Somehow, we've hit double digits in the NFL season. It's Week 10 (and November) and I have no idea where the time has gone. Perhaps I've slipped into some sort of fugue state and just wake up every Thursday in time to post this column, drifting across Los Angeles in a haze for the rest of the week. Or my mind is just a touch fatigued between moving apartments, preparing mid-season content reports, and writing this massive column for all of you loyal readers. Which reminds me, I've been meaning to thank you all. This is the first time someone on our staff has taken on this massive column by themselves, and I wouldn't be able to keep slogging through it without all of your support, comments, Tweets and of course, page views. So thanks for reading and being a part of this journey. Hopefully, this column has helped you win some fantasy games. Now onto the Week 10 matchups ... wait a minute, why am I sitting at an Arby's in Hollywood without a shirt? Oh boy, I really need to get my life in order ...
As always, this is where I go game-by-game and player-by-player for every Week 10 contest. Those looking for quick-hitting start/sit/flex/stream analysis will find that listed for the main players for every team. Below that, I do my best to preview the game with additional insight, stats, and analysis to contextualize my recommendations.
Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Monday)
Jay Cutler delivered a strong fantasy performance last week against an extremely vulnerable Oakland passing defense. This is not last week. Cutler now has to face the Panthers, the league's top-ranked total defense. I'd stay far away from Cutlery in fantasy. While Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams filled in admirably for Jay Ajayi last week, they split work pretty much down the middle (six targets each, nine carries for Drake and seven for Williams), with Drake gaining more yards but Williams getting the score. This type of committee on a mediocre offense against an elite defense isn't something I want to be invested in for fantasy purposes. If forced to choose, I'm still siding with Drake as his big-play ability flashed last week on his 42-yard run. In the four games, they've been healthy together, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker have absorbed a combined 51 percent of total targets. The Panthers have been tough on slot wide receivers, allowing just 38.2 yards per game to the position (fifth-fewest), but Landry's volume should give him a relatively safe PPR floor. The Panthers secondary, in general, gives up just 132.9 yards per game to receivers, so it's hard to see a big ceiling for Parker, though he receives plenty of deep shots from Cutler. Aside from those two, it's a mixed bag here, but please, please don't chase Julius Thomas' production last week. It was his first time all year with more than three catches and only the second time he's crossed 30 yards.
Over the last four weeks, Cam Newton is 11th in the NFL in rushing yards with 251. Read that again: 11th in the NFL, not among quarterbacks. He's rushed for more yards in that span than the entire rest of his team combined. That alone makes him worth a fantasy start, though a Miami secondary with 12 passing touchdowns allowed to just three interceptions is encouraging as well. Could this be the start of Christian McCaffrey as the team's featured back? His 15 carries last week were the most he's seen since Week 1 (13), and his 66 yards and 4.4 yards per carry were both season highs. It's worth starting McCaffrey this week in case there is a changing of the guard, as this ground attack still needs a spark. Oh, by the way, he still caught five passes too, preserving his rock-solid PPR floor (four-plus catches in every game). Jonathan Stewart should be benched. That is all. With Kelvin Benjamin out of the picture, Devin Funchess slid right into the WR1 role and saw over 29 percent of the team targets come his way. That type of volume makes him a weekly starter. Desperate owners could give Curtis Samuel a shot, though I'd be hesitant to play the rookie until we see him a little bit more involved, as he caught just three of five targets for 23 yards last week. Ed Dickson has disappeared from this offense of late, with 78 total yards over his last four games. There are better streamers available. The Panthers defense is playing at home against Jay Cutler ... that should be all the analysis you need here.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals, 8:25 p.m. ET on NBC (Thursday)
Three of the last four quarterbacks to face the Cardinals secondary have thrown for 290-plus yards, and the only one who didn't was Jared Goff as his Rams obliterated the Cardinals 33-0 in London. Don't be afraid of starting Russell Wilson on the road here after he struggled at times last week. The Cardinals lack a pass rush (18 sacks on the year, but five came last week against the 49ers) and Wilson should have plenty of time to pick apart their secondary. Last week was supposed to belong to Eddie Lacy, but a groin injury opened the door of opportunity for Thomas Rawls. C.J. Prosise is practicing in full this week, but Rawls has been anointed the starter and Prosise will likely mix in sparingly coming off injury. The Cardinals give up the 10th fewest rushing yards per game to opposing backs, but Rawls should see the volume necessary to produce reasonable totals. Doug Baldwin has target totals of 12, 10, and 12 in his last three games and remains a locked-in No. 1 wideout now that he's clear of his groin injury from earlier in the year. Slot wide receivers have racked up 518 yards against the Cardinals (seventh-most), and Baldwin plays 66 percent of his snaps out of the slot. It's possible Patrick Peterson shadows either Tyler Lockett or Paul Richardson while Doug Baldwin is in the slot, making both riskier dart throws in the flex. We know both have big-play potential and whomever isn't covered by Peterson should have opportunities, but it's tough to predict whether that will be Lockett or Richardson at this point. Jimmy Graham has 59-plus yards or a touchdown in six straight games and is a solid start this week against the Cardinals. Even on the road, the Seahawks are a viable start against Drew Stanton. The 49ers surprisingly couldn't sack Stanton last week, despite him taking 2.96 seconds to throw (fifth-highest total in Week 9). The Seahawks pass rush should be able to get home and help force some turnovers.
Sure, Drew Stanton filled in admirably last week, but that was against the 49ers. Now he has to face the Seahawks, who just sacked Kirk Cousins six times. Do not start Stanton and do not start Adrian Peterson, who benefitted from insane volume (career-high 37 rush attempts) and a favorable matchup (49ers run defense is subpar). There's no way he approaches that volume, and the Seahawks have allowed just 2.8 yards per carry over the last three weeks on 62 rush attempts by opposing backs. Larry Fitzgerald looks like a low-end flex option thanks to his volume, but after posting just 5-70-0 on nine targets against the 49ers expectations should be tempered for his output against Seattle. Other than that, I think we're done here. Moving on!
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
This one hurts. One of the most bountiful fantasy offenses has been rendered almost completely useless by an injury to the quarterback. Of course, that quarterback was Aaron Rodgers, but it's painful that we can't trust any of the pass-catchers in this offense with Brett Hundley under center. So far in 2017, 44 different quarterbacks have attempted 40-plus passes, and Hundley ranks 42nd in adjusted yards per attempt (3.39), 44th in touchdown rate (1 percent), but eighth in interception rate (4.12 percent)! The highest scoring fantasy wideout from Green Bay over Hundley's two starts is ... Randall Cobb, with a whopping 7.4 points (standard scoring). It's sad to say, but pending a miracle or a quarterback change Cobb, Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson are, not only no longer startable, but verging on droppable. Aaron Jones is about the only Packer I'd reasonably trust in this contest, though Mike McCarthy threw a big old wet blanket on that when he said to the media this week that he thought the running back rotation was "very healthy." Him seeing five carries last week now seems more like an impending reality, as opposed to some coaching misstep or the Packers falling immediately behind. The Bears offense likely won't jump out to a massive lead, keeping Jones in a more favorable game script, so that's the hope if you flex the talented rookie. The Packers defense could also be in play, as Mitchell Trubisky has been sacked on roughly 12 percent of his dropbacks in 2017 and has just two touchdowns to two interceptions on the year.
As mentioned above, Mitchell Trubisky has just two touchdown passes and two interceptions on the year and, with a rag-tag cast of wide receivers to throw to, isn't anywhere near starting fantasy consideration. Coming off his bye, Jordan Howard should be rested and ready to rock. He's averaged nearly 25 carries per game with Trubiksy under center, along with 102.5 yards per game on the ground. The Packers rank 23rd in rushing yards allowed per game (118), so this matchup sets up favorably for Howard. Tarik Cohen has just six touches over the last two weeks, but one was a 70-yard catch and another was a rushing touchdown. He's a total boom-or-bust flex play, but has been more productive at home in his young career (for what it's worth). The Bears defense sets up as an excellent start this week against the Brett Hundley-led Packers. Green Bay just lost starting right tackle Byran Bulaga for the season to a torn ACL, and the offense was already averaging just 14.7 points per game over their last three contests. The Bears defense has been fierce at home, too, with 14 of their 23 sacks, two of their four interceptions, and two of their three return touchdowns coming in Soldier Field. They also allow 15.8 points per game at home versus 27 on the road.
Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
At this point, really what else is left to say about the Browns as a fantasy offense? Sure, Josh Gordon could return in a few weeks, but I'm not burning a waiver priority on him. Isaiah Crowell had a surprisingly good game before the bye, but are you really about to trust a guy who is averaging 3.4 yards per carry with a season-high of 64 rushing yards? Duke Johnson has been electric at times during the early portions of this season, but hasn't had more than 11 touches in a game since Week 4. I could go on, but most of you won't be starting any Browns anyway so let's just all move on with our lives.
Matthew Stafford has posted 300-plus passing yards in three straight games, though he's never hit four straight in his career. The Browns could be his opportunity to set a new record. Their yardage total allowed isn't awful (241.9 per game, 17th most), but can't keep opposing passers from scoring (6.15 touchdown rate allowed is fourth-highest). Without his touchdown last week, Ameer Abdullah would have put forth another disastrous performance (21 carries, 48 yards). The Browns have been brutal on opposing running backs, tying with the Eagles for lowest yards per carry allowed at 2.9. I'd sit both Abdullah and Theo Riddick if you can help it. Riddick averages just seven touches per game over the last month and hasn't found the end zone since Week 1. Golden Tate has seven catches and 86-plus yards in three straight games, reminding us all of his PPR-stud credentials. This could be a blow-up game for him, too, as the Browns allow a 77.5 percent catch rate to opposing slot receivers to go along with five touchdown receptions on the year (second-most). Since Week 6, Marvin Jones is fourth among all wide receivers in yards (331) and tied for first in touchdowns (three), and he had his bye in Week 7. He's a great start here as his connection with Stafford heats up. Kenny Golladay still hasn't returned from his hamstring injury, and even if he does this week he'll be hard to trust in fantasy with his playing time and target share up in the air. The Browns are a great matchup for opposing tight ends, but Eric Ebron and Darren Fells have amassed a combined 150 yards over the last three games and aren't on my streaming radar. If you have to chase one, Fells at least has been targeted more in the red zone over the last four games (five to three) and has a red-zone touchdown. We're always in on streaming defenses against the Browns. If you picked up Detroit and played them last week against the Packers, keep them in your lineup against a Browns offense allowing over 12 fantasy points per game to opposing D/STs.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Ben Roethlisberger has thrown multiple touchdowns in just three games this season, and has crossed 300 yards twice. You could theoretically stream him against a Colts defense that gives up the second-most passing yards per game (293.1) and just cut Vontae Davis, but this offense is no longer built around Big Ben's right arm. I'd look elsewhere, personally. Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown remain must-starts, considering they account for 60.9 percent of the team's yardage, the highest among any NFL duo by a wide margin (Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill are second with 50.9 percent). I know JuJu Smith-Schuster is winning at life and on the internet, but I'm concerned about chasing his production from Week 8. He caught seven of his 10 targets for 193 yards and a score, but he became the first non-Brown/Bell Steeler to receive double-digit targets this year. Martavis Bryant had to be inactive for that to happen. If Bryant returns this week (as expected), he and JuJu will be fighting for opportunities. The Steelers have two-plus sacks in every game this season, and face a Colts offense that leads the league in sacks allowed (36). The Colts are also the most generous offense for opposing defenses, allowing nearly 13 fantasy points per game.
Jacoby Brissett has been a fantastic streaming quarterback at points throughout the season (including last week), but he needs to be benched or dropped this week. The Jaguars defense has been getting more acclaim, but the Steelers are not far behind them statistically. They're allowing just 203.6 yards per game and their six touchdowns allowed are the second-fewest (after the Jags). Frank Gore has been getting healthy volume of late (16.3 touches per game over the last three), but there are blow-out concerns here, and the Steelers haven't been overly generous to opposing backs (142 total yards per game allowed, 14th-most). He can be flexed, but I wouldn't feel great about it. I'm sure it'll be tempting to trot T.Y. Hilton back out again this week after a massive performance, but there are reasons to be concerned. The Steelers allowed the fifth-fewest yards per game to wideouts and their four receiving touchdowns allowed to the position are tied for the second-fewest. (Since Week 6 Jack Doyle leads all tight ends in targets (41) and trails only Jared Cook in receiving yards, (304 to 278). The volume will be there for Doyle, but the Steelers have really taken the air out of opposing passing games and are allowing just 44.5 yards per game to tight ends, the eighth fewest in the league. Colts defense gets a "hard pass" in fantasy.
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
What an unlucky draw on the schedule for the Chargers to come out of their bye going on the road against the Jaguars. I'd avoid this passing game at all costs, as the Jaguars defense has been nothing short of phenomenal when it comes to their aerial defense. They rank first in passing yards per game allowed (156.4), passing touchdowns allowed (four), sacks (35), and passer rating allowed 63.5. They've given up just three completions of 20-plus air yards this season, and the last one was in Week 5. That means Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen, and Travis Benjamin should all ride the pine. Allen might avoid some of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye when he plays in the slot, but that's a risky proposition to bet on for his fantasy outlook. I'd lump Hunter Henry into that group as well, but given the state of the tight end position in fantasy, his nearly five targets per game over this last three are hard to ignore. For much of the season, the Jaguars were a defense you could run against, but that trend is changing of late. In their first six games they allowed 145.7 rushing yards per game at 5.2 ypc, but over their last two that has fallen to 62.5 yars per game at 3.4 ypc. Part of this turnaround was the team's trade for Marcell Dareus, a fantastic run stuffer. This is bad news for Melvin Gordon, though his workload should theoretically keep his fantasy value afloat in this tough matchup. Even though renowned turnover machine Blake Bortles is still quarterbacking the Jaguars, he's reformed his ways a bit this season (just seven total turnovers in eight games). As a result, the Jaguars allow on average just 5.13 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses, eighth fewest in the league.
Those desperate, and I mean desperate, for a quarterback could give Blake Bortles a look. He's averaging 270 passing yards and one touchdown per game over his last three outings, with just one interception and one fumble in that span. The Chargers fantasy points against total looks great versus quarterbacks (13.62 per game), but they've faced injured Trevor Siemian and EJ Manuel in recent weeks. Leonard Fournette is back in the good graces of the team after a surprise inactive listing last week, and should inherit his bell-cow workload again. The Chargers also lead the league in rushing yards allowed per game to opposing backs, with 119.9. Marqise Lee is quietly emerging as the team's new No. 1 wide receiver with Allen Robinson on IR. He has 28 targets over the last three weeks, with 72-plus yards in each outing. I'd consider him a low-end flex option as when Bortles takes to the air, he tends to pummel Lee with targets. Allen Hurns' market share remains hard to predict, though, so I'd leave him on the bench. All of the reasons listed against starting Chargers in the section above are reasons to start the Jags defense. This unit has more fantasy points in standard leagues than every wide receiver and all but five running backs.
New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Drew Brees is still a phenomenal quarterback, but his days of being a top fantasy passer are few and far between thanks to the Saints' new run-first offensive attack. The team is riding a six-game win streak, during which Brees' highest fantasy finish is QB10. The Bills defense isn't a pushover, either, as they've only allowed one quarterback to throw for multiple touchdowns against them all season (Jameis Winston, Week 7). I don't think it's crazy to consider a different option over Bress this week. On the season, the Bills defense is a strong run-stopping unit (84.6 yards per game allowed to opposing backs), but they just gave up 181 yards to the Jets committee on Thursday night. The Saints rushing offense is averaging 151.5 yards per game since its Week 5 bye, and has scored seven rushing touchdowns (tied with the Cowboys for the most in that span). Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are both rock-solid fantasy starts. Michael Thomas has been the epitome of the phrase "solid, but unspectacular." He's had five-plus catches in seven of eight games, and posted 65-plus yards in six of eight. He only has two touchdowns on the year, however, and has yet to cross 90 yards receiving in a game. He's a fine flex but his ceiling is especially capped in the Saints' run-first offense. Ted Ginn remains a volatile flex option, though he is tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with three and has 59-plus yards in four straight games. The Saints defense is a vastly improved unit, but a road trip against the typically sure-handed Bills offense offers minimal upside.
Tyrod Taylor has been a fantasy stud at home this season, averaging 18.3 points per game. His passing output should be fine, but the more enticing aspect of his matchup is that the Saints allow the sixth-most rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks (Taylor is fifth in QB rushing yards on the year). LeSean McCoy put up a disastrous performance against the Jets last week, but it certainly didn't help that the Bills fell behind by multiple scores early in the second half. The Saints run defense currently allows 4.2 yards per carry, but in the event they bottle up Shady on the ground he should be able to make up for that in the passing attack, as they've allowed the ninth-most receiving yards to opposing backs (50.25 per game) and 50 receptions to the position on the year. Kelvin Benjamin will see his first action of the year with the Bills this week, and I'm thinking he might be worth a YOLO flex play. He's still fresh with the team, but at least has some familiarity with the Saints from his time in Carolina. Of course, on the flip side of that they were the team he produced the least against in the NFC South so ... hey look, Charles Clay is set to return! This is great news for a tight end position still in need of some heroes. Clay may need some time to get his legs back under him after a knee scope sidelined him, and the Saints are solid at covering tight ends (36 yards per game allowed, four touchdowns). Still, he's at least worth adding this week and streaming moving forward as the Bills have a favorable schedule coming down the pipeline. Sitting the Bills defense this week isn't an overreaction to the 0-spot they gave us last week; it's respecting the Saints offense, as they allow on average just 4.88 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses.
New York Jets at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Believe it or not, Josh McCown is currently the QB10 in fantasy, and he's a strong start again this week. Five of the last seven quarterbacks to face the Buccaneers have finished in the top 10 for that week, and the team is allowing the third-most passing yards per game (278.6). Matt Forte received the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" treatment last week. After being vocal about wanting more work after getting four carries in a loss to the Falcons, Forte saw a season-high 14 against the Bills and took those for 77 yards (also a season-high) and two touchdowns (his first two scores of the season). Unfortunately, he has swelling in his knee and appears doubtful to play this week. That puts Bilal Powell into the starting conversation and makes Elijah McGuire a deeper flex. The duo combined for 256 yards on 33 carries in one week where Forte was out earlier in the year, but just 25 yards on 13 carries in the other. Robby Anderson is a weekly starter at this point, especially after Jeremy Kerley was hit with a four-game suspension for violating the league's PED policy. Anderson has a touchdown reception in three straight games, and a Buccaneers secondary that has allowed nine touchdowns to wideouts (fourth-most) could help him make it four in a row. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has posted fewer than 30 yards in four of his last five games, but has a touchdown in three of those games and five-plus targets in four of five as well. It's hard to turn away from his usage at tight end given the state of the position. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been sacked on 7.8 percent of his dropbacks in relief appearances this year, with four touchdowns and two interceptions. I'd consider the Jets a low-end streamer, as they're on the road this week.
It's once again time for Fitzmagic to be cast upon our football watching lives. Personally, I'm totally down to stream Ryan Fitzpatrick on teams where I need a quarterback. In his big relief appearance (Week 6) he threw for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, though that was also because the Buccaneers were down by roughly 1,000 points in the first quarter (no need to fact check that one, it's accurate). The only non-top-12 quarterback finish the Jets have had in the past five weeks was Matt Moore. Even without Mike Evans, who is serving a one-game suspension, Fitzpatrick should be fine. I'll give Doug Martin a shot this week as well as he's still the primary back in the ground game, though if this turns into a shootout he could be a victim of game script as the team inexplicably refuses to use him in the passing game. The biggest beneficiaries with Evans out are DeSean Jackson and Cameron Brate, who both should see healthy upticks in targets off their season averages (6.9 and six, respectively). Adam Humphries could also be a factor, and is worth a look in the flex in deeper leagues. His 31 catches rank third on the team behind Brate (32) and Evans (40). The Buccaneers defense is injured and struggling to stop even pedestrian NFL offenses. No chance I'm starting them in fantasy.
Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Case Keenum has filled in admirably as the Vikings backup, helping the team to a 5-2 record. But with Teddy Bridgewater being activated from IR this week, Keenum's time as the starter could be coming to an end. Regardless, at best he's a streamer this week on the road against a Washington pass defense that has been improving since Josh Norman's return. While Ezekiel Elliott carved up the Washington run defense, on the year they're allowing just 77.3 yards per game to the position. Latavius Murray and his 3.2 yards per carry probably won't fare too well against that, though Jerick McKinnon's pass-catching ability should help him produce at worst as a flex option. Stefon Diggs played before the bye but we limited. With an added week of rest I'm back to confidently starting him and Adam Thielen. A healthy Diggs has torpedoed Rudolph's value for much of this season, but Washington is one of the worst teams at covering tight ends in the league, allowing a league-high 78 yards per game to go along with four receiving scores. I'd give Rudolph a shot this week still. Kirk Cousins has been sacked 14 times in his last three games due to offensive line injuries mounting. Even on the road the Vikings D/ST is a fine play.
The Vikings defense is among the league's best, and they've allowed a mere two quarterbacks to post top-12 finishes against them this year: Ben Roethlisberger and DeShone Kizer (thanks to a rushing score and a bad quarterback week). Over their last four games, the Vikings haven't allowed a 200-yard passer or a quarterback to throw for multiple touchdowns. Cousins' offensive line is injured, and his pass-catchers are constantly in flux. I'd sit him if possible. Rob Kelley has managed just 76 yards on 36 carries over his last four games. Unless he finds the end zone he offers nothing in fantasy right now. Chris Thompson had a down week against the Seahawks, but he's still a threat for a monster week and leads the team in both rushing (251) and receiving (453) through eight games. Josh Doctson has flashed the same playmaking ability this year he boasted at TCU, but struggles for targets in this loaded, spread-the-ball-around offense. Against a stout Vikings pass defense, I'm avoiding all of the Washington receivers. Vernon Davis is averaging over 60 yards per game in his last five contests and figures to be heavily targeted again in Week 10 with Jordan Reed still injured. The Vikings defense is tough on tight ends (just 44.4 yards per game allowed, seventh-fewest), but Davis' volume should help him stay relevant. I'll pass on the Washington defense this week, as their best asset for fantasy production is a decent pass rush, but Case Keenum has been sacked a mere five times on the year and has just three interceptions (though those have come in the last three games).
Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
It's been all or nothing for Andy Dalton in fantasy, with two top-five performances and the rest outside the top-14, and both good games came in extremely favorable matchups (Browns, Colts). The Titans are an OK matchup (eighth-highest touchdown rate allowed, 16th most yards per game allowed), but the Bengals offense is a mess and Dalton looks like a risky play. Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard are unplayable in fantasy. Mixon's season-high rushing yardage output is still 62 ... from Week 3. A.J. Green should be in a nice bounce-back spot here after getting ejected from his Week 9 game. The Titans are tied for third with the most touchdowns allowed to wideouts with 10. Tyler Kroft is playing nearly all of the snaps for the Bengals, but is struggling to get valuable targets. He's had four-plus catches in four of his last five games, though, and is a low-end streaming option. Marcus Mariota has only been sacked six times in the last three games and has just two interceptions. On the road, the Bengals aren't an ideal target for fantasy.
Marcus Mariota has looked nothing like the fantasy stud we saw last season, and he has to face a tough Bengals defense in Week 10. Cincinnati allows the third-fewest passing yards per game (203) and their touchdown rate allowed (3.8 percent) is bottom 10 in the league as well. I'd avoid starting Mariota if you can help it. DeMarco Murray had just nine carries last week, but that could have been because he suffered a knee injury in that game. He's practicing in full ahead of this matchup, though, and should offer up flex appeal at worst. While the Bengals concede over 100 yards per game on the ground to opposing rushers, they've allowed just three total touchdowns to the position on the year. Derrick Henry found the end zone last week, but he's been incredibly unproductive on his rush attempts the last two weeks (21 carries, 39 yards) and will likely lose work to a healthier Murray. Corey Davis returned to action last week but didn't set the fantasy world on fire (five targets, two catches, 28 yards), and I'd be hesitant to trust him here as well. The Bengals have solid cover corners and allow the third-fewest yards per game to the position, though their seven touchdowns allowed do give a reason for optimism. I'd give Rishard Matthews a shot in the flex as he seems to be Mariota's preferred target in the passing attack (along with Delanie Walker), but Eric Decker isn't someone to trust. The Titans defense has no games with more than two sacks and one double-digit fantasy outing that came against the Browns. I'd avoid their defense, even at home against the struggling Bengals attack.
Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. ET on CBS
This will be quick. For the most part, we don't want to start pieces of a Tom Savage-led offense. Much less one that is on the road against a ferocious defense. The offense averages 10.5 points per game with Savage as the starter, a massive decline from the 34.7 it was averaging under Deshaun Watson. That kills the value of fringe pieces like Will Fuller, Ryan Griffin and D'Onta Foreman. DeAndre Hopkins remains startable thanks to massive volume, as he saw 16 targets last week. Lamar Miller is an OK flex thanks to decent volume as well, though he hasn't rushed for more than 75 yards in a game since Week 14 of 2016. Both of their ceilings are limited with Savage under center. Jared Goff is only being sacked 1.3 times per game this year, and the Houston defense continues to suffer injuries to key players. Cast them back into the waiver pool at this point.
Jared Goff has become a strong matchup-based starter under the tutelage of Sean McVay, and he has an excellent matchup this week. The Texans secondary is allowing 258.5 yards per game with 16 passing touchdowns on the season. Three of the last four quarterbacks to face Houston have posted top-10 fantasy numbers that week. Todd Gurley leads the NFL in touchdowns with 10 (seven rushing, three receiving) and remains a weekly must-start. Sammy Watkins hit on his one reception last week (for a 67-yard touchdown) but he only saw two targets. He'll be a boom-or-bust flex again this week against a secondary prone to big plays. Robert Woods quietly leads the NFL's highest-scoring offense in targets (41) and receiving yards (451), and is a solid low-end play (especially in PPR). Cooper Kupp has become a bit of a touchdown-dependent play, though Houston has allowed 474 yards to slot receivers this year (12th-most in the league). The Rams defense has two-plus sacks in every game this year and at least two turnovers in five of their last six. Savage has been sacked nine times this year in minimal appearances and will be ripe for the picking by this defense at home.
Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons, 4:05 p.m. ET on FOX
Dak Prescott has finished as a QB1 (top-12) in every start this year save one, the rain-soaked game against Washington where Ezekiel Elliott saw 33 carries. Prescott should be a locked-in weekly start at this point. Speaking of Elliott, his appeal has been denied and he WILL NOT PLAY this Sunday. Alfred Morris seems to have the first crack at replacing Zeke, and will offer low-end RB2/flex upside. Keep an eye on Rod Smith and Darren McFadden's usage, though, as both could factor in down the stretch, as well. Dez Bryant has missed practice or been extremely limited all week with an ankle injury suffered in last week's game and could be a long-shot to play. Even if he does suit up, he could be a risky start given his lack of practice time and that the injury is to his ankle/knee. Terrance Williams caught all nine of his targets last week for an impressive 141 yards. He left the game with an injury as well, but hasn't appeared on an injury report this week and would figure to step into the team's WR1 role in Bryant's absence. He has played the second most snaps behind Bryant this season, with Cole Beasley not far behind him. Beasley now has two two-touchdown games this year, but hasn't done much else. However, if Bryant misses this game Beasley could make for a decent flex play, especially in PPR formats. I love the idea of Brice Butler, but the team doesn't seem to trust him enough for me to trust him in a fantasy lineup if Bryant is out. Jason Witten has target totals of one, five, four, 10, and two over his last five games. Sing it with me now, "One of these things is not like the other ..." This Falcons offense barely resembles the world-beating unit that torched the NFL last year, but they're still not super generous to opposing fantasy defenses. Matt Ryan has been sacked just seven times in his last five games and is pretty good at protecting the football.
Matt Ryan has thrown for 300 yards just twice this season and has thrown multiple touchdown passes in just three of eight games. Still, I think he's a decent start this week at home against Dallas. The only quarterbacks to not throw for multiple touchdowns against the Cowboys this year are an Odell Beckham-less Eli Manning in Week 1, C.J. Beathard, and Kirk Cousins in that aforementioned rain-soaked game. Remember when Devonta Freeman was a lock to finish as a weekly RB1? I 'member. Those days appear to be in the past in this Steve Sarkisian Falcons offense. Freeman is on pace to finish with his lowest target total since his rookie season, and his scoring opportunities have dried up as this offense struggles to get into the red zone (and produce when they're there). He's had double-digit touches in every game this season, though, and if the Falcons do get near the goal line we know he'll be in the mix. I'd give him a look in the flex at least. One week after setting a season-high with 15 touches, Tevin Coleman crashed back to fantasy irrelevance with six total touches. His early-season passing game work (19 targets in first four games) has all but evaporated (five targets in last four games). I'd bench Coleman. Last week versus Carolina was the first healthy game for Sanu where he failed to see six targets or haul in four-plus catches (he caught all three of his looks), though he did score a touchdown. He's a decent flex play as usual, just with a lower ceiling than some other options across the league. Austin Hooper has had six-plus targets in each of the last two games, producing lines of 4-47-1 and 3-36-0. The volume is an encouraging development, considering he had two or fewer targets in four of the team's first six games. He's a low-end streamer in what could be a high-scoring game. Dallas' offense is a clock-killing unit that rarely turns the ball over, which equates to a defensive nightmare for fantasy football purposes.
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
Typically, it'd be nearly all hands on deck for a fantasy offense facing the 49ers. But the Giants are a dysfunctional group, and with almost all of their wide receivers on IR, Eli Manning isn't a very enticing pick. He's thrown for 225 yards or fewer in each of his last four games. Orleans Darkwa is leading the way in playing time and carries the last three weeks and gets to face a 49ers rushing defense that has allowed 495 yards on the ground to back over the last three weeks alone. Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram will absorb the vast majority of the targets (they combined for 53 percent of them last week) and are fine starts, but other than that we're not interested in any fantasy pieces of this offense. The Giants defense could be on the streaming radar, though, as each of the last three defenses to face the 49ers has finished as a top-five scorer that week.
It sounds like C.J. Beathard will get another start for the 49ers, but he shouldn't start for you in fantasy. The 49ers offensive line has massive protection issues and Beathard could be subbed out at some point to give Jimmy Garoppolo some playing time. Carlos Hyde is third among all NFL running backs in receptions with 40, and at worst offers a safe floor volume-wise. He's handled just shy of 77 percent of the backfield touches over the last four games. With Pierre Garcon on IR, Marquise Goodwin is in solid flex consideration this week. He saw eight targets last week, and while he only caught two for 68 yards he and Beathard didn't miss on a few other deep shots. We just watched the Giants secondary give up multiple big plays to the Rams, so you can tell yourself a story where Goodwin catches a few passes and takes them for over 100 yards. I'm not sure if you've heard this yet, but the Giants have allowed at least one receiving touchdown to a tight end in every game this season. With George Kittle declared out, Garrett Celek becomes our great hope to keep the streak alive. Those desperate for a streaming option or in need of a one-week fill-in for Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce should give Celek a look on waivers. The 49ers defense could barely amass fantasy points against the Drew Stanton-led Cardinals last week, so I'd leave them on the bench despite an appealing matchup against the Giants.
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Sure, this is a bad matchup on the road for Tom Brady, but he still needs to be started. The Denver run defense is elite, and I'd expect the Patriots to use the running backs in the passing game plenty in lieu of running the ball. That should make James White a fine start, even in standard, as he'll offer a relatively safe floor. Dion Lewis has emerged as a pseudo-leading back in New England, but his ceiling feels depressed in what could be a pass-heavy script for the Patriots against a stout run defense. Those in deeper leagues or who are desperate for running back production should give Rex Burkhead a look. He played the second most snaps among the running backs in Week 8, and his versatility could keep him on the field even more here. Chris Hogan's arm is still in a sling and he's in jeopardy of missing this game. Danny Amendola might see a few more looks and could be a strong PPR play, while Brandin Cooks feels a bit more boom-or-bust than usual. His speed could be an asset against the Denver secondary, but will the volume be there? The Broncos allow the second-most receiving yards per game to tight ends, and well, Gronk is Gronk. You're starting him. The Patriots defense could be a streaming option because they're playing Brock Osweiler, but without a strong pass rush their ability to rack up points could be suspect.
The sky is starting to fall on the Denver offense. Brock Osweiler simply can't be trusted for fantasy though you shouldn't need me to tell you that. C.J. Anderson has carry totals of nine, 15, 10 and nine the last four weeks and is far too risky of a play on an offense that will struggle to score points. Matt Franciscovich made the case on Thursday's podcast for Devontae Booker as a deep flex play, so if you want to live that life be my guest. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are the only players remotely startable from this group, and of course, both are carrying injuries (Thomas: hamstring, Sanders: ankle) in this matchup. Monitor their statuses up to game time, but if they play you should play them. If they don't give Curtis Samuel or Kenny Stills a look on the waiver wire as both play Monday night and should be widely available. The Denver defense has been a fantasy disappointment this year and now has to face Tom Brady and the Patriots coming off a bye. No thank you.