Week 4 Fearless Forecast
Apparently my bold picks for Week 2 for so crazy that it caused my garbage disposal to blow up under my sink last Friday. Yes, instead of picking outlandish fantasy calls for Week 3 I was busy soaking up water and calling plumbers.
I’m happy to say we’re now armed with a brand new garbage disposal and I’m ready to get back on that bold horse. So far I’ve actually hit on quite a few of my calls, which isn’t bad when you’re actually trying to go against the grain.
Since the bye weeks are here, I’m unlikely to be able to pick 20 bold calls each week, but we’ll see if we can prove the old adage that less is more. Here are my 10 bold predictions for Week 4 of the 2016 fantasy season.
1. Chris Ivory breaks out in London[the_ad id=”63198″]One of Jacksonville’s offseason missions was to restore balance to their pass-first offense by signing Chris Ivory and teaming him with TJ Yeldon to form a formidable tandem. But through the first two games, it hasn’t worked out quite as the club envisioned as the Jags are 31st in the NFL with a paltry 55 rushing yards per game.
Ivory, who has been dealing with ankle and knee ailments including a hospital stay, practiced in full before the trip across the pond and looks to finally be healthy. The last time Ivory, as a member of the Jets, played in London, he went off for a career-high 166 yards and a score against the Dolphins. With TJ Yeldon looking more and more like a mere change-of-pace and receiving option, the Jags will need to get Ivory going if they’re to have any success on the ground.
The travel, weather and field conditions in London also seem to favor a more ground-oriented approach for teams. And as luck would have it, Jacksonville’s Week 4 opponent, the Indianapolis Colts, are allowing the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing running backs (35.5.) Ivory, who has all but been forgotten, could be in for a huge Sunday in the UK, and makes for a sneaky DFS play.
2. Dwayne Washington will be a top-12 RB
If you are an Eddie Lacy owner looking for a little help off of waivers, Dwayne Washington could be your guy this week. In fact, several things point to Washington actually having the opportunity to have a huge Week 4.
The first thing is role. With Ameer Abdullah on IR and Zach Zenner yet to do anything, Washington is expected to do the heavy lifting for Detroit this week. Washington started the year out as Detroit’s “big back” and short-yardage option, but now he has the opportunity to claim a much larger role.
If Week 3 taught us anything, it’s that Theo Riddick isn’t a runner. Washington and Riddick both received 10 carries last week, but Riddick was gobbled up behind the line and held to an atrocious 0.9 yards per tote. Expect Riddick to be relegated back to his 5-7 carries and used as a receiver, and Washington to command well north of 15 rushing attempts against the Bears.
Finally, speaking of Chicago, the Bears have been horrendous against the run, surrendering 109 yards to Lamar Miller in the opener and consecutive games allowing two rushing scores in Weeks 2 and 3. Expect Jim Bob Cooter to exploit Chicago’s biggest weakness by handing the ball to Washington early and often in Week 4.
3. Alshon Jeffery will be this week’s No. 1 wide receiver
The beginning of the season has been a mess for Chicago as poor matchups and injuries have taken a toll on the Bears’ season. Star wideout Alshon Jeffery is off to a decent start, averaging over 90 receiving yards and a hair under 14 PPR points per game- and that’s with QB Jay Cutler being hurt.
But what we’re all waiting for is that first breakout game where Jeffery busts out for well over 20 PPR points. The wait could be over, as Jeffery has enjoyed a lot of career success against Detroit’s secondary. That unit has already surrendered five touchdowns to opposing wideouts this season, but Jeffery has really lit them up.
Even with Brian Hoyer as the starting quarterback, Alshon Jeffery is due for a huge Week 4 performance. Something like 9-10 receptions for 135 yards and a pair of scores is within reason.[the_ad id=”66090″]
4. The Patriots could get a second consecutive shutout
Bill Belichick is simply a master when it comes to taking away what a team does best- just look at what his club did on short rest against the undefeated Texans last week. But give the Patriots an additional three days of prep time and that’s a recipe for real trouble for Buffalo.
There’s some optimism in Buffalo after their Week 3 victory inspired by new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn resurrecting the Bills’ rushing game. But with WR Sammy Watkins out again this week, you can expect Belichick and company to do a much better job of containing Shady McCoy.
Worse still for Buffalo is that their offense is predicated by a running quarterback that has a strong arm for deep balls. Both of these areas are strengths for New England’s defense. The last time Buffalo traveled to New England, Tyrod Taylor was held out of the end zone and limited to a single rushing yard.
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It would be the most New England thing ever for the Patriots to emerge from Tom Brady’s four-game suspension undefeated and coming off of two consecutive shutouts. I think it will be very difficult for the Bills to mount much offense in this game and have no interest in starting any Bills, except LeSean McCoy.
5. You should bench Russell Wilson
I know, I know…”start your studs.” It’s something I reiterate every single week on twitter. You drafted these guys early for a reason, so don’t get cute and overthink things. That’s normally sound advice, but for Week 4, it might be best to go to Plan B.
Wilson is battling a sprained knee that cost him plenty of time in Week 3. All indications are that he expects to suit up this week, but his mobility is going to be severely hindered. The Jets also boast one of the strongest defensive lines in the league and can put pressure on any QB- much less an immobile one playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league.
The Jets also have their own share of injuries and were just humiliated in a Week 3 drubbing in Kansas City. They should have plenty of their own struggles moving the ball against Seattle’s elite defense. This game has all the makings of a 13-10 type of contest, and one that should be avoiding for fantasy purposes, if at all possible.
6. Isaiah Crowell will run for 100 yards
Another running back who is set up to have a very productive Sunday is Cleveland’s Isaiah Crowell. Surprisingly, Crowell’s 274 rushing yards through Week 3 trail only LeGarrette Blount atop the NFL leaderboard. Crowell’s 15.2 PPR points also place him firmly in the top 20, and his +0.32 efficiency score ranks very highly in Gridiron Experts exclusive Opportunity Index metric.
The Browns offense has been hampered by injuries. Cleveland is down to their rookie, third-string quarterback, and now will be without their top two wideouts for the foreseeable future. For the Browns to get that elusive first win, they’re going to have to rely on Crowell to be a workhorse.
Week 4 also presents an intriguing matchup for that Cleveland running game, as the Browns travel to DC to take on a Washington defense that is bottom-5 in the NFL, allowing 32.8 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. The Redskins have also allowed the most rushing scores in the league. That bodes well for a Browns offense that has been competitive and should be able to move the ball on Sunday. Expect Crowell to lead the way.
7. Greg Olsen will score over 20 fantasy points
Carolina’s passing game really struggled in Week 3 against Minnesota’s ferocious D, but Week 4 looks like the perfect place to rebound, against an Atlanta Falcons defense that has given up four touchdowns and at least 28 points in each game so far this season.
In each game against Atlanta, an opposing tight end has caught at least one touchdown. Coby Fleener, who was awful in his first two games, lit up Atlanta’s defense for 7-109-1 on Monday. If the Falcons are getting blasted by Fleener, Brandon Myers, and Clive Walford, their going to have no answers for an elite tight end like Olsen.
Olsen himself went over 20 fantasy points in Week 2 and surpassed 19 fantasy points six times last year. I’m expecting Cam Newton and company to have a big rebound game here against the Falcons porous defense, and Olsen will play a major role in their gameplan.
8. Philip Rivers passes for over 400 yards[the_ad id=”58837″]The Saints defense is just awful- just like last season when they set records for futility. New Orleans actually dead last in the league against running backs, allowing an unheard of 40.9 fantasy points per game to running backs. With that and considering Philip Rivers has lost Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson, Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates, it’s easy to see the Chargers trying to win on the ground.
But in addition to all those skill position player injuries, the Chargers might be missing three starters along their offensive line. With Melvin Gordon (3.6 ypc) essentially playing full time as no back as of yet has stepped up to replace Woodhead, the Charger may actually have difficulty establishing a ground game at home and instead be forced to air it out.
With Drew Brees, the Saints are more than capable of keeping pace in a shootout type of game- in fact, that’s how Sean Payton’s team is built. Brees, who is known to struggle on the road, surpassed 310 passing yards in half of his road contests last season. It would be no surprise to see the Saints score plenty of points against a San Deigo secondary that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far in 2016.
At 54 points, the Chargers/Saints tilt has the highest over/under of the week in Vegas. With both squads likely to approach 30 points and Brees likely to exceed 300 yards, it’s relatively easy to envision Philip Rivers exceeding 350 yards himself- a mark he surpassed 4 times in 2015 alone.
9. Ezekiel Elliott goes over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns
Zeke Elliott has only gotten better each week. His rushing yards and yards per carry have increased in each of Dallas’ three games. More importantly, Elliott is learning to be patient and allow his elite offensive line to set up gaping holes for him to run thru.
It looks like Elliott is on the precipe of a major breakout and San Francisco’s run defense just might be bad enough to offer up that chance. On paper, the Niners run D is average, but they’ve allowed 100-yard games in back-to-back weeks to backup runners. Christine Michael, who isn’t as talented as Elliott, just lit up San Fran for 111 total yards and 2 scores last week.
Dallas will also be without star wide receiver Dez Bryant this week, so they’ll be relying on Elliott and the ground game even more than normal. I don’t know if it will take Elliott 30 carries to exceed 100 rushing yards like it did in Week 3, but I’m expecting him to have a huge game and finish Week 4 at or near the top of the RB scoring leaders.
10. The Steelers will blow out the Chiefs in convincing fashion
While we’re on the subject of the Steelers offense, now would be a great time to unload DeAngelo Williams if you can. Last year, Williams averaged over 23 fantasy points in games in played by himself but was down to 1.06 points in games that Bell started and finished. Le’Veon Bell returns from his three-week suspension this week and will undoubtedly reclaim his workhorse role.
It’s rare for Pittsburgh to lose games by 20+ points, but according to my friends at Fantasy Index, when they do they usually bounce back in a big way. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is also well known for being a much better player at home than he is on the road. The Steelers were humiliated last week, and I’m expecting them to bounce back in a big way.
The Kansas City defense has played very well so far, but they have yet to play an opponent that can challenge them with a top-5 player at quarterback, receiver and running back. While I’m certainly not dismissing the Chiefs’ tremendous showing last week, I do think that Roethlisberger is going to have success moving the ball in this game, and the Chiefs limited offense will have trouble keeping up.[the_ad id=”65749″]
Senior Writer Gridiron Experts. 2012 FantasyPros Most Accurate Fantasy Expert. Member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. 26-year fantasy football veteran. Featured on NFL.com, Fantasypros, Football Diehards annual magazine, local AM sports radio, podcasts everywhere and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Once scored 4 touchdowns in a single game for Polk High School.