Here are seven fantasy football thoughts from Arthur Arkush with one game — a doozy for many owners, Washington visiting the Chiefs on Monday night — remaining in Week 4.
1. Is it possible for Chiefs rookie revelation and fantasy war daddy Kareem Hunt to play Monday night secured entirely in bubble wrap? It's a natural reaction after a saddening Sunday for fellow rookie backs — Minnesota confirmed Dalvin Cook tore his left ACL and Chris Carson suffered what Pete Carroll called a "significant" ankle injury.
Cook entered Sunday as the NFL's second-leading rusher, and Carson showed the dependability to rise above more established vets and crank out 4.5 yards a pop behind Seattle's horrid offensive line. Sadly, Latavius Murray isn't special like Cook. And although JD McKissic (who?) opened eyes with a pair of touchdowns, one as a runner, the other as a receiver and both of the spectacular variety, his stature (5-10, 190) is likely to open up Seattle's work-horse battle again.
Nonetheless, expect to read more on Murray and McKissic in the Week 5 '9 route' either late Monday evening or Tuesday morning.
2. Now, some good rookie RB news: welcome to the fantasy party, late rounders Elijah McGuire (Jets) and Aaron Jones (Packers). Both seized their chances after injuries in front of them in Week 4: McGuire amassed 131 scrimmage yards (robust 10.9 yards per touch), including a 69-yard scoring jaunt with flashes of open-field elusiveness and breakaway speed; Jones' 49-rushing yard, one-TD night Thursday was more modest but also as efficient an outing as a Packers runner has put together this year.
With Matt Forte (toe) week-to-week, McGuire's role is only set to expand. Ty Montgomery reportedly will play through a rib injury, and Jamaal Williams avoided a serious knee injury, but we'll surmise Jones did enough to change Mike McCarthy's one-horse approach in his backfield.
3. Here's a spoiler from our not-yet-written '9 route:' Deshaun Watson will be the week's top waiver add. That much you knew already. But it seems likely Will Fuller will also appear on the list after he was an integral cog in Houston's best offensive day in franchise history, a 57-point barrage on the hapless Titans.
With two touchdowns and the drawing of a 45-yard defensive pass interference that led to a Watson scoring scramble on the next play, Fuller's immediate impact was unmistakable in his 2017 debut. He was Watson's second-favorite weapon (6 targets for 4-35-2 receiving) and his speed expands a horizontal offense already challenging defenses with movement and misdirection vertically. Prospective owners gun shy over Fuller's drops and rookie fade should remember: Watson is perfect for Fuller, unlike Brock Osweiler, and this offense has changed drastically — and for the better — for the game-breaking wideout opposite DeAndre Hopkins.
4. The Giants' season is circling the drain, but that's not a bad fantasy development for rookies Wayne Gallman and especially Evan Engram. Gallman, in his first career action, garnered 13 touches for 50 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. It was nothing earth shattering, but it marked some traction in a stagnant backfield and it makes no sense for the Giants not to keep vetting their highest-pedigreed back.
Engram trailed only Odell Beckham in targets (15 to 11), catches (6 to 5) and yards (90 to 62), and made a sensational diving sideline catch that channeled the acrobatics of OBJ. He's up to sixth in fantasy scoring among tight ends and it appears Engram may be the saving grace in a disastrous Giants campaign; he'll remain a featured part of a one-dimensional offense with Brandon Marshall's continuing to fade, if not soon melt down completely.
5. It's not just Titans fans on pins and needles Monday. Fantasy owners with any Titans stakes could have a world of problems if Marcus Mariota's MRI on his injured hamstring necessitates missed time. Matt Cassel was re-signed in the offseason, first and foremost, for continuity's sake. But unlike Carson Palmer and Eli Mannings, whose demises were exaggerated, Cassel appears to be out of magic.
Cassel has a 3:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his past seven extended outings dating back to Dallas in 2015. So although his three-turnover, four-completion outing Sunday in a Texans boat race must be taken with a grain of salt, a broader view doesn't result in additional optimism with Cassel. His exotic backfield managed just 3.2 yards per carry in two Cassel starts last season, and only Rishard Matthews has come close to maintaining his form with the backup at the controls.
6. All it apparently took for Cam Newton to awaken was a visit both to Foxboro and likely many owners' benches on Sunday. And, believe it or not, it's much easier to fault Bill Belichick and the Patriots for New England's defensive demise than Newton's owners for running out of patience.
Now the question becomes whether Newton returns to must-start status when Carolina visits Detroit in Week 5. The Lions have the fifth-toughest defense against fantasy QBs and have ceded — get this — one combined rushing yard to Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and Case Keenum. Dual-threat quarterbacks they are not, but it's a noteworthy stat nonetheless, much like the Lions 'D' tying for the NFL lead with 11 takeaways. Newton has just three turnover-free games in his past 10 dating back to last season
The Panthers offense expanded on Sunday in Foxboro, where Devin Funchess had his best game as a pro; role players Ed Dickson and Fozzy Whittaker made vital contributions; and Newton had his best blend of activity and efficiency as a runner (8-44-1) in more than a calendar year. Ideally, Newton owners have a solid enough contingency plan in place to wait and see which version appears at Ford Field, but it may be a luxury most can't afford.
7. We wrote our ode to the Rams two Fridays ago, when they were coming off the 41-point eruption vs. San Francisco. We'll only say now, after that impressive comeback in Dallas, that another monster outing from Jared Goff and Todd Gurley validates what we've seen thus far. And if the Rams 'D,' which sturdied late when it had to, is going to be an inconsistent unit, it may raise Goff's arrow without lowering Gurley's because of his wild introduction as a David Johnson-like weapon in the passing game.
But it's amazing to think that, one week after Sammy Watkins' and Robert Woods' Week 3 breakouts with the Rams, the offense has added enough firepower to drop 35 on the Cowboys with two different pass catchers starring in Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee. Just an incredible transformation Sean McVay has overseen thus far with the Rams offense.