Week 4 Fantasy Football Recap: numberFire's Top 6 Players who Mattered
There comes a time in every person's life when everything you thought you knew gets turned on its head. Red becomes blue, left becomes right, Kanye West enters a stable relationship. It can be disorienting, sickening, life-changing. So, before you read this next sentence, I highly suggest some deep introspection. Everything is about to change.
A Miami Dolphins receiver led all flex-eligible players with 33 fantasy points (FP) yesterday.
No, this isn't some odd throwback article from when Dan Marino was in town. They didn't trade for Matt Ryan either. Ryan Tannehill actually did that; he has the second-most passing yards in the entire NFL in week 4 pre-Monday Night Football. I think it just goes to show one key thing: Brian Hartline is the Highlander.
Because I can't remind you enough, fantasy football is a bit crazy. We're here to make sense of it, but sometimes, there are things that even we can't predict. Here is a look at some crucial names from yesterday and why they overperformed, underperformed, or were right on target with numberFire's projections.
Locked on Target, Sir
Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers
Week 4 Final Points: 32 (#3 QB)
numberFire Projected Points: 18.38 (#4 QB)
It's always entertaining to see how many people jump off a perfectly-floating ship after one bad week of turbulence. After Cam Newton's 0 TD, 3 INT performance against the Giants in week 3, his bandwagon looked like it belonged in the Grapes of Wrath. The QB drafted in the first two rounds by most people was only started in 69% of ESPN leagues this week, behind both Manning brothers and RGIII. And wouldn't you know it - he made his unfaithful owners pay. It's not that he had a great matchup; the Atlanta Falcons were in the top ten in defensive efficiency entering the week according to numberFire's rankings. It was Newton's efficiency running the ball that made the difference. As I noted when taking a look at that Giants/Panthers game in week 3, the Panthers are much, much better when Cam Newton is taking off with the ball. It's just a matter of when he's going to get his opportunities. He didn't get them in week 3, but he did in spades against the Falcons.
Alfred Morris - Washington Redskins
Week 4 Final Points: 17 (#8 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 16.45 (#6 RB)
Alfred Morris was one of my borderline starters to watch this week, and he rewarded his trusting fantasy owners with an excellent day. It wasn't just the fact that he ran 113 yards and a touchdown; it was the amount of touches he amassed en route to those stats. Once again, Morris was the workhorse back, third-down back, goal line back, everything back for the Redskins. He had 21 carries on the day; Evan Royster only had two rushing attempts and no other Redskins back had a single one. This continues the trend we've seen all season from the Redskins, as Morris now has 85.4% of all carries from Washington backs this season. He still has to worry about RGIII poaching goal line carries; the QB did have one 5-yard rushing touchdown in this game. But it's to the point now with Morris where you don't even worry about matchups. He's a must start every week until Shanahan wakes up from his sideline coma and decides to be Shanahan again.
Where Did That Come From?
Brian Hartline - Miami Dolphins
Week 4 Final Points: 33 (#1 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 6.33 (#43 WR)
I never claim to be smarter than the algorithm. That would be stupid. Never argue with math, kids. But I might as well being Brian Hartline's agent from how many praises I've thrown his way over the past two weeks. Consider this me gloating. And... done. Now, why exactly is this guy that most people have never heard of leading all NFL players in receiving yards after four weeks? The answer is simple: he's had more opportunities to catch the ball. Makes sense, right? After an astounding 19 targets this past week, Hartline has been thrown to 48 times this season. That's one target behind Calvin Johnson and Victor Cruz for the NFL lead. His catch rate is actually pretty far below average at 52%, but part of that can be attributed to a 1-for-9 week 3 when Tannehill struggled to get the ball in his hands. Still, Tannehill has stuck with him, and he's absolutely a top play each week moving forward just because of the number of opportunities he'll have.
Stevan Ridley - New England Patriots
Week 4 Final Points: 22 (#1 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 13.93 (#10 RB)
numberFire thought Ridley would be good; this week was his first time appearing in the top ten running backs in our projections. But we didn't think he would be that good. Or more accurately, we didn't think the Bills defense would be that pitiful. It wasn't just Ridley who ran all over the Buffalo front seven, as Brandon Bolden actually had more yards and a higher yards per carry average. The New England offense simply clicked. Don't get ahead of yourself with Bolden; Ridley is still the workhorse back, and remember, we saw the same type of performance from Danny Woodhead just one week before. But it's an uplifting game to Ridley owners who were staring a timeshare directly in the face and shouted, "Not today!" However, the road gets tougher from here. New England's week 5 opponent, the Denver Broncos, absolutely shut down Darren McFadden in week 4. And the week 6 opponent Seahawks have shut down opposing backs all season.
But You Were Supposed To Do So Well!
Malcom Floyd - San Diego Chargers
Week 4 Final Points: 2 (#64 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 12.24 (#5 WR)
Just like we were high on the Steelers' passing attack against the Raiders in week 3, numberFire was exceptionally high on the Chargers' passing offense against the Chiefs in week 4. And we had a good reason for that: Philip Rivers finished the game with a 78% completion percentage, and the Chargers absolutely demolished Kansas City. The bad news is that... the Chargers absolutely demolished Kansas City. Going into the locker room at halftime up 27-6, the Chargers had no reason to keep throwing in the second half. As a result, the fantasy numbers for the entire San Diego offense dropped. Rivers was our #3 fantasy QB this week, but he only ended with 16 FP after taking a nap the entire second half. The worst damage, though, was done to Malcom Floyd. Not a single Chargers player saw over five targets on Sunday, while seven different players saw at least two. And unlike being the clear #1 target like he had been weeks one through three, Floyd had to wait in line for the socialist timeshare passing numbers to come his way. He did catch two of the three balls he had placed on his tray, but the opportunity for a feast was taken away. In a closer game, I would expect that passing distribution to be a wee bit different.
Darren McFadden - Oakland Raiders
Week 4 Final Points: 3 (#43 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 13.69 (#11 RB)
And on the other side, what can you do if your team can do nothing but pass when down a ton? McFadden had ten of his 13 carries in the first half against the Broncos as the Raiders went into halftime down 10-6. He wasn't exactly effective, but he wasn't running poorly either. And then... chaos. The Broncos put up 21 points in the third quarter, and all of a sudden, the Raiders go from a competitive game to self-preservation mode. I understand Oakland not wanting to get Run-DMC innured, but that serves as little consolation for fantasy owners. At this point, McFadden's fortunes seem directly tied to how well his team is playing in a certain game. When the Raiders are in the game, as they were against the Steelers in week 3, McFadden will be a big part of the gameplan. When they are not, as was the case in both week 2 against the Dolphins and week 4 against the Broncos, McFadden will have a nice, warm seat on the bench. And that up and down trend is likely to continue for McFadden, who has a bye week in week 5, followed by a strong defense in Atlanta in week 6 and a weaker defense in Jacksonville in week 7.