Bumps, Bruises and Bowouts
Maxx Williams – Knee
Russell Wilson – Ankle
Dwayne Washington – Ankle
C.J. Fiedoroewicz – Knee
Eric Ebron – Ankle
Kevin White – Ankle
Cam Newton – Concussion
Devin Funchess – Toe
Kevin White – Ankle
Trevor Siemian – Shoulder
Chris Johnson – Groin
Benny Cunningham – Hamstring
Carson Palmer – Concussion
Heading into Week 5 we will be getting a few fantasy stars back and perhaps most anticipated will be Tom Brady. Le’Veon Bell returned last Sunday with great effect and Julio Jones gave proof why you should never, ever, bench your elite studs. This past week was the changing of the quarterbacks and a bit of depth chart confusion.
Return of the Tight Ends
Week 5 will witness three very important tight ends back on the playing field. Tyler Eifert required ankle surgery back in May and has not been seen since. He’s expected to have his debut in Dallas this week and the Bengals trouble producing touchdowns should be cured by the player that posted 13 scores last year. Zach Ertz opened the year with six catches for 58 yards in the Eagle’s tight-end friendly offense. But he suffered a rib injury and will finally be back in time for the matchup with the Lions this week. Lastly, Rob Gronkowski may have technically been back for two weeks but recorded just one catch. Tom Brady makes his much anticipated return and faces the Browns who just allowed Jordan Reed to notch nine catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Say hello to the real Rob Gronkowski.
Addition by Subtraction
The Bears were unable to mount much of a rushing attack with Jeremy Langford who only averaged 3.0 yards per carry over the first two weeks. Langford was lost with a high ankle sprain in the next game and remains out for at least another month. But Jordan Howard turned in 45 yards on just nine carries in the loss in Dallas. In Week 4, the Bears not only beat the visiting Lions, but Howard ran for 111 yards on 23 carries and now averages 5.1 yards per rushing attempt. Chances are his next two games – at the Colts and versus the Jaguars – will only further cement his role as the Bears new primary back.
Kinda Seems Like a Theme
Losing a quarterback causes the most disruption to any offense and Week 4 forced three more to the sidelines. Both Super Bowl 50 teams saw their signal callers leave for the locker room and the 1-3 Cardinals were already digging a hole for themselves before the loss of Carson Palmer. New to the box scores:
Derek Anderson (Panthers) – Cam Newton left with a concussion and he’s been battered in every game. Newton has only missed two games in his five-year career. Anderson has been the back-up in Carolina since 2011 but only started those two games that Newton missed in 2014. Oddly enough, Anderson’s only starts were at the Buccaneers (Week 1) and then versus the … Buccaneers again (Week 15). And should Anderson start this week it will be… against… the Buccaneers <cue spooky music>.
Paxton Lynch (Broncos) – After Trevor Siemian was lost with a shoulder injury, the Broncos called on their first round pick to take over. Paxton Lynch became the 1.26 selection when they jumped before the Cowboys and secured the quarterback of the future. On Sunday, Lynch completed 14 of 24 for 170 yards and one score with no turnovers. This week he’ll face the visiting Falcons and later travel to San Diego for two very enticing match-ups. Lynch looked sharp last week in his sudden NFL debut against … the … Buccaneers.
Drew Stanton (Cardinals) – Carson Palmer was concussed in the loss to the Rams and is unlikely to play this week since they will be at San Francisco on Thursday night. That leaves Stanton in charge though he has not started a game for the Cardinals since 2014. He was a big step down from Palmer two years ago but at least will have a rushing offense to support him this time. Stanton had only had two cameos this year – Sunday versus the Rams and back in Week 2 against… the… Buccaneers.
Revising the Depth Chart
Recognizing the top wide receiver for each team is no longer simple.
Cole Beasley (Cowboys) – Dez Bryant was out injured for Week 4 and that could last longer. But Beasley already caught a team high 23 passes for 279 yards. That’s a pace that would result in 92 receptions for the year. Bryant only caught 11 passes on the year.
Will Fuller (Texans) – The first-round pick already notched two 100 yard games and his 19 catches for 323 yards lead the team. DeAndre Hopkins only managed one game over the century mark and was just held to just one catch by the Titans. Fuller not only has two more catches, but gained 96 more yards. Fuller was drafted to help draw the defense from Hopkins. So far he’s also taken a bigger share of the receptions.
Michael Thomas (Saints) – The second-round pick was the hoped for replacement for the departed Marquez Colston. While he is tied with two other wideouts with a team high two receiving touchdowns, Thomas has caught 21 passes already – three more than any other Saint.
Quincy Enunwa (Jets) – Last year Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker combined for 189 catches for 2529 yards and 26 touchdowns. Now Decker is out and Marshall has struggled with foot and knee issues. And Enunwa leads the team with 23 catches – seven more than Marshall in the same number of games.
Michael Crabtree (Raiders) – Already a capable complement to the best wideout of the 2015 draft class, Crabtree has been the most productive receiver in Oakland. He leads the team with four touchdowns (Amari Cooper has none) and his 26 receptions are six more than next best Cooper.
Jeremy Kerley (49ers) – The 49ers entered the year with little more than Torrey Smith as a proven weapon. But through four games, the new Chip Kelly offense has relied more on Kerley and any other receiver. The ex-Lion came over in a trade at the start of the season but already has a team high 32 targets for 18 catches and 202 yards. That’s double the number of catches by Smith.
Moving On Up
While most coveted free agents from now on will be the product of an injury replacement or sudden promotion, there are still a few players that are progressing well enough to note.
Sammie Coates (Steelers) – Eli Rogers cannot stay healthy and Antonio Brown needs support. Coates has yet to score but has been above 50 yards in every game and comes off a season best six catches for 79 yards. When the Jets visit this week, they will be directing Darrelle Revis to worry about Coates.
Terrance Williams (Cowboys) – While Williams had a time out in Week 2 after losing the fumble in the season opening loss to the Giants, he is back. Williams disappeared last year without Romo there but becoming a factor again with Dak Prescott at the helm. Williams caught four passes for 88 yards in Week 3 and then included a touchdown on his four receptions for 44 yards in win over the 49ers.
Terrance West (Ravens) – The Ravens backfield has been something to avoid but that may change. With Justin Forsett a healthy scratch, Terrance West ran for 113 yards and one score on 21 carries in the loss to the Raiders. He took all but three of the rushing attempts. While that was against the #32 defense versus running backs, this week welcomes the Redskins who only rank 28th best versus the position.
Eddie Royal (Bears) – Not only does Eddie Royal come off a seven-catch, 111 yard performance with one score in the win over the Lions, but he leads all wideouts with two touchdowns. His 18 receptions are just one less than the leader Kevin White. Alshon Jeffery is battling injuries and White is still learning the NFL game. Royal not only carved out a role for himself, he was Brian Hoyer’s favorite target.
Who doesn’t love to see a running back darting and spinning and caroming off defenders? Slicing through the line and dashing to a long touchdown with the entire defense trailing behind? Well, the NFL doesn’t. At least not this week.
There were just 16 rushing touchdowns this week and Devonta Freeman scored his on a 13-yard run. No other score was made from any farther out than the three yard line. 13 of them were from the one or two yard line. And your league rewards distance touchdowns why?
IND 27, JAX 30
London games are always hard to call and usually end up lower scoring than this. The Colts mounted a 21 point fourth quarter comeback that fell short. That prevented what would have been a disastrous day for Andrew Luck (234 yards, 2 TDs) and T.Y. Hilton (7-42, TD). Blake Bortles only passed for 207 yards but threw two scores and ran in a third. No Jaguar receiver gained more than 55 yards though Allen Robinson (5-55, TD) and Allen Hurns (2-47, TD) both scored. This game ended much better than it started. The Colts host the Bears next while the Jaguars go on their bye.
CAR 33, ATL 48
At 0-3, the Panthers are simply not getting the respect owed to a NFC Champion. You’d think they would want revenge for being the team that prevented them from going 16-0 last year but you would be wrong apparently. Did Josh Norman make a difference last year? Ask Julio Jones (12-300, TD). Can Newton left concussed which is surprising only in that it took this long to happen. The Panthers had a total of 19 rush yards from their running backs and Fozzy Whitaker (9-86) was the best receiver. Matt Ryan passed for 503 yards and four scores but only Jones gained more than 50 yards as a receiver. The Falcons have finally beaten what should be a really good team and now they head to Denver. The Panthers host the Buccaneers and hope at they they will remain 2015 good.
OAK 28, BAL 27
The Ravens built a perfect record by playing nobodies but were shown up by the visiting Raiders who mounted a late comeback. Derek Carr passed for just 199 yards but had four touchdowns. Three of those ended up with Michael Crabtree (7-88) while Amari Cooper settled for just 48 yards on five catches. The Raiders rushing offense offers almost nothing when there are no touchdowns. Joe Flacco passed for 298 yards but only one touchdown though he ran in another. Terrance West fans saw him gain 113 yards on 21 runs and scored once against the worst rush defense in the NFL so, yeah, start him next week and see what happens. Steve Smith (8-111, TD) was the only good receiver. Now the Ravens host the Redskins and the Raiders host the Chargers.
DET 14, CHI 17
This was just pitiful. Matthew Stafford threw for just 213 yards and two interceptions and the 14 points were from two field goals and a punt return touchdown. No back ran for more than 31 yards and only Marvin Jones (5-74) gained more than 42 yards as a receiver. Brian Hoyer threw for 302 yards and two scores but mostly used Eddie Royal (7-111, TD). Jordan Howard ran for 111 and tacked on 21 more yards on three catches which was better than what Jeremy Langford had been producing. Now the Lions host the Falcons and the Bears head to Indianapolis.
TEN 20, HOU 27
The Titans were really nothing more than DeMarco Murray (25-95, 2 TD plus 2-24 receiving) and both teams coasted in the second half. Brock Osweiler passed for 254 yards and two scores but Will Fuller (7-81, TD) was the only decent receiver while DeAndre Hopkins turned six targets into a cool four yards on one catch. At least Lamar Miller gained 108 total yards. Now the Titans head to Miami and the Texans are on the road to Minneapolis.
BUF 16, NE 0
The only fantasy play was LeSean McCoy who totaled 108 yards and one score. Martellus Bennett hauled in 109 yards on five catches but no one started him since he had just ten yards last week. This is like having some kid in the neighborhood who is always mouthing off finally getting roughed up and put into his place. In his own yard. Problem is that his big brother Tom the Navy Seal is coming home next week and he is not in a good humor. And he is looking for you. The Bills head to Los Angeles while
Tom Brady the Pats go to Cleveland to kick off the Revenge Tour 2016. ‘Ding Dong’… shhhh. I’m not here.
SEA 27, NYJ 17
Russell Wilson now runs for negative yardage in games but he tossed three touchdowns on his 309 yards in New York. Jimmy Graham (6-113) has two big weeks in a row and maybe now you regret passing on him several times in your draft. Christine Michael totaled 90 yards and one score. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three more interceptions this week but at least Brandon Marshall (4-89, TD) caught the only receiving score. Matt Forte was held to only 43 total yards. Now the Seahawks are on bye and the Jets have to go play in Pittsburgh.
CLE 20, WAS 31
The Browns led by three in the third quarter as if they were going to have a close game. Cody Kessler’s trial by fire is more smoke than flame. Terrelle Pryor (5-46) caught the lone passing touchdown and Isaiah Crowell totaled 134 yards and ran in one score. Kirk Cousins passed for three scores, two of which went to Jordan Reed (9-73) like they are supposed to. Matt Jones even ran for 117 yards and a score which suggests that facing the Browns make running backs look better than they really are. Now the Browns host the Patriots at a really bad time and the Redskins head to Baltimore.
DAL 24, SF 17
Dak Prescott still has not turned the ball over and he;s up to two passing scores per game. A lack of Dez Bryant equaled a lack of any notable Dallas receivers though Terrance Williams (4-44, TD) had his second decent game in a row. Ezekiel Elliott (23-138, TD) is meeting lofty expectations. But the 49ers only managed 74 rushing yards from Carlos Hyde though he ran in one score. Jeremy Kerley (6-88, TD) had the rare good showing. This was another game that went quiet in the second half and the Cowboys came back to win with just ten points after halftime. The Cowboys host the Bengals this week while the 49ers welcome the Cardinals.
DEN 27, TB 7
It was like the Broncos defense was better than the Buccaneers offense. Jameis Winston was held to only 179 yards and two interceptions. No Bucs running back gained more than 28 yards and that required 15 runs by Charles Sims. Mike Evans (5-59) had 11 targets. The Broncos spun through two quarterbacks and still passed for 238 yards and scores for both Demaryius Thomas (6-94, TD) and Emmanuel Sanders (8-88, TD). C.J. Anderson only totaled 52 yards but ran in one touchdown. The Broncos host the Falcons and the Buccaneers head to Carolina.
LA 17, ARI 13
Hard to say what the biggest surprise is here. The Rams are 3-1 despite having no real signs of any offense. Or that the Cardinals are 1-3 and seem to be missing both their defense and their passing game.Carson Palmer threw for 288 yards but just one score before getting concussed. John Brown (10-144) was the secret weapon after only totaled 96 yards over the first three weeks. David Johnson totaled 124 yards as the only Cardinal who is good every week. Todd Gurley (19-33) needs to remove the 200 lb. invisible backpack that keeps him from outrunning all those defenders already in the backfield. Brian Quick (2-69, 2 TD) was the only scorer because who would bother covering Brian Quick? The inexplicable Rams host the Bills this week while the Cardinals head to San Francisco.
KC 43, PIT 14
Nothing like some consistency. After getting pounded by the Eagles 33-3 last week, the Steelers unleashed the super powers of Le’Veon Bell (178 total yards) and crushed the Chiefs. That’s a healthy swing of 59 points in winning margin. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 300 yards and five scores of which two contractually went to Antonio Brown (4-64). This game was a shutout until the fourth quarter. Spencer Ware turned in 96 total yards while Jamaal Charles (2-7) debut was a bit less than triumphant. The Chiefs go onto their bye to lick their wounds while the Steelers host the Jets.
Huddle Player of the Week
Julio Jones – Forget about him catching just one pass for 16 yards in Week 3. Forget that his ankle had him limited in practices last week. But never forget that his 12 catches for 300 yards and one score was only the sixth time in NFL history that a receiver hit the 300 yard mark. The last time was Calvin Johnson (329) in 2013 and before that was back in 1985. If his 48 fantasy points wasn’t attached to a winning franchise in your league, you should just disband their team and redistribute the players. That was one of the most prolific fantasy games by any wideout.
Drama 101 – Somebody has to Laugh, Somebody has to Cry
|QB||Case Keenum||280||2||QB||Cam Newton||195||1|
|RB||John Kuhn||12||3||RB||Latavius Murray||24||0|
|RB||Terrance West||113||1||RB||Matt Forte||43||0|
|WR||Dontrelle Inman||120||1||WR||DeAndre Hopkins||4||0|
|WR||Brian Quick||69||2||WR||Julian Edelman||16||0|
|WR||Jeremy Kerley||88||1||WR||Willie Snead||23||0|
|TE||C.J. Fiedorowicz||48||1||TE||Dennis Pitta||17||0|
|PK||Mike Nugent||5 FG 1 XP||PK||Stephen Gostkowski||w-0-w|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 146||Huddle Fantasy Points = 23|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
We had a few monster games this week and Julio Jones was amazing, even more so since he only had one catch for 16 yards the previous week. We’re starting to get back a few injured players and all the suspended guys are back or, in some cases, in rehab. The games almost all looked really low scoring but most turned in lots of late points to make the difference.
Saints 35, Chargers 34
This was everything the Giants/Saints matchup was supposed to be and wasn’t.
The amazing part was that it did not spawn that many big games for individuals. Drew Brees only threw for 207 yards and two scores. The best Saints receiver was Mark Ingram with 49 yards on six catches. Ingram totaled 105 yards and one score while John Kuhn crushed the hearts of every Ingram owner by scoring three times – two by a run and once as a receiver. Kuhn only had five touches in the game.
Philip Rivers passed for 321 yards and two scores but Dontrelle Inman (7-120, TD) was more than a little surprise and even Hunter Henry (4-61, TD) did better than the rest. Melvin Gordon only ran for 36 yards on 19 carries but scored twice and added 43 yards on six catches.
Brandin Cooks (3-31) and Willie Snead (1-23) were non-factors.
The Chargers led this 34-21 with a field goal when there was only 8:39 left in the game. But after Gordon lost a fumble on the SD-13 yard line with 6:50 left to play, the Saints punched in the score on fourth and two from the five yard line.
Then after the kickoff, the Chargers threw to Travis Benjamin who coughed it up on the SD-31 yard line with 4:40 left to play. Seven plays later, John Kuhn ran in his third touchdown of the game. The Chargers then only needed four plays to throw an interception and let the Saints march away with a win.
We’re passing by the quarter turn and in fantasy terms, most leagues are more than one-third done considering the shorter regular fantasy season. There is still time to mount a comeback if you need it but the window is drawing closed.
Good luck next week and get back in the race if you are trailing. Oh yeah, and watch out for those Buccaneers. They’re the harbingers of fantasy misfortune.
Now get back to work…