Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
Apart from Eli Manning getting benched, the top story in the NFL right now is the return of Josh Gordon. Fantasy analysts are all giving their takes on this one so I figure I’ll do the same. I am a matchups guy and the matchup doesn’t look that great and Gordon hasn’t played in the NFL since 2014. However, if anyone knows how to comeback from a suspension, it’s Gordon. He had ten catches for 146 yards and a score after his two-game suspension in Week 3 of 2013 and had eight catches for 120 yards following his ten-game suspension in Week 12 of 2014. That’s a relatively meaningless stat except to say that Gordon has been here before and knows what to expect. I also like the potential for volume here. I have to think that the Chargers will be up a lot, leading to more throws from DeShone Kiser. Corey Coleman may also draw the Chargers’ top cornerback in Casey Hayward. Bottom line, don’t get cute and bench Alshon Jeffery, Mohamed Sanu or Davante Adams for Gordon, but if you’ve seen enough of Jordy Nelson, DeVante Parker or Dez Bryant (who actually, surprise surprise, did well Thursday night) and need a desperation play with home-run potential, then I like Gordon this week in what will hopefully be the start of a big comeback for the talented wideout.
Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders
Cook makes for an excellent volume play against New York this Sunday. With Amari Cooper in concussion protocol and nursing a sprained ankle, and Michael Crabtree suspended, Cook could be Derek Carr’s top option against a Giants’ defense that has allowed 68.5 yards per game, 726 yards and nine touchdowns to tight ends through 11 games. He’s led the Raiders in targets in two of his last three contests. Start Cook with confidence Sunday.
Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots
Lewis has been a reliable asset in one of the NFL’s most unpredictable offense. He’s led the Patriots in carries since Week 6 against the Jets. Lewis has scored double digit fantasy points in has last three contests. While it’s difficult to predict which New England back will find the endzone in a given week (last week was the Rex Burkhead show), Lewis is getting enough volume to be a low-end RB2 or a high end Flex play. This Sunday the Pats face their division rival Bills who have surrendered 13 touchdowns on the ground and an average of 114 rushing yards per game to enemy backs. The only thing I don’t like is that this is technically a revenge game for Mike Gillislee going up against his old team, but I don’t think Bill Belichick cares for such frivolities. Lewis should see a good amount of work Sunday...I hope.
Brett Hundley, QB, Green Bay Packers
Hundley put on a show Sunday night, completing 17 of 26 passing for 245 yards and three touchdowns in Pittsburgh. This week, Hundley gets a much easier matchup in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have given up 19 passing touchdowns on the season against just nine interceptions. I like the growth I saw from Hundley last week and I think the Packers will feed off of his improved play. He’s a streaming option this week.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Freeman returns to the lineup this Sunday. Unfortunately, Freeman and the Falcons host the Vikings who have allowed just three rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown to running backs throughout the course of the season. As usual, Freeman figures to split work with Tevin Coleman, who has been a stud for Atlanta in the past few games. Given that Freeman has a tough matchup, has to split work with Coleman and is coming off a concussion, it’s hard to start him against Minnesota.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Baldwin, who was drafted as a legit WR1 this season, has failed to live up to expectations. He’s still in the top 15 but he’s an inconsistent player. He’s scored every other game for the past seven games (if that trend holds, Baldwin will score this week...silver lining). I’m not happy about this matchup against the Eagles however. Philadelphia allows an average of 67 receiving yards to opposing No. 1 receivers per Football Outsiders. In the Eagles' last six games, an opposing top receiver has scored just once (that was Demaryius Thomas in garbage time). I expect this primetime matchup between Seattle and Philly to be a closely contested game and I don’t foresee the Eagles will let Baldwin beat them.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Henry’s performance last week against the Colts shows why he’s a dangerous play this week against a tough Houston front. He rushed 13 times for 79 yards and caught a pass for 10 yards but at the end of the day, it was teammate DeMarco Murray who vultured the goal-line carry for the score. Murray’s stat line last Sunday: 12 carries for nine yards and a TD. Yuck! Though Henry has outperformed Murray of late, the latter is still receiving enough volume to make playing the former a risky option. The matchup is bad here too. Houston has allowed three scores all year to running backs and five total rushing touchdowns in 2017. Baltimore impressively scored two of those rushing touchdowns last Monday night. I expect tightening up against the run will be a point of emphasis for Houston’s defense this week. Either leave Henry on the bench or greatly adjust expectations.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph is quietly having another top-ten season at the tight end position. He scored twice in the Vikings’ Thanksgiving contest against the Lions. This week he draws Atlanta who has allowed just two scores to tight ends on the year. Also with starting cornerback Desmond Trufant set to miss Sunday’s game with a concussion, quarterback Case Keenum might like his chances targeting his wide receivers (especially Stefon Diggs) a little better in this game.