By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Let’s get down to it. No need to start with a well thought out story that no one cares about. I mean, I think they’re great. But I’m biased. Because it’s about me. Or in some way indirectly affects me. Or is it effects? This is why there are editors. And really, if they’re not the most under-appreciated individuals in the literary workspace, I don’t know who are. A big shoutout to all the editors in the world. You deserve more than just thanks every now and then.
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 Philip Rivers (LAC) – Quick, name the only quarterback in fantasy to score over 20 fantasy points every week at the quarterback position. Well sure, it’s easy now because you read the bold print before this. You’re welcome for the answer, by the way. Yes, it’s Philip Rivers. That level of consistency is gold when you look at some of the all star performances QBs put up, followed by absolute duds. If I knew I was getting 25 a week from my QB, I would take that over 50+ one week then 16+ the next. This week’s opponent, the Browns, does nothing to make me think Rivers won’t score at least 25 points this week.
QB Andy Dalton (CIN) – After allowing over 76 fantasy points combined the first two weeks to Tyrod Taylor and Patrick Mahomes, the Steelers allowed 60.36 fantasy points to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Joe Flacco the next two. While they held Matt Ryan in check last week — he was outside and not inside the friendly confines of his Mercedes — Dalton should have an opportunity to put up top 10 numbers at QB this week. He already has two 30+ performances this year and the Steelers allow 296 passing yards per game. That’s almost 12 points to start. Solid floor this week.
QB Jameis Winston (TB) – Winston has had two whole weeks to prepare for this matchup. The Falcons are a sieve on defense after losing three key defenders. Winston has always been able to sling it and since the Bucs can’t run the ball, they’ll settle for throwing. Over his last three games against the Falcons, Winston hasn’t topped 300 yards, but has 3, 3, and 4 passing TDs. Top 10 numbers this week from Winston.
RB James Conner (PIT) – The Steelers finally gave James Conner the football! Last week marked the most touches Conner has had in a game this season since Week 1 at Cleveland. He also had his highest yards per carry average of the season last week. Last week, the Bengals allowed 115 total yards and a TD to Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake — on 13 touches. Just imagine the kind of damage one could do with over 20 touches! The Bengals also allow over 60 yards receiving to RBs per game as well which makes me think Conner is destined for a field day.
RBs James White & Sony Michel (NE) – The Chiefs are the team you want your running backs to face. Both Chargers RBs — Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler — topped 20 points against them. Last week, they allowed the T.J. Yeldon of the Jaguars to score 26.2 fantasy points. James White has been a fantasy stud this season with the WR corps of the Patriots either getting injured or cut. Sony Michel has two straight weeks over 100 total yards and a touchdown. I see no reason why both of the Patriots RBs won’t score around or more than 20 fantasy points this week.
RB Chris Carson (SEA) – Over the first three weeks of the season, the Raiders allowed the 9th fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs. The last two weeks, they’ve allowed the most. By a comfortable margin. RBs are averaging 44.6 fantasy points the last two weeks, 30.02 for the season. The last two games Carson has played, he’s topped 100 rushing yards. The one he missed, teammate Mike Davis topped 100 yards. Clearly, the Seahawks learned how to run block. Carson should run roughshod over the Raiders on Sunday. Here’s hoping he gets some TDs to keep his stock high.
RB Tarik Cohen (CHI) – Five running backs this year have topped 19 fantasy points on the Dolphins. In Week 4, Tarik Cohen exploded for 30.4 fantasy points. More to the point, Cohen and Jordan Howard evenly split the snap count on running plays and Cohen had 8 targets to Howard’s 1. With Trubisky throwing 6 TDs that game, I think it’s safe to say that’s the Bears’ offense HC Matt Nagy wants. I ranked Cohen higher than Howard this week but not by much. Either way, you want both in your lineups this week as the Dolphins get plowed by running backs.
WRs Julio Jones & Calvin Ridley (ATL) – Every year, Julio Jones has one game that massively inflates his point totals for the season. In 2016, it was a game against the Panthers when he had 300 receiving yards. Last year, at home against the Bucs, Jones went for 12 catches, 253 yards and 2 TDs. He also had his first TD catch of last year in October. Fast forward to present day — it’s October (Jones has yet to score a TD) and the Falcons are playing the Bucs. At home. I’m calling it — Jones goes bananas, bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s on Sunday. Ridley gets to clean up as well, seeing as how the Bucs allow over 90 receiving yards to number 2 receivers.
WRs A.J. Green & Tyler Boyd (CIN) – If I like Dalton this week, it’s safe to say I like his receivers as well. The Steelers have allowed six WRs this season to top 17 fantasy points and 13 total touchdowns through the air. People know who A.J. Green is but allow me to introduce you to Tyler Boyd, the receiver that actually leads the Bengals in receptions with 30. He’s also 16 yards behind Green for the team lead in receiving yards and has two touchdowns. I fully expect both Boyd and Green to top the 17 point threshold this week, likely with a TD apiece.
WR Sterling Shepard (NYG) – The Eagles get torched by number one receivers — a big reason why Odell Beckham Jr. is my number one receiver this week. They also get torched by number two receivers because Jalen Mills is — how do can say this nicely? — a terrible cornerback. Shepard may line up in the slot over 70% of the time, but if the Giants are smart, they’ll put Shepard outside and let him work Mills like a 9 to 5. He’s just outside my top 20 this week and I actually think I’m too low on him.
WR Sammy Watkins (KC) – Over Watkins last three games played — he missed Week 4 — Watkins has at least 75 total yards and scored double digit fantasy points. Quietly, Watkins is putting together quite the season with Tyreek Hill commanding so much attention. The Patriots will no doubt scheme to protect themselves from getting beat by Hill so I expect Watkins to have a top 30 week and be a solid FLEX option.
WR Jordy Nelson (OAK) – Guessing which Raiders receiver will go off is like playing Russian Roulette. With a gun. With a full clip. Basically, you’re probably going to be wrong every time. The Seahawks are beat more often by number two receivers than number one receivers so if I’m playing Fantasy Roulette, give me Nelson this week over Cooper for a solid 60 yards on 6 catches.
TE Eric Ebron (IND) – T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle are both expected to be out again this week against the Jets. The Jets allow the fewest fantasy points to TEs but outside of Njoku post-Mayfield at QB, none are standout performers at their position. I don’t think Ebron goes for another 30 points as I don’t expect Sam Darnold to drop a 30 burger on the Colts, forcing Luck to play catch up, but Luck has to throw to someone. That someone is Ebron. A top 5 week awaits.
TE Austin Hooper (ATL) – Hooper already has two games this year over 16 fantasy points. That matches his total from last year and it’s been five weeks. The Bucs allow the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. You know I like Jones and Ridley. Now you know I like Hooper this week as well.
TE Cameron Brate (TB) – With Winston at QB, Brate is a top 10 fantasy tight end. Seriously. 2016, Brate was TE6. 2017, Brate was TE10. The Falcons shut Brate down last year but have had mixed result this year, containing Zach Ertz in the opener but allowing Ben Watson and Tyler Eifert to both exceed 12 fantasy points. I favor Brate to exceed 12 fantasy points this week.
Popular streaming options at D/ST this week include the Jets D/ST (vs IND), the Browns D/ST (vs LAC), and the Packers D/ST (vs SF).
QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – Well, the Steelers are on the road so that pretty much sums up his inclusion on the fade list. Ben’s last three games in Cincinnati have resulted in unflattering fantasy production, averaging 16.27 fantasy points per game. Find another starter this week.
QB Carson Wentz (PHI) – The Eagles offense is in shambles. They’ve lost 2 of their top 4 WRs and only had their number one option in uniform for 2 weeks. They just lost their number one RB Jay Ajayi for the season with a torn ACL and are still without Darren Sproles. Wentz is averaging 40 pass attempts per game. He’s making plays but is getting killed as the line isn’t blocking well. The Giants have allowed only one QB this year to top 21 fantasy points and held Drew Brees under 10 when he visited the Meadowlands. That coupled with the issues on offense limit Wentz’ upside this week.
QB Mitchell Trubisky (CHI) – You probably aren’t starting Trubisky this week but I feel the need to type this after his outstanding performance in Week 4: Trubisky will not put up 50+ points again this season. Only one QB has topped 20 points on the Dolphins this year. You beat them by running the ball so I think this will be a lot of dump offs to Cohen and hand offs to Howard and Cohen.
RB Kenyan Drake (MIA) – Drake finally had a worthy game last week and did so with only 13 touches. How your biggest offensive weapon only has 13 touches in a game is beyond me. But now the Dolphins get the Bears and they’ll be lucky to score 10 points against them. They also allow the fewest fantasy points to RBs by a WIDE margin. Don’t get cute with Drake after bursting out last week.
RB Dion Lewis (TEN) – Lewis has twice exceeded 15 fantasy points this season. Three times this season, he’s scored 7 fantasy points or less. The Ravens allow the 2nd fewest fantasy points to RBs and only about 20 receiving yards to RBs per game. This hardly feels like a Dion Lewis game.
RB Joe Mixon (CIN) – You may be able to throw on the Steelers, but you certainly can’t run on them. The Steelers have allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to RBs and only two RBs have topped 10 fantasy points, none more than 15. Mixon is in for a long day against the Steelers.
RB Carlos Hyde (CLE) – Hyde doesn’t have a single game this season with less than 16 rushing attempts. He also has only one game this season with a yards per carry average greater than 4. Even after Nick Chubb took 3 rushes for 105 yards and 2 scores, the Browns followed that up by giving Chubb… 3 carries. If you ask me, Chubb is the better back but the Browns keep handing it off to Hyde. The only RB to top 11.70 fantasy points on the Chargers this year is Todd Gurley. I’ve never met Carlos Hyde, but I bet he is what Todd Gurley is like if he had cable, not DirecTV.
WR Jarvis Landry (CLE) – According to ESPN, Landry has about 29.8% of the teams targets. What that tells me is that Landry is being given every opportunity in the world to produce. To date, he has only one touchdown and 381 receiving yards. He’s also WR24 through five weeks. Landry lines up predominantly in the slot so he’s likely to see a lot of Desmond King. King has allowed only 116 yards through 5 games. Going to be a long day for Landry.
WR Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) – Receivers don’t typically have their best games against the Rams. Only three WRs this year have topped 20 fantasy points and two of them — Mike Williams of the Chargers and Adam Thielen of the Vikings — scored TDs from the slot. I say that because Sanders runs over 60% of his routes from the slot. The difference? Case Keenum doesn’t hold a candle to Philip Rivers or Kirk Cousins as a QB. I’m not thinking Sanders has a standout game, though his 11 point floor is solid for a FLEX.
WR Allen Robinson (CHI) – Dolphins CB Xavien Howard hasn’t allowed more than 3 receptions in any game this season. The only game he allowed a TD was against the Patriots. The Dolphins also allow the 8th fewest fantasy points to WRs. Howard’s likely to be on Robinson for much of the game which limits ARob’s upside this week.
WR – John Brown (BAL) – I’m playing with fire here. The Titans are in the middle of the pack in terms of production allowed to WRs and every number one receiver they’ve faced aside from those on the Bills and Jaguars have topped 20 fantasy points. But Brown is technically the team’s number two behind Crabtree and the Titans limit number two receivers to about 46 yards per game. Something’s gotta give and I’m leaning towards the 46 yards versus the 20 fantasy points.
WR Nelson Agholor (PHI) – Agholor hasn’t topped 10 fantasy points since Week 2. He has taken a backseat to Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery in terms of production. The Giants can be beat from the slot so the opportunity is there, but until there’s a spike in production, I’m off the Agholor bandwagon.
TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) – Rudolph has had three weeks this season where he’s been TE12 or lower. That’s more than half the season. Only two TEs this season have topped 10 fantasy points against the Cardinals. Maybe Rudolph is the third, but he’s not trending in that direction.
TE Greg Olsen (CAR) – Olsen is supposed to play this week after re-injuring the same foot he hurt last year. When he hurt his foot last year and returned, he re-injured it and was done for the year. Maybe wait a week to see how he returns from the injury this time around before throwing him in your lineup, mmmkay?
TE Trey Burton (CHI) – The Dolphins allow the 7th fewest fantasy points per game to TEs and the average is less than 10 points per game. The Bears should be running more than passing this week. I have Burton outside my top 10 this week.