Fantasy Football Week 4: What you missed, with a vintage Larry Fitzgerald performance, and injury news
We've got a lot to get to Tuesday morning, as Chris Towers catches you up on Monday Night Football, and the rest of the news from around the league.
What's this? Every Tuesday through Friday, Chris Towers will catch you up on the previous day's biggest news first thing in the morning. Here's what you missed Monday:
Larry Fitzgerald's not done yet
Just when it looked like someone might have finally knocked Fitzgerald out from the top of the Cardinals' passing game, he goes out and puts up a vintage performance. Fitzgerald hauled in 13 of his 15 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown, his first of the season. That came after Fitzgerald had caught just nine of 19 passes thrown his way in the first two games, for just 95 yards.
Fitzgerald proved he still has something left, while J.J. Nelson had his breakout derailed. Maybe his hamstring injury was a bigger issue than expected, because Nelson was targeted just three times, failing to capture any of them. Nelson has been fantastic for Fantasy since late last season – he was the No. 1 WR in the league from Week 15 through Week 2 – but still tends to run third on the team in snaps at WR. He may not be a reliable stud just yet.
There is no RB to own in Arizona
Andre Ellington played the most snaps (49). Chris Johnson got the most carries (12). But neither had a good Fantasy performance, with Ellington recording seven points in standard, while Johnson had just a single point. And Kerwynn Williams, the starter in the immediate aftermath of David Johnson's injury, played one single offensive snap.
This just isn't a good situation. The Cardinals' offensive line is mediocre, and none of these players are good enough talents to overcome that. Chris Johnson should continue to get the bulk of the work in the rushing game, but he's just a replacement-level running back at this point, and won't be worth using as much more than an RB4 in most weeks.
Ellington did haul in five passes for 59 yards, putting together a fine PPR day. He may have some value as a flex option in that format, especially as he has outsnapped Johnson by 31 plays over the two weeks David Johnson has missed. You would prefer not to rely on either, but if you must, Ellington looks better at this point.
- Dak Prescott looked much better… The Cowboys were forced to lean on Prescott for 89 throws in their first two games, and he responded with just 5.7 yards per attempt. Monday's game was more like what they want to do, as he was crisp and efficient, racking up 183 yards on just 18 attempts. The Rams are a tough matchup, but this was a good sign.
- Dez Bryant needs some better matchups… There's been a lot of talk about Bryant being a diminished player, but anyone would struggle with Janoris Jenkins, Chris Harris/Aqib Talib, and Patrick Peterson in three consecutive games. Bryant's individual matchup should get easier in Week 4 against the Rams, so now we'll start to see what Bryant is made of.
- Carson Palmer had an up-then-down night… Palmer looked phenomenal in the first half, completing 15 of 18 for 145 yards and a touchdown before halftime. Things were a little shakier from then on, thanks largely to poor offensive line play, but this was the best we've seen him look this season.
What else you need to know from around the NFL Monday:
Jordan Howard is not on the Week 4 injury report
The Bears didn't practice Monday in the lead up to their Thursday night matchup against the Packers, but Howard wasn't even listed on the injury report they released. That is great news, considering this shoulder injury had lingered all season so far.
Of course, he certainly looked healthy in Week 3, rushing for 138 yards on 23 carries. That came after he managed just 7 yards in Week 2 before leaving with the injury, so we were obviously concerned about him heading into Sunday. It appears we can safely put those concerns behind us.
Kelvin Benjamin (knee) has no structural damage
With his history, it was a scary sight seeing Benjamin go down and have to be helped off the field Sunday. Luckily, an MRI came back negative, showing no signs of a serious injury. The question moving forward will be how quickly Benjamin can get back on the field; he should be considered very questionable for Week 4.
Darren Sproles is out for the season
Sproles got a double whammy of bad news Monday, learning he suffered a broken arm and torn ACL on the same play Sunday. Sproles suffered the injury in the first half, but had been up to his usual tricks before the injury, racking up 50 rushing yards and 73 receiving yards on seven catches in the first two games.
Wendell Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount will see more work with Sproles out, and Smallwood looks like the back to own in my eyes. Blount ran the ball well in Week 3, but Smallwood outgained Blount on the same number of carries, in addition to playing 21 more snaps than him. With Sproles out, Smallwood should get more passing downs work, and could develop into a useful starting Fantasy RB.
Melvin Gordon is dealing with a "minor" bone bruise
Gordon played a limited role in Week 3, logging just 31 of the team's 73 offensive snaps because of the injury. Gordon told reporters he doesn't expect the knee to limit him moving forward, but don't be surprised if he is limited in practice again this week. You'll probably still want to play Gordon moving forward, but this could be a headache for the next couple of weeks too.
Tyler Eifert won't be back in Week 4
Injuries have really derailed Eifert's career, and it looks like we won't see him back for a few weeks. He is dealing with a back injury, in addition to the knee issue that bothered him in the preseason. The especially bad news is, Eifert had back surgery in the offseason, and it is still an issue.
Back injuries can be very tricky, and though this isn't expected to require another surgery, Adam Schefter reported Monday the injury is likely to cost Eifert "multiple weeks." Don't be afraid to drop him for a streamer like Benjamin Watson, because we just can't know when Eifert will be useful again.
- Rob Kelley (ribs) and Jordan Reed (chest) remain day-to-day… Both were ultimately ruled out prior to Sunday night's game, but neither seemed far off. We could see them in Week 4, but it's probably going to take the whole week to figure that out.
- Julio Jones is dealing with a back injury… Jones is going to be limited in practice all week, after suffering the injury during the team's final play of Week 3. However, it doesn't sound like he is going to be at risk for Week 4 vs. Buffalo.
- Andrew Luck (shoulder) has already been ruled out for Week 4… At least they aren't leaving this dangling over our heads every week. When Luck is ready to play, he'll practice, and it sounds like Week 6 is the target.
- Ty Montgomery is dealing with a wrist injury… The Packers, like the Bears, didn't practice Monday but they released an injury report anyway. They have a short turnaround before Thursday night, but Montgomery was able to play through the issue Sunday, and we'd expect the same this week.
- Doug Baldwin is dealing with a groin strain… The injury isn't considered serious at this point, though it was enough to force him out Sunday. Baldwin got going in Week 3, so let's hope this doesn't derail him.
- Matt Forte's (toe) X-rays came back negative… It seemed inevitable that a player with Forte's workload history would break down at his age, and we might be seeing the start of that here. Keep an eye on this, but Bilal Powell would be an intriguing start if Forte misses time.
- Willie Snead's suspension is over… Snead returned to the team prior to their flight to London. He should work his way back into the starting lineup, however it is worth noting Snead was working with the backups at time during the preseason. It's a great matchup vs. Miami in Week 4, but he's a bit of a risky play in his first game back.
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