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Inside the Matchup

Week 10

By: Andy Swanson | Ken Ilchuk | Nick Caron | HC Green



Sunday Early:



Sunday Late:

MIN @ LAC | CAR @ ARI | PHI @ DEN | SEA @ GB | KC @ LV



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

Ravens at Dolphins - (Ken Ilchuk)
Line: BAL -7.5
Total: 46.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The story of the 2021 Baltimore Ravens begins and ends with QB Lamar Jackson. It isn’t always pretty, and as a fantasy owner it can be hard to watch sometimes (7 INT, 3 lost fumbles), but the production is impressive and surprisingly consistent. He has at least 300 total yards in all but one of the Ravens’ eight games (including a 500-yard effort in Wk 5), he has thrown at least one touchdown in every game, and has four multi-TD games. He has posted at least 27.0 fantasy points every week and has two 30-point efforts, including his three-TD performance against the Vikings last week. He’s a locked and loaded QB1 every week.

TE Mark Andrews is in the midst of a career year. With more than half the season to play, he is well on his way to career highs in targets, catches, and yards. He is averaging 13.3 yards per catch and 70 yards per game with two 100-yard efforts already and is a top five play at TE this week. WR Marquise Brown is also off to a career start as the lead dog with 46 catches on 69 targets and a team-high 6 TD. Rookie Rashod Bateman is coming into his own with strong outings in the last two games and Sammy Watkins looks poised to return from a hamstring injury this week. Jackson is relying less on his legs, and the result has been a surprisingly potent aerial assault.

The Dolphins defensive stats got a slight boost last week against the inept Texans, but this is still a bad unit that has allowed a league-worst 41 plays of 20 yards or more, while giving up 17 TD’s through the air. With Jackson playing more from the pocket and trusting his ability as a passer, all Ravens’ skill players are in play this week.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: Despite a more conservative approach to running the ball, Jackson still leads the team in rushing with nearly 40 more carries and 400 more yards than No.2 Latavius Murray! He’s already got two 100-yard efforts to his name and is averaging a ridiculous 75.0 rush yards per game. The team seems to have settled on some combination of Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell at RB, with Ty’Son Williams headed back to the bench and Murray still sidelined with an ankle injury. Freeman is coming off his best game as a Raven, so I’d expect him to continue to get the rock.

The Dolphins are allowing just 4.3 yards per carry, and don’t look now, but they are allowing less than 100 ground yards per game over the last three weeks. While that could potentially hinder Freeman and Bell, I’m not sure the Dolphins have an answer for Jackson, especially when he goes off schedule.

Value Meter:
QB1: Lamar Jackson (high-end)
RB2: Devonta Freeman (mid-range)
WR2: Marquise Brown (mid-range)
TE1: Mark Andrews (high-end)
FLEX: RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Rashod Bateman
Bench: RB Latavius Murray, RB Ty’son Williams, WR Sammy Watkins, TE Nick Boyle

Passing Game Thoughts: QB Tua Tagovailoa missed last week’s game with a finger injury on his throwing hand, and his limited practice schedule on a short week has some thinking he could be on the sideline again for Thursday Night Football. If that’s the case, we’ll see more of Jacoby Brissett, who struggled against the lowly Texans last week to the tune of just 244 yards and two interceptions, his only TD pass going to RB Myles Gaskin. WR Jaylen Waddle and TE Mike Gesicki are the only fantasy relevant receivers in this lineup, especially with WR’s Will Fuller and DeVante Parker on IR. But in the final evaluation, this is a team that scored just 17 points against the Texans. There’s just not much to see here if Brissett is at the controls. If Tua can go, there’s a hint of hope for a productive night.

This is not your older brother’s Ravens D. This group has been beat up, allowing nearly 4.5 yards per carry in the run game and getting burned regularly by the big play in the pass game. Surprisingly, they have also struggled to get the QB on the ground and haven’t been able to create the big play off turnovers. Still, if Brissett plays, even this shell of a defense should hold its own by shoring up against the run and forcing the QB to beat them.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: RB Myles Gaskin has taken over the reins in the backfield. He has 35 carries over the last two weeks, and he has also been productive as a receiver with 25 catches over the last five games. He’s a solid RB2 play this week against a Ravens defense still trying to get on track

Value Meter:
QB1: Tua Tagovailoa (low-end if he plays)
QB2: Jacoby Brissett (low-end)
RB2: Myles Gaskin (low-end)
WR2: Jaylen Waddle (mid-range)
TE1: Mike Gesicki (low-end)
Bench: RB Malcolm Brown, RB Salvon Ahmed, WR DeVante Parker, WR Will Fuller, WR Preston Williams, WR Mack Hollins

Prediction: Ravens 28, Dolphins 17 ^ Top

Buccaneers at Football Team - (Ken Ilchuk)
Line: TB -9.5
Total: 51.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The last time we saw QB Tom Brady, he was turning the ball over three times in a loss to the Saints in the Superdome. That was two weeks ago, and despite also throwing four touchdowns in that game, we’ve all seen Brady’s ability to dwell on the negative and use it for motivation. With extra seething time and extra prep time, don’t be surprised if TB12 is the top fantasy point scorer in the league this week, no matter who’s playing with him or against him.

Who will be playing with him is a big question mark. WR Antonio Brown and TE Rob Gronkowski are not expected to play, and WR Chris Godwin has not practiced due to a foot injury. His status is in question. WR Mike Evans will be out there, and that’s obviously a good thing for Brady, the Bucs, and fantasy owners. In the two games leading up to the bye, Evans had four TD’s on eight catches and averaged 18 yards per catch! He’s a WR1 this week against a surprisingly bad Washington defense, whether Godwin plays or not.

Despite a D-line full of 1st round pass rushers, Washington has just 19 sacks on the season, have given up a ridiculous 20 touchdowns via the pass, and have yielded the second worst opposing passer rating (107.6) in the NFL. A fun prop bet for this one could be how many possessions will the Buccaneers have before they DON’T score.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: Brady’s controlled passing game, which has slowly replaced HC Bruce Arians’ “no risk it, no biscuit” attack as the lifeblood of this offense, acts as an extension of the run game. That means leading rusher Leonard Fournette, despite being effective at 4.4 yards per carry and bringing a physical presence to the offense, isn’t posting big numbers or creating much fantasy value. Washington has been respectable against the run, so look for Fournette as a receiver out of the backfield. If you’re looking to take a flyer on somebody, RB Gio Bernard’s receiving skills could be in play, especially with Godwin and Gronk out of the mix.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (high-end)
RB2: Leonard Fournette (high end)
WR1: Chris Godwin (high-end, if he plays), Mike Evans (high-end)
TE2: O.J. Howard (low-end)
FLEX: RB Giovani Bernard, TE Cameron Brate
BENCH: RB Ronald Jones, WR Antonio Brown, TE Rob Gronkowski

Passing Game Thoughts: Taylor Heinicke has been up and down throughout the season. He has 11 TD passes, but he also has 10 turnovers. His team was also 0-for-6 in the red zone in two games prior to their Week 9 bye. He’s athletic and can extend plays with his legs, but doesn’t always do it. He’s averaging less than 7.0 yards per attempt over the last four weeks, but he has four receivers with at least 20 catches on the season averaging at least 10.0 yards per catch. WR Terry McLaurin and RB J.D. McKissic are the top targets in the passing game, but this offense’s inability to score or even move the ball consistently makes them marginal fantasy options at best.

Tampa has been surprisingly average against the pass. They will give up the big play occasionally, but they can also go get the ball (4 INT in last three games). Washington has the weapons to make a big strike, but doesn’t have the ability to sustain drives.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts:
Washington HC Ron Rivera wants to run the ball. The team has over 200 rushing attempts despite playing catch-up in most of their games and averaging 4.6 per carry. While RB Antonio Gibson is a talented runner, and McKissic is a dual threat, there’s not enough volume here to warrant fantasy interest. Heinicke, working mostly off schedule, is actually the team’s second-leading rusher

Value Meter:
QB2: Taylor Heinicke (mid-range)
RB3: Antonio Gibson (high-end), J.D. McKissic (high-end)
WR2: Terry McLaurin (mid-range)
TE2: Ricky Seals-Jones (high-end)

Prediction: Buccaneers 45, Washington 16 ^ Top

Lions @ Steelers - (Green)
Line: PIT -8.5
Total: 42.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Although Jared Goff avoided the turnover bug his last time out, it’s hard to overstate how ineffective he was moving the offense. The Lions scored a consolation touchdown midway through the fourth to avoid the shutout, but by that point they were down by 41 points. The leash seems to be getting shorter with Goff, who finished 25-for-34 with 222 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. It doesn’t seem like they see much in David Blough, given they left Goff in during a blowout rather than take a look at the Purdue alum, but file away the name Tim Boyle (thumb). He was QB2 in Green Bay behind Aaron Rodgers and has been designated to return from IR.

One move that should help is the addition of Josh Reynolds, who was claimed off waivers from the Titans this week. Reynolds, who has 123 career catches, immediately becomes their most accomplished receiver and is also familiar with Goff as the two played together in LA for four seasons. He’d be a smart addition in deeper leagues. The arrival of Reynolds could push Amon-Ra St. Brown (3-46-0) down the pecking order, weakening his already shaky value. For the time being, T.J. Hockenson (10-89-0) remains the only playable option in Detroit’s passing game; he’s a midrange TE1.

Pittsburgh has been a middling pass defense, allowing 244.5 yards per game via the air (15th), though they do rank in the top 10 in sacks (22). The Steelers failed to impress on Monday night, allowing the Bears to erase 14-point fourth quarter deficit as Justin Fields passed for 291 yards, which was nearly 100 yards more than his previous career high. Despite that, Goff can’t be considered a viable play this weekend.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: The strength of Detroit’s offense has been its RB tandem of D’Andre Swift (12-27-0) and Jamaal Williams (thigh). The latter missed Week 8 due to a thigh injury and appears questionable to return against Pittsburgh. Swift was held in check by Philadelphia, but he’ll still be central to the gameplan, especially after the Steelers gave up 5.2 yards per carry to the Bears on Monday. Play Swift as a solid RB2 with Williams a flex option if he’s active.

Value Meter:
RB2: D’Andre Swift
Flex: Jamaal Williams (inj-thigh)
TE1: T.J. Hockenson
Bench: Jared Goff, Josh Reynolds, Amon-Ra St. Brown

Passing Game Thoughts: Get the ball out quick, take a handful of deep shots, and avoid turnovers. That’s the formula for Ben Roethlisberger circa 2021. The 39-year-old hit on 21 of 30 passes for 205 yards and a pair of TDs -- that marked just the second time he’s thrown for more than a single touchdown in a game this year. At this stage there’s no reasonable expectation for Big Ben to deliver much more than that statistically, which leaves him among the bottom half of fantasy QBs.

Roethlisberger could also be without Chase Claypool (toe) for a while. Claypool injured his toe late Monday night, and though an MRI revealed it was not a season-ending issue, the second-year wideout could miss time. With JuJu Smith-Schuster (shoulder) already out that puts more of the burden on Diontae Johnson (5-56-0) with James Washington (1-42-0) likely to step into Claypool’s downfield role. Expect Pat Freiermuth (5-43-2) to keep trending upward as well; he caught both of Roethlisberger’s TD passes on MNF.

While Detroit ranks a smidgen ahead of Pittsburgh in pass defense (244.4 yards per game allowed; 14th), it’d never be considered a strength. It’s simply the lesser of two evils in comparison to their sieve-like run defense. While Big Ben should remain on the bench in Week 10, Johnson is a borderline WR1/WR2 with Freiermuth as a decent TE1 as well. Washington could be a lottery ticket flex selection.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: It was tough sledding for Najee Harris (22-62-1) in primetime with 78 combined yards ranking as the second-lowest output of his rookie year. Well, I have some good news for Harris and his fantasy owners: the Lions gave up 236 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in Week 8. While Detroit is unlikely to play that poorly fresh off their bye, Harris is a high-end No. 1 fantasy back nonetheless.

Value Meter:
RB1: Najee Harris
WR1/WR2: Diontae Johnson
Flex: James Washington
TE1: Pat Freiermuth
Bench: Ben Roethlisberger, Chase Claypool (inj-toe)

Prediction: Steelers 23, Lions 17 ^ Top

Saints @ Titans - (Swanson)
Line: TEN -3.0
Total: 44.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Trevor Siemian completed 25 of 41 passes for 249 yards against the Falcons last week, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was a solid performance for the journeyman quarterback and the 11th most points on the day by a QB, but it was not enough as Atlanta won on a last-second field goal by Younghoe Koo.

Siemian logged touchdown passes to both Kenny Stills and Marquez Callaway, with four different wide receivers posting 25 or more receiving yards. Tre’Quan Smith led all pass catchers with 80% of the team’s snaps but managed just three catches for 53 yards on four targets.

The biggest question mark surrounding the Saints is the health of star running back Alvin Kamara, who visited the training tent during the game on Sunday against the Falcons and did not practice on Thursday. The team also brought in a few veteran running backs for workouts on Tuesday, which could be an indication of the coaching staff’s concern over Kamara’s availability.

The entire offense runs through Kamara, both on the ground and through the air. Should he miss the game, more pressure will be put on Siemian and the passing game, especially if the New Orleans defense plays as poorly as they did against Matt Ryan last week.

The Titans have been an up and down unit against opposing quarterbacks this year. They held Patrick Mahomes to 206 passing yards and no scores, only to have Carson Wentz throw for three touchdowns the following week. They then bounced back and did an excellent job getting pressure on Matthew Stafford from their front four in a 28-16 upset win on SNF.

The Saints offensive line and their ability to limit pressure from defensive tackle Jeffrey Simmons and outside LB Bud Dupree will be a key matchup in this game. While widely considered one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, has graded the Saints as the No.14 offensive line through 10 weeks.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: The fact that the Saints brought in three veteran running backs for workouts is not great for Alvin Kamara managers. It also is not good that Kamara did not practice on Thursday because of a knee injury. Both of those factors make us think that Kamara may be iffy for the game, and should he go, he could be limited.

Starting left tackle Terron Armstead was also absent with knee/shoulder issues.

The Titans rank 24th in fantasy points allowed through nine games, with just one 100-yard rushing game on their resume. The team did a solid job last week limiting Darrell Henderson to just 55 yards, although Jonathan Taylor did manage 112 total yards and a score the week prior.

Should Kamara be out, look for veteran Mark Ingram to carry the load with Dwayne Washington also getting some work. Ingram has been solid since returning home to the Saints, with a 4.7 yard per carry average and 46 receiving yards in two games.
Some injuries on the defensive side of the ball for the Titans could make things more attractive for Ingram and Kamara owners. Starting linebackers David Long and Harold Landry did not practice on Wednesday with hamstring injuries, while stud defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons missed practice with an ankle injury. Bud Dupree, their best outside pass rush option, also did not practice.

While we anticipate most of these players will play, it is clear that the Titans are beat up defensively and could be in for a letdown after last week’s big win over the Rams in Primetime.

Value Meter:
QB2: Trevor Siemian (High-End)
RB1: Alvin Kamara (Inj) (High-End)
RB3: Mark Ingram (High-End)
WR3: Marquez Callaway (Low-End)
WR3: Tre’Quan Smith (Low-End)
TE2: Adam Trautman (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Titans won their first game in the post-Derrick Henry world that they will live in for most of the regular season. They did not run the ball particularly well against the Rams, with Adrian Peterson, Jeremy McNichols, and D’Onta Foreman combining for 74 yards on 22 carries.

They did not pass the ball particularly well either, with Ryan Tannehill thawing for just 143 yards and one score.

What they did do well, is stifle the Rams offense and make just enough plays when they had the ball to secure the win.

A.J. Brown continues to be a target hog, with 11 targets against the Rams and 40 total in his last four games. He did not do much with those targets, but you need to remember he was going against arguably the best defensive back in the league in Jalen Ramsey.

At times this season, the Saints defense has looked like the best unit in the league. Yet, they just gave up over 300 passing yards at home to Matt Ryan and the Falcons, a team they should have easily beaten.

Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Daniel Jones, and Sam Darnold all have posted at least 300 passing yards and multiple scores against the Saints, as their teams made the proper adjustment of throwing the ball vs. New Orleans instead of running against the brick wall that is the Saints front seven.

The Titans will try to run the ball, but they will find it difficult against the New Orleans front that allows fewer than three yards per carry. To win, they need to pass the ball, and the matchup at home against this secondary is one in which Tannehill and the wide receivers will find success.

Tannehill is a low-end QB1 with upside because of his rushing in the red zone. You are for certain going to start A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones, despite his lack of production, is still worthy of a WR3 or flex.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: There is not a whole lot to like about the running options for the Titans now that King Henry is on the shelf. Adrian Peterson did score last week but looked every bit of 36 years of age and was running too upright.

Jeremy McNichols looked solid in the passing game but averaged less than four yards per tote on seven carries.

Even in a solid matchup, I’m not sure I would be excited about playing any of these players. Against the stout New Orleans front seven, I would avoid all of them if possible.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ryan Tannehill (Low-End)
RB3: Adrian Peterson (High-End)
WR1: A.J. Brown (Low-End)
WR3: Julio Jones (Low-End)
TE2: Geoff Swaim (High-End)

Prediction: Tennessee 28, New Orleans 17 ^ Top

Falcons at Cowboys - (Ken Ilchuk)
Line: DAL -9.0
Total: 54.5

Passing Game Thoughts: When WR Calvin Ridley stepped away from the team, QB Matt Ryan stepped up. He’s connecting on 75% of his passes the last two weeks, has thrown for 300+ yards three of the last four weeks, and has tossed multiple TD’s in six of the Falcons’ eight games. And remember, he’s done it without his best receiver. TE Kyle Pitts and RB Cordarrelle Patterson have filled the void, combining for 104 targets, and no one else is close. They have also teamed up for three 100-yard games and six scores. Ryan is a solid QB2 play, but against the feast or famine Dallas defense, he could have low-end QB1 upside.

The Cowboys have improved their pass rush and in the secondary. They rank 3rd in the NFL in INT’s, but they have also been susceptible to the big play – they have allowed four scoring passes of 20+ yards in the last three games. Denver exposed them badly last week, but while Atlanta may pick up some tips from the blueprint, we don’t expect back-to-back showings like that. Still, Ryan and the Falcons will have chances to make plays downfield.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: Atlanta has struggled to get going in the run game. As it has been for a couple seasons now, the o-line is not quite there. Mike Davis is a good between the tackles runner, but this team is just not built to win that way right now, making him an afterthought in the offense. Cordarrelle Patterson is a lock as an RB1, but while he’s been a dangerous jack of all trades, even in the return game, the run production has been limited.

Dallas is allowing nearly 4.5 yards per carry this season, so maybe this is a chance for the Falcons to take some heat off Ryan. If they can win the line of scrimmage early, Davis could get enough touches to earn some consideration as a flex option.

Value Meter:
QB2: Matt Ryan (mid-range)
RB1: Cordarrelle Patterson (low-end)
TE1: Kyle Pitts (high-end)
FLEX: RB Mike Davis, WR Olamide Zaccheaus
BENCH: WR Calvin Ridley, WR Russell Gage, WR Tajae Sharpe, TE Hayden Hurst

Passing Game Thoughts: If we’re working under the premise that last week’s blowout loss to the Broncos was an anomaly, and it seems most people are at this point, then it’s time for owners to hop back on the horse and ride QB Dak Prescott to the fantasy playoffs. Even in that loss, Prescott threw two TD passes. It was his fifth straight multi-TD game and his sixth in seven games this season. He has three 300-yard games, two for 400+, and is well on his way to the best statistical season of his career.

WR CeeDee Lamb has emerged as a bonafide WR1. With 41 catches on 66 targets, he has 632 yards, three 100-yard games and four touchdowns. Falcons CB’s AJ Terrell and Fabian Moreau have combined for 15 passes defensed. They will matchup with Lamb and Amari Cooper (13.3 yards per catch and a team-leading 5 TD’s). That will be a battle early, but Atlanta’s lack of pass rush is going to put a lot of pressure on the secondary over time. Lamb and Cooper are both valuable plays in what could be a high scoring affair. Look for TE Dalton Schultz (37 catches) to have reception opportunities on the seams with the safeties possibly split out wide to help on the wideouts.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: Ezekiel Elliott is on pace for over 1300 rushing yards, averaging just under 5.0 yards per carry, and adds value with an average of 20 receiving yards per game. With 100 total yards per week, he’s a top RB1 play. With the Cowboys in a 30-0 hole by halftime last week, RB Tony Pollard didn’t get much opportunity. But prior to that game, he was averaging over 11 total touches per game. In what could be a fast-paced game, look for him to be closer to that number. He should be considered as a flex option this week in all leagues.

Value Meter:
QB1: Dak Prescott (mid-range)
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott (low-end)
WR1: CeeDee Lamb (mid-range)
WR2: Amari Cooper (low-end)
TE2: Dalton Schultz (mid-range)
FLEX: RB Tony Pollard
BENCH: WR Michael Gallup, WR Cedrick Wilson

Prediction: Cowboys 31, Falcons 24 ^ Top

Browns at Patriots - (Ken Ilchuk)
Line: NE -2.5
Total: 45.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Man, does that Baker Mayfield dude compete hard, or what? After a hellacious week of OBJ drama, Mayfield answered the bell, completing nearly 67% for 218 yards and two scores. It was his third multiple-TD game in his last four tries, and his 10.4 yards per attempt was his best since Week 1. Don’t expect more of that this week. Cleveland is about ball possession. Run the ball, get it out of Baker’s hands quickly, hit the TE’s on the seams and keep the chains moving. Plus, the Patriots lead the NFL in interceptions, and there’s no need to challenge that secondary when teams are having some success running on New England, so look for more ball control and less Baker this week.

That game plan is going to limit a group already short-handed by the absence of Kareem Hunt (20 catches). TE’s Austin Hooper and David Njoku are second and third on the team in targets, respectively, and Njoku’s 341 yards leads the Browns. But the two cannibalize each other when it comes to fantasy value, and both are no more than a low-end TE2 this week. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones is a big-play threat and moves into a starting role with the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. But while he averages over 20 yards per catch, he averages less than three targets per game and just 44 receiving yards per game, making him a risky play. WR Jarvis Landry is the more consistent option, though also not explosive in terms of fantasy numbers, especially this week. He’s a mid-range WR3.

The Patriots defense has got it figured out against the pass. They are #1 in the NFL with 11 INT (they led the league in that category last year as well), are second in Passer Rating allowed (76.6), and third in opposing QB completion percentage (59.6). Those are all good reasons to stay away from Mayfield and anyone involved with the Browns passing attack, but also a reason to consider the Pats as defensive option for your team.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: With Kareem Hunt still on IR with a calf injury, and Nick Chubb on the Covid list, the ball could fall into the hands of D’Ernest Johnson. His last start came in Week 7 when he ran up 146 yards and a TD on 22 carries. He’s averaging 5.3 yards per carry on 37 carries this season, and I’m sure the Browns feel comfortable with him back there. Chubb could still be in play. He is vaccinated, so he just needs to provide two negative tests over 24 hours.

Either one will be a solid RB1 option against the Patriots this week. The last three “good” teams New England has played (TB, DAL, LAC), they’ve yielded 120+ yards on the ground. Expect Cleveland to pound the rock and try to expose the weaker link in this defense.

Value Meter:
RB1: D’Ernest Johnson (mid-range), Nick Chubb (high-end, if he plays)
WR3: Jarvis Landry (mid-range)
TE2: David Njoku (low-end), Austin Hooper (low-end)
BENCH: QB Baker Mayfield, RB Kareem Hunt, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR Rashard Higgins

Passing Game Thoughts: QB Mac Jones has been efficient though unspectacular. He has started to push the ball down the field a bit more in recent weeks, and his average per attempt continues to climb, but it’s still not fantasy-notable and his turnovers (9 in 9 games) are a concern for someone who is trying to manage the game.

WR Jakobi Meyers is the top target by a large margin, but he has yet to record a 100-yard game or a touchdown. Fellow wideouts Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne are averaging about 15 yards per catch, but only average four catches per game. TE Hunter Henry has developed into a dangerous red zone threat with a touchdown catch in five of the last six games.

The Browns pass defense is built around their pass rush. They are amongst the best in the NFL with 27 sacks. DE Myles Garrett is the spark there (league high 12 sacks). Owners should monitor his status as he’s nursing a foot injury. But Pats’ HC Bill Belichick has a healthy respect for the player and will likely have extra help worked into the game plan to limit his impact.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: As they have for years under Belichick, the Patriots operate under a RB by committee approach. That’s being put to the test with James White on IR and leading rushers Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson both in concussion protocol. Brandon Bolden and JJ Taylor figure to be next in line for reps if the starters can’t go, but it seems certain that neither will get a “workhorse” load in this game. It’s hard to recommend any New England runners this week against a Browns defense that ranks #2 in the NFL, allowing just 3.5 yards per carry.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mac Jones (low-end)
RB2: Damien Harris (low-end, if he plays)
RB3: Rhamondre Stevenson (mid-range, if he plays)
WR3: Jakobi Meyers (mid-range),
TE1: Hunter Henry (low-end)
FLEX: RB Brandon Bolden, RB J.J. Taylor, WR Nelson Agholor,
BENCH: TE Jonnu Smith

Prediction: Patriots 23, Browns 21 ^ Top

Bills at Jets - (Ken Ilchuk)
Line: BUF -12.0
Total: 47.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Earlier this season there were some rumblings that the Bills offense had become too Josh Allen-centric. It was true, mostly because the Bills simply couldn’t run the ball consistently. In fact, Allen’s 319 rushing yards accounts for a full third of the Buffalo rushing attack. With no run game, opposing defenses drop a safety out of the box and run a Cover 2 umbrella that takes away the big downfield throws and essentially takes the top off the Bills offense. Until the Bills can do something offensively to force that eighth defender into the tackle box, there will be a cap on this group. With that being said, I would imagine Allen has been chomping at the bit to erase the taste of that awful 9-6 loss to Jacksonville last week, and the Jets are the perfect mouthwash. This just isn’t a talented group. Keep Allen as your QB1 and watch the redemption story play out.

Guys like WR Cole Beasley will have fantasy value early as Allen will be forced to take the underneath routes where Beasley makes his living (he had 8 catches last week). He’s a solid WR3. TE Dawson Knox who had a hot start to the season before a wrist injury, may be back this week. If he’s at full strength, he could occupy a safety that would open things up for WR1 Stefon Diggs and WR2 Emmanuel Sanders, who can attack downfield.

Gang Green this is not – at least against the pass. The Jets are among the bottom five defenses in the league in opponent completion percentage (68.7), yards per attempt (8.0), and opposing passer rating (106.1). They’ve also allowed 38 plays of 20 yards or more. Safety Marcus Maye is gone for the season with a torn Achilles, leaving a young, inexperienced secondary even more exposed.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: The Bills issues in the run game really start up front on the offensive line. HC Sean McDermott has said publicly that line play and the run game have been a focus in practice this week. The Jets have been gashed in the run game, allowing more than 4.5 yards per carry. This could be a great “get well” game for the Bills o-line no matter who the RB is. Zack Moss is in concussion protocol. If he plays, he’s a top end RB2. If not, Devin Singletary could get a heavy workload and garner his own RB2 ranking.

Value Meter:
QB1: Josh Allen (high-end)
RB2: Zack Moss (low-end, if he plays)
WR1: Stefon Diggs (mid-range)
WR2: Emmanuel Sanders (mid-range)
WR3: Cole Beasley (low-end)
TE1: Dawson Knox (low-end, if he plays)
TE2: Tommy Sweeney (low-end, if Knox doesn’t play)
FLEX: Devin Singletary

Passing Game Thoughts: QB Mike White has been named the starter this week with Joe Flacco dressing as the backup. He should have WR Corey Davis back on the field along with Jamison Crowder and Elijah Moore and Keelan Cole, who both out-targeted Crowder a week ago. RB Michael Carter has also been a favorite target and could see volume as an outlet against an aggressive Buffalo defense.

This Bills D is no joke. They rank top 5 in the league in just about every major category and lead the NFL in yards per attempt allowed (5.6) and opponent passer rating (62.9). The only place they don’t stand out is in the sack department, but they do get pressure on the pocket, so look for a lot of short, quick passes. But Buffalo will be crowding the line of scrimmage to negate yards after the catch and force White to push the ball down the field. He has not been afraid to do that, but his accuracy when doing so has been spotty.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: The Bills are allowing significantly less than 4.0 yards per carry, and the Jets don’t have a back that is averaging 4.0 yards per carry on the season. Enough said. Carter is a dynamic player who can be elusive as a runner and effective in the short passing game. He’s potentially a low-end RB2, but Ty Johnson will steal snaps and I’m not sure this Jets o-line can hang with the Bills front seven.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mike White (low-end)
RB2: Michael Carter (low-end)
RB3: Ty Johnson (low-end)
WR3: Corey Davis (mid-range),
FLEX: WR Elijah Moore, WR Jamison Crowder, WR Keelan Cole
BENCH: QB Zach Wilson, TE Ryan Griffin

Prediction: Bills 41, Jets 20 ^ Top

Jaguars @ Colts - (Swanson)
Line: IND -10.5
Total: 47.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Rookie Trevor Lawrence battled through an ankle injury to lead the Jaguars to a surprising 9-6 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Lawrence did not do much, with just 118 passing yards on a 15-26 passing, but he did take care of the ball & limited mistakes that have cost him in the past.

For fantasy purposes, the rookie QB should not be played in anything other than deep two QB leagues, and even in those matchups, he is not a strong start. Lawrence has one game all season with more than a single passing touchdown and a pair of games in which he did not throw a TD at all.

As you would imagine, with a QB throwing just 118 yards, the skill portion players on Jacksonville also took a nosedive last week. The one glaring exception is tight end Dan Arnold, who has quietly evolved into Lawrence’s favorite target. Arnold has 17 targets over his previous two games, with 128 combined receiving yards. He has not reached the end zone or topped 68 yards, but in a very shallow tight end pool, he is a fine start this week.

From a matchup standpoint, it does not get much better for the passing weapons on Jacksonville. The Colts are second in points allowed to quarterbacks and lead the league with 23 passing touchdowns allowed in nine games.

If Josh Johnson can post 26.5 fantasy points against this aging secondary, you would think the Lawrence would be able to get at least a few touchdown scores. It may come in garbage time, and it might not be pretty, but look for around 250 passing yards and a few scores from the rookie.

The Jags have one 100-yard receiving performance on the year and just six total receiving touchdowns as a team at the WR position. While teams have found success throwing the ball against the Colts secondary, targeting wide receivers, figuring out which of the four subpar options to start in Jacksonville is a challenge. Perhaps avoiding wide receivers altogether is a good way to approach this game, instead using Dan Arnold as a streaming tight end option.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Carlos Hyde got the start at running back for the Jags last week vs. the Bills, and not surprisingly, he did very little with his opportunity. The Bills are a strong defense against the run, and Hyde is well past his prime.

James Robinson returned to the practice field on Thursday and appears to be on track to play after missing last week with a heel injury. While this sounds good for his fantasy managers, the matchup against the Colts is not great, and Robinson likely will get a split-carry load with Hyde.

As bad as the Colts have been against the pass this season, they have been inversely just as solid against the run. Only two backs have managed to score a rushing touchdown, and even the great King Henry was held to just 68 yards on 28 carries back in Week 9.

Considering the challenge of running against the Colts and the high probability of a negative game script, and you have the recipe for a frustrating day for Robinson's fantasy managers.

Some injuries to the Colts defense could help improve the outlook of the Jacksonville offense. Starting corner Xavier Rhodes has missed practice this week with a calf injury, while all-pro linebacker Darius Leonard was limited with an ankle issue. The former is far more questionable than the latter, although Leonard could be hampered by the ankle in the game.

Value Meter:
Q2: Trevor Lawrence (Low-End)
RB3: James Robinson (Low-End)
WR3: Marvin Jones (Low-End)
WR3: Laviska Shenault (Low-End)
TE1: Dan Arnold (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: It might come as a surprise to many to learn that Carson Wentz is the No. 1 quarterback in fantasy points over the past three games, with nine total touchdowns and just two interceptions.

He has at least 22 fantasy points in four of his last five games, including 24.2 last week at home against the Jets in what turned out to be a blowout win for the Colts.

With the Jags coming to town, it could be another monster Week for Wentz, Jonathan Taylor, and the Colts passing offense.
Michael Pittman Jr. has been the beneficiary of Wentz’s monster run, with 19/255/4 over his last three games. Only Cooper Kupp has more fantasy points over that stretch. Look for Pittman to get around seven targets with 80 yards and a score.

After shutting down Josh Allen and the Bills last week, the Jags currently rank 13th in fantasy points per game. While it was an impressive performance to beat the top team in the AFC on your home field, beating the Colts on the road is going to be a much more difficult challenge.

For starters, the Jags will not be able to play cover-2 shell defense and limit the big pass play because Jonathan Taylor will destroy them if they do not play an extra man in the box. The Bills struggled to run the ball last week with 22 total rushing yards on nine carries and were frustrated by pressure from the Jags and blanket coverage.

The Colts will be more successful running the ball, and the offensive line should give Wentz more time than Josh Allen was afforded.

On the injury front, starting guard Quenton Nelson was limited on Thursday with an ankle injury, and T.Y. Hilton was also limited with a concussion. Nelson is looking like he will play, while Hilton is a little more up in the air.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: Jonathan Taylor is just a couple of points away from passing Derrick Henry as the leading fantasy running back, with 1114 total yards and nine combined scores. Although he is not a true workhorse back in terms of snap count (65% on average), he is producing like an elite back and should be in line for the first overall pick next summer in fantasy drafts.

Jacksonville ranks 15th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, but this number is a bit skewed by the 130/3 game Derrick Henry dropped on them back in Week 5. If you take out that performance, they have not given up another 100 yards game, and no running back has reached the end zone since Henry.

This should not skew your view of Taylor too much but just be warned that he may not find it quite as easy to run as he did last week against the Jets. He is still an elite option and a must-start, but 85 rushing yards and a score or two is more likely than 200 combined yards like we saw last week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Carson Wentz (Low-End)
RB1: Jonathan Taylor (Elite)
RB3: Nyheim Hines (Low-End)
WR1: Michael Pittman Jr. (Low-End)
WR3: Zach Pascal (Low-End)
TE2: Mo Alie-Cox (High-End)

Prediction: Indianapolis 34, Jacksonville 17 ^ Top

Vikings at Chargers - (Caron)
Line: LAC -3.0
Total: 53.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Kirk Cousins threw a season-lowest 28 passes in the Vikings’ Week 9 loss to the Ravens, but that didn’t stop him from turning in his fifth 20-point fantasy day of the season. It should be a bit concerning to fantasy owners, however, that Cousins has now failed to reach even 200 passing yards in back-to-back weeks after doing so in each of his first six starts of the 2021 season. This is especially worrisome as the Vikings now face the Chargers and their defense which has given up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season.

The Chargers defense has held all but two quarterbacks (Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield) to fewer than 20 fantasy points this season. That includes games against Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, Derek Carr and Jalen Hurts who are all top-13 fantasy QBs in points per game average this season. This difficult matchup should move Cousins down to being a QB2 this week.

His top receivers, however, should remain strong options, if for no other reason than that the Vikings tend to funnel most of their targets to them. Adam Thielen has actually been more productive and more highly targeted than Justin Jefferson in recent weeks, but it’s been Jefferson who’s been the more reliable option. K.J. Osborn can be left on your bench in what is a tough matchup as the receiver has been held to fewer than seven PPR fantasy points in five of his past six games.

Tight end Tyler Conklin has caught five passes in each of his past two games, but he’s been a low volume option throughout most of the season and he’s scored just one touchdown on the year. He’s a decent enough streaming option given his floor, but the ceiling isn’t particularly high.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: We’re not going to speculate on Dalvin Cook’s pending legal situation, but it’s currently believed that the running back will be active this week in what should be a good matchup for him against a Chargers defense that has given up the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs so far this season. The Chargers have already conceded 11 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs in 2021 and they’ve given up at least 100 rushing yards to opposing teams’ running backs in all but one game this season.

Assuming that Cook gets his normal workload, he should be a strong RB1 for fantasy this week. Some might also point to Alexander Mattison as a potential option in deep leagues, but he’s simply not playing enough snaps - or seeing enough touches - to be fantasy viable as long as Cook is healthy.

Value Meter:
QB2: Kirk Cousins
RB1: Dalvin Cook (high end)
WR1: Justin Jefferson (low end)
WR2: Adam Thielen
TE1: Tyler Conklin (low end)
Bench: Alexander Mattison, K.J. Osborn

Passing Game Thoughts: Justin Herbert turned in one of the best performances of his young career both from a real-life standpoint as well as a fantasy standpoint in Week 9 as he completed 84 percent of his passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns while adding an additional touchdown on the ground in a road victory over the Eagles. It was a nice bounce back game for Herbert who had struggled to do much from a fantasy standpoint in his previous two contests against Baltimore and New England.

Now Herbert sets his sights on a Vikings defense that is coming off of giving up two big fantasy games in a row to Lamar Jackson and Cooper Rush. The Chargers QB should be looked at as a solid QB1 this week, but there is now some concern that one of his top weapons, Keenan Allen, could be limited. Allen missed practice on Wednesday with a knee injury and while it’s being noted as precautionary, completely missing practice is rarely a good sign. While we do expect that he’ll suit up, he’s seemingly less than fully healthy, so we could end up seeing the team focus a bit more on Mike Williams than they have been as of late.

Williams could use the uptick in work, as well, given that he’s been targeted just 15 times over his past three games combined. By comparison, he had been targeted at least nine times in four of his previous five games before that. This downturn in targets has, predictably, resulted in some pretty bad fantasy production. Williams has been held to fewer than eight PPR fantasy points in all four of the games that he’s been held to five or fewer targets. Williams has regressed back to closer to his career averages, but this seems like a pretty ideal matchup for him to get back on track, especially if Allen is limited.

Allen himself should be considered a low-end WR1 if he’s on the field as he’s now scored at least 10 PPR fantasy points in every game this season. He hasn’t had the ceiling that Williams has, but he’s been extraordinarily consistent and a player who needs to be in fantasy lineups each and every week, especially in matchups like this one.

The Vikings have been excellent against opposing tight ends this season as they’re one of only three teams that haven’t yet conceded a touchdown to the position. They haven’t played the most difficult matchups, but they did hold Mark Andrews to just 44 yards this past week and T.J. Hockenson went for just 22 yards against them back in Week 5. Jared Cook is only a borderline starter each week anyway, but this isn’t a week to put him in your lineup.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: Austin Ekeler remains one of the league’s most-utilized running backs and he’s now touched the ball at least 15 times in all but one game this season. Ekeler is used a ton in the running game, but more importantly he has been a consistent producer in the passing game and he’s now on pace for over 75 receptions on the year.

This heavy usage has allowed Ekeler to score at least 11 fantasy points in all but one game this year and he’s actually exceeded over 20 points in all but three games. He’s an every week RB1, similar to Christian McCaffrey, because he’s almost completely game script-proof. The Vikings have been fine against running backs this season, but this isn’t a matchup to worry about - get Ekeler in your lineup as usual.

Value Meter:
QB1: Justin Herbert
RB1: Austin Ekeler
WR1: Keenan Allen
WR2: Mike Williams
Bench: Larry Rountree III, Justin Jackson, Jalen Guyton, Josh Palmer, Jared Cook, Donald Parham

Prediction: Chargers 27, Vikings 24 ^ Top

Panthers at Cardinals - (Caron)
Line: ARI -10.5
Total: 44.0

Passing Game Thoughts: With Sam Darnold placed on IR with a shoulder injury and Cam Newton only signed on Thursday, the Panthers are expected to turn second-year quarterback P.J. Walker to make the second start of his professional career. Walker played late in the Panthers’ 2021 Week 7 blowout loss to the Giants in what has been his only significant playing time this season, completing just three of his 14 passes for 33 yards.

Walker threw the ball 34 times, completing 24 of those passes for 258 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions in his only previous professional start against Lions back in Week 11 of the 2020 season. While Walker himself wasn’t much of a star in that game, he did earn a win and, perhaps more importantly, was focused on getting the ball to his top three receivers who at the time were D.J. Moore (11 targets) , Robby Anderson (nine targets ) and Curtis Samuel (10 targets). Walker was actually quite effective at getting the ball to those receivers as they all caught at least seven passes on the day, with Moore leading the way with 127 receiving yards.

It’s hard to be very excited about the Panthers passing game with a relative-unknown at quarterback, but at least we know that Walker has identified Moore and Anderson as players to key in on in the passing game. With Samuel gone and no other receiver yet stepping up as a consistent third option, look for Christian McCaffrey to play a bigger role in the passing game.

Moore has struggled to produce much since his early season dominance, having failed to reach even 15 PPR points in five consecutive games now. Still, the targets he’s seeing remain relatively strong as he’s been targeted an average of nine targets per game in those five contests.

With the Panthers matching up against perhaps the NFL’s best team, the Cardinals, there’s a real possibility that this game could get out of hand on the scoreboard. That would, of course, possibly lead to more pass attempts than normal for the Carolina offense despite the fact that they’re starting a much less experienced quarterback. We should still be avoiding a player like Walker for fantasy, but there’s enough of a potential for another 10-target game for Moore that we should remain confident that he’ll be a quality low-end WR2 this week.

Anderson, on the other hand, should not be in serious fantasy consideration at this time. He had been seeing some decent target numbers from Weeks 4 through 7, but he’s since been held to just three and one target over his past two games. Certainly there’s a possibility that Walker could end up looking Anderson’s way more often than Darnold did, but this has not been a good enough passing game to support even one fantasy-relevant receiver most weeks, let alone two.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: Christian McCaffrey returned in Week 9 after missing five games and although he was certainly on something of a “pitch count” from a snaps standpoint, he certainly was utilized heavily when he was on the field. McCaffrey touched the ball 18 times in the 29 snaps he played. What this should tell us is that, while the Panthers were a bit careful with him, we should be expecting that he has returned to serious RB1 overall status. McCaffrey is as game script independent as any player in the league and we shouldn’t be particularly concerned that he’s facing a Cardinals defense that has conceded the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.

The Cardinals have done a great job at containing opposing runners on the ground this year, but where they’ve struggled a bit is against pass catching backs. They allowed 10 receptions to 49ers running backs this past week, seven to Packers running backs in Week 8, and eight receptions to Texans running backs in Week 7.

Given the relative inexperience of Walker, expect that the Panthers will lean heavily upon McCaffrey again this week. If the game remains relatively close on the scoreboard, expect McCaffrey to see plenty of carries out of the backfield. But if (and likely when) the Panthers fall behind by multiple scores, we should see McCaffrey utilized heavily in the passing game. Contrary to perhaps what is popular opinion for fantasy running backs, McCaffrey is the type of player who can truly thrive in this situation and he should be looked at as a truly elite option this week despite what looks like a potentially difficult matchup on paper.

Value Meter:
RB1: Christian McCaffrey
WR2: D.J. Moore (low end)
Bench: P.J. Walker, Chuba Hubbard, Ameer Abdullah, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr., Ian Thomas

Passing Game Thoughts: An ankle injury kept Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray sidelined in Week 9 alongside his top two wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green. This led to veteran Colt McCoy getting the start on the road against the 49ers. It would’ve been difficult to expect much from the Cardinals offense without their star players, but McCoy actually performed quite well, completing 22 of his 26 pass attempts for 249 yards and a touchdown.

As of Thursday, neither Murray nor Hopkins has practiced heading toward their Week 10 matchup against the Panthers. While neither player has to practice in order to start, the Cardinals offense performed well enough without them that there’s a real chance that the team will opt to give the duo another week to get healthy here in Week 10. If that happens, look for McCoy to start again with A.J. Green, Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore (neck) lead the way as the team’s top three receivers.

Kirk (six receptions) and Moore (five receptions) both caught every pass that came their way from McCoy in Week 9, but with Green expected back from the COVID list here in Week 10, there’s a good chance that they’ll both take a back seat to the veteran in the targets department. Still, assuming that Hopkins is out, there’s reason to believe that all three of these receivers could be viable WR3/Flex options against the Panthers here in Week 10.

The Panthers have been excellent against opposing wide receivers in 2021, but if there’s a place they’ve struggled, it’s been against outside receivers. Minnesota’s Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, who both play primarily outside, both turned in solid performances against the Panthers, as did New York’s Corey Davis and Houston’s Brandin Cooks. Meanwhile, Carolina has been excellent against opposing slot receivers, including holding Dallas’ CeeDee Lamb to just two catches for 13 yards back in Week 4. This information could be useful as we attempt to identify where the Cardinals’ pass attempts are likely to go, and we can assume that Rondale Moore will continue to primarily play out of the slot when he’s on the field. With that information, we can assume that Moore will likely be taken away by the Carolina defense, leaving Green and Kirk as the stronger plays this week.

If Hopkins does return, look for him to be limited in snaps, making him a WR3 this week and bumping both Kirk and Green down to being just PPR Flex options.

Assuming Murray is out again this week, McCoy should probably remain on fantasy benches. If Murray does play, look for him to be more of a low-end QB1 this week as opposed to the high-end option we’re used to.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: Perhaps the most fantasy-relevant injury of Week 9 happened in the Cardinals backfield when Chase Edmonds was knocked out of the game, leading to a full workload for James Conner, who delivered with an absolutely monster performance against an overwhelmed 49ers defense. Edmonds has since been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain which will keep him out for at least a few weeks.

The Cardinals have not made and significant moves involving their backfield this week, so we should expect another heavy workload for Conner, who has been one of the league’s most productive fantasy players primarily due to his incredible touchdown production. Conner has already scored 11 touchdowns this season and now he’s likely going to get even more work, so it’s time to start talking about him as a potential top-12 weekly fantasy running back.

Conner’s first start will come in what is a tough on-paper matchup against the Panthers. Carolina has given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs so far this season. On the bright side, they have given up two 140-yard rushing days already, to Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook. While Conner may not be quite on that level, he’s been so heavily utilized, particularly near the end zone, that he should still be considered a relatively strong play this week.

We should expect that Conner sees the majority of the work on the ground, but there is still another player who should be looked at a bit from a fantasy standpoint. Eno Benjamin stepped in and saw nine carries in Week 9, including scoring a touchdown, once Edmonds went out. Benjamin is a somewhat similar player to Edmonds in terms of skill set and was a decent pass catcher in college, so there’s a possibility that he ends up playing more than some would expect on the surface. He’s a risky start, but there are so many injuries at running back right now that some people may be looking for a one-week fill-in and Benjamin could fit that bill in PPR formats.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kyler Murray (low end)
RB1: James Conner (low end)
WR3: DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green (if Hopkins is out)
TE1: Zach Ertz (low end)
Flex: Eno Benjamin (low end), Christian Kirk
Bench: Rondale Moore, Antoine Wesley

Prediction: Cardinals 31, Panthers 20 ^ Top

Eagles at Broncos - (Caron)
Line: DEN -2.5
Total: 45.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Jalen Hurts is truly the ultimate example of a quarterback who is great for fantasy football even though he’s been pretty bad from a real-life standpoint. Hurts has now been held to fewer than 200 passing yards in four of his past five games, throwing for a total of just four touchdown passes over that stretch. However, he’s still been productive enough as a fantasy player, primarily due to his rushing floor, and he’s still delivered an average of nearly 20 fantasy points per game over that stretch. Those are elite numbers and they’re happening when he’s undoubtedly struggling as a passer. Hurts’ rushing ability is second only to Lamar Jackson and he’s easily a top-half QB1 for fantasy.

This week Hurts and the Eagles will head to Denver to face a Broncos defense that has one of the best secondaries in the league. In fact, they’ve given up the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. It’s worth noting that the Broncos haven’t yet allowed an opposing quarterback to rush for even 30 yards in a game this season and that’s despite the fact that they’ve faced some of the league’s more mobile quarterbacks including Daniel Jones, Trevor Lawrence, Taylor Heinicke and even Lamar Jackson. Still, Hurts runs so often that he’s rushed for at least 30 yards in every game this season and he’s been over 60 yards in five games, including three straight leading into this week’s contest. Look for him to lean heavily on running yet again and while this isn’t a great matchup, he needs to remain in most fantasy lineups.

Unfortunately, Hurts’ receivers haven’t been very productive. DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins have just one game of more than six targets between the three of them through the past four weeks. That’s just not enough volume to be fantasy relevant most weeks. The Broncos have only given up two 100-yard days to an opposing wide receiver and only one wide receiver (Dallas’ Malik Turner) has scored multiple touchdowns against them. Smith is a decent WR2/WR3 most weeks, but this is a particularly difficult matchup so we’re going to slide him down into Flex territory for this one.

Tight end Dallas Goedert hasn’t yet “popped” in a game since the Eagles moved Zach Ertz, but the numbers indicate that more production should be coming at some point. He’s been fine, turning in three 12-plus-point PPR fantasy days over his past five contests, but so there’s a good possibility that you don’t have a better option, but it’s worth noting that the Broncos have locked down opposing tight ends this season so this isn’t a great situation.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: With Miles Sanders still sidelined, the Eagles backfield has turned into a full blown committee. Boston Scott led the way in snaps in both Week 8 and Week 9, with Jordan Howard and Kenneth Gainwell both seeing some playing time as well. Perhaps most interestingly, though, it’s been Howard who’s led the team in carries since Sanders went out, and he’s now scored three rushing touchdowns over the past three weeks. We initially figured that we’d see some additional playing time for Gainwell, but that really hasn’t come to fruition as the back has not seen a significant uptick in snaps or touches. What’s perhaps most interesting is that, after catching a pass in each of his first seven games, Gainwell has since failed to catch even one target in either of the two games that Sanders has missed. This has meant that Gainwell’s fantasy value has been practically nonexistent, while Howard has become a viable weekly RB2.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jalen Hurts
RB2: Jordan Howard
TE1: Dallas Goedert (low end)
Flex: DeVonta Smith
Bench: Boston Scott, Kenneth Gainwell, Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins

Passing Game Thoughts: It’s hard to view Teddy Bridgewater as anything more than a low-end bye week fill-in, but the truth is that the Broncos quarterback has actually turned in five 18-plus point fantasy days already this season which has allowed him to be a decent streaming option. This week he’ll face an Eagles defense that has conceded multiple touchdown passes in five contests, including a 356-yard, two passing touchdown performance to Justin Herbert this past week. The Eagles haven’t been terrible against quarterbacks, but given the other streaming options, Bridgewater might very well be the best available option in a lot of leagues.

Jerry Jeudy has been Bridgewater’s most-targeted receiver since returning from injury as he’s now seen 12 targets over his past two games. Fellow receiver Tim Patrick was the star this past week, but Patrick Has only been targeted more than six times in a game once this season, so he remains a very low upside option most weeks. Courtland Sutton had been the Broncos’ top receiver while Jeudy was out, but has since taken a big step back corresponding with Jeudy’s return, as he’s been targeted just six total times over the past two weeks. Sutton had averaged nearly nine targets per game in the six contests that Jeudy missed. We have to assume that better days are on the horizon for Sutton, but the Broncos are just not a high volume passing game to begin with and it’s hard to believe that they’re going to be able to support multiple productive fantasy wide receivers unless they end up being in more shootouts or blowouts. This means that Sutton needs to be viewed as more of a low-end WR3 with Jeudy being high-end WR3 and Patrick fitting in as a Flex.

Tight end Noah Fant missed Week 9’s contest against the Cowboys after being placed on the COVID list, but he’s been activated and is expected to play this weekend against the Eagles. This will mean that Albert Okwuegbunam should see a big drop off in playing time and Fant will again become a viable TE1. Fant has quietly averaged nearly seven targets per game this season and while he has only turned in one really big week thus far, he’s been a reliable enough TE1 when he’s been on the field. This week he’s a sneaky solid TE1 given that he’ll be facing a Philadelphia defense that has conceded more points to opposing tight ends than any other team in the league this season.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: The duo of Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams continues to be excellent from an NFL standpoint, but there’s just not quite enough volume to go around for both of them to be great fantasy options. Instead, we’re stuck with one of the two being mediocre most weeks with the other one being a decent enough RB2 - it’s just unfortunate that there’s really no way of figuring out which one will be which in a given week. Because of this, we have to rank both of them as low-end RB2/Flex plays, even against an Eagles defense that ranks in the bottom half in the league at shutting down opposing running backs.

Value Meter:
QB2: Teddy Bridgewater (high end)
RB2: Melvin Gordon
WR3: Jerry Jeudy (high end), Courtland Sutton (low end)
TE1: Noah Fant
Flex: Javonte Williams, Tim Patrick
Bench: Albert Okwuegbunam

Prediction: Broncos 24, Eagles 20 ^ Top

Seahawks @ Packers - (Green)
Line: GB -3.5
Total: 49.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Coming off their bye, the Seahawks are set to welcome back Russell Wilson (finger) from a three-game absence after undergoing finger surgery. In his four full games this season, Wilson averaged 261 yards and 2.25 TDs as the Seahawks continued their long-standing philosophy of leaning on the running game. Expect to see that approach this Sunday as well in an effort to protect their defense and keep the ball away from Aaron Rodgers. While that doesn’t preclude Wilson from QB1 production, just know it’s a relatively narrow path to get there.

Wilson’s return should provide a boost for DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett as Seattle’s offense was even more buttoned up with Geno Smith at the helm. In their four games together, Metcalf averaged five catches, 71 yards and 0.75 TDs per game. Lockett had very similar production (5-83-0.75) but is always the more mercurial option; to that point he has topped 100 yards receiving three times this year and finished with less than 40 yards in four of the other five games.

Even with Eric Stokes (knee) injuring his knee in warm-ups last Sunday and joining Jaire Alexander (shoulder) on the sidelines, the Packers still held Patrick Mahomes to a career low in passing yards. They rank seventh in the NFL against the pass (210.4 per game) amid loads of key injuries and will present a stiff test for the returning Wilson. Metcalf is a solid WR2 while Lockett is a risk/reward selection as your second or third receiver.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: While Wilson is the marquee return, Chris Carson (neck) could also be back. While he’s officially back at practice, the Seahawks still have 21 days to activate Carson from IR, so it’s far from a given that he’ll suit up in Week 10. If he does, he’s best deployed as an RB3 since they’re unlikely to overwork him. Alex Collins (groin) is also banged up. He worked as the de facto top back with Carson out but figures to slide back down the depth chart. He’d be a flex play as the primary and of no interest as the reserve. Green Bay has been up and down against the run, ranking 16th at 110.8 yards allowed per game.

Value Meter:
QB2: Russell Wilson
RB3: Chris Carson (IR-neck)
Flex: Alex Collins (inj-groin)
WR2: DK Metcalf
WR2/WR3: Tyler Lockett

Passing Game Thoughts: With Aaron Rodgers (illness) on the Reserve/COVID list last Sunday, Jordan Love stepped in and made his first NFL start. The results were mixed with the second-year pro looking composed at times and shaky at others. Rodgers looks to be on track to clear the NFL’s COVID protocol on Saturday. If that happens, he’ll be the starter. If there are any setbacks, Love would get the call. Rodgers hasn’t put up huge numbers this season, but obviously the offense is much more dangerous when he’s at the helm. Rodgers could be a low-end QB1 this Sunday, whereas Love should be kept away from fantasy lineups.

With Robert Tonyan (knee) lost for the year, Davante Adams (6-42-0) is the only fantasy option to consider among Green Bay’s pass catchers right now. Love targeted Adams 14 times last Sunday, proving he learned something from No. 12, and even though they were not at the same page at times, Adams remains a must-start option. Beyond that, the player to watch is Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who returned from IR last week. MVS had his best game in Week 3 (4-59-1) before pulling his hamstring, and he might be worth a speculative addition if you’re hunting for treasure on the waiver wire.

Much like last year, Seattle started off terribly defensively but has since trended up, though a quick glance at the quarterbacks they’ve faced immediately calls the legitimacy of that improvement into question. For the year they still rank 28th against the pass at 273.9 yards per game, and this will be their stiffest test since Week 5, assuming Rodgers takes the field.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: For as effective as the tandem of Aaron Jones (12-53-0) and AJ Dillon (8-46-0 as a runner, 4-44-0 as a receiver) was last Sunday, it’s surprising that they didn’t see the ball more often with Love under center. The Packers like to keep a lid on Jones’ workload to be sure, but under the circumstances it still feels odd. If Rodgers does indeed return you can pencil Jones in as an RB1 and Dillon as a flex against Seattle and their 25th-ranked run defense (127.6 yards per game). With Love, you might elevate Dillon to RB3 status and drop Jones down to RB2.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers (inj-illness)
RB1: Aaron Jones
Flex: AJ Dillon
WR1: Davante Adams
Bench: Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Prediction: Packers 31, Seahawks 23 ^ Top

Chiefs at Raiders - (Caron)
Line: KC -2.5
Total: 52.5

Passing Game Thoughts: It’s now been three weeks in a row that Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes disappointed fantasy owners, as he’s thrown for just two total touchdowns over that span. It’s also been five weeks since he exceeded two touchdowns in a game. So, what’s wrong with the Kansas City offense? Well, for starters, and perhaps most importantly, their deep ball success rate has been terrible since their Week 5 loss to the Bills. Some have suggested that the Bills created a bit of a “blueprint” for stopping the Chiefs offense and other teams picked up on it fairly quickly and have been implementing things they learned from Buffalo. This has led to a significant decrease in passing game success overall. Nevertheless, Mahomes’ upside means that he has to remain a fantasy QB1. He’s not a locked-in elite option as he has been for a few years now, but he’s still good enough that you’re not going to want to bench him for someone you pick up off of waivers.

Even through Mahomes’ struggles, wide receiver Tyreek Hill has continued to see an extremely heavy target share which has allowed him to remain a strong fantasy producer. Only this past week, against the Packers, was Hill truly kept in check as he caught just four passes for 37 yards while failing to get into the end zone. Even then, the Chiefs made it a priority to at least attempt to get him the ball as he was targeted 11 times on the day. Prior to that disappointing output, Hill had been averaging a ridiculous 25 PPR fantasy points per game over his previous five contests. One thing that’s a bit concerning is that the Raiders have quietly been one of the league’s best defenses in taking away deep passes. That’s obviously Hill’s specialty, but he’s also capable of a lot more than that so don’t be too alarmed. It’s sometimes easy to overreact, but Hill has to remain a firm WR1 for fantasy until we see a long stretch where he’s not seeing such a heavy target share.

Tight end Travis Kelce remains the top producer at his position and while his output hasn’t been gigantic in recent weeks, he, too, has remained a consistent top producer. Kelce has scored at least 13 PPR fantasy points in all but two games this season, including six games of 17 or more points. To put that in perspective, the next best tight end - Baltimore’s Mark Andrews - has scored 13 or more PPR points in just three contests and he’s delivered just one game with 17 or more fantasy points. Needless to say, the gap between Kelce and the rest of the field remains a chasm and he should be in your lineup and ranked as the fantasy TE1 as long as he’s healthy.

LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Kansas City running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire returned to practice on Wednesday and reports are that he looked great in his first work after spending the past four weeks sidelined with a knee injury. The team has remained vague about when he might actually return to live game action, but there is indeed a chance that he suits up for Sunday’s game against the Raiders. If he does, Edwards-Helaire would likely be part of a committee backfield with at least Darrel Williams and perhaps still some Derrick Gore. If they’re willing to risk him being on the field at all, though, we have to assume that the team is confident enough in his health that they’re willing to give him a decent number of snaps that he would immediately be viable again for fantasy purposes. Edwards-Helaire disappointed a bit early in the season, but he saw at least 13 carries in every game prior to getting injured in Week 5 and that was enough to make him fantasy relevant in all but one contest.

Darrel Williams has filled in reasonably well, including catching at least three passes in every game since becoming the starter. While Edwards-Helaire came into the NFL touted as one of the best pass catching backs we’ve seen in years, he hasn’t lived up to the hype in that regard in Kansas City and he had actually been losing a decent amount of passing game work for Williams over the past two seasons. We have to assume that this will continue even if Edwards-Helaire is back on the field, so Williams should continue to be at least somewhat viable for fantasy at least for the next couple of weeks. If he’s the starter, look for Williams to continue to be a low-end RB2/Flex with high-end RB2 upside if the Chiefs offense can get things back on track.

If Edwards-Helaire doesn’t play, Derrick Gore would likely play the complementary role to Williams, but it’s worth considering that his carries dropped from 11 in Week 8 to just three in Week 9. He’s not fantasy viable at the moment.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes
RB2: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams (if Edwards-Helaire is out)
WR1: Tyreek Hill
TE1: Travis Kelce
Flex: Darrel Williams (if Edwards-Helaire plays / PPR only)
Bench: Derrick Gore, Mecole Hardman, Josh Gordon, Byron Pringle, Demarcus Robinson

Passing Game Thoughts: The Raiders were without field stretching specialist Henry Ruggs III for the first time this past week and things did not look great for the passing game. Although Carr threw for 296 yards on the day, it was on a surprisingly high 46 pass attempts as the team scored just 16 points on the day against a bad New York Giants team. Carr ‘s 296 yards marked the sixth time he’s reached at least that amount this season so the floor has been there, but he remains a relatively low ceiling option primarily because he doesn’t have the mobility to compete with many of the other top quarterbacks. Still, Carr is a great QB2 in fantasy leagues and he could be a low-end QB1 this week in what should be a good matchup against a bad Chiefs defense. Kansas City has given up the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season, including a 30-plus point day in half of their games.

The Raiders did also make a move to at least somewhat replace Ruggs as they acquired veteran DeSean Jackson. Jackson has made a career of being one of the league’s best field stretchers and while he himself doesn’t always produce big numbers, Jackson’s presence has been shown to help just about every other player in the offenses he’s been part of throughout his career. This should mean good things for wide receiver Bryan Edwards, but more importantly for tight end Darren Waller. Waller was targeted 11 times in Week 9 - the most he had seen since his huge Week 1 performance - and he also produced his second-best fantasy game of the season against the Giants. This heavy target share is a good sign and he should continue to be the team’s best fantasy weapon, along with being an elite fantasy producer at the tight end position.

Edwards didn’t cost much in fantasy drafts so it’s hard to be too disappointed in him, but the opportunity he’s had to play significant snaps should have led to more targets and more fantasy points than we’ve seen this season. Edwards had yet to reach even 14 PPR fantasy points in a single game prior to Week 9, but some had high hopes for him against the Giants given that he was really the only outside weapon that had any production at all this season. Unfortunately, Edwards completely collapsed, catching zero passes on just four targets despite playing the second-most snaps on the team (slightly behind Zay Jones). Although he was a decent prospect coming into the NFL, Edwards simply hasn’t put it together enough to be considered a viable fantasy starter for the time being.

Speaking of Zay Jones, the second round NFL Draft pick by the Buffalo Bills finally saw significant playing time in Week 9 after Ruggs was released by the Raiders. Jones led all Raiders wide receivers in snaps and was targeted four times, although he caught just one pass for 20 yards. Expect that he will split some playing time with Jackson this week, however, so neither of those receivers should be considered in your lineup either, until we get a better idea of what the team plans on doing in regards to usage.

The only Raiders wide receiver who should be in any lineups right now is Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow has been the team’s best PPR wide receiver this season and he continued to produce this past week when he caught seven passes for 49 yards and a touchdown while tying a season-high of nine targets. Renfrow has been targeted at least five times in every game this season and his low average target depth makes him a good bet to catch most of the passes that come his way, although it does limit his upside. Renfrow has been between 10 to 19 PPR fantasy points in all but one game, meaning that he should be looked at as a high-end WR3 for fantasy. Chiefs standout defensive back L'Jarius Sneed primarily covers the opposing offense’s slot receiver and will likely be on Renfrow quite a bit, so don’t expect Renfrow to break out in this one, but he should still provide enough production to not be disappointing in this one.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: Like Renfrow, Josh Jacobs has been this season’s “consistent, but not spectacular” fantasy running back and he just so happens to also play for the Raiders. Jacobs has delivered between 10 to 17 PPR fantasy points in every game he’s played this season. He’s done it primarily by scoring touchdowns, but Jacobs has also been catching more passes than he had in the past which has helped boost his floor, given that his rushing numbers have been bad on a per-carry basis as he’s averaged just 3.8 yards per attempt.

Jacobs has quietly been conceding about half of his snaps to Kenyan Drake in recent weeks so that, too, has been limiting his upside. Drake has only carried the ball more than eight times in one game this season, but he’s now caught at least five passes in three games. He’s seemingly become the team’s top pass catching back, which is notable especially in a game like the one we’ll have in Week 10 against the Chiefs, which could easily turn into a shootout. If it does, expect Drake and Jacobs to again play about an equal number of snaps, which should allow them to both be startable for fantasy purposes.

Value Meter:
QB2: Derek Carr (high end)
RB2: Josh Jacobs
WR3: Hunter Renfrow
TE1: Darren Waller
Flex: Kenyan Drake
Bench: Bryan Edwards, Zay Jones, DeSean Jackson

Prediction: Chiefs 30, Raiders 24 ^ Top

Rams at 49ers - (Caron)
Line: LAR -4.0
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Rumors broke Thursday evening that the Rams are finalizing paperwork to bring in former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but the star pass catcher will likely be inactive - or limited - for Monday night’s game against the 49ers. For this week only, expect that the Rams will continue to roll with what has already been a very good group of receivers this season, led by Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson.

Kupp has been the WR1 for fantasy since all the way back in Week 1 and he’s only been extending his lead ever since. He’s averaging a ridiculous 26 PPR fantasy points per game, which is nearly six more than the next-best player at the position (Deebo Samuel). To say that he’s been exceptional this season would be an understatement. He’s been so good, so reliable that there’s really no other player who could be considered ahead of him on the weekly rankings as we head into Week 10’s matchup with San Francisco.

Woods has also been heating up as of late, having now turned in three straight games of 15 or more PPR fantasy points. He hasn’t seen nearly the target share that Cupp has throughout the year, but Woods has now been targeted 25 times over his past three games, along with carrying the ball four times through that stretch, so there’s plenty of reason to believe that he’s going to continue to be productive against San Francisco. The 49ers have been very good against opposing wide receivers as a whole this season, but they’ve actually given up some decent days to outside wide receivers. Davante Adams, Marques Valdes-Scantling, DK Metcalf, DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Pittman Jr. have all scored against the 49ers, so there’s some potential for Woods to get back into the end zone here in Week 10.

Second-year wide receiver Van Jefferson will likely be the odd man out once Beckham gets up to speed, but he should continue to play significant snaps here in Week 10. While he hasn’t been producing huge numbers with the opportunities he’s had, Jefferson has now been targeted at least six times in three consecutive games which does make him a potential Flex option in this game.

Tight end Tyler Higbee continues to see a massive amount of playing time, but the fantasy production just has not been there. He’s failed to reach even 12 PPR fantasy points in all but one game this season and he’s now outside the top 24 at the position in non-PPR points per game at the position. Higbee is very much a PPR-only option for now, but it’s worth considering that he did see a season-high 10 targets in Los Angeles’ Week 9 loss to the Titans. That was a weird game script, though, with the Rams falling behind by multiple scores early which really caused them to lean heavily on their passing game in the second half. Higbee is a startable TE just given how bad the position is overall, but he’s a less-than-sexy option for sure.

Stafford is dealing with an ankle injury that he’s expected to play through this week and while he’s coming off of his worst fantasy game of the season this past week, it’s worth considering that the Rams are truly all-in right now with this passing game now that they’ve added Odell Beckham Jr. to the mix. There isn’t a team in the league that’s deeper with pass catching weapons than the Rams and Stafford has already been an elite option this season, so look for him to continue to sling the ball at a high level this week against what has been a bad San Francisco defense.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: You wouldn’t think this based on the personnel they have, but the 49ers have actually been quite mediocre against opposing running backs thus far in 2021. In fact, following the huge day they gave up to James Conner this past week, the 49ers rank in the bottom-12 of the league in per-game standard-scoring fantasy points conceded to opposing backs this season.

San Francisco now has the task of going up against Los Angeles’ Darrell Henderson who has been one of the biggest fantasy surprises of the season. Henderson injured his ankle in the Rams’ Week 9 loss to the Titans and although he came back onto the field later in the game, he was unable to salvage what was his worst fantasy game of the season. Nevertheless, Henderson still sits inside RB1 range in both PPR and non-PPR scoring this season and he looks like a good bet to add to his numbers here against what has been a bad 49ers run defense. He should be looked at as a low-end RB1 this week given that we’re not exactly certain how healthy his ankle is.

If Henderson does suffer any sort of a setback between now and game night then we’d see the Rams turn to Sony Michel, but otherwise Michel should be on fantasy benches given his lack of usage in the passing game and Henderson’s heavy usage near the goal line.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford
RB1: Darrell Henderson (low end)
WR1: Cooper Kupp (high end)
WR2: Robert Woods
Flex: Van Jefferson
TE1: Tyler Higbee (low end)
Bench: Sony Michel, Odell Beckham Jr., Tutu Atwell

Passing Game Thoughts: It’s been an ugly NFL season overall for 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but he’s actually been fairly decent from a fantasy standpoint in most of his games. Garoppolo got injured in the 49ers’ Week 4 loss to the Seahawks so we won’t count that game, but he’s otherwise scored at least 14 fantasy points in five of his other six starts. Unfortunately this week he’ll face a Rams defense that has been quite good against opposing quarterbacks, having not yet given up any games of more than two passing touchdowns. They also held Ryan Tannehill to just 143 passing yards this past week so Garoppolo will need to step up in a big way if he’s going to be anything more than a low-end QB2.

While Garoppolo isn’t really interesting for fantasy, he actually has three weapons that could all be considered for your lineups this week. Tight end George Kittle comes first as a must-start as he finally made his return to the field this past week after missing four weeks. Kittle immediately made his presence felt, catching six of the eight passes that game his way against the Cardinals for 101 yards and a touchdown. While he had been somewhat disappointing to start the season, these are the kinds of games that Kittle can produce and very few other tight ends can match. He’s an elite fantasy option this week - and every week - going forward, as long as he’s healthy.

Deebo Samuel has been a mega-stud for fantasy purposes this season and he’s now scored double-digit PPR fantasy points in every game thus far while averaging over 20 PPR points per game. Samuel has been targeted at least eight times in every game, making him one of the most reliable players in all of fantasy football this season. He might end up seeing more attention from Jalen Ramsey than he has in the past, but Samuel should continue to be targeted heavily enough that he’ll be at least a high-end WR2.

If you’re looking for a bye week replacement or someone who could break out (again) down the stretch this season, perhaps Brandon Aiyuk could be an option for your fantasy squad. Aiyuk has been in the Shanahan dog house but was targeted a season-high eight times this past week against the Cardinals. He converted six of those receptions into 89 yards and a touchdown and he looked good in doing so, so don’t be surprised if he’s finally worked his way back into being an important part of the 49ers offense. San Francisco needs to pull out all the stops if they hope to make a run at the playoffs this season and Aiyuk is one of the players who could absolutely be a difference maker for them. He’s only a Flex option until we see more, but the signs are looking good.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: News broke this past Sunday morning that the 49ers were activating Jeff Wilson from the PUP list which immediately led to a flurry of transactions to add him throughout the fantasy football world. As it turned out, though, the 49ers are seemingly content with sticking with rookie Elijah Mitchell - and for good reason. Mitchell has averaged an impressive 5.3 yards per carry and while he’s been less than stellar in the passing game, his quick, intense rushing style has been an important part of any of the successes that the 49ers have had as a whole on offense here in 2021.

While JaMycal Hasty will likely continue to see plenty of passing down work, Mitchell actually saw a notable uptick in usage in that category this past week when he caught a season high five passes for 43 yards. Mitchell has now touched the ball at least 13 times in all but one game that he’s been active, so that type of usage alone cannot be overlooked. The Rams are a decent enough run defense that we won’t likely see a huge game from Mitchell, but he should be good enough that he’ll turn in an RB2 day.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jimmy Garoppolo (Iow end)
RB2: Elijah Mitchell
WR2: Deebo Samuel (high end)
TE1: George Kittle
Flex: Brandon Aiyuk
Bench: JaMycal Hasty, Jeff Wilson, Trey Sermon

Prediction: Rams 30, 49ers 20 ^ Top