Thankfully Week 4 wasn’t quite as harsh on fantasy teams from an injury perspective. This week brings bye weeks for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks. Gamers will be without the likes of Allen Robinson, Jeremy Maclin, Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Brandin Cooks, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham. That doesn’t include at least a half-dozen prominent role players.
I am a firm believer that after the first month of the season we start seeing the reality of situational and player outlooks. Our first week with a full slate of bye teams creates a scenario of uncomfortable trust in players fantasy owners typically wouldn’t be willing to start. Buck up and enjoy the ride! These are the weeks where championship teams are solidified, and also where those off to a slow start get a newfound way to help even the playing field.
WR Dontrelle Inman, San Diego Chargers
He will be a hot waiver commodity this week after catching seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. Philip Rivers doesn’t fixate on one receiver, not that he has many of them left to stare down. Few quarterbacks are as adept at surveying the field and finding the open target as No. 17. San Diego is likely without Antonio Gates one more game, and this week brings a top-10 matchup for wide receivers. Keep this short and sweet, because the Bolts move on to face the Denver Broncos in two of the next three weeks. We’ll be having a different conversation next week if Inman translates his heavy snap count into fantasy points against the Broncs.
QB Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
The rookie has been nothing short of impressive in the opening three weeks of his NFL career from a purely non-fantasy perspective. He was off in Week 4, which should serve him well in preparation against the reeling Detroit Lions. This woeful defense rates as the second lamest defense against quarterbacks on the year, giving up 12 touchdowns and intercepting only one pass. Wentz’s schedule toughens after this week, so try not to get overly excited if he dismantles a Detroit defense that may be missing its best two defenders for a third straight game.
RB Josh Ferguson, Indianapolis Colts
The explosive rookie was a deep sleeper target of mine in the offseason before he fell out of favor with the coaching staff during the preseason. He is back on the field and seeing the ball (seven catches in Week 4), benefiting from the injury issues within the Colts’ receiving corps. The offseason buzz with Ferguson stemmed from his dynamic ability as a receiver out of the backfield. This week brings the Chicago Bears, a midrange matchup for owners in PPR setups. Take a flier if you need a warm body.
Make it a fling
WR Brice Butler, Dallas Cowboys
Just how desperate are you feeling? Project confidence. It will do wonders for your game … and fantasy team. The bravado needed is having the guts to take the chance against the Cincinnati Bengals. While this D ranks 14th against the position, a closer look shows a group that has allowed the fourth most touchdowns to wideouts. Butler is a decent bet for a few jump-ball situations and has the downfield ability to break one. With all of the starting receivers on vacation, you’ll be served nicely by this Butler in Week 5. Of course, all of this is for naught if Dez Bryant plays. A quality performance against the Bengals should lead you to considering Butler versus Green Bay before a Week 7 bye. The Packers have coughed up the third most PPR points per game to wideouts.
Put a ring on that thing
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr., Cleveland Browns
No more Josh Gordon means it’s effectively all Pryor until Corey Coleman returns in roughly a month. Even then, it may still be the Pryor Show. He has seamlessly transitioned from quarterback to wide receiver and is so physically gifted as an athlete that some of his deficiencies are masked. As I’ve previously said, make no mistake, he’s a football player first, athlete second, but you cannot teach 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. He has weekly playability going forward.
WR Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears
You have to like what Royal has done this year — three games with at least 50 yards and a clear rapport with quarterback Brian Hoyer. In the event the journeyman backup quarterback goes back to the pine when Jay Cutler’s thumb heals, you know there’s a long-term history of chemistry between the receiver and passer. Sweetening this deal is the ankle injury suffered by Kevin White, which could improve Royal’s already high level of involvement.
TE Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A pity date turned into a fun fling and now has morphed into the long-term thing. The honeymoon will be spent exploiting the Carolina Panthers’ fifth easiest defense of tight ends. Jameis Winston is in love with Brate, too, but there is no reason to get jealous. Brate will treat you right if you show a little faith in him this week and the rest of the way.
The big tease
RB DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders
It is still Latavius Murray’s backfield to lose, and the coaching staff has acknowledged he will lose touches, but Washington is doing just enough to flirt with fantasy owners. You gotta love it when someone flashes big, uh, play potential. Averaging 6.4 yards per carry (23 attempts for 143 yards), explosive plays are his hallmark, but don’t expect to get a greeting card anytime soon. Oakland would be wise to include the rookie more often in the passing game.
Grounds for divorce
RB Matt Forte, New York Jets
I must preface this inclusion by saying it is correlative to the offense’s struggles as a whole and not necessary all Forte’s fault. He scored three times versus the Buffalo Bills and hasn’t found the end zone in the two following games. Much of his fantasy value hinges on Forte’s excellent hands in the passing game, but he has lost 40 percent of his snaps to Bilal Powell, mainly on third downs, and is being out-targeted by the younger runner. Forte’s stock takes a major hit when he isn’t catching many balls and also not finding the end zone. Forte could be a decent trade piece if he has another big game, but you likely missed the window to gain optimal value.