Things are heating up now that we have passed the halfway point of the actual NFL season and enter the home stretch of fantasy football seasons. Every roster decision takes on added importance as teams battle for playoff positions or perhaps look to improve on their playoff seeding.
Let me take a moment here to also reach out to owners that may feel they are out of the playoff race. Keep setting your lineups! You owe it to the teams that may need a victory by your squad to continue their chances at making the playoffs. Trust me. I’m currently the not so proud owner of a couple of teams that are likely to be sitting out this year’s playoffs. I’ll keep plugging away though and implore you to do the same. Let’s finish what we started with class folks.
As we look to the Week 10 Start/Bench options, I’ll toss in a friendly reminder that for the sake of brevity I break down four players at each designation per position. Otherwise, this turns into War and Peace.
The players I pick to write about may be ranked behind some other ‘non-studs’ so make sure to check my weekly rankings here at Fantasy Sharks in case you don’t see a name you like. I generally choose to list the players here that may require more of an explanation than the others and simply can’t write about every one. That ‘War and Peace’ thing again.
Let’s do this.
Joe Flacco, BALTIMORE vs. Cleveland – It’s rare that we suggest starting Flacco as there are often just too many better options. With three of our ‘stud’ QBs on a bye and a very favorable matchup, this is a game to roll with Joe. In the past month, the Browns have been handing out very nice fantasy numbers to QBs. They’ve given up nine TD passes in that time and an average of 266 passing yards per game. In the first meeting between these teams this season, Flacco threw for 302 yards and a pair of scores. We’ll see at least those numbers on Thursday night from Flacco.
Russell Wilson, SEATTLE at New England – Monday night, Wilson finally looked like the QB we’ve come to know and love, carving up the Bills for 282 passing yards with two TD passes. More importantly, Wilson looked as healthy as he has in a long time and scored his first rushing TD of the season. The Patriots will have a hard time containing TE Jimmy Graham this week and now also have to worry about a healthier Wilson creating plays on roll outs or designed running plays. We ride the hot hand here and expect a big game from Wilson in this big Week 10 matchup.
Jay Cutler, CHICAGO at Tampa Bay – Yes, you are reading this correctly. I am suggesting that fantasy owners start Mr. Cutler this week. After watching him have a solid game against the Vikings defense in Week 8, I see Cutler building on that following the Bears bye week. It appears that WR Alshon Jeffery isn’t battling any injury issues (of course, it’s only Tuesday) and caught his first TD of the season from Cutler two weeks ago. The Buccaneers have been torched by QBs in their past two games having allowed 857 passing yards and eight TDs. We like that.
Carson Palmer, ARIZONA vs. San Francisco – This is a get healthy game for the Cardinals offensive skill position players as they come off their bye week. They face one of the most generous defenses when it comes to giving up fantasy points as the 49ers have allowed eight TD passes in their past three games. With RB David Johnson gouging the 49ers on the ground, Palmer will see plenty of play-action opportunities to burn the defense deep. When these teams met back in Week 5, backup QB Drew Stanton threw for a pair of scores and we see at least three for Palmer this week.
Jameis Winston, TAMPA BAY vs. Chicago – Early reports out of Tampa this week have Winston practicing without a knee brace so we can assume that the injury he suffered in Week 9 isn’t a serious one. There is still the issue as to whether his top receiving option, Mike Evans, can pass the league protocol for concussions in time to play this week. There is also the fact that the Buccaneers will look to establish the running game (with whatever RB is healthy) to limit any untimely interceptions on Winston’s part. The Bears defense has a surprisingly effective pass rush having racked up 20 sacks on the season. In fact, over their last four games the Bears have sacked the QB 14 times. A rushed Winston is a turnover-prone Winston. No thanks.
Kirk Cousins, WASHINGTON vs. Minnesota – The Vikings defense has stumbled a bit of late, allowing two TD passes to Matthew Stafford last week in an overtime loss to the Lions. Let’s keep in mind that it was the first time since Week 1 that a QB managed more than one TD pass against this defense. On the season, Minnesota has still only allowed 10 total scores (two rushing) to the QB position. Cousins will be coming off of the bye week having thrown for 458 yards and two scores in Week 8. Let’s remember, though, that was a five quarter game as Washington tied the Bengals. Let’s also remember that Cousins has turned the ball over eight times in eight games. Therein lies the problem with rolling him out against a defense that will bring consistent pressure. When Cousins is forced to rush his passes he can tend to throw an interception or two. This feels like a bounce-back week for the Minnesota defense.
Colin Kaepernick, SAN FRANCISCO at Arizona – I’m not buying that Kaepernick is back in the starting fantasy QB conversation just because he rolled up big numbers at home against the Saints. New Orleans allows an average of over 300 passing yards per game while the Cardinals allow only 212. The Cardinals are a top-5 defense in limiting fantasy points to the QB position and I see them shutting down the 49ers offense at home this week. There are better options than Kaepernick this week. Sit him.
Andy Dalton, CINCINNATI at NY Giants – This is not a good week to look for a big game from “The Red Rifle.” While Cousins put up huge passing numbers over in London, Dalton finished with only 284 passing yards and two TDs (one rushing). Through eight games, Dalton has just 11 total TDs and has had four games in which he’s put up one or fewer scores. The Giants defense is tough on QBs from a fantasy standpoint, having given up only seven TD passes while intercepting eight. Look for a run-heavy attack featuring Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard this week from the Bengals that will further cap Dalton’s fantasy outlook.