Monday night's games saw some huge performances, including much-needed breakout showings by A.J. Brown and Ja'Marr Chase, two of the biggest disappointments among early-round picks in the first two weeks. You can put your concerns about those two to the side, and D'Andre Swift looked tremendous yet again as the Eagles lead back, another thing we wanted to see.
But you know what the biggest takeaway from Monday's doubleheader was? Joe Burrow played and didn't suffer a setback with his calf injury. I thought he shouldn't have played, and he was much less than 100% during the game, often halting in his dropback and struggling to throw with much accuracy beyond a few yards past the line of scrimmage. It was frustrating to watch.
But it could have gone a lot worse, and the fact that he made it through the game without incident is the most important thing. I still have my concerns about this Bengals offense in the short term, especially with Burrow seeming likely to miss more practice reps as they manage this injury. But at least we won't have to watch Jake Browning play QB. That should sustain the value of Ja'Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, and Tee Higgins, at least.
And now, we can officially turn our sights to Week 4. Yesterday, I gave you the first look at my rankings for Week 4, and you can check those out again below if you missed them. But today's newsletter is all about improving our rosters, withplus a look at some trade targets with .
Let's go improve those rosters:
If you're 3-0, go right to the "buy-low" section here and take advantage of someone else's slow start to acquire a high-level performer when their manager is desperate. If you're 0-3, you should also be looking for some buy-low targets, because what you need is elite production at a discounted price to start making up ground quickly. So, yeah, you want buy-low candidates, I guess.
Before you make any trades,. Here are some buys and sells to help get the conversation started:
Three to buy-low
I've been pretty critical of the rush to anoint Lawrence as one of the elite quarterbacks in the league, but I actually think there's a lot to be optimistic about right now. No team has had more drops than the Jaguars, and his have come at especially bad times – Calvin Ridley had one drop that would have definitely been a touchdown in Week 3, at least. They've also been just a few inches in the back of the end zone from multiple touchdowns at other points, too. This offense has left a lot of points on the field, and it's going to be scary when they start to click. I still don't think Lawrence belongs in the elite tier for Fantasy, but I think he's a must-start QB nonetheless, and the frustration of just one touchdown in his past two games could have his price much lower than it should be.
The concern with Lockett coming into the season was that the addition of Jaxon Smith-Njigba would cut into his target share and limit his utility, but that hasn't really been an issue – Lockett's target share is down to 20.3%, which isn't great but isn't terribly concerning in a small sample size. The issue is, his yards per target is way down, to 4.9, a shockingly low number for a guy who has been one of the most efficient wide receivers in the NFL, with a Y/T of 9.9 since 2018. Maybe he's just hit the wall as he nears his 31st birthday, but I don't buy it. We're going to see some significant regression here in the form of some big plays, and I want to be there when it happens.
Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals
Higgins had a pretty disastrous game Monday night, dropping multiple passes en route to a two-catch, 21-yard showing. That gives him one game out of the first three with limited production, a frustrating outcome for a guy drafted as a top-15 WR in most leagues. And he didn't even have the Burrow injury excuse because, while Burrow certainly didn't look great, it didn't stop Ja'Marr Chase from having his biggest game of the season by far. I could see another few frustrating weeks from his offense, as Burrow will likely be less than 100% for a while, so if I'm trading for Higgins, I'm hoping to do so with the idea of not necessarily needing to start him as anything more than a WR3. If I've got that kind of flexibility, I'd love to take a chance on a guy we know can be a high-end performer with an eye on the stretch run.
One to buy-high
D'Andre Swift, RB, Eagles
As I'm working on the newsletter, I'm watching the Eagles game, and there is, frankly, too much Kenneth Gainwell going on right now. Enough to where I think there might be an opportunity to buy Swift at something less than full price. Swift still ended up the clear top runner in the Eagles offense, despite Gainwell getting to double-digit carries on his own thanks to some fourth-quarter work, and he's been clearly the better runner. It's just a perfect combination of an explosive runner behind a line that seemingly gives him multiple holes on every run. Gainwell will continue to have a role here, to be sure, but I don't think that really limits Swift's value – Gainwell's role is what it is, but I'd be pretty shocked if he ended up getting as many carries as Swift most weeks. Swift has just been too effective as a runner, and it would be a mistake not to give him 15-plus carries every week. He might not be an RB1 with the goal-line competition here, especially if he isn't used much in the passing game, but that should still make him a must-start Fantasy option in this offense.
Three to sell-high
Alexander Mattison, RB, Vikings
Mattison looks like a clear winner coming out of Week 3, simply because he wasn't an outright disaster like in the first two games. That should be enough to keep Cam Akers from stepping into the locker room and taking his job, at least right away. But the problem here is still pretty clear: Mattison just isn't a particularly good player. He had a crucial drop near the end zone Sunday and nearly followed it up with a disastrous fumble, but he was bailed out after being called down by forward progress. Mattison is playing 70% of the snaps in a good offense, and as long as that's the case, I'm going to rank him as a high-end RB2. But we have little reason to expect him to do much beyond what the role provides, and that means he's always a bad week (or a good stretch from a backup) from that role being in jeopardy.
I've seen some suggestions that Sutton is taking on the Marques Colston/Michael Thomas role in the Sean Payton offense, and that's kind of an interesting notion. But I'm not ready to just assume he's going to be the No. 1 WR in this offense moving forward, given how much he has historically struggled with Jerry Jeudy active. It's possible Jeudy just hasn't been 100% up to speed after missing a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury, and when he's fully healthy, Sutton will be relegated to a secondary role yet again. But I'll also note that Week 3 was really the first time Sutton put together a good full game, so I certainly don't want to draw too many conclusions about it. He's in the WR3 range for me, and if someone views him as anything more, I'd be happy to move a guy who just hasn't been very good since 2019 at this point.
This one pains me because I liked LaPorta a lot as a preseason sleeper and I do think he can be a must-start Fantasy tight end moving forward. But I'm not entirely sure how much room he has to grow from here. He's already running a route on around 80% of the team's dropbacks, and outside of one big play in Week 3, he's been used almost exclusively as a short-area target. That's not a big thing, given his YAC skills, but I think it probably hints at a bit of a lower ceiling than someone like Darren Waller could put together if he gets going. I would probably be looking for Waller-plus if I'm moving LaPorta, but I'm open to it. If not, you've probably got a discount T.J. Hockenson, and that's awesome, too.
One to sell-low
You know the sunk-cost fallacy? It's where people will be unwilling to give up on an investment because of the initial acquisition cost. I think there might be some folks who are going to be unwilling to give up on Wilson because of that, especially with the hope that the Jets will ultimately do something to replace Zach Wilson at QB. That may end up happening, but the Jets haven't waivered from their public stance that Wilson is going to be their quarterback moving forward, and there hasn't been any reporting indicating they are seriously considering an outside addition – and I'm not sure they should. I mean, sure, someone like Carson Wentz would cost nothing to add, so there's little risk there, but I'm also not convinced he would even be much of an upgrade – Wentz hasn't shown an ability to competently run an offense in years at this point, and Terry McLaurin averaged just 11.2 points per game with Wentz last season, compared to 14.6 with other QBs. The point is, even if Wentz would be an upgrade on Zach Wilson, I'm not sure that would be enough to unlock enough upside to make Wilson much more than a WR3. If I can get more than that for him, I'd do it.
My Week 4 Rankings:| | |
One nice thing about the early part of this season so far has been the number of very exciting waiver-wire options available. Puka Nacua obviously looks like the best of the bunch, but we've got at least one widely available option heading into Week 4 who might challenge him. , and here are my thoughts on the top five options for Week 4:
Jamey Eisenberg's top targets
- De'Von Achane, RB, Dolphins (57%) – Achane is the third must-add player in as many weeks, and I think I like him even more than Jerome Ford. Because Achane might just be an actual difference maker as a player, whereas the case for Ford was mostly based around role and opportunity. Achane is probably going to be in a committee moving forward, but his explosiveness could still make him a must-start Fantasy option in Miami's offense. It wouldn't surprise me if he emerged as the lead back before long, and if anything happens to Raheem Mostert – an injury-prone RB in the past – he could be a top-12 RB.
- Nathaniel Dell, WR, Texans (56%) – Dell is another guy who probably needs to be 100% rostered. He made a lot of noise in camp and the preseason, and now he's got 17 targets, 12 catches, and 217 yards in two games running routes on nearly all of the team's pass attempts. He looks like a steal in the third round for the Texans, and could be a viable starting Fantasy option all season.
- Josh Palmer, WR, Chargers (6%) – Palmer has played five games with Mike Williams inactive in his career, and he's averaged 12.98 PPR points per game. That's solid production, but it's a bit misleading because it's heavily weighted toward one game where he scored 30.6; he's averaged 8.6 points in the other four games. We're looking for that kind of upside on the waiver-wire upside, but I just don't think Palmer has shown much reason to think that's a realistic outcome. But, if you need a starter, Palmer is tied to a very good quarterback and had a seven-game stretch with at least nine PPR points in six last season, so he should be a useful source of some cheap points at least. But expectations should be relatively low overall for a guy with three games of 70 or more yards in 37 tries.
- Quentin Johnston, WR, Chargers (50%) – But if you're looking for upside, look for Johnston. It's not a great sign that, as a first-round rookie, he hasn't been able to beat a pretty middling vet like Palmer, but I still want to bet on the high-end talent here now that there's a path to consistent snaps. He may bust, but his combination of deep-ball skills and after-the-catch abilities should make him a good replacement for Williams, and his upside is clearly higher if he hits. If I need someone for Week 4, I may lean toward Palmer, but otherwise, I'm prioritizing Johnston where both are available.
- C.J. Stroud, QB, Texans (33%) – Stroud has been so impressive through the first three games of his career. I don't have him as a top-12 QB yet, but I could see him getting there once the bye weeks start. He's got a better-than-expected set of weapons with Dell and Collins' emergence, and he's thrown for 906 yards and four touchdowns in three games despite offensive line injuries. The Texans have shown a ton of trust in him, and I think this will remain a pretty high-volume passing game moving forward.
One (more) target for each position
- QB: Jameis Winston, Saints (2%) – Winston is likely going to get a chance to start at least one game for the Saints, and in three starts last season, he was on pace for 4,800 yards and 23 touchdowns. Sure, he was also on pace for 60-plus sacks and nearly 30 interceptions, but that's life with Winston. You take the good with the bad, and with a pretty good receiving corps around him – certainly his best since Mike Evans and Chris Godwin – he could be a low-end QB1 against the Buccaneers.
- RB: Melvin Gordon, Ravens (5%) – Look, I'm not happy about it either. But Gordon looked decent last week and could be the lead back in a run-heavy offense if Gus Edwards (concussion) misses time. It's a miserable matchup against the Browns, so I'd have to be pretty desperate to actually lock him in my lineup. But I had a league where I had to start Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Rico Dowdle, so yeah, you might be desperate, too.
- WR: Adam Thielen, Panthers (67%) – Honestly, if I needed a starter just for the short term, I'd probably prioritize Thielen over either of the Chargers guys. How gross does that sound? But he's got 23 targets over the past two weeks, turning them into 49.9 PPR points. Can he sustain that in the long run? I think not. But his role is more clear right now than either Chargers option, and you have to love the Week 4 matchup – a revenge game vs. the Vikings.
- TE: Zach Ertz, Cardinals (43%) – Ertz is challenging late-career Jason Witten to see how washed up a tight end can look while still remaining Fantasy relevant. But the thing is, he has 20 targets through three games, with Week 3's two targets coming in a game where the Cardinals only threw the ball 21 times. I'm willing to bet they'll have to throw the ball more than that against the 49ers this week, and while the matchup is awful, Ertz could brute force his way to a decent PPR showing. There just aren't many tight ends with as big a role in their offense right now, for better or worse.