By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Heading into Week 4, it’s time to vent.
Going into every season, there are player we know are going to be good. Or players we think will be good based on how they finished the previous season. Or free agents who landed on a new team and afforded new opportunities. We have players we love who disappoint us. Here are some of mine.
I’ll start with Kenyan Drake. Why do the Dolphins hate him? From Week 9 to Week 16, Drake was 4th in the NFL in rushing yards and averaged 4.99 yards per carry. He was also 6th in fantasy points over that time frame. All signs pointed to Drake having a big role in the offense in 2018. Then the Dolphins signed Frank Gore in the offseason. A 35-year old Frank Gore, mind you. Through the first three weeks of 2018, Drake has out touched Gore 39 to 25 — 9 to 1 in receptions — but Drake’s 3.5 YPC is less than Gore’s 4.1. I had Drake ranked as a solid RB2 heading into the season. Drake is currently RB33.
How about Philip Lindsay? I’m all for the emergence of unknown players who come into our hearts and impress the hell out of us. But when it’s at the expense of one of my preseason Plays, I take offense. Lindsay’s strong start has rendered Royce Freeman as a matchup based FLEX play, at best. He has only 1 reception and 2 targets. He’s averaging 4.2 YPC and has 3 rushes that have gone for more than 15 yards, tied for 9th in the NFL. He’s scored a TD in back to back weeks so hopefully he’s trending up, but he’s currently RB37 so he has a Florida version of a hill to climb.
Russell Wilson has hit a wall. After losing Jimmy Graham in the offseason, the team refusing to add quality to the offensive line, and WR Doug Baldwin suffering an MCL injury in the opener, Wilson has little to work with. He’s completing only 40% of his passes when under pressure, 31st in the NFL, and has been sacked 14 times, most in the NFL. He currently sits as QB14 and I don’t see it getting much better.
Derrick Henry is the worst. I wasn’t very high on him at the start of the season and I’m feeling good about that as he’s currently RB50. But over his last two games, he has 36 carries (good for 6th in the NFL) and is averaging 3.14 YPC. All those carries should be going to Dion Lewis — or at least most of them should — even though Lewis’ YPC over the same time frame isn’t much better. At least he averaged 4.69 in the opener, the only game this year Lewis received more carries than Henry. Lewis is RB25 currently and with more touches, would be a bonafide RB2.
Mitchell Trubisky is about two weeks away from ending up on my permanent shit list. He was the 2nd overall pick in 2017 and his two counterparts, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, have outshined him ten fold. Trubisky has all the necessary weapons around him to be successful and is in an offense that Mahomes is currently a Jedi Master of. Why does this bug me? I pegged Trey Burton as a top 5 option this year and he’s currently TE20. It’s not even like there are a bunch of good tight ends in the league!
That’s all I have for now. There are more, like all the WR1s that are barely pulling their weight and the RB1s that have lacked consistency in the early going, but I need to actually finish this column so I can get a decent amount of sleep tonight. Feel free to share your frustrations on our social media pages. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Like us!
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 Patrick Mahomes (KC) – He’s on fire, metaphorically speaking. Unless there’s a stunt double of him literally on fire somewhere. That would be cool. Anyway, his 13 TDs to 0 INTs is impressive through three weeks. The Broncos are allowing the 7th most yards per pass attempt and Mahomes is averaging 9.6 YA, 2nd best in the NFL. The Broncos are in for a long night on Monday.
QB Matt Ryan (ATL) – It pains me to write this. I’ve been anything but a Matt Ryan supporter. His last five years have been like riding Space Mountain at Disneyland. Up then down, up then down. Now he’s up. I guess. He’s currently QB4 after dropping a 50 burger in Week 3 and I don’t see him slowing down. He’s currently 2nd in the NFL in deep passing yards (throws more than 15 yards downfield) and has a cadre of weapons that include arguably the best WR in football (Julio jones), a recent first round pick (the emerging Calvin Ridley), an underrated TE (Austin Hooper), and two premier pass-catching running backs (Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman). Cincinnati comes to town on Sunday and they currently allow the 9th most passing yards per game and QBs are averaging 26.5 fantasy points per game through three weeks. Ryan should be good for a top 5 finish this week.
QB Ryan Tannehill (MIA) – I feel somewhat relieved that one of my picks worked out last week. And that the pick was Tannehill. Miami’s conservative offense is the most annoying thing in the world, especially when they can’t even get their running game going — usually a strong component to a conservative offense. But Miami has some explosive playmakers that can take these screen passes 50 yards. The Patriots defense is devoid of talent at the moment due to some key injuries and have been railroaded two straight weeks by Blake Bortles and Matthew Stafford. It’s a division game on the road, but Tannehill has led Miami to 9 wins out of his last 10 starts. I’m doubling down and with Cam Newton on a bye this week, you can do worse than Tannehill.
QB Baker Mayfield (CLE) – I’m all in. Seriously. I love Baker. Dude is the real deal. He didn’t throw a touchdown in the comeback against the Jets, but I’m betting that against the winless Raiders he throws his first two, at least. The Browns are headed for their first winning streak in years! A great streamer this week.
RB Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) – He leads the league in rushing. The Lions have already allowed two running backs 25+ fantasy points — Isaiah Crowell and Matt Breida. Elliott won’t need any receptions or receiving yards to be the number one RB in fantasy this week.
RB David Johnson (ARI) – Any time you put a rookie behind center, you want to make sure you have a reliable running game to help the kid. Seattle allows 5.1 YPC through 3 weeks and over 130 rushing yards a game to opposing teams. If David Johnson isn’t a top 5 RB this week, the Cardinals should fire Mike McCoy and hire me. I’ll call DJ’s number 30 times a game.
RB Lamar Miller (HOU) – The Colts yield over 80 receiving yards a game to running backs. Miller is well known for his ability as a pass-catcher. This should be the week they get him fully involved in that aspect of their offense.
RB Philip Lindsay (DEN) – Just because he’s annoying me doesn’t mean I can’t call a spade a spade and recognize his game. Lindsay is averaging 6 YPC and Kansas City can’t stop the run. In fact, they allow the most fantasy points to opposing RBs to start the season and the most receiving yards to running backs. If Lindsay can’t be a top 10 RB this week, it’s time to take the Rolls Royce out of the garage and put some miles on it.
RB Kerryon Johnson (DET) – This dude just ran for over 100 yards. He also plays for the Detroit Lions who haven’t had a 100-yard rusher since Obama was president. For that feat alone, he deserves some love in this column. Plus, Chris Tyler has been singing this dude’s praises in my ear since March and this is the only way I can tell him he was right since it’ll never actually leave my lips in his direction. That said, Johnson averages 5.6 YPC to Blount’s 3.0. Lions, take note: Keep calm, and Kerryon. So cheesy but I don’t care.
RB Chris Carson (SEA) – If last week is any indication, Carson looks like the Seahawks lead back. The way you beat the Cardinals is to run the ball down their throats, as they allow 130+ rushing yards per game. Carson is a top 20 back for me this week.
WR Adam Thielen (MIN) – Through the first three weeks of the season, I’m feeling good about my pick of Thielen over Diggs in the Vikings pecking order. Thielen is WR4 and Diggs is WR11. It’s early, but I fully expect this to be the story this year. If this were Week 1, I’d be fading both of these guys against the Rams defense. But in Week 3, Marcus Peters suffered a calf injury that will likely keep him out this week and Aqib Talib was just put on IR after suffering an ankle injury. The Rams secondary is suddenly vulnerable. After getting embarrassed against Buffalo, the Vikings have to be pissed, right?
WR Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) – He’s Case Keenum’s favorite so he gets all the presents, er, targets. Actually, Demaryius Thomas edges him in targets but Sanders has run more routes. More opportunity leads to more production and that’s where Sanders is shining. He leads the team in catches and yards. I contemplated selling high on Sanders but I think this trend will continue. Kansas City’s secondary is like a skimpy bikini — it ain’t coverin’ shit. And much like with bikini’s, we’re happy about it. Dial up the fantasy goodness for Sanders this week.
WR Jarvis Landry (CLE) – If I’m all in on Baker Mayfield in his first start, I better be all in on his leading receiver. Landry leads the team in targets buy more than a 2 to 1 margin over David Njoku and Antonio Callaway. He’s also averaging 13.9 yards per reception which is a career high. (HIs best season was 12.1 in 2016.) And for the cherry on top, the Raiders give up the 4th most fantasy points to opposing WRs. A hyper-accurate Mayfield will feed Landry like it’s a holiday feast.
WR Will Fuller V (HOU) – I touted Fuller last week as Deshaun Watson continually looks his way. Fuller had yet another TD catch last week and is averaging the 5th most fantasy points per game among WRs. As much as I like the Colts defense this week as a sneaky streaming option, Fuller should be good for another 80 yards and a score. He averages better with Watson as his QB. Don’t bet against it.
WR Randall Cobb (GB) – I’m the farthest thing from a Cobb fan. His explosive Week 1 caused an influx of questions about starting Cobb or (insert player). He has profoundly disappointed the last couple of weeks but I think this matchup against the Bills is a great bounce back for him. The Bills cover number 1 and number 2 receivers well. Where they struggle is the other WRs. Cobb is a number 2 in name, but he’s their number three after Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison. Cobb should have a FLEX worthy week in Week 4.
WR Sterling Shepard (NYG) – Once Evan Engram hurt his knee, things opened up for Shepard. Shepard totaled 15.2 fantasy points through the first two weeks. He caught his first TD of the season after Engram got hurt in Week 3. Against the Saints who just placed slot corner Patrick Robinson on Injured Reserve, no one but Shepard stands in the way of Shepard having a top 20 fantasy week.
TE Travis Kelce (KC) – Dude has been on fire the past couple weeks after a straight dud in Week 1. The last time Kelce faced Denver, he went for 7-133-1. Mahomes has been on fire as well so let’s go. Loving this tandem this week.
TE Trey Burton (CHI) – The Bucs have been carved up by Zach Ertz and Vance McDonald in back to back weeks. Burton has had one decent game through three weeks and I’m starting to really hate Trubisky for being unable to exploit the favorable match ups Burton provides. 9 catches for 90 yards should be a single game stat line for him. Not a three game total. If he can’t shred the Bucs, I may have to jump off the Burton bandwagon. And it’s all Mitchell Trubisky’s fault.
TE David Njoku (CLE) – I know plenty of people that will scoff at this one, but hear me out. Njoku is tied for second on the team in targets, tied for second in catches, and second in routes run. The opportunities are there. How do you fix what ails you? Introduce an antidote. Baker Mayfield is precisely that. For three years at Oklahoma, Mayfield had current Ravens TE Mark Andrews to throw to. Andrews ended his three years career with 112 catches for 1,765 yards and 22 TDs. Njoku is way more athletic than Andrews and for someone his size, should be used more in the red zone. Njoku gets his first solid fantasy game this week, I’m calling it.
Your streaming D/STs of choice this week are the Chargers D/ST, Seahawks D/ST, and the Packers D/ST.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (TB) – FitzMagic turned FitzTragic turned FitzMagic all in one night. The dude is just unreal. All the times he’s tugged at our hearts, he’s done so on mediocre teams with average (Bills) to above average (Jets) talent around him. This Bucs team is loaded with offensive weapons. They have two WRs currently in the top 6 in fantasy points (Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson) and a TE in the top 4 (O.J. Howard). But the only QB to have success against this Bears defense has been Aaron Rodgers. The Bears will bring plenty of pressure and while Fitzpatrick has performed well under pressure, he’ prone to turnovers as well. The Bears take turnovers and convert them into TDs. I think this is finally the week Fitzpatrick comes back to earth.
QB Russell Wilson (SEA) – He hasn’t looked great through three weeks. The Cardinals allow an average of 16.52 fantasy points to QBs. Their kryptonite? The running game, where they allow the 2nd most fantasy points to QBs. If Seattle is smart, they’ll focus on running the ball and playing great defense against a rookie QB in his first start. You know, what Seattle used to do when they were winning football games and consistently making the playoffs.
QB Matthew Stafford (DET) – I feel like I’m grasping at straws for some of my picks. Stafford, coming off a big week against the Patriots, gets the Cowboys in Dallas. While the Cowboys offense has looked like it couldn’t beat the Little Giants, their defense has been hard to throw against. They’ve stymied Cam Newton, Eli Manning, and Russell Wilson so far. You know Stafford will sling it, but I don’t think there will be a ton of TDs for him, thus limiting his upside this week.
QB Jared Goff (LAR) – The Vikings have a great pass defense, 9th best in the league. The Rams have a phenomenal offense and will find ways to beat this defense but I don’t know that Goff tops 300 passing yards this week like he has in each of his past two games. I drafted him to be my starter so I’m rolling with him but I know many people drafted him as a backup. Probably best to keep him on the bench this week.
RB Saquon Barkley (NYG) – If you didn’t know, I’m a glutton for punishment. Every time I put Barkley on this list, he proves me wrong. For what’s it’s worth, I’m one 60 yard run away from being right half the time. That said, the Saints defense does one thing right — cover RBs out of the backfield. Jacquizz Rodgers, Duke Johnson Jr., and Tevin Coleman are just a few names they’ve shut down. The Saints allow less than 30 receiving yards a game to RBs and the 3rd fewest fantasy points to RBs. If it makes you feel any better, I firmly expect this selection to blow up in my face. You’re not benching him, but I don’t think he scores 20 points this week which is why I’m “fading” him.
RB Kareem Hunt (KC) – He’s getting nothing in the way of receptions. I love the amount of carries — 52 through three weeks, 6th in the league — but his 3.23 YPC is concerning. Until he starts getting more involved in the passing game, Hunt is an RB2, not the RB1 he was last year.
RB Dalvin Cook (MIN) – Until I see some consistency on the field, I’m avoiding him. This week against the Rams isn’t exactly a great matchup either.
RB Jay Ajayi (PHI) – I love Ajayi but he’s banged up and while I know the Eagles want to rely on him as they’re depleted at WR, the Titans have performed well against running backs, allowing the 5th fewest fantasy points to RBs through the first three weeks. Plus, with Sproles back, Ajayi will be relegated to bludgeoning defenses in the 2nd half with a lead, exactly what we saw in Week 1 against the Falcons. He’s a FLEX for me this week instead of a steady RB2.
RB Isaiah Crowell (NYJ) – Not loving the matchup with the Jaguars. They have a middle of the road rush defense but don’t allow a ton of fantasy points to RBs, 12th fewest. That and splitting carries with Powell limits his upside. The Jags have allowed only 1 rushing TD through three weeks, which has helped elevate Crowell’s scoring through the early part of the season. There are better options this week.
RB Dion Lewis (TEN) – The last two weeks have been rough. Without a healthy Mariota running the offense, Lewis isn’t getting the touches. The Titans are consistently rolling with Henry which, if it didn’t work against the Texans and Jags, it sure as hell isn’t going to happen against the best rush defense in the NFL. The Eagles defensive line may be the best in football. Avoid RBs against the Eagles at all costs.
WR Antonio Brown (PIT) – Let’s put this out there: you’re starting AB and you’re doing so with a smile on your face expecting him to annihilate the Ravens like he does every year. But here’s what I do know: JuJu Smith-Schuster has, to this point, been the most productive Steelers wideout. Brown and JuJu have run about the same amount of routes, receive about the same amount of targets, but JuJu has more receptions and a much greater yards per route run (2.46 to 1.42). For context, AB has posted YPRR stats of 2.48, 2.67, 2.90, 2.26, and 2.87 every year he’s had over 1,000 yards receiving. I know it’s early, but this is not a good trend for Brown. He’s averaging 19 fantasy points a contest through three weeks, but you spent a first round pick on him because you need a steady stream of 20 point weeks. I’m not sure he gets there this week.
WR Julio Jones (ATL) – I don’t think Calvin Ridley is a flash in the pan. Granted, you’ve already seen his best game this season — no way he goes for 3 TDs in a game again this season — but he’s the real deal in the red zone. Jones has three targets in the red zone and has zero catches. Ridley has 3 targets, 3 receptions, 3 touchdowns. We preached this all throughout the offseason: Jones is a great player but he goes off for one huge week that bloats his season. He was barely a top 20 WR if you remove his one 50 point game from last year. Ridley’s emergence makes it that much harder to trust Jones on a week to week basis, especially if he’s not scoring TDs.
WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – I know I’m going to regret this one. Every young QB needs a reliable target and Fitz has that in the bag. But Fitz has ghosted us through three weeks, currently WR65. Hell, his new teammate, rookie and heir apparent Christian Kirk, is WR62 after his 7 for 90 performance last week. Rosen has to rely on someone to move this Cardinals offense. My money is not on Fitzgerald this week.
WR Nelson Agholor (PHI) – The Eagles had only two wide receivers run pass routes last week against the Colts, Agholor and newly signed Jordan Matthews. The rest were TEs and RBs. That’s how depleted this WR corps is. The good news is Jeffery should be back soon, as early as this week, which will take a lot of the pressure off Agholor. He’s a talented WR, but not a number one option. I expect to see a lot of Adoree’ Jackson on Agholor (if Jackson passes the concussion protocol and plays) which should limit a lot of YAC opportunities, making him less appealing from a fantasy perspective.
WR Corey Davis (TEN) – Davis can be a target monster, but with the QB position in flux with Mariota’s injury, targets have been inconsistent. Best to avoid Davis until things smooth out in Tennessee.
WR Chris Hogan (NE) – Chris Hogan sucks. Yes, I said it. He’ll be better once Edelman returns from suspension and Josh Gordon suits up but Hogan is not a number one option. Not even close. Brady knows it too.
TE Jack Doyle (IND) – Hips don’t lie. Doyle’s hip isn’t right and while he’s on the field more than Eric Ebron, he hasn’t been as productive. The Eagles cover TEs well too, only 12 fantasy points allowed through three weeks. Ebron has the best chance for a TD which leaves Doyle on the outside looking in.
TE George Kittle (SF) – Kittle was awful with C.J. Beathard at QB last year. Hopefully a year of experience smoothes that over but I’m avoiding Kittle after Jimmy G(Q)’s injury until I see production with Beathard.
TE Will Dissly (SEA) – The honeymoon was fun while it lasted, yes? Dissly should have a good season but as mentioned above, this is a Chris Carson game. Fade all Seahawks pass catchers.