By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
And here comes the aftermath. This has a double meaning for me and yes, I’m going to spell out both of them. Bare with me.
As many of you know, Hurricane Irma hit landfall last week in several parts of Florida and acted like a spoiled toddler who didn’t get the toy it wanted, destroying much that was left in her way. Your basic instinct left one of two choices: fight or flight. Judge me if you must, but I got the Hell out of dodge, relocating to my friend’s house in Nashville, TN.
After talking to some friends and family who either stayed or evacuated and have since returned, there’s mixed conclusions as to the severity of the damage. I’ve seen pictures of friends’ houses who had trees uprooted, but missed their homes; some friends just have a ton of debris to clean up; one close friend of mine had a tree literally fall on her house. Some of my friends are still without power, and as a result, WiFi. I have mixed emotions about this because I feel bad that my house has power and came away unscathed. If I were back in Florida, I’d invite everyone over to charge their phones and computers and bask in the air conditioning – it’s really hot in Florida – even to take a warm shower. Because that’s what you do in a crisis: you have each other’s backs and take care of each other.
For all of you fantasy football owners who didn’t experience Hurricane Irma, you likely experienced your own personal Hell with all of the Week 1 injuries that inevitably decimated your lineup from top to bottom. David Johnson, the consensus first overall pick in many a fantasy draft, dislocated his wrist and will miss 8-12 weeks. That takes his absence up to the fantasy playoffs. Not as bad as not having electricity for a week, but your pain is felt. For the roundup of injuries, check out my Week 1 Injury Report.
We all go through loss. Sure, your fantasy football team isn’t exactly that, but it means a lot to you. For those affected by the hurricane, this is a great way to distract yourself. What I’m really telling you is to hug your friend or your neighbor. There’s a good chance they’re suffering from something and even the simplest gesture can bring a smile to someone’s face. But if your buddy lost David Johnson, it’s okay to tell them to “suck it” and laugh at them when they miss the playoffs. They likely didn’t roster Kerwynn Williams, so shame on them.
On to this week’s Confidence Plays. Here’s your refresher because I know you’ll get this confused. This column serves as a Start/Sit of sorts. I break things down into three categories. Start means exactly that. These are your studs, the guys we know are going to be studs this year and this is a week they return some of that draft value. Get them into your lineup! Play analyzes the fringe starters, your FLEX plays if you will. These guys could be on your bench one week and thrust into your starting lineup the next based on the matchup. When you see them mentioned here, put them in your lineup in some way, shape, or form. Do not misconstrue what Bench means. Seriously. I’m not saying to not start the players that end up in this section. Maybe they’re your studs that you know you’re going to start, but with bad match-ups, temper expectations. If I tell you to bench them, then you can blame me if they go off. These choices are based on my rankings, so feel free to check them out if you haven’t already!
QB Tom Brady, WR Brandin Cooks & TE Rob Gronkowski (NE) – Let’s see. Sam Bradford just threw for 346 yards and 3 TDs against this defense. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen combined for 16 catches on 18 targets for 250 yards and 2 TDs. Kyle Rudolph had 3 catches for 26 yards and a TD. I’m pretty sure Brady, Cooks, and Gronk are better than them. Start your Patriots this week.
QB Russell Wilson & WR Doug Baldwin (SEA) – It’s easy to look at how little a team has improved from one year to the next after just one game. Maybe it was an anomaly. I don’t think this is the case with the 49ers. They gave up the 9th most fantasy points to QBs and the 13th most to WRs a year ago, but also yielded 23 points to a I-know-he’s-not-yet-fully-healthy-but-he’s-playing-anyway Cam Newton led offense. Wilson and Baldwin are primed for a field day.
RB Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) – He’s my number one RB this week. He performed better than I thought against a great Giants defense, and if you can beat Denver in one facet of defense, it’s via the running game. They allowed the 14th most fantasy points to RBs in 2016 and allowed Melvin Gordon 18.9 fantasy points on Monday night. As much as I love Gordon, Elliott is a better RB and has a much better offensive line. Elliott is in line for a huge game.
WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – With David Johnson now out of the lineup, Fitzgerald is the best playmaker they have. He had 13 targets last week and faces off with a Colts defense that has negative talent levels. Okay, a slight exaggeration, but you get the point. But they did just give up 46 points to a Jared Goff led Rams team, so there’s that.
WRs Amari Cooper & Michael Crabtree (OAK) – The Raiders play the Jets this week. Needless to say, I like every single Raider in Week 2.
QB Carson Palmer (ARI) – I fully expected Palmer to have a solid week last week. That backfired. I’m playing with fire and coming back for round two. If Jared Goff can do it against the Colts, so can Palmer!
QB Joe Flacco (BAL) – The Ravens led the NFL in passing attempts last year. I do believe the Browns are improved on defense, but Jeremy Maclin and Flacco are something of an item now and I’m all about this bromance. Flacco is a solid start if your starter has a bad matchup.
RB Marshawn Lynch & TE Jared Cook (OAK) – Lynch trucked a 300+ pound Jurrel Casey on Sunday. Beast Mode is back. Jared Cook actually had a decent game as well and the Jets gave up the 8th most fantasy points to TEs last year. I told you, I like me some Raiders this week.
RB Ty Montgomery (GB) – Out of 21 runnings plays, Montgomery had 19 carries. This is his backfield. He accounted for 93 total yards and a TD against one of the better run defenses in the NFL and this week he faces off against the Falcons who struggle with RBs who catch the football. If you don’t believe me, Google “Tarik Cohen Falcons” and just watch the highlights.
RB Terrance West (BAL) – With Danny Woodhead out, he’s going to get touches. The Browns stymied Le’Veon Bell a week ago, but he missed all of preseason and all great ones deserve a mulligan from time to time. Javorius Allen will catch the passes, West will tote the rock.
WR Jarvis Landry (MIA) – The Chargers struggle covering slot receivers. Had you heard of Bennie Fowler before Monday night? Don’t lie. I’m not sure Jay Cutler still won’t just throw it to DeVante Parker out of spite, but Landry should have a good game.
WR Randall Cobb (GB) – Okay, I may have to eat crow for this one. I wasn’t high on Cobb entering this season, and he looked like the Packers best WR against the Seahawks while leading the team with 13 targets. The Falcons have good corners, but not enough to cover everyone. Cobb will again have a solid game.
TE Zach Ertz (PHI) – I said Ertz would wreck havoc on the Redskins. The Chiefs lost their best cover man against TEs when Eric Berry tore his Achilles’. Ertz will once again claim the middle of the field as his own.
TE Coby Fleener (NO) – Drew Brees finally found Fleener. It took him a year, but I think he’s a solid play versus the Patriots as Butler will have his hands full with Michael Thomas and the Pats lost Donta Hightower, their best cover man vs. TEs.
Seahawks, Ravens, & Raiders D/ST – The streaming options of the week. Opponents? The 49ers, the Browns, and the Jets. Simple enough, yes?
QB Marcus Mariota (TEN) – He’s playing Jacksonville. Their defense is good. I think benching studs against them will be a thing this year. This will test my theory.
QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – If Minnesota can make Drew Brees look like Tom Savage, Big Ben doesn’t stand a chance.
RB Bilal Powell (NYJ) – The Jets still want to make Matt Forte feel loved, which will hinder Powell’s effectiveness. I’m off the bandwagon until further notice.
RB Adrian Peterson (NO) – We all saw Monday night right? Yeah, there’s not enough carries to go around between Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara, and Peterson. He’s the odd man out. Stop thinking this is a bounce back season for him. He signed there because they offered him a contract, something no one else would do. Pass.
RB Robert Kelley (WSH) – With Aaron Donald coming back for Week 2, a great Rams line becomes even better. They bottled up Frank Gore and Marlon Mack last week and Kelley isn’t on that level. Find another starter this week.
WR Dez Bryant (DAL) – Dez had 2 catches for 43 yards last week against Janoris Jenkins and this week gets Aqib Talib and the Broncos. He did tie for the team lead in targets with nine, but I’m not confident those targets turn into receptions this week. The Broncos allowed only 13 receptions to Chargers WRs a week ago, so count me among those passing for at least one more week.
WR Jamison Crowder (WSH) – Talk about a horrible performance against what should have been a good matchup. Crowder now goes against the Rams and will likely be covered by arguably the most underrated slot corner in the league, LaMarcus Joyner. In case you missed it, Joyner finished with the highest grade for slot corners by Pro Football Focus after Week 1. He can stick with Crowder no problem. Fade Crowder this week.
TE Tyler Eifert (CIN) – I never shy away from taking shots at Eifert. QB Andy Dalton was historically bad last week and the Bengals are rewarded with a resurgent Ravens defense. Eifert won’t be open and this is not a matchup to love.