Eli Manning got Week 4 started off the right way with his standout performance Thursday night at Washington, and he set the tone for a big week for quarterbacks. Sunday was a great day for passing games.
Heading into Sunday night, we had 13 quarterbacks with at least 20 Fantasy points, five with at least 30 points and Manning hit 40. That's impressive enough, but then you take into account Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton were on a bye. Our Start of the Week, Colin Kaepernick, was part of the mix with 23 Fantasy points in a standard league against the Eagles.
Many receivers benefited, including Steve Smith getting his revenge against the Panthers with two touchdowns. He was one of five receivers with two touchdowns Sunday.
The running backs were led by Matt Asiata, who led all running backs with 27 Fantasy points in a standard league thanks to three touchdowns against the Falcons. Frank Gore also shined with 22 Fantasy points against the Eagles.
Now, we know it wasn't a perfect day, and Fantasy owners are starting to panic about two studs in LeSean McCoy and Calvin Johnson, who each scored just one Fantasy point. We understand and share your frustration, but you should expect McCoy to play well in Week 5 against the Rams and Johnson to do the same against the Bills. Or so we hope.
Player on the rise
I'm not sure why Philip Rivers isn't being started in more leagues (69 percent on CBSSports.com), but he's been awesome since Week 2. He had 33 Fantasy points in Week 4 against the Jaguars and now has at least 22 Fantasy points in three consecutive games. He had three touchdowns Sunday to Eddie Royal (twice) and Malcom Floyd, and he's dominating the offense with Ryan Mathews (knee) and Danny Woodhead (ankle) out. We expect Rivers to play well again in Week 5 against the Jets at home, and he should be started in all leagues moving forward.
Player on the decline
Cam Newton was someone we were worried about this year, and he's struggled the past two games against the Steelers and Ravens. On Sunday at Baltimore, Newton was held to 13 Fantasy points and now has 27 Fantasy points combined the past two weeks. Week 5 will be telling for Newton since he faces the Bears at home, and Chicago just allowed Aaron Rodgers to throw for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Newton won't do that, obviously, but if he has another bad game then Fantasy owners will bench him in most formats, if they haven't done so already.
Quarterback injuries: Teddy Bridgewater
(ankle), Derek Carr (knee)
Quarterback waivers: Carson Palmer (67 percent ownership), Eli Manning (65 percent), Joe Flacco (63 percent), Ryan Tannehill (45 percent), Blake Bortles (33 percent), Teddy Bridgewater (28 percent), Mike Glennon (10 percent), Michael Vick (6 percent)
Of note: Kaepernick didn't look good against the Eagles with 17-of-30 passing for 218 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and seven carries for 58 yards. But the bottom line is his Fantasy production, which was at least 20 Fantasy points for the third time this season. He will continue to produce in Week 5 against the Chiefs at home. ... We hope Bridgewater is OK for Week 5, but the Vikings play the Packers on Thursday night. Bridgewater was solid in his first NFL start with 22 Fantasy points against the Falcons. ... Blake Bortles first NFL start wasn't as good as Bridgewater, and he finished with 14 Fantasy points at San Diego. He'll get better, and he could be a nice sleeper in Week 5 against the Steelers, who just allowed 22 Fantasy points to Mike Glennon. ... The Steelers were embarrassed at home against the Buccaneers, but Ben Roethlisberger had the breakout game we were expecting with 28 Fantasy points, including two touchdowns to Antonio Brown. With the Pittsburgh defense looking like a mess, Roethlisberger could have many of these games moving forward. ... Tannehill put to rest any doubt he's the best quarterback for the Dolphins with 24 Fantasy points against the Raiders in London. Yes, it was Oakland, but Tannehill needed this performance to solidify his standing in Miami heading into the Week 5 bye. ... Foles was miserable at San Francisco with three Fantasy points, and he's starting to look like a bust. This is now three games with 19 Fantasy points or less, and his only big game was against the lowly Redskins in Week 3. I don't consider Foles a must-start quarterback moving forward, including Week 5 against the Rams.
Player on the rise
Prior to Sunday, Lamar Miller last scored a touchdown in Week 4 of 2013, but he ended that slump with a solid performance against the Raiders. Miller had 12 carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns for 16 Fantasy points, and he now has consecutive games with double digits in Fantasy points and three of those outings on the season. Now, you might want to sell high on Miller heading into the bye week since Knowshon Moreno (elbow) could return in Week 6 against Green Bay. That said, don't accept just anything in return given Moreno's injury history, and Miller could still be a quality Fantasy running back moving forward.
Player on the decline
We thought McCoy was bad in Week 3 against Washington when he had two Fantasy points, but he was worse in Week 4 at San Francisco. He had just 10 carries for 17 yards and no catches. The Eagles are having offensive line issues, and McCoy continues to lose touches to Darren Sproles, who also struggled against the 49ers (one carry for 4 yards and two catches for 2 yards). We're not ready to give up on McCoy, who had double digits in Fantasy points in the first two games of the season. He should do well at home against the Rams, who allowed 17 Fantasy points to Bobby Rainey in Week 2 and 19 Fantasy points to DeMarco Murray in Week 3. Look for a big rebound game for McCoy next week, and trade for him on the cheap if you can from a likely frustrated owner.
Running back injuries: Joique Bell
(concussion), DeAngelo Williams (ankle)
Running back waivers: Alfred Blue (64 percent ownership), Justin Forsett (63 percent), Lorenzo Taliaferro (61 percent), Isaiah Crowell (40 percent), Andre Williams (40 percent), Roy Helu (23 percent), Jerick McKinnon (20 percent), Antone Smith (4 percent), Ka'Deem Carey (4 percent), Darrin Reaves (1 percent)
Of note: The Vikings were dominant on the ground against the Falcons. Asiata had 20 carries for 78 yards and three touchdowns and three catches for 22 yards, and McKinnon had 18 carries for 135 yards and one catch for 17 yards. Both should be considered flex options in Week 5 against the Packers, who just allowed Matt Forte (171 total yards) and Carey (72 rushing yards) to have big games. ... Now might be the time to sell high on Ahmad Bradshaw, who was again productive in Week 4 against the Titans. He had nine carries for 32 yards and two catches for 20 yards and a touchdown. But Bradshaw left the stadium Sunday in a walking boot on his left foot, although it is believed to be just a precaution given his previous history. Still, you might want to shop Bradshaw in case he breaks down later in the year. Trent Richardson didn't run well against the Titans with 20 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 52 yards. But based on his overall play this season, this was a dream game. Still, stay far away from Richardson in Week 5 against Baltimore, and we still like Bradshaw much better if healthy. ... Bernard Pierce was active in Week 4 against the Panthers, but he was held out after missing Week 3 with a thigh injury. In his place, Forsett (15 Fantasy points) and Taliaferro (11 Fantasy points) played well. We'll find out if the Ravens decide to use Pierce in Week 6 at the Colts, but for now you might want to lean on Forsett since he got more work than Taliaferro with 17 touches to 15. ... I'm nervous about Foster, who returned in Week 4 against the Bills after sitting out in Week 3 with a hamstring injury. Foster had just eight carries for 6 yards, and he looked more like a third-down back with seven catches for 55 yards on 10 targets Blue, meanwhile, had nine carries for 9 yards and two catches for 16 yards. If Foster goes down again, Blue could remain a hot commodity. ... Bishop Sankey didn't play in the first half against the Colts, but he looked great once he got on the field with six carries for 34 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 23 yards. His time is coming, and we hope the Titans do the right thing and unleash him in Week 5 against the Browns.
Player on the rise
It took four weeks, but hopefully Fantasy owners are aware that DeAndre Hopkins is the best receiver for the Texans over Andre Johnson. I kept waiting for Johnson to step up in this new offense in Houston, and he's done well with at least 71 receiving yards in three of four games, although he lost a fumble Sunday against Buffalo. But Hopkins now has a touchdown or 100 receiving yards in all four games, including five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown against the Bills. He might slow down as the season goes on, but he should be in all lineups in Week 5 at Dallas.
Player on the decline
We hope Calvin Johnson takes advantage of the Buffalo secondary in Week 5 like Hopkins did in Week 4, but his performance Sunday at the Jets was disturbing. He played through an ankle injury, but coach Jim Caldwell said he was a decoy as he finished with two catches for 12 yards on two targets. We hope Johnson's ankle will be close to 100 percent against the Bills, and no one should bench him by any stretch. We know the best is yet to come for Johnson, who was great in Week 1 against the Giants (28 Fantasy points) but has just 17 points combined the past three games. If someone is willing to trade him cheap, then steal him if you can. But if you own Johnson just be patient because he will start producing in a big way soon.
Wide receiver injuries: Mike Evans
(groin), Cecil Shorts (hamstring)
Wide receiver waivers: Rueben Randle (64 percent ownership), Markus Wheaton (59 percent), Andrew Hawkins (56 percent), Brian Quick (54 percent), Brian Hartline (36 percent), Malcom Floyd (34 percent), Eddie Royal (25 percent), Marvin Jones (24 percent), Steve Johnson (22 percent), John Brown (20 percent), Odell Beckham (13 percent), Jerricho Cotchery (12 percent), Devin Hester (12 percent), Davante Adams (9 percent), Andre Holmes (3 percent), Andre Roberts (3 percent), Mike Williams (3 percent), Jeremy Ross (0 percent), Louis Murphy (0 percent)
Of note: Steve Smith was ridiculous against the Panthers on Sunday with seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 10 targets. One touchdown was tipped into his hand, but he now has at least seven Fantasy points in all four games, with double digits in points in three outings. It's not a bad idea to sell high on Smith, who could struggle to keep up this pace at 35. But for now, start him in all formats in Week 5 at the Colts. ... We finally got a great game from Keenan Allen with 10 catches for 135 yards on 11 targets against the Jaguars. Fantasy owners can relax with him now. And San Diego got another great game from Royal, who had five catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets. He now has four touchdowns the past two weeks and 29 targets on the season. Add him in all leagues. And you might say the same about Floyd, who had three catches for 39 yards and a touchdown Sunday. He now has at least nine Fantasy points in three of four games this year. ... Andrew Luck has been great in spreading the ball around, and Sunday it was time to feast for Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. Wayne had seven catches for 119 yards and a touchdown on eight targets, and Hilton had six catches for 105 yards on 10 targets. We hope this continues in Week 5 against the Ravens, but it's hard to call them must starts since this was the best game of the season for each guy in a great matchup. Still, this is something we hope continues. ... Michael Crabtree was held to five catches for 43 yards on eight targets against the Eagles, but he missed time with a foot injury. We're glad he's OK, and he should rebound in Week 5 against the Chiefs. ... I'm not starting Cordarrelle Patterson any time soon. He was again limited in Week 4 against the Falcons with two catches for 38 yards on four targets. Until his targets increase (just 21 on the season) he can't be trusted in the majority of leagues.
Player on the rise
We've been waiting for Heath Miller to have a big game, and he came through against the Buccaneers with 10 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. You can expect Miller to have more games like this moving forward with the Steelers having a suspect defense and likely being in plenty of shootouts. He faces the Jaguars in Week 5, and Jacksonville has struggled against tight ends all season.
Player on the decline
Antonio Gates got off to a great start with eight Fantasy points against the Cardinals in Week 1 and then 27 Fantasy points against the Seahawks in Week 2. Since then, Gates had one catch for 8 yards on one target against the Bills and three catches for 30 yards on five targets against the Jaguars on Sunday. We're not ready to bench Gates in the majority of leagues, but he needs to play well in Week 5 against the Jets, who just allowed Eric Ebron to catch three passes for 34 yards and a touchdown. If he struggles next week, then Gates might not be started across the board in all leagues.
Tight end injuries: Vernon Davis
(back), Niles Paul (concussion)
Tight end waivers: Larry Donnell (71 percent ownership), Dwayne Allen (71 percent), Jordan Reed (61 percent), Owen Daniels (59 percent), Coby Fleener (36 percent), Eric Ebron (31 percent), Jace Amaro (9 percent), Clay Harbor (0 percent)
Of note: Even though Jake Locker (wrist) was out in Week 4 at the Colts, Delanie Walker was still great with Charlie Whitehurst. Walker had five catches for 84 yards and a touchdown and has now scored three touchdowns on the season. ... The Colts got touchdowns from Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener for the second week in a row. Allen had three catches for 38 yards and a touchdown on three targets, and Fleener had two catches for 26 yards and a touchdown on three targets. We still like Allen better, but Fleener isn't going away any time soon. ... It was great to see Ebron step up with Joseph Fauria (ankle) out. He had four targets in the game, and we hope his role will increase moving forward. ... In deeper leagues, keep an eye on Harbor, who had eight catches for 69 yards on eight targets against the Chargers. Marcedes Lewis (ankle) is out until Week 12, and Bortles could rely on Harbor as one of his top targets.