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 guys, 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.
QB - Marcus Mariota 163 Passing Yards, 3 Passing TD’s, 60 Rushing Yards and 1 TD, 30 Fantasy Points
After two terrible games against the Raiders and the Texans, Mariota finally put together a game that many expected he was capable of before the season. This game however doesn’t change my opinion of him. Mariota only threw the ball 29 times this game, which just isn’t enough out of a QB for me to invest as a starter. He is a top 20 guy, but really nothing more than that until we see him get more freedom to throw the ball.
QB - Tom Brady 406 Passing Yards, 3 TD’s, 14 Rushing Yards, 29 Fantasy Points
He’s back! Tom Brady stepped back on the field after a four week suspension, yet he looked like his usual midseason form. Brady immediately is a top 5 QB for the rest of the season. While we expected Brady to do well because he was facing the Browns, this game did exceed what I thought he may do in his first game back. Now is the time to reap the benefits of having him on your bench for the first four weeks.
QB - Ben Roethlisberger 380 Passing Yards, 4 TD’s, 1 Fumble Lost, 29 Fantasy Points
This is nothing new for Big Ben. We have seen this before already this season, and he does this all the time. As long as he stays healthy, He is right behind Brady in the top 5.
RB - David Johnson 27 Carries for 157 Yards and 2 TD’s, 3 Receptions for 28 Yards, 29 Fantasy Points
Not much to say here. David Johnson was third in fantasy points entering this week, and now exits as the top back. Going forward that is the spot I would rank Johnson too. Palmer may not be playing well, but Johnson has been so good that it hasn’t effected him at all.
RB - Ezekiel Elliott 15 Carries for 134 Yards and 2 TD’s, 3 Receptions for 37 Yards, 28 Fantasy Points
The guy I would have ranked second at the position going forward is Elliott. The only reason he is behind Johnson is because of what Johnson has been contributing in the passing game so far this year. The best news was that Elliott was able to do this without going over 20 touches this week, as he had in every other week.
RB - Tevin Coleman 6 Carries for 31 Yards, 4 Receptions for 132 Yards and 1 TD, 22 Fantasy Points
Listen I loved Coleman before the season, but in no way did I expect this to happen. Not only is Coleman playing like a top 10 back, but he has been doing it because of his contributions in the passing game. Normally this would lead Coleman to becoming the lead back for Atlanta, but Devonta Freeman has been as equally good, but doing more production on the ground. If you are a Coleman owner, he is a great guy to use as a bye week fill-in, but I just can’t trust him as a top 20 back yet until his touches per game go up.
WR - Sammie Coates 11 Targets, 6 Receptions for 139 Yards and 2 TD’s, 25 Fantasy Points
At some point you knew that his catches of over 40 yards would start to turn into TD’s. The gameplan is clear with Coates, the Steelers are looking to use him just like they used Martavis Bryant in the past. This changes everything for me, as Coates has now proven to this point that he has the capability to fill that role. We are going to be seeing this type of a game from Coates at least a few more times. he is a boom or bust guy, but so far the bust is him only getting 50 yards. I am willing to take that kind of a floor here with incredible upside.
WR - T.Y. Hilton 11 Targets, 10 Receptions for 171 Yards and 1 TD, 23 Fantasy Points
I said it in week 3, and I am going to say it again here. He has become a better DeSean Jackson to an extent, as every year he will be quiet for a couple of weeks only racking up 50-80 yards, but then he will go out and have these 150+ yard games with one or two TD’s. This makes him a top 20 guy, but is a hard guy to trust as a borderline top 12-15 guy each and every week. Matchups will dictate if he is ranked in the top 12, as he is not a guy who is matchup proof.
WR - Amari Cooper 12 Targets, 6 Receptions for 138 Yards and 1 TD, 1 Two Point Conversion, 21 Fantasy Points
I said last week when writing about Crabtree that it was a matter of time before we saw Cooper takeover as the lead receiver. Finally Cooper has reached the endzone, and going forward I think we can expect to see a top 15 guy. Maybe that leap into the top 10 won’t be this season, but just remember that the upside is of a top 10 guy.
TE - Martellus Bennett 8 Targets, 6 Receptions for 67 Yards and 3 TD’s, 24 Fantasy Points
It looked scary at the very beginning for Bennett. First he went down with an injury which left owners with that feeling of him being ruled out for the game and you just lost a guy before he had a chance to do anything. Well that changed quickly as Bennett wasn’t out for long and goes and hauls in 3 TD’s. We have seen in the past that the Patriots offense can sustain two top 7 TE’s back when they also had Aaron Hernandez next to Gronk. I think this game showed us that Bennett will be used heavily in this offense and should be trusted as a top 10 guy going forward.
TE - Hunter Henry 4 Targets, 3 Receptions for 74 Yards and 1 TD, 13 Fantasy Points
Well Antonio Gates is back, which makes the time where Henry was a top 10 TE in the past. Until Gates gets hurt again, Henry goes back to being a deep league guy only, and in shallow leagues won’t provide the consistency you would like to see out of your starting TE. There is a chance we see a lot of 2 TE sets with Henry and Gates going forward, but until we see that happen, Henry can’t be trusted in 12 team leagues. He does have the potential though if given the starting job to be a top 8 guy for the rest of the season.
Now a look at a couple of other performances that stood out to me from Sunday’s games:
QB - Brian Hoyer 397 Passing Yards, 2 TD’s, 23 Fantasy Points
Okay this is getting crazy for Hoyer. This marks his third straight game (which is also the amount he has started) where Hoyer has gone for 300+ yards and 2 TD’s. Now the defenses aren’t the greatest he has gone against, but I tend to think that this may be something we can trust going forward. While I wouldn’t put him in the top 12, Hoyer is a must use guy during bye weeks, and for deeper leagues you should feel confident if you are starting him.
RB - Lamar Miller 8 Carries for 20 Yards, 1 Reception for 4 Yards, 2 Fantasy Points
It has been a little frustrating for Lamar Miller owners so far this season. The one skill that Miller showed with the Dolphins in the past was that he could be effective with a small amount of touches. Here we are through five weeks and we have yet to see Miller score a TD, and he has carried the ball 20 times a game so far this season. What is worse is the ineffectiveness in the receiving game from Miller. I think we are bound to see Miller rebound, and there is no better matchup then against the Colts to do it. If you can, this is a guy I am looking to buy right now as his owners may be a little frustrated.
WR - Jeremy Kerley 13 Targets, 8 Receptions for 102 Yards and 1 TD, 16 Fantasy Points
As of right now Kerley is owned in only 8% of ESPN leagues. That number should greatly increase after his performance against the Cardinals. Clearly we are seeing that Kerley has emerged as Gabbert’s go to option. This marks now his third game with more than 6 receptions, and the only two times he didn’t surpass that mark was against the Seahawks and the Panthers. I would trust Kerley as a WR3 going foward, as he is firmly entrenched in my top 35.