Fantasy Football: 5 Things We Learned in Week 10
For a week where many of the familiar names had incredible games, Week 10 of the 2019 season was definitely filled with surprises -- fitting in a year with not one but two Friday the 13ths.
The Miami Dolphins won again, the Pittsburgh Steelers destroyed the Los Angeles Rams, the Atlanta Falcons upset a Super Bowl favorite in the New Orleans Saints, the Tennessee Titans defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Cleveland Browns put together a wacky win over the Buffalo Bills. And while Cooper Kupp finished with a resounding zero fantasy points, the tops of the fantasy leaderboards at each position were peppered with the faces you'd expect -- though there were certainly some surprising additions.
Pending Monday Night Football, Michael Thomas, Amari Cooper and Tyreek Hill each finished in the top five among fantasy wideouts. Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey and Aaron Jones did the same at the running back position, and if you had one of the big-name tight ends, you probably weren't super disappointed in their results.
Even with six teams on bye this week, there were still a ton of takeaways to process. So without further ado, here are five things we learned in Week 10.
Patrick Mahomes Is Back in Action
In case you had any doubt, we can officially confirm that Patrick Mahomes has recovered from the dislocated kneecap injury he suffered just a couple of weeks ago.
Though the Chiefs lost this one, Mahomes' return should provide comfort to their fanbase and to anyone who drafted Mahomes or Chiefs skill position players in fantasy football. Mahomes attempted an incredible 50 passes on Sunday, completing 36 of them for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns -- the Chiefs lost, but it wasn't Mahomes' fault at all.
Mahomes' return propped up the values of just about every player on the team. Tyreek Hill had one of the week's top finishes, due in part to his insane 19 targets. Travis Kelce had 75 yards and a touchdown, Damien Williams put up a solid game, and each of the receivers behind them had decent performances. Mecole Hardman's touchdown in particular was an incredible play that both highlighted the rookie's Tyreek-like speed as well as Mahomes' health -- it was one of the week's best plays, so check it out if you get a chance.
Though the Chiefs didn't exactly suffer while Mahomes was recovering, his return undeniably buoys the fantasy value of every player on the Chiefs' roster. No one feels great starting Matt Moore's top targets, but we all feel fine starting Mahomes' third and fourth options. The NFL is better with Mahomes in it, and it feels safe to say that he's all the way back now.
Damien Williams Is an RB1
And speaking of the Chiefs, there was a pretty big shakeup in their backfield this week. LeSean McCoy was shockingly a healthy scratch heading into their tilt against the Titans, making Damien Williams their undisputed RB1.
McCoy had vastly outperformed Williams as a pure runner in 2019 to date -- he had been averaging 1.4 more yards per carry than his undrafted counterpart -- but a costly fumble back in Week 8 has apparently put McCoy in Andy Reid's dog house. McCoy received no touches after his fumble back in Week 8, just four touches in Week 9, and was announced as a healthy scratch in Week 10.
McCoy's benching directly resulted in a dominant performance by Damien Williams, who rushed 19 times for 77 yards and caught 5 passes for 32 yards. The two backs behind him on the roster -- Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson -- handled just 5 combined touches to Damien's 24, placing Williams firmly in bell cow territory.
Williams is primed for some massive performances in the coming weeks -- assuming McCoy keeps riding the pine. The Chiefs will be taking on the Los Angeles Chargers and the Oakland Raiders in their next two games, two teams that aren't exactly stout against the run. Don't be surprised if Williams has an end-of-season run similar to his 2018 fantasy playoffs-winning performance.
David Johnson's Status as an RB1 Is in Jeopardy
Week 10 was a no good, very bad week for David Johnson -- and actually the last month or so has been pretty bad for anyone who drafted Johnson in fantasy. The last time we saw DJ on a football field was brutal. Despite the "all systems go" signaling before the Arizona Cardinals' match against the New York Giants in Week 7, Johnson handled just one carry for two yards before deciding he wasn't healthy enough to go on.
Since that time, we watched Chase Edmonds break out (then succumb to injury himself), and then the Cardinals traded for Kenyan Drake in the final year of his contract. Drake then proceeded to carve up the San Francisco 49ers' top-notch defense for 162 yards on 19 touches in his debut, and thoroughly outproduced Johnson this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' staunch run defense.
It was not a good look for Johnson, who spent much of the game with negative yardage before finishing with two yards on five carries and a lost fumble. It was obvious to anyone watching that Johnson was not ready to come back from the ankle and back injuries that had kept him out of the previous weeks' games.
Drake didn't find a whole lot more success than Johnson in Week 10, but he handled 10 carries for 35 yards and -- more importantly -- drew 7 targets. He only converted those targets into six catches for as many yards, but the usage is key -- Drake handled almost three times as many touches as Johnson.
With Edmonds' return looming, Drake's ascension in the offense, and Johnson's dubious health, it's safe to question how this Cardinals backfield will look in the coming weeks. The Cardinals are just one week out from their bye in Week 12, and it's easy to imagine the team resting their former star in Week 11. Who knows how things will shape up going forward, but it's very easy to envision David Johnson relinquishing his status as an every-down dominator for fantasy football.
Kareem Hunt Is Playing in the NFL Again
Nick Chubb has been playing some top-notch football in 2019. His 919 rushing yards rank third-most in the NFL, and he's managed to put up these numbers despite playing for what is probably 2019's most disappointing offense. But even with Chubb dominating, the Browns were still working various third-down backs onto the field to handle the passing down work. It was frustrating watching Dontrell Hilliard and D'Ernest Johnson handle easy dump-off passes that Chubb probably could have done more with. Frustrating, though not the end of the world.
But now fantasy managers have bigger fish to fry -- Kareem Hunt has returned from his suspension and was immediately integrated into the Browns' offense. In his 2019 debut, Hunt took over the passing-down work, drawing 9 targets and converting them into 7 catches for 44 yards. And unlike Hilliard or Johnson, Hunt got some run in the ground game -- he took 4 carries for 30 yards, averaging an impressive 7.5 yards-per-carry clip, providing the kind of juice the other backs behind Chubb simply could not through the first half of the season.
Chubb has been one of the safest running back plays in fantasy football -- and he still had 20 carries for 116 yards in this one -- but Hunt is an actual threat to steal work from the 2018 second-round draft pick. The Browns now have two of the best running backs in the game on their roster, so we can't be surprised if Hunt leeches more and more touches from Chubb going forward. Nick Chubb should still be in play as an RB1 going forward, but we do need to temper our expectations somewhat. And Kareem Hunt needs to be rostered in every league as a bye week RB3 or flex option and as the best running back handcuff in the league.
You Need to Know the Name Darius Slayton
Who is Darius Slayton? Week 10's overall WR2, that's who!
Slayton was a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Slayton wasn't a dominant receiver at Auburn, but he averaged an impressive 19.1 yards per reception in college and fittingly blazed an impressive 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine this year. The Giants rookie has been simmering since making his debut back in Week 3 alongside Daniel Jones, and in Week 10 he officially boiled over.
Slayton had showcased his elite speed several times so far this season and has made some impressive grabs along the way, but he put it all together against the New York Jets this week. He earned a team-high 14 targets and turned them into 10 receptions, 121 yards and 2 scores. We've seen Jones prioritize Slayton in the red zone before -- he had another two-score game back in Week 8 -- and this week we saw him score from short and long distance. In other words, Slayton can do it all.
It was a truly dominant performance by the young receiver, so it's slightly disappointing that the Giants are heading into their Week 11 bye. However, when they return from that bye, they'll face one of the easiest possible schedules for fantasy receivers, including multiple dates with the Philadelphia Eagles and games against Washington and the Dolphins. With Sterling Shepard's season in jeopardy, Slayton should be one of the week's top priorities on the waiver wire.