Week 4's iteration of Thursday Night Football pitted the NFL's two lowest-graded teams against one another in a contest that was set to feature a third-string quarterback on one sideline and a struggling third-year quarterback on the other.
Only four offensive players were owned in at least 50% of Yahoo leagues and were healthy for the game. And while both teams entered the game with multiple injuries to worry about, each was presented with a few more as the night went on. Despite all of that, we still ended up with a close, exciting game.
As always with the fantasy football reaction, I examined how the players were used and how well they performed from a fantasy perspective. I've touched on a few of the injuries and their impact going forward as well as some wide receivers who stood out and could make for waiver wire additions in leagues that have a good amount of bench spots.
|Denver Broncos||New York Jets|
|DaeSean Hamilton – 57 snaps||Jeff Smith – 73 snaps|
|Tim Patrick – 53 snaps||Chris Hogan – 68 snaps|
|Jerry Jeudy – 48 snaps||Jamison Crowder – 65 snaps|
|K.J. Hamler – 14 snaps||Lawrence Cager – 10 snaps|
|Tyrie Cleveland – 2 snaps||Braxton Berrios – 8 snaps|
|Diontae Spencer – 1 snap|
|Noah Fant – 35 snaps||Chris Herndon – 55 snaps|
|Jake Butt – 34 snaps||Ryan Griffin – 21 snaps|
|Nick Vannett – 28 snaps||Trevon Wesco – 8 snaps|
|Melvin Gordon III – 56 snaps||Frank Gore – 37 snaps|
|Royce Freeman – 14 snaps||Kalen Ballage – 30 snaps|
|La'Mical Perine – 10 snaps|
|Total – 70 snaps||Total – 77 snaps|
Winner: RB Melvin Gordon III, Denver Broncos
Gordon came into the game as the player most likely to see fantasy success, and in part due to a late, long touchdown, he ultimately ended up with the most fantasy success. He ran 23 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Gordon dominated playing time with Phillip Lindsay out with injury, though his touches will decrease as soon as Lindsay returns.
Loser: RB Frank Gore, New York Jets
The Jets' running back situation has been one to avoid since the Le’Veon Bell injury, and that continued to be true tonight. Gore was able to play over half of the first- and second-down snaps after playing just under half last week. Despite garnering that playing time, he was able to get just 30 yards on 13 carries.
La’Mical Perine was also limited for the Jets, and even third-down back Kalen Ballage only saw three targets. Once Le’Veon Bell is back, none of the three backs who saw snaps today need to be on rosters.
Injury: TE Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
Fant came into the game with the third-most fantasy points among tight ends this season, but he was forced to leave the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. He had a relatively quiet game up until that point, though, catching five passes for 35 yards.
Even though Nick Vannett was the second tight end coming into the game, it was Jake Butt who took over the passing-down snaps. According to Adam Schefter, the injury is minor and Fant will be fine. Butt would have the chance to see significant targets if Fant is forced to miss more time than expected, though next week's matchup against the Patriots isn’t very favorable.
Waiver Wire Target: WR Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos
Patrick came into the game as WR57 and had been seeing significant playing time — with Courtland Sutton out for the season, he is a clear every-down player. Both he and K.J. Hamler started the game, with Jerry Jeudy being used only in three-receiver sets, a concerning trend for the first-year pass-catcher out of Alabama.
Hamler left after the second drive with a hamstring injury, and Patrick ended up leading the Broncos in receiving yards (113) while also snagging a touchdown. He should continue to see significant targets for the rest of the season on a team that will be passing a lot in the fourth quarter.
Waiver Wire Target: WR Jeff Smith, New York Jets
The Jets' wide receiver position has been in constant flux this season, and that continued to be true tonight. Last week the Jets started Braxton Berrios and Chris Hogan, with Josh Malone coming in for three-receiver sets. Today, however, Jamison Crowder returned from injury to take over the slot role, while Jeff Smith was activated from injured reserve and Lawrence Cager was brought up from the practice squad.
Smith was inserted right into a starting position to join Hogan, and based on playing time and targets, he was actually ahead of Hogan. Cager was the fourth wide receiver before leaving the game with an injury, moving Berrios and Malone from second and third on the depth chart to fifth and sixth.
Smith took advantage of the opportunity with seven catches for 81 yards. If New York thinks highly enough of Smith to put him at the top of the wide receiver pecking order, then he should be one to keep an eye on from a fantasy perspective. The only concern is if both Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims get healthy, a scenario that may see Smith lose that playing time.