Ten weeks in and the cream is starting to rise to the top! If you aren’t rising to the top, well, then you probably aren’t the cream, and therefore you are probably busy planning your offseason vacation…once quarantines are over of course!
For those of you planning your trip to the playoffs rather than your offseason trip to an exciting and exotic location – like another room in the house! – listen up and and tune in to this week’s stone cold ‘Studs, Duds & Sleepers’…well, maybe they are more room temperature, but ‘stone cold’ sounds much better than ‘stone room temperature,’ am I right?
Kyler Murray, AZ:
Murray ranks in the middle of the pack in most quarterback statistics, but he gets so many points for his rushing yards (and rushing touchdowns). In fact, only Dalvin Cook (12) has more rushing touchdowns than Murray (10). Coming off one of the most improbable endings in recent memory, I look for him to put up a lot of fantasy points on a short week against Seattle, in a game which has the potential to break 80 points.
Patrick Mahomes, KC:
All the talk through the first five weeks had been about Russell Wilson as the hands down MVP – and rightfully so – but we seemed to be sleeping on what Mahomes was doing in Kansas City. Mahomes was somehow flying under the radar. Well, no more, as Mahomes and his 25:1 TD:Int ratio has to be the leader in the MVP talk. Fresh off their bye, and facing the only team to beat them this year, I look for Mahomes and the Chiefs to have a big day in Vegas – and I don’t mean at the tables!
Others receiving votes:
Russell Wilson, Sea:
Through the first five weeks, Wilson had 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions and was the clear front runner for the MVP. While he has come back down to earth the last four weeks, he is still putting up good numbers, and should continue to do so this week against the Cardinals.
Justin Herbert, LAC:
The big rookie is off to a hot start to his career, and while he has made a few appearances in the ‘Sleepers’ section, he makes his debut in the ‘Studs’ section this week! Despite being the third quarterback taken in the 2020 draft, Herbert leads all rookie signal callers in every category (except wins) and I like his matchup this week against the Jets.
Alvin Kamara, NO:
Kamara isn’t having a huge season running the ball this year, but thanks to his huge role in the passing game, he already has more than 1,000 all-purpose yards, 11 touchdowns and is tied for 2nd with 67 receptions. With Brees out the next few weeks, I look for the Saints to rely even more on Kamara.
Dalvin Cook, Min:
Cook is a machine, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, nearly 120 rushing yards per game, and leads the league in rushing yards (954) and rushing touchdowns (12)…despite missing a game. This week he gets ‘America’s’ second worst rushing defense, at home in Minnesota.
Others receiving votes:
Nick Chubb/Kareem Hunt, Cle:
The Browns backfield continues to defy fantasy logic in the sense that both running backs continue to put up quality starter numbers, despite splitting carries. This past week, the carries were split evenly – 19 a piece – and both backs put up 100+ yards. Hunt offers a little more in the passing game, but Chubb gets more touchdowns.
Josh Jacobs, LV:
I feel like Jacobs is having an ‘under the radar’ season this year. Maybe it is because he is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry, but he ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing yards (700) and is tied for fifth with eight rushing touchdowns. In their previous matchup, Jacobs only had 77 yards rushing, but he scored twice, and given the Chiefs run defense ranks 29th against the run, I like the matchup for Jacobs again.
DeAndre Hopkins, AZ:
The other end of the most exciting finish in recent history, Hopkins ought to be able to pair up with Murray to have a huge game this Thursday against the world’s worst defense of 2020.
Travis Kelce, KC:
Noticing a trend? A lot of quarterback/receiver duos in the ‘Studs’ section this week. Mahomes/Kelce is another duo I like – in fact, the Chiefs/Raiders matchup should produce a lot of fantasy value. In their previous matchup, Kelce saw a game high 12 targets, pulling eight in for 108 yards and a touchdown. I think he has another big game.
Others receiving votes:
Terry McLaurin, Was:
Speaking of under the radar seasons, despite playing with three different starting quarterbacks in nine games, McLaurin ranks fourth in yards (787) and gets a Bengals defense which sucks against the pass AND is depleted at the cornerback position right now. I look for McLaurin to put up his fourth 100+ yard game this season.
DK Metcalf, Sea:
Metcalf saw his fewest number of targets (4) last week against the Rams, tied his season low in catches (2) and put up his second lowest yard total (28) of the season. Though his worst game of the season did come against these very Arizona Cardinals, I don’t see it happening again. I look for Metcalf and Wilson to pair up for a big day on Thursday.
Cam Newton, NE:
The Texans have the worst rushing defense in the league – and while that is the one thing Cam has done well this year – I think the Texans know that and will sell out to force Cam to throw the ball. If that happens, it means bad things for Cam owners.
Tua Tagovailoa, Mia:
Yes, the Dolphins are 3-0 in games that Tua has started, and he has five touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception, but he is only averaging 25 passing attempts and 170 yards per game. So, while he is winning, he isn’t putting up much from a fantasy perspective. Denver – fans or not – is a tough place to play and the Broncos have a decent pass defense, so I wouldn’t start Tua if you don’t have to.
Others receiving votes:
Baker Mayfield, Cle:
Browns fans are giddy over their 6-3 start and looking at a good possibility of getting to 7- 3 this week, but it is the run game, not Baker, which is carrying them. In three of his last four games and six of his nine games this season, Baker has thrown for less than 200 yards and he hasn’t scored a touchdown – passing or running – in his last two games.
Teddy Bridgewater, Car:
Bridgewater has been a pleasant surprise this year and is having a very good season in his first lap in Carolina. He also gets a Lions team this week which should be a favorable matchup. However, he sprained the MCL in his plant leg last week, and even if he can go, I expect the knee to affect him and would expect the Panthers to lean heavily on their run game against a Lions run defense which ranks 30th.
Running backs wearing Rams jerseys:
The Rams backfield is a tough one to figure out, and with Andrew Whitworth out, I wouldn’t like any of their backs anyways. Throw in the fact that they are facing a Bucs number one rush defense – which leads the league, surrendering just 76.6 yards per game – and this is a backfield you should stay away from this week.
Todd Gurley, Atl:
From all the Rams running backs to the Rams former running back. Gurley is having a huge bounceback season, tied for third with eight touchdowns and tenth in yards (584). That being said, I don’t like this matchup. The Saints run defense ranks second in the league, surrendering just 76.8 yards per game.
Others receiving votes:
Kenyan Drake, AZ:
Drake has rushed for 100+ yards in two of his last three games, but he did so against the Bills and Cowboys – who rank 29th and 31st respectively (or not respectively?) against the run. In his other six games, he is averaging just 58 yards, including a performance just two weeks ago against this same Seahawks defense where he gained just 34 yards on 14 carries (2.4 ypc).
Ezekiel Elliott, Dal:
The Cowboys can’t be happy with what they have gotten from Elliott since giving him his big payday. Thus far, he is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry, has yet to break 100 yards in 2020, and has rushed for 65+ yards just once in his last seven games. The Vikings have been playing much better of late, so I don’t see this as Elliott’s breakout game.
A.J. Green, Cin:
Green is tied for 66th in terms of receptions (32), ranks 87th in terms of yards and has exactly zero touchdowns. Zero. Over his last two games, Green has two receptions for 19 yards and now faces the league’s top ranked passing defense.
Pass catchers wearing Jaguars uniforms:
Jaguars receivers have been here the past few weeks, but now it is the whole corps which finds themselves on the ‘Duds’ list. Jake Luton finally looked like a rookie last week, throwing for just 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Look for Luton – and the Jaguars receivers – to struggle big time this week against the Steelers.
Others receiving votes:
Robby Anderson, Car:
Anderson is having a huge season, but the reason he lands here this week is because of the uncertainty at quarterback. If Bridgewater (knee) can’t go, that means Anderson will be relying on P.J. Walker, a 5’11” rookie from Temple, to get him the ball. Even if Bridgewater can go, his plant leg is the injured leg, which will impact the deep ball the most, which is where Anderson excels.
Pass catchers wearing Patriots uniforms:
Through nine games, the Patriots leading receiver is a guy named Jakobi Meyers and of their five receiving touchdowns, four have gone to a full back or a running back. The only non-back to catch a touchdown pass this year? N’Keal Harry.
Alex Smith, Was:
Smith’s comeback story in and of itself is awesome, but he isn’t just taking snaps, he is playing well! Smith put up 390 yards last week against the Lions, is averaging 357.5 yards per game in his two starts, and gets a friendly matchup this week as well against the Bengals and their weak and depleted secondary.
Jameis Winston, NO:
Winston didn’t do much in filling in for Drew Brees last week – except “eat” a ‘W’ – but he gets the keys to an explosive offense and gets to match up against a Falcons team he is familiar with. Better yet, the Falcons have given up a league worst 22 passing touchdowns and rank 31st in the NFL in terms of passing yards surrendered per game (310.3).
Lamar Jackson, Bal:
It might seem odd to see the reigning MVP in the ‘Sleepers’ section, but Jackson is not having a great season and many fantasy owners – myself included – have benched him in favor of a more consistent option. While he doesn’t rank in the top half of the league in terms of yards, or touchdowns, I like the matchup this week against the Titans. The Titans aren’t great against the run, are worse against the pass and are terrible at rushing the passer. All that adds up to a big day for Jackson.
Mike Davis, Car:
With Christian McCaffrey out yet again, and Bridgewater hobbled, look for Davis to carry the load against the Lions this week. Lucky for the Panthers, only two teams give up more yards against the run than the Lions (141.6) and no one in the world has surrendered more rushing touchdowns on the season (16).
Damien Harris, NE:
Just above, I talked about how the Texans – who are the world’s worst rushing defense in 2020 – will sell out to stop the run this week because they won’t be afraid of Cam throwing the ball. However, that doesn’t mean they will be successful in doing so – and regardless, this is the ‘Sleepers’ section, not the ‘Studs’ section. While I usually don’t like to count on Patriots running backs, I am making an exception this week.
Melvin Gordon III, Den:
I have Gordon in one of my leagues, and his inconsistency – especially in terms of usage – is killing me, but I could see this game against the Dolphins being close and low scoring, and therefore it may present a lot of opportunity for touches for Gordon. He could be worth a flyer this week.
Mark Andrews, Bal:
Like I said above, the matchup this week against the Titans should be favorable for Lamar Jackson, and if that rings true, the main beneficiary is likely to be Andrews. Andrews leads the Ravens in both touchdowns (5) and receptions (33) and is Jackson’s favorite receiver and safety outlet.
DJ Moore, Car:
With Bridgewater out or hobbled, the Panthers passing game is likely to be quicker routes, which is why I like Moore as a ‘Sleeper’ and don’t like Anderson this week. Moore has put up 90+ yards in four of his last six games and added four touchdowns during that span.
Amari Cooper, Dal:
Cooper may not seem like a typical ‘Sleeper’, but many owners have benched him the last few weeks, because Cooper hasn’t had more than 80 yards receiving since Dak went down five weeks ago. In two of those five games, he didn’t even break 25 yards. However, Andy Dalton should be back this week and that should give Cooper value again.