The NFL is full of more close games than at any time in history. That plays out with the Eagles as the only unbeaten team and seven other teams that are currently 3-1. It is very early in the season, but only 25% of the teams have a winning record. The Texans are the lone team without a win, but eight teams have just one win. Half of the league is currently 2-2 and players and teams are still transitioning to whatever they are going to be by the end of the season.
Overall, the play still seems mostly sluggish and lacks the sharpness expected after a month of playing time. There are still many situations that are evolving and injuries only add to the uncertainty. Let’s take a look at a few things entering into Week 5 of the season.
1.) How set are we on the top players? – We’re getting comfortable with the top players in their position since there have been four games. But how does that play out against the entire season? Let’s look at last year.
Most of the Top-10 did not stay there but mostly due to injury. The final Top-10 drew almost entirely from the Top-20 of Week 4. But realize too that the high points that put them in the initial Top-10 are a part of the Week 17, so the ranking drops are more than what they seem. This does not bode well for Ezekiel Elliott, James Conner, or Alvin Kamara.
Looks like the Top-10 at year-end for receivers also comes out of the Top-24. This also doesn’t look good for Diontae Johnson, D.J. Moore, or Darnell Mooney.
2.) RB Brian Robinson (WAS) – The rookie could show up as early as this weekend, and it would be a major positive for his season outlook if he could line up for a few plays. HC Ron Rivera said ““He looked solid. His conditioning will be a question, that’s for sure. But just watching him, his retention, his recall looks pretty good.” Antonio Gibson totals 53 carries for 173 yards (3.3 yards per carry), so Robinson has a chance to be the upgrade. It will take time before he’ll be ready for a full load, so the initial weeks may seem light, but he’s one to watch when he does play.
3.) WR Gabe Davis (BUF) – The third-year receiver opened the year with four catches for 88 yards and a score at the Rams. But he injured his ankle which kept him out in Week 2 and still hampered him for the last two games. Davis practiced in full this week and is finally back to health. These last three weeks saw Isaiah McKenzie score twice and have an uptick in targets. Davis should be back to form this week when the Steelers visit. Josh Allen was down to only 213 yards and one touchdown last week at the Ravens. A healthy Davis should show up this week and get the offense back on track.
4.) WR Rondale Moore (ARI) – The second-round pick of last year, Moore debuted last week after missing three weeks with a hamstring sprain. He was not effective with just one run and three catches for 11 yards. But Kyler Murray threw a season-low 207 yards in Carolina and Greg Dortch had a single catch. The Cardinals host the Eagles, so Marquise Brown will already be the most well-covered receiver. And the Cards will need to throw the ball more than usual. Moore ran a 4.29 40-time at the combine and offers needed speed. Greg Dortch was productive through the first three weeks replacing Moore, but will step back with Moore there. A.J. Green is also out this week, so Moore has to figure in and needs to show production as the starting slot receiver. Moore was added to the injury report on Thursday, so Friday’s practice should clarify if he’ll be limited this week.
5.) RB Tyler Allgeier/Caleb Huntley (ATL) – The Falcons lost Cordarrelle Patterson to injured reserve for at least the next four weeks, and that’s promoted Allgeier and Huntley into bigger roles. Even with Patterson active, Allgeier was taking six to ten carries each week and Avery Williams handled just one. Huntley was little used until Patterson went down, but then he jumped over Williams and became the No. 2 back in the win over the Browns. The Falcons’ offensive line has performed far better than expected, particularly with run blocking. The split will be interesting. Huntley rushed eight times in one series that bled over into the fourth quarter and that gave Atlanta a 17-13 lead. Allgeier is currently the No. 1 back, but the Falcons are more than happy to be run-heavy and there could be plenty for the No. 2 back, especially when he is running better than the No. 1.
6. QB Andy Dalton (NO) – Jameis Winston didn’t practice last week or this week (so far), so the expectation is that Dalton gets another start. Winston threw five interceptions over the last two games that he played and he’s out with back and ankle injuries. There is growing speculation that the Saints could be better off with the pocket passer Dalton who had no interceptions last week versus the Vikings. Michael Thomas is likely out again this week but Dalton connected well with Chris Olave (4-67, TD). Alvin Kamara is likely to return after limited practices this week. Friday will be key. Kamara hasn’t been used as a receiver much with Winston, his high game being three catches for seven yards in the season opener. Last week, Dalton used running backs for four catches for 21 yards and tight ends for a combined six catches for 70 yards. The Saints’ offense is heading in the wrong direction with Winston, so a switch to Dalton could be in the works and would better serve Kamara as a receiver.