By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Going into Week 7, you should already know the status of your fantasy team(s). The studs we identified at the start of the season should either be just that, or have underperformed to the point that you’re willing to drop them. Case in point: Amari Cooper. He’s currently WR71 in Club Fantasy scoring. Both The Commish and I had him as WR11 going into the season, and with only nine games left – we only count weeks 1-16 – it’s hard to see him working his way up into the top 10.
What about Jamison Crowder? The Redskins slot receiver was supposed to make the leap after finishing as WR25 in 2016 and watching Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson leave for a chance to fatten their bank accounts. Crowder has scored a whopping 26.2 fantasy points, good for WR92.
And Matt Ryan? Fresh off an MVP season, he sits at QB19 based on points scored per game. He hasn’t scored more than 21.9 points in a game this season. Has the change at offensive coordinator messed with his head? Or is this really just who he is? Keep in mind, in 2015, Ryan finished as QB20. But his four year average from 2012 to 2015 put him as QB7. I think he bounces back, but this week against the league’s most fantasy friendly defense will be the ultimate test. I should also mention he should want some revenge after the Patriots came back to knock them off in the Super Bowl.
Jay Ajayi and Isaiah Crowell come to mind as RBs ranked in the top 15 that have vastly disappointed to date. If Week 6 wasn’t your make or break week, Week 7 certainly is. Cooper has a good matchup against a Chiefs secondary that surrenders the 3rd most fantasy points to WR; Ryan gets the gift of the Patriots defense; and Crowder faces the Eagles and their secondary that gives up the 2nd most points to WRs. You’re in the stretch run now. The fantasy playoffs will be here before you know it.
And just in case you were wondering, the Commish was taken down last week, miraculously, seeing how I lost Aaron Rodgers for the season. We’re both now 5-1. You take the good with the bad, I guess.
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 & TE Rob Gronkowski (NE) – Things in life we can count on: paying taxes, crying when our favorite team loses a big game, and the Falcons being the Patriots bitch. The Falcons were abysmal covering TEs last year, and while they’re doing well to date, they’ve played only one good TE – and sorry to Martellus Bennett, but his offense cancels his “good” status – and they gave up 112 yards. Brady and Gronk for the win.
QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, & WR Dez Bryant (DAL) – The 49ers have actually played well, but I have little faith they will beat the Cowboys. That said, with Elliott’s suspension once again on hold, and the 49ers recent release of Navarro Bowman, Elliott should have a field day. Prescott has been a far better fantasy QB this year than he was last year. He’s throwing more, still running, and carrying one of my fantasy teams. He’ll find Dez for at least one score against the 49ers and their secondary that allows the 13th most fantasy points to WRs.
RB Leonard Fournette (JAX) – Stud alert. Duh.
RB Devonta Freeman & WR Julio Jones (ATL) – I’m skeptical on Matt Ryan, as witnessed by my QB13 ranking of him this week. But Freeman should dominate and Julio, in a perfect world, goes for 10 catches and 200 yards. Can we get Sarkisian a drink to loosen up his play calling? Too soon?
WR Michael Thomas (NO) – If you think he’s underwhelmed, look again. He’s actually ranked 11th in fantasy points per game to date and he leads the Saints in yards and targets. I should also add that the Packers have five defensive backs listed on their injury report this week. Even if they all suit up, they’ll hardly be 100% and Thomas’ best games have actually been on the road. Big game on the horizon.
TE Zach Ertz (PHI) – He’s a stud, and he already torched the Redskins for 8 catches and 98 yards in Week 1. I’m fully expecting a repeat performance.
QB Carson Wentz & WR Alshon Jeffery (PHI) – We all know about Wentz by now. But here’s why I like Jeffery this week: CB Josh Norman may not play after his ribs/lung injury and Bashaud Breeland sprained his MCL last week. Their best corner, Kendall Fuller, plays in the slot. Give me all kinds of Jeffery this week as Wentz looks to push the Eagles to 6-1.
QB Tyrod Taylor (BUF) – The Bucs defense has been exposed this season. They’re also going to Buffalo. Yes, I know Taylor has like, no one to throw to, but he’ll find a way. He always has.
QB Jared Goff (LAR) – This is a sneaky play. I don’t know if Patrick Peterson will be covering Sammy Watkins all game, but I thought he’d shadow Mike Evans last week and that didn’t happen. As long as Goff throws away from Peterson, he’s in for a great game in London this week. The Cardinals allow the 3rd most fantasy points to QBs, so if you need a spot start, Goff is your man.
RB Carlos Hyde & WR Pierre Garçon (SF) – In case you forgot, the Cowboys still have an awful defense. Hyde and Garçon will be busy with rookie C.J. Beathard running the offense now.
RB Mark Ingram (NO) – All it took was for Adrian Peterson to go west and Ingram breaks out. Look, we know he has talent. It’s always been Sean Payton that holds him back. Against Green Bay, I expect a top 10 day. They’re mediocre against the run, but good backs can beat them. They want to limit Brees’ throws, and a good way to do that is to run Ingram.
RB Adrian Peterson (ARI) – Okay, I’m buying in. The Saints put up the mirage that he was washed up. I blame Sean Payton. Side note, I blame him for a lot of things. In case you didn’t read my column last week, the Rams don’t do well defending the run. Peterson faces the Rams this week. He could easily have yet another 100 yard game. In his second straight game.
RB Chris Thompson (WSH) – The little scat back that could. He’s currently RB7, and he’s already had his bye. Rob Kelley is banged up and Perine has ball security issues. Thompson is having a Pro Bowl season and even against a stout Philly defense, he’s a good start.
WR Michael Crabtree (OAK) – He’s the only Raider I trust at this point. And I like him better than Amari Cooper anyway. The Chiefs are a great matchup – they allow the 3rd most fantasy points to WRs – which is why he’s my number five WR this week.
WR Rishard Matthews & TE Delanie Walker (TEN) – The Titans face the Browns. Yeah, you’re starting all of your Titans this week.
Your streaming defenses of choice this week are Vikings D/ST, Titans D/ST, & Saints D/ST.
QB Carson Palmer (ARI) – The Rams can’t stop the run, but they defend the pass fairly well. He’s a mid tier option for me this week.
QB Jameis Winston, WR DeSean Jackson & TE Cameron Brate (TB) – Winston is banged up, and the Bills defense is legit. And the Bucs are on the road. The only Buccaneer I trust this week is Mike Evans.
RB Jordan Howard (CHI) – You’re still starting him, but Carolina plays good defense. My only worry with this call is that with a young QB, the Bears will run by necessity, and volume is a fantasy owner’s best friend. Statistically, he belongs here, as the Panthers yield the 10th fewest fantasy points to RBs.
RB Frank Gore (IND) – Marlon Mack is the Colts RB you want. The Colts themselves just don’t know that yet. I love Gore and everything he’s accomplished, but in a great matchup against a vulnerable Jaguars’ run defense, I think he still struggles to reach 4 yards a carry.
RB Marshawn Lynch (OAK) – As I said before, Crabtree is the only Raider I trust. Lynch just hasn’t gotten going and I don’t foresee a moment when he does.
WR Doug Baldwin (SEA) – He is dealing with a Week 4 injury, but off a bye week, he shouldn’t be as hobbled. But unlucky for him, he faces of with Janoris Jenkins and the Giants secondary. Some calls in life are just easy.
WR T.Y. Hilton (IND) – The Jackson 5, or whatever you want to call the Jaguars lock down secondary, will not bend the knee. Yes, I’m in Game of Thrones withdrawals. But I digress. Fade Hilton this week.
WR Stefon Diggs (MIN) – He’s not healthy and the Ravens defense covers WRs well. If any of the Vikings WRs do well this week, it’s Adam Thielen.
TE Jordan Reed (WSH) – The Eagles surrender nothing to TEs. Travis Kelce is the only TE to top 45 yards on them this year, and they’ve already slowed down Reed in Week 1.
TE Martellus Bennett (GB) – He should be Brett Hundley’s best friend. Should. Let’s see if Mike McCarthy changes course and makes the offense more TE friendly. Until I see it, I’m not wasting my time with Bennett.