This is the Week 10 “Fire or Flop” series, highlighting my favorite and not-so favorite fantasy football plays of the week. I will not mention players who are already in the overall top five of their position in scoring (excluding Def/ST’s). I will list five players from each position group (excluding K) that I feel good about each week, followed by others that I don’t. As always, my thoughts are with PPR in mind.
Matthew Stafford vs. Cleveland Browns (25th | 19.3 FPPG) — Stafford has been on a tear lately, averaging 365.3 passing YPG in the last three weeks, also tossing 5 TD’s. There is nothing to indicate the Browns defense will be able to stop the Lions offense in the confines of Ford Field.
Cam Newton vs. Miami Dolphins (14th | 15.8 FPPG) — Losing Kelvin Benjamin doesn’t have to be a bad thing for Newton. Now, he can spread the ball around to his speedy playmakers, such as Christian McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel and Russell Shepard. Devin Funchess has also taken the reins this year of Carolina’s WR1. Things are looking nice for Newton’s fantasy value, especially with him racking up 14.6 points just on the ground last week.
Jared Goff vs. Houston Texans (30th | 20.5 FPPG) — Houston’s defense was obviously going to be in trouble without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, but having QB Deshaun Watson on offense was able to alleviate the pressure on the defense. Without Watson, we’ve seen that things can be ugly for Houston’s defense. Last week against the Colts, they surrendered 371 yards of offense and 20 points. Last week, Goff and the Rams torched a much better New York Giants defense.
Ben Roethlisberger @ Indianapolis Colts (28th | 20.0 FPPG) — Ben and the Steelers offense own the Colts, plain and simple. In his last three games against them, he averages 369.0 passing YPG, 4.3 TD and has thrown 0 interceptions. This game is in a controlled environment inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy, so conditions will be nice again for Roethlisberger against the Colts’ 28th-ranked Def/ST against QB’s.
Josh McCown @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27th | 19.6 FPPG) — The Buccaneers are a mess right now. Their defense is among the worst in the league after failing to build off of the excellent play they had late in 2016. QB Jameis Winston (shoulder) is out for at least a few weeks, and WR Mike Evans is suspended this week. This smells like McCown and the Jets could absolutely smother the Buccaneers this week. McCown is fantasy’s QB11 and goes up against one of fantasy’s worst Def/ST in the passing game.
Drew Brees @ Buffalo Bills (7th | 13.9 FPPG) — Brees hasn’t been very Brees-like this year, throwing for 300 yards in only 2-of-8 games so far. His top weapon, WR Michael Thomas, has been banged-up with an ankle injury as well. It doesn’t bode well for New Orleans’ passing game against a pretty stout Buffalo pass defense.
Jay Cutler @ Carolina Panthers (4th | 12.9 FPPG) — Cutler was outstanding last week against the Raiders, bur this is a much different matchup this week. For starters, last week’s opponent, Oakland, is among the worst pass defenses while this week’s opponent, Carolina, is among the best. Cutler has only had one really nice fantasy day, so until he strings more together, he is a streamer only in good matchups.
Philip Rivers @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1st | 8.3 FPPG) — Your weekly reminder to refrain from starting QB’s against the Jaguars and their league’s-stingiest pass defense.
Leonard Fournette vs. Los Angeles Chargers (25th | 25.7 FPPG) — It was really disappointing to see Fournette made inactive late last week due to a team rule violation. Hopefully, it lights a fire under the rookie and is a reality check that nothing is given to you in the NFL. I’d love to see a passed-off Fournette against one of the league’s worst rushing Def/ST’s this week.
Jordan Howard vs. Green Bay Packers (26th | 25.7 FPPG) — If Brett Hundley can’t take control of the Packers offense and make it work, then things are going to completely implode for Green Bay. Their defense is already going to have a hard enough time with Chicago likely trying to control the game with Howard. I would be surprised if he doesn’t get 20-plus touches.
Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara @ Buffalo Bills (21st | 23.8 FPPG) — You can’t pick just one Saints RB because they’re literally interchangeable from a fantasy perspective (Kamara is fantasy’s RB10, Ingram RB11). I don’t think New Orleans is going to have a good go of it through the air, so they’ll need to rely on their RB’s on the ground as well as an extension of the run game with short passes.
Carlos Hyde vs. New York Giants (16th | 23.1 FPPG) — The 49ers really don’t have much else to lean on until QB Jimmy Garoppolo is ready to play. Expect a heavy dose of Hyde against a Def/ST that surrendered 104 total yards and 2 TD’s to Todd Gurley last week.
Adrian Peterson vs. Seattle Seahawks (5th | 20.0 FPPG) — It’s great to see Peterson put up stats again since joining the Cardinals, but he appears to be a matchup player at this point. He’s been awesome in two good matchups (21.55 FPPG) and was totally unproductive in one bad one (3.8). This week brings another bad matchup against Seattle.
Julio Jones vs. Dallas Cowboys (27th | 35.8 FPPG) — Fairly obvious, but since he’s not among fantasy’s top five WR’s, I’ve got to put him in. Jones recorded his second 100-yard game of the year last week, but Atlanta’s got to work on getting him in the end zone. How he’s got just 1 TD this year in unreasonable.
*UPDATE: Jones (ankle) has missed a bunch of practice time this week. Keep an eye on this.
Doug Baldwin @ Arizona Cardinals (29th | 37.0 FPPG) — Like Jones, Baldwin is someone you should be starting pretty much every week. He gets a great matchup against Arizona this week, even though he’ll have Patrick Peterson on him a good amount of the time. Baldwin’s 9.3 targets per game is a PPR dream.
Golden Tate vs. Cleveland Browns (8th | 28.2 FPPG) — One of the prime beneficiaries of Stafford’s hot streak is Tate, who is averaging 7.0 catches (8.0 targets) for 98.3 yards and scored 1 TD in the last three weeks. The Browns are doing relatively well against WR’s so far, but I doubt they stop Detroit’s passing game, which is the only type of game their offense possesses.
Robby Anderson @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31st | 39.9 FPPG) — Anderson has turned into a legitimate fantasy WR, currently ranking as WR20. The Jets offense is a pass-heavy group, and Anderson is their leading receiver. He has scored a TD in three straight games — one of which was also a 100-yard game — and he gets a great matchup against the Buccaneers this week.
JuJu Smith-Schuster @ Indianapolis Colts (26th | 35.2 FPPG) — In Pittsburgh’s last game, Smith-Schuster took over as their WR2 and promptly went for 193 yards and a TD. He also saw 10 targets, which is a bigger deal for me. He should be started against a shaky Indianapolis pass defense this week.
Michael Thomas @ Buffalo Bills (14th | 30.3 FPPG) — As I mentioned, Thomas has been slowed by an ankle issue this week. He’s been a stud this year, but this is a tough matchup for the whole Saints passing game.
Keenan Allen @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1st | 21.2 FPPG) — As much as I love Allen, this is an undeniably bad matchup for him. His game is based on mechanics and getting separation that way more than it is speed and athleticism. Allen also hasn’t done a whole lot in the last four weeks, averaging 4.0 catches for 53.5 yards during that time. Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and Aaron Colvin is a tall task for Allen and the Chargers WR’s.
Jimmy Graham @ Arizona Cardinals (16th | 11.7 FPPG) — Graham and Russell Wilson have really been clicking lately. In the last four weeks, Graham has two 50-yard games and 4 TD’s. This is another pretty fair matchup this week.
Kyle Rudolph @ Washington Redskins (29th | 16.9 FPPG) — This is a nice matchup for Rudolph, who is targeted 5.9 times per game. He is mostly a good PPR option (4.0 catches per game) because his 3 TD’s come inconsistently. The three have come in Week 1, Week 5 and Week 9.
Jack Doyle vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (9th | 10.3 FPPG) — Doyle has basically become a must-start in PPR leagues. He is catching 6.3-of-7.9 targets per game and has 2 TD’s in the last four games. He has done well regardless of difficulty of matchup because of how much Jacoby Brissett looks his way.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5th | 9.8 FPPG) — Seferian-Jenkins isn’t the safest of bets this week because his fantasy value is very TD-dependent, but this week is a better matchup than it appears to be against the fifth-ranked Buccaneers. Seferian-Jenkins has done well overall this season despite not putting up yardage, so if the Jets can get into the red zone often enough, he’ll probably score.
Hunter Henry @ Jacksonville Jaguars (19th | 12.4 FPPG) — If the Chargers are going to have much success against Jacksonville this week, it’s going to require them getting ugly on offense, but in a good way. The vertical passing game isn’t going to cut it. It’s going to take plenty of Melvin Gordon on the ground with Henry and Antonio Gates finding their spots in the passing game.
Julius Thomas @ Carolina Panthers (8th | 10.3 FPPG) — Thomas had what was probably his best game in a few years last week when he put up 84 yards and a TD against the Raiders. However, I don’t see Miami’s offensive success lingering into this week. Thomas has a very tough matchup against Luke Kuechly’s Panthers defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Los Angeles Chargers (10th | 5.3 FPPG) — The Jaguars Def/ST is a must-start every week. They lead the league in PPG allowed (14.6), sacks (35) and are third in total yards per game (281.3) and takeaways (16).
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals (22nd | 8.4 FPPG) — Arizona’s only hope of having a good offense died with QB Carson Palmer’s broken arm. Now, we have a matchup of a bad offense against a top-level defense.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Houston Texans (23rd | 8.9 FPPG) — The Rams are fourth in the league in takeaways (15) and fourth in sacks (25). The Texans offense is in pretty bad shape with Tom Savage as its QB.
Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns (31st | 12.5 FPPG) — You can pretty much start any Def/ST any week against Cleveland, who leads the league in giveaways (21). However, Detroit is a legit fantasy Def/ST. They’re currently ranked as fantasy’s Def/ST5.
New York Jets @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (15th | 6.5 FPPG) — You either look at this as a Ryan Fitzpatrick revenge game and think he’ll lead the Buccaneers well, or you think on the more realistic side and say that the Jets will make life hard for him. I’ll take the latter.
New Orleans Saints @ Buffalo Bills (12th | 5.6 FPPG) — The Saints Def/ST has been a pleasant surprise this season, currently sitting as Def/ST4. However, QB Tyrod Taylor runs a pretty steady offense with LeSean McCoy on the ground plus a decent group of pass-catchers in Jordan Matthews, Deonte Thompson, Zay Jones and newcomer Benjamin. I like Buffalo to hold their own this week.
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