As the Fantasy Football season finishes its first month, we are starting to see trends that we can rely on as well as noteworthy performances from players we didn’t expect almost on a weekly basis. Rookies are emerging as legitimate contributors while injuries and disappointing starts are providing opportunities and some sense of clarity to our Flex decisions.
After four weeks we have seen a defense in New England that Fantasy owners are feasting on, as well as a wide receiver in Carolina that is taking advantage of Greg Olsen’s foot injury. There is a tight end in Tampa Bay that looks like a must-start for Week 5, as well as a tight end in Philadelphia that has proven after four weeks that he was a draft day bargain on his way to a career year. There is an old school warrior still consistently producing in Indianapolis while there are wide receivers and running backs emerging as legitimate Flex considerations that are still available on the waiver wire because of opportunities created by injuries.
New England Patriots Defense
They have allowed every quarterback they’ve faced to throw for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns. They rank fourth or worse in Fantasy points allowed against every position except kickers, against whom they rank fifth worst.
Zach Ertz, TE Philadelphia Eagles
Ertz has scored 13 Fantasy points or more every week this season and with only one touchdown, there is room for improvement.
Frank Gore, RB Indianapolis Colts
Gore doesn’t receive a lot of Fantasy respect, but he is an uncontested number one running back who receives the majority of the Colts’ goal line carries, and he has scored double-digit Fantasy points in three out of four weeks this season.
Charles Clay, TE Buffalo Bills
Clay has scored 15 Fantasy points or more in three of four weeks and ranks fourth in receiving yards and Fantasy points for tight ends.
Tevin Coleman, RB Atlanta Falcons
Coleman is one of only a few number two NFL running backs that is a must-start in Fantasy. He has scored double-digit points in three of four weeks.
Cameron Brate TE Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brate ranked sixth in tight end scoring and was one of only seven to score at least 100 Fantasy points in 2016. In Weeks 3 and 4 of 2017, he scored 13 and 18 Fantasy points and this week he faces the hapless New England Patriots defense on Thursday night. He is a mouth watering DFS target in Week 5.
Devin Funchess, WR Carolina Panthers
Funchess snuck into the Top 20 in wide receiver scoring on the back of a Patriots defense that everyone gets well against, but he has 10 and 9 targets in back to back weeks since Greg Olsen went down. Right now, it appears Funchess is the beneficiary of Olsen’s targets.
Chris Hogan, WR New England Patriots
Hogan scored 39 total Fantasy points in Weeks 3 and 4 without exceeding 70 receiving yards or six receptions in either game, buoyed by three touchdowns. With all of the options open to Tom Brady it is easy to get excited about Hogan, while it is extremely difficult to believe that he can maintain his point production almost entirely on the back of touchdowns. His price tag continues to rise while his targets and receptions have remained relatively stagnant. The Patriots are going to continue to score and DFS players are smart to own shares of them, but you may want to look elsewhere to avoid being caught when the Hogan bubble bursts. James White is a bargain, while Rob Gronkowski is an expensive sure thing and Brandin Cooks is somewhere in between.
Alex Collins, RB Baltimore Ravens
Collins has nine rushing attempts for 82 yards in back to back weeks for the run-heavy Ravens offense. The positives are that he leads the team in rushing yards (206) and yards per carry (8.2), while the negatives are that he leads them in fumbles (2) and he hasn’t been targeted in the passing game. Collins is the most explosive runner on the roster and if the attempts continue or increase, he becomes a Flex consideration on a team that is among the league leaders in carries.
Andre Ellington, RB Arizona Cardinals:
Ellington leads running backs in targets (30) and has scored 13 and 19 Fantasy points since David Johnson went down with a wrist injury. The Cardinals have a lot of passing options, but Ellington is the only running back with his hands in the passing cookie jar. His touches and targets should remain consistent going forward, something that can’t be said for Jaron Brown, John Brown or J.J. Nelson.
Jaron Brown, WR Arizona Cardinals
He has led Cardinals wide receivers in targets while scoring double-digit Fantasy points in two of the last three weeks. It’s a crowded offense in Arizona with J.J. Nelson and Andre Ellington both emerging since the David Johnson injury, while Larry Fitzgerald continues to be a popular Carson Palmer target. If you want to be a DFS tournament contrarian, Jaron Brown is a risky bargain who has the upside to pay off.
Did You Know
Pierre Garcon ranks 12th in receiving yards, while Sterling Shepard ranks 14th. It’s a bad quarterback situation in San Francisco and a bad all around offensive situation in New York. Shepard is more of a “Don’t be Fantasy Fooled” situation because there are so many alternative targets for Eli Manning with Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram (currently a Top 5 among tight ends), but Garcon should continue to be the number one target and top performer for the 49ers.
Dez Bryant has only 16 receptions on 40 targets and is averaging just over five yards per target (40 targets – 212 yards). In yearly Fantasy baseball leagues, you aren’t supposed to chase wins and I find it difficult to recommend Bryant in DFS football because without a touchdown he isn’t worth owning, regardless of the cost.
Alvin Kamara is tied for third among running backs with 28 targets. Kamara is in a committee for carries while becoming more and more popular in the passing game, trends that should continue going forward. He is a little closer to being “Don’t be Fantasy Fooled” than I would like because of the presence of Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson, but the total yards from scrimmage and receptions in PPR should make him Fantasy relevant even if the consistent rushing attempts aren’t there.
Carlos Hyde is sixth in rushing yards, ahead of Devonta Freeman, Leonard Fournette and Ezekiel Elliot. Hyde has always been overlooked and underappreciated and it’s not any different in 2017. He is the clear No.1 between the tackles and has been targeted second only to Pierre Garcon in the passing game with 17 receptions on 22 targets. The lack of praise in the Fantasy community makes it difficult to feel confident about rostering him in DFS, but the “performance per dollar” makes him a nice value most weeks.
New York Giants’ Evan Engram ranks third in tight end targets with 30, one behind Rob Gronkowski, while Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has only been targeted 15 times for 109 receiving yards.