Hot or Cold: Week 4

It’s time to take our weekly look around the NFL to see which players have the potential to set your roster on fire and which ones seem to be cooling down. I’ll try to avoid the obvious candidates for the players that are heating up, in addition to focusing in on higher profile players that could leave your team on ice this week. I will also be taking a look at their performance from the previous week, as well as what the matchup holds for them heading into Sunday.

Hot:

Quarterbacks:

Trevor Siemian – Denver Broncos
Week 4 Matchup – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If you didn’t know any better, you might think Peyton Manning was still the Denver quarterback by glancing at the stat line for Siemian on Sunday. The first year starter completed 23 passes for 312 yards and 4 touchdowns against a Cincinnati Bengals defense that boasted the fifth ranked pass defense in the league. That line is enough to put Siemian at the top of the position in scoring heading into Monday night, and he did an excellent job of feeding top targets Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos are now 3-0 with the former Northwestern signal caller under center and have very advantageous matchups over the next few weeks in the Buccaneers, Falcons, and Chargers. Siemian is under 5% owned in ESPN leagues, so he’s worth adding if you need a little depth at quarterback.

Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys
Week 4 Matchup – San Francisco 49ers

Dak Prescott continues to impress as the Dallas Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears to a pulp on Sunday night. The rookie out of Texas A&M was extremely efficient as he completed 19 of 24 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown. He showed off his running ability as well as he rushed for his second touchdown on the ground in the last two weeks. The number of people discussing Tony Romo’s future with the Cowboys is increasing in lieu of Prescott’s emergence. If Dak can continue to improve each week while winning games it’s not crazy think the Cowboys will heavily consider running with the rookie even after Romo is healthy enough to play. Dallas faces a subpar San Francisco team next week, so Prescott should continue his upward trend into fantasy relevance.

Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions
Week 4 Matchup – Chicago Bears

Any concern surrounding Matt Stafford from a fantasy perspective after Calvin Johnson’s retirement last year can be put to bed for now. As we all know, fantasy performance doesn’t always correlate with positive results for teams in reality. This is certainly the case with the Detroit Lions. The defense has given up over 34 points in two out of three games this season, but the offense has enough talent to put up some impressive numbers from a fantasy perspective. The Lions are a team that will likely be playing from behind quite often this season, so Stafford and company should remain valuable in fantasy leagues. Detroit will face off against a Chicago Bears team this week that is 0-3 and looks to be struggling mightily. Look for Matt Stafford to have a big game once again.

Running Backs:

DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans
Week 4 Matchup – Houston Texans

Titans Head Coach Mike Mularkey said over and over again in the offseason that DeMarco Murray was still set to lead the backfield after the team selected Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry in the draft. For once, we got an honest statement from a head coach. Murray has been impressive through the first three games this season and definitely has a hold on the featured running back role in this offense. Henry is averaging 8 carries per game, so he is seeing some action. However, he’ll be hard pressed to make a case for additional work with DeMarco playing at such a high level. What’s been most impressive about Murray’s resurgence this season is his involvement in the passing game, which is something we haven’t seen a ton of in years past. He’ll look to build upon his 114 yard and 1 touchdown performance this week against a Houston defense that was abused by LeGarrette Blount last Thursday night.

Christine Michael – Seattle Seahawks
Week 4 Matchup – New York Jets

The Seahawks backfield is turning into quite the conundrum for fantasy owners this season. The assumption was that Thomas Rawls would slide right into the starting job after Marshawn Lynch’s retirement last season. But then along came Christine Michael (again). After looking impressive in camp and preseason, Michael earned himself a regular spot in the offense and has outperformed Rawls to this point in the season. Granted, Rawls is still banged up and was ruled out on Sunday against the Rams. However, Michael dominated the first half and racked up 106 yards on 20 carries with 2 touchdowns on the day. These stats are more impressive when you consider he sat the entire 4th quarter as well. The Seahawks will face a stout Jets defense this week, but I’m rolling with Michael as the back to own in this offense for the time being.

Charles Sims – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 4 Matchup – Denver Broncos

Sims put together a solid game in the loss to the Rams on Sunday, which can largely be credited to his involvement in the passing game. There some concern that the former West Virginia Mountaineer would struggle running between the tackles, but he was able to rush for 55 yards on 13 carries despite Tampa Bay having to the air the ball out in a comeback effort. Doug Martin is expected to miss another couple of weeks due to injury, and Sims looks to be up to the task of filling in while he recovers. The Bucs will square off against the Broncos this week, so they’ll have their work cut out for them. However, Sims involvement in the passing game in addition to receiving a full workload on the ground should allow him to stay relevant in fantasy.

Wide Receivers:

Marvin Jones – Detroit Lions
Week 4 Matchup – Chicago Bears

It feels odd to describe two Lions players as “hot” in the same week, but there’s no way I could leave Jones off this list after his performance against the Packers. The former Bengal exploded by catching 6 passes for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns in the comeback effort on Sunday. He seems locked in as the big bodied deep threat to help replace Calvin Johnson (much to the dismay of Golden Tate owners). Jones is averaging 136 yards receiving through the first three games and is definitely developing into Matt Stafford’s favorite target. Considering the Lions will likely be playing from behind often this season, Jones is venturing into must start territory on a weekly basis. I’d have no problem continuing to roll him out this week against a seemingly inept Chicago Bears team.

Terrelle Pryor – Cleveland Browns
Week 4 Matchup – Washington Redskins

Terrelle Pryor put up the most interesting stat line I’ve ever seen from a wide receiver, but that makes a lot more sense once you realize what he did on Sunday has never been done before. That and the fact he plays for a Cleveland Browns team that is decimated by injuries on offense. Not only did Pryor haul in 8 catches for 144 yards, he also rushed for 21 yards and a score while completing 3 passes for 35 yards just for good measure. Pryor has been mostly an afterthought since converting to wide receiver, so it was good to see the former Buckeye quarterback make some plays in the NFL. It seems the Browns pulled out all the stops in an effort to get a win on Sunday but ultimately came up short in overtime against the Dolphins. I understand the coaching staff utilizing Pryor has much as possible considering Cleveland is on their 3rd string quarterback and has their star rookie receiver on the bench with a broken hand. However, this may prove to be short lived since the Browns will have both Josh Gordon and Josh McCown back in a few weeks. That’s not to say Pryor won’t be involved afterwards, but I don’t see him taking many snaps at quarterback to say the least. Cleveland will face a Washington team that has given up 27 points or more in all three games this season, so enjoy Pryor’s unique run while you can.

Jamison Crowder – Washington Redskins
Week 4 Matchup – Cleveland Browns

The second year receiver out of Duke has quietly put together a solid start to the 2016 season. Crowder is currently tied with Jordan Reed and Desean Jackson for the most targets through the first three weeks of the season, and I would argue is the most consistent out of the three to this point. Yes, both Reed and Jackson will continue to soak up targets in the offense, but so far Crowder has 16 catches for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns to open the season. He is especially useful in PPR leagues but holds value in standard scoring leagues as well. Crowder is only 11% owned on ESPN and faces a Cleveland Browns team this week I’m targeting all season long.

Tight Ends:

Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 4 Matchup – Denver Broncos

Brate was a deep sleeper pick at the tight end position this season, and it only took the Bucs cutting Austin Seferian-Jenkins after a DUI arrest for him to come out of his shell. Listed at 6’5 tall and 235 pounds Brate is a huge target that could easily become a red zone target in this offense, which was evident on Sunday when he hauled in 5 catches on 10 targets and 2 touchdowns. Keep in mind the fact that Jameis Winston threw 58 passes in this games, so the 10 targets Brate saw may be a little inflated. However, the former Harvard tight end should still get plenty of looks in an offense that will most likely be playing from behind considering the Bucs defense has already given up 101 points through three games this season. The next two matchups will be tough for Tampa Bay (Denver and Carolina), but the schedule gets much easier after their bye in Week 6.

Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings
Week 4 Matchup – New York Giants

The Minnesota Vikings are by far one of the most surprising teams through the first three weeks of the season. They lost the face of their franchise, Adrian Peterson, just a few short weeks after placing Teddy Bridgewater on injured reserve after he suffered a freak knee injury during practice. Very few people predicted the Vikings would be undefeated at this point in the season, yet here we are. Sam Bradford has managed the games well, and the defense has been a force to be reckoned with. Kyle Rudolph has been another welcome surprise for Minnesota and is currently one of the most consistent tight ends in at the position having either gone for at least 65 yards or a touchdown in all three weeks. He is becoming one of Bradford’s favorite targets around the goal line and should be leaned on heavily throughout the season. The Vikings will face a surprisingly improved Giants defense in week 4, but I’m still comfortable inserting Rudolph into my lineups.

Hunter Henry – San Diego Chargers
Week 4 Matchup – New Orleans Saints

Antonio Gates is one of the greatest tight ends of our generation and will likely go down as one of the best ever to play the position. That being said, he’s 36 years old and is nearing the end of his career. It’s no wonder the Chargers spent a draft pick on Hunter Henry, and the rookie is getting his shot earlier than we may have anticipated with Gates sitting out with a hamstring injury. Reports out of San Diego are stating that the future Hall of Famer wasn’t even close to being healthy enough to play last week, so Henry could very well establish himself in the interim. Double H caught all five of his targets for 76 yards on Sunday and could be in for another big day against the Saints this week if Gates is unable to suit up. At only 12% owned, Henry could be a valuable waiver addition as well.

Cold:

Quarterbacks:

Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans
Week 4 Matchup – Houston Texans

Many had high hopes for Mariota coming into this season and were looking for him to build on his impressive rookie campaign. Through three games in 2016 that hasn’t really been the case. The Titans added two talented running backs, DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, in the offseason and are deploying what has been described as an “exotic smash mouth” offense. Considering the offensive philosophy, it’s expected that Mariota won’t have many top 10 weeks. However, what we saw Sunday was worrisome. The Raiders were giving up almost 35 points a game, but Mariota struggled mightily against Oakland. He only completed 17 of 33 passes and threw 2 picks in the process. Tennessee will play a Houston team that was absolutely destroyed by New England last week, but I’m hesitant to play Mariota if I have him until we see some sort of improvement.

Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts
Week 4 Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars

$140,000,000. Let me say that again. $140,000,000. It sort of rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? That’s how much Andrew Luck’s contract is worth over the next 6 years. Colts ownership broke the bank and made Andrew Luck the highest paid NFL player in history in the offseason, but I’m willing to bet they weren’t ponying up the dough for the performances we’ve seen over the last couple weeks. We can’t necessarily place the Colts poor start to the season entirely on Luck. The team is banged up on defense and has allowed almost 32 points per game to start the season. All that aside, we’ve all come to expect more from the former Stanford standout than the mediocre point totals he’s put up over the last couple weeks. He could just be a little down on his luck (see what I did there) and should turn it on eventually. Luck has two very favorable matchups over the next two weeks in the Jags and Bears, so hopefully he can satisfy his owners with a couple big games.

Brock Osweiler – Houston Texans
Week 4 Matchup – Tennessee Titans

The Texans spent big money to bring Osweiler to Houston, and John Elway looks like a genius for not holding on to him. I’m not quite ready to put Brock in the same bucket as the likes of Matt Flynn and Matt Cassel, but through three games this season I doubt many would argue with me if I did. The Texans have a plethora of offensive weapons at their disposal at both receiver and running back, but Osweiler has gotten progressively worse as he has had to play against tougher competition each week. The 196 yard and 1 interception outing against the Patriots in a blowout is certainly not what the Texans were paying for when they signed the former Broncos backup. I’m in full on show me mode with Osweiler, and there’s little chance I’m starting him this week against the Tennessee Titans.

Running Backs:

Spencer Ware – Kansas City Chiefs
Week 4 Matchup – Pittsburgh Steelers

Remember how intelligent you felt when you rolled out Spencer Ware in Week 1, and he scored almost 33 fantasy points? You’re probably not as overly confident now. Sure, Ware has been serviceable over the last couple of weeks and is the obvious bell cow in the offense. However, I expect that to change within the next week or two. Jamaal Charles was fairly close to playing in week three, and it’s only a matter of time until he makes his season debut. Andy Reid has said multiple times he doesn’t plan on reinserting Charles as an every down back. After two knee surgeries it’s hard to argue with that approach considering the explosive running back is nearing the age of 30. However, Jamaal’s return will certainly mean the end for Ware as the featured back in Kansas City barring any further complications. My advice would be to sell high on Ware if you can. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck trying to navigate a very complicated backfield.

TJ Yeldon – Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 4 Matchup – Indianapolis Colts

Oh, Jacksonville. Whatever are we going to do with you? After a much hyped preseason, the Jaguars are 0-3 and hopes of rolling out an improved defense seem ludicrous after the first three weeks. Yeldon was previously thought to take a step forward as the featured back this year, but the signing of Chris Ivory all but crushed those dreams in the offseason. By looking at the stat sheet, one would assume that Ivory has been having an impact on Yeldon’s production. However, Sunday was the first time Ivory has seen the field in 2016. Yeldon’s ineffectiveness comes directly from the game flow the Jags have found themselves in. There’s not much reason to run the ball when you’re down double digits, and the former Alabama running back has been limited as a result. After seeing only 13 carries over the last two weeks combined, it’s hard for me to roll with Yeldon for the foreseeable future. The return of Chris Ivory only further complicates matters, even against the soft Colts defense they’ll face in week 4.

Jeremy Langford – Chicago Bears
Week 4 Matchup – Detroit Lions

After the Bears shipped off one of the best running backs in Chicago history, we all anticipated the torch would be passed along to Jeremy Langford in his sophomore season. While that may have been the case to start the season, we are quickly seeing a shift from that approach. Even before injuring his ankle against the Cowboys, Langford was not very impressive. The only thing saving him from a fantasy perspective was the touchdowns he was able to score. News broke today that the Bears expect Langford to be out for 4-6 weeks. Rookie Jordan Howard seems like the most obvious beneficiary here, and a month long (at best) recovery time for Langford is bad news considering the talented rookie has been nipping at his heels over the last couple weeks. Pick up Jordan Howard immediately if you own Jeremy Langford.

Wide Receivers:

Randall Cobb – Green Bay Packers
Week 4 – Bye

If you rewind a few years, Randall Cobb was a dependable option at wide receiver. Jump forward to today, and we’re all wondering exactly what has happened. Cobb had every opportunity last season to transform into a dominate fantasy option. The excuse was defenses were keying in on him due to the absence of Jordy Nelson. With Jordy seemingly making a full recovery this season, there are no more excuses. Cobb is averaging 44 yards a game through three weeks and hasn’t scored a touchdown…it might be time to hit the panic button. What’s more alarming is the fact that he only saw three targets come his way against the Lions when Aaron Rodgers was playing at his highest level to this point in the season. With an early bye this week, there’s hope that Cobb can reconnect with his quarterback. However, if I’m a Cobb owner I’m probably trying to get some trade value based on name recognition and calling it a day.

Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys
Week 4 Matchup – San Francisco 49ers

It’s insane the hit on production Dez Bryant suffers without Tony Romo. We always talk about a few elite receivers being “quarterback proof”. This simply means they’re able to perform at a high level regardless of who is under center. To this point in his career, Dez has proven to be anything but that. His production takes huge hits when Captain Glass (TM) isn’t on the field, and that trend has continued with Dak Prescott manning the offense. The Dallas star (pun intended) is averaging less than 4 catches and 50 yards a game so far this year. These are more than disappointing numbers considering how high you likely drafted him. To make matters worse, Dez reportedly suffered a right knee sprain against the Bears. Tony Romo may make his comeback after the bye in week 7. However, that’s a long time to wait if you have stock in Dez Bryant. Similar with Cobb, I’m looking to deal Dez based on the name if I can get a decent return.

Alshon Jeffrey – Chicago Bears
Week 4 Matchup – Detroit Lions

Alshon Jeffrey should be an elite NFL receiver with his size and skill set. Unfortunately, he plays for a terrible football team. The Bears were without Jay Cutler this week, and Jeffrey was the third most targeted receiver in the offense. The fact that Kevin White saw double the amount of targets (14) as Jeffrey is extremely disheartening to fantasy owners. Jeffrey himself hasn’t been bad by any means, but the situation in Chicago has to have you a little worried. I’m not quite out on Jeffrey after only three weeks, but we have to hope he has a big week in the near future. The Bears offense has very advantageous matchups against the Lions and Colts over the next couple weeks, so cross your fingers that Alshon can give you a couple big games.

Tight Ends:

Julius Thomas – Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 4 Matchup – Indianapolis Colts

It’s hard to not be disappointed with the Jaguars to this point in the season. The team seemed to be trending upward last year but is winless so far this season. Quarterback Blake Bortles has struggled mightily and has thrown 6 interceptions to only 5 touchdowns. These types of numbers are pretty scary if you consider Bortles finished as a top 5 quarterback last year. Julius Thomas’ performance on Sunday was more of a product of his quarterback’s struggles than anything he was doing wrong. He still saw 5 targets, which is encouraging. However, Thomas will be hard pressed to put up big numbers until the shaky play under center balances out. The Jags face a beatable Colts secondary this week, so hopefully the offense can get back on track before their week 5 bye.

Martellus Bennett – New England Patriots
Week 4 Matchup – Buffalo Bills

Leave it to Bill Belichick to find a way to start 3-0 without Tom Brady around for the first part of the season. What’s more impressive is the way the Patriots totally dismantled the Texans while being forced to start third string rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a shoulder injury in week two. While the team is enjoying a win streak, Bennett hasn’t played a huge factor in their success other than a big week against Miami. With Gronk being worked back into the lineup it will be interesting to see how New England uses Bennett in the passing game after Tom Brady makes his return against Cleveland in week 5. We saw the Patriots use a lot of two TE sets when they had both Aaron Hernandez and Gronk a few seasons ago, so maybe they have a similar plan for the former Chicago tight end as well. Until we have a little more clarity it’s hard to start Bennett with much confidence, particularly against the tough Bills defense he’ll face this week.

Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins
Week 4 Matchup – Cleveland Browns

There are two tiers of tight ends in fantasy football. The first is Rob Gronkowski, and the second would be everyone else. Jordan Reed is at the top of that second tier. However, if you own Reed you probably drafted him pretty early and are likely disappointed with his production through the first three weeks of the season. The good news is Reed has seen 24 targets come his way so far this year. The bad news is so have both Jamison Crowder and Desean Jackson. With a healthy stable of receivers to throw the ball to, Kirk Cousins has spread the wealth in Washington. Reed’s opportunities are clearly there, and I think he does have some big games this season. However, you may want to temper expectations given how talented the Redskins are at the receiver position. Washington will play one of the worst teams in the NFL (the Cleveland Browns) this week so, this could be the first big game we see out of Reed.

In my opinion, roster management is the key to putting together a winning fantasy football season. It’s imperative to be conscious of the players on your roster that are performing well and ones that you may want to keep an eye on. Blindly starting players because of where you drafted them can quickly run a team into the ground if those players are on a cold streak. It can be difficult to come to the conclusion that your 2nd round pick may be better left on your bench, but those decisions are what will help win you a fantasy championship.

As always, please feel free to give us a shout on Twitter @No_HuddleFFB if you have any questions or concerns regarding your lineup or just want to chat about fantasy football. Best of luck this week!

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