By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
It sucks, doesn’t it? Most times, you never see it coming. It just hits you like a ton of bricks and you’re left to scramble to pick up the pieces. But you always have a ton of questions afterwards — Was it something I did? Is it something we can work on? Why are you doing this now? — and you never get the answers you want.
Then you start to second guess yourself in everything you do. Work, relationships, setting your fantasy football lineup, the whole gauntlet. Your confidence dwindles and you do uncharacteristically moronic things. You’ve got the yips. No one wants the yips.
Some people can fight through it, but for others, it lingers. It’s a strain on your psyche that is like a stain on your favorite shirt. No amount of Tide® To-Go® will remove it — not a paid advertisement, mind you — and it’s just a constant reminder there’s an inconsistency within you.
The fantasy playoffs are upon us. Your team is set, the team that got you here, and it is ready to carry you to a championship. Are you ready to let it? Many of us have seen the show The League. One of the common phrases uttered throughout is “tinker stinker time.” Don’t do it! Rankings are presented to you to help you, not confuse you.
You’re inevitably going to have a conundrum between a borderline FLEX play with a great matchup and your stud QB/RB/WR/TE with a tough matchup. How reliable has that FLEX play been for you throughout the season? Did he carry you to the playoffs? I didn’t think so. It’s easy to overthink. But let’s be honest, if you’re going to lose, you’re going to lose. Would you rather lose because you trusted your stud and it just wasn’t their week? Or would you rather lose because you got cocky, thinking you could outsmart your opponent with a Hail Mary? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather it be the former.
I say this from personal experience. I was facing an opponent three years ago and my best player, Julio Jones, was ruled out just before game time. I had his replacement, Harry Douglas, on my bench and swapped him out, but I didn’t have confidence that Douglas would/could replicate what Jones had done for me up to that point. With the rest of my team being inconsistent and untrustworthy, I decided to play like I had nothing to lose.
I had Johnny Manziel on my bench coming off a great game and with a decent matchup. I had also traded for Tony Romo midseason to get me through the playoffs. Because I lost my best player and had zero confidence in my team outside of him, I gambled and played Manziel. Hell, if I won, I’d be a legend. What did I have to lose?
Well, I lost. Douglas filled in admirably but Manziel was a disaster, and my opponent had poor showings from much of his team. If I had started Romo, I would have won and made the championship. To make matters worse, in the 3rd place game, I scored over 180 points, which would’ve beat both the eventual champion and league runner up by close to 100 points. Instead of being a legend, I now have to live with this all time blunder.
The following year, I missed the playoffs — the yips! — but returned to the championship last year, only to lose to the guy who won the year of my blunder. I’m currently sitting as the top seed in this league and have a rather easy route to the championship with arguably the best team in the league. But I haven’t won anything yet. Trust me, I’ve learned my lesson.
Don’t fall into the trap. Stick with who got you there. Don’t over think it, and go win your league folks!
(I’d like to issue an apology, as I was unable to get rankings out yesterday. I had an emergency I had to attend to. My picks today are based mostly off my own numbers, but also the plethora of other rankings you inevitably find throughout the interwebs.)
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 (usually) based on my rankings, so decide which work for you and good luck this week!
QB Carson Wentz (PHI) – Even in a bad loss against a good defense on the road, Wentz put up 18.92 fantasy points. Just think, if he doesn’t fumble at the goal line, he’s up around 26. He’s the only QB ranked in the top 10 who hasn’t scored less than 15 fantasy points in any game this season. Even against a Rams defense that allows the 6th fewest fantasy points to QBs, you can bet on a solid showing from fantasy’s number 2 QB.
RB Alvin Kamara (NO) – It’s starting to feel obvious at this point, isn’t it? But I’m writing about Kamara for one specific reason this week — Mark Ingram has a toe injury and hasn’t practiced all week. Normally I wouldn’t worry, but the Saints play on Thursday this week. Even with a limited Ingram, Kamara might put up a 40 burger just because. He’s averaging 7.0 yards per carry and has scored 11 TDs. The Falcons have no chance to stop him this week.
RB Melvin Gordon (LAC) – The Redskins allow 25.18 fantasy points to opposing RBs, 8th most, and Gordon is due. Over his last four weeks, he’s RB19. Rivers and the passing game have been on fire, but it’s time to get Gordon on track if they’re going to make a playoff push.
WR DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) – Hopkins is WR2 this year and faces the 49ers this week. Just because the 49ers got their second win last week doesn’t mean they’re skilled enough to stop Nuk. He’s been WR5 over the last five weeks and hasn’t scored single digits since Week 6. Deploy with confidence this week.
WR Adam Thielen (MIN) – Thielen has been WR4 over the last four weeks. He’s become the go-to WR for Case Keenum and the Vikings. The Panthers allow the 11th most fantasy points to WRs over the last four weeks and I expect Thielen to top 20 points this week. With ease.
TE Travis Kelce (KC) – He’s fantasy’s number one TE and the Raiders allow the 7th most fantasy points to TEs. Kelce had a TD in their last meeting and hopefully the Chiefs figured out that when you feed Kelce, he eats with the best of them. He topped 20 fantasy points within five minutes of last week’s game! It really isn’t rocket science people.
QB Alex Smith (KC) – Smith bounced back last week after a dismal stretch of games where the Chiefs lost six of their last seven games. I’m doubling down on him this week against the Raiders. He went for 342 yards and 3 TDs in the first meeting, topping 35 points, and in a game the Chiefs have to win, Smith shows up for them and your fantasy teams.
QB Philip Rivers (LAC) – The Redskins allow over 20 fantasy points to QBs a week. Rivers averages over 24.69 fantasy points his last four weeks. Give me some Rivers this week.
RB Lamar Miller (HOU) – The 49ers allow the most fantasy points to RBs this season. Sometimes math is pretty simple.
RB Samaje Perine (WSH) – Over his last four weeks, Perine is RB14. Couple that with the Chargers allowing the 5th most fantasy points to RBs, and you have a RB to plug into your lineup this week.
RB Frank Gore (IND) – This may be my last hurrah with Mr. Gore. We’ve had a good run. From your days at The U, to all those years in San Francisco, you’ve been nothing short of amazing. In what is likely his last season and for a team that’s going nowhere, Gore is due for one last big game before young Marlon Mack takes the reigns as the lead back of the Colts for years to come. Gore and the Colts take on a Bills team that, since Week 2, have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Gonna miss ya Frank. This one’s for you bro.
WR Marvin Jones Jr. (DET) – Over his last three weeks, Jones is WR5. It worries me that QB Matthew Stafford is still iffy with his hand injury, but if Stafford plays, dial up Jones against a Bucs secondary that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Even with a backup QB, I’d expect Jones to put up FLEX worthy numbers.
WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – He’s been WR6 since Week 9 so we know Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert, the QBs that have filled in for injured Carson Palmer, are still looking his way. Over that same time frame, the Titans allow the 5th most fantasy points to WRs. An easy WR1 this week.
WR Michael Crabtree (OAK) – Crabtree has struggled a bit since he last played Kansas City. Obviously the injury to Derek Carr hasn’t helped, but neither did his getting tossed against Denver and missed game against the Giants. Now he gets the Chiefs again and wouldn’t you know it, the last time Crabtree scored a TD was against, you guessed it, the Chiefs. Marcus Peters won’t play for the Chiefs this weekend and that makes this matchup that much more juicy.
TE Hunter Henry (LAC) – Don’t look now, but Henry is finally starting to look like the TE I had ranked as TE10 in the preseason. His last two weeks, he’s TE3 and gets a Redskins team that allows the third most points to TEs since Week 6. Rivers should love targeting Henry this week.
TE Jason Witten (DAL) – Witten loves playing the Giants. In Week 1, he went for 18.9 points. Dak Prescott has struggled without Ezekiel Elliott, but against a Giants team that just fired their coach, their defense will better resemble their current state of allowing the most fantasy points to opposing TEs since the season started.
Your streaming D/STs of the week include Bills D/ST, Packers D/ST, and Bengals D/ST.
QB Russell Wilson (SEA) – Wilson is fantasy’s number one QB for the season and since Week 6, he’s averaged 31.74 fantasy points per outing. He travels cross country this week to face a Jaguars team that has allowed an average of 10.34 fantasy points to QBs, the stingiest mark in the league. Look, it’s the playoffs, and Wilson got you there so you’re starting him, unless you’re on a bye week in which case, lucky you. It’s okay to not feel good about it. Temper expectations this week.
RB Kareem Hunt (KC) – He’s sitting on the side of the road waiting for trash pick up. Oh, and he’s the trash. Since Week 8, Hunt has been RB40, averaging only 8.7 points per contest. The Raiders are middle of the road against the run so this has little to do with the matchup. Do you want to trot someone out there you thought was a stud on the off chance he becomes what he was for the first eight weeks when his coaches have blatantly chosen not to get him the football? Yeah, I’ll pass. Thanks. (And because he’s on this list, it basically means he’ll go off for 40 points because numbers mean jack squat when they land on this list. Fair warning.)
RB Carlos Hyde (SF) – I thought Hyde would have a better game than he did, but Jimmy G was so masterful between the 20s it didn’t matter. This week, he and the 49ers run into a Texans team that allows the fourth fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs. If the 49ers can fix their red zone woes from a week ago, maybe Hyde can sneak in a TD, but he’s a low end RB2 for me this week instead of the bonafide RB1 he’s been throughout the season.
WR Doug Baldwin (SEA) – See Wilson, Russell. The Jaguars have arguably the best CB combo in the league in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Sorry, not happening this week.
WR Jamison Crowder (WSH) – Crowder has been on a tear recently, WR15 since Week 10. Against a Chargers team that has allowed the 9th fewest fantasy points to WRs over the same time span and has only allowed two WRs all year to top 85 yards receiving, I don’t have a lot of confidence in Crowder this week.
WR Devin Funchess (CAR) – The “Rhodes Closed” moniker is one of my favorite. Right up there with “Revis Island”. Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes is a stud and shuts down most WRs. The ones he doesn’t are much more talented than Funchess. So yeah, no thanks this week.
TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) – The Panthers shut down TEs. Seriously, they allow the fewest fantasy points to TEs thus far in 2017. Rudolph has been great this year, even without Sam Bradford throwing him the ball, but this will be more of a Thielen/Diggs game. No red nose for Rudolph this week.