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Week 4 fantasy takeaways: Major concerns for Dalvin Cook, Jay Ajayi, Marshawn Lynch

Dalvin Cook’s knee injury likely leaves Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon as Minnesota’s top running backs. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

Hey there; hope you’re feeling well. Just checking, because Week 4 was kind of rough.

We got a preview of unhappy things to come Thursday, when Ty Montgomery suffered a rib injury that forced him out of the Packers’ win over the Bears. That was quickly followed by his backup, Jamaal Williams, going out with a sprained knee, leaving Aaron Jones as a possibly coveted name on waiver wires. However, Montgomery’s injury, initially reported as broken ribs that would keep him out for two to four weeks (or more), may not be so serious, and he might play in Week 5, so stay tuned.

Julio Jones will get a week off to rest his hip, so no need to rush to the waivers for his replacement, which is just as well, because the Falcons’ No. 2 WR, Mohamed Sanu, had to leave the loss to the Bills with a hamstring injury. A bad hammy ended Marcus Mariota’s day prematurely, while Derek Carr was forced off the field with what were described as back spasms.

Fortunately for fantasy owners, the initial news on all those guys is more or less favorable, even if that’s small consolation for their underwhelming Week 4 numbers. Unfortunately, there might well be worse news in store for Chris Carson, who suffered a leg injury and was carted off the field, and it’s all but certain that one big name is done for the season, and that’s very depressing news for Dalvin Cook, the Vikings and everyone in fantasy who thought they had landed an RB1 in the middle rounds.

NFL Week 4 brings more protests, some major injuries and a few stunning upsets

Cook was off to a great start this season, but he crumpled to the turf with what is believed to be a major tear of his left anterior cruciate ligament. That would leave Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, in that order, as the beneficiaries, but while both should be grabbed off the waiver wire, expectations should be kept in check. Neither possesses Cook’s talent, and we can only hope (assuming his injury is as severe as expected) that he comes back next year as strong as ever.

Is it worth suggesting that the Vikings contact the Saints about a little-used back they happen to have, someone very familiar to Minnesota fans? Just sayin’ . . .

This is becoming routine: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
at Cowboys: 23 carries for 121 yards, 7 catches for 94 yards, 1 TD

Another week, another stellar outing for Gurley, who went into the night game second only to Le’Veon Bell (way to have your first huge game of the season, by the way) in Sunday’s fantasy scoring. While Gurley is looking like a weekly lock for production, it’s just too bad the Rams’ surprising offensive consistency doesn’t also apply to Sammy Watkins (one catch on two targets for 17 yards).

Okay, it’s now a problem: Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins
vs. Saints in London: 12 carries for 46 yards, 1 catch for eight yards

Last week’s disastrous performance in the Meadowlands, featuring 11 carries for just 16 yards, could be dismissed as an anomaly, but this week’s stinker doubles down on the cause for concern. It might not even be Ajayi who is performing poorly, but the entire Miami offense, which was shockingly ineffective versus New Orleans. If anyone wants to panic-trade Ajayi, though, I’m all ears.

Buy-low alert: Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders
at Broncos: 2 catches for 8 yards

Did someone say “panic trade”? Cooper owners have to be horrified by his latest disaster, and Carr’s injury isn’t helping anything. That, of course, could make him available at a rock-bottom price, and it says here that, having hit his nadir, Cooper has nowhere to go but up, even with EJ Manuel possibly starting a game or two at QB.

Do not buy low, Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders
at Broncos: 9 carries for 12 yards

Things have been trending downward for His Beastliness (76 rushing yards in Week 1, to 45, to 18 and now to 12) and, unlike Cooper, he doesn’t have the same reasonable expectation of bouncing back. Okay, he probably won’t be this bad many more times, but it is entirely possible that Lynch just doesn’t really have it anymore, making Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, in that order, interesting waiver stabs.

Play ’em if you got ’em: Patriots defense

I mean, they just made Cam Newton look like his old self! This crew has been getting lit up: New England came into this game already allowing the most points to QBs, and it’s been pretty generous to every other position as well. That makes for a lot of optimism for the Buccaneers, who get the Pats next, and in particular Doug Martin, who will finally be freed from his suspension and should get his starting job back.

Another Sunday and another shockingly bad game for the Patriots’ defense

Perhaps some caution is advised: Bills defense 

Buffalo came into Week 4 allowing the second-fewest points to QBs, but it had faced the Jets and Broncos at home, plus the Panthers on the road. Surely a trip to Atlanta would serve as the Bills’ comeuppance, right? Um, wrong. Buffalo mostly smothered Matt Ryan and the Falcons, and even if the aforementioned injuries to Jones and Sanu had something to do with that, it would appear fantasy owners are not going to want to see their guys going up against the Bills.

He might just be the real deal: Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans
vs. Titans: 25 of 34 passing for 283 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception, plus 4 carries for 24 yards and 1 TD

As mentioned, the Patriots defense has been abysmal, so there may have been a small asterisk next to Watson’s terrific Week 3 performance. No such caveat exists for this week’s outburst, and while the rookie can’t be expected to account for five TDs very often, he looks like a QB who will merit strong starting consideration most weeks.

Others coming to a waiver wire near you: Devin Funchess, Will Fuller, Jaron Brown, Alvin Kamara, Eddie Lacy, Wayne Gallman

Week 5 byes: Broncos, Falcons, Redskins, Saints

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