Fantasy Football Week 10: Early Advice for Your Roster
It's all downhill from here, but it's a fun ride.
We're on the back nine of the NFL season, and it's a critical time for fantasy football teams, as you have to not only keep winning, but also to get yourself set up for the fantasy playoffs.
Of course, you may be losing too often, in which case the best advice is to keep chugging along and make everyone's life miserable as they fight for the last playoff spots.
I've had a good time as a spoiler, though it obviously pales in comparison to winning.
We had a lot of bumps and bruises this past week, as well as one major injury. We've got more bye-week players, though less than we've had the last two weeks, and, of course, I have a ton of matchups and some guys to buy and sell as well.
Let's see what looks good this coming week for your fantasy games.
*All statistics and statistical rankings are from NFL.com unless otherwise noted
There's only one place to start this week and it's huge.
So there's a lot we don't know.
Here's what we do know:
You don't have him for the next three weeks at minimum.
Tom Silverstein of the Journal-Sentinel says that Rodgers is aiming at a Thanksgiving Day return. He also writes that this timetable is a bit optimistic and Rodgers will probably be out longer.
That means for the next three weeks of your fantasy season, you will be without Rodgers and, really, you should be planning to head into your playoffs without Rodgers for a time.
Which, let's face it, sucks.
You have to decide what to do. A lot of owners waited to grab a backup for Rodgers because, normally, you have nothing to worry about. The guy is one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league and never gets hurt.
In the only league I have Rodgers in—one in which he inexplicably dropped to the middle of the second round—I was able to get Philip Rivers in the 12th round, and since Rivers has been very good, I'm OK (though I do need a new backup to my backup).
There's an even chance you won't feel that good about your backup, though.
Here's the advice I have.
But don't overpay and don't cough up Rodgers unless you really have to. Because whenever Rodgers returns, he'll be great—and if it happens in the fantasy playoffs, that's a good time to get him back.
Other injuries of note:
The Houston Texans' Arian Foster is week-to-week with both back and hamstring issues. ESPN's Stephania Bell says he may not play this weekend and that his back and hamstring issues might be related—which is to say one will probably improve when the other does.
Assume Ben Tate gets the carries and that you will be looking for an alternative to start in place of Foster against the Arizona Cardinals. Of course, Tate is playing with four broken ribs (see the above link), so keep an eye on undrafted free agent Dennis Johnson, who looked solid last weekend and could see more carries against Arizona.
It sounds like Oakland Raiders running back Rashad Jennings could start this weekend, as Darren McFadden is dealing with a hamstring injury—one which the team is more concerned about than Terrelle Pryor's knee injury according the ESPN's Paul Gutierrez.
This Week's Bye-Week Bench
After two straight weeks of losing six teams' worth of fantasy players, a week with "just" four teams on the bench seems almost quaint.
There are not a lot of top-level players here, at least not as many as have been sidelined the last few weeks. You'll miss Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Josh Gordon and Jamaal Charles the most and hope that a week off gets Jordan Cameron back on track after a few rough weeks.
But after the last two weeks, this one shouldn't be too difficult to overcome.
QB: Jason Campbell, Alex Smith, Tom Brady, Geno Smith
RB: Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, Jamaal Charles, Stevan Ridley, LaGarrette Blount, Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell
WR: Josh Gordon, Greg Little, Davone Bess, Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Stephen Hill
TE: Jordan Cameron, Sean McGrath, Rob Gronkowski, Jeff Cumberland, Zach Sudfeld, Kellen Winslow Jr.
|Week 4||Green Bay , Carolina|
|Week 5||Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington|
|Week 6||Atlanta, Miami|
|Week 7||Oakland, New Orleans|
|Week 8||Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Houston|
|Week 9||Denver, Detroit, New York Giants, Arizona, San Francisco, Jacksonville|
|Week 10||Cleveland, Kansas City, New England, New York Jets|
|Week 11||Dallas, St. Louis|
|Week 12||Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle|
Bye-Week Quarterback Matchups to Like
Nick Foles at Green Bay
Before we get into this, don't go too nuts with expectations for Nick Foles this week—406 yards and seven touchdowns is an aberration for him. Actually, it's an aberration for most quarterbacks, even Peyton Manning. Green Bay is ranked No. 20 against the pass, with just three interceptions this season.
The Packers have generated 24 sacks, while Philadelphia has allowed 25 sacks and 48 quarterback hits, which may speak to why it goes through so many quarterbacks.
Regardless, Foles will be under some duress but should still be able to move the ball against a Packers defense which absolutely collapsed multiple times against Chicago this past Monday night.
He's a great bye-week or injury start—and since we're talking Green Bay, he'd be a great band-aid over the next few weeks for people who lost Aaron Rodgers.
Eli Manning vs. Oakland
Eli Manning has been a tire fire for his fantasy owners—and really that might be selling how bad he's been short by a few degrees.
That said, he's had two straight games without an interception, a big step forward. Coming out of the bye and going against the No. 25 pass defense in the league, Manning should not only protect the ball for a third straight game, but should also get multiple touchdowns and sniff at—if not pass—the 300-yard mark for the first time in a month.
Philip Rivers vs. Denver
This is going to be one of the more interesting games this weekend—with the potential to also be one of the best—as these AFC West rivals meet. Losing head coach John Fox had to rattle the Broncos a bit, but as long as they have Peyton Manning, they should be OK.
You can expect Manning to throw a lot, which means Chargers head coach Mike McCoy is going to dial up some plays to stretch the field and keep up. Chargers rookie wide receiver (and potential Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate) Keenan Allen has become a dangerous threat, Vincent Brown is tough to stop and, of course, Antonio Gates is always a threat.
Rivers has the weapons and McCoy has put him in a good position to be successful. The last few games have been a bit rough on Rivers after a red-hot start to the season, but he's going to have the opportunity to attack a questionable Denver secondary this week.
Bye-Week Running Back Matchups to Like
Reggie Bush at Chicago
The Detroit Lions have absolutely gotten what they paid for in running back Reggie Bush and so have fantasy GMs, even if the last few weeks have been a bit up and down.
Chicago is ranked No. 29 against the run in the NFL and was just torched by Green Bay to the tune of 190 yards. Eddie Lacy had 150 yards alone. Both Lacy and James Starks scored touchdowns as well. This was with a backup quarterback in Seneca Wallace whom Chicago clearly didn't respect since it stacked the box.
Bush should have a pretty big game both on the ground and receiving the ball as well.
Zac Stacy at Indianapolis
I talked about this on Tuesday, but it bears repeating: Zac Stacy may be banged up and questionable, but he's also a stud.
Indianapolis doesn't spell "good times" for opposing running backs the way it used to, but that's in part a byproduct of quarterback Andrew Luck blowing teams out early. When the shoe is on the other foot—as it was against the Houston Texans for a half—teams can run on the Colts.
St. Louis has a good enough defense to slow Luck down a little and, really, Stacy is pretty much the best weapon the offense has, so expect it to lean on him.
Unfortunately, the Rams aren't scoring a lot of touchdowns on the ground, so expect yards but not touchdowns.
Mike Tolbert at San Francisco
All Carolina running back Mike Tolbert does is score touchdowns—for four straight games. With Jonathan Stewart back and DeAngelo Williams seeing less work, Tolbert is a good bet to keep that going as the season progresses.
When the Panthers get into the red zone, Tolbert is likely the guy they will choose to pound the rock with between the tackles.
He won't get you a ton of yards, but he will get you a touchdown—combined, that makes for a nice flex start.
Bye-Week Wide Receiver Matchups to Like
Cecil Shorts at Tennessee
Over the last two games before the bye week, Jacksonville wide receiver Cecil Shorts was targeted 23 times, resulting in 15 catches and 154 yards.
With Justin Blackmon suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL drug policy, Shorts is once again the "main man" in the offense for the team.
Tennessee is tough—ranked No. 7 against the pass—but Shorts has shown that a bad matchup doesn't bother him. Heck, he's even done well when Blackmon wasn't with the team—an all too frequent occurrence since Blackmon was drafted.
Shorts should be a good No. 3 wide receiver or a flex start, with the upside for more if he can find the end zone.
Greg Jennings vs. Washington
With quarterback Christian Ponder back under center, Minnesota Vikings receiver Greg Jennings should start to produce again.
Ponder targeted Jennings nine times last weekend against Dallas, and Jennings caught six of those targets for 56 yards.
Against Washington's secondary, which continues to be very streaky, Ponder may continue to be under pressure, but Jennings should be able to gain separation.
Jennings should be a solid No. 3 wide receiver with the upside to play as a low-end No. 2.
Pierre Garcon at Minnesota
As long as we're talking Minnesota-Washington, we should talk about Washington's No. 1 receiver—and Robert Griffin III's favorite target—Pierre Garcon.
Garcon leads Washington in targets, and the next guy up isn't even close. He'll get plenty of work on Sunday against a Minnesota secondary which is banged up.
If he's anything close to half as successful as he was against San Diego, when he caught seven passes for 172 yards, then he'll have a very good fantasy day.
Garcon is a dangerous downfield receiver, and the Vikings will have some issues keeping him contained, so I expect some good numbers from him this week, even if they fall short of Week 9.
Bye-Week Tight End Matchups to Like
Jordan Reed at Minnesota
Reed's targets were down, but you can expect an increase this week against Minnesota. Robert Griffin III focused his attention elsewhere, but when he went to Reed, the rookie made his catches. Minnesota will focus on Garcon and probably Alfred Morris, so expect Reed to bust free more than once against a banged-up secondary.
Martellus Bennett vs. Detroit
A lot of folks feel as if Josh McCown is going to kill Bennett's value, but I don't see that, especially since Bennett was the third-most-targeted guy in the offense, tied with Matt Forte, one behind Alshon Jeffery and trailing, of course, Brandon Marshall.
If there is one concern, it's the lack of red-zone targets last week, but I also expect that to correct. The Lions are going to go after Marshall and focus on Forte. Bennett will have single coverage, and McCown can absolutely get him the ball.
Tim Wright vs. Miami
In the last two games, Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie tight end Tim Wright has scored a touchdown. His yardage stats aren't impressive during that stretch—he accumulated 48 and 58 yards, respectively—but he's getting looks in the end zone, and that's huge if you're grabbing a tight end at this point because of injury or a bye week.
Bye-Week Team Defense Matchups to Like
Philadelphia at Green Bay
Green Bay may think the sky is falling, but it's not.
That's not to say I have an overabundance of faith that Seneca Wallace is going to look a ton better than he did last Monday night. Wallace will probably be a bit more accurate with a week of first-team reps under his belt, but he has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long, and that means sacks aplenty for even this relatively weak Philadelphia defense.
Arizona vs. Houston
Houston quarterback Case Keenum was a very pleasant surprise the first two times he started, but against a tough Arizona secondary, I worry he'll falter a bit. While he may still score well, this is a matchup in which I believe he'll turn the ball over a few times, as this Cardinals team has the third-most interceptions in the league with 12.
I actually think Keenum will be an OK start, but so will this Arizona defense.
Miami at Tampa Bay
With all the Martin/Incognito stuff milling about, it would be easy to tell you to stay away from this game altogether. However, seeing the team rally in support of Incognito—no matter what you think of it—could be a sign that it's going to play a heck of a game on Monday.
It's a hunch, so take this for what it's worth, but I think the defense comes out angry and with a huge chip on its shoulder. While I don't think that Tampa will be embarrassed, I do think that Miami is going to take some stress and anger out on it.
I think the defense is going to make Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon's life very tough next week, and that will translate to some good fantasy points.
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Running Back
Two out of the last three weeks have seen Carolina Panthers DeAngelo Williams look pretty mediocre; Mike Tolbert is stealing his touchdowns and now Jonathan Stewart is returning. If you have a limited bench or roster limits for a position, he's worthy of the "drop" button. If you have room for an injury backup, you could keep him around, but ultimately there are guys with a lot more upside on the waiver wire.
David Wilson, New York Giants Running Back
The New York Giants running back is once again ruled as "out" for this weekend's game, and it really doesn't appear as if the team is in a hurry to have him come back. After all the fumbles, even if he returns, will he get any carries? This looks like a guy who, at least in redraft leagues, should get the boot off your fantasy squad.
Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Wide Receiver
At this point, not only can you drop suspended Jacksonville wide receiver Justin Blackmon in redraft leagues, but you can also make a fair case that he isn't worthy of a dynasty roster spot as well. Sure, he can ask to come back and be reinstated next season, but given his issues, he may not be with the Jaguars; and by the time he is back, Cecil Shorts may have established himself as a much more reliable option and the No. 1 receiver in the offense.
Dennis Johnson, Houston Running Back
With Arian Foster hurt and Ben Tate running the ball with four broken ribs (link via ESPN.com), undrafted rookie running back Dennis Johnson is worth stashing on your bench. In limited action against Indianapolis, Johnson looked pretty good, and while you don't want to get too carried away off of eight carries for 36 yards, he showed off some promising skills. He can also catch the ball, which would come in handy if he's pressed into service.
Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Running Back
Denard Robinson is a threat in a few places, but the Jaguars have moved him to No . 2 on the running back depth chart and are talking about getting a look at what he can do.
Why now? Well, the Jacksonville season is all but over, save for a potential run at the No. 1 pick and Teddy Bridgewater. The Jaguars need to see who can stick on this roster before they blow parts of it up. On top of that, according to Spotrac.com, Maurice Jones-Drew is in the last year of his contract.
It makes a lot of sense to me that they could run Robinson out there and see whether he might be a replacement for Jones-Drew so they can let the older—and frequently banged-up recently—running back go.
He could be an interesting flex with upside as we reach the end of the year.
Lamar Miller, Miami Running Back
It looks like the light is finally going on in Miami—well, at least in the backfield. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman appears to have noticed he has a really good running back and is considering giving Miller more than his average number of carries going forward.
That it took this long with Miller averaging 4.8 yards per carry and showing off some very nice receiving skills as well is mind-numbingly frustrating.
However, the slow awakening can work in your favor, as some fantasy GMs won't realize that Miller is about to become relevant to the Miami offense. You can also play up the chaos in the offensive line—as long as you keep in mind that the line has been bad much of the year and Miller is still finding positive yardage.
Miller may not be completely reliable this week (although the matchup with Tampa Bay isn't half bad), but he will be soon and could be a huge factor in your fantasy playoffs.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.