By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
No intro this week, just getting down to brass taxes.
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 Andrew Luck (IND) – Since Week 4, Andrew Luck has scored the most fantasy points among QBs. Yes, even outscoring the mighty Patrick Mahomes. You know how you keep that train moving? You arrange a date with the Raiders. The only QBs who haven’t scored 20 or more fantasy points against them are Case Keenum and rookie Baker Mayfield. Luck is my number one QB this week.
QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – Ben is at home. Oh, and there’s that whole disaster Week One in Cleveland that you know is weighing on Ben’s mind. He probably tops 25 because he’s already done that in two of his three home games this year. Only one QB has topped 22 fantasy points against the Browns this year. Ben makes it two on Sunday.
QB Andy Dalton (CIN) – I whiffed last week on Dalton, but as you know by now, I’m a glutton for punishment. The Bengals play the Bucs in Cincy, and the Bucs secondary is on the side of the road waiting to be picked up. Yes, trash. Since Week 4, the Bucs have allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing QBs. And they had a bye during Week 5. Dalton bounces back after an abysmal showing on Sunday night.
RB Kareem Hunt (KC) – Well, Hunt worked over the Broncos in Week 4 for 175 total yards, so it makes sense that I have him in the top 5 this week. After only five catches over the first five weeks, Hunt has 10 receptions over the last two weeks. Since Week 4, only Todd Gurley and Saquon Barkley have more fantasy points. Hunt isn’t lacking for consistency this year.
RB David Johnson (ARI) – A change at offensive coordinator is just what the DJ ordered. Couple that with a matchup against the moribund 49ers run defense, and David Johnson should be the top 5 RB we all thought he would be when we drafted him as such. I mean, even with a crappy offensive coordinator in Week 4 against these same 49ers, Johnson topped 20 points. He should do so again this weekend.
RB Marlon Mack (IND) – Don’t look now, but I think the Colts have officially found their guy. Mack has been healthy the last two weeks and has rendered all other Colts running backs obsolete. In Week 6, Mack had 12 of the 19 rushes among RBs; in Week 7, 19 out of 30. Not only is he out touching Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, and Robert Turbin, but outproducing them. Mack has 255 total yards and 2 TDs over his last two games, and now gets a Raiders defense that has allowed an average of 35.9 fantasy points to opposing RBs over their last three games. Mack is top 10 for me this week.
RB Chris Carson (SEA) – Carson should’ve steamrolled the Raiders two weeks ago. What a schmuck. But hey, the Lions are on deck! Last week, Kenyan Drake ran for 87 yards and a TD on 10 touches. The Lions have allowed 28.7 fantasy points to RBs over their last three games. Carson has to be good for 15 fantasy points this week, right?
RB Doug Martin (OAK) – With Marshawn Lynch now on IR, Doug Martin slots in as the Raiders lead RB. Lynch handled 63% of the team’s carries, and was RB15 in fantasy. Martin has two seasons in his career with over 1,400+ rushing yards. The Raiders will probably be behind and throwing much of the year, but Martin also knows how to catch the football. He has two seasons with over 30 catches. He should approach 13 fantasy points this week, and with four teams on a bye, you can do worse for an RB2.
WR Davante Adams (GB) – You might think Adams is WR6, but when you consider he was on a bye last week, he’s actually WR3 in terms of fantasy points per game. He’s basically matchup proof. I bring this up because the Packers face a Rams defense that is stout. At least in name. Since Week 4, the Rams allow the 10th most fantasy points to WRs. Adams averages a TD per game, and he hasn’t scored less than 16 fantasy points in a game this season. Love the floor he provides week to week.
WR Julian Edelman (NE) – Edelman outscored Josh Gordon last week, and Gordon topped 100 yards. Gronk is limited with a back injury, and with RB Sony Michel down as well, Tom Brady is going to have to throw the ball. I actually like all the Patriots pass catchers this week, I just chose to highlight Edelman. He offers the safest floor among all of them. Derek Anderson isn’t likely to lead the Bills to more than 10 points, and without a running game to run out the clock, expect a lot of Edelman on short passes to rack up the fantasy points.
WR Golden Tate (DET) – Tate’s floor was a little lower last week (can’t say I didn’t warn you), but it rises this week. The last good passing game the Seahawks faced, Cooper Kupp — from the slot –, racked up 21 fantasy points. Tate should be able to top 15 fantasy points this week, more in line with his weekly average.
WR John Brown (BAL) – John Brown has taken off. He and Joe Flacco are as in sync as Justin Timberlake and those other guys. The Panthers typically forget about one receiver each matchup — OBJ, Tyler Boyd, and Calvin Ridley among them –, and my guess is they’ll focus on Michael Crabtree, as he is their “official” number one receiver. Brown will have his way with James Bradbury or Donte Jackson or both.
TE Jared Cook (OAK) – With Cooper unable to catch footballs, both because he has bricks for hands and he’s currently on a bye as a new member of the Cowboys, the Raiders have to throw to someone. Since Week 3, the Colts have allowed the 6th most fantasy points to TEs. Big day ahead for Cook.
TE O.J. Howard (TB) – The Bengals defense has fallen apart. Through the first seven weeks, they’ve allowed the most fantasy points to TEs. Winston has a new favorite TE in Howard. Expect a top 10 week from Howard.
TE Chris Herndon (NYJ) – Quietly, over the last two weeks, the Jets rookie is TE6. He has a TD in back to back games. The Jets are depleted at WR and just lost RB Bilal Powell, a staple in their passing game. I expect another 10+ points from Herndon this week as the Bears have been hit or miss guarding TEs, especially unheralded ones they clearly don’t plan to stop.
Streaming D/STs to consider this week include the Steelers D/ST, the Cardinals D/ST, and the Colts D/ST.
QB Deshaun Watson (HOU) – Watson has been a buzzkill lately. It’s so bad, his team is making him take the bus. Seriously. I mean, not for those reasons, but I digress. After three straight weeks of over 25 fantasy points from Weeks 2 through 4, Watson has three straight weeks under 25 fantasy points. The Dolphins have a solid pass defense, but no pass rush to speak of. If Watson can bounce back, this is the week to do it. I thought I’d do my fair share and put him on my Fade list to give him some motivation. A little reverse psychology at its finest.
QB Russell Wilson (SEA) – Wilson’s been better his last two games. This is typically when Wilson gets hot and carries the Seahawks offense to the brink of the playoffs. But with so many quality QBs, 18 QBs scored more than 20 points just last week, someone has to fall down the pecking order. He’s currently QB16 in terms of fantasy points per game. Couple that with the Lions allowing less than 22 fantasy points a game to QBs, and it’s not a recipe for success.
QB Carson Wentz (PHI) – Since Week 3, Wentz has been no higher than QB9 in any week. After a breakout year last year, a lack of running game with Jay Ajayi hurt has really stunted this offense. The Jaguars haven’t been the same defense as last year, but in London, they’ve won their last three games. The Jaguars allow the third fewest fantasy points to QBs and, despite Dak Prescott’s 33 points anomaly fueled mainly by 80 yards and a TD on the ground, they can limit QB production.
RB Christian McCaffrey (CAR) – The Ravens defense is really good. Only two RBs this season have topped 10 fantasy points on them. They allow a meager 19.6 receiving yards to running backs per game. The Panthers are going to have to find a different way to beat the Ravens this week, because it won’t be through McCaffrey.
RB Alex Collins (BAL) – The Panthers have been pretty stout against the run this year also — they allow the 7th fewest fantasy points to RBs. I’ve already mentioned I like John Brown. The Ravens are throwing in this game, not running. For what it’s worth, I don’t like Buck Allen either.
RB Nyheim Hines (IND) – With Mack back healthy, Hines’ role has been reduced to next to nothing. He’s supposed to be the passing down back? He has the same number of targets and receptions as Mack over the last two weeks, and has only 8 rushes to Mack’s 31. Until the needle moves back towards Hines, keep him on your bench.
RB Wendell Smallwood & Corey Clement (PHI) – The Jaguars are in the top third of the league in fewest fantasy points allowed to RBs. Smallwood and Clement have done little to make the Eagles think one will run for 125 yards and 2 TDs. They’re smack in the middle of the league in rushing offense, and I have little faith they suddenly get going on foreign soil.
WR Alshon Jeffery (PHI) – I like Alshon Jeffery. He’s a legit number one receiver in this league. But he’s not on the level of a DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins is good enough to beat a top flight corner like Jalen Ramsey for a solid receiving day. Jeffery can — and will likely — get shut down, much like he was in Week 5 against the Vikings. Advantage: Ramsey and the Jags.
WR Jordy Nelson (OAK) – The Raiders have to throw to someone. This week, it won’t be Nelson. Outside of the Texans game, the Colts have done well covering WRs. Nelson is past his prime and Derek Carr is not the QB we thought he was. Stick with Jared Cook this week if you’re targeting a Raiders pass catcher.
WR Randall Cobb (GB) – People keep thinking he’s good because he’s had a couple good seasons with Aaron Rodgers at QB. While Cobb has been out with an injury, the world got to see Marquez Valdes-Scantling own the slot. Cobb will take over the slot upon his return and quickly lose ground to The Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms (as I refer to MVS and his 18 names). Mark my words.
WR Demaryius Thomas (DEN) – The subject of trade rumors, Thomas hasn’t been his usual WR2 self. He’s not even Case Keenum’s preferred target in the passing game. Emmanuel Sanders has 12 more targets, 13 more receptions, and 231 more receiving yards than Thomas. The Broncos will need to throw to keep up with Sir Patrick Mahomes — I’ve unofficially knighted the young gunslinger because it just sounds awesome — and the Chiefs offense. Those passes won’t be going towards Thomas.
TE Rob Gronkowski (NE) – Gronk hasn’t scored a TD since Week 1. He hurt his back and missed last week. He does have two straight games with over 12 fantasy points, but with the emergence of some other young TEs across the league, Gronk’s time as the best TE in the game may be coming to an end. And yes, I realize that because I just typed that sentence, Gronk will have 9 catches for 130 yards and 2 TDs on Monday night. At least I still have him as a top 10 TE so it’s not like I’m telling you to bench the guy.
TE Evan Engram (NYG) – Not the best return from injury I’ve seen, that’s for sure. Engram wasn’t spectacular on Monday night against the Falcons and I don’t think it gets better against the Redskins, whose defense is underrated. They allow fewer than 50 receiving yards per game to opposing TEs, and only two TEs have scored double digit fantasy points on them.
TE Benjamin Watson (NO) – Watson caught Drew Brees’ 500th career TD pass. He also had 16.3 fantasy points, 5th best last week. The Vikings can be beat by TEs, but I have a feeling Brees is going for home runs this week. Lots of Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and Tre’Quan Smith, and not enough Watson.