Week 10 - Starts, Sleepers, Busts
By Joel Dehls
The NFL flies by every year, how are we already in week 10? These upcoming weeks will make and break the playoffs for a lot of fantasy owners. I hope I can change the outcome for at least one team out there and bring you a championship!
Start - Jared Goff vs. Seattle
Is this a chalk play? Absolutely. Wherever and in whatever format you are playing fantasy football, Jared Goff should be started. He has had an inconsistent season to date, with 3 games of over 23 fantasy points, and 4 games under 15 fantasy points. Goff is coming off two tough matchups against Chicago, who is the 6th best defense according to PFF and Miami. Miami’s defense has improved this season, but it was an uncharacteristic game for Goff, as Miami forced 4 turnovers. To put that statistic in perspective, Goff had just 4 turnovers on the season going into week 8!
With or without Jamal Adams, this Seattle Seahawks defense is historically bad. They are on pace to give up the most passing yards in a single season (by 1000 yards) and they gave up 44 points against the Bills, which is the most ever in the Pete Carroll era. There is also a possibility that the Seahawks will be without both starting cornerbacks, Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar, as they are both battling injuries. Vegas expects this game to be a shootout, with the over/under set at 55.5, the 2nd highest total of the week. Goff has top 5 potential this week.
Sleeper - Baker Mayfield vs. Houston Texans
I hyped up Baker a couple weeks ago before backing out last minute due to the snowstorm in Cleveland. In that piece I highlighted some key stats that still ring true - all relating to Bakers success with Odell off the field. While the game didn't go well for Baker or the Browns, it was mostly due to weather, which caused both teams to score a combined 22 points (hope you had the under). It’s hard to pin that on Baker, I’m still a firm believer that he can be streamed in the right matchup.
Against the Texans, I expect Baker to light up the scoreboard. The Texans are the 7th worst defense according to PFF. There are multiple reasons why. First, they let up an average of 30.3 points/game, 4th highest among all teams, and 256 passing yards/game, which is 11th worst in the NFL. This accumulates to an average of 21.4 fantasy points/game to the quarterback position, which is bottom 10 in the league. The Texans also haven't had a great pass rush, as they only have 18 sacks on the year through 9 weeks. With Deshaun on the other side of the field and Baker having time in the pocket, he can finish as a top 12 quarterback.
Bust - Cam Newton vs. Baltimore Ravens
For Cam Newton, Sunday Night Football against the Seahawks feels like an eternity ago. After he dominated all game before falling short in the 4th quarter, we all believed Cam would be a top 10 quarterback rest of season at the minimum. He was throwing well, getting double digit rush attempts, and winning before going out because of COVID. Since he has returned, it's been a rocky road. He played decent against Denver where his rushing TD saved the day. Then got benched against SF, played decent against Buffalo then had a great game against the Jets. Over the last 4 weeks, Cam is QB26 in fantasy points/game. That is atrocious. Cam can look good against the Jets and Buffalo, but against the Ravens, it will be a tough task.
While the Ravens offense (or lack thereof) has been getting most of the media headlines, their defense is still playing at an elite level. They give up a league best 17.8 points/game, an entire point less than the Rams in second place. They can stop the pass, as they only give up 223 yards/game (10th best) and the run, as they let up 102 yards/game (8th best). The Patriots defense who started off the season pretty well, has been extremely questionable over the past 3 weeks. This will allow the Ravens to go up early and force the Patriots to run a pass heavy offense. If this happens, I expect pressure to be put on Cam (Ravens have the 6th most sacks) and cause turnovers.
Start - Duke Johnson @ Cleveland Browns
There is so much to unpack in this matchup. Likely no David Johnson, revenge game, high over under, and a great matchup! With David Johnson sidelined in week 9, Duke Johnson put together a top 10 week at the RB position. He had 16 carries (which David Johnson has only hit 3 times on the year) and 4 receptions which he turned into 73 total yards and a touchdown. He also played nearly every snap, as the only other running back to see the field was Buddy Howell, who saw just 5 offensive snaps. He wasn't efficient on the ground, averaging less than 3 YPC, but off pure volume and passing game work, he has a super high floor.
Just two weeks ago, the Browns played the Bengals with Joe Mixon sidelined, allowing Gio Benard to be the starting running back. Benard had 96 total yards, with 5 receptions and a touchdown. On the week, he ended as RB7 and I see similar skill sets between Benard and Duke Johnson. Both are better receiving backs than running backs, but can step up when the bell cow is injured. While the Browns have been middle of the pack against fantasy RB’s, I expect both offenses to be able to score. Vegas has the over/under set at 49.5, which is the 6th highest of the week. Whether the Texans are losing or winning, Duke will be involved. I like him as a top 12 running back this week.
Sleeper - Leonard Fournette @ Carolina Panthers
Last week I had a gut call on Devante Parker and he had a decent game, ending up with 12.4 PPR points. This week, my gut call is Leonard Fournette. I know the Bucs will come out with vengeance after getting embarrassed on national TV, allowing whoever is playing running back to flourish. The question is - will it be Fournette or Jones this week? Over the past 3 weeks, Fournette has out-snapped Jones in each contest with all 3 games having different game scripts. In week 7, the Bucs blew out the Raiders by 25 with Jones only seeing 31 snaps compared to Fournettes 40. In week 8, they had a competitive win against the Giants and Jones only saw 18 snaps. Last week, Jones had 16 offensive snaps in a blowout. While this is all great news for Fournette owners there is some risk, if he fumbles, blows an assignment in pass protection, or drops a couple passes, Ronald Jones could see an increased workload.
The matchup against the Panthers is ideal for running backs. The Panthers allow the 5th most points to the running back position, 25.1/game. While they did shut down the KC backfield, they allowed over 100 rushing yards and a touchdown to the Falcons in the previous week. They have allowed a total of 9 rushing touchdowns this season, and in week 2 allowed 3 rushing touchdowns to the Bucs. In that game Fournette rushed for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns, ending with 27.6 PPR points, the highest of the season.
Bust - Deandre Swift vs. Washington
Deandre Swift has begun to take the reins over as the starting RB for Detroit (FINALLY). Since their bye in week 5, Swift has the most snaps, targets, and rushing attempts on the team. It's refreshing to see a coaching staff evaluate their players and realize how they are using or misusing them. The problem is the Lions are not fully unleashing Swift. Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson are seeing far too many snaps to allow Swift to be a player you can count on on a weekly basis. Last week, Swift saw 30 snaps, Kerryon saw 25, and AP saw 20. I wanted to give both sides of the story here. Swift has seen an uptick in carries, but has yet to be fully unleashed. So unless he is in a plus matchup, he is a risky play as an RB2.
The Washington Football Team has made arguably the biggest jump as a defensive unit this year. They rank #5 in total yards allowed, #1 in pass yards/game allowed, and 11th in points allowed/game. While they have been susceptible on the ground giving up 122 yards/game, I worry what the Lions offense will look like without Kenny Golladay. With Staffords top passing options being Marvin Jones Jr, Danny Amendola, Marvin Hall and Quintez Cephus at WR, Washington will have its way against this offense. I expect Swift to be outside of the top 30 RB’s this week in a low scoring game.
Start - Jarvis Landry vs. Houston Texans
In the first full game without Odell in the lineup Jarvis Landry saw 11 targets. In total, the Browns passed the ball 25 times, giving Landry a 44% target share on the game. While 44% will be nearly impossible to duplicate on a weekly basis, Jarvis will surely see an increase in targets with Odell out of the lineup. When Landry was the #1 option in Miami, he saw nearly 10 targets/game and proved he has the talent to be the best receiver on an NFL team. Since coming to Cleveland, his targets have dropped to just about 8.5/game. Furthermore, he had his highest rated game by PFF in the first full game Odell was not on the field.
As I mentioned earlier, Baker is a different quarterback without Odell. This bodes well for Landry as he should see plenty of targets as the teams new #1 WR. The matchup against Houston is also fantastic. They give up the 7th most points to the WR position, and are one of five teams to give up 30 or more points/game. Lastly Nick Chubb is expected to return, which will give a boost to the offense. I expect Landry to finish as a top 20 WR this week.
Sleeper - Jerry Jeudy vs. Las Vegas Raiders
With all of the other rookie WR’s showing out like Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, Chase Claypool, Tee Higgins, etc. it's easy to forget Jeudy was arguably the most complete WR in this class. From route running to hands to athleticism, Jeudy has it all. It hasn't been a great start to his rookie campaign, but most of that can be attributed to Drew Lock’s inconsistent play. Over the past couple weeks however, Lock has stepped up his game, and unsurprisingly, gave Jeudy his two best games of the season. Jeudy has 24 targets in his last two games, averaging 5.5 receptions and 99 yards/game. While this is a small sample size, it's difficult to judge rookie WR’s based on early year performances. It usually takes some time for them to get comfortable in the NFL and their offseason system. In a plus matchup against the Raiders, I expect Jeudy to shine and put the rest of the NFL on notice.
The Raiders defense is terrible. They have the lowest defensive rating according to PFF, which includes the 2nd worst coverage grade. They also allow the 9th most points in the league and the 7th most passing yards/game. They have let up big games to nearly every receiving core they faced. Other than the Browns snow game, they allowed top 15 performances to Keenan Allen, Scotty Miller, and Chris Godwin just in the previous 2 weeks. This is a matchup the Broncos need to exploit if they expect to come away with a victory.
Bust - Justin Jefferson @ Chicago Bears
While Justin Jefferson has shown flashes to be the best WR in his rookie class, he has struggled to stay consistent. This isn't a knock on Jefferson, the Vikings have zigged while the rest of the league has zagged. We see teams like the Seahawks, Chiefs, and Bills abandon the run game, but the Vikings are embracing it. Cousins has only thrown the ball 34 times over the past two weeks. Jefferson has seen 8 targets over that span and hasn't been able to turn it into anything, totaling just 6 receptions for 90 yards. He has shown over the first half of the season to be a boom or bust player and against the Bears, he is a risky WR3 play.
The Bears defense has been stout across the board but especially in the secondary. They allow just 22 points/game to the WR position, which is 3rd best in the NFL. Overall, they give up less than 220 passing yards/game and hold teams to an average of 21 points/game. Vegas expects this game to be low scoring, as they currently have the over/under set at 44.5 points, the 3rd lowest of the week. I expect the Vikings to rely on Dalvin Cook on MNF and once again disappoint Justin Jefferson owners.
Start - Noah Fant @ Las Vegas Raiders
When Noah Fant is on the field, he is the favorite target for Drew Lock. Fant consistently sees targets each week, averaging about 6.5 per game. While he only saw 3 targets last week against Atlanta, he was removed from the game for multiple drives as he was dealing with an injury. In the 4 prior weeks, Fant is averaging 8 targets/game. The hyper athletic tight end has turned that into an average of 5 catches and 41.5 yards. He is lacking in the touchdown department as he has not found the end zone since week 2, but has a good chance to turn that around against the Raiders.
The Raiders are middle of the pack against the TE position, but have given up some big games. They gave up 21.1 PPR points to Gronk and the Bucs and then Kelce torched them for nearly 25 points. Fant isn't on Kelce’s level, but as a pure talent is arguably top 10 at the position. I like Fant as a top 8 TE this week.
Sleeper - Dallas Goedert @ New York Giants
The Philadelphia Eagles are finally getting healthy. All season they have dealt with injuries to WR’s, RB’s, and both TE’s. Goedert showed against Dallas that he is healthy and ready to contribute. While he had a disappointing return in week 8, it was his first week back from injury and Wentz struggled mightily as he only passed for 123 yards. Coming off a bye, I expect the Eagles to get Goedert going again.
The Giants defense has been solid this year across the board, including tight ends. They are a top 10 defense against the position, but it's important to look at who they played. The shutdown Logan Thomas, Dalton Schultz, Eric Ebron, and Jimmy Graham, but they were beaten by Kittle, Higbee, and Gronk. While Goedert isn't on Kittle’s level, I believe he is one of the more underrated tight ends in football and the Giants will have to account for him. He is a sneaky top 12 play this week.
Bust - Mark Andrews @ New England Patriots
Gone are the days of Mark Andrews as a must start TE in fantasy football. Between Lamar Jackson's regression as a passer, and the #1 rush offense in the NFL, Andrews is a matchup dependent starter. In the last 3 weeks, he is averaging just 2.6 receptions/game and 25 yards/game, which lands him as TE34 over that span. While Andrews has the ability to have a big game, it's hard to rely on him in a tough matchup against the Patriots.
The Patriots are the #1 defense against opposing tight ends, giving up an average of 6 points/game to the position. The Ravens will win this game by running the ball effectively, which will limit the upside of Andrews. Vegas has the Ravens as 7 point road favorites against New England and a low over/under of 43.5. I would much rather start Noah Fant and Dallas Goedert than Mark Andrews (2020 is wild). I have Andrews outside of the top 15 tight ends in this matchup.
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