By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
So, um — sorry?
Wow, what a shit show Week 2 was. I’m actually ashamed of my record for this past week. Like, it was brutal. Not only that, there were injuries galore that absolutely ravaged the NFL. On both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Did your fantasy teams come out unscathed?
With two weeks in the books, you’d think it would be easy to compile data to make more accurate predictions, right? All these injuries say otherwise. The Bills shut down tight ends, right? Mike Gesicki went off for a career day. Michael Thomas gets hurt and everyone assumes Emmanuel Sanders becomes the team’s number one, right? Nope. Next in line is Tre’Quan Smith while Sanders stays as the team’s Z receiver.
Sounds logical, right? Wrong.
All told, we know nothing. I know I clearly don’t. But it’s not going to stop me from trying to keep helping. Just know, you’re likely to have better luck going against my advice, so consider yourself warned.
If you read this column last week or in the preseason, you have a good idea as to what my Confidence Plays represent. It’s essentially a start/sit column featuring players I think will boom (play) versus those I think will bust (fade). I try to focus on some middle-of-the-road and streaming options, as you’re likely playing your top guys regardless of the matchup, but some of those top guys may land on the Fade side. (Some matchups suck — what do you want me to do?) Don’t interpret this as “I have to sit Patrick Mahomes to play Derek Carr because Carr is a Play this week.” Don’t be that fantasy player. But maybe put some of them in your DFS lineups to maximize upside or play them as your RB2 or WR2 or in your FLEX. Or, you know, stream them.
QB Gardner Minshew (JAX) – Are you on the Minshew Mania hype train yet? He has two straight top 12 finishes to start the year. So far this year, I’ve tapped the QB facing the Dolphins as a Play each week and each time they finished as a top 12 QB — Cam Newton in Week 1 was QB12 and Josh Allen in Week 2 was QB2. Both have the ability to scramble and compile points on the ground. Minshew is a scrambler with 19 yards rushing in each week this year, and he was on pace to top 400 rushing yards a year ago over a full 16 game season. And in case he doesn’t want to run, he has three touchdown passes in each game this year. The Dolphins gave up four last week to Josh Allen and it’s a short week. Mustaches over beards this week.
QB Carson Wentz (PHI) – If not now, when? Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense has looked abysmal through two weeks. Cincinnati served as a “get right” game for Baker Mayfield last week so here’s hoping they serve the same purpose for Wentz. Cincy hasn’t allowed a ton of yards, but no one expected Tyrod Taylor to throw for 300 yards and the Browns offense wants to run so Mayfield just needed to not turn the ball over. Wentz has been an MVP candidate and we know he can sling it, topping 4,000 yards a year ago. If not now, when?
RB Miles Sanders (PHI) – Sticking in Philadelphia, Doug Pederson made all of the “Pederson runs a RBBC” fantasy pundits eat their words in Week 2 as Sanders saw 77.5% of the running back snaps. The Bengals have allowed the most rushing yards to running backs through two weeks and the 2nd most rushing touchdowns. Pederson will run the ball and even if Sanders’ snaps decrease to the 60% range, he’ll be on the field enough to put up top 12 numbers.
RBs Austin Ekeler/Joshua Kelley (LAC) – Austin Ekeler’s PPR output hasn’t been as expected — only 5 targets through two weeks — but the Chargers offense looked a lot better with Justin Herbert under center. Herbert will get the start this week with Taylor dealing with a collapsed lung, but it wouldn’t have mattered against the Panthers. Ekeler averages over 5 yards per carry and is tied for the 6th most carries through two weeks. And Joshua Kelley has the same number of carries as Ekeler. Carolina has been abysmal against the run going back to last year — 6th most rushing yards to RBs to date — and have allowed the most receptions to RBs through two weeks. This is a “get right” game for Ekeler in his return to RB1 status and a solid RB2 week for Kelley.
RB Kenyan Drake (ARI) – Kenyan Drake is seeing plenty of touches — tied with Austin Ekeler for 8th in the league through two weeks — but that big game just hasn’t been there yet. The Lions are currently allowing 6.92 yards per carry this season and Drake averaged 5.2 yards per carry with the Cardinals last season. Drake’s passing game usage shows that a big receiving game is likely on the horizon as well. He’s tied for 7th among RBs in routes run and last week, Aaron Jones went 4 for 68 receiving against Detroit. Drake has massive upside this week.
WR Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE) – In six career games against Washington, OBJ has over 100 yards in four of them. The passing volume in Cleveland leaves much to be desired, but through two weeks, Beckham’s target share sits at 25.8%. So when the Browns decide to throw, they’re looking his way. The Football Team’s run defense has been stout to begin the season, so Mayfield may have to throw quite a bit in this matchup. That clearly bodes well for OBJ.
WR CeeDee Lamb (DAL) – So, um, you can throw on Seattle, yes? The Seahawks have allowed more than 200 receiving yards more than the next closest team. Atlanta’s starting trio of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage combined for 27 receptions in Week 1. The starting trio of Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and Damiere Byrd combined for 22 receptions in Week 2. The Seahawks have also allowed 27 receptions to receivers in the slot through two weeks. CeeDee Lamb is running out of the slot on 91.4% of his snaps. Don’t be surprised when Lamb is once again the Cowboys leading receiver in Week 3.
WR Corey Davis (TEN) – Didn’t you know it was Corey Davis SZN? He has either 100 yards or a touchdown in back-to-back weeks and A.J. Brown is still uncertain for Sunday’s game at Minnesota. Have the Titans suddenly morphed into a team that wants to throw the ball more than run it? It’s a pretty even split at the moment, but with the Titans averaging only 3.7 yards per attempt, the need to throw has been evident. We’ve seen how bad the Vikings secondary can be (I’m giving the Colts a mulligan after the Parris Campbell’s injury last week) but their run defense hasn’t been great either. I think Davis has a 10 point floor this week and I’d move that higher if Brown misses another game.
TE Mike Gesicki (MIA) – Woof. I missed this one last week. Big time. I won’t make that mistake again. Well, at least not immediately the next week. Gesicki is running almost 80% of his snaps from the slot. 80%!. That’s absurdly high. And you know what the Jaguars don’t do well? Cover the slot. The Colts had 11 receptions from the slot in Week 1 and the Titans had nine in Week 2, including six by tight ends. I’m not saying Gesicki will get his 2nd career 100-yard game, but I’m not saying it can’t happen on Thursday night.
TE T.J. Hockenson (DET) – Remember last year, in Week 1, when T.J. Hockenson went off in his debut to the tune of 9 targets for 6 catches, 131 yards, and a touchdown? Well, he’s back facing those same Cardinals this week! Hockenson has been more consistent this year, with nine catches through two weeks. We know how bad the Cardinals were at covering TEs last year. They only stopped George Kittle Week 1 because he got hurt and Logan Thomas last week — well, we’ll just blame Dwayne Haskins. Matthew Stafford and the Lions will have to throw to keep pace with the Cardinals offense and Hockenson leads the team in receptions.
QB Deshaun Watson (HOU) – So that Steelers secondary — pretty solid right? They handled Daniel Jones in Week 1 and were thrown a curveball by Jeff Driskel in Week 2, but they shut down Drew Lock (and hurt him, no less). Watson’s offensive line has been the 8th worst in pass blocking to begin the season, per PFF’s grading, and Pittsburgh is 2nd in the league in sacks (10). Will Fuller hurt his hamstring last week (shocker), Duke Johnson is out, and Brandin Cooks is still gutting out a calf injury. I’m not overly optimistic about Watson in this matchup.
QB Baker Mayfield (CLE) – I may like OBJ this week, but Washington has gotten after the QB and forced turnovers, which doesn’t bode well for Mayfield’s overall success. Washington leads the league in sacks (11) and is tied for the 2nd most interceptions (3). So why have they allowed the 5th most fantasy points to QBs through two weeks? They’ve allowed two rushing scores, both to Kyler Murray last week. Mayfield averages less than 9 rushing yards a game over this career, so don’t overthink this.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) – After a big Week One, CEH came back to earth last week against the Chargers. The good news? He saw some receiving work! That should keep his floor higher than most heading into Monday night’s game against Baltimore. The Ravens were stalwarts against the run last year (6th fewest fantasy points to RBs) and have allowed the fewest fantasy points to RBs so far in 2019. I wouldn’t be surprised to see CEH with less than 12 carries in this matchup, lowering his potential output.
RB Joe Mixon (CIN) – I don’t know what the hell Cincinnati is trying to do with Joe Mixon. I really don’t. They keep giving him 20 touches, but for a guy that knows how to catch the ball and is effective as a receiver, they take him off the field in two-minute situations and on obvious passing downs. But hey, let’s run him on 1st and 2nd down with a crappy offensive line. If that’s plan this Sunday, good luck. The Eagles defense allows less than four yards per carry to RBs this year. The only place their run defense is susceptible is inside the five, where they’ve allowed three short rushing touchdowns in two games. But we saw Mixon inside the five last week, right? Yikes.
RB David Johnson (HOU) – If we go by what Pittsburgh has allowed on average over the first two games of the year, David Johnson should approach 100 total yards on Sunday. But really, it’s been one or the other for the Steelers. Saquon Barkley beat them through the air, Melvin Gordon beat them on the ground (and added a receiving score). The positive is that Johnson isn’t leaving the field much, if at all. He played 94.9% of the team’s snaps in Week 2 with Duke Johnson out. So worse case, you have a volume FLEX play and I look dumb. (Sadly, there’s been a lot of that this year.)
WR Marvin Jones Jr. (DET) – For a guy that averages over 15 yards per reception in his career with the Lions, Marvin Jones is off to a dismal start. He’s currently averaging less than 10 yards per catch, despite being tied for the team lead in targets. Would you have guessed that through two weeks, the Cardinals have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers? With Kenny Golladay potentially returning, I still don’t see Jones as a primary target when 45% of the team’s receptions have been to the running backs and tight ends.
WR Jerry Jeudy (DEN) – So Courtland Sutton is out for the season. You’re up, rookie. Oh, and your starting quarterback is out too so you get to catch passes from the backup. Jeudy was actually third among Denver wideouts in snaps, but tied for the team lead in targets with fellow rookie K.J. Hamler. Hamler was projected as a slot receiver coming out, but Jeudy has dominated snaps from the slot through two weeks. Will they move Jeudy outside? That’s a change and could stunt development. Regardless, backups tend to build rapports with other backups. Hamler could be leaned on more than Jeudy because of familiarity. Oh, and Tampa Bay’s Carlton Davis is really good, so there’s that.
WR Allen Lazard (GB) – As of this writing, Davante Adams is “uncertain” for Week 3 with a hamstring injury. Well, that would make Allen Lazard the Packers’ number one receiver. We confident in that against a Saints secondary that can stop everyone except Darren Waller? Lazard lines up in the slot quite a bit, so if they can use him like a big TE — he is 6’5″ after all — maybe there’s hope. But the Saints have allowed one player to catch more than two balls when lined up in the slot, and that’s Chris Godwin. Yeah, the Lazard King isn’t Godwin.
TE Hunter Henry (LAC) – Funny thing about the Panthers. You can run, run, run all over them. Like all over them. But they shut down TEs. They allowed only 3.5 receptions to TEs last year and are at eight total through two games. Last week with Justin Herbert at QB, Hunter Henry saw the second most targets on the team so I expect him to see targets, but I’m not convinced they’ll be productive targets.
TE Jordan Reed (SF) – A great return for Jordan Reed last week, scoring two touchdowns last week filling in for the injured George Kittle. The Giants have done well shutting down opposing TEs through two weeks, shutting down Eric Ebron and Jimmy Graham. With the injuries the 49ers have suffered, Reed may be the team’s only option in the passing game, so this call could (and probably will) backfire. But I’m sticking to my guns. Reed isn’t scoring two TDs again this week. (Okay, maybe one with my luck.)