By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
It’s Week 13. You know what that means? We have four weeks left with each other. (Insert sad face emoji.) I say that because Club Fantasy doesn’t operate in Week 17. And really, why would you want to play in a fantasy league when the majority of the good players are likely on the best teams and they are pulling their starters midway through the game? What that tells me is that the best team isn’t likely to win your league.
Even though our fantasy seasons are drawing to a close, we have great plans for you in the upcoming offseason. And until then, you need to get ready for the playoffs! If you’ve already been eliminated, your goal is to not finish last. I can only imagine what your friends will do to you for finishing last. I have never finished last so I wouldn’t know the feeling, but I do have a pretty creative imagination.
Your trade deadline has passed and if you need help, you are picking from the wire. There are a lot of great matchups from some less heralded individuals in the coming weeks. Feel free to deploy them, even over some of your well-known starters. Risk-taking is hardly the worst thing you can do, you just can’t be afraid to live with the consequences if it backfires. But here’s the biggest reason I say this. Look at some of the biggest names in football this year. Have they been great? Are you still deploying Jordy Nelson and T.Y. Hilton with the same confidence as you did in Week 1? How about Kareem Hunt? Or Mike Evans? Or Alex Smith? Even Leonard Fournette? Some big names who have helped you get where you currently are but have hit a skid in recent weeks. I’m just saying, knowing your match ups and going into your decisions with as much information as possible will help you cope with the results.
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 so 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) – Over the last three weeks, Brady has scored the 2nd most fantasy points at QB. Meanwhile, the Bills allow the 5th fewest points to opposing QBs this season. Something’s gotta give right? Bet on Brady. Always bet on Brady.
RB Todd Gurley (LAR) – With Jared Goff’s ability to light up the Cardinals secondary, I fully expect running lanes to be open for Gurley as the game goes on. His reverse garbage time stats — I will make this a thing — will be at a premium. Get in line for tickets now!
RB Alvin Kamara (NO) – Guess who has been fantasy’s number one RB since Week 4? I’ll give you a hint: he shares a name with a chipmunk. Alvin Kamara has scored a whopping 192 points over 8 games, averaging 24 a contest. Over his last three weeks, he’s averaging 30.4 points. Who needs Mark Ingram when the Saints have this guy?
WR DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) – He’s the highest scoring WR in fantasy the last four weeks and gets a Titans secondary that allows the 6th most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Captain Obvious for the win!
WR Keenan Allen (LAC) – Allen has been on a tear lately, reminding us all why I had him ranked 6th overall to start the 2016 season. I was a year late, so sue me. He’s averaging 29.3 fantasy points a game over his last three weeks. Still need more evidence? He plays the Browns this week. I can’t make this stuff up, folks.
TE Travis Kelce (KC) – Fantasy’s number one TE has been all you need at the position from the start. He’s averaged the 3rd most points among TEs over the last four weeks and plays a Jets team that allows the 10th most fantasy points to opposing TEs. He’s also been the Chiefs only reliable weapon in almost two months so there’s that as well.
QB Philip Rivers (LAC) – Well, Rivers plays the Browns this week, so, you know. But he’s also averaging 26.4 points over his last three weeks, good for 6th at the position. He also has the aforementioned Allen to throw to and some dude named Melvin Gordon to carry the football. I don’t think Rivers has ever been happier. Deploy with confidence this week.
QB Case Keenum (MIN) – Don’t look now, but the backup of the backup is throwing himself into the MVP conversation. He has also been fantasy’s 4th best QB the last three weeks. The Falcons have been average at points allowed to QBs, but I’m betting on the threat of Teddy Bridgewater usurping his job to keep Keenum hotter than the Arizona desert this week in Atlanta.
QB Josh McCown (NYJ) – Who are these QBs and what have you done with my superstars? Seriously. If you thought Keenum has been a surprise, McCown may be even more of a shock. For the season, he’s been fantasy’s number 14 QB. Over his last three games, he’s averaged the 12th most at the position. The Chiefs have the 5th worst pass defense in the league and no amount of money paid to Darrelle Revis will fix that this week. A solid streaming option if needed.
RB Leonard Fournette (JAX) – Man, has he SUCKED the last few weeks. Over his last three contests, he’s not even averaging 10 points a game. 10 points! There is no love lost here, as Fournette is killing me in not one, but two leagues, but I have a feeling this is the week he returns to early season form. Yes, he is nursing an ankle injury but the Colts allow the 6th most fantasy points to opposing RBs. I think the Colts run D breaks before Fournette’s ankle. (Dear God, I hope I didn’t just jinx the dude.)
RB Jordan Howard (CHI) – Over his last four contests, Howard has traded good games and bad games. Which basically means this week will be a good one. Did you know his opponent this week has allowed less than 20 fantasy points to RBs in only two games this year? And both of those games were against the putrid Seahawks rushing attack? Good game Howard for the win.
RB Carlos Hyde (SF) – With Jimmy Garoppolo named the starting QB this week, I fully expect HC Kyle Shanahan to limit how much he throws, as his system takes some time to get acclimated to. That should mean a heavy dose of Carlos Hyde for the Bears defense. Luckily, even a limited playbook Jimmy G is enough to keep the Bears on their toes to create more running room for Hyde. He’s a top 10 play for me this week.
WR Davante Adams (GB) – In the six games Adams has played since Brett Hundley took over for an injured Aaron Rodgers, Adams has had one game under 12 fantasy points. He’s been top 20 since and against a Bucs secondary that’s allowing the most fantasy points to opposing WRs, I like Adams as a top 5 play this week.
WR Robby Anderson (NYJ) – Did you know that Robby Anderson has scored 6 TDs in his last 5 games? Did you also know that he’s been WR10 since Week 3? Or that he scored the 3rd most points among WRs just last week? Stop sleeping on Robby Anderson! The Chiefs allow the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Anderson is a top 15 play for me this week.
WR Jamison Crowder (WSH) – He has risen! No, it’s not Easter. I’m simply referring to Crowder’s return from the abyss. He’s been WR9 over the last three weeks as Kirk Cousins has no more Terrelle Pryor to force the ball to. The Cowboys defense needs an enema to flush out the awfulness that is their secondary — 5th most fantasy points to opposing WRs over the season — so I expect Cousins to find Crowder early and often on Thursday night.
TE Jared Cook (OAK) – I must have jinxed Vernon Davis for singing his praises last week against a Giants defense that allows the most fantasy points to opposing TEs. He promptly scored zero points. (Insert Face palm emoji.) I’m doubling down on Cook against the same Giants defense this week. Clearly, I’m a glutton for punishment.
TE Hunter Henry (LAC) – In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Chargers offense is hot, I like them a lot, and they play the Browns this week. I was totally looking for a way to rhyme that last sentence. I have failed. Moving on.
Streaming defenses of the week include the Saints D/ST, Chiefs D/ST, and the Lions D/ST.
QB Matthew Stafford (DET) – He’s a little banged up after Thanksgiving, and the Ravens defense is a force against QBs, allowing the 2nd fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs. He’s a high end QB2 for me this week, but you may not have better options. Deploy with caution.
QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – He’s literally been the best QB in fantasy the last three weeks. But when Big Ben goes on the road, he’s a different QB. The Bengals haven’t allowed more the 21 fantasy points to a QB since Week 3. I’m fading Ben this week despite his current hot streak.
RB Kareem Hunt (KC) – Since Week 8, Hunt has been RB42. And yes, this is the same Kareem Hunt who led all RBs in scoring over the first eight weeks. You’re likely relying on him, but you can’t feel good about it. I have him outside of my top 10 this week, and that’s just because I’m respecting his early season run. But I don’t feel good about it.
RB Devonta Freeman (ATL) – Freeman returns after missing two games with a concussion. His reward? A Vikings defense that allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs. I have Freeman ranked as RB19 this week. I’m getting sick just thinking that is even too high.
WR A.J. Green (CIN) – Green hasn’t posted a solid game against Pittsburgh in almost two years. The Steelers D allows the 6th fewest fantasy points to WRs so I’m not expecting big numbers this week. But you’re trotting him out there on the off chance he burns Artie (Burns).
WR Dez Bryant (DAL) – How horrible has Dak Prescott been? Dez has been equally as disappointing. Until Dak figures out how to play QB without Zeke Elliott as his safety blanket, I’m passing on every single Cowboy.
WR T.Y. Hilton (IND) – Insert stud WR facing the Jaguars. Hard pass.
TE Greg Olsen (CAR) – He left early last week after returning from IR. Maybe we keep him on the bench until he’s good ol’ Greg Olsen again? Just a thought.