Tale of the Tape: Week 4 (Fantasy Football)
Welcome to Tale of the Tape, where we break down a handful of highlight GIFs from the week’s slate of NFL games and translate them into fantasy football relevance. If you see a highlight worth analyzing in the future, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @FantasySensei!
For now, let’s get into Week 4 of the NFL season!
Elijah McGuire Torching the Jags
While it’s clearly a joy to watch, Elijah McGuire’s 69-yard touchdown is difficult to interpret for fantasy. For one, Bilal Powell also had a 75-yard scamper in the game, and both obviously occurred with Matt Forte sidelined. It may say something about the Jacksonville defense, namely that they are much more of a deterrent to the passing game than the run. In any case, Forte should return soon and Powell is unlikely to concede too much volume to McGuire, leaving his current upside capped. But if Forte’s injuries linger, or the Jets actually commit to the tank at some point this season, the sixth-round rookie pick could get a chance to shine, making him a worthwhile stash in deep leagues or dynasty.
Aaron Jones Earning a Waiver Wire Add
Easily one of the least flashy plays you’ll see in this column all year, this short TD by Aaron Jones is meant to highlight one thing: opportunity. Jones compiled 13 carries for 49 yards in his first real NFL action, after the Pack lost Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams to injury on Thursday night. Now, both Montgomery and Williams’ injuries are reported to be less serious than initially suspected, and it’s even possible both are back as soon as next week. Still, Montgomery’s injury history suggests he may not be the sturdiest of backs and Jones used this game to leapfrog Williams on the depth chart. A legitimate Green Bay handcuff is always worth owning, so Jones is a solid add if you’ve got room.
Alvin “Camaro” Driving His Way To Fantasy Stardom
Completing our trio of rookie depth chart gems is Alvin Kamara, who put on a show in London against the hapless Dolphins. Kamara had five carries for 25 yards on the ground but really burned Miami with his 10 catches for 71 yards and this nifty red zone score. In what was viewed as a muddy fantasy backfield coming into the season, Kamara is quickly making a case as the most interesting RB in New Orleans. Adrian Peterson is an afterthought and potential cut-candidate, while Mark Ingram has seen more consistent touches but been somewhat average and failed to score. If Kamara has another game even close to this one, he will earn himself a starting spot in fantasy lineups and has high PPR upside in this offense.
A.J. & the Other Tyler Help Dalton Out of the Doghouse
Andy Dalton has worked his way back into fantasy relevance after one of the worst fantasy starts in living memory (five turnovers in Week 1). This week, it was largely thanks to his reliable WR1, A.J. Green, and two touchdowns from Cincinnati’s healthy Tyler Eifert clone, Tyler Kroft. The atrocious Cleveland pass defense certainly helped, but having strong receivers at the other end of Dalton’s throws was crucial as well. If the pass-catching crew can continue to show up, Dalton can be an excellent streaming candidate with QB1 potential. Though probably not next week against the ravenous Bills defense, if you can help it.
Charles Clay Shaping Up to Top TE Status
Get it? Because Clay … shaping up … it’s funny. Well, where my puns fall short, Charles Clay certainly has not. His five catches for 112 yards in Week 4 led the team by a mile – something he is likely to repeat extremely often this year, especially with Jordan Matthews set to miss time. Clay has 18 catches and two touchdowns on the season, making him pure gold at an extremely shallow position. Especially in PPR leagues, Clay is an every-week starter and may just be a top-five or -six option with the litany of tight end injuries in 2017.
Ameer Abdullah Zipping Under the Radar
Largely due to an absence of the explosive runs we’ve expected from Abdullah after he burst onto the NFL scene as a rookie, the third-year back from Nebraska has flown under the radar in fantasy this year. No longer (see above). His 94-yard rushing day against the staunch Vikings D, with a touchdown to boot, finally revealed what Abdullah can do with his high weekly volume of touches. Abdullah has seen no less than 14 carries in any game this season and has nine catches for 65 yards as well. As the young back continues to improve, RB2 numbers may be his floor. He’ll look to break the Lions’ incredible streak of games without a 100-yard rusher next week against the Panthers.
Alex Collins the Newest Candidate for Ravens RB of Choice
It’s been a rough year for the Ravens – and for fantasy owners seeking something from their running backs. Danny Woodhead and Kenneth Dixon both suffered major injuries and Terrance West and Buck Allen have failed to provide any semblance of reliability in their place. Now, we have Alex Collins to consider. The former-Seahawk looked sharp on Sunday, taking a team-high nine carries for 82 yards (50 of them on this monster of a run). West and Allen combined for six carries (though Allen added six short receptions in the passing game), leaving this backfield highly in question moving forward. That said, if Collins can take over, and the offense as a whole can get on track, there may be fantasy value here for the taking.
Return of Will Fuller Helps Catapult Watson
In his first game back from a broken collarbone, Will Fuller caught four of six targets with two touchdowns. While that TD efficiency is obviously obscenely unsustainable, it did come on extremely limited practice time shared by Fuller and DeShaun Watson. The second touchdown on a perfectly coordinated fade was especially impressive. That’s pretty promising stuff for the fantasy future of both players – especially Watson, who finally has more than one viable receiver to throw to. With the value offered by his rushing ability and a now-respectable receiving corps, Watson has QB1 upside in the right matchups. Meanwhile, Fuller is worth a speculative add in almost any league as an explosive threat assuming a WR2 role in Houston.
Apparently, LeGarrette Blount is Not Quite Done
After a slow preseason, mediocre start to the regular season, and zero-carry day from Blount in Week 2, most of the fantasy world had written the veteran off. I guess we jumped the gun. Blount looked like Full-Beast-Mode-Marshawn-Lynch on this incredible 68-yard run, and now has 203 rushing yards and a TD over the past two weeks. It’s possible Blount has been motivated by the increasing role and production of Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, and this backfield is somehow squeezing production out of all three guys. But with the majority of the carries and the likely opportunity for goal-line work, Blount should at least be added back to rosters for the near future.
John Brown’s Not-Quite-Catch
For those of you brave enough to start John Brown on his return to the Cardinals lineup, his 47 yards on three catches may be a little disappointing. Don’t be too downtrodden. Brown earned seven targets across his 53 snaps (more than double J.J. Nelson’s), averaged 15.7 yards per reception, and should have had an additional 25 yards and a touchdown on this overtime doozy that the refs were unwilling to overturn. As Brown continues to recover from a quad strain, his snap count should climb back towards a full complement and we’ve seen what he can do when healthy. He’ll always be a risk, but when at full-strength, Brown offers WR2 massive fantasy upside.