Bold Predictions For Week 4
Just like a head coach that needs to dial up a play with under 10 seconds on the clock, sometimes fantasy football players need to make a bold move in their weekly lineup that they know could either make or break their week. For that exact reason, I have laid out some of my bold predictions in case you have a gut feeling you are already playing from behind and need that big time difference maker in week four.
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1. Chris Carson Breaks Through
We all know his name now, Seattle’s top dog in the backfield Chris Carson. Carson has set himself apart in what has been a crapshoot of a backfield since Seattle decided to sign the belittled Eddie Lacy during the offseason in hopes of returning the offense to its power style of running it was known for when the team had the skittle crunching beast known as Marshawn Lynch bulldozing would-be-defenders.
Adding to the confusion was the non-stop commitment to CJ Prosise for third-down duties and Thomas Rawls making his return from injury. Rawls didn’t make his debut until week two, in which he had an underwhelming four yards on five attempts followed by a zero carry performance in week three against the Titans in Tennessee. In the meantime, Lacy has run the ball five times for three yards.
For these reasons, Carson is now receiving the lions’ share of carries in the backfield, rushing for 93 yards on 20 carries in week two. Although last week he only logged 34 yards on 11 carries, he was able to salvage his day with a receiving touchdown for his best fantasy performance of the young season.
Seattle goes up against the depleted Colts this week and at home nonetheless, making Sunday’s matchup a very intriguing fantasy game for Carson. It may not be bold to some, but considering he has yet to run for 100 yards this season, I forecast 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground. I know the Seahawks have yet to cross the goal line on the ground this season, but what better time for them to break the streak than at home against a lesser opponent.
So far this season Indianapolis has actually held the run game in check, currently ranking 10th in the league, allowing just over 85 yards per game. Countering this negative for Carson is Russell Wilson’s career high in pass attempts for a single game (49) last week. While the Colts do give up the 4th highest amount of passing yards per game (283.7), the Seahawks will be better served kickstarting their ground game in an attempt to lessen Wilson’s workload with their bye week just around the corner (week six). The offensive line may not be what it used to, but if Seattle wants a chance to reclaim their spot atop the NFC, they need to get Carson going.[the_ad id=”65749″][the_ad id=”65749″]
2. Jay Ajayi Overcomes Slump in a Big Way
NFL football will be played in London for a second-straight week. While some may see this as a downside considering we all have to get up earlier for the game and the fact the games played in London seems to lose some of their appeal for whatever reason, the game carries a bit of fantasy appeal for Jay Ajayi owners.
For those that are unaware, Ajayi was born in London. Also for the fantasy illiterate, Ajayi, who was penciled in to easily crack the top 10 in fantasy points by a running back this season, had a bloody dreadful fantasy performance against the bottomfeeding New York Jets last week, tallying 16 yards on 11 totes. Maybe the return trip home is just what the doctor ordered for the third-year back, that and a spot of tea or a spoonful of sugar.
Also working in the Boise State product’s favor is the Dolphin’s week four opponent, the not so New Orleans Saints. The Saints rank in the bottom ten regarding rushing yards allowed per game (126.7) and why would that change now on a different continent? So far this season New Orleans has allowed Dalvin Cook to set the Vikings new rushing record right in front of the previous owners eyes (Adrian Peterson), allowed Mike Gillislee to have his best rushing performance in terms of rushing yards in a Patriots uniform (69 yards, one touchdown) and allowed Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey to combine for 178 total yards from scrimmage.
Let’s face it, New Orleans’ days of being an NFC contender are long gone. Anymore it seems the Saints only exist to help people’s fantasy teams and nothing more. For that reason, I am buying into Ajayi having a monster game that puts him back on the right track. Something along the lines of 140 rushing yards and two or three touchdowns doesn’t seem to be out of the question. If Ajayi fails miserably for a second-straight week in a plus matchup, not only will my foot be in my mouth, it will be out the door of the Ajayi hype train and headed for greener pastures.[the_ad id=”73965″][the_ad id=”63198″]
3. Amari Cooper has his Best Game of the Season to Date
During the Raiders’ season opener at Tennesse, Amari Cooper caught five balls for 62 yards and a touchdown, posting 17.2 points in PPR leagues. Since then, Cooper has had games of four catches for 33 yards and one catch last week for six yards. The two dreadful performances in a row has left those that spent a high round draft pick wondering, ‘What was I thinking?’ I am here to tell you, go pop in a Guns N’ Roses 8-track and listen to the song, ‘Patience.’
Cooper started the season with 13 targets. Since then he has posted two-consecutive games with just five targets. Over the course of Cooper’s career, he has posted just eight games with five or fewer targets. These two bad weeks seem like an outlier for what his floor should be. Sure, Denver may not be the best team to air the ball out against, but Derek Carr may be left with no other option if the Raiders can’t get the ground game going. Also playing in Cooper’s favor is the possible absence of fellow star wideout Michael Crabtree. Crabtree took a shot last week against the Redskins that looked something like you would see while watching a UFC fight, leaving him very questionable heading into week four.
Should Crabtree sit out this week to recover and the Raiders fail to find running lanes against a Denver defense that ranks first against the run, allowing just 59.7 yards per game, look for Carr to have no other option than to look for his favorite and most talented target in Cooper. Should the two connect early and often and Cooper limits his drops, look for things to continue that way throughout the game, as the third-year wideout has his best game of the year with 115 receiving yards and a touchdown.[the_ad id=”58919″]
4. Joe Mixon Throws a Coming Out Party Against Cleveland
Those that invested high draft capital in Joe Mixon have been waiting for the rookie back to finally take the reigns in the Bengals backfield and prove what he is capable of. To date, Mixon’s best fantasy output came last week against the Packers at Green Bay. During week three Mixon posted 13.1 fantasy points in PPR leagues, running the rock 18 times for 62 yards (3.4 yards per carry average) and added in three receptions for 39 yards, not a bad way to get things going in the right direction.
Experts are recommending buying in on Mixon now after his carries went from nine in week two to 18 in week three. Meanwhile, Giovani Bernard’s carries have dipped from seven in week one, to five in week two and three last week. Jeremy Hill’s numbers have remained consistent, carrying the ball six times the first two weeks and seven times last week.
Look, the Bengals fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese and promoted quarterback coach Bill Lazor to OC for a reason, to shake things up and get this offense going after failing to score in two home games to start the season. Head Coach Marvin Lewis is on the hot seat every season and the way Cincinnati has started 2017-2018, I think he’s finally realizing Bernard and Hill aren’t the guys that are going to save his job. They drafted Mixon for a reason, and now they have no other answer than to unleash their young playmaker. Look for Mixon to throw his official coming out party this week, going off for 105 rushing yards to go with 50 receiving yards and a score. I’m buying Mixon this week against Cleveland in a big way.[the_ad id=”74098″][the_ad id=”61518″]
5. Bilal Powell Makes the Most of his Opportunity
Before the season started there were owners that were salivating at the opportunity to draft the Jets’, Bilal Powell. That eager salvia quickly turned into incurious drool as the 28-year old stumbled out of the blocks, posting a meager 8.9 points in his opening contest, followed by a 1.3 point performance and a touchdown-dependent 9.7 last week.
The owners that found themselves enamored with Powell during draft season were the same ones that were quick to forget Matt Forte is still a serviceable back even at his advanced age. They also were quick to forget Powell isn’t too far behind Forte in running back years at age 28. Now with Forte ruled out with turf toe for this week’s contest against a Jacksonville defense that gives up the fifth-most yards on the ground, the floodgates are back open for Powell truthers to come back into the light.
Sure, New York is still looking to give Elijah McGuire touches, but should Powell excel in the early stages of Sunday’s game, look for the Jets to go with the hot hand and feed Powell all he can eat, which could be a lot. Something along the lines of 110 rushing yards with a touchdown and 40 receiving yards doesn’t seem unattainable for the seven-year vet.
6. Brandon Marshall Gets His First Touchdown and First 100-yard game
I will openly admit before the season started, I thought Brandon Marshall was going to have a solid year. When I say solid I mean somewhere around 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns. After the first two weeks of the season, those hopes started to go down the drain after combining for two receptions and 27 yards in said games. But after week three, I got out the old trusty drain snake and pulled Marshall out of the drain and back in my mind as a guy that could help my roster this year.
In week three against the Eagles at Philidelphia, Marshall put together his best performance of the season, snagging eight balls for 66 yards. It may not seem like a robust stat line, but his 14.6 points in PPR leagues showed the signs of life he needed to become fantasy relevant again. Just think, if he had added a touchdown to those stats, he would have been looking at a 20+ point week.
That brings us to week four. After showing glimpses of hope, I firmly believe Marshall is due for not only his first touchdown of the season but possibly his first 100-yard receiving game of the season. The Giants have struggled through three weeks and will be on the road, all things that aren’t working in Marshall’s favor. However, Tampa Bay was carved up by Vikings backup quarterback Case Keenum last week to the tune of 369 yards and three scores through the air. If Keenum can do that kind of damage, I can only imagine what a gunslinger type like Eli Manning can do. With Odell Beckham Junior drawing looks along with Sterling Shepard, I can see Marshal posting something like a 111 yard one touchdown stat line on eight catches.[the_ad id=”74098″][the_ad id=”69556″]
7. Devin Funches Becomes Fantasy Relevant
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. After Cam Newton finally asserted himself as the NFL poster child, he has slowly come down from grace after struggling mightily last season and in his first three weeks so far this year. So far Superman has disappeared in a flash, throwing for 200 yards or more just once this season and only throwing for two touchdowns. All of this seems like it doesn’t bode well for Devin Funchess becoming fantasy relevant, but he is on the verge of doing just that.
With death comes new life, so it is for fantasy football. With the fantasy death of Greg Olsen after a broken foot, Devin Funches fantasy life slowly started to sprout. Then came another injury, this time to Kelvin Benjamin, who looks like he won’t play this week. All of a sudden Funches sprout was hit with miracle grow and somehow sprouted into a full grown plant overnight.
With Cam and the Panthers hitting the road to play in New England against the Patriots, I still see struggles in the near future for the former MVP and Carolina’s offense as a whole, but Christian McCaffrey can’t catch every pass, can he? So where do Benjamin and Olsen’s looks go? To Funches. You may say, ‘What about Curtis Samuel?’ Guess what? He’s out too, setting up the perfect storm for Funches to have possibly the best fantasy game of his career. Look for the Panthers to play catchup throughout this one, as Cam goes to the air and find Funches for 125 yards and a score.
Ethan is a lifelong sports fan and has been involved in sports for as long as he can remember. He played football in high school and was a part of two Class 3A State Championship football teams in Illinois at Illini West High School. He is currently the sports editor at the Hancock County Journal-Pilot in Carthage, IL and is trying to get more involved in fantasy and professional sports journalism. Ethan has played fantasy football since he was 14 years old and considers himself an admitted fantasy addict, but sees no problem with this. He competes annually in fantasy football, basketball and baseball leagues with his friends and has even accomplished a three-peat in one of his football leagues, winning three-straight seasons. He nearly had another three-peat in the same span in another league, but got third in 2015. Writing about and covering sports is his passion. After entering the sports journalism field in 2015, Ethan knew covering sports was his calling and will never turn back.