As spooky season commences, football season is just picking up steam.
The league MVP race is clear cut through four weeks; Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers have all placed their ballots in the hat after blazing hot starts. What a time to be a fantasy manager overall though, as nine defensive units are allowing 30 or more points per game.
Rushers and receivers are all welcome here.
We may not be able to avoid the injury plague — add in Nick Chubb and O.J. Howard this week — but that's why you must be on top of the waiver wire more than anything. Check in with names like D'Ernest Johnson, Robert Tonyan and Damien Harris after some big week four showings.
COVID is starting to creep in with reigning DPOY Stephon Gilmore being added to New England's reserve list. BUF-TEN seemed to be a great matchup on the horizon but things changed quickly with more positive tests in Tennessee.
Hopefully we get to see both undefeated squads take the field Sunday, but the way it looks the Titans may be forced to forfeit due to an unauthorized practice last week.
With that being said, here we go y'all.
Start 'em — Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
This might the biggest no-brainer start of the season. Prescott is actually putting up video game numbers and he can thank a defense giving up a league worst 36.5 points per game to blame for it. Having played with deficits in all four games thus far, the Mississippi State alumnus is averaging 50.3 pass attempts per game.
Prescott is at 1,690 yards through the air, an all-time NFL record through four weeks. You know how much further ahead he is than Josh Allen, who ranks second this year? A whole 364 yards. The fifth-year vet is on pace to throw for over 6,700 yards. Sheesh.
Now the New York Giants may have had their best defensive performance last week, holding the L.A. Rams to 17 points and 240 total yards. But the G-Men have struggled in two key areas defensively; 1) they are tied for the eighth highest rate of drives ending in an offensive score (47.4%), 2) they are the No. 23-ranked unit in terms of drives ending in a turnover (7.9%).
I also think we've seen the official shift of the 'Boys O to being pass first with a much shakier o-line and weapons like Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Dalton Schultz and Cedrick Wilson. Ezekiel Elliott is averaging career lows in yards per carry (3.9), yards per touch (4.6), rushing yards per game (68.3) and carries per game (17.5), as he's only cracked 100 yards rushing twice in the last 12 games.
Sit 'em — Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Sorry y'all, Mixon went bananas last week but he couldn't have asked for a worse follow-up game. Even after an 181-total yardage, three-touchdown effort, Baltimore is not the team to pick against.
Since the start of 2019, including the playoffs, the Ravens have only given up 100-yard rushing days to four players — Mixon, Chubb, Raheem Mostert and Derrick Henry.
The Oklahoma product may have nabbed 151 yards from scrimmage in his last matchup with Baltimore, but he only averaged 3.8 yards per carry and failed to reach the end zone. Plus the Bengals' first game in 2019 against their AFC North rival was a far different tune for Mixon (10 rushing yards, 29 receiving yards).
Now I do love the direction Cincy is headed in with Joe Burrow under center, but Mixon could be in for a tough one with Baltimore, as it ranks sixth in rushing yards allowed per game, tied for the sixth least rushing TDs allowed, as well as being one of nine teams yielding four yards per carry or less.
I'm not saying the fourth-year back isn't a viable flex play. But if he's your No. 1 back this week you may want to look elsewhere.
Sleeper of the week — Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
I'm sure you know who the Vikes' leading receiver is. Adam Thielen, right? You thought.
The LSU rookie has burst onto the scene, heating up after a mediocre start to the season. In the last two games, Jefferson has hauled in 11 passes for 278 yards and a score, giving him a wild 25.3 yards per catch average in the stretch.
Kirk Cousins has been able to find a rapport with the young wideout, compiling a 114.6 passer rating when targeting Jefferson. That ranks third amongst rookie WRs with 10 or more receptions.
I think Jefferson and Thielen could both be in line for big games, seeing as Seattle has allowed 1,907 total yards and 1,604 passing yards, which are both a league worst. But Jefferson is trending in the right direction, and he should draw No. 2 corner matchups against the Seahawks banged up secondary.
Plus you should expect Seattle to be up early on Minnesota, so the Vikings will need to pass their way back into this one.
Bills fantasy outlook — Tennessee Titans
We welcome you to another edition of the Josh Allen show. It may have been Allen's "worst" statistical game yardage wise (288 passing, -1 rushing), but it was a sign of consistency in other areas. It was his third time this year completing over 70% of his passes, the fourth straight game with a passer rating over 100 and the third straight week with a QBR over 85.
The AFC's reigning offensive player of the month also accounted for three TDs (2 passing, 1 rushing), bringing his total to 15 on the year (12 passing, 3 rushing), which ranks second behind Russell Wilson's 16. It was also his 13th time recording a passing and rushing TD in the same game since 2018, far and away the tops in the league in that span.
What's helped Allen build a 12-to-1, TD-to-INT ratio has been this deep receiving core. Stefon Diggs (6 catches, 115 yards) continues to show his superstar status, leading the league with 403 receiving yards. Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis found the end zone once again and John Brown should have had a score that was absurdly overturned.
Devin Singletary (55 rushing yards, 21 receiving yards, 1 TD) keeps pacing the O, holding down the fort while Zack Moss bounces back from his toe injury. The improved o-line play has aided Singletary and Allen, as it tied for a season-low with just one sack allowed against Las Vegas.
The Buffalo defense bent but didn't break against the Raiders, with 383 yards allowed and two fumble recoveries. Josh Norman's return was key in that, taking in one of those fumbles and finishing with four tackles and a tackle for loss. Tremaine Edmunds still may need some work in coverage, but he's getting back to himself after totaling a season-high 12 tackles and eight solo stops.
One of the most encouraging signs for the Buffalo D was how it bottled up the running game, limiting Josh Jacobs to 48 yards and a 3.2 yards per carry average. As a team, Vegas only mustered 86 rushing yards and a 3.7 average per tote.
This formula will be important heading into a matchup with the reigning rushing champ in Henry. Last season, the Bills held him to 78 yards and a score for a 3.9 yards per rush average.
The biggest key will be if Buffalo can contain Ryan Tannehill and the passing game, featuring weapons like Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith and the likely return of A.J. Brown. Derek Carr (311 yards, 2 TDs) kept the Bills' unfortunate streak going, as he was the third straight QB to record 300 passing yards and two TDs against them.
That is, if and only if, this game is played.
Respond to sports reporter Khari Demos on Twitter @riri_demos or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure to listen to the GNN Sports Podcast, on Spotify, Anchor, Apple Podcasts and more.