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.
Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans
Matchup – Kansas City Chiefs
This is the third consecutive week Deshaun Watson has graced this fine column, so I’ll refrain from including him moving forward. There’s been much debate over the first few games on if Watson can be a consistent fantasy option over the course of the season. The rookie erased all doubt last Sunday against the Titans. He completed 74% of his passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns but added an interception as well. He also scored a touchdown on the ground for the second time in two games. So far Watson has looked incredibly poised and hasn’t been too flustered by the speed of NFL defenses. One big area of opportunity the former Clemson star needs to improve upon is cutting down on turning the ball over. He’s responsible for five turnovers in four games, but everything else about his game has been stellar. Watson will face the Chiefs’ stout defense this week, which makes me think we won’t see this type of performance again. However, the rookie has proven he can put up a solid stat line under pressure.
Andy Dalton – Cincinnati Bengals
Matchup – Buffalo Bills
It looks like all Andy Dalton needed was a new offensive coordinator to turn things around. Through the first two games Dalton accounted for a total of 6.5 fantasy points, which included a season opener where he scored -3 points and had five turnovers. Over the last two weeks, however, the Red Rocket has looked like a much different player as he’s thrown for almost 500 yards and six touchdowns. To be fair, Cincinnati played the Browns last week so I’m not here to proclaim his greatness by any means. Still, Dalton’s play recently has instilled a lot more confidence. Unfortunately, it may be short lived. The Bengals face Buffalo this week, and this group has been particularly unfriendly to opposing quarterbacks. The Bills haven’t allowed more than 17 points in the first four games, so I’d look elsewhere for fantasy production this week.
Eli Manning – New York Giants
Matchup – Los Angeles Chargers
I really hate having to write about how well Eli Manning has played as of late. I’m obviously talking strictly about his fantasy statistics, because the Giants don’t look like a great team through the first four games. Manning threw for 288 yards and had three total touchdowns against the Buccaneers one week after throwing for 366 yards and three scores. The lesser Manning brother has all of the weapons in the world to work with at both the wide receiver and tight end position. The main element this offense lacks is any effective rushing attack. I thought maybe Paul Perkins could provide a spark to this run game, but the second year back has been very lackluster so far this season. As long as all of the pressure is on Eli’s shoulders we’ll continue to see inconsistency in his game. There will be ups where he’ll explode, and the downs will make you question how he’s a starting quarterback in the NFL. While he’s a decent start at home against the Chargers next week, the Giants face both Denver and Seattle in back to back games before the team’s week eight bye. I don’t like his chances there.
Bilal Powell – New York Jets
Matchup – Cleveland Browns
What a game for Bilal Powell. The veteran running back was the favorite heading into the season to lead the Jets’ rushing attack, but his stat lines were incredibly disappointing over the first three games mostly due to being stuck in a committee with Matt Forte and Elijah McGuire (speaking of Elijah McGuire, go grab that kid. If Forte and Powell are ever both banged up the rookie is all they have at running back). Powell finished the day with 21 carries for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Jaguars last week and looks to be a clear cut workhorse while Matt Forte is out with an injury. A good chunk of his yardage came on a long 75 yard touchdown run, but he still had a fine day otherwise. If Forte doesn’t suit up Powell is a must start this week against a bad Cleveland team that’s been gashed by running backs over the first few weeks of the season.
Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints
This is shaping up to be the year of the rookie running backs. Kareem Hunt, Dalvin Cook, and Leonard Fournette have stolen the spotlight early on in the season, but Alvin Kamara is quietly making a name for himself down in New Orleans. The rookie out of Tennessee (go Vols) has steadily increased his production in each of the first four games of the year. While he’s not seeing many carries, only 15 rushes so far, Kamara has been very involved in the passing game. He was targeted a whopping ten times against the Dolphins and hauled in all of them for 71 yards and a touchdown. Kamara is developing into a trusted option for Drew Brees, and he could have a busy day again against the Lions in what could be a high scoring game after the Saints’ bye week. He’s only 17% owned and is definitely worth a waiver add if you’re need at the running back position.
Duke Johnson Jr – Cleveland Browns
Matchup – New York Jets
It’s kind of ironic that I’m featuring Duke Johnson right after Alvin Kamara, because these are two very similar players. All of the hype heading into this season surrounding Isiah Crowell has been absolutely shot after four games. That guy is averaging under three yards per carry and hasn’t scored more than ten fantasy points in a game. As with Kamara, the Browns are likely going to have to move the ball through the air to win games this season. The big difference there is we’re talking about DeShone Kizer and not Drew Brees. The rookie quarterback is going to be looking for a safety valve. A lot. So far that appears to be Duke Johnson. Johnson only has ten carries on the season but has two rushing touchdowns to his name. Furthermore, his stat line looks like a wide receiver over the last two games. He’s hauled in 15 catches for 128 yards and will be the running back to own in Cleveland considering the Browns will be playing from behind often this season. Johnson is solid play this week against a Jets defense that has been tough against the run game but is giving up yardage through the air. It’s too late to snag Johnson off your waiver wire, but it may be time to start playing him.
Devin Funchess – Carolina Panthers
Matchup – Detroit Lions
I fielded a ton of Devin Funchess questions last week on our Twitter account. At the time the most absurd one I saw was Funchess or TY Hilton. I thought, “My god Brissett is no Andrew Luck, but benching Hilton for Funchess is blasphemy”. My apologies to that person I screwed over, because Cam Newton apparently loves him some Devin Funchess. Greg Olsen getting injured opened up a ton of targets in this offense, and Ed Dickson doesn’t seem to be the one getting them. Funchess saw nine targets come his way in a surprising win over the Patriots and caught seven passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Again, apologizes for not thinking this game would be a shootout with Cam playing so poorly in the first three games. I’m not ready to endorse Funchess quite yet, but Carolina faces a good Lions offense on the road this week. I think he’s a solid flex play in what could be a high scoring affair.
Will Fuller – Houston Texans
Matchup – Kansas City Chiefs
Fuller made his season debut last Sunday against the Titans, and he came back with a splash. The second year wide receiver was targeted six times and caught four of them for 35 yards and and two touchdowns. Fuller is going to be a welcome addition to Deshaun Watson, who previously only really had Deandre Hopkins as his lone reliable target. Fuller also adds more verticality to Houston’s offense as he averaged nearly 14 yards per catch in his rookie season. I’m not sure we see a repeat performance this week against the Chiefs, but Fuller is certainly worth picking up if he’s available in your league.
Tyrell Williams – Los Angeles Chargers
Matchup – New York Giants
Tyrell Williams was one of the biggest surprises last season at the wide receiver position. He became to go to player in the passing game after Keenan Allen was injured and lost for the season. I was unsure of what to expect out of Williams this year with Allen back, but he had his first big game last week against the Eagles after being mostly ineffective in the first three weeks. The good news is that despite not filling the stat sheet, Williams is being targeted fairly regularly by Phillip Rivers. He saw six passes come his way, which he turned into five catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers have an enticing matchup this week against a winless Giants team, but I think I need to see more out of Williams before I put him in my lineup. He’s definitely worth rostering, but don’t expect over 100 yards receiving every week.
Tyler Kroft – Cincinnati Bengals
Matchup – Buffalo Bills
Tyler Eifert has been a touchdown machine for the Bengals over the last couple of seasons when healthy, but those last two words are key in this situation. Eifert just can’t stay on the field, which opens up opportunities for Tyler Kroft. The third year tight end hauled in six catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns in the blowout win against the Browns and was targeted seven times. Andy Dalton has made use of his tight ends in the past, so Kroft could be a useful fill in while Eifert makes his way back from a back injury. If you pick him up I don’t think you play him against a Bills defense that’s shut down opposing offenses so far this season.
Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Matchup – New England Patriots
Those that were worried about Cameron Brate taking a step back due to Tampa Bay drafting OJ Howard can breathe a little easier. Last year’s breakout tight end has eight catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns over the last two games and seems to be picking up right where he left off from last season. Brate has proven himself to be a reliable target for Jameis Winston and is a fixture of this offense. He’s a solid option this week as Tampa Bay faces off against a porous New England defense that’s allowed at least 20 points in every game so far this year.
Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills
Matchup – Cincinnati Bengals
I wrote about Charles Clay last week but wanted to include him again in case you didn’t listen to me. You need to go grab this guy if you need some help at tight end. He’s less than 50% owned but could finish the season in the top ten. Tyrod Taylor threw for 182 yards last week with Charles Clay accounting for all but 70 of them. Clay’s five catch 112 yard performance should make us realize he’s the real deal this year, even if you weren’t a believer after he scored two touchdowns in the first three games. With some many new targets for Buffalo this season it’s clear that Taylor trusts his tight end more than the other pass catchers on the field. I like him again this week against the Bengals.
Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan has not been playing like an MVP so far this season. I expected some regression after Atlanta lost Kyla Shanahan, but this is a little worse than I thought. Over the last two games Ryan thrown for three touchdowns but has turned the ball over six times. That’s bad for fantasy production. Last year’s MVP has a few favorable matchups after the team’s week five bye. Ryan will face the Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets in three consecutive weeks, and all of those defenses can be exploited.
Trevor Siemian – Denver Broncos
After starting the season hot Trevor Siemian has made a complete 180 degree turn. I thought that facing the Raiders at home would allow Siemian to get back on track after facing a tough Bills defense, but the second year starter was only able to throw for 179 yards and a touchdown. This offense has the weapons to make Siemian a reliable fantasy option, but it’s clear he’s not the player we saw in the first two games. Denver will host the Giants after the bye week, which will provide Siemian with another shot at a subpar defense. If we see another poor performance then it’ll be a while before he regains any interest from the fantasy community.
Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions
Matchup – Carolina Panthers
Stafford exploded in the season opener with four touchdowns and 34 fantasy points but has only put up 43 points in the last three games combined. Considering Detroit played an elite Minnesota defense last week it’s not too crazy that Stafford ended up finishing the game without a touchdown. The Lions also leaned heavily on Ameer Abdullah who finally broke out for over 100 total yards. Weeks like this one are inevitable in fantasy football, but I think it’ll be one more week before we see Stafford get back on track. He faces a Carolina defense that snuck out of Foxboro with a win last week. His matchup against the Saints before the team’s week seven bye is much more advantageous.
Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins
Matchup – Tennessee Titans
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited after Jay Ajayi rushed for 122 in Miami’s season opener. The Dolphins gave their star running back all he could handle as he carried the ball a whopping 28 times. Unfortunately, that workload may have gotten to him. Ajayi left the second game early as he dealt with a knee issue and didn’t look like himself last week when he carried the ball 12 times for 46 yards. It’s hard to tell whether it was the game script or the knee injury that slowed down Ajayi in a 20-0 loss to the Saints, but either way it’s hard to not be a little concerned if you have him on your team. We’ll know more about his health as the week progresses, but hopefully he heals up before having the opportunity to play against a Titans defense that was dismantled by Houston last weekend.
Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals
Matchup – Buffalo Bills
Joe Mixon has seemingly taken the reigns of the bulk of the work in the Cincinnati backfield. Unfortunately, he’s not been able to do much with it. The promising rookie out of Oklahoma has gotten over 20 touches in the last two games but has only been able to master an average of 74.5 total yards, which includes catching passes out of the backfield. Gaining only 3.5 yards each touch without scoring isn’t what many of us envisioned when Mixon inevitably took over the starting job for the Bengals. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are still hanging around, so it’s not like the offense doesn’t have any other options. I don’t see this week being the game Mixon turns it around either as the Bengals face an imposing Bills run defense.
Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders
Matchup – Baltimore Ravens
Whelp, at least we got to see the Beast Mode of old for a couple of games. Lynch ran the ball 30 times for 121 yards and a touchdown in the first two games of the season. Unfortunately, the veteran has only seen 15 carries and accrued 30 yards in the last two weeks combined. In those games Lynch has looked like a 31 year old running back that hasn’t played professional football in a while. I really wanted Beast Mode to pan out this season, and while I’m not totally writing him off I definitely think he doesn’t give you the type of production you hoped for considering he was being drafted as an RB2 in most leagues. Now Derek Carr is banged up and will miss the next 2-4 weeks. I don’t know about you, but I’m not touching this offense with EJ Manuel at the helm. I honestly don’t know what to make out of the matchup against Baltimore this week. The Ravens defense looked incredible in the first two games when they forced ten turnovers and only allowed ten total points. Fast forward two weeks, and they’ve given up 70 points in the last two outings. I’m probably holding off on starting any Raiders player in this one.
Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders
Matchup – Baltimore Ravens
How pissed odd are you at this point about drafting Amari Cooper? The frustration level has to be getting close to Todd Gurley level from last season. Through four games Cooper has 12 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. That’s averaging less than 28 yards per game, and all the while Michael Crabtree owners have been laughing at their own genius. While it’s a long season and four games is too early to judge, I’m freaking out if I own Cooper. He’ll have EJ Manuel as his quarterback for at least two weeks, but that could turn into four weeks. At that point we’re halfway through the season. As I mentioned with Lynch, I’m out on any Raiders player this week against the Ravens until we have an idea of what this offense will look like.
T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts
Matchup – San Francisco 49ers
We all knew the risks when we drafted Hilton this season. Andrew Luck still wasn’t practicing after having surgery last season, and reports stated he could be back anywhere between week one to week eight. T.Y. Hilton is an elite talent, but there’s only so much you can do when you have Scott Tolzien and Jacoby Brissett throwing you the football. While Hilton did have a great game against the Browns in week three, he is averaging only three catches for 45 yards in the other three contests. This team desperately needs Andrew Luck on the field. They’re not a playoff contender by any means, but Luck is the leader on this team and can’t do much on the sidelines. The 49ers have actually been stingier against opposing offenses on the road than at home over the first few games, and I do not like playing Hilton without Luck. You can’t sit the guy unless you have incredible depth at the wide receiver position, but I don’t see Hilton having a big impact on your lineup.
Sammy Watkins – Los Angeles Rams
Matchup – Seattle Seahawks
Sammy Watkins will always be a fantasy conundrum. He’s an elite talent that has some fundamental flaw in his DNA that causes him to get injured in every other game. His numbers are very similar to T.Y. Hilton’s, who doesn’t even have his starting quarterback throwing him the ball. Watkins went off in the surprising shootout between the Rams and 49ers last Thursday night, but he’s been extremely quiet in the three other matchups. I’m talking about 35 yards a game, which is terrible considering Watkins is likely a WR2 in your lineup. To make matters worse the Rams have to square off against the Seahawks this week, and I don’t think Watkins will break out of this range of scoring we’ve seen in three out of four games. Bench him unless you have nobody else.
Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings
Matchup – Chicago Bears
Kyle Rudolph really needs Sam Bradford to get back on the field. This guy was a top ten tight end last season but is now getting very little attention from Case Keenum. Rudolph caught a touchdown in the season opener but has been very quiet over the last few games. In the last two weeks he only has three catches for 38 yards. Other than the quarterback situation, some of this lack of production could be attributed to Stephon Diggs and Adam Thielen playing at such a high level. However, Dalvin Cook is done for the season. The rookie running back was becoming a focal point of this offense, and it’s possible that the Vikings will have to rely more on the passing game moving forward. Until things start turning around for Rudolph I’m going to be finding another option at tight end, even if Minnesota faces the Bears this week.
Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys
Matchup – Green Bay Packers
Jason Witten looked like a young man in the first two games of the season. He looked particularly impressive against a tough Broncos defense in week two when he hauled in ten catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, the last two games have been a total disappointment. Witten has two catches for 12 yards combined and has been a complete non factor in the passing game. I don’t see things improving this week either against a Packers defense that has been stingy against opposing tight ends this season. I’d be looking for another option as a Jason Witten owner.
Eric Ebron – Detroit Lions
Matchup – Carolina Panthers
Every year Eric Ebron is a sleeper pick and tight end, and every year he doesn’t quite live up to your expectations. So far this season he has one fantasy relevant performance and is averaging only 1.6 points in the other three games. Detroit suddenly has a lot of mouths to feed on offense, and Ebron simply isn’t getting enough attention to be a reliable tight end. While he’s worth a stash, you need to find another option if you’re an Eric Ebron owner. I don’t see him improving this week against the Panthers.
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!