The Takeaway Lessons of Week 4
With a third of the Fantasy season just about over, is it time to start panicking? Well if you’re 0-4 or about to be so, it’s time to do something. It’s time to be honest about your team. Is the reason your squad isn’t playing well because of underperforming players? Perhaps you were hit with more than your share of injuries or suspensions? Maybe you just didn’t draft well and don’t have a good team. The hardest thing to figure out is what to do with underperforming players. Do you bench them? Do you trade them? Do you trust they will rebound and keep them in your lineup? It’s these decisions that will go a long way towards determining whether you will rebound this season or start looking forward to Fantasy Baseball. As for me, I tend to be patient, but anyone is tradable if the offer is right.
After watching his Week 4 performance against the Giants on Thursday, we should certainly pump the breaks on announcing Kirk Cousins as the next franchise QB for the Redskins. There is no other way to describe his game other than awful. It might be somewhat understandable if he played the Seahawks in Seattle, but this was against a Giants defense that isn’t awful, but it is far from the 1986 Bears. Cousins’ history is one of inconsistency as a starter. The good news is that he has a stronger arm than first thought, but his decision making still needs work. The TE position is kind of a mess for Washington right now. Jordan Reed is still week to week with a hamstring injury, and now Niles Paul could be lost due to a concussion; certainly not what you want on a week where you’re headed to Seattle to play a rested team coming off a bye.
Eddie Lacy finally had his first touchdown of the season in Week 4, but it still may be time to start worrying about him. Even though QB Aaron Rodgers lit up the Bears in the passing game, Lacy could still only manage 48 yards rushing. It’s not like teams are putting eight men in the box to stop him. Now, it’s not all on him; the offensive line is a mess as well, and they aren’t opening up much in the way of holes, but Lacy is starting to look more like a RB2 than a RB1.
Does anyone else realize right now that DL J.J. Watt (2) has more touchdowns than RB Arian Foster (1) and WR Andre Johnson (0) combined? Foster is coming off yet another hamstring injury and looked far from 100-percent yesterday, rushing for a whopping eight yards on six carries. Johnson is getting his fair share of targets and catches, so one would think the touchdowns will come, but something is missing from his chemistry with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. One would think they both might get healthy playing Dallas this week, but all of a sudden that defense looks better than we thought, and this might prove to be a tougher matchup than Fantasy owners anticipated.
Here is something you don’t hear every day, a head coach blasting his own players publicly about a subpar performance. That is exactly what Ken Whisenhunt did yesterday after the game versus the Colts. He blamed WR Kendall Wright and WR Justin Hunter for running poor routes and dropping passes. This could certainly lead to some locker room problems, but then again, this team has plenty of issues. Even before the injury, QB Jake Locker looks to have taken a step back, and Whisenhunt still doesn’t seem to trust RB Bishop Sankey enough to give him the starting job. One has to believe, however, that Sankey will have to be given the starting job sooner rather than later, as this offense needs a spark.
It really shouldn’t have come as a shock to anyone that WR Steve Smith
lit up his former team in Week 4, to the tune of seven receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns. It’s not just the revenge factor that was in play here; Smith is clearly the number one target of QB Joe Flacco, as WR Torrey Smith is an afterthought. Smith may slow down as the season goes along, but he’s a low end WR1 right now and a must start. The running game is getting more interesting also, as the team seems to want to make sure to get Lorenzo Taliaferro his share of carries. This is still a three headed monster, however, one which may drive Fantasy owners to drink, and not in a good way.
Will Geno Smith be replaced at quarterback by Michael Vick? There is a lot more in play here than just Smtih’s inconsistency and poor play. Head coach Rex Ryan’s job is on the line, and if the Jets implode he may be looking for employment. The organization would also have to admit that they have now blown two high draft picks on quarterbacks that didn’t work out. Don’t think for a second that egos aren’t in play here. Would Vick be any better in this offense? The receivers are average at best, and the addition of RB Chris Johnson has yet to pay off. This team is what it is, at best average, and one that will only succeed should the defense carry them.
Although nothing is official yet, QB Josh McCown will probably need to undergo surgery for the hand injury and could be gone for the season. This may not matter, however, as Mike Glennon showed yesterday why he should’ve had the starting job to begin with. Glennon should make WR Vincent Jackson relevant again. Quite a few Fantasy owners dropped Jackson this week because they were worried about his slow start and the broken bone in his wrist. Well, the wrist is good and VJax should be started once again. The running game is clearing up also, as Doug Martin returned from his knee injury but only had 40 yards on 16 carries. He was the clear starter over Bob Rainey, but he was once again less than impressive.
What do we make of the Dolphins? One week they are shutting down the Patriots, the next they are getting crushed by the Chiefs. Sure, they won big in London yesterday, but that was against the Raiders, not exactly the cream of the crop when it comes to NFL teams. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill apparently heard the wakeup call from coach Joe Philbin about possibly losing his starting job, and may have had his best game as a pro. Lamar Miller is looking like a solid RB2 and Mike Wallace seems to be scoring touchdowns with regularity. The question is whether they can ride this victory and garner some momentum for the remainder of the season, or will the offense continue to be helter skelter?
Welcome to the 2014 NFL season, WR Keenan Allen. He was another player off to a disappointing start that Fantasy owners were freaking out about. Is he ever going to be a Julio Jones or Dez Bryant? No, but he will be high end WR2, who will have big games from time to time. I’d be more worried about the running game, as Donald Brown hasn’t been all that impressive in two games. Ryan Mathews should be back in 2-3 weeks, so you might want to trade Brown while you have the chance, as Brandon Oliver may end up being the backup behind Mathews instead of Brown.
Teddy Bridgewater may have several teams wondering why they didn’t take him in the draft after his performance in his first pro start Sunday. He went 19 of 30 for 317 yards and ran for another 27 yards, including a touchdown. More importantly, he added life to the offense. Not everything was rosy, however, as Bridgewater still wasn’t able to get WR Cordarrelle Patterson involved in the passing game, and Bridgewater suffered an ankle injury that forced his removal from the game. A MRI taken on the ankle Monday showed no ligament damage, so Bridgewater will be listed as questionable to play Thursday. As for Patterson, I’m afraid if you have a decent option on your bench, you might want to look in that direction until he shows some sign of life.
The Eagles offensive line is a mess. It was average to begin with and injuries now have them starting players who are really no better than traffic cones. This is obviously causing problems with the running game, as LeSean McCoy has 39 yards rushing on 29 carries in the past two games. Fantasy owners are going to have to remain patient, as you certainly don’t want to sell low on McCoy, and that is exactly what you would be doing if you dealt him now.
Don’t look now, but QB Tony Romo is starting to look like his old self again. Romo is looking more mobile in the pocket and his arm strength is returning as well. He still won’t be throwing the rock all over the field, as the Cowboys boast one of the best running games in the NFL and will look to protect their defense by running the ball early and often, but he’s still good for 250 yards and two touchdowns in most games.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz
Be the first to know
Want FREE Fantasy and Gaming Advice and Savings Delivered to your Inbox? Sign up for our Newsletter.