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I like to think that our readers have a certain degree of fantasy acuity before they arrive, so my hope is that this start and sit week 10 list – which avoids the obvious – will be useful for all of you. I’ve made my opinions on start/sit implicitly known via my weekly rankings, so, you won’t see a lot of QBs inside my Top 6, etc. listed here. The idea of this post is to give you some deep names that will yield start worthy value and some entrenched starters that should be riding the virtual pine.
Week 10 QB Starts
Cam Newton at San Francisco – I understand the reservations on Cam facing a 49ers defense allowing just 13.83 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs, but if you factor out a couple of ugly games from Sam Bradford and Matt Schaub against them the number increases considerably to 17.74 PPG, good for the 15th most in the league. Of course, we can’t play with the statistics that way but the point is that strong QBs have overcome San Francisco’s D this year. They have allowed Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers and Jake Locker all to score more than 17 points against them. Cam has scored the third most points in the league through the last five weeks and is deserving of our trust, regardless of matchup.
Jake Locker vs. Jacksonville – Jake Locker appeared in this piece last week, and had it not been for a late rushing touchdown he would have been a thorough disappointment. Even with it, he didn’t rank anywhere near ‘start’ status. Still, I give Locker the benefit of the doubt this week with a much more appealing matchup. Locker was sacked four times and hurried on numerous others against an aggressive Rams front seven. This week, things ease up with a contest against a Jacksonville team giving up the third most points in the league to opposing QBs, and has a 16:3 TD to Interception ratio.
Week 10 QB Sits
Andrew Luck vs. St. Louis – Per above, the Rams are a better-than-we-think unit against the pass. They haven’t allowed a passer to score more than 15.16 points against them since Week 3. Third in the league in sacks, the Rams D could cause significant problems for an offensive line that ranks in the bottom eight in terms of pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus. While Luck survived last week while discovering T.Y. Hilton in the second half, the QB lacks the secondary reads to convince me that he can effectively move the ball against a secondary that has its holes but has allowed just two 100 yard receivers on the season.
Case Keenum at Arizona – I’ve been enjoying Keenum’s strong performance as much as anyone else, and we should note that his debut game came against the league’s top defense, but I don’t think he can get it done in Arizona. With Patrick Peterson allowing just a 50% completion rate against his coverage and the reality that the Texans got very little done last week when Andre Johnson became a focal point of the Colts defense in the second half, Keenum could struggle against a better than advertised Cardinals D – they’re in the bottom 10 in terms of FPPG allowed to QBs over the past month.
Week 10 RB Starts
C.J. Spiller at Pittsburgh – I shared a detailed piece on Spiller’s outlook here; but the moral is: he’s apparently back to full health and slated for a full workload. Fred Jackson will still get his, mind you, but even 15 touches against a Steelers D giving up the 5th most most fantasy points per game, and 0.73 fantasy points per touch should yield solid RB2 numbers. Darren McFadden and Steven Ridley each scored two touchdowns and more than 19 fantasy points against the Steelers in weeks 8 and 9.
Danny Woodhead vs. Denver – While I spent a portion of my Week 9 review ripping the Chargers for their limited usage of Ryan Mathews, I’ll admit that certain game situations call for it. This matchup is one such situation. With Denver coming off a bye and facing San Diego’s pass defense giving up a league high 8.5 YPA we can expect the Broncos to put up some points. Knowing that, Philip Rivers and company should find themselves in plenty of passing situations. Woodhead tripled up Mathews’ snap count last week and while the gap may not be as significant this week, Woodhead should be the most used back. Particularly in PPR leagues, I love Woodhead this week, and across all settings he’s a useable RB2. On the season, Woodhead is averaging 0.76 fantasy points per touch and should be expected to see 12-15 this week at a minimum.
Week 10 RB Sits
Ray Rice vs. Cincinnati – Yuck! There is my expert analysis on Ray Rice. The consensus RB1 during draft season has posted just two top 25 weeks all year, and just one top 12 outing. Sometimes, the Ravens aren’t using them enough, sometimes it has been the result of an injury, but all times he’s running under four yards per carry. Rice is the 37th ranked RB on the season and is coming off a game where he averaged just 1.55 yards per carry. He’s seen 20 touches just once, and with good reason. This week, he’ll get a Cincinnati defense that – while they are now dealing with some significant injuries – is allowing the 10th fewest yards per game in the league to go with just four rushing touchdowns. In what could be a low scoring AFC North battle, steer clear of Rice. There are likely a number of more attractive options on your waiver wire both this week, and moving forward.
Lamar Miller at Tampa Bay – The arrow was pointing up on Miller coming out of Week 8 and he managed to pick up another 20 touches in Week 9, making it consecutive weeks where the second year pro has topped the number. While the apparent shift in philosophy is a bonus for Miller owners, the state of the team generally and the offensive line specifically is not. Jonathan Martin hadn’t been overwhelming as a run blocker this year, but, Richie Incognito has been one of the league’s more consistent Guards, making the Pro Bowl in 2012 and grading out well per PFF this season. Without either player, the O-line could be in trouble against a Bucs D giving up the 12th fewest FPPG to RBs this year. Add to that the anticipated struggles of the offense in general as Ryan Tannehill faces more pressure and the distractions mount, and I’m steering clear of Miller this week.
Week 10 WR Starts
Keenan Allen vs. Denver – Allen has inserted himself into the every week WR1 discussion with his play of late – a stretch of four games where he is averaging 14.93 fantasy points per game and has gone over 100 yards with a TD three times. Denver is giving up the 6th most points to opposing WRs on the season and have allowed nine receivers to go over 10 points in their eight games. Expect Allen to exceed his nine target per game average of the last month – for a player averaging 15.5 yards per catch this year, and a 75.6% catch rate that represents an opportunity for a big day.
Riley Cooper at Green Bay – I’m just embracing a bromance here. We discussed the disparity in usage and production with Cooper in games where Nick Foles is playing QB relative to when Michael Vick is behind center and the difference is too significant to ignore. Perhaps, over time, Foles will start looking for other options, but, Cooper has been playing WR2 snaps all season for the Eagles and Foles isn’t afraid to make use of him. The Packers are in the top half of the league in terms of WR scoring generosity, and until I see otherwise, I’m riding the Foles-Cooper connection. He’s startable as a WR2 over most options and a WR3 over just about anyone.
Deep Bonus: Kenny Stills vs. Dallas – I’m not running away from Stills after a quiet outing against the Jets. Stills hasn’t seen more than five targets in a game this season and typically comes in in the 3/4/5 range so he’s as big a boom or bust candidate as you get, but, with Dallas coming to the dome I think we’re looking at a boom week. If you’re swinging for the fences with upside or limited at WR3 with injuries and byes, he’s definitely worth a look. The Cowboys are giving up 323 passing yards per game and have allowed 36 pass plays of more than 20 yards this season, the third highest number in the league. If there is ever a week to expect
Week 10 WR Sits
Torrey Smith vs. Cincinnati – I’m well behind ECR on Torrey Smith this week ranking him as WR36. In four career games against the Bengals Smith has delivered exactly one useful fantasy line. In fairness, that game was a big one (with 165 yards and a score) and two of the other games came in Week 17 where his playing time is limited, but he’s posted three straight games against the Bengals where he was held to seven fantasy points or fewer – in one game, he went in the red with one carry for a loss. Over his last four – even with a 121 yard effort on the slate – Smith is averaging under 70 yards per game and he has only found the endzone once this season. The Bengals are 21st in FPPG allowed to opposing WRs this year.
Michael Floyd vs. Houston – Floyd and the Cardinals face the fourth most difficult WR matchup this week, and with reports that Larry Fitzgerald is back to full health Floyd could see fewer targets than usual. Floyd limped into the bye with just 5.25 targets per game and no outing over 61 yards during that span. If he’s not getting in the endzone, there are better WR3 plays out there, with higher floors. Houston has given up some big games to WR1s this season, but they have not allowed a secondary option to post more than seven fantasy points against them with all but two of the eight touchdowns they’ve allowed to WRs this season going to number one options. Expect this to be Fitzgerald’s week, if anyone’s, for Arizona.
Week 10 TE Starts
Julius Thomas at San Diego – Outside of Jimmy Graham, who catches two touchdowns as easily as I drink a soda (Editors note: Jon drinks a soda pretty easily), Julius Thomas has the most TDs at the TE position this season with eight and is registering the third most fantasy points per game. Don’t talk yourself out of JT simply because there are a number of options in Denver. Against a Chargers defense allowing the fifth most passing yards per game and 30% of their (admittedly paltry) 10 passing touchdowns to the TE position Thomas is a good bet to find the endzone on the West Coast this week.
Garrett Graham at Arizona – Graham has seen 13 targets in Case Keenum’s two games at the helm and he’ll draw a Cardinals defense giving up the most points in the league to the position via 708 yards receiving and eight scores through eight games. The equation isn’t linear and involves far too many variables, but, it’s hard to see a scenario where 6.5 targets*1.52 FP/Target doesn’t = TE1 status.
Week 10 TE Sits
Scott Chandler at Pittsburgh – Chandler has seen a number of different QBs throwing him the ball this season and has manged to draw 20 looks the past two weeks with Jeff Tuel and Thad Lewis throwing him the ball. If his limited history with EJ Manuel tells us anything, though, its that the TE should see closer to his 5.4 average over the first five games of the season. That type of volume against a Steelers D that had allowed just over 300 yards and one touchdown against TEs before Rob Gronkowski put it on them last week, and is still allowing under 7 FPPG to the position won’t yield a day anywhere near the top 12 or Chandler.
Week 10 Defenses to Stream
Houston Texans vs. Arizona – 53% owned – We’re picking on Carson Palmer’s picks. The Cardinals QB has been intercepted in every game this season and the bye week seems unlikely to have fixed his propensity for turning the ball over. The Texans have just three interceptions and 20 sacks on the season, but, they should have plenty of scoring opportunities against a Cardinals offense that can’t hang onto the football. The Cardinals are the 13th most sacked team in the NFL and score the 24th most points per game.
Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh – 19% owned – Big Ben has been sacked 32 times, the second highest mark in the league, en route to being a part of the 5th most generous team to opposing fantasy defenses. With Mario Williams and a Buffalo defense that should be improving against the pass as they get back to health coming to town we should see a QB under pressure. If so, Pittsburgh shouldn’t be expected to exceed their 19.5 PPG average on the season suggesting that Baltimore can put up points in the base fantasy categories while likely giving owners a turnover or two.