NFL’s Week 4 was one that lacked true elite options, as we wrote on FanDuel Insider in the build up to Sunday’s action. In retrospect, we found a new elite player.
St. Louis running back Todd Gurley, welcome to fantasy superstardom. Goodbye questions about his health and usage. And we hardly know ye, Tre Mason.
“What can you say about Todd? In the second half, he took the game over and we needed it,” head coach Jeff Fisher told Myles Simmons of the Rams’ official website.
Gurley rushed for 144 of his career-high 146 yards in the second half against a very good Arizona Cardinals defense, and has rushed to the top of one-week fantasy minds with his 17.1-point performance. He was leaving yards on the field late in the game to merely fall unchallenged in patches of green grass to stay in-bounds to run out the clock.
“It’s totally unselfish,” Fisher told Summons, “and beyond that, for a rookie to have the presence of mind to do that—that says a lot for his understanding of this game and putting games away.”
The football acumen is savvy and the performance was savage.
“That just shows you how unselfish he is, how much he really wants to win,” Rams defensive lineman Will Hayes told Simmons. “The average guy is taking the ball inside the end zone, and he [didn’t]. And that was big in itself because people don’t understand how big of a play that is. You run the clock out and the game is over with. He’s a stud.”
The best part of the performance for FanDuelers should be that Mason was a complete non-factor, rushing twice for minus-1 yard Sunday.
It was only a matter of time. You don’t reach up to draft a damaged-goods running back (knee ligament reconstruction) in the top 10 of this modern NFL that has devalued the feature back to just let him stand on the sideline.
Gurley clearly looks worth it now. Heading into Week 5 at the Green Bay Packers, he is a bargain you cannot refuse.
This Week 4 Retrospectacle takes an in-depth look at the rest of the studs, duds and significant injury impacts on one-week fantasy action, starting with the other back you probably have to slot in a majority of lineups going forward.
RB Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (35.4 points)
Tevin Coleman’s (rib) injury has been a blessing for Freeman, who has rushed for six touchdowns in the past two games of Coleman’s absence. Freeman went 14-68-3 on the ground and 6-81 receiving.
“Devonta is playing lights out,” Falcons wide receiver Roddy White told Michael Cunningham ofThe Atlanta Journal Constitution. “We’ve got to continue to let him play that way. Feed him the ball, feed him the ball.”
You can bet the Falcons are going to give Coleman one more week to rest next Sunday against the Washington Redskins, particularly with a Thursday tilt at New Orleans immediately following. The Redskins have the second-best run defense in football through four weeks, but no one will be sitting Freeman now.
“Opportunity is everything,” Freeman told Cunningham. “They don’t come around often. You’ve just got to take advantage of them when you get them. I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to play in the NFL.”
K Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs (27.0)—You have to love when a kicker outscores all but one position player, right? See, kickers belong in fantasy football!
WR Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams (26.6)—Sometimes it takes three years for an NFL receiver to find his niche. Austin appears to have found his, finally. He ripped off 6-96-2 receiving and added 20 more on the ground Sunday, proving he’s more than a mere return specialist now. This is not just a flash in the pan, either. This is the start of something great. He leads the Rams in targets (20) through four games.
QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (26.22)—Here’s the thing about Rivers (358-3): He gets future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates back from his four-game suspension next week. Rivers is going to be a solid value, especially until rookie Melvin Gordon (12-38 rushing) gets rolling.
WR Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (25.7)—You can be worried about Jackson’s advanced age and playing with a shaky rookie quarterback, but Jameis Winston has been so bad early, the Bucs get blown out and collect garbage-time numbers. It makes Jackson (10-147-1) an unpredictable play.
QB Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles (24.2)—He has been one of the worst dollars-per-point quarterbacks. However, the running game is so bad right now that the Eagles have to pass the ball. Bradford’s 270-3 might be the baseline in Week 5 against the New Orleans Saints.
RB Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (24.0)—We love him as the finisher in Hue Jackson’s power-running scheme, we just wish he hadn’t had his fumbling issues that opened the door for Giovani Bernard (13-62-1) to make this a true timeshare. Hill was outcarried and outrushed (9-40-3) despite the touchdowns, and the Seattle Seahawks defense is up next. Ouch.
WR Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars (23.1)—Blake Bortles (298-1) is showing improvement and Hurns (11-116-1) is right there with Allen Robinson (4-80). We cannot wait to see what this group can do once Julius Thomas (hand) returns from injury. Thomas should open things up for everyone because he requires attention. The Jags receivers do have some sleeper value to them, especially because they are weekly candidates for garbage-time numbers.
RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22.8)—The Bucs finally got their running game going, which is a great sign for those interested in Martin (20-106-1) as a bargain against the Jags next Sunday.
RB Christopher Ivory, New York Jets (22.6)—The Jets offense looks a lot better under the new regime. It’s too bad Ivory is on bye in Week 5, though.
QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (22.36)—He returns from a sore shoulder with 359-2, which is a great sign, even if the throws were more to the backs and tight ends. The Saints are going to manage Brees’ shoulder strength in their game plan, which can keep him productive. This is also a fairly intriguing development for those hoping Andrew Luck (shoulder) can do the same.
QB Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns (22.24)—It was a strange week for the quarterbacks, as many of the top-priced guys were trumped by bargains. McCown was solid in this shootout, but we don’t expect it to continue against the Baltimore Ravens on the road next Sunday.
Duke Johnson, Jr., Cleveland Browns (22.1)—If Johnson pushes out starter Isaiah Crowell (12-63 rushing and 3-62 receiving), look out. Until then, Johnson is just a bargain for his passing-downs production.
QB Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (21.7)—He put together an impressive game-winning drive that can give him and head coach Jay Gruden confidence. Cousins can get forced into a Week 5 shootout against the high-flying Falcons, too. We should like Pierre Garcon (7-55-1) and Jordan Reed (5-37) in that one—maybe even Jamison Crowder (7-65) if DeSean Jackson (hamstring) remains out.
Atlanta Falcons Defense (21.0)—Dan Quinn has turned this unit around in a hurry. A matchup at home against the Washington Redskins should be another bountiful one, especially at a mere $4,500 for Week 5.
WR Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs (20.3)—We should be convinced that Alex Smith’s 2014 struggles to get the ball to wideouts was more a function of the receiver quality than the lack of arm strength. Maclin (11-148) looks just fine with Smith, even if the touchdowns might not come consistently.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (20.2)—Like Maclin, Hopkins is the lone receiving threat on a team with a subpar quarterback. You have to love his high-volume production (9-157). The Texans should open it up Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts at home, especially if Arian Foster (8-for-10 rushing) is ready for a larger role.
Bums the Word
QB Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (10.32)—He might be 4-0 thus far, but it has been as ugly as 4-0 can get. Manning threw for just 213-2 and had two costly interceptions that allowed the Minnesota Vikings back into the game. Fire up the catcalls for the end of Manning again…until he lights up the Oakland Raiders for four touchdowns next Sunday.
RB Arian Foster, Houston Texans (3.0)—Even Alfred Blue (6-for-17) outproduced Foster in his return from a groin injury. Ouch. It sure doesn’t help he has just a few days rest before the matchup against the Colts. Expect a heavy, heavy dose of Foster in that one, though, making him an intriguing Thursday night play. The Texans can quietly tie for first place in the AFC South division with a victory.
RB Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles (1.7)—Three targets and no receptions. All of the Eagles’ backs are junk right now, DeMarco Murray (5.8) and Ryan Mathews (0.0) included.
RB Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (2.7)—Week 1 seems really far away now. You cannot like him against the New York Giants’ No. 1-ranked rush defense next Sunday night.
WR Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons (1.8)—Worthless. Leonard Hankerson (6-103-1) is the top Julio Jones sidekick for Matt Ryan now.
WR Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers (2.7)—Colin Kaepernick’s struggles have really made mincemeat of Boldin, Torrey Smith (2-54) and TE Vernon Davis (inactive).
WR Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (4.5)—We would blame Brees’ shoulder, but Willie Snead (6-89) looked just fine. Cooks (4-25) is one of fantasy’s biggest disappointments this season. He was supposed to be the answer to the loss of Jimmy Graham for Brees and the Saints.
WR Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (5.8)—He’s fine. This was a one-week hiccup with the Falcons so thoroughly in command Sunday against the Texans.
TE Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins (2.9)—He just missed a jump-ball TD. These struggles and a Week 5 bye for the Dolphins are good news. There is value to come midseason here.
TE Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (3.8)—So much for that Week 3 breakthrough. Olsen was right back in the tank, and he’s headed for a Week 5 bye, too.
Buffalo Bills Defense (3.0)—Overrated. It’s a popular chant wherever Rex Ryan is, apparently.
Arizona Cardinals Defense (1.0)—Despite this hard fall, the Cards are still the top-priced unit on the board for Week 5 at $5,200.
Raise RB Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys—The loss of Lance Dunbar (knee) to season-ending surgery would put more of the onus on Randle in the passing game. That should light up the fantasy scoreboard more for us. Randle is now the same price as the Eagles’ Murray ($7,400) and the better option in Week 5 against at the New England Patriots.
Love WR Hopkins, Houston Texans—Cecil Shorts dislocated his shoulder, per NFL insider Adam Caplan, which elevates rookie Keith Mumphery (4-56) and makes Hopkins even more high-volume than he was already.