This article can be tricky regarding which players to recommend because I always try to find fringe flex players to help fantasy managers.
These players make a difference for fantasy lineups, and we crushed it last week. Dak Prescott was our quarterback, and position players like Amari Cooper, Rachaad White, Gus Edwards, Garrett Wilson, Diontae Johnson and Dalton Kincaid were all successful. The only miss was a player who didn’t play, but that can happen in an article published on Wednesday! In any case, I’m ready to keep rolling, so let’s get into this Week 10 slate!
The premise behind this article is simple. Identifying fantasy football smash plays that are on the fringe of your starting lineup. We rarely recommend a top-20 player at any position, but we want to help you fill those critical flex spots!
- Waiver Wire Advice
- Weekly Fantasy Football Expert Rankings
- Fantasy Football Start/Sit Advice
- Fantasy Football Trade Tools
Smash Starts for Week 9
Derek Carr (NOS) at MIN
You’ll probably only have to use Derek Carr if you’re desperate, but he’s a great fill-in for any fantasy team missing their quarterback in this bye-heavy week. The Saints signal-caller has at least 18 fantasy points in five straight games, attempting over 40 passes per game in that span. That’s amazing because Taysom Hill is stealing touches, meaning Carr has a higher ceiling than he’s shown. His biggest asset is this matchup with Minnesota, who have allowed the second-most passing yards in the NFL.
James Cook (BUF) vs. DEN
Many are horrified about James Cook because of his recent form and the addition of Leonard Fournette, but this is not the game to fade him. We say that because Buffalo gets a home matchup against Denver. The Broncos rank dead-last in fantasy points allowed to opposing rushers, and Cook should get plenty of goal-line opportunities since the Bills are a massive home favorite in this sensational spot. The six carries we saw on Sunday night were mainly due to a horrific game script where Buffalo was trailing. Still, Cook should get double-digit carries in this favorable spot. In the seven games Cook has at least 10 carries, he’s averaging nearly 13 fantasy points per game!
Aaron Jones (GB) at PIT
It’s been a nightmarish season for Aaron Jones and his fantasy managers, but we saw some glimpses of hope in Week 9. The former top-five back had a season-high 20 carries in that win, scoring nearly 20 fantasy points. It’s the first time in a while we’ve seen Jones with a full workload, and it’s a good indication that he’s fully healthy. This stud had 26 fantasy points in Week 1, the last time we saw him healthy, and he can return to a top-10 running back in that full-time role! An upside game is even more likely against Pittsburgh, with the Steelers ranking 26th in rushing yards surrendered and 25th in yards per carry allowed.
Alexander Mattison (MIN) vs. NOS
This one terrifies me, but with Cam Akers getting injured in Week 9, Alexander Mattison should get all the work he can handle. That’s big news because he split carries with Akers and lost fantasy value over the last month. That shouldn’t be an issue anymore because Mattison should be locked into 15-20 carries and five targets as the only back left in this offense. We’re encouraged by that increased role since Mattison has at least 16 carries in three of his last four games, dropping 17 fantasy points in Week 9. The Saints are far from a scary matchup, with New Orleans ranking 25th in yards per carry allowed.
Terry McLaurin (WAS) at SEA
It was hard to understand why Terry McLaurin wasn’t being utilized at the beginning of the season, but that’s a story of the past. “Scary Terry” has at least seven targets in four straight outings, averaging nearly 10 targets per game in that span. They’re not empty targets either, with McLaurin recording at least five catches in all but one game since the opener, averaging nearly 15 fantasy points per game since then. That usage has made McLaurin a stud in the past, making him tough to avoid against Seattle’s subpar secondary. The Seahawks are surrendering the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts this season.
DeAndre Hopkins (TEN) at TB
Will Levis was announced as the starter on Tuesday, and that should be massive for the remainder of the season. We’ll use DeAndre Hopkins no matter who’s out there because he’s still the go-to WR in this offense. Hopkins is one of the league leaders with a 28 percent team target share, flirting with nearly 10 targets per game. The move to Levis has skyrocketed his fantasy value, too, collecting 41 fantasy points over the last two games. That’s terrifying for Tampa Bay, allowing 800 passing yards over the last two weeks while surrendering the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers.
Diontae Johnson (PIT) vs. GB
We had Johnson in this section last week, and we’re going back to him! He scored his first touchdown in nearly two years in Week 9, but he has been productive whether he scores or not. “DJ” is averaging 94 catches for 989 yards over the last three years and would be on pace to reach that again this season if he didn’t go on IR. He has 20 receptions for 254 yards on 29 targets since coming off IL three weeks ago. That’s an elite pace, and his role could rise even more with George Pickens in the doghouse right now.
Dalton Schultz (HOU) at CIN
C.J. Stroud had a historic outing in Week 9, and Dalton Schultz was one of the primary beneficiaries. Some fail to recognize that Schultz has been Stroud’s safety blanket for weeks, scoring at least 12 fantasy points in four of his last five outings. More importantly, he has 33 targets over his last four fixtures. Not many tight ends have that sort of workload right now. Cincinnati might sound like a challenging matchup on the surface, but the Bengals have surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. This is also a game where Houston might have to play catch-up, only adding to Schultz’s value.
Las Vegas Raiders (vs. NYJ)
The Raiders have been an underrated defense all season, and it’s easy for everyone else when a player like Maxx Crosby is dominating the line of scrimmage. That led to Las Vegas having their best defensive showing of the season last week, allowing just six points while recording eight sacks and two turnovers. That gives them at least 13 fantasy points in three of their previous five outings. This could be their best matchup in that span. The Jets rank 26th in points scored, 31st in total yardage and 25th in fantasy points allowed to opposing D/STs. The oddsmakers love them, too, because this 36-point total is one of the lowest of the season.