Fantasy Football

2017 Fantasy Football Week 4 Stock Report: The Thrill is Not Gone


We had the pleasure of watching some good football games in Week 3, starting with the Thursday Night thriller between the Niners and the Rams. Who would have thought that these two teams would combine to score the most points ever in a Thursday Night game?

There were multiple thrilling endings from the Bears‘ walk-off win in OT on Jordan Howard‘s 19-yard run to Aaron Rodgers leading the Packers to his first overtime win and also beating the Bengals for the first time in his career.

It has been an ridiculous first three weeks of the 2017 season. There are only two unbeaten teams remaining-Falcons and Chiefs. The Bills, Jaguars and the Rams are in first place in their divisions. The New England Patriots have the best offense AND the worst defense (pass).

Let’s take a look at which players are thrilling their owners and who is causing heartaches in the 2017 Fantasy Football Week 4 Stock Up-Stock Down Report.

2017 Fantasy Football Week 4 Stock Report

Stock Up

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

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Through the first three games of the 2017 season, Todd Gurley has already matched his touchdown total (six) from a year ago to go along with 361 yards from the line of scrimmage. He has looked fantastic this season and is heading towards a monster fantasy football season.

Gurley is now able to show off the skill set that convinced the Rams to draft him so high in 2015. He has been a delight for the fantasy owners who were willing to take the risk in their drafts.

He now has a quarterback that is playing consistently well in Goff. The Rams quarterback is currently third in the league in completion percentage (70.4) and passer rating (118.2), along with five touchdown passes so far. Additionally, Coach Sean McVay is going to continue to find ways to get Gurley the football and is much more imaginative offensively than his predecessors.

Given his volume and lack of competition at his position, Gurley should keep on rolling and owners have to keep riding him.

Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears

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What shoulder injury? Howard, who had a sprained AC joint in his shoulder, was clearly playing through pain against Pittsburgh on Sunday. He was helped off the field multiple times by trainers and was trying to protect his banged-up shoulder on some of his runs in the second half.

Howard’s effort while continually fighting through his shoulder injury at various points in a 23-17 crazy Bears’ victory was the kind of game people will discuss for decades on. The Steelers had no answer for his determination. Howard finished with 138 yards on 23 carries — including a stunning game-winner in overtime – and five receptions for 26 yards.

All of this was on the heels of Howard only gaining 59 yards on 20 carries in his first two games of the season and seeing rookie Tarik Cohen looking like he was going to take over Howard’s role as the Bears’ featured back.  Currently, the Bears have a two-headed monster in the backfield. They collectively had nine receptions for 50 yards through the air.

Howard’s effort on Sunday was a reminder that he was a Pro Bowler and the NFL’s second-leading rusher last season. He should still be the focal point for the Bears offense this season.

Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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Wendell Smallwood was on the field for a career-high 43 offensive snaps in Sunday’s win over the Giants.  That could be a telling sign for a permanent uptick in playing time. The Eagles are expected to give Smallwood a bigger role with Darren Sproles out for the season due to a torn ACL and broken arm.

Eagles OC Frank Reich confirmed on Tuesday that Wendell Smallwood will take over as the 3rd-down RB with Darren Sproles (arm, knee) done for the year. LeGarrette Blount will still get his work, including short-yardage and goal-line touches. Rookie Corey Clement now has a path to playing time, but Smallwood is the closest thing to a three-down back on the Eagles roster.

Smallwood had his best game of the season in Sproles’ absence with 12 carries for 71 yards. He established himself as perhaps the back who could lead the backfield in touches.

Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings

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With starting quarterback Sam Bradford‘s knee not responding after practices during the week, the Vikings didn’t wait until the final minutes to decide that Case Keenum would start at quarterback against the Buccaneers this past Sunday. Keenum made the most of his second start with the Vikings and the extra time to prepare.

Keenum threw for a career-high 369 yards with three touchdowns. Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs caught eight of those passes for 173 yards with two scores in the big win over Tampa Bay.  This was Diggs’ sixth career 100-yard game.

Diggs is now averaging 99.7 yards per game, he is on pace for approximately 1,595 yards.

Diggs is part of a dynamic duo with Adam Thielen at receiver for the Vikings. The hesitation on the absence of Bradford seems to be overblown. The Vikings appear to have a star-in-the-making in Stefon Diggs.

Stock Down

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

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Cam Newton is only 28, but his body has been through six seasons of a punishing style of quarterback play. He had shoulder surgery in the off-season, and couldn’t throw with his teammates until training camp. Even then, he had to go through a period of forced rest when his shoulder acted up.

On Sunday against the Saints, a team that had given up 65 points and 773 yards, Newton threw for 167 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions in a 34-13 loss. His passing efficiency rating of 43.7 was the third-worst for his career of 96 regular-season and six playoff games.

Part of the problem is that Newton is losing all of his help. Greg Olsen, his favorite target, suffered a broken foot and is gone for the foreseeable future. This is the second straight game without All-Pro center Ryan Kalil because of a neck injury. In addition, No. 1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin left the Saints game with a knee injury.

The biggest advantage to owning Newton in fantasy is his incredible running ability. In 2015, Newton averaged 5.5 yards per carry on 74 attempts and scored eight touchdowns.  Those designed runs went for only 4.5 yards per carry on 66 attempts and five touchdowns in 2016. In 2017, he has only four carries for seven yards through three weeks. The Panthers do not want Newton running anymore!

The increasing troubles in their passing offense and lack of playmakers along with Newton still trying to recover from his shoulder surgery makes him a quarterback that you cannot trust in your fantasy lineup. You add the elimination of the running element to his game and he is a quarterback to avoid in all fantasy formats and someone that should be dropped off rosters.

Joe Flacco, QB. Baltimore Ravens

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The main issue with Joe Flacco is that he is not fully healthy. Flacco was sidelined for all of training camp and the preseason while recovering from a back injury. Due to his extensive time on the sideline, Flacco has endured some rustiness while he eases back into action, and saw new faces when he finally did arrive. Veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was brought in this offseason to help their offensive struggles. In addition, they brought in third-down back Danny Woodhead, who couldn’t even last a game before suffering a season-ending injury. The Ravens also lost Flacco’s safety valve from last season, tight end Dennis Pitta and their best offensive lineman Marshall Yanda.

While the Ravens still have a decent set of skill players, their offensive line is a total mess. They put a pathetic performance in London on Sunday against the Jaguars. They managed just 186 yards of total offense, including minus-1 yard in the first quarter. The offense managed 15 yards in the first half and picked up only 12 first downs.

The Ravens (2-1) managed just 186 yards of total offense, including minus-1 yard in the first quarter. They managed 15 yards in the first half, and picked up only 12 first downs.

Flacco is not a good quarterback. He has the arm strength and ability to extend plays and will need it. His decision-making is far from ideal and he needs help.

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns

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Isaiah Crowell disappointed fantasy owners in what was a prime matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3. He carried the ball 12 times for just 44 yards while adding two catches for 10 yards.  He was also outplayed by fellow running back Duke Johnson who scored a rushing touchdown on a 19-yard scamper. Additionally, Johnson also took several red zone snaps with the offense over Crowell during the game. This comes on the heels of a story earlier in the week that the coaches talked about him giving more carries.

On the season, Crowell has 114 rushing yards and four catches for 43 yards with no touchdowns. He was drafted as an RB2 in fantasy drafts, but he is shaping up as a more of a touchdown-dependent flex option at best through the first three games.

The Browns spent the offseason improving their offensive line and Crowell proved last season that even with a bad one, he could be productive. This past season, he totaled 1,271 yards and seven touchdowns.

Unfortunately, the Browns’ constant negative game script is taking a toll on Isaiah Crowell. Crowell has received more than 15 carries in just four of his last 14 starts and has received more than 10 carries in just seven starts. He has 27 carries in two games this year but only seven of them have come in the second half due to game flow issues, which should not have been the case in Week 3.

The problem that Coach Hue Jackson has a habit of abandoning the run early and often. Crowell’s usage is troublesome. Duke Johnson has severely outplayed him and looks to be the back of choice especially since the Browns are always trailing in games.

Samaje Perine, RB, Washington Redskins

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Samaje Perine was not effective while filling in for Rob Kelley (rib) on Sunday. Perine managed just 49 yards on 19 carries and six yards on one reception. He was forced out of the game in the fourth quarter after taking a huge hit and losing a fumble. He sustained a hand injury and was fortunate to avoid any fractures. Coach Jay Gruden repeatedly expressed disdain over Perine’s fumbling problems in the preseason. It seems unlikely the rookie will carry the load this week even if he’s healthy and Kelley is not.

Another obstacle in Perine’s retaining an every-down role is the emergence of Chris Thompson. Passing-down back Thompson rumbled for 188 scrimmage yards and found the end zone for the fourth time in three games. He proved to be a spark plug in the Redskins’ running game and ran up and down the field all night against the Raiders defense on Sunday.

Samaje Perine has several things working against him. While his diagnosis is positive he is still day-to-day with a bruised hand. He has yet to show any signs of becoming a viable fantasy option. Rob Kelley is looking to return shortly, maybe as soon as Week 4. Most importantly, Chris Thompson continues to play great while averaging 8.5 yards per carry.

Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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Darren Sproles suffered a torn ACL and a broken right arm on the same play in the Eagles’ win over the New York Giants Sunday. The Eagles have placed Darren Sproles on injured reserve and he is out for the rest of the season.

Coach Doug Pederson confirmed the injuries Monday, saying it’s a “devastating” loss.  A shifty 5-foot-6 running back known for his prowess as a change-of-pace ball-carrier, pass catcher and punt returner, Sproles is a dynamic offensive playmaker. He has been a key cog for the Eagles since joining the team in 2014. Sproles racked up 61 yards on 15 carries and seven receptions for 73 yards in the first three games this season.

With Sproles sidelined, LeGarrette Blount was vaulted back into action. The Eagles had success in the running game Sunday behind a rotation that featured Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and Corey Clement, but none of these backs will get close to match Sproles’ production as a receiver.

Wendell Smallwood is likely to receive the first opportunity for playing time. He could find himself as the feature back soon. He equaled Blount in carries (12) and four more yards, and will at least split third-down reps with Corey Clement in passing situations.

Check out the rest of our 2017 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers.

About Dennis Sosic

Dennis Sosic is from Cleveland, Ohio and a HUGE sports fan including NFL and college football(Go Buckeyes!) MLB (GO TRIBE), NBA (GO CAVS!) and MMA. He has been called a Sports Geek by friends and foes alike and that fits him perfectly. He has been competing in fantasy sports, mainly fantasy football and baseball for over 20 years. Dennis has won several leagues in each sport and is the team to beat in the league and everyone knows it. He FINALLY did it! Dennis broke down and gave in. Dennis joined the Twitter Universe. Please do all of us a favor and follow Dennis @ CALL_ME_SOS.

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