As fantasy playoffs draw near and with the bye weeks about to end, this is a pivotal time for most owners.
There is no tinkering or experimentation at this point. Every move will prove to be critical and you can’t mess around anymore. You have to be shrewd on the waiver wire while being very calculative when making lineup decisions.
So, in this slideshow I will give out some last-minute advice for each position as we head into Week 10.
With Aaron Rodgers and Robert Griffin III on a bye this week, some owners may find themselves in a pinch. Here are some recommend starts in their stead.
- While I don’t like the cross-country trek for Carson Palmer and the Raiders, do realize, though, he will be without the services of Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson. So, he’ll have to pass in this game. Besides, the Ravens are 22nd against the pass, allowing 246.8 passing yards per game.
- Although Eli Manning is struggling at the moment, he is due for course correction and it could start this week in Cincinnati. The Bengals allow 240.4 passing yards per game and you can't keep a two-time Super Bowl MVP down for too long.
- While Joe Flacco has proven an erratic quarterback, you can at least trust him at home. This week Flacco and the Ravens will welcome the Raiders to Baltimore. So far this year, Flacco has thrown for 1,271 yards with seven touchdowns in four home contests.
- Looking for a desperation play? Well look no further than Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill is quickly maturing into a solid NFL quarterback and with a home matchup against the Titans (who allow 272.7 passing yards per game and are tied for the most touchdowns-20-allowed), Tannehill should produce for owners who could use a bye-week fill-in.
- Stay clear of both Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub this week, as both signal callers will be matched up against each other in a game where defense should rule the roost.
The only significant rushers impacted by the byes this week are Trent Richardson and Alfred Morris. Several other star running backs (Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren Sproles) are on the mend and this could be a week you could use useful stats from some of your under-performing studs.
- Start Michael Turner with confidence. Going up against the Saints—in a game that figures to be a shootout—Turner should get his numbers against an atrocious defense. The Saints allow the most rushing yards per game (176.5) and are tied for fourth with the most rushing touchdowns allowed (9).
- Ditto for Stevan Ridley. The game between the Patriots and the Bills should be no contest and expect Ridley to get a good bulk of carries against a Bills’ rush defense that allows 169.5 rushing yards per game (31st in the league). Oh, and the Bills lead the league in rushing touchdowns allowed (14).
- Willis McGahee should have himself quite the productive afternoon on Sunday. McGahee and the Broncos will be facing off against the Panthers, who allow 119 rushing yards per game (20th in the league). Expect McGahee to get touches early and often.
- Reggie Bush has been in a slump of late (not rushing for over 60 yards in a game in his last four contests), but the Titans should be the antidote to get him going. After all, the Titans allow 141.6 rushing yards per game (30th in the league) while also giving up nine touchdowns so far on the season.
- Looking for a stealth play at running back, then perhaps you should turn to Pierre Thomas. With Sproles out, Thomas may get a lot of touches when going up against the Falcons on Sunday. The Falcons are mediocre against the run (127.5 rushing yards allowed per game) and with him being an active participant in the Saints’ passing game, Thomas could be in line for his best day yet.
This could be a banner week for receivers, as only Larry Fitzgerald and the Packers' trio of Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb being the only significant receivers who will be idle this week. Here are some nuggets to chew on.
- You can’t get a much more different defensive unit than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We’re talking about a team that is first against the rush (77.3 rushing yards allowed per game) while being last against the pass (321.1 passing yards allowed per game). Expect Philip Rivers to sling it on Sunday and that could make Malcom Floyd a great play this weekend.
- If you find yourself scraping the bottom of the barrel for receivers, either of the Titans’ trio of pass-catchers (Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Kendall Wright) could be good plays this week. The Dolphins (the Titans’ opponent), much like the Bucs, are stout against the run (83.9 rushing yards allowed per game) but are porous against the pass (298.3 passing yards allowed per game)..So expect Jake Locker, who is returning this week, to try to get the pass game going.
- Stevie Johnson has yet to eclipse the 100-yard receiving mark this season. This could be the week he achieves it, though. Johnson and the Bills will be taking on a Patriots' squad that has given up, on average, 293.3 receiving yards per game (27th in the league). With the Patriots likely to build a comfortable lead in this game there is a good chance Ryan Fitzpatrick will air it out and that bodes well for Johnson.
- If you want a solid flex play that is a bit under the radar, then try Brian Hartline for size. Hartline and the Dolphins will be facing a Titans’ squad that is permitting 282.7 receiving yards per game while also giving up 20 passing touchdowns (tied for the most in the league)
- Considering Antonio Brown will likely be out for the Steelers and combining that with the fact that the Chiefs (the Steelers' Monday night opponent) have allowed 17 passing touchdowns (tied for third in the league) so far, that should make Emmanuel Sanders a solid gamble in deep leagues.
No one is going to miss the likes of Jermichael Finley (a huge disappointment), Rob Housler, Ben Watson and Logan Paulsen this week, so the tight end position should also boast some excellent options this week.
- Jermaine Gresham is starting to trend in a positive direction of late. Gresham has averaged 61 receiving yards with two touchdowns in his last six games. Gresham is the type of tight end that can exploit a weak Giants’ secondary.
- Greg Olsen can be a sneaky play this week. The Broncos have been exposed by tight ends this year, allowing the third-most touchdowns to the position this year. Olsen is due for a big game sooner or later.
- As I mentioned before, the Dolphins’ pass defense leaves a lot to be desired and that could make Jared Cook a solid sleeper this week. The same can be said about the Bills’ Scott Chandler, who will be going up against an inconsistent Patriots’ secondary.
- A deep sleeper to keep your eyes on is Anthony Fasano. Fasano will be going up a Titans’ squad that has allowed seven touchdowns to tight ends this year.
Ah, the lonesome kicker. Here are five kickers who have thrived in the last couple of weeks.
- Lawrence Tynes has double-digit fantasy points in four out of his last five games and only three times this year has Tynes had less than 10 fantasy points. And there should be plenty of kicking opportunities in Cincinnati this week.
- There should be ample opportunities for Matt Bryant to put points on the board this week when the Falcons tangle with the Saints. In his last three games, Bryant has surpassed 13 fantasy points.
- Ryan Succop is tied for the fourth-most fantasy points (24.5) by a kicker in the last three weeks and that includes a bye. With the Chiefs stalling on most scoring opportunities, Succop is not such a bad play these days.
- Tied with Succop for the fourth-most fantasy points by a kicker in the last three weeks is Dan Carpenter. The Dolphins, too, often stall in the red zone and Carpenter has been solid in the last couple of weeks. Carpenter is 12-16 in field goal opportunities this year but is 5-6 in his last three games.
- Another unheralded kicker (aren’t they all?) that is kicking well is the Panthers’ Justin Medlock. Medlock has 22.5 fantasy points in his last three games, which is no doubt buoyed by the five field-goal performance he had in Chicago in Week 8. You could do worse for a bye-week replacement.
Not many people are going to miss the Packers', Redskins', Browns' and Cardinals’ defenses this week. However, people are going to miss going up against them.
- The Bears/Texans matchup should be quite the TV affair, as these two units are considered the best in their respective conferences. I can easily see the likes of Arian Foster, Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall struggle this week.
- A must-start this week is the Pittsburgh Steelers unit. The Steelers will face a Chiefs' offense that is third-worst in the league in points per game (16.6).
- Looking for an opportunistic defense? Then the Giants may be your team. The Giants are tied (with the Chicago Bears) for the most interceptions in the league with 17 and with Andy Dalton (who has thrown at least one pick in every game this year) throwing passes on Sunday expect that trend to continue. Plus, you can always count on the Giants' pass rush to make some plays.
- An improving unit not getting much respect lately is the Detroit Lions. They limited the Jaguars to less than 300 yards of total offense last week (with two takeaways) and this week they will face the reeling Vikings. Christian Ponder is struggling mightily of late and the Vikings will probably be down Percy Harvin too. So, this could be a red-letter day for the Lions' defense.
- Seattle—tied for the third-fewest points allowed per game (17.7) this year—at home against the meandering Jets’ offense? Yes, please!
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