The Fantasy 32 analyzes the NFL from a fantasy perspective, with at least one mention of each of the league's 32 teams. Though efficiency will be discussed plenty, the column will lean heavily on usage data, as volume is king (by far) in fantasy football. Use these tidbits to make the best waiver-wire, trade and lineup decisions for the upcoming week and beyond.
Note that data from Monday Night Football might not be reflected in charts in the article until Tuesday afternoon.
Seahawks TE Will Dissly: An injury has prematurely ended a promising rookie season in Seattle for the second season in a row. Last year, it was Chris Carson. This time it's a patellar tendon injury for Dissly. Fantasy's No. 10 scoring tight end after three weeks was handling a generous 14 percent target share out of the gate. Nick Vannett was already very involved as is, but with Dissly out after eight snaps, he ran 20 of a possible 28 pass routes in Sunday's victory over Arizona. Vannett ranks third on the team with 15 targets, and Russell Wilson's generous target distribution to the position (25 percent) makes him a fantasy sleeper going forward. Vannett is worth a pickup in leagues that start two tight ends.
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert can't seem to catch a break. An ankle injury has ended his season after only four games, which means that by season's end, he will have missed 53 of 96 possible games since entering the league in 2013. Last season, Tyler Kroft was the next man up for the Bengals, but that's no longer the case. C.J. Uzomah has played 31-plus snaps in every game and ran 26 of a possible 43 routes Sunday (Eifert was at 13 prior to the injury). Uzomah is unlikely to see as much work as Eifert, but the top pass-catching tight end in an offense averaging 3.8 touchdowns per game (second-most) shouldn't be ignored. Uzomah is a TE2 who could have some lineup appeal during the heavy bye weeks.
Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard sprained his MCL and will miss two to four weeks. The Bucs are on a bye this week, so the timing could mean he misses only one to three games. Howard went down after only 14 snaps (three targets) Sunday and his big early-season role means that, while he's not a must-hold in shallow leagues, he's a fine player to stash on the end of your bench. Cameron Brate is the big benefactor here. Brate was on the field for 25 of the team's 38 pass plays Sunday and Howard's absence (as well as the return of Jameis Winston) will launch Brate back into the TE1 mix over the short term.
Week 5 means several impact players will return to action:
Saints RB Mark Ingram: Last season in 18 games (including the playoffs), Ingram played 80 more snaps and carried the ball 108 more times than explosive teammate Alvin Kamara. Kamara played a much larger role in passing situations and was the more efficient player, but Ingram is still one of the game's better rushers. It's fair to expect Kamara's role to be reduced (his 136 OFP is a whopping 26 points above second-place Deshaun Watson), but it should be larger than what he saw as a rookie. Kamara is best viewed as a top-five running back and Ingram as a mid-to-back-end RB2 moving forward.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman: The New England passing game got back on track with a five-touchdown effort against Miami on Sunday, but the return of Edelman couldn't have come soon enough. Edelman is now 32 and hasn't appeared in a game since Week 3 of the 2016 season, but consider that he handled a hefty 25 percent target share when active during the 2013-15 seasons. With New England struggling for consistency at wide receiver, Edelman might not be far off that mark going forward. Edelman is in the WR2 discussion moving forward and, barring reports that he'll be limited, should be in lineups against the Colts in Week 5.
Colts RB Robert Turbin: Though rookie Nyheim Hines seemingly has locked down a significant passing-down role, fellow youngsters Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins have failed to perform on early downs during Turbin's four-game suspension. Last week, ESPN NFL Nation Colts reporter Mike Wells said he expects Turbin to take on a significant role upon his return. Turbin, who spent most of the offseason running with the starters, could quickly push for 12 to 15 touches per game in a timeshare with Hines. That's enough to make him worth your attention on waivers in 12-plus team leagues this week.
Throughout this piece, I'll be referencing "OFP" and "OTD." OFP stands for opportunity-adjusted fantasy points. Imagine a league in which players are created equal. OFP is a statistic that weighs every pass/carry/target and converts the data into one number that indicates a player's opportunity to score fantasy points, or his "expected" fantasy point total. For example, if a player has an OFP of 14.5, it means that a league-average player who saw the same workload in the same area of the field would have scored 14.5 fantasy points. OTD works the same way, except instead of fantasy points, it's touchdowns.
That said, here is the Week 4 OFP leaderboard:
*Complete positional leaderboards will be posted on ESPN+ this week
The Texans failed to run a single offensive snap with the lead prior to Week 4, but the offense hasn't been short of opportunity. QB Deshaun Watson posted a 31 OFP in Week 4 and sits second overall across all positions (97) on the season. Following a rough Week 1 at Foxborough, Watson has posted a trio of top-10 fantasy weeks, and OFP suggests he'll continue to rise in the ranks as other quarterbacks see their efficiency regress to the mean.
Watson's top weapon, WR DeAndre Hopkins, has been his same voluminous self this season, sitting fourth overall in OFP (88). Rookie WR Keke Coutee made his NFL debut Sunday and, though an injury to Will Fuller helped, Coutee racked up a ridiculous 15 targets and posted a 23 OFP. He was on the field for all but four of the team's 49 pass plays. He obviously needs to be scooped up in all leagues, but keep in mind that Hopkins and Fuller figure to remain Nos. 1 and 2 in line for targets, which will cap Coutee's target share. He'll be a risky play against Dallas in Week 5 if Fuller plays.
Colts rookie RB Nyheim Hines was busy in Week 4 and now holds a comfortable edge over the rest of the team's running backs in snaps (156), routes (101) and targets (26) this season. Hines has been limited to 18 carries and that doesn't figure to change with the aforementioned Turbin due back this week. Of course, much like Theo Riddick, Chris Thompson, Duke Johnson Jr. or peak Darren Sproles, Hines is positioned for enough of a change-of-pace/receiving role to keep him on the flex radar. Hines currently sits 15th at running back in OFP this season, which puts him ahead of the likes of Lamar Miller, Alex Collins and Dion Lewis. Hines' efficiency has been poor (3.0 YPC, 5.4 YPR), but volume is king. As Tarik Cohen showed us last season, if Hines sustains his current role, he can sustain fantasy relevance.
Is Raiders TE Jared Cook on the verge of a breakout season at age 31? At the quarter mark of the season, he certainly appears to be. Cook had another big game in Week 4 and is handling a career-high 21 percent target share. Cook sits third at tight end with a 68 OFP (position-high 75 actual points) and leads the position with a 3.1 OTD, which suggests he actually has room to grow in the touchdown department (he has two). Especially with tight end a mess with injuries, Cook is very much a viable midpack TE1 moving forward.
Now four weeks into the season, it's a good time to take a closer look at FORP and see how it can help you make trade, waiver and lineup decisions.
Below is the list of players who had the lowest FORP entering Week 4. Put another way, they had underperformed their OFP (expected fantasy point total) by the largest margin:
That's a very strong result! We see four of the top five busting out for huge games and even Cardinals WR Chad Williams (who was a few inches from a second long touchdown) and Bengals WR John Ross enjoying career games.
Titans WR Corey Davis was another one of the big hits in Week 4. Davis caught 9 of 15 targets for 161 yards and the winning touchdown in overtime. Granted, Davis had an outstanding matchup, but he also had a combination of tough matchups and was missing Marcus Mariota earlier in the season. Davis has been targeted a whopping 40 times in four games (that's 10 per game if you're counting at home) and ranks 11th at wide receiver in OFP (68). He's scored 59 fantasy points this season, which suggests there's still room here for more production. Davis is a fringe WR2 who should be locked into lineups.
Colts QB Andrew Luck sports an OFP of 85 and trails only Kamara, Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Hopkins and Saquon Barkley in the category. As expected, volume has not been an issue for Luck in the Colts' pass-first offense, and he seemed to hit his stride with his best game since 2016 in Week 4. He's still a solid QB1.
Buccaneers RB Peyton Barber is a noticeable "exception to the rule." The plodder handled a generous chunk of Tampa Bay's carries in Weeks 1-3, but struggled with effectiveness and was seemingly leapfrogged by second-round rookie Ronald Jones in Week 4. Barber doesn't need to be kept on your roster with Tampa Bay headed to a Week 5 bye and with Jones on the rise.
Once again, the hit rates here are impressive and just further evidence of the power of volume and the unstoppable force that is regression to the mean in fantasy football.
The Falcons' offense defied the odds in Week 4, with QB Matt Ryan posting his third consecutive top-eight fantasy week and WR Calvin Ridley continuing his touchdown barrage. The rookie wideout has scored six touchdowns on 15 receptions, which is nowhere close to sustainable. Ridley (28 routes, 6 targets in Week 4) is seeing enough work to keep him in the flex conversation, but he's still third in line at wide receiver behind both Julio Jones (36 routes, 12 targets) and Mohamed Sanu (36 routes, 9 targets). Ridley sits 10th at wide receiver with 79 fantasy points, but he's 39th with a 42 OFP. He's seen only a pair of end zone targets and sports a 1.6 OTD. Ridley has a pair of "easy" matchups against Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay the next two weekends, but he's one of the league's strongest bets to crash back to earth in the near future.
Speaking of the Falcons, WR Julio Jones posted a 1.4 OTD in Week 1 alone but sits at 0.7 despite 27 targets over the past three games. This suggests that the team might have changed its game plan and is no longer attempting to use Jones near the goal line. It's an overreaction to the struggles of the Ryan/Jones connection last season, but nonetheless is something we need to monitor in fantasy. Jones remains a candidate for a bounce-back in scoring, but a limited role near the goal line means it might not be as much as we hoped.
Now that we see the value of OFP and FORP, we can look at the players who sit on the polar ends of the FORP chart after four weeks of play.
These players have fallen short of their OFP by the largest margin and are thus candidates to see a rise in fantasy production moving forward, assuming they see a similar workload: Bills QB Josh Allen (minus-21), Eagles TE Zach Ertz (minus-17), Bills WR Robert Foster (minus-16), Browns WR Antonio Callaway (minus-16), Barber (minus-16), Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin (minus-13), Eagles WR Nelson Agholor (minus-13), Bears RB Jordan Howard (minus-12), Steelers WR Antonio Brown (minus-12) and Jets QB Sam Darnold (minus-12).
And these players have exceeded their OFP by the largest margin and are thus candidates to see a dip in fantasy production moving forward: Buccaneers WR DeSean Jackson (plus-42), Ridley (plus-37), Rams QB Jared Goff (plus-34), Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (plus-31), Ryan (plus-31), Rams WR Cooper Kupp (plus-28), Vikings QB Kirk Cousins (plus-28), Lions WR Golden Tate (plus-26), Mahomes (plus-26) and Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett (plus-26).
Panthers TE Ian Thomas: Tight end has been ravaged by injuries this season, so if you're one of the many who are desperate at the position, consider Thomas, especially in leagues that start two at the position. Thomas has been quiet since Greg Olsen's injury, but has been on the field for 67 of the team's 72 pass plays during his two starts. Some goal-line work and a small uptick from his four targets per game during the span could push him into the TE1 discussion during bye weeks.
Cowboys TE Geoff Swaim: Speaking of sneaky tight ends, Swaim has racked up 11 targets during his past three games. Jason Witten's replacement has run a route on 73 percent of the Cowboys' pass plays and is handling a solid 12 percent target share through Week 4. After a slow start, Swaim now sits 20th at the position in fantasy points and 21st in OFP. Swaim is a TE2 option and could sneak into the TE1 discussion if the Cowboys offense takes a step forward.
Packers wide receivers: Randall Cobb was sidelined in Week 4, which opened the door for rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling to run 33 of a possible 42 pass routes. Valdes-Scantling, who manned the slot, was limited to three targets, but only Davante Adams ran more routes (42). If Cobb remains out in Week 5, Valdes-Scantling will be a risky but intriguing deep sleeper with Adams facing shadow coverage from Lions CB Darius Slay.
Jets WR Jermaine Kearse was injured to begin the season, but seems to be all the way back after playing a season-high 45 snaps Sunday. Kearse (33 routes) trailed only Quincy Enunwa (34) in pass routes and was ahead of Robby Anderson (31), Andre Roberts (three) and Terrelle Pryor (two). Like Sam Darnold's favorite target, Enunwa, Kearse is a short-area target (9.5 aDOT), which figures to benefit his target share. Kearse, who was fantasy's No. 26 scoring wide receiver last season, is worth a look in deep leagues.
Steelers WR Ryan Switzer was targeted seven times Sunday night (third-most on the team), but before you run to grab him off waivers, note that he was limited to 19 snaps (18 pass routes). Switzer ran behind JuJu Smith-Schuster (47 routes), Antonio Brown (46) and rookie James Washington (37). Switzer should be rostered only in very deep leagues.
49ers TE George Kittle: During the 15 games he was active as a rookie, Kittle was on the field for 58 percent of the team's snaps, ran a route on 57 percent of the team's pass plays and handled an 11 percent target share. This season, he's at 79 percent of the snaps, 68 percent of the pass plays and 22 percent of the targets. Kittle has already posted three top-six fantasy weeks, including a 25-point effort with C.J. Beathard under center in Week 4. Kittle's 44 OFP suggests he's over his head a bit at 58 points, but he still sits fifth at the position in OFP. Consider Kittle a midrange TE1 moving forward.
Redskins TE Jordan Reed: The list of injured tight ends is disturbingly long, but at least Reed has dodged it thus far. Reed entered the Redskins' Week 4 bye eighth at the position in fantasy points and sixth in OFP. Reed has run a route on 62 percent of the team's pass plays and is handling a career-high 25 percent target share. Now back from a week off, Reed is locked in as a fringe top-five fantasy tight end.
Seahawks WR Brandon Marshall: Doug Baldwin returned from injury in Week 4, but that wasn't the only reason Marshall ran a season-low nine pass routes. Marshall was also demoted behind intriguing second-year WR David Moore (19 routes). Marshall can be dropped in most formats and Moore is a strong hold in deep dynasty leagues.
Can I start both Bears RBs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen? It's close, but yes. Entering the season, Howard was a popular RB2 and Cohen a fringe flex, so it's not exactly shocking that both could have value, especially if QB Mitchell Trubisky plays as well as he did in Week 4. Cohen exploded for 20 touches and 174 yards after a slow start to the season. Howard was limited to 11 touches (a lot of which came in garbage time). Howard still out-snapped Cohen (30-29) for the fourth consecutive game and, despite his early-season struggles, is a lock to maintain a big early-down and goal-line role. Howard sits 14th and Cohen 23rd in OFP at the position.
Are Patriots RBs Sony Michel and James White both viable weekly starters? Yes! If you play at ESPN Fantasy (and why wouldn't you?), you might have noticed both players had pretty high projections for Week 4. The reason? Someone has to get the touches. Say what you want about the Patriots' committee attack, but over the past decade, only Saints running backs have accrued more fantasy points. Michel and White combined to handle 87 percent of the snaps and 93 percent of the running back touches against Miami. Michel looked the part of a first-round back, posting 112 yards and a score on 25 carries. White scored on two of his 16 touches and is currently fantasy's No. 7 scoring RB. Both players should be in lineups against the Colts on Thursday.
Is it time to panic about Seahawks QB Russell Wilson? Yes, I'd say so. Wilson was fantasy's No. 9 scoring quarterback in Week 1, but has finished 17th or worse each of his past three outings. Wilson's supporting cast is poor and, perhaps even worse for his fantasy production, he isn't running the ball much. Wilson ran the ball 95 times for 586 yards and three touchdowns last season, but is on pace for 44 carries for 168 yards and no scores in 2018. That'd be a difference of 60 fantasy points. Wilson is also on pace to throw for 431 fewer yards and six fewer touchdowns. Especially with the Rams on tap in Week 5 and a bye three weeks out, Wilson is not going to be a valuable fantasy asset over the next month and perhaps longer.
Is Ravens QB Joe Flacco now a weekly fantasy starter? No. The Ravens are off to a fast start, but it hasn't led to a ton of fantasy production from Flacco. He sits 14th at the position in fantasy points and has one top-10 fantasy week to show for the Ravens' 3-1 start (seventh in Week 1). Flacco sits 11th at the position in OFP (73), however, which suggests that, unlike last season, he actually does have some streaming appeal. Keep an eye on his matchups during bye weeks.