Week 4 Observations

Equanimity is paramount in life, and arguably even more so when monitoring your various investments in NFL-derived contests. It doesn’t matter how the Browns lost the ATS cover, your best bet and a Supercontest pick. It was a loss like any other, a mark in a column and one you have to overcome in order to win/cash in your various pools. There is no “deserve,” no arbiter of “fairness” to whom you can appeal an unjust result. Just a win or a loss, something to observe, absorb and take what lessons might or might not be contained therein. Week 4 happened, and after Monday night, you turn to Week 5, untilted, relaxed, calm. You can always get a new TV after disposing of the one with your laptop  embedded in its screen.

• The Ravens offense is actually good and enjoyable to watch. Joe Flacco looks like a different player, and he gets rid of the ball quickly to three different wideouts and three tight ends, as well as his backs. The addition of John Brown has been massive – he’s a legitimate field stretcher, and they’re not afraid to target him deep. Willie Snead and Michael Crabtree have roughly equal roles at this point.

• I drafted Justin Tucker wherever I could, and I’m happy I did. It’s just such a luxury having a kicker who almost never misses, has never botched a PAT in his career and routinely hits from long distance. The team knows it, too, and they use him accordingly.

• Alex Collins and Javoris Allen are in a near 50/50 timeshare. Collins is clearly better, but he lost another fumble Sunday night, and Allen is the preferred goal-line option.

•  The Ravens have a good defense, but the Steelers offense was a little out of sync. There were a couple drops by receivers, Antonio Brown was ignored early, and there’s not much rhythm, in part because while James Conner is serviceable, he’s no Le’Veon Bell, especially in the passing game. Vance McDonald looks like a viable No. 3 target, though.

• The 49ers should have been in a position to beat the Chargers and knock most people out of my last Survivor pool, but the turnovers and sloppy play killed them.

• C.J. Beathard played well enough (8.2 YPA) and is more mobile than Jimmy Garoppolo. He should be fine as a QB-flex option.

• Marquise Goodwin is probably droppable George Kittle and Pierre Garcon seem to be Beathard’s favorites. Kittle outran a couple DBs on his 82-yard TD catch too.

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• Alfred Morris has taken a back seat to the more dynamic Matt Breida. Morris too is cuttable in most formats.

• Melvin Gordon (15 carries, 10 targets) is the poor man’s Todd Gurley – always gets his, never fumbles. Austin Ekeler is a nice complement, but doesn’t hurt Gordon.

• The Giants defense held up pretty well for most of the game, but the offense is putrid. Eliability™ doesn’t throw downfield, and if the rush gets there he’s hopeless to escape. I’ve never seen a quarterback so unable to buy time or step up in the pocket. I also thought Pat Shurmur was an offensive mastermind, but it looked like the Ben McAdoo version Sunday.

• Alvin Kamara is a monster, but he was the only Saint who did much, as the Giants defense contained Drew Brees and Michael Thomas all day before the dam broke late for Kamara. I expect Mark Ingram to see his 2017 role when he returns next week, however, keeping Kamara fresh.

• Josh Rosen gave the Cardinals a spark and showed poise in his first start, but it’s hard to get excited about this offense. At least David Johnson (22 carries, four targets, three catches) is starting to get his work.

• Doug Baldwin saw seven targets as he works his way back. Mike Davis saw 21 carries to Rashaad Penny’s nine once Chris Carson was scratched. Odd for the Seahawks to take Penny in the first round only to make him third string.

• Phil Dawson could be on the chopping block after missing two FGs, one of which might have won the game.

• The Browns (and the refs) gifted the game to the Raiders so many times, it’s hard to know where to begin. Baker Mayfield threw two picks (one returned for a TD) and fumbled twice. He still looks very good to me, and at least two of the turnovers were completely fluky.

• No reason to get Nick Chubb more involved as he can run for 100 yards (2 TDs) on just three carries. Carlos Hyde (22-82-1) is still the workhorse apparently.

• Derek Carr made some boneheaded plays and failed to convert from in close on what should have been his team’s final shot, but he also made some nice throws to Jared Cook and Amari Cooper, and should have had a big play to Martavis Bryant who was wide open down the field on a play, but dropped the ball. The ball was thrown behind Bryant and much too short, but he was so open, you could argue it was more or less the correct (safe) throw. Even without it, Carr finished with 437 yards and four TDs, something that could happen a few times, given the team’s leaky defense.

• Cook (13-8-110-2) is a top-five TE, and Cooper (12-8-128-1) is back to his pre-2017 self.

• Marshawn Lynch still has it, and he’s even being used in the passing game (5-3-27.) Say what you want about Jon Gruden, but the Raiders offense is vastly upgraded from last year.

• But for some turnovers deep in their end, the Jaguars would have shut out the Jets.

• Blake Bortles threw for 388 yards (10.2 YPA), mostly on shallow crossing routes that took the place of running plays, even when they were in run-out-the-clock mode.

• Leonard Fournette had to leave the game with hamstring tightness after 11 carries in the first half. T.Y. Yeldon had 18 carries and three catches in relief, i.e., Fournette would have had a massive workload had he stayed healthy. It’s hard to say what “tightness” means in this context, but Fournette has been a disaster so far and might well be for much of the year.

• Dede Westbrook (13-9-130) has emerged as Bortles’ favorite target. Donte Moncrief (5-5-109-1) was the No. 2 with Keelan Cole (3-2-15) an afterthought.

• Isaiah Crowell had four carries for no yards, while Bilal Powell went eight for 26 and caught four passes.

• Sam Darnold did next to nothing. His top target 8-4-66 is still Quincy Enunwa. Robby Anderson (six targets, 18 yards) and Jermaine Kearse (five targets, 23 yards) were held in check.

• The Patriots annihilated the Dolphins so thoroughly we got to see Brock Osweiler.

• Sony Michel (25-112-1) is the early-down back in tandem with James White (8-44-1 on the ground, 10-8-68-1 through the air.) Both will have value as it looks like only a two-man committee.

• Josh Gordon made a couple plays, but wasn’t a major factor in the offense. Phillip Dorsett made the biggest impact among the receivers, and Rob Gronkowski left in the second half with an ankle injury. Julian Edelman should have a massive role out of the gate in Week 5. Chris Hogan is probably droppable in your league.

• There’s nothing to say about the Dolphins who simply did not show up.

• Andrew Luck finally looked like he was back with 464 yards (7.5 YPA), four TDs and no picks.

• T.Y. Hilton (chest/hamstring) got hurt, but returned to go 6-4-115 and could miss Week 5’s Thursday night game. Chester Rogers, Nyheim Hines, Zach Pascal and Eric Ebron all saw double-digit targets with Hines, Pascal and Ebron scoring TDs. Hines and Ebron are the easy calls should Hilton miss the game. The Colts still can’t run the ball.

 Deshaun Watson had another big fantasy day – 375 yards passing (8.9 YPA), two TDs, 41 rushing yards and a rushing TD, but took a whopping seven sacks and threw a pick.

• Will Fuller always scores when he and Watson are healthy, and Week 4 was no exception, but rookie Keke Coutee (15-11-109) led the team in targets and catches. Mr. Reliable (DeAndre Hopkins) went 12-10-169-1. It’s possible he’s underrated despite being WR2 per ADP this summer.

• Marcus Mariota has turned a corner. He threw for 344 yards (8.0 YPA) and two TDs, while running for 46 more and a score against a tough Eagles defense.

• Mariota has three main targets: Corey Davis (15-9-161-1), Taywan Taylor (9-7-77) and Dion Lewis (9-6-66.) The tree is narrow, though I imagine they’ll run more against less stout fronts.

• Carson Wentz played fine – 348 yards (7.0 YPA), two TDs, no picks but with four sacks. It looks like Alshon Jeffery (9-8-105-1) and Jay Ajayi (15-for-70 and three short catches) are both completely back. Zach Ertz (14-10-112) is more than living up to his draft-day ADP, but Nelson Agholor (12-5-22) isn’t making much of his chances this year.

• Josh Allen and the Bills more or less played the way we expected them to in Minnesota last week.

• Aaron Rodgers didn’t look like himself – he threw a pick, should have had at least one other, didn’t show much pocket awareness or mobility and missed a couple open receivers. Maybe the Bills defense is decent, but if I were a Rodgers owner, I’d be concerned.

• I wasn’t sure what number Aaron Jones wore, so I learned to identify him as the guy not going down when swarmed by opposing tacklers. He’s clearly the team’s best back and went 11 for 65, but Jamaal Williams saw 11 carries (for 27 yards) also. No one knows what Mike McCarthy will do.

• If you’re playing the Cowboys, it would be wise to dedicate resources to stopping Ezekiel Elliott. He torched the Lions for 240 YFS, four catches and a score. Dak Prescott (thanks to a long TD to Elliott) had a nice game – 255 yards, 9.4 YPA – but he’s rarely throwing down the field or getting wideouts other than slot-man Cole Beasley involved.

• Kerryon Johnson looks like a star, but he saw only nine carries to LeGarrette Blount’s seven, despite Johnson vastly outproducing him. With Theo Riddick coming in on third downs, Johnson’s role is narrower than it should be.

• Golden Tate had a monster game – 8-8-132-2. Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay also produced modestly, but Golladay saw only four targets. Big plays to Tate and the Cowboys’ slow pace cut into the team’s offensive snaps.

• I had given up on Mitch Trubisky, so I didn’t see a 354-yard (on 13.6 YPA), six-TD game coming. He also ran for 53 yards.

• Tarik Cohen finally lived up to his draft-day billing – 13 carries for 53 yards and an 8-7-121-1 line as a receiver. It’s surprising it took Matt Nagy this long to figure out how to use him. Jordan Howard 11 carries/one target had a reduced role as a result, though I wouldn’t read too much into that going forward.

• Taylor Gabriel 7-7-104-2 had a huge day, and Nagy seems to love him, but at 168 pounds, he’s a long shot to be a consistent contributor.

• The Ryan Fitzpatrick era was fun while it lasted. Jameis Winston will take over and probably be a valuable fantasy QB given the weapons and state of the defense.

• Ronald Jones finally got his shot, but the game flow made it moot. He could supplant Peyton Barber going forward, though.

• DeSean Jackson is off to a huge start and had another big game. Mike Evans got his late, and while O.J. Howard left with an injury (alleged to be minor), Cameron Brate, one of Winston’s favorite targets, scored the team’s only TD. Assuming Howard’s okay, it’ll be interesting to see the target distribution at TE.

• Matt Ryan’s massive year continues – another 419 yards and three TDs in a loss. Julio Jones predictably went 12-9-173 and no TDs. He even caught a hail mary at the end of the game, but short of the goal line. Calvin Ridley caught two more TDs, and Mohamed Sanu went 9-6-111. Tevin Coleman hasn’t really cashed in with Devonta Freeman out, and Ito Smith scored the lone rushing TD.

• Gio Bernard has delivered with Joe Mixon out – another 96 YFS, four catches and two TDs this week. Tyler Boyd built on his breakout with a 15-11-100 day, A.J. looked healthy and scored, while John Ross even scored a 39-yard TD, but pulled a muscle doing it. Tyler Eifert is out for the year after breaking his anke – he was off to a great start too. Andy Dalton played well (8.2 YPA), but 337 yards and three TDs just isn’t that impressive in this inflated passing year.