Week 4 has been full of surprises and showed us yet again just how quickly things can change in the NFL. Injuries significantly altered the fantasy landscape with Dalvin Cook now out for the season with a torn ACL and Chris Carson suffering a potential broken ankle. We also saw some encouraging rebound performances and some discouraging duds from players who were drafted high in fantasy leagues this year. Here are the biggest takeaways from all of the NFL action over the weekend.
Alvin Kamara breaks out.
There wasn’t a lot to like from the London game, but Kamara shined with 10 catches on 10 targets for 71 yards and a score to go along with 5 carries for 25 yards. His 15 touches were just three fewer than Mark Ingram and 11 more than Adrian Peterson. Kamara also out-snapped Peterson 26-6. At this point, it’s going to be very hard for New Orleans to put the genie back in the bottle with Kamara. He’s officially entered the flex conversation and is a must-own in all formats.
Charles Clay is locked in as a TE1.
Through the first month of the season, Clay currently sits third among tight ends in fantasy scoring and is coming off a big Week 4 performance with five catches on seven targets for 112 yards. Clay will continue to see heavy volume going forward, especially given the news the Jordan Matthews will be out at least a month following surgery on his thumb. Clay is an every-week TE1 going forward.
The run game sputters for both teams.
We knew going into this one that it would be tough to trust Isaiah Crowell, and proved to be correct. Crowell managed just 20 yards on seven carries. The big issue for the Crowell is the Browns just don’t run the football. Cleveland attempted 12 designed runs with their running backs on Sunday. That just isn’t enough volume to sustain consistent fantasy production. Crowell needs to ride the pine until the Browns show they can consistent run the ball. Likewise, Joe Mixon ended up being a disappointment despite the plus matchup and favorable game script. The thing is, Mixon actually played well. However, his offensive line just isn’t creating space for him. You may not want Mixon in your starting lineups, but he remains a buy-low after seeing 21 touches again this week.
Todd Gurley keeps rolling.
Some were worried about this matchup, but our OLine/DLine matchup chart suggested favorable conditions for Gurley. That’s exactly what we saw, as he racked up 121 yards on 23 carries and an addition 94 yards and a score on seven catches. Next week will be an interesting test for Gurley and the Rams offense against Seattle.
No shadow for Stefon Diggs.
We expected to see Darius Slay follow Diggs on Sunday, but Diggs ended up seeing coverage from all three of the Lions corners. Diggs wasn’t able to follow up his massive Week 3 stat line, but still managed a respectable 98 yards on five catches. He remains an every-week WR2 with WR1 upside.
Cam Newton lives.
After a brutal start to the season, Newton rebounded and took advantage of this fantastic matchup. Deshaun Watson was the only signal-caller to outscore Newton through the first 15 games this weekend. While this is an encouraging sign for Newton owners, it’s yet another data point that verifies how bad this Patriots defense is playing. The next quarterback to get the Patriots matchup boost: Jameis Winston on Thursday night.
Jets run all over the Jags.
With Matt Forte sidelined, both Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire went for long touchdowns against the Jags on Sunday. It’s certainly a good result for anyone who started Powell and a reason to stash McGuire, but the focus should also be on this Jaguars defense. Jacksonville does well against the pass, but this is the third straight week they’ve given up 100-plus rushing yards to an opposing backfield. Le’Veon Bell gets to face Jacksonville in Week 5 and Todd Gurley gets this matchup in Week 6.
Ben Roethlisberger’s road struggles continue.
Many fantasy owners faded Roethlisberger this week, which ended up being a wise decision. He managed just 10.5 fantasy points with 216 yards and one score through the air. Roethlisberger has yet to top 300 yards in a game this season, but has played three of his first four on the road. While Week 5 is a home contest for the Steelers, it’s a reasonably tough matchup against the talented Jaguars secondary.
Deshaun Watson went nuts.
We accurately pointed out in the Friday matchups column that this was a plus matchup for Watson, but I don’t think anyone saw five total touchdowns coming for Watson in Week 4. He sits as the No. 1 fantasy scorer among quarterbacks this week and has cemented himself as a QB2-plus option. Watson gets tough matchup against Chiefs in Week 5, but then has another cakewalk against the Browns in Week 6.
Andre Ellington heavily involved.
Those looking for upside at running backs in a PPR will want to scoop up Ellington if he’s still available on your wire after the Cardinals back racked up a massive 15 targets on Sunday. Ellington caught nine for 86 yards and chipped in five carries for 18 yards. Chris Johnson remains the early-down back, but Ellington has slid into the passing down role that helped David Johnson be such a productive fantasy option. Ellington is a flex option going forward.
LeGarrette Blount gets back on track.
The veteran back struggled this season, but Blount went big on Sunday for 156 total yards on 17 touches including a Beast Mode-esque run of 68 yards. This is certainly an encouraging performance, but fantasy owners should be aware that the Chargers were giving up the most rushing yards per game to opposing running backs entering this week.
Both players saw double-digit targets with Beckham racking up 15 and Engram seeing 10 targets against the Bucs. Beckham didn’t end up with massive numbers, but that’s double-digit targets in back-to-back weeks for the elite fantasy option. Engram caught six balls for 62 yards giving him a total of 19 catches and 200 yards on the season. With tight end so unreliable for fantasy purposes this year, Engram has quickly emerged as a back-end TE1 option thanks to his consistent workload.
Amari Cooper’s struggles continue.
Many fantasy owners are fed up with Cooper after the Raiders receiver posted yet another dud on Sunday. Cooper failed to top 10 receiving yards for the second straight week, and currently has five fewer drops (7) thank he has catches (12). While it’s tempting to drop Cooper, fantasy owners will want to avoid that knee-jerk reaction. His recent performances was at least partially due to tough matchups in each of the last two weeks. Things don’t get much better for him this week against the Ravens, but the schedule lightens up for Cooper in the middle of the season. He also gets a favorable matchup against the Eagles in Week 16 for the fantasy championship.
Who’s the running back in Seattle?
So we’re back to this again following what is believed to be a broken ankle for Chris Carson. With Carson out, the Seahawks turned to Eddie Lacy as their early-down back with J.D. McKissic filling in for C.J. Prosise in passing situations. McKissic scored twice, but only played 10 snaps. Lacy was on the field for 23 snaps and notched 11 carries for 52 yards. Thomas Rawls was a healthy scratch in this contest. For fantasy purposes, the top two options are Lacy and Rawls, with Lacy the preferred waiver wire add. That being said, he’s far from a lock to assume Carson’s role, so it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on the news out of Seattle.