October 3, 2022, 6:54 pm
Cardinals 26, Panthers 16 (Cardinals covered -1, U 43.5)
Patriots 24, Packers 27 (Patriots covered +9.5, O 40)
Broncos 23, Raiders 32 (Raiders covered -2.5, O 45.5)
The truly elite fantasy football managers will do in-depth research on every game of the slate to determine who their best options are for their starting lineup and which players are worth benching for one reason or another. In this Week 4 recap, we’ll be looking at the three games that kicked off just after 1pm PST/4pm EST on October 2.
Cardinals @ Panthers
Key Storylines/What to Watch
Pregame: The Cardinals needed a miraculous comeback from Kyler Murray to earn their first victory in Week 2 over the Raiders and while Murray remains one of the most intriguing players to watch due to his unworldly athleticism, the team leaves a lot to be desired from a play-calling perspective. It seems like their best offensive plays occur when Murray has to make something happen out of nothing, and that doesn’t seem to be a recipe to win in this league. Coaches are there to try and make things easy for their players and that just hasn’t been the case for the Cardinals so far. Fortunately, they get an easier matchup in Week 4 after facing off against the Chiefs, Raiders and Rams.
Postgame: The Cardinals started off sluggishly again in this contest, but were able to pull out the victory behind Kyler Murray and his three second-half touchdowns (one rushing and two passing). The slow starts continue to be a concern as this game could have looked a lot different had their opponent been one of the higher caliber teams around the league.
After losing their first two games of the season by a field goal or less, the Panthers got themselves in the win column against their divisional rival, the Saints. Baker Mayfield has struggled getting the ball to his receivers, failing to eclipse 60% in completion percentage and it even dipped below 50% in their Week 3 win. Christian McCaffrey continues to be the key to the Panthers offense and they’ll look to feature him early and often.
Postgame: McCaffrey and the Panthers couldn’t get anything going on the ground, but he continued to be the highest featured offensive player on the team as he led them in both rushing (27) and receiving yards (81). The fact that Baker Mayfield had five passes deflected in the contest including a drive-ending play in the fourth quarter has led to questions about whether or not Sam Darnold could have chance to take over once he is cleared from his ankle injury. The situation isn’t good in Carolina and Matt Rhule was definitely feeling the hot-seat based on his postgame quotes.
Pregame: Marquise Brown popped up on the injury report on Friday with a foot injury, and his status is clearly worth monitoring as he’s commanded a 23.4% target share and is Murray’s clear WR1.
Postgame: The injury is not a concern moving forward based on what we saw on the field this past Sunday.
Pregame: Can the Greg Dortch breakout fantasy campaign continue against the Panthers and will D.J. Moore ever be able to deliver on his potential with Mayfield under center.
Postgame: One catch on one target for six yards means that no, the PPR early-season wonder that was Dortch is now a thing of the past. More to come in our biggest bust section below.
Christian McCaffrey’s thigh/quad injury that has limited him in practice this week is obviously the biggest concern for the Panthers as he’s essential to everything they do on offense even if he hasn’t been as involved in the passing game as fantasy GMs would like.
Postgame: In spite of a team that can’t seem to get anything going offensively, McCaffrey continues to produce for fantasy managers as he continues to be the main focal point of everything they do offensively. He wasn’t able to get it done on the ground as the Cardinals defense held up quite well, but led the team in receiving yards as we already mentioned.
QB Kyler Murray –
Pregame: The rushing ability and explosive athleticism that Murray brings to the table allows him to be a consistent top-12 option at the position, although he will have a much more difficult time if his college teammate, Hollywood, is ultimately ruled out.
Postgame: The rushing ability of these modern style QBs has changed the fantasy landscape in favor of players like Murray, as he was able to provide 8.6 fantasy points on the ground alone. Add in his 207 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air and that interception can barely be felt.
WR Marquise Brown –
Pregame: If he suits up, he’s an absolute must-start option and gets an additional boost in PPR formats due to how often Murray looks his direction. If for some reason Brown is unable to play through the injury, Dortch becomes the must-start option among the wide receiver room.
Postgame: Hollywood received 11 of Murray’s 32 pass attempts on Sunday and continues to be an absolute PPR darling regardless of matchup.
TE Zach Ertz –
Pregame: He’s not as sexy as the top-tier options like Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and Kyle Pitts, but Ertz continues to get the job done and should be a primary beneficiary if the team is without either Brown or Dortch. He’s the TE4 on the season in 0.5 PPR formats, putting him above both Waller and Pitts.
Postgame: Ertz was the first player to find the end zone in this contest, and continues to be one of the more reliable options out there as the second true passing threat behind the team’s WR1 who we talked about above.
RB Christian McCaffrey –
Pregame: McCaffrey is an obvious must-start option anytime he is able to suit up, although expectations should be slightly tempered with the quad/thigh injury. The Cardinals defense have performed better in run-stopping than through the air through three weeks.
Postgame: McCaffrey (and the Panthers) struggled to move the ball down field throughout the game, but his fantasy day was salvaged by a late touchdown throw from Baker Mayfield. The 27 yards on eight carries (good for 3.4 per carry) is not what we want to see from McCaffrey, but the heavy involvement in the passing game is something we hadn’t seen through three weeks.
WR Greg Dortch –
The early-season success from Dortch has allowed him to enter the conversation here, but Rondale Moore’s return from injury this week might put an end to the fantasy discussion we’ve had through the early going.
Postgame: It wasn’t wise to even put Dortch in this category with Moore’s return from injury as he truly busted in this matchup. The previously unknown receiver can be safely sent to the waiver wire across all redraft formats.
WR D.J. Moore –
Moore has definitely not lived up to his draft-day value with Mayfield under center, and this talented wide receiver continues to be under-utilized due to poor QB play. He’s a much safer option than the next two wideouts we are going to talk about on the Panthers, but both Shenault and Anderson have had higher fantasy peaks so far this season and are both averaging more fantasy points per game than the supposed WR1.
Postgame: The Cardinals came out with a gameplan that favored Moore as he was hyper-targeted with 11 of Mayfield’s 36 attempts, but still only managed a pedestrian 50 receiving yards on his six catches while he added his only carry of the day for 11 yards. As long as the team continues to be mired in bad QB play, Moore is nothing more than a low-end flex option who can easily be seen as a draft-day bust.
WRs Laviska Shenault & Robbie Anderson –
Both of these players have exploded for big weeks but consistency has not been a part of their fantasy profile so far through their careers. Anderson is your safer bet especially with the injury-concern for Shenault, but both are the essence of boom/bust.
Postgame: They both put up absolute duds with Anderson’s being slightly better since he didn’t aggravate a hamstring injury like Shenault did on Sunday. If Moore can’t find a way to be fantasy relevant, there is no hope for the other receivers in Carolina until we see some significant improvements at the QB position.
RB James Conner –
Pregame: Similar to Josh Jacobs, who we’ll discuss later, Conner belongs in his own little section since he has a relatively safe floor with the expected workload. That being said, his fantasy ceiling is capped by the rushing ability of Murray as well as the pass-first nature of the offense.
Postgame: It’s exactly as we scripted it pregame, with a safe floor for Conner but a lack of a fantasy ceiling given Murray’s rushing ability. Another reason to lower Conner’s fantasy ceiling moving forward is that both Eno Benjamin and Darrell Williams are involved at the RB position as they had six and five opportunities respectively. Both ancillary backs also out-rushed Conner on a per-carry basis.
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Patriots @ Packers