From predictable routs to shocking upsets, Week 4 in the NFL had it all.
On one end of the spectrum, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders continued to be fantasy jackpots by getting rolled for the fourth consecutive week. On the other end, the porous Dallas Cowboys defense somehow managed to shut down the New Orleans Saints, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers delivered a shocking upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
We also learned a lot in fantasy on Sunday. For example, always start a player against his recent employer, especially when said player tells you there’s going to be “blood and guts everywhere.” Yet some questions still need answering, such as what’s going on with LeSean McCoy and the once-dominant Philadelphia Eagles ground game?
For now, though, we’ll stick with the facts and take a look back at the best and worst performers from a wild slate (that excludes, of course, Monday night’s showdown between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs).
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants:Â Ladies and gentleman, your top fantasy scorer for Week 4. Eli gets a lot of grief, but he was nearly perfect against the Washington Redskins on Thursday night, throwing for four touchdowns and rushing for a fifth. Manning is still available in a lot of leagues, and after Thursday’s performance, he might be worth a look.
Steve Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens:Â At the risk of gloating, we did try to tell you. Smith backed up his talk with a huge game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, going off for 139 yards and two touchdowns. One of them was a bit of a fluke, but it still counts all the same. This guy is a legitimate fantasy weapon in Baltimore.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys:Â When Murray is healthy, there aren’t too many backs in the NFL who are better. Murray ran all over theÂ New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, going for 149 yards and two touchdowns in a dominating performance. If he can stay on the field, expect the points to keep rolling in.
Matt Asiata, RB, Minnesota Vikings:Â Sometimes, fantasy football is all about the circumstances. Asiata likely would be a dudÂ anywhere else, but now he’s the Vikings’ go-to goal-line back,Â and that’s good news for you. Asiata led all rushers in fantasy points by scoring three touchdowns, and Adrian Peterson isn’t coming back anytime soon.
Larry Donnell, TE, Giants:Â Either Donnell slipped Eli a couple bills before Thursday night’s game, or the quarterback really likes his tight end. Donnell caught three of Manning’s four touchdown passes for a 20-plus-point fantasy performance and has seen no less than six targets in each of his four games this season. If he’s still available, go grab him now.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: What the heck is up with Shady? McCoy rushed for less than 25 yards and no touchdowns for the second consecutive week, as defenses continue to key on last year’s leading rusher. The Eagles have plenty of weapons in the air, but they’ll need to shore up their offensive line if they want to get their potent rushing attack back on track.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins:Â It was a pretty brutal week for players whose names end in -eSean. Jackson mustered only one reception for 9 yards and continues to be wildly inconsistent on the fantasy front. That, of course, starts with his quarterback, Kirk Cousins, who also laid a stinker Thursday night.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions:Â Johnson clearly was not 100 percent Sunday after dealing with an ankle injury all week, and Calvin owners felt his pain, too. HeÂ managed just two catches for 12 yards against a porous New York Jets secondary, by far his lowest output of the season. Let’s hope his injury doesn’t linger.
Donald Brown, RB, San Diego Chargers:Â This one seemed like a slam dunk, but Brown just didn’t get it done against the woeful Jaguars, as Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense chose to rack up the points through the air. Rookie Branden Oliver also got 19 carries Sunday, so you might want to take a second look at Brown before inserting him into your lineup in the future.
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles:Â It wasn’t a good day offensively for the Eagles in general, but less than 200 yards and two picks is pretty awful for one of the NFL’s most efficient passers from 2013. Philly gets the St. Louis Rams next week, so there’s no need for real panic here, but Foles owners can’t be happy with Sunday’s result.
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