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Inside the Matchup
Week 10
11/7/18; Updated: 11/9/18

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Justin Bales



Sunday Early:


JAX @ IND | MIA @ GB | NE @ TEN | NO @ CIN

Sunday Late:




- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Panthers @ Steelers - (Swanson)
Line: PIT - 4.0
Total: 51.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Cam Newton enters Thursday Night’s matchup against the Steelers as the No.4 ranked quarterback with 26.6 fantasy points per game. Although Newton has just one game of over 300 passing yards and three touchdowns, he has been one of the most consistent fantasy quarterbacks this season with a floor of at least two passing touchdowns and 30 rushing yards in each game dating back to Week 1 against Dallas.

With all of the media hype surrounding Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Newton is quietly putting together arguably his best season as a pro. The former first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft is on pace to throw for 30 TDs for the second time in his career, and he is completing 67% of his passes, well above his 59% career average.

Perhaps most impressive is that in addition to providing an excellent baseline of fantasy points due to his rushing numbers, Newton is also on pace to throw just eight interceptions. It is clear that the Norv Turner experiment with Newton in Carolina has been a smashing success and things should continue to get better with tight end Greg Olsen back and first-round pick D.J. Moore getting acclimated to the system.

After starting the season off as one of the worst passing defenses in the league and allowing the most points to opposing quarterbacks over the first four games, the Steelers have settled in an started to sure up issues in the secondary. Like most defenses this season matched up against Mahomes and the Chiefs and Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs, the Steelers struggled to stop those two high flying offenses to the tune of nine passing touchdowns and 737 yards allowed.

But Keith Butler and the Steelers defense has been much better as of late, holding Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Baker Mayfield, and Joe Flacco to fewer than 290 passing yards and two touchdowns each. Assuming that the Steelers are a suspect pass defense based solely on the fact that they rank seventh in fantasy points allowed is a poor assumption. With the calendar turning to November and the weather starting to get colder, the Steelers have turned it up a notch or two and present a reasonably tough matchup for fantasy QBs.

An intriguing matchup in this game will be Cam Newton’s ability to run the ball and extend plays. Outside of Tyrod Taylor Week 1, the Steelers haven’t faced a mobile quarterback like Newton who can do damage on designed runs.

Another matchup to watch is the linebacker play of Jon Bostic and Vince Williams covering Christian McCaffrey on passes out of the backfield. Only the Jags, Titans, and Raiders have allowed fewer passes to running backs this season, while McCaffrey ranks fourth in the league in receptions by a running back, trailing only James White, Saquon Barkley, and Alvin Kamara.

Last week’s two touchdown performance by Curtis Samuel instead of the expected breakout game by D.J. Moore highlights one of the most significant issues for fantasy owners with regards to the Panthers offense. Cam spreads the ball around, and outside of Devin Funchess in Week 7, no Panther wide receiver has reached more than ten targets in a game, making Funchess, Moore, Samuel, and Jarius Wright flex plays most weeks.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: McCaffrey’s 14.8 fantasy points per game ranks 9th among fantasy running backs with at least 100 rushing attempts, while his 49 receptions through eight games have the former Stanford Cardinal on pace for nearly 100 receptions and 750 receiving yards. The two big knocks against McCaffrey is the fact that he is not the most consistent player with three single-digit performances sandwiched between monster games, and the fact that Cam Newton eats into his potential value by sniping rushing touchdowns.

Those factors will no doubt continue to affect McCaffrey for the remainder of this season and the foreseeable future with Newton under center, but that does not mean that McCaffrey cannot be a low-end No.1 or high-end No.2 running back, especially in PPR formats.

The Steelers present a difficult matchup for running backs looking to run between the tackles with Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward clogging up the middle. The few teams that have found success running the ball vs. Pittsburgh tend to find more room outside the tackles and on a counter plays.

No player has rushed for more than 75 yards on the ground against the Steelers and only Carlos Hyde, Joe Mixon, and Alex Collins were able to score a touchdown on the ground vs. Pittsburgh. Look for McCaffrey to make most of his points through the air and on runs to the outside of the c gaps.

Value Meter:
QB1: Cam Newton (Mid-Range)
RB2: Christian McCaffrey (High-End)
WR3: Devin Funchess (High-End)
WR3: D.J. Moore (Low-End)
TE1: Greg Olsen (Mid-Range)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Thursday Night Football game between the Steelers and the Panthers boasts the fourth and fifth ranked quarterbacks in fantasy football with Cam Newton taking on Ben Roethlisberger at Heinz Field. Big Ben’s 26.1 fantasy points per game are by far the best of his 15-year NFL career, nearly four-full points per game better that his best season to date in 2009 when he threw for 4328 passing yards and 26 passing touchdowns.

Roethlisberger is well on his way to throw for 5000 yards for the first time in his career, while his 16 passing touchdowns through eight games has him positioned to beat his own personal passing touchdown mark of 32.

It is no coincidence that Big Ben is achieving such great success with star running back Le’Veon Bell holding out this season for a lucrative long-term deal. The team is more balanced on offense, Big Ben has more weapons to trust in the passing game, and James Conner is doing a more than impressive job filling in for Bell in the passing game. It also helped that the Steelers defense was dreadful over the first month of the season and helped create game scripts that forced Ben and the Steelers offense to throw more than usual.

With 51 receptions for 594 and a league-high nine receiving touchdowns in eight games, Antonio Brown continues to be an elite wide receiver and a fantasy stud. JuJu Smith-Schuster is an excellent No.2 wide receiver with high target volume and the ability to put together a monster game at any point, but the massive games that owners came to know in the first half of the season have not been there as of late, with only one double-digit fantasy performance in his last five games.

Both players, along with Big Ben, are must-starts in a home primetime matchup against a Panthers defense that is very giving to opposing skill position players. As the No.9 ranked unit in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, five QBs scored at least 23 points against Carolina, including Ryan Fitzpatrick last week posting 243 passing yards and four touchdowns at Bank of America Stadium.

The cornerback trio of James Bradberry, Captain Munnerlyn, and Donte Jackson did a solid job limiting Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson last week, but they will find it much more difficult to defend the receiving corps of Brown and Smith-Schuster, with the latter taking advantage of Munnerlyn in the slot similar to what Adam Humphries did last week.

Vance McDonald owners frustrated by a lack of production this season outside of his 112-yard monster game against the Bucs Week 2 may want to give strong consideration to playing McDonald on Thursday night. Despite having two amazing linebackers in Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly, the Panthers allow the most points to opposing tight ends and a league-worst seven receiving touchdowns in eight games. Only the Cowboys Week 1 with Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin failed to reach at least 74 yards or a touchdown against the Panthers, making McDonald an attractive option Week 10.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: James Conner has done an excellent job negating any leverage that Le’Veon Bell and his agent thought they had over the Steelers with 168.5 fantasy points in eight games. Only the venerable Todd Gurley has averaged more points per game than Conner, and the second year player is just one touchdown away from matching Bell’s entire touchdown production from last season.

We do not have a ton of clarity when it comes to the long-term status of the Steelers backfield. What we do know is that Conner will be the guy this week and heavily active against a Panthers defense that allows the seventh-fewest points to opposing running backs at the midpoint of the season. The Panthers do allow a fair amount of yardage on the ground as evident to their 4.5 yard per carry allowed, but only three running backs have reached the end zone.

An interesting matchup to watch will be the coverage of Davis and Kuechly on Conner out of the backfield. All other running backs not named Saquon Barkley have been shut down in the receiving game by the Panthers with only Gio Bernard in Week 3 managing to top more than 25 receiving yards in a game.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ben Roethlisberger (Mid-Range)
RB1: James Conner (High-End)
WR1: Antonio Brown (High-End)
WR2: JuJu Smith-Schuster (High-End)
TE1: Vance McDonald (Low-End)

Prediction: Steelers 28, Panthers 24 ^ Top

Cardinals at Chiefs - (Caron)
Line: KC -16.5
Total: 49.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Arizona fans will be hoping that the bye week gave the Cardinals coaching staff enough time to devise a gameplan to face the red hot Chiefs, or this game could get out of hand early. Josh Rosen has only thrown five touchdowns on the season in 2018. To put that into perspective, the quarterback on the other sideline - Patrick Mahomes - has five individual games with four or more touchdown passes thrown. The contrast in these offenses really couldn’t be more striking. But if the Cardinals are to be competitive in this game, it’s likely going to have to be with Rosen’s arm. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald seems to finally be healthy and he’s been seeing the type of target share that we’ve come to expect from him over the past few seasons. That makes him an interesting fantasy option here in Week 10 in what should be a high volume passing day for the Arizona offense. It’s still tough to think of him as anything more than a mid-level WR2 in PPR formats, but that makes him easily the most viable fantasy option in this passing game.

The Chiefs have been bad against opposing passing games this season, but not bad enough that we’re going to be trusting Rosen in our lineups in anything other than DFS tournaments where his low ownership and low price could end up being a difference maker if he were to hit. Wide receiver Christian Kirk is the only other player in the Arizona passing game who should even be considered for fantasy purposes. He’s been the team’s best wide receiver so far this season and he’s still seeing a significant snap share, so you could do worse than him as a low-level WR3/Flex option.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: The Cardinals’ offense simply hasn’t been good enough to give David Johnson many opportunities at big games this season, but the one thing that has been a big positive for him is that he’s continued to get carries even when the offense hasn’t been particularly effective. Johnson has carried the ball at least 12 times in every game since Week 1 and while his yards per carry are way lower than his career average, he’s still getting the money touches in this offense near the goal line which has helped keep him from being a complete fantasy disaster most weeks. We haven’t seen enough of a sample size to say whether or not the shift at offensive coordinator from Mike McCoy to Byron Leftwich will have significant impact on Johnson, but we do know that it can’t get much worse. If Leftwich continues to use Johnson in the passing game, as he seems intent on doing, then that certainly will help Johnson achieve higher weekly floor numbers, especially in PPR formats.

Typically teams that have high-powered offenses aren’t bad against opposing running games given that the opposing offenses usually have to pass the ball a lot to keep up, but that hasn’t exactly been the case for the Chiefs. Kansas City ranks 31st in the league this season in fantasy points given up to opposing running backs and a lot of that has to do with their struggles to contain opposing backs in the passing game. Their pure run defense hasn’t been good either, so Johnson might actually be a decent play despite what looks like it could be a negative game script. Look at him as a low-level RB1 this week on the road against the Chiefs.

Value Meter:
RB1: David Johnson
WR2: Larry Fitzgerald (PPR)
Flex: Christian Kirk
Bench: Josh Rosen, Ricky Seals-Jones, Chad Williams, Chase Edmonds

Passing Game Thoughts: Just looking at the box score of Kansas City games would give you the impression that there’s no way that they could continue this type of productivity, but they just continue to do it. Patrick Mahomes has further extended himself as the top-scoring player in fantasy in 2018 and all of his weapons continue to benefit. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has been in a bit of a slump, failing to exceed 70 yards or score a touchdown in either of his past two games, but wise fantasy owners should realize that this number is bound to bounce back if the Chiefs continue to pass the ball as heavily as they have been. Hill does draw a tough matchup against Patrick Peterson this week, but that shouldn’t be enough to keep him out of your lineup as he’s the type of player who only needs one big play to return value.

With a two-touchdown performance, tight end Travis Kelce has now established himself as the top fantasy tight end in the sport, delivering both the high floor performances and high ceiling performances that we look for to define a player as truly elite. Kelce is a no-brainer high-level starter against any defense at this point.

The other player who’s been stepping up as of late is wide receiver Sammy Watkins who has caught 17 passes for 243 yards and two scores over his past three games. Unfortunately, Watkins appears to be in danger of missing Week 10 with a foot injury. That, combined with his relatively low overall target share this season, should be a red flag to bench Watkins in most formats this week. If Watkins does miss Week 10, a player who could be looked at is Chris Conley, who figures to step in and play Watkins’ role. Conley himself is a big play threat who has been forgotten about in this loaded offense, but who could be interesting as a low-priced option in DFS tournaments.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: Kareem Hunt continues to roll and he’s now a top five running back for the season despite some struggles, particularly in the passing game, earlier this season. Hunt is still the lead back in this high-powered Kansas City offense which gives him plenty of opportunities to get into the end zone and put up huge fantasy numbers even in games where he doesn’t crack 100 total yards.

There shouldn’t be much concern about Hunt this week, however, as he and the Chiefs host an Arizona defense that ranks dead-last in fantasy points given up to opposing running backs. The Cardinals have already given up 12 touchdowns to the position this season and Hunt seems like a great bet to add to that number in Week 10.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes
RB1: Kareem Hunt
WR1: Tyreek Hill
TE1: Travis Kelce
Flex: Chris Conley (only if Sammy Watkins does not play)
Bench: Sammy Watkins, Spencer Ware

Prediction: Chiefs 35, Cardinals 16 ^ Top

Falcons @ Browns - (Swanson)
Line: ATL -6.0
Total: 50.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Matt Ryan won the MVP award in 2016 as a result of a career-year in which the former Boston College star threw for nearly 5000 yards, with 38 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Ryan’s touchdown rate that year of 7.1% was almost two percentage points higher than any other year in his 11 year NFL career, and his seven interceptions were only the second time in which he threw less than 10 picks in a campaign.

It may surprise some readers to learn that Ryan is actually on pace to finish with more fantasy points this season than in 2016. Ryan is completing over 70% of his passes and his 2684 passing yards through eight games has him well within reach to top the 5k yard plateau for the first time.

How is Ryan playing at an MVP level? The combination of a few factors has created an excellent situation in which Ryan is thriving for fantasy owners. First and most importantly, the Falcons defense has been decimated by injuries, forcing Ryan to throw an average of 38 passes each game to keep up. Secondly, the addition of Calvin Ridley to the offense along with the change in philosophy of locking in on Julio Jones has made the Falcon passing game more balanced and difficult to defend.

Speaking of Jones, the All-Pro wide receiver scored his first touchdown of the season last week against the Redskins. Much has been made in the media and the fantasy industry regarding Jones and his inexplicable struggles at reaching the end zone over his last two seasons (just four TDs despite catching 171 passes). But the reality is that Julio is on pace for 1800 reviving yards and 120 receptions, and his 12.5 fantasy points per game in standard scoring is actually higher than in the 2012 season when he caught a career-high 10 touchdowns.

This week’s matchup against the Browns will be an interesting test for the Falcons, as Ryan’s two worst games of the season occurred on the road against the Steelers and the Eagles. Although Greg Williams’ defense ranks 12th in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, those stats were somewhat skewed by Patrick Mahomes last week (The Chiefs light everyone up) and a four-touchdown fluke game on the road against Derek Carr of all people. The Browns limited Big Ben, Joe Flacco, Sam Darnold, and Jameis Winston to a combined three passing touchdowns in five games.

The way to beat the Browns is on the ground. Cleveland ranks third in fantasy points allowed to running backs, and the front seven of the Browns allowed a league-worst 12 rushing touchdowns in nine games.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: Tevin Coleman enters Sunday’s game against the Browns on the heels of his best game of the season. Coleman posted 154 total yards and two receiving touchdowns last week against the Redskins for his first multi-touchdown game of the year. Although he has not lived up to the hype as an elite running back with Devonta Freeman out for the season with a knee injury, Coleman is tied with David Johnson as the No.14 RB in fantasy with 12.0 points per game.

Ito Smith continues to share the backfield duties with Coleman and is an interesting low-end RB2 play this week against the Browns. Smith leads the Falcons with four rushing touchdowns this season. Smith leads the Falcons with 15 red zone carries and has a touchdown in four of his last five games. Volume will not be there for Smith, but the strong possibility of multiple red zone carries against a team that allows the most rushing touchdowns is something to consider this week.

The Browns are a tired and banged up defense after getting destroyed last week by Mahomes, Kareem Hunt, and the Chiefs. Linebacker Joe Schoebert continues to be limited with a hamstring injury in practice while starting linebacker Jamie Collins and top corner Denzel Ward did not practice on Wednesday.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matt Ryan (Mid-Range)
RB2: Tevin Coleman (High-End)
RB3: Ito Smith (High-End)
WR1: Julio Jones (Elite)
WR2: Calvin Ridley (Low-End)
TE2: Austin Hooper (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Baker Mayfield’s rookie season has been an up and down roller coaster as one would expect from a first-year quarterback. Mayfield’s best game came against arguably his most difficult opponent when he threw for 342 yards and a score in a 12-9 win at home against Baltimore. But the former Heisman trophy winner followed that performance up with a dud against the Chargers in which he completed only 47% of his passes and threw two interceptions.

In good matchups, like the team’s home game last week against the Chiefs, Mayfield is a solid play with the upside of 300 passing yards and a few touchdowns. This week’s home game against an injury-decimated Falcons defense that allows the fourth-most points to opposing quarterback would fall in the category of a good matchup. All but one quarterback to face Atlanta this season has scored at least 21 fantasy points, with Drew Brees, Andy Dalton, and Jameis Winston each finishing with over 30 points in their respective games. Even Alex Smith the No.22 ranked quarterback based on passing yards was able to throw for over 300 yards against the lowly Falcons, giving Mayfield owners a ton of confidence that their QB should be a top 10 option this week.

Jarvis Landry trails only Adam Thielen in targets this season with 100 looks in nine games. Unfortunately, Landry has not been close to Thielen when it comes to converting those targets into fantasy points, with Thielen averaging nearly double the fantasy points per game than Landry. Not every target is equal, and the inaccurate and contested targets Landry gets from Mayfield pale in comparison to those thrown by Kirk Cousins to Thielen on a weekly basis.

Regardless, Landry is a must-start player this week with a floor of ten targets and an upside of 100-plus receiving yards and a touchdown. David Njoku is also an attractive option this week against the Falcons, a team that has given up at least 48 receiving yards or a score to Zach Ertz, Ben Watson, O.J. Howard, and Vernon Davis. Outside of a head-scratching zero target game two weeks ago against the Steelers, Njoku was the second-favorite receiving option for Mayfield with 34 targets in his previous four games.

Owners of Duke Johnson will want to stay in the fire and continue playing the pass-catching running back this week against Atlanta. Interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens learned from the inexcusable gaffe by his predecessor by making Johnson a focal point last week against the Chiefs. The Falcons allow the fourth-most yards to running backs and the most receptions, so don’t be surprised if Johnson once again is featured with at least seven targets out of the backfield.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Rushing Game Thoughts: Nick Chubb’s sub-four yard per carry average over the past two games has been somewhat of a disappointment, especially when he failed to reach 100 yards last week on 22 carries against the Chiefs. But what is not disappointing is the fact that he reached the end zone in two of his last three games, and the Falcons rank 10th in fantasy points allowed to running backs.

Although Duke Johnson will continue to be the featured pass catching back the Browns will look to limit the potent Falcon passing attack by running Chubb early and often in the first half. If the game stays within reach and the Falcons do not present a negative game script by blowing out the Brown defense, Chubb should once again reach at least 20 carries with the upside of 100 yards and a score.

The Falcons enter the game relatively healthy on defense with safety Damontae Kazee, and defensive tackle Deadrin Senat limited in practice on Wednesday with ankle and shoulder injuries. Both players are expected to play, and cornerback Robert Alford may be able to return this week after missing time with an ankle injury.

Value Meter:
QB2: Baker Mayfield (High-End)
RB2: Nick Chubb (High-End)
RB2: Duke Johnson (High-End)
WR2: Jarvis Landry (High-End)
TE1: David Njoku (High-End)

Prediction: Falcons 35, Browns 30 ^ Top

Bills at Jets - (Katz)
Line: NYJ -7.0
Total: 36.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Derek Anderson looks poised to return this week, which, sadly for Bills fans, is a monumental upgrade on the alternative, Nathan Peterman. It really doesn’t matter who is under center for the Bills as the strongest fantasy play in this game is the Jets defense. The team’s leading receiver last week was former QB, Logan Thomas, who replaced an injured Charles Clay at tight end. He caught seven passes for 40 yards. Kelvin Benjamin is on this team, but has no fantasy value. Continue to stream defenses against the Bills.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Rushing Game Thoughts: LeSean McCoy still has some juice left. Unfortunately, it is completely useless on the Bills. The team gets game scripted out of the run making the running game useless past halftime. McCoy did catch four passes for 19 yards and has a solid receiving floor, but he’s a weak fantasy option with no touchdown upside. McCoy’s last 22 carries have gone for 23 yards. The Jets allow 4.1 yards per carry to opposing backs, but it would be a miracle of the Bills running backs managed to get there.

Value Meter:
Bench: Derek Anderson, LeSean McCoy, Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones

Passing Game Thoughts: Sam Darnold is going to the lead the league in interceptions. His play can best be described as erratic. Darnold has shown flashes of brilliance so I am not going to write him off as a bust this early in his career, but I have a ton of concerns. Darnold’s poor play has been destroying the fantasy value of his teammates. Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa returned last week, but neither made any significant impact.

However, things could change this week with the move to Josh McCown at quarterback, who is a superior option to Darnold at this point. In 14 games with McCown at QB, Anderson has averaged 13.26 PPR FPts/G. He averages just 8.5 PPR FPts/G without McCown. It is something to consider if you need a bye week filler at wide receiver or Flex. Chris Herndon has emerged as a legitimate TE option. He went 4-62 last week, which is definitely usable in fantasy leagues. The Bills aren’t good at many things, but pass defense is one of them. The Bills are only allowing 212 passing yards per game. Additionally, their offense’s inability to score points renders opposing offenses moot as they don’t have to do much. No one in this passing attack is worth using this week.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: With Bilal Powell out, a returning Elijah McGuire stepped right into Powell’s role and actually played more snaps than Isaiah Crowell. The Jets are not a team that will experience positive game script very often, which is good news for McGuire. This is a game the Jets should win, allowing them to pound it with Crowell if they choose to. The Bills only allow 3.9 yards per carry, but have allowed nine rushing scores against them. After Darnold’s implosion last week, look for the Jets to lean on their ground game. Combine that with positive game script and Crowell is a solid option this week.

Value Meter:
TE1: Chris Herndon (low end)
Flex: Isaiah Crowell
Bench: Josh McCown, Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Elijah McGuire

Prediction: Jets 16, Bills 10 ^ Top

Lions @ Bears - (Swanson)
Line: CHI -6.5
Total: 44.0

Passing Game Thoughts: After inexplicably trading away Golden Tate to the Eagles for a third-round pick last week, the Lions offense looked out of synch, and Matthew Stafford was sacked 10 times in a lopsided loss to the Vikings.

The absence of Tate negatively affected Stafford as he no longer had his safety valve receiving threat from the slot, and subpar offensive line play did not afford Stafford enough time to find Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones on slow developing passes downfield.

A common knock on offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter by Lions fans is his perceived inability to make adjustments on the fly and change his scheme based on game flow and the opposing defense. Whether those perceptions are accurate or not, it did appear as though he was slow to adjust the offense to the fact that Stafford was under constant pressure, and changing to a short, quick passing game would have been a smart move.

Based on his seven catches for 36 yards out of the backfield, including 13 routes run out of the slot, Theo Riddick will likely assume some of the underneath duties in the passing game with the loss of Tate. Riddick is one of the more skilled pass-catching running backs in the league, and his heavy usage brings Riddick into consideration as a flex in PPR formats.

The Bears defense ranks fifth in the league in average yards per game and third in fewest points allowed. Chicago ranks third in fewest rushing yards allowed per game while allowing a league-best one rushing touchdown on the season. The blueprint to beat the Bears is to attack them in the air and not the ground with a quick passing game. Chicago boasts the second most takeaways in the league and the seventh-most sacks. If the offensive line is unable to protect Stafford and give him time to throw, this game could be a lopsided contest with multiple turnovers like last week’s game against Minnesota.

To make matters worse for Stafford and the Lions, all-pro defensive end Khalil Mack appears to be on the mend from an ankle injury and may return to the field after missing the last two games. If Mack does take the field and can play close to the way he was pre-injury, Stafford could once again be under constant pressure.

The shared narrative in the fantasy community that the loss of Tate would increase the target share for Jones and Golladay did not come to fruition against the Vikings last week. Jones and Riddick tied for the team lead with eight targets each, while Golladay garnered just four looks and finished with a disappointing three catches for 46 yards.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Rushing Game Thoughts: Kerryon Johnson apologists expecting the former Auburn Tiger to continue to be a viable RB2 after his 19/158/0 game against the Dolphins Week 7 are cursing the name of Matt Patricia and Theo Riddick after consecutive disappointing performances against the Seahawks and Vikings.

Although game script played a part in Johnson getting only 20 combined carries in those two games, he still appeared to have a solid floor with six catches for 69 yards vs. Seattle. That floor seems to be a thing of the past with Riddick returning to the field and assuming the primary role as the receiving back for Matthew Stafford. Johnson will continue to get carries on first and second down along with LeGarrette Blount, but his value takes a big hit without the upside of five receptions a game, and he will continue to be marginalized in games where the Lions fall behind.

The Bears present a terrible matchup on paper for both Blount and Johnson, with Chicago allowing the fewest yards to opposing running backs and zero rushing touchdowns to RBs in eight games. Nathan Peterman scored a rushing touchdown in garbage time last week to break the Bears’ streak of holding opponents to zero rushing touchdowns, but that should be taken with a grain of salt as it occurred in the closing minutes of the game and the Bears defense had all but phoned it in with a 40-point lead.

Value Meter:
QB2: Matthew Stafford (High-End)
RB3: Kerryon Johnson (High-End)
WR2: Marvin Jones (High-End)
WR2: Kenny Golladay (Low-End)
Flex: Theo Riddick (Mid-Range)

Passing Game Thoughts: After a four-game stretch from Weeks 4 through 8 that included two 30-point performances and a monstrous 47-point game against the Bucs, Mitchell Trubisky came back down to Earth against the Bills last week with 135 passing yards and one touchdown. The lack of production in this game is attributed to the fact that the Bears defense scored two touchdowns and the Chicago offense did not need to do much when they had the ball. It also had to do with the fact that the Bills are a pretty solid defense against the pass and the Bears took advantage of Buffalo’s deficiencies in rush defense to the tune of two rushing touchdowns for Jordan Howard.

These factors for a low-scoring week for Trubisky and the Bears passing attack could present themselves once again this week with Chicago playing host to a Lions offense that allowed 10 sacks and a defensive touchdown to the Vikings. If Khalil Mack and the Bears defense continues their solid play and succeed in forcing sacks and turnovers, Trubisky may be in line for another pedestrian day.

It also does not help that the Lions rank sixth in fantasy points allowed to running backs while trailing the Dolphins by just one rushing yard for the most yards allowed on the ground. Conversely, the Lions are far more capable of stopping quarterbacks and the passing game, as evident to their 25th overall ranking in fantasy points allowed to QBs. Teams have proven over and over this season that you can beat the Lions by running the ball effectively and forcing Matthew Stafford to make poor decisions.

On the injury front, wide receiver Allen Robinson (groin) is expected to play this week after miss the last two games though he’s not be an attractive start lining up against cornerback Darius Slay.

The Bears avoided a significant injury scare with wide receiver Taylor Gabriel leaving last week’s game with an apparent knee injury. According to head coach Matt Nagy, the knee injury is not believed to be severe and Taylor “should be good to go.”

Slot receivers like Quincy Enunwa, Cole Beasley, Danny Amendola, David Moore, and Adam Thielen all found success this season attacking the secondary of Teez Tabor and Quandre Diggs. Don’t be surprised to see Anthony Miller targeted early and often out of the slot, especially if Gabriel’s knee flares up and if Robinson is a surprise inactive.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: It hasn’t been pretty, and he certainly has not lived up to his draft capital as an early second-round pick, but Jordan Howard has been an excellent fantasy performer over the past three weeks, with four rushing touchdowns and 167 rushing yards on 48 carries. During that span, Howard ranks 12th in fantasy points scored by running backs, ahead of Phillip Lindsay, Saquon Barkley, and Adrian Peterson.

All signs point to another strong week for Howard owners with the Bears hosting a Lions defense that allows the second most yards on the ground and the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Perhaps even more important is the fact that a positive game script for Howard, including a heavy dose of second-half carries, looks to be a strong possibility with the Lions struggling on offense and Matthew Stafford turning the ball over.

Eight players reached double digits in fantasy points this season when facing the Lions, including both Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook last week, while four running backs reached the century mark in rushing yards, including Ezekiel Elliott’s 152 yards Week 4 in Dallas. The Lions brought in defensive lineman Damon Harrison to help address their run defense woes, but little has changed as Harrison continues to get acclimated into Patricia’s defense.

Tarik Cohen ranks 18th among running backs with 10.9 fantasy points per game as the pass catching and home run option for Nagy out of the backfield. The majority of Cohen’s points game in a four-week span with the Bears playing behind or in shootouts against the Bucs, Dolphins, and Patriots, but he was barely featured last week with the Bears well ahead of the Bills in their 41-9 road victory. Like Trubisky, Cohen’s value could be limited should this game follow a similar script to last week’s game against the Bills.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mitchell Trubisky (High-End)
RB2: Jordan Howard (Low-End)
RB3: Tarik Cohen (High-End)
WR3: Allen Robinson (Low-End)
WR3: Taylor Gabriel (Low-End)
TE2: Trey Burton (High end)

Prediction: Bears 21, Lions 17 ^ Top

Jaguars @ Colts - (Bales)
Line: IND -2.5
Total: 46.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Blake Bortles has featured plenty of ups and downs this season, averaging 252.6 passing yards and 1.3 passing touchdowns on 36.3 pass attempts per game. He’s also averaging 32.6 yards per game on the ground. He was benched in Week 7 but returned to the starting lineup the next week. Indianapolis has struggled a bit against the pass, allowing 262.0 passing yards per game but have only allowed 13 passing touchdowns, while recording nine interceptions.

Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief, and Keelan Cole have been the top three receivers for the Jaguars this season. They have spread the targets out, making all of them uncomfortable options. D.J. Chark has entered the mix recently at the expense of Cole, recording eight receptions for 72 yards on 12 targets over his last two games. This is far from an elite matchup for the Jacksonville receivers, and it’s impossible to trust any of them. For what it’s worth, Westbrook and Moncrief should see 6-8 targets again this week, making them the best receiving options on the team.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Leonard Fournette has only played in two games this season, but he’s expected to return to the starting role in Week 10. He should see the bulk of the carries with T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde playing reserve roles. Yeldon comes with receiving potential, while Hyde needs to stay on benches until his role is defined. Indianapolis has been a slightly below average run defense this season, allowing 109.9 yards per game and six rushing touchdowns. Fournette can be considered because of his talent and lead role, but it’s tough to know the touch distribution in the first game with all three running backs healthy.

Value Meter:
QB2: Blake Bortles
RB2: Leonard Fournette (mid-range)
WR3: Dede Westbrook (high risk)
WR3: Donte Moncrief (high risk)
Bench: Keelan Cole, T.J. Yeldon, Carlos Hyde

Passing Game Thoughts: The Jaguars have featured one of the best pass defenses in the NFL this season. They are allowing only 190.0 passing yards per game, while also allowing only nine passing touchdowns with four interceptions. Andrew Luck has found plenty of success this season, averaging 273.4 passing yards and 2.9 passing touchdowns on 42.8 pass attempts per game. While he may see his efficiency decrease, Luck can still be considered as a volume-based play this week.

T.Y. Hilton struggled in his last game, but he has scored double digit PPR fantasy points in five games before Week 8. On the season, he’s averaging 4.3 receptions for 58.8 yards and 0.7 touchdowns on 7.8 targets per game. Chester Rogers saw double digit targets in his games without Hilton, but has only seen five targets in two games since Hilton’s return. Ryan Grant is questionable, and Dontrelle Inman should start again if he’s out, but neither make great options in this matchup. Jack Doyle returned in Week 8, catching six passes for 70 yards and one touchdown on seven targets. He should see a similar role moving forward, and he should be one of the leading receivers for Indianapolis. Eric Ebron will still have a role in the offense, but it will be more limited than previous weeks. Still, he comes with touchdown potential.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: Jacksonville has struggled a bit defending the run, allowing 123.3 rushing yards per game and six rushing touchdowns this season. Marlon Mack (foot) has been a featured back when healthy, totaling 48 touches in his last two games. He has turned those touches into 308 yards and four touchdowns. He’s been limited in practice this week but is expected to play as of Thursday night. If he’s out, Nyheim Hines will gain value as a receiving back, but he could struggle once again if Mack is healthy and starting. The Jaguars have given up the 7th fewest fantasy points to running backs this season making this a difficult matchup for Mack or Hines.

Value Meter:
QB2: Andrew Luck
RB2: Marlon Mack (if healthy)
WR2: T.Y. Hilton (low end)
TE1: Jack Doyle (mid-range)

Prediction: Colts 21, Jaguars 17 ^ Top

Dolphins @ Packers - (Swanson)
Line: GB -10.0
Total: 47.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Brocktober carried over into November with the news that Ryan Tannehill will miss another game this week due to a shoulder injury. At this point in the season, we hope here at that you are not in a situation where starting Brock Osweiler is an option that you are considering outside of even the deepest two-quarterback leagues.

After a surprising three-touchdown game against the Bears in Week 6, Osweiler returned to form as one of the worst quarterbacks in the league with two terrible games against the Texans and the Jets, with zero passing touchdowns and a completion percentage below 60%.

There is very little to like about Osweiler and the receiving options for the Dolphins with Miami taking on Green Bay in what could be a get-right game for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Rodgers should have very little trouble moving the ball and scoring against a struggling Dolphin defense that gave up five passing touchdowns to Deshaun Watson in Week 8 and 32.5 fantasy points to Mitchell Trubisky in Week 6.

Osweiler will more than likely struggle to keep pace with Rodgers and will force the ball into tight windows which could lead to turnovers. Owners hoping for DeVante Parker to build off his 6/134/0 line two weeks ago against the Texans were treated to a one-catch for eight yard dud last week against the Jets, a team that allowed at least one double-digit fantasy performance to an opposing wide receiver in all eight games prior to playing Osweiler on Sunday. Not only is Parker not a great start this week, but he also may not be worthy of a bench spot with the Dolphins playing against the Colts, Bills, Patriots, Vikings, and Jaguars in the next five games.

If faced with the unfortunate task of playing a Dolphins wide receiver I would err on the side of volume and play Danny Amendola, the recipient of no fewer than six targets in his last four games, including a season-high 11 targets in Week 6 against the Bears. If you are in need of a home run play and want to roll the dice, Jakeem Grant does have the speed and elusiveness to take a screen or slant pass to the house.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: We all should be as lucky in life to find someone who loves each of us with the same unwavering commitment that head coach Adam Gase has for Frank Gore. The ageless one continues to be the thorn in the collective sides of Kenyan Drake owners everywhere after receiving 20 carries last week in the field goal snoozer against the Jets. Like the three previous seasons where Gore managed to rush for fewer than four yards per carry, Gore converted those 20 carries against the Jets for a whopping 53 yards.

It may take some guts to play Drake this week after he burned fantasy owners last week to the tune of 3.5 fantasy points. But assuming that Rodgers and the Packers will blow out Osweiler and the Dolphins early in this game, logic would tell you that Gase will need to give Drake more than seven touches for Miami to have a chance in heck of winning this game.

A matchup to watch that will have a direct impact on the success of Drake for fantasy owners will be linebacker Blake Martinez, the top run-stopping linebacker for Green Bay who left Sunday’s game against the Packers with an ankle injury. Martinez was limited on Wednesday and Thursday but does appear to be on track to play. If he is unable to play well due to the injury and help in run support, Drake could be able to break a few big plays this week.

Value Meter:
QB2: Brock Osweiler (Low-End)
RB3: Kenyan Drake (High-End)
RB3: Frank Gore (Low-End)
WR3: DeVante Parker (High-End)
WR3: Danny Amendola (Low-End)
TE2: Mike Gesicki (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: With a touchdown or 100 yards in each of his last four games, and with Geronimo Allison placed on IR with an abdominal injury, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the talk of the fantasy community and the No.1 waiver wire wide receiver of the week. Trust is a big thing for Aaron Rodgers when it comes to wide receivers, and Valdez-Scantling, a 6-5, 205-pound rookie from South Florida appears to have the trust of Rodgers and should be considered a strong WR3 with WR2 upside for the remainder of the season.

Aaron Rodgers is a no-brainer start at home against nearly all opponents, especially a Dolphins defense that gave up two 30-point games to Mitchell Trubkisy and Deshaun Watson prior to last week’s snooze fest against the Jets.

But it may be beneficial for Jimmy Graham owners to learn that the Dolphins have been torched lately by opposing tight ends. While shifting focus to opposing wide receivers, the Phins gave up two touchdowns to Jordan Thomas and Michael Roberts in Weeks 7 and 8. They also gave up 62 yards on four catches to Chris Herndon of the Jets last week. It has been a surprising turn for the worse for a team that did not allow a reaching touchdown or more than 52 yards to the tight end position prior to Week 6.

The matchup to watch in this game for Packer skills position players is cornerback Xavien Howard lined up against Davante Adams. Howard did an excellent job limiting the No.1 wide receiver in each of his first six games, including Amari Cooper and A.J. Green, before DeAndre Hopkins torched him for 124 yards and a score in Week 8. Adams owners will still want to play their stud wide receiver, and a touchdown is still in the cards for one of the best red zone wide receivers in the league, but don’t be surprised to see Rodgers shift his focus to Graham and MVS.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: Just when we all thought that Aaron Jones was finally taking control of the backfield in Green Bay, a late fumble against the Patriots could postpone further the emergence of Jones as a No.1 running back. Jones owns the best YPC average in the league (6.0) of qualified running backs and flashes quickness and vision that Jamaal Williams simply does not possess. But if Jones continues to make bonehead plays and struggles in pass protection, Williams will continue to be a factor.

If there were ever a week for a monster game from Jones it would be this week at home against the Dolphins. Miami allows the sixth-most points to the running back position, with ten opposing running backs reaching double figures in fantasy points. Miami made Lamar Miller look like a stud running back two weeks ago with 133 lads and a score, and Kerryon Johnson torched the Phins for 158 yards on 19 carries the prior week in Detroit.

There are fantasy points to be had on the ground in this game. The question is will it be Jones to take advantage of the opportunity or will Williams once again be a spoiler for Jones truthers.

On the injury front, the Dolphins have four defensive players listed on their injury report, highlighted by stud free safety Reshad Jones with a shoulder injury. Jones came under fire last week for failing to return to the field after just 10 first-quarter snaps. When questioned about his toughness and desire to play, Jones was quick to defend his toughness and claimed he would play this week against the Packers.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers (Elite)
RB2: Aaron Jones (Mid-Range)
WR1: Davante Adams (High-End)
WR2: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Low-End)
WR4: Randall Cobb (Low-End)
TE1: Jimmy Graham (Low-End)

Prediction: Packers 34, Dolphins 10 ^ Top

Patriots @ Titans - (Bales)
Line: NE -6.5
Total: 46.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Tom Brady has been enjoying a solid season, averaging 277.1 passing yards and 1.9 passing touchdowns per game. He also comes with some rushing upside (not yardage), as he owns two rushing touchdowns on the season. He gets a tough matchup against the Titans, who are allowing only 226.0 passing yards per game. They have also only allowed 11 passing touchdowns and although Brady is considered a matchup proof quarterback and has the potential to dominate any defense, this doesn’t feel like a great spot for the Patriots QB. The only true concern is negative game script, as the Patriots could get out to an early lead and lean heavily on the run game.

Julian Edelman has looked outstanding since returning from suspension. In five games, he’s averaging 6.2 receptions for 64.4 yards and 0.4 touchdowns on 8.8 targets per game. He has also scored double digit fantasy points in each of his five games. Josh Gordon has been another major part of the passing attack. He comes with a bit more risk, but posted a 5/130/1 line on 10 targets in his last game. Over his last three games, Gordon is averaging 4.3 receptions for 90.7 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on 7.7 targets. Rob Gronkowski continues to deal with his back injury, but he can be started in all leagues if he’s active this week. He has had a down season, totaling 29 receptions for 448 yards and one touchdown through seven games.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: Sony Michel is expected to return to the lineup this week, and he’ll immediately slot in to his normal role. In his last three healthy games, Michel is averaging 105.3 rushing yards and 1.3 rushing touchdowns on 22.3 carries. James White will continue to play a major role in the offense, as well. He’s only averaging 26.1 rushing yards and 0.4 rushing touchdowns on 6.7 rush attempts per game. Where he makes his money is in the passing game, averaging a 6.8 / 59.0 / 0.7 receiving line on 9.0 targets per game. White will likely be featured mainly in a receiving role, while Michel takes the rushing attempts, but both come with value in this game.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (low end)
RB1: James White (mid-range)
RB2: Sony Michel (high end)
WR2: Julian Edelman (high end)
WR3: Josh Gordon (high risk)
TE1: Rob Gronkowski (if healthy)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Patriots have featured one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL this season. They are allowing 274.0 passing yards per game to go along with 19 passing touchdowns. They do own 11 interceptions, though. Marcus Mariota is coming off of a good game against the Cowboys, but has struggled as a passer this season. He’s only averaging 181.4 passing yards and 0.7 passing touchdowns on 25.6 pass attempts per game. He’s also averaging 31.0 rushing yards and 0.3 rushing touchdowns per game, which has saved his fantasy lines on occasion.

The Titans have featured a very unproductive receiving group outside of Corey Davis. Davis is only averaging 4.5 receptions, 56.4 yards and 0.1 touchdowns on 8.3 targets per game, but he’s the leading receiver for the team. Tajae Sharpe could come with some value if Taywan Taylor (foot) is out, but neither player is seeing a ton of targets and Sharpe is dealing with an ankle injury. This is an underwhelming passing attack, and there isn’t much to like about it.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Derrick Henry has scored touchdowns in each of his last two games, but he isn’t seeing enough touches to be considered. He has taken carries away from Dion Lewis, but the latter has still seen enough touches to be considered in lineups. Over the last two weeks, Lewis is averaging 138.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns on 21.0 touches (5.0 receptions) per game. This is also a revenge game for Lewis, for those willing to play the narrative. New England is only allowing 106.9 rushing yards per game, but they have also allowed 4.5 yards per carry this season.

Value Meter:
RB2: Dion Lewis (mid-range)
Bench: Marcus Mariota, Derrick Henry, Corey Davis

Prediction: Patriots 28, Titans 13 ^ Top

Saints @ Bengals - (Swanson)
Line: NO -5.5
Total: 54.0

Passing Game Thoughts: With the NFL and Fantasy Football communities enamored with the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees is quietly putting together a strong case for league MVP in his 18th season in the league.

Brees’ 76% completion percentage through eight games places him in line to crush his NFL single-season record of 71% that he set last season. He is on pace to throw for just under 5000 yards and 36 touchdowns, with only two interceptions. The football community loves to give Tom Brady unabashed love for the high-level of quarterback play that Brady has delivered as a 40-year old, but the fact is Brees is outperforming Brady while getting very little media attention.

For fantasy purposes, Brees’ 25.4 points per game are tied for eighth with Jared Goff and only half a point behind Ben Roethlisberger for fifth place. He is the owner of four games of at least 30 fantasy points, including 44.5 points against the Falcons Week 3. But he does have three subpar games sandwiched between his big performances, making him less of a consistent fantasy asset as other top-ranked quarterbacks like Mahomes, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and even Big Ben.

The reason for Brees’ inconsistency has little to do with poor play on his part and everything to do with negative game scripts created by the stout running game by Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, and periodic strong performances by the Saints defense. The trend that should give Brees owners pause is the underlying theme of his poor games, as both of his dud games occurred on the road. Brees is a must-start each week when playing at home, but playing on the road and outdoors in the elements could make him less of a no-brainer play, even against a subpar defense like the Bengals.

Cincinnati allows the most yards per game in the league and the most points to opposing quarterbacks over the past three weeks with Big Ben, Patrick Mahomes, and Ryan Fitzpatrick each putting up at least 300 yards or multi-touchdown performances.

New Orleans made a splash this week with the signing of veteran free agent wide receiver Dez Bryant to a one-year deal. It remains to be seen how Bryant will fit into the system, or if the former Cowboy will get enough volume to be fantasy relevant. But the addition of Bryant does give Brees another talented receiving threat, especially in the red zone, and head coach Sean Peyton will no doubt design some plays specifically to get Bryant involved.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: The return of Mark Ingram and subsequent ten touch game by Alvin Kamara caused a ripple throughout the fantasy community as Kamara owners accustomed to consistent, monster games began to question if their stud player would be marginalized in the second half of the season.

Those concerns proved to be premature and incorrect with Kamara exploding for eight total touchdowns in his last five games, highlighted by a three-touchdown afternoon against the Rams last week. Kamara continues to be hyper-efficient with his touches and is a red zone beast with the second-most red zone touches and targets behind only Todd Gurley.

Mark Ingram owners frustrated by his lack of use last week in a game where the Saints scored 45 points may get some redemption this week in what could turn into a blowout win for New Orleans. Not only do the Bengals allow the most yards to opposing offenses, but they also give up the eighth-most points to running backs and can be beat between the tackles. Kamara’s heavy workload last week was partially a result of the Saints needing to score on each possession in the hope of keeping up with the Rams. With A.J. Green out with a foot injury, the Bengals may struggle to keep pace with the Saints and Ingram should be more involved this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees (Low-End)
RB1: Alvin Kamara (Mid-Range)
RB2: Mark Ingram (Low-End)
WR1: Michael Thomas (Elite)
WR3: Tre’Quan Smith (Low-End)
WR3: Dez Bryant (Low-End)
TE1: Ben Watson (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Andy Dalton appeared to be primed for a career-year after starting the season with 11 touchdowns and two thirty-point fantasy performances in his first four games. The Red Rifle surpassed 330 passing yards in back-to-back games against the Panthers and Falcons and threw for a season-high four touchdowns in Week 2 against a tough Baltimore defense.

Things started to turn for the worse for Dalton and the Bengals passing offense during a subpar prime time game against the Steelers and a disappointing 11.4 point game against the Kansas City Chiefs in what should have been a great opportunity to score points. From Weeks 7 through 9, Dalton ranks 27th in fantasy points per game, behind fellow struggling quarterbacks Josh Rosen and Derek Carr.

To add insult to injury, or injury to struggling offense, Dalton will be without top wide receiver A.J. Green for the next few games as Green heals from a toe injury. Green received good news that surgery is not required and should be able to return this year, but he will reportedly miss at a minimum of two weeks, including this week’s game against the Saints.

Tyler Boyd is second on the team in targets to wide receivers and will be the defacto No.1 wide receiver with Green on the shelf. Boyd shined in his only opportunity this season as the lead wide receiver with 132 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers when Green left with an injury. John Ross will also receive an increase in targets and volume opposite of Boyd, assuming the oft-injured former first-round pick can stay healthy.

The matchup for Dalton and the skill position players for the Bengals do not get much better with the Saints giving up the third-most points to opposing quarterbacks. All but two quarterbacks going against New Orleans reached at least 20 fantasy points this season, including 30-plus games by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Ryan, and last week by Jared Goff. Even Eli Manning managed to throw for 255 yards and a touchdown against the Saints, giving Dalton owners confidence that he provides a solid floor of fantasy production this Sunday.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: As pathetic as the Saints are at stopping the pass they excel at stopping opposing running backs. Only the Eagles allow fewer rushing yards this year and no running back facing the Saints has rushed for more than 68 yards. MVP candidate Todd Gurley posted his worst game of the season last week with 13 rushes for 68 yards and a score in the shootout at the Superdome, and no opposing back has scored more than 16 fantasy points against Dennis Allen’s defense.

Joe Mixon enters the game on Sunday as the No.8 ranked running back with 15.4 fantasy points per game. His 4.8 yard per carry average is more than a full yard better than how he fared in his rookie season, and he surpassed his touchdown total from the previous season with five total touchdowns in six games.

Mixon posted the best game of his career with 123 rushing yards and two touchdowns two against the Bucs before the Week 9 bye. It was the first multi-touchdown game of his young career and only the second time in which he reached the century mark.

Game script and the solid run defense play of the Saints may dictate that Mixon may struggle to run the ball and post fantasy points on the ground. But he is still an RB1 play this week based on his ability to make plays in the passing game, and the opportunity for goal line and red zone carries.

Value Meter:
QB2: Andy Dalton (Mid-Range)
RB1: Joe Mixon (Mid-Range)
WR1: Tyler Boyd (Low-End)
WR4: John Ross (Low-End)
TE1: C.J. Uzomah (Low-End)
Bench: Giovani Bernard

Prediction: Saints 34, Bengals 21 ^ Top

Redskins @ Buccaneers - (Bales)
Line: TB -3.0
Total: 51.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Alex Smith has struggled with upside throughout the season, as he’s averaging only 233.4 passing yards and 1.1 passing touchdowns per game. He gets an elite matchup this week, with the Bucs allowing 307.0 passing yards per game this season. They have also allowed a league-high 22 passing touchdowns, while recording a league-low one interception. Their ability to turn games into shootouts add to Smith’s value, as well.

The Redskins have dealt with a plethora of injuries this season, and they recently put Paul Richardson (shoulder) on IR. Josh Doctson flashed some touchdown potential last week, which could be on display in a projected high scoring game. Jamison Crowder (ankle) is questionable for this week, and he could potentially lead the team in targets if he returns. Maurice Harris saw a major role last week, totaling 10 receptions for 124 yards on 12 targets. He should remain a solid part of the offense again this week, although he may not see double digit targets again. Jordan Reed (back) has recorded 45 or fewer yards in each of his last five games, but he’s averaging 3.8 receptions per game over that span, including two games with 5+ catches. He was also injured last game, or he may have had 5+ receptions again. If he’s out, Vernon Davis will step into a potential TE1 role.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: Chris Thompson (ribs) will miss this week meaning Adrian Peterson will continue to work as the lead back. He struggled last week, but he was able to record 97+ yards in each of his three games prior to that. He could potentially see 20+ carries again this week, as well. Tampa Bay is allowing 107.1 rushing yards per game this season, and they have allowed 12 rushing touchdowns. Peterson relies a bit on touchdowns, and he makes a great option in what should be a high scoring game. Kapri Bibbs is expected fill in the Chris Thompson role and give Peterson a breather on early downs when needed.

Value Meter:
QB2: Alex Smith (high-end)
RB2: Adrian Peterson (high-end)
TE1: Jordan Reed (if healthy)
TE1: Vernon Davis (if Reed is out)
Flex: Maurice Harris (high risk)

Passing Game Thoughts: Ryan Fitzpatrick will continue to start for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has been elite this season, as he’s averaging 368.3 passing yards and 3.8 passing touchdowns in four full games. He also threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns in less than half of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Redskins are allowing 254 passing yards per game and have given up 15 passing touchdowns. It isn’t an elite matchup, but Fitzpatrick has found success in bad matchups before.

Mike Evans only recorded one reception last week, but he saw 10 targets. He also averaged 7.7 receptions for 122.3 yards and 1.0 touchdown per game in his first three games with Fitzpatrick. Surprisingly, DeSean Jackson saw only four targets last week, while Chris Godwin saw three. They have been stealing snaps from each other for the majority of the season, but they both come with quite a bit of upside. O.J. Howard caught four of six targets for 53 yards and two touchdowns last weekend, and he’ll continue to be an extremely involved tight end in one of the top offenses in the NFL.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: This is a week to completely avoid the Tampa Bay rushing attack. Peyton Barber (ankle) has flashed some weeks, but he has struggled more often than not, averaging only 3.6 yards per carry. He has also lost passing down work to Jacquizz Rodgers, who does not own stand-alone fantasy value. Washington features one of the best run defenses in the NFL this season, as well. They are allowing only 89.4 rushing yards per game, while holding their opponents to only seven rushing touchdowns. The Bucs could potentially be losing early in this game, forcing them to throw, as well.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ryan Fitzpatrick
WR1: Mike Evans
WR3: DeSean Jackson (high risk), Chris Godwin (high risk)
TE1: O.J. Howard (high-end)
Bench: Peyton Barber, Adam Humphries

Prediction: Redskins 31, Bucs 28 ^ Top

Chargers at Raiders - (Caron)
Line: LAC -10.0
Total: 50.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Philip Rivers would be nearly a lock for NFL MVP in practically any other season, but even though that goal seems unlikely, fantasy owners should still be happy with his 19 touchdown total along with just three interceptions on the season. In Week 10, he’ll face an Oakland defense that he already torched for 339 yards and a pair of touchdowns back in Week 5. That was a game where the Chargers scored just 26 points, too, so there’s some upside even beyond that.

The Raiders have given up three-touchdown days to the likes of Nick Mullens and Ryan Tannehill this season, so Rivers and the Chargers have to be considered very strong fantasy plays even in what figures to be a positive game script game for them. The Raiders have also given up 23-or-more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in five straight games.

The weapons in the Chargers passing game have been a bit difficult to predict with Keenan Allen surprisingly not having many big games this season, but Allen did finally crack 100 yards this past week for the first time since Week 1. He’s a strong WR1 for fantasy against an Oakland defense that he already beat for eight catches and 90 yards earlier this season. Mike Williams has only made two catches over his past two games, but he’s made them count, scoring touchdowns on both of them. Still, he’s simply not seeing the type of target volume we’d want to see to make him anything other than a low-end, touchdown-or-bust Flex play. The same applies for fellow receiver Tyrell Williams who has actually scored four touchdowns on just nine catches over his past three games.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: The two week layoff seemed to allow Melvin Gordon get back to full health and he got right back in the swing of being an elite RB1 with a 113 rushing yard, one touchdown day on the road in Seattle. Gordon is practically matchup-proof at this point as he’s either getting a ton of carries when the team is up on the scoreboard or a bunch of catches if they happen to fall behind. That type of usage can only be attributed to a handful of backs in the entire league, so just enjoy it and continue to plug him in, especially in matches like the one he has here in Week 10 against the Raiders, who he already squashed for 120 total yards and a touchdown when these teams played earlier this season.

Fellow back Austin Ekeler hasn’t been nearly as productive in recent weeks as he was earlier this season, but he’s still getting usage in the passing game which does give him a decent floor for a low-end Flex play. His upside isn’t great, however, so don’t expect too much from him, especially in a game where the Chargers are likely to be up, which would typically mean fewer receptions for the Chargers backs.

Value Meter:
QB1: Philip Rivers
RB1: Melvin Gordon
WR1: Keenan Allen
Flex: Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams, Austin Ekeler (PPR only)
Bench: Travis Benjamin, Antonio Gates, Virgil Green

Passing Game Thoughts: The Raiders’ first game without wide receiver Amari Cooper went about as well as one would’ve expected. Derek Carr threw for just 171 yards without a touchdown against a weak San Francisco defense in what ended up being a blowout loss. If he’s not successful from a fantasy standpoint in that type of matchup, it’s hard to imagine when he will be. Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts and Martavis Bryant combined for just five total receptions and none of them were fantasy relevant whatsoever. Even tight end Jared Cook was held to just two catches on the day. Cook, who has been the team’s top pass catcher this season, caught just four passes for 20 yards when these teams played back in Week 5, so it’s hard to have much excitement about him, but he’s still a low-end TE1 mostly due to the position scarcity. The rest of this Oakland passing game should be avoided here in Week 10 against a Los Angeles defense that has only given up five passing touchdowns over their past four games - a stretch which includes their previous game against Carr and the Raiders.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: It’s hard to run the ball when you’re down multiple scores and that’s been the biggest problem for the Raiders this season. Their offense is just not explosive enough and their defense is a train wreck, so opportunities to run the ball are simply too few and far between. Marshawn Lynch still had some elusiveness so he was able to make it work some weeks on limited touches, but a player like Doug Martin simply doesn’t have the explosiveness to be a productive fantasy asset, especially against teams that are capable of putting points on the board like the Chargers can.

The player that’s interesting in this backfield is Jalen Richard. He’s only getting a couple carries per game, but Richard has been an absolute monster in the passing game during this stretch of Raiders offensive incompetence. Oakland has lost their past four games by a combined 85 points. In those four games, Richard has caught 25 total passes for around 50 yards per game. With the Chargers likely to get out to a lead in this one, Richard is a decent, solid floor RB2 option in PPR formats. He doesn’t have much upside, but 10 to 15 PPR points seems pretty likely.

Value Meter:
RB2: Jalen Richard (low-end, PPR only)
TE1: Jared Cook
Bench: Derek Carr, Doug Martin, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, Seth Roberts

Prediction: Chargers 31, Raiders 16 ^ Top

Seahawks at Rams - (Caron)
Line: LAR -10.0
Total: 50.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Russell Wilson finally exceeded 25 rushing yards in a game for the first time this past week - a welcome sign for fantasy owners who have been extremely disappointed with the lack of bonus points they were getting out of their QB who is typically an elite-level runner. Wilson hasn’t been racking up the passing yardage this season, either, but he’s on pace for historic-type rates in the touchdown department in comparison to his total number of passes. Wilson has thrown a touchdown on 8.1% of his passes, which is well ahead of his career average. There’s likely to be some regression in that number through the second half of the season, but it’s also worth considering that Doug Baldwin finally looked healthy for the first time this season this past week. The numbers didn’t show it because of his low target total, but Baldwin caught four passes for 77 yards and looked good doing so. He’s an interesting play this week against the Rams, but he will likely see coverage from Nickell Robey-Coleman, who is one of the better slot corners in the league. Still, if the Seahawks see that Baldwin is finally healthy, it seems likely that he’ll see a healthy target share in this game which he should be able to utilize to overcome what might be a difficult on-paper matchup.

Fellow receivers Tyler Lockett and David Moore have both been hit-or-miss over these past few weeks and their target/snap numbers are not much different. Lockett would seemingly be the stronger play given his history in the offense and his touchdown rate this season, but both are WR3s who have upside to be WR2s if they can get into the end zone. Moore in particular is a dirt cheap DFS option who will likely have very low ownership numbers, so there’s reason to be hopeful there.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: Chris Carson got injured again this past week in the Seahawks’ loss to the Chargers and his availability is now in question heading into Week 10. Even if he’s able to play, though, it seems likely that he’d be splitting touches with Mike Davis, who got 15 carries against the Chargers, most of which came after Carson was out. Davis and Carson did crush the Rams with over 170 combined rushing yards when these teams met back in Week 5, so there’s reason to have optimism for Davis if Carson doesn’t play. However, if Carson does play, matching that early-season output on the road seems unlikely, so there’s some risk that they just vulture one another with lower overall production, thus making both players only borderline fantasy plays.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson
RB2: Mike Davis (if Carson doesn’t play)
WR2: Doug Baldwin
Flex: Chris Carson, Mike Davis (if Carson plays), Tyler Lockett, David Moore
Bench: Nick Vannett, Jaron Brown, Rashaad Penny

Passing Game Thoughts: Jared Goff and the Rams were the final undefeated team heading into Week 9 and while they ultimately fell to the Saints in New Orleans, fantasy owners still have to be more than satisfied with the 391 yards and three touchdowns that Goff had in the contest. Goff has now thrown for multiple touchdown passes in three straight games and continues to be a great floor play at quarterback with upside.

Wide receiver Cooper Kupp made his return to the field in Week 9 after missing three games and he immediately got back to his usual snap share as he was the only Rams pass catcher to play every offensive snap for the team. That translated to five catches for 89 yards and a touchdown, re-solidifying Kupp as a high-level WR2 with WR1 upside on a weekly basis. This led to Josh Reynolds hardly playing, which was expected as the Rams continue to deploy their three wide receiver sets with Kupp, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. Woods has been a bit disappointing in recent weeks but he’s still making at least five passes per week so the potential for more is certainly there and he can still be relied on as a WR2. Cooks earned his third 100-yard receiving day of the season in Week 9, along with his third touchdown. He’s also a high-end WR2.

The Seahawks secondary, even without the Legion of Boom, is a tough test for any offense, but the Rams are just such a strong offense that it’s hard to believe that they won’t be able to produce at least a solid fantasy day through the air. If you’re looking for the best option of the three receivers, Kupp should be in line for another nice target day. He caught six passes for 90 yards and a touchdown the last time these teams met.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: Gurley’s 19.9 PPR fantasy total in Week 9 was actually his worst game of the season thus far. Allow that to sink in for a minute. Yeah, his worst game was basically 20 fantasy points. To put that into perspective, only seven other running backs even average 20 points per game -- and that was Gurley’s worst performance. He’s proven to be matchup-proof in this offense as he was able to accomplish this nice game even in a contest on the road that the Rams lost by double-digits.

In Week 10, Gurley is again possibly the top overall option on the board as he faces a Seahawks run defense that he beat up for 113 total yards and three touchdowns back in Week 5. Seattle has been relatively good against opposing running backs this season, but they’ve still conceded quality fantasy days to Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon and even David Johnson. While those backs have all been good this season, none of them have been producing at the pace of Gurley, who could be in line for another huge game here in Week 10.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jared Goff
RB1: Todd Gurley
WR2: Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods
Bench: Malcolm Brown, Josh Reynolds, Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee

Prediction: Rams 31, Seahawks 21 ^ Top

Cowboys at Eagles - (Katz)
Line: PHI -7.0
Total: 43.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Amari Cooper’s debut went reasonably well. He led the team with eight targets, good for just over a 25% team target share. He also caught a touchdown on a very nice route. Dak Prescott threw for 243 yards last week, which is actually his third highest total on the season. He also managed his third consecutive multi-touchdown game. The Eagles have been a pretty weak pass defense this year, allowing 269 yards per game. They’ve also allowed a league worst 93.7 yards per game to opposing WR1s. With that being said, Prescott is not the QB to take advantage of favorable pass defenses, especially with the Cowboys so intent on running the ball and not taking shots downfield. Perhaps things open up in Cooper’s second game with the team, but this coaching staff has never shown any ability to do anything. Cole Beasley’s back-to-back useful PPR games are proving to be nothing more than a random production spike. The Cowboys have played eight games and Beasley has been useable in three of them. He’s not a fantasy option.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts:
The Cowboys weak offensive output is starting to negatively impact Ezekiel Elliott. While his fantasy day was salvaged by 51 receiving yards on four receptions last week, Elliott once again had a rough day on the ground, managing just 61 yards on 17 carries. With the Cowboys installed as touchdown underdogs, they may not be able to run the ball as much as they’d like. The Eagles do allow 55.9 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs so Zeke could have some success through the air if the Cowboys choose to utilize him that way. On the ground, the Eagles allow 4.5 yards per carry, but only 83.8 yards per game. The latter can be attributed to their league low 150 rushing attempts faced. You’re never benching Zeke, but expectations must be lowered once again.

Value Meter:
QB2: Dak Prescott (low end)
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott (low end)
WR3: Amari Cooper
Bench: Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns

Passing Game Thoughts: Carson Wentz needed one game to get his bearings under him. Since his return, he’s thrown multiple scores in every game after that first one back. His lowest yardage total in that span is 278. Wentz has also rushed for at least 24 yards in all but one game. Wentz has proven to come with a high floor, but also be matchup proof. Alshon Jeffery may have a tough time this week against shutdown corner, Byron Jones, but that will just lead Wentz to use his other options. Golden Tate could have a very nice game operating out of the slot, challenging the Cowboys linebacking group that will once again be without Sean Lee. The Cowboys only allow 217 passing yards per game, but they also don’t force turnovers, having recorded just two interceptions on the season. With the season falling apart, the Cowboys are on the brink of complete and utter collapse. Wentz owners should not be deterred at all by the matchup. The Cowboys also rank 26th in footballoutsiders’ DVOA against TEs, not that you were worried about Zach Ertz anyway.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: What will the Eagles do at running back? What I want and hope they do is push Josh Adams as the primary back – a 50% snap share – and then sprinkle in Wendell Smallwood with a small dose of Corey Clement. That would be the optimal rotation. With all of the injuries to this running back group, Adams is finally getting his change to prove how embarrassing it was that he went undrafted while guys that shouldn’t even be in the NFL like Ronald Jones went in the first round. Adams rushed nine times for 61 yards against the Jaguars, but still played just 29% of the snaps. Darren Sproles’ impending return was going to put a damper on the potential Adams breakout, but Sproles aggravated his hamstring injury and it wouldn’t surprise me if this were the end of Sproles’ career. It will once again between Adams, Smallwood, and Clement. The good news for Adams is he appears to have surpassed Clement on the depth chart. The bad news is he’s still behind Smallwood. If I’m an Adams owner, I would prefer a wait and see approach, if possible

Value Meter:
QB1: Carson Wentz (mid range)
WR3: Alshon Jeffery
WR3: Golden Tate
TE1: Zach Ertz (high end)
Flex: Wendell Smallwood
Bench: Nelson Agholor, Josh Adams

Prediction: Eagles 23, Cowboys 19 ^ Top

Giants at 49ers - (Caron)
Line: SF -3.5
Total: 44.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Evan Engram finally looks healthy which should be in a shot in the arm for this struggling New York Giants passing game. Engram got into the end zone this past week for the first time since Week 2 and is now back in the TE1 conversation after returning from his knee injury. While that helps Eli Manning, it’s hard to argue that it makes Manning a viable QB1 for fantasy purposes, even in what would appear to be a good matchup on the road against the 49ers. Manning has failed to reach 20 fantasy points in all but one game this season, which he barely cracked 20 points in against the Falcons in Week 7. Manning and the Giants simply are not moving the ball at the pace we had hoped in the preseason.

On a positive note, Odell Beckham Jr. appears to be fully unleashed at this point and he’s now gone for over 130 yards in three of his past four games, scoring a pair of touchdowns during that stretch as well. The touchdown rate has been down this season, but the usage and yardage totals are there. Trust the targets and understand that Beckham will likely score more touchdowns in the second half of the season than he did in the first half. He’s still a strong WR1. Sterling Shepard has also flashed WR1 upside but he hasn’t done so consistently and that’s why he’s more like a mid-level WR3/Flex option in this matchup against the 49ers.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: It hasn’t always been pretty on the ground, largely due to the horrendous blocking in front of him, but fantasy owners who took a chance on Saquon Barkley in the first round of their drafts have to be extremely happy with what they’re getting out of him. Barkley is a top five running back in practically all formats, but he’s particularly strong in PPR formats as he’s on pace for a whopping 116 catches in his rookie season. If he reaches that total, it’d be an NFL record for a running back, shattering the previous record of 102 set by Matt Forte in 2014. In fact, a 116-catch season would tie Barkley for 16th all-time, at any position, in single-season receptions.

What I’m getting at is that this guy is actually better, for fantasy purposes, when the Giants are down on the scoreboard. With 27 catches over his past three games alone, this trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and it makes Barkley a rock solid RB1 in standard-scoring formats, along with a high-end RB1 in PPR formats.

The 49ers defense has been about middle-of-the-pack against opposing running backs this season, but they’ve struggled against the bell cow-type backs that can also contribute in the passing game, such as Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Kareem Hunt and David Johnson. Barkley fits that mold and should be in all lineups this week.

Value Meter:
RB1: Saquon Barkley
WR1: Odell Beckham Jr.
TE1: Evan Engram (low-end)
Flex: Sterling Shepard
Bench: Eli Manning, Wayne Gallman

Passing Game Thoughts: One of the most unlikely first game breakout players we’ve seen in years, 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens has been announced as the starting quarterback for the 49ers’ Monday night contest against the Giants. Mullens threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns in the 49ers’ blowout win over the Raiders. It’s hard to tell whether this was a legitimate breakout of a future star or just a player getting an opportunity to play against a truly broken Raiders franchise, but Mullens has to give 49ers fans more hope than C.J. Beathard gave them.

Unfortunately for fantasy owners of the pass catchers in this offense, Mullens really didn’t key in on any one receiver during the victory so we don’t have much information about who he’ll be looking for here in Week 10. The best bet continues to be tight end George Kittle who is beginning to establish himself as one of the league’s top young breakout tight ends. Kittle has now gone over 75 receiving yards in six of his nine games, making him one of the better floor plays at the position and a player who has legitimate TE1 overall upside in any game. The Giants have done a good job against opposing tight ends this season, but a lot of that comes from their schedule. The only two “star” tight ends they’ve faced have been Zach Ertz and Jordan Reed, who both caught seven passes against them. The other pass catchers in this 49ers passing game are just not trustworthy at the moment and should be avoided if at all possible.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: Much like the wide receiver position, the 49ers backfield continues to be confusing and really hasn’t given fantasy owners much upside this season. They’ve now lost both Jerick McKinnon and Raheem Mostert to season-ending injuries and the duo of Alfred Morris and Matt Breida have had more down games than up games thus far in 2018.

The Giants run defense hasn’t been too terrible this season, but they’ve given up a double-digit standard-scoring fantasy day to an opposing running back in every game they’ve played thus far. That might also be schedule-driven a bit as the Giants have played a lot of bell cow type backs who tend to get a lot of carries. That’s not the case with the 49ers who are sharing carries, rather unsuccessfully, between Morris and Breida. Still, if there’s upside here for one of these players to go off, it has to be Breida as he’s at least shown some explosiveness with the ball in his hands this season while Morris has mostly looked completely washed up. Breida is the better play, particularly in PPR formats, but they’re both a bit risky even in good matchups.

Value Meter:
TE1: George Kittle
Flex: Matt Breida
Bench: Nick Mullens, Alfred Morris Marquise Goodwin, Pierre Garcon, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis

Prediction: 49ers 24, Giants 20 ^ Top