Los Angeles Chargers (Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams)
Justin Herbert has been a revelation for the Chargers, and it looks for now like he is a franchise quarterback. Herbert’s rookie season is coming along nicely: he’s eclipsed 2,000 yards passing and boasts an excellent touchdown to interception ratio of 19:6. He’s also managed to score with his legs three times, showcasing athletic ability that was overlooked in his draft evaluations. Herbert isn’t afraid to push the ball downfield or look for big plays, an attribute that’s propelled him into QB1 territory. This weekend’s matchup against the Jets provides a great opportunity to reach his ceiling. New York has been dreadful all season, and their defense ranks in the top five for fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks; 300 plus passing yards and 2-3 passing touchdowns is a reasonable expectation. At his salary, Herbert makes too much sense to not use in cash or tournament games.
The Jets have major issues in defensive coverage, especially against receivers who can separate and get behind the safeties. Luckily, the Chargers have two talented receivers that fit the bill. Keenan Allen has been a dominant force for Los Angeles, tallying nearly 700 yards and five touchdowns on the year. New York has no one on their roster who can cover him, so expect Allen to flirt with 20 fantasy points. Meanwhile, Mike Williams makes for a nice GPP play. He’s a dangerous deep threat, and will get open against the porous Jets secondary. Him finding the end zone would not come as a surprise. At a cheap price and low ownership, a ceiling game from Williams would put your lineup in the mix for a nice payout.
Baltimore Ravens (Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews)
Last year’s MVP, Lamar Jackson, has had a fairly disappointing season. He hasn’t even reached 2,000 yards passing yet, but has made up for that with over 500 rushing yards thus far. Jackson has struggled in the passing game, though he doesn’t have much to work with at the receiver position. Hollywood Brown is proving to be a one dimensional receiver, and not the number one wideout he was drafted to be. Even so, Jackson is carrying a decent completion percentage of 64%, and has thrown only five interceptions. His fantasy floor is undeniable, and should be elevated against the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans have been uncharacteristically soft on defense this season, ranking in the top ten for fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and receivers. With a non-existent pass rush and pedestrian players in the secondary, it will be a tough task to slow down Lamar. Jackson is set up to play better as a passer in this contest, and the rushing yards will be there for sure. Both his ceiling and floor should be elevated, which explains him being the most expensive quarterback on the slate. If you are looking to pay up at this position, Lamar should be your first choice.
Mark Andrews had a nice outing last week against the Patriots after disappearing for several games. This should continue against the Titans, who have really struggled to cover underneath and intermediate routes. Andrews should find himself open throughout this contest, and Jackson will not hesitate to pepper him with targets. He will look his way in the red zone, making Andrews a great candidate for multiple touchdowns. The Ravens have been stale offensively, and the best way to turn that around is to feed your best player the ball. Look for Baltimore to follow suit in a pivotal AFC matchup.
New Orleans Saints (Jameis Winston, Michael Thomas, Taysom Hill)
Drew Brees has been an iron-man for more than a decade; it was rare for him to miss a start until these two most recent seasons. Brees will have no choice to sit for a few weeks, as he is dealing with a punctured lung and several broken ribs. Luckily, the Saints signed Jameis Winston in the offseason for a backup role. Winston led the NFL in passing yards last season, but also led in turnovers. Even still, it’s hard to imagine Winston not being fantasy viable against the Falcons. Atlanta has a terrible defense with no pass rush to speak of, meaning Winston should have plenty of opportunity to shred this secondary. For his salary, he provides some cap relief while giving your lineup extremely high upside.
How to stack this offense is tough, considering we don’t really know what to expect with Winston under center. Michael Thomas was heralded as the best wideout in the league last season, but he has suffered through injuries this year. A hamstring and ankle have caused him to sit out the majority of the Saints games, and he has yet to put up the stat line we’ve come to expect. There’s no better opportunity against this Falcons secondary, who are in the top five for most points allowed to opposing wide outs. With Brees, we’ve grown accustomed to Thomas producing on underneath and intermediate routes. Perhaps with the strong armed Winston, he’ll bring another dimension to his game and push for plays downfield.
There is some speculation that Winston could split time with gimmick-player Taysom Hill under center. I am not in that camp, though I think Hill is an interesting name with Brees out. He’s certainly very athletic, and has the ability to catch the ball on trick plays. The key to using Hill is that the two major league management sites allow him to be slotted into the tight end position. This is fantastic, as you can get a cheap player with upside, who also has the potential to take some snaps under center. By using Hill and Winston together, it allows you to monopolize on production from both Saints quarterbacks. This should be a contrarian move as well, giving you nice leverage in GPP contests.