Week 4 saw a few new faces becoming the starting QB's for their respective teams. Rookies Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortels were each given the start for the game, and presumably the rest of the season. After week 3 where there was no real standout Tight End from the Thursday or Sunday action, Week 4 saw an explosion on Thursday night from Larry Donnell. Donnell was not the only one who had a fantastic game, as others either will have their name listed again, or they had their first breakout game of the year. Now that all but the Monday night game has been played, it is time for a weekly look at the top performers from the games on Sunday, and on Thursday. After going over my thoughts on the top performers at each position, I will also select a few other players who either performed above expectations, or maybe have you questioning whether you should continue starting him or not.
The goal of this article is to highlight those top guys, and if you can expect some similar performances in the future from them or if it was a flash-in-the-pan, and also whether you should be worried about top picks in drafts that put up less than stellar performances. So without rambling on longer in this intro, let's take a look at those who performed well in week 4.
QB - Eli Manning 300 Passing Yards, 1 Rushing Yard, 4 Passing TD's and 1 Rushing TD, 1 INT, 32 Fantasy Points
This will be the best game that Eli Manning will have all season, but that would be true of almost anyone who did what he did on Thursday night. The Washington defense looked terrible, and the Giants defense did a great job of continually forcing turnovers to get Eli Manning the ball back without the pressure of being down by two scores. I still do not trust Eli on a week to week basis, so don't automatically make him your starter after this performance. He is a decent bye week fill-in, but nothing more.
QB - Andrew Luck 393 Passing Yards, 4 TD's, 1 INT, 29 Fantasy Points
I was cautiously optimistic after the great performance he put up last week. Now that Luck has been able to string together an amazing start to the season, he has put himself into the top 5 consideration behind the big 3. Start him with confidence each week, and he is a guy you don't need to roster a backup QB with until his bye week.
QB - Aaron Rodgers 325 Passing Yards, 12 Rushing Yards, 3 TD's, 26 Fantasy Points
An up and down start for Rodgers this year. Two great games, but also two sub-par games to go with it. The Rodgers that you saw on Sunday against the Bears is the one you should expect the rest of the year. He is clearly one of the top 3 QB's, and will finish as such at the end of the year.
RB - Matt Asiata 20 Carries for 78 Yards and 3 TD', 3 Catches for 22 Yards, 27 Fantasy Points
The statline looks amazing for Asiata, but when watching the game, it was the other Viking back who looked better. Jerick McKinnon was the more explosive back, and showed great vision to go along with his athleticism. Asiata will always be a factor in this offense, as he is the better pass blocker, and receiver, but how much longer will he be the starter? I think that by week 8, McKinnon will be getting at least 60% of the rushing attempts for the Vikings, and the better fantasy play.
RB - DeMarco Murray 24 Carries for 149 Yards and 2 TD's, 1 Catch for 6 Yards, 26 Fantasy Points
Arguably the best Running Back in football right now, as Murray looks like he can't be stopped. Each game so far he has rushed for over 100 yards, and has had at least 17 fantasy points. The two big questions before the season were health and offensive scheme. While health is unpredictable, the offense is going through Murray, and there is no reason for that to change. I would rate Murray as the top back in fantasy at this moment.
RB - Frank Gore 24 Carry for 119 Yards, 1 Catch for 55 Yards and 1 TD, 22 Fantasy Points
Owners of Frank Gore have been waiting for this. After a one point performance last week, he was heavily featured in the run game, and showed why he is still the starter over Hyde. The TD was a fluke play that Kaepernick made himself, but nonetheless, fantasy owners only care about getting the points. Still a top 20 guy for me, and someone who should be started every week he plays.
WR - Steve Smith Sr. 10 Targets, 7 Receptions for 139 Yards and 2 TD's, 25 Fantasy Points
I don't believe the stories about how Smith was out there to prove the Panthers he is still a great WR. Steve Smith is the type of guy that doesn't need extra motivation, and has been doing this all year. He is potentially a top 15 WR the rest of the way, as he has developed a connection with Flacco, that Torrey Smith hasn't been able to do.
WR - Antonio Brown 11 Targets, 7 Receptions for 131 Yards and 2 TD, 25 Fantasy Points
Fourth straight game to start out this season with at least five receptions and 90 yards. Wrote about him last week, and know that this is definitely going to continue. He is making a legitimate argument at being the number WR this year.
WR - Randall Cobb 9 Targets, 7 Receptions for 113 Yards and 2 TD's, 23 Fantasy Points
Second time being listed here, and that is with Jordy Nelson having a fantastic game as well. There is plenty of production to go around in Green Bay when Aaron Rodgers is on his game. A top 10 WR the rest of the year, and will continue to be a part of this article in the future I feel like.
TE - Larry Donnell 8 Targets, 7 Receptions for 54 Yards and 3 TD's, 23 Fantasy Points
Wow! What a game that was he put together. Whenever someone break onto the scene in week one, skepticism ensues. Well Donnell has proven those doubters wrong with his performance even before this game. Eli is looking his way constantly, and will continue to in the redzone. What value you got if you started him this week, and also sorry to those of you who faced him when he probably only filled in for a Julius Thomas owner. That is how fantasy football works sometimes.
Now a look at a couple of other performances that stood out to me from Sunday's games:
QB - Kirk Cousins 257 Passing Yards, 1 TD and 4 INT's, 5 Fantasy Points
I said last week that Cousins is not a top ten QB the rest of the year, and this game shows exactly why. He will have his up and downs, with the downs being like this. I think he is fine for deeper 14 team leagues, but anything less, and he is a borderline starter for me. I need to see him string together a couple of good games in a row. He could be Foles circa 2013, but I have my doubts.
RB - LeSean McCoy 10 Carries for 17 Yards and 0 TD's, 0 Catches for 0 Yards, 1 Fantasy Points
I am getting a little worried about McCoy right now. This marks two straight weeks of him doing nothing for fantasy owners, and that offense looks to be spreading the wealth. At no point should you bench McCoy, but if you could try to swing a deal to the Murray owner and play up the durability concerns, I would ty hard to do so.
WR - Eddie Royal 7 Targets, 5 Receptions for 100 Yards and 2 TD's, 22 Fantasy Points
Has there been a more maddening receiver in fantasy than Eddie Royal? I'm not talking about Royal owners, but the owners of Keenan Allen and other Charger pass catchers who should be taking his production. Last year he did the same thing, so expect him to fade into obscurity again here soon, so don't think about playing him anytime in the near future.
Want thoughts on a specific player? Leave a comment on who it is, and I will respond with my thoughts on that guy's performance and where he stands going forward.