Week 10 of the NFL season kicks off tonight with the Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders vying for playoff positioning within the AFC West. Now on the backend of the 2019 season, your fantasy leagues are beginning to shake out with playoff seeding becoming prevalent.
Let me help you set your lineups in Week 10 (stats from Football Outsiders and Team Rankings):
Indianapolis Colts QB Jacoby Brissett versus Miami Dolphins
To preface this, Brissett is currently practicing on a limited basis after exiting the Week 9 contest early with a sprained MCL, so make sure to keep an eye out for his status on Sunday. Brissett has been a nice real life surprise, though his volatility in fantasy football has been real. Yet still, the Colts — and Brissett — get the 32nd-ranked pass defense by DVOA and 28th-ranked defense by yards-per-pass-attempt (YPA).
Los Angeles Chargers QB Philip Rivers versus Oakland Raiders
Thursday Night’s contest features a long-time veteran QB in Rivers and a bad pass defense in the Raiders. Rivers has consistently scored in the double-digits, but he’s only been able to top 20+ points on three occasions this year. The Raiders’ pass defense is ranked 29th by DVOA and 31st by YPA, providing Rivers with an opportunity to get back to the 20+ performances he’s had.
Other potential starts: Lamar Jackson versus Cincinnati Bengals, Jameis Winston versus Arizona Cardinals, Kyler Murray versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Mason Rudolph versus Los Angeles Rams
Rudolph has been a serviceable backup at best, and the matchup isn’t a great one for the Steelers’ signal caller. Rudolph has yet to score over 17 points in any game this season, and now faces the Rams’ defense which ranks 15th in pass defense by DVOA and 13th by YPA.
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield versus Buffalo Bills
Mayfield — as well as the Browns themselves — have proven to be a disaster in 2019, and another tale in the old folklore of “you can’t win championships in the offseason”. Mayfield has yet to score 20 points in any game this year, and the Bills’ defense is ranked 5th by DVOA and 3rd by YPA.
Other potential sits: Kyle Allen versus Green Bay Packers, Jared Goff versus Pittsburgh Steelers
Miami Dolphins RB Kalen Ballage versus Indianapolis Colts
The Dolphins are simply running out of bodies at the running back spot, and the next man up is the talented but incredibly non-productive runner in Ballage. Ballage has had a horrific season in which he’s averaged only 2.0-yards-per-carry, but should be strictly used in desperate RB situations as a volume play who has an okay matchup as the Colts’ run defense is ranked 27th by DVOA and 21st by YPC.
Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack versus Miami Dolphins
Like his quarterback, Mack has a pristine matchup against the 31st-ranked run defense by DVOA and 27th-ranked by YPC. Mack is actually a really good runner who’ll likely be leaned on with the health of Brissett, providing a great matchup and plenty of opportunities for Mack to produce a monster performance.
Other potential starts: Mark Ingram versus Cincinnati Bengals, Derrick Henry versus Kansas City Chiefs
Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In his first game as a Cardinal, Drake erupted to the tune of 160 total yards and one touchdown, but I suggest caution this week against the Buccaneers. Starting RB David Johnson sounds like he will return, and the Bucs are ranked 1st in run defense by DVOA and 2nd in YPC.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams versus Tennessee Titans
Up until last week, Williams was having one of the worst seasons of any running back in football, though a 91-yard touchdown will certainly skew the perception. Outside of that long rush which provided Williams with a bus-sized gap, Williams has averaged 2.3-yards-per-carry in 2019, and faces the 3rd-ranked run defense by DVOA and 9th-ranked by YPC.
Other potential sits: James Conner versus Los Angeles Rams, Devonta Freeman versus New Orleans Saints
Indianapolis Colts WR Zach Pascal versus Miami Dolphins
Pascal has elevated into the top target on the Colts’ offense with T.Y. Hilton out due to injury. In the past two weeks, Pascal has played 92.2% and 94.2% of the offensive snaps, and converted six targets into five receptions in Week 9. Pascal benefits from the same fantastic matchup that his QB and RB do.
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers’ pass defense is ranked 26th by DVOA and 21st in YPA, but not only that, they allowed the 1st and 3rd-highest scoring receivers in Week 9 to the Seahawks. The pass defense is clearly a weakness, and rookie CB Jamel Dean was abused repeatedly by Russell Wilson last week. Kirk has been extremely volatile this season, but he’s still the best receiver on the Cardinals’ roster and still offers the highest upside of all pass catchers from Arizona.
Other potential starts: Emmanuel Sanders versus Seattle Seahawks, Keenan Allen versus Oakland Raiders
Seattle Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf versus San Francisco 49ers
I understand how it could be tough to bench Metcalf, especially after consecutive weeks of 16.30 and 27.00 points, but the 49ers’ pass defense is extremely strong, ranking 1st by DVOA and 2nd by YPA. Metcalf has been a source of big plays for his QB, but this isn’t a week I’d expect Russell Wilson to abuse the opposing defense.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry versus Buffalo Bills
Landry was the 16th-highest scoring WR in Week 9, but the Bills do not pose a positive matchup that results in strong days. Landry scored his first touchdown last week, his QB is struggling mightily, and the pass defense of the Bills is ranked 5th by DVOA and 3rd by YPA.
Other potential sits: JuJu Smith-Schuster versus Los Angeles Rams, Marvin Jones Jr. versus Chicago Bears
Tennessee Titans TE Jonnu Smith versus Kansas City Chiefs
As long as Delanie Walker remains out with an injury, Smith remains a useful TE option. Smith has collected 12 targets over the past two weeks and has played 73% of the snaps on offense in both weeks. The tight end position is not deep, and Smith has a unique opportunity to produce while Walker is sidelined.
Los Angeles Rams TE Gerald Everett versus Pittsburgh Steelers
Everett is hard to peg as his inconsistent usage is tough to predict, though his talent is top-notch and WR Brandin Cooks has already been ruled out of the Week 10 contest. Cooks being sidelined allows for more targets to go around, and Everett has eclipsed 10 targets twice in the past four weeks.
Other potential starts: Eric Ebron/Jack Doyle versus Miami Dolphins
Seattle Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister versus San Francisco 49ers
Like Metcalf, Hollister had a fantastic performance in Week 9 with his 4-37-2 line. The issue will be attempting to replicate his TD numbers moving forward, particularly against a ferocious defense like the 49ers. Hollister seemed to be more of a beneficiary of a great day, not necessarily evolving into a staple in the Seahawks’ offense.
Cleveland Browns TE Ricky Seals-Jones versus Buffalo Bills
Seals-Jones has fallen completely out of relevance in Cleveland, and his “minor” knee injury won’t help. The Bills are clearly a dominant defense, giving you even more reason to leave the tight end on your bench.
Other potential sits: Trey Burton versus Detroit Lions
Indianapolis Colts versus Miami Dolphins
The Colts are the 23rd-ranked defense in fantasy football, but a juicy matchup has presented itself with the Dolphins coming up on the schedule. The Dolphins have proven to be a mistake-prone football team that offers plenty of chances for opposing defenses to make plays.
Baltimore Ravens versus Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens are the 19th-ranked defense in points, but they get to oppose a late-round rookie draft pick making his first NFL start in QB Ryan Finley. The QB is likely to make plenty of mistakes in this one.
Other potential starts: New Orleans Saints versus Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Rams versus Pittsburgh Steelers
Carolina Panthers versus Green Bay Packers
The Panthers are the 4th-best defense in fantasy football this season, but they get the almighty Packers in Week 10. QB Aaron Rodgers and RB Aaron Jones are a dynamic duo who’ve been able to produce a ton of offense for the Cheeseheads.
Seattle Seahawks versus San Francisco 49ers
The Seahawks are only the 20th-ranked defense, and haven’t scored in the double-digits since Week 4. This week, the Seahawks oppose the 3rd-highest scoring offense in the 49ers.
Other potential sits: Tennessee Titans versus Kansas City Chiefs