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Fantasy Football Lessons Learned After Four Weeks

It’s good to admit your mistakes. It’s also good to remind people when you’re right about something. There have been a lot of fantasy football lessons to be learned thus far. Here are four of the main ones.

I Was Wrong About Austin Ekeler

Ugh, this one stings.  I was extremely confident in my Austin Ekeler hate this preseason and I could not have been more wrong.  Through four weeks, he is RB2 in fantasy football.  He has played on 63.5% of the Chargers offensive snaps and averages 12.5 carries and 5 targets per game.  His 5.7 yards per carry is 4th highest in the league, and his 4 total touchdowns put him on pace for 16 on the season. 

There’s no reason to believe this trend won’t continue.  At the end of the day, touches are touches, and statistically speaking targets are more valuable than carries.  This is a strong offense that will move the ball and score a lot, giving Ekeler the efficiency and touchdown production he needs to remain elite.  In today’s day and age, pass-catching backs like Ekeler are a hot commodity in fantasy football.  I, an old soul in the fantasy world, should have realized this and drafted him more often.

Cooper Kupp Is A Top-5 WR Moving Forward

Kupp’s 56 targets through 4 games is the most in the NFL by 11 targets.  But he doesn’t just lead the league in targets, he also leads the league in every major receiving category (receptions, yards, TDs).  He has double digit targets in every game this season and is the favorite receiver of MVP candidate Matthew Stafford.  There’s not much else I can say here, as I feel like it is obvious that Kupp is an elite fantasy option.  Some people may be tempted to sell high on Kupp, but because of the consistency of the targets, I don’t like that idea.  You will probably have a hard time convincing someone to give you a good deal because it is such an obvious sell high moment.  Hold onto Kupp and reap the benefits.

Saquon Barkley Is An RB1 No Matter What

Ok, I was wrong about Ekeler and I was wrong about Kupp.  Now it’s time for me to brag a little bit.  Before week 3 I traded Miles Sanders and Mike Williams for Saquon Barkley (insane, right?).  Now here I am tooting my own horn because Barkley has only gotten better since then.  After a shaky week 1, Barkley has played on 80%+ of the offensive snaps in weeks 2-4.  He has returned to his bell-cow RB status and is the only Giants back that gets real touches. 

Does he struggle with efficiency?  Yes, the offensive line is terrible and he has yet to rush for 60+ yards in a game.  But his receiving work has increased, getting 7 and 6 targets in weeks 3 and 4, respectively.  He has looked healthier, faster, and more elusive in recent weeks, meaning we should see more signature Saquon big plays soon.  He has incredible talent, and one of the largest opportunity shares in the league.  Despite the efficiency struggles, he is a solid RB1 and an every-week starter moving forward.

The Ja’Marr Chase Hate Went Too Far

“He’s dropping everything, he can’t separate from corners in camp, it’s gonna take a while for him to be an effective NFL starter.”  These were all the things that were said about Chase coming into the season.  Now, he’s WR8 in fantasy football and has scored 4 touchdowns in as many games as a Bengal.  He averages an impressive 17.5 yards per reception and has already put together a string of big-play touchdowns. 

With over 23% of the team targets coming his way and a season high 9 targets in week 4, we should start to see more volume go his way to match the efficiency.  The Bengals clearly do not regret passing on Penei Sewell, as the O-line has held up decently and Burrow is looking for Chase as his WR1 already.  I see him only as a WR2 for now, but you should feel comfortable starting him.

Rushing QBs Reign Supreme

Jalen Hurts is QB3 through four weeks of NFL fantasy action, and Daniel Jones is QB6.  Why?  Because they run the ball a lot.  As the NFL has changed to favor rushing QBs, so has fantasy football.  Hurts has over 200 rushing yards and 1 touchdown, while Jones has roughly 170 and 2 touchdowns.  Over the course of four games, this rushing production adds almost 7 points per game to their respective fantasy totals.  That’s a significant amount of points for the highest scoring position in fantasy.  These guys have also done some good things through the air, but the ground work is what makes them such enticing options in fantasy.  Hurts is a top-tier option, whereas Jones is more of a low-end QB1, but both should feel comfortable in your starting QB role.

Injury Risk Is A Serious Concern

When it comes to drafting, my philosophy has always been this: You can’t predict injuries, so you shouldn’t even consider them when drafting.  After this season, I think I’ve changed my mind.  The best example is Dalvin Cook, someone who will have to wait until next year to try and play his first full season without getting hurt.  Cook was injured in week 2 and sat out week 3.  In week 4 he carried the ball only 9 times and is questionable for week 5.  Christian McCaffrey is out again after missing all but 3 games in 2020.  Joe Mixon is questionable for week 5 after being out for the majority of last season.  Injuries happen, and in some cases, they are somewhat predictable.  The best ability is availability, and maybe that needs to be more of a discussion during draft season.