By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
It all comes down to this.
All the research you’ve done, all the start/sit moves, all the add/drops–
It was all to get you to this point.
Some of you play for money. Some of you play for charity. Some of you play for fun and/or the camaraderie that comes with playing Fantasy Football.
All that matters is, you made it.
After taking last year off from writing this column, getting to this point this year has been cumbersome, to say the least. I won’t bore you all with the details, but one thing I’m grateful for is all of you.
You read this every week (or every other week, maybe?) and it’s what keeps me wanting to write it going forward.
I know not all my picks work out — So yeah, about Jalen Hurts last week… yikes! — but some of them do — I told you Adam Thielen would struggle — and yet, you’re still here.
I’m forever grateful.
Now, let’s close 2020 with a bang!
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 Russell Wilson (SEA) – vs LAR.
This may seem like an obvious call, but is it though? Since Week 9, Russell Wilson has only 11 touchdown passes to seven interceptions, and is QB11 in that time frame (4 points/pass TD). For a guy who has 37 touchdown passes on the year, that’s, um, not good. He struggled mightily against the Rams back in Week 10, but Russ always struggles in LA against them. In Seattle against the Rams though, that’s a different story. He has eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last three games in SEA against the Rams, and the Seahawks desperately need to get their offense back on track if they plan on doing anything when the playoffs come around. I think Wilson bounces back in a big way this week.
QB Jalen Hurts (PHI) – at DAL.
I’m already nervous about this pick as he is my co-host’s (Ryan’s) Stream of the Week, and that has usually meant the “Kiss of Death” — unless your name is Kirk Cousins. But man, I don’t know what more Jalen Hurts needs to do to get us believing. He led the Eagles to a win in Week 14 with his legs and had four total touchdowns against the Cardinals in Week 15. This week, against Dallas — in the state he’s from, mind you — I don’t see how he doesn’t light up this dumpster fire of a defense. The Cowboys are tied for the second-most touchdown passes allowed to QBs (30) and are tied with the fourth-fewest interceptions (7). Keep in mind though, four of those interceptions have come in the last four weeks. Rookies are prone to mistakes, but Hurts hasn’t made many of them. There are only two QBs that I am 100% certain I am starting over Hurts this week — Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen, and Ryan Tannehill are the next tier for me, and I’d be considering Hurts over all four of them. If that’s not confidence, I don’t know what is.
RB D’Andre Swift (DET) – vs TB.
Since returning from his concussion, Swift is RB9 for the last two weeks. In case you didn’t know, Tampa Bay has an elite run defense — they’ve allowed BY FAR the fewest rushing yards per game in the league — but they struggle mightily against RBs out of the backfield. They’ve allowed 90 receptions to RBs this year, four more than the next closest team. Swift has seen at least five targets in five of his last six games and has eight catches over his last two. If he can’t get a cheap touchdown on the ground, he should make up his production through the air.
RB Kenyan Drake (ARI) – vs SF.
Kenyan Drake just likes playing against the 49ers. After watching Tony Pollard run through them on Sunday, I’m not sure how you can’t like this matchup for Drake. Over his last three games against San Francisco, Drake has 60 or more yards in each contest and scored twice. Chase Edmonds doesn’t worry me — both can put up points in any given week — so ride with Drake one last time before he likely plays for another team in 2021.
RB Leonard Fournette (TB) – at DET.
Bruce Arians has come out and said he doesn’t expect Ronald Jones to be ready for Saturday’s game, paving the way for another Leonard Fournette start. The Lions have allowed the most fantasy points per game to RBs this year, and with the Bucs passing game looking pedestrian of late, leaning on the run game (against a team that can’t stop the run) makes all the sense in the world. Fournette should be an easy top 15 RB this week.
WR Marvin Jones Jr. (DET) – vs TB.
The Bucs boast an elite run defense. But their pass defense, of late, has resembled the sieve that graced the field in 2019. Over the last four weeks, they have allowed the most fantasy points per game to WRs, including five touchdowns in those three games (they had a Week 13 bye). Over the last four weeks, Jones is WR11. At this point, he’s about all that Matt Stafford has left to throw to. It’s time to put some respek on the man’s name!
WR Marquise Brown (BAL) – vs NYG.
The artist formerly known as “Hollywood” got some of his swagger back last week, turning seven targets into six catches for 98 yards. The Giants are another matchup the Ravens offense should be able to exploit, as they’re solid against TEs (negative for Mark Andrews) and average against WRs (positive for Brown). Brown has six or more targets in his last four games and before last week, scored in three straight games. The Giants have allowed only 11 touchdowns to WRs on the year (tied for fifth-fewest) but allow over 12 yards per reception. Brown’s season-average of 14.3 YPR should shine in this matchup, giving you a solid FLEX play with WR2 upside if he can find the end zone.
WR Darnell Mooney (CHI) – at JAX.
We know this is going to be a big Allen Robinson “Revenge Game” against the Jaguars. But don’t sleep on Darnell Mooney. He has five or more targets in three of his last four games and has scored in back-to-back contests. The Jags have allowed 17 touchdowns to receivers — tied for fourth-most in the league. The Bears offense has been very run-centric these last few weeks (and with the way David Montgomery has been playing, who can blame them) so opportunities may be scarce for Mooney, but I think he can sneak in a touchdown and end up with a top-36 day.
TE Dalton Schultz (DAL) – vs PHI.
I admitted a while ago that my beloved Eagles can’t cover TEs — I miss Malcolm Jenkins — so I gotta include the TE that faces the Eagles this week. There’s a lot of risk with this pick though. Starting in Week 8, Schultz’s targets have literally decreased every week — 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 last week. Luckily, he secured a touchdown, something the Eagles have allowed plenty of to TEs this year (8, tied for 7th most), including two over the last four weeks. If Schultz only has one target this week, bank on it being a touchdown and hope it’s for over 20 yards so he scores more than 10 fantasy points.
TE Austin Hooper (CLE) – at NYJ.
The Jets have allowed the most fantasy points to TEs this year (17.47 per game). The Jets have allowed the most touchdowns to TEs this year (13). The Jets have allowed the most receiving yards to TEs this year (926). The Jets have allowed the 7th most receptions to TEs this year (74). Start your TEs against the Jets this year, and in Week 16, that TE is Austin Hooper. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
QB Matt Ryan (ATL) – at KC.
Matt Ryan’s two best games this year have been on the road — at Dallas and at Minnesota. Neither of those teams has good pass defenses. The Chiefs, Ryan’s opponent in Week 16, have a really good pass defense. They have the 2nd most interceptions in the league (16) and the 9th fewest passing yards. The Chiefs have made a lot of their games close this year, and this could easily be one of those games. Ryan’s fantasy finishes the last four weeks are QB15, QB25, QB28, and QB6. Ryan can be slowed by good pass defenses, and in case you missed it earlier in this paragraph, the Chiefs have exactly that.
QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – vs IND.
Are we all in agreement that Big Ben is done? Man, if you can’t get it going against the freakin’ Bengals, it may be time to hang them up. Things certainly don’t get any easier this week against one of the best pass defenses in the NFL in the Indianapolis Colts. They give up yards, but create turnovers, with 15 interceptions (5th most in the league) on the year. I don’t know if you know this or not, but the Steelers receivers have an issue securing the catch. one bad bounce and those drops turn into INTs. Fade Ben HARD this week.
RB James Robinson (JAX) – vs CHI.
Against Baltimore last week, Robinson was T-RB23. That’s honestly the lowest I’ve seen him in a given week in some time– maybe ever. He had his lowest rushing total since Week 6. It was also his lowest yards-per-carry average in a game all season. The Bears allow the 9th fewest points to opposing RBs. They allow the 7th fewest receptions to RBs on the season. The Jags are a hot mess right now, so much so that in the last two games, Robinson has played his fewest percentage of snaps since Week 6. Add in his ankle injury suffered last week, and things aren’t looking any better. The dots are aligning for a down week for Robinson.
RB Mike Davis (CAR) – at WAS.
It’s hard to sit Mike Davis with how great he’s been this year (RB9 on the season). But this is Championship Week. We don’t care about what you did to get us here. What will do for us now? The Football Team allows the 3rd fewest fantasy points per game to RBs. With the uncertainty around whether CMC will or won’t play, Davis becomes a bigger question mark. Thankfully, the matchup tells you to keep him on the bench, and if CMC does play, you know for a fact to not play Davis. See? Win-win.
RB Chris Carson (SEA) – vs LAR.
Carson has hit 100 total yards in a game only once since Week 4. The Rams haven’t allowed an RB to top 100 total yards since Week 3 (Devin Singletary). Carson’s snap counts are all over the place (he played almost half of the snaps behind Carlos Hyde in Week 12 and was at a near 50-50 split in Week 14), which makes him a difficult fantasy player to trust unless you get a touchdown. Carson has three scores in his last four games, while the Rams are tied for 6th in fewest rushing scores allowed to RBs. He’s more of a low-end RB2 for me this week, with a low ceiling.
WR D.J. Moore (CAR) – at WAS.
You think D.J. Moore’s old coach won’t know how to scheme to stop him? Washington allows the 5th fewest yards to WRs and has only yielded nine touchdowns to WRs on the year. At this point, you have better odds of guessing the winning lottery numbers than trying to decide which Panthers WR to go with, but I’d hedge my bets with Anderson this week over Moore because of the coaching familiarity. Fade at your own risk.
WR Corey Davis (TEN) – at GB.
In what could very well be an audition for his new team in 2021, this could easily be a week where Corey Davis struggles to maintain his weekly floor. We know A.J. Brown works on efficiency, while Davis relies more on volume. The Packers’ secondary has allowed the 7th fewest yards to WRs this year and a little less than one touchdown per game. If Davis or Brown is going to score, my money is on Brown, leaving Davis to compile the yards to keep him as a top 36 guy this week. I’m not buying that in my Championship matchup.
WR Tim Patrick (DEN) – at LAC.
Jerry Jeudy may lead the team in targets, and Noah Fant may lead in receptions, but Tim Patrick has been the best receiver for the Broncos this year. He leads the WRs in receptions (Fant is a TE, people), yards, and touchdowns in 2020, but it still seems like no one is talking about him. That’s probably a good thing this week against the Chargers. They allow the 3rd fewest receiving yards to WRs on the year and, over the last four weeks, have allowed the 3rd fewest receptions to receivers. If you’re considering Patrick this week, it’s as a FLEX, and I’m sure you have better options.
TE Eric Ebron (PIT) – vs IND.
The bad news for the Colts is that, over the last four weeks, they’ve allowed a 70% catch rate to TEs (21 for 30). The good news for the Colts is that, over the season, Eric Ebron is 2nd among TEs in drop percentage (12.1%). The Colts have been solid against TEs on the season (5th fewest fantasy points per game allowed) and while this is a revenge game for Ebron, that narrative has been debunked quite frequently this year. Freakin’ 2020 is taking all the good things from us!
TE Jonnu Smith (TEN) – at GB.
Jonnu Smith was resurrected last week after an abrupt midseason retirement (kidding, people) to top 10 fantasy points for the first time since Week 11. This was only the third time since Week 4 he topped 10 points. The Packers have allowed the 4th fewest fantasy points to TEs on the year (one touchdown in the last four weeks), which equates to less than 10 fantasy points per game. 10 points is our TE threshold. Bet the under on Jonnu this week.
And as a friendly reminder, be sure to tip your servers, take out specialists, and valets. They make less than minimum wage and rely on your tips. Let’s all have a Happy Holiday season (Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza– whatever you celebrate) and make 2021 the best year ever!