Fantasy Football Week 10: Confident Calls on Toughest Lineup Decisions
Drafting well is the most obviously important factor in building a successful fantasy football team. But navigating the NFL season and making smart adjustments is arguably just as critical.
Even if you draft the perfect lineup, injuries and bye weeks ensure that you won't be able to start it every single week. With players like Jay Ajayi and Albert Wilson now out, guys like Rob Gronkowski and Sammy Watkins dealing with injuries and players like Adam Thielen and Phillip Lindsay on byes, there's a good chance you'll be faced with some less-than-ideal matchups here in Week 10.
This doesn't mean you can't field a top-tier lineup, though, and we're here to help. We're going to break down some of the toughest matchups of the week by analyzing factors like opponent, early-season performance and player health. We'll be making our choices based on point-per-reception (PPR) scoring formats.
All rankings and fantasy statistics are courtesy of FantasyPros.
QB Andrew Luck vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars defense has taken a step back from last season, but it still isn't the most friendly unit for opposing quarterbacks. Jacksonville is allowing an NFL-best 190 yards passing per game and ranks sixth in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.
Don't let this scare you, though, if you have Indianapolis Colts signal-caller Andrew Luck on your roster.
Luck is averaging 273.4 yards passing and nearly three touchdowns per game this season, with an average of one interception per contest. Even in games in which he hasn't racked up the yardage—like in Week 7 against the Buffalo Bills (156 yards, four touchdowns)—Luck has been a great fantasy performer.
Luck only has one game without multiple touchdown passes and has thrown at least three in each of his last five games.
Expect the Colts to keep Jacksonville's defense off-balance with the running game, with Luck taking advantage in the red zone.
Projection: 230 yards passing, 3 TDs, 1 INT
QB Dak Prescott at Philadelphia Eagles
We trust Luck this week, but we can't say the same for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
The Cowboys added first-round pick Amari Cooper in a trade just before their Week 8 bye. Cooper has helped add a different dimension to the passing game, but he didn't help Prescott push the ball down the field last week against the Tennessee Titans. Don't expect him to do so against the Eagles this week, either.
Prescott is most efficient when throwing short-to-medium passes as a complement to the running game. He's going to have a difficult time doing that against an Eagles defense that is one of the best against the run.
Philadelphia is allowing an average of just 83.8 yards rushing per game. The Eagles will be able to limit running back Ezekiel Elliott, and that's going to put a ton of pressure on Prescott. He won't be able to carry the offense on his own.
Projection: 210 yards passing, 1 TD, 2 INT
RB Dion Lewis vs. New England Patriots
Titans running back Dion Lewis has been performing well for the Titans as both a runner and a receiver. He has amassed 339 yards rushing, 259 yards receiving and two touchdowns. The New England Patriots are not surprised.
“He was going to have success wherever he went,” Patriots running back James White said, per Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald.
Expect Lewis to have success again in Week 10, and not just because he's facing his former team.
The Patriots defense has shown improvement in recent weeks, as it continues to develop under new defensive coordinator Brian Flores. However, it still ranks a mediocre 18th in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs this season.
Last week, Aaron Jones—another versatile back—had two receptions and 85 combined rushing and receiving yards. Expect Lewis to have an even better outing behind Tennessee's run-oriented offense.
Projection: 65 yards rushing, 6 receptions, 68 yards receiving, 1 TD
RB Kerryon Johnson at Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions rookie running back Kerryon Johnson has added a new element to the offense this season, and when he gets going, Detroit's offense can be tough to stop. Unfortunately, he'll struggle to get going against the Chicago Bears this week.
The first issue is Chicago's defense, which allows an average of just 85.0 yards rushing per game, third-fewest in the NFL. The other issue is that Detroit will have a harder time keeping the Bears defense off-balance with the passing game. Golden Tate is no longer around to help stretch the field, and the Bears will be able to focus more on shutting down the run.
In addition, Johnson was listed on the injury report with an ankle issue this week. If he is banged up on Sunday, he's a clear must-sit. Even if he is healthy, though, you shouldn't expect high-end production.
Projection: 68 yards rushing, 2 receptions, 22 yards receiving
WR Amari Cooper at Philadelphia Eagles
We don't like playing Prescott against the Eagles this week. If you happen to own Cooper, though, we think you'll be safe starting him.
The Eagles' ability to slow the run will have a negative impact on Prescott's performance. It shouldn't affect Cooper too much, though. He's going to remain Prescott's go-to target and should be even more effective in his second outing with Dallas.
The Eagles are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season. They also may be without starting cornerback Jalen Mills (foot).
"We'll evaluate him day-by-day," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said of Mills, per Mike Kaye of NJ.com. "He may be a touch longer, but he's coming [along], and we'll see where he's at by the end of the week."
This is a good matchup for Cooper, who should at least match his production (five receptions, 58 yards, one touchdown) from last week.
Projection: 5 receptions, 62 yards receiving, 1 TD
WR Jordy Nelson vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The Oakland Raiders traded Cooper to the Cowboys for a first-round pick. The problem is that Oakland doesn't have a No. 1-type receiver to replace him. It certainly isn't offseason acquisition Jordy Nelson, who has had exactly one standout game this season.
Nelson racked up 173 yards against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. He hasn't topped the 50-yard mark in any other game this season. He also hasn't had more than two receptions in any of his last three games.
The Los Angeles Chargers, who have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, aren't the most daunting challenge. However, Nelson simply isn't a significant part of the offense right now, and the Raiders don't seem to have a lot of fight left in them this season.
Quarterback Derek Carr, who was sacked seven times by the San Francisco 49ers last week, could be in for an even longer day. Expect the Chargers to break Oakland's will early, and expect Nelson to be a non-factor.
Projection: 2 receptions, 28 yards
WR Rashard Higgins vs. Atlanta Falcons
Should you trust Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins in Week 10? That's a fair question, as Higgins caught just three passes for 19 yards last week after missing nearly a month with an MCL injury.
Against the Atlanta Falcons, we do believe Higgins can be trusted. He's become one of Baker Mayfield's favorite targets, and he has used his time away from the field to focus on improving his game.
"Seeing it from the other side, I got to critique a lot of stuff," Higgins said, per Jimmy Watkins of the team's official website. "I got to see how I can take my game to another level."
Stopping Higgins won't be the top priority for the Falcons defense, which is allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Atlanta will be more concerned with stopping Jarvis Landry and tight end David Njoku, which should get Higgins plenty of one-on-one looks that Mayfield can exploit.
Projection: 5 receptions, 67 yards receiving, 1 TD
WR Kelvin Benjamin at New York Jets
The Buffalo Bills aren't quite sure who they'll have at quarterback against the New York Jets this week. Derek Anderson is in concussion protocol, and while rookie Josh Allen is working his way back from an elbow injury, it isn't clear when he'll return.
We haven't seen any setbacks in his rehab, but we're going to take it one day at a time," head coach Sean McDermott said of Allen.
With the bye week coming in Week 11, Buffalo may again go with Nathan Peterman this week. Even if Allen or Anderson makes a surprise return, we can't recommend sticking by wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
Benjamin has been a major disappointment this season. He's topped the 50-yard mark just once, and he only has one touchdown grab on the year.
Projection: 3 receptions, 38 yards receiving
TE Jack Doyle vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville defense has been solid against tight ends this season—11th-fewest fantasy points allowed to the position—but we expect Luck and his tight ends to still have some success against it. The big question is whether Eric Ebron or Jack Doyle will be the tight end to rely on.
We actually believe both tight ends are start-worthy this week. Between the two, however, we're going to give the edge to Doyle. The Western Kentucky product made his return from injury against the Raiders in Week 8 and racked up 70 yards and a touchdown on six receptions.
Jacksonville does have a defense better than Oakland's. However, the Colts should be able to integrate Doyle into the offense even more coming out of last week's bye, and he should be Luck's top red-zone target.
Projection: 6 receptions, 64 yards receiving, 1 TD
Seattle Seahawks Defense at Los Angeles Rams
The Seattle Seahawks defense may not be what it once was, but it's been a solid option in fantasy this season. Seattle has logged 21 sacks and 10 interceptions so far and has allowed an average of just 14 points over the last three games.
However, this is a good week to turn away from the Seattle defense. The last time the Seahawks faced the Los Angeles Rams, they surrendered 33 points. Not too surprisingly, this matches the 33.2 points per game Los Angeles is averaging.
In fact, the Rams have been held under 30 points only twice this season. Rams quarterback Jared Goff has been sacked an average of 1.9 times per game and has thrown just six interceptions on the season.
Seattle's defense may make a couple of big plays, but it won't be a top-tier fantasy unit this week.
Projection: 31 points allowed, 2 sacks, 1 INT