By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
I had planned on writing out a long intro about my love for Las Vegas, how I used to live there, how I still have friends that live there. But then I realized you probably don’t care. That said, I’m going to just leave it at this:
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 Aaron Rodgers & WR Jordy Nelson (GB) – The Cowboys have allowed 8 passing TDs over the last 3 weeks. They allowed Broncos QB Trevor Siemian four of those and Rams QB Jared Goff two of those. Last I checked, Aaron Rodgers had more talent than the two of them combined. He’s my number one QB this week for a reason. And his top target, Jordy Nelson, will feast with no clear number one corner on the Cowboys.
QB Dak Prescott (DAL) – On the flip side of this matchup, Prescott has been asked to carry the Cowboys offense in ways he didn’t have to last year. He’s ninth in the NFL in drop backs and ninth in pass attempts. The Packers have given up the fifth fewest fantasy points to QBs this year, but their defense allows the 8th most fantasy points to opposing QBs. As mentioned above, I think Rodgers is going to light up the Cowboys, forcing Prescott to air it out just to keep pace. Oh, and there’s the whole he racks up points on the ground thing and you’re in for a great game from Prescott.
RB Le’Veon Bell (PIT) – Bell finally had his breakout game after being bottled up the first two weeks of the season. He carried the ball 35 times and added 4 receptions for a total of 36.6 fantasy points on the day. The Jaguars come to visit this week and they just gave up 256 rushing yards to the Jets. The JETS! Eight yards a carry to Bilal Powell and rookie Elijah McGuire. The Jags have a great defense, but Bell is going to destroy them this week.
RB Leonard Fournette (JAX) – Fournette has scored the 4th most fantasy points among RBs this season, and it’s simply because the Jaguars are shoving him down opposing teams’ throats. Pittsburgh allows the 9th most fantasy points to RBs, but that’s largely due to the Bears tandem of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. But that also tells you that the Steelers can be run on. Fournette and Jags will bring it. And it’ll be great for fantasy owners.
WR Mike Evans (TB) – Against the Giants, Evans went for 5 receptions for 67 yards and a TD. Yes, I know I had him in my Bench section last week, but to be fair, I said the Jackrabbit would shut him down and the TD he caught came against Eli Apple, who I called “ineffective.” Without that TD, he only scores 10.6 fantasy points. Underperforming. Regardless, we’ve seen what the Patriots defense does, or doesn’t do, through four weeks of the season. Evans and the Bucs are going to air it out and I fully expect this Thursday night game to be just as entertaining as the Rams-49ers contest a couple of weeks ago.
WR DeAndre Hopkins – Count me as one of the few who envisioned a bounce back season for Hopkins. That’s cool, you don’t have to get up to shower me with praise. I just hope you drafted him because NOW he has a QB to throw him passes. Accurate passes. Or put it where no corner can get to it. Nuk is the man. After Watson’s coming out party last week, Hopkins is a big reason why. The Chiefs allow an average of 35.3 fantasy points to WRs and with Will Fuller making a triumphant return, teams can’t afford to double up Hopkins. Nuuuuuuuuuk!
TE Delanie Walker (TEN) – The Dolphins as a team are a train wreck. Walker has had a solid season to date and the Dolphins were picked apart by the one good TE they encountered – Hunter Henry. With Mariota on the mend and a game-time decision, even if Matt Cassel starts, I expect the Titans to ground and pound and play close to the line. Enter Walker. He gets his 1st TD this week.
QB Jameis Winston (TB) – As I said with Evans, this is going to be a shoot out. Winston should easily reach 3 TDs which makes him a top 10 play this week. And as a reminder, they play the Patriots. This is brought to you by Captain Obvious.
QB Sam Bradford (MIN) – I think he returns this week. And even if he doesn’t, did you know that Case Keenum is actually the 7th highest graded QB by Pro Football Focus through the first four weeks of the season? I know, right? Such craziness. Anyway, Bradford gets a primetime showing against the Bears, who may or may not be energized by the first start of Mitchell Trubisky’s career. The Vikings are going to roll this week and Bradford, Diggs, and Thielen should all be in your starting lineups as a result.
QB Deshaun Watson (HOU) – I’m a believer. I said before the season he’d be the best rookie QB in this draft and through three and a half games he’s making me look like a genius. Maybe I should coach the Houston Texans? Let’s not open that crazy can of worms. Just throw it up to Hopkins. He’s good for at least two scores this week and some decent yardage on the ground. In fact, he leads all NFL QBs in rushing. Did I mention he’s only played 14 quarters?
QB Eli Manning (NYG) – This is probably the first of like two weeks I write about him in a positive light this year. I’m not a Manning fan. Well, not an Eli Manning fan. But this week, at home, against a Chargers team that has to fly across the country, I’m a believer. Very quietly, Manning has back to back 30+ point efforts for fantasy owners. Don’t be shocked if he adds a third back to that. Why do I think this? Have you seen his running game? Don’t worry, he hasn’t either.
RB DeMarco Murray & WR Rishard Matthews (TEN) – The Titans will play it conservative this week with Mariota recovering. I expect a heavy dose of Murray. The Dolphins were burned by the Saints RBs last week, mostly through the air. In case you forgot, Murray has 213 receptions over the last 4+ seasons. He’s had only one starter worthy game this year and a trip to Miami will provide his owners with a second. Matthews will once again be the prime guy with Corey Davis out, which is great for Mariota as they’ve developed quite the bond over the last year plus. The Dolphins can’t cover a canvas if they had every possible color to paint with. If Mariota’s out, disregard this suggestion.
RB Frank Gore (IND) – There will be no sunset ride for Mr. Gore. He’s not slowing down. And against San Francisco – his former team – not only is it a good matchup with the 49ers allowing the 6th most fantasy points to RBs to start the year, it’s also a bit of a redemption game. This will be his first game against his former team since he left following the 2014 season. Gore is an RB2 this week.
RB Carlos Hyde & WR Pierre Garçon (SF) – As Gore’s replacement in San Francisco, Hyde has filled in admirably, when healthy. So far, he’s been healthy and ranks as the 8th best RB in fantasy to date. He and Garçon are the only weapons on San Francisco and they face a Colts defense that allows the most points per game, the 3rd most passing yards, and ranks 31st in terms of total defense. I could replace Brian Hoyer at QB and Hyde and Garçon would still be starting in your fantasy lineups this week.
RB Duke Johnson Jr. (CLE) – Or is he a wide receiver? Duke Johnson Jr. leads the Browns in targets, receptions, and yards through the first four games of the season. He also leads the team in yards per carry and is tied for the team lead in rushing TDs. I’ve been saying for years that Duke was the best RB on the Browns, maybe Hue Jackson is starting to realize it? The Jets, who allow the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing RBs to start the season, are coming to town this week so I’m expecting a big game from the former Miami star. Also, this is Crowell’s week to shine. If he doesn’t, I fully expect to find him on a number of waiver wires heading into Week 6.
WR Chris Hogan (NE) – I don’t know how many times I can mention in one article to start your Bucs and Patriots, but I guess one more won’t hurt. Hogan is my number 8 WR this week. He has 4 TDs in the last 3 weeks, and he’s blossoming into a Tom Brady favorite. I like his chances against a weak Bucs secondary on Thursday night.
WR Dez Bryant (DAL) – My hate for Dez can only go so far I guess. Last week was the best I’ve seen him in three years. Dak found him and they bonded. It was like something out of Avatar. You know, minus those weird containment units. He should get at least one TD this week, and that only is reason for you to start him. If A.J. Green can do well against this Packers secondary, Bryant should be able to as well.
Your streaming defenses of the week are the Bills D/ST, Lions D/ST, Vikings D/ST, & the Colts D/ST.
QB Cam Newton (CAR) – I’m actually happy that Cam came out and did what he did last week. It just added credence to the idea that anyone playing the Patriots needs to be starting. That being said, the Lions are not the Patriots. The Lions actually have a good defense. An opportunistic defense at that. With the Panthers on the road, I’m fading Cam this week against a Lions team that allows the fourth fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs. And just in case you think it’s hogwash because it’s a small sample size, they’ve faced off against Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, reigning MVP Matt Ryan, and Case Keenum. 3 out of 4 is hard to argue with.
QB Ben Roethlisberger & WR Martavis Bryant (PIT) – No, I’m not picking on Ben. This is two weeks in a row he’s on the Bench list. But I wasn’t wrong last week with his 12.5 fantasy points, good for 22nd best. Told ya! I’m double dipping this week and I’m adding his number two WR who just hasn’t gotten in sync yet. Yes, I expect the Steelers to beat the Jags, and Ben is at home, but even in the Jags’ losses, their secondary has been outstanding. They’ve allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs and CBs Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are ranked as the 3rd and 20th best corners according to Pro Football Focus, respectively. This is a Bell game. Sorry Ben & Martavis. Maybe next week. (Not likely with a road game though.)
QB Andy Dalton & RB Joe Mixon (CIN) – Last week was to be Mixon’s coming out party. I think he lost his invitation to his own party. I’m benching him until I see it, but even against the Bills totally for real defense, I’m passing. Dalton has been Good Andy the last two weeks, and even at home, I’m not expecting a third. The Bills allow the 2nd fewest fantasy points to QBs and 8th fewest to RBs. And seriously, they’re Bengals.
RB Jay Ajayi (MIA) – Going forward, the only Dolphins player I like is DeVante Parker. Cutler can suck all he wants but he keeps finding Parker, making him serviceable. The same can’t be said for Ajayi. The line in front of him is discombobulated, and until I see some cohesion, I’m not rolling with Ajayi.
RB Doug Martin (TB) – I know he’s eligible to return from suspension this week, and he’s a tantalizing player with a tasty matchup. But he’s likely to be rusty and Jacquizz Rodgers has played well the first three games. So no, I’m not starting Martin until I see how he’ll be worked into the rotation.
Any Seahawks RB (SEA) – I figured this was a no brainer, but some people just aren’t that smart. With Chris Carson now out for the season, start Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and/or C.J. Prosise at your own risk.
WR Amari Cooper (OAK) – His season has been abysmal to date, and with a backup QB, I don’t foresee it getting any better. Pass.
WR DeSean Jackson (TB) – I figured if there was a week for him to shine, it was last week opposite Giants CB Eli Apple. That didn’t happen, so color me skeptical versus the even easier Patriots secondary. He’s boom or bust, with more bust than boom lately. I want nothing to do with him this week, or at all for that matter.
TE Jason Witten (DAL) – History tells me to start Witten against the Packers. But sometimes history lies. You’ve heard of Fake News, right? I kid, seriously. But Green Bay is the second stingiest against TEs this year in terms of fantasy points, and Witten as two catches combined the last two weeks. This is not a breakout game for him.
TE Martellus Bennett (GB) – Aaron Rodgers is not a TE friendly QB. Bennett currently ranks 16th among TEs, and Dallas averages 10.8 fantasy points a game to opposing TEs. Meanwhile, Bennett hasn’t scored more than 9.9 points in a game this season. Sorry, not buying in. He shouldn’t be starting for you anymore people.