One Big Thing – AFC – Week 4

Updated: October 10th 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC EAST

 NY Jets

It was good to have Jamison Crowder back as it made watching this offense at least have some purpose for fantasy. We will have to wait and see if Le’Veon Bell can make his return in week 5 and present some balance to the Jets’ offensive game plan. Fantasy owners are also hopeful that Denzel Mims can return to do something before we consider this a lost season for him. The Jets looks completely flat right now and thus outside of Crowder and maybe Bell, there will not be much reason to roster Jets players in 2020.

 Miami

Preston Williams has been quite the letdown for fantasy owners who may have invested heavily in him this offseason. Williams has failed to have more than two receptions in a game thus far and is averaging just 6 points per game. Surprisingly Isaiah Ford has seen more targets than Williams over the first month of the season too which is not a good sign for his productivity. The Dolphins are not a high powered offense so it will be difficult for more than one player to be relevant at a time. Williams’ owners can only hope that with a potential change at quarterback on the horizon that it can rejuvenate the offense’s effectiveness.

 Buffalo

Fantasy owners survived a scare when Josh Allen looked like he may have injured his arm right before halftime but he looked fine in the second half and has had no limitation heading into the next week. With Zach Moss missing his second game Devin Singletary was able to have another bell-cow performance totalling 89 percent of the running back snaps. These two were in a near 50-50 split during the first two (2) weeks of the season so it will be interesting to see if they go right back to that or if Moss will be more eased into the lineup. This may be a selling window for Singletary if you are one of the few teams that have made it through running back injuries this season.

 New England

Let us start by saying that New England got hosed having to play last week’s game with the short notice that their starting quarterback was going to be unavailable and then having to travel the same day as the game. Regardless of that, the offense was awful without Cam Newton and it warrants asking how bad this team would have been if they did not sign him and stuck with either Jared Stitham or Brian Hoyer.  Some of their unpreparedness may have been from having no reps or notice about playing until the eleventh hour but it still did not inspire a lot of confidence. The Patriots game against the Broncos has also been moved back due to other players now testing positive making their week 5 game a similar circus as week 4. We will see what the team has put together for whichever quarterback is starting… if the game even happens.

AFC NORTH

 Baltimore

The Ravens looked better, albeit not their usual spectacular selves, against an inferior Washington team. Lamar Jackson scored his first rushing touchdown of the season but once again failed to throw over 200 yards. He has now been held to under 205 yards passing in three (3) out of four (4) games thus far and while his rushing totals, much like Kyler Murray’s, is enough to keep him afloat he has not presented the same cheat codes he had a season ago. The backfield is also a mess for fantasy as the Ravens have split carries between all three (3) of their running backs evenly across all four (4) games. This will make it nearly impossible to guess who will have a big week presenting a risky all or nothing fantasy outlook.

 Cleveland

Remember when the sky was falling after week 1 because the Browns were embarrassed by the Ravens? For three straight games since the team has averaged 226 rushing yards and only have one (1) turnover during their three (3) convincing victories. It is unfortunate that Nick Chubb was injured and will miss a significant amount of the regular season though. Luckily, the team already had Kareem Hunt lying in wait so he should now receive the bulk of the carries along with D’Erest Johnson, who almost put up 100 yards once Chubb left the game. Two upcoming games against the fourth and first ranked run defenses in the NFL will be a strong test for whether the Browns can win in multiple ways. If they can, this team may have a shot at making a playoff run.

 Cincinnati

Joe Burrow earned his first victory as a starting NFL quarterback and pushed his consecutive games throwing 300 passing yards to three (3). He is currently on pace to set the rookie record for pass attempts, pass completions, and passing yards which shows the skills that he has as well as the confidence his coaches already have in him to be the focal point of this team. Joe Mixon also came out of the weeds for a three (3) touchdown performance to make all his fantasy owners rejoice. The Bengals play in one of the toughest divisions in football so it will be difficult for them to expand their win total much greater than last year’s but on the field, this team already looks more impressive than those last-place finishers a year ago.

AFC SOUTH

 Houston

Will Fuller is the embodiment of Brian Fantana’s famous quote, “60 percent of the time, it works every time”. When he is healthy he is a solid WR2 every time but the problem is he had only played in 65 percent of games over the first four years of his career. This year he has once again score 15+PPR points in three (3) of four (4) games but everyone only remembers his week 2 game where he came up lame with no targets or catches due to an apparent hamstring injury. Even with Bill O’Brien let go there should not be much change in the offense’s game plan so expect Fuller to continue to be the most targeted receiver for DeShaun Watson.

 Jacksonville

What a difference one week and the return of one non-quarterback player can have on an offense. The Jaguars looked awful last Thursday against a not-so-great Miami team but with D.J. Chark returning to the lineup the offense was able to put up 25 points and Gardner Minshew threw for over 350 yards. Both of Minshew’s touchdowns also went to Chark which shows that he not only helps the offense move down the field better but also helps with their scoring efficiency in the red zone. “A rising tide lifts all boats” I guess.

 Indianapolis

The Colts’ defense has been superb over the first four (4) games to the point that it might be hurting the fantasy value of the players on the other side of the ball. Jonathan Taylor has been as advertised coming out of Wisconsin averaging 14PPR points per game but he has been the lone reliable fantasy player from the Colts offense. The biggest disappointment has to be T.Y. Hilton who in the Colts first four (4) games has only gone over 9PPR points once and is currently WR73. For a player in RSO leagues who is likely sitting in the $10-$15MM range, he is an anchor to your roster unless he starts to turn things around. Maybe with tougher opponents on the horizon that will force Philip Rivers to pass more. One can hope.

AFC WEST

 Denver

Jerry Jeudy had a nice coming out party on the national stage last Thursday with a wonderful catch over the defender for a touchdown that likely increased his stock value. Next to him, Tim Patrick also had a strong performance with his first career 100-yards receiving game. Unfortunately for the Broncos, they will not be able to play the Jets multiple times this year so their chances of scoring 37 points in one game may be the high watermark in an otherwise lost year for the team. The is a chance with the extra day that Drew Lock will return which might give the team a fighting chance against what looks like another great Patriots defense. Otherwise, fantasy players can probably leave most Broncos on the bench this week.

 LA Chargers

You have to tip your hat to the kid, Justin Herbert, who was not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the G.O.A.T. by throwing bomb after bomb touchdown to keep his team in the game. Unfortunately for him, he lost his starting running back Austin Ekeler for what seems like an extensive part of the season so even more of the offense may be pushed onto Herbert early. The Buccaneers have one of the better run defenses in the NFL but for Herbert to lead the team in rushing yards with 14 shows that the team was not able to get much once Ekeler went out. Anthony Lynn will have to figure out a way to maintain a better balance with rookie runner Joshua Kelley and veteran Justin Jackson if he hopes to keep his young quarterback upright.

 Las Vegas

After two strong appearances in the first two games of the season, the Raiders have fallen back to .500 following two losses against what is probably two of the better AFC defenses. Much to the annoyance of Eagles fans Nelson Agholor scored the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter and also had another long touchdown earlier in the game called back via penalty. Maybe he just needed a fresh start. Both he and Hunter Renfrew have had surprisingly good starts to the season with both Raider rookie receivers missing some time with injuries. It will be difficult for this team to keep up with Kansas City in the division but they should be in that next tier down of teams that will challenge for the three wildcard spots at season’s end.

 Kansas City

That was the second of the Chiefs’ four games where they did not look great on offense until they needed to turn on the jets in the final quarter. Good teams can “flick the switch” when needed but it gives fantasy owners a small heart attack until they see the final scores. It would have been interesting to see this game with Cam Newton playing on the other side as it appeared that the Chiefs offense was looking to just avoid bad plays knowing that they had a huge advantage rather than taking their usual shots and quick scoring drives. Other than the upcoming Bills game in two weeks, the Chiefs should be able to put up points against five (5) or their next six (6) opponents in spades. We will have to see when this team’s first loss looks like a possibility.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews