John T. Georgopoulos
The Lowdown - Week 10

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Welcome to The Lowdown for Week 10. This is my little corner of the fantasy football universe — feel free to pull up a chair and stay a while!

Leadership Voids

Last week saw two NFL head coaches go down for the count: Denver’s John Fox underwent open heart surgery, while Houston’s Gary Kubiak collapsed during halftime of the Sunday night game against Indianapolis, due to what doctors later termed a “mini-stroke.” Happily, both men seem to be on their way to a full recovery.

The incidents have spurred a lot of talk this week about the harsh lifestyle NFL coaches lead: 18-hour days, six days a week; sleeping in their offices; the almost-constant physical and mental pressures to be successful. Some pundits have even suggested that the NFL begin to regulate coaches’ behavior, to force them to dial it back a bit.

My opinion here is that all the do-gooders and reformers need to chill out. NFL coaches are not indentured servants; they chose their profession and all the associated risk that entails. It is not — and should not — be the responsibility of the NFL or anyone else to determine how much effort these guys put in to their jobs. It’s no different from medical residents or investment bankers, other professions with tons of pressure (and high payoffs). When I was working on Wall Street in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was par for the course to work 18-20 hour days, seven days a week. We’d work in our offices until we passed out, get 3-4 hours sleep on a cot by our desks, wake up, grab a coffee and a shower, and then start all over again. To this day, I can only sleep 4-5 hours a night.

But my point is that it was our choice … we did what we did to get ahead, to make some good money to take care of our families or to fly to Las Vegas for some wild partying. No one forced us to do what we did and we loved doing it. I understand that the reformers out there have good intentions, but we need to stop being a nation of nannies; let’s keep our noses out of other people’s business, OK?

Interesting Players for Week 10

Not necessarily the players in line for the biggest games this week, but rather some players that caught my interest and upon whom I shall cast my gaze …

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Oakland (vs. New York Giants): The Giants are coming off a bye week following their first two wins of the season. They’re getting back running back Andre Brown. The defense played well in their two victories. Are things starting to look up a bit for them? Perhaps, but Pryor is the type of quarterback they have struggled against the past few seasons: he’s big, fast, and can get out of the pocket and run. Combine that with a non-existent pass rush (only 10 sacks, worst in the NFL) and a horrible group of linebackers that can’t keep up with him, and Pryor seems poised to put up some surprisingly strong fantasy numbers. Pryor has rushed for 106 yards and 94 yards in his past two games, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see something similar again this week.

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle (at Atlanta): Baldwin has quietly put up 29 catches, 447 yards and two touchdowns, which doesn’t sound too great until you realize how he’s accumulated those numbers: by being wildly inconsistent. Looking at his game logs, I see four games where he recorded just one catch — and three games where he topped five receptions. Clearly a feast-or-famine situation. Against the shaky Atlanta pass defense, Baldwin should be in line for one of his better games as I’m sure what’s left of the Falcons’ pass defense will be focused squarely on  Golden Tate.

Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego (vs. Denver): Allen has been looking better and better with each passing week, and it appears that he’s finally on Philip Rivers’ list of trusted receivers. The Broncos give up the most passing yards in the NFL (mainly because all their opponents find themselves playing catchup from the opening gun), so there should be plenty of opportunities for Allen and the rest of the Chargers’ main receivers (I also like Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates a lot in this game).

If it means anything to any of the degenerate gamblers who read this column, the Chargers are my upset special of the week. Just don’t come looking for me when I’m inevitably wrong, OK?

Brian Leonard, RB, Tampa Bay (vs. Miami): This might be one of my most “out there” predictions of the season. I could recommend rookie Mike James, coming off a great game last week against Atlanta; then again, I’m way too ugly to be on TV, so why should I act like any of those puppets?

Leonard is a sneaky points per reception league play in my view: he’ll get 5-6 carries to give James a breather, but his real value since Doug Martins injury and Josh Freeman’s departure has been as a checkdown for rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. Leonard has snagged 10 catches the last two games, and I think he’ll get between 4-6 receptions against Miami on Monday night. Look, I’m not telling you he’s going to put up the numbers James will, but I think he’ll be good for 10-12 PPR league points this week … maybe even a touchdown on a short swing pass.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago (vs. Detroit): Bennett arguably had his best game of the season (8 catches, 90 yards) in Week 4 in Detroit against the Lions, and I see nothing that would indicate things will be different in the rematch. The Lions will probably be focused on stopping running back Matt Forte and wide receiver Brandon Marshall — and they should. This should leave plenty of opportunities for Bennett in the middle of the field against a team that is allowing a lot of points to opposing tight ends this season (just shy of 13 points per game).

Don’t forget to bench any players from Cleveland, Kansas City, New England and the New York Jets, who are on a bye this week. While you’re at it, give my podcast a shot and join my legion of fans … if my wife and mom can be called a “legion.”

John T. Georgopoulos is an 18-year veteran of fantasy sports journalism. His Fantasy Forecast series has won the prestigious Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award for Best Series, and he’s been nominated as an FSWA Award finalist on eight occasions. You can also listen to his weekly non-sports opinions here or follow him on Twitter: @ThatRiotShow .