One-quarter of the NFL season is done. At least it is for most teams (other than the Panthers and the team from Washington). Here at Going for 2, it is just another week where we learned a lot about fantasy football. What wonders were we woke to in week 4? Here are 10 things we learned.
1Raming the Schedule
Arguably, the Vikings defense is the best unit that the Rams will face all season. If there was ever a week to bench Rams players, it would have been in week 4. How did they perform? Jared Goff threw 5 TD passes, one of which was caught by Todd Gurley who gained over 150 scrimmage yards. Furthermore, the top three WRs (Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods) each had at least 100 receptions yards and 1 TD. What we learned is that there may never be another week in which you bench any of these WRs. The only great defense left on the Rams’ schedule is the Philadelphia Eagles in week 15. Since that will be during the fantasy playoffs, difficult decisions are to be made. Until then, play the Rams with confidence.
2Pat on the Back
Speaking of the Rams, at this point the best bet to win the Super Bowl, the team that they usurped as the best in the NFL got back on track. The Patriots were staring at a 1-3 record with a loss to the divisional rivals Dolphins. What occurred should not have been surprising to those who have watched the NFL over the last few years. New England won in a 38-7 rout. Several Patriots players had fantastic fantasy performances. Tom Brady threw 3 TD passes, one to each of Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson and RB James White. The ground game was also great, as both White and Sony Michel scored a rushing TD. In addition, Michel earned his first 100-yard game. Even though certain players (Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan) disappointed, the Patriots offense as a whole appears to be on track. Expect that to continue, especially with Julian Edelman returning from suspension next week.
3Keep Up With the Jones
For the second week in a row, Packers RBs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams had almost an even workload. Both had 11 carries in addition to Jones’ lone target, which he caught for a 17 yard gain. While the carries were even, the production most certainly was not. Jones out rushed Williams 65 to 27. Jones demonstrated that he is the more explosive back, which we knew from last year. What we did learn in week 4 however, was Jones’s capabilities in the red-zone by scoring on a 3-yard TD run. During camp, Williams was talked about as the potential goal-line back. However, Jones and Ty Montgomery both got carries inside the 10-yard line, while Williams did not. Even if Jones’ workload does not increase, he can still be a viable fantasy option.
The offseason hiring of Matt Nagy as the Bears head coach garnered much excitement from the fantasy community. As a disciple of Andy Reid, we expected a certain offensive mastery and play calling that we have witnessed in Kansas City since Ried took over the Chiefs. There were certain creative play calls in the opening game of the season, but the team has not executed that well since. However, the full force of the Chicago offense was on display in week 4. Mitch Trubisky tossed 6 TD passes to 5 different players as Nagy found ways to get several receivers in space. While we cannot expect the Bears to put up 48 points every week, after their bye, Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel, Allen Robinson deserve to be in fantasy lineups most weeks. The only player who disappointed was Jordan Howard. We shall see in week 6 if that was a one-week occurrence or if Howard is truly being phased out of the offense.
While one offense ascended during the Buccaneers-Bears game, the other sunk. Fitzmagic finally disappeared. It seemed inevitable that former 1st overall pick Jameis Winston would reclaim his role as Tampa Bay’s starting QB. At halftime during the Buccaneers’ week 3 contest, Ryan Fitzpatrick was sitting with 1 TD, 3 INTs and a 24-10 deficit. At that point, many (myself included) thought that Winston would definitely start in week 4. However, Fitzpatrick proceeded to throw 2 more TDs and pull his team to within 3. That 2nd half performance bought him more time. Alas, a poor two quarters for the second week in a row doomed him. The Buccaneers managed just 3 points in the first half, which ended with another Fitzpatrick INT. Winston did not fare much better as he threw a pick on the opening drive of the 3rd quarter. Even so, he will resume his reign over Tampa Bay’s offense.
6Penny for Your Thoughts
With Chris Carson a surprise inactive in week 4, my thought was that Rashaad Penny would be the lead back. While he got touches on the opening drive, it was Mike Davis running the show on the ground for the Seahawks. Davis out touched Penny 25 to 9 it a tight contest. Once Carson returns, it appears that Penny will end up being 3rd on the depth chart as Davis performed well (124 scrimmage yards, 2 TDs) with the heavy workload. I think it will be a while for Penny to be a significant fantasy contributor.
7CJ Beats Hard
Considering it was C.J. Beathard‘s first start of 2018, many were expecting the Chargers to rout the 49ers. Just the opposite occurred as the 49ers built an early lead. Ultimately they lost, but the 49ers passing attack was fairly strong. Bethard threw 2 TD passes to go along with 2 INTs. George Kittle turned in a great fantasy day with 6 receptions for 125 yards a 1 TD. Beathard spread the ball around with 8 different players getting at least 3 targets. There are no elite fantasy options in San Francisco, but there are several players who are viable starts from week to week. It is not the barren wasteland that some expected after Jimmy Garoppolo‘s season-ending injury.
8Left for the Crow(ell)s
We may just have witnessed the demise of Isaiah Crowell‘s fantasy value. On Sunday, he only logged 5 touches for a grand total of 3 scrimmage yards. They fell behind early and had to abandon the run. Even Bilal Powell only got 8 carries. However, his 7 targets allowed him to be slightly more productive than Crowell. Powell actually equaled Crowell’s season total for targets in week 4 alone. Crowell appears to be an afterthought in the passing game. The entire Jets offense faltered as they only snapped the ball 3 times inside the Jaguars half of the field before mid-way through the 3rd quarter. New York’s first points came from a field goal after an INT gave them the ball at the Jacksonville 23 yard-line. They still could not punch it in and settled for the 3 points. If this degree of ineptitude continues for the Jets then Crowell will not get very many opportunities to produce for fantasy managers.
9How the Westbrook Won
Next, we shall look at the other side of the Jets-Jaguars matchup. We are at week 4 and the Jaguars have had a different player lead the team in targets each week. Most recently, that was Dede Westbrook who managed 9 receptions and 130 yards on his 13 targets. All three of those stats are single-game bests for Jacksonville receivers in 2018. What we learned in week 4 is that it is difficult to predict who the Jaguars top target will be any given week. If you have any of them on your fantasy teams and are desperate at WR, any of the top three (Westbrook, Keelan Cole, Donte Moncrief) can be started in good matchups. Just don’t be surprised if they disappoint.
Alvin Kamara is an amazing receiving RB. That is not news as he currently sits 3rd among all NFL players for receptions in 2018 with 35. He already has two 100-yard games on the season. What fantasy football folks have been waiting for, however, was consistent production in the run game. While Kamara had 2 rushing TDs entering week 4, he also failed to top 66 rushing yards in that span. He almost doubled his 2018 rushing yards in one game as he ran for 134 yards on 19 carries. The concern for Kamara is that when teammate Mark Ingram returns from a suspension, his workload will be cut. However, if Kamara can continue to prove himself on the ground, the Saints may decide to use him in obvious running situations. If that occurs, Kamara will remain at the top of fantasy RB lists for 2018 and beyond.
Thank you for reading. I wish you all a good week of fantasy preparation and research. Hopefully, we can apply what we learned in order to make better decisions in week 5. Until next time, remember to check out all of the other great content on Going for 2.