Heading into Week 4 of the fantasy football season, there’s a massive elephant in the room. Mid-to-late round value picks are not only helping their fantasy managers win games, they are dominating the scoring leaderboards. The small three-week sample size is a big factor for this phenomenon, but it seems reasonable to expect that many of these surprising veterans will be here to stay. Many of them could become league-winning players.
Let’s take a look at some of these surprising players. Note that PPR scoring will be used for the context of this article.
Cooper Kupp – WR, LAR
Kupp looks like the best receiver in all of football right now. He’s currently the WR1 in fantasy, and by a good margin. It was only two short years ago that Kupp finished as the WR5 in PPR formats. And yet, after getting a major quarterback upgrade in the offseason in QB Matthew Stafford, Kupp remained a mid-round pick this season.
Not only is Cooper Kupp the WR1 in all of fantasy football heading into Week 4, I think he has a very good chance of staying there. At the very least, a top-five finish appears to be in the cards for the fifth-year veteran out of Eastern Washington.
Kupp has significantly separated himself from fellow Rams WR Robert Woods. Kupp’s dominance appears to be squashing Woods’ upside, who is a perennial fantasy value. Kupp is in line for a monster season.
Mike Williams – WR, LAC
I’m frankly at a loss for words to explain what is going on with Mike Williams, who is currently the fantasy football WR2 heading into Week 4. In his four NFL seasons, he has never had a higher PPR finish than WR32. From seemingly out of nowhere, Williams appears to have made an improvement in talent that matches the Chargers’ Pro-Bowl WR Keenan Allen.
Williams’ production is elite through three games. He is among the league leaders in targets, catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.
Simply, Chargers QB Justin Herbert could be entering elite territory, with Williams being the primary beneficiary of that development.
It’s not unusual for a single team to produce two WR1s in a given year, and it appears that the Chargers could be one of those teams in 2021.
Brandin Cooks – WR, HOU
If you’re familiar with Moneyball (the book, the movie, or the concept in general) Brandin Cooks, the current WR6, is a Billy Beane special.
“He can’t throw and he can’t field,” Brad Pitt said as Beane to a room full of scouts about veteran catcher Scott Hatteberg. “But what can he do? He can get on base.”
“So he walks a lot,” a scout replied.
“He gets on base a lot. Do I care if it’s a walk or a hit?”
No, you really don’t. To be fair to Brandin Cooks, his cheap draft price had little to do with his own faults. People just weren’t excited to draft a Texan this year, even if Cooks was the top fantasy option on the team. (Lions RB D’Andre Swift, the current RB3, was discounted in drafts for similar reasons.)
Cooks was always bound for significant target volume in 2021. He has finished outside WR16 only once in his eight-year career, if you don’t include his rookie season. He “gets on base” a lot. All Cooks does is produce, and he’s off to an extremely productive start in an otherwise useless Houston offense.
Cordarrelle Patterson – RB, ATL
Sometimes fantasy football is just fun, and when a 3o-year-old NFL journeyman like Patterson finds success late in his career, you can’t help but root for them.
Patterson currently ranks as the fantasy football RB9 heading into Week 4, and it’s the first time in his career that he is primarily operating as a running back. Patterson actually has more receiving yards than rushing yards so far, which speaks to his versatility and utility in PPR formats.
I actually think we should have seen Patterson’s success coming. Veteran RB Mike Davis sat atop the depth chart entering the season with seemingly only Patterson behind him. The Falcons were rotating their third running back spot during camp, and none of those players stuck. I sneakily added Patterson in a few leagues in the preseason due to his running back eligibility.
I don’t have a good feel for whether Patterson will remain relevant this season. At the very least, he’s currently startable as an RB2 or as a deeper flex play. He looks good out there, and he’s having an intriguing renaissance to his career.
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