Week 4 of the fantasy season has been wild! Lions and Seahawks and fantasy points, oh my! Those two teams engaged in an absolute shootout at Ford Field, and many managers benefitted from the offensive fireworks. Jared Goff and Geno Smith both scored over 30 points, and Rashaad Penny had nearly 29 points. Believe it or not, none of those three was even the highest-scoring player in the contest! We also saw injuries to a pair of big-name backs, including the consensus top overall pick, not to mention the statistical returns of a few first-rounders.
Those are among what I believe are the top 10 fantasy football story lines from this week that will no doubt affect your starting lineup decisions moving forward.
Jonathan Taylor continues to flounder for managers. Taylor, the consensus No. 1 overall pick in 2022 fantasy drafts, has looked like a shell of his former self the last three weeks. In that time, he’s scored a combined 22.7 fantasy points, including a mere 3.3 points in a loss to the Titans. Head coach Frank Reich said after the game that Taylor has an ankle injury, but the extent of the ailment is unknown. He’ll have tests on the ankle on Monday. The Colts’ next game is on Thursday night, so Taylor could be in real danger of missing that contest.
Alvin Kamara was a late inactive, very early in the morning. The Vikings-Saints game kicked off in London at 9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT, meaning many of Kamara’s fantasy managers were asleep when he was declared inactive. He was replaced in the backfield by a combination of Latavius Murray, Mark Ingram and Taysom Hill, with Murray being the best of the trio (and started by no one). This was supposed to be a smash spot for Kamara, but he’s now missed two of his first four games and scored a combined 14.9 points in the other two contests.
T.J. Hockenson goes nuclear against the Seahawks. The Lions came into this week down D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown and D.J. Chark, so we knew that Hockenson would be a huge part of the offense. However, no one saw this coming. The veteran went off for eight catches (12 targets), 179 yards, two touchdowns and a career-high 39.9 fantasy points against Seattle. He almost scored a third touchdown late in the game, too. This might not be a sign of things to come, especially with all the injuries, so fantasy fans might want to sell high.
Hockenson wasn’t the lone Lion to roar in fantasy land. The Seahawks-Lions game was a barnburner, as both teams combined for 94 points and over 1,000 yards of total offense! In addition to Hockenson, Jared Goff scored 33.2 points, Jamaal Williams had 23.9 points and Josh Reynolds went for 21.1 points. The Lions might not win much, but they’re helping plenty of fantasy fans.
Geno Smith might be better than Russell Wilson. What? A popular sleeper in DFS leagues, Smith went off for two touchdown passes and a rushing score against the Lions. He finished with 31.7 points, which is a career high. He has now either outscored Wilson or been within 0.6 fantasy points of him in every week. No one would have predicted that at the start of the season, but that’s the NFL! The good news is that Wilson was also solid, scoring 27.5 points against the Raiders.
Christian McCaffrey has a big game as a pass catcher. Listed as questionable with an injured quad, McCaffrey was active for the Panthers and made a nice impact for fantasy managers. While he did little on the ground (27 yards), CMC was a beast as a receiver with eight catches for 91 yards and a score in a loss to the Cardinals. That was good for a season-best 25.8 fantasy points. With tough games against the 49ers, Rams and Buccaneers up next, now is the time to sell high.
Justin Jefferson returns to fantasy football prominence. Fantasy fans were a bit frantic after Jefferson’s two straight stinkers, but he eased all concerns in London. He had a season-best 13 targets for 10 catches, not to mention 147 yards, a rushing touchdown and 31 fantasy points in a win over the Saints. He has now scored over 30 points in two of his first four games, and the Bears are next.
Austin Ekeler doesn’t have a problem, right Houston? I texted Ekeler before today’s game and told him I projected him to smash the Texans. Thanks for making me look good, man! In his first huge game of the season, Ekeler had six catches, 109 scrimmage yards, three touchdowns and scored 34.9 fantasy points in a 34-24 win. He’s now been targeted 25 times in his last three games, and his touch share in that time is around 36%. He’ll try to stay hot against the Browns.
Javonte Williams suffers an injured knee in Las Vegas. Williams wasn’t having a great game in the stat sheets, posting 28 yards on 10 carries in Las Vegas. Things got worse, however, as the talented but disappointing runner hurt his knee and was declared out for the rest of the afternoon. The Broncos next play on Thursday night, which could make it tough for Williams to be back in action. If he were to miss the game against Indianapolis, Melvin Gordon would be a viable No. 2 back.
Josh Jacobs corrals the Broncos in a huge Raiders win. All the backs weren’t bad in Vegas, as Jacobs went bananas. Despite playing a formidable defense, he posted five catches, 175 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. That was good enough for 34.5 fantasy points, the second-best game of his career. After a slow start, Jacobs is now in the good graces of fantasy managers as a No. 2 back.
- Dalvin Cook was a first-round pick in most fantasy drafts, but he’s played like anything but after four weeks. He’s averaging a mere 11.4 points per game, and his 10.6-point stinker in London hurt the winning chances of plenty of managers. Cook does have a great matchup next against the Bears, so it might be a good chance to sell high if he can meet statistical expectations.
- Dameon Pierce is the real deal, folks. A week after scoring 18.1 points in a loss to the Bears, he had 25.9 points against the Chargers. He has now seen a 50% touch share in each of his last two games and has clearly taken over as the Texans’ top back. He’ll be an RB2 option against the Jaguars next.
- The tight end position remains a dumpster fire in fantasy leagues. Among this week’s top 10 players heading into Sunday night’s game are Mo Alie-Cox, Will Dissly, someone named Chigoziem Okonkwo and Kylen Granson. On the flip side, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller and Kyle Pitts scored under six points.
- The Steelers went to rookie Kenny Pickett this week, as Mitchell Trubisky continued to play lackluster football. The rookie rushed for two scores, but he was also picked off three times (at least one wasn’t his fault). If head coach Mike Tomlin decides to go with Pickett next week in Buffalo, he’d certainly be a worthwhile add off the wire in all multi-quarterback and super flex leagues.
- J.K. Dobbins looks to be back as a startable fantasy asset, scoring a pair of touchdowns in a loss to the Bills. He had 17 touches in the contest, seven more than Justice Hill, and played 35 snaps per PFF. Dobbins will be a viable flex starter and maybe as much as a No. 2 fantasy runner moving forward.
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