Top fantasy takeaways from Week 10’s action
Jeff Ratcliffe runs through the top fantasy lesson from each of the weekend's games.
Top fantasy takeaways from Week 10’s action
Three weeks. That’s all that remains in the fantasy regular season after Monday night’s contest between the Bengals and Giants. As we hit the stretch run, the NFL continues to shift and morph right in front of our eyes. Here are the most important takeaways from Week 10 of the NFL season:
Green Bay @ Tennessee
Marcus Mariota is an elite fantasy option.
He was the top fantasy scorer at quarterback this week with four passing scores and 295 yards through the air. Since Week 5, Mariota averages 259.5 passing yards and 2.8 passing scores per game. He’s also chipped in 167 yards and two scores on the ground. His 25.5 fantasy points per game over that span leads the position — Drew Brees is second with 24.8 points per game. Mariota should continue to roll the next two weeks against Indy and Chicago. Fantasy owners should note that he has a Week 13 bye and gets Denver in Week 14.
Minnesota @ Washington
Stefon Diggs is a PPR machine.
It’s been an up-and-down season for Diggs, but he’s really seemed to hit his stride over the last two weeks. With back-to-back 13-catch games, Diggs leads all receivers with 26 catches over that span. He’s also second in yards with 244. This uptick places Diggs tied for third with Julio Jones among wide receivers in catches for the season. His lack of touchdown production — he has just two on the year — has Diggs among the WR2s in fantasy scoring. However, the fact that he’s seen double-digit targets in each of the last three games bodes extremely well for Diggs’ fantasy stock down the stretch.
Chicago @ Tampa Bay
What happened to Mike Evans?
A lot of fantasy owners are asking this question after Evans caught just four balls for 66 yards on Sunday. His four targets were the fewest he’s seen all season, and this was the first time he failed to top double-digit targets since Week 1. So what happened? The Bears used Tracy Porter to shadow Evans. While Porter is by no means a shutdown corner, he is by far Chicago’s best option. Jameis Winston didn’t avoid Porter, but he also didn’t try to force-feed Evans. Winston attempted 33 passes, but only 16 went to wide receivers. While this certainly was a suboptimal performance from Winston, fantasy owners should not be worried about him going forward. Better game scripts are ahead. Evans remains an elite fantasy option.
Kansas City @ Carolina
Tyreek Hill sees massive target share on minimal snaps.
With Jeremy Maclin out, we saw the Chiefs slide Albert Wilson into the starting lineup with Hill remaining in the slot. Chris Conley led the Kansas City wide receiver in snaps with 54, followed by Wilson (46) and then Hill (39). However, Hill straight-up dominated the targets, seeing 13 of Alex Smith’s 38 attempts. That was nearly double Wilson’s seven. Conley wasn’t a factor with just three targets. Hill didn’t manage a big yardage day — he had 89 receiving yards — but his 10 catches helped to produce a top-15 PPR week. While Hill’s snap total is still on the low side, but he did play a season-high 61 percent of the Chiefs’ offense snaps. He’s still a boom-or-bust fantasy option, but the genie is out of the bottle. Hill will continue to see targets even when Maclin returns.
Atlanta @ Philadelphia
Who is the Eagles lead back?
Entering the week, it seemed the clear answer to that question was Darren Sproles. He’d played 80-plus-percent of Philly’s offensive snaps in each of the last two games, and was completely dominating the touches out of the backfield. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson even said as much after Ryan Mathews played just eight snaps over the last two weeks. However, on Sunday Mathews racked up 19 carries for 108 yards and a score to go along with two catches for 30 yards. Sproles saw his typical heavy workload in the passing game with eight catches on 10 targets, but only carried the ball two times. While the touch ratio is essentially a 2:1 split in favor of Mathews, Sproles did actually out-snap Mathews 31-26. Regardless, the Eagles’ backfield usage suggests we’re back to a scenario where Mathews is the lead back on early downs with Sproles working as the receiving back. Going forward, that puts Mathews in the RB2 borderline and Sproles as a flex option with RB2 potential in PPR leagues.
Los Angeles @ NY Jets
Todd Gurley is still seeing volume.
We knew he was likely to struggle this week, but perhaps Gurley owners can rest better knowing that he is getting plenty of opportunities. Sunday marked his third 20-carry game of the season and the sixth time he’s topped 20 touches. That isn’t huge solace considering Gurley ranks just 21st among running backs in standard scoring and 19th in PPR. But his volume is at least keeping Gurley in the RB2 conversation. It’s certainly not what fantasy owners had hoped for, but all things considered, it could be a lot worse.
Denver @ New Orleans
New Orleans uses RB committee; Denver does not.
File this one under “What we expected.” The Saints stayed the course with their backfield committee on Sunday, with Mark Ingram touching the ball 13 times and Tim Hightower seeing 10 touches. Ingram was the better player on the field and ended up being the better fantasy option. That being said, he wasn’t a good fantasy option with just six standard and eight PPR points. While some anticipated the Broncos to turn to a committee or even use Kapri Bibbs as their lead back, Devontae Booker remained the clear feature back. Booker out-touched Bibbs 26-7. Bibbs did play a season-high 18 snaps, but he struggled in his expanded role. While it wasn’t a big fantasy day for Booker, he remains a front-end RB2 with Bibbs as only a handcuff.
Houston @ Jacksonville
Allen Robinson is surging.
Just a few weeks ago, there were some fantasy owners who pondered dropping Robinson. Hopefully nobody did so because he’s a top-10 fantasy wideout over the last two weeks. And this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The writing was on the wall for Robinson all along. The most important factor in fantasy production from wide receivers is volume. Robinson ranks sixth among receivers in targets on the season, and second since Week 5. He’s topped double-digit targets in 6-of-9 games this year and in each of the last three weeks. Despite Blake Bortles’ struggles, Robinson remains a weekly WR1.
Miami @ San Diego
Antonio Gates out-targets Hunter Henry 8-2.
Both Gates and Henry managed top-10 fantasy numbers this week, but let’s be clear that Gates is the better fantasy option and it’s not particularly close. Gates not only out-targeted Henry, but he also played more than double the snaps at 58-26. Since Week 5, Gates leads all tight ends with 44 targets. He also ranks third among tight ends over that span in fantasy scoring. While Henry has a bright future, Gates is the Chargers tight end to own right now in fantasy leagues.
Dallas @ Pittsburgh
Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell combined for 28 targets.
All eyes have been on Ezekiel Elliott’s performance in this contest, but the Steelers offense deserves our attention as well. Ben Roethlisberger still isn’t 100 percent, but he did look better this week. Brown was one of three wide receivers to see 18 targets this week — Jordy Nelson and Larry Fitzgerald also did — and Bell topped double-digit targets for the third time this season. Bell is now second among running backs in targets despite missing three games due to suspension.
San Francisco @ Arizona
J.J. Nelson flounders.
Coming out of the Cardinals Week 9 bye, Nelson appeared poised to emerge as the No. 2 receiver in Arizona. Well, that didn’t happen on Sunday. Nelson managed just two catches on six targets, fumbled the ball early in the first quarter, and had a bad drop that resulted in a pick. Meanwhile, Michael Floyd finally looked good, posting five catches on six targets for 101 yards. Fantasy owners who grabbed Nelson before the Cards’ bye will likely want to cut him loose this week.
Seattle @ New England
C.J. Prosise leads the Seahawks’ backfield.
With Christine Michael banged up and fading, the Seahawks gave Prosise the feature back treatment. Prosise played 54 snaps while Michael was on the field for just 11 snaps. Prosise also racked up 24 touches with 17 carries for 66 yards and seven catches for 87 yards. He was elusive, forcing five missed tackles, and performed extremely well as a receiver. While Thomas Rawls could return this week, Prosise is the most intriguing Seahawks running back to own for fantasy playoffs.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.