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Week 4 Fantasy Football Flames: A Penny saved equals points earned

Brad Evans
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Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 4 Flames in the comments section below.

Arizona’s “Little Red Corvette” to peel out against SEA

Kyler Murray, Ari, QB (39 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $28)
Matchup: vs, Sea
Vegas Line/Total: Sea -4.5, 47.5

Three-quarters into the regular season, knee-jerk fantasy players were fully prepared to rocket any and all Arizona fantasy options to Hoth. A permanent vacation on an ice-encased planet populated by ferocious, flesh-thirsty wampas seemed appropriate. The offense was frigid. Murray’s embarrassing completion rate and overall abysmal offensive execution had investors visibly shaken.

(GIF by Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)
(GIF by Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)

Then, as we all know, temperatures reversed.

Since his thrilling come-from-behind tie against Detroit Week 1, Murray has emitted some serious fantasy heat. His 6.1 yards per attempt is disgusting and the offensive line is a revolving door (30.4 pressure% allowed), but the rookie’s pumped volume is intoxicating. Arizona, through three weeks, is the most prolific passing team in the league, averaging 45.7 pass attempts per game. Evidenced by his 69 rush yards last week against Carolina, Murray’s rediscovered wheels only raises the profile. Behind the superficial ugliness, a fantasy beauty lies.

This week Kyler and Co. welcome the division-rival Seahawks, a team deep-fried and served in a bucket against the Saints last Sunday. Underwhelming defensively, they’ve yielded 7.0 yards per attempt, 260.7 pass yards per game, 2.0 passing touchdowns per game and the 16th-most fantasy points to signal callers. Squinting through the microscope, starting CBs Tre Flowers and Shaq Griffin have allowed a combined 111.3 passer rating to their assignments. Add it all together and Murray is a borderline top-10 option at home.

Fearless Forecast: 263 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 39 rushing yards, 21.4 fantasy points

Penny to eat into Carson share in Arizona

Rashaad Penny, Sea, RB (4% started; Yahoo DFS: $13)
Matchup: at Ari
Vegas Line/Total: Sea -4.5, 47.5

NFL coaches are easily agitated. Whether whiffing on blitz pickups, dropping high-percentage throws or drawing unnecessary personal fouls, they refuse to tolerate persistent blunders. Bloody-nosed Pete Carroll, who would blow rainbows and sunshine up any willing rear end, is one of the more accepting skippers in the league, but his patience might be wearing thin with Chris Carson.

[Play in Yahoo’s NFL $400K Baller. $10 entry fee and $50K to first place]

A dog’s best friend around the grill, the running back has put too many goodies on the ground. His carelessness through three weeks is Exhibit A. On 55 touches this season he’s fumbled three times, the most in the NFL. Carson’s increased sloppiness could lead to more opportunities for Penny. Is a changing of the guard on the horizon?

Running back Rashaad Penny #20 of the Seattle Seahawks
Rashaad Penny could look to take advantage of Chris Carson's struggles in Week 4. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Penny missed time last week after tweaking his hammy in practice. Carroll called the deactivation precautionary, which bodes well for his availability against Arizona. Recall when in uniform this season the sophomore RB has shown explosive flashes. Seeing action on 30.2% of Seattle’s snaps, he tallied the seventh-highest yards created per attempt. His 4.00 YAC per attempt is equally outstanding.

With an increased role a predictable outcome, Penny is sure to bring more than just good luck. The Cardinals, occasionally flattened in the trenches this season, have given up 4.4 yards per carry, 143.7 total yards per game and one TD to RBs.

Fearless Forecast: 12 carries, 57 rushing yards, 1 reception, 9 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.1 fantasy points

Lightning strikes in forecast for Jackson at Miami

Justin Jackson, LAC, RB (5% started; Yahoo DFS: $18)
Matchup: at Mia
Vegas Line/Total: LAC -16.5, 44.5

Miami, tanking in full sight for Tua, might as well be a directional school. The Florida Southern School for the Inept (Go Skunk Apes!) has an appropriate ring to it. Though they made commendable strides last week in Dallas, the Dolphins remain entirely dysfunctional. Through three weeks, they’ve surrendered 179.0 rush yards per game, 5.3 yards per carry, six total touchdowns and the most fantasy points to the RB position. Unsurprisingly, not a single Miami defender ranks inside the top-50 in run-stop percentage, according to Pro Football Focus.

Last week, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, against the Fillet ‘o ‘Fins, became the first Dallas RB duo to each top 100 yards in the same game since the days you blared the Ruff Ryder’s Anthem through your Walkman (1998). Austin Ekeler will continue to command 65-70% of LAC’s opportunity share, but the Jackson scraps are sure to be tasty. He does rank RB1 in yards after contact per attempt (4.78) this year. Riding the Bolt over Nick Chubb (at Bal), David Montgomery (vs. Min) or Aaron Jones (vs. Phi) is a moderate risk worth taking. The TD upside is significant.

Fearless Forecast: 11 carries, 66 rushing yards, 1 reception, 5 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.6 fantasy points

Shepard, Jones budding on-field romance to continue

Sterling Shepard, NYG, WR (37% started; Yahoo DFS: $17)
Matchup: vs. Was
Vegas Line/Total: NYG -3, 47

Inside Yahoo Studios back in late April, uproarious laughter commenced when the Giants, an organization known for triggering hilarity, acquired Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick. The Yahoo NFL Draft crew couldn’t help but chuckle. Many, including this ninny-hammer, lampooned the selection. Social media reactions piled on. Giants GM Dave Gettleman was everyone’s favorite punching bag.

Welp — we were wrong.

Jones was an easy target. Though he showcased a multi-functional skill set in college, an alarming number of dropped passes and errant throws darkened his outlook. As a result, we rushed to judgment, believing years from now he would join all-time busts Akili Smith, JaMarcus Russell and Joey Harrington in the Hall of Shame.

However, the rookie, picking up where he left off in the preseason in which he completed 85.3% of his attempts, proved radiant in his first pro start at Tampa, even without megastar Saquon Barkley for much of the game. On 23-of-36 passes, he delivered the ball with pinpoint control, spreading the love to Evan Engram, Russell Shepard, Sterling, and others. To say he exceeded expectations would be a gross understatement. Danny Dimes minted a win.

Without Golden Tate for one more week, Shepard, targeted nine times by the QB and catching seven passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, will again be a point of emphasis. Matching wits with Josh Norman (121.9 passer rating allowed) and Jimmy Moreland (131.5), he’s sure to gain a space advantage whether operating outside or in the slot. On the year, Washington has given up 8.1 yards per attempt and the second-most fantasy points to WRs. Activate him.

Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 91 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.1 fantasy points

“Scary” Terry to slice and dice Giants

Terry McLaurin, Was, WR (33% started; Yahoo DFS: $23)
Matchup: at NYG
Vegas Line/Total: NYG -3, 47

Halloween may be a month away, but spook-tacular numbers are in order for “Scary” Terry. Washington’s Pennywise is sure to put a fright into the competition. Considering the Giants secondary would be startled by a motionless cow, it’s not saying much, but his potential to rattle the opposition is rather massive. Janoris Jenkins, completely undressed by Mike Evans last week, has already surrendered 17 receptions (on 26 targets) for 282 yards and three TDs. His resulting 140.2 passer rating and 2.56 yards per snap allowed are knee-slapping bad.

McLaurin, picked No. 76 overall in April’s NFL draft, has been quite the revelation. Unquestionably the top vertical option for Case Keenum, the rookie has steadily beat opponents downfield, winning often in contested catch situations. Fired from a cannon after the catch, he’s averaged 16.1 yards per reception. He also ranks No. 7 among WRs in total air yards with 368. Again, knowing the Giants have allowed a ginormous 10.5 pass yards per attempt, his backers should be McLovin’ the kid’s Week 4 possibilities.

Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 104 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 19.4 fantasy points

SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10% started in Yahoo leagues)

Chris Conley, Jax, WR (1% started; Yahoo DFS: $13)
Matchup: at Den
Vegas Line/Total: Den -3, 38

The Gardner Minshew experience perfectly encapsulates the upside-down world many in the fantasy community are currently residing in. Just look at the positional leaderboards. Aaron Rodgers is QB21. Jeff Wilson Jr. and his goal-line snaking ways is a top-20 rusher. And Conley’s teammate, D.J. Chark, sits at WR6, substantially ahead of DeAndre Hopkins (WR18), Michael Thomas (WR22) and Davante Adams (WR46). Guess we’ll all soon strut around in jorts while peddling 1890s-era magic hair tonics.

Not quite to the extent of Chark, Conley, too, has gone above and beyond. Currently a back-end WR3 (WR35) in Yahoo leagues, he’s averaged a useful 66.7 yards per game, compiling the fifth-highest yards per target mark (13.3) among eligible receivers. His 10.8% target share isn’t worthwhile, but the poor man’s Phillip Dorsett should raise antennae this week in Denver.

The Broncos under defensive wizard Vic Fangio were supposed to be a unit to fear. But without a sack or takeaway through three games and sitting winless, the coach’s honeymoon is well over. Minshew, who ranks No. 4 in adjusted completion percentage, will open his wonder emporium in Denver without hindrance. With Chris Harris presumably glued to Chark, Conley, likely to line up often against Isaac Yiadom, could copycat what Marquez Valdes-Scantling achieved last week against this same defense. On the year, the overly generous DB has given up a 110.0 passer rating and 2.56 yards per snap to his assignments. The 4.35 40-yard speedster needs to be debated at WR3 in 12-team- and- deeper leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 71 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.1 fantasy points

BONUS FLAMES (Under 60% started)

QB: Kyle Allen, Car (Hou -5; $27) – Talked up throughout the week by the Yahoo Fantasy crew, Allen delivered in a homecoming of sorts last week in Glendale. More accurate and mobile than a bum-footed Cam Newton, he zipped passes to multiple receivers and got his premier playmakers involved. Yes, Arizona would probably make Mitchell Trubisky look like an All-Pro, but Allen’s 84.0 adjusted completion percentage and four TD passes wowed. This week he’ll prove Week 3 wasn’t an anomaly. Houston ranks top-10 in fantasy points allowed to QBs, conceding 7.5 pass yards per attempt. Another top-12 outcome is on the horizon. (FF: 252-3-1-7, 21.8 fpts)

RB: James White, NE (NE -7.5; $17) – Start the proud papa, who missed last week’s whipping of the Jets to welcome a newborn, and get swaddled in fantasy warmth. Buffalo’s stifling secondary bodes well for White and his underneath abilities. Quality pass-catching RBs have inflicted damage on the Bills this season. Le’Veon Bell and Joe Mixon each found the end zone via the air. White only logged action on 25.1% of New England’s snaps Weeks 1-2. Rex Burkhead and three-toed sloth Sony Michel mitigate his touch potential. Still, he could be in line for five-plus catches and a score, given the opponent. (FF: 3-18-0, 5-36-1, 13.9 fpts)

RB: Miles Sanders, Phi (GB -5; $14) – The rookie’s fantasy value stands on the precipice. For Sanders, unmistakably the most talented rusher on Philly’s roster, an inevitable breakout is coming. He’s recorded action on a team-high 41.8% of the team snaps, totaling 41.2% of the opportunity share. Jordan Howard and Darren Sproles are his primary competition, but his presence as a multidimensional threat is steadily rising. Last week, he racked up 126 combined yards on 15 touches. Green Bay, pummeled in the trenches, presents a golden opportunity for the youngster to score his first TD. The Packers have yielded 5.0 yards per carry and three TDs to RBs. (FF: 14-58-1, 3-22-0, 15.5 fpts)

WR: Devin Smith, Dal (Dal -3; $14) – With Michael Gallup’s breakout season briefly interrupted, Smith is taking advantage. He scored immediately on a long bomb from Dak Prescott Week 2 at Washington and registered a 91% snap rate last week versus Miami. This Sunday could mark his finest effort to date. New Orleans has allowed 8.9 pass yards per attempt thus far. Digging down, CB Marshon Lattimore, expected to be Smith’s primary assignment out wide, has conceded a 140.6 passer rating and 2.77 yards per snap. In Kellen Moore’s aggressive downfield attack, Smith and Dak will have ample opportunity to torch the Saints outside the numbers. (FF: 3-71-1, 14.6 fpts)

TE: Will Dissly, Sea (Sea -4.5; $18) – It’s Arizona. Jason Witten in a catatonic state could find the end zone against the Cardinals. The numbers they’ve allowed to the position through three weeks are staggering. T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews and Greg Olsen combined for 23 receptions, 348 yards, and five touchdowns. Dissly, who’s morphed into a consistency king, is a Russell Wilson favorite inside the red zone, a trend nearly guaranteed to extend into Week 4. Who Diss? It’s Will from Washington, a top-five tight end. (FF: 5-68-1, 15.3 fpts)

DST: Atlanta Falcons (Atl -4; $13) – An underachieving QB sacked a league-high 17 times in three games? It’s a dream scenario for Falcons pass rushers, Grady Jarrett and Vic Beasley. The Titans have committed just one turnover so far this season and Derrick Henry will be a handful for a defense which has allowed 4.1 yards per carry, but the scenario is highly exploitable. If your league scores handsomely for QB takedowns, Atlanta is the ultimate Week 4 plug-n-play. (FF: 334 YDSA, 16 PA, 5 SCK, 1 TO, 11.0 fpts)

Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Reader record: 9-10

Brad’s record: 19-20 (Week 4 - 6-7; W: Jameis Winston, MVS, Curtis Samuel, Jacoby Brissett, Frank Gore, Greg Olsen, L: David Montgomery, Royce Freeman, Deebo Samuel, Mack Hollins, Marquise Brown, Carlos Hyde, Seattle D)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 91 million households on various regional sports networks, along with his work on the “Yahoo Sports Fantasy Podcast” and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.

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