Another week of football is in the books, and what a crazy one it was. There are still some teams coming out of Sunday’s contests undefeated, while most of the league is stuck in limbo trying to stay ahead of their divisional opponents. We had another debacle in Seattle, where we know the 12th man resides, but it seems like they have a 13th man who decides rules for the referees in the corner of that end zone. We will be taking a look at some of the Week 4 MVPs and busts, a list of Start Em’/Sit Em’, and who you should be looking to add on the waiver wire.
Week 4 MVP’s
Vincent Jackson- this is the first time V-Jax has appeared on this last. This week, he saw 15 targets and turned that in for 10/147/1. This is after he finished with 9/145/1 through Weeks 1-3. Make no mistake about it, Mike Evans will be the Bucs primary WR going forward, and the player you want to have in this passing attack. Nevertheless, V-Jax is 32, but by no means is he washed up. He will simply just be a week-to-week matchup-dependent play, and in Week 5 the Bucs take on the Jaguars and a beatable secondary. This is a week you can feel confident about having V-Jax in your starting lineup.
Deandre Hopkins- Now on the flip-side, this guy has made this list before, and I envision he will make it again, and again, and again. The great sign here is that it does not matter whether Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, or if they decide to put J.J Watt at quarterback, that Hopkins sees a boat-load of targets. With the Texans getting manhandled against the Falcons this week, the subpar QB combo was forced to air it out 57 times. A whopping 22 of them went Hopkins way, and he caught nine of them for 157 yards. Right now, Hopkins is on a ridiculous pace of 244 targets which would break the record of 208 set in 1997 by Arizona’s Rob Moore. Even with Vontae Davis (if you’ve read any of my past articles, you know he is to be feared) on tap, if Hopkins sees 15-plus targets you have to feel great about the potential output on TNF.
Allen Hurns- Again, if you read last week’s article, you would have known to start this Allen, and not the other (Robinson). While Robinson was shadowed by the aforementioned Vontae Davis, this lead Blake Bortles to rely heavily on Allen Hurns. Hurns saw 15 targets in Week 4 and turned that into 11/116/1. Despite having ten less targets than teammate Allen Robinson this season, Hurns has produced better numbers. He has a 73.3 percent catch rate, whereas, Robinson has a measly 37.5 catch rate. The production of Hurns will solely be matchup based, and if there opponent has a shutdown corner to cover Robinson, than that is the week you want to start Hurns. Week 5 they face off with the Buccaneers, who do not have a Josh Norman type player, and Robinson may be the better play.
Honorable mentions include Tavon Austin, who finished with 6/96/2, but I guarantee you, nobody started him, or even had him rostered up to this point. Leonard Hankerson, who I have harped on you readers to scoop up, turned in a 6/103/1 performance, and clearly has overtaken Roddy White as the WR2 for the Falcons.
Week 4 Busts
Julio Jones- We had to expect Jones to regress and come back to Earth, somewhat. That is exactly what happened in Week 4. But one is not to fret over this dud of a performance, as it was Devonta Freeman, and the defense of Atlanta who stole the show. Julio finished with a stat-line of 4/38/0 on six targets. Nevertheless, he still is a staple on your roster and will not have many games like this going forward.
Odell Beckham Jr.- Well, first things first. Did you see that acrobatic one-handed snag along the sideline, even though he was unable to keep his feet in bounds? Just unbelievable. Although, Beckham set the record for most receiving yards throughout the first 16 games of a career, he did turn in a lackluster performance of 5/38/0. He was targeted a dozen times, and had to matchup with a stingy Bills defense. Write this one off, and look for Beckham to bounce back against a 49er defense who has been consistently torched by opposing passing attacks.
Mike Evans- His teammate found himself on the list above, and by seasons end, I expect Evans to be featured on the MVP section more often than V-Jax. Coming off a Week 3, 7/101/0, where he saw a whopping 17 targets, he took the backseat to Jackson in Week 4 and recorded a 3/32/0 performance. We could have foreshadowed a weak performance as the Panthers have a stout defensive unit and the play of Josh Norman has caught everybody’s attention, and now he is being considered an elite corner. This can not be a total cop-out for Evans poor performance as Norman spent time covering both Evans and Jackson, not just shadowing one player for the whole game. I am going to predict that Evans finds himself on the MVP list next week, and finishes with 7-plus catches, 100-plus yards, and a touchdown in Week 5 contest with the Jags.
Honorable mentions include Antonio Brown, who saw his consecutive streak of games catching at least five passes for 50 yards end with Michael Vick stepping in for the injured Big Ben. Brandin Cooks just can not seem to get anything going, he had Drew Brees back in action and faced a beatable secondary of Dallas, yet turned in a 4/25/0 performance. For now Cooks can be left on your bench until further notice, which hurts for the 2-3 round pick you spent on him after the hype-train drove on through. Sam Bradford hates your fantasy team as he throws three touchdowns to Riley Cooper, Miles Austin, and Brent Celek, which helps absolutely nobody. Meanwhile, Jordan Matthews, who finished with a 3/50/0 line, and the other so-called ‘studs’ of this offense continue to sputter and disappoint fantasy owners.
Again, this will not feature obvious plays like Julio Jones or Demaryius Thomas, moreover, players who may be on the fringe of starting for your team.
Alshon Jeffery- Now, obviously this all is dependent on whether he plays or not in Week 5. The Bears will face of with the Chiefs who have been torched two weeks in a row by the Packers, and then the Bengals. The Kansas City Chiefs give up the most fantasy points to opposing receivers (40.33) and the 3rd most yards per game to those receivers. Set to face this awful Chiefs’ secondary, if healthy, play Alshon Jeffery without question.
Kendall Wright- Coming off of a bye-week, the Titans will take on the Bills in Week 5. The uninformed fantasy owner may shy away from this play, thinking the Bills have a good defense and move on. The Bills do have a good defense, but are vulnerable in the secondary. The Bills have allowed the fourth-most receptions and seventh-most yards to receivers this season. Add those numbers with the the strong rapport that Wright and Mariota have developed, and you have yourself a solid WR2 this week. In two out of three games, Wright has 95-plus yards and a touchdown, look for him to break that threshold once again this week.
Leonard Hankerson- As a guy who I have preached about in these articles and on the radio shows (Tuesday 8-10p.m, available on I-Tunes), you should have picked him up two weeks ago when he was emerging as the WR2 in Atlanta. If you have indeed just picked him up this week, do not be afraid to deploy him right off the get-go. Hankerson has had 23 targets over the past three games, including a team-high eight in Week 4. The Redskins allow a lot of big pass plays, so expect Hankerson to put together a solid all-around effort. Oh, and should we also mention this is a revenge game as well? Sometimes this adds to the pot and players seem to have bigger days against their former team.
Honorable mentions include Donte Moncief, who is leading the Colts’ WR core and faces the Texans on TNF. Regardless of who plays QB, whether it be Luck or Hasselback, look for Moncrief to have a solid day. Mike Evans is primed for a bounce-back game as the Bucs take on the Jags, who do not have a Josh Norman type corner that will be able to hang tight with Evans. Real speculative play here if you are in deeper leagues, I would suggest none other than Cole Beasley. With the loss of Dunbar, the Cowboys will have to rely more on their WR, especially when they will most likely be playing catch-up this week facing the Patriots. Dunbar was seeing a ton of targets out of the backfield and lining up at receiver, so I expect a lot of those looks to go Cole’s way.
Amari Cooper/Michael Crabtree- The Raiders will face off with the Broncos in Week 5. This draws a tough matchup for both receivers as they will match-up against Talib and Harris who have held opposing WR to the least fantasy points in the NFL. The only factor holding any optimism here is that the Broncos could grab a big lead early, and force Carr to throw the ball 40-plus times. Garbage time points count the same folks, but if you have other options I would advise you to go that route.
James Jones- Do not get me wrong, Jones has been a very impactful player filling in for the injured Jordy Nelson in this high octane offense. As one of Rodgers’ favorite red zone targets, Jones’ 2015 success is largely attributed to his four receiving TDs. Something has to give in Week 5, as the St. Louis Rams have allowed only 34.2 fantasy points per game (14th) and one receiving touchdown to opposing WRs. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best at stepping up in the pocket and avoiding pressure, but the Rams should limit his time in the pocket. This will benefit the short passing game, and that includes WR Randall Cobb instead of Jones who relies on down the field plays (18.6 YPR) more than any other Packer. Jones will be a big part of the offense Sunday, but the pressure on Rodgers should keep him off of the box score, limiting his upside.
Percy Harvin- Another statement I have redundantly reiterated to the fantasy community is to stay away from the Buffalo WR. I even have preached caution to Sammy Watkins owners that you will be very frustrated this year, as Rex wants to ground and pound just as he did in New York. With Sammy on the shelf last week against the Giants, Harvin was expected to see a larger role, but failed to do so, finishing with 3/26/0. Regardless of whether Watkins returns or not, Harvin is a tough sell as a fantasy starter versus the Titans. Their defense has allowed just 131.7 receiving yards per game to wideouts. Plug in other options if you have the luxury of doing so.
Honorable mentions include guys like Pierre Garcon, who is coming off of his best game against the Eagles, but had he not scored the game-winning touchdown at the end of the game, his numbers would have been rather pedestrian. This week he will face off with the Falcons, who have surrendered an average of less than 20 points per game to opposing WR. Another player, Golden Tate, who has returned to a full-time role of being in Calvin’s shadow, has already played wildly inconsistent, and underwhelming to that say the least. Take the struggles of the offense as a whole, and a tough matchup against a opportunistic Cardinals defense, and you have a recipe for disaster. Keep Tate on your bench unless Calvin goes down with an injury.
Waiver Wire Pick-Ups Week 5
By this time you have probably already missed out on guys such as Hankerson, Ginn Jr., or Hurns. All of who I have mentioned in this section of my articles, and my prophecy of these players success has come to fruition. So after reading this week’s suggestions, I advise you to go scoop up these players while you can before they are gone.
Willie Snead- Who? Yeah, it’s not the supposed star Brandin Cooks, or the sleeper dart throw that was Brandon Coleman early in the season, its Willie Snead. Snead went undrafted and was no lock to make the team, despite praise from the coaching staff throughout the preseason.
“He’s a smart player, so he can play multiple positions. And we’ve been impressed,” head coach Sean Payton said in early September, via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.
The versatility has paid dividends for the undrafted WR, as he has seen has snap rates increase 24%, 50%, 61%, and 66% through the first four weeks. Whereas, Brandon Coleman’s snap rate has decreased from 78%, 51%, 47%, and 27% through four weeks. After Snead hauled in six catches for 89 yards in Week 4, fantasy owners should be ready to trust him to continue making big plays for the foreseeable future.
Kamar Aiken- Steve Smith has four microfractures in his back and doesn’t need surgery, but he’ll miss at least Week 5 and perhaps more time. How spry he’ll be when he returns is unknown. Maybe Aiken, the Ravens wideout who’s seen the most targets of any non-Smith receiver, could benefit. Having a No. 1 WR in a solid offense, with a more than capable QB is definitely worth a roster spot for now. He may not hold long-term value as Steve Smith may return sooner rather than later, and they still have rookie Permian recovering from an injury set to make his NFL debut in the near future as well. If you need a bye-week fill-in for this week or next week, Aiken is a player who can get the job done.
Jamison Crowder- Kirk Cousins looked Crowder’s way 12 times Sunday, and the results could’ve been even more impressive had Crowder been able to get his feet down on an end-zone catch. He still finished with a reputable 7/65/0 stat-line and now has two weeks in a row with double digit fantasy points in a PPR set up. With Desean Jackson still recovering from an injury, Crowder could again be the leader in targets, as he was Sunday, this coming week against the Falcons. Crowder is definitely a deeper-league add, but one that could pay some serious dividends given the amount of targets he may see Week 5.
For the record, I do not have faith in Tavon Austin going forward. Austin is more of a gadget type player, and they have yet to find ways to utilize his talent. Pick up at your own risk, but he will continue to be the definition of a boom-or-bust player, and is better suited for DFS purposes.
Bold Predictions for Week 5
Andre Johnson finally does something for his owners and scores a TD against his former team. He still only finishes with a 4/54/1 line, giving his owners a glimpse of hope.
Instead of sitting in the back of a cop car, Dorial Green-Beckham is sitting in the back of the end zone, finishing with two touchdown grabs against the Bills.
With Alshon returning for the Bears, he serves as more of a decoy and Eddie Royal finishes with an approximate 9/110/1 stat line.
In the Philly versus New Orleans contest, two players finally get off the schneid as Jordan Matthews finishes with a respectable 8/95/1, and Cooks finishes with a 6/105/1.
Can not wait for another crazy week of NFL football in Week 5. Buckle your chin straps ladies and gentlemen, and enjoy your fantasy dominance.
If dominance is not taking place, and your team is treading water, find me on twitter and we can get your team going in the right direction.
Find me on twitter: @zaksauer
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@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.