The Week 4 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 1 p.m. ET.
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Top Quarterbacks in the FantasyLabs Models
There are five quarterbacks atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
Here’s where they place within our Week 4 fantasy football rankings (as of Tuesday night).
- Dak Prescott: No. 4
- Deshaun Watson: No. 7
- Joe Burrow: No. 11
- Drew Brees: No. 13
- Ryan Fitzpatrick: No. 15
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
Check in throughout the week as I publish the rest of the positional breakdowns.
Dak Prescott: Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) vs. Cleveland Browns, 55 Over/Under
Prescott is highly unlikely to win the MVP award: The Cowboys aren’t doing him any favors with their 1-2 record. But he has been an MVP-caliber producer to open the year, especially over the past two weeks.
- Week 3 (at SEA): 27.5 fantasy points | 472-3-2 passing | 6-26-0 rushing
- Week 2 (vs. ATL): 39.8 fantasy points | 450-1-0 passing | 5-18-3 rushing
- Week 3 (at LAR): 17.6 fantasy points | 266-1-0 passing | 3-30-0 rushing
Prescott is No. 1 in the league with 143 attempts, 96 completions and 1,187 yards passing. He is dealing.
And it helps that the Cowboys are playing fast: They’re No. 1 with just 19.69 seconds per play (per Football Outsiders).
Since No. 1 wide receiver Amari Cooper joined the team in Week 9 of 2018, Prescott has been a fantasy QB1 in 57% of his regular-season game (per RotoViz NFL Stat Explorer).
And since offensive coordinator Kellen Moore took over as the play caller last year, Prescott has been a fantasy QB1 63% of the time.
Dak is pretty much Randy Watson, and the Cowboys are Sexual Chocolate: “That boy can sing.”
Pro-Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) has missed the past two games, but he is tentatively expected to return in Week 4, so Prescott’s protection should be improved, and he has perhaps the league’s best trio of wide receivers in Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb.
As a home favorite, Prescott is on the moneymaking side of his career splits (per our FantasyLabs Trends Tool).
Dak Prescott career fantasy points:
Home: 22.0 ✅
Favorite: 22.3 ✅
Home Favorite: 24.4 ✅✅
Cowboys are home favorites in Week 4.
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) September 29, 2020
Since his 2016 rookie season, no quarterback has exceeded expectations as a home favorite more than Prescott has with his +6.50 Plus/Minus.
For what it’s worth, head coach Mike McCarthy has also exceeded expectations as a home favorite, going 53-35-4 against the spread (ATS), good for an A-graded 17.3% return on investment (ROI, per our Bet Labs database).
This spot is absolutely great: The Cowboys-Browns game has a slate-high 55-point over/under, so Prescott might be called upon once again to air it out, and the Browns have major issues in their secondary: No. 1 cornerback Denzel Ward (groin) aggravated a pre-existing injury last week and had to leave the game early. I’m pessimistic that he’ll play.
On top of that, No. 2 cornerback Greedy Williams (shoulder) is yet to play this season. He practiced on a limited basis last week, so he might make his 2020 debut on Sunday, but even if he does he won’t be at 100% capacity. And the team is without All-American rookie safety Grant Delpit (Achilles, IR), who suffered a season-ending injury in training camp.
The Browns secondary could be without three starters this week, and opposing quarterbacks not named “Dwayne Haskins” have done well against the Browns this year.
- Joe Burrow (Week 2): 24.5 fantasy points | 316-3-0 passing | 7-19-0 rushing
- Lamar Jackson (Week 1): 27.5 fantasy points | 275-3-0 passing | 7-45-0 rushing
In season-long leagues, Prescott is a no-doubt high-end QB1, and in DFS he’s a strong candidate for cash games and guaranteed prize pools.
Prescott is the No. 1 quarterback in the Koerner, Raybon, SportsGeek and Freedman Models for FanDuel, where he has a position-high +6.01 Projected Plus/Minus.
Salaries: $7,200 DraftKings, $8,200 FanDuel
Deshaun Watson: Houston Texans (-4.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings, 54.5 O/U
As of writing, the Texans-Vikings game is still slated to play, although it might be postponed because the Vikings last week played the Titans, who have recently had players and staff members test positive for COVID-19.
The NFL has alerted the Vikings and Titans and their opponents for Week 4 that their games may be rescheduled.
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 29, 2020
Assuming this game plays, Watson will be an intriguing option.
He has had a subpar start to the season.
- Week 3 (at PIT): 17.1 fantasy points | 264-2-1 passing | 1-5-0 rushing
- Week 2 (vs. BAL): 14.7 fantasy points | 275-1-1 passing | 5-17-0 rushing
- Week 3 (at KC): 20.8 fantasy points | 253-1-1 passing | 6-27-1 rushing
Given his 2020 production, it would be natural to assume that Watson terribly misses former No. 1 wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, whom the team traded away this offseason.
And the splits do show that Watson without Hopkins has underperformed, scoring 4.17 fewer fantasy points per game (per RotoViz Game Splits App).
But if you look closer at the numbers, especially the passing numbers, they’re not bad. If you compare Watson’s three Hopkins-less games this year with his 38 Hopkins-blessed regular-season games in 2017-19, you’ll see that Watson has attempted and completed an almost identical number of passes and actually been more efficient (8.44 yards per attempt vs. 8.1) — and that’s despite playing against the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers.
The real issue with Watson in Weeks 1-3 was that the Texans had tough matchups, which resulted in fewer passing touchdowns (1.87 vs. 1.33 per game), more interceptions (1.0 vs. 0.76) and fewer rushing yards (32.5 vs. 16.3).
But Watson’s yardage per attempt has held stable without Hopkins. In fact it has improved, perhaps because of the offseason additions of wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb, and the fact that wide receiver Will Fuller has been active (if not productive) in all three games. And if you were to pick just one basic stat to indicate how good a quarterback has been throwing the ball, it would probably be yards per attempt.
Despite losing Hopkins, and despite losing every game he has played this season, Watson has managed to maintain his passing efficiency — and that suggests he should be able to put up fantasy points in good matchups.
In Week 4, he happens to have a good matchup against the Vikings, who are in defensive disarray. Without edge rusher Danielle Hunter (neck, IR) and linebacker Anthony Barr (pectoral, IR), the Vikings have just one sack per game after ranking No. 5 last year with three per game.
The Vikings can’t get to the quarterback — and that might not even be their biggest problem: They have three new starting cornerbacks this season. Three. And to make matters worse, two of those guys are injured. Perimeter corner Cameron Dantzler (rib) and slot corner Mike Hughes (neck) both missed Week 3. Given that neither has returned to practice, they both seem unlikely to play, which means that Texans wide receivers will have easier cornerback matchups.
In three games, the Vikings have allowed two 300-yard passing performances — 364 yards to Aaron Rodgers in Week 1 and 321 to Ryan Tannehill in Week 2 — and opposing quarterbacks rank No. 3 against them with 8.5 yards per attempt.
Under defense-focused head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings are No. 31 in the league with 34 points allowed per game.
Against the Vikings this year, quarterbacks have gotten yards through the air and teams have gotten points at will.
A mid-range season-long QB1, Watson is a tournament option in DFS and the No. 1 quarterback in the CSURAM88 and Levitan Models for FanDuel.
Salaries: $6,600 DraftKings, $7,800 FanDuel
Joe Burrow: Cincinnati Bengals (-3) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 49 O/U
Through three weeks, Burrow is the No. 9 fantasy quarterback. He’s No. 32 at the position with 5.8 yards per attempt, so it’s not as if he’s tearing up the league with an LSU-style aerial attack, but he is throwing a lot: Burrow trails only Dak Prescott with 141 attempts and 91 completions, thanks primarily to the Bengals’ No. 2 offensive pace (23.66 seconds per play).
For a rookie, the No. 1 overall pick has looked good.
- Week 3 (at PHI): 20.4 fantasy points | 312-2-0 passing | -1 yard rushing
- Week 2 (at CLE): 24.5 fantasy points | 316-3-0 passing | 7-19-0 rushing
- Week 1 (vs. LAC): 16.3 fantasy points | 193-0-1 passing | 8-46-1 rushing
A home favorite for the first time in his career, Burrow is in a pants-off spot against the Jaguars, who are No. 32 with a 54.2% pass-defense DVOA. They have been exploited each week this year.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (Week 3): 24.2 fantasy points | 160-2-0 passing | 7-38-1 rushing
- Ryan Tannehill (Week 2): 26.8 fantasy points | 239-4-0 passing | 4-12-0 rushing
- Philip Rivers (Week 1): 14.8 fantasy points | 363-1-2 passing | 1-3-0 rushing
If a defense allows 24-plus fantasy points to Fitzpatrick and four passing touchdowns to Tannehill and 350-plus yards passing to Rivers in his first game with a new team, then it probably isn’t good.
Here is perhaps the ultimate sign of the Jaguars’ defensive grotesquery: They have allowed an obscene league-high 80.0% completion rate. They are basically transforming everyday 2020 quarterbacks into übermensch versions of 2017-19 Drew Brees.
This is a matchup to exploit.
A low-end QB1 in season-long leagues, Burrow is far too cheap in DFS, especially on FanDuel, where he is No. 8 in positional projection but No. 13 in salary.
Burrow is the top quarterback in the Bales Model for FanDuel.
Salaries: $6,300 DraftKings, $7,400 FanDuel
Drew Brees: New Orleans Saints (-4) vs. Detroit Lions, 54.5 O/U
If Brees were running for President, his Secret Service code name would be “Dust in the Wind.” You’re my boy, Blue.
The No. 20 fantasy quarterback heading into October, Brees has seen better autumn days. The 41-year-old has never had elite arm strength, but this season he has really looked his age. He’s old.
And that’s what old people do — they die.
By the way, I’m definitely not watching Old School as I write this blurb.
It’s not that Brees has one foot in the grave and another in the K-Y Jelly wresting tub. He has been a passable quarterback this year, with an emphasis on the word “passable.”
- Week 3 (vs. GB): 23.5 fantasy points | 288-3-0 passing | 0-0-0 rushing
- Week 2 (at LV): 14.5 fantasy points | 312-2-1 passing | 0-0-0 rushing
- Week 1 (vs. TB): 14.4 fantasy points | 160-2-0 passing | 2-0-0 rushing
Literally 100% of Brees’ fantasy production has come via the passing game. It’s not as if Brees has been a rushing dynamo in the past, but he has usually been good for a couple of scores on the ground in previous years, and whatever he has lacked as a runner he has compensated for as a passer.
But that hasn’t been the case this year. Quarterback scoring is up across the league, and if a non-running quarterback is to be a high-end fantasy contributor in this inflated climate, he will need to have elite passing production, and Brees doesn’t.
In 2017-19, Brees led the league each year in completion rate, putting up a total mark of 73.5%, which was accompanied by 8.7 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A). This year, he has a 70.2% completion rate and 8.0 AY/A.
Those numbers aren’t bad, but they don’t get the job done in 2020.
Fortunately for Brees, he has a shot at elite passing production this week. No. 1 wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) and tight end Jared Cook (groin) are both dealing with injuries, but Thomas is “eyeing a Week 4 return” (per ESPN’s Adam Schefter), and Cook was contributing minimally before he exited Week 3.
Most importantly, Drews is facing the Lions, who have been especially exploitable this season:
- Kyler Murray (Week 3): 21.7 fantasy points | 270-2-3 passing | 25-29-1 rushing
- Aaron Rodgers (Week 2): 18.2 fantasy points | 240-2-0 passing | 2-12-0 rushing
- Mitchell Trubisky (Week 1): 24.3 fantasy points | 242-3-0 passing | 3-26-0 rushing
Last year, defense-minded head coach Matt Patricia’s defense allowed a league-high 503.2 air yards and yards after the catch (AirYAC) combined per game (per AirYards.com).
This year, they are tied for No. 29 with a 43.0 coverage grade (per Pro Football Focus).
On top of that, the Lions are dealing with injuries in their secondary: Starting cornerbacks Desmond Trufant (hamstring) and Justin Coleman (hamstring, IR) both missed Weeks 2-3. Coleman is definitely out for Week 4, and Trufant is uncertain.
“Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.” These Lions are nothing but about-to-be honey-yielding carcasses.
A high-end season-long QB2, Brees is an intriguing DFS play who could have limited exposure: He’s not home at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (the Coors Field of fantasy football), and he’s an under-producing quarterback with two straight losses and an injured No. 1 receiver. Why would anyone want to roster him? Contrarianism.
Brees is the No. 1 quarterback in the CSURAM88, Levitan, Koerner, SportsGeek and Freedman Models for DraftKings, where he has position-high marks with eight Pro Trends and a 79% Bargain Rating.
Salaries: $5,800 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel
Ryan Fitzpatrick: Miami Dolphins (+6.5) vs. Seattle Seahawks, 54 O/U
Oil up that beard, unbutton that tropical shirt and let that chest hair breathe. We’re living that FitzMagic life.
In the 14 games since locking down the starting job in Week 7 last year, Fitzpatrick has been the No. 12 quarterback with 22.8 fantasy points per game (per RotoViz Player Statistical Summary).
Even with his horrible Week 1 nonperformance against the Patriots, Fitzpatrick has been a fantasy QB1 in 64% of his games as the no-doubt Dolphins starter.
With his YOLO-loving attitude and risk-seeking deep ball, Fitzpatrick always has the potential to win any week.
He’s a volatile player, no question about that. He has the lows of a dungeon master and the highs of a dragon.
- Week 3 (at JAX): 24.2 fantasy points | 160-2-0 passing | 7-38-1 rushing
- Week 2 (vs. BUF): 24.3 fantasy points | 328-2-0 passing | 3-12-0 rushing
- Week 1 (at NE): 5.4 fantasy points | 191-0-3 passing | 5-18-0 rushing
If you’re looking for upside and are willing to overlook downside, Fitzpatrick is your magic man — especially this week against the Seahawks.
Long gone is the Legion of Boom. This year, opposing quarterbacks are No. 2 against the Seahawks with 28.7 fantasy points per game, 1,319-6-4 passing and 18-72-2 rushing. The Seahawks are dealing with major issues in their secondary. Safety Jamal Adams (groin) exited Week 3 early and didn’t practice on Wednesday. Perimeter cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee) missed Week 3 and looks unlikely for Week 4. On top of that, slot corner Marquise Blair (knee, IR) is out for the year.
And the Seahawks can’t get to the quarterback. They entered the season with PFF’s worst defensive line, and through three weeks they are No. 31 with a 53.0 PFF pass-rush grade. They are without top edge rusher Bruce Irvin (knee, IR) and have limited difference-making talent in their front four.
Against an injured secondary with plenty of time to stand in a clean pocket, Fitzpatrick could have a 300-yard, three-touchdown performance in a high-scoring game that should require the Dolphins to throw to keep up.
I’m betting on the Seahawks. They are 3-0 against the spread (93.2% ROI) on the year, and opponents have been unable to stop quarterback Russell Wilson in this new #LetRussCook era.
And I’m not worried that the Seahawks are a West Coast team traveling east and playing in the early game, which theoretically means they should have some sort of biorhythmic disadvantage. With the Seahawks, head coach Pete Carroll has had 23 East Coast games with a start time of 1 p.m. ET: He’s 13-7-3 ATS (24.6% ROI).
For his career, Wilson is 71-53-7 ATS (11.4% ROI) in the regular season. You tend not to make money if you bet against him.
And if the Dolphins put up points, we could see Fitzpatrick in full comeback mode for most of the game — and that could be a sight to behold.
A high-end season-long QB2 with sweat-pouring upside, Fitzpatrick is a game theory-informed DFS tournament option opposite Wilson. Given how productive Wilson has been this season and how popular he’s likely to be this week, Fitzpatrick could have an artificially deflated exposure rate that creates immense GPP value for investors.
Blood sugar crazy, he has it. Sex magik, FitzMagic.
Fitzpatrick is the No. 1 quarterback in the Bales and Raybon Models for DraftKings.
Salaries: $5,400 DraftKings, $7,100 FanDuel
Quarterbacks With Week-Winning Upside
In this section, I highlight some of the quarterbacks I especially like as upside season-long and DFS tournament plays.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (-13) at Washington Football Team (47 O/U): Maynard James Keenan has some lyrics that feel relevant: “Do unto others what has been done to me.” The Ravens are about to unleash a misdirected and belated nevermore of fury on a squad with no name. To borrow from Tywin Lannister: Any football team that must say “I am the Football Team” is no true football team. Salaries: $8,100 DraftKings, $9,600 FanDuel.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins (54 O/U): No. 1 in the league with an 11.3 AY/A, Wilson is cooking. No quarterback in NFL history has thrown more touchdowns in Weeks 1-3 than Wilson has with 14, and the Dolphins are No. 31 with a 42.5 PFF coverage grade. Wilson has position-high median, ceiling and floor projections in our Models. Salaries: $7,800 DraftKings, $9,000 FanDuel.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (-7) vs. New England Patriots (53.5 O/U): With an 898-9-0 passing and 10-80-1 rushing performance to date, Mahomes in 2020 is still as good as ever. As great as other quarterbacks have been this year, Mahomes is No. 1 in ESPN’s Total QBR metric with a 91.8. The Chiefs have a slate-high 30.5-point implied Vegas total, and in his three career games against the Pats, Mahomes has averaged 21.9 fantasy points. Salaries: $7,400 DraftKings, $8,700 FanDuel.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (-3) at Las Vegas Raiders (52.5 O/U): The No. 2 quarterback with 36.8 fantasy points per game, Allen has had an MVP-caliber start to 2020. With 1,038-10-1 passing and 22-84-2 rushing lines, Allen has been a top-three fantasy finisher in each week this year. The Raiders are No. 27 with a 46.1 PFF coverage grade. Salaries: $7,300 DraftKings, $8,600 FanDuel.
Cam Newton, New England Patriots (+7) at Kansas City Chiefs (54 O/U): The Chiefs have a funnel defense that ranks No. 30 with a 12.2% rush-defense DVOA, and the Pats are No. 3 in the league with a 52.2% rush-play rate. Newton did nothing in an easy 36-20 home win last week, but in Weeks 1-2 he was No. 4 with 32.9 points per game on 552-1-1 passing and 26-122-4 rushing. The shoulder and foot injuries that cut short Newton’s 2018-19 campaigns are faint memories. Salaries: $6,400 DraftKings, $7,900 FanDuel.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (+4) vs. New Orleans Saints (54.5 O/U): In Week 3, No. 1 wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring) made his 2020 debut, and Stafford not coincidentally had his best game of the season with a 10.0 AY/A performance. Under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Stafford has had notable splits with Golladay (albeit in a small sample).
The Saints are tied for No. 29 with 43.0 PFF coverage grade. Salaries: $5,900 DraftKings, $7,200 FanDuel.
Pictured above: Dak Prescott
Photo credit: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images