In case you were distracted by the Ryder Cup, or perhaps staring at Twitter waiting for the next life-affirming message from our Presidential contenders, here’s a news flash: Julio Jones is pretty good.
So is A.J. Green. And Antonio Brown.
The elite wideouts came to play in Week 4. (Sorry, Mr. Hopkins, but “elites” don’t put up back-to-back stinkers). Jones’ 300-yard performance was one for the ages, and Green’s Thursday night bounty gave his owners an early lead that many rode to victory.
And if the Steelers hadn’t taken the pedal off the metal early Sunday night, Brown’s final tally may have rivaled his peers’.
Meanwhile, not-even-close-to-elite receiver Michael Crabtree did an uncanny impersonation of one, scoring his first TD hat trick in the Raiders’ win. And Texans rookie Will Fuller had his coming-out party, particularly for owners in leagues that reward kick and punt return scores to individual players as well as to team defenses (as they all should).
But it was a rough week for several quarterbacks, including both Cam Newton and Carson Palmer, who exited their games early with apparent concussions. Trevor Siemian’s unlikely road to stardom was derailed by a shoulder injury, possibly ushering in the Paxton Lynch era in Denver.
With four teams idle in Week 5, fantasy owners may need a backup plan for those passers even as Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Blake Bortles and Alex Smith take the week off.
Unless, of course, you stashed away that pretty boy from New England. He’s set to return, with a vengeance, on Sunday. Not a moment too soon for Patriots fans, and millions of fantasy owners.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
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
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys. Any rookie QB with a burger named after him must be good, right? In addition to playing mistake-free football from the outset, Prescott is now riding a two-game multi-touchdown streak that puts him squarely in the fantasy conversation. With several QBs sitting out Week 5, and the generous Bengals secondary on deck, it may be time to dig into a Dakburger.
Bilal Powell, RB, Jets. New York’s offense is struggling, and a change may be a-coming at quarterback. But that may not be all, as Matt Forte was carted off for x-rays after Sunday’s game. There’s no word yet on his injury, but Powell has been out-performing the starter over the last two games anyway (especially as a receiver). Forte’s owners, in particular, would be wise to scoop him up.
John Brown, WR, Cardinals. Did the owner who drafted Brown in your league give up on him? It’s time to make him or her pay. The speedster rediscovered his mojo on Sunday, reeling in 10 passes for 144 yards. That said, Brown’s return to fantasy relevance could face obstacles if Palmer is forced to miss time.
Steve Smith, Sr., WR, Ravens. The ageless one had been flying under the radar, but no longer. Available in nearly 40 percent of all leagues, the wideout who puts the “senior” in Smith Sr. is once again the apple of Joe Flacco’s eye. If he’s lost a step, it’s hard to tell.
Bills defense/special teams. Most of us shrugged off their dismantling of Carson Palmer in Week 3, and many will continue to ignore their shutout of a New England offense led by its third-string quarterback. But Buffalo’s defense is cooking with gas, and its next three opponents are the Rams, 49ers and Dolphins. Defensively challenged teams should take note.
Don’t be fooled
Terrance West, RB, Ravens. To paraphrase TLC, don’t go chasing waterfalls, or one-week wonders. While your competitors scramble to add West to their teams following his solid start on Sunday, the real value in Baltimore’s backfield is Kenneth Dixon. The rookie is expected to make his NFL debut as soon as Week 5 after recovering from a knee sprained during training camp. Widely considered the most talented of Baltimore’s RB stable, Dixon could easily assume the starting role within a few weeks and provide significant production in the second half of the season. West is a temporary solution, at best.
Brian Quick, WR, Rams. There was a brief moment when I was a Brian Quick believer. I got over it about two years ago. Quick flashed his talents again on Sunday, making the most of his two receptions (69 yards, 2 TDs). That makes three scoring plays in the last two weeks. Interesting, but I’m not buying it. Not now, and not in that offense.
Golden Tate, WR, Lions. Seen enough yet? Apparently the Lions have, after Tate was effectively benched in the second half of Sunday’s loss. After finishing with a measly one-yard reception, his fantasy luster is tarnished. Detroit’s passing attack is all about Marvin Jones and Eric Ebron now, and Tate no longer merits a spot on any fantasy roster.