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Fitz’s Fantasy Football Rankings, Tiers & Start/Sit Advice (Week 10)

Fitz’s Fantasy Football Rankings, Tiers & Start/Sit Advice (Week 10)

Greetings. While you weren’t paying attention, I was named Czar of Fantasy Football. There wasn’t a formal appointment, but trust me: It’s all legit. Swear. Now stop asking questions and pay me your allegiance.

With this position of great power, I’m going to impose some universal rules for this game we all love so much. Some of these rules may displease you. But as they say when misfortune befalls great men and women, “Tough noogies.”

Let’s get started.

The first waiver run of the week will henceforth be on Wednesday nights in all leagues, not Tuesday nights.

What’s with the Tuesday-night waiver runs? Can’t we take Tuesday as a recovery day to either celebrate our triumphs or lick our wounds? I don’t know about you, but I need a day to recombobulate myself.

The practical reason for putting off waivers until Wednesday night is that we have far more injury information on Wednesdays than we have on Tuesdays. The Wednesday practice reports give us an idea of which players are likely to be doubtful, questionable or probable for the games ahead. A Wednesday-night waiver run is simply good sense.

PPR scoring is hereby banned (but half-point PPR scoring will be grudgingly tolerated).

Equating the relatively simple feat of catching a football with the arduous feat of gaining 10 yards against an NFL defense has always been ludicrous. Alvin Kamara had 13 catches for 33 yards against the Buccaneers in Week 4. Those 2.5 yards per catch did little to help the Saints, who were squashed by the Bucs in that game 26-9. But in PPR scoring, Kamara’s inconsequential pass-catching performance was worth 16.3 points — 0.3 points more than a running back would get for rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown. Ridiculous.

PPR scoring was conceived for two reasons: (1) to address a value imbalance between RBs and WRs, and (2) to dilute the impact of touchdown variance.

The first concern has been rendered obsolete by the proliferation of RB committees. The second concern is more understandable. Touchdowns are unpredictable events. Reception totals are more predictable. We want to minimize the element of luck, and PPR scoring reduces the percentage of fantasy points that come via touchdown.

There’s a better way to dilute the impact of TD variance: Make touchdowns worth 4 points instead of 6 points. We made that change in one of my standard-scoring home leagues more than a decade ago. It was so popular that two league members who were commissioners in other leagues changed TD values to 4 points in their leagues, too.

The all-play and median-scoring formats are hereby banned.

Trying to impose fairness in fantasy football is folly. Until we figure out a way to mitigate the effects of injuries in fantasy football, there will always be an element of unfairness. Head-to-head play is the essence of sport, fantasy football included. Accept that you will occasionally have good weeks and still lose, just as you will occasionally have bad weeks and luck your way into a victory.

Terrible trade offers will be punished with a $20 fine.

One-sided trade offers are annoying and a waste of time. If you submit a trade proposal that is imbalanced by 15 or more points on the FantasyPros Trade Value Chart, you will be fined. And for good measure, you will also be scorned.

Well, OK. Fantasy football has been fixed. You’re welcome.

Rest assured that more decrees, fiats and diktats will be forthcoming. But now it’s time to turn our attention to Week 10.

As always, feel free to use these tiered rankings as a tiebreaker for your difficult lineup decisions. Beneath the tiers, I’ll offer a few brief thoughts on some of the borderline start/sit guys and some other interesting cases.

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Fitz’s Fantasy Football Week 10 Tiers & Rankings

QUARTERBACKS

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Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Matthew Stafford are all on bye. Week 10 is a farewell to arms. It’s going to be a messy week at the QB position.

Dak Prescott‘s point totals in his last three games: 24.9, 29.1 and 28.4. He’s QB1 in fantasy points per game over that span. Dak doesn’t figure to get much resistance this week from a Giants pass defense that ranks 20th in DVOA. The primary concern if you’re a Dak stakeholder is that the Giants, 17.5-point underdogs, might not be able to stay close in the second half, which could mean that Dak ends up with well under 30 pass attempts.

This might be the first time all season I’m above consensus with my ranking of Sam Howell (QB9). I’m still not convinced Howell is good, but he’s been throwing like crazy. Howell has exceeded 40 pass attempts in five of his last six games. He’s averaged 42.3 pass attempts and 300 passing yards a game over that stretch. And the thing is, there’s little chance that Howell’s passing volume normalizes. The Commanders’ defense is a sieve (29th in defensive DVOA), so Howell is going to be forced into a bunch of O.K. Corral-type shootouts, and Washington is averaging a meager 90.1 rushing yards per game. Keep playing this young Wyatt Earp.

Josh Dobbs’ performance in his Vikings debut was storybook stuff. He wasn’t even supposed to play but was forced into action after rookie Jaren Hall sustained a concussion. Dobbs threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in Minnesota’s 31-28 upset of Atlanta. Dobbs will make his first start for the Vikings this weekend against a tough Saints defense that ranks ninth in DVOA against the pass. I don’t expect him to post sexy passing numbers after having less than two weeks to process a new system, but Dobbs is averaging 45.5 rushing yards over his last four games and has run for a touchdown in three consecutive games. That sturdy rushing floor makes him a viable streaming option in a week where appealing QB options are few.

Russell Wilson is averaging just 25.8 pass attempts over his last five games. The Broncos have exactly a 50/50 run-pass ratio over that stretch. Wilson is having a nice rebound season after a disappointing 2022. He ranks fifth in both passer rating and TD passes. But Wilson only ranks QB16 in fantasy points per game, and lack of pass volume is a big reason he hasn’t been a more prolific fantasy scorer. I’m below consensus on him this week, ranking him QB16.

RUNNING BACKS

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Maybe you’re holding such a strong hand at running back that you’re thinking about benching Rhamondre Stevenson. The frustration among Stevenson investors is understandable, He was RB11 in half-point PPR fantasy scoring last year, and RB8 from Week 3 on. This year, he’s RB20. Stevenson hasn’t carried the ball more than 10 times in any of his last five games. The Patriots have offloaded a good chunk of the rushing duties to Ezekiel Elliott. On the other hand, Stevenson’s recent passing-game usage has been encouraging. In his last four games, Stevenson has 22 targets, 17 catches and 128 receiving yards. It’s not the workhorse gig we wanted for Stevenson, but his current role still offers solid RB2-level value.

I’m not ready to hit the panic button on James Cook after he no-showed against the Bengals last week (6-20-0 rushing, 4-19-0 receiving). Cook had averaged 15 touches in Buffalo’s three previous games. He’s averaging 14.4 touches a game for the season, and there’s only been one game in which he didn’t get double-digit touches. It’s fair to wonder what Cook’s role will be once recent signee Leonard Fournette gets settled in with the Bills, but I don’t think Fournette (or Latavius Murray) will pull the rug out from under Cook this week in Buffalo’s matchup against Denver.

With Cam Akers out for the season with a torn Achilles, Alexander Mattison‘s role as Minnesota’s lead running back is secure. Mattison hasn’t exactly been Mr. Efficiency as a runner. He’s averaging 3.7 yards per carry and hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown this year. He’s gone five straight games without hitting 50 rushing yards. But as with Rhamondre Stevenson, Mattison’s pass-catching contributions are buoying his fantasy value. Mattison is on pace for 43 receptions and has three TD catches. The question is whether Mattison’s receiving value will remain now that Josh Dobbs is quarterbacking the Vikings. Arizona’s RBs combined for 26 receptions and 132 receiving yards in Dobbs’ eight starts for the Cardinals, so Dobbs isn’t exactly a check-down machine. On the optimistic side, it’s possible that Dobbs’ running ability spikes Mattison’s rushing efficiency — a phenomenon we often see with RBs who play with mobile QBs. And Dobbs’ presence should help preserve Mattison’s TDS potential, which would have taken a big hit if rookie Jaren Hall were quarterbacking the Vikings the rest of the way. I’m ranking Mattison as a low-end RB2 this week vs. the Saints.

Najee Harris has been a respectable RB18 in fantasy points per game (0.5 PPR) since the Steelers returned from their Week 6 bye, so he’s off the start/sit bubble and back inside our circle of trust. I also think Steelers RB Jaylen Warren is a decent play this week. That’s not just an overreaction to Warren’s season-high 113 yards from scrimmage against the Titans last Thursday. Warren’s pass catching is bankable. He’s had three or more receptions in 7-of-8 games. Warren is also averaging seven carries a game and averaging a zesty 4.7 yards per carry. He and Najee have a nice Week 10 matchup against a Green Bay defense that has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to RBs.

Zach Charbonnet has played more snaps than Kenneth Walker in each of Seattle’s last two games. Is it purely because Walker has been dealing with a calf ailment, or are the Seahawks moving toward a split backfield? I think it’s a little of both, honestly. Walker has earned his place as Seattle’s lead RB, and there’s no questioning KW3’s talent or what he’s accomplished in the NFL so far. But Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll runs a true meritocracy, and if you’re good, you’re going to earn playing time. Charbonnet is good. PFF has given Charbonnet a sterling 76.2 rushing grade this season, which is slightly better than Walker’s 75.4 grade. I think we’ll continue to see Charbonnet get opportunities. I have Walker ranked RB17 this week in a home matchup vs. Washington, and Charbonnet is my RB32.

Tyjae Spears is basically Jaylen Warren lite. Like Warren, Spears has been impressive in a supporting role. Warren had 11 carries for 88 yards last week against the Titans, but it was the first time all year that Warren has had double-digit carries and the first time he’s had more than 40 rushing yards in a game. Spears is averaging about two fewer carries and one fewer reception a game than Warren. Spears also has a tough matchup this week against the Buccaneers, who have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Spears is not an appealing lineup option this week.

Four possibilities for Keaton Mitchell: (1) He remains a distant third in the Baltimore backfield behind Gud Edwards and Justice Hill; (2) Mitchell makes it a messy three-way backfield; (3) Mitchell supplants Justice Hill as the lightning to Edwards’ thunder; or (4) Mitchell is the new Chris “CJ2K” Johnson — an ultra-fast runner from East Carolina who takes the league by storm. That last possibility is a true longshot — a top 1% outcome. Possibilities No. 1 and No. 2 are far more likely outcomes, and neither would make Mitchell a viable weekly fantasy starter. Mitchell is exciting and intriguing, but I’m being cautious with his ranking (RB44) against a tough Cleveland defense.

WIDE RECEIVERS

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How low is too low for Raiders WRs Devante Adams and Jakobi Meyers in this week’s rankings? Las Vegas is starting a rookie who was a Day 3 draft pick, Aidan O’Connell, and they have a hellish matchup against the Jets and their no-fly-zone secondary. Adams is a Hall-of-Fame level player, so I can’t put him any lower than WR14 no matter how fierce the headwinds. O’Connell had made two starts for the Raiders this season, and Adams has drawn 20 targets in those starts. I’m less enthusiastic about Meyers (WR38), who’s drawn nine targets in O’Connell’s two starts.

George Pickens‘ per-game averages in the four games Diontae Johnson has missed this season: 8.3 targets, 4.3 receptions, 89.3 receiving yards, 0.5 touchdowns. Pickens’ per-game averages in the four games Johnson has played this season: 6.3 targets, 3.3 receptions, 41.0 receiving yards, 0.25 touchdowns. Pickens is a big-play artist with extraordinary ball skills. Where he’s less impressive is with his route running and his ability to be a consistent target earner. I have Pickens ranked WR26 because of his big-play ability, and I’m well above consensus on him. Admittedly, the low end of Pickens’ range of outcomes is dungeon-level when Diontae Johnson is healthy.

I’m well below consensus on Tank Dell. I’ve got him at WR28. Dell’s ECR is WR23. Yes, Dell smashed last week against a pass-funnel Buccaneers defense, finishing with 6-114-2. Dell is a modern-day DeSean Jackson, a small, speedy receiver with electrifying playmaking ability and a streaky production profile. Dell has had three games this season with more than 20 PPR points, but he’s had four games in which he’s scored fewer than 8.5 PPR points. Dell had a season-high 11 targets last week, and he had a 10-target game back in Week 2. But Dell has also seen four or fewer targets in 4-of-7 games. The Texans aren’t especially pass-heavy, and Dell’s matchup with the Bengals this week isn’t especially favorable. I can’t quite get Dell into WR2 territory.

Courtland Sutton is a hard player to rank. He hasn’t drawn more than six targets in a game since late September, but he’s scored a touchdown in three straight games, and he has six touchdowns in eight games on the year. As mentioned in the QB section, Russell Wilson has averaged just 25.8 pass attempts over his last five games. I don’t think it’s a case of Broncos head coach Sean Payton trying to hide Wilson. Two of Denver’s last five games were against Kansas City, and it makes sense to try to run the ball against the Chiefs and play keep-away from Patrick Mahomes. Two of the Broncos’ last five games were against the Packers and Jets, who have run-funnel defenses. Basically, I don’t think Sutton’s target totals are destined to remain chronically low, so I’m above consensus on him this week, ranking him as a high-end WR3.

Keep starting Demario Douglas, who had a 5-55-0 performance last week on seven targets. Douglas doesn’t have a great individual matchup this week vs. Colts slot corner Kenny Moore, but by no means is it a prohibitive matchup. Douglas played a season-high 83% snap share last week. He’s averaging 1.81 yards per target on the season, and Douglas is averaging 5.9 yards after the catch per reception, which ranks ninth in the league, according to PFF.

Over the last two weeks, Jahan Dotson has been WR4 in fantasy scoring. People were cutting Jahan Dotson from their fantasy teams a few weeks ago. I’m slightly below consensus on Dotson, but I’m not trying to talk you out of starting him. He’s drawn 18 targets the last two weeks, and the Commanders have been an extremely pass-heavy team. But Dotson also took advantage of favorable matchups the last two weeks, going off against the Eagles and Patriots. Philadelphia has allowed the most receiving yards to wide receivers, New England the seventh-most. The good news is that Dotson has another promising matchup this week vs. a Seattle defense that has allowed the ninth-most receiving yards to WRs.

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TIGHT ENDS

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Dalton Schultz has a 25.6% target share over his last four games and has been TE5 in fantasy points per game (0.5 PPR) over that stretch. Schultz is clearly developing a strong rapport with young Texans QB C.J. Stroud, and now Schultz gets a dream matchup against the Bengals, who have been getting smoked by tight ends all season. Cincinnati has given up 12.4 fantasy points per game to TEs, second-most in the league. Enjoy the Schultz windfall now, but you might want to consider dealing him before your league’s trading deadline. As my friend Andre Cooper of Fantasy Alarm pointed out, Schultz has a nightmarish schedule in the fantasy playoffs. He faces the Titans in Week 15, the Browns in Week 16, then the Titans again in Week 17. The Browns have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to TEs, the Titans the fourth-fewest.

Taysom Hill is a must-start at this point, isn’t he? Since Week 6, Hill is TE1 in fantasy points per game (0.5 PPR) with 16.0. Travis Kelce has averaged 14.6 fantasy points over that stretch. Over his last four games, Hill has 135 rushing yards, 126 receiving yards, 51 passing yards, three touchdown runs, a touchdown catch, and a touchdown pass. Scoff at his TE eligibility if you must, but Hill’s fantasy value is undeniable.

Gerald Everett could be a sneaky TE play this week against a Lions defense that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points and eighth-most receiving yards to tight ends. It’s not just about matchup. The Chargers are hurting at wide receiver. Mike Williams is out for the season, Josh Palmer has a sprained knee and seems unlikely to play this week, and rookie Quentin Johnston doesn’t seem ready to make a meaningful contribution. Everett hasn’t had more than 30 receiving yards in a game since Week 2, but the Chargers might need him to play a bigger role in the passing game out of necessity.

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