Fantasy Football Week 10 Sleepers at Every Position

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystNovember 10, 2018

Fantasy Football Week 10 Sleepers at Every Position

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    The fantasy stretch run is here.

    In the majority of fantasy football leagues, there are just four regular-season games left. For teams that are 5-4, 4-5 or even 3-6, there's precious little margin for error to make the playoffs.

    The next loss could be the one that seals the deal.

    Unfortunately, circumstances don't care about anyone's lagging fantasy playoff hopes. Injuries continue to mount across the NFL. Four more teams are on a bye in Week 10.

    More than in any week this season, fantasy owners need some under-the-radar options who have the potential to serve as quality starts in Week 10. Some sleepers who can ride in to save the day.

    Sleepers just like these.

Accountability Time

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    Before we get to the Week 10 sleeper picks, here's a look back at how Week 9 went.

    We're all about accountability here at Bleacher Report.

    For the record, sleepers count as wins if they finish inside weekly starter territory in a 12-team, points-per-reception fantasy league that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one defense and the always popular flex play—a fairly standard setup.

    Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (3 receptions, 57 yards): Sutton didn't have the game I thought he would, but in this format, he was at least an OK flex option—especially in a week when six teams were on a bye. WIN

    Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens (206 passing yards): Maybe if Flacco let his eyebrows grow back together, he'd turn back into a decent NFL quarterback. His days as the starter for the Ravens appear to be numbered at this point. LOSS

    Alex Smith, QB, Washington (306 passing yards, 22 rushing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT): Washington got walloped by the Falcons in Week 9, but a season-high in passing attempts helped sneak Smith into the back end of the top 12—barely. WIN

    Devontae Booker, RB, Denver Broncos (3 carries, 15 yards, 2 catches, 9 yards, 1 TD): Booker finding the end zone saved the day here. Much like Sutton, Booker didn't have a big game—but he did finish inside flex territory. WIN

    Duke Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns (1 carry, 8 yards, 9 catches, 78 yards, 2 TD): Finally a win that doesn't come with an asterisk. With Freddie Kitchens running the offense, Johnson's usage was way up—especially in the passing game. WIN

    David Moore, WR, Seattle Seahawks (2 catches, 16 yards): So much for Moore's hot streak. The rookie was a non-factor against the Chargers. It's almost as if the Seahawks passing game can't be trusted or something. LOSS

    D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers (1 carry, 32 yards, 1 catch, 16 yards): After a nice Week 8 in which Moore looked like a big part of the offense, he had all of two touches against the Buccaneers. There's still some upside here, but a lot of risk as well. LOSS

    DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins (1 catch, 8 yards): This was Parker's career in a nutshell—he followed up a career game against the Houston Texans with one lousy catch against the Jets. My own fault for trusting him. LOSS

    Chris Herndon, TE, New York Jets (4 catches, 62 yards): The good news is that Herndon had a pretty good day against the Dolphins. The bad news is that he finished 13th among tight ends, and I'm not milking another flex win. I have standards. LOSS

    New York Jets Defense/Special Teams (13 points allowed, 168 yards allowed, 4 sacks): The Jets didn't manage any takeaways, but in a game that had next to no offense on either side, they still finished well inside the top 10 defenses. WIN

    WEEK 7: 5-5 (.500)

    SEASON: 38-52 (.422)

    That's five of 10 for the third time in a month. Maybe this week I can make it six.

Sleeper of the Week

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    Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts (vs. JAX)

    To be fair, this isn't a fantasy recommendation borne of a positive matchup. The Jacksonville Jaguars have given up the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends this season.

    However, of all the eyebrow-raising ownership percentages I came across while researching this column this week, none blew my mind more than the fact that in a year in which the tight end position is a disaster, Jack Doyle of in the Indianapolis Colts is available in more than four in 10 fantasy leagues at Yahoo.

    Doyle has been a part of that disaster this year, sitting out most of the season with a hip injury. But he told Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star that he expects to be back to 100 percent coming off Indy's Week 9 bye.

    "It's nice to have a bye to kind of recover," Doyle said. "For the rest of my body, too. I'm going to be a little beat up after playing again, but I have a bye to get stronger in my hip, keep knocking the rust off."

    Mind you, this is a tight end coming off a 6/70/1 stat line two weeks ago in a win over the Oakland Raiders. A tight end who has piled up at least six catches and 60 yards in two of three games this season.

    And a tight end who is averaging over seven targets per game this season.

    That consistent role in the offense makes up for the bad matchup.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans (vs. NEP)

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    The Tennessee Titans played one of their best games of the season in last week's win over the Dallas Cowboys, but quarterback Marcus Mariota told ESPN.com's Turron Davenport that he's confident that performance is only the beginning.

    "I think we are learning and growing as an offense," Mariota said. "We are all kind of figuring out where those spaces are and who we are sending. Really, it's when to expect the ball and when to throw it. ... If we can do that consistently, I think we will be alright."

    The win was also one of Mariota's best individual performances of the year. His 119.9 passer rating and three touchdowns were season highs. For the week, Mariota finished third in fantasy points at the position.

    That's a nice head of steam to carry over into Week 10—especially if the matchup is right.

    And wouldn't you know it? It is.

    Through nine weeks this season, the New England Patriots rank 24th in total defense, 26th in passing defense and seventh in fantasy points surrendered to the quarterback position.

    Will the Titans win this game? It's rather unlikely. But it's not too hard to imagine a scenario where Tennessee falls behind and is forced to go pass-heavy in the second half.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (vs. ATL)

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    This is starting to get to be a bit of a broken record. Baker Mayfield has already made multiple appearances in this column this year—with mixed results.

    But Mayfield's been on a nice little roll lately. The Browns may not be winning games, but that's not the fault of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Over his last three games, Mayfield is averaging just over 230 passing yards, two touchdowns and under one interception per game. He's added 52 yards on the ground. And in the opinion of offensive lineman Joel Bitonio (per ESPN.com's Kevin Van Valkenvburg), Mayfield's showing that he's the real deal.

    "I've been here through a lot of quarterbacks," Bitonio said. "He's the one guy who really does have that 'it' factor. It's hard to explain what that is, exactly. Obviously, he's a good player. But it starts with his competitiveness. Everything he does, he wants to be the best, but he puts in the work. I love him. No matter what's going on in the game, he's always in the huddle like, 'All right, we're scoring a touchdown this drive.' It's always good to have leaders, but to have your quarterback be that guy, that is special."

    More importantly to fantasy owners, over those last three games, Mayfield has ranked eighth among fantasy quarterbacks—partly because of a string of favorable matchups.

    That string keeps going in Week 10, when the Browns host an Atlanta Falcons team that ranks fourth in fantasy points given up to the position.

Mike Davis, RB, Seattle Seahawks (at LAR)

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    There's a possibility this recommendation could fall apart before Sunday's game in L.A. even starts. If Seattle Seahawks tailback Chris Carson is able to play through his hip injury against the Rams, the odds of Mike Davis having a big day will plummet.

    However, head coach Pete Carroll told Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times that it's far from certain he'll be able to play.

    "The soft tissue thing is kind of hanging with him a little bit, this hip thing is still kind of there, and we've got to wait and see how it comes out at the end of the week," Carroll said. "… So it is a concern just to keep him ready to be out there because he made it back last week (after doing little in practice), but he couldn't hold it. He couldn't stay. He tightened back up. So we are going to see how it goes this week."

    That last part is key. Carson tried to play through this injury a week ago and couldn't. That led to 22 touches and 107 total yards for Davis in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

    Should Carson sit out, it's not unreasonable to expect similar from Davis in Week 10.

    As a matter of fact, even if Carson does play, all may not be lost with Davis. The Seahawks went with a ball-control game plan in a narrow loss to the Rams in Week 5. Carson was the primary back in that game, but Davis still managed 14 touches for 75 yards and a touchdown.

Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons (at CLE)

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    At this point in the season, "sleeper" running backs are about as easy to find as a winning Powerball ticket. They exist in theory, but getting your hands on one can be awfully difficult.

    However, there are still a few out there—if you're willing to accept some risk.

    Over his last three games, rookie tailback Ito Smith of the Atlanta Falcons has averaged 11 touches per contest. That's not the workload fantasy owners hope for in the backfield, but Smith's made the most of the looks he does get. The 5'9", 195-pounder had a career-high 60 rushing yards last week, including a 12-yard score that impressed quarterback Matt Ryan.

    "Ito's run for a touchdown was awesome," Ryan told ESPN's Vaughn McClure. "It was impressive. I was able to kind of watch it from behind. And I didn't think he was scoring at first, and then he just kept going. It was cool to watch. He's a guy who continues to get better every time he touches the ball, every time he plays. And that's good for us. That's huge for us."

    Smith has emerged as the between-the-tackles complement to Tevin Coleman for the resurgent 4-4 Falcons. With Atlanta's run game (and the Falcons' season) seemingly back on track, he could see more usage this week against the Browns in Cleveland.

    That would most assuredly be a good thing for fantasy owners, given that the Browns rank third in PPR fantasy points given up to running backs this season.

Maurice Harris, WR, Washington Redskins (at TBB)

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Last week, the injury bug hit the Washington Redskins pretty hard.

    Actually, a plague of injury bugs descended on the team and devoured the flesh from its bones.

    OK, that might be a bit of an oversell. But the Redskins did lose a number of starters to season-ending injuries, including wide receiver Paul Richardson.

    With Richardson on the shelf, youngster Maurice Harris saw his most extensive action of the season. The third-year pro responded with easily the best game of his career, reeling in 10 catches for 124 yards in a loss to the Falcons.

    As Ryan Homler reported for the team's website, it was a performance that impressed head coach Jay Gruden.

    "I like what Mo's been doing," Gruden said. "He's a quarterback-friendly guy, knows how to work in zone, does have the quickness to separate in man-to-man. So, he's a great option for us right now."

    Whether Harris is a great option or not may be debatable, but this really isn't: He's one of the team's only options as the Redskins prepare to face the Buccaneers in Tampa.

    Richardson's season is over. Jamison Crowder hasn't played in a month.

    That should set up Harris for another nice target share Sunday against a Bucs team that ranks second in the NFL in PPR fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in 2018.

John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. NO)

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    John Ross' NFL career hasn't exactly gone as planned in Cincinnati.

    The former top-10 pick didn't catch a single pass in an injury-marred rookie season. Year 2 hasn't gone much better. Ross found the end zone for the first time back in Week 1, but he has just seven receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns on the season.

    Not what the Bengals were hoping for from the receiver who set the 40-yard dash record at the combine in 2017.

    However, with A.J. Green now out for at least two weeks with a toe injury (and quite possibly longer), Cincinnati has a king-sized hole at wideout opposite Tyler Boyd.

    Per the team's website, head coach Marvin Lewis expressed confidence in Ross' ability to help pick up the slack.

    "John has done good things when he’s been out there and healthy," Lewis told reporters. "We just have to keep pressing forward, and the other guys have to continue to make plays when they get opportunities."

    Now, Ross isn't just going to suddenly morph into the team's No. 1 receiver. Or come especially close. That job's going to fall to Boyd, who has enjoyed a breakout of sorts this year.

    But Ross is going to see a big target bump starting this week against the Saints, who just so happen to have surrendered the most fantasy points to wide receivers in 2018.

    That offers Ross more than a little sleeper potential—and he's owned in just 14 percent of fantasy leagues at Yahoo.

Tyrell Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (at OAK)

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    Williams is on the fringe of what can be considered a "sleeper." His ownership percentage at Yahoo is right on the 50 percent line.

    It's a literal coin flip whether Williams is available in your league. But if he is and you have a Week 10 hole at receiver, Williams is worth a look as a fill-in.

    The reason that his ownership percentage has spiked in recent weeks isn't hard to pinpoint. Williams now has touchdowns in each of his last three games—four in total. In two of those contests, he also surpassed the 100-yard mark.

    It's a hot streak that has drawn rave reviews from head coach Anthony Lynn.

    "He’s become a complete receiver. His receiving skills, he’s just taken them to another level," Lynn told the Associated Press, via Fox Sports.

    There is, however, also a measure of risk involved with rolling Williams out. Last week against the Seattle Seahawks, he had just two receptions for 23 yards. He hasn't had more than five targets or four receptions in a game this season.

    He's the epitome of a boom/bust fantasy option.

    With that said, there's good reason to think this will be a "boom" week. In addition to Williams' recent hot streak, the Chargers face the reeling Raiders on Sunday. Oakland ranks in the top half of the NFL in PPR fantasy points surrendered to wide receivers this year, and the Oakland secondary has given up nine plays of 40 or more yards this year—tied for second-most in the NFL.

Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins (at TBB)

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    The Washington Redskins' Vernon Davis isn't even the starter at tight end for his own team. In Week 9 against the Atlanta Falcons, he played just 31 snaps.

    However, Davis made the most of that limited playing time, reeling in five of seven targets for 62 yards in the loss.

    That's a pretty good stat line for a part-time player.

    And there are a couple reasons to think he could do even better in Week 10 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    The first is Jordan Reed—or, more appropriately, what Jordan Reed hasn't done in 2018. For once, the 28-year-old has stayed healthy. But he hasn't topped 60 receiving yards in a game since Week 3 and hasn't caught a touchdown pass since the season-opener.

    It's not that hard to imagine Davis earning a larger snap share Sunday in a game the Redskins have to win to maintain first place in the NFC East.

    There's also the matter of this week's matchup with the Buccaneers. Tampa has been a goldmine for tight ends all season long, whether it was the Eagles' Zach Ertz (11 REC, 94 YDS), Pittsburgh's Vance McDonald (4 REC, 112 YDS, 1 TD), the Bears' Trey Burton (2 REC, 86 YDS, 1 TD), the Falcons' Austin Hooper (9 REC, 71 YDS, 1 TD), Cleveland's David Njoku (4 REC, 52 YDS, 1 TD) or Carolina's Greg Olsen (6 REC, 76 YDS, 1 TD).

    Only the Panthers have given up more PPR fantasy points to tight ends this year.

Buffalo Bills Defense/Special Teams (at NYJ)

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    It would be nice to be on the flip side of this contest, but given the fantasy bonanza for defenses that the Buffalo Bills have become, there wasn't a hotter defense on waiver wires in Week 10 than the New York Jets. They're owned in the vast majority of fantasy leagues, and for good reason.

    However, their counterparts in what should be the ugliest game of the week are owned in just one-third of fantasy leagues at Yahoo.

    That presents an opportunity for value.

    It's gotten lost in the midst of the dumpster fire that is the Buffalo offense, but the Bills have quietly played good defense this season. They're third in the NFL in total defense, third against the pass, 11th against the run, tied for 14th in sacks and 13th in takeaways.

    Those numbers haven't translated to great fantasy production, largely because the offense keeps putting the team in untenable positions and forcing Buffalo to defend a short field. However, this week the Bills face a Jets team that has been nearly as kind to opposing defenses as the Bills this year—third in fantasy points given up to the position.

    Granted, the matchup would be that much more attractive if Sam Darnold were playing, given his seven interceptions over the past three weeks.

    But even with Josh McCown under center, the Jets are still an attractive foil for fantasy defenses.