2014 Fantasy Football: Week 4 — The Good, The Mediocre, The Ugly, Part II
If you happened to miss my QB/RB version of this article that was published yesterday, you can check it out right here. Without any further ado, here is the WR/TE Week 4 version of The Good, The Mediocre, and The Ugly.
WR: The Good
1. Antonio Brown: 7-131-2… With another sensational effort this past Sunday, the artist known simply as “AB” cemented his name in the record books by recording 20 straight games of at least five catches and 50 yards. Brown is the top overall WR in PPR leagues and he’s showing no signs of slowing down either. He also dropped a 68-yard flea flicker in the fourth quarter that likely would have been a touchdown, so it could have been an even better day. His touchdown pace (20) will surely fall off, but as long as he stays healthy Brown is a shoo-in for 100+ catches and is locked and loaded as a top-five wideout.
2. Jordy Nelson: 10-108-2… While Brown checks in as the top fantasy WR so far, Nelson comes in at second overall. Coming into the season I liked his chances of being the number one fantasy WR and he’s definitely got a great shot at it. The 29-year-old is currently on pace for 132 catches and is averaging a 114.8 receiving yards a game. Considering his previous career high in catches was 85 last year in addition to setting his best Y/G average (82.1), Nelson is on pace to shatter his previous career-best marks. Playing in a high-octane offense as the number one option guided by a great quarterback, there simply aren’t many other players you’d rather own than Jordy. Enjoy the many Lambeau leaps.
3. Steve Smith Sr.: 7-139-2… The 35-year-old Utah alum continues to defy age and expectations but putting up gaudy numbers weekly. It’s just not supposed to be this easy for aging wideouts. Playing against his former team in the Carolina Panthers, Smith Sr. promised “Put your goggles on, ’cause there’s going to be blood and guts everywhere.” It’s safe to say that he came through on his promise for fantasy owners as “Smiff” recorded his first multi-touchdown game since 2011. On pace for 100 catches, 1,716 yards, and 12 touchdowns, Smith is off to a blistering start that is more than likely unsustainable. Even so, owners should view Smith as a high-end WR2 who possesses WR1 upside. Considering Smith went undrafted in many of leagues, he has proven to be the biggest bargain in fantasy this year. He faces the burnable Colts secondary next.
4. Randall Cobb: 7-113-2… Entering the season, Cobb’s career-high in touchdowns was eight established back in 2012, yet he has already found pay dirt five times this year. For a receiver that only stands 5’10, it’s certainly surprising to see his success in the red zone so far. He’s somehow on pace for 20 touchdowns but under 1,000 yards (956), and I would expect his yardage totals to increase in the coming weeks with his touchdowns slowing down a bit. Even so, Cobb plays in a great offense and as the primary second read in the passing game, Cobb is a high-upside WR2. Look for another solid outing against the Vikings tomorrow night.
5. Keenan Allen: 10-135… Allen was long overdue for a breakout game in 2014 and he finally made it happen in Week 4. The secret is playing against the Jaguars as his 10 catches and 135 yards were both career-highs. After a scintillating rookie campaign, it was hard to envision a sophomore slump per se for Allen this year considering the quarterback and offense he is playing for. While he has gotten off to a slower start than many anticipated, Allen should be a reliable WR2 with WR1 upside the rest of the way. He gets to face the struggling Jets secondary in Week 5.
1. Andre Johnson: 6-71… After receiving passes from the likes of Case Keenum and Matt Schaub in 2013, it was hard to downgrade Johnson too much in WR rankings this year with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm since he produced like such a stud with mediocre quarterbacks last year. While he’s been known to get off to sluggish starts, the early going has been really rough. After catching 109 and 112 passes the last two campaigns, Johnson is only on pace for 88 catches. Even more troublesome is the fact he’s only averaging 11.9 yards per catch, which would be his lowest rate since 2006. He’s yet to score a touchdown and hasn’t done so in his last 11 games dating back to last year, DeAndre Hopkins is quite frankly the better weekly bet to find pay dirt. Playing in an offense that leans heavily on the run, it will be time for owners to start worrying if he can’t get it going against the Cowboys in Week 5.
2. Vincent Jackson: 3-32-1… It wasn’t the greatest effort but it was an encouraging one nonetheless as Jackson caught a touchdown with seven seconds left to save his fantasy day. No longer being negatively impacted by journeyman Josh McCown, newly inserted quarterback Mike Glennon peppered V-Jax with 10 targets. As Glennon showed last year, he wasn’t afraid to fire the ball Jackson’s way and with Mike Evans set to miss 2-3 weeks with a strained groin, V-Jax will be getting all the targets he can handle over the coming weeks. He’s always been the definition of boom or bust and it will continue to be that way but fire him up as a mid-range WR2 against the Saints in Week 5.
3. Dez Bryant: 3-44-1… While this isn’t a terrible line from Dez you’re certainly expecting more from your number one wide receiver. Playing in an offense that is focused on controlling the clock and feeding DeMarco Murray the ball, Bryant doesn’t possess as much upside compared to the gunslinging Cowboys squads from the last couple seasons. He’s on pace for fewer catches and yards while his average yards per catch rate has fallen as well. The saving grace for fantasy owners will be his ability to be a dominant force inside the red zone, as that is where most of his scores will come from.
4. Marques Colston: 5-50… At this point, it’s officially time to downgrade Colston into the WR3 ranks. In another cakewalk matchup, Colston again failed to deliver for his fantasy owners. He was targeted a healthy 10 times but didn’t help his cause by dropping two passes. With the exception of him averaging 15.4 yards per reception, he’s on pace to establish career-low marks across the board. The Saints offense has yet to fully click this year and it’s a good bet when they do that Colston will start to pick up his production. Until he does though, it’s hard to trust him as anything more than a WR3 against the Bucs in Week 5.
5. Jeremy Maclin: 4-57… Maclin came into the game having recorded five consecutive games with a touchdown dating back to last year, but he couldn’t find the end zone again in Week 4. Nick Foles was wildly inaccurate throughout the game and it hurt Maclin in the box score department. On a positive note, Maclin was still targeted 16 times and is clearly the Eagles best weapon for the time being. Averaging 88.3 yards per game and 17.7 yards per reception, Maclin is a clear-cut WR1 with the St. Louis Rams on deck.
1. DeSean Jackson: 1-9… After a fine showing against his former Eagles team in Week 3, Jackson pretty much laid a big ‘ole goose egg for owners last Thursday. After four weeks Jackson is only averaging 13.8 yards per reception, which is much lower than his career-low 14.7 mark he established back as a rookie in 2008. If the Redskins aren’t going to utilize him downfield as much, he at least needs to be racking up more catches to sustain his value. That hasn’t exactly been the case either as he has only caught 15 passes so far. With the vaunted Seahawks defense awaiting them this week, downgrade Jackson to WR3 status.
2. Calvin Johnson: 2-12… Head coach Jim Caldwell said that Johnson was mainly used a decoy in Week 4 as he battled a bum ankle so owners can at least take solace in that. Megatron wasn’t on the field for his normal allotment of snaps and simply didn’t possess his usual speed and owners may have to lower expectations for him in Week 5 if he suits up against the Bills. Check back for updates on the status of his ankle in the days leading up to their next game.
3. Cordarrelle Patterson: 2-38… With Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph both out for extended periods of time, the wise assumption would be that Patterson would start getting fed the ball, whether it be through the air or on the ground. That hasn’t been the case even though he has played 89 percent of snaps the last two weeks. OC Norv Turner is one of the best in the business in scheming the ball to players, so it’s a little worrisome that Patterson has yet to emerge the last couple weeks. Thrusting Teddy Bridgewater into the starting lineup was thought to have been a positive for C-Pat compared to the noodle-armed Matt Cassell, but that obviously wasn’t the case in the early going. With Bridgewater in danger of sitting out tomorrow, Patterson may be catching balls from third-stringer Christian Ponder. Still rather raw in his route-running ability, C-Pat can only be considered a WR3 in both standard and PPR formats for right now.
4. Pierre Garcon: 2-28… Much like D-Jax, Garcon’s miserable Week 4 performance was more the result of shoddy play from Kirk Cousins than it was from Garcon. It will be slim pickings for Garcon this week as he has to face the elite Seahawks secondary. Don’t expect a great outing out of Garcon this week.
5. Julian Edelman: 4-23… Due to some lockdown coverage by the Cheifs secondary and some horrendous quarterback play out of Tom Brady, Edelman put forth his worst effort of the 2014 season. He was bound for a letdown eventually, but Edelman owners have to be feeling pretty good about him. Many pegged him as a player extremely likely to suffer a dip in production, yet he’s on pace to have an even better season than last year. Edelman is on pace for 104-1,132-4 receiving line and is a surefire WR2 with WR1 upside in PPR formats. He has a tough test against the Bengals in Week 5.
TE: The Good
1. Larry Donnell: 7-54-3… If you paired Eli-Donnell together in daily fantasy this weekend, there’s a great chance you ended up in the money. Donnell, an UDFA from Grambling St., had a breakout showing on Thursday Night Football as he reeled in three touchdown receptions. Donnell is on pace for a 100-944-16 receiving line, something no one could have predicted before the year. He isn’t a fluke either, he seems to be Manning’s favorite target in the red zone and he butters his bread by moving the chains with short to intermediate gains over the middle of the field. Donnell is a TE1 and he’s here to stay.
2. Martellus Bennett: 9-134… Anyone care to take a guess as to who has been the highest scoring TE in fantasy so far? If you answered Bennett, you’re correct as he edges out Jimmy Graham by a point. It shouldn’t be too surprising as Bennett was the TE7 last year with Jay Cutler throwing him the ball. What is surprising is he has already caught 29 balls and his career-high in receptions was 65 last season. If he stays healthy, Bennett will surpass that number with ease. He’s also on pace for 1,180 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns and although those numbers are unsustainable, a final stat line resembling 80-900-10 is well within reach. With Brandon Marshall still nursing a bum ankle, Bennett should continue to be a major part of the Bears high-powered offense. He faces the Panthers in Week 5.
3. Jimmy Graham: 8-86-1… Graham owners were probably muttering all sorts of not-so-nice things under their breath as they watched Graham tally one catch in the first half of an appetizing matchup against the Cowboys. Luckily, Graham was able to rack up some catches and a touchdown in garbage time to salvage a decent effort. On pace for a mind-boggling 128-1,704-12 receiving line, Graham remains the best fantasy TE in the game and is getting better, a scary thought for defenses. Expect a huge performance out of him as he takes on the burnable Bucs secondary in Week 5.
4. Travis Kelce: 8-93-1… Facing off against the Patriots and fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski on Monday Night Football, Kelce had himself a game as he reminded observers why he has so often been compared to Gronk. Other than wearing the same number (87), Kelce is nearly identical in terms of size and measurables like the 40-yard dash and his top-notch athleticism was on full display Monday night. Although he only played on roughly 50 percent of the Chiefs snaps, he made every snap worth it and was their most dangerous offense in the passing game all night long. With Andy Reid no longer able to keep “Zeus” off the field any longer due to him being their most talented pass catcher, look for his snap count to gradually rise as the season progresses. Fire him up as a low-end TE1 against the 49ers in Week 5.
5. Heath Miller: 10-85-1… Miller got off to a rather slow start to the season but the Steelers offense has broken into full stride the last couple games and it finally paid off in the box score for Miller owners. He drew 11 targets, which was the same number of targets Antonio Brown received. While he possesses no big-play ability, Miller enjoys most of his success as a chain mover over the middle for Big Ben. Set to face off agains the Jaguars horrid defense this week, Miller should be viewed as a mid-range to high-end TE1.
1. Jason Witten: 5-61… For this to quality as Witten’s best fantasy game to date has to be extremely disappointing for owners. Since his rookie season in 2003, Witten has never failed to record less than 64 catches in a season. Yet this year, Witten is only on pace for 60 receptions and has yet to score through four games. As a result, his yardage total is significantly lower pace as well. Things are bound to get better from here on out, but as a 32-year-old playing a run-heavy offense, there just isn’t much upside here. Consider him a low-end TE1 against the Texans this week.
2. Rob Gronkowski: 2-31-1…If not for a garbage time 13-yard touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter, Gronk would have been staring at a line of one catch for 18 yards. He was only targeted three times on a night where Tom Brady looked like a backup-caliber QB. Still not 100 percent recovered from his offseason knee surgery, it was at least encouraging to see Gronk’s usage increase. While he’s only on pace for 52 catches and 588 yards, he’s at least on pace to score 12 touchdowns. Finding pay dirt has never been the issue for Gronk so if he can continue to build up his health and avoid getting injured, his numbers should get better and better as the season moves forward.
3. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins: 3-44… After missing the last two games due to a foot injury, Sefarian-Jenkins sprung right back up to the top of the depth chart and played all 71 snaps. He finished with seven targets and his usage is extremely encouraging for future games. Standing 6’5 and 282 pounds, ASJ should be a good red zone option and can be considered a TE2 with upside against the Saints in Week 5.
1. Greg Olsen: 2-30… After three consecutive quality efforts to begin the season, Olsen turned in his first stinker of the year. Nothing to worry about or see here as he just happened to have an off game against a tough Ravens defense. On pace for a 84-1,016-8 receiving line, Olsen should find more success against the Bears defense this weekend.
2. Antonio Gates: 3-30… In an extremely inviting matchup against the Jaguars on a day where fellow tight end Ladarius Green didn’t play, much more was expected out of the 34-year-old. Philip Rivers honed in on his wide receivers throughout the day as he took advantage of their defense on the outside of the field. Expect Gates to return TE1 value when he squares off against the Jets turnstile secondary in Week 5.
3. Vernon Davis: 2-8… I usually don’t like to include players who got injured and file them under “The Ugly” section, but even before Davis left in the third quarter with back spasms, he wasn’t doing much of anything. Having now dealt with knee, ankle, and back ailments already this year, Davis’ production is predictably down. He was never a strong bet to match last year’s totals anyways but he’s having a very rough go at it this season. With his status uncertain for Week 5, check back for updates regarding if he’ll be able to suit up or not. He’s still a TE1 if so.
Thanks for reading and be sure to comment with any questions, remarks, or corrections concerning the article. You can follow me on Twitter @MattMoczy.