By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
I don’t want to write something that is overly biased and comes across as fanboyish, so I’m going to be brief and just say that I’m riding high as an Eagles fan and will likely drive you all crazy. So how about I just say that I hope you’re all doing well with your teams and if you have any lineup questions, feel free to reach out to us on Instagram and Twitter before the games begin each week!
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 Carson Wentz (PHI) – And of course, I begin with the magician. So here are the numbers: 1,852 passing yards, 17 TDs, 4 INTs, and 196 rushing yards. He’s currently averaging 27.7 fantasy points per game, tied for third among QBs. Those are the easy numbers. Want some easier ones? Dak Prescott just scored 38 fantasy points against the same 49ers defense just last weekend. And the 49ers travel to Philly. He’s my number one QB this week and for good reason.
QB Kirk Cousins (WSH) – It’s easy to doubt Cousins because people may not view him as an upper echelon starter in the NFL. Last I checked, he was damn good in fantasy and he’s continued his performance this year. He’s currently 6th in fantasy points among QBs and faces a Dallas secondary this week that allows 21.9 fantasy points per game to QBs, 11th most in the league. I’m sure Cousins will be on a mission after getting shown up by one young QB in his division. I don’t think he wants it to happen in back-to-back weeks.
RB Melvin Gordon (LAC) – His stinker last week notwithstanding, Gordon has scored 36 points or more in two of his last three games. Both were on the road. Gordon gets the Patriots this week – on the road – and while they were solid defensively last week, season to date they’re allowing the 4th most fantasy points to opposing RBs. I’m betting big on Gordon this week as he’s my number two RB.
RB Jordan Howard (CHI) – Call me crazy, but I think Howard is going to go bonkers on Sunday in the Big Easy. Look, the Bears are breaking in a young QB and they don’t want Mitchell Trubisky making mistakes, as evidenced by his seven pass attempts last week. Seven! Howard torched the Ravens two weeks ago to the tune of 167 yards, and the Saints allow the 9th most fantasy points to RBs in 2017, and allow 4.9 yards per attempt. The Bears want to run and it starts with Howard. He should have a top 10 day.
WR A.J. Green (CIN) – Green is a beast. The Colts secondary is the least. Something like that.
WR Julio Jones (ATL) – Jones popped his touchdown cherry last week! Coming off his best week of the season, hopefully that serves as a wake up call for OC Steve Sarkisian to open up the offense. There have been zero shades of 2016, but against the Jets this week, I think Jones picks up where he left off. The Jets are tied with the Patriots for most passing TDs allowed, so here’s hoping Jones gets lucky once again.
TE Travis Kelce (KC) – A division game, on Monday night, against a stout defense that folds against tight ends. What’s not to love here? Denver has been torched by TEs this season, allowing the 4th most fantasy points to the position. Kelce is 3rd among TEs. It’s simple math, people.
QB Trevor Siemian (DEN) – I swear, every time I see the Broncos in a primetime game, Trevor Siemian shines like a new engagement ring. In Week 6 in New York, he threw for 376 yards on the Giants; against the Chargers in Week 1, on Monday night, he put up 26.7 fantasy points; and last year against the Chiefs on Sunday night, Siemian totaled 368 yards and 3 TDs. Oh, and he also plays the Chiefs in Week 8. On Monday night. Get your popcorn ready folks!
QB Cam Newton & WR Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) – Look, the Bucs defense has more holes than freshly sliced Swiss cheese. The Panthers offense, while lacking creativity, was stymied by the Bears last week. Week 8 is a division game and despite my lack of love for Cam in the past, I’m not betting against him this week. The Bucs allow the 4th most fantasy points to QBs this year and the most points to opposing WRs. I mean, if that doesn’t want to force you to start these guys, I don’t know what will.
RB Chris Thompson (WSH) – He’s a bawse. Not a boss. A BAWSE. The Redskins may have an anemic running game, but in today’s NFL, RBs need to know how to catch, and Thompson can do just that. Thompson has posted 15.6 fantasy points or more in 5 of 6 games this year. Dallas rank 30th in DVOA against pass catching RBs, allowing an average of 7.8 receptions and 52.3 yards. So really, you can pencil in at least 10 points off the bat, but I’m taking the over. Another big day for Thompson awaits.
RB Joe Mixon & TE Tyler Kroft (CIN) – When you face the Colts, you get shown some love. Mixon, despite his rough start and temper tantrum early this week, is far and away the best RB the Bengals have. I expect this to be the week the Bengals finally let him loose. Kroft has filled in admirably for the injured Tyler Eifert, averaging 14.97 fantasy points per game over his last three weeks. Solid weeks ahead for both.
RB Wendell Smallwood & WR Nelson Agholor (PHI) – Playing on the hottest team in football will get you some recognition. Since Week 3, the first week Smallwood took over for the injured Darren Sproles, the Eagles have averaged 4.68 yards per carry and 178 yards per game in the three games he’s played. In the 2 games he missed due to injury, the Eagles averaged 3.72 yards per carry and 111.5 yards per game. He’s their best 3rd down back and shiftiest runner and I firmly expect him to outperform LeGarrette Blount this week. Agholor has been a revelation in his third year. He currently sits 17th among WRs in fantasy points per game while Alshon Jeffery is 33rd. The slot receiver is powerful in the Eagles offense and I expect that to continue this week against the hapless 49ers.
WR Keenan Allen & TE Hunter Henry (LAC) – They face the Patriots defense. Maybe Bill Belichick has fixed the defense, but against an offense that seems to be clicking at the right time, I’d rather not bet on them. They allow 92.4 yards per game to #1 WRs and 52.3 yards to TEs. Allen and Henry are easy starts for me this week.
And your streaming defenses of the week are Bengals D/ST, Saints D/ST, & Falcons D/ST.
QB Alex Smith & RB Kareem Hunt (KC) – They play at home, and as hot as Smith has been this year, I know I’m going to regret this. But the Broncos defense hasn’t allowed a QB more than 249 yards in a single contest. Only Philip Rivers in Week 1 scored more than 22 fantasy points against them. Against RBs, they’re even stingier. They’ve yet to allow a rushing TD and allow only 30.3 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs. Hunt’s numbers have slowly decreased since Week 3 and Andy Reid doesn’t want to overwork his young stud RB. You’re still starting him, but I have him ranked 10th this week which is why he lands on this list.
RB Duke Johnson Jr. (CLE) – Johnson has been the lone bright spot on the Browns pathetic excuse for an offense. He’s tied for 14th among RBs in fantasy points scored and does most of his damage as a pass catcher. The Vikings allow only 34.4 receiving yards to RBs this year and have allowed the fewest fantasy points to RBs. A big ol’ hard pass this week.
RB Lamar Miller & WR DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) – I’m going to be wrong on one of them, so hopefully you choose right. But against the Seahawks, on the road, and with a rookie, albeit super stud rookie, at QB, I like the Seahawks to hold serve here. The Seahawks hold number one WRs to 42.1 yards per game and allow the 7th fewest fantasy points to WRs. They also allow the 5th fewest to RBs. If Seattle goes up big, which is doubtful but could happen, garbage time points can be had, but I’m tempering expectations on Hopkins and fading Miller this week.
WR Stefon Diggs (MIN) – Iffy for this week after missing last week and the game is across the pond in London. I just want to see him healthy and playing before committing to him. It’s too bad, as the Browns look like a good matchup, even if their defensive numbers suggest otherwise. They’re still the Browns.
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr. (WSH) – Not to add insult to injury, but Pryor is doing no one any favors. It looks like he has officially lost his spot in the rotation to Josh Doctson, so I would be tempted to drop him and move on. Wait and see though as the trade deadline nears and Washington could decide to move on from him and things could look back up for him.