Thumbs Up of the Week: Jared Goff (v SEA)
The schedule was very difficult for Goff and the Rams prior to the bye week, but they come out of it to face the league-worst Seattle pass defense, and plenty of points should be scored on Sunday. Over the past four matchups against the Seahawks, Goff has thrown for 331.8 yards per game, and Los Angeles has scored 31.5 points per game; it would be an upset if the former No. 1 overall pick didn’t put up big numbers in a probable shootout.
Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (v DEN)
Although he’s cooled off statistically over the past two weeks (138.0 yards per game), Carr has continued to play well for Las Vegas, and we could see Jon Gruden turn back to the passing attack against a Denver secondary that is banged up and struggling. It’s worth noting that three of Carr’s best four games this season have come at home, and he threw for 391 yards against Denver in last year’s season finale. I have him as a borderline QB1.
Thumbs Up: Nick Foles (v MIN)
It took a season-high 52 attempts, but Foles threw for 335 yards and two scores in last week’s loss, and the weapons are in place for Chicago to attack Minnesota’s defense—which has allowed the most passing touchdowns per game (2.4) and third-most passing yards per game (behind just Seattle and Atlanta). Allen Robinson and the collection of complementary pieces should give Foles all the ammunition he needs to return top-20 value in Week 10.
Thumbs Up: Baker Mayfield (v HOU)
Mayfield only has one game with 16+ fantasy points this year, but Houston presents a shootout opportunity for the Browns, and getting Nick Chubb (knee) back in the lineup should give the receivers more single coverage to make up for the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. (knee). At this point, Baker has settled in as a matchup-dependent streamer (4:5 touchdown-interception ratio against winning teams; 11:2 touchdown-interception ratio against teams below .500).
Thumbs Down of the Week: Cam Newton (v BAL)
Newton will always bring upside on the ground to potentially be worth a start regardless of opponent, but New England rarely used him as a runner on Monday night, and the Ravens have to like how their cornerbacks match up with the wideouts for the Pats—leading to more loaded fronts. In a week with several potential streaming options, I think fantasy owners should look elsewhere and not have to worry about Cam’s floor on Sunday night.
Thumbs Down: Joe Burrow (@ PIT)
The first test for Burrow against Baltimore didn’t go well earlier this year (183 yards and one interception while absorbing seven sacks), and the results may not be much better for his first matchup against Pittsburgh. The playmakers are there for Burrow to do damage against a pass defense that has underperformed a bit in 2020, but I’m mainly concerned about the offensive line not holding up against T.J. Watt and company. Consider him a risky QB2 for this week.
Thumbs Down: Teddy Bridgewater (v TB)
Bridgewater and the Panthers nearly upset Kansas City last week in a shootout, but I wouldn’t want to be the team to face Tampa Bay after they were just embarrassed on both sides of the ball, and this weekend has the makings of a letdown for those expecting another back-and-forth affair. In the first meeting, Bridgewater was sacked five times and tossed two interceptions, so we’ll see if an angry Bucs team can get to him again.
Thumbs Down: Nick Mullens (@ NO)
The hopeful returns of Deebo Samuel (hamstring) and Brandon Aiyuk (COVID-19) will increase Mullens’ ceiling on Sunday, but he’s already been benched once this season, and—despite what Kyle Shanahan has said—I would think the team could turn to C.J. Beathard again if they start slow. Don’t expect anything close to a repeat of last year when the 49ers won a track meet, 48-46, with Jimmy Garoppolo under center.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Jonathan Taylor (@ TEN)
Taylor basically fell out of the rotation last week when he lost a fumble at the end of the first quarter, but it was way too quick of a trigger considering he hadn’t fumbled as a pro prior to Week 9 (despite issues with them at Wisconsin), and I’m optimistic that Indianapolis will come to realize the decision was a mistake. In general, Colts-Titans is a huge game in the AFC South, and getting Taylor into a rhythm early would be key against a Tennessee team allowing 22.3 fantasy points per game to enemy runners. Now is the time to buy low.
Thumbs Up: Leonard Fournette (@ CAR)
No one really knows what to expect from the Tampa Bay backfield after they set the NFL record for fewest rush attempts in a game last week, but Fournette had 103 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against Carolina back in Week 2, and he also had a very productive day when the Jags faced them last year (108 yards and a touchdown). If the Bucs are able to get an early lead, Fournette could be used in the “closer” role that Bruce Arians talked about after the first matchup. Consider him a quality RB2 play.
Thumbs Up: Joshua Kelley (@ MIA)
He hasn’t scored since the opener and continues to operate in a timeshare, but Kelley is quietly on pace for 220 touches this season, and a breakout could be coming against the Dolphins (4.9 yards per carry allowed). Also, with five receptions last week, the rookie remained perfect in terms of catching every target thrown in his direction this year (19-of-19), and he’s handled 14+ touches in two of the past three games. Kelley’s low-end RB2/FLEX standing will get a more stable floor if Justin Jackson (knee) doesn’t suit up.
Thumbs Up: Bills RBs (@ ARI)
Bills-Cardinals is a projected shootout, so both Devin Singletary and Zack Moss will be worth considering this week. Of course, the challenge will be figuring out which back Buffalo will decide to lean on more (it’s been Moss in each of the past two games), but there may be enough opportunities for both to return at least FLEX value. Overall, Arizona has allowed 90+ rushing yards to running backs in all but one game this year.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Mike Davis (v TB)
It sounds like Davis will be back in the starting lineup with Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) now week-to-week, but the veteran’s production as the lead back has really fallen off after starting strong (21.4 fantasy points per game over his first three starts; 8.3 fantasy points per game over the final three starts). Now, he will face a determined Tampa Bay defense that has allowed a league-low 3.3 yards per carry this season; I have the veteran as a borderline top-15 option rather than the solid RB1 rank most seem to give him.
Thumbs Down: Phillip Lindsay (@ LV)
Even for a guy that’s averaging 5.8 yards per carry this season, Lindsay is simply too difficult to trust with single-digit touches in four-of-five appearances. Furthermore, the Raiders have been stout against the run since their bye, and they held Lindsay to 3.3 yards per carry on 29 scoreless attempts in 2019. I’d rather play anyone in a timeshare for Tampa Bay, Buffalo, or Los Angeles over Lindsay for this week.
Thumbs Down: Wayne Gallman (v PHI)
Gallman deserves to be the starter for New York down the stretch based on his play in recent weeks, but it’s unclear if that will be the case with Devonta Freeman (ankle) potentially coming back soon, and either way, the Eagles won’t be an easy matchup on Sunday. Especially if the Philadelphia is energized off the bye, Gallman’s touchdown streak will likely end at three games. I have him outside the top 30 at running back.
Thumbs Down: Patriots RBs (v BAL)
The late chest injury to Damien Harris on Monday night and the impending return of Sony Michel (quad) makes the New England backfield more confusing than ever, so that combined with the matchup makes them a group to avoid in Week 10. In the 2019 loss to Baltimore, only James White (84 total yards and a touchdown) was worth a start, but he’s barely been a factor over the past month.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Chris Godwin (@ CAR)
Tampa Bay’s loss to the Saints was a throw-out-the-tape game, and fantasy owners should be confident about Godwin and the rest of the passing attack bouncing back this week. We have yet to see a monster outing for Godwin due to injuries shuffling him in and out of the lineup, but he’s torched Carolina throughout his career (lines of 5/101/1, 8/121/1, and 10/151 over the past three meetings in particular), and it’s a shock to see most viewing him as a low-end WR2 option.
Thumbs Up: Cooper Kupp (v SEA)
Trailing big to the Dolphins was obviously a factor, but Kupp saw a whopping 20 targets prior to the bye, and similar to the first matchup last year (9/117/1 on 17 targets), I expect he will be featured against the Seahawks this weekend. In eight games this season, Seattle has somehow allowed 17 different wide receivers to go for 70+ receiving yards. Look for Kupp—who should be a borderline WR1—to join the list on Sunday.
Thumbs Up: John Brown (@ ARI)
Brown being healthy is a substantial boost to Buffalo’s passing attack, and getting through Week 9 without any sort of setback bodes well for his chances of staying hot this week as Stefon Diggs does battle with Patrick Peterson. The sample size isn’t huge, but Brown has gone for lines of 6/70/1, 4/82/1, and last week’s 8/99 in three games with more than five targets this year; I expect he’ll surpass that number against Dre Kirkpatrick (thigh) and/or Kevin Peterson.
Thumbs Up: A.J. Green (@ PIT)
Maybe the bye week came at the wrong time and has caused people to overlook him, but Green had 82+ receiving yards in each of the final two games in October, and while he was quiet in the win over the Titans (2/19) to begin November, the veteran still played 85% of the team’s offensive snaps. For his career, Green has clearly had Pittsburgh’s number (84.1 yards per game), and he could climb back into the 80-yard range with double-digit targets on Sunday.
Others: Christian Kirk (v BUF), Henry Ruggs III (v DEN)
Thumbs Down of the Week: D.J. Chark (@ GB)
Jaire Alexander (concussion) should be able to get cleared in the coming days having played last Thursday night, and if so, that’s who Chark is projected to be matched up against—which is bad news for his Week 10 outlook. Prior to his explosion against the Texans, Chark had combined for just 87 scoreless yards in his previous three games, and he should unfortunately be viewed as an extremely volatile WR2 for the Jags.
Thumbs Down: Travis Fulgham (@ NYG)
Fulgham won’t be kicked out of the starting lineup with Alshon Jeffery (calf) set to return, but he will see fewer targets—and the Eagles also have Miles Sanders (knee) expected to return while Jalen Reagor and Dallas Goedert have a game under their belts since returning and should be refreshed out of the bye. Plus, Fulgham might draw coverage from James Bradberry on Sunday, and that led to season-lows in catch percentage (45.5%) and yards per target (6.6) back in Week 7. I have him as more of a FLEX than WR2.
Thumbs Down: Darius Slayton (v PHI)
I had Slayton as a “Thumbs Down” in the previous matchup versus Philadelphia, and he was limited to two receptions (on three targets) for 23 yards. The struggles have continued since then for the second-year wideout (62 scoreless yards over the past two weeks), but that probably won’t lead to Jim Schwartz’s defense placing any less of a priority on stopping the big-play threat. I would feel slightly more confident about Sterling Shepard in this spot.
Thumbs Down: Marquise Brown (@ NE)
We don’t know if Stephon Gilmore (knee) will suit up for the Patriots this week, but it would be a major surprise if Bill Belichick didn’t emphasize keeping Brown contained after both Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims were able to get behind the defense on Monday night. While all it takes is one play for “Hollywood” to hit, the connection with Lamar Jackson simply hasn’t been there in 2020.
Others: Mike Williams (@ MIA), Corey Davis (v IND)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Austin Hooper (v HOU)
Hooper has been out since Week 6, but he was starting to find a groove before that with five receptions in three consecutive games, and Houston has really struggled to defend tight ends over the same stretch with 15.2 fantasy points per game allowed to the position. Last year, Hooper caught six passes for 56 yards against the Texans, and he should be a strong TE1 option on Sunday.
Thumbs Up: Tyler Higbee (v SEA)
One of the games during Higbee’s white-hot finish last season came against Seattle, as he caught seven passes for 116 yards in a 28-12 victory. Unfortunately, the usage for Higbee hasn’t come close to what we saw last December (five or fewer targets in every game this season), but perhaps two losses in a row will change things; Higbee is at least a high-to-mid TE2 play with upside for more.
Thumbs Up: Mo Alie-Cox (@ TEN)
Trey Burton is the preferred option at tight end for the Colts, but Alie-Cox has thrived when given significant run this year (68.0 yards per game in three appearances with at least 50% snaps played), and that should be the case tomorrow night without Jack Doyle (concussion) in the lineup. You could do a lot worse if scrambling for a streamer.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Mark Andrews (@ NE)
Andrews has now headlined the “Thumbs Down” section in each of the past three weeks, but things probably won’t get any better against the Patriots—who limited him to two receptions for 21 scoreless yards last year. While I am sure there will eventually be a re-emergence, New England isn’t usually the team that would provide a get-right game for a struggling opponent. I have Andrews outside the top 12 at tight end.
Thumbs Down: Jonnu Smith (v IND)
Smith finding the end zone last week saved his day, but he’s averaged just 2.5 targets per game over the past four weeks, and Thursday night will bring a matchup against an Indy defense allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. Last year, Smith combined for two receptions and zero yards in the two divisional bouts, so it might be a good idea to look elsewhere if you’re worried about a TNF dud.
Thumbs Down: Jimmy Graham (v MIN)
He played for Green Bay rather than Chicago, but Graham is another player that was limited by a divisional opponent last year (one reception for 16 scoreless yards in two games versus Minnesota), and before a 6/55/1 line last week, he had slumped with 3.7 yards per target and zero scores over the previous three games. I think we’ll see Nick Foles attack more on the perimeter against Mike Zimmer’s defense.