Fantasy Matchup Breakdowns in Week 4
Welcome to the latest edition of Schematic Study, a fantasy feature here at Gridiron Experts designed to take a deeper look at fantasy-friendly matchups. Many analysts just label an entire defense as good or bad, but this feature looks deeper, and by watching tape in the week, I try to pinpoint the best fantasy matchups. This feature is essentially a start-em type feature, but the reasoning is all tactically based, as opposed to just trying to explain my gut feelings to an audience.
I did not produce this piece in week three, but in week two my picks included CJ Anderson, Coby Fleener, Paul Richardson and Keenan Allen.
Cardinals vs. 49ers
For the most part, Larry Fitzgerald is a weekly play purely because he is the WR1 under a pass-happy coach, and a likely hall of famer, but he has a deadly matchup this week. The San Francisco 49ers haven’t been completely useless against the run to start the season, but their secondary is swiss cheese as things stand, and they give up an awful lot of underneath targets. A defensive line containing DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Earl Mitchell has proven to be stout, but teams have gone after their secondary, and particularly their linebackers, who all seem to struggle in coverage. Nowadays, Larry Fitzgerald does the majority of his work in underneath situations, and he should be able to have a monster game in week four. It wouldn’t be too surprising if he finished as the highest scoring wideout for the week.[the_ad id=”65749″][the_ad id=”66090″]
Bills vs. Falcons
Thus far, LeSean McCoy has been a somewhat frustrating play, but he has the chance to break out against a Falcons defense that leaks yards and points to running backs. The Falcons are trying to play similarly to how Dan Quinn did in Seattle, but they haven’t found their KJ Wright, and struggle in the intermediate game and to defend pass-catching backs. Rick Dennison has historically been very clever at getting his running backs out of the backfield, and we haven’t seen an awful lot of this yet, but week four seems like a good time for this to change. Atlanta can’t defend running backs, and Ricardo Allen will miss the game on Sunday, which increases the opportunity for Shady to do the business.
Cowboys vs Rams
Many are projecting this one as a tough matchup for Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys, but I just am not buying that. Dez has performed acceptably against tough corners to start the season, and I still question Trumaine Johnson’s fit in Wade Phillips’ man heavy scheme, which likely means a dud game is coming soon for the franchise tagged cornerback. Even if Johnson does not shadow Bryant, the Cowboys wideout has a favorable matchup against Nickell Robey-Coleman. For the record, I really like Coleman, but at 5’8, he is not a match for arguably the most physical receiver in football. I am projecting a mega night for Dez, and he could take advantage of a Rams
Some people are torn on Dez, check out Nick Olson’s daily fantasy bust article for week four that features the Cowboys wide receiver.[the_ad id=”73965″][the_ad id=”63198″]
Ravens vs. Pittsburgh
I wrongly predicted Allen to have a big game in London last week, but in reality, he fell victim to things that were totally out of his control. Allen on the surface appears to have a tough matchup against the Steelers, but the Pittsburgh defense is comfortably the most overrated in football. They were destroyed against the Bears last week by sheer creativity, and the Ravens run game has evolved to become one of the most creative in football. The snap counts in London were mixed for the running backs, but we cannot put too much thought into this, as garbage time causes coaches to abandon their game plans completely. Javorius Allen is the RB1 in Baltimore purely because he can catch passes out of the backfield, and with Joe Flacco continuing to have little time in the pocket, he can get a lot of passing volume in addition to getting work against the Steelers poorly coached defense.
Bucs vs. Giants
The Buccaneers were awful last week, but Cameron Brate still managed to put in a decent performance, and he should be in for another good week against a Giants team that is incapable of covering tight ends. Historically, the New York Giants choose not to use high picks on linebackers, but in an era dominated by spread offenses and a golden age of tight ends, they may have to change their philosophy. Their linebackers can defend against the run, but tight ends slip through the cracks, and Cameron Brate has a chance to wreak havoc on their underperforming defense. The Buccaneers struggled last week on the offensive side of the ball, so Dirk Koetter may want to use more two tight end sets to take the pressure off Jameis Winston, which further increases the value of Brate.
Brate was also one of Anthony Cervino’s Fantasy Football sleeper picks for week four.
49ers vs. Cardinals
Deep Dive of the week
If you are really struggling, and fancy making an edgy play this week, then Aldrick Robinson might be the man you want. The Cardinals defense has been relatively good this week, but they have a clear weakness across from Patrick Peterson, as Justin Bethel has been exposed as the glorified special teamer that we all thought he was. He gets picked on by offensive coordinators, and Kyle Shanahan is a coordinator who attacks the best matchup, regardless of who is creating the matchup, which means Pierre Garcon should be avoided this week. Aldrick Robinson’s snap counts have quietly been rising, and this could be the week that he breaks out as a potential flex option as bye weeks begin to stack up.[the_ad id=”73518″]