Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals – Talk about a statement win for the Cincinnati Bengals. Andy Dalton led the Bengals to a dramatic 37-36 victory over the Falcons in Week 4 and bolstered his fantasy value in the process. Dalton has now gone over 25 fantasy points in two of four games and has thrown for at least 335 passing yards and two passing touchdowns in consecutive weeks. Furthermore, Dalton has had a 65% or higher completion percentage in just one season in his career (it was back in 2015 when he finished with a completion percentage of 66.1% in 13 games played.) Through four games, he is completing 65.6% of his passes, which among other things, tells me he’s becoming a valuable fantasy asset right before our eyes. To make Dalton even more appealing, he has arguably the most attractive fantasy schedule for quarterbacks over the next four weeks before the Bengals bye in Week 9. Dalton will face the Dolphins in Week 5, Steelers in Week 6, Chiefs in Week 7, and Buccaneers in Week 8. Excuse me for a moment while I offer Jordan Howard for Andy Dalton in one of my leagues…
Okay — done. I’ll get to Howard in the “Dislike” portion of this article. Let’s get back to Dalton, though. With a rejuvenated offensive line, a clear-cut number two wide receiver behind A.J. Green (Tyler Boyd), and Giovani Bernard playing excellent in relief of Joe Mixon, Dalton needs to be viewed as a low-end QB1 over the next month and needs to be started across all fantasy lineups, depending on who your other quarterback is. His highly favorable matchups over the next four weeks make him a high-floor, high-ceiling fantasy quarterback going forward.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys – For those fantasy players that had the third overall pick in their fantasy draft and selected David Johnson over Ezekiel Elliott, I genuinely feel your pain. I was one of those players that preferred Johnson over Elliott, then proceeded to select him over Zeke with the third overall pick in one of my drafts. It hurts because up until this point in the 2018 season, Elliott has been absolutely phenomenal and Johnson has disappointed, for the most part. The former Ohio State running back has carried the ball 73 times for 426 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns through four weeks, an average of 5.8 yards-per-carry. He is on pace to finish with over 1,700 rushing yards, which could very well be double what Johnson ends up with at the end of the season.
The most notable takeaway from Elliott’s game has been his usage/improvement in the passing game, an area where he was never used that often in the past. He looks much more polished as a route runner than he was in his first two seasons, which tells me that is something he worked on this offseason. He’s been targeted 22 times out of the backfield, an average of 5.5 targets per game. In his first two seasons in the league (2016-2017), Elliott played in 25 games and was targeted an average of 3.1 times per game. His significant uptick in targets makes him an even more dominant fantasy player that has a realistic chance to finish as the best PPR fantasy running back this season. Without any legitimate weapons in the Cowboys passing game, Elliott will continue to be an integral part of the offensive game plan and continue to rack up premium fantasy numbers on a week-to-week basis. He’s a high-end RB1 in every sense of the word and should be locked into your RB1 spot for the rest of the season.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers – It was only a matter of time before Aaron Jones broke out and cemented himself as the clear-cut go-to running back in the Packers offense. Now, if only (keywords: If only) Mike McCarthy will start to feature Jones early and often going forward, his fantasy value will dramatically increase. Jones was excellent in the Packers 22-0 win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 4, carrying the ball 11 times for 65 rushing yards, with one rushing touchdown. It’s only been two games, but Jones’ 6.3 yards-per-carry on 17 rushing attempts has his fantasy owners glad they stuck it out while he was suspended for the first two games.
His counterpart in the Packers backfield, Jamaal Williams, was awful once again, carrying the ball 11 times for 27 rushing yards on Sunday. Through four weeks, Williams has had 47 carries for 162 rushing yards, which equates to a pathetic 3.4 yards-per-carry. Seriously, Mike McCarthy, it’s time to bench Williams and make Jones the primary ball-carrier. When Aaron Rodgers publicly goes on record and says (I’m paraphrasing here), “We need to give #33 more opportunities,” that is a sign that it’s time to hand over the keys to the backfield to Jones. A Week 5 matchup vs. a well below-average Lions run defense is another juicy opportunity for Jones to build on his recent success and have another solid outing. He’s a solid RB3/Flex play with mid-level RB2 upside (if he starts to see 20 carries a week) for the rest of the season.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals – So long as Joe Mixon is sidelined with a knee injury, Giovani Bernard needs to be viewed as a mid-level RB2 and a must-start fantasy running back, depending on your other options at the position, of course. Bernard had a phenomenal day on Sunday vs. the Falcons, totaling 69 rushing yards on 15 carries, two rushing touchdowns, while also chipping in with four receptions for 27 receiving yards. He’s always been a decent fantasy option at the running back position throughout his career, but the emergence of Joe Mixon significantly diminished his fantasy value going into this season. With Mixon missing in action, Bernard has stepped in and performed well in his stead. In two games as the featured back, Bernard has 27 rushing attempts for 130 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. He’s also accumulated nine receptions (on 13 targets) for 52 receiving yards out of the backfield. A Week 5 matchup vs. a Dolphins defense that just allowed 167 rushing yards, eight receptions, 68 receiving yards to Sony Michel and James White in Week 4 sets up beautifully for Bernard to have another great game. Plug him into your RB2 or Flex spot (assuming Mixon is ruled out for Week 5) and enjoy the solid production you’ll get from the sixth-year player out of North Carolina.