One Big Thing – NFC – Week 4

Updated: October 7th 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

NFC EAST

Cowboys

It is a great year to be a fantasy owner of a Dallas Cowboys offensive player. Too bad it is at the cost of actual wins for the team but unless you are a fan of the team you will take all the shootouts you can get. Dak Prescott is on pace to destroy Peyton Manning’s 2013 passing yards record which helps keep him in fantasy MVP contention for 2020. The question of whether the addition of CeeDee Lamb was going to create too many mouths to feed seems to be irrelevant for now. The amount of offense this team needs to generate to cover for its defense will make all Cowboys players fantasy relevant. Still do not understand how the Raiders picked Henry Ruggs over Lamb.

 Washington

I was going to write about how Antonio Gibson was starting to be more involved in this offense but Dwayne Haskins’ benching came up halfway through. It is unclear what this change at quarterback will do for those around new starter Kyle Allen. One would assume that Antonio Gibson will become even more involved much like how Kyle Allen used Christian McCaffrey in the passing game last year. It also should not harm Terry McLaurin as D.J. Moore was able to receive 135 targets and 87 receptions in this offense last year. As for Haskins himself, whatever fantasy value he had is likely gone and with Alex Smith taking over the backup role too, who knows if Haskins will ever take another snap for Washington.

 NY Giants

I still cannot believe how much Daniel Jones and this offense have regressed from last year. As it was stated in past articles it is unclear who is to blame for this regression but it has made every fantasy option disappointing. They currently have only 47 points scored in their first four (4) games, which is 18 less than the next team, the Jets. No team should be statistically behind the Jets in anything the way their season is going. If the Giants cannot score at least half of their season total against the Cowboys swiss cheese defense this week, it is likely to be the last chance for the fantasy community to trust starting any Giants players.

 Philadelphia

Carson Wentz did enough to hold back the Philly mob for another week but I think this game showed more about how much the 49ers team has been devastated by injuries to their all-star players than the superb play of the Eagles. As I mentioned in my Street Free Agent article, the Eagles continue to use their two tight end sets more than any other team even with Dallas Goedert going down. Richard Rodgers is not as talented as Goedert but for tight end premium and two-tight end leagues, his snap count alone should present opportunities for him to see targets.

NFC NORTH

 Detroit

The good news is that the Lions are trying to keep a balanced offense and getting D’Andre Swift involved more.  The bad news is that it is not translating to wins. The passing down role seems to be firmly in Swift’s control now as he nearly triples that of Peterson in targets (16:6) but he has yet to be featured in the red zone which limits his scoring upside. With only two touches total, both coming back in week 2, as opposed to Peterson who has averaged three (3) red zone touches per game it will be difficult for Swift to have a breakout game unless he breaks a large touchdown. He is trending in the right direction but he is just not there yet. Stay patient my friends, his time is coming.

 Minnesota

The Vikings finally pulled together as a complete team and got their first win of 2020. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen have set themselves apart as the two primary options for Kirk Cousins combining for 68 percent of the targets and both going over 100 yards receiving last Sunday. It might be too little, too late for this team to win the division with the way Green Bay is playing but if the Vikings can return to form they should be able to make a strong push to be one of the three wild card teams.

Chicago

When the opponent does not shoot themselves in the foot it turns out that the Bears are not as good as their 3-0 record suggested. With new starting quarterback Nick Foles, the Bears’ offense did not seem to have anything working against a tough Colts defense. David Montgomery finally saw a full workload with Tarik Cohen lost for the season but his paltry 2.7 yards per carry did not inspire a lot of confidence that he can be the answer at running back. Volume might be able to save him in better matchups but for now, Montgomery is an RB3/4 at best.

 Green Bay

Sometimes a bye week can be inopportune as the Packers have started their season red hot through the first month. Having a week off will allow guys like Davante Adams and Allen Lazard time to get healthy at least. Robert Tonyan had three (3) touchdowns on Monday night and shot up to the TE1 position because of it. What we should expect from him on a game-to-game basis is still up for debate when the previously mentioned receivers return to the lineup but he has caught everyone’s attention through the first four weeks of the season, including Rodgers.

NFC SOUTH

 New Orleans

It took four games but it appears that Drew Brees and Emmanuel Sanders have finally found a connection. The receiver caught six (6) passes for 93 yards and although he did not score the passing attacked looked the best it had been since week 1. With Michael Thomas poised to return this week Drew Brees may finally have a tertiary passing option to go along with Thomas and Alvin Kamara out of the backfield. The Saints are once again back on track to contend for not only the NFC South division but also the NFC championship.

 Tampa Bay

Slowly but surely Tom Brady is finding his groove with each of his receivers. Nine (9) different receivers caught passes against the Chargers last week and Brady threw a touchdown to five different players. While not on the same level as the 2007 Patriots team the roles seem to be filling in quite nicely with Mike Evans doing his best Randy Moss impression and Scotty Miller/Justin Watson filling in as Wes Welker. It is too bad that O.J. Howard was announced that he was going to be out for the season as he too was building a strong rapport with Brady over six (6) targets last week. We shall see if Cameron Brate can fill that role or whether the eventual return of Chris Godwin will fill those targets.

 Carolina

It was another gritty performance by the Carolina Panthers to beat the suddenly slumping Arizona Cardinals. Mike Davis had another strong fantasy performance with his second consecutive 20+ PPR game. The way things are going the team may not rush Christian McCaffrey back as they have had both their win comes in his absence. Davis’ role will be interesting once McCaffrey does return as to whether he will be relegated to a minimal amount of snaps and touches or whether he will still have a part-time role in the offense. For now, those who picked him up off the street can just ride the wave.

 Atlanta

The Falcons appear to have as bad of a defense as the Cowboys but do not have the same offensive firepower to keep up with opposing teams. The entire receiving core was dealing with injuries last week and when Olamide Zaccheaus and Christian Blake lead in the statistical department it likely was not a good game. Todd Gurley had 16 of the teams 22 carries along with two (2) touchdowns but he only played 55 percent of the snaps. It is hard to argue with his fantasy output as the RB19 right now but he has been non-existent in the passing game with only four (4) catches on eight (8) targets. Because the offense needs to stay aggressive due to their lack of defense he will have plenty of opportunities to score but if Matt Ryan becomes more efficient in the red zone Gurley, who currently leads the league in red zone rushing attempts, could see his production dry up.

NFC WEST

 Arizona

The Cardinals offense had a second letdown after they looked like they were playing on rookie-mode in Madden there first two weeks. This week may not have been as much their fault as the time of position was dominated almost 2:1 by the Panthers. Kyler Murray had a down game in terms of passing yards being held to under 140 passing yards but he still scored three (3) passing touchdowns and continued to shine with his legs totalling 78 yards rushing. Much like Lamar Jackson, Murray’s floor will continue to be higher than most as he presents RB2 production with his rushing stats alone. The bigger concern has to be Kenyan Drake who many thought might be a fringe RB1 this season but has been RB17, RB31, RB32, and RB58 in their first four games.

 Seattle

The Seahawks looked sluggish against Miami last week leading to a closer game than maybe some would have thought. Whether it was the cross country game time or playing down to the opponent it took them till late in the fourth quarter before finally putting away the Dolphins. Russell Wilson broke his 30 point-scoring streak finally with a more human two (2) touchdown performance along with his second interception of the season. He did still have 360 passing yards but finished just outside of QB1 territory for the first time this season. No concern should be had though as they go against a Vikings team this week that has allowed the fourth-most passing yards.

 LA Rams

The Rams also looked sluggish in their cross country game where outside of a long 55-yard touchdown by Cooper Kupp the offense only managed another 185 total yards. The running back situation once again has everyone pulling their hair out as Darrell Henderson, after his breakout performance in week 3, was out-snapped by Malcolm Brown 35:22 and had no value to the teams who started him. Once Akers comes back healthy who knows how this backfield will be shared and if there will be enough touches to go around. Only Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods can be auto-plays each week right now.

 San Francisco

The 49ers finally had to play a semi-competitive team after two matchups against the winless New York franchises and their injury woes finally started to show. George Kittle’s return gave a monster boost to the offense to keep them in the game and slowly Deebo Samuel will get back to full strength but until then this team is just missing that extra gear. The emergence of Brandon Aiyuk over the last two games should hopefully give Jimmy Garoppolo another weapon when he returns to the lineup as well. They are not out of it yet but with the way the Seahawks are playing a wild card spot is about as high as these 49ers can aim right now.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews