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Last week's deep sleepers ran the gamut. On the one hand, Marcus Mariota was the best QB in fantasy. On the other hand, Pierre Thomas has since been cut from the 49ers. Overall, however, my Week 9 selections fared well, as four of the eight players I highlighted helped fantasy owners. Heading into Week 10 there are four teams on a bye and some depth chart shake-ups. I’ll do my best to keep you ahead of the curve, as we chug along through the back half of the season.
Here are the parameters … all of the below players are owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks, but that’s why they’re so cheap and available! I’d never advocate taking all of these guys, but rather utilizing them if a manager were in a pinch at a position or aiming to build a “stars and scrubs” sort of DFS lineup. Have at it!
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins ($34)
Cousins’ Week 9 performance wasn’t nearly as “likeable” as it had been the previous Sunday. Of course, a down week was to be expected given the Patriots’ staunch pass-rush and domination of all things pigskin related. The drops in Washington were certainly concerning, but they didn’t have anything to do with Cousins’ aim. His throws have been accurate and his ability to preform under pressure, while far from clutch, has certainly improved.
Heading into Week 10, the Michigan State product faces a Saints defense that has gifted opposing QBs their best stat totals of the season for three weeks straight. To say New Orleans is giving up the most fantasy points to signal callers is an understatement. Allowing an average of more than 306 passing yards per game, the Saints have given up a whopping 11 TDs in just two weeks! With a healthier DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed consistently finding the end zone, Cousins could easily top the 300+ yard and three score outing he had in Week 7 against Tampa Bay.
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers ($18)
The Eddie Lacy waiting game is officially over. While Starks had out-produced his heftier counterpart for the better part of the season, head coach Mike McCarthy finally named the 29-year-old vet the team’s No. 1 RB on Wednesday. A versatile athlete, capable rusher, and trusted receiving weapon, Starks was one of just two backs to nick a passing score off of the Panthers in Week 9. On the ground, he’s averaged 4.3 YPC and even managed 95 yards on 20 attempts versus the Seahawks back in Week 2. Priced at a criminally low $18 in DFS, Starks could be the best value at the position heading into Week 10.
The Packers will aim to get their first win after back-to-back losses at home this Sunday. Thankfully for the cheeseheads, they’ll face a Lions defense that Football Outsiders ranks as the second least effective. On the ground, Detroit is giving up an average of nearly 134 rushing yards per game. They’ve also allowed the most rushing scores to RBs at a whopping 11 on the season. Given the matchup, and assuming an uptick in volume, Starks could conservatively produce 89 total yards and a touchdown by the week’s end.
Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions ($12)
Bell is wholly unlikely to show up on any sort of highlight reel come Monday morning. However, he might do just enough to keep your fantasy squad in the playoff race. With Devonta Freeman, Frank Gore and Danny Woodhead all on a bye this week, and with Dion Lewis and Matt Forte out of the equation, the running back landscape feels more thin than my colleagues’ sprouting mustaches.
Heading into the season there was a lot of excitement surrounding RB Ameer Abdullah. The rookie shone in Week 1, averaging 7.1 YPC and finding the endzone at San Diego. While Bell struggled to get back into shape after undergoing various offseason procedures, the youngster monopolized Detroit’s backfield. However, ball security issues and general ineffectiveness soon zapped any of Abdullah’s upside. After a three game absence due to an ankle injury, Bell returned… and so did the team’s affection for him.
In Week 8 Bell was on the field for 20 percent more of the snaps than his younger counterpart. The obvious favorite on rushing downs, the vet carried the ball 7 times for 56 yards. While that’s not a celebration-inducing stat line, it is evidence of Bell’s improved health and potential to produce moving forward. In Week 10 he’ll face an inconsistent Packers defense that has waivered in recent weeks. Surrendering nearly 250 rushing yards and 3 scores to RBs over the last two weeks, Bell is serviceable option with RB3/flex appeal.
Chris Givens, WR, Baltimore Ravens ($11)
In an attempt to address their dearth of receiving weapons, the Ravens acquired Givens from the Rams for a conditional draft pick back after Week 4. Still only 25-years old, Givens possesses demon-like speed and deep threat potential, something Baltimore is desperate to harness. Currently listed as the team’s No. 2 WR, Givens is poised to blow-up next week’s waiver wire.
A Baltimore resident as of early October, Givens’ opportunities have slowly increased over the weeks. After Steve Smith Sr. left the contest in Week 8, however, Givens was on the field for his highest percentage of snaps (49%) so far this season. Converting 3 of 4 balls for 57 yards, Givens showed improved chemistry with QB Joe Flacco. Coming off of a bye in which he’s had an opportunity to more fully absorb the offense and work directly with Flacco, the former dynasty darling should be well integrated into the Ravens Week 10 plans.
Hard to trust on a weekly basis due to his boom or bust style of play, Givens has a plus matchup against the Jaguars this Sunday. A secondary that has given up two touchdowns to wideouts in three straight outings, the Jags have a bottom-ten receiving defense. Additionally noting the deficiencies in Baltimore’s secondary, this contest is likely to feature a lot of passing and, therefore, plenty of opportunities for Givens to showcase his breakaway quicks.
Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys ($10)
Some may say that I’m chasing points with this pick, but I’d argue that I’m noting a trend. Working his way out of JerryWorld’s dungeon in 5-yard increments, Beasley was the Cowboys most productive receiver in Week 9. Showing great rapport with QB Matt Cassel, the fair-haired slot receiver reeled in nine grabs off of 11 targets for 112 yards and 2 scores. Rather than leaning on the ever-consistent Jason Witten or utilizing Darren McFadden out of the backfield, Cassel relied on Beasley to move the chains underneath.
Obviously, the presence of both the aforementioned TE and RB pose threats to Beasley’s continued production, but I think those two options are likely to draw tougher coverage. Furthermore, Cassel seemed elated to have finally found a security blanket for himself. It’s hard to imagine he’ll veer away from that which worked so well, especially when noting the mounting pressure to get a win in Dallas before Tony Romo returns under center. Finally, Beasley has a plus matchup against Tampa Bay. He’s likely to see much of slot-corner Alterraun Verner, who opposing signal callers have consistently thrown at and attempted to exploit. Allowing the fourth most fantasy points to wideouts, the Bucs’ secondary will have their hands full trying to contain Dez Bryant, which should help Beasley bee-bop his way to flexiness in PPR formats.
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