2021 Season: Week 4 Sunday Storylines

(Photo credit: Billy Hardiman)

Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Editor

Another Sunday in the books and this one did not lack any drama. Despite nearly a quarter of the season being over (thank you Week 17 for running perfect proportions), it feels experts and fans alike are struggling to get a handle on the season. Some teams have been roller coasters (looking at you, New Orleans Saints), others have fantasy football managers pulling out their hair (Ronald Jones II scored a touchdown!). Luckily for readers of The Lateral, each week you get the three biggest storylines of the week distilled right here every Monday. Let us get into it.

Week 4 Sunday Storylines

Super Bowl LVI: Buffalo Bills vs Arizona Cardinals?

Remember when the Buffalo Bills were on life support after a 23-16 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers? Well since then the Bills have gone 3-0 while giving up only 21 points total. All of which was to the Washington Football Team in Week 3. That is right, the Bills defense has pitched two shutouts in just four weeks of football. But it is not just the defense that has been lights out. Over those three games, the Buffalo offense has averaged just under 40 points per game. The results have shown in fantasy football as well. Since Week 2, Josh Allen has been QB4, Zack Moss has been RB9 in point-per-reception (PPR) fantasy football leagues, wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders have been PPR WR17 and WR18 respectively, Dawson Knox has been PPR TE3, Tyler Bass has been K3 and the defense/special teams (DST) has been DST1. In short, pretty good.

However, the Arizona Cardinals have been equally dominant. While their games have been a little closer, they have come out on top of every single one thanks to an offense averaging 35 points per game this season. Again, the results have paid off for fantasy football managers that drafted from this team. Kyler Murray is QB2 through four weeks, Chase Edmonds is PPR RB4, James Conner is PPR RB24, DeAndre Hopkins is PPR WR22, Christian Kirk is PPR WR29, Maxx Williams is PPR TE12, Matt Prater is K3, and the DST is DST2 right behind the Bills. These teams are clearly the dominant team in either conference, and it is showing in the fantasy football scoring. Will it all result in a February 2022 matchup?

A Tale of Two Elite Wide Receivers

Allen Robinson II and DeAndre Hopkins are both considered to be elite wide receivers by any reasonable person (though maybe not in the same tier). Unfortunately, both players' seasons so far have been disappointing for fantasy football managers. Hopkins, while still the top wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, has seemingly taken a hit as Kyler Murray has put on a Most Valuable Player (MVP) caliber season. He has not seen more than eight targets in a single game and is currently a bottom-tier WR2 in PPR fantasy football leagues. That is a far cry from his average draft position (ADP), which was WR4 in PPR fantasy football leagues. Not the level of performance a fantasy football manager wants from their second-round pick.

Still, while both seasons have been disappointing, Robinson has clearly had the bigger fall from grace. Week 1 disappointed, but at least he saw over 10 targets. Since then, Robinson wishes he could see Hopkins targets. Robinson has been thrown the ball an average of just over four times per game from Week 2 to Week 4, and the better times do not feel like they are coming. At least Hopkins has been on a good offense. The Chicago Bears have been awful, and Robinson has suffered because of it. Drafted at an ADP of PPR WR11, Robinson currently sits at WR60 in PPR fantasy football leagues. That is 10 spots behind teammate Darnell Mooney, who currently sits PPR WR 50. Robinson may not be playable until things improve dramatically.

Quarterback Controversies on the Horizon?

There are currently three quarterback battles to keep an eye on, though their teams would probably tell you otherwise. First, there may be a quarterback battle brewing in New Orleans. Saints quarterback Jameis Winston seemed to have secured the starting role in the preseason. However, in a Week 4 21-27 loss to the New York Giants, backup quarterback Taysom Hill threw a meaningful pass for the first time all season. He then also threw an interception, so Winston may still be safe for now, but fantasy football managers must be rolling their eyes at Saints head coach Sean Payton after those Sean-nanigans (sorry).

Meanwhile, the Jimmy Garoppolo versus Trey Lance battle got into full swing in San Francisco. Garoppolo went down with a calf injury early in the game, and Lance came in as the starting quarterback for the second half. Now, Garoppolo is expected to miss a few weeks, and Lance could force head coach Kyle Shanahan's hand with some good performances. No such crisis of faith exists for Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy. He seems determined to sit Justin Fields whenever starting quarterback Andy Dalton is healthy. While Fields has been hampered by the ineptitude of the Bears offense, he has not given Nagy a ton of ammunition to change his mind. Expect it not to matter when Nagy is eventually fired.

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