GAME SUMMARIES & FANTASY COMMENTARY:
Bye week: Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers
Thursday Night Game:
Baltimore Ravens 23 (3-1) | Cleveland Browns 16 (0-4) Fantasy Focus – Ravens: The surprising Cleveland Browns defense held the usually potent Baltimore rushing attack in check most of the night, which forced Joe Flacco (28/46 for 356-1-1 and one rushing score) to carry the offense. Torrey Smith (6-97-1 on 10 targets) hauled in Flacco’s only scoring strike. With Dennis Pitta (no catches on two targets) struggling, Anquan Boldin picked up the slack (9-131-0 on 12 targets). Ray Rice (18-49-0 rushing and 8-47-0 receiving) offset his disappointing rushing performance with a strong night catching the rock. The Ravens defense notched four sacks and one interception.
What you should know: What happened to Dennis Pitta? He just had a bad game, which included two false start penalties. Pitta was on the field for 62 of Baltimore’s 87 offensive snaps, so he’s still the starter. Torrey Smith has scored three times and racked up 224 receiving yards in his last two contests, so Smith could be emerging as a viable weekly starter. I think the unexpected big outing from Boldin probably was a fluke and happened mainly because of Pitta’s poor outing.
Fantasy Focus – Browns:Trent Richardson (14-47-1 rushing and 4-57-0 receiving) is clearly carrying the Cleveland offense. He has scored and caught at least four passes in three straight games. Brandon Weeden (25/52 for 320-0-1) held his own against a tough Baltimore defense, but Weeden’s receivers let him down with dropped passes and poor route-running on occasion. Greg Little (4-77-0 on 10 targets) was plagued by the drops again. One of Little’s miscues was a drop on a potential 34-yard touchdown pass. Jordan Cameron followed his solid Week 3 outing (5-45-0) with a dud Week 4 showing (1-15-0 on six targets).
What you should know: Even if Richardson’s yardage numbers aren’t pretty, he is the odds on favorite to score for the Browns, so keep him in your lineup. At the risk of stating the obvious, I don’t see any reliable options in the Browns passing attack right now. Even Little is on a short leash because of his occasional bout of the drops.
Early Sunday Afternoon Games:
Atlanta Falcons 30 (4-0) | Carolina Panthers 28 (1-3)
Fantasy Focus – Falcons: Even though Julio Jones (1-30-0 on eight targets) had a quiet game, Matt Ryan (25/40 for 369-3-1) still torched the leaky Carolina Panthers defense, relying mainly on Roddy White (8-169-2 on 12 targets) as his go-to guy in this contest. Tony Gonzalez’s (5-51-0 on five targets) streak of games with a touchdown grab ended at three. Although Michael Turner (13-103-0 rushing and 3-68-1 receiving) didn’t find the end zone as a rusher, he did take a short pass from Ryan and turn it into a 60-yard touchdown rumble. Jacquizz Rodgers (6-18-0 rushing and 4-40-0 receiving) received a double-digit number of touches for the second week in a row.
What you should know: Jones (hand) didn’t make his first and only catch until midway through the fourth quarter and has compiled just 10-111-0 during his last three outings. I think it’s too early to give up on Jones – especially if you drafted him as a No. 1 fantasy wide out. He has a good chance to rebound next week versus a soft Washington Redskins secondary. It looks like it’s finally safe to rely on Rodgers as a flex option.
Fantasy Focus – Panthers: Statistically, Cam Newton (15/24 for 215-2-0 passing and 9-86-1 rushing) bounced back with a rock-solid performance following that disastrous Thursday night showing in Week 3, but he committed a costly turnover late in the fourth quarter that cost his team the game. For the second week in a row, Greg Olsen (6-89-1 on seven targets) led all Panthers in receiving. Steve Smith (3-52-0 on six targets) was quiet for the second week in a row. DeAngelo Williams (11-49-1 rushing and 1-2-0 receiving) notched his second rushing touchdown in three games. Jonathan Stewart (10-40-0 rushing and 1-8-0 receiving) played solidly despite dealing with nagging toe and ankle injuries.
What you should know: Newton’s up-and-down performances haven’t done much for the nerves of his fantasy owners, but he remains a must-start. If Newton can keep the mistakes to a minimum and consistently rely on another receiver besides Smith – Newton is starting to target Olsen more frequently – the Panthers passer should be fine. Although Williams receives 10-15 carries per week, his fantasy value remains heavily dependent on touchdowns since he does not catch many passes. Since Stewart is less than 100 percent, there is actually a better chance that Williams will find the end zone.
New England Patriots 52 (2-2) | Buffalo Bills 28 (2-2)
Fantasy Focus – Patriots:Tom Brady (22/36 for 340-3-0) finally delivered a monster fantasy outing for his owners, carving up the Buffalo Bills’ multi-million dollar defense like a roast. Wes Welker (9-129-0 on 11 targets) and Rob Gronkowski (5-104-1 11 targets) topped all New England receivers. Brandon Lloyd (3-50-1 on seven targets) was quiet most of the game but finally scored late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the New England backfield has become a full-blown committee with Stevan Ridley (22-106-2) and the surprising Brandon Bolden (16-137-1 rushing and 1-11-0 receiving). Danny Woodhead (2-23-1) didn’t carry the ball but did manage to catch a touchdown pass in limited action.
What you should know: Starting a New England running back – even Ridley – is like playing with fire, but you surely knew that. Apparently – and I emphasize apparently – Bolden has moved ahead of Shane Vereen (two total touches for five total yards against the Bills) in the pecking order for now. Although the Patriots used Bolden throughout the game, it’s hard to know whether he will receive regular touches each week, which make Bolden a risky fantasy prospect. They could just as easily go back to using Woodhead as Ridley’s backup. Let somebody else blow their blind-bidding budget for the season on Bolden.
Fantasy Focus – Bills: Buffalo surprised fantasy owners by using a committee backfield that included C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. After suffering a shoulder injury last week, Spiller (8-33-0 rushing and 2-5-0 receiving) unexpectedly played, leading the team in rushing yards, but he committed a costly turnover late in the second half. Jackson (13-29-0 rushing and 3-50-0 receiving) played in his first game since sustaining a knee injury in Week 1 but was clearly rusty. Popular Week 4 waiver-wire pickup Tashard Choice (2-14-0 and 1-1-0) did little. Ryan Fitzpatrick (350-4-4) had an impressive passing line, but his turnovers obviously didn’t help matters. Scott Chandler (4-62-2 on eight targets) led all Buffalo receivers. Donald Jones (2-68-1on three targets) scored on a 60-yard touchdown grab while Brad Smith (2-49-1) caught Fitzpatrick’s other touchdown pass. Fitzpatrick didn’t have much success getting the ball to Steve Johnson (2-23-0 on 10 targets).
What you should know: Granted, this was an important AFC East divisional game, but I still question the Buffalo coaching staff’s decision to let Spiller play so soon after his injury. That said, it’s hard to get a read on how the Bills will split the touches between Jackson and Spiller going forward in the short-term – assuming Spiller came out of the Patriots game healthy – and I doubt the Bills will share that information with us anytime soon. Chandler is turning into a solid option in the passing game, so he should be owned in all fantasy formats. Unfortunately, he could miss Week 5 after suffering a concussion. Don’t expect a repeat of Fitzpatrick’s huge passing game next week against the San Francisco 49ers.
Minnesota Vikings 20 (3-1) | Detroit Lions 13 (1-3)
Fantasy Focus – Vikings: You probably know Minnesota did not score an offensive touchdown and didn’t need to do so thanks to a 105-yard Percy Harvin kickoff return, a 77-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels and a solid effort from the defense (five sacks, one recovered fumble). Getting back to the Vikings offense, Adrian Peterson (21-102-0 rushing and 4-20-0 receiving) was the lone standout. Peterson notched his first 100-yard rushing game of 2012 while Toby Gerhart touched the ball just four times. Minnesota didn’t need Christian Ponder (16/26 for 111-0-0 and 1-5-0 receiving) to do much. Jerome Simpson (4-50-0 on five targets) made his 2012 debut after sitting out three games (NFL suspension), leading the Vikings in receiving. The Detroit Lions defense successfully took Percy Harvin (3-22-0 on nine targets and 3-22-0 rushing) out of the game – except for the kickoff return. Kyle Rudolph (2-8-0 on five targets) was quiet.
What you need to know: Although Peterson hasn’t scored since Week 1, he has been receiving a full workload, averaging 19.7 carries per game. Relax – the touchdowns will come. Thanks to jumping out to an early lead, the Vikings went conservative on offense, which explains Ponder’s dud fantasy outing. Don’t expect weak performances from Ponder each week. Minnesota would love to get the Ponder-to-Simpson connection clicking. Keep an eye on the Minnesota defense as a possible fantasy option; it looks like the Minnesota pass rush has awakened.
Fantasy Focus – Lions: Dropped passes, sacks and sloppy play plagued what is an otherwise talented Detroit offense. Matthew Stafford (30/51 for 319-0-0) salvaged a mediocre fantasy passing performance with a rushing score, but he was sacked five times. As strange as it sounds, Joique Bell (1-2-0 rushing and 6-72-0 receiving) led Detroit in receiving yardage. Brandon Pettigrew (7-67-0 on nine targets) topped Detroit in receptions, but he dropped an easy touchdown pass before the half. Calvin Johnson (5-54-0 on 12 targets) dropped a potential touchdown grab the play before Pettigrew’s miscue. Mikel Leshoure (13-26-0 rushing and 4-37-0) struggled to find running room.
What you need to know: Since Detroit has a Week 5 bye, you obviously can park your underachieving Lions on your fantasy bench. The Lions clearly lack discipline. Allowing two returns for scores in a contest is absolutely inexcusable at the NFL level. The offensive play calling also has been confusing. Since Leshoure returned from suspension, Detroit seems to want to run him while relying on a dink-and-dunk passing attack when we all know this is a high-powered passing offense. The Vikings defense was taking away the deep throws quite frequently, and the Lions didn’t adjust well. Can Detroit turn it around? We’ll see.
Fantasy Focus – Texans: The Houston defense chipped in two pick-sixes, four sacks, two interceptions and one recovered fumble. It was just another day at the office for Arian Foster (24-86-1 rushing and 1-8-0 receiving) against a Tennessee Titans defense that played the run a bit tougher than expected. Ben Tate (5-11-0 rushing and 2-3-0 receiving) surprisingly couldn’t get on track. Matt Schaub (20/28 for 202-2-0) turned in a workmanlike outing; he didn’t have to do much with the rushing attack and defense both clicking. Owen Daniels (6-72-1) led all Texans receivers while James Casey (5-36-1 on five targets) caught Schaub’s other touchdown pass. Andre Johnson (3-56-0 on six targets) had a quiet game.
What you need to know: There is no earth-shattering fantasy news here. Just the same 'ol Texans winning the same 'ol way they did in 2011.
Fantasy Focus – Titans: We have a Chris Johnson sighting! Johnson’s 25-141-0 rushing effort against a Houston Texans defense that had been rated No. 5 against the run definitely was a shock. Perhaps the presence of Matt Hasselbeck (20/28 for 202-2-0) helped. Hasselbeck was pressed into duty when starter Jake Locker (0/2 for 0-0-0) was knocked out of the game in the first quarter after taking a hit on his already injured left (non-throwing) shoulder. Kendall Wright (4-46-1 on eight targets) led all Tennessee receivers but didn’t score until the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand. Craig Stevens (2-24-1) hauled in Hasselbeck’s other scoring strike. Jared Cook (3-36-0 on four targets) and Nate Washington (3-43-0 on five targets) was quiet, and Kenny Britt was inactive for the game.
What you need to know: Is Johnson really back? Having Hasselbeck to stretch opposing defenses will help (Locker is expected to be out for a while). However, last season Johnson had a knack for playing poorly in soft matchups and performing well in tough ones. Will history repeat itself? Here is what you should do with Johnson – sell high! Trade him now! Washington is Locker’s favorite target, but Britt apparently is Hasselbeck’s favorite. If Britt can get back on the field, he and Hasselbeck could light it up.
San Diego Chargers 37 (3-1) | Kansas City Chiefs 20 (0-3)
Fantasy Focus – Chargers: Even though Malcom Floyd (2-23-0 on three targets) and Antonio Gates (3-59-0 on three targets) both contributed little, San Diego amassed 30 points on offense (Donald Butler scored for the Chargers defense with a pick-six). The Chargers offense also enjoyed some nice field position thanks to six Kansas City turnovers. Philip Rivers (18/23 for 209-2-1) tossed scoring strikes to Eddie Royal (3-16-1 on five targets) and Jackie Battle (15-39-1 rushing and 4-42-1 receiving), who seemed eager to stick it to his old team. He got the start over Ryan Mathews. As for Mathews (14-61-0 rushing and 2-21-0), he compiled 82 total yards despite not playing during the entire third quarter. Mathews saw extended duty in the fourth quarter as a clock-killer.
What you should know: Chargers head coach Norv Turner says Mathews will get another chance as the starter sometime soon. If you haven’t already given up on Robert Meachem (zero catches on two targets), it’s time to do so. Gates’ 10-124-0 start to the season is obviously disappointing. You have to wonder whether the rib injury that he suffered in Week 1 is still an issue.
Fantasy Focus – Chiefs: Kansas City continues to disappoint. The Chiefs turned the ball over six times, including three interceptions by Matt Cassel (24/42 for 251-2-3), who played poorly. As expected, Jamaal Charles (17-92-1 rushing and 3-23-1) and Dwayne Bowe (7-108-1 on 12 targets) were the two fantasy bright spots. Shaun Draughn (4-12-0 rushing and 4-34-0 receiving) flashed some ability during the preseason, but he was nothing special while filling in for Peyton Hillis (ankle). Hillis was inactive.
What you should know: It’s too early for Kansas City to make a quarterback change. Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel insists that he will stick with Cassel, but for how long? The thought of having backup Brady Quinn under center shouldn’t thrill Bowe owners. After showing some promise earlier in the season, Dexter McCluster (2-6-0 on four targets) has been a non-factor three weeks in a row.
San Francisco 49ers 34 (3-1) | New York Jets 0 (2-2)
Fantasy Focus – 49ers: The New York Jets offense was never much of a threat, so the 49ers did what they usually do: run the football with Frank Gore (21-62-1 rushing and 2-13-0 receiving). Kendall Hunter (8-56-1 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) also received some touches in garbage time. Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick (5-50-1 rushing) did a Tim Tebow impersonation by running San Francisco’s version of the Wildcat offense. As you probably guessed, the services of Alex Smith (12/21 for 143-0-0) and top receiver Vernon Davis (2-28-0 on two targets) were rarely needed in this one. The 49ers defense notched three sacks and one interception. David Akers had a rare off game, missing two field goal attempts (55, 40).
What you should know: San Francisco’s Week 3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings was an aberration. The 49ers were coming off that emotional Week 2 Sunday night triumph over the Detroit Lions. When San Francisco’s running game and defense dominate, Davis will on occasion have a dud game.
Fantasy Focus – Jets: One rarely sees an offensive outing as horrible as this one. New York compiled just 145 yards of offense. As expected, Shonn Greene (11-34-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) was a non-factor, and so was Bilal Powell (4-11-0 rushing). Santonio Holmes (4-29-0 on eight targets) suffered what some believe to be a serious foot injury. This comes after stud cornerback Darrelle Revis suffered a torn ACL last week. In case you’re wondering, Dustin Keller (hamstring) hasn’t played a down since Week 1. By the way, the Jets defense allowed 27 offensive points and notched just two sacks.
What you should know: Jets head coach Rex Ryan gave Sanchez a vote of confidence, but the Jets are clearly falling apart – and Holmes is going to miss several weeks at the minimum. Seriously, can a team recover from a beating like this? And the Houston Texans are bringing their tough defense to town next week. It’s time to plaster those Jets to your bench – or replace them if you can.
St. Louis Rams 19 (2-2) | Seattle Seahawks 13 (2-2)
Fantasy Focus – Rams:Danny Amendola (6-55-1 on 11 targets) scored St. Louis’ only touchdown of the game on a gadget-play pass from Johnny Hekker on a fake field goal try. Steven Jackson (18-55-0 rushing and 1-12-0 receiving) failed to score or top 60 rushing yards in his fourth straight 2012 contest. In addition, he has caught just three passes in the last three weeks. Sam Bradford (16/30 for 221-0-1) also had a quiet game against a strong Seattle Seahawks defense. After sacking Aaron Rodgers (Packers) eight times last week, the Seahawks only sacked Bradford twice. Brandon Gibson (2-28-0 on four targets) was a non-factor.
What you should know: Does your fantasy team need another kicker? Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein is the Rams’ offensive MVP so far. He made all four of his field goal attempts against Seattle, and they weren’t all chip shots (58, 48, 60 and 24).
Fantasy Focus – Seahawks:Marshawn Lynch (20-118-1 rushing and 4-37-0 receiving) is without a doubt the engine that drives the Seattle offense. Russell Wilson (17/25 for 160-0-3) had his struggles against a Rams defense that is not as bad as you may think. Sidney Rice (4-41-0 on seven targets) led all Seattle receivers. In case you’re wondering, the Seahawks’ Week 3 hero against the Green Bay Packers, Golden Tate (1-7-0 on 3 targets) was a non-factor.
What you should know: Lynch and the Seattle defense are the only fantasy options on this team. Is a quarterback change coming? Seattle’s passing game obviously has not been productive, and the team’s receivers remain fantasy irrelevant as long as Wilson is starting.
Fantasy Focus – Cardinals: With Chris “Beanie” Williams (turf toe) inactive and Ryan Williams (13-26-0 rushing and 1-0-0 receiving) struggling in the rushing department throughout this contest, Kevin Kolb (29/48 for 324-3-2) carried the offense with his best outing of 2012 (if you put aside the two picks). Andre Roberts (6-118-2 on six targets) continues to impress, and Larry Fitzgerald (8-64-1 on 15 targets) turned in his second straight strong fantasy outing following that Week 2 stink bomb game against the New England Patriots.
What you should know: Will Kolb keep the starting gig? He’s 3-0 as the starter. However, Kolb’s next-best game of 2012 was the 222-2-0 line compiled in Week 3, so perhaps he is on the rise. Roberts has scored in three of four games played this season, but his monster outing was likely a fluke. Although Roberts’ next-highest receiving yardage total was 55 from Week 3, he is definitely worth a roster spot. You may find Roberts in your free-agent pool.
Fantasy Focus – Dolphins: Rookie Ryan Tannehill (26/41 for 431-1-2) fell just one passing yard short of the single-game rookie passing record set by Cam Newton (Panthers) last year. Tannehill was sacked four times. Brian Hartline (12-253-1 on a whopping 19 targets) is emerging as Tannehill’s favorite target. Written off by many as a bust a season or two ago, Hartline has one 100-yard receiving game and one 200-yard receiving game so far in 2012. All he did against Arizona was compile the 16th-most productive day by a receiver in NFL history. Davone Bess (7-123-0 on 12 targets) worked the middle of the field most of the game, scooping up Hartline’s leftovers. Anthony Fasano (5-30-0) was the only other Dolphins pass-catcher of note. Despite suffering a knee injury last week, Reggie Bush (17-67-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) played solidly. Backups Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller combined for eight carries and 17 rushing yards. By the way, the Miami defense sacked Kolb eight times.
What you should know: Don’t go nuts here and chase Tannehill’s statistics to the waiver wire. His best outing before Week 4 was a 200-1-0 effort in Week 2. Hartline and Bess are definitely worth rosters spots, but keep in mind the two would be backup players on other teams. They have more value in leagues with PPR scoring.
Denver Broncos 37 (2-2) | Oakland Raiders 6 (1-3)
Fantasy Focus – Broncos:Peyton Manning (30/38 for 338-3-0) looked like his old self while torching an injury-depleted Oakland defense with his best game of 2012 and his second straight 300-yard outing. Eric Decker (7-79-1 on nine targets), Joel Dreessen (2-17-1 on three targets) and Lance Ball (1-14-1 receiving) all caught Manning touchdown passes while Demaryius Thomas (5-103-0 six targets) was tops in receiving yardage. Jacob Tamme (5-38-0 on five targets) was a non-factor. Despite playing with a rib injury, Willis McGahee (19-112-1 rushing and 6-23-0 receiving) racked up his second 100-yard rushing game of the year. Ronnie Hillman (10-31-0) and Lance Ball (6-10-0) spelled McGahee when he needed it.
What you should know: Will Manning continue to throw to McGahee? It would be nice. The usual fantasy stars contributed to this feel-good victory for the Denver offense, and this is obviously how Manning and the Broncos would love to win each week. We’ll see how Manning does next week against a familiar foe: the New England Patriots.
What you should know: The Raiders have a Week 5 bye. Perhaps the team can use the off week to jump-start what has been a disappointing offense. McFadden, who was a first-round pick in many fantasy drafts, obviously has been disappointing with just one 100-yard rushing game and only two good fantasy outings to date.
Fantasy Focus – Bengals:A.J. Green (6-117-1 on nine targets) had another great outing, making big plays all over the field. Green has two 100-yard receiving games and has scored in three contests so far this season. Jermaine Gresham (5-47-0 on five targets) and Andrew Hawkins (3-39-0 on three targets) had quiet games. Andy Dalton (20/31 for 244-2-1) didn’t compile another 300-yard game but enjoyed another fantasy friendly outing – and notched a rushing score. Chris Pressley caught Dalton’s other touchdown pass. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (26-82-0 rushing and 2-12-0 receiving) turned in a workman-like performance but lost a rare fumble.
What you should know: No major fantasy revelations here. The Bengals offense did what it was expected to do: roll over a sagging Jacksonville defense.
Fantasy Focus – Jaguars: The Jaguars apparently had planned to exploit an injury-depleted Cincinnati Bengals secondary by letting Blaine Gabbert (23/34 for 186-1-1) carry the offense instead of Maurice Jones-Drew. Yes, it was a huge mistake. The Jaguars don’t have the weapons to exploit the Bengals’ shaky secondary. Justin Blackmon (6-48-0 on 10 targets) led all Jacksonville receivers. Marcedes Lewis (3-32-1 on three targets) caught Gabbert’s only touchdown pass. Laurent Robinson (1-19-0 on one target) apparently suffered a concussion in his second straight game. Jones-Drew (13-38-0 rushing and 5-42-0 receiving) had a bad game, but blame it on lack of touches.
What you should know: Jones-Drew should get a full workload going forward. Robinson likely will be out for awhile.
Green Bay Packers 28 (2-2) | New Orleans Saints 27 (0-4)
Fantasy Focus – Packers:Aaron Rodgers (31/41 for 319-4-1) shredded a porous New Orleans Saints defense with his best game of the season. Jordy Nelson (8-93-1 on 12 targets), James Jones (5-56-2 on six targets) and Greg Jennings (1-9-1) all caught touchdown passes. Randall Cobb (7-66-0 on eight targets) also was a factor. Jermichael Finley (4-54-0 on five targets) had a quiet game. Cedric Benson (18-84-0 rushing and 4-22-0 receiving) compiled 106 total yards.
What you should know: Jennings left the game in the second quarter after he caught a nine-yard touchdown pass. He has been dealing with a lingering groin injury. The Packers have a road game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Jennings missed it. Green Bay should be able to beat the Colts without him.
Fantasy Focus – Saints:Drew Brees (446-3-0) loves to play against the Green Bay Packers. This is the second straight time that he has dropped a 400-yard passing game on them. Brees also tied an NFL record by tossing at least one touchdown pass in his 47th straight game. Marques Colston (9-153-1 on 13 targets) enjoyed his best game of the young season. Jimmy Graham (7-76-0 on nine targets) saw his streak of games with a touchdown grab end at three. Darren Sproles (5-20-0 rushing and 5-44-1 receiving) and Joe Morgan (1-80-1) also caught touchdown passes. Although Lance Moore (7-67-0) didn’t score, Brees targeted him 15 times. However, the New Orleans rushing attack disappeared yet again in what was supposed to be a favorable matchup. Pierre Thomas (9-14-0 rushing and 2-(-1)-0 receiving) led all Saints rushers. Ingram (5-11-0 rushing) had another bad game.
What you should know: If you have Ingram, plaster him to your bench – if you haven’t done so already. He hasn’t been productive and rarely catches passes.
Washington Redskins 24 (2-2) | Tampa Bay Bucs 22 (1-3)
Fantasy Focus – Redskins:Robert Griffin III (26/35 for 323-0-0 passing and 7-43-1 rushing) continues to make his case for offensive rookie of the year. Pierre Garcon (1-20-0 receiving, one fumble recovery for a touchdown) played in his first game since Week 1 after missing time with a foot injury. Leonard Hankerson (7-57-0 on 11 targets) and Fred Davis (4-70-0 on four targets) were Griffin’s top targets. Alfred Morris (21-113-1 rushing) continues to receive the bulk of the Redskins’ backfield touches. He notched his first 100-yard rushing game. The rookie also has scored in two straight games and three of his first four. Evan Royster touched the ball just five total times, amassing 19 total yards.
What you should know: After starting slowly, it looks like Davis has gotten into more of a groove with Griffin, but we’ll see if it lasts with Garcon back in the lineup. Can Morris keep the starting job long-term? I have my doubts. We all know Washington head coach Mike Shanahan could pull the plug on Morris as his starter at any time. Morris looks like a solid play in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons.
Fantasy Focus – Bucs: Josh Freeman (24/39 for 299-1-1) compiled what was arguably his best fantasy outing of the season against a very porous Washington Redskins secondary. Vincent Jackson (6-100-1 on 11 targets) and Mike Williams (4-115-0 on eight targets) led all Tampa Bay receivers. The Bucs fell behind 21-7 and had to all but scrap their rushing attack, which is one reason why Doug Martin (8-33-0 rushing and 2-9-0 receiving) had a quiet game. LeGarrette Blount (6-17-1) carried the rock for the first time in a couple of weeks and stole a goal-line carry (two-yard touchdown run).
What you should know: The Buccaneers have a Week 5 bye. Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano had been grumbling all week that he wanted a little more production from the running game, so seeing Blount receive some carries was not a surprise.
Sunday Evening Game:
Philadelphia Eagles 19 (3-1) | New York Giants 17 (2-2)
Fantasy Focus – Eagles: Heading into this game, Philadelphia had led the NFL with 12 turnovers but didn’t commit any in this contest. And the Eagles’ other big accomplishment: they remembered to run the ball consistently with LeSean McCoy (23-123-0 rushing and 3-17-0 receiving), who had a big second half. Michael Vick (19/30 for 241-1-0 passing and 6-49-0 rushing) turned in a workman-like outing. DeSean Jackson (6-99-1 on nine targets) caught Vick’s only touchdown pass of the game. Brent Celek (4-57-0 on five targets) and particularly Jeremy Maclin (1-7-0 on three targets), had quiet games.
What you should know: After the game, there was no quick explanation for why Maclin caught just one pass. As you may remember, he sat out Week 3 with a hip injury but received the green light to play this week.
Fantasy Focus – Giants:Eli Manning (24/42 for 309-2-1) had a strong outing overall, but his lone interception in the end zone during the closing seconds of the third quarter. That came after a nice 30-yard pass to Victor Cruz (9-109-1 on 13 targets). Domenik Hixon (6-114-0 on 11 targets) started in place of Hakeem Nicks (foot), who was inactive. Bear Pascoe caught Manning’s other touchdown pass. Ahmad Bradshaw (13-39-0 rushing and 3-38-0 receiving) returned after missing Week 3 with a neck injury but found little running room. Andre Brown (5-14-0 rushing and 1-4-0 receiving), who scored twice in Week 3 while filling in for Bradshaw, had a quiet game.
What you should know: Whoever fills in for Nicks as the No. 2 receiver across from Cruz is going to have a good fantasy outing. Bradshaw is clearly the starter, and apparently, will receive the bulk of the Giants' backfield touches for now, which is not a surprise. Brown is a very mediocre talent who had a good game against a soft Carolina Panthers run defense back in Week 3.