Welcome back. Someway, somehow, it’s already Week 10! Bittersweet as that may be, these lineup decisions are crucial as ever with heavy hitters like the Chiefs, Eagles, Raiders and Ravens on bye. Last week a friend on Facebook kindly reminded me I completely blew it by suggesting sitting Alshon Jeffery, and although Zach Ertz’s unexpected absence may have contributed to his performance, hand up on that one. I hope it didn’t sink your week. I’ll continue to stress a process-over-results mindset that will work more often than not.
But on the flip side, it was my most successful start week of the season, as I somehow managed hit on 15/16 (94%!) of my recommendations. The biggest performers were Jacoby Brissett (QB9), Tyrod Taylor (QB2), Jared Goff (QB1!), Dak Prescott (QB3), Marvin Jones Jr. (WR2!), Ted Ginn Jr. (WR17), Alvin Kamara (RB1!), Christian McCaffrey (RB5), Jared Cook (TE3) and Vernon Davis (TE7). So if you’ll still have me, let’s aim for more success with a microscope on key players for the Week 10 slate.
Starts Record: 93/136 (68.4%)
Sits Record: 84/117 (71.8%)
Sleeper Record: 28/50 (56%)
*Note: These statistics do not include injured players or players who are essentially a wash and did not really help you or hurt you if you started them.
**Assume .5 PPR scoring for any reference to a player’s season-long ranking or in-week ranking
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Start: Jared Goff vs. Houston
Goff smashed as a streamer last week despite playing on the road, and now gets a dream matchup at home against a banged-up Houston defense that’s allowed the fourth-most points to fantasy defenses, and just gave up the QB9 performance to Jacoby Brissett at home. Goff is an ideal bench quarterback, or streamer, as he’s averaging 21.3 points per game against bottom-half pass defenses, and just 10.5 points per game against top-half pass defenses. Despite a strong name brand, Houston obviously falls into the former category this year, having allowed (tied for) the third-most passing touchdowns on the season (16). Houston still boasts a top-6 run defense by DVOA and offers a nice pass-funnel situation for Goff to exploit.
Start: Josh McCown @ Tampa Bay
Are you as excited as I am for the #DoubleRevengeGame taking place in Tampa? Impressively the QB6 over the last four weeks (and yet only 50% owned in Yahoo leagues *thinking emoji*), McCown has gotten it done by racking up multiple touchdowns in five straight games. Now he gets Tampa Bay, a gorgeous matchup for quarterbacks and receivers. Per Rotoworld’s Rich Hribar, Tampa has allowed the second-highest completion percentage (50%) on throws 15 yards or further downfield. McCown is simply a fantasy starter until we are proven otherwise and especially so in good matchups like this one. I’m taking the over on this game (41.5) considering both pass defenses are bottom-12 by DVOA. If you’re into narratives, this is also a major #RevengeGame for Austin Sefarian-Jenkins after the team essentially gave up on him despite drafting him in the second round in 2014.
Other Recommended Starts:
-Matthew Stafford vs. Cleveland: Stafford has thrown for at least 312 yards in three straight games and is at home in a dome against a Browns defense allowing the ninth-most points to quarterbacks. Ranked first in run defense DVOA but 28th against the pass, Cleveland is the epitome of a pass-funnel to attack through the air.
Sit: Philip Rivers @ Jacksonville
He’s playing against the Jaguars, so you know the drill. Jacksonville is somehow allowing opposing quarterbacks to score 6.7 fantasy points per game. No other defense is even in single digits.
Sit: Kirk Cousins vs. Minnesota
It’s never comfortable to recommend sitting someone as talented as Cousins, especially at home, but Captain Kirk has been a surprising boom/bust option this year. Sandwiched by his super hot midseason stretch in which he posted at least 20 points in four straight games are four performances in which he couldn’t crack 12 points, two of which came at home. Allowing the fourth-fewest point to quarterbacks on the season, Minnesota is a stay-away matchup before we consider the injured state of Washington’s offensive line and receiving corps. For reference, I would feel more comfortable starting a safer floor play like Tyrod (vs. NO) this week.
Other Recommended Sits:
-Brett Hundley @ Chicago: Hundley saved last week’s line with a rushing touchdown, which is certainly always in play, but Chicago has allowed the fifth-fewest points to quarterbacks on the year and only 89 rushing yards to the position. Until head coach Mike McCarthy actively schemes running plays and deeper passes for Hundley, he isn’t playable even in 2QB leagues. In the 2QB league that I have Jameis Winston, I’m starting Ryan Fitzpatrick over Hundley this week.
-Blake Bortles vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Bortles has played well recently but is still barely a streaming option as the QB24 on the season. Ranking 9th against the pass but 26th against the run, the Chargers are a run-funnel defense that Jacksonville will undoubtedly try to exploit with Leonard Fournette.
-CJ Beathard vs. New York Giants: Even with Janoris Jenkins slated to return, Jared Goff reminded us just how exploitable the Giants pass defense is this year. They look genuinely disinterested at times, evidenced by Robert Woods’ long touchdown on a third-and-33 check down screen last week. The per-game QB17 on the season when you subtract injured starters Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer, Beathard is firmly in play as a streamer or 2QB-league starter against New York’s second-worst fantasy pass defense.
-Eli Manning @ San Francisco: Manning is back on the streaming radar this week against San Francisco’s fourth-worst passing defense that just lost veteran FS Jimmie Ward (arm) and breakout safety Jaquiski Tartt (arm) for the season. With Evan Engram dominating and Sterling Shepard back healthy, this is one of Eli’s last streaming spots of the season. Considering both defenses rank bottom-seven in pass defense DVOA, I think it’s a sneaky shootout game.
-Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. New York Jets: Maybe not for the faint of heart, but Fitz is firmly in play as a streamer and 2QB-league start against a Jets defense allowing the 8th-most points to quarterbacks and just gave up the QB2 week to Tyrod Taylor. Fitz is averaging 16.3 points per game despite only playing roughly five quarters of action so far and sneakily ran for 30 yards last week in just one half. The Jets have allowed the second-most rushing yards to quarterbacks. I’m taking the over on this game (41.5) considering both pass defenses are bottom-12 by DVOA.
Start: Demaryius Thomas vs. New England
Someone I had in many DFS lineups last week, Thomas finally found the end zone for the first time despite Brock Osweiler leading the charge. He saw a massive 32.43% target market share with Osweiler last week, not far off his market share during Osweiler’s first stint in Denver. Osweiler has already been named the starter for this week, and DT gets to face a Pats defense allowing the second-most points to receivers. Thomas has now seen at least eight targets and caught at least five passes in all but two games this season, displaying a very safe floor. His role should be secure with Emmanuel Sanders clearly not 100%, and Denver may have to throw a ton to keep up with Tom Brady and Co. EDIT: It is worth mentioning Thomas is dealing with a hamstring injury, though he did practice Thursday and appears to be set to play on Sunday.
Start: Robby Anderson @ Tampa Bay
The WR7 over the last four weeks, Anderson has a juicy matchup against the defense allowing the most fantasy points to receivers and the second-highest completion percentage on passes 15+ yards down the field. Anderson has scored in three straight games, but just as importantly he’s seen at least five targets in every game but one this year. With a decent volume floor and an ideal matchup, Anderson is a firm WR2 with upside for much more this week. As I mentioned above, I think this game has sneaky shootout potential considering both pass defenses rank bottom-12 in pass defense DVOA.
Other Recommended Starts:
-Mohamed Sanu vs. Dallas: A WR3 or better in every game he’s played start to finish (per Rich Hribar), Sanu gets a Dallas defense that’s been beaten in the slot throughout the year and just revived Jamison Crowder’s season from that same spot. This game has the highest implied point total of the week. Sanu will benefit if Dallas doubles Julio Jones, or if Jones is injured. THURSDAY EDIT: Jones did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.
Sit: Keenan Allen @ Jacksonville
I understand if you don’t have the depth to sit Keenan, but a date with Jacksonville means we have to reduce our expectations to WR3 at best. Per Rich Hribar, Allen’s targets have dropped in three straight games and he’s been a top-30 receiver just once over his last six so even a WR3 expectation may be too generous here. In fact, Keenan is just the WR51 over the last four weeks and he hasn’t hit double-digit targets since Week 5. With his touch floor already in jeopardy, his ceiling is concerning considering Jacksonville has allowed one touchdown to a receiver this year, and that was to DeAndre Hopkins in Week 1. Allen does get the benefit of running over 50% of his routes in the slot, but Jags slot corner Aaron Colvin has held every slot receiver he’s faced in check this year. It doesn’t feel comfortable, but I’m likely benching Allen for Marvin Jones Jr. in a full PPR league on Sunday.
Sit: Will Fuller @ Los Angeles Rams
Man, this sucks to write. While it was promising to see Fuller tie a season-high with eight targets last week, his 2/32 line was very… unpromising. Or whatever. For those of you keeping track at home that’s a 25% catch rate, which will potentially be the norm going forward with Tom Savage running the show. While the collective ceiling of the offense is ostensibly lower without Watson, just as concerning is just how low the offense’s floor has sunk. Fuller was already scooting by on insane touchdown efficiency that was bound for regression, and his floor is now dangerously low in the current Savage-led offensive environment. Per Rich Hribar, and no this is not a typo, Houston has scored a touchdown on only 6% (3/50) of Savage’s drives for his career. Fuller is a boom/bust WR4 until we’re proven otherwise.
Other Recommended Sits:
-Kelvin Benjamin vs. New Orleans: I wouldn’t feel comfortable starting Benjamin in his first game as a Bill considering he’s had less than two weeks to learn the offense and predicting good games from this receiving corps has proven nearly impossible this season. If he tangles with stud rookie corner Marshon Lattimore, I’m running for the hills.
-Adam Humphries vs. New York Jets: Fitzpatrick has targeted Humphries on 17% of his throws and he’s in line for a target uptick with Mike Evans out. He’s a fine PPR streamer for those looking to replace the likes of Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, Tyreek Hill, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. The Jets are a bottom-ten defense against receivers and again, I think this game should hit the over by a lot.
-Brice Butler @ Atlanta (If Dez Bryant sits): Butler is in play as a deep-league streamer if Dez is out, especially considering Terrance Williams (knee) may also be out or limited. Butler ran a 4.36 40-yard-dash coming out of San Diego State and has been taking first-team reps with Dez out this week. Butler is tied to a great quarterback, is playing in a game with the highest implied point total of the week, and Dak has had some success when targeting him this season. Also, narratives!
Start: Jordan Howard vs. Green Bay
Ok, so I get that you were probably going to start Howard against Green Bay. This is more an endorsement of Howard as a top-five running back this week and a must-play in DFS lineups where applicable. Green Bay has given up the sixth-most points to running backs and will continue to wear down as Brett Hundley struggles to sustain drives. Howard hasn’t seen less than 18 carries since Week 2 and is averaging 26.7 carries per game over his last three. This pains me to write as a Packers fan, but he could legitimately be looking at 30 carries if 5-point favorite Chicago is able to control this game.
Start: Matt Forte @ Tampa Bay
Quietly the RB13 over the past four weeks, Forte has entered every week RB2 territory until further notice. Per Rich Hribar, Forte has been an RB2 or better in each of his last five fully-played games, so we know he has a safe floor. Averaging 14.3 touches per game since a toe injury sidelined him for two games, he has importantly caught at least four passes in every one of those post-injury games. We saw last week he’s the go-to red zone back, elevating his ceiling from an already safe tough floor. Tampa Bay has given up the fourth-most points to running backs as well as the 12th-most receiving yards. THURSDAY EDIT: It is concerning that Forte has now missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with swelling in his knee and is now trending towards not playing. If that’s the case, then Bilal Powell is a recommended streamer given the matchup and projected volume.
Other Recommended Starts:
-Jerick McKinnon @ Washington: It’s easy to forget off the bye, but McKinnon is the overall RB3 since taking over as the lead back and is game-script independent with his passing game usage. Per Rich Hribar, Washington has allowed 148 rushing yards per game over its last three.
Sit: Adrian Peterson vs. Seattle
Peterson figures to be an extremely game-script dependent fantasy commodity moving forward, which is not a good thing when Drew Stanton is leading your offense. He saw 26 and 37 carries in the two team wins since his arrival, but scarily only 11 when Arizona got blown out by the Rams. Entering as 6-point underdogs at home, Peterson may face tons of negative game script against a really good defense and offers almost zero passing game usage. Though Seattle struggled against the ground to start the year, they’ve only surrendered 2.9 yards per carry since Week 4, per Hribar. He’s just a boom/bust RB3 this week.
Sit: Joe Mixon @ Tennessee
Mixon salvaged his 13/31 rushing line (and 3/15 receiving line) with a touchdown last week, the only one Cincinnati scored. It was an impressive effort to get in, but it also acted as a deodorant for a poor performance from a volume and efficiency standpoint. Per Rich Hribar, the Bengals rank dead-last in rushing yards per game this season (72.2). Though he’s not playing great, the Bengals also just lost starting right tackle Jake Fisher (illness) for the season. Playing in an inefficient offense without massive volume, Mixon has displayed a very low ceiling having failed to surpass 12.1 points in any game this season. If he doesn’t score this week, he’ll have a pretty low floor too. Tennessee is one of only four teams to have allowed two or fewer rushing touchdowns on the year.
Other Recommended Sits:
-Aaron Jones @ Chicago: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. If game script gets out of hand as 5-point underdogs, expect Ty Montgomery to out snap Jones again.
-Dion Lewis @ Denver: Denver has been a fantasy nightmare for opposing running backs both via the ground and the air, while Rex Burkhead’s return leaves things murky from a snap and volume perspective. Best to avoid this situation this week if you can.
-Rob Kelley vs. Minnesota:
-Orleans Darkwa @ San Fransisco: The Niners have been the most forgiving defense to running backs this year, so by law I have to mention Darkwa as a streamer. He did lead the backfield with 18 touches last week despite facing negative game script, which should be more favorable as a 1-point road favorite this week. He’s very cheap on DFS sites.
Start: Kyle Rudolph @ Washington
Merely the per-game TE16 on the season, Rudolph has been just a fringe starter despite a decent offensive environment in Minnesota. That number is skewed, however, by a slow early-season start in which the Vikings were having Rudolph block much more than he was last season. Since Week 5, which is not coincidentally when Stefon Diggs got injured and Dalvin Cook was lost for the season, Rudolph is averaging 9.8 points per game, which would be good for the TE6 on the season. He hasn’t seen fewer than seven targets in a game over that span. Now he faces a Washington defense that’s given up the fourth-most points to tight ends and the most receiving yards to the position. He’s a top-8 option this week.
Start: Cameron Brate vs. New York Jets
I wouldn’t let last week’s clunker move you away from starting Brate this week. For one, he’s still the per-game TE5 on the year and last week was his first non-top-12 week of the season, an impressive feat. Even with Jameis Winston out, I don’t think Ryan Fitzpatrick is a severe downgrade for the offense. Per FantasyLabs’ Graham Barfield, Fitzpatrick has targeted Brate on 15% of his throws this season, only just below his number from Winston. Remember, Tampa looked lost in Week 6 against Arizona until Fitz came in and nearly led a massive comeback, and Brate had a stellar 6/76/1 line in that game which mostly came at the hands of Fitzpatrick. Per ESPN, Fitz was 4/4 when targeting Brate in that game. Brate’s line would’ve looked a lot stronger last week if not for Luke Stocker poaching a garbage time touchdown. Working in Brate’s favor this week is an expected target/red zone bump in the absence of Mike Evans (suspension), as well as the Jets’ bottom-five tight end defense. Considering the state of both pass defenses, I think this game has sneaky shootout potential.
Other Recommended Starts:
-Vernon Davis vs. Washington (if Jordan Reed sits): Davis led the team in targets, catches and yards in Reed’s absence last week despite playing at Seattle. Minnesota’s stingy corner play funnels targets to tight ends and Davis may legitimately be Washington’s most reliable pass catcher outside of Chris Thompson.
Sit: Jason Witten @ Atlanta
Witten has been a tough nut to crack this year, scoring at least 13 points in three separate games, but also failing to score 1.5 points on three other occasions. Though this could come back to haunt me, playing in the game with the highest implied point total of the week (50.5), Witten was in a very similar spot at home last week and only saw one target. Atlanta has been the third-best tight end defense this year and has only allowed one touchdown to the position. This will change if Dez Bryant is limited or out (knee, ankle), but for now, Witten isn’t a top-12 option this week.
Sit: Charles Clay @ New Orleans
This isn’t your grandpa’s New Orleans defense. The Saints have a fourth-ranked pass defense per Football Outsiders’ all-encompassing DVOA metric, and have been a bottom-seven matchup for tight ends on the year. With New Orleans’ pass rush and secondary much improved and a new willingness to pound the rock, games are no longer guaranteed shootouts against the Saints. Clay didn’t practice Monday, only got in a limited practice Wednesday and has a concerning history of knee injuries. I’m sure you’re itching to start Clay, especially if you’ve been stashing him on IR this whole time, but I think it’s best to take a wait-and-see approach with a seven-year veteran coming off midseason knee surgery.
Other Recommended Sits:
-CJ Fiedorowicz @ Los Angeles Rams: Always shaky to start a player in their first game back from injury, especially a concussion as lengthy as this one. I think Fiedorowicz may have value down the stretch as Tom Savage looks to check down, but the Rams have allowed the fifth-fewest yards to tight ends this year and it’s not likely Houston has many scoring opportunities.
-Garrett Celek vs. New York Giants: Until they stop giving up touchdowns to the position, I’m going to recommend streaming whichever tight end faces the Giants each week. With George Kittle already ruled out and Cole Hikutini sent to the IR, Celek will start at tight end in Week 10 for the Niners. The brother of Eagles tight end Brent Celek, Garrett has caught three touchdowns in each of the last two seasons and is averaging 10.6 yards per catch this season. He’s firmly on the streaming radar against the worst tight end defense in football.
Start: Los Angeles Rams vs. Houston
Did you realize the Rams have been the second-best defense in fantasy this year? Generally an underrated fantasy commodity all season long, Los Angeles gets to play against Tom Savage at home as 12-point favorites. I’m not sure what else to really say at this point.
Start: Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland
You can pretty much take the above blurb about the Rams and replace Tom Savage with DeShone Kizer.
Other Recommended Starts:
-Pittsburgh Steelers @ Indianapolis: Since Pittsburgh had a bye last week, they may have been dropped in your league. Fresh off the bye, the Steelers are the 8th-best fantasy defense this season, while no team has allowed more defensive fantasy points than the Colts.
-Seattle @ Arizona: Drew Stanton!!!
Sit: Buffalo Bills vs. New Orleans
New Orleans has given up the seventh-fewest points to opposing defenses by running a ton and limiting turnovers. Buffalo is a 2.5-point underdog at home and the play of the entire defense has been slipping lately. There should be better options available.
Sit: Houston @ Los Angeles Rams
Houston has survived as a fantasy defense this year on the strength of four defensive touchdowns, which feels incredibly unsustainable, especially without JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus in the lineup. No team has allowed fewer points to opposing defenses than the Jared Goff Machine that is the Rams offense. Houston is on the road as 12-point underdogs and this defense may get very winded if Tom Savage struggles to sustain drives. Which he will because he’s Tom Savage.
Other Recommended Sits:
-New Orleans @ Buffalo: Similar to the Buffalo sit above, New Orleans is a tough sell against an offense that limits turnovers and loves to pound the rock. Tyrod is notoriously better at home and will have Kelvin Benjamin at his disposal for the first time.
-Denver vs. New England: Even before we fade all defenses playing against New England, we have to point out that Denver is the 20th-best fantasy defense this year. Your brain is tricking you if you think they’ve been good this season for fantasy purposes.
-Chicago vs. Green Bay: Hard to call the ninth-best fantasy defense a streamer, but they’re only owned in 32% of Yahoo leagues. Green Bay has become an attackable matchup with Brett Hundley running the show, as he’s taken seven sacks in his two NFL starts. Chicago has played great defense at home this year and should be able to force Hundley into a turnover or three. Chicago is an extremely underpriced DFS option and makes for an enticing stack with Jordan Howard.
*This piece has been updated to reflect the injury situations of Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Matt Forte and Dez Bryant.
Statistics courtesy of nfl.com, rotoworld.com, Yahoo.com, fantasylabs.com, footballguys.com, footballoutsiders.com, profootballfocus.com and pro-football-reference.com