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The Best of Week 4

Matt Waldman scouts our in-season content and shares five must-knows and his takes on each.


You guys have a ton of articles. 

This statement about Footballguys is a blessing but it can feel like a curse. Our staff delivers insights that change seasons for the better yet realistically, no fantasy owner has the time to read everything we publish in a week. 

If this describes you, let me be your scout. Here are five insights from Footballguys articles that I find compelling for the weekend ahead. I'll share what should help you this week, touch on the long-term outlook, and sometimes offer a counterargument.  

This week, we cover A.J. Green, Christian McCaffrey, Chris Carson, Paul Richardson Jr, Carson Palmer, and Jared Goff

1. Is a multiple-TD Weekend in store for A.J. Green?

I have a rule for this column when it comes to writing about fantasy studs like Green: Don't write about them unless you're expecting an uncommonly good or bad day. Since it's Friday, let's lead off with the good news that Green is about to go off against the Cleveland Browns. 

(If you're a contrarian, it might also be the perfect time to shy away because Green seems to be the most popular choice for a strong week. I'm not, but I get your late-night, neurosis-filled emails)

BJ VAnderWoude's crew led off with Green in its roundtable on Finding GPP And Cash Game Value At Wide Receiver

BJ VanderWoude: With the exception of the top tier of wide receivers, pricing has been all over the place from week to week. Pick one wide receiver that you will have exposure to in cash games, and pick one wide receiver that you will have exposure to in GPP's.

James BrimacombeA.J. Green is the guy I want in cash games this week for the second week in a row. The Bengals will be looking for their first win of the year and you can’t ask for a better spot to get that than against the Browns at home. The Browns have given up big games to Antonio Brown 11/182/0, Jeremy Maclin 4/31/1, and T.Y. Hilton 7/153/1. Green himself is coming off a game where he caught 10-of-13 targets for 111 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals are only 3-point favorites in this game but it feels like a spot where they can take advantage of a young team and put up some points. Green had a big game against the Browns last year in Week 7 where he caught all 8 of his targets for 169 yards and a touchdown.

John Mamula: For cash games, I am going back to the well with A.J. Green. Until the Bengals get their first victory this season, they will continue to emphasize their playmakers. The loss of Tyler Eifert for multiple weeks locks Green into double-digit targets. He is simply a must play against the Browns this week.

Phil Alexander: I agree with the consensus on A.J. Green for cash games (and as a GPP staple). New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor predictably schemed the ball to Green early and often during his first game on the job, and will almost assuredly continue feeding his best weapon moving forward. Considering what fellow upper crust wide receivers Antonio Brown (11-182-0) and T.Y. Hilton ( 7-153-1) have done to the Browns this season, Green has to be considered the favorite for overall WR1 honors this week.

Chad Parson's feature, "A New Reality," astutely notes that Green "is off to a monster start with 36% of the team targets and 50% of the touchdowns. Brandon LaFell has offered little with John Ross inactive for two of the weeks with 16% of targets but only 10% of yards without a touchdown."

My Take: I'm in on Green this weekend for a huge weekend because of Green's targets before and after Bill Lazor's ascent to the coordinator role and the Browns defense. The Colts implemented routes that created natural picks against Browns cornerbacks and earned yards after the catch with them. Jamar Taylor was so lost, that he earned a weekly Fresh Fish nomination in Week 4's Top 10

Lazor's scheme implements more run-pass options that help Andy Dalton get rid of the ball fast and into open space. Green will earn some of these targets. Cincinnati also wasn't shy about targeting Green on slants last week, which is a fabulous route for the veteran, who is far stronger than he looks. It's actually one of his best routes that have been underutilized. 

If you're going to go big on a big game, Green is a good choice.


2. don't be shy with Christian McCaffrey

Ryan Hester's Trendspotting is one of my favorite Footballguys features because it packages statistical trends into actionable analysis.  This week, he led off with a section titled, "Targets Lead to Touchdowns," which included the Carolina running back as a candidate due for a touchdown. 

In this section, I'll attempt to identify potential regression candidates whose workloads suggest they should have earned more touchdowns. This week (and going forward), I'll be using only the most recent four weeks as the examination period. The qualifications here are:

  • at least seven (7) targets per game
  • at least 20% of their team's Target Market Share
  • on teams in the top one-third in the NFL in passing attempts per game
  • zero touchdowns if the team has played three games in the four-week period, or one touchdown if they've played all four weeks
Jarvis Landry 13.0 33.8% 39.0 0 vs. NO
Julio Jones 8.7 28.3% 35.7 0 vs. BUF
Demaryius Thomas 8.3 24.8% 34.0 0 vs. OAK
Christian McCaffrey 7.7 27.1% 35.7 0 at NE
Marqise Lee 7.7 27.1% 33.0 0 at NYJ

Last week, we had four players listed, three of those four played, and all three scored. That's a smashing success for the first week we displayed the table. If Cam Newton continues to not be able to connect downfield, he'll have no choice but to continue utilizing Christian McCaffrey. Of the Denver receivers, believe it or not, Demaryius Thomas gets fewer red zone chances than Emmanuel Sanders. But he's still seeing enough volume and is enough of a playmaker to break through. Julio Jones is scoring a touchdown this week; that's happening (more on Atlanta later).

Footballguys' panel on Predicting Shootouts noted the Patriots defense is a supportive environment for almost any offense and the New England passing game will likely support a favorable game script for Carolina's offense to earn a lot of yards against the Patriots' soft underbelly. 

Dan Hindery: The Carolina at New England game has a chance to turn into a shootout. In fact, each game that New England has been involved in this season has ended with over 60 points scored. Through three games, the Patriots have averaged 33 points per game. With Tom Brady performing at an incredible level and throwing to a deep and talented group of pass catchers, New England looks like they are going to be able to score on any team they play. The Carolina defense is talented. But so is the Houston Texans unit that Brady just shredded for 378 yards and 5 touchdowns. More surprising than the Patriots offensive success is that the New England defense has also allowed 31.7 points per game against so far this season. The Patriots have some talent in the secondary, but the front seven is one of the least talented in the NFL. We’ve already seen Alex Smith and Deshaun Watson go into Foxboro and put up 42 and 33 points, respectively. While Cam Newton has certainly been struggling as a passer, Deshaun Watson had also been poor (125 passing yards and 0 touchdowns in Week 2) before he faced the Patriots.

John Mamula: I also think the New England-Carolina total is going to go over the 50 point threshold. The majority of the points will come from the New England offense who should once again go over the 30 point mark. Since the Patriots Week 1 loss to the Chiefs, Tom Brady has looked like a man on a mission. Over the past two games, Brady has eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. It reminds me of back in 2014 when Brady struggled against the Chiefs in Week 4 and the media was saying that he was washed up. He followed that up with multiple touchdowns every single week over the next ten weeks that season.

Justin Howe: Despite the sorry shape of Cam Newton and the Panthers offense, I don’t foresee a Patriots blowout, but rather a hard-fought semi-shootout similar to last week’s Houston-New England battle. I know Newton failed miserably against the Saints’ atrocious defense in Week 3, but he’ll get a second chance this Sunday against a similarly leaky unit. The Patriots boast a strong cornerback tandem in name, though both Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler – as well as the team’s limited safeties – have been scorched deep in all three games thus far. In fact, opposing quarterbacks have completed a strong 11 of 25 deep-ball (15+ yards beyond the line of scrimmage) attempts, with 3 long touchdowns. Newton, ever the downfield gunslinger, should spend the day testing those deep matchups.

With Greg Olsen out, Kelvin Benjamin nicked up, and little else in the receiving corps to support Newton, Sigmund Bloom still thinks enough of the likely game script conditions to label the quarterback a sleeper.

Cam Newton, CAR (at NE) - So it has come to this. Newton’s Week 4 is a “fantasy last stand” game against the woeful Patriots defense. No quarterback has failed to score at least 25 points in standard scoring against New England this year, and that includes rookie Deshaun Watson and conservative Alex Smith. Newton doesn’t look quite right, but he’s likely to have to air it out against a Patriots team that should open up a lead against a Panthers defense that Drew Brees took apart last week.

My Take: I often check out the Footballguys Defensive Game Logs to see if my film notes are identifying similar trends as the stats. So far, it appears the combination of the Patriot's explosive offense, soft defense, and favorable game scripts for opposing passing offenses are leading to strong production from running backs in the receiving game.

Kareem Hunt earned 5 catches, 98 yards, and 2 scores in the opener; Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara combined for 7 catches and 75 yards in Week 2; and the trio of D'Onta Foreman, Lamar Miller, and Tyler Irvin, earned 4 catches for 76 yards last week. The most explosive back on each team had a long gain against the Patriots. Look for McCaffrey to do the same. 


3. Chris Carson, Paul Richardson Jr, and the Colts defense

The Colts defense has been a hot corner for fantasy analysis this week. Hester sets the tone for this section in his Trendspotting segment on funnel defenses. 

A "funnel" defense is one with a stout run defense but a suspect (or worse) pass defense. These units "funnel" production to the exterior and deep parts of the field (places where passing games focus) and away from the short middle (where the running game typically occurs). The following criteria are used to determine funnel defenses.

    • Top 1/3 in the NFL in Yards per Rush Attempt allowed
    • Bottom 1/3 in the NFL in Net Yards per Pass Attempt allowed
    • Top 1/3 in Percentage of Yards Allowed via Rush (looking for low percentage figures here)
    • Bottom 1/3 in Percentage of Yards Allowed via Pass (looking for high percentage figures here)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 329.5 72.5 8.3 2.7 82.0% 18.0%
Indianapolis Colts 283.7 85.7 7.2 3.3 76.8% 23.2%
Miami Dolphins 278.0 73.5 8.6 3.1 79.1% 20.9%
Minnesota Vikings 277.7 62.7 7.1 3.0 81.6% 18.4%

Tampa Bay hosts a New York Giants team who is bad enough at running the ball on their own, let alone when they face a stout front; the Giants shouldn't even bother attempting double-digit rushes. Though it's not on DraftKings' main slate due to their changes for this week, Seattle hosts an Indianapolis team that is not your father's wet-paper-bag rush defense. Expect Russell Wilson and his passing game weapons to be productive until a blowout develops. Minnesota hosts Detroit, a team who is fine substituting short passes for the run game. A likely beneficiary is Golden Tate (more on Tate and how his matchup is exploitable later in the article).

It's notable that the Colts rush defense has substantially improved. The unit has held individual running backs to less than 45 yards in September. Seattle's offensive line is a work in progress (for the third consecutive year), which makes Bloom's love for Chris Carson as a sleeper an unconventional position. 

Chris Carson, SEA (vs IND) - Carson might be an obvious start as the Seahawks lead back at this point, but he is included here just in case because of the home primetime matchup against the bottom-dwelling Colts. CJ Prosise is out and Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy have been non-factors, so look for Carson to accumulate carries and goal-line opportunities in the likely romp over Indianapolis.

While I disagree with Bloom's thoughts that Carson will be effective on the ground, I agree that Carson is a good sleeper because he can catch the ball and the Colts defense gave up 5-56 to Todd Gurley and 6-81 to Duke Johnson Jr. It's not my favorite sleeper pick of the week, but Scott Bischoff also agrees with Bloom about Carson in his Starting Stacks feature.  

Chris Carson ($6,600) + Seattle Seahawks ($5,400) = $12,000

The Seattle Seahawks bring the Indianapolis Colts to town in Week 4. The Seahawks are a 13-point home favorite in a game that should not be close, and there should be multiple opportunities for the aggressive Seahawks defense to pressure the Colts into making mistakes in this contest. I would expect a few turnovers and points coming from sacks as well.

The Colts are the No. 11 ranked DVOA run defense, but the script here is so favorable for the Seattle running game that I think Carson can overcome the strengths of the Colts defense to produce at a strong level in this game. While his ceiling is likely capped because of a poor offensive line and the potential for quarterback Russell Wilson to vulture a running score, he should produce at a level that makes this stack worthy.

Carson has emerged to be the lead back (at this point) and is carrying a full workload for the Seahawks, and in a game where they are favored by almost two touchdowns, he should be in line for plenty of chance to produce. This stack can pay dividends as it is dangerous on both sides.

The primary reason I'm not as bullish on Carson is the red zone. The Colts rush defense is stiff and the Seahawks like to throw in the red zone or use Wilson's legs to generate run-pass options. The sleeper I like the most this week from this offense is Paul Richardson Jr and Bloom agrees that Richardson is worth a look. 

Paul Richardson Jr, Tyler Lockett, SEA (vs IND) - Doug Baldwin’s Sunday night status will come down to his practice participation on Friday, but even if he can go, the Seahawks would be smart to rest their #1 receiver for a game that should be a win without him. Richardson has been more involved in the red zone, and Lockett has been getting more snaps with more deep ball potential. Even if Baldwin plays, he could draw Vontae Davis and still free up targets for Richardson and Lockett. Now that Russell Wilson has found his game, there should be wide receiver production there against a defense that allowed at least 194 receiving yards to opposing wideouts when they weren’t facing DeShone Kizer.

 Jason Wood is also on the Richardson Train as a sleeper for multiple touchdowns based on his analysis in the aforementioned roundtable panel: 

Richardson has three targets from inside the 10 already, and has caught 2 touchdowns. A lot of people think of Richardson as a vertical threat, but the Seahawks have shown a willingness to trust him in tight quarters and on the goal line. With Doug Baldwin banged up, Richardson could be a focal point for Russell Wilson against a terrible Colts team.

My Take: My segment on Richardson over Lockett (presuming a healthy Baldwin) in Week 4's Top-10 offers a longer-running perspective that has built up to this point where we're considering Richardson this week. 

Hear me out. You know I'm a Richardson fan from way back in the day at Colorado. Any bias you think I have shouldn't matter when you consider who earns more critical targets. The answer is Richardson. 

While the development curve remains slower than what fantasy owners hope to see, Russell Wilson is clearly gaining trust in Richardson as a go-to red-zone option in the fourth quarter of games. Last week, Richardson earned the game-winner against the 49ers; this week, he put the game within reach with a score on a double slant. 

Before that target, Richardson also earned a vertical target in the red zone that he nearly caught. 


Wilson to Richardson slowly developing trust on end zone shots

A post shared by Matt Waldman (@mattwaldmanrsp) onSep 24, 2017 at 8:32pm PDT


This "trust factor" in the red zone has been something that Pete Carroll and Wilson have been sharing about Richardson since the preseason of 2016 because they've seen him do this kind of work repeatedly in practice against Seattle's first-team defense. This is not Lockett's game. Lockett, at best, bears limited similarities to Doug Baldwin and I think that's a bigger stretch than most might think. He's more explosive, but not as well-rounded.  

No Seahawk beyond Baldwin, Russell Wilson (as a committee QB), and Jimmy Graham are slam-dunk options to have on your roster. That includes Chris Carson for the reasons I stated last week unless you're simply a volume follower who doesn't care about context as much as touches. If that's the case, I still preach caution about whom you drop to acquire him due to the offensive line woes. 

If you need a receiver, Richardson's target volume has been at nearly six per game. He's averaged just below three catches per game, but the fantasy intensity of his targets is high. It means the targets are vertical routes or red zone routes that potentially yield points in chunks. They are high-risk, lower percentage plays where sometimes he'll have little chance to make a play on the ball. However the potential reward has been there for Richardson every week. 

He remains the starter and all the narrative predicting that Lockett is overtaking Richardson (Lockett is averaging four targets per game after his nine-target outburst in Week 2), needs to be walked back a bit. That said, if Doug Baldwin misses time next week, both Lockett and Richardson are worth consideration.

Lockett could earn more temporarily volume but Richardson's red zone and vertical targets are a constant that I'd prefer unless Baldwin somehow missed the season and all reports indicate that his injury is minor.

Carson's projected volume makes him look like a better play, but I think Richardson's target intensity is higher due to the nature of the Colts defense and the strengths of this Seahawks offense.

4. Go back to the well with Carson Palmer

Jeff Tefertiller's Outliers compares Footballguys' weekly positional rankings and the Top 200 Forward and lists fantasy options who could have unexpected weeks, good or bad. Atop that list is Palmer. 

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.

Our staff's long-term outlook on Palmer is ambivalent, at best. This week's Footballguys In-Season Roundtable is a good reflection of that stance. I listed Palmer as a "slow start" candidate despite his strong performance on Monday Night Football against the Cowboys. I asked the panel to discuss if the factors that are contributing to that player's difficulties and if there was a chance for improvement. Here's what ensued: 

Dan Hindery: Interesting questions, Matt. Does it make sense to drop Carson Palmer from the first one after his big Monday night game? He's currently third in the league in passing yards behind only Brady and Rodgers and on pace for over 4,900 yards on the season. 

Waldman: It’s a good question, Dan, but I created this after the game. Leading up to this game, there has been a massive contingent of analysts and media who have dismissed him as old, shot, and useless. You can certainly address him from the angle of “will it last?”

Hindery: Palmer's a tough one for me. I thought the DJ injury might kill his value but might actually end up helping him. 

Maurile Tremblay: After three weeks, it's still hard to evaluate Palmer's fantasy prospects for this season. There are things to like and things to dislike. On the plus side, with David Johnson out, the Cardinals have been airing the ball out, giving Palmer plenty of volume. He's attempted 48, 36, and 48 passes in the first 3 games. The Cardinals are second in the NFL (behind the Packers) in pass attempts this season, and that's a trend that could continue. If so, it bodes well for Palmer's fantasy value. Palmer himself has been pretty streaky this season, however. He was generally inefficient in Week 1, he had a weak first half but a strong second half in Week 2, and he had a strong first half but a weak second half in Week 3. There have been times when his accuracy was off and he looked washed up. But there have been other times when his arm strength and accuracy looked as good as ever. The biggest concern may be the shaky play of the Cardinals' offensive line. They've faced some generally weak pass defenses so far (including the Lions and Colts in the first two games), but the offensive line has failed to give Palmer a reliable pocket. On the whole, despite the heavy passing volume so far, I would not want to rely on Palmer as an every-week fantasy starter. He looks to me like merely a streaming option.

Jason Wood: ...For a guy you might have drafted as your QB2, he can't be characterized as a disappointment. In terms of risk factors, age is by far the most relevant. Palmer is 38 years old and his offensive line is also not an asset, particularly with the current injuries. The question is whether the Cardinals can be effective without their main offensive cog, David Johnson. In spite of the year-to-date numbers, I'm dubious. Johnson not only kept defenses honest but was the ultimate safety valve in the passing game. Ultimately, I don't see Palmer as a reliable fantasy starter this year but he can be a viable committee option; which is probably what you drafted him for. 

Chad Parsons: I came away impressed with Parson’s Week 3 performance against a suspect Dallas secondary. The roadblock to an even bigger game was the struggles of Arizona's offensive line. As Jason said, Palmer has little help from the run game, so the lack of balance in the offensive scheme is the secondary cause. I am skeptical the offensive line or run game will improve enough to project Palmer into the QB1 conversation. It leaves him in the matchup QB2 zone of fantasy usage against a favorable matchup like Dallas or if a bye week or injury mandates usage.

Stephen Holloway: Arizona’s offensive line play is the biggest detriment to Carson Palmer’s success so far this season. In the first three games, he has been sacked 11 times, tied for 4th most in the NFL. His 27 hits are the highest number in the league. The loss of Johnson and the subsequently reduced effectiveness of the running game increases opposing defenses ability to focus on the rush. The Cardinals have averaged only 2.8 yards per rush, the league’s second-lowest average. The scheme might be improved so that Palmer could get the ball out earlier. Palmer has completed only 56.8 percent of his attempts, but the lack of the running game has forced them to lean heavily on the passing game. He has already earned 926 yards through the air—the third highest total in the league. The additional downside is that his touchdown-to-interception rate among his worst ever in that category. In the Monday night game, even though he was sacked often, he occasionally looked nimble in the pocket and extended several plays. He needs better protection, but the heavy passing game focus keeps Palmer’s potential high. 

Jeff Haseley: Age is the first factor that comes to mind here, but I'm not sure we can completely fault his struggles on age. He has shown that he can still be effective as long as he is not under duress. Once pressure is applied and he needs to escape, his efficiency drops way down. The offensive line is arguably the biggest factor in Palmer's success right now. When it's off, Palmer struggles. If the offensive line can come together and be dominant, Palmer can thrive, at least until age and wear and tear catches up to him as the season goes on. 

Hindery: There are certainly some reasons to be wary of Palmer going forward. He is 37 years-old and his go-to wide receiver is 34 years-old. It is common to see older players fade over the course of the season. The body simply doesn’t recover from the weekly pounding as quickly when a player gets into his mid-30s. 

However, there are also plenty of reasons to believe that Palmer will continue to be a strong fantasy option every week. The first is sheer volume. Through 3 weeks, he is averaging 44 pass attempts per game and should continue to be amongst the league leaders in pass attempts. He’s also taking more deep shots than any other quarterback in the league. He has already thrown 48 passes at least 10 yards downfield. The big picture view of the Cardinals points toward the high volume of passing attempts and it remaining a trend going forward. The Cardinals lead the league in offensive plays per game (69) and, even adjusting for game situation, the unit is among the top-5 offenses in passing rate with a 66-34 pass-run ratio. As long as he keeps throwing the ball 40 times per game, Palmer should remain a top fantasy option.

 At least for this week, Bischoff likes Palmer's outlook in his FanDuel Starting Stacks column.  

Carson Palmer ($7,400) + Larry Fitzgerald ($6,700) = $14,100

Facing No. 30 ranked DVOA defense - No. 14 ranked pass defense allowing 214.7 yards per game

Game Total - 44.5

Implied Totals - Cardinals at 26 points and 49ers at 19 points

Game Line - Arizona Cardinals - 7

The Cardinals are at home this week, and they bring the San Francisco 49ers to town in Week 4. The 49ers were the No. 28 DVOA ranked pass defense in 2016 and not much has changed through three weeks in 2017.

The 49ers have surrendered six passing scores and only three teams league-wide have allowed more. The 49ers allow a touchdown percentage (relative to attempts) of 6.5 percent and only the New England Patriots and Houston Texans allow a higher percentage.

Helping matters in that regard is that the Cardinals are forecast to score near four touchdowns, and without a real running threat, these points will come from the passing game. Palmer should be in line for an excellent day versus the 49ers.

My Take: I've never been one to attribute age as the deciding factor for Palmer's declining production last year. Most wrote him off and discussed his "shot" arm. I asked some of my NFL sources about quarterback arm strength and they said that all quarterbacks get arm-weary by season's end. Palmer's age may be a small factor in the sense that he may not recover as fast as he did in his youth but by season's end, tired arms and a season of advanced scouting data supports the cliche that "defense and the running game wins championships."

The greatest factor for Palmer's demise in 2016 was pressure and a turnstile in the receiving corps. This year, Palmer's line remains a liability but it appears that the Cardinals are a unit is still decent enough to handle below-average defensive units. The 49ers qualify, which means Palmer is worth consideration.

5. take to the skies with Jared Goff

Goff's September production has won over the DFS panel in this week's Early Roundtable on quarterbacks who were typically off the radar in August. It sees Goff has a good start against the Cowboys weak unit. 

James Brimacombe: I will pass on Case Keenum and Blake Bortles this week but will look to Jared Goff as a GPP option. The last two quarterbacks to play against the Cowboys have had strong games with Trevor Siemian throwing for 231 yards and 4 touchdowns and Carson Palmer for 325 yards and 2 touchdowns. Goff himself has improved and showed great poise over the first three games combining for 822 passing yards and 5 touchdown passes. This game has potential to be one of the higher scoring games on the slate and as we have seen with the Rams and 49ers game last week there will be plenty of scoring from the quarterback position. Through 3 games, Goff has shown a steady improvement in play over his rookie season where his numbers are already almost identical to what he did in 7 games last year as the starter.

Dan Hindery: Jared Goff is more intriguing. He is averaging 274 passing yards per game and has looked good doing it. He is facing a Dallas secondary that is vulnerable in a game that should be high-scoring. I’m not ready to back Goff on the road in what could be a slower-paced game in cash games. But I will want to have some GPP exposure.

John Mamula: ...The low-priced quarterback that has peaked my interest is Jarod Goff. First, we must realize that this is not the same Rams offense as last season and that Goff is in a completely different situation. The addition of Sammy WatkinsRobert WoodsCooper Kupp, and Andrew Whitworth have transformed this offense. Rams coach Sean McVay has proven over the past two seasons that he is one of the best young play callers in the NFL. The Rams have eclipsed 40 points in two of his first three games as head coach. Jeff Fisher also cracked the 40 point threshold in two games but he coached the Rams for 77 games. The Rams should have no problem scoring on the Cowboys this week as Carson Palmer passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns and Trevor Siemian threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns.

Prediction: Jared Goff: 23 for 32 for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Phil Alexander: The Cowboys have allowed a combined 556 passing yards and six touchdowns to Trevor Siemian and Carson Palmer over the last two weeks. Do I think Sean McVay -- and by extension the much improved Goff -- can figure out how to hang fantasy points on this defense? Absolutely. But before I pull the trigger on Goff this week, I'm interested in whether or not Sammy Watkins clears the concussion protocol. Even if Watkins hasn't always been a focal point this season, his mere presence on the field opens things up for Goff, Gurley, and the entire Rams offense. As long as Watkins is active, Goff warrants a few GPP shares, but if I'm spending down at quarterback, I'd much rather use Siemian at home vs. the Raiders than any of the three quarterbacks in question.

Bischoff also likes Goff as a higher risk stack:

Jared Goff ($7,200) + Sammy Watkins ($7,200) = $14,400

Facing No. 15 ranked DVOA defense - No. 18 ranked pass defense allowing 227.7 yards per game

Game Total - 46

Implied Totals - Rams at 19 points and Cowboys at 27 points

Game Line - Dallas Cowboys - 7.5

The Los Angeles Rams travel to Dallas for an NFC matchup against the Cowboys in Week 4. The Cowboys have surrendered six passing touchdowns in 2017 and only Tennessee, Denver and New England have allowed more.

It is amazing to look at Goff through three games while thinking back to what he looked like last year. This is a testament to head coach Sean McVay and his ability to put Goff into a comfortable situation, and the truth is that coaching matters. Goff has looked better each week and is hitting deep shots regularly.

Goff is averaging 10.1 yards per attempt which is second-best in the NFL, and he will test the Cowboys vertically in this game. Goff has thrown 17 passes that have gone for 20 or more yards, and only Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer have completed more. He is getting very good protection, only being sacked three times through three games.

The game script sees Goff and the Rams behind and playing catch-up in this contest with Dallas favored by more than a touchdown. Goff should throw more in this game than he has had to in his first three games in 2017, and that means the potential for more production.

However, as of this writing, Watkins is listed as questionable with a concussion. Monitor his status and make sure he practices in full before rostering him. Goff and Watkins offer nice value from a points-per-dollar outlook, and while there is a risk, there is also enough upside to warrant consideration.

My Take: This week's Gut Check has a film-based breakdown of Goff that includes a discussion about context with early-career quarterback play and film clips from last year and this. Goff has shown poise under pressure, skill on the move, crisp and precise footwork, and the intelligence and accuracy to deliver the ball with excellent placement against man and zone coverage. As long as the upgraded offensive line and receiving corps remains healthy, Goff is a good bet at maintaining low-end QB1 production this year as a match-up play with high-end QB1 upside against mediocre-to-bad passing defenses.