By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I hope you stuffed your faces, took your naps, and laughed with friends and family. You deserve it. Now, don’t get trampled on Black Friday. I’d like you to read this from the comfort of your own home, not a hospital bed. Or from the Great Beyond. Facebook Pixels can’t track that type of viewership.
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 Jameis Winston (TB) – Collectively, the Bucs starting QB is QB2 in fantasy, trailing on Patrick Mahomes in fantasy points per game. Yes, you run the risk he turns the ball over three times and is yanked in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick, but let’s face it — the Bucs need to evaluate Winston from here on out, as they have next to zero chance of making the playoffs this year. This week’s opponent, the 49ers, have allowed the 14th most fantasy points to opposing QBs since Week 7, so there’s a chance Winston throws for 300 and 2 TDs. I’m betting he far exceeds that.
QB Baker Mayfield (CLE) – The Bengals defense has been abysmal in all facets of the game. Since Week 7, the Bengals are allowing 33.53 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. Mayfield was QB6 in Week 10 and has back-to-back games with over 21 fantasy points. Recently recruited Hue Jackson will have no clue how to stop Mayfield and the Browns offense, just as he had no clue how to deploy them.
QB Lamar Jackson (BAL) – Jackson scored 17.9 fantasy points last week without any touchdowns. If you’re telling me that’s his floor, he has top 12 upside weekly. The Raiders allow the 8th most fantasy points to opposing QBs over the last five weeks, and allow 4.8 yards per carry on the season. Needless to say, Jackson should have a field day on Sunday and is a quality streamer if you’re down Mahomes or Goff this week.
RB David Johnson (ARI) – Leftwich is the Robitussen for Johnson’s cold. With Leftwich calling plays after the dismissal of Mike McCoy, Johnson has been RB9, averaging 23.23 fantasy points per game. As I mentioned last week in my write up of Philip Lindsay, the Chargers without MLB Denzel Perryman allow over 5.5 YPC. Lindsay had over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. Johnson should have a field day on Sunday.
RB Nick Chubb (CLE) – Two weeks ago, Chubb was the leading scorer among RBs. He’s currently second in the league at 6.2 yards per carry, and he’s RB13 since taking over the starting job in Week 7. This week, he plays the Bengals, who have allowed an average of 40.23 fantasy points to RBs over the last five weeks. They also allow 5 YPC and are tied for third in the league with 13 rushing TDs allowed. So, um, dial up Chubby with authority this week.
RB James White (NE) – The Jets have been awful this year, and their defense is banged up. James White was held in check in Week 10, and if the Patriots want to get back on track offensively after scoring only 10 points against the Titans, they need White more involved. The Jets allow over 45 receiving yards a game to running backs, so look for White to get back on his top 15 pedestal.
WR Stefon Diggs (MIN) – The last go around against the Packers, Diggs when for 37.9 fantasy points. The good news for him and his fantasy owners is that the Packers have allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs over the last five weeks and allow the 4th most yards to number 2 wide receivers. I’m not saying Diggs tops 30 again, but he will have a top 10 day.
WR Julian Edelman (NE) – Since his return in Week 5, Edelman is WR13. Over that same time frame, the Jets have allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Brady needs to rebound after a down Week 10. Looking Edelman’s way will help.
WR Doug Baldwin (SEA) – Baldwin’s been generating targets, even if the Seahawks have the league’s 6th worst passing offense. The Panthers have allowed the 10th most fantasy points to opposing WRs since Week 8. Adam Humphries abused Captain Munnerlyn from the slot two weeks ago, and with Baldwin claiming he’s fully healthy, look out.
TE George Kittle (SF) – Kittle is making his case for the argument of best TE in the league. He’s the only real legitimate pass-catching option in the 49ers offense, and the Bucs longstanding desire to let every tight end they face run roughshod over them has Kittle positioned for a standout game.
TE David Njoku (CLE) – The Bengals allow the 4th most fantasy points to TEs this season, and about 64 yards receiving to TEs. Njoku is 2nd on the team in targets but has three straight games with fewer than 10 fantasy points. This is the type of matchup that helps get Njoku back on track.
QB Philip Rivers (LAC) – Since Week 6, Rivers isn’t a top 10 QB in Fantasy. You love his consistency, but upside is also great too. Since Week 6, the Cardinals have allowed only one QB to top 20 fantasy points against them. This game has “Melvin Gordon runs wild” written all over it.
QB Andy Dalton (CIN) – Since Week 5, the Browns defense has allowed only one QB to score more than 25 fantasy points. From Weeks 1 through 6, Dalton was QB11. Since Week 7, Dalton is QB24. Dalton may get A.J. Green back, but Denzel Ward has impressed in coverage this year. Dalton’s inconsistencies limit his upside, not just going forward, but specifically this week.
RB Lamar Miller (HOU) – The Titans have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs since Week 5, and haven’t allowed a single RB to top 20 fantasy points this year. In their earlier meeting, Miller didn’t top 10 points. Even when the Titans offense struggles, the defense shows up. Hard pass on Miller this week.
RB Dion Lewis (TEN) – Lewis has 49 carries and seven receptions over the last three games, averaging 11.73 fantasy points per game. Not great, but not terrible. But with his current workload, he should be generating more points. The Texans allow the 5th fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs since Week 5, and Lewis went for only 5.3 fantasy points the last time around. I don’t love the upside this week.
RB Kenyan Drake (MIA) – No. Just no. #FreeKenyanDrake
WR Mike Evans (TB) – Mike Evans is likely to pass the 1,000 yard receiving plateau this week. He’s also likely to see a lot of Richard Sherman, who has allowed only 11 receptions this year and no touchdowns. Not a good week for Evans on the horizon.
WR John Brown (BAL) – Lamar Jackson isn’t cocking back to launch it deep. Brown, who started this season on fire, has cooled immensely, The first seven weeks, he was WR17. Since? WR87. Willie Snead has been the more reliable receiver for the Ravens as of late. It’s fair to bypass Brown this week.
WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – Since Week 7, Fitzgerald is WR17. He’s bounced back after a poor start, and has four straight games with double-digit fantasy scores, including four touchdowns in that time frame. But he’s likely to see a lot of Desmond King in the slot. Fitzgerald will find a way to generate at least 10 fantasy points, but he won’t be top 20.
TE Evan Engram (NYG) – The Eagles secondary is likely to feature three corners that weren’t even on the roster in Week 7. But they can cover TEs. Only O.J. Howard in Week 2 has scored double digit fantasy points against them, and since Week 3, they’ve allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing TEs. Engram hasn’t topped 67 receiving yards in a game this year, and only has two TDs on the year. Lots of Barkley, OBJ, and Shepard against Philly on Sunday.
TE Jeff Heuerman (DEN) – Don’t look now, but since Week 8, Heuerman is TE7 in FPPG. Only two TEs this year have exceeded 14 fantasy points against the Steelers, who have struggled covering TEs since Ryan Shazier’s injury last year. But since Week 7, the Steelers have allowed the 7th fewest fantasy points to opposing TEs. Case Keenum and the Broncos offense is in for a rough day.