By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Look, I’m not going to say that contracting COVID led me to a 70% hit rate last week, but I’m also not not saying contracting COVID led me to a 70% hit rate last week.
And before any of you get any ideas, no, this is not an endorsement on contracting COVID. (Sadly, that needs to be said. I sincerely hope people that are reading this aren’t that unintelligent.)
So, in the spirit of last week and how well things worked out, I’m going to keep a similar theme. I’ll throw in some stats and info so you think I know a little bit about what I’m talking about, and I’ll include a dumb joke to offer up a side smirk or a genuine chuckle. Or make you cringe, who knows. Because honestly, stats can get really boring and I want to keep your interest, all while trying to help you out.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the three plus years I’ve written this column is that change is okay. Evolution is part of life. So let’s evolve this column.
This is going to be fun, folks. On to Week 8!
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 Teddy Bridgewater (CAR) – “Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until they open their mouths.”
Look, Atlanta can’t stop QBs. It’s like, a law, or something. They’ve allowed the most passing TDs on the year and Teddy Two Gloves threw for over 300 yards and 2 TDs against them earlier in the season. Do we really think they learned how to stop the Panthers offense? Hell, they can’t stop anyone. If you need a streamer this week, Teddy’s your bear.
QB Baker Mayfield (CLE) – “I always take life with a grain of salt. Plus, a slice of lime. And a shot of tequila.”
Losing OBJ for the season sucks. But it may be a blessing in disguise. I don’t know if you have noticed, but Mayfield seems to be at his best when he can progress through his reads and doesn’t have to force feed one player. He had great weapons at Oklahoma, but he spread the ball around and made everyone great. He did the same on Sunday and the Browns were better for it. You know what Las Vegas struggles with? Covering players. Any of them. If Mayfield can spread it around Sunday, expect everyone to have good games, from the RBs to the WRs to the TEs. Start them all.
RB Kareem Hunt (CLE) – “I don’t have a beer gut. I have a protective covering for my rock hard abs.”
Staying in the same game– the Raiders defense just blows. They rank 31st in Defensive DVOA, per Football Outsiders. They allow the 2nd most fantasy points per game to RBs. They gave up a combined 26.3 fantasy points to Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette last week. I bet if you threw a 5 at them, they’d give it up for that too. Kareem Hunt is taking what he wants on Sunday. And I’m guess it’ll be a lot of yards and a couple of touchdowns.
RB Todd Gurley (ATL) – “Money talks. But all mine ever says is goodbye.”
The Panthers, in 2019, allowed the most fantasy points per game to running backs. The Panthers, in 2020, have allowed… the 3rd most fantasy points per game to running backs. Basically, unless you’re Kenyan Drake or David Montgomery (so, an average running back), you’re going to run all over Carolina. Gurley burned them for 121 yards and a touchdown in Week 5, and the Falcons were losing much of that game. So basically, winning or losing, Gurley’s gonna get his run, and he’s going to score. (He averages one touchdown a game. You’ll need to know that for any prop bet on the matter.)
RB Jonathan Taylor (IND) – “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”
When Marlon Mack went down and we all proclaimed it was “Jonathan Taylor SZN,” I don’t think we had RB21 in PPG in mind. With the Colts coming off a bye, hopefully they figured out our boy needs some of that rhythm Gloria Estefan was singing about all those years ago. Facing Detroit should help — only Kenyan Drake and David Montgomery have failed to top 15 fantasy points against them, en route to allowing the 5th most fantasy points per game to RBs on the season. Oh, and they also allow 4.79 yards per carry. So yeah, fire up JT this week.
WR Brandon Aiyuk (SF) – “Life’s like a bird. It’s pretty cute until it poops on your head.”
Going forward, if I’m not writing about a wide receiver playing against the Seahawks, just assume Seattle is on a bye. Or that I was mauled by the neighbor’s dog. Seriously, the worst WR in the league could finish as a WR3 against this unit. Brandon Aiyuk is a bad man and just put up 115 yards against the Patriots. His usage as a runner only increases his floor. Oh, and Deebo Samuel is out with a hamstring injury. That should increase his floor too. I would be shocked if Aiyuk isn’t a top 12 WR this week.
WR Tyler Boyd (CIN) – “A computer once beat me at chess. But it was no match for me at kickboxing.”
My Tyler Boyd victory lap party takes place every Monday in the confines of my headspace. Like, I can’t believe people were fading this guy. He’s a stud, and he’s WR9 on the season (WR18 in PPG). All but 7 of his targets have come when he’s lined up in the slot. Tennessee’s top two corners in slot coverage snaps, Kristian Fulton and Chris Jackson, have allowed a passer passer rating of 129.2 and 115.6, respectively, when targeted. If you don’t think Boyd is having another WR2 day or better this week, I seriously don’t think I can help you.
WR Jarvis Landry (CLE) – “We have enough youth. How about a Fountain of Smart?”
I told you the Raiders defense sucks, right? I know Landry has been hobbled a bit and the hip may still be healing, but I doubt it matters this week. Rashard Higgins is the hot name because of what he did in relief of OBJ last week, but let’s not forget about Landry like we did in fantasy drafts this summer. This is your chance to get some return on that draft pick. And some insane value it will be.
TE Jonnu Smith (TEN) – “A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.”
Feels like a painfully obvious starting option, but just in case you needed a reminder after a down week (TE42 last week), Jonnu gets a Bengals defense that has allowed over 30 fantasy point to TEs in back-to-back week. And no, that’s not a typo. Trey Burton and rookie Harrison Bryant both topped 20 fantasy points. Jonnu could (and probably should) be the TE1 this week.
TE Jimmy Graham (CHI) – “My first experience with culture shock? Probably when I peed on an electric fence.”
I was once told that the three things in life you can count on are death, taxes, and that you should start your TEs against the Saints. The only TE to not top 10 points on them was Ian Thomas, and that’s just because the Panthers think TEs are carrying the plague and refuse to involve them in the game plan. So, with that, I present to you, the resurrected corpse of Jimmy Graham. He’s 2nd on the team in targets and leads the team in receiving TDs. Three of his four TDs have come inside the 5, tied for the most among TEs. The Saints have allowed at least one TD within 10 yards of the end zone to a TE each week (not counting Ian Thomas because, well, you get it). Start your TEs against the Saints.
QB Lamar Jackson (BAL) – “Money can’t buy you happiness? Well, check this out, I bought myself a Happy Meal!”
I, like many of you, love Lamar Jackson. But for us to expect exactly what he did last year was irresponsible. He was going to come back to earth. And he has. He has only 12 total TDs on the year (2 per game), and that’s the biggest reason he’s QB11 in PPG. (He averaged almost 3 TDs a game in 2019.) Last year, in his lone game against the Steelers, he had only one touchdown and three turnovers. Jackson has three turnovers in his last four games. Lower your expectations this week.
QB Drew Brees (NO) – “The easiest time to add insult to injury is when you’re signing somebody’s cast.”
Did you know that in only eight fewer games in outdoor stadiums (as opposed to playing in domes), Drew Brees has 104 fewer touchdown passes? That’s a drastic difference when playing outdoors, as Brees will be doing this week against the Bears. In two road games this year, Brees has an interception in each game. The Bears only have five interceptions on the season, but allow the 2nd fewest fantasy points to QBs. Brees will also likely be without his top two receivers against this week (Michael Thomas & Emmanuel Sanders) so that won’t help his cause.
RB Justin Jackson (LAC) – “The problem isn’t that obesity runs in your family. The problem is no one runs in your family.”
Oof, Jackson stumbled in a great matchup against the Jaguars, so naturally, he’ll go off this week against a tougher run defense. Because those are the laws of Fantasy Football in 2020. Look, on the off chance I’m right and Jackson succumbs to the matchup, the Broncos have allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points to RBs this season and are tied for the 7th fewest receptions allowed to RBs. Just let Justin Herbert sling it and the Chargers will be fine.
RB Carlos Hyde (SEA) – “You don’t need a parachute to go skydiving. You need a parachute to go skydiving twice.”
Carlos Hyde had one good run last week. One. With Chris Carson likely out this week and Travis Homer banged up as well, Hyde should be the de facto starter (with a splash of Deejay Dallas mixed in). That doesn’t mean you want to rush him into your lineup. Hyde is also dealing with an injury of his own — a tight hamstring — which doesn’t instill a ton of confidence. The 49ers defense has been ravaged by injuries, and yet, they still continue to shut down RBs. They’re allowing 3.59 yards per carry and allowed only two rushing TDs to RBs this year. I’m not expecting Hyde to glide this week.
RB D’Andre Swift (DET) – “Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.”
The last two weeks have been great. Swift has made us feel better about touting him in the offseason, but Matt Patricia and the Lions continue to trot out Adrian Peterson too much, capping Swift’s upside. That upside is harder to come by without a full workload against a tough run defense like Indianapolis. Maybe Swift gets enough passing game work to keep a floor as a FLEX this week, as he has nine targets the last two weeks, but he hasn’t played more than 50% of the offensive snaps in any game this season. Upside capped.
WR DeVante Parker (MIA) – “Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”
Coming off a bye week with a new QB at the helm is enough cause for pause. Coming off a bye week with a new QB against one of the toughest pass defenses in the league — yikes. Parker had a week to rest up after dealing with a groin issue, so that’s a plus. But man, Jalen Ramsey has been as advertised this year, and I don’t see why he wouldn’t shadow Parker. Parker is a dart throw FLEX this week, and I think that’s even being generous.
WR Mike Williams (LAC) – “I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not sure.”
In what should’ve been a smash matchup for Williams last week, he had all of one catch. “Perfectly splendid,” amirite? You know what else sucks? With Justin Herbert at QB, Williams has an 8.7% target share. You would think with Herbert’s big arm and affinity for throwing deep — he’s 4th in deep passing yards since becoming a starter in Week 2 — Williams’ ability on 50/50 balls would be utilized more. If they want to get on the same pace this week, it won’t get any easier this week against a Broncos secondary that’s allowed the 4th fewest fantasy points per game to WRs since Week 4.
WR Jamison Crowder (NYJ) – “Women should not have children after 35. Really, 35 children are enough.”
We know that Crowder is the focal point of the Jets offense. When he plays, he absolutely dominates the target share. He averages 11.5 targets per game and last week, his replacement, Braxton Berrios, had over a 30% target share running from the slot. If Crowder plays — groin injuries can be tricky — it’s a tough matchup this week at Kansas City. Their defense and special teams accounted for two scores last week. With how bad the Jets have been on offense this year, expect more of the same. They’ve allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points per game to WRs on the year so even if Crowder plays and sees a ton of targets, I’m not expecting big things with them.
TE Mark Andrews (BAL) – “Change is inevitable—except from a vending machine.”
Andrews had 9.5 fantasy points in Week 5 against Pittsburgh. Solid, but unspectacular. This year, the Steelers are allowing 9.1 fantasy points per game to TEs. Also this year, Andrews is averaging 12.4 fantasy points per game. Andrews has three games this year as a TE1, and three games under 5.5 fantasy points scored. So half the time, he sucks. That’s kind of where I’m going with this. I mean, Andrews didn’t do anything against Philly and as I’ve been told, Philly can’t cover TEs…
TE T.J. Hockenson (DET) – “When tempted to fight fire with fire, always remember… The fire department usually uses water.”
The Colts have swallowed up TEs the way Joey Chestnut gobbles down hot dogs on the 4th of July. Granted, they haven’t played many great ones, but neither Jimmy Graham nor Austin Hooper exceeded 11 fantasy points. Hockenson has only two games this year under 10 fantasy points and has scored four touchdowns. You know how many touchdowns the Colts have allowed to TEs this year? Zero. None. Nada. Bagel. I wouldn’t bank on Hockenson adding a schmear to the bagel.
Thanks for reading. Good luck in Week 8 and check back next week for more dumb jokes, and hopefully some good lineup decisions. Remember, tip your servers, and get out and VOTE! (Sorry. But seriously, go vote.)