Week 4 fantasy football winners and losers: Mitchell Trubisky enjoys a breakthrough game

Mitchell Trubisky erupted for a huge first half against Tampa Bay. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As we do each week, we recap the week's winners and losers from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks of the week's best and worst.


Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears: What a performance by the second-year quarterback, as Trubisky set a Bears franchise record -- and bear in mind that this is the 99th season in the franchise's history -- with his fifth passing touchdown of the game only 25 minutes into the contest. It was a huge, breakthrough effort for him, as he finished with six passing scores and 43.5 fantasy points, the 12th-most by any NFL quarterback since 1950 and less than six points shy of Michael Vick's single-game record (49.3, 2010 Week 10). Part should be attributed to Trubisky's extremely favorable matchup against a poor Buccaneers pass defense, one that entered the week having allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but that mostly makes it puzzling that Trubisky was started in only 5.23 percent of ESPN leagues, 24th-most among the 30 Week 4 starting quarterbacks. Tuck this away if you have future Buccaneers opponents rostered -- they face Matt Ryan, Baker Mayfield and Andy Dalton in Weeks 6-8 after their Week 5 bye. Trubisky, unfortunately, has his bye as well in Week 5.

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints: Let's just reserve this space for him weekly, shall we? Kamara has been a frequent visitor to this page in his two seasons in the NFL, this week qualifying thanks to his topping all running backs (through the 4 p.m. ET games) with 41.1 PPR fantasy points. But it goes deeper than that: Those gave him a whopping 136.1 through the Saints' first four games of the season, and that's the most that any individual player has had through four team games of any season since 1950. Kamara is off to a sensational start, and it'll be curious to see how he's used with Mark Ingram II returning from suspension for Week 5. Expect a slight decline in rushing work, as Kamara has averaged 14.0 rushing attempts in these four games with Ingram on the sidelines, compared to 7.5 in the 16 games the two played together in 2017 (and 8.8 in the team's final 12 games after the bye), but nothing that would prevent him from being a top-five overall start every week.

Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams: The Minnesota Vikings defense has disappointed severely in back-to-back weeks, and on Thursday Night Football, it was the Rams, led by Goff, who capitalized. The third-year quarterback set a new personal best with 39.3 fantasy points, which was not only the most by any player in a Thursday night game since Emmanuel Sanders' 39.6 in 2014 Week 8, but also the second-most by any quarterback in a Thursday game and fourth most by any quarterback in a prime-time game since 1950. With it, Goff has 100.7 fantasy points through four games this season, which puts him well ahead of the pace he had through that many in his breakthrough 2017 (69.0 through four).

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys: He has had an extraordinary career already, but would you believe that Elliott's 34.0 PPR fantasy points on Sunday represented the third-best single-game effort of his 29-game career? He capitalized upon a favorable matchup against the Lions -- tuck that away if you have future Lions running back opponents -- and continued to show good production in the receiving game, catching all four of his targets for 88 yards and a touchdown. Elliott, incidentally, now has 15 receptions through four games, which puts him on pace for 60 for the season. He also has 614.7 PPR fantasy points through his first 29 career games, which is the sixth most by any running back since 1950, behind only Edgerrin James (680.0), Marcus Allen (650.2), Eric Dickerson (646.2), Billy Sims (631.7) and Clinton Portis (628.7).

Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, WRs, Rams: The Rams' decision to lean heavily upon their wide receivers is paying major fantasy dividends, and never was that more evident than on the prime-time stage on Thursday, as Kupp scored 37.2 PPR fantasy points, Cooks 25.6 and Woods 21.1. It was only the 12th time since 1950 that any team had three wide receivers score at least that many in a game together. All three Rams wide receivers have been on the field for at least 96 percent of the team's offensive snaps, their hefty usage making it extremely difficult for defenses to contain, as evidenced by the talented Vikings secondary serving up huge games to all three in Week 4. Considering their success, the Rams aren't likely to let up with their receivers' usage, and there's a favorable schedule ahead for the team heading into its Week 12 bye: @SEA, @DEN, @SF, GB, @NO, SEA, KC. There's no reason to fear starting all three as at least weekly WR2s.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings: Credit Cousins with a successful game despite facing a challenging matchup, even if the Rams' defense wasn't at full strength with Aqib Talib (ankle surgery) sidelined and Marcus Peters (calf) a surprise active after suffering what initially appeared a multiweek injury in Week 3. Cousins' 31.7 fantasy points were the fourth most he has had in any of his 67 career games (61 of them starts), and it was the most the Rams defense had allowed in either this or last season. It was an encouraging effort that should make it easier to start him against a middling-to-date Philadelphia Eagles defense in Week 5.

Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears: One of Trubisky's stars in the passing game on Sunday, Cohen's 30.4 PPR fantasy points set a career best, behind a team-best eight targets and tied-for-team-best seven receptions. What's more, Cohen actually had more rushing attempts (13) than Jordan Howard (11), an unexpected development in a game the team led by a substantial margin for most of the day. It was a good sign for his chemistry with Trubisky, but to temper enthusiasm somewhat, it was also the product of a rather favorable matchup. Cohen remains a flex-play consideration despite the big day.

James White, RB, New England Patriots: While Sony Michel was the Patriots' star on the ground, White was that via the air, pacing the team with eight catches and 10 targets as well as with 31.2 PPR fantasy points. That set a new personal best for White, who was started in 57.3 percent of ESPN leagues, 19th-most among running backs. He has been heavily involved in the Patriots' passing game thus far, catching 22 passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns in four games, but that pace is likely to slow with Julian Edelman eligible to return in Week 5 and Josh Gordon active for the first time on Sunday. The Patriots do face the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs the next two weeks, though, so White is still well worthy of flex-play status in all leagues for those.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Though his PPR fantasy point total (21.5) was hardly a position-topper -- in fact, it fell outside the top 10 at his position -- his performance was remarkable in that it was a third consecutive "start"-worthy score, coming on the heels of his huge, 40.5-point Week 3 breakthrough. With it, Ridley now has 78.7 points through his first four NFL contests, eighth-most among wide receivers since 1950, and he has done that despite failing to record a catch or a fantasy point in Week 1. Ridley looks like a star, and he's sure to continue to in favorable Weeks 5 and 6 matchups at the Pittsburgh Steelers and against the Buccaneers.

Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions: A late addition to the injury report due to a hip issue, Tate was kept active for Sunday's game nevertheless and had a career day, his 33.2 PPR fantasy points setting a personal best. He was a one-man wrecking crew for the Lions, who didn't get 11.4 points out of any of their other receivers, but he did it for significantly fewer fantasy managers, as his start percentage in ESPN leagues dropped to a season-low 68.4. Tate's Week 5 matchup against the Green Bay Packers is extremely favorable, however, so get him back in there in all leagues.

Taylor Gabriel, WR, Bears: Another of Trubisky's Sunday standouts, Gabriel set a personal best with 30.4 PPR fantasy points, thanks to his catching all seven of his targets. He capitalized in a major way on both his expanded opportunity with Anthony Miller (shoulder) inactive as well as the extremely favorable matchup against the Buccaneers, their defense one of the worst particularly against opposing slot receivers. Beware expecting a repeat in the coming weeks, but Gabriel could be a matchups-capable plug-in.

Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts: Though he fell short in his comeback quest, his Colts losing 37-34 in overtime, the added time allowed Luck to attempt a career-high 62 passes on his way to a personal-best 35.7 fantasy points. It was the seventh time in his career that he scored 30-plus, but the first time since 2016's Week 1. It was an important step as he attempts to prove he's back to full strength after missing the entirety of 2017 with a shoulder injury. Luck was started in 38.3 percent of ESPN leagues, just 14th most among quarterbacks.

Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans: There's that breakthrough game we've been waiting for! Davis' 31.1 PPR fantasy points not only set a new personal best, they actually doubled his previous mark of 15.1, set in 2017 Week 16. Due in part to Marcus Mariota's injury issues in the season's early weeks, Davis had disappointed in his first three games after being the No. 29 wide receiver selected on average in the preseason (67th overall, 72.6 average pick), scoring 28.1 points combined. Davis' start percentage in ESPN leagues had dropped to 20.0 on Sunday accordingly, but it should go up a bit when he faces the Bills in Week 5.

Mike Davis, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Gee, thanks, Pete Carroll. After Chris Carson (hip) was a surprise inactive for the team's late-afternoon game, rookie Rashad Penny had the look of the team's go-to running back, in large part because Penny's 20 carries the first three weeks combined were 26 percent of the team's total, and easily second behind Carson's 45. So what happened? Naturally, Davis got the start and 21 of the team's 34 rushing attempts, finishing with 28.4 PPR fantasy points, fifth-best among running backs (through the 4 p.m. ET games). Davis' role was so unexpected, he had never been rostered in greater than 0.10 percent or started in greater than 0.06 percent of ESPN leagues all year, with both of those his rates as of his game's kickoff time. Unfortunately, while this might now make him a popular pickup, Davis will probably return to his little-used backup role if Carson is healthy for Week 5, plus the Seahawks face a brutal matchup against the Rams in that game. The primary takeaway here is that Penny's stock couldn't be much lower than it is, and in redraft leagues he's a cut candidate.

George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers: No Jimmy Garoppolo? No problem. Kittle finished second among tight ends (through the 4 p.m. ET games) with his 24.5 PPR fantasy points on eight targets, setting a new personal best. He was a frequent target of C.J. Beathard's, pacing the team in that category, though Kittle deserves the most credit for doing this against a Los Angeles Chargers defense that had performed well against tight ends through three games. Kittle now gets a much more favorable matchup against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, so he should be started in quite a bit more than the 57.6 percent he was on Sunday.

Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders: It took overtime to do it, but Cook scored 31.0 PPR fantasy points on Sunday, his best single-game performance in more than five years -- his personal best of 31.1 occurred in 2013 Week 1. His strong start to the year has come at a good time, considering the injuries that have hit the position hard -- Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker, Evan Engram and now Tyler Eifert have suffered multi-week injuries. Cook, who was started in a season-high 51.8 percent of ESPN leagues (ninth-highest among tight ends), now has 75.0 fantasy points for the season, 24.0 more than he had through four team games of any of his previous nine NFL campaigns.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: His 31.6 fantasy points on Sunday were the second-most he has had in any of his 66 career NFL games, and of course, his best two were overtime games -- he also had 35.8 in an overtime game in 2016 Week 8. Unfortunately, few in fantasy capitalized, as Carr was started in a mere 4.1 percent of ESPN leagues, that the result of what had been an awful start to his season. Carr does face an injury-depleted Chargers defense in Week 5, but one strong game in which he had two interceptions and amassed those points on a whopping 58 pass attempts shouldn't be convincing enough. He's a fringe QB2.


Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Well how about that. The quarterback who enjoyed the greatest three-week start to a season in fantasy football history couldn't even make it past halftime in Game No. 4, as Fitzpatrick was pulled for Jameis Winston after managing just 3.0 fantasy points as his Buccaneers fell behind 38-3 at halftime. There had been hints that the team might consider such an in-game change -- NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday morning that coach Dirk Koetter told the team he was "one or two plays away" from replacing Fitzpatrick in Week 3 -- and while Fitzpatrick can hardly be blamed for the defense's awful effort, his interception didn't help his cause. He was started in 44.0 percent of ESPN leagues, 11th highest among quarterbacks, but he might struggle to remain on that many rosters entering Week 5 should Winston be declared the team's starter early in the week. Winston, incidentally, had two interceptions and scored 6.5 fantasy points in his half-game's worth of action.

Jordan Howard, RB, Bears: One of the most frustrating experiences in fantasy is seeing a "48-10" final number on the scoreboard, then checking your team's running back PPR point total and finding a disappointing number. In this case, Howard's 2.5 points on 11 carries and one target qualifies, especially if you consider that one of his rushing attempts was a goal-line try in the middle of the second quarter on which he failed to convert (2-yard loss), and that the target was beneath his 5, 4 and 2 of the first three weeks. The decline in receiving usage is disconcerting, but it could be a one-week aberration and Tarik Cohen's lofty target total suggests the Bears still consider their running backs an integral part of the passing game. Expect Howard to rebound after his Week 5 bye.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings: His fantasy managers were well aware that he entered the short week questionable due to a left hamstring injury, and that despite his active status on Thursday, that he might play the kind of limited snap count -- 18 of 71 on offense -- that he did. Still, Cook was started in 62.0 percent of ESPN leagues, so there was enough confidence in him that his 2.0 PPR fantasy points on 10 touches (all rushing attempts) had to be considered an extreme disappointment. He should improve with better luck in the health department in the coming weeks, though the Eagles in Week 5 don't represent a much more favorable matchup for him than the Rams were.

Vikings defense/special teams: While the matchup with the Rams' offense was known to be unfavorable -- the team's 61.7 percent start rate in ESPN leagues was a season low -- this unit is still one of the higher-regarded ones in the game. That was clear from the seventh-highest start percentage of Week 4, plus the team's No. 4 ADP at the position (104th overall, 104.1 average pick). Coupling this with the Vikings' stinker in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills, against whom the Vikings scored only five fantasy points, and this is a defense that will be surrounded by some questions entering Week 5 against the Eagles. It's still one of the better ones on paper, but it needs to improve in a major way soon.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: Sloppy and/or mediocre quarterback play is ruining Fitzgerald's (potentially final) season, as for the third consecutive week he was held beneath six PPR fantasy points, posting just 5.8 on seven targets on Sunday. It's the first time in his 222-game NFL career that he has had a streak of that length, and in fact, he has had only 27 total games scoring that few. Fitzgerald's fantasy stock is in steep decline, evidenced by his start percentages in ESPN leagues going from 92.9 to 80.5 to 42.3 to 24.5 from Weeks 1-4, with little sign of a swift turnaround. His Week 5 matchup at the San Francisco 49ers is at least favorable enough to give him a look in 12-team leagues or those that start at least three wide receivers, but that's hardly the value that was placed upon him in the preseason.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: With scoring what it is these days, a 9.0 fantasy point performance by a quarterback is a catastrophe, especially if said quarterback was started in 56.8 percent of ESPN leagues (ninth-most at the position). Wilson's forgettable stat line was uncharacteristic for him, as it was only the 11th time in his 100 career NFL games that he was held beneath 10. He simply doesn't have the receiving depth he did in years past, and is pressed into too many passing situations by his diminished defense. Things might not get much better for him in a tough matchup against the Rams in Week 5.

Drew Brees, QB, Saints: It was the Alvin Kamara show on Sunday, so Brees really wasn't the focal point in an eventual 33-18 win by the Saints, scoring just 8.6 fantasy points. It was his worst single-game total since 2016 Week 14 (4.5), and it came at a bad time, as he was started in 84.5 percent of ESPN leagues, second-most among quarterbacks.

Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans: He was heavily started due to the favorable matchup, active in 76.7 percent of ESPN leagues (14th-most among running backs), but Miller delivered just 4.9 PPR fantasy points to his team on 14 rushing attempts. It was the second time in his four games that he was held beneath 10 points, and in four games he has nary a rushing touchdown.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins: With just 2.6 PPR fantasy points on the heels of his 3.0 point Week 3, Drake is officially in a slump. Granted, the run wasn't much of a part of the game plan with the Dolphins playing much of Sunday from behind, but Frank Gore exceeded Drake in rushing attempts for the second consecutive week, this time easily doing so (11-3 margin). That's a bad sign for Drake's future value, despite the fact that he has a good matchup in Week 5 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He's a flex play at best, and mainly on the strength of the matchup.