Fantasy Football Week 4 Thoughts on Cam Newton, Trent Richardson, Rob Gronkowski, and Chris Johnson (Again)

Week 3 was crazy.

From the frenzied finish in the Detroit-Tennessee game to the inspiring performance of the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, this past week of NFL football had it all … plus the debacle that was the end of the Seattle-Green Bay Monday night game.

Jamaal Charles showed he’s back from his injury; Eli Manning and his receiving corps put up some gaudy numbers; A.J. Green had a heck of a day (9-183-1); and the Matts (Ryan and Schaub) stayed undefeated.

On the other side of the coin, the third week of the season was not as friendly, from a fantasy perspective or in real life, for a couple of high-round draft picks.

Cam Newton struggled in prime time; Trent Richardson couldn’t get going against the Bills; and Rob Gronkowski got bullied by Ray Lewis and the Ravens. And then, for the third straight week, there was a pitiful performance from Chris Johnson.


The fact that Newton struggled against one of the league’s best defenses should not be surprising.


Fear not, Cam Newton owners. A bad day against a great defense is not worth getting too worked up over.

He is a player who, even at this level, can rely on his physical superiority to put up impressive fantasy numbers. But on the same token, he’s only a second-year player who can fall victim to an aggressive pass rush, especially when his receivers can’t get open.

Newton finished with a completion percentage just a hair over 50 (16 of 30, 242 yards), but what hurt his fantasy production were the three interceptions. Some were forced, and the Giants did make a great play on another. But like I said, he’s a young quarterback and these things are bound to happen.

He helped his cause with a rushing touchdown, which you can still count on if and when the Panthers get in a goal line situation.

I wouldn’t get too worked up over a bad day from Newton. Even though his team might not be great, he’s still progressing as a young quarterback and will continue to put up the numbers that you hoped for when using a high draft pick on him.


T-Pain found the end zone in the Browns’ 24-14 loss to Buffalo, but that was largely it for his performance.

He averaged well under three yards per carry, finishing his mediocre day with just 27 yards on 12 carries. Cleveland certainly isn’t great (or even good, really), and days like this will happen with Richardson.

He’s pretty much all that the Browns have in the backfield. They committed a high draft pick on him, and he’s going to continue to get work.

Given that the Browns are pretty terrible, days like this will happen with the rookie. If you drafted him as your RB1, that’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but that’s the risk when you slot in a rookie as your RB1.

He’ll continue to progress and adapt to NFL defenses, and will average somewhere in the 70-90 yards per game range from here on out.


Regardless of the fact that the Patriots have lost a few games, they still have one of the league’s best offenses.

Even with Aaron Hernandez hurt, Tom Brady still has plenty of options, one of those being Rob Gronkowski. That’s obvious. But because that’s so obvious, other teams have keyed in on Gronk to try to take him out of the game.

For the Baltimore defense, the way to do that was unleash Ray Lewis on Gronk and see what happens. The result was just two catches for 21 yards, and Brady only threw the ball to #87 three times total.

On the bright side, Brady still threw the ball 41 times, so that passing game isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In potent offenses, players will have bad weeks, even great players like Gronk. He’s still the best option at TE in the league, so don’t worry.


Tennessee and Detroit were in a shootout this weekend. 85 points were scored, with over 1,000 yards of total offense. Want to know how much of that offense Chris Johnson accounted for? 29 yards.

I’m about ready to throw in the towel on this guy.

Three straight weeks of just pitiful performances are enough to cause concern for any owner, especially on a high-round pick like Johnson.

This week, the Titans travel to face one of the league’s best defenses in Houston. Unless you’ve literally got no better options, introduce Johnson to your bench. If you can get anything worthwhile in a trade for him, go right ahead and do so.

You never know when a running back will hit the wall, but it seems to come eventually for most of them. I’m sure all of Nashville is hoping from a fantasy perspective that’s not the case.

Of course, he could bust off a couple of long TDs at any point, but at this juncture of your fantasy season, I see no way you can continue to trust him.

About Chris Callaway

Chris lives and works in La Crosse, Wisconsin, working primarily on-air while doing some writing as well. He is a part-owner of the Green Bay Packers, a Milwaukee Brewers die-hard, learning hockey while supporting the Minnesota Wild, and is also a fan of the Wisconsin Badgers and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow him on twitter @ccallaway33.


  1. Which 3 WRs would u play?
    DeSean Jackson, A.Hawkins, Malcolm Floyd, J.Simpson, Greg Jennings

    1TE : Gates /Pitta
    2RBs : Lynch, Doug Martin, M. Leshoure, Sproles.

    I dropped Ridley to pick up Leshoure……wise or stupid ?

    • WRs: Greg Jennings (GB will finally go off this week); Hawkins (like how involved he’s been in Cincy); DeSean Jackson (too much upside)
      TE: Can’t advocate sitting Gates.
      RB: Lynch, Martin.

      I think Ridley’s start was the exception rather than the rule, so I’m not against picking up Leshoure. Think he’s going to be good.

  2. eViL-Porcupine says:

    A little help with RB’s this week please. A couple of leagues here which are fairly similar. What they have in common is Trent Richardson. I think I’m giving the rookie more value than I should so could use outside help.

    League #1
    McFadden / Trent Richardson / Doug Martin / A-Morris / C-Benson / Ryan Williams

    League #2
    F-Jax / Doug Martin / Trent / LeShoure / Ryan Williams

    League #3
    McCoy / LeShoure / Trent Richardson / DOug Martin / Ryan Williams

    Thanks man!

    • eViL-Porcupine says:

      Oh… need RB1/RB2 and a FLEX please. League #1-2 is 10 Team PPR and League #3 is 10 Team Standard.

      • 1: McFadden, Martin, Richardson.
        2: Martin, Richardson, Leshoure (Let’s wait and see how healthy F-Jax is)
        3) McCoy, Martin, Leshoure.

        I like Leshoure a bit more than Richardson at this point from a fantasy perspective. The Lions at least have a competent offense, while the Browns do not. I think Trent is the better player, but that’s not what we’re looking for here.

  3. eViL-Porcupine says:

    IDP question :: I am in one league that award 2pt for tackles, 1 pt for assists. Sacks 1pt, no QB hits, No TFL – so basically geared towards Linebackers to shine!

    My question is… would you drop D’Qwell Jackson for Daryl Washington. D’Qwell’s still scoring points but is not tackling as much as he did last year. Seems like he is dropping back more in coverage and going after the passer more. He’s got 8 solo tackles to the year, 6 assists.

    Daryl Washington has come out of nowhere and has 26 tackles and 3 assists!

    I guess I just can’t believe that D’Qwell tackle numbers can be so low as he lead the league last year.

    Any thoughts?

    • I’m admittedly not as well versed in IDP, but I think many of the same rules apply as looking at your offensive roster too. And the big rule? Don’t panic yet. D’Qwell had a very good week one, including the pick-six off Vick, even though the tackles might not show. The Browns will be on defense a lot this season, so stick with the stud in Jackson.

  4. Good morning guys,

    Ok here are the questions this week. I have Pittsburgh Defense the best 4 available are Tampa, Cleveland, Washington, and NY Giants. Philadelphia is also available. Who would you pick up in exchange for Pitt. assuming somebody claims Pitt off waivers before I can get them again. At Rb which 2 would you start between Ryan Mathews, Mikel Leshoure, Michael Turner, and Kendal Hunter? At WR I have Cruz, Brandon Lloyd , and LaFell starting. I have Nate Washington and Andrew Hawkins on bench… Pick three to start.

    Thank you so much for the advice

  5. 3 Wide receivers: D- Thomas, Roddy White, Miles Austin, Danny Amendola
    Running Back: Michael Bush or Doug Martin

    Thanks Man

  6. I need your advice on dropping Kenny Britt for Andrew Hawkins, also dropping Green Elis for Leshure? And should I trade Gates now for something more valuable like a WR or RB?
    Last week I dropped Greg Olson for Rudolf and Meacham for Lafell.

    I have:
    QB: Flacco, Eli Manning
    WR: Miles, Welker, Demaryius Thomas, (Bench: Lafell, Britt)
    RB: Ray Rice, Murray, (Bench: Benson, Green Elis)
    TE: Rudolf (Bench: Gates)
    Def/ST: 49ers
    K: Matt Bryant

    • You seem pretty set both. I really like Leshoure, so I wouldn’t have a problem dropping either Cedric or BJGE for him. I’m also high on Hawkins, but Britt has a huge upside when he comes back. Unless you could flip Gates for an elite WR, I’d hold onto him.

  7. Thats the way I was leaning with the Defense and RB positions. So you like Hawkins over Nate Washington?

  8. Thats the way I was leaning with the Defense and RB positions. So you like Hawkins over Nate Washington?

  9. week 4 non ppr 10 league team witten or rudolph, ponder or romo, start 3 rbs ryan matthews,all day peterson, mccoy, leshoure

    • Starting Ponder over Romo is getting too cute at this point. Stick with Tony, plus then you get to have someone scoring points for you on Monday, which is always nice. I do really like how Kyle Rudolph has been playing, and I’d go with him over Witten. With LeShoure being questionable, I’d start the other three. Probably would start the other three anyways.

  10. Hey Chris, wanted your thoughts on this trade.

    I am giving RG3, T. Richardson, Andre Johnson for Ray Rice and AJ Green. Mind you, I have Brady as well, so losing RG3 won’t hurt me too bad. Good Trade, thoughts..? Thanks

  11. I have a couple questions
    1. With cj spiller hurt, is Fred Jackson more likely to play next week?
    2. With Stafford questionable for Sunday do you think Ponder or Fitzpatrick ( I have Steve Johnson as my #2WR) is a better possible replacement?

    Thanks in advance for your help,

  12. 1. I’d like to think so, but I’m no doctor. He seems like he’s itching to go, so in my opinion, I’d say yes.
    2. Ponder. He looked very good in the second half, plus I think it’ll be easier to score on Detroit than New England.

    Need 1 WR and 1 Flex:

    Alfred Morris

    (I was thinking DeSean and Amendola)

    • Amendola at the WR (only Bradford loves him more than I do), and then an RB at flex. DeSean isn’t great in PPR. LeShoure might not be healthy. Locker has still looked for CJ out of the backfield, so even as bad as he’s been, that might be your play. Although I can’t believe I’m saying that.

  14. NON-PPR

    Need 1 RB, 1 Flex and 2 WR:

    Forte (he MIGHT play)

    (I was thinking LeShoure/Morris and then Colston and DeSean)

    • The Packers have been very good at shutting down No. 1 wideouts the past two weeks. Brandon Marshall and Sidney Rice have done nothing. I’m not a big DeSean Jackson fan, and I’m a huge Amendola fan. All that said, I’d go LeShoure, Morris, Colston and Amendola. If LeShoure can’t go, sub in DeSean.

  15. Vick or josh freeman

    Steve Johnson vs NE,
    Brandon Marshall vs Dal,
    Julio Jones with cut hand vs Car,
    Danny Amendola vs Sea
    or will this be the breakout game as a Bolt for Robert Meachem vs KC
    I can p/u Kyle Rudolph vs Det if that is a better play

    P/u and play Jackie Battle, Bilal Powell, Daniel Thomas and drop Chris Johnson,Peyton Hillis

  16. Would I be worried about Leshoure for Sunday? I have Fred Jackson on my bench

  17. eViL-Porcupine says:

    Hi Chris…

    I have another one… last minute!

    10 Team Standard :: Pick 3 (RB2/WR2/Flex)

    WR2 = B-LLOYD vs buf or MACLIN vs giants
    RB2 + Flex = D-MARTIN vs wash / D-Murray vs chi / M-LeShoure vs minn / F-JAX (inj)

  18. So, there is a lot being said with Turner vs Carolina (who in the past he has beaten up) or LeShoure vs Minnesota (who so far has had the best run defense in the league) I know the upside for LeShoure is great but Turner is going to get the ball in goal line and junk time. What do you think? Still leaning towards LeShoure?

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