Fantasy Football Week 4 Wrap: Christian McCaffrey breaks the game (again)

Christian McCaffrey #23 of the San Francisco 49ers
Christian McCaffrey reminded everyone what a fantasy force he is in Week 4. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers

Christian McCaffrey exploded for a career-high four touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points in a game this season. He easily could’ve scored a fifth touchdown, but Kyle Shanahan kept giving goal-line runs to FB Kyle Juszczyk and Brock Purdy. McCaffrey had five catches for 10+ yards before the fourth quarter Sunday and more than doubled his season’s receiving yardage total.

McCaffrey also broke Jerry Rice’s franchise record for touchdowns in the most consecutive games (13). CMC is on pace to set the NFL record with 2,550 yards from scrimmage and score 20 touchdowns.

He’s the No. 1 fantasy player while healthy. It’s a quarterback award, but McCaffrey has become a darkhorse serious MVP candidate.

Purdy was also fantastic, posting one of the best completion percentages (95.2) in NFL history despite sporting the second-highest air-yard average in the league this week. Purdy has been the most efficient passer in the NFL this season. He added his second rushing score of the year for fantasy managers Sunday, although Purdy lost yet another TD pass that was just barely a lateral:

Brandon Aiyuk secured all six targets for the fourth-most receiving yards in Week 4, including the longest pass play of San Francisco’s season. Deebo Samuel somehow led SF WRs in snap rate but failed to see one target while playing through rib and knee injuries. A George Kittle eruption fantasy week is eventually coming, while Jordan Mason is the 49ers’ RB2 with Elijah Mitchell once again injured.

The 49ers have scored 30+ points in their first four games for the first time in franchise history and now get a matchup versus the Cowboys on Sunday night.

Arizona made a game out of it after failing to lead at halftime for the first time all season, which was impressive considering the 49ers were coming off 10 days’ rest while the Cardinals had a huge upset win in Week 3. Joshua Dobbs impressed yet again, nearly finishing as a top-five fantasy QB against a San Francisco defense that entered allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position.

The 49ers had held opponents to 0/8 on passes 20+ yards downfield entering the game before Dobbs connected on his first two attempts Sunday. SF’s defense allowed its first 99-yard touchdown drive since 2002. The Cardinals are in no hurry for Kyler Murray.

  • Michael Wilson caught his first NFL touchdown and then added a second one. He’ll be a popular waiver wire add in Week 5.

  • Shanahan continues to be more aggressive than ever (going for it on 4th & 5 in the first quarter), while San Francisco later stopped an important two-point attempt (that would’ve made it a three-point game entering the fourth quarter) with just 10 defenders on the field.

  • Arizona executed a successful fake punt deep in its own territory in the second quarter.

  • Zach Ertz dropped a sure touchdown late followed by Zach Pascal failing to haul in a catchable ball in the end zone, shattering hopes of a backdoor cover.

Atlanta Falcons @ Jacksonville Jaguars (London)

  • Desmond Ridder struggled again, throwing a pick-six and nearly a second one on his next throw. He also missed Mack Hollins open deep shortly thereafter and continues to hurt Drake London and Kyle Pitts. It doesn’t help Atlanta that can’t pass protect this season.

  • London barely missed a second TD while just out of bounds in the back of the end zone during a fourth-down play in the fourth quarter, while Pitts has half as many fantasy points (and is getting half the YPRR) than Jonnu Smith over the last three weeks.

  • Bijan Robinson is ridiculous, getting 7.5 YPC against a stout Jacksonville run defense allowing the second-fewest EPA/rush. There’s no one close to him as the No. 1 dynasty back.

  • Fantasy managers are probably getting tired of hearing it, but Travis Etienne once again dominated the Jaguars’ backfield work but had a long run of seven yards on 20 carries. The Falcons have been quietly strong against the run this season, but Jacksonville’s schedule doesn’t exactly ease up moving forward.

  • Calvin Ridley scored during his revenge game but finished with just two measly targets. Trevor Lawrence didn’t throw a ton Sunday, but Christian Kirk and Evan Engram saw 20 looks. It’s not what Ridley’s fantasy managers signed up for with a second/third-round pick.

  • Lawrence was fine but missed a wide-open Kirk for a 25-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. It was nice to see the QB run eight times (the second-most of his career) though.

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills

Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers

  • Kirk Cousins threw a pick-six, but Minnesota’s defense countered with their own score, as the Vikings won the battle between winless teams.

  • Justin Jefferson scored twice and had another TD nullified by a holding penalty. He went down after a big hit in the second quarter but returned immediately (just like last week, after suffering another injury scare).

  • Alexander Mattison got 17 carries but saw a season-low 66% of the snaps during Minnesota’s first game with Cam Akers. Akers also saw more targets, got 8.0 YPA and stole a goal-line carry.

  • Bryce Young continued to limit Carolina’s offense, taking five sacks and mainly attempting screens. His average depth of target (3.2 yards) finished in the first percentile. Adam Thielen’s fantasy value would see a real boost should Andy Dalton start again.

  • Chuba Hubbard had one more carry and out-snapped Miles Sanders for the first time this season, but that likely had to do with Sanders nursing a groin injury.

Denver Broncos @ Chicago Bears

  • Justin Fields was 16-for-17 for 231 yards (13.6 YPA) with a 3:0 TD:INT ratio at halftime. His only incompletion was a Hail Mary to end the half. Fields finished with a career-high four passing touchdowns and was a top-five fantasy QB for the first time this season. He also provided yet another touchdown for the opposing defense and threw a bad pick late to help the Bears blow a 28-7 lead. Fields continued to make mistakes and this came against a forgiving Broncos defense, but Sunday was a step in the right direction (his CPOE was in the 98th percentile).

  • Khalil Herbert took over the Bears’ backfield, running for 100+ yards and also catching a touchdown. Herbert benefitted from Denver’s poor defense but saw incredibly encouraging usage and had another long play in the fourth quarter nullified by penalty.

  • DJ Moore finally had a big fantasy day, while Chicago also executed an acrobatic flea flicker.

  • Broncos wide receivers were mostly quiet in the favorable matchup, but Marvin Mims Jr. made yet another big play late in the fourth quarter.

  • Javonte Williams had zero rushing yards before exiting with a hip injury. Samaje Perine and Jaleel McLaughlin split work after he departed.

  • The Bears currently have the first two picks in the 2024 draft.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns

  • Lamar Jackson totaled four touchdowns (two rushing) despite missing two of his top receivers and facing the NFL’s hottest defense. Jackson got 9.8 YPA against a defense allowing the lowest success rate, and he’s on pace to shatter his career-high in rushing touchdowns.

  • Gus Edwards led Baltimore’s backfield with 18 opportunities but didn’t do much with them and lost two rushing scores to Jackson. Justice Hill had a 55-yard catch nullified by a penalty. Fantasy managers should be stashing Keaton Mitchell.

  • It was a brutal day for Cleveland’s offense thanks to a late QB switch to Dorian Thompson-Robinson. DTR still has dynasty upside, but the rookie struggled mightily making his NFL debut. We can throw out this game for the Browns (2.6 yards per play on offense), and Deshaun Watson is expected to return after the team’s bye (same with Myles Garrett).

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Houston Texans

  • The Steelers were shut out at halftime of a blowout loss that included Kenny Pickett leaving with a knee injury. Pittsburgh is “hopeful” it’s only a minor MCL sprain, but we’ll likely have Mitch Trubisky back in our lives. The two quarterbacks combined for just 4.7 yards per pass Sunday. Pat Freiermuth also left injured, and Diontae Johnson remains on IR. The Steelers offense is down bad right now.

  • C.J. Stroud (10.2 YPA), on the other hand, impressed yet again, finding Nico Collins for two TD strikes. The rookie quarterback hasn’t taken a sack since Week 2 and sits with a 6:0 TD:INT ratio after four NFL starts.

  • Steven Nelson made an incredible interception, while Dameon Pierce lost a touchdown to a penalty.

  • Devin Singletary to Dalton Schultz for a score?!?

Los Angeles Rams @ Indianapolis Colts

  • Anthony Richardson scored three touchdowns, helping the Colts overcome a 23-0 deficit, but Puka Nacua’s first NFL touchdown ended overtime:

  • Richardson recovered from a brutal first half and finished behind only Josh Allen among fantasy QBs in Week 4's Sunday action. AR played through an injury after getting his foot stepped on and leads all players in fantasy points per snap in 2023.

  • Michael Pittman managed just one catch for 15 yards on five targets and had a drop downfield in the third quarter. Pittman (despite their friendship), Josh Downs and Zack Moss all lose fantasy value with Richardson back.

  • Kyren Williams saw another 28 opportunities (during a short week) and scored two touchdowns. He continues to make mistakes (fumbled Sunday), but the volume is all that matters right now.

  • Nacua was awesome again, becoming the first player since 1954 with 100+ receiving yards in three of their first four games. He also set the NFL record for most receptions over a player’s first four contests.

  • Matthew Stafford is tough and likely won’t miss any time, but he was noticeably limping after the game.

  • Now we wait to see what happens with Jonathan Taylor, who’s eligible to return in Week 5.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

Washington Commanders @ Philadelphia Eagles

  • A.J. Brown was fantasy’s top wideout in Week 4, pulling down a late fourth-quarter TD. The score came when the Eagles could’ve just run the clock down and attempted a field goal to end it, but instead gave Washington the ball back down seven points with 1:44 left (and good field position, thanks to a Brown taunting flag after the TD, which Ron Rivera also could’ve inflicted on the extra point attempt). “Riverboat Ron” then kicked an extra point with a chance to go for two to win the game with no time remaining (after a Sam Howell TD pass as time expired) before Jake Elliott ended the thriller with a 54-yard FG in overtime.

  • Jalen Hurts missed a wide-open D’Andre Swift for a big gain in the third quarter but had a strong performance. The Eagles dealt with shaky penalties going against them at critical times throughout the game, but Hurts finally won at home after trailing at halftime (he had been 0-5).

  • Jahan Dotson saw nine targets but was quiet before the late TD. He also suffered a bad drop to stall a drive in the third quarter and remains a big fantasy disappointment.

  • Terry McLaurin nearly had a huge catch in overtime but was ruled out (and confirmed by replay) by less than one inch, and the Commanders shanked a 30-yard punt the next play.

  • DeVonta Smith got up for a catch.

  • Swift had two designed targets in the first quarter and executed a TD run inside the five during the same drive. His fantasy arrow continues to point way up.

  • Howell showed guts and impressed, but Philadelphia dropped an easy interception on first and goal in the second quarter, only to watch McLaurin recover Brian Robinson’s fumble in the end zone on the next play.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans

  • A not-yet-washed Derrick Henry had an angry TD run and threw for another score. The Big Dog is now 7-for-8 with four touchdowns when passing during his career.

  • Joe Burrow was under constant pressure and lost Tee Higgins to a fractured rib in the first half but also continued to struggle with his calf injury. The Bengals have scored the fewest offensive touchdowns (three) in the NFL, and it’s looking increasingly like a lost season for Cincinnati.

  • Ja’Marr Chase has an NFL-high 12 straight games with five-plus catches but finished with modest stats in a prime matchup (with no Higgins in the second half). The team’s own issues were compounded by game factors, as Tennessee opened the second half with its longest drive since 2003. Cincinnati didn’t see the ball until there was 4:38 left in the third quarter (with the score 27-3).

  • Tyjae Spears with a 22-yard run the hard way.

  • Ryan Tannehill missed DeAndre Hopkins for a long TD in the first quarter.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers

  • Justin Herbert scored three touchdowns (two rushing) but suffered a left-hand injury during a second half that saw the Chargers’ offense completely stall. He committed his first turnover of the season but should be able to play through the finger injury to his non-throwing hand.

  • Davante Adams also suffered what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury in the second quarter but returned after a trip to the locker room. He had one target and no catches midway through the third quarter but came to life (and was absolutely robbed of a late touchdown thanks in part to Josh McDaniels not challenging). Adams’ status needs to be monitored.

  • Josh Jacobs has more receiving than rushing yards through the first four weeks of the season. He was stopped at the one-foot line earlier in the game (Aidan O’Connell punched it in) but luck evened out with the late Adams miscall (resulting in a Jacobs GL TD).

  • Jakobi Meyers made a terrific 50-yard catch but got called for a shaky OPI penalty.

  • O’Connell had three fumbles by the time one play was run in the second half and helped Khalil Mack record a whopping six sacks — one shy of Derrick Thomas’ NFL record. Somewhere, AO’C is still holding onto the ball.

  • Joshua Palmer committed a bad drop in the third quarter but helped his fantasy day with a game-winning 51-yard catch late.

New England Patriots @ Dallas Cowboys

  • Dallas’ defense scored two more touchdowns during the worst loss of Bill Belichick’s career. Mac Jones was awful, committing three turnovers and nearly throwing more than one pick-six. Bailey Zappe isn’t the answer.

  • It was a lost cause for all Patriots and a failed revenge game for Ezekiel Elliott.

  • The Cowboys ran a fake extra point just for fun, as the team’s defense nearly scored as many touchdowns (two) as they allowed points (three).

  • Tony Pollard’s fantasy managers who didn’t watch had to be surprised to see his production in a game the Cowboys won 38-3. Dallas’ offense will bounce back when its defense stops scoring all the touchdowns, but the Cowboys have a tough Week 5 matchup in San Francisco.

  • Micah Parsons, who entered leading the league in pressures, left injured but returned and is reportedly fine.

Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Jets

  • The Jets lost Sunday night, but Zach Wilson played the best game of his career. Wilson didn’t put up huge stats but peppered Garrett Wilson with 14 targets and made some impressive throws. He likely bought himself at least another game starting with the performance.

  • Z. Wilson did miss G. Wilson for an open touchdown in the second quarter.

  • Breece Hall was again limited to just 10 touches but broke off a 40+ yard run while Dalvin continues to look Cooked.

  • Isiah Pacheco took a long run to the house and finished with a career-high 115 rushing yards against one of the league’s better run defenses. Pacheco also recorded the second-most receiving yards on the Chiefs.

  • Kansas City ran out the final 7:24 of the game, culminating with Patrick Mahomes going down on his own at the one instead of running in a touchdown. He pumped up Z. Wilson after the game during their embrace, as Mahomes was clearly impressed by the Jets QB on Sunday night.

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