A glance at targets and avoids in Week 4 of the fantasy football season, including Wendell Smallwood, Deshaun Watson and Cam Newton.
Loss of Sproles Opens Door in Philly
Veteran scatback Darren Sproles tore his ACL and broke his arm on the same play in Week 3, which means there is a gaping hole in the Philadelphia backfield. LeGarrette Blount is still going to receive a majority of the early-down work, and will still be a force near the goal line, but the passing-down role is now up for grabs. The most obvious candidate to fill the gap is Wendell Smallwood, The second-year back carries even more upside than Sproles despite his unproven status, as he is much more capable on the ground than his predecessor. He tallied 71 yards on 12 carries in Week 3, and has the most “feature back” potential of any running back on the roster. While Blount will never be fully phased out, Smallwood’s role is certain to grow in the coming weeks, making him a worth flex play in most formats.
Rookie QB Showing Promise
No rookie has ever gone into Foxboro and beaten a Bill Belichick-led Patriots team. That still holds true, but Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson gave it his best shot in Week 3. The first-year signal-caller threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns and added 41 yards on eight carries, and very nearly pulled off a massive upset against Tom Brady and the Patriots. The future Hall of Famer managed to pull of the victory, but the true story of the game was Watson. He was not even named the starter heading into the season, but he quickly overtook the inept Tom Savage, and has been improving ever since. In addition to improved passing stats, Watson has already rushed for 124 yards and a score on just 15 carries, and is showing the double-threat talent that made him a star at Clemson. He should be started in all two-quarterback leagues, and is worth adding as a backup in all other formats.
Former MVP No Longer Startable
Cam Newton simply can’t be trusted for fantasy purposes at this point in time. The former MVP has been positively awful through three games, averaging just 189 passing yards and 15 rushing yards per game. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown since Week 1, and has already thrown four interceptions. The loss of his favorite target in Greg Olsen certainly isn’t helping, and with Kelvin Benjamin exiting early in Week 3 and questionable for Week 4, Newton is lacking in weapons. Newton is not playing at 100%–he’s still nursing ankle and shoulder injuries, and simply won’t be effective until he is fully healed. There is no upside here at all, and he is more likely to hurt your fantasy team than help it, especially with matchups against New England, Detroit and Philadelphia on the docket. He isn’t droppable just yet, but you need to look elsewhere for a starting option this week.
NFL Pickups of the Week
Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars – Lee is currently the safest option in the Jags offense, as he has at least four catches and 65 yards in each of the last two weeks. With Allen Robinson and Dede Westbrook on IR, he should continue to get looks.
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals – Ellington is the clear pass-catching back on the team, and he proved more effective than Chris Johnson on the ground in Week 3. He’ll be a flex option moving forward in PPR formats.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants - Engram has the body and pedigree to be a top TE in the NFL, and has at least four catches and 44 yards in each game so far. His upside will grow as he continues to learn the offense and gain Eli Manning's trust.