The Bengals are now 4-0 this season and atop the standings in the AFC North. What is more important to us though is the number of Bengals players that are at, or near, the top of their positional fantasy football rankings weekly.
Andy Dalton is a fixtures as a QB1 this season, but a lot of owners had questions about Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, and their ability to continue to be starters in fantasy leagues. The short and simple answer is yes. OC Hue Jackson has transformed this offense into a well-rounded machine where every player contributes to the success of the team as a whole. Regardless if it is A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Tyler Eifert, or even Brandon Tate, every player has a role and most of them are worth a look in standard 12-team fantasy leagues because of it.
Around the league, Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson now look to be locked into a RBBC, which creates havoc for fantasy owners. When you have two running backs, you don't have ONE running back! Lance Dunbar is expected to miss the rest of the season, making fantasy owners wonder if they should pick up Christine Michael off the waiver wire. He hasn't proven he is worthy of anything more than rotational use in the NFL so far, but Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden are a long ways from locking up the touches in Dallas. If you have a spot on your bench for him, he is worth a speculative add. Devonta Freeman has taken over the No.1 role in Atlanta, putting Tevin Coleman on the bench in fantasy and reality. Those looking for immediate help at RB might want to pick up C.J. Spiller while he is still available.
Andy Dalton– Bengals: Dalton had a good game against a solid Chiefs defense this week, racking up 321 yards and 1 touchdown on 17-of-24 passing. He added 16 yards rushing to finish as a QB1 for the 4th straight week. While Dalton is on pace for a 36 TDs and just 4 INTs this season, Week 5 brings a much tougher match-up against the Seahawks. Depending on your QB situation, Dalton owners need to consider their options next week.
Josh McCown – Browns: One way to make all 2 percent of your fantasy owners happy is to play the Chargers so you can get their defense! McCown was able to finish Week 4 with 356 passing yards, 2 TDs, and a 2-point conversion. He did lose a fumble, but the yards and TDs were enough to propel him to the top-end of the QB1 rankings for the first time in a LONG time. He's not worth picking up as even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while.
Jeremy Hill– Bengals: While Hill only ran the ball 9 times against the Chiefs this week, he finished the game with 40 yards, 3 TDs, and 2-point conversion. Yards are a fraction of the points for typical fantasy leagues, whereas touchdowns are king. For those who remember, Jerome Bettis was the epitome of this as he would run the ball 3 times for 3 yards and 3 TDs at the end of his career. Hill is splitting time with Bernard in the backfield, but both RBs are worth playing every week.
Todd Gurley – Rams: Gurley showed why he was the steal of the 2015 draft on Sunday when he ran the ball 19 times for 146 yards, and reeled in 2 receptions for 15 more yards. While he didn't score, the yards alone were enough to put him in the RB1 rankings for a down week for fantasy RBs. The problem Gurley faces in the Rams O-Line, but he has the talent to be a RB2 in fantasy terms if given the carries. He should be owned in all formats, which he pretty much is.
Allen Hurns – Jaguars: I told people to pick up and play Hurns this week as a sleeper WR, but how many listened? Well, I know Brian Wilson from Jacksonville, Florida did as he sent me a picture of his game recap to prove he followed where I led him! Hurns racked up 15 targets, hauling in 11 of them for 116 yards and a TD against the Colts. Hurns deserves to be owned in most fantasy leagues given his production this season as the No. 2 WR behind Allen Robinson.
Tavon Austin – Rams: Austin is owned in just a fraction of the fantasy leagues out there because his lack of production in the boxscore this season. This week however he turned his 7 targets into 6 receptions, 96 yards, and 2 TDs against the Cardinals respectable defense. We should watch Austin's usage numbers for a few more games before jumping on the bandwagon, but those in deeper leagues might want to consider picking him up as a speculation add.
Martellus Bennett – Bears: With the recent trades in Chicago, and the multitude of rumors floating around about everyone on their roster with even a hint of value, one has to wonder if players are auditioning for jobs with other NFL teams'. Bennett caught fire against the Raiders this week and reeled in 11-of-13 targets for 83 yards and a touchdown, stats any fantasy owner would love to have from a TE. When Alshon Jeffery returns from his hamstring injury, Bennett's targets will take a hit. Regardless of Jeffery returning, Bennett will remain a solid TE1 for the remainder of the season.
Atlanta Falcons defense: If you look up "getting worked" online, you might just see a picture of the Texans come up on your search engine after their 48-21 loss to the Falcons this week. The Falcons defense is owned in just the deepest of fantasy leagues, but they finished this week as the #1 ranked fantasy defense thanks to their 3 recovered fumbles, 2 defensive touchdowns, 1 sack, 1 INT, and 21 points allowed. The Falcons offense put the Texans on their heels early, and the defense was able to sit back and protect against the pass and pretty much ignore the run.
Joe Flacco – Ravens: Flacco and the Ravens have to be looking around the room and wondering what exactly went wrong this season. While there is plenty of blame to go around, Flacco has to be in the front of the line with his performance this week after throwing for just 189 yards with 1 TD, and 1 INT. To make his fantasy stats worse, he also lost a fumble. The only QB to perform worse than Flacco this week was Mallett, making Flacco the 2nd worst fantasy QB for Week 4.
Peyton Manning – Broncos: There is a vast difference between fantasy and reality, and that difference is most apparent when talking with Broncos fans. Manning and the Broncos may have held off the Vikings for a win this week, but his fantasy owners looked at the game as a loss given his 213 passing yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs on the day. People aren't used to thinking of him as a fantasy bench warmer, but that is pretty much what he as he makes the rounds of his farewell tour in the NFL.
Matt Jones – Redskins: Too many of the big-box fantasy websites went overboard with Jones after Week 2 when he put up 123 yards and 2 TDs. Because of the hype that game created, his ownership has skyrocketed to 62 percent on Yahoo, and 38.8 percent on NFL.com. Outside of that one good game, Jones has totaled just 77 rushing yards, no TDs, and 1 lost fumble. The Redskins are awful on both sides of the football, and Jones is overhyped as a fantasy asset because of one good week. I'd keep him firmly planted on my bench until he gives me a reason to believe he is the real deal.
DeMarco Murray – Eagles: The fantasy community (myself included) couldn't have been more wrong about the value of Murray before the season started. I had him locked into a top 3 pick for most fantasy formats, and he has been just that if we are talking about top 3 busts of the 2015 season! Murray let another chance to prove himself slip through his fingers as he ran the ball 8 times for just 36 yards and didn't find the endzone. The Eagles O-Line is terrible, but something has to be done to justify Murray's salary or people are going to lose their jobs soon.
Calvin Johnson – Lions: I said it before the season started, and I will say it again, Megatron is NOT the WR he used to be. I will give you the argument that the Seahawks shut down most offenses they face. Johnson's best game this season was 10 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, and that wasn't even this week! Despite being targeted 10 times on Monday night, he caught 6 of them for 46 yards, no touchdowns, and fumbled the ball at the goalline to seal the loss (great punch-out by Kam Chancellor, but you have to protect the ball). Johnson isn't an elite WR any longer, and the reality is sinking in that there were better choices to be made when drafting a WR1.
Rishard Matthews – Dolphins: A week after torching the Bills for a 6/113/2 line, Matthews was a bust in Week 4 with just 1 catch (3 targets) for 16 yards. The Dolphins as a whole got manhandled by the Jets on both sides of the ball, and Matthews was just one cog in the big wheel of disappointment that powered the Week 4 loss in London. He'll try to get back on track next week against the Titans suspect defense.
Anquan Boldin – 49ers: Boldin is one of the more overrated WRs in fantasy football given that he was drafted in 99 percent of leagues, and currently sits with an ownership rate of 77 percent, despite having just 15 catches, 124 yards, and 1 TD this season. 3 of those catches and 12 of those yards came this week against the Packers. The reality is the 49ers are not a good football team, and fantasy owners who have any of their players are in for a bumpy ride the rest of the season.
Kyle Rudolph – Vikings: I remember that one season when Rudolph was all the rage in fantasy football as a sleeper TE… that ONE season. The problem is that season isn't this season, and Rudolph is nothing more than a TD-or-bust fantasy play like most other TEs. This week he turned his 4 targets into 2 receptions for 7 yards. He didn't even reach the 10-yard mark, so his only points came for those in PPR leagues. The only real positive to owning him is his he has no real competition for snaps at TE.
Houston Texans defense: The Texans are to fantasy defenses what [DeMarco] Murray is to fantasy RBs, a bust! This week they tied the Chiefs (WHODEY) for allowing a league-high 36 points, but managed to add just 2 sacks to the defensive stats category for fantasy owners. The Texans are owned in roughly 85 percent of fantasy leagues out there, and the vast majority are owned by people do so because of one man, J.J. Watt. One man doesn't make a defense worth owning, and the Texans are simply not worth owning at this point given their performance in 3 of their first 4 games.