Through four weeks, it's the fantasy owners who didn't possess a draft pick among the top three overall who probably have been the most pleased with their first-round picks.
McCoy's struggles only continued in Week 4, as he managed just 17 yards on 10 carries, the second consecutive week that he has let his fantasy owners down. His poor performance stands out from a historical angle; McCoy now has two games scoring two or fewer fantasy points through his first four; he scored one point in Week 3. He joins Charles as the only top-three picks in the past 10 seasons (2005-14) to have done that; Charles did so when he scored two and zero points in Weeks 1-2.
Only three other top-10 picks from 2005-14 managed multiple games of two or fewer fantasy points in their first four games of those seasons: Ray Rice in 2013, picked fourth overall; Chris Johnson in 2012, picked eighth; and Randy Moss in 2008, picked seventh. That makes this the first season during which two first-rounders posted multiple games of two or fewer points in their first four contests of the given year.
What's worse, McCoy's 29 total fantasy points through four games places him among the slowest-starting top-three picks of the past 10 seasons:
Chris Johnson, 28 points in 2011 (3rd overall pick)
McCoy, 29 points in 2014 (2nd overall pick)
Shaun Alexander, 31 points in 2006 (2nd overall pick)
Steven Jackson, 32 points in 2007 (2nd overall pick)
Larry Johnson, 34 points in 2007 (3rd overall pick)
Charles, meanwhile, has two fantasy points through two games, and is expected to play his third game of the season Monday night. He'll need 27 points in his next two games to avoid supplanting Johnson for this unfortunate "honor."
What hope does either of these two running backs have of a turnaround? Well, let's return to those lists of slow starters -- both the two-games-of-two-points-or-less as well as the worst-through-four-games examples above -- and examine how they fared the rest of those seasons:
Notable Slow Starters, After Playing Fourth Game
Rice (1 game), Alexander (6) and Jackson (4) each missed games prior to playing in fourth game
Though a few of those examples provide some encouragement to McCoy and Charles' owners -- specifically Chris Johnson's 2012, when he averaged 11.6 fantasy points in his final 12 games after averaging 5.8 in his first four -- the group overall reveals much cause for concern. Those six players averaged 7.8 fantasy points in their first four games, but improved to a mere 11.1 fantasy points the rest of those years and, perhaps most important, missed 19 games combined in the seasons in question.
This is merely one columnist's theorizing, but it's that missed-time fact that could be most troubling when judging McCoy's rest-of-2014 value. Remember, he missed a portion of the Philadelphia Eagles' Week 3 contest after absorbing a helmet-to-helmet hit during the first quarter. To illustrate that he hasn't performed quite the same since: McCoy had tallied 163 yards on 43 carries and 227 yards on 53 total touches leading up to that injury, and he has 29 yards on 27 carries and no catches whatsoever (on two targets) since.
Now, without specific word that McCoy is dealing with an injury, it's unfair to label him a major concern in that department, but if at any point in the near future he or the Eagles reveal that he's dealing with even a "day-to-day" ailment, keep those numbers tucked away for your evaluation purposes.
• Sure, he had plenty of motivation playing his former team, the Carolina Panthers, but what Steve Smith did Sunday was still outstanding from a historical perspective. His 25 fantasy points is tied for the wide receiver lead in Week 4 (pending Monday's results) and they made him only the seventh wide receiver to score 25 or more fantasy points in a game that took place after his 35th birthday. In fact, only four wide receivers in history scored at least as many fantasy points in a game as he did at an older age than he is:
Oldest WRs To Score 25+ Fantasy Pts In A Game
An additional "fun Steve Smith fact": Despite his poor seasonal fantasy point total of 94 in 2013, he was as consistent as any wide receiver in the league, with a standard deviation of 2.8 resulting in a Consistency Rating of 0.449, both of those tops at his position. Consistency has long been the name of Smith's game; only A.J. Green (0.552), Brandon Marshall (0.552), Calvin Johnson (0.583), Kendall Wright (0.606), Malcom Floyd (0.613) and Stevie Johnson (0.618) had better Consistency Ratings than Smith's 0.621 from 2011-13 combined. It's encouraging, however, to see that Smith has gone from being consistently mediocre to consistently reliable this year.
• Teddy Bridgewater's first career NFL start might have ended on a down note -- he was carted to the locker room with a sprained left ankle during the fourth quarter -- but his 22-point fantasy performance warrants kudos nevertheless. He's only the 12th quarterback since 2001 to manage at least 20 fantasy points in his first start, and only five of those previous 11 managed to score more in their first NFL starts:
To put Bridgewater's performance into perspective, why not compare it to other first-NFL-start performances by other current starting quarterbacks? Here are the leaders for the other 31 current starters (teams with uncertain starters list the one with the greater score):
Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, 29 points in 2011 Week 1
Washington Redskins: Kirk Cousins, 21 points in 2012 Week 15
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers, 20 points 2008 Week 1
St. Louis Rams: Shaun Hill, 18 points in 2007 Week 15 (for 49ers)
San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick, 18 points in 2012 Week 11
Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer, 16 points in 2004 Week 1 (for Bengals)
Buffalo Bills: EJ Manuel, 16 points in 2013 Week 1
New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees, 15 points in 2002 Week 1 (for Chargers)
Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo, 15 points in 2006 Week 8
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh McCown, 14 points in 2003 Week 15 (for Cardinals)
Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco, 14 points in 2008 Week 1
New York Jets: Geno Smith, 14 points in 2013 Week 1
Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr, 14 points in 2014 Week 1
Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, 12 points in 2014 Week 4
Cleveland Browns: Brian Hoyer, 11 points in 2012 Week 17 (for Cardinals)
Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning, 10 points in 1998 Week 1 (for Colts)
Houston Texans: Ryan Fitzpatrick, 10 points in 2005 Week 13 (for Rams)
Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, 10 points in 2008 Week 1
Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker, 10 points in 2012 Week 1
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, 8 points in 2004 Week 3
San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers, 8 points in 2006 Week 1
Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler, 8 points in 2006 Week 13 (for Broncos)
Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, 8 points in 2009 Week 1
Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, 8 points in 2012 Week 1
Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson, 8 points in 2012 Week 1
Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton, 7 points 2011 Week 1
New England Patriots: Tom Brady, 6 points in 2001 Week 3
New York Giants: Eli Manning, 6 points in 2004 Week 11
Philadelphia Eagles: Nick Foles, 4 points in 2012 Week 11
Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, 2 points in 2012 Week 1
Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Smith, minus-8 points in 2005 Week 5 (for 49ers)