Matt Ryan: He just threw for 500 yards and four touchdowns against last year’s NFC champions, and Ryan is on pace to finish the season with 5,892 yards (the NFL record is 5,477) and 44 scores. An easy schedule has helped, and it’s about to get much tougher (the Falcons play in Denver and in Seattle over the next two weeks), but it’s hard to ignore just how impressive this Atlanta offense has been during year two in Kyle Shanahan’s system. Ryan’s 10.5 YPA not only leads the NFL, the next best is a distant second at 8.5. He’s in store for easily the best season of his career.
Terrance West: Those who inserted him into fantasy lineups Sunday after late news broke he was getting the start (and Justin Forsett was a healthy scratch) benefitted greatly, as West ran for 113 yards (5.4 YPC) and a score. Forsett has since been released, and while Kenneth Dixon is ready to return to action and could eventually take over as the team’s lead runner, he’s a rookie returning from a sprained knee, so West is the current favorite for touches in Baltimore’s backfield. He’s an RB1 in Week 5 in a matchup at home against a Washington defense that’s allowed seven rushing scores and an NFL-high 702 yards from scrimmage to opposing backs this season.
Quincy Enunwa: He’s averaging a healthy 8.0 targets per game this year, and that number is going to increase with Eric Decker sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder injury. The Jets have allowed a league-high 9.7 YPA, so they figure to have to throw a ton to keep up with Pittsburgh’s potent offense in Week 5, making Enunwa a borderline WR2 play.
Isaiah Crowell: He’s second in the NFL in rushing yards despite playing for an 0-4 team that’s already started three different quarterbacks. Crowell isn’t overly active as a receiver, so it’s especially encouraging he’s been so productive even if the game scripts haven’t gone his way. He has three rushing scores, and his 6.5 YPC leads the league. Just 23 years old, Crowell’s breakout in Hue Jackson’s system seems for real.
Julian Edelman: He has just 196 yards without a touchdown over the first quarter of the season, but Edelman’s value sees a huge boost with the return of Tom Brady. He remains an injury risk, but Edelman has top-15 WR upside with Brady back, and his market right now is unlikely to value him as such.
Zach Ertz: He’s declared himself 100 percent recovered from his rib injury after the team’s bye, and Ertz is coming off a stretch in which he gained the most receiving yards over a four-game span by a tight end ever over the final month last season. Carson Wentz’s emergence helps, and the Eagles get a Lions defense this week that’s already allowed six touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season (no team allowed more than 12 to the position in all of 2015).
Jerick McKinnon: Matt Asiata will get the occasional goal-line score, but it’s clear McKinnon is the lead dog in Minnesota’s backfield. The team has struggled to run block at times, but the Vikings’ defense looks like one of the two best in all of football, and it sure helps to be the main back on an undefeated team. McKinnon has gotten 4.7 YPC during his career, and he’s a plenty capable receiver as well. His arrow is pointing way up.
Andrew Luck: He’s maintained plenty of fantasy value thanks to some big fourth quarters (six of his eight touchdown passes have come during the final frame and all eight of them have come with the Colts trailing), but his 6.9 YPA is ugly. Luck is on pace to take 60 sacks, and he’s already dealing with a sore shoulder. Something clearly doesn’t look right in Indy, and it’s hard to feel confident if you drafted Luck as a top-three QB before the season.
Alshon Jeffrey: He was targeted on an NFL-high 34 percent of his routes last year, yet Jeffrey has seen just 25 looks over the first month of the year (46 wide receivers have more). He’s yet to reach the end zone and is playing through leg injuries once again. Maybe the targets increase if Kevin White’s ankle injury proves serious, but it’s been a discouraging start to the season for Jeffrey, who also remains one of the bigger health risks among all wide receivers.
Spencer Ware: He’s lost a fumble in three straight weeks, and Jamaal Charles figures to be ready to take on a much bigger role in Kansas City’s backfield after the team’s upcoming bye. Ware is going to remain involved and in no way should be considered a drop candidate (especially with the Chiefs upcoming schedule: @Oak, N.O., @Ind, Jax), but the ball security issues and Charles’ presence make him more of a flex at this point.
Eli Manning: He has a 1:4 TD:turnover ratio over the past three weeks, a stretch that included a home matchup against the Saints. Manning (and Odell Beckham) will likely bounce back in what should be a shootout in Green Bay in Week 5, but coach Ben McAdoo’s conservative play calling has really hurt his fantasy value (and the Giants’ chances of winning games).
Amari Cooper: He remains an intriguing talent with plenty of potential, but he’s scored in just one of his past eight games (and has seen only two targets inside the red zone so far this year). Meanwhile, Michael Crabtree has scored 12 touchdowns over his past 15 games. Cooper looks like more of a middling WR2 than a possible breakout star many expected when they drafted him before the season.