Week 10 fantasy start/sit advice
With another week of NFL action behind us, and another week of fresh data to analyze and consider, I’m here to help you with some of your toughest fantasy football start/sit decisions.
If you’re ever stuck between a few players, please feel free to reach out to me on twitter (@ScottBarrettDFB) early in the week, and I’ll try to do my best to fit them into that week’s column. Here were some of your most frequently mentioned players for Week 10:
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions (vs. Cleveland) – Stafford ranks sixth among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game over the past five weeks of the season. This week he draws a Cleveland “pass funnel” defense ranking second-best in running back yards per carry allowed (2.91) and second-worst in opposing passer rating (103.0). The Browns also rank last in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, catapulting Stafford into the top-three of my quarterback rankings.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams (vs. Houston) – Goff has buttered our fantasy bread on efficiency (fifth-best in fantasy points per drop back) rather than volume (31st in dropbacks per game). While he might not need to pass much favored by 11.5, the matchup is excellent against a Houston Texans defense surrendering the most fantasy points per dropback to opposing quarterbacks. He’s a mid-to-low-range QB1 for me this week.
Josh McCown, QB, New York Jets (@ Tampa Bay) – McCown has scored 16.9, 18.3, 25.5, and 25.3 fantasy points over his last four games. This week he faces a Tampa Bay defense ranking fourth-worst in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers (vs. NY Giants) – I’m not sure why Hyde’s name keeps popping up among your supposedly toughest start/sit decisions every week. Hyde currently ranks 12th among running backs in carries, second in targets, and fifth in opportunities inside the 10-yard line. He also ranks fifth among running backs in expected fantasy points per game (18.3) and 11th in actual fantasy points per game (15.6). The consistency (of his workload) has been there as well – in all but one game this season, he’s totaled between 15.5 and 31.1 expected fantasy points. He should continue to soak up some extra targets this week with Pierre Garcon, Trent Taylor, and George Kittle all out. The matchup is fairly soft as well, with the Giants surrendering 100 yards rushing to every team they’ve faced but Denver.
Orleans Darkwa, RB, New York Giants (@ San Francisco) – Darkwa is definitely still a risky play, but his matchup might be too good to pass up. For the third consecutive season, the 49ers are allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. They’re allowing 31.4 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the past two seasons, or 4.6 more fantasy points per game than the next-closest team. When just looking at fantasy points allowed to a team’s highest-scoring running back, their 22.1 fantasy points per game allowed over the past two seasons is more than all but David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell have averaged over this stretch. Over New York’s last three games, Darkwa has seen 46 carries (63 percent), six targets, and both of the team’s two carries inside the 10-yard line. Darkwa is a strong mid-ranged RB2 for me this week.
James White, RB, New England Patriots (@ Denver) – White leads the team in targets since Week 4, and could see even more work as a receiver this week with Chris Hogan out. When these two teams met last year, White saw eight (or 25 percent of the team’s) targets. I have White penciled in as a low-end RB2 this week.
Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets (@ Tampa Bay) – Over New York’s last four games, Anderson leads all Jets wide receivers in targets by 10 (27) and fantasy points by 30 (61). He draws a Tampa Bay defense allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to outside wide receivers and ranking last in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game surrendered to opposing wide receivers.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins (@ Carolina) – I have Parker penciled in as a high-end WR2 this week, up against a Carolina defense allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing outside wide receivers. Excluding Week 5, when he only played three snaps, Parker ranks ninth among wide receivers in targets per game (8.5), fourth in yards in air per game (129.3), second in deep targets per game (2.8), ninth in expected fantasy points per game (14.9), and ninth in actual fantasy points per game (14.9). We expect Parker to draw James Bradberry in shadow coverage this week, but I’m not too nervous. Parker has still been productive despite having the toughest cornerback schedule in the league, and Bradberry actually grades out poorly (90th of 115 qualifying cornerbacks) while allowing the fourth-most yards (450) of any cornerback this season.
Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants (@ San Francisco) – Shepard saw nine targets last week in a tough matchup against our 36th-highest-graded cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. This week he faces a San Francisco defense surrendering a 126.6 passer rating (second-worst) to opposing quarterbacks when targeting slot wide receivers. With San Francisco’s starting slot cornerback K’Waun Williams back at practice, the matchup looks even better. Of 114 qualifying cornerbacks, Williams is our second-most-frequently targeted cornerback and ranks 10th-worst in fantasy points allowed per route run.
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings (@ Washington) – Thielen ranks fourth in slot targets (41) and has run 61 percent of his routes from the slot in games Stefon Diggs has played. Only five times this season has a wide receiver (Doug Baldwin, Nelson Agholor twice, Aldrick Robinson, and Mack Hollins) scored at least 11 PPR fantasy points against Washington. 91 percent of these players’ fantasy points against Washington have come from the slot. Opposing passers are averaging a passer rating of 101.2 when targeting wide receivers in the slot, as opposed to a 53.0 passer rating when targeting wide receivers outside, which ranks as the largest differential in the league. Or, a final way of putting this, they’re allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to slot wide receivers and the fewest to outside wide receivers. Thielen ranks seventh among wide receivers in expected fantasy points per game (15.5) and that number drops to only 12th (14.4) in games Diggs has also played. Needless to say, I’m expecting a big game from Thielen this week, while I view Diggs as a much riskier play.
Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions (vs. Cleveland) – Over the past month of the season, Jones leads all wide receivers in yards in air per game (177.7), targets per game (12.0), targets inside the 10-yard line per game (1.3), targets inside the 20-yard line per game (2.7), end-zone targets per game (3.3), expected fantasy points per game (26.1), and actual fantasy points per game (23.4). He has a tough matchup this week against Jason McCourty, our third-highest-graded cornerback this year, but by no means am I willing to bench this kind of volume.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons (vs. Dallas) – Hooper has seen between 6 and 9 targets in four of his last five games. He draws a Dallas defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends over the past two seasons. Dallas’ numbers look a bit better this year, but Travis Kelce was really the only competent (or uninjured and not starting in his first career game) tight end they’ve played this year, and he put up 20.3 fantasy points against them last week.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings (@ Washington) – Rudolph has seen between seven and nine targets in each game he’s played following Dalvin Cook’s season-ending ACL injury. He draws a Redskins defense allowing the most receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends, and the second-most fantasy points per game over the past two seasons.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants (@ San Francisco) – In his last three games, Engram has totaled 27 targets, including three red-zone targets, two end-zone targets, and two deep targets. He ranks third among all tight ends in expected fantasy points per game (14.7) over the past month of the season. On paper the matchup looks tough, but that’s not including season-ending injuries to safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward. Tartt was San Francisco’s highest-graded defender in coverage and our 11th-highest-graded safety this season, and a main reason why San Francisco has performed so well against tight ends as of late.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins (vs. Minnesota) – Cousins has totaled just 18.8 fantasy points over the past two weeks and now faces a Vikings defense that has surrendered just one QB1 week all season. It’s likely no coincidence that Cousins’ poor struggles of late coincide with multiple injuries to his offensive line (he was without three starting offensive linemen and one back-up last week). It’s worth monitoring Washington’s injury report to see how many might return this week, but even still, Cousins is probably better off avoided in Week 10.
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (@ Jacksonville) – Jacksonville leads the league with an opposing passer rating of 62.9 on 252 attempts. The last time a quarterback had as many pass attempts and a worse passer rating in a single season was seven years ago (Jimmy Clausen, 2010). Rivers is an easy fade this week.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Seattle) – A 32-year-old running back coming off of a 39-touch performance on a short week against a Seattle defense ranking sixth-best in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs? No thanks.
Rob Kelley, RB, Washington Redskins (vs. Minnesota) – Kelley has three touchdowns in his last two games, but also hasn’t topped 25 total yards since Week 2. Up against a Vikings defense ranking fourth-best in rushing fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs, he’s better off left on your bench.
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks (@ Arizona) – Rawls is our third-worst-graded running back this season and is playing behind our third-worst-graded run-blocking unit. He has failed to top 40 rushing yards in any game this season, and, despite Eddie Lacy being ruled out for Week 10, he won’t find his way onto any of my lineups this week.
Miami running backs (@ Carolina) – Last week we saw both of Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake draw exactly six targets and between seven and nine carries. Carolina ranks top-12 in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs on the ground and through the air. Both are better off avoided this week.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. LA Chargers) – Lee ranks 10th among wide receivers in total yards per game and 15th in fantasy points per game over the past four weeks of the season. Still, he’s an easy bench this week, projected to be shadowed by Casey Hayward, our sixth-highest-graded cornerback this year. Hayward was our second-best shadow cornerback over the past two seasons, and has been just as effective this year. Outside of one game against Odell Beckham Jr., Hayward has surrendered just 10.4 fantasy points into his coverage since Week 3 (while drawing 16 targets, intercepting one pass, and breaking up five more). Despite his recent productivity, Lee is an easy fade this week.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts (vs. Pittsburgh) – After writing up Hilton as a must-start option last week, in a dream matchup against a Texans defense surrendering the second-most fantasy points per game to receivers on deep targets, I’m less confident this week. Even after last week’s big game, he ranks a lowly 29th among wide receivers in expected fantasy points per game. He also has a tough matchup against a Steelers defense ranking third best in opposing passer rating, third-best in fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers, and 14th-best in fantasy points allowed per game on deep targets. I have Hilton as a low-end WR2 this week.
Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo Bills (vs. New Orleans) – Prior to his injury, Clay led all tight ends in target market share and led all receivers in end-zone target market share. Coming off of an injury, with Kelvin Benjamin now added to the mix, Clay is still better off avoided in Week 10 up against the Saints. Outside of one game against Rob Gronkowski, no tight end has totaled more than 30 yards against New Orleans.