Monday, October 5, 2015

Fantasy points scarce in Week 4

According to my unscientific survey, scoring was down significantly across fantasy leagues this weekend, especially when compared to their prolific outburst in Week 3.

That’s partly because NFL teams put up a season-high total of 773 points last weekend, versus just 630 in Week 4 (with one game remaining tonight). Of course, the Patriots and Titans were idle, so that accounted for much of the decline.

But a more significant factor was in play that caused the dip in this weekend’s fantasy output: who did – and didn’t do – the scoring.

For starters, only three quarterbacks accumulated as many as three touchdowns – Nick Foles, Sam Bradford and Philip Rivers – but virtually nobody owns Foles, precious few trust Bradford and even Rivers was started in fewer than half of all leagues.

Devonte Freeman, Jeremy Hill (finally), Chris Ivory and Le’Veon Bell held up their end of the bargain, but the week’s top receivers were Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns and Vincent Jackson (whose recent production earned him a seat on the bench from more than half of his owners).

In other words, it was an odd week; so don’t get down on yourself if your starting lineup took an unexpected vacation.

Meanwhile, fewer than a fifth of all fantasy players with Todd Gurley on their roster started him in Week 4. Like me, they were waiting until the Rams set loose their prized first-round selection before risking him in their lineup. After his 161-combined-yard coming-out party on Sunday, it appears the Gurley Era is now upon us. This weekend could mark the last time he sits on a bench barring a new injury or bye week for the next five or more years.

Okay, I may be getting ahead of myself. But I’m on record as predicting fantasy superstardom for Gurley once he is fully recovered from his college knee injury. By all indications, he is now ready for prime time.

It was also good to see Arian Foster back in action, albeit with limited results. Hopefully he had no setbacks Sunday and will be going full throttle Thursday night against the Colts.

As for Drew Brees? Perhaps his shoulder is still not 100 percent, but he’s certainly sharp enough to lead most any fantasy squad.

Finally, Week 5 marks the return of Antonio Gates and Martavis Bryant from their four-game suspensions. Don’t be surprised if Gates immediately resumes his role as Rivers’ go-to receiver. Bryant, on the other hand, returns to less-hospitable conditions with Michael Vick at the controls of Pittsburgh’s offense. (See Brown, Antonio.)


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Leonard Hankerson, WR, Falcons. The No. 2 wideout in Atlanta’s offense has been a valuable commodity throughout the Matt Ryan era. For years, that’s been Roddy White. But times have changed, and Hankerson is now benefitting from all the attention being paid to Julio Jones. Matty Ice is turning the former Redskin into a reliable fantasy performer.

Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars. Honestly, I’m not interested in any Jacksonville receiver not named Allen Robinson. But Hurns has tallied 314 yards in four games and all three of his TDs over the last two weeks. If you need WR depth, and believe in Blake Bortles, knock yourself out.

Charles Clay, TE, Bills. With 9 receptions for 111 yards, Clay was Tyrod Taylor’s most targeted and most prolific receiver on the field Sunday. Sure, he’s benefitting from the absence of Sammy Watkins; but he’s also taking advantage of this time to build trust with his quarterback.

Don’t be fooled

Sam Bradford, QB, Eagles. It was refreshing to see Bradford throw downfield for a change against the Redskins. But as erratic as Philly’s offense has looked thus far this year, he has a lot of work to do before he can be trusted.

Tavon Austin, WR, Rams. Prior to Sunday’s 96-yard, two-touchdown outburst, Austin had amassed just 42 receiving yards on the season (including minus-2 in Week 1). Though he has added 77 yards and a TD as a rusher, he is exasperatingly inconsistent. This has been Austin’s pattern since his 2013 rookie season. Let someone else take the bait.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins. He had just three receptions for 20 yards, including a goose egg in Week 3, prior to his trip across the pond. Given how pathetic the Dolphins looked against the Jets, and the team’s upcoming bye, there are much better options out there.

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