By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Week 3. The time when you either get complacent or panic. If you’re sitting at 2-0, you’re thinking to yourself, “I’m going undefeated! No one can stop me!” Truth is, you won’t. And someone will. I know, it sucks. Deal with it. But in an effort to prove to yourself you’re the best, you start to tinker. You overthink things, pull a Ruxin, and that 2-0 record turns into 3-8. I’ve seen it happen. And part of that is because you bought into the hype.
Inadequate players exceed expectations all the time. Just because Tarik Cohen is ranked 7th in Club Fantasy scoring doesn’t mean he’ll finish the season there. Do your research, identify the trends, and realize some of Cohen’s success is based on his target volume (21, 1st on the Bears) and the amount of injuries the Bears have suffered at the WR position. Just know he’s a rookie, will have his swoons, and is likely more of a FLEX option going forward.
On the flip side, if you’re 0-2, you’re inevitably thinking that you need to make a move. The studs you drafted in the first few rounds have struggled out of the gate, you know it’s a short season – 13 or 14 games before the playoffs – and things need to change! Le’Veon Bell has scored only 20.8 fantasy points and ranks 25th in Club Fantasy scoring. He was a consensus top 2 pick. Time to panic? Come on! Again, go inside the numbers. Of all the running backs in the NFL, he ranks 4th in snaps and third in rushes. The volume is there. Just remember, the dude missed all of training camp. If you weren’t expecting a slow start, shame on you.
That brings us 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 (NE) – Fresh off lighting up the Saints on Sunday, Brady now faces a Texans team which lost starting CB Kevin Johnson for 4-6 weeks. The Texans other starting corner, Jonathan Joseph, also left last week’s game early and is questionable heading into this week’s matchup. I don’t care what stats you want to look at to tell me I’m crazy. These are the types of scenarios Brady feasts on. He’s my number one QB this week.
QB Derek Carr (OAK) – The Redskins were middle of the road last year in fantasy points allowed to QBs and currently allow the 12th most even after holding Jared Goff to 13.1 fantasy points. Yes, they have Josh Norman who, given his high profile, is only the 37th best CB in the NFL via Pro Football Focus. By contrast, WR Michael Crabtree ranks as the 5th best WR. Amari Cooper has the higher profile, thus will likely draw Norman, leaving Crabtree to feast and Carr to continue to light up secondaries.
RB Jay Ajayi (MIA) – Last week against the Chargers, he ran for 122 yards. Last season, Ajayi torched the Jets for 162 yards and a TD. The Jets no longer have Sheldon Richardson and have allowed 275 yards and 3 TDs on the ground through two games. Ajayi is my number two running back this week. You see where I’m going with this?
RB Todd Gurley (LAR) – After a less than stellar Week One which led many to think last year’s paltry YPC average was here to stay, Gurley reminded us he’s awesome. He’s already scored 3 TDs this season and more to the point, he’s become a factor as a receiver. What? Oh, and he plays the 49ers on Thursday. If I have any rule in life to live by, it’s start your RBs against the 49ers.
RB Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) – 8 yards?! Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. Yes, I’m double dipping. I know the Cardinals have been solid against the run this year, yielding only 105 rushing yards, but I think Elliott comes back with a vengeance this week. Totally a gut call.
WR Doug Baldwin (SEA) – So I wouldn’t normally take stock in the Raiders lighting up your secondary, but when the Jaguars torch your secondary, I’m starting a stud against you. Enter Baldwin against the Titans. I came across this fun stat and wanted to pass it on. The Titans have blitzed on 40 percent of pass plays through two weeks. Baldwin is leads the Seahawks in blitz targets this year (7) and over the last two seasons, leads the NFL in TD catches (12) on blitzes. He’s my number 2 WR this week.
TE Travis Kelce (KC) – The Chargers have yet to face an elite TE this year. Alex Smith is on fire and Kelce will continue to see targets and rack up yards. Sometimes it’s about volume, and Kelce will see that in spades this week.
QB Matthew Stafford, WR Golden Tate & RB Ameer Abdullah (DET) – The Lions offense is on fire. Atlanta’s defense has holes and I don’t see them stopping the red hot Lions. Tate will work the slot and Abdullah will chip away about 4 yards at a time. Tate is a WR1 this week, Stafford is my number two QB, and Abdullah is a high RB2.
QB Philip Rivers & WR Keenan Allen (LAC) – Minus Eric Berry, the Chiefs secondary is vulnerable, allowing the 9th most fantasy points to WRs through two games. Allen has been his non-injured self and Rivers will continue to find him for big gains.
QB Carson Wentz & TE Zach Ertz (PHI) – Not to toot my own horn, but I said Ertz would be a top five TE this year. Through two weeks, he’s number three. He now faces a Giants team that allows the 6th most fantasy points to TEs – they allowed the 14th most in 2016. Another fun fact about Ertz: he’s second in the NFL since Week 9 of 2016 in receiving yards (666) and TDs (4). Oh, and with Jordan Matthews running routes for the Bills now, Ertz leads the Eagles in receptions (13) and second in targets (18). Wentz leads the Eagles in rushing. Yes, you read that right. He’s doing it all for them on offense and finds Ertz often. This should be a fun game for Eagles fans.
RB Ty Montgomery (GB) – He’s my number one RB this week. Dude has been a stud for Green Bay and their opponent this week, the Bengals, suck. Really. They’re challenging the Browns for inferiority in the AFC North. T Mont (I’m going to start this and it’s going to be glorious) will be a-mah-zing this week.
RB Carlos Hyde (SF) – This feels like the hot start he typically has before an injury slows him down, so just ride with him. He torched the Seahawks last week for 124 yards and gets the Rams this week whose run defense can’t stop a nose bleed.
RB Christian McCaffrey & WR Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) – In case you needed a reminder: the Saints defense should join your old pizza boxes on a trip down the trash shoot. Yes, they’re garbage. McCaffrey should run wild and Benjamin will be the new apple of Cam Newton’s eye now that TE Greg Olsen has a broken foot. Sometimes you don’t need stats when the suggestions are so obvious.
WR Tyreek Hill (KC) – As I said above, Alex Smith is on a roll. Hill will likely find himself being covered by Casey Hayward who, despite his high interception totals, can be beat. I expect Hill to beat Hayward a time or two come Sunday.
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr. (WSH) – Nothing points to Pryor having a good game. Raiders CB Sean Smith has been great to start the year and should blanket Pryor all game. I’m of the mindset that if Cousins and Pryor are going to figure it out, it needs to be this week. This my final plea before I hop off the bandwagon.
TE Charles Clay (BUF) – Tyrod Taylor has like, one weapon. And Denver just got beat by a 34-year old legend. I think Clay will be a streaming option this week.
And your defenses to stream this week are the Ravens D/ST, Rams D/ST, & Dolphins D/ST.
QB Cam Newton (CAR) – This may come as a shock to you. Seriously, it came as a shock to me when I did my rankings. All signs and data tells us Cam Newton will have a field day. Against two rather inferior opponents, Newton has been less than ordinary. He’s clearly not fully recovered from his shoulder injury. And his accuracy is still abysmal, completing less than 60% of his passes through two games. I think his weapons will have good days, but I think Cam will make a mistake or two that will drag his day down. I’m passing until he shows me he’s okay, even with a great matchup like this.
QB Marcus Mariota & RB DeMarco Murray (TEN) – I mean, they’re playing Seattle so this kind of feels like cheating. But Carlos Hyde just put up a c note on this defense so whatever. Murray isn’t fully healthy and the Maserati has good, not great receivers against an elite secondary. His saving grace will be the rushing yards that will keep his day afloat.
RB Jordan Howard (CHI) – Count me in on the Tarik Cohen bandwagon. Howard’s gloves are lined with bricks and with his shoulder injury, he’s not the most effective. Against Pittsburgh this week, I’m passing.
TE Jimmy Graham (SEA) – Graham is banged up and the Titans have covered TEs well to start the year. I’ll pass this week
WR Brandin Cooks (NE) – I love Cooks. I think he’ll have a great year. But it will take time. Brady will likely target James White, Gronk, and Chris Hogan more as he’s comfortable with them. I’m fading Cooks this week and really want to see the big game before riding and dying with him.
WR Alshon Jeffery (PHI) – This comes with a caveat. Janoris Jenkins is banged up and I’ll fade any WR that has to face someone with the nickname “Jackrabbit.” If Jenkins plays, Jeffery struggles. If Jenkins is out, Jeffery becomes a top 15 option. Monitor this situation and look for updates on our Twitter page.
Wr Dez Bryant (DAL) – He gets Patrick Peterson. And Dak Prescott is still trying to find Dez. Might I suggest a monocle or a magnifying glass?