By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
It’s Sunday night. The Eagles and Cowboys go into overtime. Jason Witten has disappointed me all game. Once a fantasy star, he has been anything but this whole season. Then he reminded me why he was on my team. Dak Prescott gets free, Eagles defenders collide and there he is, Witten, WIDE OPEN in the end zone to score the game winning touchdown.
That moment was very bittersweet for me. On one hand, my Eagles just lost a crucial division game, putting us in a dog fight for second place (can we really catch the Cowboys at this point?). On the other hand, Witten is on my fantasy team. And he helped close the gap on my matchup going into Monday night (The Vikings D/ST dropped the ball so the point is moot). The perils of Fantasy Football.
I mention this because that gave me a loss this week. Heading into Week 9, there is little margin for error. Most leagues have their trade deadline fast approaching – some as early as next week – and some roster reevaluating will take place. Can I continue to rely on a stud defense to bail me out when in two consecutive weeks a stinker has been put up by them? If not, then I need to see where I can improve my squad. If you’re like us in the Skrip Club, we allow draft pick trading so I can trade picks to improve my team without sacrificing what already exists on my team. Good rule to have in your leagues going forward, huh?
With that, let’s get into my confidence plays for this week. If someone is on this list, hopefully you own them and are plugging them into your lineup. If not, don’t be shy about trying to trade for them. As a matter of fact, The Commish and I will be highlighting some players to trade for or trade away on next week’s podcast to better prepare you for the fantasy playoff season. Want more of our podcasts? Go here.
To refresh what this column is, these are my confidence plays in a Start/Play/Bench format. “Start” represents your studs and numbers twos that will overachieve. Get them in your lineup, stat! “Play” represents some bench or FLEX plays that should outperform their draft position based on matchup. “Bench” presents your studs that you should temper expectations for or FLEX plays you should swap out with a bench player. And really, it’s based off my rankings. Check them out and use them as a guide!
QB Matt Ryan & RB Devonta Freeman (ATL) – Ryan topped 300 passing yards in Week One against the Bucs and he now gets them on short rest, coming off a week in which the Bucs just gave up 504 and 4 TDs to Derek Carr and the Raiders. Can’t say I’m expecting the Bucs to suddenly figure out how to stop the pass. And Freeman? Well they haven’t been great against the run either and Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 24.7 fantasy points against them in their first meeting. Guess who’s out for this game? Tevin Coleman.
QB Drew Brees & RB Mark Ingram (NO) – I know, I know. Brees on the road isn’t a great start. Ingram had -1.5 fantasy points last week. I get it. But did you see who they’re playing? The 49ers defense is AWFUL. Coming off a bye week, they still won’t be able to stop the run. People seem to be worried about Tim Hightower cutting into Ingram’s carries after his fumbling issues last week. Not me. The 49ers have allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL. The run will set up the pass. Sean Payton is a smart coach.
WR Jarvis Landry (MIA) – Remember when Darrelle Revis was the best cornerback in all the land? Remember when he could take away an opponent’s best receiver? Those were the days. Thankfully, they’re no longer the days because you can start your wide receivers against the Jets and their suddenly fantasy friendly defense with confidence. They have allowed the most passing yards in the NFL this season. Landry will be plenty busy and I especially like Kenny Stills as a Daily play this week.
All your Cowboys (DAL) – Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, the waterboy – okay, maybe not that last one. But if he morphed into Adam Sandler’s The Waterboy, you bet your ass he’d be starting. They play the Browns this week folks. Get your popcorn ready!
RB Carlos Hyde (SF) – One thing Chip Kelly loves to do is run the football. Hyde, coming of a shoulder injury that he’s had two weeks to let heal, should return to bell cow status against a Saints defense that gives up the most fantasy points to running backs this season. Simple math, my friends.
WRs Emmanuel Sanders & Demaryius Thomas (DEN) – The last time we saw Trevor Siemian behind center in a nationally televised game, he threw four touchdowns. Do I think that will happen again? No. But the Raiders have a pretty pathetic pass defense and they’ll be without CB Sean Smith for this game so I’m willing to bet Sanders and Thomas get at least a touchdown each. Both are top 10 plays for me this week.
WR Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) – Yes, the Rams defensive line is good. But their defense can be beat. Cam Newton didn’t throw for a lot of yards last week, but they scored 30 points and I, like the rest of you, are hoping this is a nice omen going forward. A gut call, but I’m betting that includes a good game from Benjamin. When he explodes, trade him!
TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) – Yes, I’m aware that they’re in the midst of changing offensive coordinators. But Sam Bradford loves Rudolph. I would go so far as to say he’ll be inviting Rudolph over for Christmas dinner. See what I did there? I have Rudolph as my number 1 TE this week. Why? Well, the Lions allow the most fantasy points to tight ends and of Bradford’s eight passing touchdowns this year, three have gone to Rudolph. Those are the kinds of odds I like.
Chiefs D/ST (KC) – They are great at creating turnovers and just sacked Andrew Luck six times. Bortles has thrown the third most INTs in the league. I wouldn’t be shocked if Marcus Peters picks one off and returns it for a TD.
QB Matthew Stafford (DET) – The Vikings defense hasn’t been its typical pillaging self but at home, after their offensive coordinator stepped down, I think they’ll have some added motivation. Plus, it’s a division game. I’ll bet on the defense over the quarterback.
RB Jay Ajayi (MIA) – Two straight 200-yard games, then a bye week, and now the Jets defense. If he were a WR, he’d be up in the “Start” section. But the Jets defensive line is ferocious. They’ve held everyone not named David Johnson in check. I’m not ready to put Ajayi in that conversation yet. Plus, with Foster now retired, does Ajayi still have the push to be great? Let me see it and he’ll be a must-start going forward.
WRs Amari Cooper & Michael Crabtree (OAK) – It’s a division game, in prime time. This has all the makings of a blow up in my face. But that Broncos defense is really good. Last week was the first week they had allowed multiple touchdown catches in a week this season. A new trend developing? Maybe, but I’m not holding my breath. You’re not benching them, per se. But I would certainly temper expectations a bit, especially after last week’s game in Tampa.