We are onto week 4 of the NFL season and your fantasy football rosters are starting to take shape. You are likely in a stage of evaluation, trying to gauge whether your roster can outlast the attrition of the NFL season and score a spot in the playoffs or if you are destined for a rebuilding season. The five players I breakdown below are all good options to acquire, at varying values, for your contending or rebuilding dynasty fantasy football rosters.
Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills
I’ve been high on the Bills 2020 4th round selection since I watched him burn defenders along the boundary while studying his college tape. Davis flew under the radar through rookie draft season, going as a third-round pick or later in most leagues because of his day 3 draft capital and the lack of knowledge most fantasy football players have about players outside of the Power 5 conference (Davis played at UCF).
Buffalo has been creative in getting him touches early on in the season, even going so far as giving him direct snap opportunities in the red zone. Davis, though, is most dangerous along the boundary which was on display in Week 3 when he caught 4 receptions for 81 yards, including a 39-yard deep ball that required tremendous body control and a veteran level toe-drag. In Week 3 he saw 46 snaps, the second most of any wideout on the team; it was the second time in just three weeks that he saw at least 40 snaps. We should only expect those snaps to go up, as Davis has caught all 7 of his targets so far this season from the red hot Josh Allen.
Davis was a steal in the third round or later of rookie drafts all offseason. If you can trade a second-round draft pick or average veteran, like Emmanuel Sanders or Adrian Peterson, you can return major value to your dynasty fantasy football roster.
Anthony McFarland Jr.
Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers
McFarland Jr. is another rookie I have been bullish on this offseason. The fourth-round selection out of the University of Maryland did not have a ton of college tape, but what we saw showed a tremendous deal of upside rooted in his athleticism and elusiveness. After being a healthy scratch the first two weeks of the season, he ran for 42 yards on just six attempts while also catching a pass for seven yards. He touched the ball or was targeted on 9 of his 10 snaps this past week, which makes him a player to keep an eye on every time he steps on the field. The Steelers seem content on keeping Conner right around 50 snaps a game, meaning McFarland will have the opportunity to beat out the less explosive Benny Snell for the secondary back role in an offense that relies on an impactful running game and is led by an often-injured running back.
McFarland is likely on the waiver wire in shallower dynasty leagues and is worth a significant FAAB bid (25% or more). In deeper leagues, I’d try flipping a short term impact piece like Mike Davis for the Steelers back that will have a long-term role in his offense.
Wide Receiver, New Orleans Saints
Smith has seen 13 targets over the last two weeks for the Saints, after seeing just 70 targets over the course of his first 27 games in the NFL. He was thrust into a more primary role following the early-season injury to volume monster Michael Thomas. Smith, though, may be more than just a short-term solution for a Sean Payton. He has caught 9 of those 13 targets for 128 yards and has produced 21.8 PPR fantasy points despite not yet finding the endzone this season-something Smith has previously done once for every 3.8 receptions in his NFL career. Smith is also 44th in the NFL with 23% of his team’s air yards and was 10th in team’s airyards in Week 3 with 27.9%.
Many fantasy football players are leaving Smith alone at this point, meaning he is still a great value. A 2021 third-round rookie pick will likely be a sufficient offer to acquire Smith in most leagues.
Running Back, Detroit Lions
Panic has set in for impatient dynasty fantasy football players who spent a top-five rookie pick on D’Andre Swift this offseason. Swift saw just six snaps total in Week 3, after seeing 54 snaps through the first two weeks. In total Swift has still out-snapped Kerryon Johnson (59 snaps) and is 19 shy from veteran Adrian Peterson (79 total snaps). Swift is last in the trio for attempts on the ground, with just eight compared to their combined 61. He has, though, seen twice as many targets (12) as Peterson and Johnson have combined (six). The rookie has caught nine of those 12 targets for 94 yards. The advice here is simple but critical: you do not sell great talent because of a bad situation, it may take some time but Swift will come out of the backfield as a fantasy football RB1.
I have seen a flurry of Swift offers already, with a wide range of value. My best suggestion is to gauge the level of panic from the Swift owner in your league and pounce on any whiff on trepidation with an offer of a future 2nd and a high floor/low ceiling veteran, like Julian Edelman, for Swift to a team desperate for quick points.
Tight End, Cleveland Browns
Bryant has seen at least 30 snaps in every game so far this season, including a high of 40 snaps in Week 3. In total, the 2020 fourth-round selection out of Florida Atlantic has seen 52% of the snaps for the Cleveland Browns. Bryant has been playing opposite of recently signed Austin Hooper in the Browns two tight-end scheme with David Njoku on IR; giving us a preview of what we can expect when they likely let their 2017 first-round selection enter free agency at the conclusion of this season. There is a bit of projection with Bryant and the pay-off won’t be quick (it never is with young tight ends) but Bryant found the endzone in Week 3 and has seen two targets in each of his first three games; just four less total targets than Austin Hooper. As the new offense continues to mold I expect Bryant’s target volume to increase, giving him ample opportunity to show off his athletic pass-catching skillset.
Bryant is cheap and will likely remain cheap for a while. A third-round rookie pick in 2021 should get the job done for this long-term investment that could even fill in as a flex play in deeper and/or tight end premium leagues.
Matt is a seasoned fantasy football analyst that writes dynasty and devy fantasy football content year-round. In addition to writing for Gridiron Experts, he writes and hosts a podcast for The Dynasty Draft Room and publishes all of his work at patreon.com/theffeducator