For the second week in a row, we've got a total dog on Thursday night. Last week it was a snoozefest non pareil between the Chiefs and the Chargers; this week we've got a middle-of-the-pack SEC team in Jacksonville going up against the Colts, a team buoyed by emotion and a marginal amount of talent.
But hey, football is football and even if you don't give two squirts about the actual game, you surely care about your fantasy team. Using the power of numbers - just think of us as the 538 of sports, expect that we're far less awkward than Nate Silver - we'll help you figure out who to start, who to sit, and who to boot off your roster altogether.
Fantasy Football Best Starts/Must Sits Week 10
Andrew Luck - Indianapolis Colts
Week 10: 19.01 Projected Points (#7 Ranked QB)
Percent Started: 47%
Verdict: Start Him
There's a been a lot of talk about RG3 and rightfully so, but Andrew Luck has surely outplayed him in the past two weeks. The Colts faithful surely didn't love seeing their beloved Peyton Manning rocket out of the gate the way that he did, but there's a lot to feel confident in if you're a Colts fan. That confidence will almost surely remain this week in a pillow-soft matchup against the struggling Jaguars.
The Jaguars rank #28 in our defensive efficiency metrics, right up there with the Titans and Bills - not a great crew to associate with. Despite being a rookie, Andrew himself finds himself in very good company amongst his comparables; his #1 comparable is 2005 Tom Brady, a whole 4% above his next comparable, 2009 Donovan McNabb. The rest of his comparables fill out with some very solid starts in Steve McNair, Josh Freeman, and Drew Bledsoe. Yeah, I think it's safe to say his stock is pointing up.
Knowing where you likely drafted him, you've probably got another QB on your roster that you figured would be your starter. Unless we're talking about Tom Brady or Drew Brees, we like Andrew Luck's chances to outscore just about anyone, and therefore he's a great start on almost any roster.
Steven Jackson - St. Louis Rams
Week 10: 7.58 Projected Points (#25 Ranked RB)
Percent Started: 39%
Verdict: Sit Him
I'll be the first to admit that for many years, I had a fantasy crush on Steven Jackson. I didn't care that he had a difficult time finding the end zone or that he never really justified where I picked him. He was always so consistent, so injury-proof, and so good in PPR formats that I could always point to him as what a fantasy pick should be; for better or for worse, you always knew what you were getting out of him. Sadly, those days are over.
Well, sort of. I suppose you still know exactly what you're getting out of S.Jax - below league-average production on a crappy team. Oh, and he's STILL not getting touches. Not to mention that unlike the past forever in St. Louis, he's actually got some competition for carries and... you get it by now. He's lost me, and I'm never coming back.
There are certainly weeks where he will be startable, though. He's not quite Alex Green bad or Green-Ellis overrated; rather he's just got a lot of tread on his tires. Against a soft team he's a great play if your expectations are in check, but against the 49ers and their #4 defense, he's simply not worth the risk. His top predictive performance indicates just 5 FP; only two of his top eight comparables even scored double digits. Not what you're looking for.
Brian Hartline - Miami Dolphins
Week 10: 8.69 Projected Points (#28 Ranked WR)
Percent Started: 38%
Verdict: Start him
This one is sort of going out on a limb for us, but the fundamentals are all there - Brian Hartline is a startable receiver. Frankly, I didn't think there'd be anyone startable in Miami all season outside of Reggie Bush, but here we are with the East Coast version of Danny Amendola - racking up PPR value and playing underneath like a poor man's Wes Welker. I'll take that.
Hartline's comparables are interesting to note, mostly because they're wildly variable. On one hand, you've got two great slot receivers in 2006 Isaac Bruce and 2001 Wayne Chrebet. In the other corner, you've got playmakers in 2011 Hakeem Nicks and 2010 Stevie Johnson, which again is a great sign. The #2 comparable is the odd one - 2000 Donald Hayes. Donald was a very solid receiver that year, pulling in 61 receptions and finishing in the top 20 in the league in net receiving efficiency. Unlike his other comparables though, he wasn't relevant in almost any other season - perhaps pointing to a slightly disappointing future for Brian.
Still, we're talking about one week here and not his career - and this week he's got the Titans. You probably picked him up off of waivers at some point, so you're thinking about bumping down your WR #3 in favor of him - I say do it and take the day off. You've earned it, waiverman!
Tony Romo - Dallas Cowboys
Week 10: 15.32 Projected Points (#14 Ranked QB)
Percent Started: 59%
Verdict: Sit Him
We just finished an article for ESPN about the remaining strength of schedule for all of the teams in the league. Who do you think has the easiest remaining schedule in the league? None other than the Dallas Cowboys, the eminent domain of one Jerry Jones! Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, that soft schedule does not start until after this week's tough matchup against the #9 Eagles, who have to win NOW.
In looking at Romo, I think it's fair to say that he simply doesn't look comfortable. Whether it's a lack of faith in his inconsistent receiving options or a lack of a solid run game to stabilize the offense, he's forcing throws and trying to press, leading to interceptions and unhappy owners everywhere. His raw efficiency numbers don't look too hot, either: he ranks #14 in passing efficiency... right below Ryan Fitzpatrick. Ouch. Even worse, his comparables so far this year are Matt Hasselback 2004, Mark Brunell 2002, and Chad Pennington 2006. Triple ouch.
If you're the type who likes good news with your bad news, the good news is that it gets better for Tony. His schedule gets a lot easier, and the return of DeMarco Murray can only help. This week, however, is still a loss.
Stevan Ridley - New England Patriots
Week 10: 9.48 Projected Points (#16 Ranked RB)
Percent Started: 56%
Verdict: Start Him
Other than perhaps the Shanahanigans in Washington, no RB situation can be as complex and frustrating as the Patriots. Going back as long as I can remember under Belichick, it's always been a total grab bag of backs. Some weeks it was Kevin Faulk, some weeks it was Corey Dillon, some weeks it was Danny Woodhead. And while I can't say those days are completely behind us - not with Woodhead still lurking and Brandon Bolden hanging around - I feel confident enough in Steven Ridley to put my foot down and say that you should start him.
Why am I so confident? The numbers, of course! He's been above 15 carries the past five weeks and has done great in that span, suffering a below league-average week only once on the road against a very tough Seahawks defense. His comparables seem to point to a stock on the rise - a double-dose of Brandon Jacobs with LeSean McCoy 2011 mixed in for good measure - and matchups surely don't get better than the Bills at home.
He's even got a relatively low confidence interval for a starting back, ranging from 4.83-14.13. This means that we're 68% confident that he'll fall within those two poles. We don't think he'll kill it - possibly due the aforementioned spread of carries - but he certainly won't kill you, either.
Dwayne Bowe - Kansas City Chiefs
Week 10: 8.96 Projected Points (#25 Ranked WR)
Percent Started: 68%
Verdict: Sit Him
This is a tough situation for a lot of owners. On one hand, Bowe is clearly the only man in town for the Chiefs, an oasis of talent in a cesspool of Arena League players. You know they're going to lose (let's see: on the road, in Pittsburgh, on Monday night) and therefore, they're going to have to throw the ball late to stay in the game. On the other hand, both Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn are playing like they want to sell insurance next year and the Steelers defense is rounding into Steel Curtain shape after rocking the Giants without Troy Polamalu.
So, which hand wins out? We're erring on the side of sitting him. This is a brutal matchup for the Chiefs and in the absence of anything close to a WR2 option, Bowe will be blanketed by the Pittsburgh secondary. There are much worse strategies in the world than forcing Dexter McCluster to beat you. Bowe's top predictors only top double digits once in the top five and three out of the top ten - that's just not enough for you to be confident in starting him.