By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Happy semi-finals week! Hopefully, you have happily advanced on to the next round or were already there, courtesy of a first-round bye week. Me personally, I took an L in one league. By 0.5 points. Suffice it to say, I’m a little bitter. In four other leagues, I had a first-round bye, so this week is vital. In any event, let’s get to some picks that can help– or hurt– your chances of reaching those championships!
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 matchups 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 Jared Goff (LAR) – What a dud last week. I mean, check out these quarterbacks who scored more fantasy points than Goff last week — Blake Bortles, Nathan Peterman, and Alex Smith. From his hospital bed. Talk about impressive. But you know what helps you bounce back like a trampoline? Facing the Eagles secondary with receivers like Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. The Eagles have lost both their starting corners and allow the 8th most fantasy points to opposing QBs over the last six weeks. Top 2 fantasy QB this week.
QB Deshaun Watson (HOU) – Watson has shown flashes this year of the QB that lit up the league last year. But overall, he’s been rather meh. You know what helps cure that? A date with the Jets. They’ve allowed the 12th most fantasy points to QBs over the last five weeks. He also has Demaryius Thomas getting more involved — WR26 over the last three weeks — and there’s that DeAndre Hopkins guy on the other side too. Watson should be a top 10 guy this week.
QB Derek Carr (OAK) – Carr has been a top 15 QB the last four weeks. Not saying much, but if you had Carson Wentz as your starter (like I do in my Dynasty league), Carr is a solid fill in this week against a Bengals defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs this year. The Curse of Hue Jackson continues.
RB Leonard Fournette (JAX) – The game of backups. Cody Kessler vs. Josh Johnson. The Jaguars are going to have to lean on Leonard Fournette to win this game. With the Redskins allowing the 4th most fantasy points to opposing RBs in the last six weeks, advantage Jaguars.
RB Jaylen Samuels (PIT) – Stevan Ridley may have scored the touchdown, and Samuels may have averaged only 2.55 yards per carry, but Samuels’ seven catches are what make him a starting caliber RB this week against the Patriots. That, and the fact the Patriots have allowed the 6th most receiving yards to RBs this year. Samuels is comfortably in RB2 territory this week.
RB Derrick Henry (TEN) – It’s easy to say Derrick Henry won’t replicate his career day from last week. And he won’t. And who knows if the Titans will decide to continue to roll with Henry to even give him a chance to replicate last week. But if Henry has the type of talent pundits across the fantasy industry seem to think he does, he’ll take advantage of the Giants and their porous run defense. Over the last seven weeks, the Giants have allowed the 4th most fantasy points to opposing RBs, which coincides with the trade of DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison. Henry should be at least a FLEX this week, but he has RB2 upside.
WR Brandin Cooks (LAR) – Brandin Cooks, meet Philly’s practice squad. Philly’s practice squad, meet Brandin Cooks. The Eagles have allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs over the last five weeks. If this isn’t a slam dunk start, Sean McVay is getting a lot of angry letters on Monday. Or tweets. Or snaps. What are the kids sending these days?
WR Tyler Lockett (SEA) – Speaking of bad pass defenses, the 49ers have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing WRs the last five weeks. Lockett had only 1 catch the last meeting, but it was for 52 yards and a touchdown. Lockett has exactly five catches in four of his last games, and the one he didn’t was against these same 49ers. Lockett comes back with a fury this week.
WR Curtis Samuel (CAR) – Remember Devin Funchess? Me neither. The Panthers offense has become “The Parade of the Little People.” RB Christian McCaffrey and WRs D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel are all 6′ 0″ and shorter and are the top three targeted players on the Panthers since Week 7. He’s been WR19 over the last four weeks and faces a Saints secondary this week that has allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing WRs the last seven weeks. Samuel will see a lot of Eli Apple this week, and just remember– there was a reason the Giants traded him. Samuel should easily put up top 25 numbers this week and has top 15 upside.
TE Eric Ebron (IND) – My number one TE this week. Why you ask? His 13 TDs on the year are a start. But the Cowboys have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to TEs over the last seven weeks, and that includes double digit fantasy totals to Jonnu Smith of the Titans and to Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed of the Redskins — in the same game. Ebron should easily top 15 fantasy points this week and also has the most upside of all the TEs this week as a result.
TE Cameron Brate (TB) – The Ravens can stop your WRs. This will not bode well for Bucs WRs Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, and Chris Godwin. But they don’t cover TEs well, at least lately anyway. Over the last five weeks, TEs are averaging 18.75 fantasy points per game against the Ravens defense. Brate may have caught all of two passes last week, but they were both touchdowns. He’ll see more than two targets and have more than two catches this week.
Streaming defenses to consider this week include Seahawks D/ST, Giants D/ST, and Titans D/ST.
QB Aaron Rodgers (GB) – Rodgers had a nice bounce back last week, but his 24.24 fantasy points still weren’t good enough put him as a top 10 QB on the week. Yes, that’s how crazy deep this position is. To make matters worse, he’s facing a Bears defense that just held Rams QB Jared Goff to, get this, -0.30 fantasy points. I get it, Rodgers went off for 32.94 fantasy points in their first meeting, but the Bears aren’t the same team. And the Packers aren’t the same team. The Bears eat up QBs, allowing only 11.5 fantasy points per game over the last six weeks. Let’s pretend Rodgers does top 20 fantasy points. Just last week, 17 QBs topped 20 fantasy points. Rodgers is barely top 20 for me this week.
QB Jameis Winston (TB) – Winston and the Bucs offense has been humming, but the Ravens defense is a hum stopper. Humming squasher? You get the picture. They allow the 7th fewest fantasy points to QBs over the last five weeks, and they absolutely shut down WRs. Winston doesn’t have a lot of upside this week, so be sure to find a different option.
RB Adrian Peterson (WAS) – If you take out the 90-yard touchdown jaunt Peterson had against the Eagles, he has rushed for 59 yards over the last three games. On 30 carries. That’s 1.96 yards per carry. Maybe lanes will open up with a more mobile QB like John Johnson in the backfield, but I’m not exactly optimistic.
RB Aaron Jones (GB) – Da Bears. Aaron Jones plays Da Bears. Not enough? Fine. Unless you play for the Detroit Lions, your chances of running and running well against the Bears aren’t great. Seriously. The Lions, in two matchups against the Bears, have accounted for 80.3 fantasy points, 31.5% of the total fantasy points the Bears have allowed to RBs this year. Jones will get his, but I don’t think he puts up top 5 numbers like what we’ve been getting from him over the last five weeks.
RB James White (NE) – He’s been a dud as of late — averaging only 10 fantasy points a game over his last four games — and the Steelers have allowed the 3rd fewest receiving yards to running backs this year. Simple math, folks.
WR Mike Evans (TB) – The Ravens shut down WRs. Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith should have their own buddy cop show because they sure know how to shut down potential threats. Let me get to know them and I’ll have it on FOX’s desk in a month. But I digress. Evans has been erratic in his production this year, and Sunday looks like a potential valley. Sorry guys.
WR Kenny Golladay (DET) – BabyTron has looked like exactly that, a baby, over the last three weeks. Teams are taking him out of the picture and Stafford has nowhere to go with the football. You know what Buffalo knows how to do? Take away a team’s number one receiver. Tre’Davious White is really that good. Golladay is WR51 over the last three weeks, and those types of numbers are bound to continue another week.
WR Corey Davis (TEN) – This feels like one of those games where Davis is probably going to go off for like 15 plus points. Janoris Jenkins has his moments in coverage where he looks like the best corner in the league and moments where he looks like the worst. The Giants have allowed the 7th fewest fantasy points to WRs this year, and I think the Titans will run a lot this game to limit the upside of Davis.
TE Austin Hooper (ATL) – Only one TE this year has topped 14 fantasy points against the Cardinals, and that was in Week 1. Only five other times this year has a TE topped double digit fantasy points against them. The Falcons offense has been in shambles and rather one dimensional. I’m not expecting Hooper to have a 10 plus point game this week.
TE Trey Burton (CHI) – Burton hasn’t scored more than 4.8 fantasy points since Week 10. Matt Nagy has basically forgotten they’re paying Burton $8 million a year to run routes in his offense. The Packers have allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points to opposing TEs this year, and only three times have they allowed double-digit fantasy points to TEs. He only had 2.5 fantasy points against them in Week 1. Not a good week for Burton.