Week 4 Wrap: Rams-Buccaneers matchup helps deliver fantasy victories


Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Los Angeles Rams

A seemingly listless contest with a 7-0 first quarter ended up as the 12th-highest-scoring game in NFL history, with the Bucs upsetting the Rams 55-40 and ending many Survivor entries (just like Tampa Bay did last year in New Orleans in Week 1). Los Angeles may have lost the game, but the team helped many fantasy gamers win Sunday, as Jared Goff threw for 500+ yards (his 68 attempts tied for third-most in NFL history), and he’s now thrown 25 touchdowns over his last 10 home games. Goff badly missed some throws Sunday, including a would-be touchdown to Gerald Everett, but he’s a must-start when in LA.

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Todd Gurley was up against a Tampa Bay defense that’s been playing the run well, but he looks nowhere close to the same back before the tendonitis issue, and the Rams aren’t providing nearly the same run blocking this season as well (with some metrics suggesting it’s gone from the league’s best last season to the worst unit early on this year). Still, it’s not all negative for Gurley, who ran for two touchdowns and saw 11 targets after Los Angeles entered throwing to its RBs less than any other team in football. That said, grab Malcolm Brown in any and all leagues in which he’s available.

Cooper Kupp had just one catch at halftime but finished with another massive line (9-121-1) and should be treated as a borderline top-five fantasy WR given his role in this offense. He and Robert Woods combined for 30 targets, and Everett is a sleeper at tight end if you need to take a flier at the position.

Jameis Winston has thrown for 765 yards (9.8 YPA) and seven touchdowns over the last two weeks, and he gets a Saints defense next that entered Sunday allowing the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. His slow start is nothing but a memory now … Chris Godwin went from a game-time decision (during the late slate) to posting a monster 12-172-2 line against a strong LA secondary that he frequently overmatched. Godwin is on pace to finish with 104 catches, 1,544 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. Meanwhile, O.J. Howard saw just three targets and watched Cameron Brate hit paydirt. Just brutal.

Peyton Barber scored, but Ronald Jones dominated the backfield touches (20 to nine), and last year’s second-round pick suddenly possesses a bunch of fantasy intrigue while separating himself in a system that’s put up 963 yards over the last two weeks. Jones cedes a lot of passing down work to Dare Ogunbowale, but he also had two long runs called back by penalties Sunday and clearly has upside.

This marked the first game in NFL history both kickers made a field goal from 58 yards or more (combining to make all 15 attempts) … Shaq Barrett had a dominant performance, while Ndamukong Suh had a memorable revenge game, hitting 18 mph during his late defensive TD.

Chris Godwin delivered a monstrous performance against the Rams. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Godwin delivered a monstrous performance against the Rams. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers @ Houston Texans

Kyle Allen and Deshaun Watson combined to take nine sacks and lost four fumbles without a TD pass (although it was DeAndre Hopkins with the game’s lone interception) in a disappointingly low-scoring game. Allen took a step back after last week’s explosion, while Watson’s poor offensive line was a real problem against what’s looking like one of the NFL’s best defenses. The Panthers have ceded the second-lowest YPA (5.2) while recording a league-high 18 sacks … Fantasy gamers may not want to hear it, but Curtis Samuel was once again close to a huge day. He finished third in air yards and was top-five in WOPR (weighted opportunity rating) on Sunday, so he’s a prime trade target right now … Similarly, Will Fuller just missed a 75-yard touchdown that Watson overthrew, and he’s likely to explode soon with a favorable upcoming schedule (Atl, @KC, @Ind, Oak) … Duke Johnson saw more snaps than Carlos Hyde but remains without much fantasy value, while Christian McCaffrey hauled in all 10 targets and continues to build an argument as the best running back in football.

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson entered as the most aggressive deep thrower in the league and faced a Browns defense missing Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, which resulted in a three-TD game despite not playing that well. Jackson’s interception was the Ravens’ first turnover of the season, as they came in as the only team yet to commit one … Everyone rostering Marquise Brown needs to remain patient, but frustration is definitely warranted given Sunday’s circumstances … Ricky Seals-Jones impressed but has done so before only to disappear. Still, he’s certainly now on the radar with David Njoku on IR … Baker Mayfield threw for 342 yards and got a whopping 11.4 YPA in Baltimore with Odell Beckham Jr. held in check (20 yards), while Nick Chubb went off for 183 scrimmage yards and took this impressive 88-yarder to the house. Chubb would’ve had four touchdowns if not for Dontrell Hilliard stealing a garbage time goal-line score, and Chubb was used as a true workhorse for the second straight game. He’s obviously a must-start even in tough matchups like next week’s in San Francisco.

Washington Redskins @ New York Giants

Daniel Jones wasn’t as great in Game 2 (although he’s proving to be slightly more elusive than Eli Manning) but didn’t need to be after Dwayne Haskins replaced a brutal Case Keenum (who missed a wide-open Trey Quinn for a 50+ yard TD). The Washington quarterbacks combed for 5.1 YPA with zero touchdowns and four picks against a New York defense that entered ranked ahead of only the Dolphins in DVOA. The Redskins next get New England, who’ve yielded a 0:10 TD:INT ratio and an NFL-low 41.0 Passer Rating this season. Terry McLaurin’s injury doesn’t help … Wayne Gallman lost a fumble but was highly effective in his new role as the Giants’ feature back, which is a much more favorable situation now with an ambulatory quarterback. He’ll be locked into an RB2 role over the next couple of weeks only because the schedule is tough (Min, @NE).

Los Angeles Chargers @ Miami Dolphins

Austin Ekeler got just 3.3 YPC in a dream matchup but added two scores while Melvin Gordon didn’t receive a touch. Ekeler will now cede lead back duties while being fantasy football’s No. 3 scoring RB … The Chargers handled business while dealing with injuries, as the Dolphins have yet to score a single point during the second half this season … Don’t write off Josh Rosen just yet, as he's dealt with an absolutely brutal supporting cast so far.

Oakland Raiders @ Indianapolis Colts

Credit to Oakland for putting up 31 unexpected points in Indy, while Marlon Mack disappointed in what projected to be a huge advantage up front. Jordan Wilkins is one of the sneakier players with a bunch of upside sitting out there in 98% of waiver wires right now … T.Y. Hilton’s absence resulted in a worse offense with a wide target tree … Darren Waller is up to 33 catches without a touchdown, while Tyrell Williams has scored in all four games this season. Williams has proven to be an every-week starter, but his schedule isn’t great in the short-term (Chi, Bye, @GB).

Kansas City Chiefs @ Detroit Lions

Patrick Mahomes’ first indoor game in the NFL resulted in a rare scoreless one from the MVP favorite (although he did add a career-high 54 rushing yards), as Detroit’s defense continued to play well despite missing Darius Slay LeSean McCoy is a borderline RB1 while Darrell Williams is a fine flex option as long as Damien Williams is sidelined … Kenny Golladay scored two touchdowns and had another overturned on a questionable review (after originally ruled a score), while Matthew Stafford fought through injuries and is already up to nine TD passes (after throwing 21 over 16 games last year) and is getting a career-high 8.0 YPA … There were four fumbles in the first 10 minutes of the second half, including one that led to this crazy Kansas City touchdown ... Travis Kelce is the only player with at least 80 receiving yards in every game this season, and his flip to McCoy was nice.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

The Bills held Tom Brady to 3.8 YPA without a TD and should be considered the worst matchup for QBs and WRs moving forward. Quarterbacks combined for zero touchdown passes and five picks in this game, while Brandon Bolden scored on the lone carry he stole at the goal line from Sony Michel (who missed James Develin) … Let’s hope Josh Allen isn’t sidelined long after taking such an unnecessary hit, as he’s one of the most fun players to watch in the league … Frank Gore is 36 years old and ran for 100+ yards while getting 6.4 YPC against the league’s No. 1 ranked defense DVOA that entered having allowed the fewest points in NFL history over the first three games of a season — and Gore did so with Matt Barkley as his QB for a good chunk of the game. You used to be able to write off running backs around age 31. Truly remarkable.

Tennessee Titans @ Atlanta Falcons

A.J. Brown looked about as beastly as possible on just three targets, turning two into scores, including this double nickel. Brown sure looks like a future star, although his current system holds back his fantasy value … Devonta Freeman managed a paltry 2.3 YPC and watched Ito Smith return from his concussion to score from the goal line, but at least he secured 8-of-9 targets for 72 yards. It’s been an extremely disappointing start for those who bought into a big Freeman bounce-back season, which I certainly was guilty of … Austin Hooper and Mohamed Sanu combined for 221 yards while Julio Jones managed just 52 scoreless yards in a matchup with Malcolm Butler and a Tennessee secondary that’s been annihilated for the fourth-most fantasy points to his primary side this season while at home and with Matt Ryan throwing it 50+ times. Naturally.

Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals

Chris Carson responded with a nice game without fumbling after he was benched during last week’s fourth quarter, while Rashaad Penny was inactive. Carson has secured 14-of-15 targets this season, and Penny blew a clear opportunity to earn touches in Seattle’s backfield (Sunday they faced a defense that allowed the most fantasy points to running backs last season ... Will Dissly benefitted from Arizona’s welcoming mat for tight ends but should be treated as a TE1 moving forward (he was first in WOPR this week among tight ends), while DK Metcalf joined Christian Kirk and other notable rookie WRs with quiet games in Week 4 … What a play by Jadeveon Clowney … This was the first game with two quarterbacks less than six feet tall since 1970, and Kyler Murray ran for the first TD of his career. Arizona’s extremely tough schedule to open the year (Det, @Bal, Car, Sea) is about to get easier (@Cin, Atl, @NYG, @NO).

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears

The Bears won in familiar fashion, with help from an opening (and scripted) touchdown drive as well as their defense and without much from their quarterback (who became Chase Daniel after Mitch Trubisky departed early) … Kirk Cousins has thrown just three touchdowns over four games and took a career-high six sacks Sunday. He also has the most fumbles in the NFL this year … Chicago may be an ugly 3-1, but they are in a stretch without a true road game until November … After racking up 925 yards over the first eight games of last season, Adam Thielen has just 627 yards over 12 games since.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Denver Broncos

Leonard Fournette busted out for 225 rushing yards, marking the second straight week he’s recorded a run of at least 69 yards that didn’t go for a score, but everyone rostering him won’t be complaining Sunday. Fournette is still searching for his first touchdown of the season, but he’s one of the league’s rare true workhorses, and the emergence of Gardner Minshew is good news for his fantasy value … Denver recorded its first sacks of the season but still hasn’t forced a turnover, and the team has now lost eight straight games … Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton got to face a Jaguars secondary missing Jalen Ramsey, and they both posted nice games despite tough windy conditions.

Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints

The Saints came in ceding the most fantasy points to quarterbacks but held Dak Prescott to just 223 yards (6.8 YPA) without a score, while Amari Cooper also didn’t produce despite a favorable setup … Ezekiel Elliott scored the game’s lone touchdown but got just 2.0 YPC and lost a fumble, although his eight targets matched his previous season total … The Saints are somehow staying afloat without Drew Brees, as they’ve now beaten two otherwise undefeated teams over the last two weeks with Teddy Bridgewater playing game manager … Jared Cook looks like a bust, while Blake Jarwin is a sleeper who would be worth starting if Jason Witten were to go down.

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