Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 10
I can’t believe I just had to type “Week 10” into the title field, but here we are. While every week matters, this is when more and more of you are starting to face must-win scenarios. Whether you’re 3-6 and looking to keep a 7-6 dream alive or standing tall and looking to inch closer to a first-round bye, we’ve got you covered.
Catering to all formats is impossible, but I’ll do my best to provide context as I go. The ECR given is for standard leagues since that’s what we are scored on. Please note that I’m using Tuesday night’s ECR and updates will surely roll in from Wednesday morning on, as well as injury news. I’ll use players that I’m higher or lower on against the consensus within a start/sit range from 10- to 14-teamers, or so. Let’s dive in.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. WAS): Mariano Rank: 5, ECR: 10
Fitzmagic may only be a king thanks to a Blake Bortles 2.0 grasp of garbage time, but he’s in an incredible spot as far as fantasy football is concerned. The Buccaneers have no running game and an offensive line that can’t elevate a non-stud into relevancy there, a defense that constantly looks like its opponents invited them for a homecoming game and an offensive coordinator that embraces the air-raid passing attack. Tampa’s 65% passing rate is sixth-best in the league and Fitz will often do enough to offset a couple turnovers per game.
Carson Wentz (vs. DAL): MR: 9, ECR: 12
The Eagles just sent a strong message to its QB and team in acquiring Golden Tate which gives Wentz a key weapon in the short game alongside Zach Ertz and then Alshon Jeffery across the middle. Nelson Agholor is an incredible fourth option to have and Darren Sproles should be returning now, though the RB stable isn’t very effective in the traditional rushing sense. Wentz also just tallied a season-high 28 rushing yards, and I’m a big fan of Mr. Carson.
Tom Brady (at TEN): MR: 11, ECR: 8.
I may be kicked out of Massachusetts for writing this, but Brady doesn’t need to be “bad” just to not be a top-10 play this week. Going on the road to face a Titans defense that has given up the fourth-fewest points to opposing QBs is tough enough, but mixing in that Brady has averaged 6.82 yards per attempt away from Foxboro compared to an 8.12 YPA at home really dampens his range of outcomes. I think he really misses Rob Gronkowski — the real Gronk, not 2018’s shadow — and getting Sony Michel back should help revitalize the ground game while I doubt Tennessee’s lackluster offense gets much going to force Brady and the Pats into pass-needy scenarios.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. CAR): MR: 13, ECR: 10
Big Ben is a force to be reckoned with at home in Pittsburgh, but Carolina’s defense is a nitty-gritty unit with a DB in James Bradberry that can actually hang in there with top WRs. I’m not saying that he’s good enough to erase Antonio Brown, who is still in my top-10 for WR, but he held Mike Evans to just one catch and is a formidable piece. I’m expecting lots of James Conner and attempts to control the clock. It’s worth noting that the Steelers opened as seven-point favorites in Vegas but have already been bet down to 3.5-point faves in roughly 48 hours. I would rather have Russell Wilson starting for me this week.
Marlon Mack (vs. JAC): MR: 14, ECR: 17
The Colts run the 10th-most offensive plays in the NFL at 554 and despite a 64-36 pass-run split, Mack is the choice RB and benefits from Andrew Luck’s revival. The Colts offense should also gain momentum heading into a date with the Jaguars thanks to the return of Jack Doyle. Indy is favored by three points at home, which bodes well for Mack remaining relevant throughout the game.
Austin Ekeler (at OAK): MR: 25, ECR: 30
The Chargers are 10-point favorites despite being on the road in a dream date with a Raiders defense that’s softer than a satin pillowcase. I’m sure Philip Rivers and the passing game will get theirs but LAC utilizes their stud RBs when they have a lead. Sharp Football Stats gives the Chargers a 54% rushing rate with a lead of seven points or more (11th-highest rush rate). Melvin Gordon is a superstar but Ekeler has a great chance at making value as well.
Adrian Peterson (at TB): MR: 17, ECR: 10
This isn’t so much about Peterson’s letdown Week 9, but Washington’s offensive line is in shambles right now and Chris Thompson should return to action in Week 10 against Tampa Bay. That doesn’t mean we can glaze over AP’s poor 46% snap count from Week 9, though, even if we give him a mulligan on the results. I’m worried about the state of this rushing game and it’s worth noting Tampa Bay’s defensive line yields a lowly 3.77 adjusted line yards (fifth-lowest) with the second-highest stuffed rate (29.3%) in the league according to FootballOutsiders.
Kerryon Johnson (at CHI): MR: 23, ECR: 18
The Lions have stunned (and frustrated) Matthew Stafford owners everywhere by leaning more on the run, but Johnson’s stock took a hit with the return of Theo Riddick in Week 9. They both played 39 snaps each, while LeGarrette Blount was sprinkled in on 11. However, most important is how the Chicago Bears haven’t given up a rushing TD to an RB thus far alongside a paltry 3.43 yards per carry. It’s not like Detroit’s offensive line that ranks 18th in adjusted line yards (per FootballOutsiders) is going to generate opportunities in such an uphill matchup.
Peyton Barber (vs. WAS): MR: 37, ECR: 30
We briefly touched on the state of Tampa’s rushing “attack” in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s blurb and the lack of touches for the Bucs RB, but Barber’s also playing on just half of their snaps lately compared to Jacquizz Rodgers mixing in around 40% of the time. Las Vegas does have the Bucs as three-point favorites, but Barber’s averaging just 3.6 yards per carry and 47 rush yards per game. Barber is well beyond the circle of trust and I don’t see how he can be ranked anywhere near the top-30, role be damned.
Alshon Jeffery (vs. DAL): MR: 17, ECR: 21.
The Eagles are favored by 6.5 points at home but the 43 over/under is the second-lowest game total of the week from Vegas, so I understand some hesitation here. That said, I think that’s more reflective of Dallas’ incompetency (why did they stop feeding Ezekiel Elliott in the second half?!) rather than an indictment of Philly’s offense. Per FootballOutsiders Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, Dallas is fourth against the run and 26th versus the pass. Of course, it only helps that Alshon is playing out of his mind in 2018.
Christian Kirk (at KC): MR: 31, ECR: 43
Kirk took a step forward with the rest of Arizona’s offense under Byron Leftwich’s playcalling and while Kansas City’s defense has stepped up from joke status, the potential for a big play rises with the Cardinals likely to be stuck throwing early and often to keep up. Kirk has tallied between six and seven targets alongside snap rates between 75% and 80% in Arizona’s last three games. While he’s still second behind Larry Fitzgerald and Chad Williams isn’t going away, Kirk’s a magnet for big plays and his 91.2% true catch rate (per PlayerProfiler) ranks 13th among qualified WRs.
John Ross (vs. NO): MR: 47, ECR: 68
I recognize that Ross’ ECR rank may be in flux due to A.J. Green’s status and perhaps faith in Ross’ own ability to stay healthy, but the Bengals will need playmakers as four-point dogs against the Saints. In my mind, you want upside when you’re digging this deep in the WR pool and you’re not getting that with a Cody Core or Alex Erickson. I think Josh Malone carries the most intrigue beyond Tyler Boyd and Ross, but we can’t rely on him yet.
Chris Godwin (vs. WAS): MR: 37, ECR: 32
I faded Godwin last week, and I still think he’s being ranked too high by the crowd here. Tampa Bay’s WR corps is deep and while Godwin’s career is on the upward swing, DeSean Jackson isn’t going anywhere, Mike Evans is the WR1 and Adam Humphries has reminded them of his usefulness. Mix in O.J. Howard emerging as a star at tight end and you’ve got a crowded roster. Just be mindful of pegging Godwin too high here.
Mike Williams (at OAK): MR: 43, ECR: 37
While both of LAC’s Williamses caught a TD in Week 9, it was Tyrell who actually led all RBs and WRs by playing on 92% of their snaps. On the other hand, Mike Williams checked in at just 29% despite matching Tyrell’s three targets. On the other, other hand, I don’t think Mike’s touchdown from Week 9 should’ve counted (that foot was out!), but we move along. I will note that Magic Mike does still lead all LAC WRs with seven red zone targets, but I already alluded to my worries of passing volume for the Chargers and his usage concerns me.
DeVante Parker (at GB): MR: 60, ECR: 50
Parker’s stat line from Week 9 (1-8-0) was a major step back from his blowup season debut in Week 8 (6-134-0), though a penalty and one particularly poor throw from Brock Osweiler dampened Parker’s outlook. With Kenny Stills back and Danny Amendola operating in the slot, Parker is simply part of a subpar passing offense that requires you to trust Osweiler or Ryan Tannehill. I also fear Parker will be kept in check by Jaire Alexander.
Jordan Reed (at TB): MR: 6, ECR: 11
Reed still hasn’t found the end zone since Week 1 and is coming off of another ugly 4-34-0 line on six targets. Alex Smith has turtled into his former game-manager shell and it makes Reed beyond difficult to trust, but Tampa Bay’s defense is a joke and they’ve yielded the eighth-most fantasy points on average against TEs in the last four weeks (third-most on the season), so we can’t blame it all on Chris Conte.
Benjamin Watson (at CIN): MR: 13, ECR: 17
Watson posted a goose egg in Week 8 but has now sandwiched it with 6-43-1 and 4-62-1 stat lines. He and the Saints now travel to Cincinnati where they’ll face a Bengals defense that is one of four units to surrender over 600 yards to opposing tight ends. Watson may not be as spry as most TE1 options, but those in deeper formats should feel comfortable penciling him in given how this game boasts the week’s highest Vegas over/under at 54.
David Njoku (vs. ATL): MR: 9, ECR: 6
The Falcons have gotten it together (relatively) on defense of late, and their 7.8 fantasy points allowed to TEs on average in ’18 are 16th in the NFL. This is less of a straight-up “bench” call but it’s possible that eight- or 10-teamers have a better option available. Week 9 was the first we saw of new OC Freddie Kitchens’ playcalling and it led to zero red zone opportunities for a WR or TE. Nick Chubb saw six of them while Duke Johnson Jr. had two.
Evan Engram (at SF): MR: 18, ECR: 13
The good news for Engram is that he’s on a team that will often find itself in negative game scripts, but his own drops and the effectiveness of the man throwing him the ball really dings him. It doesn’t hurt that the 49ers have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points on average to tight ends over the last four weeks.