What I Saw: Thoughts on Every Week 4 Game
Welcome back sports fans. In this series, we examine every game from the previous week and try to make some sense from this senseless game. We’ve got a lot to talk about this week, so let’s get to it. As always, you’re encouraged to use Ctrl+F to find your players quickly.
Bears vs. Packers
QBs: In pre-modern times during thunderstorms, the little children would huddle around the tribal fire while their grandparents would soothe them by explaining that the booming cacophony was nothing to be afraid of, it was in fact just a giant named Mike Glennon throwing interceptions in the clouds. Later, the same grandparents would threaten their grandchildren when they were naughty, saying, “If you don’t straighten up, giant Mike Glennon will pick you up and hurl you four yards short of the sticks on third down!”It was a simpler time back then. For Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers has increased his touchdown count by one in every game this season. If this trend continues (and we all expect it to), he will become the highest scoring fantasy player of all time by week 16. Seriously though, Rodgers trademark scrambiliciousness was on full display as the Packers were without his top five offensive linemen.
WRs: Glennon threw to a lot of receivers who were not Tarik Cohen this week. One non-Cohen receiver was named Deonte Thompson. Another non-Cohen was Josh Bellamy. It can be hard to tell Cohens from non-Cohens sometimes, but the trick is to watch them to see if they suck. If a Bears receiver sucks, then he’s a non-Cohen, and need not be owned. In other news, before the game, linebacker Danny Trevaithan’s coaches told him to ‘get inside the head’ of his opponents. Unfortunately, he took it literally and speared Davante Adams in what turned out to be a pretty scary play. Idiot. In a game where Rodgers was hemorrhaging touchdowns, all three starting receivers scored including Randall Cobb, who had his first touchdown of the year. Cobb looked fully healthy and should be a high floor WR3 type going forward. Jordy Nelson had some costly drops and still finished with 75 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s the WR#2 in fantasy football through four games, and that’s not even taking into account the fact that he missed week two. Wow.
RBs: A clearly hurt Jordan Howard continued to be the beating heart of what passed for the Bears’ offense. If he can get all healed, he’ll be a mid-range RB1 going forward. Bafflingly, the Bears virtually ignored Tarik Cohen this game, despite his obvious talent. Owners should look for a rebound next week with Trubisky in Minnesota. Ty Montgomery left early with a rib injury, and I didn’t get enough time to read his replacement’s jersey before he, too was injured. Third-string Back Aaron Jones looked decent enough, and with Montgomery and the other fellow banged up he may get his week to shine in week five.
TEs: Martellus Bennett tied for the most targets in Green Bay this game, yet was still only able to muster 39 scoreless yards. It’s going to be hard for Bennett to return value, as the majority of his targets seem to be short bump-offs, frequently behind the line of scrimmage, and this is not a player who gets yards after contact.
Saints vs. Dolphins
Misc. Observations: There were a truly worrying amount of flags during this game (I counted 23!). On one particularly ridiculous play, three separate flags were thrown for three separate infractions. I’m pretty sure someone may have spiked the officials’ tea with amphetamines (Well played, Brits). In other news, the Dolphins logged fewer than 200 yards against a defense that has been allowing more than 400 on average. This is less than ideal, to put it mildly.
QBs: Smokin’ Jay Cutler looked like a celiac playing for a whole wheat sandwich (that is to say, unmotivated). On his one trip to the end zone, Cutler threw the ball right to a defender. Oh well. Drew Brees went old school on the Dolphins– he pulled down their britches and gave them a paddlin’.
WRs: Devante Parker out-targeted Jarvis Landry for the first time this season, and he looked pretty good. Still, a large chunk of Parker’s production came on one long reception well into garbage time. Parker is starting to bear more than a passing resemblance to 2015 Allen Robinson, who made his living in the last five minutes of games. Michael Thomas seemed like he spent much of the game wearing a defensive back like a fur coat. Regardless, Thomas is the kind of guy who can catch in tight coverage.
RBs: Jay Ajayi Was the anti-Cutler—he looked like he wanted the win a little too much. Perhaps this was because this game was in London where Ajayi was born (according to the announcers, who repeated this fact like a rosary prayer). In any case, game flow was not in his favor. Alvin Kamara has been the second most targeted receiver in each of the first four weeks, and this week he finally turned that opportunity into some serious production. Kamara is starting to look not entirely unlike an every week fantasy starter. Adrian Peterson had 4 carries for 4 yards. The dream is dead. Through four games, Mark Ingram has yet to score a touchdown, and he’s ceding most of his red-zone work to Kamara, so you may have some uncomfortable decisions to make regarding his continued tenure on your fantasy team coming into the bye.
TEs: You should have dropped Coby Fleener last week. With Willie Snead coming back, he won’t be a weekly start.
Panthers vs. Patriots
Misc. Observations: This game confirmed that the Patriots have the worst defense in the NFL. Don’t be fooled, the Panthers’ offense is still abysmal.
QBs: Cam Newton scored more fantasy points this week than his first three games combined. The turnaround was so dramatic, that we have to assume he made some sort of crossroads style deal with the devil in exchange for one good game of football. Expect him to come crashing back to earth in week five. I’m afraid that we’re going to find out after the season that Tom Brady has been bathing in the blood of virgins to maintain his youthful vigor. He’d better hope commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t find out, as maiden-sacrifice is an automatic four-game suspension.
WRs: Devin Funchess had a career game, though more than half of his production came on busted coverage. He’s certainly worth closely monitoring going forward, but take this game with a grain of salt. Kelvin Benjamin also benefitted from the awfulness of the Patriots secondary. It’s unclear at this point who is more worthwhile, Benjamin or Funchess. I seem to be wrong about Chris Hogan’s fantasy output, but not about his target share. Hogan has emerged as one of Brady’s top red zone targets and has emerged as an Eric Decker style touchdown hog. If the touchdowns ever dry up, so will his usefulness, but with 4 TDs through four games, it seems reasonable to expect WR1 production going forward barring injury. Danny Amendola is averaging about the same number of targets per game as Hogan, but the usage is different, capping his ceiling. Amendola is good for 50is yards a week with a touchdown once every three games. Brandin Cooks was disappointing after a massive week three game, and it’s starting to look like he’s going to be a matchup-based play and not the every-week target hog that his owners had hoped for.
RBs: Christian McCaffrey had reduced usage in a game where the Panthers could throw at will to their receiving corps. Look for a bounce-back in week five. Jonathan Stewart also suffered, as Newton stole carries and the lone rushing touchdown. He’s starting to look like a touchdown-dependent bust. Through four games, James White is second on the team in targets, and first on the team in receptions, making him a PPR monster. White seems to be Brady’s most consistent safety-blanket, and his role is secure each week. Mike Gillislee ran extremely well when he was in, though there is plenty of reason to be concerned for his outlook going forward. With so much competition in the backfield, Gillislee’s role requires goal line carries and running out the clock to maintain a big patriots lead. This week, Dion Lewis out-carried Gillislee in the red zone 3-1, and the Pats defense showed so poorly that we’re forced to conclude the Patriots will not be ahead in many games. Lewis did not get much usage but made the most of what he did have with a goal-line touchdown. His role is still poorly defined, and he’s a risky weekly play.
TEs: Greg Olsen replacement Ed Dickson had a very nice game, though this was all on the Patriots defense, he need not be owned going forward. Rob Gronkowski lost some potential yardage on defensive penalties, though this is hardly unusual for him.
Jaguars vs. Jets
Misc. Observations: this game was a battle of the backs, with the two teams combining for 431 yards on the ground on 71 attempts.
QB: The Jets shut down the Jacksonville air game this week—Blake Bortles’ longest completion was a mere 15 yards. Bortles is like the fat kid who hopped the neighbor’s fence to get his lost football. The neighbor’s dog is chasing him, and it doesn’t look like the kid’s going ot make it to the fence. The dog’s name is Chad Henne, and he’s a chihuahua. I can’t remember who the Jet’s quarterback is. Oh well.
WR: Allen Hurns had an unusually gawdy 10 targets, which are nearly as many as he’s had combined coming into this game. Regardless, he dropped most of them and gave the Jags little reason to lean on him going forward. Marquise Lee dropped a critical ball in overtime which likely cost his team the game. These two feel like a battle of wits where both cups are poisoned. No Jets receivers distinguished themselves in any way this game. They’re like the bucket of crabs, cannibalizing each other’s’ fantasy relevance.
RB: Leonard Fournette had a big day, though he had to battle for every yard. His value is in his volume, as he’s not likely to make many big plays week to week. Bilal Powell made the most of Matt Forte’s untimely exit and should produce nicely as long as forte is out. Rookie Elijah McGuire seemingly came out of nowhere, notching 10 carries and ripping off a 69-yard touchdown. He is a player to keep an eye on, though he’d likely need an injury to Powell to truly break out.
TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins hasn’t given fantasy owners a lot of reasons to believe he’ll be any more than the third receiving target on a team that can barely support one. Still, he may be a sneaky flier in week five against a Cleveland defense which has been hemorrhaging fantasy points to tight ends.
Titans vs. Texans
Misc. Observations: This game quickly got out of hand, as Houston scored the most points in franchise history. Yikes.
QB: Marcus Mariota the running back had a huge day, pacing the team in rushing yards and scoring two touchdowns. All that rushing came at a cost though, as Mariota is likely to miss multiple weeks with a hamstring injury. Mariota the quarterback was a different story, throwing a pick on 20% of his passes and fumbling once. Deshaun Watson had his second huge game in as many weeks, leaving many fantasy owners wondering if he’s the real deal. Watson has shown some encouraging signs, to be sure, and his legs ensure that he has a decently high floor. However, we need to remember that the Titans and the Patriots are the first and second worst passing defenses in football. Watson will have a significantly harder schedule going forward.
WR: Mariota only threw 10 passes, so there was almost no yardage to go around. With Matt Cassel likely starting next week, fantasy managers should be clearing a spot on their bench for all receivers. In a game where Watson was handing out receiving touchdowns like Oprah hands out cars, Both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller (the fifth of his name) found pay dirt. Hopkins’ league-leading target share ensures he’s a top-tier option weekly. Fuller is a bit more of an enigma. He has shown that he is an average talent in past years, and his target share in this game does not scream ‘every week starter’ to me.
RB: Through four games, the Titans are among the league leaders in rushing attempts and yards, and first in the league in rushing touchdowns. This is what my computer is telling me, but I don’t believe it. Ask DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry owners if that stat feels correct. Both are both averaging a mere 10 carries a game for around 45 yards, and each has a single rushing touchdown through four games. So what gives? I’ll tell you what doesn’t give—Marcus Mariota that’s what. He just takes. Carries and touchdowns, he devours them like a plague of locusts. With Mariota potentially out for a few weeks, it is likely that Tennessee will have to rely on the run more, and so Murray/Henry owners can take a tentative half-step away from the ledge. Lamar Miller finally had a decent game, but remember this was a blowout. Personally, I’d sell him high. The factors that had him looking like a bust through the first three weeks have not gone away, nor had D’onta Foreman, who continues to receive a 40% share of the carries on this team.
TE: Delanie Walker looked to be one of Cassel’s favorite targets, though his stock takes a huge hit as long as Mariota is out.
Steelers vs. Ravens
Misc. Observations: The Ravens were the most injured team in the NFL coming into this week, and those injuries are clearly affecting both sides of the ball. Baltimore D/ST owners missed out on a pick-six because of ridiculous officiating. Sigh.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger threw little in a game where the Ravens were helpless to stop the run. Additionally, Roethlisberger’s home-away splits are well known, and anyone who is keeping him around should sit him for all away games if possible. Joe Flacco, had a few decent throws among a sea of poorly thrown ducks. The Baltimore offensive line allowed near constant pressure and Flacco is not the caliber of quarterback who can overcome pressure.
WR: The Ravens held Antonio Brown to a mere 34 yards, which was decent enough. Brown, by the way, is the only matchup-proof receiver on this team—Martavais Bryant is only startable in home games (like this next week). Someone named Juju Smith-Schuster caught a touchdown and mimed a kamehaheha from Dragonball Z, which set off a strangely passionate debate among a segment of society not usually known for their football viewership. The Baltimore receiving corps is unstartable until further notice.
RB: Le’Veon Bell has returned from the wilderness with a nice tan and coconuts filled with fantasy production. Welcome back. Alex Collins led the team in rushes for the second week in a row and is now clearly the lead back. Still, being the lead back on this team is like being the only adult at the kids’ table on Thanksgiving. Terrance West and even Buck Allen are perfectly reasonable drop candidates.
TE: Benjamin Watson continues to be one of the most dangerous receivers on the team, which again, is like wearing you’re ten-year-old ‘backup’ pair of glasses. They’re better than nothing, I guess, but far from ideal.
Bengals vs. Browns
Misc. Observations: The Bengals continue to rise as the Browns sink to new lows. Such is life in Ohio.
QB: Andy Dalton looks fully recovered from his bout with orange-suck fever. Unfortunately, DeShone Kizer has what looks to be a fatal case of Ball-airia.
WR: A.J. Green had a decent day, though his targets were the fewest he’s seen this season. Don’t worry, this had more to do with the fact that the Bengals were destroying the Browns than with some defectiveness on Green’s part. Kenny Britt continued looking like a human pitch drop experiment (though with Britt, drops are far more frequent). Ricardo Lewis’ stat line may look decent enough, but most of his production came well into garbage time and can be safely disregarded.
RB: Andy Dalton led the team in rushing which we all knew would happen and wasn’t a surprise in any way. For the second week in a row, the team treated Joe Mixon like a bell-cow back, and he continued not producing like one. The usage is nothing to turn up one’s nose at if it continues, though it won’t if Mixon continues to suck. Giovanni Bernard logged his second touchdown in as many weeks and continues to be the back to own in this backfield (assuming you absolutely have to have one). Through four weeks, Duke Johnson handily leads the team in targets and receptions, and it’s not even close. He’s probably a weekly starter at this point as the best bet to score a touchdown on this team. Isaiah Crowell’s pitiful usage is trending in the wrong direction. Farewell, sweet prince #crowhoes.
TE: Tyler Kroft did his best Tyler Eifert impression, scoring twice. Still, he is no Eifert and is not likely to be worth starting going forward.
Lions vs. Vikings
Misc. Observations: the Lion’s D/ST is top tier, and needs to be owned in every fantasy league.
QB: The Lions have shown a worrying tendency to take their foot off the gas when they’re two scores ahead, which gives Matt Stafford a worryingly low floor. Case “Not-Bradford” Keenum proved that last week’s outburst was the exception and not the rule, just as a certain handsome young fantasy analyst predicted in this very article last week.
WR: Stafford spread the ball around a ton this game, and neither Golden Tate, nor Marvin Jones sniffed the kind of volume they’ll need to be viable weekly. Tate will have more big games than Jones going forward, but owners should bench both if they suspect the Lions are likely to get ahead early. Stefon Diggs will still have some fantasy relevance going forward, but both his ceiling and his floor take a sizeable hit with Cook out. Adam Theilen will have the occasional big fantasy game, but he’s officially now a boom/bust type player.
RB: Ameer Abdullah had 20 carries for the first time in his career which is a very, very good sign. Talent was never the issue with him, so if these carries continue he’s going to be a major boon to his owners. The Norse god of anterior cruciate ligaments, Acloki, has demanded another sacrifice, and it’s going to cost the Vikings dearly. In addition to his rushing prowess which none of his backups can come close to matching, Dalvin Cook is quietly one of the league’s best backs in pass protection. Every skill player on the team will probably take a huge value hit with his departure…
TE: …Well, maybe not everyone. Cook’s ascendance has directly cut into Kyle Rudolph’s workload. There is a decent chance we see an increase in Rudolph’s fantasy output going forward.
Rams vs. Cowboys
Misc. Observations: The Cowboys cap off a four-week gauntlet of top-tier defenses against the Rams. Look for things to get much easier next week. Meanwhile, the Rams have had it relatively easy until now, and are about to start playing some bug-boy defenses.
QB: Jared Goff may need to push the pause button on his Etsy shop, this professional football side project is starting to take off! A quarter of the way into the season, Dak Prescott is a top-five fantasy quarterback. Huh. I must admit, I don’t quite understand it, but there it is. This phenomenon also doesn’t seem to be matchup based, since Prescott even managed to have decent games against the Giants and Broncos’ fearsome defenses.
WR: Sammy Watkins has had 2 or fewer targets in 50% of his games this year, including this week. Goff hardly seemed to look his way at all this week. No, Cooper Kupp is the receiver to own here, though he’s not a particularly valuable fantasy asset either. Dez Bryant and Prescott look like the best of frenemies—they have little to no chemistry, and yet Bryant is bound to succeed through sheer volume (even if he only ends up catching half the balls that come his way). There isn’t really a second receiver worth owning on the Cowboys, but If I had to pick one, it’d be Brice Butler. Keep an eye on him—if Butler ever starts getting more than 2 targets a game he’ll be worth something in our game.
RB: The ‘Tod Gurley curse’ is when you want to complain that your star running back only scored one touchdown this week instead of his usual 2-3, but can’t find a willing audience. Ezekiel Elliott is super duper in fantasy football, but he’s not out of the woods yet in a legal sense. Should he end up serving his suspension, it’s looking like Alfred Morris is his replacement.
TE: After starting off white-hot, Jason Witten has quickly become unstartable. In these perilous days of quality TE scarcity, he’s probably worth holding for at least one more week, but if he doesn’t get at least 5 or 6 targets against Green Bay he’s probably droppable.
Bills vs, Falcons
Misc. Observations: The main takeaway here is that the Bills D/ST is looking like a top fantasy option. Grab them if they’re still available.
QB: Tyrod Taylor continues to be a bye week fill-in type player. Matt Ryan’s owners were probably expecting him to approximate his career 2016 season again in 2017. This was never likely, though he’s doing well enough, especially considering the tough pass defenses he’s seen so far. Things get much tastier after his week five bye, I’d hold him if you can.
WR: No Bills receivers are must-own fantasy assets, though, with Jordan Matthews out at least a month with a thumb injury, Zay Jones may be worth a flier. Both Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu left this one early with an injury. With the bye coming up, Jones will probably be okay. Sanu is droppable in most formats.
RB: LeSean McCoy is getting bellcow style touches, though defenses are stacking the box, daring the Bills to throw. This is not likely to get better with Matthew’s injury. Tevin Coleman led the team in total yards in an event as rare as finding a unicorn riding a leprechaun. It won’t happen again anytime soon. Devonta Freeman has five touchdowns through the first four games (only Todd Gurley and Kareem Hunt have more). The man is the exclamation point at the end of every sentence.
TE: If you’ve been reading this column since week one, then you likely picked up Charles Clay for free. Well done pilgrim, you’ve got yourself a top-tier TE1. Clay continues to be Taylor’s first and third look.
Eagles vs. Chargers
Misc. Observations: Many have pointed out that the three Chargers’ ‘home’ games have all had more opposition fans than local fans in the stands. One wonders if the NFL even bothered to do any focus groups before moving two teams to LA.
QB: Carson Wentz is a much better real-life quarterback than a fantasy quarterback. He’s had a drop-off in production the last few weeks that perfectly corresponds with an uptick in team rushing touchdowns. This caps his ceiling. Philip Rivers had an early fumble but quickly rebounded. He continues to be a low-end QB1 candidate and is always a threat to have a decent game.
WR: Alshon Jeffrey seems like he should be a fantasy WR1, but this passing game isn’t powerful enough to float him on a weekly basis. Keenan Allen continues to be one of the most targeted wideouts in our game, and this makes him a solid WR1 with a high floor. Tyrell Williams is the clear number two on this team, though the offense doesn’t appear to be potent enough to support two weekly fantasy assets.
RB: I don’t like it, but if one excludes his mysterious zero carry game, LeGarrette Blount is a top-ten back on a points-per-game basis after four games. He’s not a good player, and there’s no reason for this success to continue. Still, as long as it is continuing, owners might as well see how far the Blount train will take them. Wendell Smallwood has found a role as a pseudo pass-catching back, and he’s had a decent amount of success here. Considering the fact that the Eagles have one of the best offensive lines in the league, one wonders if the Eagles actually might be able to support two fantasy viable running backs of middling talent. Melvin Gordon had no chance to perform, though this appeared to be due more to the Eagles’ top-tier run defense as opposed to Gordon’s talent. It may be wise to curb expectations for any backs facing Philadelphia going forward.
TE: Zach Ertz is as regular as a Swiss clock maker’s bowel movements. He’s getting you 8-9 standard fantasy points every week, no more, no less. Hunter Henry continues to be largely an afterthought, even in weeks where he scores. There are far better options available.
49ers vs. Cardinals
QB: Brian Hoyer plays like the kind of guy who’s running out the clock till retirement. Carson Palmer continues to look pretty good, but his pass protection is actively trying to get him killed. Like a human piñata, it’s only a matter of time before Palmer bursts and hemorrhages candy all over the field.
WR: Early season hopes that Pierre Garcon would be a target magnet have proven unfounded. No wideout on this team needs to be owned in most fantasy leagues. Larry Fitzgerald, more like Very Fitzgerald, amirite? If you own him, make sure to start testing the waters for trade offers now. In three or four weeks he’s going to start to fall off, just like he does every year. In other news, this week confirmed a shift in Arizona WR politics. John Brown came back and directly cannibalized J.J. Nelson’s receptions. Jaron “Not John” Brown surprisingly led the team in targets and is averaging 10 targets per game through the last three weeks. He is a priority pickup in an offense that is likely to continue to air it out.
RB: Carlos Hyde continues to look like a good player in a ‘meh’ situation. There has been an underground movement in some corners of the fantasy universe to pick up Matt Breida as a backup. Breida got some chances in this game and inspired confidence in the same way that a seven-fingered shop teacher inspires confidence. I’d look elsewhere for your lottery ticket. Andre Ellington is quickly becoming the preferred back to own in Arizona. He won’t score many touchdowns, but his target share means he has a nice floor. Chris Johnson simply isn’t getting enough work to justify him as a weekly start.
TE: Neither team has a tight end worthy of discussion.
Giants vs. Buccaneers
Misc. Observations: The Giants secondary was clearly not on point this game, and Tampa Bay’s been injured. Look for Tampa Bay to go bananas in a guaranteed shootout tomorrow with New England.
QB: Eli Manning’s dramatic fantasy turnaround in the past two weeks has raised some eyebrows (he even dad-waddled his way to a rushing touchdown this week!), however it’s important to remember that these were against a very soft Eagles passing defense and a Tampa Bay side so riddled with injuries that half the players fielded on Sunday were found at the bus stop outside the stadium. Things are going to get harder in a hurry, with a surprisingly stout Chargers defense next up followed by Denver and Seattle. Yikes. Jameis Winston looks competent enough, though his stats were definitely padded by a long touchdown on busted coverage late in the game.
WR: One of the unalterable rules governing the universe states that if one replaces the windshield on their car because it is cracked, a rock will hit the new windshield within five seconds of getting on the highway. Something similar seems to be going on with Odell Beckham Jr., whose early-season hamstring limitations have cleared up just in time for him to tweak his ankle and to do this with his finger. Luckily, the Giants trainers are confident that their morphine and duct-tape stockpiles are enough to keep the literal embodiment of the Giants’ offense on the field. Through the past two weeks, Brandon Marshall has been soaking up a goodly amount of targets, but regrettably, those have not translated to encouraging fantasy stat lines. This is a team that seems to be able to support one and a half fantasy relevant receivers, and I would personally bet on Sterling Shepard or even Evan Engram over Marshall. He just looks old, slow, and bad. Mike Evans is a big, physical dynamo.
RB: With Paul Perkins getting himself injured early in the game, newcomer Wayne Gallman came in and looked like the anti-Perkins (that’s a good thing). If the Giants are smart (not a given in the Mcadoo era), they’ll give Gallman a chance to take most of the carries going forward. Jacquizz Rodgers finished out his brief stint as Doug Martin’s stand-in with a decent game. Rodgers is probably worth keeping around for a week or two to see how things shake out with Martin back, as he’s one of the few handcuffs who is a sure bet to produce if the starter goes down.
TE: Evan Engram is getting enough targets regularly to put him on my tight end radar. Cameron Brate has secured two touchdowns in as many weeks. I usually want to see more regular targets when considering tight ends, but Brate appeared to be Winston’s second look after Evans, which is encouraging.
Raiders vs. Broncos
QB: Derek Carr carried over his poor play and general ineffectiveness from week three. He left the game late with a back injury, and E.J. Manuel looked competent enough taking over a two-score deficit late in the game. Trevor Siemian had his worst game of the season, though lucky for him the running game bailed him out.
WR: It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes in fantasy, a player who has proven production and whose situation remains virtually unchanged will suddenly stop producing with virtually no explanation. This is the hell that Amari Cooper owners find themselves in. I’d love to give you hope, some soothing words perhaps, assurances that things will get better. But I don’t understand why Cooper is such an afterthought in Oakland this year, and until I do I have nothing but condolences to offer. Oakland did a surprisingly decent job at containing both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. Sanders owners took one on the chin a bit when he managed to come down with a batted Siemian pass for a 10-yard loss.
RB: Marshawn Lynch was largely ineffective. Like a large, dreadlocked tickle-me Elmo, there was a lot of frantic wiggling and falling down going on in the Oakland backfield. Jamaal Charles was featured early and often for Denver and was easily outgaining C.J. Anderson before exiting briefly with a knee injury scare. Anderson picked things up late and ended up having a big day. Going forward, it seems like Anderson will get the first shot at production, but the team seems very open to riding the ‘hot hand’ in any given game.
TE: Jared Cook was targeted twice in the end Zone after Manuel came in. One of the two was catchable, and he dropped it. Tisk, tisk.
Colts vs. Seahawks
Misc. Observations: Keep an eye on the Colt’s D/ST once Luck returns. They’re actually pretty good.
QB: Russell Wilson owners could probably save a fortunate on anxiety meds if they started tuning in to Seahawks games at halftime every week. Like Aaron Rodgers, Wilson has a bad habit of starting a game extremely slowly before finishing white hot. Apparently, Andrew Luck is practicing, so we may only be a few weeks from saying goodbye to the Luckless Colts (and saying hello to T.Y. Hiilton).
WR: Doug Baldwin was not needed much after the half, and the Seahawks wisely didn’t push him for fear of re-aggravating his lingering injury. Both Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson are good players but are unlikely to be able to maintain weekly value in this low-volume offense. T.Y. Hilton looked wide open for most of the game, but Brissett didn’t seem to see him. Once Luck comes back, look for Hilton to quickly take his rightful place among the WR1s.
RB: The Seattle Seahawks are the Hertz rent-a-car of the NFL. They get a speedy new RB, they drive him hard until the wheels fall off, and then they simply turn him in and get a new one. RIP Chris Carson, fantasy bargain. Like hyenas circling a lion corpse, Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, some guy named J. D. McKissic and soon C. J. Prosise will all fight over the scraps of this backfield.
TE: Jimmy Graham continued doing his best 2015 impression this week (that’s not a good thing). With poor line play, Graham is being called upon to block on most snaps. He continues to look sloppy on the few targets he is getting.
Redskins vs. Chiefs
QB: Kirk Cousins became a father this week, and played lights out this week. Perhaps the Chiefs should consider signing his infant son as a wide receiver. They might have fewer costly drops, I think. Alex Smith put up an incredible performance against a very good defense. He’s officially a QB1 until further notice.
WR: Terelle Pryor finally caught a touchdown! Still, there is still a distinct lack of chemistry between Pryor and Cousins, and Pryor is still making costly drops every game. He’d better step things up, or young Cooper Cousins is going to start pushing him for snaps. Many fantasy nerds are hoping that one of the remaining receivers will emerge in Washington. Of the few that are left, I like Josh Doctson the best (he nearly had a long touchdown this week by the way) though he’ll need to double his targets in order to entice me to pick him up. Tyreek Hill’s destiny is intertwined with Travis Kelce. Through four weeks, they’ve swapped big games with each other, and when one roars, the other goes silent.
RB: Rob Kelley hurt himself early in his first game back, and Samaje Perine went back to eating grass and making mud pies, or whatever it is he chooses to do aside from score fantasy points. Kansas City clearly game planned around stopping Chris Thompson and it worked. For the Chiefs, Kareem Hunt didn’t score a touchdown for the first week in his career. Dude’s clearly washed.
TE: With Jordan Reed looking like the human equivalent of a flaming car on the side of the freeway, Vernon Davis has looked good enough the past two weeks to merit a good long look. As mentioned earlier, Travis Kelce and Hill are trading big games every other week.