NFL Week 4 Hot Takes
Howard Bender offers up some hot takes on what went down during the Week 4 NFL games and how you should interpret for fantasy football purposes.
If you’ve been playing fantasy football for a while then a week like we just witnessed is to be expected. Craziness. Sheer craziness. You study the match-ups, you think you’ve got game flow pegged and you identify where you want to be with both your seasonal and DFS lineups. You think you’ve got it all figured out. Then Week 4 hits and the football gods look down on you and laugh. And not just that simple finger-pointing “Ha ha” like you hear from Nelson on The Simpsons. No. We’re talking full-blown belly laughs. Like you actually thought you had it figured out? Really?
Brutal. Just brutal. So if there’s one giant hot take we can agree upon here, it’s that, no matter how much analysis you do…no matter how much video you watch…unless you are deep inside the mind of all 32 NFL head coaches…you will never have it completely figured out. Never.
Now let’s get to some others…
The Vikings Should Trade for Case Keenum
Have you ever seen something so obvious before in your life? In 2017, with Keenum under center, the Vikings ranked 10th in the league overall in total points and 11th in yards from scrimmage. Last year under Kirk Cousins , they ranked 19th and 20th respectively. Through four games this season they are 18th and 25th. The ground game has been humming thanks to Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison, but that is supposed to be opening things up for the passing attack and we just aren’t seeing it. Some will want to lay blame on the offensive line, but let’s face it – we’ve seen other quarterbacks perform a lot better than Cousins and under worse conditions. Even just a casual observer will see that Cousins doesn’t make smart decisions, he struggles to extend plays with his legs and he doesn’t protect the ball. He may not have thrown any interceptions this week, but for the third time in four games, he’s fumbled twice and for the second time in three weeks, he’s lost one at a crucial time. And what’s worse is that his teammates have identified exactly what (or who) the problem is:
Adam Thielen : "At some point, you're not going to be able to run the ball for 180 yards, even with the best running back in the NFL. That's when you have to be able to throw the ball. ... You have to be able to hit the deep balls."— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) September 30, 2019
Keenum may not be having much success in Washington, but no one is. Their offensive line is a disaster, the team is transitioning for the future and Jay Gruden is desperately hanging onto a thread with regard to keeping his job. No one is having success over there, let alone Keenum who has too much youth and inexperience in his receivers and lacks any kind of a supportive ground game. Let’s just make the switch, maybe eat a little of that ridiculous contract you handed Cousins and we can all be happy.
Take everything we just stated above with regard to the current state of the Redskins and now throw Haskins into the middle of it. Yuck! You almost have to feel bad for the kid as he needs a whole lot more seasoning to handle what he needs to do for the team. But while we knew all along Haskins wouldn’t be winning us any fantasy championships, there was hope that McLaurin could blossom into that WR3 you could just leave in your lineup each week and maybe, even watch him elevate to the point where he could be your WR2. Not anymore! Scratch that. Even with the history between McLaurin and Haskins from their time together at Ohio State, that’s just not going to cut it at the NFL level. Sure, maybe their timing is better than that of Haskins and Paul Richardson or even Trey Quinn , but defenses will have no problem taking that weapon away every week. At least Keenum has things figured out at this level. He’s not the greatest QB we’ve even watched, but he knows his strengths and weaknesses enough to game plan around them. With Haskins, the team is rebuilding yet another position and McLaurin’s value is going to suffer as a result.
Yeah, maybe as the water boy. Come on, people. Let’s not fall into the same trap with Gallman that we fell into with Daniel Jones. The New York media is a massive hype machine when things are going well and the fanbase continuously exaggerates it. Hence, all this Danny Dimes nonsense. Gallman had a solid game against a bad Redskins team and we should simply be thankful for it as fantasy players. No need to elevate it. No need to make it out to be more than it actually was. Let’s see what happens when the Giants are forced to tangle with the Vikings and the Patriots over the next two weeks. These are two of the league’s better defenses. If Gallman (or Jones for that matter) can string together another pair of strong performances, then we can talk, but for now, Gallman is nothing more than a handcuff to your Saquon Barkley or a trade chip for you to send the actual Barkley owner right now.
The Falcons Need a Coaching Overhaul
What the heck is going on with this team? Holy cow! When Kyle Shanahan was running this offense is was like a well-oiled machine capable of putting up points on even the toughest of defenses. Matt Ryan , Julio Jones and, take your pick – Mohamed Sanu , Taylor Gabriel , Roddy White -- had the passing game at a high level while Devonta Freeman was running wild on opposing defenses with some complementary help from Tevin Coleman . Then Shanahan left for San Francisco and it all fell apart. Head coach Dan Quinn needed to split his time more evenly between offense and defense and both have suffered. He tried Steve Sarkisian and that was a massive flop. Now he’s gone retro with Dirk Koetter and that’s not working either. Quinn doesn’t have a DC this season which means he’s spending more time on that side of the ball and Koetter, whose latest failures in Tampa saw that team pull Bruce Arians out of retirement, is struggling to get his team moving in the right direction. You can only throw so much blame on a banged-up offensive line and it would appear that this coaching staff needs a massive overhaul if they are going to find a way out of this rut without losing their top players.
The Texans Offensive Line Needs Another Overhaul
Just when you though a few free agent acquisitions and a trade for Laremy Tunsil would solve all your problems. Wow. Just wow. Right now, the Texans are tied with lowly Miami for second-to-last in the league with an average of 4.5 sacks allowed per game, just 0.5 sacks per game behind the Arizona Cardinals. Deshaun Watson is spending all his time scrambling for his life and it is dramatically affecting this team’s passing attack. Watson now has two games with 160 passing yards or fewer and in both games, he failed to throw for a touchdown. He’s run three in this season, but he hasn’t even sniffed the 40 rushing yards he had in Week 1 and now the turnovers are piling up as he’s now fumbled the ball four times, losing a fumble in each of his last two games. But it doesn’t end there as DeAndre Hopkins owners are flipping out as well. We used to say Hopkins was QB-proof until Brock Osweiler showed how capable he was of screwing that up, but now here we are with three-straight games of fewer than 70 receiving yards and no touchdowns. If this offensive line doesn’t get fixed and on the right track, Nuk could be one of the best sell-high candidates out there at this point in the season.
The Ravens Defense is Not What We Thought It Was
One of the biggest pitfalls fantasy owners run into is believing a team or a player is something more based on their history. Preconceived notions, if you will. We’ve seen numerous players get traded in fantasy with the return value being reminiscent of what the guy did five years ago, not based on what he’s doing right now. At some point, you need to forget everything you once knew and focus on what is right in front of you. Case in point: The Ravens defense. Once a vaunted group of men capable of making opposing offenses and coaches wet themselves, this group is far from what it used to be. They managed to smack the Dolphins and the Cardinals in the mouth over the first two weeks of the season, a feat my dead grandmother could have accomplished, but have since allowed a total of 73 points and 1,033 all-purpose yards to the Chiefs and Browns over these last two weeks. The linebacker corps has struggled to help contain the run, they’ve been weak in pass coverage and this secondary is aging at a rapid rate. A few soft match-ups in the coming weeks may disguise what is really happening here, so be careful investing. If the Ravens are your team defense, it may be time to start streaming.
Holding Out Hope for O.J. Howard is Pointless
In addition to the above rant about not evaluating a team or player based on previous history, allow me to also add that a bust is a bust no matter where you drafted him. Over the first four weeks of the season, we have tried to embrace the fact that we were all wrong about O.J. Howard . Dead wrong. The belief was that Bruce Arians was going to get this offense up and running and as the third receiving targets behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin , Howard was going to be a beast. Well, that has been far from the case as we watched Jameis Winston go to Cameron Brate inside the red zone during Week 1, he was never even targeted in Week 2 and has averaged 3.5 targets over the last two games with an average of three catches for 44.5 yards per game. He is not part of this passing attack and Arians has publicly said that the production is going to be inconsistent. Remember “the balls will come?” Everyone stopped listening after that and failed to realize that Arians was saying that Howard had a lot to work on and was not going to be featured with any sort of consistency. Stop telling me you drafted him in the fifth or sixth round and therefore he shouldn’t be dropped. Where you drafted him has absolutely no bearing on whether he will ever emerge in this offensive scheme and using his ADP as hope is just downright silly. Time to cut the cord, people.
Vontaze Burfict Has No Business Playing in the NFL
At what point do you just say enough is enough? You’ve tried fines, suspensions, all sorts of disciplinary action and, to no avail, the same garbage keeps happening over and over. Do you continue to hope the lesson is learned and simply wait until someone is dead before finally taking a stand? Maybe that’s what it is with Burfict. When my mother-in-law needed to have her driver’s license revoked because the continuous flow of medication made it impossible for her to have the vehicle under control at all times, my wife and I approached the sheriff’s department and asked for them to intervene. Did they? No. They said they couldn’t do anything until there was a justifiable reason, meaning something needed to happen first for them to get involved. I asked if that meant she had to run over a woman pushing a stroller for them to take action and the response I got was, “pretty much.” That’s disgusting. And the NFL is taking that stance here it seems as Burfict may get another suspension and fine, but there has been nothing regarding a permanent dismissal from the league.
For those who missed the latest infraction, here you go:
I don’t think I need to say anything else.
You Cannot Trust NFL Beat Writers or the NFL Injury Report
I’d say stop me if you’ve heard this rant already, but you can’t. The written word is here and you can’t delete it. After watching Chris Godwin sit out all week at practice and then put in a limited effort Friday, we deserved a better understanding about what was going on other than, “he’s a game-time decision but Bruce Arians sounds optimistic.” There were no other details given regarding the injury or its extent, it was announced that he was active and suddenly he was the featured target in the Bucs game plan. This was just the Week 4 instance of what has become a growing problem throughout the NFL and its media coverage. Beat writers are nothing more than a mouthpiece for the coach. There is no hard-hitting reporting, there is no investigation of injuries, position battles or playing time and we aren’t being told anything outside of what the team wants the opposing coach to know. Practice reports are thin, injury reports are vague and anything that goes out into the public forum is carefully crafted to not piss off the coach or the team. Beat writers are so deathly afraid of angering a coach and being banished from the locker room that we will forever be inundated by stories about Brian Orakpo ’s cupcake business rather than what is actually going on with the team. It’s an absolute disgrace and you all deserve better. Fantasy analysts who only bring you what the team is saying are not who you should be listening to. You need deeper analysis. You deserve better analysis.
Fantasy Football Owners Are Shooting Themselves in the Foot with Hope
You all know how much effort we put forth to help you as fantasy owners. I try to make myself available on Twitter and Facebook throughout the day and night, I answer an obscene number of emails every day and the staff here at Fantasy Alarm is constantly in the Live Chat feature, answering questions across all the different sports, both seasonal and DFS. We’re doing our part. Now it’s your turn. Forgive the Jerry Maguire “help me help you” rant, but many of you are simply shooting yourselves in the foot and you need to do a better job managing your rosters.
Did you see this from me the other day?
????#FantasyFootball PSA????— Howard Bender (@rotobuzzguy) September 28, 2019
There is no reason to have Antonio Brown or Kareem Hunt on your roster. If you are wondering who to drop to make a waiver claim and one of them is on your team, please bookmark this tweet for your answer. pic.twitter.com/SPGub8fQf9
How in the world are you legitimately asking us who you should drop each week when you have Kareem Hunt and Antonio Brown on your roster? Hunt is clearly not the handcuff for Nick Chubb right now and he’s eating a bench spot of yours for 10 weeks before he does anything. Ten weeks? That’s insane. Do you think he’s going to supplant Nick Chubb ? No. He is, at best, a complement who may get a few carries to give Chubb a breather, but he is not going to be the primary or even the third-down back. The team isn’t going to have their future take a back seat for this guy and Hunt will never be anything more than a remote flex play to put in during the late bye weeks. You want to kill a bench spot for that?
As for Antonio Brown , come on. Do we really think this guy is going to get picked up by another team? If Bill Belichick and the Patriots aren’t able to contain him or even want to try anymore, what team will? Who is going to bring that nightmare of a media circus into their clubhouse? No one. Brown may be one of the most talented receivers to have played the game in recent years, but holding out hope that he’s going to get his head screwed on straight is ridiculous.
You need room on your roster, lose both these guys.