Note: All points that I list our according to my personal fantasy that I run through FoxSports.com. Points based on the type of league will vary. I will also be focusing on a few players, as well as not focusing on kickers or team defenses. My kicker is and always will be Blair Walsh
Week 4 in the NFL featured the usual blowouts and upsets that happen every week. Throw in an international game and the first possible coaching change of the season and the NFL looks to be in midseason form in spite of a rocky start.
Fantasy football can only be described in one word this year: weird. When was the last time we spent as much time focusing on the backups as we do the starters? Mike Glennon, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater all put up good numbers against good teams, with Glennon and Bridgewater each winning their games. Here are the big winners and losers at each position in Week 4:
Winner: Andrew Luck
Luck lead all QB’s in fantasy points this week with 48.7 points against a suspect Tennessee defense. Luck connected with nine different receivers, including the ageless wonder Reggie Wayne for his first TD and 100-yard game this season. The Colts have look superb, even if it is against inferior competition.
It will be interesting to see how Luck will handle Baltimore’s defense this week. Baltimore’s defense played pretty well against the Carolina Panthers; however had a few busted coverage plays in the secondary that a speedster like T.Y. Hilton would exploit for TD’s, not first downs.
Loser: Nick Foles
The Eagles’ good luck ran out yesterday against the 49ers. In fact, the Eagles offense was 100 percent inept, but was kept in the game thanks to an outstanding effort by the defense and special teams. Foles completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes while completing a couple to San Francisco. Everyone is susceptible to off weeks, but 6 points is more than an off week. The Eagles will look to right the ship against a St. Louis Rams team coming off a bye week.
Winners: DeMarco Murray and Jamaal Charles
DeMarco Murray played better on Sunday than Bill Murray did in Space Jam. According to Fox Sports, Murray joined Jim Brown, OJ Simpson and Emmitt Smith as the only backs in NFL history to begin a season with four straight games in which they rushed for 100 or more yards and scored one or more TDs. The previous three to do it are in the Hall of Fame. Before everyone trips over themselves for what I just said, Murray is nowhere close to that point, but he has put up more than 20 points in three of the first four games for the Cowboys. Up next is a Houston defense that gave 176 yards to Rashad Jennings in Week 3.
Charles shined bright in the Monday night spotlight against the New England Patriots. Charles came back with 108 total yards and three TD’s against the Patriots defense. Only two weeks removed from a sprained ankle, Charles showed no ill-effects from the injury. Next up for the Chiefs is the San Francisco defense that held LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles to less than 30 combined rushing yards.
Loser: Carolina Panthers
It sounds like a broken record for this team, but again their stable of running backs is empty due to injury. DeAngelo Williams just came off a quad injury, only to injure his ankle in the first half against the Ravens. The Williams injury puts him in jeopardy of missing Week 5 against the Bears. That would push Carolina to number five and six running backs on the depth chart with Jonathan Stewart, Fozzy Whittaker and Mike Tolbert all out with injuries. Carolina takes on a leaky Bears defense that held Eddie Lacy in check, although they did allow a touchdown to Lacy.
Winners: Antonio Brown and Steve Smith Sr.
Brown and Smith Sr. both made strong statements on Sunday. I am well aware of the stats that Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb put up, but Brown and Smith Sr. did things more remarkable than scorching the Bears’ secondary. Brown had seven catches for 131 yards, his first passing completion this year and two touchdowns in a losing effort to the Buccaneers (yes, I said a losing effort). Brown has been a lightning rod of targets from Big Ben. He could have had three touchdowns had he caught one he should have.
Smith Sr. welcomed his old team to his new team in a way only fitting for Steve Smith. The veteran receiver caught a 61-yard touchdown on a weird tip drill from Owen Daniels. Smith then added another by beating the Carolina secondary. Clearly age is not going to be Smith Sr.’s biggest enemy, but his emotions, which he kept in check enough for a big game. Or he let them all out for a big game; the jury is still out on that one.
Winner: Martellus Bennett
“But Larry Donnell had three TD’s against the Redskins” you may say. If I had Brandon Merriweather covering me, I could probably manage a touchdown against him. Martellus Bennett did something nobody would ever think could happen: Make Cutler forget about Brandon Marshall. Bennett had nine catches on 11 targets for 134 yards, while Marshall had two catches on six targets for 19 yards and a touchdown. Now Marshall has been limited with an ankle injury and the TD saved his fantasy day from being a complete bust. Bennett has emerged as the most dangerous weapon in this Bears offense over the first four games and whether or not he can keep it up will determine his true fantasy value.
Loser: the lower 80% of the league
Unless you are an elite tight end, you don’t have much fantasy value on a week-to-week basis. Players will absolutely have fantastic games and there are a lot of decent tight ends in the league. But the likelihood of one of the non-elite tight ends emerging as a consistent option is not very good. The key to tight end success is one who get six or more targets per game. Play the matchups and have faith they step up on any given Sunday.