Four games is probably a bit too quick to judge a team, but it’s a good sample size to get an idea of how a team might be using different players this season. For some, there are lingering questions revolving around age, health and future with a team, each of which might have an effect on that player’s fantasy performance.
Let’s take a look at some of those questions out there heading into Week 5.
QB: Tom Brady, New England
No one is going to doubt his career credentials and first-ballot Hall of Fame status. But all of that is relatively meaningless in the here-and-now of fantasy football. The fact of the matter is, New England’s offense just isn’t what it used to be. Brady’s career passer rating of 95.4 ranks among the best all time, but this year, he’s sitting at 79.1. Take that stat for what it’s worth, but it’s a good indicator of fantasy production.
It was evident during the Week 4 dismantling by Kansas City that Brady and the Patriots receivers were not on the same page. He chucked the ball 56 times in a Week 1 win against Miami, but he’s averaged just 27 attempts per game since then. He could absolutely blow up with a 400-yard, four-touchdown week at any time because he’s Tom Freaking Brady, but with a tough matchup against Cincinnati in Week 5 (and tough matchups with the Jets, Colts and Broncos, among others) looming it’s tough to argue dropping Brady. But with top-five quarterback potential, the right move is to stash him on your bench for now.
RB: Bishop Sankey, Tennessee
The toughest part about owning and playing rookies on your fantasy team is simply the unknown. Really, how good are they? Being that Sankey was the first running back off the board in the 2014 NFL Draft, the hope was obviously that he’d be pretty good. That didn’t translate over the first two weeks of the season, in which he had a combined eight carries for 28 yards.
Things have picked up nicely over the past two weeks, as he has toted the ball 16 times for 95 yards – good for 5.9 yards per carry. Production like that will earn him more playing time, and according to Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt, who said (via The Tennessean) that Sankey “has made strides and done some of the things we’ve asked him, and in turn, he’s going to get more reps.” That’s good news. He could definitely be worth starting this week against Cleveland, and will be right in the mix from here on out.
The Second Fiddle
WR: Torrey Smith, Baltimore
After downplaying the significance of the fact he was entering a contract year, Smith hasn’t done much through four games this season to make the Ravens’ front office want to rush to lock up the fourth-year wideout. Smith has averaged two catches and 35 yards per game. That’s not good. But Smith did have 1,128 yards last year on only 65 catches. He’s relied on the big play to help boost his fantasy stats, but so far this year, that player has been Steve Smith Sr. for the Ravens.
The two Smiths have similar yards per catch averages (Torrey: 17.3, Steve: 17.2), but Joe Flacco has targeted Torrey Smith just 21 times, while he’s looked the way of the veteran Steve 42 times. That’s a concerning ratio for fantasy owners. Torrey Smith is immensely talented and is certainly capable of a big day, but if you can sell high on him the next time he goes off, you might save yourself some headache down the road.
TE: Jordan Cameron, Cleveland
After bursting onto the scene with 917 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, Cameron has been hampered by a shoulder injury that he re-injured in Week 1 after initially spraining the AC joint back in August. When healthy, Cameron can flirt with being a top-five fantasy tight end. When he’s week-to-week, obviously those expectations are harder to manage.
Cameron told Cleveland.com that the injury was “nagging” and that there wasn’t much he could do to protect it. With tight end a deep position fantasy-wise in 2014, it would absolutely behoove you to pick up some depth on your roster, whether it be in the form of Indianapolis tight end Dwayne Allen, or perhaps a speculative pickup in the Lions’ Eric Ebron. The shoulder injury will likely be one that lingers with Cameron all season long, so monitor the situation each week but do your best to have a capable backup ready.