Tale of the Tape: Week 10 (Fantasy Football)
Welcome to Tale of the Tape, where we break down a handful of highlight GIFs from the week’s slate of NFL games and translate them into fantasy football relevance. If you see a highlight worth analyzing in the future, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @FantasySensei!
For now, let’s get into Week 10 of the NFL season!
Robert Woods the Newest Ram to Catch Fire
As we’ve learned by now, this is the year of the Rams proving everyone wrong. Goff and Gurley have been doing it all season and now Robert Woods has officially joined the crew (Sammy Watkins, you’re on deck). Woods smoked Jonathan Joseph on this 94-yard TD reception and tacked on another 77 receiving yards and an additional score Sunday as well. That gives Woods 241 yards and four touchdowns in his last two games – a hot streak that has him sitting as the WR13 in PPR scoring. As Goff’s clear No. 1 target on this prolific offense, Woods has worked his way into WR2 territory rest of season despite a mere 61% ownership in ESPN leagues.
The Giants Incapable of Tackling Tight Ends
In one of the more embarrassing streaks in the NFL, the New York Giants have now allowed at least one TD to the tight end position in 10 straight games dating back to last season. This highlight is honestly not about Garrett Celek, who scored the 47-yard TD, or even C.J. Beathard, who had an impressive game. It’s about the NYG defense and their complete inability to stop tight ends and unwillingness to really try. They face Travis Kelce, Vernon Davis/Jordan Reed, Jared Cook, Jason Witten, Zach Ertz, and Jermaine Gresham over the next six weeks. That may be most useful for DFS, as it be will tough to stream the majority of those guys, but fire them up where you can. In fact, fire up everyone against the Giants, who seem to be pretty fed up with this season.
Shepard a Sterling Fantasy Asset
Consider these garbage time numbers: in the fourth quarter alone, Sterling Shepard had five catches on seven targets for 31 yards. Heck, on the last drive alone, Shepard snagged four receptions on five targets, including this nifty 21-yard catch and run to set up a late touchdown. While the yardage isn’t mind-blowing, Eli Manning is peppering the second-year receiver when it counts. Shepard finished the game with 11 catches for 142 yards on 13 targets, an Odell-esque stat line that proves he is the best and only viable WR on this team. Without a defensive effort, the Giants are likely to be down in just about every game for the remainder of the season. Negative game scripts will mean tons of work for Shepard, who could legitimately lead the lead in receptions and targets rest of season. He’s a legitimate WR2 in PPR with WR1 upside whenever he manages to score.
Dontrelle Inman the Man in Chicago
It appears the Bears have (tentatively) salvaged a previously atrocious receiving corps by bringing in Dontrelle Inman from the Chargers. This was Inman’s first week active as a Bear and it resulted in six catches for 88 yards on eight targets. It also translated to Mitch Trubisky‘s best game in the NFL by far (21-of-35 for 297 and a TD, no INTs). Inman actually had a mini-breakout in his third year in the NFL last season, totaling 58 catches, 810 yards and four TDs in San Diego. Inman is nearly unowned and with this target share, he could be a sneaky add for the fantasy playoff run.
Cowboys Suffer Sans Smith
As in Tyron Smith, Dallas’ star left tackle, who missed Sunday’s game with a groin injury. Smith’s absence hurt more than that of Ezekiel Elliott or Sean Lee in this game (both of which hurt quite a lot), as backup Chaz Green was an absolute sieve on the left side of the O-line. He allowed six sacks to Adrian Clayborn alone (who had two total coming into the game) and was eventually benched. Green’s ineptitude hurt Dak Prescott (literally) and also affected the running game, as the Cowboys were forced to run to the right at an unrealistic rate. If Smith misses next week against the Eagles front, it will be a nightmare for Dak and company. The only upside is that it might have depressed Alfred Morris‘ trade price, making him a solid target if Smith does return soon.
Isaiah Crowell Rewarding Patient Owners
Following an underwhelming first half, Isaiah Crowell has surged back into fantasy relevance the past two weeks. He rumbled for 90 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries versus the Lions (plus one catch for five yards), marking consecutive games with at least 95 total yards and a score. While he is still not overly involved in the passing game – Duke Johnson has a strangehold on that role – Crowell is getting consistent carries (double digits in all but one game). He is a low-end RB2 at worst thanks to volume but has high upside if he can continue to produce in the yardage department and find the end zone.
Golden Tate Flashing Elite Consistency
Sunday marked Golden Tate‘s fourth straight game with at least 86 receiving yards and this 40-yard explosion secured his second TD over that span. While Marvin Jones disappointed fantasy owners everywhere following his recent surge, Tate just kept right on chugging. He is now the sixth highest-scoring WR in PPR formats and is playing with one of the hottest (and highest-paid) QBs in the league in Matthew Stafford. Tate’s ability to absolutely scorch defenses on a simple screen pass makes him lethal from anywhere on the field and his high target volume (on pace for 126) gives him plenty of opportunities to do so. Until the Lions passing attack cools off – which I don’t expect – Tate is a high-end WR2 with aspirations at a WR1 finish in PPR.
Ekeler Deja Vu
No that was not a replay of the same clip. Those were two separate receiving touchdowns from rookie RB Austin Ekeler. If Ekeler wasn’t on your radar before this week (and he probably wasn’t), he should be now. He absolutely destroyed the Jaguars defense, compiling 119 yards and the two TDs on 10 carries and five catches. Unfortunately, Ekeler did lose a critical fumble late in the game, which may put a damper on his chances of supplanting Melvin Gordon in LA. Still, Gordon truthers have to be concerned after the “lead back” rushed for 27 yards on 16 carries, bringing his yards per carry to a dismal 3.8 on the season. Ekeler looks a bit like vintage Danny Woodhead, who always carried fantasy value as a Charger. He should be added as a speculative stash at the least, especially in PPR formats.
Rex Burkhead: Mirage or Must-Add?
Not another Patriots RB to ogle pointlessly until Belichick dashes our hopes and dreams in a week, right? Maybe … Here’s the thing: Rex Burkhead is a versatile weapon who plays hard and contributes in every facet of the game. Belichick loves that from his players (see Edelman, Amendola, Welker back in the day) and tends to reward it with playing time and consequently opportunity. Burkhead had 36 yards on 10 carries Sunday night and excelled in the passing game, where he added three catches for 27 yards and this dash to the end zone. Moreover, Burkhead might be the best bruiser on the starting roster – as Mike Gillislee was a healthy scratch – which could potentially translate to more involvement in the ground game in tandem with Dion Lewis. He’s certainly not a workhorse in NE, and won’t even be as reliable as the Frank Gores of the world, but Burkhead has starter value moving forward in PPR or deep leagues.
Funchess Flying in the Endzone
In the two weeks since the departure of Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess has 10 catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He soared past the Dolphins secondary on Monday night for 92 yards and both scores, making it pretty clear why Carolina was willing to part with Benjamin. Funchess has the size to be a WR1 and a killer red zone threat and Cam has been targeting him downfield (17.8 yards per reception over the past two weeks). The Panthers have a mixed schedule over the next couple weeks but will face the Packers and Bucs in the fantasy playoffs, giving Funchess championship-winning upside if he keeps up this production.