2022 Fantasy Football Week 4 Trends and Storylines

by Daniel Johnson
2022 Fantasy Football Trends and Storylines

After another dizzying—and, for certain fantasy managers, infuriating—slate of Sunday games, there are plenty of 2022 Fantasy Football Week 4 Trends and Storylines that have newly emerged. Many of them seem to have done so in diametric opposition to established patterns from last week.

And that's a bit of a bugaboo, isn't it? There's such a quality of fickleness when it comes to NFL offenses within the context of fantasy analysis. Looking at usage and opportunity metrics, in hindsight, can make data sets feel consistent, or linear. And they're just plain not.

How to explain that two marquee, first-round running backs (we'll get to them later) are barely seeing any usage whatsoever in short-down/goal-to-go snaps? Which Carson Wentz is real: the ~28-point gunslinger, or the bumbling clutz we saw under center in Washington yesterday?

And what on Earth happened to the San Francisco 49ers last night? The roster that everyone deemed Super-Bowl-caliber but for the inexperienced-and-now-out-for-the-season Trey Lance looked worse than ever with Jimmy Garoppolo as the signal caller.

How to account for such wild vacillation? Let's identify some encouraging and discouraging swings from yesterday, and assess for our lineups.

2022 Fantasy Football Week 4 Trends and Storylines

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The Encouraging

Jalen Hurts has Elevated the Entire Eagles Offense to Must-Start Status

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We knew Jalen Hurts was likely going to take the next level as a fantasy quarterback this season. That was primarily because of his rushing floor. What most of us didn't anticipate, however, is how effective he's been as a passer, and what that's meant for the rest of his offense.

Through three weeks, Hurts has a 67.3% completion rate on 98 total passes. He's averaging around 33 passing attempts and 12 rushes per game. The success that has translated from those opportunities has not only elevated him to the MVP conversation this early in the season, but also has benefited the entire offense around him.

A.J. Brown is a WR1. Devonta Smith is, at worst, a flex, but sure as heck looked a lot more like a WR2 on Sunday, no? Dallas Goedert, when healthy, is a TE1. Miles Sanders might actually be a legit RB2 this year, even though he only posted 5.4 points yesterday. The Eagles' skill weapons are absolutely rolling this year, and show no sign of slowing down.

Might there be a bit of a sell-high opportunity here? Maybe on A.J. Brown, what with the likelihood that he'll miss some time this year with injuries. Perhaps someone wants to get in on Devonta Smith. I'd see just how much of a king's ransom you can get for those two. It's only Week 3, but managers with losing records get reckless.

But I'd get if you want to hold on to your Eagles. It's all peaches and cream in Philadelphia right now.

James Cook's Passing Involvement in Buffalo

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The bad news: through three weeks, James Cook has only seen six targets out of Buffalo's backfield. The good news: five of those six targets came yesterday in a close game versus the Dolphins. He converted four of them into catches for 37 yards total.

There was legitimate worry that, after his first NFL carry resulted in a fumble, he might be in the doghouse for a while. That came in the opening game against the Rams, and once that happened, Zack Moss saw all the passing down work (six receptions).

Since then, Moss hasn't had any receptions at all. And while Singletary is still the clear top dog in that backfield, it's becoming evident that Cook is going to get his opportunities. He passed the eye test yesterday, too; after his receptions, he ran hard, fought for extra yards, and made a few guys miss.

Someone in your league probably drafted him and then dropped him. He's available in over 50% of ESPN leagues, currently. This is a trend worth watching, and quite potentially a player worth stashing.

Chris Olave is Here to Stay, But Maybe You Should Send Him Packing

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Even before Week 3, Chris Olave's name was surprisingly within the top-five at the position when it came to air yards and opportunities. This was aided, in large part, by a 13-target performance in Week 2.

Jameis Winston threw the ball to him 13 times again in Week 3, and Olave converted them into nine receptions for 137 yards. There's a clear rapport between him and Jameis.

Now, Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry are both banged up, though it doesn't sound serious for either. This might mean opposing defenses start keying in on Olave, which they're likely to do, anyways, since he's been burning secondaries for the entire season so far.

I think this represents a clear sell-high opportunity. I do think Olave will consistently be a WR3/flex, but I have trouble believing he'll see such a commanding target share each week. His success so far has been purely a result of that. See what you can get for him.

The Discouraging

Where are D'Andre Swift and Austin Ekeler on Short Yardage/Goal-to-Go Downs?

It just hasn't felt like D'Andre Swift and Austin Ekeler have been getting high-value touches so far this year, has it?

Ekeler has zero touchdowns through three weeks. He's getting virtually no goal line work. And, as you can see from the chart above, neither was D'Andre Swift on Sunday.

This is something to legitimately monitor. The backfield might be more absolutely split in Detroit than we thought (though it does sound like Swift hurt his shoulder not-insignificantly in the game yesterday). The Chargers are getting decimated by injuries (on offense, to name a few: Herbert, Slater [out for year], Linsley, Allen, etc.), so Ekeler's touches have been inefficient, though his passing floor remains quite high.

We know both organizations want to keep their marquee running backs healthy, and thus curb their workload. But Fantasy managers are feeling the effects of this. We drafted Ekeler and Swift at their ceilings, and they haven't been producing close to that.

Continue to monitor snap counts in those backfields.

We Drafted Travis Etienne Too High

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And we drafted James Robinson too low.

Ironic, I suppose, that I'm writing this after Etienne's most productive game as an NFL running back. But the Jags (whose offense is pretty spiffy so far) had been blowing out the Chargers all game, and many of Etienne's touches came after the contest was already decided.

He was efficient: 13 carries for 45 yards, three receptions on three targets for 30 yards. That's good for 10.5 PPR fantasy points. He, too, passed the eye test yesterday, showing explosiveness and elusiveness whenever he had the ball in space.

But many of us drafted Etienne in the late-third round, early-to-mid-fourth round this offseason. The buzz around him was deafening. And, even in his most productive game yesterday, he was still out-touched by James Robinson 20-16.

This is a trend/storyline worth mentioning because, well, sometimes we have to admit our losses. In this case, I'm not necessarily advocating we cut them. It's still early, and Etienne's role might continue to expand. He'd be the obvious beneficiary if James Robinson had to miss any time.

But our investment hasn't paid off at all, really, at this point. Start him at your flex if you dare. Just know, until we see more opportunities, there's a risk he'll bust.

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