Start or Sit: Week 10
While perusing Twitter yesterday, I came across a tweet that got me more excited than the one time they were showing Diff’rent Strokes reruns on TBS.
Full House was coming back.
I didn’t know what it really meant, as Danny Tanner would probably now be in a retirement home, and little Michelle a married, stay-at-home mom. I started doing a little digging on The Google, and found conflicting reports – the credible ones, however, saying that it was just a hoax.
I was getting ready for it. For about 10 minutes, I was prepared to listen to Bob Saget not just be a voiceover for Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother. Instead, we’ve got nothing.
But while I was searching around for confirmed news, I came across the intro to the song on YouTube. You know the tune – the “ah ah ah ahhh” at the beginning that signified the start of TGIF. Nostalgia galore.
And you know, there’s one section of the song that really hit home for me as a fantasy football writer and advisor.
Let me be your fantasy football light to carry you home…to a championship.
You Got it Dude: Thumbs Up (Solid Starts)Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Cam Newton was the first quarterback this season to not throw at least two touchdown passes against the Falcons. He still salvaged a nice fantasy day, however, with a rushing score.
Atlanta continues to rank dead last in our passing efficiency metric, and Russell Wilson should certainly benefit in Week 10. Wilson has at least 16 fantasy points every week since Week 5, and he’s thrown seven touchdowns over the last three games. You know what to do.Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
A 58 point over/under total in the San Diego versus Denver game only means one thing: start as many Chargers and Broncos as you possibly can.
Rivers is an obvious start against Denver, a team that defends the run much better than the pass. The Chargers passer has yet to have a game this season without a touchdown toss, and there’s little reason to believe that won't continue in Week 10. He’s been consistent this year, and has a lot of upside in San Diego this weekend.Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
You better not hesitate with putting Lacy in your lineup this week, but I understand the concern with him not seeing the benefit of having Aaron Rodgers under center. Fortunately the matchup isn’t tough, as the Eagles rank right in the middle of the league in adjusted defensive rushing net expected points. Like all of our NEP metrics, this one looks at how well a defense performs against rushers, adjusted for strength of schedule.
Lacy’s becoming matchup proof due to his abilities and the volume of carries he’s receiving. Regardless of who's playing quarterback, he's a good start this week.Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Did I really say Chris Johnson should be benched if you had better options last week? Let’s pretend that didn’t happen.
Johnson surprised even his biggest backers in Week 9 with a 23-carry, 150-yard performance against the Rams. We all know he’s a boom or bust player, so dubbing him a full-blown RB1 right now wouldn’t be the smartest thing in the world to do. However, he gets a Jaguars defense this week that couldn’t stop a shopping cart from rolling down a hill, making it seem reasonable that he’ll have a good day.Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
Like Johnson, Stacy had a surprising Week 9 despite the matchup he faced. Over the last three weeks, no running back in football has posted more fantasy points than Zac Stacy. The player in second? Another rookie who’s been mentioned: Eddie Lacy.
This week, the Rams runner will go up against a Colts team that ranks 22nd against the run according to our metrics. There’s no reason to think Stacy all of a sudden takes a massive step back.Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers offense goes through Antonio Brown, who now has 61 receptions through the first eight games of the season. 61! His previous high came in his sophomore year (69), as his third season was plagued by injury. But his pace – 122 receptions – would give him the third-highest reception total in NFL history.
Brown’s been steady as can be in fantasy this season, especially PPR leagues. This week he’ll go up against a Bills secondary that’s been shredded this season, allowing at least one wide receiver touchdown in every game aside from last week’s contest versus the Chiefs. And we all know how those Chiefs wide receivers are performing this year. (Hey there, Mr. Bowe.)Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
Since assuming a bigger role in the Chargers offense, Keenan Allen has yet to have a worse line than his three-reception, 67-yard performance against the Jaguars in Week 7. In the five games that he’s been Philip Rivers’ favorite target, Allen has 31 receptions, 497 yards and three touchdowns.
When you consider his NEP total on all targets (Target NEP), Allen ranks eighth among relevant pass catchers. The only guys ahead of him are previous or perennial Pro Bowlers. He’s been that good.
On Sunday, Allen’s nearly impossible to sit against Denver. You know it’ll be high scoring, and Denver’s allowed the 25th-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. The Broncos rank 25th against the pass when adjusted for strength of opponent as well.Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins
Garcon probably hasn’t gotten enough love from fantasy owners this year, but he has only one game with fewer than six receptions this season. And in that game, Garcon posted five catches for 58 yards.
He now ranks third in the NFL in targets, so you know the volume will be there. Factor in Washington’s Thursday Night Football opponent, the Vikings, and you’ve got yourself potential for a huge game. The Vikings, if you’re unaware, are bad at defending the pass, ranking only better than Atlanta in our Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points metric.Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
The ageless wonder continues to see volume, but hasn’t hit the end zone since Week 4. This week against Denver, however, there’s going to be plenty of opportunity to score some points. Sensing a theme? The Broncos have only had two good days against tight ends this season, and it came against Oakland and Jacksonville – two teams that don’t have top tight ends. Gates should have a nice week in this high-scoring affair.
Have Mercy: Good Looks (Sneaky Starts)Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
I get it, Manning’s burned you. But the Giants are coming off the bye, are getting healthier at running back, and are facing a defense that just allowed seven freaking touchdowns to Nick Foles. Eli’s been unpredictable this year, but the matchup screams opportunity.Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans
Locker didn’t come through for me last week, but against Jacksonville, doesn’t any quarterback come through? The only passer to not throw a touchdown pass against the Jags this season was Terrelle Pryor (Week 2), and the Titans don’t have a high-powered enough offense to get up so big early to the point where their quarterback becomes irrelevant.
As I mentioned last week in this column, Locker’s been an underrated real and fantasy passer this season. He should have a double-digit point floor for teams in desperate need for a quarterback.Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins
Tannehill is perhaps my favorite deep quarterback play this week, as he’s been consistent all season long and is facing a Tampa Bay secondary that’s given up two or three touchdown passes in each of their last four games. The Bucs now rank 21st against the pass according to our metrics, and much of that has to do with how they played towards the beginning of the season, not recently. Tannehill is a sneaky guy to start this week.Mike James, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs made it a priority to give Mike James the ball, and it worked. He rushed 28 times for 158 yards against a now not-so-scary Seattle rush defense, and he also threw a touchdown against them. Mike James can do it all!
He’s an interesting play this week against Miami, who was completely torched last week by Gio Bernard and company. This isn’t a new thing, as they’ve allowed a running back touchdown in each of their last five games, and, according to our analytics, are the second-worst team in the league when it comes to stopping the run.Trent Richardson, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Do I feel good about putting Trent Richardson in the sneaky starts section? No. No I don’t. But he’s here, and there’s a reason for it.
The Rams, T-Rich’s opponent in Week 10, are tough to predict against the run. We saw CJWhateverK rush for a buck fifty against them last week, but Seattle and Carolina could barely get anything going against them during the two weeks prior.
Their adjusted rank dropped after last week’s contest, and they now sit as our 19th-ranked rush defense. Depending on which Rams team shows up, it could be a boom or bust day for Richardson. Don’t sleep on Donald Brown either (I can't believe I just typed that), who’s like that annoying neighbor that keeps coming over to your house even though he’s never invited.Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints
Nobody cares about my fantasy leagues, and I get that. But Pierre Thomas, someone I was borderline obsessed with entering the season, has been the best hole-filler for my squads in fantasy this year. Don’t underestimate what he can do, folks.
Darren Sproles is supposed to play this week, which takes a bit of a hit on Thomas’ value. However, PT has been killing it through the air, having caught more passes than all but three running backs this season. And guess what? His Week 10 opponent, Dallas, has surrendered the most receiving yards to opposing running backs in the league this year. I expect Pierre to keep things rolling, even with the little man back in the lineup.Shonn Greene, RB, Tennessee Titans
Our own Keith Black put together a good piece on Greene this week, noting how fantasy owners often brush him off as usable because he’s, well, Shonn Greene. But in a game where the Titans have a good shot at getting the lead early, I like Greene to get double-digit touches and a potential score. Remember, the Jags can’t stop anything – even that shopping cart.Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
The not-traded Giant hasn’t scored a touchdown since before my last birthday. And my birthday is in February.
Even though he’s not finding the end zone, I do think he’s a good start this week against that same team that allowed Cooper to score thrice. He’s still always a risk though – both from a production and injury standpoint.Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
I hate to always target the Falcons’ secondary, but it’s becoming too easy. We saw number two wideout Brandon LaFell put up six catches for 74 yards last week, and Michael Floyd, opposite of Larry Fitzgerald, scored a touchdown on 30 yards against Atlanta the week before that. With Baldwin now the clear number two option in Seattle’s offense given his Week 10 performance, I think he’s a fine play this week against that swiss cheese defense.Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins
Hartline's been good - not great - this season, coming in as a low-end WR3 in half-point PPR leagues. However, against Tampa Bay, I like him to see better coverage while Mike Wallace gets Revis treatment, and that could lead to one of the better days of his 2013 season.Garrett Graham, TE, Houston Texans
Graham started seeing more action this week, catching four passes for 46 yards in the Texans’ Week 9 loss to the Colts. While Arizona, his Week 10 opponent, has one of the most underrated defenses in the league – the sixth-best according to our analytics – they’ve struggled against defending the tight end. In fact, no defense has allowed more fantasy points than Arizona this season to the position.
If you have solid options, Graham doesn’t have to be started over them. But if you need help off the wire, don’t be afraid of the other Graham tight end.Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
Recommending a player who has five games of three or more receptions may not make much sense, but there’s a method to my madness. Since Week 2, the Jags have allowed a touchdown to opposing tight ends in every game outside of Week 7 versus San Diego. That week, the Chargers, at the position, had nine receptions for 76 yards.
Jacksonville is bad on defense – really bad – and that includes against tight ends. Walker is a near TE1 according to our algorithms this week.
Defense to Start: Arizona Cardinals (vs. Houston Texans)
How Rude: Don't Do It (Risky Starts)Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
If you were to plot Kap’s (It’s Kap and not Kaep, says his Twitter feed) performances since Week 4 on a line graph, you’d see nothing but an upward trend. He’s essentially increased his output each week, looking ceiling-less.
But that’s sure to stop against Carolina this week, a team defense that ranks first against opposing fantasy quarterbacks, and when fixed for strength of schedule, ranks fifth against the pass.
Kaepernick may not make a fantasy living through the air, but the Panthers ground stopping abilities are just as good. All together, Carolina’s got the best defense in the NFL outside of that undefeated team in Kansas City according to our numbers.
It’s difficult to expect a lot from Kaepernick this week. He’s our 20th-ranked quarterback, lower than players like Ryan Tannehill and Ben Roethlisberger.Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
You give Matt Ryan a healthy Julio Jones and Roddy White, and I guarantee you he’s a plug-and-play fantasy starter. Unfortunately, Roddy’s crippled and Julio is done, leaving Matt Ryan with this hairy looking guy named Douglas and a tight end that’s older than my high school calculus teacher.
You need to walk away from Ryan this week. The Seahawks defense is second-best in the league at stopping the pass, and Ryan is clearly forcing the ball in tight windows, throwing seven interceptions in his last two contests. Don’t expect a lot from the Atlanta passing attack this week.Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Would I bench Superman Cam? Not unless I had someone like Russell Wilson this week. This is just a friendly reminder that Cam’s been playing well, but only against weak opponents.
Over his monster stretch since Week 5, Cam’s faced the 31st-, 27th-, 21st- and 32nd-ranked pass defenses. When facing a top-half ranked secondary, Cam’s posted 12.8 and 6.7 fantasy points (Seattle and Arizona). It’s a small sample, sure, but remember that he faces a San Francisco defense that’s been performing at a high level.Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
It’s kind of amazing, but there are probably 20 or so running backs that you’d be willing to start over Ray Rice this week. And he’s playing a Geno Atkins-less Bengals defensive line, so it’s not as though this matchup is as bad as it looks.
But Rice can’t be trusted yet. The Ravens are running the ball like a fat kid trying to beat out a throw to first, ranking third-worst in the league on a per play basis. Rice and teammate Bernard Pierce are easily the worst duo in the league toting the rock, coming in as bottom four runners in the Rushing Net Expected Points department. Don’t start Rice if you don’t have to.Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Like Rice, Steven Jackson doesn’t look right. Perhaps this is partially due to poor offensive line play, but that’s still part of Jackson’s fantasy value. Since coming back two weeks ago, Jackson has 24 carries (solid) for 63 yards (not so solid). He has caught three passes in each of those contests, to be fair.
Against the Seahawks – even if they’re not stopping the run like they usually do – I wouldn’t feel great about starting SJax. There are plenty of better options considering he’s our 24th-ranked running back this week.Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers
Smiff’s been disappointing this year, and is probably the most predictable, boring receiver in fantasy. Go take a look at his 2013 stat lines, and tell me how excited you get. First day of school excited? Christmas morning excited? Jessie Spano caffeine pills excited?
None of the above. Steve Smith’s output is like a Tuesday morning. And my Tuesday morning’s typically involve some yogurt and granola. No, I’m not a geriatric, but it’s certainly not exciting.Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Jones had a touchdown called back on Thursday night, which would have driven even more absurd love for the Bengals wideout. He’s not playing the number of snaps you’d like to see from a startable fantasy receiver, and even though he’s incredibly efficient, you can’t feel confident slotting him as a starter in shallower leagues.
The Ravens – Jones’ opponent – stop the run and the pass at a pretty average level, but in total, they have the NFL’s eighth-best defensive unit. If I had a choice, I’d rather not get involved in this divisional battle on Sunday.Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
The only way Cecil is relevant this week is if he sees 64 targets. While that could happen (OK, maybe more like 20), I’m not going to bank on him against one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Alterraun Verner. A lack of Justin Blackmon doesn’t necessarily mean better things for Shorts.Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Coby had a decent 64-yard game without Reggie Wayne on Sunday night, and even though his athletic ability makes him an intriguing option each week, I’m not entirely sold on him against the Rams this week. St. Louis has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this year, and haven’t given up a tight end touchdown since Week 4 against San Francisco. No thanks.
Cut. It. Out.: Stop It (Bad Starts)Chad Henne, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Are you aware that Chad Henne has thrown three touchdowns this season while playing in six games? Three. Why would you ever, ever take your chances with him against a Titans’ secondary that’s been great this year?
Nope. No thank you. No way.Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Quizz is somehow still owned in about 68 percent of ESPN.com leagues, and is being started in over 12 percent of them. I understand there are some deep leagues out there, but I’d have a hard time slotting him in my lineup this week against Seattle.
Since Steven Jackson’s return, Rodgers has seven carries for 27 yards. He’s still getting some action in the receiving game, and had six catches last week, but if you start him, you’re hoping – crossing your fingers – for a touchdown.Nate Washington, WR, Tennessee Titans
My favorite beer mug caught as many passes as Nate Washington last week. Why this guy continues to be started and owned over Kendall Wright continues to blow my mind, even if he is more of a big play receiver. Wright is the one to own, not Washington, and we saw that again last week against the Rams. Bench eem (that’s my Phil Simms impression).
Defense to Sit: Carolina Panthers (vs. San Francisco 49ers)