NFL Week 4 DFS Cheat Sheet: Five recommended plays for all contests

2KDMHN9 November 6th 2022: Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) warms up before the NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Commanders in Landover, MD. Reggie Hildred/CSM/Sipa USA(Credit Image: © Reggie Hildred/Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA)

• TE T.J. Hockenson (69.2 PFF receiving grade), Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers: Hockenson will tear up Carolina’s defense via the play-action passing game.

• WR Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Olave will score his first 2023 touchdown against division rival Tampa Bay. 

• Dominate your fantasy league in 2023: For up-to-date fantasy draft rankings and projections, check out PFF’s fantasy rankings tool!

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) lineups require smart matchups analysis and rostership leverage opportunities to succeed. The analysis below details five fantasy assets capable of gaining significant leverage on the field. 

WR:CB Matchup Chart

TE T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers – $7,200 on FanDuel

Hockenson (69.2 PFF receiving grade) enters a smash spot against a Carolina defense sorely missing coverage linebacker Shaq Thompson (59.9 PFF coverage grade, injured reserve). Hockenson will push for the overall TE1 spot.

PFF’s ownership projections forecast Hockenson for a chalky, No. 2-ranked 10.0% rostership rate, but Hockenson’s floor-and-ceiling combination is far too high to fade him. 

FanDuel implies Minnesota to score a robust 25.25 points. 

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Minnesota a 10.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, ensuring clean pockets for quarterback Kirk Cousins (76.8 PFF passing grade), and a 22.0% run-blocking matchup advantage rating, ensuring a high route-participation rate for Hockenson on play-action passing attempts. Hockeson’s 30 play-action routes run trail only Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (64.9 PFF receiving grade). 

PFF’s TE matchup chart gives Hockenson a 4.0% receiving matchup advantage rating over Carolina linebacker Frankie Luvu (51.5 PFF coverage grade). Carolina has allowed four-of-six targeted tight ends to produce 2.00-plus yards per route run (YPRR). 

Among 32 NFL tight ends with at least 60 receiving snaps, Hockenson’s 21.9% target rate and 1.46 YPRR both rank top six. His surehanded 85.2% catch rate ranks No. 7.

Carolina’s 82.3% tight end catch rate allowed, 9.12 tight end yards allowed per coverage snap and 12.44 tight end yards allowed per play-action coverage snap all rank as top-five defensive highs among NFL teams

Hockenson is the must-use tight end in Week 4.

WR Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – $7,900 on FanDuel

Olave (90.3 PFF receiving grade) is a high-upside WR1 against the division-rival Tampa Bay defense. His $7,900 salary is just the ninth-highest at the position.

Olave is one-of-two top-15 wide receivers (WR14, 41.2 half-points-per-reception (half-PPR) points) who have failed to score a touchdown in 2023. The distinction results in an artificially deflated scoring sum in FanDuel’s half-PPR scoring format, which relies more heavily on touchdowns than its points-per-reception cousin. Box-score cruising FanDuel users are likely to underrate Olave as a result. Skittish FanDuel users will also fear errant-armed backup quarterback Jameis Winston’s (68.5 PFF passing grade) expected start. No. 1 quarterback Derek Carr’s (61.6 PFF passing grade, Week 3 AC joint sprain) is all but ruled out for Week 4. Per Doctor of Physical Therapy Adam Hutchison’s injury report, quarterbacks average 2.5 games missed with the injury. 

Update 10/1/23: Carr will start in Week 4 after experiencing no pain following Friday’s practice, per Nick Underhill. The quarterback’s injury status is still likely to negatively influence Olave’s rostership rate, maintaining his cash game and GPP tournament appeal. 

PFF’s ownership projections foresee a meager 7.0% rostership rate for Olave.

Winston came off the bench in Week 3, impressively pairing the week’s fastest time to throw (2.12 seconds) while tying for the eighth-best big-time-throw rate (6.3%). 

Olave cooked Tampa Bay’s secondary as a 2022 rookie averaging a 28.8% target rate and 2.20 YPRR while tallying three explosive pass plays. He did so catching passes from both Winston (Week 2) and Andy Dalton (81.0 PFF 2022 passing grade, Week 13). 

Olave combines top-four 30.2% target and 2.85 YPRR rates with a No. 7- ranked deep-target rate (28.1%) and a No. 6-ranked explosive pass plays total (seven) among 35 NFL wide receivers with at least 100 receiving snaps.

Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles called perimeter cornerback Jamel Dean (42.3 PFF perimeter coverage grade, shoulder injury) “iffy” for Week 4, per team reporter Scott Smith. 

Fellow perimeter cornerback Carlton Davis III (56.0 PFF perimeter coverage grade, toe injury) has been unable to play since Week 1, and Bowles left open the possibility the team signs an emergency free-agent fill-in.

PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart gives Olave a good 78.3 receiving matchup advantage rating over slot cornerback Christian Izien (71.6 PFF slot-coverage grade) whose 87.5% catch rate allowed should have Olave salivating.

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives New Orleans a 16.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, the eighth-best on the week. Tampa Bay first-round rookie interior defender Calijah Kancey (66.7 PFF pass-rush grade, calf injury) has failed to play since Week 1 and both interior defender Vita Vea (73.3 PFF pass-rush grade, pectoral injury) and linebacker Devin White (72.3 PFF coverage grade, foot injury) are playing through injury.

Olave is a high-end WR1.

WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans – $8,200

Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow (66.0 PFF passing grade, calf strain) successfully avoided a Week 3 injury aggravation, priming him and Chase (73.6 PFF receiving grade) for a high-scoring day against Tennessee’s inept coverage unit. Chase’s underpriced $8,200 salary ranks No. 5 at the position. Chase’s potential rostership rate has a wide range of outcomes — the matchup suggests high-frequency FanDuel deployment, yet skittish users may shy away from him due to Burrow’s nagging calf. 

PFF’s ownership projections have Chase as the No. 1-rostered wide receiver (20.5%). 

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Cincinnati a neutral -3.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating. 

Tennessee will likely be without talented slot cornerback/free safety Elijah Molden (65.3 PFF defense grade; hamstring strain) and its highest-graded pure safety Mike Brown (75.5 PFF coverage grade, injured reserve). 

Among 69 NFL safeties with at least 70 coverage snaps, Amani Hooker’s (52.8 PFF coverage grade) 4.3% explosive pass plays allowed rate is the position’s third-highest.

Chase lines up across the formation, averaging at least a 25.0% snap share at all three pre-snap alignment spots. The diverse usage gives him full access to Tennessee’s beleaguered cornerback corps. 

Tennessee’s cornerbacks are allowing a 74.5% catch rate to opposing wide receivers, ranking No. 31 among NFL cornerbacks corps. Their 5.66 yards allowed per coverage snap ties for No. 21. 

Chase’s No. 11-ranked (among 35 NFL wide receivers with at least 100 receiving snaps) 4.7 yards after the catch per reception (YAC/Rec.) are built for high-catch-rate-allowed exploitation. Teammate wide receiver Tee Higgins (55.7 PFF receiving grade) struggles to keep pace with Chase as a target earner, producing a No. 17-ranked 21.9% target rate to Chase’s No. 7-ranked 25.2%. 

Expect a high-volume, run-after-catch showing from Cincinnati’s No. 1 wide receiver.

RB James Cook, Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins – $6,800 on FanDuel

Cook (76.5 PFF offense grade) projects for a high-volume outing against Miami’s running back-friendly defense. He is better suited to cash games than GPP tournaments, as the expected shootout will likely be popular among FanDuel users. His upside keeps him as a viable GPP option though. Cook’s $6,800 FanDuel salary is just the 13th-highest at the position.

PFF’s ownership projections expect Cooks to see a lowly 4.1% rostership rate.

The game’s 53.5-point FanDuel over/under is the only contest totaling 49.0 points or more. 

Cook’s rushing data among 37 NFL running backs with at least 25 rushing attempts and his receiving data among 34 NFL running backs with at least 40 receiving snaps.
NFL RB Rushing & Receiving James Cook
PFF Rushing Grade 81.1 (T-No. 6)
YPC 6.1 (T-No. 2)
Missed Tackles Forced 9 (T-No. 12)
Yards After Contact per Rush Att. 3.8 (No. 6)
10+-Yard Rushing Plays 8 (T-No. 2)
1st Down + TD % 27.3% (No. 13)
PFF Receiving Grade 59.6 (NO. 18)
Target % – YPRR 17.9% (No. 15) – 1.00 (No. 12)
aDot – 20+-Yard aDot % 1.8 (No. 5) – 8.3% (No. 4)

Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips (57.1 PFF defense grade) is considered day-to-day after suffering a Week 3 oblique injury. He dealt with a back injury in Weeks 2-3.

The Miami defense’s opposing-running back data among NFL teams.
NFL Defense vs. RBs Miami Dolphins
PFF Running Back Run-Defense Grade 58.6 (No. 19)
Avg. Depth of Tackle 4.90 (No. 29)
Tackle For Loss/No Gain 9 (T-No. 19)
PFF Running Back Coverage Grade 69.9 (No. 21)
Yards Allowed per Cov. Snap vs. RBs 6.79 (No. 29)
15+-Yd Pass Plays Allowed % vs. RBs 14.3% (T-No. 28)

Cook carries a low-end RB1 floor and a multi-touchdown ceiling. 

RB Roschon Johnson, Chicago Bears vs. Denver Broncos – $5,300 on FanDuel

Johnson (69.1 PFF offense grade) is an affordable GPP tournament option with extreme contrarian cash game potential against Denver’s banged-up defensive front. Johnson’s affordable $5,300 salary makes him an easy fit for most roster constructions. 

PFF’s ownership projections give Johnson a minuscule 0.8% expected rostership rate.

The game carries a fantasy-friendly 46.0-point FanDuel over/under.

Johnson (79.5 PFF Week 1 rushing grade) played No. 3 running back D’Onta Foreman (72.1 PFF rushing grade) into game-day deactivation following Johnson’s Week 1 debut. 

Johnson moved on to stealing No. 1 running back Khalil Herbert’s (80.2 PFF rushing grade) work, already operating as the primary passing-down running back. In Week 3, Herbert totaled more first-quarter early-down rushing attempts but Johnson led the way on early downs thereafter.

The 5-foot-9, 212-pound Herbert maintains the green zone lead role but the 6-foot, 225-pound Johnson is making his case with the No. 6-ranked 72.8 PFF green zone rushing grade among NFL running backs

Johnson continues to create explosive rushing plays on limited work. 

Johnson’s rushing data among 52 NFL running backs with at least 15 rushing attempts and Johnson’s receiving data among 45 NFL running backs with at least 30 receiving snaps.
NFL RB Rushing & Receiving Roschon Johnson
PFF Rushing Grade 78.0 (No. 12)
YPC 5.3 (No. 11)
10+-Yard Rushing Plays 3 (T-No. 23)
10+-Yard Rushing Play % 17.7% (No. 8)
1st-Down + TD % 29.4% (No. 11)
PFF Receiving Grade 57.8 (No. 25)
Target % – YPRR 28.2% (No. 3) – 1.44 (No. 5)
aDot 0.6 (No. 14)

Denver’s defensive front is likely to be missing multiple starters and contributors, including mountainous run-stopping interior defender Mike Purcell (57.1 PFF defense grade, 6-foot-3, 328 pounds).

Denver DEF Injuries Injury – Injury Date Week 4 Status PFF Run-Defense Grade
LB Josey Jewell Hip – Week 3 Likely Out 68.1
DT Mike Purcell Ribs – Week 3 Likely Out 57.1
EDGE Frank Clark Hip – Multi-Week Likely Out 60.0
S Justin Simmons Hip – Multi-Week Potential Return 63.5
Slot CB K’Waun Williams Ankle Sprain – Preseason Injured Reserve 69.9 (2022)

Denver’s league-high 29 missed tackles, No. 31-ranked 5.15-yard average depth of tackle and No. 30-ranked 67.8% negatively-graded run play rate offer Johnson a clear path to a high-scoring Week 4 half-PPR finish. 


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