By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
With the news that Carson Wentz has been officially benched in favor of rookie QB Jalen Hurts, I felt the need to pen an open letter to Wentz.
It’s not much of a secret that I am an Eagles fan. I don’t try to hide it. We’re all fans of teams. That’s why we play fantasy football.
I try my hardest to keep any bias in check because fandom clouds our judgment. And when people rely on you for advice in helping them win, you owe it to them to be honest and transparent.
After watching Wentz carry the Eagles on his back to close out the 2019 season, throwing for over 4,000 yards and not having a single wide receiver top 500 yards (guys, TEs aren’t WRs, so stop with that narrative), it was clear he needed help.
Everyone knew the Eagles were drafting a WR. Hell, they were probably drafting two. Or three. Or spending every damn draft pick on a receiver. They owed it to Carson to try to help him.
In the 1st round, they selected TCU WR Jalen Reagor. You can argue until you’re blue in the face whether they should’ve drafted Justin Jefferson over Reagor, but let’s give it a couple of years and let Reagor make plays. Both are talented, and right now, Jefferson is just in a better system. It happens.
(I still don’t believe they tried hard enough to trade up to get CeeDee Lamb and keep him from Dallas, but I digress.)
In the 2nd round, with WR Denzel Mims still on the board, another weapon that Wentz could further develop with, the talk among executives was between drafting a safety (Jeremy Chinn) or a quarterback (Jalen Hurts). If the team had gone with Chinn, I wouldn’t have been mad. We needed a safety after losing Malcolm Jenkins. Help the defense. A good defense helps Wentz and the offense.
But Howie Roseman, the GM, decided that it was smarter to draft a QB in the 2nd round because they have a higher hit rate, versus waiting and drafting one in a later round.
Here’s my issue with that sentiment: YOU JUST SIGNED WENTZ TO A FOUR YEAR DEAL FOR $128 MILLION!!!
Yes, we needed to draft a QB. We had no real depth behind Wentz. But you committed to Wentz. You shouldn’t be looking to “hit” on a QB in the 2nd round. You HIT on your QB in the 1st round in 2016!
By paying Wentz, you came to the decision that you believed in him and his ability to stay healthy. He was healthy last year and he’s been healthy this year. Spending a 2nd round pick on a QB shows everyone that you don’t believe in Wentz — and yes, that includes Wentz — whether in his ability to stay healthy or to play at a high level.
Yes, Wentz has played like shit this year. He’s one of the only starting 22 for the Eagles that has actually played in every game this year; the offensive line has been decimated; TEs Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert have both missed extended time with injuries; Reagor missed time with an injury; and the corpse of Alshon Jeffery is being forced into the lineup, taking valuable snaps away from young, developing WRs like Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins.
Wentz carried the Eagles last year. This year, the adversity has just been too much. He’s human.
And this is how you reward him?
The Eagles and the city of Philadelphia don’t deserve you, Carson.
There is no scenario where you remaining in Philly is good for either party involved. I hope you get a fresh start in 2021, and I hope you deliver on the potential you displayed in 2017 when you should’ve won the MVP.
I will forever be grateful to you and will continue to be a fan.
You deserve better. And I hope you get it.
And with that, let’s get to my Week 14 picks. (I’m apologizing now for the lack of jokes. If you read my intro, you know I’m not in a great mood.) Last week was average, but I did talk up both the RB1 and WR1 on the week, so I’m taking that as a net positive.
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 Lamar Jackson (BAL) – Folks, we’ve reached peak 2020 — the Cleveland Browns will finish the year without a losing record! This will be a test, for sure, as most division games are. The Browns defense allows the 4th most passing touchdowns on the year. Lamar Jackson looked better throwing the ball on Tuesday night against a bad defense, even if it was only for a total of 105 yards. But touchdowns matter, and he threw for two of them. Jackson also gets back his top-end zone target, Mark Andrews, back from the COVID/IR list. After the Ravens rushed for almost 300 yards against Dallas, you have to think Cleveland will focus on stopping the run. Jackson will need to be on his A-game this week, and I think he will be.
QB Kirk Cousins (MIN) – Just when you think Kirk Cousins sucks and you’re ready to ride him off, he starts ballin’ out. Cousins has three touchdown passes in four of his last five games. The Bucs pass defense has been hit or miss this year, and they are tied for the 5th most touchdown passes allowed to QBs. The Vikings defense is pedestrian, at best, so we know Cousins is going to have to throw to keep up. He may have two or three interceptions, but continuing his streak of three touchdowns in a game is likely to happen.
RB David Montgomery (CHI) – David “Meh”gomery is the RB1 over the last two weeks. Not so “meh” anymore, huh?! That said, he’s had a couple of great matchups to help his cause, but if that’s the case, dial him up against Houston. The Texans have been torched by RBs this year, allowing the 2nd most fantasy points per game to RBs. You know how you keep Trubisky from turning the ball over? Take it out of his hands. Montgomery for the win this week.
RB Jonathan Taylor (IND) – Jonathan Taylor’s usage of late has favored him, which of course, instills confidence in fantasy managers. He torched Houston last week and gets the Raiders this week. The Raiders just gave up 19.7 fantasy points to Ty Johnson, the Jets’ 3rd string running back. If Taylor doesn’t have a great game this week, a lot of fantasy managers are going to be SCREAMING in Taylor’s direction. And knowing Fantasy Football Twitter, I feel like it won’t be all bunnies and rainbows.
RB Melvin Gordon (DEN) – Did anyone else notice how spry Melvin Gordon looked on Sunday? I swear every time I recommend Gordon, he flames out. Here’s hoping the streak ends Sunday because the Panthers have an abysmal run defense and Denver should want to take the ball out of Drew Lock’s hands. This feels like a no brainer top 24 play this week.
WR Tyler Boyd (CIN) – Looking at the matchups, every Bengals receiver should be on this list. The Cowboys defense is a dumpster fire. But I’m only going with Boyd because, honestly, I don’t trust Brandon Allen enough to make the whole receiving corps relevant. But Boyd caught a touchdown last week so why not again? This is the Andy Dalton Revenge Game, so Cincinnati will need to throw to keep up. Those underneath routes should be more popular than outside targets to Tee Higgins and/or A.J. Green.
WR Corey Davis (TEN) – Let’s run it back! Derrick Henry traditionally destroys the Jaguars, but I think there will be enough for Corey Davis to have a solid game, and potentially a touchdown. The Jags allow the 5th most fantasy points per game to WRs and Kirk Cousins just tossed three TDs against them. I won’t be shocked at all if we see every offensive player for Tennessee perform well this week, much like the Vikings offense last week.
WR CeeDee Lamb (DAL) – I mentioned the Andy Dalton Revenge Game, right? CeeDee Lamb has become Dalton’s favorite target of late, so it only makes sense to dial him up in this matchup. It also helps that Cincinnati is tied for 6th with the most touchdowns allowed to WRs on the year. Four of those touchdowns have come out of the slot, which happens to be where Lamb is running 93.3% of the time. Get him in your lineups!
TE Eric Ebron (PIT) – If you look up the definition of the word “drop” in the dictionary, a picture of Eric Ebron would be present. But hey, lucky for him, Vance McDonald sucks so Ebron will continue to see snaps and, because of the matchup, targets. The Bills SUCK at covering TEs, having allowed the most receptions to TEs on the season. Ebron should cross the 10-point margin with ease this week.
TE Dalton Schultz (DAL) – Staying with the Andy Dalton Revenge Game narrative, you have to add Dalton Schultz into this mix. Schultz has seen 15 targets from Dalton over the last three weeks and caught 13 of them. He’s also TE11 over those same three weeks. The Bengals have allowed the most receiving yards to TEs on the year and have given up 15 receptions to Evan Engram and Mike Gesicki the last two weeks combined. The Andy Dalton Schultz connection will be en fuego this weekend.
QB Derek Carr (LV) – Derek Carr has at least one interception in each of his last three games, very uncharacteristic for him. The Colts average an interception per game, so you’re already starting with -2 points (or -1, depending on your scoring). The Colts have allowed only four top-12 QB weeks on the year. How many does Carr have? Four. No, this isn’t a perfect storm where each hit five this week. Carr is average, the Colts are elite. You can find a better QB this week.
QB Cam Newton (NE) – Don’t let the 45-0 score last week fool you. Cam Newton is washed as a QB. I mean, 69 yards passing? (At least Gronk would be proud.) He has more than twice as many rushing touchdowns as passing touchdowns (11 to 5). While the Rams have allowed three rushing touchdowns to QBs, they’re tied for the fewest passing touchdowns allowed (14). Thursday games tend to be unpredictable, but I’m fine in thinking that Newton isn’t throwing a touchdown this week and unless you’re absolutely desperate in your playoff matchup, leave Newton on your bench.
RB David Johnson (HOU) – With how decimated the Texans’ WR room is, it’s surprising that David Johnson saw only two targets last week. But he did score his 4th rushing touchdown of the year. The Bears gave up two touchdowns to Adrian Peterson last week, and both were inside the 5-yard line. Johnson has only two touchdowns all season from inside the 5. Johnson will need to accumulate yards and receptions for a top 20 finish this week.
RB Raheem Mostert (SF) – The Football Team has allowed an RB 10+ points only seven times this year, and five of them were over the first five weeks of the season. Their run defense has been ELITE this season. Raheem Mostert has looked electric with the ball in his hands this year, but he wasn’t even the 49ers RB who played the most snaps last week. That honor belonged to Jeff Wilson Jr. It feels like Kyle Shanahan trusts Wilson more on passing downs, which limits Mostert’s ceiling. If you made it to the playoffs with Mostert in your IR, he’s a low-ceiling FLEX for me this week.
RB Myles Gaskin (MIA) – This feels like a game-script game. Kansas City is coming south, so who knows which Chiefs team shows up, but I can see a scenario where Myles Gaskin gets phased out and Miami has to play from behind. Gaskin’s receiving numbers have been respectable on the year, and in only two starts with Tua Tagovailoa as his QB, Gaskin has eight targets. His receiving line against the Rams, the only legit defense Gaskin has played with Tua? Three catches, 16 yards. Nothing special. Chiefs are middle of the road against RBs in both rushing yards allowed and receiving yards allowed, but they don’t allow many touchdowns — only 8 total on the year. Gaskin has only two on the year. If all we’re talking about is yards, Gaskin is a FLEX, at best, this week.
WR Marvin Jones Jr. (DET) – I am 1000% prepared for this choice to backfire. Marvin Jones has been a top 12 WR since Week 7 and the WR7 since Week 9. And while I expect Matthew Stafford to throw it a ton to keep up, I think Jones’ best shot is garbage time. He had 12 targets against the Texans and six against the Panthers and came away with only six and four receptions. Neither of those teams possess a Jaire Alexander. Alexander has allowed only 26 receptions on the year. If Jones pops, it’ll be in garbage time because defenses soften up and play a lot less man and press coverage. I’d feel more comfortable playing Jones in DFS versus the first round of the fantasy playoffs.
WR Jarvis Landry (CLE) – Jarvis Landry has looked a lot better the last couple of weeks, seeing 10+ targets in each game. But that was against the Jaguars and Titans, respectively. The Ravens aren’t them. They’ve kept opposing WRs in check for much of the year. Landry has had some good games against them in the last three years, but this is a different offense. They want to run. BAL wants to run. This will be an old school football game and I don’t love any WR in this game. You should have some better options this week.
WR Cole Beasley (BUF) – Beasley has been so consistent this year and has flown completely under the radar, given how great Diggs has been. But the Steelers’ pass D is good. And they’re solid, if unspectacular, covering the slot. They allow only 4.41 receptions/game out of the slot (per PFF), and Mike Hilton looked like a different defender Monday night against Washington. Joe Haden can be exposed on the outside and Diggs will eat him alive. This feels like one of his lower target weeks, something he’s had in three of his last five games.
TE Darren Waller (LV) – Darren Waller is the Raiders offense. Quality TEs have done well against IND, but none have been the featured piece of an opponent’s offense. The Colts will absolutely be tested, but so will Waller. I know I’m taking an L here as we look for players who won’t score 10 points at TE, but considering Waller put up 45 points last week, he can only go down from there. And look, it’s not like Waller can’t be stopped. Since Week 7, when he’s scored 10+ points, he’s followed it up with a single-digit outing. Numbers never lie.
TE Dallas Goedert (PHI) – It was more fun when you could trot out TEs against the Saints and instantly get a W. Not anymore. Since Week 5, only Jordan Reed of the 49ers has topped 10 points against them. With a rookie QB starting for Philadelphia, we have no idea how he’ll spread the ball around the offense. Carson Wentz relied on the TEs because he didn’t have trust in his WRs. We don’t know if Jalen Hurts will have a similar approach. What I do know is that I don’t want to start Dallas Goedert because of what he did with Wentz, knowing things could be completely different with Hurts. Easy fade for me this week.
Good luck in the Fantasy Football Playoffs! As always, remember to tip your bartenders, servers, take out specialists, and valets when you’re out and about. Times are tough and they live on tips. Please don’t assume they make good hourly wages. (They don’t.)