So which developments are worth reading into? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft offer their analysis.
Justin Jefferson rebounds in a big way
After back-to-back weeks of subpar fantasy production, Justin Jefferson was cooking in the Minnesota Vikings‘ Week 4 win over the New Orleans Saints. The wide receiver finished with 31 PPR points, grabbing 10 passes for 147 yards while adding a rushing score on red zone jet sweep. Jefferson won the isolation matchups in this one, too, beating Saints corner Marshon Lattimore. The setup off the release, plus the route traits and the vertical juice — clinic stuff. Jefferson and the Vikings get the Bears at home next in the Week 5 game. Lock him in as a top-three play there. — Bowen
In his first game spelling the injured D’Andre Swift, Williams scored 23.9 PPR fantasy points, and he scored a pair of rushing touchdowns for the third time in his four games to date. Williams has been outstanding in short-yardage situations, and he was plenty up to the task absorbing starter’s duties. And with this Lions offense looking legitimately good, he’ll probably maintain a meaningful role regardless of Swift’s weekly availability. As to Swift’s status, though, the team’s impending Week 6 bye might mean Williams gets the backfield largely to himself yet again, so keep him in there as a high-end RB2 yet again. — Cockcroft
Tristan H. Cockcroft explains why fantasy managers should be optimistic about Chris Olave after a good game vs. the Vikings.
Though the result might’ve been heartbreaking for him and his team, losing on a pinball machine-like bounce off the post on a field goal attempt, Olave’s performance for the Saints was plenty notable — 16.7 PPR fantasy points and a 25% target share, meaning he has achieved at least the latter number in three straight games. Most importantly, he showed good chemistry with backup Andy Dalton, a testament to his ability to make adjustments, and had a big final-drive catch that gave the Saints said field goal chance in the first place. Olave has quickly become a force in this offense and now gets a six-game stretch of mostly great matchups (SEA, CIN, @ARI, LB, BAL, @PIT), meaning he needs to be in your lineups consistently as at least a WR3. — Cockcroft
Tristan, we know about the vertical element with Olave, but let’s not forget about the separation he can create on intermediate throws when isolated outside the numbers. Speed off the ball — which forces the corner to give ground and open. There’s your window to take the curl or comeback. And that can create more target volume for the rookie. — Bowen
Tristan H. Cockcroft explains that CeeDee Lamb will only improve once Dak Prescott returns.
Backup QB isn’t hurting CeeDee Lamb
Lamb posted 21.7 PPR points in the Week 4 win over Washington and has now scored over 20 PPR points in two straight games. Those are WR1 numbers, and that’s with the backup quarterback throwing the ball. We can see the rhythm passes with Cooper Rush, plus the playmaking traits of Lamb. There’s a connection here. And while we wait on the return of starting quarterback Dak Prescott, you can continue to play Lamb as a high-end WR2. — Bowen
Matt Bowen discusses how fantasy managers can expect another great performance from Dameon Pierce in Week 5.
We know Pierce can get downhill in the run game. Power at the point of attack. Pad level. Light feet. But what about the explosive play juice on the 75-yard touchdown run versus the Chargers on Sunday? The Texans rookie was rolling. Pierce posted a career-high 25.9 PPR points on Sunday. He saw eight targets in the pass game, too. And he has now totaled 42 touches in his past two games. With a Week 5 matchup versus the Jags up next, you can lock in Pierce as an RB2. — Bowen
Matt, I wish I had bought more into the late-preseason Pierce hype, but considering the overall team, I couldn’t talk myself into it. It’s my mistake, as Pierce played 68% of the offensive snaps, absorbed all of the team’s carries and had more targets (6) than Rex Burkhead (5), but much more importantly looked legitimately great doing it. I think he’s a locked-in RB2 now, and will rank him as such unless he shows me otherwise. — Cockcroft
Liz Loza breaks down Austin Ekeler’s big fantasy game in Week 4.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers: In a matchup that provided breakout-game potential for Ekeler, the Chargers running back dropped a season-high 34.9 PPR points in the Week 4 win over Houston. Yes, the run game efficiency is still up and down with this Chargers offense. We need more there. But this was about the scoring production for Ekeler and the receiving totals. Ekeler scored all three of his touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) on red zone touches and has now totaled 23 receptions in his past three games. He’ll remain a top-five RB for me in PPR formats for the Week 5 matchup against the Cleveland defense. — Bowen
Romeo Doubs, WR, Green Bay Packers: He delivered a second strong effort of 13.7 PPR fantasy points, a total that would’ve looked even better had he controlled the football all the way to the ground on a fourth-quarter prospective touchdown pass by Aaron Rodgers. The two appear to have growing chemistry, underscored by Doubs’ back-to-back eight-target outings, and he’s quickly emerging as a matchup-dependent fantasy WR3. He’ll get back-to-back favorable matchups next against the Giants and Jets. — Cockcroft
Tristan H. Cockcroft explains why fantasy mangers should trust Josh Jacobs in a RB2 spot.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders: His 34.5 PPR fantasy points against the Broncos were the second most he has scored in a game in his four-year NFL career, but more importantly, he saw seven targets, tied for his second most, and caught five passes for the second consecutive week. Jacobs’ involvement in the passing game is a great sign and a throwback to his 54-catch 2021. It will elevate him from a ho-hum, low-end RB2 into someone who can really pop against his better matchups, of which he has a few (HOU, Week 7; @SEA, Week 12; @LAC, Week 13). — Cockcroft
Russell Wilson, QB, Denver Broncos: I was down on Wilson heading into Week 4 due to a disjointed Broncos pass game that lacked rhythm. On Sunday versus the Raiders, however, Wilson was much more efficient as a thrower, working the ball to all three levels of the field. Wilson completed 17 of 25 passes in this one for 237 yards and logged two touchdown passes. And he added another score on a red zone carry, too. Wilson finished with a season-high 27.48 fantasy points, playing within the offensive structure and making second-reaction plays when necessary. He’ll be a QB1 in Week 5 versus the Colts. — Bowen
Eric Karabell reacts to J.K. Dobbins’ two-touchdown game for the Ravens in Week 4.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens: After a forgettable Week 3 return from his 2021 knee injury, Dobbins had an encouraging yet definitely baby-steps-forward performance against the Bills on Sunday. He played 52% of the offensive snaps, had 13 of the Ravens running backs’ 22 carries, caught all four of his targets and totaled a plenty-decent 22.3 PPR fantasy points. Dobbins’ speed grades weren’t eye-popping — he had a so-so 15.0 mph max speed, per Next Gen Stats — but he found the end zone twice and still appears to be at the front of this backfield within a run-heavy offense. He might be one more baby step from weekly RB2 status. — Cockcroft
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants: The 21.64 points in the win over the Bears were a season high for Jones. But this is more about the poor discipline of the Chicago defense, in my opinion. Jones found the end zone as a runner twice on Sunday. Boot schemes. But where was the backside edge of this Bears unit? On any run action away, you have to account for cutback, boot and reverse — especially when you are playing a mobile quarterback. Jones did suffer an ankle injury in this game, something to monitor. He’ll remain a deeper-league streaming option this season based on matchup potential. — Bowen
Tristan H. Cockcroft says that although Hockenson had a career day, he is still seen as unpredictable for fantasy managers.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions: Pressed into the team’s de facto “No. 1 receiver” role with Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark and D’Andre Swift all sidelined, Hockenson obliterated his previous personal best by scoring 39.9 PPR fantasy points in a high-scoring slugfest against the Seahawks. He had a 31% target share, only the fifth time in his 44-game NFL career that he has exceeded 30%, and demonstrated what we’ve all known since his arrival at this level — that he can gobble up passes and grind out the tough yards, especially in scoring position, with the best of them. I’m constantly puzzled by why the Lions don’t involve him more consistently in the offense, and maybe this game jump-starts that, but perhaps his injuries last season have them a tad hesitant. Hockenson seems like a top-10 fantasy tight end you should be happy to stick with week over week but whose weekly outputs are anyone’s guess. — Cockcroft
DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks: Last week it was the red zone usage for Metcalf. Seven routes run inside the 20. Five targets. One touchdown reception. On Sunday versus the Lions, the deep ball was back. Metcalf, who averaged 8.4 yards per catch through the first two weeks of the season, hauled in seven receptions for 149 yards. That’s good for 21.3 yards per grab. Win the outside one-on-ones here. Metcalf has now seen 22 targets over the past two weeks from quarterback Geno Smith, and he has scored at least 17 PPR points in each game. Metcalf gets the Saints in Week 5, where he will be a low-end WR2 in my rankings. — Bowen
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: His 29.6 PPR fantasy points matched the second-best single-game output in his 44 in the NFL so far, but his 27 rushing attempts easily were his most, fueled in part by the team’s focus on the run due to the weather. Tuck that away before you consider this Sanders’ career breakthrough game, but the fact that he absorbed so much of the rushing chores — clearly ahead of Kenneth Gainwell and Trey Sermon — was notable. It could signal Sanders’ role slightly expanding, and he does have a fantasy-friendly matchup next up against the Cardinals, for which he might be a borderline RB2. — Cockcroft
Matt Bowen breaks down how an increased share of targets has boosted Marquise Brown’s fantasy production.
Marquise Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Brown saw 11 targets on Sunday, giving him 28 total targets over the past two games. And for the second straight week, Brown posted over 20 PPR points (20.8). The Cardinals wide receiver is playing a volume role right now for quarterback Kyler Murray, and he still gives you that vertical stretch element out of slot alignments. Throw the fade ball here. With a tough Week 5 matchup versus the Eagles’ secondary, I like Brown as a WR2/3. — Bowen
Marcus Mariota, QB, Atlanta Falcons: A solid streaming option heading into Week 4, Mariota posted just 3.86 fantasy points. The Falcons quarterback attempted only 19 passes (completing just seven), and his rushing totals — which are critical for his fantasy value — were almost nonexistent. Rough week for a player I picked up in one of my home leagues. Brutal. — Bowen
Jared Goff, QB, Lions: Goff threw four more touchdowns in the Week 4 game versus the Seahawks, posting a season-high 33.22 fantasy points, and has attempted at least 34 passes in every game played this season. He’ll remain a matchup-based streaming option given the passing volume in Detroit. — Bowen
Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams, RBs, Denver Broncos: Williams’ early departure from Sunday’s game, having suffered a knee injury in the second quarter, is a significant concern considering his upside as well as the fact that he was quickly ruled out for the day. He managed 3.7 PPR fantasy points on 11 touches before exiting, and while Gordon wasn’t a big factor the rest of the game as his Broncos played mostly from behind, the veteran’s minus-1.2 points on his three carries and one target left a lot to be desired. The Broncos now play on the short week — they host the Colts on “Thursday Night Football” in Week 6 — which effectively renders both players nonfactors for fantasy, barring miraculous healing by Williams in the coming hours. That said, we need to see something from Gordon if he’s a Thursday pinch-hitter, being that the Broncos have great matchups against the Chargers and Jets in Weeks 7 and 8. Fingers crossed that we get some clarity on the situation well before then. — Cockcroft