Week 4 Fantasy Football Busts: Brady's tortoise-like start to drag on against Miami

Yahoo Sports
Bench <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/5228/" data-ylk="slk:Tom Brady">Tom Brady</a>? It’s entirely conceivable considering alternatives in Week 4. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Bench Tom Brady? It’s entirely conceivable considering alternatives in Week 4. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names whom he believes probably leaves egg on his face. To qualify, each player must be started in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here (Thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts, TE: 10 fpts). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 4 Lames in the comments section below.

Tom Brady, NE, QB (87 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $34)
Matchup: vs. Mia
Vegas line/total: NE -7, 47.5

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This take may get the full Bill Belichick cold shoulder treatment, but last checked, Father Time is undefeated. No matter the amount of avocado ice cream consumed or Giselle-smooches received, the erosive impacts of aging always occurs. Brady isn’t cooked yet, but questions about his longevity are warranted. QB20 through three weeks, he’s experienced dramatic declines in every completion percentage category imaginable. Is it a function of decline or the current environment? The latter is most likely responsible. There’s a reason why New England swapped draft picks with Cleveland for Josh Gordon. This is a franchise desperate for weapons. Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan remain and Julian Edelman is a week away from return, but it’s largely devoid of trustworthy targets. It’s why Tom Tepid ranks QB21 in total air yards (308). Brighter days are on the horizon, but Miami is a defensive force to be reckoned with. Xavien Howard has transformed into a true shutdown corner. Thus far, he’s accounted for three interceptions and yielded a mere 32.2 passer rating to his assignments. Meanwhile, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Bobby McCain have given up a combined 75.9 passer rating. As a team, Miami ranks No. 8 in fewest fantasy points surrendered to signal callers, allowing two vertical strikes on the year. Gordon is a wildcard, but if inactive or limited, Brady simply doesn’t have enough options to consistently move the chains, especially if Dolphins DC Matt Burke throws bodies at Gronk. Give me Joe Flacco (at Pit), Case Keenum (vs. KC) or Andy Dalton (at Atl) instead.

Fearless Forecast: 273 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, 12.9 fantasy points

Alex Collins, Bal, RB (72 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $18)
Matchup: at Pit
Vegas line/total: Pit -3.5, 51

The archaic, mule-stubborn thinking of many NFL coaches dumbfounds the mind. Take John Harbaugh, for example. His infatuation with defined roles at RB has led him to recklessly conclude, “Buck Allen has really become one of the real legitimate players in this league – kind of quietly. He’s become a top-level player. I’m really, really happy for him.” The man should work in used car sales. Though Collins has bested Javorius in every advanced metric imaginable since last September and optically is significantly more powerful and equally versatile, Harbaugh remains unbending in his RBBC commitment. No wonder fantasy owners are indignant. It’s like arguing with your grandfather about the health “benefits” of a bacon, Busch Light and Marlboro diet. Collins does have two more red-zone touches on the year, an uptick in that area’s usage compared to last season, but his 48.3 percent opportunity share is completely inexplicable. Collins, thanks to a pair of touchdowns, does rank RB24 in fantasy points per game, but he’s crossed the 10-touch mark only once in three games. The Steelers have obvious flaws defensively, but plugging run gaps isn’t one of them. They’ve given up 85.0 total yards per game, 3.56 yards per carry and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to RBs. Vince Williams, Jon Bostic and T.J. Watt rank top-20 among all defenders in total run stops. Throw in game flow concerns and Collins isn’t a dependable option beyond a FLEX in 12-team leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 12 carries, 46 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 23 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.4 fantasy points

Matt Breida, SF, RB (57 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $20)
Matchup: at LAC
Vegas line/total: LAC -10.5, 47.5

When Jimmy Garoppolo made the perilous decision to cut upfield instead of racing out of bounds last Sunday, an auditory gasp in Fantasyland commenced. His knee awkwardly buckled. Despondent feelings set in. Out for the season due to an ACL tear, his loss has far-reaching repercussions, including for the NFL’s rushing co-leader. On just 42.6 percent of the opportunity share, Breida has maximized his touches. Quick and decisive, he’s excelled in Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme. Already he’s registered six runs of 15 ore more yards, totaled 3.34 yards after contact per attempt (RB9) and ranks No. 1 in yards created per carry.

Matt Breida’s outlook took a big hit after the season-ending injury to Jimmy Garappolo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Matt Breida’s outlook took a big hit after the season-ending injury to Jimmy Garappolo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

However, he may have already reached his production zenith. With C.J. Beathard at the controls, the frequency of stacked boxes are sure to increase. Breida saw eight men in the box Weeks 1-3 only 12.5 percent of the time, the 10th-fewest in the league. Sans Joey Bosa and Corey Liguet, the Chargers are a softer-than-expected matchup. Thus far, they’ve surrendered 4.52 yards per carry, 155 total yards per game, three total TDs and the 12th-most fantasy points to RBs. Beathard’s propensity for checking down is a plus, but reservations are warranted. Knowing Breida is entrenched in a timeshare with Alfred Morris and given the hanging black cloud, regression is in the forecast.

Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 45 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 26 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.6 fantasy points

Brandin Cooks, LAR, WR (79 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $23)
Matchup: vs. Min
Vegas line/total: LAR -6.5, 49

Mike McCoy could learn a billion lessons from watching Sean McVay. The innovation and ingenuity of his offense is refreshing to see and it’s why defenses are always second guessing. It’s why Jared Goff continues to advance in his execution. He’s attacked secondaries more aggressively downfield, has made wiser decisions inside the red zone and been more accurate under pressure. It explains why his completion rates and yards per attempt have spiked compared to last year. Cooks is partially responsible for the QB’s increased adroitness. His ability to stretch defenses (17.7 yards per route run) opens up high-percentage throws to the likes of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Todd Gurley. On 24.8 percent of the target share the ex-Pat is on a career-setting pace in receptions (100) and yards (1,792). He’s yet to find the end zone, but he’s an indisputable WR2 in 12-team leagues. Still, an off week is likely. The stench of Minnesota’s defensive performance versus Buffalo hangs in the air, but this is a premium pass defense. Xavier Rhodes, in particular, has yielded a 76.6 passer rating and 0.89 yards per snap to his assignments. Overall, wide receivers are averaging just 10.1 yards per catch against the Vikes. Everson Griffen’s absence stings, but bank on Minnesota rising to the occasion on the road.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 70 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 9.0 fantasy points

Marvin Jones, Det, WR (50 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $18)
Matchup: at Dal
Vegas line/total: Dal -3.5, 43

Buffalo over Minnesota. Miami undefeated. Cleveland winning games. The NFL is living in the Upside-Down. Embrace the unpredictability. Last Sunday night, Detroit pulled off a stunner of its own as Matt Patricia’s hairless cats ramped up defensively, upending the head coach’s protege, Bill Belichick. Jones, who was operating at less than full capacity, proved instrumental in the triumph, catching four passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. Though breakout sensation Kenny Golladay has stolen much of the receiver’s thunder, he continues to contribute soundly each week, at least for now. His reduction in target share (’17: 18.2%; ’18: 16.5%) and air yards (’17: WR1; ’18: WR36) raise red flags. Can he maintain even a top-30 pace? Given the Lions’ defensive shortcomings and Jim Bob Cooter’s vertical affinities, it’s possible, but reservations are warranted, especially this week. Dallas slipped defensively Week 3 in Seattle. Despite the setback, it’s a talented unit with the personnel to reengage quickly. Jones, who’s lined up out left 59.1 percent of the time, is likely wrestle with Byron Jones in coverage. The inflexible corner ranks top-10 in yards per snap (0.47) and passer rating allowed (51.8). In other words, bank on Matthew Stafford picking on the more exploitable matchup of Chidobe Awuzie (1.69 y/s; 135.9 RTG allowed) versus Golladay.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 62 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.2 fantasy points

BONUS WEEK 4 LAMES (Over 50 percent started)

RB: Leonard Fournette, Jax, RB (vs. NYJ; $25) – Even if the hamstrung running back returns to the field this week, he shouldn’t be deemed “must-start material.” Soft tissue issues are notoriously pesky and capable of flaring up at any moment.

Leonard Fournette’s injuries could cause a problem on Sunday against the New York Jets. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Leonard Fournette’s injuries could cause a problem on Sunday against the New York Jets. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

A full complement of touches may not be on the docket for the rusher. Rotations featuring T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant need to be anticipated. Also worth noting, the Jets have allowed a measly 3.8 yards per carry to RBs this year. (FF: 14 atts, 57 yds, 1 rec, 5 yds, 0 tds, 6.7 fpts)

WR: Chris Hogan, NE, WR (at Mia; $15) – The fantasy community’s infatuation with a wildly erratic receiver with underwhelming separation skills and unexciting target share (14.1%) is beyond me. Josh Gordon’s fast-track toward starting this week combined with an unappealing matchup all say: “Bench Hogan.” Miami has given up 7.6 pass yards per attempt, but his likely nemesis, Xavien Howard, is unyielding. The shutdown corner has surrendered a 33.3 catch percentage and 32.3 passer rating to his assignments. (FF: 3 recs, 47 yds, 0 tds, 6.2 fpts)

WR: T.Y. Hilton, Ind, WR (vs. Hou; $21)Frank Reich insists nothing is wrong with Andrew Luck’s velocity, but when Jacoby Brisset enters a game to chuck a Hail Mary, doubts creep in. His 6.0 ypa only raises additional questions. Hilton is getting peppered with targets (26.0 TGT%), but his decrease in separation yards per route (WR89) combined with Luck’s poor accuracy (64.4 passer rating when targeted) have spoiled the opportunities. In a middle-of-the-road matchup against Houston he yields only mediocre results. (FF: 5 recs, 67 yds, 0 tds, 9.2 fpts)

TE: Jared Cook, Oak, TE (vs. Cle; $17) – On a rudderless Raiders team, Cook has been one of the few bright spots. Thus far he ranks No. 1 in red-zone target share, total red zone receptions and total yards after the catch. No. 2 in overall production at the position, he’s rewarded investors who grabbed him at a discount. The surging Browns, however, have allowed only 10 receptions and 97 yards without a score to TEs this season. His third-straight sub 50-yard game is likely. (FF: 4 recs, 39 yds, 0 tds, 5.9 fpts)

DST: Los Angeles Rams (vs. Min; $19) – The downgrade from Marcus Peters/Aquib Talib to Sam Shields/Troy Hill is dramatic. On 33 snaps, Shields has allowed a whopping 1.88 yards per snap while Hill has started only seven games in four NFL seasons. Off a humiliating defeat at the hands of the “mighty” Buffalo Bills, Kirk Cousins and Co. are determined to wash away the stench. Dalvin Cook remains questionable, but a heavy vertical dose of Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph will be bad medicine for L.A.


Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Reader Record: 8-12

Brad’s Record: 18-9 (WK3 6-3; W: Keenan Allen, Russell Wilson, James Conner, Tevin Coleman, Amari Cooper, Denver D/ST; L: Adrian Peterson, David Johnson, Davante Adams; DNP: Jack Doyle)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 91 million households on various regional sports networks, along with his work on the “Yahoo Sports Fantasy Podcast” and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”

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