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10 Thoughts: Week 4 Edition

In this Week 4 edition of 10 Thoughts, we cover D.J. Moore’s ascension into the WR1 club, a possible all-time great running back fantasy season, incompetent coaching, and much more.

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Fantasy Football - DJ Moore

1) D.J. Moore is making “the leap”. 
Every year at least one uber-talented wide receiver goes from being a solid WR2 to a bonafide WR1 as things fall into place around them. Last year it was Stefon Diggs, who made the leap after being traded to Buffalo, and this year it’s D.J. Moore who is making the leap with Sam Darnold as his quarterback. Through three weeks, Moore is tied with Justin Jefferson for WR9 overall honors in PPR formats. Moore’s 31 percent target share ranks sixth in the NFL, and he hasn’t had a week with lower than a 24.1% target share, so the volume is there to go along with the talent. Additionally, Moore’s 10.5 aDOT is exactly where it should be, mixing in both deep balls and run after catch opportunities. Moore is a burner who can win everywhere on the field, so he should be getting that opportunity. Last season he was miscast as a deep threat, and his 13.7 aDOT did him a disservice. When talent, volume, and optimal utilization come together this is the result. Moore is averaging 19.3 PPR points per game with only one touchdown in 2021, so the best is yet to come.

2) Gerald Everett is the best buy-low tight end in fantasy football.
Everett is yet to make any real noise on the stat sheet, as his best game came in Week 3 when he caught five passes for 54 yards, but that’s going to change. Everett has been playing on nearly 80 percent of snaps, and while that’s elite in and of itself for the position, it’s really great when Russell Wilson is your quarterback. Russ hasn’t had a decent tight end since Jimmy Graham in 2017, and the then 31-year-old Graham caught 10 touchdowns that year. Everett is far more athletic than Graham was at that post-prime stage, and don’t forget that he’s a freak athlete still in his prime who ran a 4.62 40-yard dash at 6-foot-3 239 pounds. Russ is ultra-efficient, and he looks for big targets in the red zone, so if Everett keeps playing as much as he is it’s only a matter of time before the results show up. An 18 percent target share in Week 3 was a good start, but Everett is just scratching the surface in Seattle.

3) Michael Pittman is a potential rising star.
The Indianapolis Colts badly need a pass-catcher to step up and lead the unit, and Michael Pittman looks like that guy. Pittman is 6-foot-4 223 pounds, runs a 4.52 40-yard dash, and was the 34th overall pick in 2020, so he has pedigree. In his last two games, Pittman has racked up 14 receptions and 189 yards with 36 and 33 percent target shares. Those target shares are no joke and Pittman has the athletic ability to continually translate volume into production. It helps that the Colts have no other receivers talented enough to command consistent volume. I’m valuing Pittman like an ascending WR3 with WR2 potential down the road, and now is the time to buy if you believe in the talent.

4) Buffalo Bills running backs are finally getting involved in the red zone.
Bills running backs had just 32 combined red zone touches over the entire 2020-21 season, and that was a big reason why they were mostly nonfactors in fantasy football. So far this season, Zack Moss and Devin Singletary have combined for 18 red zone touches in three games. This means that we could feasibly have an RB2 come out of nowhere in Buffalo. This offense was already running back-friendly in the sense that the Bills score a lot of points, but now the running backs are actually a part of the festivities. Zack Moss in particular is a fast-rising RB3 having scored four times in the last two weeks. Moss also had six red zone touches in Week 3 alone, which is more than most backs have on the season.

5) Ben Roethlisberger is completely washed-up, and he’s holding everyone back.
The film hasn’t lied through three weeks — Ben should be sitting on his couch instead of floundering around on an NFL football field. Right now Roethlisberger is a helpless, statuesque pocket sloth behind a poor offensive line, and his noodle arm/inability to navigate the pocket is resulting in a brand of football that is hard to watch. Despite having superb weapons, Ben’s 7.0 aDOT ranks 27th in the NFL because he can’t extend plays whatsoever and he doesn’t have the arm to push the ball. downfield. Seeing Najee Harris get 19 targets last week (second-most all-time for a running back) was hard to watch, as Ben just dumped off pass after pass at the slightest notion of pocket pressure. Chase Claypool is a truly elite talent and a top-five deep ball receiver in the NFL, but he’s in trouble with a noodle-armed QB throwing to him. Fortunately, Juju Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson will be fine in PPR based on short reception volume, but everyone’s yardage and touchdown ceiling will be capped all year long thanks to Big Ben’s lack of ability.

6) Will Derrick Henry be all-time great all year long?
Derrick Henry was already a top-five RB1 coming into the season… and then he got involved in the passing game. Now the Big Dog is essentially a fantasy god, averaging 25.9 PPR points per game through three weeks as he’s racked up 353 yards rushing, 105 yards receiving, and three touchdowns. If Henry continues to get four or so targets per week nothing can stop him, but I’m skeptical that the trend continues. We should know more after Week 4, as Darrynton Evans, Tennessee’s most talented receiving back, is poised to come off of IR. I’m also curious about what happens in Week 6 and beyond, as the Titans’ schedule picks up at that point and I expect their poor defense to give up a ton of points once they face competent opponents. How will new OC Todd Downing call games when his team is consistently down? And how will it affect Henry? All of these things will be answered in time, but this is a situation to monitor because Henry could be in for an all-time great season a la CMC in 2019.

7) Kliff Kingsbury is a bad coach, and it’s going to catch up to him.
Despite being purported as a sharp, modern offensive mind when he was hired, Kliff Kingsbury has proven to be the opposite. You won’t hear that many people talk about it, but that’s only because Kyler Murray is talented enough to overcome Kliff’s poor coaching most weeks. Kingsbury doesn’t move his receivers around, his route trees are basic, and he is playing a washed-up A.J. Green (79.1% snaps in Week 3) more than Rondale Moore (34.3% snaps in Week 3), who is absolutely electric. On top of all of that, Kyler Murray’s 8.4 aDOT ranks 18th among NFL QB’s despite the fact that he has a 93.2 PFF deep passing grade (fourth in the NFL). DeAndre Hopkins is already suffering, having racked up just 18 targets and 158 yards through three games, but soon everyone in this offense is going to regress when defenses key in on its basic elements. There’s so much potential here that is being locked away by Kingsbury’s much-maligned “horizontal raid.”

8) Don’t sleep on Jakobi Meyers.
Meyers has a 25 percent target share through three weeks, and he hasn’t had a game with less than a 21.4% share, which is phenomenal. Meyers is an excellent route runner at all levels and he’s already developed a nice rapport with Mac Jones, so the huge target share isn’t an accident, and it’s still ticking up. Last week Meyers caught nine of 12 targets (28 percent share) for 94 yards and had a 12.4 aDOT… wide receiver usage doesn’t get much better than that. Once Meyers starts finding the end zone he’ll be ready to make the leap into WR3 range, but I suggest buying him before that happens.

9) The Atlanta Falcons are letting down their best players.
I’m talking about Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. Both players are among the best talents in the NFL at their respective positions, but their quarterback, head coach, and offensive line have been so incompetent that they haven’t produced. Matt Ryan’s pathetic 4.9 aDOT is dead last in the NFL, and while he doesn’t look as physically inept as Ben Roethlisberger, he’s having similar problems behind a bad offensive line. Ryan has also been flinging the ball to the first man he sees on most plays rather than looking for his stars or letting plays develop. Calvin Ridley dominated all season long last year with a 14.3 aDOT and he’s clearly a top-five downfield receiver in the league… his aDOT in 2021 is 8.8. Kyle Pitts played on nearly 80 percent of snaps in Week 3 with Russell Gage out and Matt Ryan threw the ball 36 times… he was targeted just three times exclusively in garbage time. I thought highly of Arthur Smith when he was hired, but it’s mind-boggling that he isn’t leaning on his stars or putting them in a position to succeed, and he deserves to be 0-3.

10) Alexander Mattison and Chuba Hubbard exemplify why you should prioritize upside on your bench.
My fantasy benches are always full of high upside running backs who are an injury away from RB2 status. It might feel more comforting to have Tim Patrick, Laviska Shenault, or Teddy Bridgewater types there, but if you really need someone “safe” to start on any given week, you can make the room and pick them up before game day. There’s no use in carrying low upside players when you could be giving yourself four or five chances to get a new RB2 every week. Last week (and maybe this week as well) Alexander Mattison won/will win managers matchups, and Chuba Hubbard is set to do the same for the next few weeks with CMC out due to a hamstring injury. High upside running backs are the most precious fantasy football commodity and it’s not even close, so do yourself a favor and roster as many handcuffs as possible — you might just find a Mattison or a Hubbard next week.

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