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Fantasy 411 - Week 4

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Not so fast, my friend! No, I’m not pulling my Chris Johnson jersey from beneath the desk to make a polarizing proclamation about Sunday’s performance marking the Tennessee running back’s return to dominance. I am here to take a look at this week’s fantasy freaks and frauds and see what you can expect from these players going forward.

After an abysmal three weeks, Johnson tripled his rushing yards in an impressive Week 4 outing against the Houston Texans. After the 141-yard rushing performance Johnson said, “I’m going to be as good as my offensive line.”

Not exactly the brash confidence you expect from a premier running back, but at least Johnson shares the credit the same as he deflects the blame. Houston had been tough on the run in the first three weeks, so Johnson’s performance is impressive and encouraging to fantasy owners. While I will agree this is a positive sign, I don’t quite share the same encouragement as many do. When Johnson has been at his best he has been explosive and elusive, breaking free for long runs. Sunday Johnson was only able to register a long run of 19 yards. The issues in Nashville are deeper than the offensive line. The issues start with the offensive coordinator, Chris Palmer, who employs a running scheme that is not best suited for a back that plays like Johnson does. Johnson will continue to have up-and-down weeks, but will not live up to his early draft position.

It is safe to say that this week Calvin Johnson didn’t measure up to his namesake Chris. The Detroit Lions did not look like the high-powered, explosive offense we have come to expect against the surprising Minnesota defense. Johnson has been reliable all season, and despite only finding the end zone once in the early going, he is still among the league leaders in fantasy points for receivers. Johnson and the Lions should be the beneficiary of a Week 5 bye. Johnson will rebound as he and Matthew Stafford start to click. The running game will be stronger with Mikel Leshoure carrying the load. A week after logging 26 carries, Leshoure was limited to only 13 carries as the Lions struggled offensively. Don’t panic after one disappointing game from Johnson, it should be one of a very few that he has this season.

Brian Hartline exploded in Week 4 with a 12-catch, 250-yard performance with a touchdown. Hartline turned in a nice game in Week 2, but with this outing he has catapulted onto many owners’ radars. Davone Bess was supposed to be the receiver from Miami that could contribute to your team in points per reception leagues, but Hartline has gained more value in the early going. Hartline has quickly become rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target, and he belongs on a roster in points per reception leagues as he racks up catches because the Dolphins figure to be playing from behind much of the season. Don’t expect this type of performance every week, but Hartline can be a valuable fill-in during the upcoming bye weeks.

It is safe to say that absolutely no one saw the performance from Brandon Bolden coming. Coach Bill Belichick is often too smart for his own good and is a victim of his own success by devising odd game plans and utilizing strange player groupings. The New England offense has created niches for guys like Danny Woodhead and has made Wes Welker one of the best slot receivers in the NFL. Expecting Bolden to continue to put up stats like his 137-yard performance is far too ambitious. The Patriots will continue to be centered around the passing game and Stevan Ridley also had more than 100 yards with two touchdowns on the week. The only take away here is that Bolden now has value as Ridley’s primary backup.

Sure the Washington Redskins signed Ryan Grant after Roy Helu landed on the Injured Reserve, but this job clearly belongs to Alfred Morris now. Unless Grant has discovered the fountain of youth or Evan Royster vultures some carries, not even coach Mike Shanahan can mess this one up. Morris has now found the end zone four times and he has led the team in carries in all four games. Right now Robert Griffin III is the biggest threat to Morris’ production as the rookie quarterback is always a threat to tuck the ball and run it himself. Morris is a solid RB2 play week-to-week unless his role changes at some point during the season.

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