A quarter of the way into the fantasy football season there’s been countless performance surprises around the league. It is exceedingly easy to overreact and give up on certain players too early. At the same time it’s just as easy to fall in love with a player who’s been over-producing at an unsustainable rate. There are also performances that are an indication of what they’re going to be all season; it’s better to realize that sooner rather than later, whether it be positive or negative. An example of a perfectly reasonable reaction is Joe Mixon being the sole reason my fantasy team is 0-4 opposed to a somewhat respectable mark. With that being said, these are the headlines you should be buying or selling.
Buy: Dalvin Cook as a high-end RB1
Despite entering Week 4 as the most productive running back outside of Christian McCaffrey, I was considering benching Dalvin Cook because of the matchup at the Chicago Bears. It is well documented that Kirk Cousins (Go Green) teams perform terribly against any real opposition and it doesn’t get any more real than a Khalil Mack-led Bears defense. That stayed true Sunday as the Vikings mustered just six points, and they were lucky to even get that. In addition to Cook being stuffed at the line all game long, he wasn’t even the top rusher on his own team. The Vikings offense will probably never be less effective in a game all year, however Cook still managed 19 fantasy points. He’s so dynamic in the passing game and the red zone to the point where he’ll put up RB1 numbers in the midst of a disastrous offensive day. Dalvin Cook has put his ACL injury and a disappointing sophomore season behind him and will go punch for punch with McCaffrey as the best fantasy running back in the league.
Buy: Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and the Buccaneers offense
Whether it be Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers always tend to put up absurd numbers to begin the season. Last year was highlighted by the 48 points in the shocker at the Superdome in their 2018 opener. This year they started a bit slower, failing to score more than 20 points in subsequent games. Those slight offensive troubles look to be over after mauling the Rams in LA 55-40. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans combined for a staggering 60.1 fantasy points against a secondary with the likes of Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and Eric Weddle. Godwin and Evans are the number three and four ranked fantasy receivers in the league after last weeks drubbing. Jameis Winston will always be prone to turning the ball over, however it’s feasible to assume he’ll throw for 400-plus yards with three touchdowns while doing so. Bruce Arians has appeared to give the Buccaneers some structure and the receivers are the main beneficiaries of that. Barring a Jameis meltdown or offensive line injury, I completely buy into the production Godwin and Evans have been showing. Once/if O.J. Howard gets going, the Bucs could have the best fantasy offense in the NFC.
Buy: The fantasy value of the Patriots defense and special teams
Almost everyone has heard the historical statistics of the Patriots defense through four games, but I have absolutely nothing against repeating them for those who haven’t, or if not just for my own pleasure: 10 interceptions, 18 sacks, three touchdowns and 13 total points against. That defense will give Tom Brady his seventh ring in February, but we’re here to discuss fantasy value. Obviously the Patriots D/ST leads all others with 19.7 points on average per game, however they are on such another planet that it’s acceptable to compare them to position players. So far they have scored more fantasy points than highly coveted fantasy assets such as Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Ezekiel Elliot and Amari Cooper. Retrospectively the Patriots defense has been worth a fourth or fifth round fantasy selection at the very worst, which is remarkable. With the Patriots playing the lowly Redskins, Giants and Jets in the next three weeks, it is likely they will keep up, if not exceed their current fantasy numbers.
Sell: Deandre Hopkins lack of production
Simply put, Deshaun Watson and Deandre Hopkins are too talented of a pairing to continue their current lack of a connection. After exploding for 31.1 points in Week 1, Hopkins has averaged 9.6 in the last three. This is in part due to the disastrous offensive line performances, especially last week against the Panthers. Watson was pressured on over 25% of snaps, not giving him enough time to find Hopkins downfield. He missed two crucial deep balls, one to Will Fuller which was bad, so the blame cannot all be on the offensive line. That line is going to get better with a growing chemistry with former first round pick Laremy Tunsil, combined with the return of right guard Zach Fulton. Give Watson time to throw and the connection is going to flourish. Expect Hopkins to torch Altanta’s faltering secondary this weekend.
Sell: Austin Ekeler’s rise
Austin Ekeler has impressed and perhaps surprised everyone with his fantasy production this year, being the third best player so far due to an average of 26.7 points. I do not believe that is sustainable — not because of his abilities, but because of the return of Melvin Gordon. Gordon has been holding for a new contract, which does not appear to be coming anytime soon. He ended his hold-out last week and will make his return to the field this weekend against Denver. Although head coach Anthony Lynn said they would ease him back into the fold, Lynn confirmed that Gordon would take over starting running back duties. I personally hate this because I believe that football should be a meritocracy. Ekeler has performed out of his mind while Gordon was sitting at home waiting for money. Gordon shouldn’t be able to come back and be the starter just like that. Regardless of my opinion, Ekeler’s touches are going to be decreased massively. His days of consistently putting up 20-plus fantasy points is likely over, as long as Gordon is in the fold.
Tamir March is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.