Stars of Week 4
QB: Dak Prescott, DAL: 41-58, 501 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT
RB: Joe Mixon, CIN: 25 carries, 151 yards, 2 TDs (6 catches, 30 yards, 1 TD)
WR: Odell Beckham, Jr., CLE: 5 catches, 81 yards, 2 TDs (2 rushes, 73 yards, 1 TD)
TE: George Kittle, SF: 15 catches, 183 yards, 1 TD
Dak Prescott finds his way into the honor roll for a second time, seemingly switching off with Russell Wilson. Prescott is on pace for 6,760 passing yards, which would absolutely shatter the all time record for passing yards in a season. That pace will drop off a bit, but he remains a must start every week.
For those of you who’ve been frustrated with Bengals’ RB Joe Mixon, here was your breakout week. Mixon has been frustrating to own on fantasy rosters, going back a few years now – the weekly performance is maddeningly inconsistent. The problem results less from Mixon’s shortcomings, and more from factors out of his control (i.e. play calling, chasing deficits, putrid o-lines, etc.). Mixon remains a high end RB2 and a weekly must start, but expect consistency to remain an issue.
Speaking of disappointing the last few years, welcome back to the summit, Mr. Odell Beckham! The Browns’ WR found the end zone thrice against the lowly Cowboys D, and he’s starting to come alive in Coach Kevin Stefanski’s offense. Look for Beckham’s performances to continue to trend upward, as the team’s new offensive scheme and the improved offensive line will lift all boats in Cleveland.
Last but not least, top 2 overall tight end George Kittle returned to the 49ers and caught a mind blowing 15 passes for 183 yards and a TD in a losing effort against the Eagles. It’s safe to say that none of the loss falls on Kittle, as he looked all worldly as the primary source of the 49ers’ offense.
Week 4 Takeaways – A Closer Look
Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.
- Justin Herbert, QB – LAC: 20-25, 290 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Analysis: Los Angeles Chargers’ starting QB Tyrod Taylor has missed the last three games, with prized rookie Justin Herbert taking the reins in Taylor’s absence. The sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft has looked outstanding for the Chargers, dropping dimes across the field, maneuvering himself out of pressure with outstanding footwork and generally looking the part of a franchise signal caller. Just take a look at the 50-yard bomb Herbert dropped into WR Tyron Johnson’s mitts while staring down the face of the Bucs’ pass rush. Coach Anthony Lynn has declared that Taylor remains his starting QB, but if the Chargers have interest in winning games and moving the franchise forward, then Herbert has to remain the starter moving forward. Herbert has averaged 310 yards passing per game, with 5 TDs and 3 INTs during this three-game span. As with any rookie QB, Herbert will make mistakes (see the 3 INTs), but he will continue to progress linearly, and will be a factor in the 2020 fantasy football season. Herbert should be viewed as a matchups dependent option for this year, with all the tools to ascend into QB1 status as early as next year. If you need additional QB help, pick up Herbert – he’ll have some good matchups coming up, starting with next week against the Saints.
- D’Ernest Johnson, RB – CLE: 13 carries, 95 yards, 0 TDs
Analysis: There’s awkwardness writing about a Cleveland RB who isn’t either Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt, both of whom being top 20 overall RBs. We’re here though because Chubb suffered an MCL injury against the Cowboys after 6 carries, and he’ll likely be out several weeks. Hunt will elevate into the lead RB role, but given his place in the passing game, the Browns will still use a timeshare at the position. With Chubb down, you guessed it – D’Ernest Johnson steps in. Johnson’s not the biggest back at 5’10” and 200 lbs, but he runs hard and will do well behind Cleveland’s fabulous run blocking offensive line. Johnson actually outcarried Hunt 13 to 11 against the Cowboys, and fell just five yards from the hitting the century mark in yardage in his limited time. Looking forward, expect Hunt to take a larger share of carries than Johnson – something along the lines of a 50-40 split (with Dontrell Hilliard getting the remaining carries). But both Hunt (now as an RB1) and Johnson (as an RB3/flex) will have significant fantasy value in Chubb’s absence.
- Antonio Gibson, RB – WAS: 13 carries, 46 yards, 1 TD (4 catches, 82 yards, 0 TDs)
Analysis: It’s officially Antonio Gibson SZN! The rookie RB from Memphis has been the RB to own from the Washington Football Team ever since the team turned in the card at the NFL draft, and it was only a matter of time before Gibson became the focal point of the rushing attack. Gibson had a commanding lead in RB team carries with 13, with Payton Barber a distant second at a measly three carries. Gibson had modest success against a tough Ravens D on the ground, rushing for 46 yards and scoring a TD. Gibson’s a solid rusher, but his receiving skills set him apart at the position. Gibson runs very skilled routes out of the backfield and has great hands, which popped to the tune of four catches and 82 yards against what’s also a tough Ravens’ pass D. JD McKissic remains in the picture for WFT as a third down back, so Gibson won’t dominate the pass catching RB role – note that per PFF, Gibson had 31 snaps versus 39 for McKissic. But look for Gibson to continue syphoning snaps from McKissic and the rest of the team’s RB group – he’s just too good to keep on the sideline. Moving forward, Gibson should be in weekly lineups in all but the most shallow of leagues. He’s got a high weekly floor, dropping no lower than a flex play while usually finding himself as an RB2. For those of you that drafted Gibson, now’s the time to deploy him into your lineups.
- CeeDee Lamb, WR – DAL: 5 catches, 79 yards, 2 TDs
Analysis: The Dallas Cowboys have limped out of the gate to a 1-3 record. The team’s biggest issue revolves around its defense – namely that it doesn’t play any. While bad news for Dallas’ NFL hopes this season, it’s great news for fantasy football purposes – the Cowboys’ offensive skill position players are gonna eat while trying to keep up with their opponents scores! Given the lack of offseason camps and a truncated preseason, rookie WRs have faced a tall order in being ready to contribute to their teams. Dispute these tough circumstances, Cowboys’ rookie WR CeeDee Lamb has fit right in as if he were a 10 year veteran. Lamb has fit in perfectly as the Cowboys’ slot receiver. In four games, Lamb has 309 receiving yards over 21 catches – 2 of which have been TDs. Perhaps most importantly, QB Dak Prescott has targeted Lamb a whopping 29 times over these four games – showing that Lamb’s strong start to the season is no fluke. He’s as polished as a WR to enter the NFL in a long time, and fits the Cowboys’ offense to a T. Looking at the team’s WR hierarchy, Amari Cooper sits in the top chair – no change there. But Lamb has moved ahead of Michael Gallup on the pecking order, at least for fantasy purposes. Lamb has earned a weekly spot in your lineups as a flex play, upgraded to WR2 in matchups against teams which struggle to cover the slot – of whom there are many. Put your trust in Lamb moving forward.
- Tim Patrick, WR – DEN: 6 catches, 113 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: The 2020 NFL season has not gone as hoped for the Denver Broncos. The team has been without its starting QB, Drew Lock, for the last few games, while its star WR, Courtland Sutton, will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Those are just a few of the myriad injuries that the Broncos have suffered early this season. If there’s a silver lining to suffering injuries (yes, I’m reaching here!), it’s the opportunity that opens up for players lower on the depth chart to step up and perform. On that note, let’s discuss third year WR Tim Patrick. The Utah State alum joined the Broncos in the same draft class as Sutton, but their career similarities end there. Patrick has been buried on the depth chart, with 209 and 218 yards receiving in years 1 and 2, respectively. Could this finally be Patrick’s chance to shine? Methinks yes. Patrick has always had good athleticism and the ability to get open, while needing to work on route running and becoming a bit more sure-handed. Word trickled out throughout Broncos’ training camp that Patrick had impressed his coaches, and his improvement as a route runner shows, while also hauling in virtually everything thrown his way. With star TE Noah Fant also out for at least the next few weeks, Patrick will continue to hold down the fort as a pass catching option with fellow WR Jerry Jeudy. Patrick should be on radars in deeper leagues (12+ teams), and can be a flex play dependent upon matchups. He’s not a guy to blow your FAAB budget out on, but Patrick’s worth a few bucks if you need receiving help.
Rapid Fire Pickups
Each week we throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been featured above, and 2) a player available in more than 50% of leagues.
QB: Daniel Jones, NYG (facing the Cowboys in Week 5)
RB: Justin Jackson, LAC
RB: Damien Harris, NE
WR: Tee Higgins, CIN
WR: Scotty Miller, TB
TE: Robert Tonyan, GB