Week 4 Dynasty Stock Watch

Week 4 in the books, so lets take a look at the dynasty landscape with a stock watch. There are plenty other players other than the ones mentioned that have moved pretty drastically like Christian Kirk or maybe even Kyle Pitts (although I don’t quite agree with that one). We’ve seen some huge performances and some disappointing ones, but as dynasty managers we have to look ahead and project even further out in the future. So, in this article we will go through some players that have improved their stock or toppled down rankings (whether my own or based on the communities market).

Week 4 Dynasty Stock Watch Risers

Trevor Lawrence (QB, JAX)

The 2021 offseason was an incredible time as the community watched 5 quarterbacks go in the top half of the first round. Everyone was incredibly excited about these top-tier prospects that included Justin Fields, Mac Jones, Trey Lance, Zach Wilson, and Trevor Lawrence. Throughout the actual 2021 season, there were a few bright spots that included Mac Jones and surprise quarterback and second-rounder, Davis Mills. But into the 2022 offseason, there was uncertainty around this entire quarterback class that was originally filled with generational talents and can’t-miss prospects. No one had a good gauge on who would be the success story out of this class.

Well, as of right now, Lawrence is by far the best of the sophomore quarterbacks and has shown drastic improvement. The organization brought in weapons for him (albeit very modest weapons) and a new head coach that appears to have done wonders for this offense. Lawrence is currently ranked 4th in EPA (Expected Points Added), 7th in QBR, and has a 6-1 interception ratio so far this season. He’s riding a high right now and looks to be the prospect that we all expected him to be, even if there are still some {expected} growing pains. If anyone is still lingering on doubts in dynasty leagues, they should be quelled. If not, take the opportunity to get in now before his price really jumps.

Tua Tagovailoa (QB, MIA)

While the past two games for Tua have been brutal to watch due to back-to-back head injuries, he was on fire before this. He’s cleared his head tests and looks to be clear of any long-term issues, although will most likely (and rightfully so) miss a few weeks. Before week 4 Tua was 3rd in True Passer Rating, 1st in QBR, and 1st in EPA. There were questions before this season about the start of Tua’s career, but through 4 weeks, I think he has quelled those concerns. He looks fluid in his motion and confident in the pocket, finally looking like the quarterback we saw at Alabama before his hip injury. 

The addition of Mike McDaniels, a coach that appears to be incredibly smart and well suited as a play caller, is instilling confidence in Tua, unlike what he’s had around him before. Then, it doesn’t hurt that Waddle has continued to develop and the team brought in Tyreek Hill this past offseason, creating possibly the fastest wide receiver tandem in the league. When Tua gets right after his injury in Week 4, it will be wheels up for him. I believe he’s solidified himself at the back end of my top 12 dynasty quarterback rankings.

Jalen Hurts (QB, PHI)

Jalen Hurts has had a red-hot start to the season. The Eagles are letting him sling it and he is adding a ton of value to his team and our fantasy teams on the ground. The addition of AJ Brown and the progression of DeVonta Smith have helped Hurts drastically, obviously along with Hurts’ own improvement in the passing game. His numbers that speak to that improvement are his True Passer Rating of 115.4 (2nd), QBR of 74.7 (5th), and EPA of +41.0 (3rd), compared to last season’s 65.5 (29th) True Passer Rating, 48.8 (19th) QBR, and +89.2 (16th) EPA. I’m still proceeding slightly with caution here as Hurts started hot last season as well before we saw some faltering as the team shifted to a run-heavy offensive attack. But at this point, he looks like he is a lock to be the starting quarterback for the Eagles next year and most likely a franchise player. He’s just got to hold onto this consistency he’s found in the passing game, which based on his tape it looks like a true step forward.

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, DET)

Until Week 3, Amon-Ra St. Brown had a streak of 8 games with at least 10 targets, 8 receptions, and 60 receiving yards. And he was close in Week 3 of this season with 9 targets, 6 receptions, and 73 receiving yards. The biggest knock that was talked about this offseason about St. Brown was that he did what he did at the end of last season because both Swift and Hockenson were out while he was the WR2 in PPR points. While the facts of this were true, at least one of Hockenson or Swift was out during St. Brown’s breakout stretch from Weeks 14-18, the Lions were in desperate need of a true alpha target getter at the wide receiver position. Regardless, those concerns should be more than alleviated as through 3 games this season with all three players healthy, St. Brown, the Sun God, has been the definition of a target hog with over 30% of the team’s target share. I’m a firm believer in targets being earned and not given, and St. Brown is earning them at an incredible rate and incredibly early in his career.

Courtland Sutton (WR, DEN)

I was a firm member of the Jerry Jeudy > Courtland Sutton camp this offseason. But maybe the answer is that it’s both of them! While Russell Wilson has not looked like the Russell Wilson from 3 or so years ago, he is an obvious upgrade to Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, or [insert mediocre/bad Broncos QB since Manning retired]. Jeudy has not stayed overly healthy to start the season, seeing him leave early in week 2 and playing limited snaps in week 3. Sutton was a big benefactor in this as he accrued double-digit targets in both of those games. In the two weeks with Jeudy on the field, he received 7 targets each week to Jeudy’s 7 and 5 targets respectively. 

To this point, Courtland Sutton has played every passing down with 100% route participation and has shown an obvious connection with Wilson. Unfortunately, we’ve seen lackluster playcalling from Nathaniel Hackett who tends to look outmatched and struggles to utilize his plethora of weapons in this offense. That ship will hopefully correct itself sooner than later, but until that time, Courtland Sutton has drastically moved up my ranks. I believe both Jeudy and Sutton will coexist in this offense as they both bring different aspects to the passing game.

Pat Freiermuth (TE, PIT)

Who would have thought that we would be sitting here with Pat Freiermuth almost doubling Kyle Pitts’ fantasy points through 4 weeks? Okay, Arthur Smith in Atlanta has been absolutely horrible and I am not advocating that Freiermuth should be ranked ahead of Pitts. But, Freiermuth has been very impressive to start the season, currently the TE6 on the year. He had a good season last year and produced way over his expected performance as a rookie. Now as a second-year player, he’s already knocking on the door of the top 6 TEs as a weekly starter. That’s incredibly impressive at a position that generally takes a couple of years to contribute at. Plus, the absolute horrid situation that he finds himself in. We just saw Trubisky get benched for Kenny Pickett, who went on to throw three interceptions, albeit in his first NFL game action. Regardless, he’s being utilized with a 20.6% target share (top 5 among tight ends), 50% red zone target share, and a 75.7% route participation rate.

I was already pretty high on Freiermuth last season, but I’ve bought in completely now. I think he’s going to be a long-term weekly starter in fantasy, not one of these guys that flirt with the top 6 here and there for a couple of years. It’s only a matter of time before Pittsburgh gets their offense put together, and until then, Freiermuth is already producing as a weekly starter.

Week 4 Dynasty Stock Watch Fallers

Justin Fields (QB, CHI)

Many analysts, myself included, were excited for Justin Fields coming out of college. He was regarded as a top-tier fantasy prospect and consistently went at the top end of Superflex rookie drafts in 2021. But it appears like the Bears are legitimately ruining his career one season at a time. Last year was obviously horrible with Matt Nagy’s questionable at best coaching decisions, playcalling, and constantly switching out Fields and Andy Dalton, even sometimes Nick Foles. While I didn’t expect Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy to be the saving grace, I expected it to at least be an improvement from 2021. Both Eberflus and Getsy are in their first year at their respective positions, Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator. And it appears to be showing as I’m not sure if they’ve coached Fields up to a point where he has shown marked improvement on his rookie season. 

We really can’t say we know where Fields is at in his development thus far because the coaching staff either doesn’t trust Fields to run this offense, or they are running an incredibly conservative offense in a day and age where teams throw the ball 50+ times a game. Fields’ season-high passing attempts is just 22 coming in Week 4 and is averaging ~17 passing attempts per game (dead last in the league). In his limited opportunity, he has not been efficient and has looked inconsistent at best with a -10.4 EPA (42nd), 23 QBR (31st), and 23.6 True Passer Rating (33rd). So far, his saving grace has been his rushing ability, and even then, he isn’t a usable fantasy quarterback even in Superflex leagues. I’m honestly not sure where Fields goes from here. His talent as a college quarterback was apparent, but I’m worried that Chicago is not good for Fields’ career and stunts his development as a quarterback. Maybe things will change for the better down the road, but I’m wary about him in dynasty leagues.

Travis Etienne (RB, JAX)

Travis Etienne has been a massive disappointment this season and it is almost purely volume based. He has been involved slightly in the passing game and gets sparring touches on the ground, but he has yet to cross 51% of the offensive snaps this season. In his limited touches, he has looked explosive, but inconsistent and has shown many of the same issues that we saw in college (unwillingness to change direction, running into blockers, etc.). Granted, this is basically his rookie season and his first few glimpses of NFL game speed, so maybe it’ll take him a bit longer to start producing. 

But as of now, James Robinson is the one getting the valuable goal line touches and seems to have a stranglehold on this backfield despite coming off an Achilles injury just last year. This could be a proponent of the game script thus far. If Etienne isn’t able to carve out a role in this offense this year, it’s unlikely he ever will without an injury in front of him. He could already be viewed as one of Urban Meyer’s “guys” since he drafted him and most likely won’t get any sort of longer leash because of it. If James Robinson is playing better, he’s going to be the one on the field, and it doesn’t seem like he’s slowing down.

DJ Moore (WR, CAR)

The talent has always been there for DJ Moore, but the wide receiver has been in situation purgatory since the start of his career. At best, he has been WR14 in points per game in PPR, and it’s looking like he might hit an all-time low this year unless we see something drastic at the quarterback position. It’s probably not all on Baker Mayfield at this point we’ve seen Mayfield be marginally successful with the Cleveland Browns and DJ Moore be successful with a hodgepodge of quarterbacks. There’s more to the ineptitude of this offense that most likely stems from the coaching inefficiencies of Matt Rhule. 

Until there are massive changes to the coaching staff, quarterback situation, or a trade out of Carolina, I’m not acquiring any more shares of DJ Moore. And that probably means I’m going to miss out on him if any of those things do happen, but to this point, I’m not betting on it. We’re close to a pivotal point where he needs to start producing as the top 12 wide receiver like he’s been ranked for the past 3 years or start dropping significantly in rankings.

Darnell Mooney (WR, CHI)

Darnell Mooney is suffering from many of the same things that our previous entry, DJ Moore, is facing. The organization as a whole is a mess and is massively struggling to put together a functional offense. The skill position players we care about for fantasy are the ones negatively affected by this. We saw Mooney produce a 1,000-yard season as a second-year player, and while he was only WR27 in points per game last season, we all saw the upside on this up-and-coming player. He dominated targets with 140 targets, a 26.7% target share, and attacked all levels of the field. 

The situation really hasn’t changed much and by all means, should have improved. Justin Fields entered his second year, hopeful to take a step forward, the Bears got rid of Matt Nagy who appeared to be holding the team back as a whole, and the offensive line should have taken a step forward with more experience. But here we are, 4 games in, and the offense looks to have taken a significant step back under new head coach Matt Eberflus. While Mooney is still dominating target share (25%), the team has not been throwing the ball at all as you can see from the stats I highlighted in Justin Fields’ section here. 25% of 67 passing attempts is only 16 targets, and that’s not going to cut it through 4 games. Unfortunately, Mooney and this whole Chicago offense is worth avoiding until there are drastic changes within the Chicago organization or any of these players find a way to get out from underneath Chicago’s inept front office.

TJ Hockenson (TE, DET)

TJ Hockenson was already trending down this offseason within a lot of the community, but he has fallen even further after a very slow start. This article is now coming after his massive Week 4 game against Seattle, but I don’t think we can rely on Detroit putting up 45 points every week. This big game also comes on the heels of D’Andre Swift missing the same week, a presence that isn’t taking a lot of targets in the short/intermediate levels of the field. 

I don’t think this was so much that Swift was out last week but more of just a great matchup. In weeks 1 and 2, Hockenson still received 7 targets per game. Through the first 3 weeks, he is getting opportunities as he is 9th among TEs in targets, 10th in target share, 8th in route runs, 8th in route participation, and 6th in red zone targets.  He was usable before his blowup game last week and I’m interested to monitor his production and consistency going forward as I do think his market price is on a downward trend, but I’m optimistic.

George Kittle (TE, SF)

George Kittle has always been an elite TE that struggles to stay healthy consistently. And once again, he started the season off missing the first two weeks due to injury and has started the season off slow. In the past two weeks, he has 9 total targets but only 52 total yards. He’s playing most of the snaps, but just isn’t demanding the targets at the same level he was last year. The injury to Trent Williams at the left tackle position on the offensive line isn’t going to help this passing game, and specifically George Kittle as he will be relied upon more as a blocker. Williams is a guy that holds the offensive line together and is one of the best pass blockers in the game today, and his absence will most likely lessen the passing volume in the offense as a whole.

It’s still early, so I wouldn’t necessarily panic. But, he’s 29 years old and health doesn’t generally get better as you get older. If he strings together some of his elite-level TE performances at some point down the road this season, I’d be ready to move off of him in dynasty for the right value. When healthy, he’s one of the best TEs in the game, but his inability to consistently stay on the field can become tiresome as a fantasy manager and the market is starting to reflect that.

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Image Credit: Matthew Emmons – USA TODAY Sports