Ameer Abdullah RB, DET – Detroit looks to be very interested in letting the Nebraska product be the bell cow is this offense, giving him 66 carries on the season while the next closest back only has 14. His heavy workload coupled with his 11 targets on the season shows a well-rounded back with upside in an offense showing increased efficiency compared to years past. All signs are pointing up for Abdullah, so long as he stays healthy and productive in an offense usually heavily centered around Matthew Stafford and the short passing game. I wanted to see how Abdullah handled a day against a stout defense in Minnesota before assessing him and he showed up big time. Before exiting the game with what is said to be a minor ankle injury early in the fourth quarter, he racked up 94 yards on 20 carries and a TD against fantasy football’s third ranked defense against opposing backs. As long as the health is there in 2017, the opportunities will be as well. After another week in which the fantasy community lost a top back in Dalvin Cook, Abdullah could be a guy to target.
Andre Ellington RB, ARI – I feel like we’ve been here before with Ellington, but I think this time is different. Arizona seems to have a handle on what his capabilities and limitations are which puts Ellington in a much better spot to produce for fantasy owners. Since week 2 he’s caught 15 of 22 targets for 145 yards while only giving him 5 carries in each contest and I love that they aren’t asking him to do more. CJ2K looks like he has the trust of the Arizona coaching staff to handle the workload between the tackles, allowing Ellington to be used elsewhere. Andre is excellent in this role and with the injuries and inefficiency from all of Arizona’s wideouts outside of Larry Fitzgerald, Ellington makes for a very intriguing PPR play in all formats.
Will Fuller WR, HOU – Everyone reading this, please pause for a moment of silence for the Tennessee Titans…… thank you. All joking aside, Deshaun Watson is the truth people! I hope, after reading my inaugural article last week, you went out and bought some shares of this guy. The exciting QB has proven to have a nice rapport with his top receiver in Hopkins, but in week 4, Watson showed the world what he can do with two weapons. Adding Fuller to the mix proved to be too much for the Titans as they got beat 57-14. Fuller caught 4 of 6 targets for 35 yards and 2 touchdowns in his first game back. The upside here is enormous, with Nuk getting the opposing defenses number one corners and being double teamed nearly every play. If Fuller can find a way to resolve his issue with drops and build more trust with his rookie QB the sky is the limit for him and this young offense.
Keenan Allen WR, LAC – When the 2017 fantasy draft season began all I heard about the Chargers offense was that there were too many mouths to feed to invest in any of the wideouts or tight ends and Philip Rivers likes to spread the ball around. Rivers, however, has shown that he loves him some Keenan Allen! Rivers has looked his way 40 times in 4 games, leading the way in every game this season. Other receivers in the offense like Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams have a target share that has fluctuated too much from week to week to be season long players while Allen has had at least 9 in every game this season. The ridiculous injury history has steered fantasy owners away from investing too much in him but with his elite talent and target share, Allen could very easily catch 100 balls and end up a top ten WR in PPR leagues.
DeSean Jackson WR, TB – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent a whole lotta money going after the speedster to take the top off opposing defenses and take double coverage away from superstar Mike Evans. While taking away double coverage seems to have worked, taking the top off simply has not. This isn’t necessarily about Jackson not producing as he has consistently gotten separation through the first 3 games, this is more about how he and Famous Jameis are not capitalizing. In week 4 against the Giants, Winston underthrew D-Jax four times, one of which came on a late two-point conversion attempt that would have put the Bucs up 7. The opportunities are there with 20 targets in 3 games. It looks as though Winston hasn’t quite gotten the timing down with Jacksons elite speed and may need more time to do so. When a WR is only catching 45% of his targets and is averaging 47.6 ypg as a clear-cut number two receiver there is some cause for concern.
Kyle Rudolph TE, MIN – Minnesota is in trouble. Case Keenum doesn’t get to play Tampa every week and now Dalvin Cook looks to have suffered a devastating knee injury in week 4 against the Lions. When Sam Bradford gets back on the field I will feel a little better about playing Rudolph simply based on their track record in the red zone but until then I’m looking elsewhere. We’re looking at a guy that has a total of 10 catches on 15 targets in 4 games compared to the 19 catches on 33 targets and three touchdowns he saw through four weeks last season. The offense has changed with Cook getting a huge role and their QB’s looking more downfield towards Diggs and Thielen. It remains to be seen what Minnesota does with the loss of their rookie running back, but until Rudolph get the looks he has seen in the past, the massive tight end won’t have much fantasy appeal going forward.
Isaiah Crowell RB, CLE – Never trust a Cleveland Brown, never trust a Cleveland Brown, why did I do it? I’ll tell you why I did it. All indications coming out of pre-season were that Duke Johnson Jr. was going to be used even more in the passing game, even in a slot receiver capacity, solidifying Crowell’s role as the teams lead back. In 2016, Isaiah ran well averaging 4.8 ypc so it looked as though he could be productive for fantasy teams in an under the radar type of way in 2017. His 2.9 ypc so far this season has determined…. that was a lie, yes that’s a Maury reference. Cleveland still has no defense and no real threat of a passing attack, leading me to believe things really aren’t going to get better for him any time soon.
Marshawn Lynch RB, OAK – Oakland finished 2016 looking like a serious Super Bowl contender. Coming into 2017, they really needed a running back that defenses had to take seriously to balance the offense. Oaklands offensive line has widely been considered one of the best, if not the best in the NFL. Marshawn Lynch was brought in out of retirement to be the workhorse back and run behind said line, yet it hasn’t worked so well thus far. Through four games “beast mode” has 45 carries for 151 yards and a single touchdown and no real impact in the passing game with just a few catches. With an ADP somewhere around the third or fourth round, Lynch has been a bust for fantasy owners up to this point heading into week five.
Stock To Watch
Alvin Kamara RB, NO – The Saints’ swiss army knife is simply dominating with every single touch he receives. Future hall of famer Drew Brees has looked his way 15 times over the last two games and Kamara has caught all but two of them for a total of 74 yards and a td while averaging 8.1 yards per carry. It was expected that Kamara would be the “receiving” back in this offense to begin the season and Sean Payton has expressed that he wants to stick with two backs in any given matchup. With the lack of production out of Peterson and seemingly lack of interest in getting him involved I could see a scenario in which Kamara sees more consistent work at about 10-12 touches per game. Ingram looks to have the lead back role locked up, however with the defense not being very good and probably playing from behind a lot or in some shootouts, Kamara looks to have a juicy role as the safety blanket in a potent offense.
Wayne Gallman RB, NYG –? Eli Manning could use some help. The offensive line was not very good once again against a Tampa defense that has been bitten hard by the injury bug. Running the football is key to the Giants offense and they’ve yet to show they can do that. Shane Vereen is the third down receiving back, that’s obvious. It is also obvious that Paul Perkins is not the back they need with his 1.9 ypc on the season and now has a rib injury to worry about. This opened the door for a fresh Wayne Gallman late in the second half. The Clemson Tiger quickly
made an impact on the ground with 11 carries for 42 yards and through the air with 2 catches for 8 yards and a touchdown. New York will not be pleased heading home 0-4 to play the Chargers next Sunday and will be looking to inject some sort of life into their team. Until Gallman entered the game New York averaged 2.8 ypc and the ever-elusive Eli Manning led the team in rushing. With so many injuries and lack of production from the position around the league he is worthy of a waiver wire add.