Top fantasy takeaways from Week 4’s action
Between some historic performances and some surprises, Jeff Ratcliffe highlights some big fantasy takeaways from Sunday.
Top fantasy takeaways from Week 4’s action
Last week, we saw a historically bad performance from Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets offense. This week, we saw a historically good performance from Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the Falcons offense. Here’s 10 stats to know from Week 4 of the NFL season, including how Jones’ performance stacks up to the last time we saw a 300-yard receiving game:
1. Julio Jones racked up a 9.09 yards per route run in Week 4.
The Falcons offense was the talk of the weekend, as Matt Ryan topped the 500-yard mark, and Jones became only the sixth player in NFL history to go over 300 receiving yards in a single game. Last season, Jones was the most efficient receiver in the league on a per-route basis, posting an elite 3.04 yards per route. His Week 4 total was nearly triple last season’s gaudy number. To put his performance into perspective, Calvin Johnson managed 6.45 yards per route run when he topped 300 yards back in Week 8 of the 2013 season.
2. Steelers RB snap percentages: Le’Veon Bell – 85.2, DeAngelo Williams – 27.9
As we expected, Pittsburgh used Bell as the clear feature back with Williams sliding back into a complementary role. Williams did end up vulturing a touchdown late in the game, but Bell owners should have no worries of a committee situation in the Steelers backfield. Bell out-touched Williams 23-5. More importantly, he looked very impressive in the process, forcing nine missed tackles and averaging 8.0 yards per carry. He’s locked in as a front-end RB1 going forward.
3. Jordan Reed leads all tight ends with 25 catches through the first four weeks.
Some fantasy owners had concerns about Reed after he failed to find the end zone in the first three games of the season, but Reed got off the schneid in Week 4 with two scores on nine catches. Just like last season, Reed continues to see heavy volume in the Redskins offense, leading the team with 33 targets. Reed now leads all tight ends in receptions and his performance this past weekend vaults him up to second in fantasy scoring at the position.
4. Isaiah Crowell forced 11 missed tackles on 19 touches.
That’s elite-level productivity out of Crowell, who is quietly having an extremely good season. Through the first four games, he averages 6.5 yards per carry, with a league-high 4.5 yards after contact per attempt. Crowell currently sits tied with Ezekiel Elliott for fourth among running backs in fantasy scoring.
5. Brice Butler leads the Cowboys in targets in Week 4.
With Dez Bryant sidelined, Butler stepped into the starting lineup and saw nine balls thrown his direction. While it wasn’t a huge statistical day – Butler had five catches for 41 yards and a score – but was clearly Dak Prescott’s favorite target. Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley saw six and four targets, respectively. Bryant’s situation is extremely murky at this point, but there is the very real possibility he remains out this week. With the Cowboys’ bye looming in Week 7, Dallas could also put Bryant on the shelf for the next two games. Despite the uncertainty, Butler is worth of a waiver claim this week.
6. Jamaal Charles played just 10 snaps, and that’s a good thing.
It wasn’t an unexpected workload in Charles’ first game back, as the Chiefs continued to use Spencer Ware as their lead back. However, Charles getting on the field was a step in the right direction for fantasy purposes. Kansas City heads into bye this week, which gives Charles an extra bit of rest. He then returns to a buttery schedule against the Raiders, Saints, Colts and Jags. Look for the Chiefs to still use a committee, but Charles’ role will continue to expand. He’s an excellent buy-low candidate to pry away from panicking owners.
7. Oakland receiving targets through the first four weeks: Michael Crabtree – 35, Amari Cooper – 33.
A lot of Cooper owners are wondering what’s going on with the Raiders receivers. Crabtree is coming off a massive three-touchdown performance where he saw 11 targets. Cooper saw just five targets in Week 4, and his target total has declined every game since Week 1. Crabtree is now well ahead of Cooper in fantasy scoring, thanks in large part to his four scores. Cooper has yet to find the end zone and is backsliding rapidly for fantasy purposes. Unfortunately, frustrated Cooper owners are going to have stay the course. Selling him low in a trade isn’t ideal, and Cooper does have the talent to turn things around. However, Crabtree’s play will almost certainly continue to limit Cooper’s fantasy upside. Consider him more of a back-end WR2 going forward.
8. Terrance West seizes his opportunity.
With Justin Forsett a healthy scratch, West stepped in and posted 113 yards and a score on 21 carries. His performance tied with Ezekiel Elliott and Matt Jones for the second-most fantasy points per opportunity among running backs for the week. At this point, fantasy owners still hanging on to Forsett would be best advised to cut bait. West will be a hot waiver add this week, but don’t forget about rookie Kenneth Dixon. He could return to action this week, and should have an immediate role in the Ravens offense.
9. John Brown ties for weekly lead in targets with 14.
After a sluggish start to the season, Brown exploded in Week 4, with 10 catches on 14 targets for 144 yards against the Rams. Brown and Larry Fitzgerald performed much better on the day than Michael Floyd, who managed just 36 yards on three catches. Floyd did score, but he only played 44.3 percent of Arizona’s offensive snaps, which was behind Brown, Fitzgerald, and Jaron Brown. With Floyd backsliding, John Brown is now the clear No. 2 wide receiver in Arizona.
10. Two running backs have at least 100 touches this season: Lamar Miller and Ezekiel Elliott.
They’re also the only two running backs with at least 90 carries through the first four games of the season. Houston has continued to feed Miller, as the former Dolphins back saw another 22 touches this week. He’s still under four yards per carry, but Miller’s volume continues to bode well for fantasy purposes. Elliott has been the more productive fantasy option after scoring in three of the first four games. He’s currently tied for fourth among running backs in standard scoring and sits seventh in PPR.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.