So what have we learned now that we are a quarter of the way through the NFL season?
- Passing Offense – Matt Ryan and Drew Brees lead the two most prolific passing offenses in the league, averaging over 300 yards per game. Ben Roethlisberger is tied with Ryan for the league lead in passing TDs with 11 (Brees has 10).
- Rushing Offense – You can believe that Ezekiel Elliott leads the NFL in rushing (412), but Isaiah Crowell is a close #2 with 394 yards and 3 TDs! Melvin Gordon leads the league with 6 rushing TDs.
- Receiving – It’s not a stretch to see Julio Jones leading the league in receiving yards with 488, but Marvin Jones is a close #2 with 482. A.J. Green leads the league in receptions with 32 and is 3rd in yards with 468. Five receivers are averaging a TD per game (A.Brown, Nelson, Crabtree, K.Benjamin, A.Robinson). Greg Olsen and Jordan Reed are top three in receptions and yards for TEs.
Now here’s the rest of the week 4 fantasy recap…
Week 4 Aerial Attack
Matt Ryan / Julio Jones – What a day!!! Ryan topped 500 yards passing and Jones topped 300 receiving! Jones (12-300-1 on 15 targets) put up the first 300 yard receiving day since Calvin Johnson did it in 2013. Matty Ice was 28/37 for 503 yards with 4 TDs and 1 Int. Matt Ryan is having a career year, but remember it’s only been 4 games. He won’t keep up this pace, but could be a top 5 QB this year.
Ben Roethlisberger / Antonio Brown – Ben and Brown rebounded well from their blowout loss to the Eagles last week and manhandled the Chiefs. Ben was an efficient 22/27 for 300 yards and 5 TDs. Brown (4-64-2 on 5 targets) didn’t have his typical workload, but he made his looks count with 2 TDs.
Derek Carr / Michael Crabtree – Carr is continuing to progress in his 3rd year in the league. Carr only put up 199 yards passing, but he threw 4 TDs with no Ints and three of them went to Crabtree. Crabtree (7-88-3 on 12 targets) has been the best WR on the Raiders this year, but I sure am not giving up on Amari Cooper. If anything, I’m trying to buy low on him.
Brian Hoyer / Eddie Royal – Of course everyone expected this… Eddie Royal (7-111-1 on 7 targets) led the receivers on this day. In place of Jay Cutler, Hoyer was 28/36 for 302 yards and 2 TDs. I like Royal as a waiver wire pickup this week. Kevin White was placed on IR, the Bears are going to need to throw no matter what, and Alshon Jeffrey is not a poster child of health.
Philip Rivers / Dontrelle Inman – Inman (7-120-1 on 11 targets) was the main cog in the passing game this week. Rivers was 28/43 for 321yards with 2 TDs and 1 Int. It appears that any of Inman, Travis Benjamin (4-48-0 on 7 targets), and Tyrell Williams (5-40-0 on 8 targets) can be the go to receiver in any given week.
Andy Dalton / A.J. Green – Green (10-173-1 on 12 targets) put up a monster night on Thursday and won many fantasy games for his owners. Dalton was 22/31 for 296 yards and a TD. Right now, A.J. Green is in the top 3 WR conversation, not Odell Beckham.
Russell Wilson / Jimmy Graham – There was a Jimmy Graham (6-113-0 on 8 targets) sighting this week, practically his first since becoming a Seahawk. Wilson was 23/32 for 309 yards and 3 TDs. If Graham is healthy and they continue to target him in the passing game, he’ll be a TE1. I need to see a few more games like this to believe.
John Brown – What a coming out party for John Brown. Brown (10-144-0) led the team in targets with 16 while Larry Fitzgerald (5-62-0) and Michael Floyd (3-36-1) had 7 each. Fitzgerald is clearly Carson Palmer’s #1 target, but not so much when Palmer’s not under center. Brown and Floyd will have a few big games, but a lot of duds too.
Steve Smith – Is this a sign of things to come? Smith (8-111-1 on 11 targets) showed up in a big way and wants to pick up where he left off in 2015. He’s a good waiver wire add if available because he’s proven he can be a game-breaker.
Jordan Reed – Reed (9-73-2 on 10 targets) was the man for the Redskins this week and is pushing to be the #1 TE in fantasy football.
Week 4 Ground Breakers
Le’Veon Bell – Welcome back Bell! And he paid dividends to his fantasy owners that have waited him out. Bell (18-144-0 and 5-34 on 6 targets) led the running attack as DeAngelo Williams took more of a reserve role. Bell’s electric!!!
Ezekiel Elliott – Elliott (23-138-1 and 1 catch for 19 yards) had another big game and it looks like he’ll live up to his potential as a top 5 RB.
DeMarco Murray – Murray (25-95-2 and 2-24) didn’t go over 100 yards but came close and scored 2 TDs. Murray is showing that he still has something left in the tank and has been a solid RB1 so far this year.
Terrence West – West (21-113-1) was the lead back in week 4 and performed well. Justin Forsett was inactive for the game and the team has since cut him. Kenneth Dixon will be returning from injury and it will be interesting to see how this backfield plays out. West is a low end option because of lack of job security. Dixon (and Buck Allen) has a lot of hype, but I don’t think I can trust this backfield until the Ravens find a true lead back.
Jordan Howard – Howard (23-111-0 and 3-21 on 4 targets) seems to have filled the role of injured Jeremy Langford pretty well. Howard got all the rushing load other than 3 carries to recently signed Joique Bell.
Isaiah Crowell – Crowell (15-112-1 and 3-22 receiving on 4 targets) led the browns in rushing again this week. “The Crow” has had two 100 yard games and scored a TD in 3 of 4. The Browns stink but somehow Crowell is still putting up stats.
Matt Jones – It was clearly Jones’ backfield in week 4. Jones (22-117-1 and 2-21) carried the ball 22 times while Chris Thompson and Rob Kelly combined for 4. I still don’t feel that his job is secure, but it was nice to see Jones have a good day and he keeps the starting gig another day.
Melvin Gordon – This guy is a TD machine in 2016 after not scoring a single one in his rookie year. Gordon (19-36-2 and 6-43 on 7 targets) wasn’t very efficient with only 36 yards on a big workload, but it was nice to see him also used in the passing game. He’s a solid RB2.
John Kuhn – Didn’t expect to see him on the list did ya?!?!? Kuhn had a whopping 3 carries for 5 yards and 2 catches for 7 yards. Why is he on this list??? He punched in 2 TDs on the ground and one in the air. Don’t expect a repeat performance this year, but he could cut into Mark Ingram’s short yardage/goal line work moving forward.
Injury Report (And Replacements)
Cam Newton (Concussion) – Cam is questionable with a concussion he suffered on his short yardage TD run. If he’s not cleared to play, Derek Anderson will be under center.
Carson Palmer (Concussion) – Palmer suffered a concussion and is already ruled out for week 5. Drew Stanton will start against the 49ers. I’m benching Larry Fitzgerald in my lineups where possible, but I think Michael Floyd could put up some stats with Stanton this week.
Latavius Murray (Toe) – It’s doubtful that Murray suits up this week. Look for DeAndre Washington to lead the backfield against San Diego and he’s a decent bye week replacement.
Doug Martin (Hamstring) – It looks like Doug Martin will be held out of action until after the Tampa Bay’s week 6 bye. Charles Sims will carry the load and Jacquizz Rodgers will also chip in.
Rashad Jennings (Thumb) – Jennings is still 50/50 to play this week. Orleans Darkwa was the lead back last week, but boy did Paul Perkins look good! It will be interesting to see how this backfield looks in a few weeks, but I’m staying away for now.
Jonathan Stewart (Hamstring) – Questionable for week 5.
Arian Foster (Hamstring) – Questionable for week 5.
Dez Bryant (Knee) – Bryant is expected to miss week 5 and is week-to-week with a hairline fracture. Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, and Brice Butler will likely be the WRs for Dallas.
Eric Decker (Shoulder) – Decker is questionable for week 5. Quincy Enunwa would be the beneficiary if he doesn’t play and is a decent play against a poor Steelers pass defense.
Tyler Eifert (Back) – Just as Eifert was making progress to make his 2016 debut, he came up lame with a back injury at Monday’s practice. His status for week 5 is up in the air again. My patience as an Eifert owner is wearing thin!!!
Antonio Gates (Hamstring) – Gates is back at practice and it looks like he has a good shot at playing this week. TE Hunter Henry will take a hit in his production if Gates returns.
Zach Miller (Ribs) – Questionable for week 5.
Words of Wisdom
We’re almost a third of the way through our fantasy seasons, but now our team depths will come into play with bye weeks coming in full force. There are four teams on bye in week 5 (Sea, NO, Jax, and KC) and six teams on bye in week 8. It’s extremely important to bolster your bench depth before you’re players are off. It’s great to have speculative picks on your team for those boom or bust players, or backups waiting in the wings, but it’s also important to have some depth with players that actually get playing time. Look for one week injury replacements if possible, like Orleans Darkwa (12-48-1) this week in place of Rashad Jennings. And sometimes we have to start a team’s #2 RB in our fantasy lineups due to our injuries and bye weeks. Here are a few #2’s to consider simply because they get some guaranteed volume:
- Tevin Coleman (Devonta Freeman)
- Matt Asiata (Jerick McKinnon)
- Giovani Bernard (Jeremy Hill)
- Duke Johnson (Isaiah Crowell)
- Bilal Powell (Matt Forte)
- Derrick Henry (DeMarco Murray)
- DeAndre Washington (Latavius Murray)
- Wendell Smallwood (Ryan Mathews)
Good luck in Week 5!!!