Meet the most frustrating player in fantasy; more Week 4 observations
After three poor weeks, Chris Johnson finally had a decent game at Houston
With two good run defenses on the horizon, this may be the time to sell the RB
With the running game hitting, the Pats erupted in the second half vs. the Bills
Just when you think you have Chris Johnson figured out: He's been awful in favorable matchups and had to sit against the Texans run defense, right? He then goes out and rushes for 141 yards.
It is entirely possibly you absorbed three dud weeks and sat him for a rare productive day. Rats!
"It was a pretty good game," Johnson said. "We ran the ball. I felt like my offensive line went out there and did a great job from the first snap, just getting up on guys, pushing those guys back, and just giving me somewhere to run."
Riddle him the most frustrating player in fantasy. After this wakeup call, you have to start him going forward. That is just in time to face a very good Vikings run defense and then coming back on a short week to face the Steelers' rugged defense. H-m-m-m ...
Better yet, instead of starting him, consider this a great time to sell.
Here are the rest of the newsmakers in the Fantasy Football Fast Forward:
Tom Brady and company were looking down the barrel at a 1-3 start before erupting in the second half against the Bills. Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski are once again their productive selves, but the surprise comes from the running game.
Stevan Ridley rushed for 106 yards and two TDs, while Ole Miss rookie Brandon Bolden broke out with 137 yards and a score. Bolden is going to be a very popular pick-up off waivers, but Ridley is still the primary back and the only one that is a sure-fire fantasy starter against the Broncos run defense next week.
The good news is your primary Pats are fantasy answers after slow starts, not question marks.
A hand injury has put a huge dent in Jones' breakthrough season. Jones went for just one catch for 30 yards against a suspect Panthers pass defense that allowed Matt Ryan to rip for 369 yards and three TDs. Roddy White (8-169-2) was a huge beneficiary.
You have to keep Jones active in all leagues in Week 5 against the Redskins. That should be quite a shootout and the ball should find Jones more often again.
Yay, Fred Jackson (knee) is back. But, d'oh, so is C.J. Spiller (shoulder). They timeshared each other into fantasy pariahs in Week 4 and it doesn't figure to get any better against the tough 49ers run defense in Week 5.
Two potential fantasy gems are now risky plays.
Tony Romo, Cowboys -- This season has mostly been a mess for him and he hit a season-low against the Bears with five interceptions. He is a goose egg in Week 5 on bye and a likely sit in Week 6 against the Ravens. This would be a bad time to sell him, though, because that is selling low. The good news is Jason Witten is back to being productive, while Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are at least healthy.
Jay Cutler, Bears -- He still doesn't have a great secondary target after Brandon Marshall, but Monday night was a great performance considering the opponent. The Cowboys played terribly, but they have good corners that can make it tough on QBs. Cutler held up well and should be a viable start in Week 5 at Jacksonville.
Cam Newton, Panthers -- His owners can breathe a little easier with his strong performance at Atlanta. Keep him among the must-start QBs in fantasy.
Peyton Manning, Broncos -- You still think he's done being a fantasy monster? He is a great play against the Pats in a shootout next week, along with primary targets Eric Decker (7-79-1) and Demaryius Thomas (5-103).
Philip Rivers, Chargers -- He remains starter worthy, despite not having a whole lot to work with in terms of targets. Robert Meachem is a waste. Antonio Gates is looking old and, as always, banged up. Eddie Royal hauled in a TD pass, but he caught only two other passes. And the previous go-to receiver was held to just two catches for 23 yards. Rivers has to remain active next week against the Saints, even if you don't trust any of his non-RB targets.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills -- Fantasy owners don't mind the four interceptions as long as they come with four TDs and 350 yards. Fitzpatrick is a bad option against the 49ers next week, but he is making sleepers out of the likes of TE Scott Chandler and WR Donald Jones.
Alex Smith, 49ers -- The love affair with Smith has dwindled as he has struggled to be even serviceable of late. His ineffectiveness cost Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham owners (Randy Moss should no longer be owned). Smith and company should be better at home against the Bills in Week 5, though.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins -- Woah! No one could have seen this coming: 431 yards?! With the running game taking a back seat with Reggie Bush dealing with a bruised knee, Tannehill took charge against a Cardinals defense that had slowed the likes of Brady and Michael Vick. Don't count on Tannehill repeating this performance against the Bengals in Week 5. That Bengals defense is a top-10 unit, despite what it had shown in the early season.
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers -- He hasn't been fantasy-worthy in his own right, but he is at least allowing Vincent Jackson to star and Mike Williams to look closer to his 2010 form. All three are solid plays against the suspect Chiefs defense next week.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks -- The rookie looked awful against an underrated Rams defense. It might look like he lacks weapons, but it's on him with the three interceptions. His weapons are fine, albeit unproductive because Wilson is not yet completely capable.
Jake Locker, Titans -- He gave way to Matt Hasselbeck and Locker now needs an MRI on his non-throwing shoulder. It makes it likely Hasselbeck will be a starter in the coming weeks. Locker's bad start and injury issue make him a candidate to cut during the bye weeks.
Matt Forte, Bears -- You have to be frustrated with his production, but his return was a promising one. Michael Bush will remain a TD vulture, but both Forte and Bush look like solid plays against the Jaguars in Week 5. Forte is going to be a borderline must-start in all weeks, while Bush is someone to consider when the matchups are right going forward.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys -- Not only has he been frustrating to date, but he faces the Ravens run defense after his Week 5 bye. That is two more weeks you need to find someone to start in his place before he goes off at Carolina in Week 6.
Andre Brown, Giants -- He is back to being a seldom-used backup behind Ahmad Bradshaw. Not only is he a bad play against the Browns solid run defense next week, he might not even be worth owning. That Panthers game was a flash in the pan. Neither rookie David Wilson nor Brown are going to much more than merely take a small chunk out of Bradshaw, apparently.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- With Peyton Hillis out of the way, Charles held up well coming off his huge game at New Orleans. He rushed for 92 yards and a TD and added three catches for 23 yards and a score. The best news is he is holding up physically with all the touches and isn't coming out of the game in blowouts. Perhaps the Chiefs are finally learned Charles is their go-to man. He is good enough to keep active against the Ravens in all leagues next week.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- He was shut down by the Bengals and it should be tough going against the Bears in Week 5. MJD has a track record, though, where you have to keep him active even in unfavorable matchups.
Trent Richardson, Browns -- It wasn't a great performance but it was a good enough one under the circumstances to move him into the must-start category. He scored a rushing TD and was involved enough in the passing game (4-57) to post solid numbers against an elite defense vs. RBs in fantasy and on the road in a short week, no less.
Michael Turner, Falcons -- Yes, they have limited his carries, but he is proving as productive as ever. Going for 103 yards on just 13 carries and adding three catches for 68 yards and a TD. Jacquizz Rodgers got some touches, too, but Turner should be considered a must-start fantasy RB still, apparently.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers -- This was a frustrating performance, not only because he was held to 33 yards on eight carries. But, his fantasy owners also had to watch LeGarrette Blount get the goal-line TD. The Bucs said they wanted to give Blount the ball more. Martin will remain a start against the Chiefs next week, but we have to consider picking Blount back up now, too, especially during the bye season.
Ryan Mathews, Chargers -- His return was supposed to mark the end of all of the Chargers backup running backs. Instead, Jackie Battle started Sunday and posted a pair of TDs and 81 combined yards. Now, we probably don't know what to make of the Chargers backs. Mathews, who has long had fumbling issues, did come on late in a blowout to post 61 yards on 14 carries. The good news for Mathews owners is both Battle and Mathews will be viable options against the Saints awful run defense in Week 5.
Willis McGahee, Broncos -- He showed he can still be a must-start fantasy RB, rushing for 112 yards and a TD, while adding six catches for 23 yards. You have to keep him active against a tough Pats run defense next week.
Steven Jackson, Rams -- He answered some questions about his health and usage vs. rookie Daryl Richardson, but you shouldn't feel confident in starting him on the short week against the Cardinals in Week 5.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers -- He still doesn't get a whole lot of touches, even if he found the end zone at Atlanta. He is barely a bye-week fill-in when Jonathan Stewart is healthy and sharing carries with him. Week 5 vs. the Seahawks run defense is a bad matchup for both.
Shonn Greene, Jets -- You won't like to see Houston next up on the schedule. The Jets have run a gauntlet of strong run defenses and the Texans are as good as any. Greene owners, and Bilal Powell owners, have to stay patient until Week 6 vs. the Colts.
Mikel Leshoure, Lions -- He was ineffective, but the good news is the bye week will allow him to heal. The sobering news is the Eagles, Bears and Seahawks run defenses await in the following weeks. Leshoure is no sure thing for the next month in fantasy. It might be a good week to deal him, especially if Jahvid Best (post-concussion syndrome) starts practicing for a return from the PUP list in the coming weeks.
Ryan Williams, Cardinals -- A good Dolphins run defense held Williams to 26 yards on 13 carries. The loss of Beanie Wells until Week 12 will make Williams a breakthrough performance next week against the Rams defense.
Mark Ingram, Saints -- Yeah, he is still underutilized and worthless in fantasy. The same goes for cohort Pierre Thomas. Don't dare use them in any leagues until the Saints change the way they call plays. That won't happen anytime soon.
Kendall Hunter, 49ers -- He is one of the more important handcuffs in fantasy and came through with 56 yards and a score against the Jets. He will be a decent bye-week replacement next week against a Bills defense that was ripped by the Pats.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles -- Jeremy Maclin being banged up has been Jackson's gain. Consider the burner the only Michael Vick WR worth starting against the Steelers in Week 5.
Domenik Hixon, Giants -- You saw how Ramses Barden unraveled after his breakthrough game. Expect the same with Hixon as Hakeem Nicks returns in Week 5. Hixon, who missed Barden's breakthrough game due to injury like Nicks, might be more valuable than Barden, but he isn't worth starting when Nicks is healthy.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs -- It might not have been apparent yet, but seven catches for 108 yards and a TD should cement Bowe's status as a must-start WR. Jon Baldwin, Steve Breaston or TE Tony Moeaki just don't put any dent in Bowe's numbers.
Marques Colston, Saints -- Welcome back to stardom with nine catches for 153 yards and a TD. He will be a must-start in a shootout against the Chargers next week.
Danny Amendola, Rams -- It should have been clear already, but Sam Bradford's go-to guy can operate even against elite defenses. You should keep him active against a Cardinals defense that was torched by possession Dolphins receivers this week.
Brian Hartline, Dolphins -- If you started Hartline, consider buying a lottery ticket. It was your day to the tune of 12 catches for 253 yards and a TD. He won't do this again, but he is at least proving capable of being a fantasy starter, especially in PPR formats.
Davone Bess, Dolphins -- Like Hartline, he is going to be a popular guy off waivers. Tannehill might not be ready to be a winner, but under Joe Philbin, the Dolphins can move the ball through the air. Bess is going to have more outings like this one (seven catches for 123 yards). Add him.
Santonio Holmes, Jets -- He has avoided a serious knee injury, but his foot injury doesn't appear to be that much more promising in the near future. You are going to need a replacement for him against the Texans in Week 5, regardless. With Stephen Hill also banged up, Chaz Schilens is slightly more intriguing as a bye-week fill-in.
James Jones, Packers -- Greg Jennings' loss is Jones' gain. He is a must-add during the bye weeks. Aaron Rodgers and company are going to dominate going forward.
Andre Roberts, Cardinals -- We have said this before, but six catches for 118 yards and two TDs clinches it: Kevin Kolb loves Roberts. Larry Fitzgerald's opposite is a must-add and must-start in fantasy now.
Greg Little, Browns -- If he didn't have his drop issues, he would be regarded as a solid fantasy starter. As it is, he is no better than a bye-week fill-in. He should be productive against a suspect Giants secondary next week.
Golden Tate, Seahawks -- So much for him arriving as a go-to receiver. Sidney Rice proved to be the better option this week and that should carry most weeks forward.
Jerome Simpson, Vikings -- He wasn't quite fantasy-quality in his return, but four catches for 50 yards is enough to make him one of the most popular receivers off waivers this week. He is a solid start during the bye weeks and that Titans matchup in Week 5 looks tasty.
Kendall Wright, Titans -- Kenny Britt's (ankle) absence was Wright's gain. Wright picked up a late TD and wound up being the leading receiver. With Hasselbeck potentially starting going forward, it might be an opportunity for Wright to rise fantasy lists. Consider him a flier.
Jason Witten, Cowboys -- It took four weeks for him to wake up for fantasy owners and he does it right before the bye week. Consider this a warning you cannot cut him. Witten is healthy now and should be a top-five fantasy tight end here on out. It might be a good time to trade him, though, because his value is pretty high after that performance.
Greg Olsen, Panthers -- With Steve Smith showing his age, Olsen just might be Newton's No. 1 target now. Consider Olsen a must-have fantasy TE now.
Owen Daniels, Texas -- Unlike Olsen, there is no believing Daniels' is his team's No. 1 target -- not with Andre Johnson healthy -- but Daniels is targeted like a No. 1 fantasy TE. Consider him a solid start in all matchups, including against the Jets defense.
Scott Chandler, Bills -- Well, those short TDs are becoming longer ones. We have to consider Chandler a potential fantasy option in standard leagues now. The bad news is he will be a bad play against the 49ers next week, but if you stash TEs on reserves, this is one to stash.
49ers -- They finally showed up for fantasy owners. They will be a great play against the error-prone Bills next week.
Bengals -- That was a great performance against the Jaguars, mostly because of what they did against the run. The Dolphins opened it up on the Cardinals this week, but the Bengals are going to be a great play in Week 5.
Browns -- They are off the fantasy radar right now, but they do a good enough job against the run and will get Joe Haden back from suspension. Don't use this unit in Week 5 vs. the Giants, but it might prove useful down the road.
Bills -- You couldn't have expected much against the Pats offense this week, but that performance was so bad, you shouldn't want this unit on your roster. They will be an awful play against the 49ers next week, too. The 49ers just don't give up sacks and turnovers.
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. Track his weekly starts and sits every Thursday, his Scouting Report on Friday and his Fantasy Fast Forward on Sunday nights. You find also him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice or challenging him to a head-to-head fantasy game @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).
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