The Market Report is your one-stop Monday shop for all the movement from a big weekend of NFL football.
These are the players who stood out for fantasy-relevant reasons — the good reasons, the bad reasons, and the in-between.
This column will be posted every Monday afternoon.
Players about whom we’re feeling more optimistic based on recent play or news.
Jalen Hurts (Phi) — For our money, Hurts has played two very good games so far this year, and two so-so ones. He’s still missing some throws he needs to make, including some in Week 4 against Kansas City. But his production has been pretty insane for a guy who has made eight NFL starts. Hurts essentially went yard-for-yard with Patrick Mahomes in Week 4, posting 32/48 passing for 387 yards and 2 TD, adding 8/47 as a rusher. The Eagles — and Hurts — weren’t perfect. Hurts missed an easy TD to Zach Ertz on the Eagles’ first possession of the game, and penalties took two touchdowns off the board for Hurts, including — and improbably — the second time in three weeks one of Hurts’ young WRs committed an illegal touching penalty after going out of bounds on a perfectly thrown deep ball by Hurts (Jalen Reagor in Week 2, DeVonta Smith in Week 4). Hurts is now the overall QB3 in scoring, behind only Mahomes and MVP frontrunner Kyler Murray. We loved Hurts this year as a fantasy pick because his floor is so high even when he doesn’t play well. But when he does play well? The overall QB1 is in the range of outcomes. (Joe Dolan)
Ezekiel Elliott (Dal) — The rumors of Zeke’s demise were greatly exaggerated. While Tony Pollard does continue to be involved, there’s enough meat on the bone here for two Cowboy backs to succeed when Dallas clearly wants to limit how much Dak Prescott drops back in his return from a catastrophic ankle injury. In Week 4 against the Panthers, Zeke might have looked the best he has all season, posting 20/143/1 rushing while playing 75% of the snaps. It was his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season, and it’s now propelled him to ranking as the RB5 on the season so far… pretty much exactly in line with his ADP. Meanwhile, Prescott has thrown fewer than 30 passes in three straight games for only the second time in his career — the first since 2018. In fact, in Prescott’s last fully healthy season in 2019, he did it just twice overall. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? (JD)
Saquon Barkley (NYG) — If you were among the FantasyPoints team that stayed the course with Saquon Barkley, kept him among your top-8 RBs, and were taking him every time he fell to the late-first / early-second round… take a bow. This is a well-deserved victory lap. I write about this every off-season – but drafting the right first- and second-round RBs is very hard to do. Early-round RBs carry the most league-winning upside, but also carry more risk than their WR and TE counterparts. Some of it is luck, sure, but there is a good deal of technical analysis involved. That is a skill. Well, Barkley is looking like a tie ballgame, bottom of the ninth, 2 out, 3-2 count walkoff homerun. After shredding the Saints for 29.6 FP (17 touches, 126 scrimmage yards, 2 TD), it’s clear that Barkley is back. He has seen his snaps (48% > 84% > 86% > 89%) increase in every game so far and has stepped up in the passing game with 7 and 6 targets in his last two outings. He also looks incredible. The start/stop shiftiness, the fluid receiving skills, the patience and the burst behind the line of scrimmage all look there. Now, Barkley gets into the meat of this schedule with five-straight likely high-scoring affairs (vs. Cowboys, Rams, Panthers, Chiefs, and Raiders). Barkley is looking like a bonafide league-winner. (Graham Barfield)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) — CEH lost two awful fumbles in two straight games, definitely costing the Chiefs one game and potentially costing them a second (it was early, but the Chargers scored off it). And all Andy Reid did is… stick with his young RB. CEH has rewarded the Chiefs — and fantasy players — with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. Against the Eagles in Week 4, Edwards-Helaire was consistently picking up chunks of yardage, posting 14/102 rushing and 2/12/1 receiving on 3 targets. The caveats still apply for Edwards-Helaire, who has a miniscule 5.7% target share (8 of 141) from a QB in Patrick Mahomes who simply doesn’t check the ball down. The Chiefs will have games where they don’t commit to running it at all. And the Chiefs love #2 RB Damien Williams, which is why CEH saw merely a 54% snap share. But the point here is that CEH has answered the bell two weeks in a row after Reid threw a tacit vote of confidence his way, and that counts for something. He’s a fantasy RB2. (JD)
Darrell Henderson (LAR) — All the same caveats apply to Hendo that did three weeks ago — the Rams traded for Sony Michel not because they don’t like Henderson’s talent, but because they don’t trust Henderson to stay on the field. That bore out in Week 3, when Henderson missed their contest with the Bucs with a rib injury suffered late in Week 2. Well, Week 4 was back in Henderson’s favor. He played a whopping 90% of the snaps in the Rams’ loss to the Cardinals, handling 14/89 rushing and 5/27 receiving on 6 targets. Meanwhile, Michel cost the Rams with an early fumble deep in their own territory, and didn’t see a touch after it. Prior to his fourth-quarter rib injury against the Colts, Henderson had seen all but 1 of the Rams’ RB opportunities. It was looking like there might be a split in Week 4 — Henderson had 7 of the Rams’ first 10 RB opportunities, compared to 3 for Michel — but after the fumble, Henderson had 13 to Michel’s 0. He’s got to stay on the field, but Henderson is a legitimate bell cow when active. (JD)
This was partially due to an early Sony Michel fumble, but great utilization for Darrell Henderson yesterday:— Jake Tribbey (@JakeTribbey) October 4, 2021
- 90% snap share
- 34 routes on 43 Stafford dropbacks
- 6 targets
- 19 touches and 116 yards from scrimmage
James Robinson (Jax) — Carlos Hyde was a surprise inactive in Week 4 with a shoulder injury, and J-Rob took full advantage of a bigger workload against the Bengals. He finished with 18/78/2 rushing and he added a two-yard loss on his lone catch on two targets to finish with 20.6 FP. He played on 95% of the snaps after seeing a season-best 21 touches in Week 3, so there’s some hope that Urban Meyer is finally getting the idea that Robinson should be seeing way more touches than Hyde. The entire offense is also going to have to step with D.J. Chark suffering a season-ending ankle injury last week. Robinson suddenly has some high-end RB2 juice with a Week 5 matchup against the Titans looming. (Tom Brolley)
Cordarrelle Patterson (Atl) — Patterson is quickly going down as this year’s waiver wire darling after yet another monster performance in Week 4. He matched Tyreek Hill’s week-best three touchdown receptions on his way to finishing with 5/82/3 receiving on six targets and 6/34 rushing for 34.6 FP against Washington in Week 4. Patterson has been incredibly efficient with his opportunities, playing on just 30% of the snaps last week with Wayne Gallman getting involved for the first time with a 13% snap share. Mike Davis continues to be incredibly lethargic with 13/14 rushing but he scored a receiving TD on 67% of the snaps to bail out his owners. Patterson’s continued strong play and Gallman’s Week 4 reps could be the start of HC Arthur Smith dialing back Davis’ workload moving forward. Patterson has been good for 16+ FP in each of the last three weeks, and we should ride his incredibly hot hand as an RB2 this week against the Jets. (TB)
Leonard Fournette (TB) — The Patriots sold out to slow down Tampa Bay’s passing attack in Tom Brady’s return to Foxboro, and Fournette stepped up and kept the offense marching forward. With Giovani Bernard (knee) out of the lineup, Fournette posted 20/91 rushing (4.6 YPC) and 3/47 receiving on five targets while playing on 81% of the snaps in their dramatic victory. Fournette has mostly pushed Ronald Jones to the side (17% snap share), but RoJo did vulture a goal-line touchdown in the third quarter on a quick scoring drive that opened with four consecutive Fournette touches (in other words, Lenny was gassed). Fournette has hardly been spectacular through the first month but he’s been much steadier than Jones, which means a lot playing with a perfectionist like Brady. Fournette will continue to be a low-end RB2 against the Dolphins this week with Jones stuck in the doghouse, and he’ll be a high-end RB2 option if Gio misses another game since he’ll soak up most of the passing-game work. (TB)
Trey Sermon (SF) — The 49ers running back room has been like The Walking Dead recently and this season has been no different. With Eli Mitchell (shoulder) and Ja’Mycal Hasty (IR) both out again, Trey Sermon was left alone in the backfield and was the only RB to get a touch against Seattle. Granted, Kyle Juszcyck did play a ton again and got 4 targets. Even though he wasn’t targeted, Sermon turned his 19 carries into 89 yards and looked less tentative as a runner this week compared to his first start in Week 3. Granted, the Seahawks run defense is among the worst in the league, but Sermon is at least playing well enough now to carve out a role in this offense even when Mitchell, Sermon, and Jeff Wilson are all healthy again. With how bleak things were looking after Week 1, Sermon’s resurgence (even if it is injury-related) is worthy of an upgrade. (GB)
DJ Moore (Car) — How freaking good is this guy? In a loss to the Cowboys in Week 4, Moore was still a monster, posting 8/113/2 receiving on 12 targets, and adding a 6-yard rush to the ledger. Heading into Monday Night Football (in which both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams play), Moore is the overall WR4, behind only Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill, and Deebo Samuel. One thing we like for Moore, in addition to him clearly being the guy for Sam Darnold, is that OC Joe Brady knows how to use him. Given a matchup with Trevon Diggs, one of the best young CBs in the entire NFL, Brady ran Moore out of the backfield on a couple of snaps, giving him both a carry and a couple of targets — the second of Moore’s 2 TD came out of the backfield on an angle route, and he was aligned in the slot for his first, despite the overwhelming majority of his snaps coming out wide over the first month of the season. He’s a great player with a clearly gifted play designer getting him the football. He’s been a league-winner, there’s no other way to describe it. (JD)
Terry McLaurin (Was) — Taylor Heinicke has quickly learned to just chuck it up to McLaurin and typically good things will happen. He ripped the Falcons 6/123/2 receiving on a whopping 13 targets (39% share) with his second score coming on a prayer ball from 17 yards away. Scary Terry has now seen 13+ targets in two of Heinicke’s first three starts this season, which had led to 27+ FP in those contests. McLaurin should keep his massive role in the passing game even with Curtis Samuel getting more action under his belt, especially with Logan Thomas looking at an absence with a hamstring injury. He’ll be a fringe WR1 option this week in a tough matchup against Marshon Lattimore and company this week. (TB)
Diontae Johnson (Pit) — Diontae showed no ill-effects from the knee injury he suffered on the final play of Week 2, which cost him a game against the Bengals. He scored the only touchdown for the hapless Steelers’ offense on a 45-yard free play in the first five minutes of the game. Pittsburgh managed just three points and one red-zone trip the rest of the game, but at least Diontae feasted, as usual. He finished with 9/92/1 receiving on 13 targets (33% share), which gives him double-digit targets in 10 of his last 11 games with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback (postseason included). Chase Claypool (hamstring) may return to the lineup this week against the Broncos, but Diontae has the most reliable role in this passing attack after JuJu Smith-Schuster managed just 2/11 receiving on eight targets against the Packers.
DeVonta Smith (Phi) — Smith made a rookie mistake in Week 4, pulling a Jalen Reagor from Week 2, when he didn’t reestablish himself inbounds after getting forced out, taking a perfectly thrown TD from Jalen Hurts off the board. Everything else was fantastic. Smith had his first of many 100-yard games in the NFL, posting 7/122 on 10 targets. He has an excellent rapport with Hurts, and is the guy Hurts looks for when the Eagles need a big play. Smith’s 31 targets are tied with Jaylen Waddle for the lead among rookies, and his 237 receiving yards are second to Ja’Marr Chase (297). Per PFF, he’s run 163 routes, 5th-most among all players. It’s translated to just the WR35 performance so far, but there’s a lot more good than bad here. (JD)
Marquise Brown (Bal) — Ravens QB Lamar Jackson told reporters after last week’s three-drop disaster game for Hollywood that he expected his third-year receiver to rebound. Well, Lamar stayed true to his word and went back to the well for Brown, who responded in kind by making a spectacular diving catch for a 49-yard TD as part of a 4/91/1 day on 5 targets in a win over the Broncos. Hollywood has now scored in three of the Ravens’ four games, and in the game he didn’t score against the Lions, he dropped three would-be touchdown passes. The drops have been an issue for Hollywood, but the fact of the matter is his production is hard to come by. He’s still the overall WR13, and if you remove Week 3 from the equation, he’s the WR7. Maybe things change when Rashod Bateman makes his NFL debut, but you just can’t sit Hollywood right now. (JD)
Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault (Jax) — D.J. Chark suffered a season-ending fractured left ankle in Jacksonville’s Week 4 loss to the Bengals, which will likely be his final game with the Jaguars if Urban Meyer lasts more than a season with the organization. Jones and Shenault will see small target boosts moving forward, and Jones could potentially see more of Chark’s vacated downfield shots. Even with Chark leaving early in Week 4, Jones flopped with just 3/24 receiving on three targets (13% share) against the Bengals, but he should be an upside WR3 moving forward with Tavon Austin stepping into the lineup in three-WR sets (yes, he’s still in the league). Shenault already reaped the benefits of Chark’s absence in Week 4, posting a career-best 99 receiving yards on six catches and seven targets (29% share). Laviska came into Week 4 with just 98 receiving yards so he’s suddenly back in the WR3 conversation against the Titans this week after a slow start. (TB)
Kenny Golladay (NYG) — This upgrade obviously comes with the biggest grain possible because Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton were both out, but it was nice to see Kenny Golladay looking like Golladay again. Even in a tough matchup against the Saints secondary, Golladay went for 6/116 on 8 targets and looked the healthiest he’s been since 2019. He still hasn’t scored yet, but Golladay has quietly cleared 60+ yards in 3-of-4 games and stands to benefit the most for as long as Shepard and Slayton are both sidelined. (GB)
Deebo Samuel (SF) — Deeeebooo! What an opening month. Through four games, Deebo Samuel is the WR4 by FPG (24.0) and is dominating as the 49ers top receiver. Samuel’s day was bolstered by a 76-yard TD where the Seahawks secondary forgot about him, but even without that play, he still would have turned in a solid game (he had 8/156/2 on the day). Brandon Aiyuk falling out of favor has certainly helped Samuel’s breakout, but he is commanding targets and the top role in this offense because he’s incredible. Samuel is getting open at will and looks as explosive as ever after the catch. With 12, 8, 10, and 12 targets in Weeks 1-4, Samuel has now seen at least 20% of the 49ers targets in nine-straight healthy games dating back to last year. He will surely be top-12 in our Week 5 rankings against the Cardinals. (GB)
None of note.
Players about whom we’re feeling less optimistic based on recent play or news.
Ryan Tannehill (TEN) — Tannehill was playing with one tied behind his back against the Jets, but his performance was just a continuation of what has been a slow opening month. Even in what basically amounted to a 5 quarter game, Tannehill only managed to score 16.8 FP as he went 30-of-49 passing for 298 yards and 1 TD. This marks the third time that Tannehill was held under 17 FPs this season – which is a bar he crossed in 11-of-16 games last year. Tannehill is still worthy of a roster spot in all league sizes because it sounds like AJ Brown and Julio Jones’ absences are going to be short-lived, but we are downgrading him to a match up-based QB2 like Cousins, Carr, and Burrow. (GB)
David Montgomery (Chi) — Montgomery gave everyone a scare when he went down in a heap with a knee injury in the fourth quarter of Chicago’s victory over the Lions. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Montgomery avoided a torn ACL, and our Edwin Porras believes he walked away with a bone bruise or an MCL injury, which could keep him out a couple of weeks but not for the entire season. Damien Williams will be elevated to an every-down role during his absence, and he should be good to go after he suffered a thigh bruise late in their Week 4 loss. Rookie Khalil Herbert will also factor into the backfield and he’ll see an elevated role if Williams isn’t quite at 100% in Week 5. (TB)
Joe Mixon (Cin) — Mixon picked up what HC Zac Taylor called a “minor” ankle injury on the final, game-winning drive of Cincinnati’s Week 4 victory. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the injury is a “low-grade” sprain but his source also labeled Mixon as week-to-week with the injury — our Edwin Porras compared the injury to Dalvin Cook’s current situation. Our antennas are raised a little higher since Mixon missed the final 10 games of last season with what started out as a minor foot issue. Samaje Perine is the next man up if Mixon misses the next week or two against the Packers and Lions. Mixon’s usage in the passing game is perhaps more concerning right now. He’s posted just 3/6 receiving on five targets in the last three games after hanging a promising 4/23 receiving in the season opener. On the positive side, he’s run routes on 63% of Burrow’s dropbacks the last three weeks compared to 56% in Week 1, so he should see some positive regression once he gets back into the lineup. (TB)
Miles Sanders (Phi) — Eagles coach Nick Sirianni knew giving Sanders just 2 carries in Week 3 against the Cowboys was a mistake, which is why Sanders carried the ball on the Eagles’ first play in Week 4 against the Chiefs. While Sanders did wrap up Week 4 with just 7 carries for 13 yards, it’s hard to blame Sirianni for that this week. His defense literally couldn’t get a stop, and his offense was humming through the air. But there’s the problem — when the offense is humming through the air, QB Jalen Hurts trusts rookie RB Kenny Gainwell to make plays. In addition to his 7 carries, Sanders also managed 3/34 receiving on 3 targets while playing 64% of the offensive snaps. But it’s going to be hard for Philly to justify not playing Gainwell, who had a fantastic game — 3/31/1 rushing and 6/58 receiving on 8 targets on a 39% snap share. The Eagles will likely have some easier matchups coming for their rebuilding defense, which should lend itself to more offensive balance. That’s good for Sanders’ fantasy prospects. But Gainwell isn’t going away. He’s the RB25 to Sanders’ RB33 so far. (JD)
Sony Michel (LAR) — There are multiple reasons for it, but the fact of the matter is this — when Darrell Henderson is active and healthy, Michel has seen 4 carries and no targets. In Week 1, that’s because he was likely still picking up the offense. In Week 2, Michel didn’t see a single carry until Henderson left with a rib injury. In Week 3, Henderson was out and Michel had 24 opportunities. In Week 4, Henderson saw the Rams’ first 7 opportunities, then Michel spelled him for 3… and fumbled away his third deep in Ram territory. That was all she wrote for Michel, who had to watch from the sidelines the rest of the way as Henderson tallied 116 yards from scrimmage. The fumble obviously played a part, but Henderson has now looked great in all three games he’s played this year. Michel might need another Hendo injury to be anything more than a handcuff. (JD)
Myles Gaskin (Mia) — If you were still holding out that Gaskin would be a viable RB2 / FLEX, this past week extinguished any remaining embers of hope. Gaskin was demoted against the Colts as he saw just 2 carries and 12 snaps in a game that Miami trailed throughout. Gaskin had been working as the pass-catching option in this offense in their first three games, so the fact that he barely played in a contest that the Dolphins chased all day long is a massive concern. This coaching staff just trusts Malcolm Brown more as a runner – especially near the goal-line – and if Gaskin is going to see up-and-down usage as a receiver, we have nothing to work with. (GB)
Ty’son Williams (Bal) — After receiving just 5 carries in Week 3, Williams was a surprise healthy scratch in Week 4 for the Ravens, who rolled with one of the oldest groups of RBs in recent memory with Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell. Who knows what it is about Williams coach John Harbaugh doesn’t like, even though he gave a diplomatic post-game answer, but it was shocking to see someone who had played exactly half the Ravens’ offensive snaps in the first three games be a healthy scratch in favor of three dudes whose best football is years behind them. (Murray, by the way, functioned as the lead back and played a 62% snap share.) Williams may yet get his chance, but he’s unplayable until further notice. Those in deeper leagues may be angling to drop him despite his 6.1 YPC on 27 carries. (JD)
John Harbaugh said they are still trying to find the right mix at running back. He said he's wanted to give everyone a chance, and this time it was Ty'Son Williams who was pulled back.— Sarah Ellison (@sgellison) October 3, 2021
DeAndre Hopkins (Ari) — Kyler Murray is the NFL MVP frontrunner, and it’s coincided with Murray mixing the ball around to the Cardinals’ suddenly deep group of receivers. That, in turn, has also coincided with Hopkins dealing with sore ribs, and a cold spell for “Nuk.” Hopkins had just 4/67 receiving on 7 targets against the Rams, and had a tough time with Jalen Ramsey, catching just a single pass for 10 yards in Ramsey’s coverage. Hopkins now has just 11 catches for 142 yards and a TD on 17 targets in his last three games. It’s his worst three-game stretch since he posted 14/128 on 31 targets from Weeks 7 through 10 in 2016… when he was catching passes from Brock Osweiler in Houston. Here’s the deal. Hopkins isn’t the only option, which is good for the undefeated Cardinals — his 25 targets are just one more than AJ Green has, and just three more than RB Chase Edmonds. He’s also likely less than 100% given the rib injury, so that has to be taken into account. And it’s not like you can bench the guy. But he’s currently the WR22 in overall scoring, and that’s certainly less than you bargained for from a second-round pick. (JD)
D.J. Chark (Jax) — Chark suffered a season-ending fractured left ankle in Jacksonville’s Week 4 loss to the Bengals, which will likely be his final game with the Jaguars if Urban Meyer lasts more than a season with the organization. The new regime didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with Chark and they ended up casting Marvin Jones as the team’s #1 WR, so Chark is likely to look for greener pastures in free agency. Jones and Laviska Shenault will see small target boosts moving forward while James Robinson and Dan Arnold could also benefit from Chark’s absence in the final 13 games. (TB)
Will Fuller (Mia) — Fuller is considered week-to-week after he had to exit the game against the Colts with a broken finger. At press-time, Fuller is undergoing tests to see how long he might be out. Keep in mind, Fuller got rocked late in their Week 3 game against the Raiders and missed some practice time with chest/elbow injuries coming into Week 4. This offense is stuck in mud right now and there is no guarantee Fuller will carve out a big role this season anyway after missing most of Training Camp with a foot injury and now he’s slated to miss more time. If you need to open up a bench spot, feel free to drop him. (GB)
George Kittle (SF) — Kittle, like always, gutted it out through the questionable tag in Week 4 with a calf injury. The dude is tough as nails. He played his normal full-time role and got 11 targets, but only reeled in 4 of them for 40 yards – all of which came in the first half before Jimmy Garoppolo exited with an injury. Now with Trey Lance under center, the duo will need some time to develop chemistry after HC Kyle Shanahan has given Lance sparse first-team reps all year. You’re by no means benching Kittle, but adjusting short-term expectations is certainly warranted here. (GB)
Rob Gronkowski (TB) — The Buccaneers gave the impression that Gronk may play in Week 4, but we learned late in the week that he fractured his ribs on a big hit in Week 3, which could lead to a multi-week absence (per Adam Schefter). His replacements O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate failed to make impacts in his absence. Brate played just one more snap than Howard (51 to 50), but he finished with more routes (31 to 15), targets (6 to 2), catches (2 to 0), and yards (29 to 0). Brate is clearly the Buccaneers TE to target if you’re looking for Gronk’s replacement in this offense for as long as he’s out. (TB)
Logan Thomas (Was) — An already weak fantasy position took another hit in Week 4 with Thomas leaving in the first before being immediately ruled out with a hamstring injury. He was hardly killing it for fantasy with between 9.5-13.2 FP in each of his first three games, and he could now be looking at a multi-week absence depending on the severity of his injury. Ricky Seals-Jones will step into his place for as long as Thomas is out of the lineup, but he did little with just 2/19 receiving on four targets (13% share) on a 93% snap share. (TB)
Robert Tonyan (GB) — Tonyan turned in one of the most efficient TE seasons last season when he caught 88.1% percent of his passes and he turned 18.6% of his targets into touchdowns (11 of 59). He’s been hit by regression this season after another disappointing showing against the Steelers in Week 4. Tonyan finished with 2/8 receiving on seven targets, which gives him three performances with fewer than 10 receiving yards and fewer than 3.0 FP. He should be viewed as a touchdown-or-bust option moving forward this week against the Bengals, and he busted against the Steelers with Aaron Rodgers under-throwing him on a seam route in the end zone. Tonyan will have more fantasy juice once LT David Bakhtiari (ACL, PUP) once he’s eligible starting in Week 7, but Tonyan owners should look for a more consistent option for the time being. (TB)
Players whom we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade, but their situations demand monitoring based on recent play, injuries, or news.
None of note.
Dalvin Cook (Min) — Cook missed Week 3 with an ankle sprain, and though he was active in Week 4 against the Browns, he sure didn’t look healthy. He managed just 9/34 rushing and 2/10 receiving on 6 targets while playing 49% of the offensive snaps, which is an exceptionally low number for Cook given his history of bell cow usage. (Alexander Mattison had 10/20 rushing on a 34% snap share.) Cook was in and out of the game, and most concerningly, was on the sidelines late in the game while the Vikings tried to mount a comeback, before returning. It’s probably a good sign he was able to finish the game, and frankly, the entire Minnesota offense was awful against Cleveland, so he probably deserves a little slack for not producing big numbers. While you almost certainly have to play Cook if he’s active, it might be smart to lower expectations for him at this point until he shows he’s truly healthy. (JD)
Zimmer did not think Dalvin Cook's ankle was a reason why Minnesota struggled to generate a ground game.— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) October 3, 2021
"I don’t think it was an issue. He came out of the game one time a little gimpy. We took him out for a while, then he said he was good and he went back in."
Christian McCaffrey (Car) — McCaffrey missed Sunday’s game against the Cowboys as expected, and there appears to be a chance he suits up in Week 5 against Philly, though it seems more likely Week 6 is what’s in reach. In his stead in Week 4, Chuba Hubbard led the way with 13 carries against the Cowboys, but the problem for Hubbard’s fantasy value is that he ran just 10 routes on Sam Darnold’s 43 dropbacks, compared to 20 for Rodney Smith (PFF). Hubbard saw 2 targets to Smith’s 5, so while Hubbard is an acceptable fill-in for CMC, he ain’t CMC. Expect McCaffrey to resume his major bell cow workload when he does return. (JD)
Antonio Gibson (Was) — Gibson has already appeared on Washington’s injury reports for shoulder and shin ailments this season, and he could soon be adding a rib/hip injury designation to his ever-growing list. He took a big shot to his side with about nine minutes left in the game, and J.D. McKissic and Jaret Patterson closed out the game for the Football Team. Gibson finished with 14/63/1 rushing and he caught both of his targets on 55% of the snaps before he left. McKissic isn’t going away any time soon, especially after he scored the game-winning touchdown on a 30-yard catch-and-run play with 33 second left. Gibson needs to get healthy and the underperforming Washington defense needs to give him some better gamescripts to make an impact moving forward. (TB)
Damien Harris (NE) — Tom Brady finished with more rushing yards than the entire Patriots’ offense (3 to -1) in the legendary quarterback’s return to Foxboro in Week 4. The Patriots weren’t exactly interested in running the rock against Tampa Bay’s league-best run unit. They finished with just eight attempts overall, with Harris handling four of those carries for negative-four rushing yards. Harris at least ran a backfield-high 17 routes in Week 4, which was also a career-best mark, and he was followed by Brandon Bolden (8), and J.J. Taylor (3). Harris also posted a career-best in receiving production (2/30) and he had the second-highest snap share of his career (61%) in his first game without James White (hip, IR). Bolden is better off in special teams duties, Taylor lost a fumble, and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson is stuck in Bill Belichick’s doghouse so all signs are pointing toward a big role for Harris moving forward. It’s difficult to give a player an upgrade after scoring 4.8 FP, but better days should be ahead for Harris when they’re not going against the NFL’s best run defense. He’s a clear player to buy low this week. (TB)
Jonathan Taylor (Ind) — After a stretch of brutal touchdown luck, Taylor finally scored – ripping off a gorgeous 24-yarder against the Dolphins. While Taylor did look awesome and turned in a solid box score (20.4 FP, 114 scrimmage yards, 19 touches), he still split snaps (51%) with both Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack as they both handled 31%. I have no idea how Mack went from a healthy-scratch because he wanted a trade to getting 11 touches the following week, but that’s just par for the course at this point for Frank Reich. Mack getting moved wouldn’t be a big deal for Taylor’s outlook this season, but his Week 4 usage is still a reminder of the role that Taylor doesn’t have. Taylor has yet to play more than 55% of the snaps this year and his role in the passing game has been up-and-down. Taylor will be a high-end RB2 next week against the Ravens. (GB)
Alvin Kamara (NO) — While Kamara handled a career-high 26 carries for his third game of 20+ totes this season, he wasn’t targeted at all in the passing game as the Saints fell in OT to the Giants. Kamara had between 3-4 receptions in Weeks 1-3, so this has to be some sort of blip in the radar – especially considering he still participated on 20 of the Saints 25 pass plays. Right now, Kamara is the RB18 in FPG largely because the Saints have the most sluggish, low-volume passing attack in the league.(GB)
Chris Carson (Sea) — Even though the game was tight throughout, Chris Carson only handled 13 carries and gained 30 yards on them in their crucial win over the 49ers. This is now the second-straight game where Carson played under 50% of the Seahawks snaps after he played on 78% of the snaps in Week 1 and 63% in Week 2. For some reason, Carson’s passing down work has completely evaporated in Seattle’s last two games and that is the cause for his dip in overall snaps. Carson has only run a route on 20 of Russell Wilson’s 68 dropbacks (29%) over the last two games after being involved on 54% of the passing plays in Weeks 1-2. Carson will be on the back-end RB2 radar in the next few weeks in tougher matchups against the Rams, Steelers, and Saints. (GB)
Odell Beckham (Cle) — The targets were there. The air yards were there. The production… was not. But don’t necessarily blame that on OBJ, who seemed to be getting open rather easily against the Vikings in Week 4… only to post 2/27 on 7 targets. But in his second game of the season in his return from an ACL tear, Beckham also saw a significant rise in snap share from 64% to 79%, and ran a route on 32 of Baker Mayfield’s 36 dropbacks (PFF). So why wasn’t the production there? Well, the video below might lend some insight. It was a sloppy game for the Browns and Vikings, with both QBs playing poorly. (JD)
look at how Odell manipulates Harrison Smith on the out to break the route upfield…— Sean Alcide (@Sean_Lyric) October 3, 2021
…only to have the ball… nvm, man.
that’s a freaking TD, Baker. do better. pic.twitter.com/hrNMQ6ha1g
A.J. Brown and Julio Jones (TEN) — Brown (knee/hamstring) and Jones (hamstring) were not close to playing in Week 4 after both did not practice all week. The Titans obviously sorely missed their dynamic duo as Ryan Tannehill averaged just 6.1 YPA on 49 attempts against the porous Jets secondary. Nick Westbrook, Chester Rogers, and Josh Reynolds just aren’t going to cut it. Hopefully both Brown and Julio can make it back for their matchup against the Jaguars in Week 5. (GB)
Courtland Sutton (Den) — Sutton had just 3/47 receiving on 8 targets in Week 4’s loss to the Ravens, meaning he’s now gone under 10 FP in three of four games this season, the lone exception being his 9/159 game on 12 targets in Week 2 against the lowly Jags. Now, he may have to deal with an absence for QB Teddy Bridgewater (concussion), which would mean Drew Lock would get the start. Lock did have somewhat of a rapport with Sutton in 2019, when Lock connected with him for 22/280/2 on 40 targets over Lock’s five starts, a span over which Sutton ranked as the WR27 for fantasy. He’s basically a WR3 right now, with a much lower floor than you’d hope for given Jerry Jeudy’s absence. (JD)
None of note.