By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
This is what I get.
I got so excited that I hit on 70% of my picks in Week 7, I made sure EVERYONE knew.
Then I made my picks heading into Week 8 with the utmost confidence and nothing was knocking me off my pedestal.
Mother Nature: Hold my beer.
The easiest offensive game to predict in Week 8 (Raiders at Browns) produced all of 22 points. The Bills, playing with near 50 MPH winds, managed only 57 offensive plays — 38 rushing attempts — and Stefon Diggs still saw half of Josh Allen’s pass attempts. Jonathan Taylor had a smash matchup against the Lions, so Frank Reich decided to give 20 carries to 3rd string RB Jordan Wilkins.
I could go on, but you get the point.
I’ve always prided myself on my humility and my self-deprecating sense of humor. Bragging about the things I do right– yeah, not a good look. I pride myself on accountability, and damn it, I’m holding myself accountable.
And this week, that’s easy to do since I only hit on 40% of my picks last week. That tells me that if you’re reading this column, it’s probably for the dumb jokes and less about the quality of my picks.
This week, I’m thinking we go with a tree theme for the jokes because I need to get back to my roots.
Yes, that’s the quality of content you can expect as we head into Week 9. Let’s get to it!
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 Josh Allen (BUF) – What do you call the world’s sleepiest tree? Mesnoozelah!
Not only have the Seahawks given up the second most passing yards in the league, they have also given up a league-high four rushing touchdowns to QBs. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but Josh Allen is pretty good as a rusher. He is currently fourth in the league among QBs with four rushing touchdowns. Pretty sure he’ll be finding Stefon Diggs often and rushing one (or two) into the end zone himself.
QB Matthew Stafford (DET) – Why do trees hate riddles? Because it’s too easy to get stumped!
This pick is worrisome, as Stafford was placed on the Reserve/COVID list on Wednesday with a “close contact” designation. If he has a negative test on Saturday though, he should be good to go for Sunday. And what a matchup it is. Stafford just threw three TDs against the league’s stingiest pass defense and now faces a Vikings secondary that has allowed the third most passing touchdowns to date. If you needed more motivation to roll with Stafford, the Vikings have allowed the most fantasy points per game to QBs since Week 5. COVID can’t keep this man down!
RB Dalvin Cook (MIN) – Why did the tree get stumped? It couldn’t get to the root of the problem!
Look, after a bad week of picking players, I wanted a win. So sue me. We know that Cook went off last week (over 200 yards and 4 TDs) and while I don’t think he’ll do exactly that again this week, he can easily have another big game against Detroit. The Lions have allowed five RBs to exceed 20 fantasy points over their last four games. Let that marinate for a second. That means in at least one game, they allowed more than one running back to top 20 points. Fun fact: they allowed two 20-point performances in two games. Cook is preparing a feast for Sunday. Grab a plate, everybody!
RB James Conner (PIT) – What’s a tree’s favorite drink? Root beer!
It brings me nothing but joy to see the Cowboys struggle. They’re awful and I love it. Their defense has given up the most rushing yards to RBs this year. With this information, how can you not love James Conner this week? He’s RB12 on the season, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, and is only 14th in total touches among RBs (just over 18 per game). He also has a rushing TD in five of his last six games. Dem ‘Boys have allowed eight rushing TDs on the year, tied for fourth most in the league. Yeah, Conner is going off this week.
RB Zack Moss (BUF) – What did the tree do when the bank closed? It opened it’s own branch!
Zack Moss was it last week. It was a thing of beauty. Granted, it was against the Jets, but we all have to start somewhere. The Seahawks are more easily beat through the air, but over the last four weeks, they’ve struggled stopping the run as well, allowing the second most fantasy points per game to RBs. Moss is in what feels like a 50/50 split with Devin Singletary, but if last week is any indication, Moss will get the ever-so-valuable goal line work, increasing his touchdown upside. Moss has RB2 upside this week, with a FLEX-worthy floor.
WR Allen Robinson (CHI) – Why do Christmas trees have trouble sewing? They can’t stop dropping their needles!
Allen Robinson has scored 10 or more PPR points in seven of eight games this year. He’s WR9 on the season, and it’s hard to find a more consistent WR in Fantasy. So sure, maybe this is an obvious play, but with Nick Foles being arguably the most inconsistent starting QB currently, this needs to be brought up. The Titans have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points per game to WRs since Week 5, and Malcolm Butler isn’t as good in coverage as Mike Vrabel thinks he is. Dial up Robinson without hesitation this week.
WR Tyler Lockett (SEA) – What happens to trees on Valentine’s Day? They get sappy!
Another obvious name, but after a stinker last week that saw D.K. Metcalf dominate, you may be nervous about Lockett. Don’t be. I’ve mentioned in this column previously that the Bills are terrible at covering the slot. Lockett has run the 12th most routes from the slot this year, and has the 11th most receiving yards. We know Tre’Davious White will be following Metcalf, which will leave Lockett on Taron Johnson (league-high 392 yards allowed from the slot) and Josh Norman (T-26th in coverage snaps per reception allowed). Fire up Lockett with confidence this week.
WR Antonio Brown (TB) – Which Canadian city is a tree’s favorite? Montreeal!
He’s baaaaaaaack. Antonio Brown is set to make his 2020 debut on Sunday night as the Bucs welcome the Saints to Tampa. Remember Brown’s first (and only) game in 2019? Tom Brady force-fed him the football early. With Chris Godwin out with a finger injury, don’t be surprised to see Brady look to Brown to get him involved early as they try to set the tone against the Saints. If you’re not buying into that level of speculation, buy into this — the Saints have allowed the most fantasy points per game to WRs over the last four weeks. With the amount of injuries and COVID cases, you may be desperate and have to start Brown. You have my stamp of approval on that decision.
TE Noah Fant (DEN) – What was wrong with the tree’s car? It wooden go!
Remember when we thought the Saints were the absolute worst at covering TEs? That title now belongs to the Falcons, who currently allow 18.9 fantasy points per game to the position. I’m not saying Noah Fant is dropping a 20-burger on them come Sunday, but if he’s not a top 7 TE by the end of the weekend, I would be shocked. They’ve allowed the most receptions and most TDs to TEs, and Fant leads the Broncos in both (while missing a game). Death, taxes, and start Fant against the Falcons.
TE Jordan Akins (HOU) – Would you ever try the acorn diet? No way! It sounds nuts!
I try to leave the streaming suggestions up to my man Ryan Weisse, but I’m going to make a suggestion of my own on the subject. Akins has been dealing with some injuries of late, but he’s been practicing this week and looks to be a go come Sunday against the Jaguars. Akins only has one touchdown on the year, but in the games he’s played, has outsnapped Darren Fells (despite Fells scoring three TDs). The Jaguars happen to allow the second most touchdowns to TEs so I wouldn’t put it past Akins to hit pay dirt, even if he only has 2-4 receptions.
QB Kyler Murray (ARI) – How does a tree get on the internet? They log on!
This is a very dangerous pick, as Murray is one of only two QBs this year to have a top 12 finish in every week (in 6 points per passing TD scoring). But since Week 3, the Dolphins have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to QBs, tied for the fewest passing touchdowns allowed, and have allowed only 27 rushing yards to QBs over that time. Murray leads all QBs in rushing, so you see my conundrum. But scared money don’t make money! I’m just saying this week won’t be easy for Murray and his managers.
QB Ryan Tannehill (TEN) – What’s a tree’s favorite subject in school? Geometree!
Tannehill has been pretty average of late, scoring less than 20 fantasy points in back-to-back weeks. The Bears allow less than 16 fantasy points per game to QBs (when you take out Taysom Hill’s stats because he’s not a real QB) and are tied with the Dolphins for the fewest passing touchdowns allowed on the season. If I had to guess, this is probably a Derrick Henry week, so expecting a bounce back for Tannehill seems unlikely.
RB Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) – Why are trees the best networkers? They’re constantly branching out!
We know the Cowboys are bad. Their defense is bad, and their offense is about to start their fourth QB so far this year. Normally, I’d be all over starting Zeke because he’s going to be fed to help out a young, inexperienced QB. But going against Pittsburgh this week — yeah, not loving that matchup. They did just allow their first 100-yard rusher of the season last week, but their run defense is arguably the best in the league and with the state of the Dallas offensive line, why would they not put 8, 9, 10, or even all 11 defenders in the box and make the QB beat you? I’m fading Zeke hard this week.
RB Melvin Gordon (DEN) – Why don’t you ever see hippos hiding in trees? Because they’re really good at it!
The Falcons run defense has been reformed. From Weeks 1-5, they allowed the most fantasy points per game to RBs. By a lot — 6.2 points more than the next closest team. But over the last four weeks (and yes, I’ll include Week 5 in this), they have allowed the 3rd fewest FPPG to RBs. Melvin Gordon couldn’t get things going last week in what should’ve been a Revenge Game special, but Phillip Lindsay stole the spotlight. Well, now Lindsay is dealing with a toe injury so it’s back to Gordon. We sure he’s up for the task? I’d find a way to pivot this week.
RB Devonta Freeman (NYG) – What did the tree say to the bully? Leaf me alone!
Freeman didn’t practice Wednesday after missing Monday’s game against the Bucs, so there’s a chance he doesn’t play this week. If Freeman misses, I’ll gladly pivot to Wayne Gallman and count it in the W/L column instead of Tie for being ruled out before game time. Washington has been a stout run defense all year and they’ve allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points per game to RBs the last four weeks. On the season, they’ve allowed the 2nd fewest receptions to RBs, which drastically lowers Freeman’s/Gallman’s value in PPR leagues as well. This is more of a desperation FLEX play, but I’m not thrilled if I have to start either of them.
WR A.J. Brown (TEN) – What type of tree likes to give high fives? A palm tree!
I don’t really love doubting A.J. Brown. He’s so dynamic and can turn nothing into something in the snap of a finger. But I’m pretty sure the Bears are going to stick Kendall Fuller on Brown, and that should absolutely worry those who are planning to start Brown. Fuller allows a league-low 9.3 passer rating when targeted this year. 9.3! That’s elite. Rookie Jaylon Johnson on the opposite side allows a passer rating of 95.4, for context. If you’re forced to start a Titans WR this week, I’d bet on Corey Davis having the better game.
WR D.J. Moore (CAR) – What did the single tree say to the bush? I don’t want no shrub! A shrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me.
The most fantasy points the Chiefs have allowed to a WR this year was in Week 5 to Henry Ruggs (19.8). And he did that on two catches. KC has allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points per game to WRs on the year, and the 9th fewest since Week 5. D.J. Moore has been consistently inconsistent on the year, but is still capable of big plays, something we’ve seen Kansas City give up. I wouldn’t bank on a big game for Moore, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if we get one.
WR Darius Slayton (NYG) – How do you know when a tree has had too much root beer? He won’t stop texting his ax!
If you’re into numerical trends, this is probably the week that Slayton tops 20 fantasy points. He exceeded that threshold in Weeks 1 and 5, so naturally, Week 9 is where it’s at. But that’s just nonsense, right? I mean, all the numbers and stats tell us that Washington shuts down WRs, allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to the position on the season. Only DeAndre Hopkins has hit the 20 fantasy point plateau against them, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Slayton isn’t Hopkins.
TE Mike Gesicki (MIA) – How can you identify a dogwood tree? By its bark!
Budda Baker. That’s the reason. The Dolphins likely traded Isaiah Ford to open up more slot snaps for Gesicki, but Baker has been a driving force in bottling up TEs this year. Considering the Cardinals allowed by far the most fantasy points to TEs in 2019, they’ve allowed only Lions TE Jesse James 10+ fantasy points. That’s it. With Tua Tagovailoa still getting comfortable as the starter, I’m not expecting a heavy passing game script. Gesicki is outside the top 15 for me this week.
TE Robert Tonyan (GB) – What’s a tree’s favorite radio station? One that plays poplar songs!
With all the injuries and COVID cases causing key 49ers to miss this game, this game could get out of hand in a hurry. Tonyan surprised me last week with a top 10 finish, but Davante Adams was still Rodgers’ main man. With no Jamaal Williams and (likely) Aaron Jones, Adams will once again be the focal point of the offense. Add in the expected return of Allen Lazard, and Tonyan falls down the pecking order. The 49ers have allowed the 6th fewest fantasy points per game to TEs on the year, and only Mike Gesicki has exceeded 10 points against them. Tonyan is a fade for me this week as a result.
Good luck in Week 9, everyone! Remember to tip your servers and be kind to everyone, even if they don’t share the same political views as you.