Week 10. The Week We Made Contact. Or something. Maybe it's because the double-digit weeks have an effect on my mental state. Or maybe it's because I spent too much time scrolling the sci-fi section of Prime Video (watch Thursday Night Football at 8:15 p.m. ET!). Either way, we've crossed a Rubicon in the season.
We're closer to the end of the fantasy season than the beginning. We're at a point when it's imperative to start thinking about the future. Perhaps your fantasy roster is on track for the playoffs. In that case, it's worth trying to make the additions or subtractions to help you fortify for the postseason. You might be on the other side and the playoffs are looking like a fading dream. For you, the answer might be swinging for the fences and adding players with upside. Either you put together a miracle or, at the very least, you submarine an opponent.
Whatever situation you're in, it doesn't mean that you're punting on Week 10. With four teams on a bye, there are plenty of matchups to be played. Find a sleeper, change your outlook, rule the world. Or something. Anyway, here are some names.
It’s been a year for quarterbacks in this game. Guys who have long been fantasy stars (Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady) are finding themselves back on the waiver wire. Meanwhile, players who were surrounded by doubt (Geno Smith, Tua Tagovailoa) are powering teams to victory. Then there’s Stafford. Once the patron saint of the Church of Wait On Drafting a Fantasy Quarterback, Stafford is enduring a miserable year. He has yet to score 19 fantasy points in a contest and has just one game with multiple touchdown passes.
This week, Stafford and the Rams face the Cardinals for a second time. Arizona is in the bottom half of the league at getting pressure on the quarterback. That’s reassuring for an offense whose problems begin with a porous offensive line. When these teams faced off in Week 3, they sacked Stafford just once. All the while, Arizona has allowed multiple touchdown passes in five of its nine games. It’s worth noting that Stafford is in concussion protocol, which puts his availability in jeopardy this week. If he is able to go, starting Stafford outside of deep or superflex leagues might be a tough sell. But if there was ever a week to give him one last chance, this is it.
Early in the year, Brissett was playing just well enough to be considered a streamer but never produced enough to force his way into any lineups. Since then, we haven’t touted him much. However, he surprised everyone and posted his best fantasy week of the season against the Bengals in Week 8. Now he comes off the Browns’ bye and might generate some renewed interest in a matchup with the Dolphins.
Ideally, the Browns can lean on Nick Chubb against Miami’s weak run defense to keep the game close. But if the Dolphins' explosive pass attack strikes and forces Cleveland into a pass-heavy game script, it could put the onus on Brissett to keep his team in it. That’s not a terrible situation with the Fins currently boasting the highest FPA to quarterbacks. Kevin Stefanski might not want to put the game in Brissett’s hands, but it might not also be a disaster if it comes to that.
I wasn’t surprised that Wilson put up 16 fantasy points last week. We’ve seen similar performances from him during his time with the 49ers. What surprised me was Wilson playing more snaps than Raheem Mostert. I’m trying to keep the faith in Mostert after what he’s accomplished this year, but a near 50-50 snap share makes that hard.
It is an upgrade for Wilson, who was going to fade into the background with Christian McCaffrey ruling the roost in San Francisco. After taking advantage of a great matchup against the Bears last week, he gets another choice opportunity against the Browns in Week 10. Cleveland is allowing the fifth-most points per game to running backs and have surrendered a whopping 10 rushing TDs to the position. Even with just a share of the backfield, the explosive Wilson could be worthy of a flex spot.
After missing the past two games with an ankle injury, Hubbard is back on track to play this week against the Falcons. The answer to who the lead back in Carolina will be is still something of an open question since Hubbard didn’t get to finish the team’s first game without McCaffrey. But the early returns suggested Hubbard was going to get the first crack at the job. Whether that’s changed after one good and one not-so-good performance from D’Onta Foreman remains to be seen.
Regardless, Hubbard will get his chances against Atlanta this week. It’s the same Falcons defense that gave up 118 rushing yards to Foreman -- and 169 to the Panthers as a team -- a couple of weeks ago. The idea of a split backfield isn’t thrilling, but if the game remains close, the run-heavy Panthers could find enough carries for Hubbard to have a decent night.
Speaking of running backs splitting snaps... Allgeier is back in a supporting role after the return of Cordarrelle Patterson. While we were all dazzled by CPatt’s two rushing touchdowns, it overshadowed Allgeier ripping off 99 yards on 10 carries. He seems almost certain to lose more snaps to an increasingly healthy Patterson, but efficiency like that can’t be ignored in the NFL’s second-most run-heavy attack.
The opportunity will be there for Allgeier. So will the matchup. Atlanta ran through Carolina’s defense for 167 yards two weeks ago. Arthur Smith’s formula for success hasn’t changed. Run it early and often to keep it close. Carolina’s defense is likely to oblige.
Don’t let the Packers' recent implosion distract you from the fact that the Broncos offense continues to be bad. Denver’s 15.1 points per game stands 30th in the league, ahead of only Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. Russell Wilson’s first year has been an unmitigated disaster and neither of the top receivers are sniffing the top 24. But if there’s a silver lining, it’s that Jeudy has been ... better?
Dating back to Week 5, Jeudy has been Wilson’s target of choice. He’s had nearly a quarter of the opportunities in the passing game while racking up nearly one-third of the air yards. Those air yards are a bit aspirational since Jeudy has done most of his damage after the catch. But it’s good to know he’s getting downfield looks. This week, Jeudy and the Broncos face a Titans secondary that has allowed four 100-yard games this season -- including a “WTF” performance by Dyami Brown in Week 5. With that as a backdrop, Jeudy could continue his quiet run of improvement from the past month.
We’ve been trying to make Hardman a thing for years. And it seemed like the time had come to give up. But with all due respect to Regina George ... we’re finally making fetch happen! Hardman has found a role within one of the NFL’s top offenses. It’s led to increased touches and touchdowns in three straight games. A big part of Hardman’s recent success has been his usage near the goal line. Over the past three weeks, he’s played 100 percent of the snaps near the goal line. But he’s also running a variety of routes and being targeted on a heavy number of his snaps.
That should be enough to make fantasy managers sit up and pay attention. The cherry on top of the Kansas City sundae is that this week’s game against the Jaguars works out nicely for wide receivers. Jacksonville in the last four weeks has given up more than 40 fantasy points per game to receivers, while also surrendering six receiving touchdowns -- tied with the Falcons for most in the league. If Kansas City gets near the end zone, there’s a good chance for Hardman to find his way to another score.
If it feels like streaming tight ends have been a moving target, you’re not wrong. Fourteen players at the position are currently averaging more than eight but fewer than 13 points per game this season. That means a touchdown makes a huge difference in separating the TE1s from the TE2s in a given week. Otton could be in the former group considering the work he’s earned in the red zone.
On a team with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Leonard Fournette, Otton is third among Bucs players in red zone targets. He’s also had five or more targets in four of his last five games. Factor that with a Seahawks defense that has allowed seven tight ends (or six tight ends and Taysom Hill) to have top-12 weekly finishes and Otton looks like a strong streamer this week.
Not long ago, the Saints defense was a coveted fantasy outfit. The Saints were tough against the run and the pass, they got after the quarterback and they forced turnovers. Those days are in the past. New Orleans enters Week 10 as the DST26 and coming off a week where it allowed 27 points to the Ravens and tallied just three fantasy points.
The outlook is brighter this week against the Steelers. Pittsburgh is one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. The change to Kenny Pickett at quarterback hasn’t helped matters. In four starts, Pickett has been sacked 12 times and thrown five interceptions. That doesn’t count the three picks he threw in relief of Mitchell Trubisky in Week 4. The Saints should be able to rebound in this one.
This just feels wrong. The Raiders aren’t a very good team right now. They were shut out by the Saints. Then they coughed up a 17-0 lead and lost to the Jaguars. Those losses don’t fall fully on the defense. But the defense certainly deserves some blame here. Las Vegas has fantasy’s 31st-ranked defense and has scored three or fewer points in six weeks, including a pair of zeroes. That’s why it feels wrong putting it here.
But ... Colts. Indianapolis is in freefall. Matt Ryan was benched. Sam Ehlinger has been a downgrade. Offensive coordinator Marcus Brady and head coach Frank Reich were fired. In their place are Jeff Saturday, who has never been a head coach above the high school level, and Parks Frazier, who has never called plays at any level. The offensive line is bad, and Jonathan Taylor is hurt. The Colts offense, on paper, is one of the most punchless lineups we’ve ever seen. If there’s ever a chance to bank on the Raiders, this is the week.