Here are your five fantasy football takeaways from Week 4 of the NFL season:
For really the first time this season, we had a week that was more about the comebacks from injuries than the injuries themselves. While Andrew Luck sitting out came as a surprise, most fantasy teams escaped Week 4 unscathed. When the biggest injuries are to Texans WR Cecil Shorts and Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar, that means just about everyone stayed healthy.
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Probably the most notable return from injury was from Rams RB Todd Gurley. After seeing minimal action last week as he continues to recover from his ACL tear, Gurley lit the Cardinals defense on fire with 19 carries for 146 yards. While the performance itself was incredibly performance, it's important to note the workload. Apparently, Gurley is ready to handle 20 carries a game, which isn't something that looked likely last week.
Jets RB Chris Ivory also returned to action after missing last week, and he showed once again why he's such an enticing back to have in fantasy. Ivory pounded the Dolphins defense for 29 carries, 166 yards and a score. He was the true workhorse back, as Bilal Powell didn't register a single carry, and Zac Stacy only notched five touches. It's going to be difficult to predict, but when the Jets have a strong matchup and can play with a lead, Ivory is going to be a monster. He'll get passing down work siphoned away, but that won't matter much if the Jets are up.
Saints RB C.J. Spiller finally made an impact for his owners, although he may have been firmly planted on the bench. Spiller's 80-yard game-winning touchdown catch in overtime boosted his stats, as he only had six touches prior to that. Spiller only has flex appeal in PPR leagues right now, as Sean Payton's insistence on using Khiry Robinson as the backup runner to Mark Ingram limits Spiller's value severely.
Texans RB Arian Foster returned, but we didn't get a great look at him due to the blowout nature of the game. So long as he emerges from this week without any setbacks, he'll be good to fire up and get in your lineups as a back-end RB2 for the time being.
Running backs weren't the only ones making an impact after early-season injuries. Bears QB Jay Cutler made his return, and led the Bears to their first win. Cutler's 281 yards and 2 TD were solid enough, and he'll be a popular free agency addition in leagues he was dropped in, especially with the bye weeks rolling around. Speaking of which...
Droppable bye week players
MIA, MIN, NYJ, CAR all on bye.
Here's where roster management and free agency additions can really give you a leg up on the competition. While we'll get to players who should be on the waiver wire radar a little later in this column, let's focus on players from bye week teams you can safely drop.
MIA: A lot of owners in shallow leagues may be tempted to drop Jarvis Landry, but that would be a mistake. Landry is still the top receiver in an offense that should be playing from behind quite a bit, and he's getting targets (12 against NYJ) that will lead to some great games. Given the lack of depth at the tight end position, Jordan Cameron should absolutely be held on to as well.
You're also not cutting Lamar Miller, especially with the coaching change. It's possible Miller is finally allowed to be a featured back and not a 12 carry per game type. Ryan Tannehill isn't a "must-keep" in my mind, but given previous injuries to Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger, there probably isn't a better quarterback on the waiver wire out there for you now. Rishard Matthews can be cut, although he may be worth holding on to in order to see if he starts earning more snaps under the new coaching staff.
MIN: It's fairly cut and dry in Minnesota. Adrian Peterson (obviously) is the only player you absolutely have to hang on to. If you have to cut Charles Johnson, Kyle Rudolph, Mike Wallace or Teddy Bridgewater, you can, although all four should probably be held on to barring a very talent-rich waiver wire.
NYJ: Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bilal Powell have some fantasy value, but both can be dropped if you're in need of a starter. Otherwise, hang on. You're also keeping Chris Ivory, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, but you knew that. The Jets have a Week 6 matchup with Washington on deck, and then Oakland in Jacksonville in two of the three weeks after that. I don't normally advise carrying two defenses, but chances are they'll be worth it.
CAR: Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen are all keepers. You can cut Ted Ginn Jr., but after his two touchdown catches, I don't blame if you want to stick with him. Philly Brown and Devin Funchess can be cut loose, and so can Stewart's handcuffs (Cameron Artis-Payne, Fozzy Whitaker, Mike Tolbert) as that would almost certainly be a sloppy RBBC situation with limited scoring appeal if/when Stewart goes down. Carolina's defense has been awesome lately, but a bye week followed by matchups with the Seahawks, Eagles, Colts and Packers could put a stop to that. I'd rather take a flier on a high upside free agent pickup than hang on to their defense.
I have to quickly mention Falcons RB Devonta Freeman, who turned in another killer performance, scoring three touchdowns on the ground for the second straight week. While that kind of scoring isn't sustainable, Freeman's reliable work in the passing game gives him a high floor, especially while he isn't splitting carries. This is firmly his job now, and Tevin Coleman will have to fight for scraps once he returns. Freeman has been unreal.
Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman is in a full bore timeshare with C.J. Anderson. The two backs once again received the exact same amount of carries, but Hillman took a 72-yard carry to the house. He's simply the more explosive back, and you have to wonder if the Broncos will start giving him more touches than Anderson, who is averaging 2.7 YPC through the first four weeks. For now, both backs are flex options.
Being the No. 1 receiver on a team playing from behind quite a bit has its fantasy benefits. Look no further than Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (9-157) for proof, as he racked up 22 (!) targets in Houston's blowout loss to the Falcons. Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin once again had success with his team in catchup mode, pulling in 11 grabs for 148 yards.
While it doesn't always work out that way, trying to predict game flow correctly is a huge part of DFS. Garbage time points are still points.
Hot waiver wire
Here are this week's top waiver wire pickups, in order:
QB: Jay Cutler, Josh McCown, Jameis Winston, Michael Vick
RB: Duke Johnson Jr., Darren McFadden, Roy Helu, Ahmad Bradshaw, Chris Thompson
WR: Leonard Hankerson, Allen Hurns, Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, Tavon Austin, Kamar Aiken
TE: Charles Clay, Gary Barnidge, Richard Rodgers
D/ST: NYG, NE, ATL, JAX, TB