Week 4 was definitely an interesting one. Jeff Fischer’s Rams moved to 3-1 and the NFC West lead (no more 7-9 BS right?) and the Patriots lost their heir of invulnerability to the Bills. Don’t forget, though, Jacoby Brissett was making only his second start and with an injured thumb no less. Julio Jones went full beast and reminded everyone why he’s the best WR in the NFL. That’s right, Julio > Antonio. Don’t @ me. Alex Smith reverted to the old game manager who is too afraid to push the ball downfield. Out of everything that happened, what really matters here? What do a pair of injuries to star QBs mean for their respective offenses? In Week 4, we dive into a few season long trends and a few weekly surprises.
Carson Palmer’s Concussion
Wow! Who expected this from the 2016 Arizona Cardinals? After being an offensive juggernaut in 2015 and producing massive fantasy points, the Cardinals are off to a terrible 1-3 start. The Cardinals rank 7th in the NFL in yards per game with 382 yards, but rank 14th in points per game with 23. It doesn’t get any better for the Cardinals heading into a Thursday night game against the 49ers. Carson Palmer left Sunday’s game with a concussion and Drew Stanton stepped in. To describe it in a word: Absolutely Terrible. Four of eleven, for 37 yards and 2 INTs. That sound you hear is the fantasy value of John Brown, Michael Floyd, and Larry Fitzgerald plummeting.
Larry Fitzgerald is worth a FLEX start in 12 team PPR leagues. John Brown is worth an add if he was dropped, but do not start him, except in 14-16 team leagues. Michael Floyd is unstartable and is losing playing time to Jaron Brown. Looking on the Waiver Wire, though, Jaron Brown is a speculative add in DEEP leagues as he played 57% of the snaps in Week 4, more than Floyd. Not to mention Jaron Brown was looked to as one of Stanton’s more trusted options.
DeMarco Murray as a Top 4 RB Rest-of-Season?
DeMarco Murray has been revived after leaving Philadelphia and joining the Mike Mularkey’s ‘exotic smashmouth’ offense. Murray is destroying the league and has 87.1 PPR points, and ranks as the RB 1 through Week 4. Despite the drafting of Derrick Henry, Murray has been seeing a huge carry share and is the Titans’ 2nd leading receiver in yards. A healthy DeMarco Murray is a beast and for the rest of the season is a locked and loaded top 5 RB. In fact, I would even say that he is a top 4 back rest-of-season. Le’Veon Bell. David Johnson. Ezekiel Elliott. The only 3 RBs better than Murray for the remainder of 2016. Book it and if the owner wants to trade him, go after him, but don’t pay a top 8 WR price or any of the other 3 RBs.
Start Everyone Against the Carolina Panthers
The “elite” Panthers defense has been revealed. Without Josh Norman, the Panthers have pieced together a secondary consisting of rookies and veteran like Bene Benwikere. And they got exposed on Sunday, giving up 300 yards and 1 TD to Julio Jones on 12 catches. Not to mention how Matt Ryan threw for over 500 yards. The secondary hasn’t been the only problem, however, with a defensive front consisting of Luke Keuchly, Kony Ealy, and Kawaan Short only registering 9 sacks through 4 games. The Panthers are giving up an average of 257.5 passing yards per game and 2 passing TDs per game and 1 rushing TD per game.
The Panthers are no longer a defense to be worried about for fantasy purposes. In 2015, starting anyone other than an absolute stud against the Panthers was a risky venture. Now, most normal starters should be confidently started, but the Panthers are still not a defense to stream QBs or TEs against. With the Buccaneers, Saints, and Cardinals coming up on the schedule, the Panthers are going to be started with apprehension but play your guys as normal.
Cam Newton’s Concussion
Another starting QB on another struggling NFC superpower, who also suffered a concussion. Cam Newton’s aggressive style seems like it caught up to him. Against the Falcons, Newton was hit hard in the head at the goal line and left the game with a concussion. This sucks for everyone as Newton is one of the most exciting players in the NFL to watch when he’s healthy. Heading into a matchup against the Buccaneers, we certainly want Newton at full strength against a struggling secondary.
If Newton can’t go, then the team will turn to Derek Anderson. Anderson is one of the best-equipped backups in the NFL and the Panthers trust him to do a lot. If Anderson ends up starting, expect targets to be funneled to Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen who will be tremendous size matchups. Benjamin and Olsen will remain as a WR2 and top 5 TE, respectively, but no one else is worth a start for the Panthers.
Who Is the Chargers Top Fantasy WR?
Dontrelle Inman’s production finally caught up to his snap counts. After leading the Chargers in snaps and routes since the start of the season, Inman racked up 7 catches on 11 targets for 120 yards and 1 TD. Unfortunately, Inman is now the 4th player to enter the passing game for the Chargers. Travis Benjamin is the deep threat, Tyrell Williams is the athletic freak, Inman is the chain mover/intermediate player, and the TE.
Travis Benjamin remains a deep threat, boom or bust player who I don’t have much interest in owning. Antonio Gates is decent when he catches a TD, another pass for me. Hunter Henry is much more athletic than Gates and is a feasible TE 1 while Gates misses time. Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams will take away too much from each to be WR2s, but Philip Rivers is perfectly capable of producing 2 top 30 WRs weekly in PPR. Inman and Williams are safe bets to perform as usable WRs most weeks, and both should be owned in all 10 team and larger leagues.