1:00PM ET Games
Buffalo @ Pittsburgh
Le'Veon Bell has posted at least 99 total yards and/or a touchdown in 4-of-5 NFL appearances, and in Week 10 gets a run-blocking boost. RG David DeCastro will return from an ankle injury to punch holes in Buffalo's defensive line. Enjoying a quietly dominant year, DeCastro is the No. 3-rated guard in Pro Football Focus' grades. Expect another heavy workload from Bell versus the Bills' No. 17 run defense. Though a lack of big-play running ability puts a lid on his going-forward ceiling, Bell at very worst is an every-week RB2. ... Chasing Ben Roethlisberger's Week 9 stats into Week 10 will tempt many a fantasy owner, but savvy ones will resist. Philosophically, the Steelers don't want to play shootout football as they did in last week's loss to New England. This is a team that game plans to feature the run and should have success on the ground versus an opponent that won't force Pittsburgh to rack up yardage and points. The Patriots contest marked just Roethlisberger's second multi-touchdown effort in eight games this season. If OC Todd Haley has his way, Big Ben won't drop back to pass more than 30 times this week. And Bell will handle 25-plus touches. ... Ben's target distribution since Le'Veon joined the lineup five games ago: Antonio Brown 52; Emmanuel Sanders 38; Heath Miller 30; Bell 26; Jerricho Cotchery 22; Felix Jones 9.
Brown has at least nine targets in six of Pittsburgh's last seven games and is on pace for 122 catches. He's an every-week WR2 in standard leagues with WR1 value in PPR. Bills top CB Stephon Gilmore has struggled mightily since returning from a broken wrist four games ago, giving Brown a favorable matchup. ... Now entrenched as Pittsburgh's No. 2 passing-game option ahead of Miller, Sanders has been targeted 11 times in each of the past two weeks and is worth a look in WR3 slots. Miller's inability to perform at peak condition on the field has been noticeable, and is benefiting Sanders in the box score. The Bills have allowed league highs in TD passes (20) and 40-plus-yard passing plays. ... Miller clearly isn't past last year's triple-knee ligament tear. I'm not saying he's "done," but he doesn't look 100% physically. Buffalo has allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Averaging an anemic 26.3 yards over his last three games, Miller is likely to pay Week 10 fantasy dividends if and only if he scores a red-zone touchdown. He doesn't appear capable of racking up yards and catches. ... There doesn't seem to be much fantasy buzz on Cotchery despite his 7-96-3 line in last week's shootout with the Pats. It's for good reason. Cotchery is a No. 3 receiver on a philosophically run-first team, and will begin losing snaps to Markus Wheaton sooner rather than later. Wheaton is due back from a finger injury this week.
Week 9 game watchers know C.J. Spiller's ankle woes aren't "behind him" as Bills coach Doug Marrone claimed Wednesday -- he re-tweaked it twice against the Chiefs -- but it's outstanding news for patient owners that Buffalo plans to resume leaning on a back it can now feel confident about from a health standpoint. Spiller was the most dynamic player on the football field in last week's loss to Kansas City, ripping off gains of 61, 29, 27, 12, 9, and 8 among 14 touches. Here is Spiller's run-defense schedule from Weeks 13-16, following a Week 12 bye: Atlanta (20th versus run), Tampa Bay (13th & falling), Jacksonville (32nd), Miami (21st). ... The Steelers give Buffalo's backfield another favorable matchup. Pittsburgh ranks 31st in run defense and has allowed 12 rushing scores through eight games, the second most in football. Between-the-tackles grinder Fred Jackson looked sharp and turned a few "nothing runs" into something against the Chiefs, totaling 99 yards. Jackson will also be a good bet for a goal-line score. He's a quality RB2/flex at Pittsburgh. ... With last week's shredding by Tom Brady as an outlier, the Steelers' 2013 defensive strength has been versus the pass. Dick LeBeau's group is fourth in the NFL in pass defense and has held enemy signal callers not named Brady to a paltry 5:4 combined TD-to-INT ratio. The return of E.J. Manuel's dual threat has a chance to further spark an already productive Bills run game, but he'd be a poor two-QB-league play in his first game back from a five-week knee injury.
Manuel's target distribution on the season: Stevie Johnson 38; Robert Woods 33; Scott Chandler 24; F-Jax 18; T.J. Graham 15; Spiller 11; Tashard Choice 2; Marquise Goodwin 1. ... Johnson is Buffalo's lone stable Week 10 fantasy pass catcher. He will go to work in the slot, where Danny Amendola whipped this same Steelers defense for 112 yards and a touchdown last week. ... The Steelers are just 20th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, giving Chandler a below-average matchup. Chandler has averaged 40.8 yards per game in Manuel's five starts. He’d likely need a close-in touchdown to pay off as a fantasy start. ... Woods (ankle) isn't going to face the Steelers, giving rookie burner Goodwin some Hail Mary WR3 appeal. Consistently outplaying Graham, the third-round pick from Texas has 50-plus yards in three of his last four games. It stood out in Week 9 that playcaller Nathaniel Hackett dialed up repeated shot plays for Goodwin. Setting up bombs with a run-heavy base offense, the Bills are efforting to get Goodwin the rock.
Score Prediction: Steelers 23, Bills 21
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $65,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 10. It's $25 to join and first prize is $8,500. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.
Detroit @ Chicago
The Lions return from a Week 9 bye awfully close to 100% health as a team. The only skill-position players on Detroit's Week 10 injury report are Calvin Johnson (knee), who is fine, and Nate Burleson (arm), who may return in Week 11. Matthew Stafford's matchup is a cakewalk on paper, as he'll do battle with a Chicago defense that ranks 23rd against the pass and 29th in sacks, and is playing on a short week following last Monday's upset win at Lambeau. With an 8:3 TD-to-INT ratio and 365-yard average over his last three games, Stafford owners should be excited. ... Stafford's target distribution during that three-game stretch: Megatron 39, Kris Durham 27, Reggie Bush 20, Brandon Pettigrew 17, Joseph Fauria and Joique Bell 7, Jeremy Ross 3. ... Megatron is a shoo-in top-three fantasy receiver play, but it's worth noting Chicago has historically held him in check. These are Calvin's last four stat lines in Bears games: 4-44-1; 5-72-0; 3-34-0; 7-81-0. I'm not saying to bench Johnson, but doors could open for other Lions pass catchers if the Bears continue that trend. Bush and to a lesser extent Durham would be the logical beneficiaries. Manning the No. 2 wideout role until Burleson's return, Durham is a near full-time player in Detroit's aggressive passing offense. Durham has desperation WR3 attractiveness this week.
Bush has a chance to be a fantasy stretch-run beast. The Bears serve up 4.40 yards per carry and rank 29th in run defense, with ten rushing scores allowed in eight games. Fire up Bush as a top-five RB1. In these clubs' Week 3 meeting, Bush doused Chicago for 174 yards, a touchdown, and a 7.7 YPC average. The Bears' defense has become even more depleted up front since. ... More reason for Week 10 Bush love: In Weeks 6-9, Alfred Morris/Roy Helu, washed-up Brandon Jacobs, and Eddie Lacy/James Starks combined to paste Chicago for 432 yards and seven TDs on 80 carries (5.40 YPC). ... Lightly targeted and only a 30% player in Detroit's offense, red-zone specialist Fauria is a touchdown-dependent fantasy commodity I would never feel comfortable starting. ... Pettigrew's ceiling is limited by his lack of big-play talent, but this is a solid matchup in PPR. The Bears permit the third most receptions in the league to tight ends. ... Although Joique Bell is not much of a Week 10 flex option -- he's now consistently hovering between 5-9 touches per game -- there aren't three better rest-of-season handcuff/stashes than Detroit's change-of-pace back. Bell is versatile and talented enough to be a legit fantasy difference maker were Bush to get hurt. Cling tightly to Bell in the second half of the season, even if it means dropping a WR4.
Friday Update: Reggie Bush continues to shape up as one of the premier Week 10 fantasy plays, regardless of position. Chicago will be without every-down LE Shea McClellin on Sunday due to a hamstring injury. They'll turn to late-round rookie David Bass at left end. Bass was cut by the Raiders in training camp. The Lions' offensive line will have no trouble blowing the Bears' defensive front off the ball.
Observers of Jay Cutler's Week 7 groin tear are likely shocked he'll be starting just three weeks after the fact. An injury like Cutler's is subject to aggravation, so a run-first game plan from coach Marc Trestman is most probable in Cutler's first game back. It can't hurt that Matt Forte is on a tear, and Week 10 opponent Detroit is vulnerable on the ground. The Lions' No. 14 run defense surrenders 4.74 yards per carry, the fifth highest clip in football. As usual, Forte is an elite RB1. ... While playing him this week feels like too-risky business, Cutler needs to be grabbed in all leagues where he was dropped. Pre-Week 7, Cutler was on pace for career highs in touchdown passes (32), completion percentage (65.9), and passer rating (95.2). He was the No. 6 fantasy quarterback on the season. If Cutler avoids setbacks this week, fantasy owners should feel comfortable leaning on him as an every-week QB1 down the stretch. Chicago's leaky defense will create shootout situations, and two of the Bears' opponents during the fantasy playoffs (Dallas, Philly) rank in the 30s against the pass. ... Here is Cutler's target distribution on the year: Brandon Marshall 62; Alshon Jeffery 52; Martellus Bennett 45; Forte 38; Earl Bennett 16; Michael Bush 4.
Even if Trestman calls this game conservatively, the Bears are capable of aerial success versus a shaky Lions backend. 26th against the pass, Detroit ranks an incredibly disappointing 30th in sacks despite impressive on-paper defensive line talent. It's an appetizing matchup for go-to guy Marshall, who enters this one with four touchdowns over his last four games. ... Bookend Jeffery is the clear No. 2 option in Trestman's passing attack and shredded Detroit for a 5-107-1 stat line when these teams met in late September. Fire up Jeffery as a WR2/3. With Cutler restored under center, there won't be a week the rest of the season where Jeffery isn't a recommended start. ... The Lions have allowed the fifth most receptions and 11th most yards in the league to tight ends. Martellus is a quality, if back-end TE1. ... Trestman has been putting on a weekly playcalling clinic, and Chicago's offense should soon resume firing on all cylinders. Forward-thinking stashers should have Michael Bush rostered because he would be an every-down back in an explosive offense if Forte went down. I'm not saying Forte will go down; I'm saying there's always that possibility. He hasn't played a full 16-game schedule since the 2010 season.
Score Prediction: Bears 30, Lions 27
Cincinnati @ Baltimore
Andy Dalton entered Cincinnati's Week 9 matchup with Miami seemingly on fire. Dalton crashed back to Earth in the Dolphins' upset victory, re-exposing himself as a quarterback incapable of high-level performance over a sustained stretch. Essentially a souped-up Trent Dilfer, Dalton is a passer whose talent limitations must be overcome by his teammates. Now on the road to face a Ravens defense that ranks third in the NFL in sacks per game and has held enemy quarterbacks to seven touchdown passes over its last seven games, Dalton would ideally be treated as a high-end to middling QB2 rather than a standard-league starter. ... Dalton's target distribution the last four weeks: A.J. Green 45, Marvin Jones 26, Mohamed Sanu 20, Jermaine Gresham and Giovani Bernard 19, Tyler Eifert 15, Andrew Hawkins 2, BenJarvus Green-Ellis 1. ... Jones would've had a much bigger Week 9 box score if not for Gresham's holding penalty that negated a 50-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Jones is still the No. 1 overall fantasy wideout over the past five weeks. As long as Jones is being targeted like the No. 2 option in Cincinnati's passing game, I'll support him as a solid WR3 play. ... Another reason for Jones optimism is Baltimore's historical ability to hold Green in check. Green has faced the Ravens three times in his career. These are his stat lines: 2-26; 5-70; 2-26. You're obviously starting Green as an every-week WR1, but Jones could benefit on the off chance Baltimore's defense sells out to stop Cincinnati's best offensive weapon.
Sanu dropped two of his nine targets against the Dolphins and could be headed for a permanent reduction in playing time. The second-year receiver has been ineffective all season long. There is no question Jones is a better option out wide. ... Still working back into the mix after missing the season's initial eight weeks with an ankle injury, slot man Hawkins was targeted twice versus Miami. Hawkins has big-play explosiveness, but he is going to struggle for consistent usage in the Bengals' spread-the-wealth passing attack behind Green. ... It's impossible to justify either Eifert or Gresham as more than a mid-level TE2 when neither has reached 70 yards in any game this season. Baltimore has allowed the second fewest receptions in the league to tight ends. ... The fantasy community has called for Bernard's role to increase at Green-Ellis' expense all season. It hasn't happened yet, and we can't expect that to change during the stretch run. Although Bernard is going to play against the Ravens, his Week 9 rib scare won't instill coaching-staff confidence the smallish rookie is capable of handling a full-time workload. "Some of these guys, it's important for them to be fresh, fast,” explained OC Jay Gruden this week. “That's the way he is. He needs to have full stamina.” Bernard remains an attractive RB2/flex play, especially in PPR leagues. Facing the Ravens' top-eight run defense, Green-Ellis should be safely stationed on fantasy benches.
Friday Update: Gresham (groin) missed a second straight practice Friday and is listed as questionable for Week 10. TE1 streamers should keep an eye on the situation. Eifert will be an intriguing bye-week or injury-crunch filler against Baltimore if Gresham does not play.
I've noticed a lot of worry around fantasy land regarding Torrey Smith. He's strung together three relatively slow games, with one touchdown on the season. Smith is still coming off a five-catch, 78-yard Week 9 performance, and I think he's far likelier to pick it up than flatline the rest of the way. The hot stretch could begin this week. Cincinnati's pass defense is depleted, having lost top cornerback Leon Hall (Achilles') and interior pass rusher Geno Atkins (ACL). Joe Flacco is going to have more time to dial up downfield shot plays, which are Smith's bread and butter. He's a good bet to outrun 35-year-old LCB Terence Newman for a bomb. ... Carved up by Ryan Tannehill two Thursday nights ago, the Bengals suddenly pose a plus matchup for Flacco. This is a unit minus very arguably its two best defenders. Flacco has been a 2013 fantasy dud -- he's on pace for a 20:18 TD-to-INT ratio and has hit 300 yards in just two of his last seven games -- but this is a good week to use him in two-QB leagues. ... Flacco's target distribution since Marlon Brown returned from a hamstring injury three games ago: Brown 20; Smith and Jacoby Jones 18; Ray Rice and Tandon Doss 13; Dallas Clark 11, Ed Dickson 5; Deonte Thompson 4; Bernard Pierce 3.
The Ravens are playing three-wide offense with Jones and Smith outside, and Brown handling the slot. At 6-foot-5, 216, Brown creates Colstonian matchup problems inside the numbers. Brown's production has been frustratingly inconsistent week to week, but the targets and playing time are there, and his Week 10 matchup is too versus 33-year-old Bengals slot CB Chris Crocker, a converted safety. View Brown as a low-end but usable WR3. ... Situational deep threat Jones has yet to reach 50 yards in a game this season. He's waiver fodder in 10- and 12-team leagues. ... Cincinnati is allowing the seventh fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Drop-machine Dickson is no longer involved in the passing offense, while 34-year-old Clark is predictably fading. ... If Ray Rice fantasy owners can still sell him on name value, doing so now would probably be their best option. A Baltimore run-blocking group that lost LG Kelechi Osemele to year-ending back surgery isn't going to get better. And it appears Rice's early-season hip injury wasn't solely to blame for his shortage of pre-bye production. He struggled yet again coming off the Week 8 open date, managing 17 yards on 11 carries in last Sunday's loss to the Browns. It's crystal clear on tape that Rice's running ability is evaporating. He has very little chance to be a stretch-run fantasy difference maker. He's just a flex option against Cincinnati's top-ten run defense. ... Although Bernard Pierce also has struggled, I wouldn't be surprised to see more of him moving forward. Not only do the Ravens need to figure out whether Pierce is their lead back of the future, at this point they simply can't lean on Rice as a bellcow.
Score Prediction: Ravens 20, Bengals 17
St. Louis @ Indianapolis
Same game plan, different opponent. The Rams will enter Week 10 playing offense on the back of rookie Zac Stacy, around whom they are now scheming and calling plays. He's the best skill-position player they have, and St. Louis' coaching staff knows it. The Rams have changed their personnel groupings to support a run-first offense after attempting to play spread early in the year. I'm skeptical Stacy is capable of sustaining his Weeks 8-9 production with such a limited support cast, but would fire him up with excitement against Indy's bottom-six run defense. A true every-down back, Stacy is pushing for RB1 value. ... Kellen Clemens' target distribution on the season: Jared Cook and Chris Givens 14; Stacy 10; Lance Kendricks 9; Austin Pettis 8; Brian Quick and Tavon Austin 5; Daryl Richardson 2. ... There is no featured player in the Rams' passing attack, and Clemens hasn't shown any tendency to pepper one pass catcher with targets. Add in below-average quarterback play and a run-first offense, and you have both a recipe for unreliability and low ceiling for production. While Cook and Givens both possess theoretical big-play ability and can overcome the odds in a random game, the most likely outcome for Rams receivers and tight ends is always clunker weeks. You can try taking a shot. Just realize there is a small chance it'll pay off.
I think it's fair to wonder if the Colts might be 8-0 had they maximized T.Y. Hilton's early-season snaps at the expense of Darrius Heyward-Bey's. Rookie OC Pep Hamilton made the conscious pre-season decision to limit his most explosive playmaker's field time in favor of a drop-prone blocking receiver, all in the interest of playing "run-first" football. (Pep the Playcaller deemed DHB a better blocker.) Now a 90% player in Indy's offense -- though only by default -- Hilton is going to explode down the stretch. Like a more sudden, versatile, quicker-twitch version of Victor Cruz, Hilton is essentially uncoverable one on one, and floats around the formation so often that he becomes very difficult to double team or bracket. Start Hilton as a WR1 this week. Noteworthy opposing wideout stats against St. Louis' leaky secondary this season: Golden Tate 5-93-2; Justin Blackmon 5-136-1; Cecil Shorts 5-74-1; Larry Fitzgerald 8-80-2; Anquan Boldin 5-90-1; Dez Bryant 4-38-1; Julio Jones 11-182-1; Steve Smith 5-69-1; Andre Johnson 7-88. ... Although Andrew Luck's sheer playmaking ability can vault him to spectacular fantasy weeks, Hamilton's run-first approach won't stop curbing his upside. The Colts are 27th in the NFL in pass attempts, and Luck is tenth in per-game fantasy quarterback scoring. He's a mid-range to low-end QB1 against the Rams. Luck's own offensive playcaller is working against him, especially in fantasy.
Luck's target distribution since Reggie Wayne tore his ACL in Indy's Week 7 win over Denver: Hilton 13; Griff Whalen 9; Heyward-Bey 7; Coby Fleener 5; Trent Richardson 3; Donald Brown and LaVon Brazill 2; Stanley Havili 1. ... DHB has dropped four passes over his last four games and still hasn't reached 60 yards in any week this season. He's waiver fodder with little or no chance of being a stretch-run fantasy asset. ... Whalen (40 snaps) was the Week 9 leader in a third receiver rotation that also involved Brazill (21 snaps) and to a lesser extent David Reed (9). Whalen has very little fantasy value beyond 14- and 16-team leagues. Brazill offers the highest upside because he has the most talent, but isn't going to be a fantasy option playing 33% of the offensive snaps. ... The Rams have allowed the second fewest fantasy points to tight ends, giving disappointing Fleener a rough Week 10 matchup. Fleener is just a desperate fill-in type TE1 option. ... St. Louis ranks 28th versus the run and has coughed up 11 rushing TDs through nine games. Unfortunately, Richardson can be trusted only as a flex. The Colts emerged from their Week 8 bye committed to a running back committee, although I did find it promising they used Richardson in the screen game and on pitch-run plays. They're clearly trying to get him on the edges. Richardson needs Indianapolis to jump out to more early-game leads. Brown's playing time will continue to weigh on T-Rich's fantasy value when Indianapolis is erasing deficits. I do think Richardson is a good bet to score against the Rams, but I've admittedly thought that entering each of the Colts' last six games. And he's currently on a four-game touchdown drought.
Score Prediction: Colts 24, Rams 14
Oakland @ NY Giants
Darren McFadden's latest hamstring aggravation opens Raiders feature back duties to Rashad Jennings, a versatile player who lacks special qualities but is capable of handling sizable workloads for short stretches and clearly has the coaching staff's trust as an every-down back. In the three games this year where McFadden has either suffered an early injury or missed altogether, Jennings has averaged 18 touches for 111 total yards with one score. The Giants rank ninth in run defense, but Jennings' projected workload gives him Week 10 flex appeal. ... In those same three McFadden-injury games, FB Marcel Reece has averaged five touches for 26 yards. Look for Reece in a pace-change role against the G-Men. ... Terrelle Pryor's rushing stats keep him in the two-QB-league mix, but he's begun to struggle as a passer. And struggle mightily. Pryor has been a one-read quarterback all year, which makes him theoretically easy to defend when opponents take away that go-to receiver. Over his last three games, Pryor has completed just 50-of-94 passes (53.2%) for 592 yards (6.30 YPA), and a 1:7 TD-to-INT ratio. He's taken 14 sacks. The Giants don't rush the passer well -- they're last in the league in sacks -- and struggle in the secondary, so it's entirely possible this matchup will get Pryor back into a groove. It's also entirely possible we've seen the best of Pryor this year. He's not playing well enough to stream as a QB1.
Pryor's 2013 target distribution: Denarius Moore 50; Rod Streater 38; Mychal Rivera 21; DMC 17; Reece 14; Brice Butler 13; Jacoby Ford and Jennings 11. ... Easily the best fantasy bet among Oakland pass catchers, Moore is averaging five catches for 79 yards with three TDs over his last six games. I don't particularly love Moore's Week 10 matchup versus RCB Prince Amukamara -- the Giants' top corner -- and would still confidently start him as a high-ceiling WR3. ... Possession "Z" receiver Streater cleared 60 yards for the first time since Opening Day last week. Streater lacks big-play ability, has scored one touchdown over his last 12 games, and is a complementary wide receiver on a run-first team with a struggling quarterback. He's a WR4 in fantasy. ... Juron Criner played a career-high 63 snaps in the loss to Philadelphia, primarily because the Raiders were in comeback mode all game and flooded the field with receivers. Criner caught three balls for 22 yards and remains behind Ford on the depth chart. Criner does appear to have passed up Butler. Oakland wideouts behind Moore and Streater are not on the radar in re-draft leagues.
The Giants' Week 10 backfield is shaping up as a two-member hot-hand scenario with Peyton Hillis set up for the first crack and Andre Brown easing back in. Washed-up Brandon Jacobs won't play due to hamstring and knee injuries. Coach Tom Coughlin made it clear this week Brown would not immediately assume lead-back work in his return from short-term I.R. "He's ready to help, but there is a big difference between game day and practice," Coughlin said Wednesday. Added Brown, "I'm pretty sure they are going to switch us in, switch us out." Combine the workload uncertainty with Oakland's top-six run defense, and these Giants backs carry an awful lot of bust potential into Week 10. ... It's going to be Brown's backfield in short order, but Hillis is the expected starter against the Raiders. Coughlin and OC Kevin Gilbride are comfortable with Hillis' pass protection, and at this point he's in better football shape than Brown simply because Hillis has been playing. I'd still treat Hillis as an undesirable flex play in this forbidding matchup. Oakland's defensive front-seven stoutness is legit. ... The Giants are more likely to have passing than rushing success versus the Raiders. Lacking outside pass rushers and rag-tag in the secondary, Oakland was exposed and then some in Week 9 by Chip Kelly's aggressive downfield passing attack, as Nick Foles set single-game career highs in virtually every category en route to a seven-touchdown, 406-yard day. Eli Manning is an intriguing matchup-based QB1 streamer and shoo-in two-quarterback-league starter.
Eli's 2013 target distribution: Victor Cruz 77; Hakeem Nicks 67; Rueben Randle 45; Brandon Myers 39; Hillis 11. ... Nicks has been so wildly inconsistent because his skills have faded. He still flashes from time to time, but has become a volume-dependent wideout who relies on winning contested catches as opposed to the smooth separator he used to be. Nicks has a plus matchup this week after Raiders RCB D.J. Hayden (groin) pulled up lame in practice. Hayden was already coming off a Week 9 torching by Riley Cooper, and may now not play at all. Nicks remains a boom-or-bust fantasy WR3. ... Cruz, Torrey Smith, and Larry Fitzgerald are wide receivers I'd be trying to buy low ahead of the fantasy stretch run. Cruz has at least five catches in all but two games this year, but hasn't found pay dirt since Week 4. His current owner may be feeling anxiety. Cruz has rest-of-season WR1 potential in a healthy offense that will benefit from run-game stability once Brown settles in. ... Randle has been and will continue to be a boom-or-bust fantasy option. He has 40 or fewer yards in 5-of-8 games this season, and 75 or more in the other three. This is a good matchup for Randle, but I wouldn't feel comfortable using him as more than a WR3 in 14- and 16-team leagues. ... Myers has been a disappointment in both real life and fantasy with the Giants, and I wouldn't be surprised if they emerge from the Week 9 bye increasing superior blocking TE Adrien Robinson's involvement. The Raiders are 16th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, giving middling TE2 Myers a middling Week 10 matchup.
Score Prediction: Giants 24, Raiders 17
Seattle @ Atlanta
Although this game doesn't necessarily project as particularly high scoring -- the over-under is a reasonable 44.5 points -- I think it's a good one to target for fantasy owners in the comfy confines of Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Over their last seven games, the Falcons have allowed Mike Glennon, Carson Palmer, Geno Smith, receiver-depleted Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Cam Newton, and Sam Bradford to combine to go 154-of-240 (64.2%) for 1,780 yards (7.42 YPA) with a 15:5 TD-to-INT ratio. Even with Percy Harvin (hip) yet to enter the mix, Russell Wilson is pushing for top-six QB1 value. He's got a great matchup this week. ... This is Wilson's target distribution since Sidney Rice tore his ACL in the second quarter of Week 8: Doug Baldwin 11; Golden Tate and Zach Miller 7; Marshawn Lynch 6; Jermaine Kearse 4; Ricardo Lockette 1. ... The Falcons have been gashed in the slot all season long, so much so that they had to scale back usual slot defender Robert McClain's snaps three weeks ago. They're now using two rookies in their nickel package, with Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant bookending LCB Asante Samuel. Baldwin is going to be an intriguing WR3 until Harvin returns. Getting the start in Rice's absence last week, Baldwin soaked up a team-high ten targets and played a season-high 87% of Seattle's offensive snaps.
Tate was targeted only three times in last Sunday's comeback win over Tampa Bay, but had Darrelle Revis on him for most of the game. He remains the Seahawks' No. 1 receiver. Tate will tangle with Trufant on base downs this week, and Alford in sub-packages. ... In-line TE Miller is averaging under ten yards per reception this year and hasn't reached 50 yards in any of his seven appearances. He's a mid-range TE2 against an Atlanta defense surrendering the fifth fewest catches and 11th fewest yards to tight ends. ... Jump-ball specialist Kearse is shaping up as a touchdown-dependent fantasy commodity. I don't like him as much at Atlanta as I did last week. Kearse will run most of his routes into Samuel's coverage. I'd bet on Tate and Baldwin over third receiver Kearse in this game. ... The Falcons are even worse against the run than their No. 20 ranking suggests. Mike Nolan's defense is serving up 4.51 yards per carry, the seventh highest average in football. They're also dealing with a knee injury to critical DT Corey Peters, a top-nine run-stopping defensive tackle according to Pro Football Focus' grades. Running as well as he has all year despite a two-game touchdown drought, Lynch is a top-five RB1 in Week 10.
The Falcons' shortage of supporting-cast talent has officially caught up with Matt Ryan. Ryan has managed 55 completions on his last 89 attempts, for 511 yards (5.74 YPA) and a 2:7 TD-to-INT ratio. Behind a sorry offensive line, Ryan is dinking and dunking in an increasingly predictable offense due to Atlanta's lack of a foundation run game. It would be a stretch to rank Ryan as a top-12 fantasy quarterback option against Seattle's No. 2 pass defense. The Seahawks have limited enemy passers to a 9:13 TD-to-INT ratio on the season. They're tied for third in the NFL in sacks and will make Ryan's life very difficult. ... Ryan's target distribution the last three games, in the post-Julio Jones era: Harry Douglas 30; Jacquizz Rodgers 20; Tony Gonzalez 19; Darius Johnson 14; Drew Davis 10; Steven Jackson 9; Levine Toilolo 3. ... Douglas' target domination is deceptive because he piled up 18 in Week 8, and has 12 combined in the other two games. As a slot receiver, he still has the best matchup of Atlanta's pass catchers versus Seattle. Douglas should avoid stationary RCB Brandon Browner and LCB Richard Sherman on most of Sunday's snaps. Douglas is a middling WR3 play. ... Roddy White maintains intriguing fantasy playoffs value, but isn't worth the Week 10 risk in such a forbidding matchup. White is going to be active, but may not play a full complement of snaps. And when he's on the field, he will take on Sherman. White's return also wipes out Davis' already minimal fantasy value. They play the same position.
Considered a kick return prospect coming out of SMU, rookie Johnson ran 4.59 at 5-foot-9, 179 at his March Pro Day before going undrafted in April. If Johnson keeps third receiver duties over Davis, he will spend Sunday's game in hulking, 6-foot-4 press corner Browner's coverage. It's a mismatch. ... In last January's playoff win, Gonzalez tagged Seattle's linebackers and safeties for six catches, 51 yards, and a score. View Gonzo as a mid-range to low-end TE1 against a Seattle defense allowing the 12th most receptions to tight ends. ... Although S-Jax looked a bit better in Week 9 than he did in his Week 8 return from a six-week hamstring injury, Atlanta's run blocking remains worrisome and he is not being utilized as a full-time player. Jackson played 28 snaps to Rodgers' 22 at Carolina last week, as the former finished with 16 touches compared to the latter's 11. Jackson might have played more had the Falcons grabbed an early lead, but that's a tough bet to happen against the 8-1 Seahawks. As a declining committee back on a pass-first team behind a poor offensive line, Jackson is a mere Week 10 flex option. Glass-half-full owners can try hanging their hats on the fact that Seattle has sprung recent leaks in run defense. Over their last two games, the Seahawks have served up 405 yards on 75 carries (5.40 YPC) to St. Louis and Tampa Bay. After watching their Week 9 clash with the Bucs, I thought Pete Carroll's unit looked like a team desperately in need of a bye. The Seahawks' open date isn't until Week 12.
Friday Update: S-Jax's Week 10 matchup is assisted by the absence of Seahawks LE Red Bryant, who was ruled out on Friday with a concussion. Bryant is a mammoth, 6-foot-5, 330-pound run stuffer. Jackson is an increasingly attractive flex play this week.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 27, Falcons 20
Jacksonville @ Tennessee
Chris Johnson entered the Titans' Week 9 trip to St. Louis with 111 scoreless yards on his previous 48 carries (2.31 YPC). Exploding for a 23-150-2 rushing line, Johnson turned in easily his most promising performance of the season, maximizing runs by finishing them with authority and handling his highest carry total since Week 2. In addition to a year-best 6.52 YPC average, Pro Football Focus credited Johnson with season highs in yards after contact (57) and broken tackles (4) against the Rams. Based strictly on tape study, I've long maintained Johnson's potential to rediscover stardom was up to him. And watching the Rams-Titans game, I wondered if Shonn Greene's healthy return motivated CJwhateverK to run with purpose and aggression. If Johnson keeps up this standard of play, he's every bit capable of being as effective as Jamaal Charles. Lock in Johnson as an RB1 against the Jags' last-ranked run defense. ... "Big back" complement Greene is shaping up as a TD-dependent flex option. He'll vulture all goal-line work and probably hover in the 8-12 touch-per-game range the rest of the way. He's definitely worth a look this week against such a generous opponent. ... Jake Locker was the biggest disappointment of Tennessee's Week 9 win, missing receivers with poor ball placement and taking four sacks. Dating back to his days as a Washington Huskie, Locker has been such a streaky, week-to-week quarterback that one game’s play can't reliably be taken as an indicator of what's to come. Locker's running ability combined with Jacksonville's leaky pass defense gives him streamer QB1 appeal again this week. The Jaguars have allowed a 16:3 TD-to-INT ratio to enemy passers, and rank last in the AFC in sacks. Locker's upside didn't evaporate in one bad game.
Locker's full target distribution this year: Kendall Wright 44, Nate Washington 40, Delanie Walker 25, Kenny Britt 19, Damian Williams 14, Johnson 13, Justin Hunter 7, Greene 1. ... Washington has topped 62 yards in 2-of-8 games and scored a touchdown in 1-of-8 this season. Coming off a catch-less Week 9, he's hard to trust despite this cake matchup. ... Wright opened the season as a situational slot receiver. He's played 79% of Tennessee's offensive snaps the past four games, clearly emerging as the Titans' go-to guy in the pass game. Wright's stats in Locker's last five starts: 9-98, 3-69, 7-54-1, 6-71, 5-56. He's a quality WR3 against the Jags. ... Britt was also held without a catch in St. Louis and played only ten snaps. He should've been dropped by re-draft leaguers weeks ago. ... Hunter bypassed Britt and Williams to be the Titans' No. 3 receiver in Week 9, receiving more playing time (18 snaps) than both and securing 2-of-2 targets for 13 yards. Hunter's role as a rotational receiver on a low-percentage passing team makes him an unattractive Week 10 fantasy gamble, but I wouldn't be surprised if Hunter delivered a big game before the season is through. Guessing when it'll happen is still going to be virtually impossible. ... Possession-blocking TE Delanie Walker has started all eight Titans games this season. He has maxed out at 52 yards and will likely only pay Week 10 dividends if he scores a red-zone TD.
Justin Blackmon's year-ending suspension will have a large fantasy fallout in Jacksonville, beginning at quarterback where Chad Henne loses his primary chain-moving after-catch weapon. Henne has never flirted with QB1 production, but was an every-week two-quarterback-league starter due to his impressive wideout corps and garbage-time stats. Now facing Tennessee's top-seven pass defense without his beastly Z/slot receiver, Henne is barely a top-24 fantasy QB. The Titans have limited opponents to a combined 7:6 TD-to-INT ratio. ... The primary box-score beneficiary will be emerging Mike Brown, who had already earned 78.7% of Jacksonville's offensive snaps the past three weeks. He'll now be an every-down player, lining up as a motion man at Z and slot receiver. If Tennessee has a deficiency anywhere in the secondary, it's slot cornerback Coty Sensabaugh. Brown has a plus matchup, his playing time is on the rise, and he's going to benefit from pass-happy comeback mode just like Cecil Shorts and Blackmon before him. Brown is squarely on the WR3 radar this week. ... Rookie Ace Sanders has performed so poorly that Stephen Burton is more likely to play the old Brown role. Shorts (WR2) and Brown (WR3) are the Jaguars' only pass catchers worth standard-league consideration this week. Burton is worth a flier in 16-teamers.
The only game in which Shorts has not seen double-digit targets this season was Week 6 against Denver, when he suffered an early-game shoulder injury. Although his matchup is tougher versus red-hot contract-year RCB Alterraun Verner, Shorts is a quality WR2 based on volume. He has rest-of-season WR1 upside in PPR leagues. Shorts will be peppered with targets. ... It isn't crazy to think Marcedes Lewis would also receive a post-Blackmon bump. It's just difficult to lean on a tight end with zero touchdowns over his last nine games and no games over 31 yards this season. Lewis is a better blocker than pass catcher. The Titans are 18th in catches allowed to tight ends and 13th in yards, giving Lewis a mediocre Week 10 matchup. ... Although his sharp decline in on-field performance and putrid run blocking are obvious concerns, Maurice Jones-Drew is a solid low-end RB2/flex against Tennessee's leaky run defense. The Titans rank 26th versus the run and have coughed up ten rushing touchdowns through eight games. On the back of Zac Stacy, the Rams shredded Tennessee for 160 yards and two TDs on 32 carries (5.0 YPC) last week.
Score Prediction: Titans 24, Jaguars 13
Philadelphia @ Green Bay
Leave out Nick Foles' Week 7 start against Dallas where it's conceivable he played through an early-game concussion, and on the season he's completed 63-of-89 passes (70.8%) for 948 yards (10.65 YPA) and a 13:0 TD-to-INT ratio with a 14th touchdown on a scramble. Those are Peytonian stats. Foles' record-tying Week 9 seven-score performance has put him squarely back on the QB1 radar for Sunday's bout with Green Bay's No. 20 pass defense. The Packers have allowed 14 touchdown passes compared to three interceptions. These are the only Week 10 fantasy quarterbacks I'd start over Foles: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, and Russell Wilson. I'd strongly consider Foles over Cam Newton this week. ... Although LeSean McCoy's YPC average is down with Michael Vick's (hamstring) dual threat removed from Philadelphia's offense, McCoy's increased passing-game usage stabilizes his RB1 value. He has at least four receptions in three consecutive weeks and at least 16 touches in every game this year. Despite Sunday's difficult matchup with Green Bay's top-five run defense, McCoy remains an every-week RB1. ... Foles' 2013 target distribution: DeSean Jackson 25; Jason Avant and Riley Cooper 17; McCoy and Zach Ertz 15; Brent Celek 10; Bryce Brown and Jeff Maehl 7.
D-Jax's stats in the four games Foles has attempted at least 25 passes this season: 7-132-1; 6-64-2; 3-21; 5-150-1. Extrapolated over a 16-game schedule, those numbers would put Jackson on an 84-catch, 1,468-yard, 16-touchdown pace. The lone Packers corner who can run with Jackson is RCB Sam Shields, and the Eagles move D-Jax around the formation enough that he should avoid Shields on plenty of snaps. ... Cooper's numbers in Foles' four games of extensive play: 0-0; 4-120-1; 6-88; 5-139-3. Jackson is a WR1. Cooper is a boom-or-bust WR3 option. ... Although both found Week 9 pay dirt, neither Ertz nor Celek has cleared 60 yards in any game this season. The fact that Green Bay is allowing the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends may translate to one paying off in Week 10. As for who it'll be, your guess is as good as mine. I would play Ertz over Celek due to the target differential. ... Possession-slot receiver Avant's playing time is down with the Eagles employing more two-tight end packages instead of three-wideout sets. Avant only played 30-of-60 snaps in last Sunday's win over Oakland, and finished without a reception. Avant could score a fluke touchdown against the Packers and would still be fantasy waiver-wire material.
Similar to St. Louis' strategy following Sam Bradford's ACL tear, look for the Packers to build their offense around rookie workhorse Eddie Lacy in the absence of Aaron Rodgers (collarbone). This would mean more two-tight end packages with blocking-oriented Andrew Quarless as an every-down player, and increased usage of FB John Kuhn. The Packers could use newly activated OT Derek Sherrod as an in-line tight end in jumbo packages. Lacy leads the NFL in rushing yards (545) over the past five weeks, and has scored a touchdown in three straight games. His season YPC average is up to 4.45 after a beastly performance in last Monday night's loss to Chicago. The Rams have had offensive success playing this sort of smash-mouth football with Zac Stacy, and Green Bay has superior run-blocking talent. ... Another fallout from making Lacy their offensive centerpiece could be fewer three-wideout sets. James Jones and Jordy Nelson will be the primary receivers moving forward, with Jarrett Boykin and Myles White likely taking on diminished roles. After a 15-yard Week 9 game against the Bears, Boykin's fantasy value has quite possibly hit the gutter. He's only worth hanging onto in 14- and 16-team leagues in anticipation of Rodgers' return.
James Starks is also going to play a critical role as the second part of a one-two punch behind Lacy, though trusting complementary skill-position players is always risky business. Philly ranks 15th versus the run and is permitting 4.06 yards per carry. Starks is a low-end flex play. ... Seneca Wallace's target distribution off the bench versus Chicago: Nelson 8; Quarless 7; Jones 2; Boykin and White 1. ... Wallace is better than he showed against the Bears, but remains a back-end QB2 as a player coach Mike McCarthy will attempt to "hide." Philadelphia's 32nd-ranked pass defense does give Wallace two-quarterback-league appeal in this particular matchup. ... Nelson's fantasy value isn't torpedoed without Rodgers. The Packers will still dial up a high percentage of plays for Nelson whenever Wallace drops back to pass. It's also worth noting the Eagles may be minus top CB Bradley Fletcher (pectorals) in this game, and RCB Cary Williams is regularly torched by enemy wideouts. Nelson should not lack for targets and has a plus matchup despite the under-center downgrade. At very worst, he's a WR2. ... Jones' most likely outlook is a TD-dependent WR3. His snaps were limited against the Bears, but Jones will become a full-time receiver again in Week 10. ... Quarless' Week 9 targets are likely to prove misleading. Wallace has familiarity with him from their time together on the second-team offense, and Wallace ran the first team for the first time this week. The Eagles have allowed the third fewest fantasy points to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Packers 24, Eagles 23
4:05PM ET Game
Carolina @ San Francisco
Back from a bye, 30-year-old Frank Gore's legs should be as fresh as they've been all season entering this tilt with Carolina's No. 2 run defense. Despite the difficult on-paper matchup, Gore is entrenched as an every-week RB1. He's totaled 100 yards and/or scored a touchdown in six straight games, and gained 558 yards with six touchdowns on his last 116 carries (4.81 YPC). ... The Niners are more likely to have rushing than passing success versus the Panthers, who have limited enemy signal callers to a 7:12 TD-to-INT ratio. They play ferocious football in the defensive front seven. A borderline QB1, Colin Kaepernick will likely only pay off as a fantasy start if he breaks a long run or two off read option or on a scramble. ... Vernon Davis is the one San Francisco pass catcher I'd feel confident playing versus the Panthers. Carolina served up 6-81-1 to Tony Gonzalez last week, a 5-48-1 line to Bucs TE Tim Wright in Week 8, eight catches to Rams tight ends in Week 7, and an 11-109-1 number to Vikings TEs in Week 6. ... These are the results of the last five opposing "No. 1" receivers to face the Panthers: Larry Fitzgerald 3-43; Greg Jennings 6-34; Chris Givens 1-24; Vincent Jackson 5-79; Harry Douglas 3-82. No touchdowns. Anquan Boldin is just a WR3. ... Mario Manningham will eventually take over as the Niners' clear-cut No. 2 receiver, but figures to rotate with Kyle Williams and perhaps Jon Baldwin in his Week 10 return from the PUP list. Manningham is coming off ACL and MCL surgery. If/when 100%, Manningham could be a real boon to Kaepernick's receiver corps because he creates separation from defensive backs. To this point, Davis has been the only Niners pass catcher capable of that.
The Panthers are on the road for this daunting matchup with a refreshed Niners defense that gets back All-Pro edge rusher Aldon Smith. San Francisco ranks No. 6 in total defense and has allowed the third fewest points in football. While this is a premium real-life NFL game, it isn't necessarily one to target for box-score stats. The over-under is 43 points, third lowest among Sunday's games. ... I'm a huge proponent of Cam Newton and probably always will be, but the physical 49ers are a team capable of frustrating Cam, which has historically led to shaky on-field performance from Carolina's 24-year-old quarterback. Enemy passers have managed a 10:9 TD-to-INT ratio against the Niners, and an NFC-worst 57.2 completion rate. I would seriously consider playing Nick Foles over Newton this week. Ultimately, Cam remains a top-12 QB1 regardless of matchups. ... Cam's target distribution over his last six games: Steve Smith 47, Brandon LaFell 36, Greg Olsen 31, Ted Ginn 23, DeAngelo Williams 16, Mike Tolbert 12, Jonathan Stewart 3. ... Devolving into a late-career possession receiver on a team that ranks 30th in the league in pass attempts, Smith is a limited-ceiling WR3 against San Francisco's press-man secondary. No longer utilized as a field stretcher, 34-year-old Smith is 46th in per-game fantasy wide receiver scoring.
If Cam is going to have a big passing day -- and the odds are against that -- I'm fascinated to see from where it'll come. Olsen noticeably favored his balky foot in last week's win over Atlanta, and the 49ers are allowing the fifth fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Olsen can expect frequent coverage from Patrick Willis. ... LaFell has been held under 55 yards in 6-of-8 games. Beyond 14- and 16-team leagues, it's hard to justify owning LaFell on fantasy rosters, let alone starting him. ... Third wideout Ginn is averaging 46 yards per game and hasn't hit pay dirt since Week 3. He's a WR5 at best. ... Carolina's backfield has become a true fantasy quagmire. Here are the rushing stat lines of the last five enemy lead backs to face the Niners: Chris Johnson 9-39-0; Rashard Mendenhall 10-40-0; Arian Foster 21-98-0; Daryl Richardson 12-16-0; Maurice Jones-Drew 19-75-0. Williams averaged 18.1 touches per game before Stewart came off PUP. In Stewart's Week 9 return, Williams handled 15, gaining 54 scoreless yards against Atlanta and was outgained by Stewart. So a three-headed timeshare that also involves goal-line vulture Tolbert and quarterback runs will now tangle with San Francisco's top-12 run defense at Candlestick following a 49ers bye. I think it would be awfully bold and perhaps even irresponsible to start any Panthers running back in Week 10.
Score Prediction: 49ers 20, Panthers 17
4:25PM ET Games
Houston @ Arizona
The Cardinals have stated publicly Rashard Mendenhall will remain involved in their backfield, and that I don't doubt. What I do tend to doubt is that Mendenhall would be reinserted as the lead back after Bruce Arians' staff had a Week 9 bye to digest film, per-play efficiency stats, Mendenhall's continued turf toe woes, and Andre Ellington's dynamic 162-yard all-purpose effort as Arizona's top back just before the open date. The Cards beat the Falcons 27-13. The timing of Ellington's blowup game couldn't have been better. Although I don't expect Ellington to "start" or play even 80% of the snaps, I do expect him to be a safe bet for no fewer than 14 touches in every game going forward. Essentially Gio Bernard West, I'd treat Ellington as an exciting RB2/flex option versus Houston's Brian Cushing-less No. 18 run defense. ... A hobbled misfit behind his offensive line with a likely declining role, Mendenhall would be a poor flex bet against the Texans. Wholly ineffective, Mendenhall has managed 156 yards on his last 62 carries (2.52 YPC), and still couldn't practice fully this week coming off the bye. ... The Cardinals are more likely to have ground than aerial success in this one. J.J. Watt is capable of single-handedly destroying Arizona's passing game in a mismatch with one of the league's weakest lines. Carson Palmer is a two-quarterback-league option only this week. The Texans rank No. 1 in the NFL in pass defense.
Palmer's target distribution since Rob Housler returned from injury in Week 3: Larry Fitzgerald 47, Michael Floyd 44, Ellington 29, Andre Roberts 21, Housler 20, Mendenhall 8, Jim Dray 7. ... In the back end, Houston's defensive strength is perimeter cornerback play, where Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph flip sides often and are capable of checking most receivers. Floyd strictly plays outside and has the more difficult Week 10 matchup among Arizona's wideouts. ... Fitzgerald has a better shot than Floyd at a big day. Not only is Fitz fully recovered from his recurring first-half hamstring woes, he'll match up Sunday with weekly slot whipping boy Brice McCain inside the numbers. 5-foot-9, 180-pound McCain got shredded by T.Y. Hilton last week, and will now take on a far more physical wideout with even better route-running chops. Lock in Fitzgerald as a fantasy WR2. ... Housler was a late addition to this week's injury report after suffering an apparent groin pull during Thursday's practice. Scratch him off Week 10 sleeper lists. ... Roberts hasn't been a fantasy factor since the season opener, though he's a player for deep leaguers to monitor. The Cardinals had scaled back their three-receiver set usage before the off week. Perhaps they'll dial it back up following the bye. Either way, Roberts is far from a standard-league fantasy option.
Case Keenum has started fast before fading in each of his first two starts. It's hard to say if that's indicative of things to come, but his gunslinger mentality and athleticism have both impressed to this point. Keenum is getting the ball to his playmakers, and letting Andre Johnson win contested catches. He's drawing Tony Romo comparisons. Keenum's aggressive playing style is good news for Houston's surrounding skill players. ... Keenum is worth starting in two-quarterback leagues, although I wouldn't underestimate this sneaky-difficult road test. The Cards match up well with the Texans' offense. Arizona stops the run and will likely attach Patrick Peterson to Johnson, forcing Keenum to work to his non-primary reads. ... It's why I think DeAndre Hopkins is an interesting dice-roll WR3 and cheap FanDuel option. Hopkins is having a mostly quiet rookie year, but has 50-plus yards in each of Keenum's starts, and will square off in this one with burnable LCB Jerraud Powers. Powers is 94th of 107 in Pro Football Focus' cornerback coverage ratings. ... Johnson's stat lines in Keenum's starts: 4-89, 9-229-3. Don't be scared off by Peterson; Johnson torched Colts RCB Vontae Davis last week, and Davis is having a better year than Arizona's top corner.
Keenum's target distribution on the season: Johnson 19; Garrett Graham 14; Hopkins 10; DeVier Posey 6; Ben Tate 5; Lestar Jean 2; Arian Foster 1. ... A disappointment so far as Owen Daniels' replacement, these are Graham's stat lines since Daniels went down: 3-15-0; 2-25-0; 3-38-0; 4-46-0. TE1 desperados can try chasing Graham's matchup instead of his production in Week 10. Arizona has allowed the most touchdowns and receiving yards in the league to tight ends. ... The Cardinals' run defense is legit. Ranked No. 4 in the league, Arizona is permitting just 3.48 YPC with three rushing scores allowed through eight games. And the Cards are now coming off a bye. Still trying to gut it out through four cracked ribs, Tate was a shell of himself in last week's loss to Indy, going to great and noticeable lengths to avoid contact. I fully expect him to struggle in this game. He's just a flex option. ... With Foster (hamstring, back) sidelined indefinitely and Tate nowhere near 100%, UDFA Dennis Johnson is now the second man in the rotation. Johnson only played 13 snaps against the Colts, but could see more action in Week 10 after gaining 36 yards on eight carries. For now, Johnson is just a change-up back worth rostering in 14- and 16-team leagues.
Friday Update: The Houston Chronicle reported Friday Arian Foster may need year-ending back surgery, which the Texans won't go out of their way to avoid with a 2-6 record. Dennis Johnson should be owned in all 12- and 14-team fantasy leagues with some potential to see feature back carries down the stretch. Playing through four broken ribs, Ben Tate is no lock to last for the duration of the season.
Score Prediction: Cardinals 23, Texans 20
Denver @ San Diego
Broncos-Chargers has the highest over-under of Week 10 at 58 points. You'll want to start pretty much everyone going in this game. ... Taking on Denver's No. 30 pass defense, Philip Rivers is a top-five fantasy quarterback this week. Peyton Manning won't struggle to rip apart San Diego's secondary, creating a likely shootout scenario with major garbage-time potential. Rivers is the No. 5 fantasy quarterback in points per game. ... Rivers' target distribution over his last five games: Antonio Gates and Keenan Allen 44, Danny Woodhead 37, Vincent Brown 29, Eddie Royal 22, Ladarius Green 6; Ryan Mathews 5. ... No. 1 receiver Allen already looks like one of the NFL's premier route runners. On an absolute tear, the emerging star is averaging 105 yards over his last four games and pushing for legit WR1 status in PPR leagues. Fire up Allen versus Denver, which will be without CB Champ Bailey (foot) again this week. ... The Broncos have allowed the fourth most receptions and second most yards in the league to tight ends. Gates is a mid-range to high-end TE1 in this game. ... Now the Nos. 4 and 5 options in San Diego's passing attack, Brown and Royal are shaky WR3s even in this mouth-watering matchup. Royal continues to battle a toe injury that's preventing him from practicing, and his two-week touchdown streak isn't to be reliably chased on the heels of a four-game end-zone drought.
Brown is strictly a possession receiver, averaging 10.4 yards per catch on the season with zero touchdowns since Week 1. He simply hasn't demonstrated playmaking ability. Brown is now getting lapped weekly by third-round rookie Allen. ... If the Bolts do fall behind on the scoreboard, Woodhead will end up playing more than Mathews because he's San Diego's go-to passing-down back. Woodhead is an every-week flex play in standard leagues with RB1/2 value in PPR. ... The risk Mathews owners run is pass-happy comeback mode, and it doesn't help that Denver ranks No. 3 in the NFL versus the run, holding opponents to 3.39 yards per carry. Only the Jets have been stingier than the Broncos. I'd call Mathews an RB2 if the Chargers had more faith in him as a goal-line back. Instead, playcaller Mike McCoy passed up several opportunities to give Mathews short-yardage scoring chances in last week's O.T. loss to Washington. Mathews is a risky flex.
The fact that San Diego can score points gives McCoy's team a puncher's chance in this game, but defensively there may not be a club in football that matches up more poorly with Denver than the Chargers. Bolts starting cornerbacks Shareece Wright and Derek Cox both rank in the bottom ten of Pro Football Focus' CB ratings. Cox was benched last week. San Diego has lost each of its starting outside linebackers (Melvin Ingram -- ACL, Dwight Freeney -- quadriceps tear) to major injuries. The Chargers rank 27th in pass defense and tied for 22nd in sacks. Manning is going to pick them apart from a clean pocket. ... Demaryius Thomas (WR1), Wes Welker (WR1), and Eric Decker (WR1/2) are all locked-in, every-week fantasy starters. There is no worry about any of the Denver receiving matchups. ... The Chargers have been stingier in tight end coverage -- they're 24th in fantasy points allowed to the position -- but Julius Thomas is always a strong bet for red-zone touchdowns. He's on pace for 16 scores this year. Orange Julius is a top-five TE1 this week.
I've noticed recent concern in fantasy land about Knowshon Moreno perhaps "losing touches" to Montee Ball and C.J. Anderson. The Broncos do want to keep Moreno as fresh as possible ahead of a hopefully-deep postseason run. Moreno is still an RB1. He's a three-down back in a Manning-quarterbacked offense and utilized heavily as a receiver. With at least 18 touches in four straight games, there is very little reason to worry. ... Ball did handle the majority of scoring-position work in Denver's Week 8 win over Washington, before the Week 9 bye. The rookie's fantasy value is similar to Shonn Greene's. Because he doesn't get volume or play much in the passing game, Ball will be a touchdown-dependent flex option. If you start Ball in a given week and he doesn't execute on a goal-line carry, he will burn a hole in your fantasy lineup. He should be rostered in leagues of all sizes, but I don't think Ball is worth using in 10- and 12-team fantasy settings. ... It was just a four-carry sample, but Anderson exhibited lighter feet and more first-step burst than Ball in the Redskins game, gaining 22 yards on four runs. Although Anderson is currently not close to a fantasy starter, I bet he'd form a near-even rotation with Ball were Moreno to go down.
Score Prediction: Broncos 33, Chargers 27
Sunday Night Football
Dallas @ New Orleans
The Cowboys' defense has been a sinking ship ever since a flukish -- and brief -- hot start to the season. Now 31st in both total yards allowed and pass defense, Dallas is going to get dismantled by Drew Brees. With a 15:3 TD-to-INT ratio over his last five games and 287 per-week passing-yard average on the year, red-hot Brees is the No. 2 fantasy quarterback play in Week 10, behind only Peyton Manning. ... Brees' target distribution since New Orleans' Week 7 bye: Jimmy Graham 15; Lance Moore 14; Pierre Thomas 13; Kenny Stills 9; Robert Meachem 8; Marques Colston 6; Darren Sproles 5; Nick Toon and Ben Watson 4. ... Becoming more comfortable playing through the pain caused by his partially torn plantar fascia, Graham played 60-of-78 (77%) of the Saints' Week 9 offensive snaps. That is his normal role. With Rob Gronkowski on a bye, Graham is this week's shoo-in top tight end start. Dallas has allowed the second most fantasy points to tight ends. ... The Saints' skill-position corps is deeper than it's ever been in the Sean Payton era, creating a spread-the-wealth situation that leads to headaches for certain players, and deceptive "breakout" weeks for others. I still view Sproles as the second best fantasy option in New Orleans behind only Graham. Sproles is a high-ceiling flex play in this projected shootout.
Colston is a dicier bet. The knee injury that led to Colston's inactivity in last week's loss to the Jets seemingly came out of nowhere, which makes you wonder if it's at the root of Colston's sudden and sharp decline both in production and snap percentage. He's only been a 65.5% player over his last four games. Treat Colston as a boom-or-bust WR3 versus Dallas, which has allowed just one enemy "No. 1" receiver to find pay dirt since Week 2. (It was Calvin Johnson.) ... Thomas' recent statistical surge has been largely the product of injury situations. First it was Mark Ingram's toe injury. Then, Sproles' Week 9 concussion. With both Ingram and Sproles now healthy, Thomas resumes shaky flex-play value. ... The Saints are playing musical chairs at No. 2 receiver, with Moore back at the head of the pack, Stills nipping at his heels, and Meachem lurking as a streak-route specialist. Toon only saw extensive Week 9 action because he's Colston's direct backup, and Colston didn't play. In fact, Stills played more snaps (44) against the Jets than Moore (35), and Meachem (30) wasn't far behind them. If forced to decide from that trio, I'd take a shot on Stills' big-play ability over Moore's possession-type game. Like Colston, both Moore and Stills remain boom-or-bust WR3 gambles.
The Cowboys nearly lost their Week 9 game to Minnesota after abandoning the run early. OC Bill Callahan is an ex-offensive line coach and wants to run the football, on both a voluminous and efficient basis. Look for Callahan to reemphasize the ground game against the Saints. New Orleans ranks 25th versus the run and surrenders 4.95 yards per carry, the second highest average in the league. Fire up a healthy DeMarco Murray as a borderline RB1 this week. Callahan is going to make up for lost time. ... That, of course, isn't to diminish Tony Romo's top-five QB1 appeal as Dallas works to keep pace on the scoreboard with Brees & Co. Leading the NFL in pass attempts, Romo is on pace to match his career high in touchdown passes (36). Say what you want about Romo; he is playing lights out this year. ... Romo's target distribution since third-round pick Terrance Williams became a factor six games ago: Dez Bryant 51; Jason Witten 33; Williams 30; Cole Beasley 28; Murray and Joseph Randle 10; Miles Austin 7; Dwayne Harris 6.
Bryant remains the No. 2 fantasy receiver play behind only Calvin Johnson, but Williams, Beasley, and Witten should take note of the fact that Saints DC Rob Ryan is quite familiar with Dallas' top receiver after coordinating the Cowboys' 2012 defense. It's entirely possible Ryan will attempt to eliminate Dez with brackets and double teams, which would open up the field for others. The Saints are 29th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, but Witten is an every-week TE1. He's coming off an 8-102-1 game against the Vikings. ... Williams had his slowest game (2-33) in six weeks versus Minnesota, but is a strong candidate to rebound in a projected high-scoring affair. He's the No. 11 fantasy wide receiver over the past five weeks. Austin (hamstring) is going to miss another game. ... Slot receiver Beasley has at least six targets in three of Dallas' last four games. Because Beasley isn't a big-play or red-zone threat, he's only worth consideration in PPR leagues. … Word broke Thursday afternoon that the Cowboys fear Dez is dealing with a herniated or bulging disc in his back. Bryant was allowed to practice this week, however, and all signs still point to him starting against the Saints. Keep Dez in your fantasy lineup while monitoring the situation into Sunday.
Friday Update: Continue to monitor Dez's situation into Sunday, but he practiced again Friday and looks to be all systems go. The Cowboys listed Bryant as probable. Perhaps the back problem is something doctors could wait until after the season to fix. Marker in Dez as an elite WR1 in this likely high-scoring affair.
Score Prediction: Saints 34, Cowboys 30
Monday Night Football
Miami @ Tampa Bay
Finally realizing their early-season passing-based offense put far too much of a burden on their expansion-level pass protection, the Dolphins re-prioritized balance following an embarrassing Week 7 home loss to Buffalo. (Had OC Mike Sherman made this run-game commitment before the season, his franchise quarterback probably wouldn't be on pace to take 70 sacks.) In two games since, Miami has 61 runs compared to 70 passes, which essentially qualifies as run-first offense by today's NFL standards. Lamar Miller has reemerged as the Fins' clear lead back, with 41 touches over that span to Daniel Thomas' 23. Miller will enter Monday night coming off consecutive 110-plus total-yard efforts with a 5.51 yards-per-carry average since the Week 6 bye. Collapsing in run defense, Tampa has served up 327 yards and three rushing touchdowns on 62 carries (5.27 YPC) to its last two opponents. Miller is an attractive RB2/flex. ... As the plodding lesser half of Miami's committee, Thomas will only pay Week 10 dividends on the off chance he finds the end zone against the Bucs. He's done so in 3-of-8 games so far. Thomas' single-game high for total yards is 58. ... Ryan Tannehill's target distribution since the Week 6 open date: Mike Wallace 28, Brian Hartline 22, Charles Clay 14, Rishard Matthews 11, Miller 10, Thomas 4.
Wallace has been a boom-or-bust WR3 this season, and will remain so on Monday night. The Bucs have begun using Darrelle Revis in more man coverage. Revis played a big role in holding Golden Tate under 30 yards on three catches last week. ... Hartline will have more opportunities if Revis shadows Wallace, although there are no guarantees. Hartline's lack of big-play ability still limits his ceiling. He's failed to clear 70 yards in seven straight games and is scoreless since Week 3. I do think Hartline would be a better PPR bet than Wallace in Tampa Bay. ... Tannehill isn't a recommended QB1 streamer, but he's worth firing up in two-quarterback leagues. Over their last four games, the Bucs have been shredded by Nick Foles, receiver-depleted Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Russell Wilson for a combined 84-of-115 passing (73%) for 1,007 yards (8.76 YPA) and a 10:2 TD-to-INT ratio, with three more scores on scrambles. Tannehill is dangerous in a clean pocket. Tampa Bay is tied for 27th in the NFL in sacks. ... The Buccaneers have allowed the 15th most fantasy points to tight ends, giving Clay a middling matchup. Although Clay is a highly effective and versatile H-back, his passing-game usage has been fairly inconsistent week to week. He's a low-upside TE1. ... Matthews has replaced Brandon Gibson as the Dolphins' third receiver and lacks fantasy value beyond deep Dynasty leagues. He has ten catches on the season.
The Bucs enter Week 10 having dropped 13 of their last 14 games under Greg Schiano, who is lucky to still have his job following a Week 9 meltdown loss to the Seattle, where Tampa Bay grabbed a 21-0 first-quarter lead. It’s like Bucs ownership isn’t even paying attention. The lone shining light on Tampa's end was rookie tailback Mike James. The sixth-round pick consistently reached the second level against a surprisingly soft Seahawks run defense, setting career highs in total yards (166) and single-game YPC average (5.6). James is a mediocre talent, but volume and effective run blocking can buoy him into low-end RB2/flex territory. Dolphins DC Kevin Coyle's disappointing run defense ranks 21st in the NFL with nine rushing touchdowns allowed through eight games. Miami's front seven is getting moved off the ball far more often than it was the past two seasons. Despite an abundance of defensive line talent, the Dolphins have been gashed by Patriots and Bengals tailbacks for 298 yards and four TDs on 63 carries (4.73 YPC) over the last two games. ... Mike Glennon is playing smart football, showing a willingness to make throwaways rather than accepting sacks and posting a 5:0 TD-to-INT ratio over his last three games. He'll have his work cut out against a Fins pass defense that can generate consistent up-front pressure and has held enemy quarterbacks to nine passing touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions on the year. Glennon is a low-end QB2 in Week 10.
Glennon's target distribution on the season: Vincent Jackson 64; Tim Wright 28; Brian Leonard 17; Tiquan Underwood 13; James 11; injured Doug Martin 10; Chris Owusu 7; Tom Crabtree 5. ... Fantasy owners should've anticipated all along some ups and downs for V-Jax. His quarterback is a third-round rookie. Still, these are Jackson's stat lines in Glennon's five starts: 2-27; 9-114-2; 10-138-2; 5-79; 2-11. Jackson is a boom-or-bust WR2, but I'd still play him every week. The Fins use LCB Brent Grimes as a stationary corner, and V-Jax plays enough on the opposite side of the formation and in the slot that he will avoid Grimes' coverage on the majority of Monday's snaps. ... Look for Underwood to see more of Grimes in this game. Replacing Mike Williams at "Z" receiver, Underwood was targeted three times by Glennon in Week 9. ... Wright is a logical Week 10 TE1 streamer. An athletic "flex" player in OC Mike Sullivan's offense, Wright will take on a Dolphins defense allowing the third most fantasy points to tight ends. Undrafted rookie Wright has strung together consecutive box-score lines of 7-91, 2-15, 5-48-1, and 4-58-1 over his last four games.
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 20, Dolphins 17
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