Only four weeks remain in the fantasy regular season, and if you’re on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, now is the time to win. Of course, if you’re an unlucky soul who saw a few of your first picks (David Johnson/Aaron Rodgers) go down, then your clutch waiver wire pickups turn to ash in your hands (Will Fuller/Wendell Smallwood), things are terrible right now, and nothing can be done to make you feel better.
But each week is a special little grind, and there’s still time to make your way into the playoffs. Things are just too whacky this year, and as we know, the outlook of a team can change in an instant. This week, the last real nasty byes are up, and we move forward dealing with some high-scoring offenses (Packers/Texans) looking mediocre with new leadership throwing the ball.
Four teams are on bye: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia.
Jared Goff: The Houston Texans are in the bottom-5 in points allowed against opposing quarterbacks, and Jared Goff is on a roll coming off the best game of his career. If you weren’t able to pick up Tyrod Taylor a week or two ago for the byes, Goff will fill in well for Carr, Smith, and Wentz. A solid top ten QB this week.
Josh McCown: Another Daily Fantasy/bye week replacement is McCown, who’s quietly nearing a top-ten year simply by default. That’s what happens when Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, and Deshaun Watson go down. What a year. Still, that’s not to take away from McCown’s strong stretch of games over the last five weeks. His basement is hovering around 20 points per game, now he’s facing the Bucs who are having trouble stopping anyone. If only Austin Seferian-Jenkins didn’t have another TD wiped out by the refs.
Matthew Stafford: The most expensive man in the league has been playing some solid real-life QB, but as far as fantasy goes, his games when he doesn’t have a TD are sinking his chances to be a top ten QB at the end of the season. Over the last four weeks, Stafford ranks as the 11th best QB, but he could crack the top 5 going against the Browns because it’s the Browns.
Philip Rivers: The Sacksonville Sit™ rears its head once again. Rivers will probably get some garbage time action going, but there’s a good chance he spends at least a few minutes lying on the turf when the Chargers fly to Jacksonville on Sunday. The Jaguars are a terrifying beast of a defense that should qualify almost every QB as a sit from here on out. Jalen Ramsey won’t be suspended (for being choked by AJ Green), so they are still a complete unit to be feared accordingly.
Kirk Cousins: Normally, We Like That, but Minnesota is playing too well against opposing QBs (they are giving up under 6.5 yards per completion and are top 8 in sacks) and there are plenty of options out there. If the byes have killed you and you absolutely must start Cousins, fine. But McCown is up there, waiting.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: You want to be sneaky sneaky and maybe change your name to Fitzpatrick’s Follicle’s in honor of your bearded, new bye week upside play, but Mike Evans is suspended and the TB offense is unpredictable. Also, FITZ HAS NO BEARD. Avoid him at all cost, despite the Revenge Game possibilities.
WIDE RECEIVER STARTS
Robert Woods: It sounds weird to say, but Robert Woods is the best receiver on a top-10 Rams passing offense. Woods saw 5 targets in Week 9, his lowest in a month, but he finally hit paydirt and had a second TD after the Giants blew coverage and let him run free for 52 yards. Woods is a solid flex, the west-coast Mohamad Sanu, in a week when a good amount of receivers are missing. He can go for the Oakland guys, Fitzgerald, Philly’s receivers, etc etc.
AJ Green: He’s not suspended after pulling a GSP on Jalen Ramsey, and there’s no way he can get worse than his last three weeks (7 total catches for 74 yards), so let’s bank on AJ Green being his old self and getting fed some monster targets after his outburst. The man wants to be fed.
Doug Baldwin: After an up and down start to the season, Baldwin is enjoy a massive uptick in (consistent) targets, seeing a delightful 34 targets over the last three games. He’ll continue to be heavily used in a divisional matchup against the Cardinals on Sunday. He may get some Patrick Peterson coverage, but it’s not a guarantee.
WIDE RECEIVER SITS
Will Fuller: In an alternate dimension, Deshaun Watson isn’t hurt, Will Fuller just caught a couple more touchdown passes, and everyone’s wondering how he’s the number one receiver in fantasy after missing the first month. In this bizarro world, Fuller finishes his truncated season with 20 touchdowns, fantasy championship trophies are hoisted in the air, and for a moment, everything is right in the world.
In reality, Tom Savage has ruined him. He’s gone from must-start to WR4 at best, and that’s with 8 targets last week. Sad.
Brandin Cooks: The Eagles just scorched the Broncos for 51 points, passing all over their vaunted defense. But, maybe, just maybe, the Eagles have a better offense than the Patriots, and without Chris Hogan, they’ll shut down Cooks. It very well could be one of those games when James White catches 11 passes. Consider benching him, even if the Broncos don’t seem as scary as they used to be.
DeSean Jackson: Up until this past week, Jackson has averaged over 7 targets per game, he just hasn’t done much with them, scoring only two touchdowns this season. There’s potential for a long reception at any time, but with Mike Evans out, Fitzpatrick likely in, and no running game to speak of, the Jets could work to shut down Jackson’s big play ability.
RUNNING BACK STARTS
Adrian Peterson: Is AP really going to get 35+ touches against Seattle? Maybe. It seems like Bruce Arians wants to squeeze every last ounce of his power as long as Drew Stanton is under center. Seattle has a middle-of-the-road rushing defense, so you got that going for ya, but there’s a chance they go up on the Cards and Peterson isn’t getting the ball due to negative game script. But, if you’re starting Adrian Peterson in Week 10, you probably need to roll some dice anyway. There are scenarios in which Peterson could work out well. There are also scenarios in which he’s going to score 3 points. AP could be used to drain the clock and get 50 touches. Or the cards are down 45-7 and AP gets the ball 9 times. This has been a hell of a season.
Carlos Hyde: The main beneficiary of Pierre Garcon’s move to the IR, Hyde saw 11 targets on top of his 12 rushing attempts. CJ Beathard needs someone reliable to dump off to, and it seems like that person is Hyde, who turned his 11 targets into 9 catches for 84 yards. The Giants should allow his play to continue, and he gained some love from the coaching staff after getting ejected Sunday.
Isaiah Crowell: The Detroit Lions are in the bottom-10 of rushing and even with Duke Johnson clearing concussion protocol, Crowell’s touch count is reason enough to put him in your flex spot. He’s performed as a solid RB2/3 over the last month, and could fall into the end zone against the Lions. Of course, this could get out of hand and his role will disappear as the Browns look to pass to catch up, but Crow has seen at least six targets over the last two games. A trend? If so, that could raise his basement to some manageable levels.
RUNNING BACK SITS
Doug Martin: Tampa is in terrible, terrible trouble. If Jameis Winston is out with a shoulder injury, and it’s looking like he is, they may lean on Martin who simply can’t get anything going.
Kenyan Drake: Seemingly the starter in Miami after Jay Ajayi was dealt to the Eagles, he had 9 rushes for 69 yards and 6 catches for 35 yards. He basically split snaps with Damien Williams, who also caught 6 balls, now Miami is playing an actual good defense in the Panthers. This situation is volatile. Is it Drake’s job? Is he locked into 15 touches per game? If you’re desperate you’re playing a living, breathing running back on an NFL team in fantasy football, but consider Adrian Peterson, Tevin Coleman, or even Theo Riddick, who looks like he’s maybe doing something again. In a perfect world, You have Alvin Kamara instead of Drake.
Rob Kelley: The two TDs were certainly nice, but Kelley is going nowhere with this offensive line (14 rushes for 18 yards in Week 9), now he’s playing against the Vikings, a top rush defense. He’s not Mike Gillislee, and he’s not Chris Thompson. He’s worth a stash though.
TIGHT END STARTS
Evan Engram: Roll him out again — his 4-70-1 line against the Rams in Week 9 was one of the lone bright sports in a depressing Giants offense. He’s a top play (he’s also a top-5 TE rest of season) against a 49ers defense that’s giving up points up the middle to receivers like they’re playing in some hybrid rules league.
Kyle Rudolph: After a slow start to the season, Rudolph hasn’t seen fewer than 7 targets in a game since Stefon Diggs injured his groin over a month ago. Diggs looks to come back healthy after the bye this week, but for now, the Vikings are winning and Rudolph is rolling. Diggs doesn’t play well with injuries, so he could be eased back into the lineup, which means at least one more solid week of Rudolph.
Tyler Kroft: He only saw a couple of targets while Andy Dalton was getting blasted by the Jaguars pass rush, but he should bounce back in a nice way against the Titans, who are completely mediocre on defense.
TIGHT END SITS
OJ Howard/Cameron Brate: Maybe Fitzpatrick will connect with his TEs now that Evans is out, or maybe their inconsistent usage will continue. Since Howard’s breakout two weeks ago, he’s seen four total targets, and Brate has been trending down in his target share for three weeks straight. Brate will get right, he’s been too solid this year not too, but right now it’s best to avoid the mess.
Charles Clay: Before his injury in Week 5, Charles Clay was one of fantasy’s top tight ends. Now he comes back to a Buffalo team with Kelvin Benjamin who’s a tight end in a wide receiver’s body, if that makes sense. (Maybe vice versa?) It’s good to be excited by Clay’s return, but if he is active, we don’t exactly know what we’re getting. Wins are important now, and getting cute can cost you. He’d be an interesting play in a daily fantasy tournament.
Hunter Henry: No one knows what’s going to come of Hunter Henry on any given week, no one. Maybe some omniscient deity has a grasp on Henry’s usage, but why bother against the Jaguars? His two-target Week 8 is too fresh in my mind to feel comfortable rolling him out when there’s Seferian-Jenkins, Kroft, Rudolph or Jack Doyle out there.
The Waiver Wire is especially weak heading into Week 10, so here are some stash candidates and guys that are creeping into a starting role.
DEN RB DeVontae Booker: It’s a three-headed monster in Denver, with CJ Anderson, Booker and Jamaal Charles all getting almost the exact same workload over the last few weeks, but Booker’s played the “best” with his 6 rushes for 21 yards against Philly.
TB RB Peyton Barber: So it’s not Jacquizz Rodgers or Charles Sims that will be spelling the increasingly irrelevant Doug Martin, it’s Barber, who saw 23 snaps Sunday. Something to monitor.
CLE WR Josh Gordon: He’s eligible to play Week 13, and while he’s likely to not do anything, he’s absolutely worth nabbing in keeper and dynasty leagues if you’re out of playoff contention.
NE RB Rex Burkhead: Chris Hogan’s injury opened up some offense for any Patriot who Bill Belichick will bless in Week 10, and Rex Burkhead could be a prime candidate for work. He had 7 catches for 68 yards when we last saw him, healthy, in Week 8. He might continue his productive pace when he’s on the field.
NYG WR Sterling Shepard: He’s proving that he can be a decent WR3 with upside thanks to the lack of options on offense for the Giants and he’s surprisingly under-owned. Finally back from injury, he saw 9 targets and caught 5 for 70 yards on Sunday.