By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
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 Russell Wilson (SEA) – Wilson is QB7 since Week 8. The 49ers have allowed three of the last four quarterbacks they’ve faced to top 23 fantasy points. The Seahawks have won two in a row to get back into the playoff hunt, and Wilson is a big reason why. Last week, he threw for over 300 yards for the first time this season. He also hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 9. Wilson has top 5 upside this week.
QB Case Keenum (DEN) – After starting the season with at least one interception in the first eight games, Keenum has been turnover-free over his last three. He’s not a top 12 option, but in two QB leagues, he has some upside going against the hapless Bengals. Only Lamar Jackson hasn’t scored more than 30 fantasy points on the Bengals over the last four games. (I’m combing the Bucs into Jameis Fitzpatrick who scored 38.4 FPTS.) There’s little reason why Keenum shouldn’t top 24 fantasy points.
QB Josh Allen (BUF) – Twice this year, Allen has topped 29 fantasy points when we least expected it. In a divisional matchup where only one of these teams has a great defense — the Bills — Allen can keep the Dolphins on their toes. Miami has a total of 18 sacks on the year, the 4th fewest in the NFL. Allen isn’t shy about running either, and the Dolphins have the league’s 4th worst run defense. There’s top 15 upside with Allen if you’re looking to roster a low-owned QB in DFS.
RB Christian McCaffrey (CAR) – Obvious name, but I really want to make sure you are aware of how great Run CMC has been. You know all about Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Kareem Hunt, etc. But since Week 7, McCaffrey has been Fantasy’s number one running back. McCaffrey is averaging 4.95 yards per carry, and has 10 touchdowns on the year. The Bucs allow and average 4.7 YPC and have given up the third most rushing touchdowns on the year. But here’s my favorite stat on McCaffrey, from Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson: Heading into week 12, McCaffrey has played 97% of the team’s offensive snaps. The next closest RB is Todd Gurley at 84.6%. 97%?! Sorry, that’s just unheard of with running backs. CMC is my number one RB this week.
RB Aaron Jones (GB) – Since Week 8, Jones has been RB6. The Packers are leaning on him so much — took McCarthy long enough! — that Aaron Rodgers has become, how do I say this politely, fantasy irrelevant. (More on Rodgers later.) The Cardinals allow the 3rd most rushing yards per game and the most rushing touchdowns. There is no part of me that thinks Jones won’t be a top 5 RB this week.
RB Philip Lindsay (DEN) – The undrafted free agent that could. Lindsay is currently RB11, and over the last four weeks, he’s averaging over 19 fantasy points a game. He had his 2nd 100-yard game of the season last week and has three rushing touchdowns in his last two games. The Bengals have the 2nd worst run defense in the league, and allow the most fantasy points to opposing RBs since Week 2. Lindsay should put up top 10 numbers, even with Royce Freeman stealing some carries — and potentially touchdowns.
RB Lamar Miller (HOU) – Miller exploded on Monday night. He had his second career touchdown of more than 90 yards, and his third 100-yard game of the year. The downside? Miller has fewer than 20 receptions on the year, on pace for his lowest output since his 2nd season in the league. The Browns have allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing RBs since Week 6, and the 5th most receiving yards to running backs. If there’s ever a week to maximize Miller’s skill set and let him run wild, it’s Sunday versus the Browns.
WR Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) – If I like Keenum, it stands to reason I like his number one receiver. Sanders got his first touchdown since Week 7 last week. Sanders runs around 63% of his routes from the slot. With Lindsay’s ability to run wild, Sanders will have no problem beating Darqueze Dennard for at least one score. And in case you were curious, every game Sanders has scored a touchdown, he’s topped 20 fantasy points.
WR Kenny Golladay (DET) – Golden Tate is in Philadelphia and Marvin Jones Jr. is on Injured Reserve. Golladay is the last man standing for a Lions offense that throws and throws and throws. And throws. Stafford hasn’t had fewer than 36 pass attempts since Week 7. Golladay has averaged 12 targets a game the last three weeks, and is WR9 since the Golden Tate trade. The Rams allow the most fantasy points to opposing WRs over the last five weeks. I’m all in on Golladay this week.
WR D.J. Moore (CAR) – Up until last week, Moore’s production was off and on. He finally strung together two straight weeks of solid fantasy production. Facing off against the Bucs this week should make it three in a row. Tampa Bay has allowed the most passing touchdowns this year, has the 2nd fewest interceptions, and allow the 2nd most yards per pass attempt. Moore is the Panthers leading “receiver” this year — McCaffrey is technically a running back — and he tops the team with 2.51 yards per route run. He should be an easy FLEX play this week.
WR Adam Humphries (TB) – What if I told you he’s been a top 10 WR since Week 8? The Panthers have already given up 28.9 fantasy points to Humphries in Week 9, and I see no reason he can’t do it again with how abysmal the Panthers pass defense has been this year.
TE Eric Ebron (IND) – I told you not to sweat the goose egg. Now that Jack Doyle is on Injured Reserve, we’re back to enjoying top three fantasy performances out of Ebron from here on out. Oh, and Ebron already has three touchdowns against the Jaguars this year. Wash, rinse, repeat.
TE David Njoku (CLE) – Over the last five weeks, the Texans have allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. The Browns offense has been rolling as of late, and Mayfield has no problem targeting his tight ends. Njoku should have a top 10 day.
TE Matt LaCosse (DEN) – With Jeff Heuerman on IR, there is now opportunity for LaCosse, who most of you hadn’t heard of before Sunday. The Bengals allow the 2nd most fantasy points to tight ends, so look for Keenum to find LaCosse often. He has some upside if you’re in need of a fill in at the position with all the injuries that have occurred lately.
QB Matt Ryan (ATL) – The Ravens have allowed the 4th fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs this year. Since Week 7, Matt Ryan isn’t even a top 10 QB. Look, the way teams are throwing these days — Ryan does lead the NFL in passing yards, in case you were curious — it’s hard to put people on the “Fade” list. But when you factor in facing a good defense like the Ravens with a “struggling” QB, it means they land here. And probably prove me wrong.
QB Aaron Rodgers (GB) – Want to talk about another struggling QB as of late? Rodgers has been QB15 since Week 7. I should also remind you that he was the consensus number one QB selected in Fantasy this year. The Packers have found their running game in the form of Aaron Jones, and Rodgers just doesn’t look the same after injuring his knee in Week 1. The Cardinals defense allows the 2nd fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs this year. Only one QB has topped 25 points against them this year and that was Philip Rivers just last week. You likely don’t have a better option, just be prepared for a so-so day.
QB Dak Prescott (DAL) – All this recent love for Prescott lately is annoying. He is not a good quarterback. (And yes, I’m leaving my Eagles bias at the door here.) He has yet to throw for 300 yards in a game this year, he hasn’t thrown for 3 or more touchdowns in a game this year, and his rushing yards have been virtually nonexistent the last four weeks — only 43 yards on 18 carries. He’s thrown only five interceptions, but if you total up his INTs and fumbles and his total touchdowns, Prescott has a 2:1 touchdown to turnover ratio. Terrible. The Saints defense can be thrown on, yes, and Prescott has not been shy about looking Amari Cooper’s way, but the amount of sacks Prescott takes because he can’t make a decision is alarming. Don’t let Thanksgiving fool you. Prescott still belongs on your bench.
RB James White (NE) – I don’t know what’s up in New England, but James White has gone missing. Over his last two games, he has a total of 16 touches for 104 yards and no scores. White was RB6 from Weeks 1-9. Since? RB41. Sony Michel is back, and while I don’t particularly like either Patriots RB this week against the Vikings — 5th fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs — in what is sure to be a great matchup all around, someone will inevitably produce. Maybe White can give us something in the passing game — only 1 catch for 5 yards last week — but at this point, do you want to risk it?
RB Adrian Peterson (WAS) – Say what you will about the Eagles season, but at least they still play good run defense. You know, when they’re not facing Saquon Barkley. Or Ezekiel Elliott. Or Mark Ingram. Crap, they do suck lately. But Peterson has been banged up, and Colt McCoy isn’t scaring anyone. The Eagles shut down Barkley and the Giants in the second half last week. Peterson, since Week 9, is RB31. Has age caught up to him? Easy fade for me this week.
RB Mark Ingram II (NO) – For all the crap I give Dallas, they’ve actually built a pretty solid defense. Since Week 8, they’ve allowed the 5th fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs. I’m really tired of trying to guess which of the Saints RBs will go off, but what I do know is that Kamara consistently gets 10 plus fantasy points a game. Ingram does not. Not risking it this week.
RB Duke Johnson Jr. (CLE) – Nick Chubb is now being used more in the passing game, which is limiting Duke’s opportunities. Over the last two weeks, Chubb has 6 catches for 77 yards and 2 touchdowns. Duke? 5 catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Duke’s upside has always been limited as he’s strictly a passing down back, but with Chubb dominating the way he is, it’s hard to predict the Duke Johnson break out games. The Texans allow the 7th fewest fantasy points to RBs since Week 8, so I’m not banking this week is one of those break outs.
WR Antonio Brown (PIT) – Over the last three weeks, Brown has been WR7, WR10, and WR27. He’s WR12 over the last two weeks. Brown is going to see a lot of Casey Hayward. While I don’t think any one corner can slow down Antonio Brown, there are a lot of really good, productive wide receivers in fantasy football this year. I have him outside my top 10 this week.
WR Alshon Jeffery (PHI) – Since Golden Tate came on board, Jeffery has run almost twice as many routes and has fewer targets. The Eagles passing offense has been unwatchable recently. Josh Norman should draw Jeffery most of the day, and he’s the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal Redskins’ pass defense — 2nd most fantasy points to opposing WRs since Week 4. Tate probably offers more upside.
WR Jarvis Landry (CLE) – Landry has been a huge disappointment this year. If you can be a disappointment with 60 catches through 11 games. Against the Texans, I’m not thinking Landry has a banner day with Kareem Jackson draped all over him. Jackson allows one reception every 11.3 coverage snaps when targeted. Should be a quiet day for Landry.
WR Josh Gordon (NE) – That Xavier Rhodes guy is really good. He’s also banged up with a bad hammy. If Rhodes plays, Gordon is a hard pass. Gronk is healthy now which limits targets in the offense for everyone else. Gordon is their big play guy and his opportunities will be limited come Sunday.
TE Jimmy Graham (GB) – What is sure to be his only year in Green Bay has been a huge disappointment. Graham broke his thumb two weeks ago and he’s trying to play through it. While he led the Packers tight ends in routes run, it wasn’t by much. Couple the lack of snaps and routes with the Cardinals’ ability to lock down tight ends, and you have all the reasons needed to bench Graham this week.
TE Jordan Reed (WAS) – Only two tight ends this year have topped 10 fantasy points on the Eagles defense. Reed probably will be the third this week as the Eagles secondary belongs in the new Alliance of American Football League. But I don’t think he’s a top 10 guy.
TE Vance McDonald (PIT) – The split in snaps with Jesse James doesn’t help, but a matchup with the Chargers, who allow the 12th fewest fantasy points to tight ends since Week 8, aren’t appetizing at all. Even with the rash of injuries that have decimated the position, there are options with better match ups this week.