The calendar has hit October and a quarter of the fantasy season is now in the books. This past week continued to bring us some devastating injuries, surprising performances, and a fair share of disappointments.
Fantasy football is a fluid game. Adjusting on the fly often is a required trait. With that in mind, here’s a look at some players on the rise, some sliding down and a couple to keep on the radar.
Game flow continues to have a positive impact on the fantasy numbers of Cowboys QB Prescott. Dallas passed the ball on an uncharacteristic 63.1 percent of plays in Week 4’s loss to the Rams. Prescott finished with 252 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-26 passing and added 25 rushing yards on three carries. Over the last three weeks against some pretty good defenses (DEN, ARZ, and LAR), the second-year signal-caller has thrown for seven touchdowns and ran for another while averaging 21.6 fantasy points. Only Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have accounted for more touchdowns during that span. With schedule lightening up, expect Prescott to remain a high-upside QB1 for the foreseeable future.
Without David Johnson in the mix, the Cardinals have been unable to run the football. They rank 31st in rushing yards and dead last in the league with 2.7 YPC. It appears they have adapted offensively, turning to a short passing game to move the chains instead. It worked in Week 4, with Ellington seeing an unprecedented 14 targets. That’s the most by a running back since Fred Jackson reached that mark in Week 14 of 2014. Ellington turned those opportunities into nine receptions for 86 yards. He added 18 additional yards on the ground on five attempts. Chris Johnson started the game and had 15 touches, one more than Elllington. However, for owners in PPR formats Ellington may be the more useful and reliable commodity moving forward.
Through the first four weeks of the season, Hopkins has proven to be a worthy WR1 option (No. 2 in PPR/No. 6 in non-PPR), catching 31 of 48 targets for 311 yards and two touchdowns. His best outing of the season came in Week 4 against the Titans. Hopkins pulled in 10 of his 12 targets for 107 yards and a touchdown to pace the Houston passing attack. He accounted for 37.5 percent of the target share and saw three end-zone targets and three deep-ball targets. With rookie Deshaun Watson breathing some fresh life into Texans’ offense as a whole, Hopkins is poised for a big season ahead if he can stay healthy.
Allen enjoyed his best game of the season in Week 4’s meeting with the Eagles. He pulled in five of his nine targets for 138 yards. He didn’t score a touchdown, but Allen did receive two of the team’s three end-zone targets on the day. He’s now finished as a top 15 WR in three of his four games and is putting up WR1 numbers in all formats. Only three wide receivers have seen more targets than Allen to this point of the season. With the Chargers often playing from behind don’t expect that trend to change any time soon.
Sunday at Baltimore, for the third time in four games this season, Roethlisberger failed to finish the week as a fantasy QB1. He finished the game with just 216 yards and one touchdown. Counting the playoffs last year, Big Ben has now eclipsed 300 yards through the air once in his last 13 contests and has thrown one or fewer TD passes in a game seven times during that span. The veteran should be viewed as a low-upside QB2 and is likely nothing more than a matchup play or bye-week filler at this point of his career.
Shockingly, Miami got shutout by New Orleans in London. It was first time the Saints held an opponent scoreless since 2012. For owners that turned to Dolphins the past two weeks against the Saints and Jets, the results haven’t been encouraging. Ajayi, given his high draft price, tops the list of disappointments. He followed up his 11-carry, 16-yard performance in Week 3 by registering 46 yards on 12 attempts this time around. That’s three straight weeks without a touchdown and just one trip to the end zone for Ajayi over his last nine contests dating back to last season. He’s getting harder to endorse as a starting option as each week goes by.
After scoring three times in his first game as a Patriot, Gillislee has managed just one touchdown in the three games since. The Patriots’ backfield looks like it’s going to be a fantasy headache most of the year. Gillislee led the group with 12 touches in Week 4’s loss to Carolina, but James White (11) and Dion Lewis (5) remained involved. Things could get even more cluttered when Rex Burkhead (hip) returns to action. For now, Gillislee should be viewed as nothing more than a TD-dependent RB3. He’ll have some value based on his TD upside as byes start up this week, but realize more often than not he’s likely to disappoint.
Through four games, Rudolph has been mostly a non-factor in fantasy. He has just 10 receptions on 14 targets for 114 yards and a touchdown. If you take out his Week 1 game with Sam Bradford under center, the numbers look even worse – seven catches for 83 yards and no touchdowns. Now with Dalvin Cook (ACL) out for the season, the Vikings’ offense seems to be headed in the wrong direction. It’s hard to recommend cutting him based off the tight end landscape through the first month of the season, but Rudolph cannot be trusted in fantasy lineups until further notice.
On the radar
Collins may have emerged as the lead back in Baltimore’s backfield after leading the team in both carries (9) and rushing yards (82) on Sunday. His numbers were a bit skewed after he had a 50-yard run, but he still has looked to be the most fluid runner early on for the Ravens. Collins got the start, but was benched after fumbling in the second quarter. It was his second fumble in three games and fumbling has plagued him since his days at Arkansas. He’s worth a waiver-wire grab, but it may be best to wait a bit longer before pulling the trigger on Collins as a fantasy starter.
Playing in their second game this season without Tyler Eifert (back) the Bengals got a nice boost from backup tight end Kroft, as he pulled in all six of his targets for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Kroft has a nice frame at 6-6, 260 pounds to be a red-zone asset. Still, it’s probably best to wait and see if he has a similar performance against a team not named the Browns before rushing to add him in any of your leagues.