I absolutely believe in the transparency of process and results as a writer, so I thought it might be helpful at this point if I briefly reflect on my process thus far.
Currently on start and sit decisions, my accuracy sits 53.8 percent (seven correct out of 13 total choices). Last week’s miss on Ryan Fitzpatrick versus Blake Bortles presented volatility with both Bortles and Fitzpatrick’s performance range of outcomes. The outcome I didn’t account for heavily enough is the chance Fitzpatrick could be firmly parked on the bench at some point. Given Fitzpatrick’s record-breaking performances in the prior three games, I figured the chances of that were astronomically low. Well… I was gravely mistaken.
In the case of Christian McCaffrey or Dalvin Cook, it was tough because both matchups could quickly turn into high scoring affairs featuring two running backs that are involved on all three downs. In the end, I thought that with the Falcons loss of Deion Jones and their previous susceptibility to pass-catching, McCaffrey held a slight edge over Cook for the week.
All of this stands to say in the end I will get some right and some I will not, but if I can stand by my reasoning for those decisions, I am content with the end results even if they aren’t favorable. All season long I will continue breaking down your start or sit predicaments using our tools such as the Head to Head Tool to provide you with an in-depth, yet easily digested, way to look at player matchups comparatively that can give your fantasy roster the needed edge to bring home the win.
Start Kenny Golladay vs GB or Alshon Jeffery vs MIN ( Point per Reception Scoring)
Through four weeks of football, Kenny G is proving that the second year leap for wide receivers is real. Per our WR/CB Matchup Tool last season, Golladay was used primarily as a deep threat with his average depth of target (aDot) ranging from 9.1-35.8 yards on his top three route types (go, dig, post). This season Golladay is being used in a variety of ways with his top route types now consisting of the corner, cross and dig covering an adot of 6.8-15.0.
Golladay asserting himself as a more well rounded wide receiver this season poses a problem for Kevin King this week. After spending much of last season in press coverage, King has primarily played man and zone coverage, which Golladay has feasted on to the tune of a 76 percent catch rate and a 109.3 or better rating when targeted.
Golladay has hauled in six or more receptions in three of his four games this season. Golladay also currently leads the team in catch rate with 71.9 percent. With consideration to the scoring format, volume is vital but also is the ability to secure those targets at a high rate in PPR scoring. Golladay will be busy in what figures to be a high scoring game, but the small dent in Golladay’s armor is that he is currently third in red zone targets with three behind Theo Riddick (five) and Marvin Jones (seven).
(Kenny Golladay vs Kevin King, Week 5 WR/CB Matchup)
Last week in his first game of the season, Alshon Jeffery wasted no time in assimilating back into the Eagles offense. Jeffery was thrown right back into action as he played 81 percent of the snaps finishing with eight receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown.
In a game where Carson Wentz tossed 50 passes, Jeffery finished the game third on the team in targets with nine and an 18 percent target share. Jeffery was however heavily involved near the goal line ending up with 50 percent end zone target share. A larger share of the targets would have been fantastic but honestly for a player in his first game back expecting more is splitting hairs as Jeffery was not projected to be as active as he was.
Alshon Jeffery hopes to carry that momentum into this week’s matchup against the Vikings and more specifically All-Pro Xavier Rhodes, who will be blanketing him in coverage. Looking back to the last time Jeffery and Rhodes squared off during last season’s NFL playoffs Jeffery bested Rhodes by securing all five of his targets for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
With Jeffery only playing one game so far using 2018 coverage rates and success rates are an inaccurate portrayal of this matchup, so again I’ll peer back in time to 2017. Last season Jeffery succeeded against what amounted to 63.8 percent of Rhodes’ coverage type in press and man. Jeffery totaled four of his nine touchdowns last season versus press and man coverage, which aided him in also posting a 90.6 rating or better as well.
Alshon Jeffery’s matchup is far scarier on paper than in reality given track record and how these player’s strengths and usage stack up. Look for Jeffery to continue his hot start to the season against Minnesota.
(Alshon Jeffery vs Xavier Rhodes, Week 5 WR/CB Matchup)
Start- Alshon Jeffery
Start Aaron Jones vs DET or Kerryon Johnson vs GB (Point per Reception Scoring)
Aaron Jones wasted no time letting the Packers and the rest of the NFL know that he was back in action. Jones followed his efficient performance in Week 3 of six touches for 47 total yards with a similarly stellar stat line in Week 4, 11 total touches for a crisp 82 yards and a touchdown. After one game, Jones saw himself rise from third on the Packers depth chart in snaps played among running backs (17) to total the most snaps of any running back in Week 4 with 29.
When Aaron Rodgers speaks seas part, roses bloom, and whiskey tastes just a little bit better. Earlier this week, Rodgers told the media that Aaron Jones is “a different type of runner than we’ve had here in a while. You’ve gotta find ways to get him the ball.” While I would love to say a steady rise in snaps is again in the cards for Jones, there is no way I can accurately project it. With Mike McCarthy at the helm and his professed love for a “rotation of having all three guys,” anything is honestly fair game. What the stats and our eyes tell us (that Aaron Jones is by far the best runner) and the decisions of NFL head coaches aren’t always the same.
What gives me faith that Jones can continue to do a lot with only a little and defy McCarthyism is his matchup this week with the Lions. Detroit ranks dead last in the NFL with 156 rushing yards allowed each game. Detroit ranking in only the 33rd percentile in success rate against the run and the 58th percentile in receiving yards allowed to running backs give Jones a high probability of breaking a long play on the ground or through the air.
(Detroit Lions Defensive Metrics vs. Running Backs)
(Green Bay Packers Defensive Metrics vs. Running Backs)
Kerryon Johnson broke out in a big way in Week 3 with 18 touches and 110 total yards and followed it up with another impressive performance in Week 4 with nine touches for 56 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for Kerryon, much like Jones, he is stuck in a backfield rotation with two other running backs and a coach determined to hold by it. Johnson saw his snaps dwindle this past week to 20 with Theo Riddick leading the charge out of the backfield in time played with 25 offensive snaps.
Unfortunately for Johnson, the matchup is not nearly as enticing as it is for Aaron Jones. With Johnson’s volume indeed capped the hope for him as well resides in efficiency. While the Packers have a subpar success rate against the run at 48 percent, they have been successful in limiting the opposing team’s rushing attempts which for a player with volume concerns already it is alarming.
Also impinging on Johnson this week is the fact that the Lions could face negative game script in this one facing off against a healthier Aaron Rodgers. As last week showed when the Lions are trailing Riddick’s snaps and usage spikes. Johnson is a talented player who has shown when given the work he is hugely productive, but there are too many factors working against him this week to lean in his direction.
Start- Aaron Jones
Start Amari Cooper vs LAC or Devin Funchess vs NYG (Standard Scoring)
Amari Cooper’s roller-coaster career continues to roll on. Cooper’s weekly finishes among wide receivers in standard scoring are WR61, WR26, WR66, and WR7. The matchup this week versus the Chargers presents a golden opportunity for Cooper to break this trend.
Amari Cooper will be lining up across from Casey Hayward this week. Casey Hayward is an intimidating name on paper, but nothing about his play this season has struck fear in the hearts of the receivers he has faced. Hayward has allowed two touchdowns in his coverage and a 133.9 rating when targeted.
Via our Head to Head Tool, the Chargers have been consistently ripped apart by opposing team’s No. 1 wide receivers surrendering 86 yards and 1.25 touchdowns per game to the position. The Chargers pass defense has taken a huge hit this season without Joey Bosa on the field to apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks. In 2017 with Bosa off the field via our Injury Impact Tool, opposing offenses saw increases in pass success rate (from 46.4 to 50.6 percent) and explosive pass percentage (from 12.6 to 13.5 percent).
With the Raiders defense hemorrhaging points to the tune of 30.8 per game (31st in the NFL) look for Cooper to be busy in this game as the offense tries to keep pace with the Chargers.
(Amari Cooper’s per Game Metrics vs. Los Angeles Chargers Defensive Metrics)
Before the Panthers bye in Week 4 (in two games without Greg Olsen) Devin Funchess was the WR28 in standard scoring averaging eight targets and 72 yards receiving while scoring one touchdown.
This week Funchess faces off against Janoris Jenkins, who has been beatable so far this season allowing a 73 percent catch rate and an 87.5 rating in coverage. Funchess has been elite so far when facing man and zone coverage, which happily coincides as the coverage types Jenkins has seen 76.9 percent of opposing targets in.
As great as the matchup is for Funchessm it is even better for the Panthers run game as the Giants run defense has ranked in the 59th percentile or worse in rushing touchdowns allowed per game (one), targets allowed to running backs (8.75 per game), and yards per carry allowed (4.85).
With the Panthers defense holding the opposition to only 20 points per game (seventh best). Combining the defensive weaknesses of the Giants against the rush and running backs in the passing game as well as the Panthers defensive strengths this could limit Cam Newton’s passing volume.
Start- Amari Cooper
Derek also writes for Gridiron Experts & Fantasy Data. He is occasionally heard proclaiming his honey whiskey fueled takes on Sirius radio. Born in Louisiana he is a diehard Saints fan (Whodat). Derek now resides Fort Worth, Texas with his beautiful, football loving wife and three kids.