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I have never been more confident about one fantasy play than I am this week: play Dion Lewis in every single league.
DFS. Standard. Whatever. Get Dion Lewis and play him any way you can.
I believe we're all in agreement when I say that Lewis is an extremely talented running back. He can run, he can catch, and he can block. While he's undersized, he's one of those all-around backs that teams look to ride into dust. He's going to play a big role this week against Washington.
The past three running backs have faced Washington and put up the following stat lines:
Falcons RB Devonta Freeman: 27 carries, 153 yards, 1 touchdown; 7 receptions, 44 yards; 197 total yards and a touchdown.
Jets RB Chris Ivory: 20 carries, 146 yards, 1 touchdown; 3 receptions, 50 yards; 196 total yards and a touchdown.
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin: 19 carries, 136 yards; 3 receptions, 35 yards; 171 total yards.
That is an average of 188 yards for these backs. This wasn't even the case of ball hogging play- the Jets and Buccaneers both had another running back with 10+ touches on the day.
Buy shares in Dion Lewis today. He's going to destroy the defense.
Beyond Lewis, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a must-play every single week, as is tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Four of the five past quarterbacks that Washington has faced have posted multiple touchdown days (Matt Ryan was the lone exception), and those five quarterbacks have averaged 273 yards on the day (passing + rushing). That list of quarterbacks includes the likes of Jameis Winston, Sam Bradford, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Brady is far better than they are.
While tight ends have been fairly quiet against Washington, they haven't really faced a quality option this year, although the Falcons Jacob Tamme earned 94 yards in week 5. Football Outsiders ranks their coverage of tight ends 22nd in the league, which is a valuable metric.
Washington has been fairly successful in limiting slot receivers (the Dolphins Jarvis Landry posted just 53 yards on 12 targets and 8 receptions), but they have been weak against outside receivers.
The Buccaneers Mike Evans (8 receptions/164 yards/1 touchdown), the Giants Reuben Randle (7/116/1) and Odell Beckham Jr (7/79/1), and the Jets Brandon Marshall (7/111/1) had field days. The Patriots don't have outside receivers with the same combination of freakish athleticism and ability (*shakes fist at Aaron Dobson*) but this would be a perfect situation for Brandon LaFell to have a statement game.
As for wide receiver Julian Edelman, he remains a must play every week, especially in PPR leagues. He's a high upside player that seemed to find his groove with Tom Brady in the 4th quarter against the Dolphins and should look to continue that momentum into future games.
As for Washington players...play at your own risk. DeSean Jackson could have a huge day, but he could also not be at 100% and be limited for the whole game. If Jackson is out, then the Patriots can devote their entire defense to removing Pierre Garcon from the field. The Washington running backs are more infuriating than the Patriots backs when it comes to production and usage.
Tight end Jordan Reed is the only player I'd feel moderately comfortable playing, but the Football Outsiders rank the Patriots defense as the 5th best against tight ends and no opposing tight end has cracked five points since the bye week.
And for the weekly Should I Play LeGarrette Blount in Fantasy? question:
Yes. I think both Lewis and Blount will have worthwhile fantasy performances. Both could have 100 yard days with a score of their own.
Opposing running backs picked up an average of 82 yards and 0.25 touchdowns a game over the first four weeks of the season against Washington. Over the past three, teams have picked up an average of 231 yards and 0.67 touchdowns per game.
There's enough to go around.