2018 NFL Week 9 Confidence Plays (Play/Fade)

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By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

It’s trade season.

The NFL trade deadline came and went on Tuesday, and there was some action to talk about.

The Houston Texans, who lost WR Will Fuller V for the season during Week 8’s game against the Miami Dolphins to a torn ACL, acquired WR Demaryius Thomas from the Denver Broncos to help fill the void. Thomas is a decorated wide receiver– since entering the league in 2010, Thomas is 3rd in receptions, 3rd in receiving yards, and 7th in touchdowns. He now slides in opposite of arguably the best wide receiver in football, DeAndre Hopkins, to form a potentially potent 1-2 punch for emerging young QB Deshaun Watson. The downside? Thomas is clearly on the back end of his career. But his name and accomplishments will force teams to pay attention to him, thus keeping double teams off of Hopkins. Thomas may not have the game-breaking speed that Fuller has, but he will still be productive for the Texans. Don’t think he’s suddenly going to be any better than his current WR32 standing though. If you own him, I’m sorry.

This of course opens up significant playing time for rookie Courtland Sutton of the Broncos. If you’ve been following along with us throughout the offseason, you know I am a huge fan of Sutton. He’s big, athletic, and has all the makings of becoming the next Terrell Owens, minus the driveway sit-ups. Thomas’ departure leaves 19% of the team’s targets up for grabs, and since they’re not throwing to 3rd round rookie RB Royce Freeman, I’m thinking Sutton’s current 12.8% target share is on the rise. Sutton has at least three targets per game, has topped 45 yards in four games, has two touchdowns, and he’s second on the team in deep passing yards (receptions over 20 yards).

The Lions made themselves a trade as well. They dealt WR Golden Tate, their main slot receiver, to the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have been starved for help at receiver since losing free agent pickup Mike Wallace in Week 2. Tate led the Lions with a 26.6% target share, and should cut into Nelson Agholor’s 19.8% target share (most of which occurred during the team’s first three games prior to Alshon Jeffery’s return to the lineup). Ertz, Jeffery, and Tate form a fearsome threesome as pass-catchers for the defending champs. Tate will regress some, but should still remain a top 30 option at the position. Ertz should remain a top 3 TE and Jeffery is a viable WR2 from here on out.

For the Lions, owners of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. should be elated. “Babytron”, as fans refer to Golladay, has started to emerge as a big time threat for Matthew Stafford. Before the trade, he was second on the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Jones Jr., on the other hand, leads the league in end zone targets and leads the team with 5 TDs. Both of their respective stocks are soaring with close to 27% of the teams targets up for grabs. Both have WR2 upside in any given week.

One last deal to speak of — the Green Bay Packers dealt RB Ty Montgomery to the Baltimore Ravens. After his gaffe during Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and the subsequent hate the general public spewed his way, this was likely for the best. Of course, this should presumably open up more opportunities to wunderkid Aaron Jones. I don’t know a single fantasy analyst that doesn’t love this kid and wants to see him get more touches in the Packers’ backfield. His head coach just isn’t as fond of him as we are. Jones is averaging 6.4 yards per carry, and leads the team in rushing and rushing TDs. His only real competition now, Jamaal Williams, averages 3.7 YPC with 19 more rushes. Something’s wrong there, McCarthy!

As for Montgomery, I wasn’t very high on him at the start of the season but the Ravens backfield has been one of the most inconsistent units on the team. Lead back Alex Collins leads the team in rushing, but has a paltry 3.7 yards per carry. The team’s 3rd down back, Javorius “Buck” Allen, has 30 catches, but is averaging less than 3 yards per carry. Montgomery and his 4 YPC are a clear upgrade over Allen, but the Ravens run blocking has been suspect with the injuries suffered to the offensive line. I don’t think anyone but Collins should be owned in fantasy at this point, and that’s only because of the volume. He’s a matchup-based FLEX at best.

This is a great prelude to your upcoming trade deadlines in your respective fantasy leagues. Many leagues will have their deadlines happening over the next four weeks, and it’s a good strategy to have an idea of some players to target based on their fantasy playoff schedules (Weeks 14-16). We’ll be talking more trade deadline deals on our radio show, No Punt Intended, on Thursday on Die Hard Sports Radio at 6p EST. You can stream us on http://www.dhsradio.com, or just download the Mixlr App on your phone and search “Die Hard Sports Radio.”

Just to give you a small glimpse of the discussion: we’re going to discuss why you should target players like Cam Newton, Philip Lindsay, Tyler Boyd, and David Njoku, and why you should look to sell high on players like Matthew Stafford, Adrian Peterson, T.Y. Hilton, and Jimmy Graham. Tune in for all the tasty nuggets on Thursday’s show!

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 Cam Newton (CAR) – He’s QB4 on a fantasy points per game basis and is QB3 since Week 5. Newton is also averaging over 40 rushing yards a game, so he’s essentially starting with a 4 point advantage on the competition. Did I mention the Bucs, who have allowed only one QB this year fewer than 24 fantasy points, are this week’s opponent? With the Bucs tapping FitzMagic to once again lead the team, this will be an unlikely shoot out which increases Cam’s upside tenfold.

QB Russell Wilson (SEA) – After yet another slow start to the season, Wilson has averaged 27.4 fantasy points a game since Week 5, good for QB5 on a FPPG basis. He’s doing this with no Jimmy Graham (now in Green Bay) and limited production from Doug Baldwin (currently WR84). Guys like Tyler Lockett (WR24) and David Moore (WR22 since Week 5) are providing Wilson with people to throw to. The Chargers defense has performed well against QBs, but look who they’ve faced: Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jared Goff, C.J. Beathard, Derek Carr, Baker Mayfield, and Marcus Mariota. Not exactly Murderer’s Row. Maybe Probation’s Row, with Mahomes and Goff receiving the lighter of the sentences. Wilson will get his with the 12s behind him, and should put up top ten numbers this week as a result.

QB Derek Carr (OAK) – Despite the chaos surrounding the Raiders this season, Derek Carr has looked competent some of the time. Typically against teams with lackluster secondaries. Lucky for him, the Raiders face the 49ers on Thursday night. He has been turnover-free the last two weeks, and tossed three touchdowns against the Colts. In a week where Carson Wentz, Andrew Luck, and Andy Dalton are on a bye, Carr has a chance to sneak into the top 10 as he did last week. Just stay away from Richard Sherman’s side of the field. Always sound advice.

RB James White (NE) – Even before the injury to Sony Michel, James White has been an absolute stud this year. He’s topped the 20 point mark four of the last five weeks — RB4 since Week 4 — and leads the Patriots in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. I am talking about a running back, right? The Packers do allow the 6th fewest receiving yards to opposing RBs, but with how much White is used, he bucks the stats and analytics this week. Fire up White with confidence.

RB Adrian Peterson (WAS) – Is All Day an RB1 from here on out? He’s making a case as we all turn our clocks back — which incidentally, you should do on Sunday November 4th — to see the Adrian Peterson of old. He’s 5th in the league in rushing, tied for 4th in attempts, and 8th in total yards. He’s also 33 and currently RB13. His backups, Chris Thompson and Kapri Bibbs, are nursing injuries which is allowing AD to tally the carries. Against Atlanta and their Charmin-soft defense (2nd most fantasy points to RBs), Peterson should easily top the 20-point fantasy mark this week, making him a top 10 play.

RB Nick Chubb (CLE) – Ladies and gentlemen alike got themselves a Chubb when Carlos Hyde was traded to the Jaguars a couple of weeks ago. He tallied 14 fantasy points in his first start (solid), but fell to 9.5 fantasy points last week. The good news? 18 carries in both games. The bad news? A change at head coach and offensive coordinator. Wait, that’s good news. Definitely good news. The new OC is his RBs coach, and against the Chiefs this week who allow 5.4 YPC and are 3rd in the league with 10 rushing TDs allowed, he’s likely to put up top 15 numbers in a great matchup for him.

RB Isaiah Crowell (NYJ) – It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Crowell break out game. Since he set the Jets’ single game rushing record in Week 5, Crowell has totaled 18 fantasy points. That’s surprising because the Jets have half a receiver left on their team. A trip to Miami should be just what the doctor ordered. The Dolphins allow the most rushing yards per game to opponents, and any time you have a young QB, the way to succeed is establish the ground game. Crowell has to be a top 12 RB this week. If not, Todd Bowles deserves to be fired.

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WR Antonio Brown (PIT) – Brown’s season has been quiet, even though he’s WR4 in terms of fantasy points per game. He has only three top 10 weeks this year and two 100-yard games, but he has 8 TDs — one shy of tying last year’s total. He traditionally performs well against the Ravens, but with this being a road game, I’m expecting more yards than scores as Big Ben is a different QB outside the ketchup bottle. And he should outshine JuJu Smith-Schuster once again.

WR Robert Woods (LAR) – It’s always hard to figure out which Rams WR to bet on. This week, I’m betting on all of them. In the Superdome, against a porous Saints pass defense, I’ll take my chances on Woods who likely moves back outside with Cooper Kupp supposed to return. Woods will see plenty of Eli Apple, and you know what they say: an apple a day does not keep the fantasy points at bay.

WR Devin Funchess (CAR) – After scoring a TD in back to back weeks, Funchess was shut down last week by the Ravens (no surprise there). This week, against the Bucs, Funchess should return to regularly scheduled programming. Funchess is also someone you should look to trade for ASAP, as his fantasy playoffs schedule is drool-worthy. WR2 upside from here on out.

WR Sammy Watkins (KC) – If Tyreek Hill’s groin allows him to play, Watkins will likely escape coverage from Browns standout rookie Denzel Ward. T.J. Carrie has been solid on the opposite side as he hasn’t allowed a TD this season, but Watkins should be able to rack up the YAC as Carrie allows the most YAC on the Browns. Carrie also allows the highest QB rating when targeted on the Browns, so Watkins should be a worthwhile FLEX as a result.

TE Greg Olsen (CAR) – Olsen looked like his old self last week, and he has a touchdown in two straight weeks. Five TEs have topped 15 fantasy points against the Bucs defense this year, and with Olsen looking like the Olsen that we all remember from previous seasons, I’ll go out on a limb and say Olsen makes six.

TE Kyle Rudolph (MIN) – I’ve dumped on Rudolph a lot in recent weeks. I’ve been right, but still. Time to show him I still like him and appreciate him. The Lions have allowed the 10th most fantasy points to opposing TEs this year. I think Stefon Diggs will see a lot of Darius Slay leaving Cousins to look more towards Thielen and, you guessed it, Rudolph. Rudolph should be a top 10 TE this week.

TE Chris Herndon (NYJ) – Well, do you know who Chris Herndon is now? He may only have 11 targets combined over the last three weeks, but he’s also scored a touchdown in three straight weeks. The Dolphins are a little worse than average at covering TEs, but when you have no WRs to throw to, you find your tight end. I think Herndon makes it four straight games with a score, just because I apparently have a severe obsession with Herndon.

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Fade

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) – Ryan and the Falcons have played on the road twice this year. This is game eight. Ryan averages 35.97 fantasy points at home, but averages only 12.62 fantasy points in road games. Ryan is on the road this week in Washington. Tell me, how do you think this story ends?

QB Philip Rivers (LAC) – Seattle has played well of late. Despite the loss of Safety Earl Thomas, the Seahawks have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs this year. Rivers and the Chargers travel to Seattle this week for what should be a nightmare for Rivers and the gang. You can find some better options this week, even with six QBs on a bye.

QB Mitchell Trubisky (CHI) – Trubisky’s been on fire of late. Since Week 4, he averages over 38 fantasy points per game, best in the league. The Bills, since Week 3, have allowed an average of 14.07 fantasy points to QBs, the 2nd fewest in the league. They’ve held Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady to fewer than 20 fantasy points. Trubisky isn’t quite in that stratosphere yet.

RB James Conner (PIT) – I know I’ll regret this one. The last time Conner played the Ravens, he scored all of 9.4 fantasy points. Fun fact, since that woebegone day, Conner hasn’t scored less than 30 fantasy points in a game. The fact that he’s on this list is because I don’t think he scored 30 this week. 29, maybe, but not 30. Christian McCaffrey is the only RB this year to score more than 20 fantasy points on the Ravens. That was last week. Yeah, I’m regretting this decision already.

RB Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) – It’s a home game, so I’m playing with fire, but the Titans defense is too legit to quit. The Titans allow the 4th fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs and haven’t allowed a 20-point fantasy day yet. Elliott has only two such performances this year. Maybe the addition of Amari Cooper helps keep defenses honest, but I’m hardly a Cooper fan and I don’t think defenses respect Brick Hands as much as some think they should. Maybe Elliott gets 17 this week, but I don’t think it’ll be a banner day.

RB Mark Ingram (NO) – After his Week 5 return, Ingram has been quiet. He’s averaging 9.2 fantasy points over his last two games. Alvin Kamara has been the dominant force for the Saints, and I expect that to continue this week against the Rams front seven. At home, on the turf, this game favors Kamara.

RB LeSean McCoy (BUF) – You’re not likely rushing to get Shady in your lineup after the sorry excuse for a season he’s had, but just in case your hopes were raised some after his 15.5 fantasy point performance on Monday night, I’m here to quell your hopes and dreams. Derek Anderson suffered a concussion in that game, and since Josh Allen still isn’t healthy, insert Nathan “5 INT” Peterman at quarterback. The Bills could be playing the Cardinals and their league worst run defense and I’d still be fading Shady if Peterman were the QB. You’ve been warned.

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WR Keenan Allen (LAC) – Unlike Antonio Brown who has been quiet yet productive, Allen has been quiet and not productive. The Chargers have turned into Melvin Gordon’s team, and Allen is playing second fiddle. Third if you count the 70-yard bombs Rivers loves to throw in Tyrell Williams’ direction. Marvin Jones Jr. just lit up the Seahawks defense, but Allen isn’t that type of receiver. This game favors Williams and his deep ball skills. Allen will get his but his ceiling is capped.

WR Michael Crabtree (BAL) – Crabtree may lead the Ravens in targets, but hardly in production. He tallied only 5.9 fantasy points against the Steelers in Week 4, which tells me this game favors John Brown. The matchup is great as the Steelers secondary gets beat up more than snitches in the penitentiary, but he’ll see a lot of Joe Haden this week. Haden has allowed only 23 completions this year through seven games. Sometimes a great matchup can be a little misleading.

WR Doug Baldwin (SEA) – Baldwin is the name in the Seattle receiver’s room, but he’s hardly been the most productive. He’s been lapped by Tyler Lockett, and David Moore has started to emerge as well. Baldwin typically runs from the slot. Chargers slot corner Desmond King is one of the best in the NFL, so don’t get your hopes up with Baldwin. As a matter of fact, feel free to drop Baldwin. There are other quality WRs available.

WR Allen Robinson (CHI) – The Curse of Tre’Davious White. The 2nd year corner has made a name for himself as one of the top shutdown corners in the league. He shut down Josh Gordon last week. He also shut down Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, and DeAndre Hopkins before that. Do you think Allen Robinson is immune? Nuh uh.

TE Trey Burton (CHI) – The Bills have allowed only two tight ends to score double digits on them. Burton can have solid days, but isn’t immune to the bad days. With such little quality at the TE position, Burton is still likely to be a top 10 TE this week, but the upside is limited.

TE Jimmy Graham (GB) – With the wide receivers back healthy, Graham will slowly become obsolete. He’s currently TE12 and falling. The Patriots don’t cover TEs well, so this could easily come back to bite me, but I’m hedging my bets on guys like Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling putting up some serious numbers instead.

TE Jordan Reed (WAS) – For the first time in years, Reed is healthy. He’s not missing games because of concussions or hamstring issues, he’s healthy. And yet, he remains outside the top 10 at the position in fantasy, and his usage rate is less attractive than Bobby Boucher’s daddy. When the usage goes up, so do his prospects. Sorry Reed.