Week 4 was about the status quo in terms of touches given to each running back. Players such as Devin Singletary, Chase Edmonds, Damien Harris and D’Ernest Johnson are the new winners for weeks moving forward as each are seeing an uptick in usage. Joe Mixon is the obvious winner as he led the second-place running backs by ~12 fantasy points. Odell Beckham is the winner on the receivers’ side as he had eight points more than the next closest receiver and looked explosive in the game. We finally saw the breakout from D.J. Chark and DeVante Parker for which we were waiting. Robert Tonyan had an impressive game with 32.6 fantasy points this week and Dalton Schultz (15.2 points) continued his breakout. Week 4 is showing more stability in terms of what we can expect from players moving forward. Let us discuss the rankings changing along with the biggest surprises so far. In parentheses is the weekly rank in 1/2 point per reception league.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati (RB1) – Is the obvious winner here with 25 rushing attempts and six receptions equaling three touchdowns. His snap percentage continues to trend up from 50 percent in Week 2, to 72 percent in Week 3, to 83 percent in Week 4. This is the player with the most unknowns moving forward but this is also the best opportunity to sell high. He plays Baltimore and Indianapolis the next two weeks which will drag down his value. His targets since Week 1 are two, three, three and six. This average is the same as David Montgomery and less than Chris Carson for reference. All three touchdowns for the year came in this game so it is hard to stay optimistic that this will be a trend.
Melvin Gordon, Denver (RB3) – He has been providing solid but not great performances this year. This week is actually not an anomaly in terms of usage. His carries so far are 15, 19, eight and 23. He averages about four targets per game with minimal receiving yards. The better part is that he has scored in 3-of-4 games while playing in poor game scripts or against excellent run defenders. Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and the New York Jets are not kind matchups to running backs. The Tampa Bay game is where he had only eight rushes and no touchdowns in a blowout loss. As mentioned last week that run defense is worth changing lineups over. New Orleans in Week 12 is the next and last time he faces a defense in the Top 10 in defensive Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). His schedule is extremely easy moving forward and he would be a trade target for someone who thinks it is time to sell high.
Damien Harris, New England (RB24) – He performed as well as we could expect for such a negative game script. He received 17 carries for 100 yards. The Kansas City defense is no joke so this is quite an impressive performance. We did not have much for news if he was even playing this week however. Rex Burkhead and James White combined for 14 carries and all of the catches in the running back group. I think we can expect a slightly better form of Sony Michel moving forward (RB3 with upside in good matchups). No targets are slightly concerning but Cam Newton coming back should help.
D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland (RB28) – He has about as good of a position as anyone now with Nick Chubb out and Kareem Hunt battling injury. Thirteen carries to Kareem Hunt’s 11 is optimistic for his stock. He is nothing but a RB3/Flex at this point until either Kareem Hunt gives up his touchdowns (two in Week 4) or he is involved in the passing game. He is in the same tier as Harris but has to battle more for touchdowns.
Devin Singletary, Buffalo (RB14) – He has been pretty consistent this year as an RB2/3 and has actually been better suited for points per reception leagues. He actually has 14 catches through four games and has seen his carries have risen from 9 to 10 to 13 to 18 as the weeks have gone by. He scored his first touchdown of the year this week also. He is worth monitoring and maybe buying for cheap if you need a running back.
Chase Edmonds, Arizona (RB20) – He is actually taking the receiving game usage we were hoping as a floor for Kenyan Drake which is 73 yards over four games. Eventually, the poor play of Kenyan Drake will catch up to him but neither are in a great spot anymore if Drake misses time. The targets that we expected are going to DeAndre Hopkins instead. Each has a low-ceiling if this is the usage moving forward. Justin Jackson is worth an add on waivers as Austin Ekeler seems to be out for an extended period of time and Jackson can catch passes.
We finally saw the breakout of Odell Beckham Jr. (WR1), D.J. Chark (WR3), and DeVante Parker (WR14). They all have recovered from their early-season injuries and have upside moving forward. They always were volatile players with boom-or-bust potential. If you want to continue with underrated players who can probably be bought for cheap despite the production, go with Robby Anderson (WR19), Jamison Crowder (WR19 also) and CeeDee Lamb (WR4). All have WR2 potential based on matchup. Each has silently ranked in the Top 20 in points per game when starting.
Otherwise, wide receiver is about status quo. Tim Patrick (WR7) is worth keeping an eye on depending on the quarterback playing and matchup as he has some potential down the road to be started. Tre’Quan Smith (WR10), Scotty Miller (WR12) and the new Atlanta receivers will return back to being irrelevant players in the upcoming weeks.
I listed Dalton Schultz, Dallas (TE4) as an immediate add (especially in dynasty) because there was so much opportunity flowing to the position in terms of targets. As stated before, he is a hot add or trade in dynasty. Blake Jarwin was being drafted as TE17 if not higher this year. Schultz has been averaging eight targets over the last three weeks and he has been producing with that (200 yards over three games). Did I mention he just turned 24 and has the draft capital (fourth round) to warrant consistent usage from this point forward?
Robert Tonyan, Green Bay (TE2) seems to be emerging as a favorite for Aaron Rodgers. Clearly, when Davante Adams is out, he is actually worth a start as a TE1. He actually has five touchdowns the last three games. This will clearly be his ceiling but even when Adams comes back, he is worth monitoring as a potential start. We just have to see before starting him.
Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis continues to produce points but his usage is now going down. He had just one catch this week and the 7.8 fantasy points are held up by his touchdown. Cameron Brate might be worth an add but I would not burn significant fantasy budget or a waiver priority until we know his role.