Last week's story was about injuries, which, if not followed or prepared for, can derail your season. If you read last week, some gems in the pennies (Jalen Thompson and Brian Branch) made an immediate impact and likely either won your game or made your matchup more difficult for the opponent. We also chronicled the bitter injuries that occurred and had you shy away from some notable names while also throwing a little Carolina linebacker nugget for those that read in-depth! The good news for those who missed it, there are still plenty of weeks to get your team right and to learn from the information the NFL gives us each week. What you do with the information is on you! I am here to help contextualize what we are seeing and help rationalize what we should do. Here it is, the Week 4 bell! Make sure you're taking notes!
The Fortune 5
Zaire Franklin: Last season, we saw Franklin emerge as a very talented linebacker and likely a high pick for most teams. However, the looming return of the IDP great Shaquille Leonard had many people questioning what his true ceiling would be. Did anyone guess LB1 through three full weeks? He has yet to record a game with less than double-digit tackles and is helping anchor an Indianapolis defense that has been surprising, to say the least. Through Week 3, he has 45 total tackles, a forced fumble, and a sack. He has established himself as the lead linebacker for the Colts, and he is 27 years young! He is here to stay and is likely picking up right where Leonard left off prior to the injury. If you took the risk, you have been paid back mightily!
Jessie Bates III: If you are like me, you likely looked at Week 1 as a great game but failed to buy into the immediate hype that Bates would be able to put together multiple weeks of two interception-like games. Week 2 was a drastic back-to-earth game and was more along the lines of what we had seen from him over the last couple of years, but then this past week, he exploded again. He is a player that you're just going to have to live with the lows while happily accepting the highs. The lows are going to be maddening, but the highs have week-winning potential. When a player offers that, you must certainly accept it.
Jordan Whitehead: Last season was supposed to be the breakout year for young Jordan Whitehead, and many believed him to be a big IDP sleeper. While the year wasn't bad by any means, it was more of the same from Whitehead, and it left a lot to be desired. This season seems to be the year he will break out. Through Week 3, he has 21 total tackles and four defended passes, along with three interceptions! He has yet to score less than double-digit points and is a must-start until we see a change in his production. The Jets have a great defense and secondary, so opportunities for him to score will be readily available. Ride this wave while it is here and reap the rewards that are being afforded to you! This next week, he faces a Chiefs team that just so happens to LOVE passing the ball!
Brian Branch: If you read last week, then you are aware of the hype train I am riding for Branch. Unfortunately, it was due to injury that he got his opportunity, but he absolutely shined during it. 11 solo tackles and two defended passes were enough to pop off the screen and likely on your waiver wire as well. Hopefully, you got to him early as we mentioned! It is too late now unless you have that priority waiver order or if you spend an inordinate amount of FAAB. Branch is going to be a star in this league for a long time. Here is to many more week-winning efforts.
Matthew Judon: Judon has always been a consistent player but had the caveat of being coded as a linebacker for most of his career. Since the sweeping changes have occurred, he is a must-start at the defensive end position. Each week to start the year, he has had no less than three tackles and a sack. This type of player can be a foundational piece for your team even at the age of 31. His last two seasons have been double-digit sacks, including a career-high 15 last season, which he is well on his way to improving upon.
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