By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
I’m going to try and keep this much shorter than most weeks because I know for a fact the Athletics-Yankees playoff game will distract my attention. Let’s get to it and Go Yankees!
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 Matt Ryan (ATL) – I think I’ve bashed Matt Ryan long enough. He is on fire this season — he’s actually QB1 over the last three weeks — and he’s doing this while keeping Julio Jones out of the end zone. I know, crazy, right? I was worried about him going on the road, but then I saw he was facing the Steelers and was relieved. The Steelers have allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to QBs through four weeks and are allowing over 300 yards passing and 3 passing TDs per game. So basically, Ryan’s floor this week is 30 fantasy points. I’ll take it.
QB Carson Wentz (PHI) – Week 3 was knocking off the rust. Based on fantasy production, he was twice as good in Week 4. The Eagles offense looks like it hasn’t quite got on track despite their running game averaging over 118 yards per game. The injuries to their receiving corps have been been felt but the return of Jeffery was huge last week and should keep them chugging right along this week. The Vikings allowed 54.30 fantasy points to Rams QB Jared Goff last week and even with 10 days to prepare, I don’t think their problems are easily fixed. I mean, two weeks ago Bills rookie QB Josh Allen scored 29.74 fantasy points on them. That’s hardly a healthy trend. This will very much be a Cousins vs. Wentz shootout this week and I’m all for it. For fantasy purposes, of course.
QB Alex Smith (WAS) – I totally have no clue what version of Alex Smith shows up on Sunday. But here’s what I do know — the Saints defense has been in the spirit of giving since the season started. QBs are averaging over 35 fantasy points a game against them through four weeks. The Redskins have had two weeks to prepare a game plan for this week so if I had to guess, Smith is a solid option this week if you need a streamer or are looking for a solid DFS play.
QB Marcus Mariota (TEN) – Finally. Mariota’s breakout game. It sucks it was against my Eagles, but I’m happy. And bitter, but I digress. It looks like feeling is back in the Maserati’s engine so all system’s go. The Bills have looked better the last two weeks while facing Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers but the Titans are riding high and I expect that momentum to keep going.
RB Christian McCaffrey (CAR) – Run CMC is 6th in fantasy points per game among RBs. The Giants, this week’s opponent, allow 26.75 fantasy points per game and 40 yards receiving to RBs through the first four weeks. He’s also handling around 75% of the team’s carries (minus those that go to Cam Newton). That’s a usage rate you have to love considering the carries split from a year ago.
RB Matt Breida (SF) – He currently leads the league in yards per carry and is 3rd in rushing yards. And he’s doing this while not being the 49ers RB with the most carries. If that doesn’t tell Kyle Shanahan to give this dude more carries, I don’t know what will. That said, this week’s opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, allow the 2nd most rushing yards and have allowed the most rushing TDs to opposing RBs. That lands Breida in my top 10 this week.
RB T.J. Yeldon (JAX) – Head coach Doug Marrone has already ruled out star RB Leonard Fournette. Yeldon is more than capable of producing — he has scored over 15 fantasy points in three out of four weeks this year — and the Chiefs allow the most fantasy points to RBs. This is literally as easy as adding up one plus one.
RB Nyheim Hines (IND) – Hines has found a role in the Colts offense. Frank Reich looks to be using him like the Eagles used Darren Sproles. The Patriots also allow over 50 yards receiving to RBs and Hines has 22 of a possible 30 receptions by Colts RBs through four weeks. Without T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle this week, I expect Hines to be awfully busy on Thursday night.
RB Derrick Henry (TEN) – I regretted this selection the moment I typed it so take this advice at your own risk. My disdain for Henry is well documented. But here’s what I know — the Titans are second in the league in rushing attempts and the Bills have allowed the 3rd most rushing TDs through four weeks to go with almost 100 rushing yards per game. The Titans will feed Lewis a ton out of the backfield — the Bills allow about 56 receiving yards a game to RBs — so Henry will need to keep them honest up the gut. If there’s a day to breakout, it’s this one.
RB Aaron Jones (GB) – Finally! The Packers fed Jones in Week 4 and he showed why he’s the best of the three Packers RBs. Last week he scored more fantasy points than any Packers RB has in a game this season. And now the Packers face the Lions who have been torched by the Jets, the 49ers, and the Cowboys. They also give up the 3rd most fantasy points to RBs. With Rodgers still not playing like his old self, relying on the run is a great way to put up real life points and for you to put up a ton of fantasy points.
WR Adam Thielen (MIN) – I’m Thielen an amazing performance on Sunday. The Eagles were torched by Marcus Mariota and Corey Davis a week ago. Jalen Mills is an extreme liability and losing Safety Rodney McLeod for the season caused a huge hole in their secondary. I have Kirk Cousins as QB2 this week and Thielen has been the model for consistency to start this year. Unlimited upside for him this week.
WR Brandin Cooks (LAR) – Brandin Cooks has been the premier deep ball threat in the league over the last few years. When your opposition just lost the best player on their defense, who also happens to play safety, I’m guessing you will attack it aggressively. I have all the Rams WRs in my top 20 this week and my money is on Cooks being the best of the bunch this week.
WR Alshon Jeffery (PHI) – What a return for Jeffery last week. As the focal point of the Eagles offense last week, Jeffery was targeted 9 times and caught 8 balls for 105 yards and a score. During last year’s win against the Vikings in the playoffs, Jeffery had 5 catches on 5 targets for 85 yards and 2 TDs. The plus side is that the Vikings don’t typically have Xavier Rhodes shadow the opposing team’s number one option. Their number two corner, Trey Waynes, has been god awful this year, allowing the 2nd highest QB rating when thrown at. I expect the Eagles to move Jeffery around to get him on Waynes and take advantage. I have Jeffery top 10 this week.
WR Calvin Ridley (ATL) – I’m really tired of Ridley making me look stupid. His outstanding numbers shouldn’t exist based on his limited usage yet here we are. Against the Steelers moribund secondary, Ridley is likely to have another two touchdown performance because the Steelers suck. That’s all I have.
WR Corey Davis (TEN) – When Marcus Mariota starts, Corey Davis sees double digit targets. The Bills cede about 11 targets a game to number one receivers and that typically translates into 77 yards. If he gets 7 catches for 70 yards, the cherry on top is a TD. I’ll take that in a week that Allen Robinson and Mike Evans are on a bye.
TE Jordan Reed (WAS) – He’s my number one TE this week. With Alex Smith in a prime matchup and devoid of weapons, he’s going to throw to someone. That guy is Reed. Big week ahead.
TE Eric Ebron (DET) – Much like with Hines, Luck needs all the weapons he can get. Ebron has been used a ton this season and with Jack Doyle missing another game, more attention should go to Ebron. The Patriots allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing TEs but they’ve played against no TEs of significance. Ebron has a solid floor this week.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones (ARI) – An upside play this week if you’re desperate at TE. The 49ers allow the 6th most fantasy points to opposing TEs. Seals-Jones has a rookie QB and has scored over 17 fantasy points combined the last two weeks with only three catches. The matchup is right and the opportunity is there for a sneaky top 12 finish this week.
Streaming D/STs to consider this week include the Broncos D/ST (at NYJ), Panthers D/ST (vs NYG), and Cardinals D/ST (at SF).
QB Patrick Mahomes (KC) – I’ve already caught some shit for this just based off my ranking of him this week. Any QB that faces the Jaguars gets an instant downgrade because they’re that good, even if they’re on the road. The only QB this season to top 20 fantasy points against them was Tom Brady and he scored 20.36. Even last year, only three QBs topped the 20 fantasy points. Mahomes has been on another planet this year and while I think he tops 20 fantasy points this week, I don’t think he’s a top 10 play this week.
QB Aaron Rodgers (GB) – Aside from the amazing 2nd half performance in Week 1, Rodgers has been human. He’s finished 21st, 12th, and 19th the last three weeks. The Lions have a solid pass rush and allow less than 18 fantasy points per contest to opposing QBs. It’s a divisional game so all bets are off but my guess is Rodgers doesn’t have top 10 numbers this week.
QB Russell Wilson (SEA) – Wilson had less than 10 fantasy points last week. Can’t say I didn’t warn you. He gets the Rams this week. While Kirk Cousins went bonkers against them last week, Wilson doesn’t have an offensive coordinator willing to let him sling it. I’m fading Wilson until further notice.
QB Matthew Stafford (DET) – The Packers secondary is coming together. Only Kirk Cousins has done amazing things against them. Again, this is a division game so all bets are off. The Packers average an INT per game and we’ve seen Stafford toss picks. Plenty of better match ups this week.
RB Kareem Hunt (KC) – The Jaguars effect. The Jags allow the 7th fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs, with only Saquon Barkley and James White topping 10 fantasy points. Hunt is capable of a Barkley-like scamper on one play to boost his day but he’s a RB2 this week, not the RB1 you likely drafted him as.
RB Tevin Coleman (ATL) – Coleman was supposed to just step right in for the injured Devonta Freeman and be a solid RB2 with RB1 upside. We’re still waiting on that to happen. He’s topped 10 points every week, but finished 11th, 27th, and 28th the last three weeks. You beat the Steelers by throwing on them, not running on them. They allow the 3rd fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs. Hard pass on Coleman this week.
RB Adrian Peterson (WAS) – He’s up, he’s down, he’s up, then he goes on a bye. Was that his down week even if he didn’t play? The Saints allow the 6th fewest fantasy points to RBs and All Day rarely catches passes. You beat the Saints by throwing. Not a good day for AD on the horizon.
RB Lamar Miller (HOU) – Miller is dead to me until further notice. A prime matchup against the Giants last week and he flat out bombed. No more Lamar Miller!
RB Jay Ajayi (PHI) – Ajayi has a fracture in his back and still had 18 touches last week. But his 11.1 fantasy points were merely bleh. The Vikings allow the 8th fewest fantasy points to RBs. I think there will be a ton of passing in this game and Ajayi will be left in the cold. Which basically means he’ll have two short TDs. I hate this so much.
WR Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG) – OBJ has been profusely underwhelming. Eli Manning is the absolute worst. The Panthers allow a shade over 60 yards to the opposing team’s number one wide receiver. The Giants are a mess and I don’t know how to feel about OBJ going forward. I have him outside my top 15 this week which basically means he’ll have 20 plus fantasy points because that’s just my luck.
WR A.J. Green (CIN) – The last time Green was on this list, he had 3 TDs against the Ravens. But Green is likely to see a ton of Xavien Howard who may just be the most underrated corner in all of football. I’m clearly a glutton for punishment, even after Howard was torched in New England last week. Ugh.
WR Tyreek Hill (KC) – The Jaguars effect. For a third time. It also doesn’t help that Sammy Watkins is iffy with a bad hammy. Hill had a fantastic first week but has had one top 20 performance since and that was in Week 2. That coupled with the Jaguars allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing WRs have me downgrading Hill this week.
WR John Brown (BAL) – I have Brown top 30 this week against Cleveland but something just doesn’t feel right. He hasn’t had anything less than 13.5 fantasy points in a game which is awesome. But I think this is more of a game for Alex Collins and Buck Allen.
WR Kenny Golladay (DET) – A byproduct of my “fade” of Matthew Stafford. I’m excited for Golladay this season, but I don’t think he’ll have a top 20 week against the Packers and that’s what he’s been thus far. Only Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have topped 20 points against this defense. Fading this week.
TE Jimmy Graham (GB) – Graham’s glory days are behind him. The Packers are using him but not often enough. He’s averaging only four catches and a little more than 40 yards per game and has scored one touchdown through four weeks. The Lions have allowed less than 11 fantasy points to opposing TEs. Unless Graham scores a TD, he’s outside the top 10 this week.
TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) – Two things the Eagles defense does well — stopping the run and covering tight ends. They allow the 6th fewest fantasy points per game to TEs this season so Cousins will likely focus on Thielen and Diggs.