Burning Questions: Week 10 (2019 Fantasy Football)
Week 10 is filled with exciting storylines! Mahomes is coming back, Kareem Hunt’s suspension is over, and Josh Gordon gets another fresh start. I cover it all in my five burning questions for Week 10:
Is Ronald Jones actually the starter in Tampa? What does that mean?
Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber had been splitting the running back duties in Tampa Bay pretty evenly so far this season, but Jones now appears to have an opportunity to build on his share. After getting 53% of the snaps (his highest share in any game this season) against Seattle last week and producing 67 yards and a score on 18 carries, head coach Bruce Arians said Jones “has earned the right to play a little bit more and start the ballgame.”
The vote of confidence from the head coach is worth noting because Jones has had impressive games previously this season and we thought he may see an increased workload, but then the Bucs have gone right back to Peyton Barber the following week. Hopefully, the fact that Arians made a point of praising Jones and saying he deserved to start will actually lead to him getting more work. If Jones does indeed become the starter and sees a consistent increase in workload, I believe he belongs squarely inside the RB2 conversation. The Bucs’ offense ranks fourth in points and 13th in yards, but Jones needs to take advantage now. The Bucs play the Cardinals, whose defense has given up the fifth-most yards and the third-most points; Jones has a golden opportunity to put on a show.
Will Patrick Mahomes‘ return restore the fear in facing the Chiefs?
Before dislocating his knee, Mahomes was already playing on a weak ankle and the Chiefs had dropped two straight games to the Colts and Texans. In the game where Mahomes went down, Matt Moore came in to finish the job and the Chiefs won that game, and then Moore went on to go 1-1 as the fill-in starter.
Last year and in the beginning of this season (despite Tyreek Hill being injured), going up against the Chiefs meant facing an impossible offense that you just weren’t going to outscore, but they’ve seemed more human for the past month. Does Mahomes at full strength restore the Chiefs’ intimidation factor?
The passing game has not been a problem for the Chiefs. They are second in the league in passing yards per game and third in passing touchdowns. The running game, however, has been flat. The Chiefs are 24th in rushing yards per game. Until Damien Williams‘ 91-yard run last week, he was averaging just a hair over two yards per carry, and while LeSean McCoy is averaging 5.2, he’s only been given eight attempts per game.
A healthy Mahomes and a healthy Tyreek Hill on the same field will certainly strike fear in an opponent’s eyes, but the 2019 Chiefs won’t be the destructive force the 2018 Chiefs were unless they can figure out the run game. Until Kareem Hunt’s dismissal from the team, he was third in the league in rushing yards, fourth in rushing touchdowns, and was a bigger threat as a receiver than any of the backs the Chiefs have now. If they can’t find a way to replicate some of that success, they won’t reach the elite offensive level they were on last year.
What will Kareem Hunt and Josh Gordon look like this week?
Speaking of Kareem Hunt, we’re going to get our first glimpse of him on a football field since Week 11 of last season. Freddie Kitchens has said that Hunt will have an immediate role on the team, and one has to believe it’s going to be largely a receiving role. Nick Chubb is the number one running back on the Browns, and even though he’s performed admirably in the passing game so far in his career, we’ve seen Kitchens take him off the field in favor of Dontrell Hilliard on passing downs and in hurry-up situations.
Now, instead of Hilliard in those situations, imagine upgrading to Kareem Hunt, who’s already been a legitimate superstar in the league. As a rookie, he led the league in rushing yards and was eight in receiving yards among running backs. His season ended early last year due to off-field issues but he was on pace to put up similar numbers. Hunt won’t have the value he once did since he’s only going to get a fraction of the workload he had as a Chief, but he’ll be incredibly valuable to the Browns and may ultimately earn himself a starting job somewhere else.
We saw Josh Gordon as recently as Week 6, but since then, he was placed on IR, waived, and claimed by the Seahawks. Pete Carroll doesn’t want to put any expectations on Gordon, but it’s reasonable to believe he could end up sliding into the WR2 role behind Tyler Lockett and above rookie D.K. Metcalf. Now, Metcalf has arguably been the best rookie receiver in the league to this point and Gordon’s career has been marred by injuries and off-field issues, so becoming the second option in the offense is really a best-case scenario for him. If he doesn’t move ahead of Metcalf on the depth chart, it may be slim pickings as the third option for Russell Wilson, even though he is averaging 32 pass attempts per game this season, which is slightly above his career average of 29.
Can the Steelers continue to win games?
It seems like there are some teams that are just always competitive no matter who is on their roster. One team that fits that description is the Steelers. The Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell after 2017, Antonio Brown after 2018, and then Ben Roethlisberger went down in the second game of 2019. Yet, they’re currently sitting at .500, and are winners of four of their last five after an 0-3 start.
Their wins have come against the Bengals, Chargers, and Dolphins, who have a combined record of 4-20, and then they slipped by the Colts who lost Jacoby Brissett in the first half of last week’s game. Against the Rams this week, the Steelers will have the chance to prove that they can legitimately compete. Regardless, what Mike Tomlin has been able to do with a team in shambles is incredibly impressive and I believe he’ll have the Steelers ready for this matchup.