Each week of the NFL season I’ll aim to give you my quick hit rundowns and fantasy worthy notes with some support from trending tweets, must-follow profiles or random online chatter. Whatever fits.
These are not intended to be exhaustive, but simply to highlight things that may have been missed as the week’s action unfolded.
We’ll mix in a dose of twitter takes to support the observations in an effort to give you a rundown from my own views on the week that was supported by the best in the industry. Or trolls. Or both. You’ll see some early-week numbers to bolster points where available, but this is intended to be a ‘first reaction’ piece with time in the week ahead to research things from a variety of sources.
Here they are for Week 4, in no particular order.
Atlanta, Pittsburgh defenses continue to make everyone a must start
Most NFL coaches and fantasy analysts alike take a look at a season in four week chunks, suggesting that any tendencies and/or overall performances are hard to assess in smaller segments. Well, through four Weeks Atlanta and Pittsburgh have been absoultely horrific in all phases.
The Falcons were dealt some significant blows with season-ending injuries in their secondary, and even with Takkarist McKinley back in the lineup this week they offered very little resistance to the Bengals. Atlanta did a fair job against Nick Foles in Week 1 with a full squad, but since then has allowed three straight 300-yard; three TD passers. Andy Dalton got Tyler Boyd to triple digits and found A.J. Green way too open for the game winning score after Giovani Bernard punched two in earlier in the contest. Previously, Atlanta had given up a ton of points to backs as pass catchers. Of interest, Boyd – who we noted last week was serving as a safety blanket for Dalton – nearly doubled Green in targets with 15 on 41 Dalton pass attempts. He now leads the team (with a modest 33-31 edge over Green). The Bengals won’t face the Falcons every week, but Boyd has sufficient volume and the offense looks good enough (losing Tyler Eifert won’t help) to lock him in as an every week WR3.
Meanwhile, Matt Ryan was dealing again and found Calvin Ridley for two more scores. Ridley is legit, folks. I’ll admit, I faded him in daily games assuming he’d be over played and couldn’t possibly match last week’s production. Alas, he nearly did. Ridley runs great routes and with Julio Jones still producing across from him will continue to face softer coverage. All that said… I may be thinking the same thoughts next week. After all, he was third on the team in targets behind Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Ryan, meanwhile, will have to sling it all year. You want to be on both sides of Atlanta and Pittsburgh games moving forward.
Matt Ryan is the first player in NFL history to lose back-to-back games with 350 Pass yards, 3 Pass TD and 0 Int. pic.twitter.com/qMV6nvF7rx
– NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 30, 2018
As for Pittsburgh, they clamped down against the Ravens in the second half – at least as far as touchdowns go – but they still gave Joe Flacco his best statistical line in his resurgent season and allowed John Brown to beat them twice over the top.
#Trendspotting called it. And I wish I had been wrong. That play may only be the beginning for John Brown. pic.twitter.com/zlJ4G07YEJ
– Ryan Hester (@RyanHester13) October 1, 2018
I remain all in on opposing offenses against New Orleans as well. The Giants played dink and dunk all day and really didn’t exploit the issues that the Saints so clearly have in the secondary, but Sterling Shepard went 10/10 on his targets , and that actually represented an improvement on =passer rating allowed for CB P.J. Williams.
Evan Engram out, juicy matchup … Everything is set up for Sterling Shepard to have a potentially big game in Week 4.
DratKings tournament plays for Week 4 ($): https://t.co/SK9hgUI2IR pic.twitter.com/kxAibNiNpr
– PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 28, 2018
A changing of the guard in Chicago?
After Week 3, coach Matt Nagy urged patience with QB Mitch Trubisky‘s overall production and explained that it was going to take some time for things to ‘click’ with the offense. It turns out that that time was six days. There will be a lot of buzz about Trubisky this week, and deservedly so, but that shouldn’t take your attention away from the real fantasy news – Tarik Cohen is in the driver’s seat in the backfield.
Tarik Cohen Weeks 1-3: 21 touches, 134 yards, 0 TD.
Tarik Cohen in Week 4: 20 touches, 174 yards, 1 TD.#Bears
– Adam Pfeifer (@APfeifer24) October 1, 2018
I’d expect Howard to still get his, and he wound up with 11 carries in this one (though, virtually all his work came in the 2nd half with the game well in hand), but the offense looked much better with Cohen driving the car. The sell-high window on Howard has closed. Owners should expect to find themselves in a time-share scenario, at best. All told, Cohen wound up with the above-noted 20 touches on 13 carries and 7/8 as a pass catcher.
It is also noteworthy that Taylor Gabriel (7/7/104/2TD) led all non-Cohen’s in targets when this offense looked the best it had all season. The shifty receiver can line up all over the field for Nagy’s Bears and should continue to get looks in what intends to be a dynamic, innovative offense. He’s had seven or more targets in three of the team’s four games, so he clearly has a role on the offense. But, until today had produced a max of 7.5 YPR and 34 yards. That boom or bust output is likely to continue but he is as good a ‘boom candidate’ as any in Chicago this year.
Aaron Jones is the back to own in Green Bay
Much like the Cohen-Howard conversation from above, there is still room for some shared distribution, but Aaron Jones was the best back on the field for Green Bay this week. Decisive and explosive when running the ball, Jones picked up right where he left off last year in an impressive performance against Buffalo.
Aaron Jones is BALLIN.’ The torch has officially been passed. As stated previously, he’s THE RB to own moving forward. Adios, Jamaal Williams‘ fantasy worth.
– Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) September 30, 2018
He was the third back to get into the game for the Packers, with both Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery getting carries before him but when he touched the ball he was easily the most effective. This is likely to be a three-headed monster moving forward but as he continues to be the top performer I expect Jones to take over. I’d be surprised if he didn’t draw the start in Week 5, and to be working in the 16-20 touch range by the second half.
Seattle RB “Rotation”
There are two ways to look at Mike Davis‘ breakout performance this weekend and the subsequent news that he has worked his way into the ‘rotation’ at RB.
Carroll says Mike Davis will continue to fit in to running back rotation even once Carson comes back.
– Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) October 1, 2018
One would be to laud Davis for getting it done behind a Seattle line that few runners have succeeded with in recent years; and the other would be to run for the hills when you hear the word rotation. For me, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It seems fairly clear that Davis has stepped ahead of Rashaad Penny who will be given time to acclimate to the offense, and he warrants an add if you have the roster space as a result. But, indeed, it will be a rotation and the Seahawks still rank right around the middle of the league in rushing offense. With just 105 YPG to go around and carries split among all three tailbacks I wouldn’t plan to hitch my wagon to Davis’ fortunes any time soon.
I may have buried Andrew Luck‘s arm a little prematurely
Stephen Holder may have a point here. Luck looked the part in OT against the Texans had the Indianapolis offense performed well in the second half in particular. A few more games like this and Luck will look like a steal, while last week I expressed significant concerns about his durability.
I just have to say this while it’s on my mind: Whatever happens with the Colts’ record this year, let’s quit with the “what’s wrong with Andrew Luck” questions, ok?
The answer is, not a damn thing.
(Franchise record in completions with 40 and a career high in yards w 464).
– Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) October 1, 2018
Keke Coutee had a debut to remember
Elsewhere in that game, Keke Coutee caught 11 balls in his debut with the Texans offense showing some signs of life. Of course, he did it with Will Fuller leaving early due to injury, but Coutee was picking up some hype early in camp this year and a double-digit catch debut is clearly nothing to sneeze at. He’s worth an add in all formats.
Keke Coutee‘s 11 catches in debut sets modern-era record https://t.co/tAnrnggO8X
– ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 1, 2018
Sony Michel could develop into an every week RB1
The Patriots dismantled the Miami Dolphins at home this week with a balanced offensive attack, and Sony Michel was a feature of that. I was hard on Michel last week, deservedly so, for a number of tentative runs against the Lions that ultimately led to a hole closing quickly and a carry for no gain. Those runs were still present against the Dolphins… but there were enough positive carries (particularly on rushes to the outside) mixed in that I’m feeling much more bullish on Michel than I was at this time last week.
Of his 25 carries, four went for no gain or a loss while four went for 10+ yards (and two more for 9). He’s still finding his way, and I’m hopeful that the hesitation we’re seeing will dissipate as he gains more confidence. There’s still a lot of upside here.
And, I suppose it follows logically that he just needed some time after missing much of his first training camp.
So, Sony Michel looks better after the workload he received in the past two weeks. It’s like he needed some time to get his legs under him after missing the entire preseason. Who would’ve guessed that?
– Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) September 30, 2018
Nick Chubb is another back eating into the leader’s touches
Though, in this case I’m not willing to anoint Chubb the carry leader moving forward. His two-TD debut is the stuff of legends:
There have been over 1,200 instances of a player having 100+ Rush yards and 2 TD in a game in NFL history.
Nick Chubb is the only player ever to do it in 3 rushes or fewer. (via @EliasSports) pic.twitter.com/g40M2gdh3p
– NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 1, 2018
But, Carlos Hyde has been productive with Baker Mayfield behind centre and is the veteran presence that the offense needs. Again, Chubb’s two long scampers for scores in a barn burner against the Raiders were a lot of fun to watch but Hyde churned out a workmanlike 82 yards on 22 carries and scored what most thought would be the winning touchdown. Chubb had just three carries, bringing his season total to ten. No doubt this outing earned him more work, but I’d expect Hyde to continue to outsnap him by a fair amount. At least in the short term.
Meantime, while we’re on this game… this is more just a personal observation than anything else, but I’ve heard a lot of conversation dwelling on Baker Mayfield‘s four turnovers in his first start. For me, I take his 295 yards and the offense’s 42 points as an incredibly positive sign, particularly on the road in the Black Hole.