We all know the feeling of getting sank by fantasy football icebergs. You’ve got a guy you’re counting on, a sure thing, a set-and-forget type of player. Then, almost inexplicably, he rips a gaping hole through the bottom of your boat, sinking your team on its quest for glory.
Your players who performed up to or above their expectations keep playing their violins nonetheless, as you sit in the bridge, pensively awaiting the inevitable; should you have seen the iceberg coming?
Probably not. Those fantasy football icebergs are sneaky little bastards. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Next week offers a new opportunity, a new ship, if you will, on which to sail to fantasy football Avalon.
Here are five of Week 4’s most devastating fantasy football icebergs that had team owners scratching their heads in disbelief, along with forecasts for this week. Shoutout to our guy Sheehan for taking care of the iceberg advice last week, but now, let me help you out with some Week 5 forecasts for last week’s strugglers.
Matt Ryan – 12.4 points
There weren’t any real horrible performances among the top QBs in Week 4. But Ryan, who was QB8 heading into his Monday night game against Green Bay, was certainly the worst. His 285 passing yards on 39 attempts were solid, but he wasn’t able to record a touchdown and the Falcons put up a season-low 16 points in the loss. He finished as QB25 on the week.
The Packers’ pass defense has been mediocre this year, but Ryan’s top-two receivers, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, were both dealing with injuries. Jones’s bum hamstring kept him out of the second half of the contest, while Ridley looked like a shell of himself and put up zeroes across the board thanks, in part, to a bad ankle (more on that later). Some guy named Olamide Zaccheaus ended up leading the Falcons in every receiving category, so that should tell you something about the supporting cast Ryan had to work with.
This is Matty Ice’s second-straight appearance on this list, and unfortunately, Sheehan’s prediction for a bounce-back performance didn’t end up happening. I’m going to go with recent history here and say to be wary about putting Ryan in your lineup. The Week 5 forecasts will not be as hopeful to the Falcons QB.
Carolina’s pass defense doesn’t look like anything special on paper, but on the field, they’re giving up 15 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, the third-fewest in the league. Then there’s the problem that the Falcons might be down their top wideout.
We’ll know more about Jones’s status for Atlanta’s game against Carolina later in the week, but it’s not a good sign that this hamstring problem keeps lingering. He could be looking at a multi-week absence. That’ll be a problem. In 128 games with Julio Jones, Ryan has averaged 292.4 yards through the air and 1.82 passing touchdowns with a QB rating of 97.9. In 19 games without his generational talent, those numbers dip to 260.3 yards and 1.53 TDs with a rating of 88.4.
I doubt a guy like Matt Ryan will fall outside the top-20 QBs in fantasy for a third-straight week, but I don’t see a top-10 performance, either. He’s only worthy of a starting spot in two-QB/Superflex leagues. The Week 5 forecasts are not dire, but approach with extreme vigilance.
Kenyan Drake – 3.5 points (full PPR)
Drake’s bad game was partly due to a chest injury that knocked him out of Arizona’s game against Carolina in the second half. He was shitting the bed up to that point though, plus it sounds like he’ll play this week, so I’ll include him here.
Rough look if you drafted Drake somewhere in the first two rounds: He’s 12th in total touches after four weeks but ranks just 35th among running backs in PPR. The real kicker though is that he’s out-touching his backup Chase Edmonds 72 to 29 but is up just two-tenths of a point on him in PPR scoring. Those 35 rushing yards on 13 carries against Carolina’s sorry-ass run defense are only getting Drake closer and closer to Kliff Kingsbury’s doghouse.
But Arizona has the New York Jets this week! The worst team in the league! This defense would give up 30 points to Rutgers’ second-stringers. Eh, I’d also like to think this is a good matchup for Drake to turn his season around, but don’t get your hopes up. The Jets have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to RBs this season, but the Panthers and Lions are both bottom-five in that category, and both of those defenses held him to under 10 points.
Let’s remember: This is a guy the Miami Dolphins tossed away. Those eight games for the Cardinals last year were something special, but 54 career games before that said Drake was nothing more than a rotational back. Four games into this season say the same thing. At the same time, Drake’s probably your RB1/2, so you can’t really afford to leave him on your bench.
I don’t know what to tell you, man. Find that guy in your league who auto-drafted and see what you can get for Drake in a trade. Our Week 5 forecasts say use extreme caution with him.
Darrell Henderson – 4.8 points (full PPR)
Henderson was RB20 in PPR heading into Week 4, but after he played like an RB1 in Weeks 2 and 3, it only stood to logic and reason that he would lead the Rams’ backfield against the Giants. And considering Big Blue is one of the two or three worst teams in the league, the Giants fan in me assumed this was going to be a blowout, which would have meant a lot of garbage-time carries. Well, none of that happened. Jared Goff had to throw the ball 32 times to secure the eight-point win, and Malcolm Brown comfortably out-touched Henderson. Just to rub salt in the wound, tight end Gerald Everett poached a touchdown from the two-yard line.
I got nothing here. It’s a complete toss-up which running back Sean McVay is going to ride on any given week. If Henderson can’t get lead-back duties after running for 195 yards the previous two weeks, I don’t know what he needs to do to get consistent snaps. That backfield is also only going to be more muddled this week with second-round pick Cam Akers returning from a rib injury.
The Washington *TBDs* have had some trouble stopping the run this season, but I think that has more to do with playing the Browns and Ravens than it does with their run defense. Henderson’s going to go off some games and put up duds other, all depending on how much his head coach likes him on any given week. This may look like really bad advice in hindsight, but you just can’t trust any of these Rams running backs right now. The Week 5 forecasts say they could all be icebergs.
Calvin Ridley – 0.0 points (full PPR)
If you were down by one-tenth of a point heading into Monday Night Football and had Calvin Ridley left to play, you lost! The leading fantasy WR over the first three weeks of the season was not able to haul in any of his five targets and did absolutely nothing for his fantasy owners in Week 4.
This is obviously an outlier performance and not something that’s going to continue. Ridley was also nursing an ankle injury and it wasn’t a sure thing he would even suit up for this game. It will only help matters by having another week to let that heal. You have to consider the matchup too. Ridley saw a lot of Jaire Alexander in the second half after Jones exited with a hamstring injury. PFF has the Packers cornerback as the highest-graded player at the position, while he has allowed a passer rating of just 72.7 as the closest defender in coverage, according to Pro Football Reference.
Ridley and the Falcons have the Panthers coming up in Week 5, which will be a good opportunity for Ridley to bounce back. Carolina is sitting at 2-2 at the quarter-way point of the season (to the surprise of some people) with a strong pass defense that ranks in the top-10 in both yards allowed and net yards gained per attempt. I said above that I’m iffy on his QB’s prospects for this week, but Ridley has a history of torching his divisional rivals. Ridley is averaging 5 catches for 93.3 yards and a touchdown in four contests against the Panthers. He’ll also become Ryan’s number-one option if Julio does end up missing time.
No one’s about to bench Ridley after one bomb, and he’s a decent bet to get back to his dominant ways this week with a more favorable matchup against Carolina’s corners.
Tyler Higbee – 5.1 points (full PPR)
You can’t get too picky about your tight ends—a position that’s notoriously weak outside of the top guys. Count your blessings if a 5.1-point outing is the worst you get out of Higbee. Like I said in the section on Henderson, the Rams-Giants game was a lot closer than I thought it was going to be, and Goff had to throw the ball quite a bit. He spread the ball all around though, with five guys seeing four or more targets. Higbee remains the third option in this passing game, and well behind Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp on the pecking order.
Higbee’s only in TE1 territory thanks to a three-touchdown game in Week 2, but he also hasn’t had any really bad performances, with those 5.1 points his worst showing of the season so far. That might indicate he’s just another touchdown-dependent tight end, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing…
Yes, the Rams have the fourth-fewest passing attempts in the NFL, and Higbee’s averaging under four targets a game. But I like that he’s been on the field for 83% of the Rams’ snaps and is the only Rams receiver to see any targets inside the 10-yard line. The Washington *We’re Still Working on Its* are also in the bottom-five in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, with the five touchdowns they’ve given up to the position tied for the second-most in the league.
I’m liking Higbee. Our Week 5 forecasts say start him.