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Week 10 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Kyler Murray (@ TB)

I had Murray here last week, and he rewarded fantasy owners with 23.0 fantasy points against the stingy San Francisco defense on Halloween. Now, the dynamic rookie will face a Tampa Bay secondary that was just shredded by Russell Wilson, and overall, the Bucs have allowed 26.7 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks since Week 3. Plus, as we saw earlier this year with Daniel Jones, this is a spot where Murray can do serious damage on the ground because of heavy man-to-man coverage for Todd Bowles defense.


Thumbs Up: Josh Allen (@ CLE)

Allen has been a high-floor QB1 rather than a high-upside QB1 so far this season, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the second-year quarterback has been between 16.0 fantasy points and 22.2 fantasy points in seven-of-eight games (with the lone exception coming against New England). Still, a monster performance will happen at some point, and it could be this weekend as three-point underdogs in Cleveland—which will give Allen and the Bills some extra motivation to improve to 7-2.


Thumbs Up: Jared Goff (@ PIT)

There is some concern about Pittsburgh’s aggressive defense getting to Goff early and often, but Sean McVay is great with extra time to prepare, and I expect the passing attack to come out firing off the bye. If given time, Goff—who hasn’t thrown an interception in over a month—should be able to dissect a secondary that just allowed Brian Hoyer to throw for three touchdowns off the bench. Consider the 25-year-old a top-ten option for Week 10.


Thumbs Up: Mitchell Trubisky (v DET)

The 2019 season hasn’t played out like expected for Trubisky and the Bears, but there is still time to turn things around. Last year, Matt Nagy knew how to attack the Matt Patricia’s defense, and Trubisky had 34.0 fantasy points in his lone start against them (Chase Daniel started on Thanksgiving due to injury and also played well). Hopefully we see more running from Chicago’s quarterback this week in a huge game, but perhaps he will get going through the air against a defense that has allowed 23.8 fantasy points per game to the position over the past four weeks.


Others: Jimmy Garoppolo (v SEA), Brian Hoyer (v MIA)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Russell Wilson (@ SF)

It is certainly understandable if you don’t want to bench Wilson—and he remains a QB1—but if there was a time to look elsewhere, this is it. Prior to last Thursday night’s win over the Cardinals, San Francisco’s defense had allowed fantasy point totals of -2.0, 1.1, 3.1, and 0.3 to opposing quarterbacks in October, and historically, they’ve held Wilson in check (he’s never thrown for more than 260 yards in 15 matchups). Again, it might be difficult to pull an MVP frontrunner from your lineup, but I’d rather play Kyler Murray or Josh Allen this week.


Thumbs Down: Kirk Cousins (@ DAL)

Cousins’ Week 9 performance (three touchdowns despite a sub-par showing) was basically the opposite of his Week 8 performance (zero touchdowns despite going 23-of-26 for 285 yards), but either way, he’s cooled off after a scorching stretch. This week, Minnesota will be back in primetime, and Cousins will likely be without Adam Thielen (hamstring) against a Cowboys defense allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. I have him outside the top-15 at quarterback.


Thumbs Down: Matthew Stafford (@ CHI)

Stafford is ranked as a QB1 this week by the consensus, but that may be overly optimistic due to recent performances. While the Bears have softened up against the run since losing Akiem Hicks (elbow), they are still stout in the secondary, and Stafford averaged just 10.7 fantasy points per game in the divisional matchup last season. This year, only one signal-caller (Teddy Bridgewater) has surpassed 15.7 fantasy points against Chicago. Even with six teams on a bye, you can look elsewhere.


Thumbs Down: Baker Mayfield (v BUF)

As stated, the 2-6 Browns are somehow favored with the 6-2 Bills coming to town, and that will only have Sean McDermott’s defense even more fired up this weekend. According to Next Gen Stats, Mayfield is the only quarterback in the league with more interceptions (ten) than touchdowns (six) when not facing pressure, so Buffalo’s league-average pass rush not getting home might not even matter—especially considering the players they have on the backend. Cleveland has the offensive firepower to breakout soon, but I only have Ryan Finley as a lesser fantasy play.


Others: Dak Prescott (v MIN), Mason Rudolph (v LAR)


Running Back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Melvin Gordon (@ OAK)

After averaging 13.8 touches in four games to start his 2019 campaign, Gordon was given a season-high 23 touches last week—resulting in 109 yards, two touchdowns, and an RB1 finish (23.4 fantasy points). Oakland is quietly allowing the fifth-fewest yards per carry in the league (3.7), but Gordon is trending back towards clear top-ten status because of his all-around game, and he’s killed the Raiders as a receiver throughout his career, including lines of 4/62 and 5/72/1 in 2018. The Wisconsin product is my No. 8 running back for Week 10.


Thumbs Up: Damien Williams (@ TEN)

It’s amazing that Kansas City has kept Williams stuck behind LeSean McCoy since returning from an early-season knee injury, but he’s likely earned his way back into a significant role after breaking out for 128 yards and a touchdown on 14 touches last week in a difficult matchup versus the Vikings. The Chiefs are expected to get Patrick Mahomes (knee) back on Sunday, so Williams’ receiving output (eight receptions over the past five games) should only increase. The Titans aren’t an easy opponent, but Williams is once again a high-upside RB2.


Thumbs Up: Tevin Coleman (v SEA)

A disappointing game against the Cardinals (12 carries for 23 yards) has fantasy owners souring on Coleman, but it’s important to not be too reactionary. Prior to last Thursday night, San Francisco’s starter had averaged 18.2 fantasy points per game over the previous four weeks, and he’s yet to really get going as a receiver, which should happen soon. Also, the Niners are getting healthier on the offensive line with Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley (leg) set to return. Coleman remains a top-15 option.


Thumbs Up: Kalen Ballage (@ IND)

I know it’s “cool” to say professional athletes are “trash” or something else that people wouldn’t say to them in person, but those who think like that are never right (and probably can’t even throw a football 20 yards themselves); just do a search of Ballage to see what I’m talking about. The reality is that Miami sounds confident in their new starter getting an opportunity with Mark Walton suspended, and Ballage has the size/speed combination to thrive in a featured role. If the Dolphins can keep it close against a banged-up Colts team, the second-year back should return solid FLEX value.


Others: Jaylen Samuels (v LAR), Gus Edwards (@ CIN)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Le’Veon Bell (v NYG)

The Jets promoting Josh Adams from the practice squad reportedly has nothing to do with Bell’s health after injuring his knee in Week 9, but I would still expect the move means we could see more of a committee in the second half of the season, as New York is now carrying four backs on the roster. Bell was boosted by eight receptions last week, but he’s now averaging 3.3 yards per carry and 6.1 yards per reception with just two touchdowns on the year. I currently have Bell ranked as the No. 17 running back for Week 10, and he may even be moved down before Sunday.


Thumbs Down: David Johnson (@ TB)

Johnson is in the same boat as Bell in that he may share touches down the stretch, but the difference is the upside has been there for Arizona’s top offensive threat. That said, I’m worried about the matchup this week more than anything (the Buccaneers have allowed the third-fewest points per game to the position), and those loaded at running back may want to avoid the risk if possible. DJ is a top-20 play with the hopes that he provides substantial value through the air (lines of 8/99, 3/65, 6/68/1 over the past three healthy appearances), but he’d be lower if it wasn’t the biggest bye week of the season.


Thumbs Down: Joe Mixon (v BAL)

Maybe A.J. Green will open things up for the entire offense (if he plays) or the Ravens will come into Cincinnati overconfident, but Mixon isn’t a highly-recommended option this week. In the first matchup this season (which the Bengals kept close), Mixon rushed eight times for just ten yards, and for his career, Baltimore has held him to less than 15 rushing yards in three-of-five meetings. Also, rookie Ryan Finley making his first career start will likely lead to plenty of stacked boxes.


Thumbs Down: LeSean McCoy (@ TEN)

After seeming to separate himself from Damien Williams and Darrel Williams in the Kansas City backfield with double-digit touches in three straight games, McCoy played just six snaps in Week 9, and other than Andy Reid’s loyalty, there is no reason to believe he will suddenly be the No. 1 guy again for Sunday’s trip to Tennessee. McCoy might get another nominal start, but a lost fumble two weeks ago may have doomed his fantasy value barring injury. You can probably do better.


Others: Devonta Freeman (@ NO), Ito Smith (@ NO)


Wide Receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: Sammy Watkins (@ TEN)

Injuries are always the concern for Watkins, but when on the field, he’s a huge factor in Andy Reid’s offense with an average of 9.3 targets per game in six healthy appearances this season. And while he hasn’t scored since the opener, Watkins has been a steady contributor that possesses too much talent to be held out of the end zone for much longer. It feels like a big game could come this weekend against a Titans secondary that has fallen apart in recent weeks.


Thumbs Up: Christian Kirk (@ TB)

Kirk was surprisingly limited to two receptions for eight yards in last Thursday’s loss to the 49ers, but I’m anticipating a bounce back this weekend against the Buccaneers. No one has allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing receivers than Tampa Bay, and that includes big performances out of the slot from Cooper Kupp (9/121/1) and Tyler Lockett (12/152/2). Get Kirk in lineups as a WR2 option for a probable shootout.


Thumbs Up: Zach Pascal (v MIA)

There are a couple of zero- and one-catch performances thrown in because he’s been more of a role player, but Pascal has scattered lines of 2/53/1, 4/72, 6/106/2, and last week’s 5/76/1 across eight games, and he should remain an underrated option with T.Y. Hilton (calf) expected to miss another week. The Dolphins have played hard, but they still have a tough time in coverage, so Pascal is firmly on the FLEX radar.


Thumbs Up: A.J. Brown (v KC)

Anyone that needs a flier with the bye week hitting their roster hard should look to see if Brown—coming off a career-high 69% of the snaps played last week—is available. The rookie has at least 8.1 fantasy points in each of the past three games, and when you’re desperate, it makes sense to bet on talent, which Brown has plenty of. I could see him having another quality outing in a game that Tennessee will likely need to score points in.


Others: Robert Woods (@ PIT), Calvin Ridley (@ NO)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Odell Beckham Jr. (v BUF)

All it takes is one play for Beckham to make an end zone sprint and be worth a start, but a matchup against Tre’Davious White and the Bills doesn’t seem like a wise spot for the Browns to pepper him with targets. And while you might think Odell is “due” for a score with just one touchdown through eight games, the Bills have only allowed two wideouts to score all season. He’s a low-end WR2/FLEX for me.


Thumbs Down: Emmanuel Sanders (v SEA)

I had Sanders as a “Thumbs Down” last week against Patrick Peterson, but the superstar cornerback had perhaps the worst game of his career, and fantasy owners that played the veteran receiver were rewarded for it. Unlike the Cardinals, Seattle is unlikely to allow Sanders to do whatever he wants on Monday night, though, so I have him as more of a FLEX than WR2 for what could turn into a defensive battle in the NFC West.


Thumbs Down: Tyler Boyd (v BAL)

News of A.J. Green (ankle) not feeling great after a Wednesday walkthrough obviously leaves his status in doubt, and his potential absence might be a bad thing for Boyd because of the attention he’d warrant. Whether or not Green suits up, Boyd will draw the toughest matchup against Marlon Humphrey in the slot (based on what Baltimore’s done over the past two games), which could mean a similar outing to Week 6 when he caught three-of-seven targets for just ten scoreless yards in Baltimore.


Thumbs Down: JuJu Smith-Schuster (v LAR)

Smith-Schuster has the skillset to beat anyone, but based on what we saw in Jalen Ramsey’s debut with the Rams, he will likely shadow him this weekend (including in the slot). I don’t expect Mason Rudolph to challenge Ramsey if he can help it, especially because both James Washington and Diontae Johnson have shown they can step up as secondary options. JuJu has an encouraging rest-of-season schedule, but this is the matchup to avoid.


Others: Josh Gordon (@ SF), Danny Amendola (@ CHI)


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