Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 10: Debating Difficult Fantasy Football Lineup Decisions

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2018

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) celebrates running back Ito Smith's touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
Mark Tenally/Associated Press

Let the Thursday appetizer tell it, start 'em, sit 'em decisions in Week 10 should benefit from lofty scoring totals. 

So it goes when Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger starts the week off with five touchdown passes in a rout of the Carolina Panthers, with Cam Newton throwing two of his own in a game with a huge total. 

Oddsmakers out of Las Vegas agree with the idea to expect plenty of scoring. According to OddsShark, at least seven games have an over/under of 50 and eight feature spreads of seven or more points. 

Targeting these big games with the proper matchups is the key to success down the stretch. 

       

QB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Drew Brees (at CIN) vs. Andy Dalton (vs. NO)Drew Brees
Matt Ryan (at CLE) vs. Alex Smith (at TB)Matt Ryan
Patrick Mahomes (vs. ARI) vs. Andrew Luck (vs. JAX)Patrick Mahomes
Baker Mayfield (vs. ATL) vs. Philip Rivers (at OAK)Philip Rivers
Marcus Mariota (vs. NE) vs. Russell Wilson (at LAR)Marcus Mariota
Author's opinion

Start: Matt Ryan, ATL (at CLE)

Matt Ryan on the road in the cold against a stubborn Cleveland defense doesn't sound like a great idea. 

But then again, Ryan is on par with his MVP campaign to date, having thrown 19 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He's posted double-digit points in seven consecutive games, going for more than 25 in five of those. 

And those Browns might allow the 16th-most points to opposing passers on average, but the numbers are inflated by beating up on names like Sam Darnold and familiar opposition like Big Ben and Joe Flacco. Irregular names like Jameis Winston (22.1 points) and Patrick Mahomes (27.8) have found plenty of success against the unit. 

If they can, Ryan should as well, especially given the droves of talent around him. 

     

Sit: Matthew Stafford, DET (at CHI) 

Numbers aside, some matchups just don't pass the eye test. 

So goes the case here with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on the road against the Chicago Bears in November. A brittle environment against Khalil Mack will send most quarterbacks spinning into a downward spiral. 

Fortunately for owners trying to make tough calls, Stafford already started this one week ago, going to the cold grasp of Minnesota and putting up 199 passing yards and 6.56 points. It was his first single-digit performance of the season, but it's notable enough to cause concern. 

Even worse, the Bears have only allowed three quarterbacks to slip past the 20-point mark. They have played some number-inflating clunkers, too, but the difference is the surrounding elements throwing things in their favor. 

      

RB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Alvin Kamara (at CIN) vs. Kareem Hunt (vs. ARI)Alvin Kamara
Jordan Howard (vs. DET) vs. Saquon Barkley (at SF)Saquon Barkley
Leonard Fournette (at IND) vs. Todd Gurley (vs. SEA)Todd Gurley
Melvin Gordon (at OAK) vs. Duke Johnson (vs. ATL)Duke Johnson
Joe Mixon (vs. NO) vs. Adrian Peterson (at TB)Joe Mixon
Author's opinion

Start: Joe Mixon, CIN (vs. NO) 

Playing Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon in Week 10 is akin to sticking one's hand in fire for a lump of gold—it will probably hurt at first, but the long-term payoff works. 

Mixon missed two games this year but otherwise has two single-digit performances. It's the others owners should care about, as he's put up 16.4 or more points in all four of his trips to double digits, with a high of 27.3. 

While the New Orleans Saints only allow the seventh-fewest points to backs on average this year, A.J. Green being out for the Bengals means more passing-down looks for Mixon. 

Usage in a game flow likely headed for a shootout should trump traditional measurements, though, with Mixon likely headed for one of his biggest games of the year.

       

Sit: Kenyan Drake, MIA (at GB) 

New year, same old story with the Miami Dolphins. 

The Dolphins don't seem to want to use their best players again, which means feeding 35-year-old Frank Gore as opposed to giving Kenyan Drake carries. 

Those owners who gambled on the versatile Drake are forgiven, though, as the talent is there—just look at his 22.5-point outburst in Week 8. But also look at Week 9, where he inexplicably only received three carries in a win, going for 5.5 points. 

So while a game against a Green Bay Packers defense allowing the 16th-most points to backs looks nice for Drake because he should see plenty of usage while the Dolphins play catch up, the coaching staff can't be trusted to actually use him. His having double-digit carries in only four games says it all. 

      

WR

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Michael Thomas (at CIN) vs. Jarvis Landry (vs. ATL)Michael Thomas
Julio Jones (at CLE) vs. Cooper Kupp (vs. SEA)Julio Jones
Doug Baldwin (at LAR) vs. Tyler Boyd (vs. NO)Tyler Boyd
Mike Evans (vs. WAS) vs. Tyreek Hill (vs. ARI)Tyreek Hill
T.Y. Hilton (vs. JAX) vs. Alshon Jeffery (vs. DAL)T.Y. Hilton
Author's opinion

Start: Amari Cooper, DAL (at PHI)

Well, don't stop believing now. 

Amari Cooper made his debut with the Dallas Cowboys and right away revived his fantasy stock, catching five of his eight targets for 58 yards and a score, good for 14.3 points. It was just Cooper's third time to double digits all season and his third-highest target total of the year. 

Cooper now gets to experience NFC East action while lining up against the Philadelphia Eagles, owners of a defense coughing up the fifth-most points to opposing wideouts. This includes six or more points to three different Jacksonville Jaguars receivers last time out despite a woeful passing attack. 

That's a niceish way of saying the Eagles won't be able to contain Cooper, especially if Cowboys coaches are still getting creative with how to use him in new looks within the offense. 

         

Sit: Allen Robinson, CHI (vs. DET)

Remember Allen Robinson? 

A major free-agent add for the Bears, Robinson has once again been unable to stay healthy and missed Chicago's last two games. If owners had forgotten he was even in the Windy City, it's probably because he has only hit double-digit production twice this year. 

Robinson started hot with seven or more targets in three consecutive games but hasn't hit that mark since. Now he's coming off a two-game absence and trying to get back into the swing of things against the Lions, owners of a defense surrendering the ninth-fewest points to wideouts on average. 

In a game that could feature the running game more than anything, Robinson's return outburst won't be happening in Week 10. 

     

TE

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Trey Burton (vs. DET) vs. Eric Ebron (vs. JAX) Eric Ebron
Jimmy Graham (vs. MIA) vs. Jordan Reed (at TB)Jimmy Graham
Travis Kelce (vs. ARI) vs. O.J. Howard (vs. WAS)Travis Kelce
David Njoku (vs. ATL) vs. Zach Ertz (vs. DAL)Zach Ertz
George Kittle (vs. NYG) vs. Evan Engram (at SF)George Kittle
Author's opinion

Start: Jimmy Graham, GB (vs. MIA) 

Jimmy Graham hasn't met expectations with the Green Bay Packers, which is what happens when a tight end scores 10 touchdowns in a season and joins Aaron Rodgers, only to score two through eight games.

Still, Graham could get back on track in Week 10 against a Dolphins defense allowing the 12th-most points to tight ends. The Dolphins faced a mostly cupcake schedule to start the year, too, inflating the positional numbers before allowing three opposing tight ends to score double digits over their last four games. 

As for Graham, he's sitting on six or more targets in six of his eight appearances so far with a high of 11. The usage against an exploitable defense should be there all day in Week 10. 

     

Sit: Evan Engram, NYG (at SF) 

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram has quickly gone from potential fantasy superstar to just another name at an erratic position. 

An injury hasn't helped, of course, as Engram sat out three games this year. Of his five healthy, Engram has hit double digits twice and scored 3.6 or fewer in the other three. He's received five or more targets just three times, with a nine-target affair only going for 11 points his last time out. 

Blame the offense and quarterback, but also keep in mind Engram's next opponent, the San Francisco 49ers. They only allow the 13th-fewest points to the position, with only two tight ends hitting double digits against the unit this year. 

Those players were Travis Kelce and Graham, which Engram is not—and his quarterback can't match the passers who made those lines possible, either. 

        

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues. 

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