With the weekly guessing game that is the National Football League, each step of the season leaves us with several player who fell short of expectations and a handful that exceeded even the rosiest of projections. And with that, we bring you our set of Week 4 Achievers to recap the Week 4 of the fantasy football season. Do you try to buy low on the duds and sell high on the studs? Well, it isn’t always that simple…
Over-achiever – Phillip Rivers (SD)
35-for-42, 401 yards, 3 TDs
Perhaps we were just a year too early on the Philip Rivers remains an elite QB bandwagon. Hyped as one of the positions’ top values heading in to 2012, the BretskyBall staff whiffed on what was a painfully underwhelming season from Rivers last year. In 2013, it’s a different story. The Chargers have been one of the biggest surprises over the first quarter of the season and their veteran signal caller deserve much of the credit. Having a healthy Antonio Gates certainly helps, but with a supporting cast highlighted by Eddie Royal, Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown, Rivers deserve a whole bunch of the credit. He’s been accurate and decisive, reminding us of the quarterback who was quickly rising to elite levels in his first couple of seasons rather than the perennial loser we’ve become accustomed to. We’re still banking on Rivers finishing well outside of the top-5 for the season, but with the Chargers soft upcoming schedule a run at the top-10 is within reason. Considering that Rivers was just the 24th QB taken in preseason drafts and remained available in 39% of standard leagues prior to Week 4, it is easy to say that he deserves a bit more credit than we have collectively been willing to give.
Under-achiever – Russell Wilson (SEA)
12-for-23, 123 yards, 0 TDs, 77 rush yards
For the third time this season, Russell Wilson put together a mediocre fantasy performance, following up his four-TD game against the Jaguars a week ago with a 12-for-23 stinker in which he totals just 123 yards and no touchdowns. While 77 rushing yards on 10 carries allowed owners to squeeze a little something out of the afternoon, its been an uninspiring season overall for the Seahawks QB after he snuck inside the top-10 on average at the draft table. Yes, many ranked him as a top option presuming the presence of Percy Harvin, but Wilson was a much better player down the stretch last season then we are seeing right now. Wilson has thrown a pick in each of his last three games and has seen his completion percentage tick down a bit since last season. Wilson from a fantasy perspective is a tough player to rely on, as the Seahawks superior running game and lights out defense puts them in the unique situation where they don’t need to rely solely on their quarterback to win games. Wilson is averaging just 24 pass attempts per game and is on pace for fewer than 4,000 yards. The rushing work does help to keep things interesting, but perhaps it’s time to realize that Wilson may not be an automatic start week to week. He gets a Colts team that has been surprisingly solid against the pass this week and it may be time to consider replacing Wilson in your starting lineup in standard 10- and 12-team leagues.
Over-achiever – Reggie Bush (DET)
18 carries, 139 yards, TD, 4 receptions (6 targets), 34 yards
Struggling with various injuries and feeling pressure from a rising talent behind him on the depth chart, Reggie Bush was in need of a big Week 4 when the Lions took on the Bears, and he delivered. Bush totaled 173 yards on 22 touches and also go into the end zone on a 37-yard touchdown rumble. Despite missing a game, Bush sits as the N0. 6 back according to ESPN.com standard scoring. He’s an excellent fit for the Lions offense and Bush is finally settling in as the all-around stud that many projected out of college. If there was a worry that the up and coming Joique Bell would sneak a large chunk of the work away from Bush, that was quieted with Reggie’s strong effort. Though it seems as if the next injury is always lurking, Bush has been rock solid when on the field over the past couple of season and there is little reason to doubt that will continue.
Under-achiever – Chris Johnson (TEN)
15 caries, 21 yards, 2 receptions (2 targets) 10 yards
Johnson gets the nod for a disappointing day, but to be fair, the Jets are a much tougher matchup than most think. Still, CJ simply has to begin to do more with the workload he is getting. After gaining just 21 yards on 15 carries, Johnson is averaging a pitiful 3.3 yards-per-attempt so far this season and with just four receptions for 12 yards and no scores, he really doesn’t look anything like a player worthy of a second round selection. Things don’t get any easier for Johnson in the short term, with a game against an improved Chiefs defense before traveling to Seattle and facing the 49ers leading into a Week 8 bye. There’s always a chance for a big gain and, if you are in a deeper league, there may be few better options, but Johnson will be lucky to sniff the top-20 at the position over the next several weeks, even with the bye weeks kicking into full gear.
Over-achiever – Greg Jennings (MIN)
3 receptions (4 targets), 92 yards, 2 TDs
Minnesota’s biggest off-season acquisition has been off to a painfully slow start as he a quarterback Christian Ponder have been slow to develop a strong connection. Well, in Week 4, it was No Ponder, No Problem! As the Vikes traveled to London and grabbed a win over the reeling Pittsburgh Steelers, Matt Cassel stepped in for the injured Ponder and put a charge into the passing game. Cassel hooked up with Jennings on a 70 yards TD pass in the first quarter and just like that, it was Jennings’ best fantasy day of the season. He added another touchdown later and finished with 3 catches for 92 yards and the pair of scores. The problem that faces fantasy owners at this point is that with the Vikings are heading into a bye and Ponder is likely to return in Week 6, we just cannot rely on a bump associated with the potential quarterback change. It was a nice day for Jennings, but it’s difficult to expect more of the same while Christian Ponder remains in the starting role. Jennings will rank as a top-30 receiver during the bye weeks based on talent alone, but come playoff time, it will be hard to rely on the guy as more than a low-end WR3 until there is a permanent change in Minnesota.
Under-achiever – Mike Wallace (MIA)
3 receptions (7 targets), 24 yards
Wallace busted out with a big Week 2 in Miami, snagging nine balls for 115 yards and touchdown. In his three other starts in Miami, however, he has just six catches for 63 yards. Most regard Mike Wallace as an all-or-nothing threat week to week and this season, at least, he is proving that manta true. Wallace did let a potential big gainer slip through his hands on Monday night against the Saints simply could not get anything going in a game where Miami was in desperate for a big play. Wallace saw seven targets — second best on the team — but was inefficient on those targets.
Over-achiever – Tony Gonzalez (ATL)
12 reception (14 targets), 149 yards, 2 TDs
After reeling in the Falcons first two passes of the day, Gonzo never looked back. He was up over one hundred yards with a score by the half and wrapped Week 4 with a position-leading 38 points in PPR formats — 12 catches on 14 targets for 149 yards and 2 TDs. Gonzalez entered the game as one of the most frustrating commodities at the position, catching just 11 balls for 93 yards and a touchdown over the first three weeks of the season. Matt Ryan looked his way early and often and fantasy owners were the big winners as the Falcons failed to get a W. While the banner day is a reminder of what Gonzalez is capable, he’s got an unfavorable matchup against the Jets coming before the bye week. You have to figure that Roddy White becomes involved more heavily as his ankle continues to improve and Gonzo may be a boom or bust play as his true value is in his red zone dominance. We don’t mind selling high on Tony G following his monster effort but it was nice to see the future-hall-of-famer shrug off the notion that he had finally hit a wall.
Under-achiever – Jason Witten (DAL)
5 receptions (10 targets), 43 yards
Witten put together a “fine” 5-for-43 line on Sunday, but there was opportunity for more with 10 targets against a San Diego defense that had been beat by the tight end in the pass. Owen Daniels and the Texans torched this group for 94 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 and while the team has been more solid against opposing tight ends of late, Witten’s performance is the lowest yardage output the Charger’s have allowed to the position so far this year. Witten has been in single digits in standard scoring formats for three straight weeks and despite hitting pay-dirt twice in Week 1, looks again to more of a between the 20s safety net for Tony Romo than a real red zone threat. PPR owners will want to hang tough with Witten but in a standard league, he’s a name you should be shopping.