Thumbs Up of the Week: Tom Brady (@ DEN)
Fantasy owners might see Denver on the schedule and decide to sit Brady, but I still have him as the top quarterback in a week with no other slam-dunk options due to Aaron Rodgers being out. Last season, Brady threw for just 188 yards, zero touchdowns, and zero interceptions against the Broncos, but that was because they ran it nearly 40 times on a weak run defense in a 16-3 win. Despite getting stomped by Philadelphia in Week 9, Denver has been an elite unit against the run this season, and more importantly, the Pats will have Rob Gronkowski back in the lineup unlike their 2016 matchup. In the Patriots-Broncos regular season games from 2013 to 2015, Brady averaged 319 passing yards per game and had a 10:1 touchdown-interception ratio.
Thumbs Up: Jared Goff (v HOU)
The Rams’ high-powered offense just put up 51 points on the road against the Giants, and now they return come to face a Houston team that has been destroyed through the air against really good quarterbacks. The Texans allowed 378 yards and five touchdowns to Tom Brady in Week 3, 324 yards and three touchdowns to Alex Smith in Week 5, and 452 yards and four touchdowns to Russell Wilson in Week 8. If you haven’t noticed, Goff is a really good quarterback.
Thumbs Up: Ben Roethlisberger (@ IND)
There might not be a team Ben Roethlisberger has been more dominant against this decade than the Colts. Big Ben has faced them four times since 2011, and he’s 4-0 with 365 passing yards per game and a 14:1 touchdown-interception ratio, including one of the best games in NFL history with 522 yards and six scores in three years ago. The most recent game came on Thanksgiving Night last season when he made quick work of them with three touchdown connections with Antonio Brown. Even on the road, Roethlisberger is a solid QB1 option.
Thumbs Up: Josh McCown (@ TB)
Many thought New York might not win more than one game and would be in a position to draft USC quarterback Sam Darnold with the first-overall pick in 2018, but it looks like the Giants—not the Jets—could be in that position. Josh McCown obviously isn’t the future at 38-years-old, but he’s been very impressive in leading the Jets to a 4-5 record with a good chance to get to .500 through 10 games, as the Bucs are falling apart on both sides of the ball. Besides an ugly game with the Panthers two weeks ago, Tampa Bay has allowed at least 263 passing yards in every game this season. McCown is a quality streaming option.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Drew Brees (@ BUF)
Most fantasy owners probably don’t have a better option than Brees—and he’s still a QB1 option—but the upside might not be as high as it usually is on Sunday. The Bills have allowed just one quarterback throw for multiple touchdown passes this season, and Brees has long been better at the Superdome than anywhere else. Also, Buffalo has had a few extra days to prepare and are coming off a disappointing loss to the Jets, so Sean McDermott should have his defense ready.
Thumbs Down: Philip Rivers (@ JAC)
As I said last week for Andy Dalton as a “Thumbs Down,” the Jaguars are a defense to completely avoid for fantasy quarterbacks. They are allowing just 5.9 fantasy points per game to opposing passers, and no one has scored more than 12 fantasy points against them in 2017. Perhaps Rivers will have more success than others by targeted Hunter Henry, Keenan Allen, and Melvin Gordon underneath and over the middle, but he’s not worth a start in Week 10.
Thumbs Down: Kirk Cousins (v MIN)
A better real-life player than fantasy option right now, Kirk Cousins made some big-time throws in last week’s win over Seattle, but he finished with just 247 yards and no touchdowns. While the Redskins will return home on Sunday, Minnesota is coming off a bye and has a better secondary than the Seahawks do. Even if Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder play, Cousins is just a QB2 option.
Thumbs Down: Jacoby Brissett (v PIT)
Brissett impressed again with 308 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 9 win over the Texans, but the Steelers are a much more difficult matchup. Pittsburgh is allowing less than 10 fantasy points per game to opposing fantasy quarterbacks, and they could grind the clock down with Le’Veon Bell in a game they should handle with an extra week to prepare. I doubt they let T.Y. Hilton get deep on Sunday.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Christian McCaffrey (v MIA)
A breakout game as a runner elevates McCaffrey from “Thumbs Up” in Week 9 to “Thumbs Up of the Week” in Week 10, as the eighth-overall pick rushed a season-high 15 times for 66 yards and scored his first-career rushing touchdown in a win over the Falcons last Sunday. As Carolina expected, the Kelvin Benjamin trade opened up the running game, and hopefully that leads to 20+ touches every week down the stretch for McCaffrey. On Monday Night Football, the rookie should also be able to take advantage of a defense that doesn’t defense tight ends or running backs well in the passing game. If his workload stays up, “Run CMC” will be an RB1 in standard leagues the rest of the way.
Thumbs Up: Latavius Murray (@ WAS)
Speaking of workloads, since Dalvin Cook went down for the season, Latavius Murray’s touches have gone from 14 to 16 to 18 to 20. Now, as healthy as he’s been all year following the bye week, Latavius should see his workload stabilize or even slightly increase. Ranked 35th on FantasyPros expert consensus rankings, I have Murray as a low-end RB2 option against a Washington team allowing 4.2 yards per carry.
Thumbs Up: Ty Montgomery (@ CHI)
A rib injury at the end of September has derailed Montgomery’s season, as rookie Aaron Jones was able to take control of the Green Bay backfield in his absence, but I think two-straight poor offensive performances (both losses) could lead to Montgomery regaining lead-back status. Brett Hundley looked most comfortable when operating a hurry-up attack, and Montgomery is the team’s best pass protector and receiver out of the backfield. Last season, the former wideout shredded Chicago with nine carries for 60 and 10 receptions for 66 yards in their first meeting, and then topped it with 162 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts in December. I think he’s worth a FLEX play.
Thumbs Up: Matt Forte (@ TB)
Forte had his best game of the season last Thursday night against the Bills, as he scored his first two touchdowns of the year and totaled 96 yards on 18 touches. The veteran back is well-positioned for another strong game against the unmotivated Bucs, and New York doesn’t seem worried about getting younger guys involved with a playoff spot potentially in their sights.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Adrian Peterson (v SEA)
Let me just be clear: I’m not betting against Adrian Peterson here. He is still a high-end RB2 play against the Seahawks, but if teams are loaded at running back, this would be the week to sit him, as there are definite risks (short week, game flow, stacked boxes). After Week 10, he’s a volume RB1 for the rest of the year, but I would temper my expectations in an always unpredictable Thursday Night Football game.
Thumbs Down: Ameer Abdullah (v CLE)
Committing to the run does wonders for a football team, as despite Ameer Abdullah’s ineffectiveness from a yards-per-carry standpoint on Monday night, he was given 22 touches in a 30-17 win over Green Bay. However, he fumbled twice, and now faces a fresh Cleveland team that’s allowing just 2.9 yards per carry, which is by far the best in the NFL. He can stay in lineups, but despite scoring a goal-line touchdown last week, Abdullah is just a FLEX with role and usage concerns behind a bad offense line this Sunday.
Thumbs Down: Kenyan Drake (@ CAR)
Kenyan Drake looked good in the first game of the post-Jay Ajayi era, but Carolina is a matchup to shy away from. The Panthers have allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns and the second-fewest rushing yards per game in the league, and they are even better when superstar linebacker Luke Kuechly is in the lineup. Splitting time with Damien Williams, Drake is just a weak FLEX option with a slight boost in PPR leagues.
Thumbs Down: Jonathan Stewart (v MIA)
Christian McCaffrey’s breakout game as a runner was partly due to Stewart’s troubles holding onto the football, as the long-time Panther lost two fumbles on 11 carries in Week 9. It’s not likely that Carolina completely phases him out of the offense, but McCaffrey will undoubtedly see more carries, and Cameron Artis-Payne could also see his role slightly expanded. Anyone who plays Stewart is basically hoping for a touchdown, and Cam Newton often taking it into his own hands doesn’t help.
Thumbs Up of the Week: DeVante Parker (@ CAR)
Not many people might have seen it late in Sunday night’s loss to the Raiders, but DeVante Parker made a phenomenal, one-handed grab that will probably go down as the catch of the year. Had it been Odell Beckham, Jr., Twitter probably would have exploded and still be talking about it, but Parker is on his way to superstar status in his own right. The third-year receiver has at least 69 yards in every healthy game this season, and he’s ready to explode in another primetime spot, as the Panthers just allowed six receptions for 118 yards to Julio Jones, and it could have easily been 200 yards and two scores. Jay Cutler should lock onto his monster receiver as they look to pull off an upset in Carolina, and I have Parker as a top-five play in standard leagues.
Thumbs Up: Demaryius Thomas (v NE)
The Broncos have been a mess offensively this season, but Brock Osweiler was at least able to give Demaryius Thomas a spark in Week 9, as he was targeted a team-high 12 times and found the end zone for the first time in nearly an entire season. Thomas getting the ball underneath and doing damage after the catch should continue to be a focus against New England, and Demaryius is used to Bill Belichick’s defense after facing him every year of his career so far. Even including a snow game where he was held to one reception in 2015, Thomas has averaged close to 100 yards per game and has at least nine targets in every game versus the Patriots (he actually had 13 two years ago). The bye week should have allowed the quietly improving defense to get even better, but they are still a favorable matchup for Thomas. He’s a borderline WR1.
Thumbs Up: JuJu Smith-Schuster (@ IND)
I would say the first game as the clear number-two receiver worked out well for Smith-Schuster, as he caught seven passes for 193 yards and a touchdown when Martavis Bryant was inactive two weeks ago. Bryant is expected to be back and ready to contribute after the bye week, but there’s no way JuJu loses playing time to him. The 20-year-old should be in for another big game against a team that Pittsburgh has torched in recent years.
Thumbs Up: Sterling Shepard (@ SF)
Sterling Shepard returned to the lineup for the first time in a month to catch five passes for 70 yards, and his second game back could be a blowup spot. The Giants and 49ers are a combined 1-16 this year, and two really bad teams facing each other can sometimes just get ridiculous when it comes to effort, following assignments, tackling, and level of play in general on both sides of the ball. I’m usually lower on Shepard than most, but I have him way up to a low-end WR2 in Week 10.
Thumbs Up (BONUS): Sammy Watkins (v HOU)
The only other time I’ve done a bonus is when DeVante Parker went for 8/76/1 in Week 3 when everyone else was really low on him, so I’m doing the same with Watkins. I’ve got the Rams receiver as a WR1 for the second-straight week, but he’s 29th (though climbing) in FantasyPros expert consensus rankings. Remember, the Texans just got torched for 175 yards and two touchdowns by T.Y. Hilton.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Doug Baldwin (@ ARI)
Baldwin had arguably the best game of his career against the Cardinals on Christmas Eve last year, as he caught 13-of-19 targets for 171 yards and a touchdown, but I think that could mean bad news for him this season against Arizona. Patrick Peterson has been locking up everyone through eight games, and he should be tasked with defending Baldwin if they are going to get a huge win on Thursday Night Football to keep pace in the NFC West and NFC playoff picture. You never know what will happen on TNF, but I think it’d be wise for Arizona to make it simple and have Peterson on Baldwin.
Thumbs Down: Kelvin Benjamin (v NO)
Benjamin is set to make his Bills debut in Week 10, but it comes in an unenviable matchup with rookie cornerback Marcus Lattimore. The Saints’ first-round pick has been an elite, shutdown corner this year, and he just got done holding Mike Evans to one reception for 13 yards. It was so bad that the immature Evans blindsided him in the second half, leading to a one-game suspension. Benjamin doesn’t have the separation skills to do much against the rookie, so he’s barely worth FLEX consideration.
Thumbs Down: Larry Fitzgerald (v SEA)
I would feel good about playing Fitzgerald if Carson Palmer was healthy, but Drew Stanton quarterbacking against the Seahawks on a short week makes me wary of Fitz on Thursday night. While the legendary receiver had had some big games against Seattle, he’s also been held in check with games of two yards, 17 yards, 18 yards, 30 yards, 31 yards, and 33 yards in the Pete Carroll era, and he’s only scored twice against them since 2010. Like with Adrian Peterson, temper your expectations.
Thumbs Down: Josh Doctson (v MIN)
Doctson’s clutch 38-yard reception that led to the game-winning touchdown for the Redskins in a huge win over Seattle might be enough to give him momentum for a breakout in the second half of the season, but we’ve already seen him fail to build on flashes all year. The second-year receiver just isn’t reliable enough to be in lineups until we see it for more than a handful of plays, especially with Xavier Rhodes potentially shadowing him on Sunday. Keep him on the bench.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Kyle Rudolph (@ WAS)
Washington had an extremely impressive defensive performance in their win over the Seahawks last week, but they continue to be susceptible to production from opposing tight ends. The Redskins are allowing 80 yards per game to the position, and Rudolph is getting more involved with Case Keenum under center after a slow start together, as he has at least five receptions in each game since the first week of October. He’s a top-three option with Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce on a bye.
Thumbs Up: Eric Ebron (v CLE)
The Browns are a weekly target for tight-end streamers, and that will be Ebron in Week 10. The former first-round pick has failed to live up to his draft status, especially this season with just 195 yards through eight games, but Gregg Williams’ defense gives opposing tight ends an opportunity to put up numbers. Ebron isn’t a TE1 for me, but if he’s going to have a breakout game, this would be it.
Thumbs Up: Ed Dickson (v MIA)
Another team that doesn’t do well against tight ends, the Dolphins just allowed Jared Cook to have one of the best games of his career with eight receptions for 126 yards, and Ed Dickson always seems to be open down the seam for Carolina. The 30-year-old has been quiet since that 175-yard explosion a few weeks ago, but he could be a key on Monday night.
Thumbs Up: Garrett Celek (v NYG)
The Giants make the Redskins, Browns, and Dolphins look like the lockup against tight ends, as New York has allowed a score in every game this season. In standard leagues, they’re allowing 12.9 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends; for comparison, Rob Gronkowski is averaging just over 11 fantasy points per game. Celek is more of a blocker than receiver, but he’s definitely worth a look this week.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Jason Witten (@ ATL)
The future Hall-of-Famer has had some big games this season, but he’s also had a three-yard game, a nine-yard game, and a five-yard game. Atlanta just held Ed Dickson to zero receptions in Week 9, so this could be another low output for Witten. He’d only be worth playing if Dez Bryant is inactive.
Thumbs Down: Julius Thomas (@ CAR)
Thomas came alive for a 6/84/1 line in last week’s loss to the Raiders, but I’m not sold on it lasting. For this week, the Panthers are really tough on opposing tight ends, as they haven’t allowed a score in seven-of-nine games. Thomas should be on the waiver wire.
Thumbs Down: Coby Fleener (@ BUF)
Fleener caught a 33-yard pass in Week 9, but that was his longest play of the year, and he’s still yet to top 54 yards or score since the season opener. Buffalo should be a lot better than they were a week ago on defense.
Thumbs Down: Jordan Reed (v MIN)
It’s looking like Jordan Reed will miss another game, but even if he does play against the Vikings, I wouldn’t trust him in fantasy lineups. We saw him gut through a shoulder injury last Thanksgiving against Dallas with 95 yards and two touchdowns, but we’ve also seem him be completely ineffective in other games. Vernon Davis remains a low-end TE1 if Reed is out.
For defense and kicker advice—and all your start/sit decisions—check out our full Week 10 rankings.