Fantasy Football

Five takeaways from Week 4 action

LONE STAR
A lack of weapons at his disposal has not stopped Brady in 2013.
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Joel Beall

Joel Beall is a writer for FOXSports.com and WhatIfSports.com. He lives with a Golden Tee machine and a jump shot that’s currently broken. Reach Joel on Twitter @FOXSportsBeall.

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Pete Carroll is a sorcerer.

How else do you explain Seattle’s comeback on Sunday? Down 17 points, on the road, against an experienced squad boasting one of the best running games in the league? Such conditions impede the hopes of a rally. So while Texans fans are burning Matt Schaub’s jersey in effigy, don’t blame the signal caller for his team’s meltdown. Do you really think a veteran like Schaub would be that irresponsible to throw a back-footed wobble in the direction of the NFL’s top cornerback? Of course not. It was the conception of Carroll.

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John Halpin hosts his fantasy baseball podcast throughout the 2014 MLB season on iTunes and SoundCloud.

This is not the first time Carroll has conjured witchcraft in his coaching career. Remember when “Beast Mode” was born? That Richter scale registering run from Marshawn Lynch was Carroll’s voodoo on display. The unexplained reverse on Sherman’s drug suspension last season? Better believe his magic wand caused that appeal. The way Carroll escaped punishment after his USC program was nailed with sanctions? A disappearing act at its finest!

The Seahawks may have a depleted offensive line and tough conference road ahead, but you would have to be a fool not to believe in Seattle. Forget NFL parity. The Emerald City has Petey C.

Five takeaways from Week 4:

5. Jerome Simpson will finish as a top-25 WR

Even if/when the Christian Ponder Pile-up returns, Simpson’s relevancy in the fantasy arena should endure. Offseason acquisition Greg Jennings is the marquee name in the receiving corps, but Simpson’s numbers through a quarter of the season trump the former Packer (Simpson: 32 targets, 19 catches, 342 yards; Jennings: 23 targets, 14 catches, 252 yards).

Granted, part of this success derives from Jennings and tight end Kyle Rudolph garnering the focus of adversaries, and I’m sure that Adrian Peterson guy takes a tad of attention himself. Nevertheless, playing in a competitive division with a lackluster defense, Minnesota could find itself behind in many a ballgame, forcing the Vikings offense to the air and equating to continued opportunities for Jennings. Minnesota’s dubious quarterback situation will make Simpson a feast-or-famine entity, yet given his ownership status (6.2 percent in FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues), he needs to be on your roster.

4. The Philip Rivers Resurgence is for real

In a related note, “The Philip Rivers Resurgence” is a baller name for a band.

After averaging 4,667 yards and 28 touchdowns the previous two campaigns, Rivers managed a humble 3,606 yards last season, posting a career-low 10.7 yards per completion. Worse, it was the way Rivers performed in 2012 that was disconcerting, appearing hobbled and lacking arm strength. Coupled with Antonio Gates’ geriatric showing and failure of management to shore up his arsenal in the offseason, Rivers went unselected in a majority of drafts. Once an elite contributor, it looked like Rivers’ bearing in the fantasy realm was finished.

Turns out reports of demise were premature. Sunday’s torching of the Cowboys (35-for-42, 401 yards, three touchdowns, one interception) now gives Rivers nearly 1,200 yards through four games and his 11 scores are behind only Peyton Manning for most in the league. Gates has fought off injuries thus far, and Eddie Royal and Danny Woodhead have served as dependable marks. Better yet, with Ryan Mathews being Ryan Mathews (a pedestrian 3.5 yards per rush), the Lightning Bolts will have to roll from the sky on offense. (See what I did there?) Keeping Gates upright is paramount to his dividends and a bit of a precarious suggestion. Still, don’t envision regression in Rivers’ future anytime soon.

3. Jacksonville’s opponent is a defensive must-start

Rival units are average 21.5 fantasy points per outing. The Jaguars’ offense has found the end zone only three times in four weeks. Hell, Jacksonville challengers have notched two scores in that span.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Cecil Shorts and the recently-activated Justin Blackmon are capable playmakers, but Jacksonville’s porous line curbs MJD’s output, and Shorts and Blackmon are subject to the underthrow stylings of Blaine Gabbert. This week’s matchup versus a St. Louis resistance that’s giving up 30.3 points per contest might be the platform to turn around these fortunes. And I mean might as in, “The Houston Astros might win the 2014 World Series.”

2. Receivers? I don’t need no stinkin’ receivers!

That would be the battle cry of Tom Brady. Despite the exiles of Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd and the injury sabbaticals of Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, Brady tossed for 316 yards and a pair of trips to pay dirt in Atlanta Sunday night. Brady has racked up two scores in three of four contests this year, with Week 2’s matchup with the Jets (19-for-39, 185 yards, one touchdown) jaded by inclement weather and a plethora of drops from his receivers.

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The trio of Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce has talent, and Julian Edelman has proven a viable asset over the middle and in short routes. However, considering the abbreviated assimilation and experience of this group, one could make the case that Brady’s early-season exploits are just as impressive, if not more so, than Manning’s work in Mile High.

1. A word on Russell Wilson

As the proverbial game manager? Love me some Wilson. As my fantasy quarterback? Not so much.

In 20 regular season games, Wilson has 36 total touchdowns. Subtract three superb outings (last week against the Jaguars, late-2012 rendezvouses with the Bills and Niners) and that figure plummets to 24. He enters Week 5 ranked 25th in pass yards, hitting 61.5 percent of his intended targets (17th). Wilson has the speed to do damage on the ground, yet he’s surpassed 40 yards only four times, and out of his four rushing scores, three derive from one game. Factor in an upcoming slate littered with formidable defenses, and Wilson is best-suited for the pine in fantasy.

That is, unless Carroll operates his hocus-pocus. In that case, all bets are off.

Tagged: Broncos, Vikings, Patriots, Seahawks, Jaguars, Chargers, Texans, Tom Brady, Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers, Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Ryan Mathews, Russell Wilson

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