By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
I came across an interesting tweet this week from Yahoo’s Brad Evans. He stumbled upon a Reddit post that someone started asking people who their least favorite fantasy analyst was. Brad seemed upset because he was “third” on the list — not because these were official rankings, just that he was the third one mentioned. His caption dripped of sarcasm, of course, whether because he wanted to be number one or because he actually wants to be liked. I don’t know Brad but I’m guessing he just takes opinions like this in stride. The fact is, this is the industry we work in. You can’t please everyone.
Which brings me to my intro for this week’s post.
Last week was interesting, to say the least. Nothing directly with me, just on the socials involving Club Fantasy FFL. Allow me to explain.
Our viewership has been increasing this year (which is awesome and THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR THAT) and of course, with more exposure comes more scrutiny. Internet trolls are a real thing. You love to hate them — I personally find them hilarious — but it’s really hard to ignore them. It’s also very easy to get sucked into letting them rattle your psyche. When it comes to fantasy sports, trolls are everywhere.
Club Fantasy FFL partnered with a major Facebook discussion group over the summer — Sports Talk! — to be their go-to for Fantasy Football advice for their members. It’s something I take very seriously because I take pride in my ability to deliver fantasy advice. And when the group includes over 10,000 members, I really hate it when I get picks wrong. But I’m human. I make mistakes and sometimes that affects people’s fantasy lineups.
Every Thursday and Sunday, I do live videos in this group to answer some start/sit questions and help people make some tweaks to their lineups. This past week, I encountered a group member that waited until after the bulk of the Sunday games to make some comments. In no uncertain terms, he called me an idiot. Actually, he called people that listen to me idiots. Needless to say, I let my passion take hold of me.
I can take criticism, I can. I’m used to it. And really, in this industry, you encounter hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people and some will be haters. Actually, many will be haters. It’s just the law of averages. I can deal with it. Call me whatever you want, I really don’t care. At the end of the day, these people have nothing else going on in their lives so they decide to take out their frustrations on others — in this case, me. Bring it.
Where I draw the line: calling people idiots — fans of mine or fantasy in general — that appreciate my advice or people that appreciate me taking the time to deliver advice or rankings. Not cool bro.
I got hammered on Instagram this week for having Big Ben as my number 1 QB last week. Too many people were focusing on his lackluster performance against Cleveland and ignoring the facts — Big Ben at home is legit. So legit, he finished with 47.98 fantasy points, good for QB2 this week. Am I going to miss some calls? Sure, it’s part of the game. I don’t profess to even be 50% accurate on most occasions. But if you want to call me out for missing calls — in hindsight, mind you, which is the most cowardly way to go about criticism — at least give me props for ones I get right.
For everyone out there that appreciates my work and the work of my amazing team here with Club Fantasy FFL, I thank you for your continued support. For those of you out there that just want to troll people, thinking that you’re too good to take advice, good on you. Take your shit and light it on fire in front of someone else’s porch. No one here has time for your need to uplift yourself by putting others down.
With all this hate going around, does that mean that I’ve officially made it? I’m going with yes, yes I have.
This column is all about who to start and sit, or Play and Fade. I think the meanings are pretty simple. Play offers up a series of players that, based on my rankings, outperform their preseason rankings and draft positions. They may be obvious names but some may be diamonds in the rough. Fade focuses on the obvious players that were taken higher in drafts and won’t put up numbers relative to their norm or players with absolutely atrocious match ups that I plan to bench this week. My choices are based off my weekly FLEX rankings. Go ahead, take a quick gander before making your way back to the main event.
QB Kirk Cousins (MIN) – The Vikings play the Bills this week. Need I say more? Okay, fine. I will. Joe Flacco had 27.74 fantasy points against them in Week 1 (QB11). Philip Rivers had 28.74 fantasy points against them in Week 2 (QB10). Is it risky that he’s my number one QB? Yes, yes it is. But you know that Cousins is better than the Flacco and you could make the case that at this point in his career, Cousins > Rivers. Plus, with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph chomping at the bits, this might turn into a high school game where the Vikings score 70.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (TB) – FitzMagic is real! Every three years or so it surfaces and damn it all if it isn’t one of the most enjoyable experiences. He’s currently fantasy’s number one QB and he’s facing a Steelers secondary that has allowed the most passing TDs through two weeks (7). They also just allowed Patrick Mahomes to throw for 6 TDs. On the road, the Steelers offense isn’t that good — see Roethlisberger, Ben later in the column — which will put more pressure on the defense. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard should all have standout games. Jameis Winston should be very worried he doesn’t get his job back.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) – A week after landing on my “Fade” list, Jimmy G(Q) makes the leap. He finished as QB15 last week, scoring 20.64 fantasy points. Oh, and he outscored Tom Brady so there’s that. But he gets Kansas City this week who, let’s face it, has defensive deficiencies. They allow on average 42.97 fantasy points a game to opposing QBs. Through two games to start the season. I mean, what?! If Jimmy G(Q) can’t be a top 10 QB this week, there’s no hope for his season.
QB Ryan Tannehill (MIA) – This is my sneaky streaming pick this week. And it’s purely a gut call so take this advice at your own risk. Oakland has nothing in the way of a pass rush and Tannehill has actually been very efficient with a 72.5% completion percentage through two games. The downside? He’s averaging 199 yards, 2 TDs and an INT per game. That’s only 17.96 fantasy points a game without any rushing yards. But he had 44 yards scrambling last week. Four extra points and he’s a top 15 option. It could happen.
RB James Conner (PIT) – He’s my number one RB this week. The Steelers on the road, well, aren’t great. With Ben Roethlisberger’s struggles on the road well documented, the running game for Pittsburgh is more efficient on the road in comparison. Over the last three years and including Week 1 this year, Steelers RBs average 4.3 yards per carry and have scored 27 TDs on the ground during away games. Those numbers dip to 4.04 YPC and 18 TDs at home. Conner rushed for 159 yards and 2 TDs on the road in Week 1 and 33 yards and 2 TDs at home. Conner went for 192 total yards in Week 1. The Bucs allow the 5th most fantasy points to RBs over the first two games of the season. All in with Conner this week.
RB Jordan Howard (CHI) – This one is pretty simple. The Cardinals run defense to start 2018 has been awful. They allow, on average, 43.5 fantasy points to RBs through the first two games. And their offense has generated all of 6 points through two games. Howard is a top 5 RB for me this week. He averaged over 5 yards a carry against the Packers and I see no reason why he can’t average at least that this week to a team that has allowed the fifth most rushing yards to start the year.
RB Christian McCaffrey (CAR) – The Bengals have allowed 18 receptions for 145 yards to opposing RBs in two games in 2018. That’s an average of just over 16 fantasy points in receiving numbers per game. McCaffrey leads all RBs with 23 targets and 20 receptions. That’s 10 catches a game. He’s averaging just over 17 fantasy points a game just on his receiving numbers. CMC is top 10 for me this week.
RB Dalvin Cook (MIN) – As my new 2018 rule goes, start your players against the Buffalo Bills. Cook is my RB5 this week. I’m aware of the issues he’s had to date — fumbles and a cramp — but everyone has that one game to help them get back on track. This is it for Dalvin. The Bills allow the 4th most fantasy points to RBs through two weeks. Melvin Gordon just had three TDs against them. Cook should be used often as both a runner and receiver. Start Cook with confidence this week.
RB Kenyan Drake (MIA) – Pro Football Focus has graded Drake as the 6th best RB in the league thus far in 2018. That means nothing for fantasy purposes, I just wanted to mention it. The Dolphins have the 6th most rushing yards as a team thus far in 2018 and the Raiders are top 10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs through two weeks. Drake has out-touched Frank Gore 33 to 19 (8 to 1 in receptions) so please stop with the Frank Gore is stealing too much work. He’s averaging less than 10 touches per game while Drake is at 16.5. A big play threat, Drake can bust one or two this week and I’m buying the odds he does.
RB Matt Breida (SF) – Fun stat — Matt Breida leads the NFL in rushing yards through two weeks. I literally just scratched my head after typing that. If you can’t tell I like the 49ers offense this week, you’re clearly just skimming this article. You’re missing so much! I digress. The Chiefs allow the 3rd most fantasy points through two games to start the year so both Breida and Morris have the chance to be top 20 this week. But I’ll stick with Breida who has been more efficient with his rushes — 22 carries for 184 yards compared to Morris’ 26 carries for 86 yards — and is used more in the passing game.
RB Sony Michel (NE) – It’s Week 3 and I’m already sick of trying to guess what Patriots RB to play in a given week. James White is my guy as he’s the most reliable week to week, especially with the lack of quality receivers currently suiting up in New England. But last week was Michel’s coming out party. Finally healthy, the Patriots grinded with him and he tied for the team lead in touches. Burkhead is banged up but even is he’s healthy, I stand by what I’ve said throughout the offseason — you don’t spend a 1st round pick on a RB and not give him the ball. We all know Bill Belichick will want to pulverize the Lions and former assistant Matt Patricia and we also know the Lions don’t stop the run well — almost 180 yards on the ground per game to start 2018 and the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Michel is a FLEX play for me this week.
RB Marshawn Lynch (OAK) – Lynch has looked good running the football this year. He’s scored a TD in each week and the Dolphins allow 25.5 fantasy points to opposing RBs to start the year. I have him in my top 20 this week.
WR Julio Jones (ATL) – I’m generally against owning Julio Jones because of the drastic ups and downs of his stat line. Take the first two weeks. He started the season off with 19 targets for 10 catches and 169 yards. Then when Matt Ryan scored more than 30 fantasy points in Week 2, Jones had 9 targets for 5 catches and 64 yards. He’s a damn yo-yo. Well he’s up this week. Jones against the Saints has been money lately. Just last year, in two games, Jones went for 12 catches for 247 yards. We know about the lack of TDs, but we’re talking PPR leagues where even without them, he’s a top 10 WR. I’m betting he finally scores a touchdown this week since the Saints have allowed 5 TDs via the air and allowed the most yards per reception through two weeks.
WR Davante Adams (GB) – Josh Norman may be the most overrated upper echelon corner in the league. Football Outsiders has the Redskins allowing an average of 10 targets for 98 yards to teams’ opposing number one receivers to start the year. I think Davante Adams fits the bill. If he catches, say, 6 of them and approaches 90 yards, 15 fantasy points is solid, and that’s assuming he doesn’t score. And for a guy who has the most receiving TDs in the NFL the last two years, I’m guessing he finds the end zone, much like he has in each of the first two games this season.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) – Smith-Schuster has actually been the most productive Steelers WR thus far in 2018. The Bucs are already down former 1st round Vernon Hargreaves for the season and have a couple of rookies playing prominent roles in the secondary. Advantage: JuJu.
WR Marquise Goodwin (SF) – I’m all in on the 49ers this week. But pay attention to the injury report this week. Goodwin has been nursing a deep thigh bruise and missed last week’s game. If Goodwin plays, he’s a top 20 WR this week, which automatically vaults Jimmy G(Q) into top 10 territory. Yes, the Chiefs defense is that bad.
WR Kenny Golladay (DET) – Golladay is healthy and producing. In fact, he’s scored 0.4 fantasy points less than Golden Tate through two games. He has more targets, receptions, yards, and is averaging more yards per reception than Marvin Jones Jr. Against the Patriots this week who I think will go up and go up big to prove a point, Stafford will be throwing a lot to keep up. Golladay is your man in the FLEX this week.
WR DeSean Jackson (TB) – I know I’m going to regret this selection. DJax is the ultimate boom or bust receiver. But he is BOOMIN’ through two games this year. He leads the NFL in receiving yards — not a typo — and is third on the Bucs in targets. If that doesn’t speak to efficiency, I don’t know what does. Ryan Fitzpatrick has trust in him and DJax is getting open for him. I’m dialing him up against the Steelers who just allowed 6 passing TDs to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
WR Will Fuller V (HOU) – Deshaun Watson with Will Fuller in the lineup is amazing. In five career games with each other, Watson has targeted Fuller 31 times and the results are staggering. 21 catches for 392 yards and 8 TDs. The Giants will be paying a lot of attention to DeAndre Hopkins — and rightfully so — which will leave Will Fuller plenty of room over the top. Fuller should be good for at least one score. He’s a FLEX with WR2 upside.
TE Zach Ertz (PHI) – Doug Pederson against his former offensive coordinator. Why do I get the feeling this will be a giant pissing contest between friends? The Colts allow an average of 63 yards to TEs a game and the Eagles are still without Alshon Jeffery and just lost Mike Wallace for the year. They signed former Eagle Jordan Matthews but I’m always weary of a guy coming in off the streets and making a huge impact. Ertz should see plenty of love, especially with Carson Wentz back in the saddle.
TE George Kittle (SF) – Again, loving the 49ers offensive talent this week. Kittle let me down last week after a great week against the Vikings but the Chiefs just gave up 5 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown to Jesse James. Yeah, all in on the 49ers this week.
TE O.J. Howard (TB) – Howard’s target share hasn’t been great — only six targets through two games — but when you’re averaging 30 yards a reception, volume doesn’t tell all. Just like with DJax, Fitzpatrick looks for Howard in space and the Steelers just got shredded by Travis Kelce. Howard has the potential for top 10 numbers this week.
TE Jesse James (PIT) – Big Ben has looked for James often these first two weeks as the Steelers claw their way out of their 0-1-1 hole to start the season. He’s third on the team in targets behind Brown and Smith-Schuster. James should have a top 10 week against the Bucs.
QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – Ben is on the road. Even against the Bucs who have allowed almost 30 fantasy points a game to opposing QBs, I’m fading Ben. Last week wasn’t an anomaly — there will be more games like that as the Steelers do still have 7 more homes games to go — but the home-road splits are real for Ben.
QB Russell Wilson (SEA) – How awful has Russell Wilson looked thus far in 2018? This is why I like to wait on drafting QBs. Guys like Fitzpatrick and Mahomes have risen to the top while top 5 options like Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson have struggled. Maybe it doesn’t last all season, but Watson’s prospects look a lot better than Wilson’s. Wilson’s running game has struggled and his offensive line is still abysmal. The Cowboys come to town and while I’m hardly a fan of their defense, statistically, they’re legit. They destroyed Eli Manning and the Giants awful offensive line on Sunday night so I see no reason they can’t keep Wilson at bay this week.
QB Philip Rivers (LAC) – The Rams defense has allowed 6.5 points per game. Not fantasy points, actual points. That is a bit skewed due to shutting out the Cardinals, but they only gave up 13 to the Raiders. Maybe the Chargers can score 20 this week, meaning Rivers may get around 250 and 2 TDs, but he’s probably good for at least 2 turnovers as well, limiting his fantasy upside this week.
QB Jared Goff (LAR) – Goff may be at home, but so are the Chargers (technically). Goff has topped 20 points each week, but has hardly been otherworldly with Todd Gurley scoring more TDs than him. I had him top 10 going into the season. Fading this week.
RB David Johnson (ARI) – Rough start for David Johnson and the Cardinals offense. I hope they figure out how to get him the ball eventually. This week against the Bears though certainly doesn’t look promising though. You’re starting Johnson but don’t be shocked if he puts up another game under 10 fantasy points like last week against the Rams.
RB Melvin Gordon (LAC) – The Rams just bottled up David Johnson and held him to 6.1 fantasy points last week. There was little to no threat of a passing game — Rivers can keep the defense honest — but the Rams rush defense allows 74.5 rushing yards per game and 1 TD through two games. Gordon won’t approach his lofty numbers from the first two weeks but you’re still starting him.
RB Giovani Bernard (CIN) – People rushed to the waiver wire to snag Bernard with news of Joe Mixon’s knee injury. He could miss one game or four games, we’re not sure yet. If he only misses one game, that pickup may be a waste. Against the Panthers this week, expect more receiving work than rushing work. The Panthers have given up points to the likes of Ezekiel Elliott and Tevin Coleman, but Bernard isn’t either of those guys. Sorry, not buying it this week.
RB Alex Collins (BAL) – The Ravens are toying with my emotions! Collins looked good last year but has only 16 rushing attempts through two weeks. Meanwhile, Buck Allen has 10 rushes and 10 receptions to go with two TDs. The Broncos allow 3.6 yards per carry to RBs and the 6th fewest rushing yards per game. They also allow over 40 receiving yards per game to RBs. I prefer Allen this week over Collins.
RBs Chris Carson & Rashaad Penny (SEA) – This is an ugly split of the workload. Like, right down the middle. Both have scored 11.3 fantasy points through 2 games. I’m not rolling with these guys until one separates from the pack or the Seahawks trade a defensive stud for some offensive line help.
RB Royce Freeman (DEN) – The emergence of Phillip Lindsay — who is third in the NFL in rushing yards — has limited the amount of work that Freeman is receiving. I can’t even be mad. The Broncos are riding the hot hand. The positive thing is Freeman scored a TD last week so in deeper leagues, he has some FLEX value. Another downside? The Ravens have allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to RBs to start 2018. You should roll with Lindsay just like the Broncos are for now but don’t bail on Freeman yet!
RB Duke Johnson Jr. (CLE) – I parted with David Njoku last week and this week it’s Duke Johnson Jr. I just don’t know what the Browns offense is doing force-feeding Carlos Hyde who is averaging less than 3 yards per carry. Until they straighten up, Johnson shouldn’t be anywhere near your lineup.
WR Keenan Allen (LAC) – I’m probably going to regret this the same way I regret putting A.J. Green on this list last week. He then caught 3 TDs on Thursday night. Temper expectations against Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib but you’re still starting him.
WR Jarvis Landry (CLE) – Landry is banged up. The Jets bottled up the Dolphins WRs and outside of Landry, the Browns WRs are largely unproven. Plus, it’s a short week. Landry is outside my top 20 this week so he’s more FLEX than WR2 for me.
WR Demaryius Thomas (DEN) – The Ravens were torched by Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green last week so I’m thinking that maybe they make some adjustments. Sanders seems to be the wide receiver Case Keenum prefers and that showed last week with Thomas’ 6.8 fantasy points. I have Sanders at 23 and Thomas at 28 this week among WRs.
WR Marvin Jones Jr. (DET) – The reasons I like Golladay this week are the same reasons I’m not high on Jones Jr. this week. Jones Jr. isn’t seeing the targets or generating the production to rival Golladay. Until I see it, Jones Jr. is third in the Lions pecking order and off my radar.
WR Amari Cooper (OAK) – Cooper bounced back last week against the Broncos. The Raiders now travel across the country to take on the Dolphins in Miami. The Dolphins play pretty decent coverage but Xavien Howard has the penchant to give up the big play, yielding three receptions thus far for 82 yards. Cooper can beat him, but I’m thinking Miami puts Minkah Fitzpatrick on him. That should be a battle worth watching.
WR Corey Davis (TEN) – Jalen Ramsey shut down Gronk last week. You think he can’t do the same to Davis?
WR Josh Gordon (NE) – It’s his first week with New England. As much as I think he can go off for 8 catches, 125 yards and 2 TDs, I’d rather see how he integrates into the offense first before trotting him out in my weekly lineups.
TE Jack Doyle (IND) – I still think Doyle is the TE to own in Indianapolis. He has more targets and more receptions than Ebron. The difference? Ebron has two TDs to Doyle’s zero. Against Philadelphia, I’m not sure either have stand out games, but Ebron’s TD potential makes him a stronger play than Doyle.
TE Jimmy Graham (GB) – Graham finally had a good week last week against the Vikings. (Maybe this is becoming a trend, start your TEs against the Vikings?) The Redskins have yet to face a premium TE in 2018 but I stand by my preseason statement — without consistent TD production, Jimmy Graham isn’t worth a weekly start. Through two games, no touchdowns.
TE Tyler Eifert (CIN) – Eifert’s value lies in his red zone capabilities. Through two games, Eifert has only one target within 20 yards of the end zone and no catches. Plus, he’s firmly splitting time on the field with Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah. He’s not worth a spot in your starting lineup any time soon.