We’ve reached the quarter turn of the NFL season and Week 4 was a doozy. After a couple of quiet(er) weeks on the injury front, the hammer dropped as Ty Montgomery, Dalvin Cook, Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr and Julio Jones were just a few of the stars that left their games due to injury. Hopefully you survived the carnage as we’re forced to press on. We’re also starting the bye weeks, so make sure you get all of your Falcons, Broncos, Saints and Washington players out of lineups.
As for the token disclaimer, the goal of this article is to provide a top-down, statistical snapshot for each game each week, running down weekly point spreads, team totals, play calling splits, and statistical bullet points on the players and teams involved. Although we’re focusing strictly on PPR league scoring here as a baseline, there’s more than enough to spread around across formats and daily leagues. The reason we’re operating under a PPR umbrella is it allows us to cover a larger portion of the players involved in action weekly.
Lastly, as the author, it’s imperative that I note that this is NOT a start/sit column, rather an expectations column. The labels for each subset of players for each game are simply a vehicle for those expectations and have a different context for each player that you can find at the end of the column. I encourage that you use the game by game tables and data points here in conjunction with the Start/Sit column posted weekly by Nick Mensio, Pat Daugherty’s rankings in the Goal Line Stand, Evan Silva’s Matchup’s column, Ray Summerlin's Waiver Wired and most importantly, your own information and thought process. Remember, you control your own team. With that out of the way, let’s hit all the Week 5 games with a PPR light…
Patriots @ Buccaneers
|New England||Rank||@||Tampa Bay||Rank|
|41.2%||14||Opp. Rush %||38.8%||10|
|58.8%||19||Opp. Pass %||61.2%||23|
- New England is allowing a league-high 2.08 passing points per drive while Tampa Bay is right after them at 1.94 pass points per drive.
- The 1,341 passing yards surrendered by New England to opposing passers is the second-highest in franchise history through four weeks (1,507 yards in 2011).
- Tampa Bay allows 28.7 completions per game, the most in the league.
- Tom Brady ranks second in the league in yards per completion at 13.6 yards.
- 60.3 percent of Jameis Winston's completions have gone for 10 or more yards, the highest rate in the league.
- Brandin Cooks has the most targets (24) in the league without a red zone target on the season.
- 30.8 percent (8-of-26) of Chris Hogan's targets have come from inside the red zone, the highest rate for all players with 20 or more targets on the season.
- The Patriots have allowed 32 points per game so far, the most they've ever allowed through four weeks in any season in franchise history.
- 91.5 percent of the rushing attempts versus New England have gained positive yardage, the highest rate in the league.
Trust: Tom Brady (This is actually Brady's first ever NFL start in Tampa Bay. He has thrown 15 touchdowns to one interception in six career non-Week 1 Thursday games and the Bucs have just allowed back to back top-5 weeks to Case Keenum and Eli Manning), Jameis Winston (he’s turned in 300-yard passing games versus the Giants and Vikings while every quarterback to face New England has hit 300-yards this season), Mike Evans (he’s had a couple of tough individual assignments the past two weeks, but is all systems go against a secondary hemorrhaging passing yardage), Chris Hogan (he hasn’t had more than five catches or 78 receving yards in any game, but has scored three straight weeks and has been the wide receiver used the most in the red zone), Brandin Cooks (he’s had just one top-30 week through the opening month, but Tampa Bay is allowing the most receptions and yards per game to opposing wideouts to chase a big week in a potentially high-scoring game against Vernon Hargreaves)
Bust: Mike Gillislee (this game should feature scoring, so I won’t fault anyone for chasing a short plunge into the paint, but Tampa Bay is allowing just 2.7 yards per carry and 65.3 rushing yards to backfields and Gillislee is givign you nothing in the passing game), O.J. Howard(New England has been a target for tight ends to start the year, but he’s had just four catches on the year and you’re counting on another busted play to carry you), Dwayne Allen/Jacob Hollister (it's hard to hop efor anything more than a touchdown here, but with Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander out, they may make a play or two)
Reasonable Return: DeSean Jackson (his volatility has been on full display with 18.4 points in Week 2 and 10.9 points total in his other two games, but we’re making a play on an upside week against the Pats’ secondary in a similar faship to Cooks), Cameron Brate (his targets and yardage have gone up in every game while New England has allowed the fourth-most points to opposing tight ends), Danny Amendola (he has two top-15 scoring weeks in three games while Tampa Bay has allowed five or more catches to all three of the primary slot receivers they’ve faced. Gets the biggest bumnp with Gronk out), Adam Humphries (if the bye weeks have you needing a WR3/flex, Humphries has at least six catches in each of the past two weeks on 17 targets, second on the team), Doug Martin (when he returned last year from injury, he averaged 21.3 touches per game, but he’s only going to have one true day of practice given the short week. Jacquizz Rodgers will likely still be involved in some capacity in passing situations, but the running back landscape is too barren to ignore Martin in a potentially hihg-scoring game), James White (he played a season-high snap share last week and has been a top-30 back in three of four games with two weeks as a top-20 option while Tampa Bay has allowed big receiving games to backs in two of three games)
49ers @ Colts
|45.9%||26||Opp. Rush %||43.1%||19|
|54.1%||7||Opp. Pass %||56.9%||14|
- 30.9 percent of the completions against the Colts have gained 20 or more yards, the highest rate in the league. The rest of league is at 13.2 percent.
- Indianapolis is allowing .523 points per play, the most in the league.
- The Colts averaged 21.3 yards per drive, the fewest in the league.
- The Colts have been outscored 79-15 in the second half this season, the most points allowed and fewest points scored in the league.
- After facing a league-high 32.9 touches to running backs per game in 2016, the 49ers face 33.5 per game to start this season, the most in the league.
Trust: Carlos Hyde (even with the injury scare last week, he handled 42 percent of the team touches and is averaging a career-high 4.3 receptions per game while the Colts have allowed more and more rushing yardage in each week of the season so far)
Bust: Jack Doyle (he’s been a top-20 tight end just once while teams have targeted their tight ends a league-low 11.9 percent of the time versus the 49ers), Donte Moncrief (even with the touchdown last week, his snaps dropped once again as Kamar Aiken has surpassed him on the depth chart)
Reasonable Return: T.Y. Hilton (he has been a top-50 scorer just once, but that one came in a similar matchup as San Francisco has allowed five top-24 receivers to start the year), Pierre Garcon (his downs have come in predictable matchup scares and while Vontae Davis returned last week, he’s not the scare he was a few years ago as a guy to run completely away from), Brian Hoyer (the Colts have allowed 15 or more points to every quarterback they’ve faced so far), Jacoby Brissett (echo those thoughts for Brissett as a 2QB league/Superflex option as San Francisco has allowed 649 passing yards the past two weeks), Marquise Goodwin (only an option if you're chasing a fill-in that could connect on a long ball against a secondary allowing plenty of them), Frank Gore (he’s had double-digit scoring and a top-30 week in each of the past three games while the game script should be in order to make him RB2/flex viable)
Jets @ Browns
|46.4%||29||Opp. Rush %||46.4%||28|
|53.6%||4||Opp. Pass %||53.6%||5|
- In five games in which Matt Forte has played fewer than 20 percent of the snaps or missed outright, Bilal Powell has averaged 25.6 touches for 148.4 yards from scrimmage with four top-10 scoring weeks.
- Opponents have scored a touchdown on 84.6 percent (11-of-13) of their red zone possessions versus the Browns, the highest rate in the league.
- Tight ends have been targeted 30.3 percent of the time versus the Browns, the highest rate in the league.
- Cleveland is the only team in the league that has yet to run an offensive play with the lead yet this season.
- DeShone Kizer is the first Cleveland quarterback to complete fewer than half of his passes with 30 or more attempts in three straight games since Brian Sipe in 1981.
- Kizer is the fourth rookie since 2000 to throw eight interceptions over his first four career games played, joining Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Keith Null.
- The Jets are the only team that ranks inside of the bottom-12 in rushing points allowed per game (15.3) and receiving points allowed (13.3) to opposing running backs.
Trust: Bilal Powell (even though he shared opportunity with Elijah McGuire, Powell handled 66 percent of the rushing attempts and 46 of the team touches last week and has steadily produced high-end results with any actual opportunity he's received), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (he has a pedestrian 9-77 total through two games, but the Browns are a premier target for tight end plays, allowing a top-5 scoring week in three of four games to players such as Jesse James, Ben Watson and Tyler Kroft)
Bust: DeShone Kizer (Kizer has progressively gotten worse as a passer in terms of actual output and the Jets defense has been better than assumed, allowing just 203 passing yards to opposing quarterbacks per game), Kenny Britt (he has 18 targets the past two weeks, but has turned those into just six receptions), Elijah McGuire (he should flirt with a dozen touches, but the yards from scrimmage floor isn’t as strong as other players in his flex bucket of the position)
Reasonable Return: Duke Johnson (he’s the only Cleveland player to have any confidence level in right now and while you can’t keep banking on a touchdown each week, he’s leading the team in targets, receptions and receiving yards over the past three weeks), Jermaine Kearse/Robby Anderson (both are fringe flex plays if you’re in deep need as they each enter the week tied in targets. Kearse is more of the reception floor play while Anderson has higher yardage upside and Cleveland has allowed a top-24 scorer in every game this season), Josh McCown (it's a rough week for quarterbacks on bye weeks and streamers are thin this week, while McCown draws a matchup against a team that has allowed 27.8 points to Jacoby Brissett and 28.3 points to Andy Dalton over the past two weeks), Isaiah Crowell (he’s not an easy play at this point as he’s yet to turn in a week over RB26 and has just 14.8 total points over the past three weeks, but if you can’t use him with Cleveland as a rare home favorite against a team that has allowed 175 rushing yards or more in three of their four games, when will you ever use him?)
Jaguars @ Steelers
|45.3%||23||Opp. Rush %||38.9%||11|
|54.7%||10||Opp. Pass %||61.1%||22|
- The Jaguars (174.5 yards) rank first in yardage allowed to opposing passers per game while the Steelers rank second (181.3 yards).
- Blake Bortles averages 16.3 passing yards per possession, ahead of only Joe Flacco (13.1 yards).
- Ben Roethlisberger hasn't had a 300-yard passing game for 10 straight regular season games dating back to last year, his longest draught since the 2007-2008 season.
- Leonard Fournette is the first Jacksonville running back to score a touchdown in four straight games since Maurice Jones-Drew in 2009.
- Fournette has a target or touch on 63 percent of his snaps, the highest rate for all running backs.
- Opponents have scored on just 22.9 percent (11-of-48) of their possessions versus the Steelers, the lowest rate to begin the season.
- Jacksonville is the only team allowing just as many yards per rushing attempt (5.7 yards) as yards allowed per pass attempt (5.7 yards).
- 52.9 percent of the yardage gained against Jacksonville has come from rushing, the highest rate in the league.
- Pittsburgh has led for 58 percent of their offensive plays and 76 percent of their second half plays, the highest rates in the league.
Trust: Le’Veon Bell (his touches and yards from scrimmage have risen every week while the Jaguars are allowing 189.7 rushing yards per game over the past three weeks, the most in the league)
Bust: Antonio Brown (I waffled a bit on were to slot him this week since he’s had at least 30 percent of the team targets in every game so far, so he’s going to still have opportunity like no other receiver, but I do expect another down week for theelite standards he's set as he's has also had two down weeks in tougher spots and the Jaguars have yet to allow a receiver to hit 60-yards receiving so far and just one to have double-digit points), Ben Roethlisberger (it’s a home game, but it’s hard to see Ben snapping out of his yardage funk against this defense), Martavis Bryant (he hasn’t had more than three catches in a game with one week higher than WR57 while the Jaguars are stingy on the perimeter), Blake Bortles (he’s averaging 183 passing yards per game while Pittsburgh is allowing 8.3 passing points per game), Juju Smith-Schuster (he’s had two top-36 scoring weeks over the past two weeks and has booted Eli Rogers out of the lineup, but he’s still not trustworthy with no more than three receptions in any game), Allen Hurns/Marqise Lee (no receiver has hit 60-yards versus the Steelers and they’ve allowed just two touchdowns to the position)
Reasonable Return: Leonard Fournette (in the one game in which Jacksonville trailed steadily, Fournette had just 16 touches and 61 yards from scrimmage, something in the back of my head for his floor if the Jaguars can’t hang around on the scoreboard, but you easily keep plugging him in weekly as his usage and scoring potential are bankable)
Chargers @ Giants
|LA Chargers||Rank||@||NY Giants||Rank|
|51.7%||32||Opp. Rush %||47.7%||30|
|48.3%||1||Opp. Pass %||52.3%||3|
- The Giants and Chargers are the only teams to allow over 100-yards rushing in every game this season.
- The Chargers and Giants each average 18.8 rushing attempts per game, tied for the fewest in the league.
- The Giants have trailed for 80.3 percent of their snaps (31st) while the Chargers have trailed for 74.5 percent of their plays (30th).
- 35.2 percent of Melvin Gordon's carries have failed to gain positive yardage, the highest rate in the league.
- Gordon had a touch on 26 percent of his snaps Week 4, his lowest rate in a game for his career.
- The Chargers face the second-fewest passing attempts per game (28.5) while Eli Manning averages 41.5 pass attempts per game, the second most in the league behind Carson Palmer (45.8).
- Opposing teams have scored on 50 percent of their drives versus the Chargers, tied with New England for the highest rate in the league.
- Per Pro Football Focus, Evan Engram leads all tight ends in routes run (147) on the season.
- The Giants have allowed five TE1 scoring weeks on the season, the most in the league.
- Per Pro Football Focus, Antonio Gates has run 97 routes (17th for tight ends) while Hunter Henry has run 62 (32nd).
Bust: Brandon Marshall (he’s turned 21 targets the past two weeks into WR31 and WR33 fantasy finishes, but the way to draw receiver production out of Los Angeles is through the slot), Philip Rivers (he’s been a QB1 in just two of his past nine early start road games over the past two years), Tyrell Williams (he finally hit last week and while we could press our luck with him making a play or two on Eli Apple, he’s going to line up across from Jenkins the most of the receivers)
Reasonable Return: Odell Beckham (he’s had a whopping 28 targets the past two weeks while the Chargers and Casey Hayward have kept Alshon Jeffery, Demaryius Thomas and DeVante Parker all at WR 28 or lower), Keenan Allen (he’s going to be running roughly 90 percent of his routes in this game versus Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins which really dampens the outlook, but Rodgers-Cromartie is the lesser of evils between the two and his opportunity won’t dry up), Melvin Gordon (the Giants have struggled to defend the run and Gordon isn’t going to be inactive, but his health is a concern as he’s hardly produced anything over his past six quarters of football, totaling 12 carries for 23 yards rushing with just one reception), Sterling Shepard (despite not being overly flashy, he’s been a WR3 or better in three of his four games with five or more catches three times), Antonio Gates/Hunter Henry (we really wish these guys were one player because it’s an absolutely great spot versus a Giants defense allowing the most points to the position. Gates is getting more steady opportunity weekly, but Henry still has upside as a streaming option), Eli Manning(he’s bounced back with two QB1 weeks for fantasy and the Giants’ run game still can’t be trusted to take advantage of a poor Los Angeles rush defense), Evan Engram (he’s tied for fourth in receptions for all tight ends and has 25 targets over the past three weeks, taking advantage of playing so many passing snaps), Wayne Gallman (he turned in 50 yards from scrimmage on 13 touches last week and he made 3.8 yards per carry look like the reincarnation of Tiki Barber compared to what the Giants run game has given us so far. You can entertain him as a RB2/flex play against a Chargers’ team that has allowed four top-15 backs on the season)
Bills @ Bengals
|36.7%||5||Opp. Rush %||44.8%||21|
|63.3%||28||Opp. Pass %||55.2%||12|
- Last week was the first time Andy Dalton has thrown four touchdowns in a game since Week 16, 2013 and his 83.3 percent completion rate was the highest in his career.
- Buffalo is allowing .187 passing points per attempt, the fewest in the league.
- The four touchdowns allowed by the Bills are their fewest allowed through four games since 1995.
- Just 27.4 percent of the completed passes against the Bengals have gained 10 yards or more, the lowest rate in the NFL.
- Since Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator, Joe Mixon has totaled 42 touches compared to 15 for Jeremy Hill and 11 for Giovani Bernard.
- Mixon's .51 points per touch rank 25th out of 27 backs with 50 or more touches on the season, ahead of only Isaiah Crowell (.50) and Jay Ajayi (.46).
- LeSean McCoy ranks 20th in first half rushing attempts (26) but is third in the league in second half rushes (41).
- Charles Clay's 25.3 percent of the Buffalo targets is the highest target share in the league for all tight ends.
- Clay's 1.75 points per target are second only to Rob Gronkowski (1.79) for all tight ends with 20 or more targets on the season.
Trust: Charles Clay (the Bengals have allowed a combined 10-96-1 to opposing tight ends so far, but have yet to face a player that is a focal point of his team’s passing game like Clay is and he’s now been a top-6 scoring option in six of his past eight games dating back to last year)
Bust: Tyrod Taylor (his rushing can always build a stable floor, but he’s been just the QB25, QB17 and QB18 since Week 1 while the Bengals have held every passer outside of Aaron Rodgers under 200-yards passing), Andy Dalton (we wanted to see the Bills defense face a good quarterback and they continued to make life miserable for fantasy output, not allowing any quarterback to finish higher than QB22), Tyler Kroft (it’s hard to stock Kroft’s Week 4 too greatly since it was versus a Browns’ defense that has been shredded by tight ends and Kroft was just coming off a four-target game the week prior), Giovani Bernard (he’s been a flex or better option in three games, but he’s yet to have double-digit touches in any game. If you don’t get a touchdown, the floor is low), Bills WRs (no Buffalo wideout has scored higher than WR44 so far on the season)
Reasonable Return: A.J. Green (he’s hit for back to back WR1 weeks, but the highest a receiver has finished so far versus Buffalo is WR22), LeSean McCoy (he hasn’t turned in a RB1 week since Week 1, but also has posted double-digit points in every game), Joe Mixon (20 plus touches per week will keep him on the table as a weekly RB2/flex, but the touches haven’t come along with much upside)
Panthers @ Lions
|36.7%||6||Opp. Rush %||35.7%||4|
|63.3%||27||Opp. Pass %||64.3%||29|
- Ameer Abdullah had a touch on 70 percent of his snaps in Week 4, his highest rate in a game for his career.
- Abdullah’s 94 rushing yards last week were the most by a Lions' running back in a game since Week 13, 2013 when Reggie Bush had 117 yards and Joique Bell had 94.
- The Panthers are allowing just 2.0 red zone opportunities per game, tied with Denver for the fewest in the league.
- Detroit has 11 takeaways on the season (tied for first in the league) after having just 14 all of 2016 (28th).
- Christian McCaffrey is the first rookie running back to have over 200 receiving yards through four games since Jahvid Best in 2010.
- After allowing an NFL record 72.9 percent of passes to be completed against them in 2016, opposing passers have completed 61.4 percent of their passes versus Detroit (22nd) to start this season.
- Devin Funchess has been targeted on 9.1 percent, 16.2 percent, 27 percent and 28.1 percent of his routes through four weeks.
Bust: Jonathan Stewart (since Week 1, he’s been the RB57, RB43 and RB50. If he doesn’t fall into the end zone, you’ve got nothing), Marvin Jones (he’s hit double-digit scoring just once with three or fewer catches in every game), Theo Riddick (Abdullah has squeezed his opportunity as he’s failed to hit 40 yards from scrimmage in a game this season), Eric Ebron (his annual breakout is still on delay as he’s been a top-30 scoring tight end just once)
Reasonable Return: Cam Newton (he smashed New England a week ago after a dreadful start to the season, but there’s a chicken and egg dilemma still in play of if that was solely the matchup or that he’s truly back on track while Detroit has yet to allow a passer to score higher than QB23 on the season), Kelvin Benjamin/Devin Funchess (Funchess has 26 targets over the past three weeks and lines up at all three receiver spots, which will get him an advantage. Benjamin has been a WR2 in each of his past two full games, but will also contend with Darius Slay more often), Christian McCaffrey (he’s been an RB2 just one week so far, but hasn’t finished lower than a RB3/flex in any game so far), Ameer Abdullah (he’s one of just three backs to have 17 touches in every game this season, but Carolina has allowed 80 or fewer rushing yards in three of their four games and not allowed an individual rusher to hit 60 yards in a game this season), Golden Tate (he’s been up and down to start, with some real lows, but Carolina has stopped speed boundary types so far while allowing reception mavens to do more damage), Matthew Stafford (he’s been the QB17 and lower in each of the past three weeks, averaging 198.3 passing yards in those games. The Panthers have allowed 20 points in each of the past two weeks, but that was to Drew Brees and Tom Brady. I believe you’re looking for two touchdowns and a little over 200 passing yards here)
Titans @ Dolphins
|43.1%||18||Opp. Rush %||41.5%||16|
|56.9%||15||Opp. Pass %||58.5%||17|
- The Titans have allowed 13 red zone touchdowns, the most in the league.
- Just 8.4 percent of the Miami offensive plays have been run inside of the red zone, ahead of only the Jets (7.2 percent).
- Tennessee has allowed a touchdown on 31.1 percent of their opponent's drives, the second-highest rate in the league.
- The Dolphins have scored a touchdown on just 2-of-30 possessions (6.7 percent), the lowest rate in the league.
- Miami has led for just 2.2 percent of their offensive plays, ahead of only Cleveland.
- Tennessee is allowing 20.9 passing points per game to opposing passers, 31st in the league (New England, 22.9 points per game).
- Just 35.7 percent of Jay Cutler's completions have gained 10 or more yards, ahead of only Joe Flacco (30.1 percent).
- DeVante Parker has 37.5 percent of the Miami receiving yardage, the highest share of team yardage for a team outside of Antonio Brown (40.5 percent).
- The Titans rank 31st in receptions allowed, 27th in yardage allowed and 32nd in touchdowns allowed to opposing wide receivers.
- 44 percent of Marcus Mariota's fantasy output has come from rushing. That mark was 18.1 percent in 2016.
- Jay Ajayi has been a top-20 back in just four of his past 11 games and a top-12 scorer in just one of those games
Trust: DeVante Parker (the Titans have been victimized on the boundaries all season, allowing a WR1 in every game this season)
Bust: DeMarco Murray (he’s finished higher than RB36 just once while averaging 34 percent of the team rushing attempts Since Week 1 while Miami has been hurt in the passing game only by backs so far), Derrick Henry (despite Murray’s slide, Henry has been higher than RB38 just once and has just once receptions all season), Eric Decker (he just can’t be put into lineups –or even rostered—until we get something useful), Matt Cassel (he's started and finished nine games over the past three years, finihsing higher than QB18 just once in those contests)
Reasonable Return: Delanie Walker (he has four or fewer catches in three straight games, but still has 21.7 percent of the team targets, which ranks third for all tight ends), Rishard Matthews (both he and Walker will get downgrades on their ceilings if Matt Cassel is the starter, but Miami has allowed the leading target wideout in each offense they’ve faced to be a top-20 scorer), Jay Cutler (no one is going to play him based on the past two weeks and for good reason, but given his matchup and quarterback layout this week, he has to be in play again facing a defense that has allowed over 30 fantasy points to passers the past two weeks and 18 or more points to three quarterbacks. The rub for a matchup-driven breakout like Cam had a week ago is that Cutler needs Mariota to play so Miami doesn’t nurse him through the game), Jarvis Landry (this sets up as a game for Parker to hit big, but Landry is still in play and has at least six catches in each game), Jay Ajayi (I would treat Ajayi as an RB2 going forward since Miami has consistently played behind on the scoreboard and Ajayi has two or fewer catches in eight of his previous 11 games, which is why his floor is lower than most workhorse runners. If Mariota sits, then Miami should be able to keep Ajayi active in their first home game of the season, but Tennessee has yet to allow a rusher to hit 80 yards on the ground)
Cardinals @ Eagles
|41.4%||15||Opp. Rush %||28.8%||1|
|58.6%||18||Opp. Pass %||71.2%||32|
- Philadelphia is allowing 29.4 passing yards per drive (29th) while Palmer averages 26.2 yards per drive, seventh among quarterbacks to start every game this season.
- 80.1 percent of the yardage gained against the Eagles has come from passing, the second-highest rate in the league.
- Just 16.3 percent of Arizona's offensive yardage has come from rushing, the lowest rate in the league.
- Arizona running backs have just two runs of 10 or more yards on the season, the fewest in the league.
- Per Pro Football Focus, Andre Ellington has run 101 pass routes over the past three weeks, the most of all running backs in the NFL. Over that span, Ellington leads all backs in targets (22), receptions (14) and is second in receiving yards (145).
- Carson Palmer leads the league in red zone pass attempts (32) but is tied for 21st in red zone passing touchdowns with three.
- The Cardinals have allowed four or more sacks in three straight games, their longest streak since 2012.
- Philadelphia's 572 rushing yards (fourth per game in the NFL) are the most they've had through four games since 2013.
- The Cardinals are only one of two teams (Denver) yet to allow 100-yards rushing to any team this season.
- Zach Ertz averages 7.3 receptions for 85.4 yards on 10 targets per game over his past nine games played dating back to last year.
Trust: Zach Ertz (he’s been a top-10 scorer in every game no matter the matchup and has eight or more targets in every game). Larry Fitzgerald (his targets have bounced around, but still has 13 or more points in three of his games while the Eagles have allowed four top-10 scoring wide receivers over the past two weeks and over 130 yards to primary slot options in each of those games)
Bust: Chris Johnson (his 36 carries are the most in the league without a red zone rushing attempt), Alshon Jeffery (he’s finished higher than WR30 just once as his tour of incredibly tough assignments continues versus Patrick Peterson), Carson Wentz (he’s slowed down the past two weeks with weeks in the bottom half of scoring after passing for over 300-yards in each of the first two weeks because his only reliable receiver has been Ertz as Jeffery keeps locking up with high-caliber corners, something that should continue this week)
Reasonable Return: Carson Palmer (he’s yet to crash his ceiling since the touchdowns remain elusive, and the offensive line is a major issue, but he’s passed for over 300-yards in each of the past three weeks while the Eagles have allowed 19.5 points per game to passers in each of the past three weeks), Jaron Brown (he is second in the league in routes run on the season and tied for eighth in the league with 29 targets over the past three weeks but his high volume weeks have coincided with Fitzgerald's down weeks and this sets up to be a Fitz game on paper), John Brown (he returned to play 62 percent of the snaps and received seven targets off injury while there are worse matchups to chase volume with the upside Brown brings), Andre Ellington (the Eagles have allowed just one running back to catch four passes in a game so far, but the Cardinals can’t and won’t run in this game, still leaving Ellington in play as a flex option),LeGarrette Blount (the matchup is much tougher this week to solely chase rushing output as Arizona is allowing just 2.9 yards per carry to opposing backs, but with Smallwood out, the Eagles will have to keep feeding him touches)
Ravens @ Raiders
|45.3%||22||Opp. Rush %||46.1%||27|
|54.7%||11||Opp. Pass %||53.9%||6|
- With Brandon Williams sidelined the past two weeks, Baltimore has allowed 339 rushing yards (30th) on 77 attempts (4.4 YPC) and three rushing scores after allowing 170 rushing yards on 43 carries (3.9 YPC) with no touchdowns the first two weeks of the year.
- Just 24.4 percent (11-of-45) of Marshawn Lynch's rushing attempts have gained at least five yards, which ranks 44th of 47 players with at least 25 carries on the season.
- Amari Cooper's 3.55 yards per target ranks last out of 55 wide receivers with at least 20 targets on the season. His 38.7 percent catch rate ranks 54th, ahead of only Kenny Britt (34.8 percent).
- Cooper's 3.55 yards per targets are the lowest for a wide receiver with 30 or more targets through four weeks since Greg Little (2.44 YPT) in 2013.
- Cooper has 24.6 of the Oakland targets, but just 12.8 percent of their receiving yards, the largest gap from target to yardage rate for all wide receivers.
- Just 5.9 percent of Joe Flacco's passing yardage has come on throws 15 yards or further downfield, the lowest rate in the league. League average outside of Flacco is 31.3 percent.
- Flacco has now thrown an interception in 10 straight games, the longest streak since John Skelton (12 games) from 2011-2012.
- Ben Watson has been targeted on 23.4 percent of his routes, the second-highest rate for all tight ends after Zach Ertz (23.5 percent).
Bust: Amari Cooper/Michael Crabtree (EJ Manuel is competent enough to get these guys looks, but Baltimore has shut down feature wideouts, allowing the fourth-fewest points to the position including near-empty weeks to A.J. Green and Antonio Brown), Joe Flacco (his start has been atrocious and while the matchup is fantastic, with Derek Carr now out, it sets up to be a situation like last week when we were targeting Trevor Siemian versus the Raiders. In games where they don’t force mid-level teams to score points and allow them to have balanced game script, the matchup isn’t nearly as good to carry fantasy performance on its own), Alex Collins (even with Collins coming on, you’re still chasing as he hasn’t turned in a usable fantasy game yet and if he keeps fumbling, will have his opportunities halted), Jeremy Maclin/Mike Wallace (you can take a swing if you really need a bye-week fill in, but until we get some consistent usage from either, it’s hard to roll them out. And for as much passing yardage the Raiders have surrendered, they’ve allowed more than 12 points to just one wide receiver), Marshawn Lynch (the Raiders should be forced to balance out their offense and lean on the run while Baltimore has been leaky against the run the past two weeks, but also faced immense volume those weeks as each game script got away, something that the Raiders are going to struggle to do here), EJ Manuel (this is the best supporting cast Manuel has ever had, but this is still a tough spot against a defense that has allowed more than 10.5 points to just one quarterback on the season), Jared Cook (outside of Marcedes Lewis’ one game deal with the devil, the Ravens have been better than bulk stats against the position, allowing four or fewer receptions to every to every tight end and just Lewis and Seth DeValve to go over 40 receiving yards)
Reasonable Return: Ben Watson (there’s a marginal ceiling here, but he’s being targeted when on the field and the Raiders have allowed a top-7 scoring tight end to every team except the Jets without Austin Seferian-Jenkins active), Buck Allen (his touches have dropped in every game from the week prior and has been all but phased out of the rushing game, but still has five catches in each of the past three games if desperate for a flex)
Seahawks @ Rams
|43.5%||20||Opp. Rush %||48.1%||31|
|56.5%||13||Opp. Pass %||52.0%||2|
- The 142 points scored by the Rams are the second-most scored in franchise history through four weeks (160 points in 2000).
- Seattle has lost three consecutive games to the Rams on the road and four of the five games at the Rams with Russell Wilson at quarterback.
- Opponents have run just 15 offensive plays in the red zone (6.1 percent) against Seattle this season, the fewest in the league this season.
- Opponents have run 18.4 percent (47 plays total) of their plays in the red zone versus the Rams, the highest rate in the league.
- The Rams have punted on just 31 percent of their possessions, best rate in the league. Their opponents have punted on just 31.3 percent of their possessions, the lowest rate in the league.
- Jared Goff leads the league in yards per completion (13.7 yards).
- The Rams are allowing 151.5 rushing yards per game, 30th in the league and are allowing 23 rushing points per game to opposing running backs, the most in the league.
- 23.9 percent of Russell Wilson's fantasy output has stemmed from rushing (sixth among quarterbacks) after just 11.9 percent of his scoring in 2016 came from the ground (18th).
Trust: Todd Gurley (he’s being used in the same capacity that we saw from David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell a year ago and the Seahawks have allowed 5.1 yards per carry to opposing backs, 29th in the league), Russell Wilson (he’s gotten going the past two weeks while the matchups have been ripe and the Rams are allowing 7.8 yards per pass attempt, 25th in the league)
Bust: Jared Goff (as good as Goff and his matchups have been, he’s been a QB1 in just one week. He also is eighth in passing yards per drive, but 21st completions and 23rd in pass attempts per possession, which suggests that some recoil is bound to occur in yards per attempt, something that may take shape versus a Seattle team allowing 6.1 yards per attempt, sixth in the league), Sammy Watkins (outside of Week 3, the consistent targets haven’t been there, with Watkins averaging just 10 percent of the team looks outside of that game), Jimmy Graham (he’s slowly coming around with double-digit points in each of the past two weeks, but the Rams have yet to allow a TE1 and have allowed just three since the start of last season), SEA RBs (this matchup is strong to exploit if you have strong conviction in a player getting a lot of work or just have to throw a dart with bye weeks, but I just be guessing if I told you who lead the team in touches and J.D. McKissic may not rear his head into the picture given how he popped on Sunday Night), Paul Richardson (while it’s hard to say he’ll underperform since he’s been so steady, he’s been steadily meandering, closing as the WR40, WR40, WR41 and WR38 through four weeks), Robert Woods (he has 78 combined yards outside of his one game with 108 versus the 49ers)
Reasonable Return: Cooper Kupp (the Ram’s targets have been spread out overall, but he’s the only Rams’ receiver to have at least 19 percent of the team targets in three games this year), Doug Baldwin (his injury forced him to play just 68 percent of the snaps last week and saw just three targets, so make sure he’s putting in a full week of practice this week), Tyler Lockett (his targets haven’t been as consistent as Richardson’s, but he’s shown to be the player of the two that can score more points given in a week)
Packers @ Cowboys
|45.7%||24||Opp. Rush %||38.3%||8|
|54.4%||9||Opp. Pass %||61.7%||25|
- The Packers have converted 78.6 percent (11-of-14) of their red zone possessions into touchdowns, the highest rate in the league.
- In two games versus the Packers last year, Dak Prescott completed 42-of-65 passes (64.6 percent) for 549 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions, scoring 20.5 and 25.4 fantasy points.
- Prescott and Aaron Rodgers each have 15 games with 17 or more fantasy points since the start of last year, tied for the most for all quarterbacks over that span.
- Dez Bryant has caught just 40 percent (16-of-40) of his targets to start the year.
- Over his first five games in 2016, Bryant secured just 39 percent of his targets (16-of-41) before catching 62 percent (34-of-55) for the remainder of the year.
- Randall Cobb is one of just three wide receivers to be a top-30 scorer in every game played this season, joining DeAndre Hopkins and DeVante Parker. Cobb had just three top-30 scoring weeks all of 2016 and just four over his previous 20 games played.
Trust: Aaron Rodgers (the Packers already weren’t running the ball and likely won’t be doing much of it with Ty Montgomery banged up, leaving Rodgers to continue carrying the offense against a defense that has allowed 18 or more points to passers in each of the past three weeks), Dak Prescott (outside of Rodgers, he’s as steady as they come for high-floor fantasy quarterback play), Dez Bryant (in his softest matchup last weekend, he turned in 98 yards, a number that can rise this week against a Green Bay secondary that has allowed alpha wideouts in A.J. Green and Julio Jones to go over 100-yards), Jordy Nelson (no wide receiver enters each week with higher odds of scoring a touchdown), Randall Cobb (he’s been more productive to start the year than in each of his past two seasons while Dallas has been victimized by primary slot receivers consistently to begin the season), Ezekiel Elliott (we’ll circle back if we finally get news that his suspension will begin, but he’s gone over 18 points now in three of four games)
Bust: Ty Montgomery (the early word in the week has gone back and forth on whether or not he’ll try to play, so we’ll have to monitor things at this stage of the week. Even if he plays, he’s a hard play given that one hit can have him immediately on the sideline) Aaron Jones / Jamaal Williams (the Packers haven’t run the ball effectively, nor have they stuck with rushing volume in the first place and are more than content to keep the ball in Rodgers’ hands regardless while Jones and Williams will split time), Martellus Bennett (Dallas hasn’t been tested by a strong tight end on the season, but he’s still just a play to get attachment to Rodgers as he’s yet to 50 yards or turn in a TE1 scoring week in any game to date), Jason Witten (he’s had just six targets over the past two weeks and Green Bay has allowed just 5.6 yards per target to opposing tight ends to begin the season)
Reasonable Return: Davante Adams (early indications are that he’s going to play and although he’s cleared 60 yards just four times in 13 games, he has nine touchdowns in those games)
Chiefs @ Texans
|39.9%||12||Opp. Rush %||45.7%||25|
|60.2%||21||Opp. Pass %||54.3%||8|
- Only Tom Brady (86.9) and Russell Wilson (76.4) have more fantasy points over the past three weeks than Deshaun Watson (71.6) since he's been the starting quarterback.
- Watson's 33.7 points last week were the second most points scored by a rookie quarterback in his first four games behind Marc Bulger's 34.0 points in Week 10, 2002.
- After allowing eight sacks Week 1, Houston has allowed six sacks since despite Watson being pressured on 39.6 percent of his dropbacks, the ninth-highest rate in the league over that span.
- Will Fuller played 80 percent of the team snaps in Week 4, receiving 17.7 percent of the team targets.
- Kareem Hunt is the first rookie to have over 100-yards from scrimmage in each of the first four weeks to start the season since Adrian Peterson in 2007.
- Hunt has 26 touches (26th) for 154 total yards (33rd) with 24.4 fantasy points (81st) in the first half of games this season. He has 55 touches (third) for 505 total yards (first) and 90.5 fantasy points (first) in the second half).
- Hunt's 332 yards from scrimmage in the fourth quarter are 148 more than the next closest player (Todd Gurley).
- Alex Smith is just one of four quarterbacks with 15 or more fantasy points in every game this season, joining Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Dak Prescott.
Trust: DeAndre Hopkins (he’s received 38.3 percent of Watson’s targets, has at least seven catches in every game and has scored in three of his past four meetings with the Chiefs as he’ll consistently avoid Marcus Peters), Kareem Hunt (the Chiefs have been slow playing his usage in games to drop hammers late and eventually he won’t have 100-yards from scrimmage in a game. Eventually.), Travis Kelce (he’s gone over 100-yards eight times since the start of last year, tied with Julio Jones for the most in the league while he’s gone over 100-yards in two of his three career games versus Houston)
Bust: Ryan Griffin (he’s not the type of player who can do a lot on little opportunity while the Chiefs have allowed just 13 receptions the Eagles, Chargers and Washington tight ends since Eric Berry’s injury)
Reasonable Return: Deshaun Watson (the Chiefs are not the Patriots or Titans, but this game is at home and Watson has added 25 rushing points to his totals over the past three weeks while Kansas city has allowed 55 rushing yards to Carson Wentz and 38 to Kirk Cousins to start the year), Alex Smith (he’s hit 15 plus points in every game this season and in six straight games going back to last year), Will Fuller (the touchdowns are going to draw more attention than the four catches for 35 yards will justify, but he did have 4-104 in this same matchup a year ago with Brock Osweiler), Lamar Miller (his 131 yards from scrimmage last week were just the third time in 12 games that he’s hit the century mark in a game, but he’s averaged 19.6 touches per game over that span), Tyreek Hill (he’s become the volatile producer we assumed he’d be once his touchdown rates began to stabilize since he’s not a high target option, but we saw Houston struggle to contain the one true speed receiver they faced so far on the season in Brandin Cooks)
Vikings @ Bears
|37.7%||7||Opp. Rush %||41.9%||17|
|62.4%||26||Opp. Pass %||58.1%||16|
- Tarik Cohen played just 27 percent (18 total) of the Week 4 snaps after playing at least 42 percent with at least 28 snaps in each of the opening three games.
- Jordan Howard has run 30 pass routes compared to 16 for Cohen over the past two weeks.
- Howard is third in the NFL in rushing attempts in the first half (40), 22nd in second half runs (23) and 35th in fourth quarter carries (nine).
- In three games versus the Bears, Stefon Diggs has ranked as the WR14, WR15 and WR7 with over 20 points in all three games.
- Per Pro Football Focus, Kyle Rudolph is running 25.5 routes per game and blocking on 20.5 percent of his passing plays after running 33.7 routes and blocking on just 12.2 percent of his passing snaps in 2016.
Trust: Stefon Diggs (he still turned in 5-98 last week when Keenum was a dud and the Bears have been hit hard by lead receivers the past three weeks, allowing top-8 weeks to Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson)
Bust: Adam Thielen (he has five catches in every game Keenum has started, but has turned those into WR52, WR29 and WR47 weeks. Until Sam Bradford returns, he’s more of a flex option), Kyle Rudolph (maybe we’ll see his passing usage climb if Minnesota struggles to run the ball after losing Dalvin Cook, but until that happens, we must keep holding him out), Case Keenum (the carriage turned back into a pumpkin real fast against a healthy defense), Mitchell Trubisky (a rookie quarterback making his first career start versus a Mike Zimmer-led defense), Tarik Cohen (his usage has steadily declined and while it may revert back to the opening two weeks with the quarterback change, we’re in a holding pattern with forcing him above hopeful flex status), CHI pass catchers (as mentioned with Trubisky, this is a rough spot to have any true expectations for production from the passing attack)
Reasonable Return: Latavius Murray (he played 19 snaps to just six for Jerick McKinnon after Cook exited the game. This could devolve into a true split over time, but Minnesota made a monetary commitment to Murray in the offseason and no matter what we think about him, he is a player that has given us actual fantasy contributions before and is playing for a favorite this week), Jordan Howard (he’s only turned in one dud for fantasy and should be featured often to protect his rookie quarterback while script allows it and the Vikings have allowed a top-20 scorer in three of their four games)
Trust = Player to outperform baseline expectations
Bust = Player to underperform baseline expectations
Reasonable Return = Baseline Play that won't hurt you
**All Vegas Lines are taken from Yahoo listings on Tuesday Evenings