Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 10: Last-Minute Advice for Fantasy Owners
With more than two-thirds of the fantasy football regular season over, we are truly in the stretch run.
Whether you're gunning for a first-round bye, trying to stay alive in the playoff race or just playing spoiler, you will have tough decisions to make.
Injuries and changing fortunes of players and teams make our lineup calls a moving target that we must adjust to every week or risk missing out on the prevailing trends around the league. So, what are some of the best last-minute lineup adjustments to make so you can ensure that you'll come out on top in Week 10?
START: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
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Eli Manning hasn't really been "on" since Week 5, but there's good reason to think that he will bounce back in a terrific matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals pass rush has been sporadic, and this week it will be without the team's best safety, Reggie Nelson. Also, Hakeem Nicks is getting healthier, and he seems to have a chip on his shoulder about getting back to his normal place in the box score.
Big brother Peyton was able to notch almost 300 yards and three touchdowns against the Bengals last week; look for little brother to come close to equaling those numbers.
SIT: Matt Schaub, QB, Houston
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Everyone knows how good the Chicago Bears defense has been for fantasy, but even if the unit wasn't getting an interception touchdown in just about every game, it would still be a defense to avoid when you're looking for your starting quarterback in any given week.
Matt Schaub is coming off two straight games with two passing touchdowns and over 250 yards passing, but he is unlikely to make it three straight at Soldier Field this week.
START: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego
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When you're deciding who to plug in at quarterback, the QB facing the defense that has given up the most passing yards per game of any in the NFL is a good place to start. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have also allowed nine passing touchdowns and over 1,000 passing yards in the last three games.
Philip Rivers has actually been more consistent than his disappointed owners would think, with two passing touchdowns in four of the last five games—the only exception being the game played in miserable weather against the Cleveland Browns. With the emergence of street free-agent deep threat Danario Alexander, Rivers could have his best game of the season to date.
SIT: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo
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Ryan Fitzpatrick's four passing touchdowns against the New England Patriots the last time the Buffalo Bills faced them makes him seem like an enticing bye-week fill-in play for Aaron Rodgers or Robert Griffin III. But he has exactly three passing touchdowns in the four games since, including goose eggs in three of the four contests.
Fitzpatrick has gone cold, as the Bills have decided to run their offense through their dynamic running back duo of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.
The Patriots are a weak pass defense, and there is a chance that the Bills will open up their passing offense in an attempt to keep pace with Tom Brady. But relying on garbage-time numbers, or what a player will do outside of his comfort zone, is a risky strategy.
START: Isaac Redman, RB, Pittsburgh
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It took until the halfway mark of the season, but Isaac Redman finally turned into the running back the Steelers saw late last season against the Browns and Denver Broncos.
Redman ran for over 100 yards and a score versus the New York Giants last week, and he made many decisive plays when the Steelers called his number on third—and even fourth—down.
Rashard Mendenhall has been limited in practice all week, and while Jonathan Dwyer will be back, Redman told Pittsburgh Tribune-Review beat writer Mark Kaboly that he will start Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have not led for a single play from scrimmage all year, which is a perfect recipe for another big game from Redman.
SIT: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants
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Ahmad Bradshaw broke 200 yards a little over a month ago versus Cleveland, but he has only 169 rushing yards in his last three games. His TD opportunities are down, as Andre Brown is replacing him inside the five. Brown gas two touchdowns in the last two weeks to Bradshaw's zero.
Bradshaw has also failed to catch a pass, or even get a target in the passing game, in the last two contests. Against a Bengals run defense that got Pat Sims back last week and held Willis McGahee to only 66 yards on 23 carries, don't expect Bradshaw to be worth more than a low-end flex start in your lineup.
START: Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta
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Michael "The Burner" Turner has burned fantasy owners as often as he he's helped them, but this should be a good week for the stubborn power back in the autumn of his career.
The New Orleans Saints have not allowed less than 80 yards to a starting running back in any game this season, except for Week 2 versus the Panthers, when they allowed all three Carolina backs to reach the end zone.
Turner is also coming off his second 100-yard game of the season. If you're going to play him again this season, this week is the best time to do it.
SIT: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati
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The Bengals running game has fallen on hard times, which gives us the odd situation of recommending BenJarvus Green-Ellis be placed on your bench—even though he is one of the remaining clear lead backs in a league that continues to move toward running back by committee.
Green-Ellis hasn't broken 70 rushing yards in any of the last four games, and even a good matchup against the Giants this week could be booby-trapped if the Giants' superior passing game stakes them to an early lead. The Law Firm's lack of involvement as a receiver—with only six catches in the last six games—also makes it easier to leave him out of your lineup.
START: Brian Hartline, WR, Miami
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After a three-week drought, Brian Hartline posted his first big fantasy day in a month against the Indianapolis Colts last week. He should keep that momentum going against a pass defense that has allowed over a 72 percent completion percentage.
The Tennessee Titans have also allowed 20 passing touchdowns, which is tied for worst in the league.
Last week, Hartline showed that he and quarterback Ryan Tannehill have their timing routes back in effect, and they hooked up on a deep ball too. This week, both short and long passes should be open for Hartline to post his biggest day since his 253-yard outburst in Week 4.
SIT: Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo
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You would think that facing a bottom-five pass defense would be exactly what a team's No. 1 receiver needed to post a big game. But if the first meeting between the Buffalo Bills and the barely-adequate New England Patriots secondary is any indication, Stevie Johnson is a sit this week.
Johnson had only two catches for 23 yards against the Patriots in the first meeting, and he's coming into this one listed as questionable because of a deep thigh bruise. Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 in Buffalo reports that Johnson said there is no doubt that he'll play, but as a fantasy owner, you have to account for the doubt that he won't produce versus New England.
START: Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have allowed no less than six receivers to go over 70 yards against them in the last three weeks. So you have to like Malcom Floyd this week.
Floyd's numbers have been middling this season, but he is still catching two-thirds of his targets (33 of 50). And with opposing quarterbacks throwing the ball almost 45 times a game in the last three contests against Tampa, there is good reason to think that Floyd will see a spike in targets this week.
The Tampa Bay secondary is extremely susceptible to the big play, and all it takes is one for a fantasy receiver to have a big day.
SIT: Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco
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Michael Crabtree went into his bye red-hot, with only the second two-touchdown game of his career. But his chances of repeating his big performance against the St. Louis Rams are slim.
St. Louis has a No. 1 cornerback in Cortland Finnegan who can completely take the opposing No. 1 receiver out of the game.
The San Francisco 49ers are still rotating their receivers, with Crabtree playing only 56 percent of the snaps against the Cardinals. The 49ers should be able to control this game with their running backs and defense, so Crabtree is likely to see only a handful of targets.
START: Brandon Lloyd, WR, New England
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Brandon Lloyd has been one of the biggest letdowns in fantasy football this season, but he's coming off his best fantasy game of the season in Week 8, and he faces a team he scored against earlier this season (Buffalo) this week.
Phil Perry of CSN New England reports that tight end Aaron Hernandez is still only a game-time decision after a week of rest during the Patriots' bye. So Lloyd could see a big uptick in targets if Hernandez is out. And he should still see more action even if Hernandez is in, as the tight end will likely be limited.
SIT: Sidney Rice, WR, Seattle
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Darrelle Revis has been out since Week 3, but you wouldn't know it from the way the New York Jets defense is treating opposing wide receivers. No wide receiver has scored against them since Revis went out, due in big part to Antonio Cromartie filling the void as a true shutdown corner. No receiver has gone over 100 yards during the stretch, and only three have even gone over 60.
The Seattle Seahawks rarely attempt more than 25 passes in a game, so Sidney Rice has too many things working against him to trust as more than a flex play this week.
START: Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego
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Antonio Gates has been a bitter disappointment for his fantasy owners this season, but his production should get sweeter this week against the No. 32-ranked pass defense in Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers allowed two scores to Brandon Myers last week, one of the least-physically talented starting tight ends in the league. They also allowed a score to Martellus Bennett, and both Greg Olsen and Fred Davis went over 50 yards against them.
The only tight end they've faced of Gates' caliber is Jason Witten, whom they held to two catches while he was still recovering from a spleen injury. A healthy Gates should have no problem finding room to operate against the Bucs.
SIT: Owen Daniels, TE, Houston
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Owen Daniels will be a game-time decision against Chicago, according to head coach Gary Kubiak. This is made worse by the fact that the Houston Texans play on Sunday night.
You could roster his replacement, James Casey, to hedge against a game-day scratch, but Casey is listed as a running back in a lot of league software systems. The Bears and the two Monday-night teams, the Chiefs and Steelers, also offer little in the way of waiver-wire tight ends who could reasonably be expected to produce a decent stat line.
Don't risk Daniels in your lineup this week.