Outliers, Week 4

A comparison of the weekly positional rankings and the Top 200, this is an output of the players who could either have unexpected good or poor fantasy weeks.

This article will take a weekly look at players who are either undervalued or overvalued in a given week. The outlier value players offer is calculated by a comparison between the Top 200 forward, a look at the top 200 players with the whole season in mind, and the weekly Footballguys rankings. Both sources are from the Footballguys.com subscriber content. An emphasis will be on the players with the largest differences between the season outlook and this week only. Also, a preference will be given to differences for the higher ranked players. Some of these differences will be due to injury, the matchup of the week, or short-term situation.  Now, let's look at this week's outlier players. 


Carson Palmer

  • Top 200 ranking: 22
  • Weekly ranking: 7
  • Difference: +15

Palmer has put up solid fantasy points the last two weeks and now the Cardinals get to host the 49ers.  San Francisco has an improved defense but will still yield big yardage and fantasy points to Palmer and the Arizona receivers.  We like what we saw on Monday night as the veteran quarterback moved the ball on the Dallas defense.

Philip Rivers

  • Top 200 ranking: 13
  • Weekly ranking: 6
  • Difference: +7

Rivers had a horrid game last week against Kansas City.  He has these games a few times every season but usually rebounds well.  The game Sunday against the Eagles could be a great spot for the Chargers to get their first win of the season.  Philadelphia is giving up the ninth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Matthew Stafford

  • Top 200 ranking: 6
  • Weekly ranking: 13
  • Difference: -7

Stafford has played relatively well to begin the season.  The game in Minnesota this week might be his stiffest competition yet.  The Vikings are loaded with defensive talent and Xavier Rhodes is a lock-down cornerback.  Minnesota only holds middle-of-the road statistics for defending opposing quarterbacks, but that is easily explained by looking at the schedule.  In Week 1, the Vikings held Drew Brees and company to 19 points.  In Week 2, Pittsburgh put up 26 points at home.  In a home game like Week 1, the Week 3 victory over Tampa Bay (34-17) showed that the Vikings play great at home on the defensive side of the ball.  With Stafford and the Lions traveling to the Vikings this week, expect coach Zimmer to have his troops prepared. 

Dak Prescott

  • Top 200 ranking: 7
  • Weekly ranking: 12
  • Difference: -5

Prescott led his team to victory on Monday night and now gets to host the Rams this weekend.  We expect Wade Phillips to have his defense prepared to face the athletic Prescott.  This should be a slow-paced, relatively low-scoring game.  Coming off the win Monday, Dallas is in a letdown spot this weekend. 

Running Back

Jordan Howard

  • Top 200 ranking: 17
  • Weekly ranking: 13
  • Difference: +4

Howard is coming off the monster outing in the upset over the Steelers.  He gets another quality matchup this week as the Bears travel to Green Bay to face the Packers.  Green Bay is the twelfth-worst defense in yielding fantasy points to opposing running backs.  Th lack of viable receivers should equate to more carries and targets for Howard.  He will likely be on the injury report with the shoulder, but played through the injury last week and should do so again on Thursday. 

Chris Thompson

  • Top 200 ranking: 21
  • Weekly ranking: 15
  • Difference: +6

In a game that Washington could trail on the scoreboard early, Thompson is poised for another positive game script.  The team travels to Kansas City to play the Chiefs.  Kansas City is mid-pack in slowing down opposing running backs.  Thompson has seen his role increase the past two weeks and could see a heavy passing-game workload as quarterback Kirk Cousins tries to play catch-up.

Ameer Abdullah

  • Top 200 ranking: 16
  • Weekly ranking: 33
  • Difference: -17

As with his quarterback above, this should be a tough matchup for Abdullah as the Lions travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings.  Minnesota has the best defense against fantasy running backs through the first three weeks of the season.  The Vikings are only giving up 13 PPR (Points Per Reception) fantasy points to entire backfields.  To put another way, Minnesota has given up less than 40 PPR points to the running back position all season (three games).  We do not like Abdullah’s chances of breaking this trend. 

Jay Ajayi

  • Top 200 ranking: 11
  • Weekly ranking: 18
  • Difference: -7

Even though Ajayi and the Dolphins host the Saints this week, we have the running back as overvalued in Week 4.  Yes, New Orleans is the worst defense in the NFL against opposing running backs.  Yes, Ajayi should get the bulk of the carries.  With these factors going his way, why should we look for other RB1 options?  The answer has to do with Ajayi’s balky knee.  He did not practice much last week and likely will not practice much this week, either.  We will not recommend starting him other than as a low-end RB2 for your fantasy team. 

Wide Receiver

Emmanuel Sanders

  • Top 200 ranking: 19
  • Weekly ranking: 8
  • Difference: +11

The Broncos offense, especially quarterback Trevor Siemian, plays much better at home than on the road.  After the pitiful play in Buffalo last week, Denver comes home to face division-rival Oakland.  The Raiders are mid-pack in defending opposing wide receivers.  This has the looks of a high-scoring game and we like both Broncos wide receivers to have good fantasy outings. 

Jarvis Landry

  • Top 200 ranking: 15
  • Weekly ranking: 9
  • Difference: +6

Landry is coming off a weak game against the Jets.  The entire Miami offense was out of sync.  This week, the Dolphins host the Saints, the tenth-best matchup for opposing wide receivers.  Landry is recommended in PPR leagues, not non-PPR.  He should haul in plenty of targets, for his usual marginal average-yards-per-reception average, and be a low-end fantasy WR1.  

Jordy Nelson

  • Top 200 ranking: 9
  • Weekly ranking: 14
  • Difference: -5

Nelson and the Packers host the Bears in a divisional matchup.  Chicago has been exceptional in slowing down opponents’ top receiver so we are downgrading Nelson.  The Bears held Julio Jones to 4 catches for 66 yards in Week 1, Mike Evans to 7 catches for 93 yards and a score in Week 2, and Antonio Brown to 10 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown last week.  While these numbers do not look that great from a defensive point-of-view, these are three of the top receivers in the game.  Chicago will have a plan for limiting Nelson.

T.Y. Hilton

  • Top 200 ranking: 7
  • Weekly ranking: 15
  • Difference: -8

Hilton had a solid game last week as quarterback Jacoby Brissett was able to move the offense against the lowly Browns.  This week, in Seattle, will be a different situation.  The Seahawks are in the top half of the league in defending opposing fantasy receivers.  In addition, Seattle will look to rebound off the poor showing on the defensive side of the ball last week against Tennessee. 

Tight End

Jesse James

  • Top 200 ranking: 33
  • Weekly ranking: 11
  • Difference: +22

James gets a quality matchup against the Ravens this week.  While this game against the Steelers’ divisional arch-rivals is usually a tight game, Baltimore is the third-worst defense in keeping fantasy tight ends in check.  Let’s remember that the Ravens allowed Marcedes Lewis to have a monster outing in London last week and then traveled home without a time off to rest from the trip.  If you need a spot starter due to key tight end injuries, James makes an intriguing dart throw. 

Jason Witten

  • Top 200 ranking: 8
  • Weekly ranking: 4
  • Difference: +4

Witten had an off game against the Cardinals on Monday night but he gets a favorable matchup against the Rams.  He had been a focal point of the Dallas offense the first two weeks and should rebound against an injury-depleted Los Angeles defense. 

Eric Ebron

  • Top 200 ranking: 9
  • Weekly ranking: 15
  • Difference: -6

Just like Stafford above, Ebron is expected to have tough sledding in Minnesota this week.  The Vikings are the tenth-best defense against tight ends and play much better at home than on the road.  Ebron’s fantasy success will likely be touchdown-dependent. 

Feel free to (email me) with feedback.  Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.