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.
Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills Week 5 Disclaimer!
So far, the Titans are the only NFL team that has had a COVID-19 outbreak serious enough to postpone games (Week 4 against Pittsburgh). They had 18 positive tests in the past week, and a continuation of that outbreak would throw their Week 5 tilt with the Bills into question. The good news is the Titans had no new positive tests on Monday, which must continue this week if they’re going to play in Week 5. So be prepared to not have Titans or Bills this week, though the good news on Monday was welcome.
Players about whom we’re feeling more optimistic based on recent play or news.
None of note.
Kareem Hunt (Cle) — Unfortunately, it seems like Nick Chubb is going to miss significant time with the knee injury sustained against the Cowboys. Chubb doesn’t need surgery on his MCL, but it sounds like there is a chance he misses more than a month of time. The Browns are sending Chubb to I.R. for now — which guarantees that he will miss three weeks — but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Chubb could miss up to six weeks. In the meantime, Chubb’s absence obviously clears the path for Hunt to see the lion’s share of work in the backfield over at least the next three games (vs. Colts, Steelers, and Bengals). D’Ernest Johnson will get work as the No. 2 back but Chubb’s absence clears the way for Hunt to become a fantasy RB1. Currently the RB12 in fantasy points per game, Hunt was already performing above his ADP and now has a chance to be a league-winner. (Graham Barfield)
Antonio Gibson (Was) — Gibson is improving every week and it’s reflected in his rising fantasy production in the first four weeks of the season (6.4<12.2<14.0<22.8). He had his best game to date against a stout Ravens defense as he finished with 13/46/1 rushing and 4/82 receiving on five targets. J.D. McKissic still saw a higher snap share (55% to 44%), but OC Scott Turner is putting more on his plate as a receiver in recent weeks with eight targets the last two weeks — he saw just four targets in the first two games. He also saw three of the four goal-line carries with a touchdown in Week 4 after seeing just 5-of-13 goal-line carries (38%) in the first three weeks of the season. Gibson has run off touchdowns in three straight games, and he’s now squarely in the weekly RB2 picture. He has a chance to creep into the RB1 conversation if he can start wrestling more passing-game work away from McKissic. (Tom Brolley)
Joe Mixon (Cin) — Are we happy now? In a largely competitive game, the Bengals made Mixon their featured player — giving him the ball 31 times (25 carries, 6 receptions) en route to a monster day (181 scrimmage yards and 3 total TDs). Both of Mixon’s rushing scores were from downtown (34- and 23-yarders) and he out-targeted Gio Bernard 6 to 0. The latter point is big news. We’ll see if it continues, but it was great to see HC Zac Taylor finally unleash Mixon in the passing game. For now, we’re giving Mixon a slight upgrade because of the promising usage. The Bengals may be back in negative game scripts over the next few weeks in tougher matchups when they take on the Ravens, Colts, and Browns next. (GB)
Mike Davis (Car) — Davis has been fantasy gold since jumping off the waiver wire and into fantasy lineups in Week 3 in the wake of Christian McCaffrey’s high-ankle sprain. He’s posted consecutive games with 22+ FP since taking over as the starter after posting 16/84/1 rushing and 5/27 receiving on six targets against the Cardinals in Week 4. He actually has 15+ FP in three straight games after taking over for McCaffrey in the fourth quarter in Week 2. CMC will be out at least one more week since the Panthers placed him on the IR before Week 3 so they’re targeting a potential return in Week 6 against the Bears. This franchise does have an eye toward the future after locking up McCaffrey to an extension this off-season, and Davis’ strong performances could lead the Panthers to be a little extra cautious with their franchise back. There hasn’t been a huge dropoff in backfield play the last two weeks, and Davis may have bought himself an extra week as the bell-cow back if the Panthers wait until CMC is 100% healthy. Davis is a low-end RB1 for as long as CMC is out of the lineup, including this week against the Falcons. (TB)
Chris Carson (Sea) — After getting his knee twisted on a dirty play in Week 3, Carson thankfully recovered quickly and had yet another great game on Sunday against Miami. With Carlos Hyde (shoulder) sidelined, Carson saw 16 of the 22 RB carries and saw great usage in the passing game again, turning his four targets into 3/20 receiving. Carson has now caught three or more balls in four-straight games and has amazing touchdown upside in this now high-flying Seahawks attack. Carson converted both of his layup scoring chances against the Dolphins and he’ll continue to see plenty of golden opportunities with Russell Wilson moving the ball up and down the field at will. Carson is currently the RB8 in fantasy points per game and he has a legitimate chance at 13-14 touchdowns if he stays healthy. (GB)
Joshua Kelley (LAC) — Kelley did not have a good day in Week 4 against Tampa’s excellent run defense, carrying just 9 times for 7 yards. But he added 3/26 receiving, meaning he’s now produced 7/84 receiving on 7 targets in Justin Herbert’s three starts. That’s important to note, because with Austin Ekeler (hamstring, knee) headed to IR, Kelley could get the three-down usage to be a high-end RB2/borderline RB1 for the foreseeable future. He’s likely going to start in this backfield with Ekeler down, but just how high his ceiling is for fantasy depends on how much Justin Jackson works in — they split work pretty evenly in Week 4, with Kelley playing 30 snaps to Jackson’s 21. But Kelley has been a favorite of coach Anthony Lynn’s since this summer, so we’re giving him the immediate edge until proven otherwise. He’s going to have to be in your lineup. (Joe Dolan)
David Montgomery (Chi) — Montgomery didn’t have a big game against the Colts’ excellent defense in Week 4 — he posted just 10/27 rushing and 3/30 receiving on 6 targets. But it was a tough matchup, and what we’re looking for with fantasy is usage. He utterly dominated the Bears’ backfield in opportunities, playing a whopping 85% of the offensive snaps following the loss of Tarik Cohen (ACL) in Week 3. He has another tough matchup with Tampa upcoming on Thursday night, but it’s next to impossible to sit a fantasy RB who is getting that kind of usage. (JD)
Ronald Jones (TB) — If you played RoJo in Week 4, you certainly came out happy. Despite Jones dropping three passes, he dominated the work in the Tampa backfield, carrying 20 times for 111 yards and grabbing 6 passes for 17 yards on 9 targets. He handled a season-high 64% of the snaps, and that might go up even higher this week. Why? Not only did Leonard Fournette (ankle) sit out Week 4, but the Bucs lost RBs LeSean McCoy (ankle) and Kenjon Barner (concussion) to injuries during the win over the Chargers, as well. On top of everything else, the Bucs have a short turnaround into Week 5, when they play the Bears this coming Thursday night. It could be the RoJo and Ke’Shawn Vaughn show… which is what everyone expected two months ago. What we didn’t expect was everything that needed to happen for us to get to this point. (JD)
Devonta Freeman (NYG) — Unsurprisingly, it only took a week for Freeman to take over as the Giants lead back in the absence of Saquon Barkley. After seeing just five carries in Week 3, Freeman turned his 11 carries into 33 yards and added 4/35 in the passing game against the Rams as he easily led this backfield in snaps (54%) over Dion Lewis (31%) and Wayne Gallman (15%). Freeman looked like he had fresh legs, too, and showed good burst when he got into the open field. The Giants haven’t had much going for them offensively so far in four tough matchups against the Steelers, Bears, 49ers, and Rams but their schedule really opens up over the next six weeks with dates against the Cowboys, Washington (twice), Eagles (twice), and Buccaneers. Freeman will be on the low-end RB2 radar from here on out. (GB)
James Robinson (Jax) — Robinson’s performance and usage has been nothing short of incredible through the opening month. Once again, Robinson saw bell-cow usage on Sunday against the Bengals — turning his 17 carries into 75 yards while adding 4/32 receiving. Robinson played on 76% of Jaguars snaps, a new season-high. The most surprising thing is that Chris Thompson is barely involved and didn’t record a single touch in Week 4. Through the first four games, Robinson has handled 60 of the Jags’ 64 possible RB carries and has out-targeted Thompson 15 to 12. Robinson will be on the RB1 borderline over the next two weeks in amazing matchups against the Texans and Lions swiss cheese defenses. (GB)
Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson (Min) — The Vikings have perhaps the least voluminous passing game in the entire NFL, but the nice part about it is that it’s narrow. Both Thielen (8/114/1) and Jefferson (4/103) went over 100 yards against Houston in week 4 — it was the second straight such game for the rookie Jefferson. And Thielen was targeted 10 times to Jefferson’s 5. QB Kirk Cousins threw only 22 passes total! For those not mathematically inclined, that means he targeted Thielen or Jefferson on 68.1% of his throws in Week 4. On the season, Cousins has thrown exactly 100 passes. 51 of them have gone in Thielen (31) or Jefferson’s (20) direction. This is quite obviously a fantasy team with just three players you can consider — these two receivers and RB Dalvin Cook. But with Jefferson repeating his breakout Week 3 performance, they’re three guys you probably want in your lineup every week. (JD)
Odell Beckham (Cle) — Everyone in the world knew this matchup for Beckham was fantastic, but boy, did he deliver. Beckham dropped 5/81/2 (on 8 targets) and added 2/73/1 on the ground against this destitute Dallas defense. The highlight of the day was the 50-yard scoring run on an end-around that ended up cementing the Browns win. The days of OBJ pushing for the WR1 overall are over, but it’s clear HC Kevin Stefanski has a greater understanding of how to use Beckham than former HC Freddie Kitchens did. Stefanski is targeting Beckham all over the field — on shallow routes, sidelines, and deep — and trying to find creative ways to get him the ball. Beckham has two tougher matchups up next (vs. Colts and Steelers) but then the Browns schedule really opens up over their next five games (vs. Bengals, Raiders, Texans, Eagles, and Jaguars). Beckham is an every-week WR2 as the clear No. 1 in this offense. OBJ has out-targeted Jarvis Landry 30 to 19 and has seen a monster 40% of Browns air yards in the opening month. (GB)
Terry McLaurin (WAS) — Terry gave us a scare last week when he showed up on the team’s injury report because of a late-week thigh injury, which forced him to miss the final practice of the week. McLaurin alleviated his owners’ fears by posting a career-best 10 catches for 118 yards against the Ravens in Week 4, which was his second 100-yard game of the season. McLaurin had a lot going against him last week with his injury in a tough matchup, and he’s always battling the negative that Dwayne Haskins is at quarterback, and he still came out of Week 4 with 21+ FP. McLaurin won’t reach his true potential until his offensive atmosphere improves drastically but at least he’s getting negative game scripts most weeks to remain in the WR2 picture every week, no matter what is thrown on his plate. He may luck out this week if the league decides to discipline Jalen Ramsey for his ugly incidents with Golden Tate in Week 4. (TB)
Robby Anderson (Car) — Anderson broke free from Adam Gase’s cold grip, and he has quickly formed a dynamic duo at the top of the Panthers’ WR depth chart with D.J. Moore. Robby has been the #1 WR for Teddy Bridgewater in the early going as he now has 5+ catches in every game this season with 99+ receiving yards in three of his four contests. He turned a game-high 11 targets (29.7% share) into 8/99 receiving against the Cardinals in Week 4. Anderson has quickly proven that he’s more than just a vertical threat like he was cast to be by Gase the last few seasons. Anderson is being used as a run-after-the-catch receiver with his aDOT sitting at 9.6 yards, which is almost three yards fewer than Moore’s aDOT of 12.4 yards. Anderson is now in the weekly WR2 conversation and he’ll be a WR1 option this week in a beautiful matchup against the Falcons in Week 5. (TB)
Jamison Crowder (NYJ) — The Jets are devoid of many bright spots through four weeks, but Crowder has been one major exception when he’s been on the field. After missing Week 2-3 with a hamstring injury, Crowder returned to the lineup to hang 7/104 receiving on 10 targets in an embarrassing loss to the Broncos. Crowder’s connection with Sam Darnold is as strong as ever as he now has seven catches and 100+ yards in each of his first two games this season. The Jets will likely get Le’Veon Bell, Breshad Perriman, and Denzel Mims back for their Week 5 matchup with the Cardinals. Crowder won’t be able to maintain his 11.5 targets per game average going forward, but he should still see enough love from Darnold to stick as a WR3 even with a full cast back soon. (TB)
D.J. Chark (Jax) — After a slow start and missing the Jags’ short week date against the Dolphins on TNF with chest/back injuries, Chark came back and erupted against the Bengals for 8/95/2. The Jaguars are spreading the ball around more this season compared to last year — Chark had 9 targets while Laviska Shenault/Tyler Eifert both had 6 and Keelan Cole got 5 this week — but we’re giving Chark a slight upgrade because his next two matchups couldn’t possibly be any better. Jacksonville faces two bottom-5 secondaries next (Texans and Lions) before their Week 7 bye. Chark will be a high-ceiling WR2 in both of those spots. (GB)
DeVante Parker (Mia) — Parker was clearly laboring with a hamstring injury in the Dolphins first few games and had another injury scare on Sunday (ankle), but ended up coming back into the game and hanging a 10/110 line on the Seahawks. The concern with Parker this year was that Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki would eat into his targets, but that really hasn’t played out at all. Williams has largely been an afterthought so far as he comes back from his torn ACL while Gesicki has been a ghost outside of one good game against Buffalo in Week 2. (GB)
George Kittle (SF) — Not that you need us to tell you that Kittle is OK to start, but he made it overwhelmingly obvious by posting 15 catches for 183 yards and a TD on 15 targets against the Eagles on Sunday night. Kittle’s extra week of rest — he apparently would have been OK to play last week if needed — clearly worked out. Since the NFL started tracking targets in 1992, Kittle joins Christian McCaffrey (in 2019) as the only two players to catch 15 or more passes in a game while catching 100% of their targets in that game. The Niners might get Jimmy Garoppolo (high ankle) back soon too, which will help after they benched Nick Mullens on Sunday night. (JD)
Darren Waller (LV) — Bill Belichick and the Patriots did their best to take Waller away in Week 3, limiting him 2/9 receiving on four targets, but he predictably bounced back with a 17.8-point fantasy performance in Week 4. He easily led the Raiders with a 27.2% target share as he finished with 9/88 receiving on 12 targets against the Bills. Waller is still the focal point of this offense and his outcome looks even better for as long as Henry Ruggs (hamstring) and Bryan Edwards (ankle) are out of the lineup. He’s one of the few TEs that’s a threat to see double-digit targets every week, including this week against the Chiefs. He posted 6+ catches and 60+ yards in each of his matchups against Kansas City last year. (TB)
Players about whom we’re feeling less optimistic based on recent play or news.
None of note.
Nick Chubb (Cle) — The injury apocalypse rolls on. We’ve already seen an unprecedented amount of injuries to early-round players this season and Nick Chubb is the latest to go down. After sustaining a knee injury (MCL) against the Cowboys, the Browns are sending Chubb to I.R. — guaranteeing that he’ll miss at least three weeks. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said that Chubb could miss up to six weeks. All HC Kevin Stefanski has said is that he expects Chubb to be back “at some point this season.” In the meantime, Kareem Hunt will take over as the clear-cut lead back with Chubb out of the lineup. Look for D’Ernest Johnson and Dontrell Hilliard to split work behind Hunt. (GB)
Austin Ekeler (LAC) — Ekeler was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Justin Herbert era so far, but he suffered a massive setback in Week 4’s loss to the Bucs. He’s expected to land on IR with what is being called a “serious” hamstring injury, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes some knee damage is involved as well. There is hope for Ekeler to return this season (Schefter says four to six weeks), but he’s obviously going to be out for quite a while at this stage. Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson will get a lot of work in his stead. (JD)
Kenyan Drake (Ari) — Drake is quickly heading into the colossal bust territory after he failed to capitalize on the league’s best running back matchup over the last season-plus. In a prime spot against the Panthers, Drake managed just 13/35 rushing without a single target in Week 4. Backup and potential soon-to-be starter Chase Edmonds ran 15 routes, which he turned into 5/24/1 receiving on six targets. Drake’s FP has fallen each week this season (14.5>11.5>8.9>3.5), and he may have even picked up an injury late in their loss after taking a big hit and never returning for the final minutes. Drake is just a flex option at this point even with a juicy matchup with the Jets looming this week. Meanwhile, Edmonds should be rostered in every league since Kingsbury could pull the plug on Drake as early as this week. The Cardinals are only committed to Drake through the 2020 season so they have no incentive to keep trotting out an ineffective player with no future with the team. (TB)
Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins (Bal) — The Ravens backfield went from being a fantasy goldmine in 2019 to a fantasy minefield in 2020 with Ingram, Dobbins, and Gus Edwards crushing each other’s value in a splintered backfield. Edwards led this backfield with a 39% snap share and 9/38 rushing while Dobbins played 37% of the snaps with 5/16 rushing. Ingram had the most fantasy production with 8/34/1 rushing while catching his only targets for three, but he played on a backfield low 25% of the snaps. Dobbins hasn’t reached double-digit FP since he scored twice in the season opener while Edwards has yet to find the end zone. They’re merely bench stashes right now while Ingram is a low-end flex option with touchdowns in two of his last three games. This backfield will need to lose a body before it starts churning out usable fantasy weeks from these backs on a more consistent rate. (TB)
A.J. Green (Cin) — Whew. It’s not looking good for Green. Through the opening month, Green has seen 33 targets but has turned those looks into a staggering 119 yards. Over the last two weeks alone, rookie Tee Higgins has 117 yards on 16 targets. In an absolutely pristine matchup against the Jaguars, Green completely flopped — catching one pass for three yards while teammates Tyler Boyd (7/90) and Higgins (4/77) both had strong games. We were drafting Boyd well ahead of Green all summer, but Green’s performance so far has been abysmal. There is no way you can trust Green in your lineup over the next two weeks against the Ravens and Colts. (GB)
TY Hilton (Ind) — Man, what does it say about Hilton that even with the Colts’ receiving depth chart being decimated by injuries, he still can’t get it going? Against the Bears in Week 4, he posted just 3/29 receiving on 5 targets. The 5.9 FP in PPR wasn’t even his worst game of the season — he had 5.8 in Week 2. He hasn’t had a game of 10 or more PPR points yet this season, has just one in his last nine games total, and hasn’t had 100 yards receiving in a game since his second-to-last game with Andrew Luck in 2018. Hilton has fewer fantasy points strictly as a receiver this year than teammates Mo Alie-Cox, Zach Pascal, and Nyheim Hines. He’s been a major disappointment this season. (JD)
Marvin Jones (Det) — It’s usually not a good sign when you forget a guy plays in the NFL, but that’s kind of been the way it has gone for us with Jones, who had just 1 catch for 9 yards on 2 targets against the Saints in Week 4, despite the game being high-scoring and despite the Saints dealing with multiple injuries in their secondary. After seeing 8 targets in Week 1, Jones’ targets have fallen every week — to 6, then 3, then 2. Jones has fewer targets than Danny Amendola, fewer receptions than D’Andre Swift, and fewer TDs than TJ Hockenson. The biggest problem? He has just 5 targets total since Kenny Golladay returned to the lineup. He’s only a middling bench option right now. (JD)
Brandin Cooks (Hou) — Cooks played a season-high 94% of the offensive snaps in Week 4’s loss to Minnesota. He was held without a catch on 3 targets. He now has under 6.0 PPR FP in three of four games this year, and hasn’t had back-to-back games of 10 or more fantasy points since Weeks 2-4 last year with the Rams. He’s posted 10 or more PPR FP in just two of his last 14 games total, and he doesn’t even have “blow-up” games — the last time he went over 20 FP was Week 17 of 2018. He is barely reliable enough to be the last player on your bench at this stage. (JD)
Noah Fant (Den) — Fant left Week 4 in the second half with an ankle injury, which is likely to keep him out in Week 5. The second-year TE is off to a strong start with at least four catches in each of his first four games, and he has the chance to remain in the mid-to-low-end TE1 range with Courtland Sutton out for the rest of the year with his ACL injury. Fant just needs to get healthy and he needs Drew Lock (shoulder) to get back into the lineup soon to unlock his ceiling potential. Rookie Albert Okwuegbunam could take on a bigger role as a receiver while Fant is out of the lineup. (TB)
Mike Gesicki (Mia) — Outside of Week 2 (8/130/1) against Buffalo, Gesicki has been unusable in fantasy football thus far. He went for 3/30 (five targets) in Week 1, 1/15/1 (three targets) in Week 3, and once again posted just 1/15 (three targets) against Seattle this past week. Gesicki has mostly been the No. 4 priority in this offense behind DeVante Parker, Myles Gaskin, and even Isaiah Ford. Gesicki is only a TE2 from here on out and shouldn’t be in any lineups next week against a strong 49ers defense that just held Zach Ertz to nine yards on 4 receptions on Sunday Night Football. (GB)
Players whom we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade, but their situations demand monitoring based on recent play, injuries, or news.
Kyler Murray (Ari) — The Cardinals went from being world-beaters after the first two games of the season to being less than touchdown favorites against an absolutely awful Jets squad heading into Week 5. Arizona has come crashing back to earth with consecutive losses to the Lions and Panthers as favorites. Murray averaged a pathetic 4.3 YPA as he completed 24/31 passes for 133 yards against the Panthers, but he salvaged his fantasy production with three touchdown passes and 78 rushing yards. Our Greg Cosell hasn’t exactly loved Murray’s tape as a passer dating back to his rookie season, but Kyler has survived for fantasy because of his legs. He’s become their running game every week with Kenyan Drake going into the tank after his second-half surge in 2019. Murray will remain an elite QB1 option against the Jets this week, but he needs to clean up his play and to develop a rapport with a receiver other than DeAndre Hopkins if the Cardinals are going to take the next step as a franchise. (TB)
Josh Allen (Buf) — Allen left the field for a few minutes for a non-throwing shoulder injury in the second quarter of their Week 4 victory over the Raiders. He still took every snap for Buffalo as he played the second half with a brace on his left shoulder. Allen failed to reach 300+ passing yards for the first time this season, but he still threw for two touchdowns and he added his third rushing touchdown of the season. Allen carries slightly more risk this week against the Titans as he plays through his non-throwing shoulder, but he absolutely can’t be benched as he’s averaging more than 30 FPG through four weeks. (TB)
Carson Wentz (Phi) — Wentz was not perfect or anything close to it on Sunday night against the 49ers, but it was an encouraging game all the same. Why? Because he competed his ass off with a shell of a roster around him, and actually put together a decent fantasy performance while doing it. Wentz went 18/28 for 193 yards with a TD (to someone named Travis Fulgham) and a pick in a much-needed win that improbably propelled the Eagles into sole possession of first place. But what has made him intriguing for fantasy is that he’s been running a ton — he added 7/37/1 rushing, with his TD run coming on a zone read in the red zone. Wentz has now scored a rushing TD in three straight games, and his last two games of 12.5 FP and 9.7 FP on rushing alone are the biggest two such performances of his NFL career. He came into this season with just 3 career rushing TDs, and he’s doubled that in the last three games. With the Eagles likely to be working with a banged-up offensive line and receiving corps for the time being, coach Doug Pederson and Wentz should lean on his competitiveness and elusiveness as a runner more. Even with a practice squad group of receivers, Wentz’s legs make the Eagles significantly tougher to defend that they looked like in the first two weeks of the year. (JD)
Jonathan Taylor (Ind) — What the hell was that? The Colts seem to be forcing a three-man rotation in their backfield, involving both Nyheim Hines (35% snaps) and Jordan Wilkins (17%) alongside Taylor (46%) in their backfield during Week 4’s win over the Bears. To be fair to coach Frank Reich, Taylor hasn’t taken full control of this backfield — he had just 17/68 rushing and 1/11 receiving and is averaging a pedestrian 3.8 YPC this season. But Hines and Wilkins combined for 39 yards on 18 carries, and just 24 yards on 4 receptions. Taylor might not look like, say, Dalvin Cook out there just yet, but he was the better and more efficient player than both his teammates in Week 4. We can handle Hines being involved — it’s the pedestrian Wilkins touching the ball 10 times that we didn’t anticipate following the Marlon Mack injury. (JD)
Melvin Gordon (Den) — Phillip Lindsay will likely return to the lineup in Week 5 against the Patriots after nearly playing against the Jets last week. Gordon is going to cede some work back to Lindsay, but he has posted 70+ rushing yards in three of his first four games primarily without Lindsay, who suffered his foot injury in the season opener. Gordon will no longer be a bell-cow back with Lindsay entering back into the mix, but Gordon should still see the majority of the work here. Most importantly, he’s still expected to see most of the goal-line and passing-game work in the backfield, which will keep him in the RB2 picture. (TB)
Le’Veon Bell (NYJ) — The Jets are an absolute dumpster fire but, to be fair to Sam Darnold, he has been playing with the deck completely stacked against him. The Jets are set to potentially get Bell (hamstring), Breshad Perriman (ankle), and Denzel Mims (hamstring) back in Week 5 against the Cardinals. HC Adam Gase clearly has it out for Bell while also having a man-crush on the 96-year-old Frank Gore so Bell will likely have to split up early-down work when he returns this week. Luckily, the Jets are going to be playing in negative game scripts just about every week the rest of the season so he has a chance to average 4-5 catches per game as he did in 2019 in his first season with the Jets. (TB)
Jerick McKinnon (SF) — McKinnon has been awesome these last two weeks with Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman both out with knee injuries. He played a ridiculous 92% of the snaps in Week 4 and posted 14/54/1 rushing and 7/43 receiving on 8 targets in a loss to the Eagles. He’s clearly done well enough to be a significant part of this offense moving forward, but if Mostert is ready to return soon from his MCL injury, then he’s only going to be a rotational player. We still wanted to call to mind how impressive his journey has been as he returns from two consecutive season-ending injuries. He’s a legitimate weapon for coach Kyle Shanahan, and for fantasy players. (JD)
Zack Moss and Devin Singletary (Buf) — Moss had been trending toward playing in Week 4, but he ultimately sat out because of his toe injury after getting in limited practices all week before their showdown with the Raiders. Singletary once again served as the bell-cow back, handling an 89% snap share in Week 4, which he turned into 18/55/1 rushing and 5/21 receiving on six targets. Moss will almost certainly be back this week unless he has a setback in practice this week. Singletary likely has a small leg up on Moss after the last two weeks, but the Bills will likely go back to their backfield committee, which leaves both backs as high-end flex options in this potent offense. (TB)
Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers (LAR) — We’re still trying to make sense of what happened in the Rams backfield this past week. After looking incredible on tape and leading the Rams backfield in touches in both Week 2-3, Darrell Henderson took a backseat to Malcolm Brown for some odd reason against the Giants. Brown got 15 opportunities (9 carries, 6 targets) while Henderson got nine (8 carries, 1 target). Brown also widely out-snapped Henderson (35 to 22). With Cam Akers (ribs) due back soon, this backfield could devolve into an absolute nightmare for the rest of the season. It’s unfortunate because there is so much upside on this offense. (GB)
Michael Thomas (NO) — Thomas missed his third consecutive game in Week 4 with the high ankle sprain he suffered late in Week 1’s win over the Bucs. He got in some practice this past week, which is a solid sign for his availability in Week 5 against the Chargers, and he also has an extra day to heal up — that Week 5 tilt is on Monday night. Hopefully, he gets more practice time in this week and we have a clear picture if he’s going to play because a late, surprising inactive on Monday would be terrible for fantasy. (JD)
Mike Evans (TB) — Evans played his ass off in Week 4 against the Chargers, fighting through a nasty looking ankle injury to post 7/122/1 on 8 targets while clearly hobbled, giving the Bucs some passing game juice they needed with Chris Godwin (hamstring) out. While it was obviously good news that he could play — and play well — on the injury, it’s concerning that the Bucs’ next game is this coming Thursday night against the Bears. If Evans’ injury worsened once the game ended, he might not be able to loosen up in time to play on the short week, and the Bucs might choose to give him some time off over the “mini bye” to heal up. Obviously, watch his status this week. (JD)
Deebo Samuel (SF) — Deebo (foot) was active against the Eagles in Week 4, but the Niners mostly just got his feet wet (no pun intended). He played just 34% of the offensive snaps, but looked good on his four touches — he had 3 targets and 3 catches for 35 yards and 1 rush for 10 yards. It was a promising debut, and the fact that he apparently came out of the game without any setbacks is excellent news. Expect his role to rise in the coming weeks, and soon he might be on the WR3 radar for fantasy purposes. (JD)
Jared Cook (NO) — Unlike WR Michael Thomas, Cook (groin) didn’t practice in Week 4 after leaving the Saints’ Week 3 game injured, and it’s looking like he’s a longer shot to be available for Week 5’s Monday tilt with the Chargers. In a disappointing turn of events, talented rookie TE Adam Trautman played only 27% of the snaps in Week 4 with Cook injured, and didn’t see a single target. Obviously, fantasy players shouldn’t plan on having Cook in Week 5, given the Monday night status of the game and the fact that he couldn’t even get in limited practice last week. (JD)