Week 4 will go down as a weird one for fantasy players. Quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan combined for 803 passing yards and nine touchdowns. Julio Jones became just the sixth player in NFL history to have 300 receiving yards in a game. Le’Veon Bell — one of the league’s most talented running backs — returned from suspension and lined up in several positions, including wide receiver and tight end, on his way to 178 total yards.
On the down side, DeAndre Hopkins, a consensus first-round fantasy pick this season, managed just one catch for 4 yards. Latavius Murray gained 24 total yards. And Golden Tate — expected to be Detroit’s top pass-catcher this season — snagged one reception for one yard, putting him at 95 total receiving yards over the first four games.
And, of course, there were injuries.
While injuries didn’t wreak as much havoc in Week 4, there were still significant names dealing with issues. Quarterbacks Cam Newton and Carson Palmer are now in the league’s concussion protocol. Palmer has a Thursday night game this week, so his owners should prepare themselves to start a replacement, as the window for clearance may be too short.
Trevor Siemien suffered a shoulder injury to his non-throwing arm; the extent of the injury is unlclear. If a desperate fantasy player is parsing though the backups affected by quarterback injuries, Denver’s Paxton Lynch should produce the most fantasy value if thrust into a starting role.
Lions running back Dwayne Washington was poised for a solid fantasy week against the Bears, but he left Sunday’s game in the first half with an ankle injury and could miss time going forward.
Bears receiver Kevin White quietly racked up 23 targets over the last two weeks, resulting in 117 total yards on 12 receptions. Both games came with new starter Brian Hoyer under center, making White a waiver wire target. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle in the third quarter and did not return, which could crush momentum if he misses significant time.
THE RETURN OF JIMMY GRAHAM
Seattle’s Jimmy Graham began the season with just 53 yards on four receptions over the first two games. But the tight end has broken out the last two weeks: six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 and six receptions on eight targets for 113 yards in Week 4.
Russell Wilson’s leg injuries may be forcing him to run less and pass more, meaning Graham has become a bigger part of the passing game almost by default. Seattle has a bye in Week 5, but as long as Wilson is affected by injury, Graham should continue to produce.
HOUSTON, WE HAVE AN OFFENSE
Bill O’Brien took over play-calling duties for the Texans in Week 4 and the result was Brock Osweiler’s best game yet as Houston’s starter (254 yards, two touchdowns). Will Fuller (seven receptions, 81 yards, one touchdown) got back on track after a down week, and Lamar Miller contributed 108 total yards.
Fantasy owners stressing over DeAndre Hopkins’ lackluster performance need to look no farther than Julio Jones in Week 4. Jones was coming off a one-catch, 16-yard performance in Week 3 and flirted with an NFL single-game record six days later. Despite having a tough matchup against the Vikings in Week 5, fantasy owners should not expect Hopkins to wallow in one-catch depth again this season.
JEREMY KERLEY: STASH CANDIDATE
49ers wide receiver Jeremy Kerley caught six passes on nine targets for 88 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys Sunday. He has averaged eight targets per game.
So far this season, Kerley (owned in 3.5 percent of ESPN leagues) has faced some of the league’s top defenses (the Rams, Panthers, and Seahawks) and is staring down two more (the Cardinals and Bills) in his next two games, but his schedule gets significantly easier in the middle of the year. He’s an excellent bench stash option for a team in need of a wide receiver.
WEEK 5 BYES
The Jaguars, Saints, Chiefs, and Seahawks are all on by next week. Adjust your lineups accordingly.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com