Matt Ryan and Julio Jones put on an aerial show Sunday against the Panthers, combining for around 110 fantasy points (depending on your scoring format). If your opponent had either of them this weekend, chances are you lost. If they had both of them, you might be considering deleting your account and just starting over again with a daily fantasy league. Not even the best NFL analyst could have predicted Ryan and Jones would do what they did this week. But that is why you grab Jones as the first WR off the board, and Ryan off the waiver wire (in most leagues this year), because games like this ARE possible.
Fantasy owners got another treat this weekend with the return of Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell from his three-game suspension. It's never easy to draft a player knowing he won't be available, but Bell is an elite talent that was worth the wait. Next week owners get Tom Brady back from his four-game suspension, and not a moment too soon, for both fantasy owners and the Patriots.
With the bye weeks upon us, roster depth is going to become a problem at every position in fantasy football. You always have to check the waiver wire to see who is out there, but in Week 5 the pickings are sure to be slim. I'll give you a few names to check on, but I doubt we come across another find like Jordan Howard that I told you about back in Week 2 before ESPN, Yahoo, and NFL.com even knew who he was!
Trevor Siemian – Broncos: With Blake Bortles, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Alex Smith on a bye in Week 5, a QB like Siemian is a solid option against a Falcons defense that gives up the most fantasy points to QBs this season at 28.7 PPG. If he is healthy enough to start, he's worth a look. If not, Paxton Lynch is an interesting option as well.
Carson Wentz – Eagles: Wentz is coming off a Week 4 bye, and faces a Lions defense that is right behind the Falcons in terms of being fantasy QB-friendly with their 28.6 PPG allowed so far. Rookie QBs are always risky to bank on, but Wentz looks like he is as legit as they come.
Terrence West or Kenneth Dixon – Ravens: The Ravens decided to bench Justin Forsett on Sunday, opting to go younger at running back with Terrence West and Buck Allen. West took the opportunity and made the most of it by racking up 113 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. There is some concern here as Kenneth Dixon is expected to make his NFL debut in Week 5, but West may have earned himself a little latitude with this week's performance. I'd personally pick up Dixon for the second half of the season, and West for right now if you need RB help.
Bilal Powell – Jets: Powell made Matt Forte look like he was standing still on Sunday as he out-produced him 80-43 in total yards. Forte is still clearly the No. 1 RB on the depth chart, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Jets go to more of a time-share with Forte and Powell moving forward. Powell is worth an add if you have a bench spot for him.
Quincy Enunwa – Jets: With Eric Decker out, possibly for the season, Enunwa is the clear No. 2 WR on the Jets depth chart. Enunwa is behind Brandon Marshall for targets, but holds some solid value since he is right on his heels in terms of targets. If you need WR help, he is the best option available right now.
Dontrelle Inman – Chargers: The Chargers WRs are frustrating from a fantasy standpoint, because they are all one step higher than they really should be on the depth chart. Travis Benjamin is a No. 2 WR, forced into a No. 1 role due to injury. Tyrell Williams and Dontrele Inman could have really used another year of learning before moving into regular roles in the passing game. With that said, Inman deserves a look in those deeper 14-team formats after a breakout game (7/120/0) against the Saints in Week 4. He's still behind Williams on the depth chart, but that could change if he shows more consistency.
Cameron Brate – Buccaneers: I already told you about Brate, but since all the big-box websites are now jumping on him, I thought I'd tell you about him once more since TE is such a thin position. Brate is shaping up as a guy you can pencil in for around 5 catches and 50 yards. Touchdowns will be few and far between, but 5/50/0 for a fantasy TE isn't bad if you are forced into a streaming situation there.
P.S. I get a ton of questions about playing Andrew Luck. Here is my opinion on Luck that will NOT change: Overrated QB in the NFL, and fantasy football. He will never live up to the hype he had coming out of college, and fantasy owners should not bank on him as their QB1. He's on pace to take 60 sacks this season, something the NFL has seen just eight times! The Colts offensive line forces him to hurry throws and his WRs aren't good enough to compensate like Peyton Manning's could. Luck is a fringe QB1 for me, and not one I EVER own in my leagues.
Ben Roethlisberger – Steelers: After the Eagles held Big Ben without a touchdown in Week 3, fantasy owners were wondering if they should even bother playing him against the Chiefs and ball-hawk Marcus Peters. Well hopefully you did because Roethlisberger lit them up for 300 yards, 5 touchdowns, and no interceptions Sunday night.
With Bell back the Steelers offense is firing on all cylinders once again. Lock him into your starting lineup again in Week 5 against the Jets.
Matt Ryan – Falcons: Ryan's Week 4 performance should be played, on repeat, in every single locker room in the NFL this season so teams know exactly what to do against the Panthers. Matty Ice completed 28 of 37 passes for 503 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception against a defense most considered elite heading into this game.
Next week the Falcons take on the Broncos, in Denver. I wouldn't recommend starting him in the hopes of getting another mega performance out of him. The Panthers have real questions in their secondary and Ryan exposed every single one of them this week.
Blake Bortles – Jaguars: The Jaguars traveled to London this week and put on a show for the fans, beating the Colts 30-27. Bortles threw for 207 yards, 2 TDs, no INTs, and ran for another 36 yards and a score. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are building their rapport with Bortles this season, combining for 102 of the 207 passing yards, and accounting for both touchdowns (1 each).
Bortles finished Week 4 as a top 5-6 fantasy QB, and heads into a bye in Week 5. He'll be a QB1 against the Bears in Week 6.
Le'Veon Bell – Steelers: Bell made his much-awaited 2016 debut this week and did nothing to disappoint owners brave enough to snatch him in the early rounds of their drafts. When all was said and done, Bell ran the ball 18 times for 144 yards (8.0 YPC), and reeled in 5 of 6 targets for 34 yards. He did fail to score, but he did about as well as a fantasy player could without finding the endzone.
Bell gets a Jets defense that has been stingy with fantasy RBs this year, giving up just 16.5 PPG in PPR formats, the 5th-fewest in the NFL through four games.
Matt Jones – Redskins: The Redskins finally committed to the run game, which allowed Jones to rack up 22 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown. And for good measure Jones added 2 catches for 21 yards for you PPR folks. If the Redskins keep him on his current workload, he is on pace to get around 1,000 yards and 7-8 touchdowns for fantasy owners.
Next week he takes on a tougher Ravens defense, putting him back in the RB2 rankings. Understand that the Ravens are giving up just 14.6 PPG to fantasy RBs in standard scoring formats this season, the 10th-fewest in the NFL thus far.
Julio Jones – Falcons: Jones reached a plateau that only five other NFL players had reached before: 300 yards receiving in a single game. Most QBs are happy to reach 300 yards passing, and here Jones is pushing 300 yards receiving! He beat the Panthers secondary over and over on Sunday, nearly causing me to call Rodger Goodell to tell him to throw in the towel on the game to prevent more embarrassment to the Panthers.
In the end, Jones hauled in 12 of 15 targets for 300 yards and a TD. As impressive as that is, Matt Ryan left some yards on the field when he underthrew Jones on a pair of potential 61-yards touchdowns.
Will Fuller – Texans: Like Wentz, it's rare to see a rookie "get it" as quickly as Fuller has. Heading into this game he had already posted two 100-yard games and hadn't seen fewer than 7 targets this season. This week he continued to reward the Texans, and fantasy owners, by catching 7 of 9 targets for 81 yards and a touchdown. Then, to make sure he was in the top-5 for fantasy WRs this week, Fuller took a punt 67 yards for a touchdown!
Even with his hot start, I'm considering him a WR3 next week given the matchup with the Vikings elite defense.
Hunter Henry – Chargers: If you remember, I told you guys/girls about Henry a few weeks ago, so I hope you listened and grabbed him. The rookie got another start in place of Antonio Gates (hamstring) and posted a solid 4/61/1 line at home against the Saints.
Tight end is the worst position in fantasy football because there are the top 3 guys, and everyone else. So when a kid like Henry is out there and drawing the start, you have to grab him and stick him in the lineup! He is the future at TE in San Diego, so dynasty leaguers pay attention.
Buffalo Bills defense: One thing I promised myself I would never do is make those shock-jock predictions like the talking heads over at the big-box websites, just to draw you in for traffic numbers. So when I said the Bills defense was a must-start against the Patriots this week, I meant it!
What did they do? They shut the Patriots out at home, something that hasn't been done since 1993! And, to make things that much sweeter for those smart enough to trust in them, the Bills added 3 sacks and a recovered fumble. The Bills defense is back, and should be owned in all formats going forward.
Matthew Stafford – Lions: Stafford had a dream matchup this week, on paper, against an injury-riddled Bears defense. Instead of a dream, he had a nightmare performance as he finished with 213 passing yards, no TDs, 2 INTs, and a 2-point conversion. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are on fantasy football milk cartons all over the country this week.
If you watched the game, you could clearly see Stafford looked confused and the entire offense was not on the same page. I'd put Stafford in the QB2 rankings in Week 5 against a tough Eagles defense.
Carson Palmer – Cardinals: There reaches a point in every professional athlete's career where they hit the wall and are clearly on the decline. With quarterbacks, the decline is usually sudden, and rapid. This is the "wall" season for Palmer in my opinion. Last week the Bills picked him off 4 times without allowing a touchdown, and this week the Rams held him to 288 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and forced a fumble which he lost.
Palmer has some great weapons around him, but he just isn't producing numbers that fantasy owners can get behind. He's in concussion protocol right now, putting his Week 5 status into question.
Drew Brees – Saints: There was a lot of talk about Brees' return to San Diego since leaving the Chargers following the 2005-06 season via free agency. Brees didn't look good in this one with his accuracy and timing, but did lead the Saints to a comeback win. When all was said and done, Brees finished this one with just 206 passing yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs on the road.
Brees heads home in Week 5 to take on a Panthers defense on their heels after getting mollywhopped by the Falcons this week. He'll be a QB1, but I also expect the Panthers to come out with something to prove.
Cam Newton – Panthers: Cam Newton suffered yet another concussion in Week 4, after trying to show off while going into the endzone and getting smacked by Falcons Linebacker Deion Jones. No injury in the NFL is something to take lightly, but Newton might want to watch the film and see exactly how he was 100 percent to blame for trying to strut into the endzone instead of finishing the play, then celebrating.
Back to fantasy football, Newton finished with 165 passing yards, 30 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and a 2-point conversion. His Week 5 is in doubt, so check my social media all week for updates. Plan for him not to play, and take it as a gift if he does.
Jamaal Charles – Chiefs: Charles saw his first action of the season this week, but didn't quite live up to fantasy hopes like Bell did with Pittsburgh. Charles saw just 11 snaps on the day, finishing with 2 carries for 7 yards.
With Spencer Ware being solid in his absence (4.9 yards-per-catch and 18.5 yards-per-reception), and the NFL moving to a more committee-based approach at RB, it will be interesting to see how the touches shake out following the Chiefs' Week 5 bye.
Latavius Murray – Raiders: After Murray ran for 1,066 yards and 6 TDs last season, those big-box websites went a little crazy in ranking him heading into this year's fantasy drafts. Murray has season-highs of 14 carries and 59 yards this year, both coming in Week 1. This week the Ravens held him to just 19 rushing yards (8 carries) and 5 receiving yards (2 receptions).
Murray is truly a TD-or-bust fantasy RB, and someone you should consider trading if you can find someone who views his name in talks more than his stats.
Matt Forte – Jets: Forte had a terrible matchup this weekend, trying to run against a stout Seahawks defense at home. Forte managed just 27 yards on 14 carries (1.9 YPC) and caught 2 of 3 targets for 16 yards. With no touchdowns and minimal yards, Forte was outside of the top 25 fantasy RBs in Week 4.
Forte is more of a RB2 against the Steelers in Week 5, but watch the touch totals to see which way the wind is blowing in New York.
Odell Beckham Jr. – Giants: Beckham was destined for a TD-or-bust role this week against an elite Vikings defense, and he was a bust after failing to score. If you watched the game, the Vikings did a brilliant job at covering Beckham with Xavier Rhodes, and bringing double coverage to prevent big gains.
Beckham finished Monday night with just 3 catches, despite being targeted 9 times. To go with the catches, ODB added 23 yards. He is still an elite WR, but the Vikings were more elite in Week 4.
DeAndre Hopkins – Texans: Hopkins had himself another disappointing game this week, managing just a single reception for a whopping 4 yards. While Texans Coach Bill O'Brien can blame Hopkins' stats on the Titans gameplan, we all know it is a two-fold issue of Will Fuller being the real deal, and Brock Osweiler being overrated.
Hopkins is now fighting for targets, something he didn't have to do last year. It doesn't help that he has a QB that heads into Week 5 with more INTs (4) than TDs (3). Hopkins is shaping up to be much more of a WR2, than the WR1 people drafted him as. I'd sell on Hopkins in the price is right.
Brandin Cooks & Willie Snead – Saints: Cooks and Snead are the victims of poor QB play this week, but fantasy owners don't care about whose fault it is because they suffer nonetheless. Cooks managed 3 catches and 31 yards in the game, but didn't catch a single pass in the second half. Snead was even worse, catching just 1 ball for 23 empty yards.
Snead's toe injury didn't seem to hamper him in any way, and he came out of the game without suffering any setbacks. The Saints are on a bye in Week 5, so make sure you have them out of your fantasy lineup.
Rob Gronkowski – Patriots: Gronkowski has been a fantasy killer in the two games he's played this season, totaling just 1 catch for 11 yards. The catch and yards came this week, but the lack of production isn't a surprise to me. You see, there is a website that one of the big fantasy games uses for their news and information, and they keep saying Gronkowski is a must-start elite TE1. Look, if you think Gronk was going to be anything more than a decoy until Brady got back in Week 5, then I'd like to trade you Josh Gordon and sell you some magic beans!
You can lock and load Gronkowski into a top-tier TE role, with Brady sure to show us "Angry Tom" for the remainder of this season.
New England Patriots defense: After what the Patriots did to the Texans in Week 3, far too many people jumped on board with the hope that they would repeat that feat against the Sammy Watkins-less Bills in Week 5. While they did limit the Bills to just 16 points, they recorded just 2 sacks, with no INTs, fumbles, or defensive scores.
The Patriots will feast on the Browns in Week 5, both on offense and defense. If anyone drops their defense after this poor showing, have them as your #1 pick on the waiver wire.