2018 NFL Week 7 Confidence Plays (Play/Fade)

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By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

What. A. Weekend.

Like, wow.

The NFL came to play this weekend, at least in primetime anyway. And primetime is what helped this guy come back from the brink of a loss this week. It was the worst win I’ve ever been granted.

I was down 106 to 140 heading into Sunday night. I was 2-3 and in desperate need of a win. Talk about anxiety- especially when this is a league set up by Sports Talk, the Facebook group Club Fantasy FFL does fantasy advice for. I mean, how can I be under .500? Not cool.

My opponent had Harrison Butker, the Chiefs kicker, remaining. I had two wide receivers, Josh Gordon of the Patriots and Tyreek Hill of the Chiefs.

Things started okay. The Patriots were throwing to Gordon a ton, though with a lot of miscommunication mixed in. But the Chiefs kept settling for field goals. Not okay. But then came the second half.

By the end of the game, Harrison Butker had made four field goals and four extra points, totaling 18 fantasy points. Tyreek Hill ended the night with 7 receptions for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns — 43 fantasy points — and Josh Gordon finished with 5 receptions for 42 yards — 9 fantasy points.

And the score was tied. That’s right. Tied. 158 to 158.

I was so pissed. I fought all the way back and I ended up with a damn tie. And not even one I could wear during office presentations or at weddings. A goddamn tie. If there’s anything I hate more than leagues that allow the league managers to vote on trades for potential vetoes, it’s ties. This is why every league should have decimal points!

So I went to the league settings to see if there was a way to break the tie or if I was the next in line behind the Browns, Steelers, Packers, and Vikings with an extra -1 after my record. And I found one.

Most bench points.

Will someone please explain to me why bench points have anything to do with winning or losing your fantasy matchup? These players are on your bench for a reason!

Looking at our respective benches, I had more points from my bench than my opponent. Each of us had someone playing on Monday night. I had Geronimo Allison from the Packers and they had Matt Breida from the 49ers. I knew I had a win in the bag. Allison was iffy to play but Breida was doubtful all week and no one expected him to play. Hell, I even started Alfred Morris in one league as a result. (No rant needed about Morris from me, but if you want to hear a hilarious one, find Matthew Berry on Twitter and thank me later.)

But then Allison was ruled out and Breida wasn’t. Breida played. And scored a touchdown.

M***** f*****.

All told, Breida needed 19 points for my opponent to win and he scored 12. So I won.

It’s not very often I get salty about a fantasy football matchup. I’ve been on the side of every kind of win and every kind of loss so very little fazes me. But this hurt. I won and it hurt. And it leads me to this: Make sure your league’s commissioner has definitive settings. There is ZERO REASON why you should not receive .1 points per rushing/receiving yard and .04 points per passing yard. That alone should help alleviate any ties. And in the unlikely scenario there is one, have a plan in place to break it. Even if it’s just a flip of a virtual coin or shaking a Magic 8 Ball. Anything is more acceptable than a tie.

And one more thing —

Tyrone Metcalfe, I’m sorry bro. You got absolutely hosed.

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.

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Play

QB Jared Goff (LAR) – 23.78. No, that’s not how many fantasy points Goff averages per game this season. That is what he has scored recently. Over his last two games combined. Yikes. You know what cures whatever is ailing Goff? A pitching wedge. No, a pickaxe. Wait, that’s what miners use. The 49ers are named after gold miners so I’m counting it. The 49ers have allowed five QBs to score over 24 fantasy points through six weeks. Goff may not have Cooper Kupp, but he still has Todd Gurley, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks. A top 5 week awaits Goff.

QB Andy Dalton (CIN) – Early in the season, my golden rule was start all your players against the Buffalo Bills. Turns out, the first two weeks were a mirage and the Bills defense is actually good. So my new rule is: start all your players against the Kansas City Chiefs defense. At least until Eric Berry and Justin Houston return. Through six weeks, the Chiefs have allowed the 5th most fantasy points to opposing QBs. They’ve also allowed the most passing yards in the league. I mean, Blake Bortles threw for over 400 yards on this defense. Dalton averages just over 23 fantasy points a game, and with Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger on a bye this week, you could do a lot worse than Dalton in a great matchup.

QB Mitchell Trubisky (CHI) – There have been four quarterbacks this year who have scored over 88 fantasy points in back to back games. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Patrick Mahomes in weeks 1 and 2, Matt Ryan in weeks 3 and 4, and Mitchell Trubisky in Weeks 4 and 6 (he had a bye in week 5). Trubisky seems to be clicking in Matt Nagy’s offense, and it comes at a time when the Bears face the Patriots on Sunday. Andrew Luck and Patrick Mahomes in back to back weeks have scored over 28 fantasy points against them. Trubisky has top 10 upside this week.

QB Baker Mayfield (CLE) – The Chiefs have a bad defense. You know who has a worse defense? The Tampa Bay Bucs. They allow an average of 35.79 fantasy points to opposing QBs, the most in the league. In Mayfield’s three starts this year, he’s thrown more than 40 passes, so you have to love the volume. But Mayfield has yet to top 20 fantasy points in a game. My feeling is this is the week he does it. He’s a nice fill in and a solid DFS play in tournaments as someone who’s not likely to be heavily owned.

RB David Johnson (ARI) – Johnson hasn’t been what many of us hoped. It’s not his fault. The Cardinals offense has been atrocious. That said, he’s still RB12 on the season and this week he gets a Broncos defense that allows the most rushing yards per game to the opposition. That’s 161.3 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry. If offensive coordinator Mike McCoy wants to save his job, he’ll give the ball to Johnson 30 times and watch him rush for 170 yards. Johnson should challenge for the top spot among RBs during Week 7.

RB Joe Mixon (CIN) – Quietly, Joe Mixon is averaging over 18 fantasy points per game. And that number is deflated by him missing most of Week 2 due to a knee injury that kept him out for Weeks 3 and 4. He’ll continue to ride the wave as the Chiefs allow 36.98 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. And with Bernard inactive, he’s taking all the handoffs. Out of the last 35 handoffs the Bengals have given to running backs, Mixon has received 33 of them. Mixon has scored in each of the last two weeks as well. Look for Mixon to have himself a top 7 week with ease.

RBs Philip Lindsay & Royce Freeman (DEN) – As abysmal as the Broncos rush defense has been, the Cardinals are running neck and neck with them. They’ve allowed the 2nd most rushing yards, the most rushing TDs, and the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing RBs. The tandem of Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman should be busy on Thursday night. They have a pretty even split in carries, and Lindsay rushes for a full yard per carry more. Freeman, however, has more touchdowns. I have both in my top 15 this week. It’s a running back bonanza on Thursday Night Football!

RB Tarik Cohen (CHI) – Well, that settles it. Tarik Cohen is the running back of choice in Chicago. Over the Bears’ last two games, Cohen averaged 26.75 fantasy points, good for RB4 numbers. He’s averaging 5.3 yards per carry and is third on the team in targets and receptions. His usage has spiked the last two weeks as well. The Patriots were just torched by Kareem Hunt both on the ground and in the air, and while Cohen hasn’t scored a ton of touchdowns, he’s racking up the yards and catches. The Pats are allowing over 60 receiving yards per game to running backs, 5th most in the league. Over the last two weeks, Cohen has 14 catches for 211 yards and a touchdown. Cohen is top 20 for me this week.

RBs Kenyan Drake & Frank Gore (MIA) – I hate Adam Gase. If you listened to No Punt Intended on Die Hard Sports Radio last week, you heard my thoughts on Adam Gase. Against the vaunted Bears front seven who, heading into Week 6, allowed just over 12 fantasy points a game to opposing RBs, there was no hope for the Dolphins running game. The new shift in touch distribution proved beneficial to the Dolphins offense as Gore rushed for over 100 yards (14.9 fantasy points), and Drake led the tandem in touches (17 to 16). If Gore can top 100 yards on the best run defense in the league, what do you think he’ll do to a defense that allows the 4th most fantasy points to opposing RBs? The Lions also allow over 50 receiving yards per game to RBs. I ranked Drake higher this week because the matchup has a higher potential for big plays — Drake’s calling card — than Gore’s more surgical approach to gaining yards. Both are solid FLEX options this week.

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WR Robert Woods (LAR) – Woods is WR7 after six weeks. Before his injury last year that forced him to miss Weeks 12-14, Woods was WR14. As amazing as Cooper Kupp has been, Woods just keeps chugging along in this explosive Rams offense. Kupp is out this week which means Woods will be used all over the field. Richard Sherman has quietly been the most effective corner in the league this year, but with as much as the Rams move people around, Woods will get free from Sherman to do enough to have a top 10 day against a so-so 49ers defense.

WR Josh Gordon (NE) – While Gordon’s 5-42 on Sunday night was hardly inspiring, a deeper look into the stats will easily give you a full chub heading into Sunday. Gordon was tied with Julian Edelman with the most routes run and led the team in targets with nine. They even took two shots downfield to Gordon. This was officially his third game with the Patriots and things are only going up from here. The Bears can be thrown on — they currently allow the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs — so I expect game four with the Patriots to be something special.

WRs Michael Crabtree & John Brown – Crabtree finally broke out. It only took six weeks. You know how the Ravens keep that going? A matchup with the Saints and their horrendous secondary. They allow the most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Crabtree is their clear number one, despite the production John Brown has had to date. Brown has been down lately — only 14.6 fantasy points combined the last two weeks — but Flacco will let it fly on Sunday.

WR Taylor Gabriel (CHI) – Amidst Trubisky’s sudden rise, Taylor Gabriel has proven to be a very useful addition to the offense. He currently leads the Bears in receiving yards and receptions, and has two straight games with over 100 yards receiving. With Allen Robinson likely to draw a lot of Stephon Gilmore, Gabriel will be free to torch the Patriots secondary. I think a top 20 week is in the offing.

WR Jermaine Kearse (NYJ) – With Quincy Enunwa out and Terrelle Pryor nursing an injury as well, Kearse had a breakout game last week– 9 catches and 94 yards. He had a big start to last year as well, so this isn’t exactly news. Kearse should be due for yet another big game against the Vikings who just lost rookie Mike Hughes to a torn ACL. Why is this big? Hughes was the Vikings primary slot corner. Kearse ran over 71% of his routes from the slot last week, and is close to 80% of his routes from the slot over the first six weeks. Kearse should be a useful FLEX option in 12 team leagues and greater this week.

TE Rob Gronkowski (NE) – The biggest of the Big Three at tight end has been the littlest in terms of production so far in 2018. But the Bears defense should help get Gronk back to spiking footballs. They’ve allowed four lesser known TEs so far this season to post double digit fantasy points on them and have allowed a touchdown to a tight end in four straight games. May the Gronk Spike commence!

TE Eric Ebron (IND) – Ebron has been a revelation for the Colts. He’s been their most effective weapon as a massive matchup nightmare for defenses. The Colts are not likely to have Jack Doyle again — there’s hope that T.Y. Hilton can play this week as he did practice on Wednesday — and their receiving corps is under-manned and not at all flush with talent. Ebron should have a top 5 week by default.

TE David Njoku (CLE) – Can’t say I didn’t warn you! Baker Mayfield makes tight ends famous the way Nintendo made Super Mario Bros. a national treasure. After scoring 15.90 fantasy points combined over the first three weeks, Njoku has scored double digit fantasy points in each of the last three weeks — Mayfield’s first three starts for the Browns, I might add. The 18.50 fantasy points Njoku scored last week was a career best. This season, the Bucs have allowed over 20 fantasy points to opposing TEs on three separate occasions. Njoku might set a career high for fantasy points scored in back-to-back weeks.

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Fade

QB Drew Brees (NO) – Brees outdoors might actually be less effective than Big Ben on the road. Against the Giants in New York earlier this year, Drew Brees scored a whopping 8.58 fantasy points. This week, Brees goes on the road to Baltimore. Couple the road game outdoors with the Ravens stout defense, and the stars are not aligning for Brees to have a Brees-like day on Sunday.

QB Dak Prescott (DAL) – Do not get fooled by Prescott’s outstanding fantasy performance from last week. 14.2 of his fantasy points came on his career high 82 rushing yards and rushing touchdown. Against the Redskins, on the road, expect Prescott to revert back to his average self. Prescott hasn’t scored more than 14 fantasy points in any road game this season. I say again, do not get fooled.

QB Blake Bortles (JAX) – Maybe home-cooking can right the Bortles ship. Or we just need to see more of Jason from The Good Place rooting for Bortles to make us believe he’s not the same quarterback we’ve seen the last couple of weeks. Bortles has seven turnovers in his last three games, and the Texans have allowed an average of 12.36 fantasy points to opposing QBs the last two weeks. The Jaguars would be better off trotting out Blake Beartles over Blake Bortles on Sunday. (Seriously, if you don’t watch The Good Place, you’re doing life wrong.)

QB Alex Smith (WAS) – Remember when Alex Smith was Fantasy’s number two quarterback last year? And remember when some fantasy analysts were delusional enough to think he could sustain that same kind of success with a less talented supporting cast? Silly analysts. Smith is a game manager who can’t even get two of the Redskins’ most dangerous weapons — TE Jordan Reed and WR Josh Doctson — the football consistently. Don’t expect Smith to suddenly light up the Cowboys either. Only one QB this year has topped 23 fantasy points on them. Smith will not make it two.

RB Alvin Kamara (NO) – I’m so going to regret this. I mentioned the Ravens defense as a reason to fade Drew Brees and they’re another reason why you should think Alvin Kamara isn’t likely to return dividends this week either. The Ravens limit RBs to 18.9 receiving yards per game, the lowest in the league. With Mark Ingram in the lineup, Kamara’s main job is that of a receiver. But against the run, the Ravens allow the 6th fewest rushing yards in the league. I have Ingram as a top 10 option because he’ll push for 15 carries and likely get a short TD run but Kamara will need to break off a huge gain or two to have a top 15 day.

RB James White (NE) – Another receiving back who is limited in their rushing attempts, I don’t think White has the type of game we’re used to seeing from him on Sunday. The Bears allow the 5th fewest receiving yards to RBs at 28 yards/game and the 2nd fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs. Sony Michel will get his, just like Frank Gore did last week, but White will be lucky to hit 12 points this week.

RB Jordan Howard (CHI) – As my write up on Tarik Cohen suggests, it’s time to move on from Jordan Howard as it’s clear the Bears already have. Don’t drop him — I’m still holding out hope the Bears trade him before the deadline to salvage his fantasy value — but he should be getting cozy on your bench.

RB Chris Thompson (WAS) – Thompson is banged up, and the Cowboys allow just under 50 yards receiving to RBs per game. More to the point, they allow 21.25 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. With Thompson sharing the workload with Adrian Peterson, his upside is severely limited this week.

RB Nyheim Hines (IND) – With the Return of the Mack, Hines took a back seat in production. Marlon Mack averaged 7.4 yards per carry last week and had the best rushing output of a Colts RB so far this season. Mack’s effectiveness running the ball meant they didn’t need as many dump offs to Hines for short gains. The Bills defense has improved the last four weeks and have allowed only Aaron Jones to top double digit fantasy points over that same time frame.

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WR – Golden Tate (DET) – Rookie corner Minkah Fitzpatrick currently ranks 11th in the NFL in yards allowed per snap to opposing WRs from the slot. Tate runs 73.3% of his routes from the slot. Not a ton of upside for Tate this week.

WR Corey Davis (TEN) – I came across an interesting stat on Twitter from ESPN’s Mike Clay. Clay talked about Corey Davis’ usage in terms of percentage of the teams targets. Through six weeks, Davis has only one week this year where he was targeted with less than 24% of the team’s targets. Davis’ target shares over the first six games: 34%, 33%, 20%, 36%, 24%, and 29%. When a receiver is on the opposite end of that many of the quarterback’s passes, one would assume they’re being very productive. To date, Davis sits at 34th among WR in fantasy production. Until Mariota can start connecting with Davis on these targets, you can’t trust Davis in your everyday lineup. Just know, the week he finally goes off, he’ll probably be on your bench.

WR Demaryius Thomas (DEN) – Thomas hasn’t seen 10 or more targets since Week 2. With Patrick Peterson likely taking on Thomas, and the Broncos hopefully bludgeoning the Cardinals with Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, I have little faith in Thomas this week.

WR Will Fuller V (HOU) – Talk about a couple of duds in a row from Fuller. Keke Coutee has become a useful receiver in the Texans offense. Deshaun Watson has been erratic the last few weeks, and to make matters worse, has a date with the Jaguars on Sunday. The Jaguars were just torched by Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, but a return to Duval County should be just what the defense needs to get back on track. DeAndre Hopkins will see a ton of Jalen Ramsey, and Fuller will likely see a ton of A.J. Bouye. Neither is great for the fantasy prospects of the Texans’ dynamic duo.

WR Calvin Ridley (ATL) – Ridley suffered an ankle injury during Week 6. With the Falcons’ bye week coming up in Week 8 and the woeful Giants on tap this week, I don’t expect the Falcons to trot out Ridley for 40 pass routes when Julio Jones can torch the Giants for 250 yards himself. Look for Ridley to return to WR2 status in Week 9 against the Redskins.

TE Greg Olsen (CAR) – No setbacks as of yet. Olsen had a nice return from his foot injury last week. This week, Olsen faces the Eagles who will likely have Malcolm Jenkins all over Olsen. The Eagles allow the 3rd fewest fantasy points to opposing TEs, so expect a lot of Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield and Torrey Smith deep to keep the Panthers offense humming on Sunday.

TE Jordan Reed (WAS) – Vernon Davis had more fantasy points than Jordan Reed last week. Reed has 11.70 fantasy points combined the last two weeks. Smith isn’t looking his way as much as many of us thought he would. And he’s healthy for once! Will the real Jordan Reed please stand up?

TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) – Rudolph has been less than stellar in 2018. He has caught 2 TDs this year, but none since Week 3. Basically, Kirk Cousins has better weapons in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. They’re the ones leading Cousins’ sled. Get it? Because his last name is Rudolph? I’m out.