By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
You’re now two wins away from a championship.
You nervous yet?
I’m not going to suck you into any type of intro this week. Let’s just get to the nitty-gritty. You want to know who’s going to help you win this week, right?
So here are your Week 15 picks.
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 Baker Mayfield (CLE) – at NYG.
I imagine that Mayfield will wake up on Sunday morning feeling dangerous. He was AWESOME on Monday night. Lamar Jackson was just awesome-er. The Giants defense has played well this year and has slowed QBs down — 5th fewest fantasy points allowed to QBs this year — but none of that matters. Mayfield and the Browns are on a mission and they can win the division. Pittsburgh is mortal. Bet on Baker this week.
QB Jared Goff (LAR) – vs NYJ.
I’m just going to sum this up with one of my all-time favorite movie quotes — it’s “the god damn Jets.” I will never not love Big Daddy for that line alone. This has all the makings of a run-heavy game plan for Sean McVay and the Rams, but they’re going to have to pass it at some point. Goff probably won’t throw for more than 160 yards. But he’s very likely to have 3+ touchdowns. He’s very stream-worthy this week.
RB Jonathan Taylor (IND) – vs HOU.
We told you in the middle of the season that Jonathan Taylor had arguably the friendliest end-of-season schedule among fantasy running backs. Over the last two weeks, Taylor is your RB1 in PPR scoring. Houston is abysmal at stopping the run. Keep trotting out Taylor and go win you a fantasy football championship!
RB Cam Akers (LAR) – vs NYJ.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a running back top 30 carries in a single game. Akers’ snap counts have been trending up of late and it was great seeing him finally get the workload he should’ve had all season. As I mentioned above — it’s “the god damn Jets.” Fire up Akers with confidence this week.
RB Gus Edwards (BAL) – vs JAX.
Mark Ingram played two snaps last week. Two. Baltimore knows who has the fresher legs. It’s J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Dobbins saw more snaps last week, but Edwards had two touchdowns on seven carries. It’s not easy banking on efficiency, but with three WRs landing on COVID/IR this week, you have to think Baltimore will be more run-centric, and that favors an uptick in snaps and opportunity for Edwards to be a high upside FLEX this week.
WR Chris Godwin (TB) – at ATL.
You know who doesn’t play well in Atlanta? Mike Evans. Evans hasn’t scored a touchdown in Atlanta since 2016. Godwin, in his last two games IN Atlanta, has three touchdowns. Given his draft capital, Godwin has been a huge let down this year, with only 34 targets since Week 9. It’s a good thing the Falcons are so bad against wide receivers, right? This is the bounce-back week you need from Godwin.
WR T.Y. Hilton (IND) – vs HOU.
Death, taxes, and start Hilton against HOU. Do you really need more explanation? Fine. Since Week 12, Hilton is WR3, averaging 22.9 points per game, and has four touchdowns. You know who Hilton started that run against? Houston. And just to hammer this point home — can you name any of Houston’s starting corners right now? I can’t.
WR Brandon Aiyuk (SF) – at DAL.
You want to talk about consistency? Aiyuk hasn’t scored less than 10 PPR points since Week 6. In his last five games, he’s topped 20 PPR points three times and hasn’t scored less than 17 PPR points. And, you know, Dallas blows. They’ve allowed the most touchdowns to WRs on the year. So, like, fire up Aiyuk with full confidence this week.
TE Zach Ertz (PHI) – at ARI.
Arizona has been great against TEs this year. They also let Tyler Higbee score on them two weeks ago. Dallas Goedert was the one targeted the most last week between him and Ertz, but you have to expect Arizona will sick Budda Baker on Goedert as the more athletic of the two. The Eagles lead the NFL in percent of snaps in 12 personnel (two TEs on the field) so who covers the other when both are running routes? Ertz becomes a strong safety valve for Jalen Hurts this week and I think he has a good chance to pop as a result.
TE Tyler Higbee (LAR) – vs NYJ.
The Jets allow the most fantasy points per game to TEs this year. This is the matchup for Tyler Higbee and the Rams to exploit. The preseason Higbee truthers should be salivating about this matchup. He’s a strong streaming option if you’re desperate and someone I’d be plugging into a lot of DFS lineups for cheap.
QB Russell Wilson (SEA) – at WAS.
Since Week 10, Wilson has fantasy scores of 9.9 (at LAR), 24.1 (vs ARI), 16.4 (at PHI), 17.0 (vs NYG), and 30.1 (vs NYJ). Not great, Bob. Not great. He’s once again on the road this week, against a secondary that has beat up on QBs this year. They allow the 10th fewest fantasy points per game to QBs and are tied for 4th in the NFL with 40 sacks. Wilson won’t have an easy go of it this week and I would be very nervous about him finishing as a top 10 QB this week.
QB Jalen Hurts (PHI) – at ARI.
Everyone is going gaga over Jalen Hurts because of his rushing upside. And yet, he was only QB13 last week when he rushed for 106 yards. Could he hit that high of a total again? Sure, anything is possible. But with the lack of receiving threats on the Eagles, why should we expect him to top 200 passing yards? ARI has a good secondary and PHI doesn’t have great weapons. You need 90+ rushing yards and a rushing score (possibly two) from Hurts and I don’t want to bank on that happening.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) – at NO.
2.0 yards-per-carry last week? What an abysmal showing against Miami. Guess what? New Orleans has a better run defense. After they just allowed their first 100-yard rusher in 80 decades, I can’t imagine they’re going to let the rookie run wild. Oh, and the Saints are tied with Cleveland in allowing the 8th fewest receptions to RBs. So yeah, not a great week for CEH ahead.
RB Chris Carson (SEA) – at WAS.
Jeff Wilson Jr.’s rushing touchdown last week was the first score Washington has surrendered to an RB since Week 9. Chris Carson has a rushing score in two of his last three games. Washington has also allowed the 3rd fewest receptions to RBs on the season. Carson has 11 targets and a receiving score in his last two games. Carson has been matchup-proof of late, but with Carlos Hyde’s increased snap share and Washington presenting a challenge to running backs, I think his upside is capped this week and he’s more of a safe-floor play.
RB Giovani Bernard (CIN) – vs PIT.
What the hell, Zac Taylor? Giovani Bernard loses one fumble and we don’t see him again? That’s not how you treat a veteran on your team. As the starter with Mixon out, plenty of people will be considering Bernard this week. With Taylor clearly looking to play with fantasy managers’ heartstrings and jerk around our assets, best to avoid Bernard this week, especially in a bad matchup against the Steelers.
WR Adam Thielen (MIN) – vs CHI.
If not for the sheer number of touchdowns he’s scored, we wouldn’t be talking much about Adam Thielen these days. He leads all WRs in touchdowns (12) and scored two against Chicago in their last meeting. The good news for Chicago — they’re tied with the Giants & Dolphins for 4th fewest touchdowns allowed to WRs on the season (10). If Thielen can’t score this week, don’t bank on yardage bailing him out. He’s only topped 75 yards twice since Week 5. If you want to bank on him scoring, be my guest. I’m a lot lower on him than most this week.
WR CeeDee Lamb (DAL) – vs SF.
The 49ers have been GREAT against slot WRs this year. K’Waun Williams and Jamar Taylor have combined to only allow 27 receptions in 13 games (just over 2 per game). CeeDee Lamb runs almost exclusively from the slot, which makes this an already tough matchup. He hasn’t scored in three weeks; he’s hit five receptions in a game only twice since Week 6, and he’s topped 50 receiving yards only once since Week 6. Like many on the Cowboys’ offense, Lamb really misses Dak Prescott.
WR Chase Claypool (PIT) – at CIN.
Cincinnati should be a matchup that Chase Claypool can exploit. But his snap counts have been weird of late. While Claypool was the TD monster in this offense, James Washington has been the beneficiary of late with two scores in his last two games. Even with Diontae Johnson getting benched last week due to his issues catching the football, Claypool still couldn’t shine. It’s fair to wonder if defenses have “figured him out.” Big Ben’s arm looks like it’s going to fall off at any time, and Claypool works best down the field. Unless Claypool starts running more underneath routes, I don’t see a ton of upside this week.
TE Hayden Hurst (ATL) – vs TB.
Hayden Hurst has 3.6 fantasy points… over the last two weeks. He hasn’t scored since Week 6 and has four straight games under 9 points after four straight over ten. What a drop off he’s had. Against Tampa Bay, this is the kind of matchup he can bounce back with, but do you trust him? Because I don’t. Julio Jones is once again iffy for Sunday, which means defenses can look to shut down Hurst. There’s no running game in Atlanta to speak of, so even more attention shifts to Hurst. This offense has become Ridley or bust. And Hurst is busting.
TE Cole Kmet (CHI) – at MIN.
Everyone is hyping up Cole Kmet because his snap counts are trending up. You know what happened last week? Jimmy Graham scored a touchdown. Guess what everyone’s doing this week? Hyping up Kmet. It’s not his time. Yet. Minnesota has allowed only five touchdowns on the season; Kmet has only two to Graham’s six. Graham is the better bet to score, despite the drastic difference in snap counts of late, and unless you have Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, or T.J. Hockenson, you probably need your TE to score a touchdown if you want a top 12 play. Start at your own risk.
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