Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 10
Week 9 was a great week for our bold predictions. Lamar Jackson roasted the New England Patriots, finishing with well above the 18 fantasy points we set as a bar -- he finished as the week's QB3 overall. And Derrick Henry scored 2 touchdowns to finish with 23.4 fantasy points, just enough to finish as the RB5 for Week 9.
We had less success with our other predictions. Baker Mayfield mustered up his second-best fantasy performance of the year, but his 17.12 fantasy points landed him as the QB14 -- just outside the top-12 finish we predicted he would have. The Jacksonville Jaguars could barely muster up any resistance against the Houston Texans, losing the game by 23 points. And Robby Anderson finished Week 9 with just 4.3 fantasy points -- he and his four targets took a noticeable backseat to Jamison Crowder and his team-high nine targets.
There are a whopping six teams on bye this week, but that doesn't mean we can't keep things interesting. We're looking to keep riding on this hot streak -- here's another set of five bold predictions for Week 10.
Mitchell Trubisky Will Finish as a QB1
Describing Mitchell Trubisky's 2019 season as anything less than a disaster would be dishonest. He's been downright terrible in his third NFL season. His 4.61 adjusted net yards per attempt -- which factor touchdowns, interceptions and sacks into the more traditional yards per attempt stat -- rank 32nd among all NFL quarterbacks. His 2.3% touchdown rate ranks last in the league as well. In other words, he's one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL this year no matter how you look at it.
But a bad NFL quarterback can still be a relevant -- or even great -- quarterback for fantasy football. In fantasy football, turnovers matter less than in real football -- just look at this year's QB9 in fantasy points per game, Jameis Winston -- and rushing production matters much more.
Of the current top-12 quarterbacks in fantasy, half average 20 or more rushing yards per game. We actually haven't seen Trubisky rush the ball much in 2019, but we've seen his rushing ability in previous seasons. The potential is certainly there for him to rip off chunks of yardage on the ground.
But even if he doesn't rush the ball much in Week 10, he'll still get to face a vulnerable Detroit Lions that's currently allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Only Philip Rivers finished a matchup against the Lions with fewer than 18 fantasy points, while Daniel Jones crushed them for 28.18 fantasy points just two weeks ago.
Trubisky will be forced to try to keep up with a Lions offense that has been averaging 6.1 yards per play, tied for the fifth-best mark in the league. The efficiency of this Lions offense, combined with their weak defense, has propped up fantasy quarterbacks all year.
Trubisky -- who is projected as numberFire's QB22 -- will be the next to capitalize on this situation and finish Week 10 as a top-12 quarterback.
Ronald Jones Will Finish as a Top-10 Running Back
You heard the news, right? Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians came out after last week's loss to the Seattle Seahawks and announced that Ronald Jones had earned the right to start and play more snaps. While we do have to respect that there could still be some amount of coachspeak and trickery at play here, I think I speak for the fantasy football community at large when I say it's about time.
Jones has absolutely been more impressive than Peyton Barber this season -- he's averaging 4.1 yards per carry to Barber's 3.3 and 15.5 yards per reception to Barber's 4.7. Jones has also been a tad unlucky this season, having had multiple long runs called back due to penalties. His 43.48% Rushing Success Rate -- a numberFire metric that measures how often a running back's carries add value to his team's expected points total -- also dwarfs Barber's team-low 36.14% rate.
Jones has definitely earned more opportunities, and this week we'll get to see him take advantage of that against the Arizona Cardinals' rushing defense. According to numberFire's schedule-adjusted power rankings, the Cardinals have been the ninth-weakest rush defense in the league. So while they have only allowed the 19th-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, that number could essentially look much worse if they had played stronger opponents.
It's been hard to trust any Bucs backs in 2019, but Jones' 20 touches in Week 9 were a convincing display of Arians' recently-declared trust in the young running back. In Week 10, Jones should be able to show us why the Bucs drafted him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He'll finish as a top-10 running back in fantasy with his newly-earned heavy workload against a deceptively weak run defense.
Zach Pascal Will Finish as a Top-16 Wide Receiver
It's kind of flown under the radar, but the Indianapolis Colts seem to have decided on their official WR2 on the depth chart. Zach Pascal has emerged from the rotation as the team's true second receiver behind T.Y. Hilton and has played over 90% of the team's snaps in each of the past two weeks. He now has 70 or more receiving yards in three of his last five games and at least 6 targets in each game the Colts attempted 30 or more passes.
The Colts' targets have been frustratingly spread out in 2019 but should be narrowing down due to injuries to both Hilton and now to Parris Campbell, who injured his hand in Week 9. There will be little competition for targets in Week 10, just in time for the Colts' enviable matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
At this point in the season, I don't think I need to tell you that the Dolphins stink. Sure, they beat the New York Jets last week. But they didn't magically become a good football team in that victory. They've allowed opposing wide receivers to score 32.29 points per game on them, and most of that was with top cornerback Xavien Howard healthy. Howard is now on the injured reserve, which means it should be smooth sailing for Pascal and company this week.
Pascal is currently the WR30 in numberFire's projections for Week 10. Considering the Colts' now-consolidated receiver corp and Pascal's under-the-radar promotion, he's a no-brainer for a top fantasy finish against the Dolphins' nonexistent pass defense. Zach Pascal will finish as a top-16 receiver in Week 10.
The Chargers Pass Catchers Are About to Erupt
The Los Angeles Chargers' pass catchers have been pretty difficult to project this season.
Keenan Allen started out the year as hot as a receiver could get, with over 400 yards in his first three games. Since then, he's managed just 253 yards. Hunter Henry came into the season healthy after tearing his ACL in May of 2018, only to suffer another injury after Week 1 that kept him sidelined for the better part of the 2019 season. And Mike Williams has shown that he's developed as a receiver since entering the league in 2017 but somehow hasn't scored a touchdown in 2019 after scoring 10 just a year ago.
These three receivers have yet to put it all together in a single game this season, but that's about to change in Week 10. They'll face off against an Oakland Raiders defense allowing an average depth of target of 10 yards -- the second-highest rate in the league -- posting the lowest quarterback pressure rate in the league. Quarterbacks have been able to do whatever they want against the Raiders in 2019, which is how the team has ended up allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing passers.
Credit to Jon Gruden, but the Raiders have managed to assemble a surprisingly solid offense despite an overall lack of name-brand talent on that side of the ball. Derek Carr has put together arguably the best season of his career, and Josh Jacobs has been impressive in his rookie season. The Raiders' ability to apply pressure to opposing defenses and put points on the board has kept them close in most games despite their abysmal defense. Other teams haven't often been in position to grind out the clock with their running games, which has kept their quarterbacks passing deep into games.
That means we can expect a lot of pass attempts for Philip Rivers this week, which means his receivers should feast. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Hunter Henry will each finish Week 10 with at least 80 yards for the first time this season.
The Ravens Will Shut Out the Bengals
So the Cincinnati Bengals are making a change at the quarterback position. I don't think that's going to work out well for them in Week 10. It's probably the right move for the team to check out their new young quarterback, but things are most likely going to look bleak in his first few starts.
Ryan Finley didn't exactly have an impressive collegiate career -- there's a reason he wasn't drafted higher than the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft -- though he was decent in the 2019 preseason, finishing with a 73.4% completion percentage and 3 touchdowns to 1 interception. But the preseason isn't the regular season, and the Baltimore Ravens are one of the toughest teams in the league.
The Ravens' defense struggled through the early part of the season, but they have seemed to turn a corner in recent weeks. They haven't allowed an enemy quarterback to throw for more than 270 yards since their Week 4 loss to the Cleveland Browns, and they've made some noticeable changes since then -- namely acquiring defensive back Marcus Peters from the Los Angeles Rams. With Jimmy Smith returning from injury, Earl Thomas hitting his stride, and Marlon Humphrey playing out of his mind, this Ravens' secondary is quietly becoming a unit to fear.
Fresh off of a decisive victory over the New England Patriots, the Ravens will have no trouble shutting down -- and shutting out -- the Ryan Finley-led Bengals in Week 10.