Valentine's Day, 2020. The then-fiancée and I had a date night. Dinner and a movie. A steak and 1917. Because nothing says romance like a World War I epic. It was the last time I went to a movie theater before this week.
What drew me back to the cinema, you ask? Eternals.It wasn't that I was scared to go back to the movies. Those worries subsided a while ago. What took so long was a lack of time. Mostly because taking a toddler to a movie with big, scary monsters and loud explosions doesn't feel like the wisest decision.
Of all the things that signal a "return to normalcy" after 20 months of the pandemic, being in a theater felt the most concrete. Months of ordering takeout let us pretend that we were having something akin to a restaurant experience. Outdoor concerts in the park gave us the chance to experience live music again. But no matter how many times I sat in my living room with the lights off and noise-cancelling headphones, it didn't come close to the communal feeling of watching a movie in a theater with strangers. It was good to have it back.
It's also why it's frustrating when certain MVP-type quarterbacks trot out a persecution complex after being challenged about his previous purposely misleading statements. Not because I was ever at risk of catching COVID from Aaron Rodgers. But because after more than a year and a half, there's a large enough portion of the population intentionally choosing not to look any further than the end of their nose to embrace a solution that could contribute to the greater good.
As for the movie? Starts slow, pretty good finish. And it was fun to see Robb Stark and Jon Snow reunite on screen.
Anyway, here are some Week 10 sleepers.
Last week wasn't a banner outing for Derek Carr. He's still exceeded expectations thanks to his hot start to the season. He may have slowed down recently, but Week 10 could be a rebound opportunity. Pay no attention to the Chiefs' defensive performance in Week 9 – that had more to do with the guy playing quarterback on the other side. This is still a defense with plenty of issues. It's also a defense that Carr had success against last year. In two games versus Kansas City in 2020, Carr averaged 311 passing yards with six scores through the air versus a pair of interceptions. It would be nice if Las Vegas could find some other pass catchers after Darren Waller. This could be a good week to audition new applicants.
It was disappointing to not have Tua Tagovailoa available last week against the Texans. Hopefully he'll be ready to go this week against the Ravens. On paper, it seems like a bad option. But Baltimore has been forgiving to fantasy quarterbacks lately. Jim Harbaugh's defense has allowed more than 20 fantasy points to three of the last four signal-callers it's faced. That includes names as varied as Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz. Tua had been showing improvement with consecutive 20-point contests. He might not reach that plateau in Week 10, but it's not unreasonable to expect a quality performance, nonetheless. I'm talking to you, streamers.
When I made this list, I felt that it might be the last time I could reasonably write about Jordan Howard. Then I realized that he was available in more than 95% of NFL.com fantasy leagues. The world still hasn't caught up to what's happening in Philly. Maybe people need to read the calls to make Howard's role more permanent. Or maybe they need to watch him produce for yet another week. By the numbers, the Broncos have a top-10 run defense. On the field, they've had a rough few weeks against opposing running backs. Howard has been the Eagles' most productive rusher for the past two weeks. More importantly, he's seeing those precious goal line carries. In a moment where fantasy running back help is sorely needed, the answer might be a name from the past.
Not long ago on NFL Fantasy Live, I suggested trading for J.D. McKissic. He's not a sexy name by any stretch, but he's becoming the back to roll with in Washington. Through Week 9, McKissic sits 1.6 points behind Antonio Gibson. But his 15.4% target share is double that of Gibson's and helping him close the gap quickly. A bad Football Team defense has kept the offense in negative game scripts and allowed McKissic to thrive in the role of pass-catching back. That role could be in the spotlight this week against the Bucs and their high-powered offense. It feels like a near-certainty that Washington will be chasing the game, which should mean more targets for McKissic.
Proffering a Bills running back is a high-wire act. The running game has been so impotent that Cole Beasley is being called Buffalo's "de facto running back." But it's with a little bit of pluck that I suggest Devin Singletary this week. That suggestion is contingent on Zack Moss' health. If Moss makes it through concussion protocol, then neither feels particularly usable this week. If Moss can't go, that should expand the opportunities for Singletary against a Jets run defense that ranks 24th in the league. There will always be other mitigating factors (Josh Allen running near the goal line, a shaky offensive line) but the hope for more touches combined with a plus matchup make Singletary an intriguing option.
Remember when I said the Raiders need to find more pass catchers? It was just few paragraphs ago. Scroll back up. Yes, they did sign DeSean Jackson. However, he's historically been as volatile as wide receivers come. That leads us back to Kenyan Drake. His eight targets in Week 9 were third on the team. He was second with 70 receiving yards. It wouldn't be surprising if that turned out to be Las Vegas' offensive M.O. for the rest of the year. A matchup against the Chiefs' much-maligned defense seems like a good time to put that theory into practice.
It only took two months, but Brandon Aiyuk is a thing. Over the past two weeks, he's been targeted 15 times – nearly half of his total for the entire season. It might be that Aiyuk has finally worked his way out of Kyle Shanahan's doghouse. It might be the Niners becoming more desperate offensively. Either way, we like this version of Aiyuk much better and hope he sticks around. This week could be a true test of the 49ers' commitment to Aiyuk against a good Rams defense that will be a bit salty after getting pushed around by the Titans in Week 9.
I'm coming to terms with Jamal Agnew becoming the player I wanted Laviska Shenault Jr. to be. Once I blow out the candles on my pity party cake, I'll tell you to start the Jags' new slot receiver. Over Jacksonville's last four games, Agnew is tied for the team lead with a 19.7% target share. (He's tied with Dan Arnold, which is a head-scratcher of its own.) There's volume to be had here with an offense that is frequently in catch-up mode. It's even better against a Colts defense giving up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers.
Noah Fant sat out last week after not being activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list in time. Having another full week could conceivably have him back in action. Just in time for a matchup with the Eagles, who have been shredded by tight ends this year. Last week, I had Jared Cook in this space as a sleeper. While he didn't perform as expected, the Chargers did get touchdowns from Stephen Anderson and Donald Parham. The process was sound, even if the results weren't what we wanted. So, basically … start Noah Fant.
Last week, I wrote about Tyler Conklin having a good opportunity against the Ravens. He finished in the top 15, which isn't awful if you stream tight ends. Even more encouraging were his seven targets. He's earned a solid role in Minnesota's passing game. Now he gets to take a shot at a Chargers defense that has consistently been among the worst at defending tight ends. If you're already riding the Conklin train, there's no reason to bail now.
It shouldn't take too many words to make a case for the Colts DST. They're a top five fantasy defense this season. They've logged multiple sacks in seven of their nine games while forcing multiple turnovers in seven contests. In other words, they're good. This week, they play the Jaguars. They have the NFL's 29th-ranked offense and are allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to defenses. In other words, they're bad.
Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who is binge watching Dune like It was a mini-series. Send him avant garde entertainment choices or fantasy football questions onTwitter@MarcasGor TikTok atmarcasgrant.