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  • Russell Wilson has been a top-12 quarterback in each of his last four games, one of which came against his Week 10 opponent, the Rams. Who cares if it's a tough matchup on paper? He absolutely belongs in your lineup.
By Michael Beller
November 08, 2018

Last week, it was Philip Rivers who wasn’t getting enough love from the fantasy community, based largely on what was a tough matchup on paper against the Seahawks. Rivers went out and threw for 228 yards, 8.77 yards per attempt, and two touchdowns in the 25-17 win over the Seahawks. The only thing that held him back was the fact that the Chargers led by led by two scores for all of their second-half possessions. It wasn’t a huge fantasy day, but it was a win for Rivers’ owners who trusted him.

This week, there’s another established QB1 whose value is being artificially deflated because of matchup concerns run amok. Coincidentally, it’s the quarterback who Rivers met last week in Seattle.

Russell Wilson has a FantasyPros consensus ranking of 13th among quarterbacks with the Seahawks taking on the Rams in Los Angeles this week. To be fair, that’s just one spot outside the QB1 class, defined as the top-12 quarterbacks, so many of my fellow rankers would likely agree that he’s a start. Still, slotting him 13th overvalues matchup and ignores what Wilson has done this season, most notably the way he has played in the last month.

Let’s start with the bad so that we can end with the good. Wilson’s yardage numbers are down this year, a reflection of the low volume in Seattle’s passing game through the first half of the season. Wilson has thrown for 1,791 yards, putting him on a 16-game pace for 3,582 yards. That would be his lowest output since 2014, when the Seahawks were still a run-first offense led by Marshawn Lynch. He also has just 118 rushing yards on 24 carries, which has him pacing for career lows across the board on the ground.

OK, ready for the good? Despite the lack of volume through the air and on the ground, Wilson is maximizing the work he is getting. He’s completing nearly two-thirds of his passes for 8.1 YPA. His completion rate would be the second-best mark of his career, while he’s tracking for his third-highest YPA, with a new career best well within reach. He has thrown for 18 touchdowns, tied with Drew Brees for sixth most in the league, and has tossed multiple scores in all but one game.

What’s more, Wilson has been at his best of late. In his last four games, he has thrown for 903 yards, 9.03 YPA and 11 touchdowns against two interceptions. He has been a top-12 quarterback in all of those games, twice getting into the top six. This run started against none other than the Rams back in Week 5. Wilson threw for 198 yards, 9.43 YPA and three scores in that game, and the Seahawks came up just shy of giving the Rams their first loss of the season, falling 33-31.

Matchup is no more than a tiebreaker in fantasy football, especially for a player like Wilson. Don’t place too much importance on what is admittedly a tough assignment in Los Angeles this week. Wilson belongs in your lineup.

With that, let’s get to the rest of the Week 10 Start ’Em, Sit ’Em.

Quarterbacks

Start

Andrew Luck, Colts (vs. Jaguars)

Luck has re-earned our trust this season, throwing for 2,187 yards and 23 touchdowns through eight games. The last time Luck had fewer than three touchdown passes in a game was on September 23. Way back then, there was still one week remaining in MLB’s regular season. Luck hasn’t been terribly efficient this season, completing 65.8% of his passes for just 6.4 YPA, but he has more than made up for it with volume. Luck and the Colts host the Jaguars, which isn't the easiest matchup but also one that his fantasy owners shouldn’t fear. The Colts opened as field-goal favorites in this game, and the over/under of 47 suggests that some of the shine has come off this defense. With T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle one week healthier after the Colts’ bye, and Marlon Mack bringing some real punch to the run game, Luck is in as good a position with his surrounding cast as he has been all year.

Carson Wentz, Eagles (vs. Cowboys)

Wentz’s numbers haven’t been as gaudy as they were a year ago, but he has still been a steady fantasy presence, throwing for 1,788 yards, 7.95 YPA and 13 touchdowns against two picks in six games. The Eagles are big favorites this week, laying a touchdown to the Cowboys while carrying an implied team total of 25 points into the contest. Wentz has multiple scores with at least 7.72 YPA and 278 yards in each of his last four games.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buccaneers (vs. Redskins)

It isn’t always pretty, but it’s nearly always effective. Fitzpatrick threw for four more touchdonws and turned in another QB1 performance last week, this time ranking fifth at the position. Washington isn’t anything special defensively, ranking 17th against quarterbacks in 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric, aFPA. In other words, you can safely disregard the matchup as any hindrance. Tampa Bay’s surprisingly explosive passing game should be clicking at home against this mediocre unit.

BELLER: Week 10 Fantasy Football Rankings: Where Does Cincinnati's Offense Go Without A.J. Green?

Superflex Special

Marcus Mariota, Titans (vs. Patriots)

Mariota came through with a big game last week, throwing for 240 yards, 8.28 YPA and two touchdowns, while adding 32 yards and another score on the ground in the Titans’ 28-14 win over the Cowboys. It was his first useful game since September, but there’s good reason to believe he can follow up on it this week. The Titans are big underdogs at home against the Patriots, but still have an implied team total of 20 points, high enough to make Mariota an intriguing QB2. Additionally, the Patriots are ranked 25th in quarterback aFPA, the sort of ranking that can be the tiebreaker in the quarterback’s favor. He’s a top-20 play at the position this week.

Start, but…

Mitchell Trubisky, Bears (vs. Lions)

Trubisky has been relatively quiet the last two weeks, though that’s partially because the Bears didn’t need much out of him in wins over the Jets and Bills. Remember, in the three games before that, he turned in three straight top-five finishes at the position, including two weeks where he was fantasy’s No. 1 quarterback. The Bears are favored by 6.5 points at home against the Lions on Sunday, giving this game a strong contextual feel for Trubisky, as well.

Andy Dalton, Bengals (vs. Saints)

If A.J. Green were healthy, Dalton would be an easy top-10 quarterback this week, with a top-three ceiling. I worry, however, about how this entire offense adjusts without its best player. This isn’t as simple as Tyler Boyd becoming the No. 1 and John Ross stepping into a larger role. Holes in the defense close without Green. The Bengals are likely to convert fewer third downs without Green. The offense isn’t as dangerous without Green. That affects everyone on Cincinnati’s side of the ball, especially Dalton. He’s still a solid play this week, but I have him as my No. 15 quarterback, at least seven or eight spots lower than I would have had him if Green were on the field.

Baker Mayfield, Browns (vs. Falcons)

This is largely a matchup play, and while I railed against overrating matchup in the intro to this column, this one is too good to ignore. Plus, it helps that Mayfield has thrown for two touchdowns in four of his six starts this season. The Falcons rank 30th in quarterback aFPA, allowing monster games to Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger—no shame there—as well as Jameis Winston and Eli Manning. If you’re in need of a one-week replacement for Kirk Cousins or Deshaun Watson, or you’re in a superflex league, Mayfield is easily a worthy starter.

Sit

Alex Smith, Redskins (at Buccaneers)

Let’s get back to beating that matchup-isn’t-everything drum. Smith has the best possible matchup a quarterback could dream for this week, facing a Buccaneers defense that has allowed an average of 322 yards and 2.75 passing touchdowns per game this season, to go along with 8.85 YPA. Smith had nearly as good a matchup with the Falcons last week, and turned it into 306 yards, 6.65 YPA, one touchdown and one interception, which translates to just 17.44 points in standard-scoring leagues. Washington’s passing game is entirely toothless, and even the worst pass defense in the league can’t cure what ails it.

Matthew Stafford, Lions (at Bears)

Stafford and the Lions struggled in their first game without Golden Tate last week, a 24-9 loss to the Vikings. Stafford threw for 199 yards and 5.53 YPA, failing to connect on any big plays with Marvin Jones or Kenny Golladay. The Bears aren’t quite as tough a matchup through the air as the Vikings are, but this is still a tough assignment for the Detroit passing attack. The Bears are favored by 6.5 points, and the Lions have an implied team total of just 19 points.

Dak Prescott, Cowboys (at Eagles)

Prescott was a pleasant surprise from a fantasy perspective last week, throwing for 243 yards, 7.84 YPA and two touchdowns against one interception in the 28-14 loss to the Titans. With that said, the Cowboys dipped to 29th in plays per game after the loss, and are now one of four teams averaging fewer than 60 plays per game this season. That’s a horrible recipe for a fantasy quarterback in general, and even more so in a road game where his team is a seven-point underdog.

Running Backs

Start

Doug Martin, Raiders (vs. Chargers)

In the two games since Marshawn Lynch has gone on IR, Martin has played 50.5% of Oakland’s snaps, compared with 41.1% for Jalen Richard, and handled 23 of the 34 team's carries by running backs. All things considered, he has been acceptably effective, totaling 121 yards on his 23 carries, and three catches for 37 yards, while playing with mostly negative game scripts. There’s a chance that he’ll face the same problem against the Chargers this week, but the Raiders are committed to him as their primary rusher, placing him comfortably on the low-end RB2 and flex radars.

Sony Michel, Patriots (at Titans)

This one should be pretty simple, but just in case there’s anyone out there wanting to see a prove-it game from Michel, consider this a warning not to hold back. Michel has been practicing all week, and is expected to return after missing two games with a knee injury. He should be at or near 100% when the Patriots host the Titans on Sunday.

Kerryon Johnson, Lions (at Bears)

Johnson has had a couple of tough games in a row, running for 59 yards on 20 carries in losses to the Seahawks and Vikings. He made up for it with six catches for 69 yards against Seattle, but didn’t make much noise against the Vikings through the air last week. The silver lining, though, is that he still got 17 opportunities in that game, including five targets. The Bears are a tough draw for running backs, ranking fourth in positional aFPA in standard leagues, and fifth in PPR formats, but Johnson remains a low-end RB2 for Week 10.

Duke Johnson, Browns (vs. Falcons)

New offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens brought Cleveland’s offense to its senses, deploying Johnson regularly as a receiver for the first time all season. In one of the least surprising developments of the year, Johnson made the most of that chance, catching all nine of his targets for 78 yards and two touchdowns. The Falcons rank 28th in running back aFPA in PPR leagues, allowing huge receiving games to Christian McCaffrey (14 catches, 102 yards), Alvin Kamara (15 catches, 124 yards), James Conner (four catches, 75 yards) and Saquon Barkley (nine catches, 51 yards).

Elijah McGuire, Jets (vs. Bills)

McGuire is a play for deeper leagues, but he can show up in shallower formats depending on bye weeks and injuries. He made his season debut last week, catching three of five targets for 37 yards, and running seven times for 30 yards. The Jets wasted no time in using him, getting him 36 snaps, 13 more than Isaiah Crowell. He’s already one of the team’s most dangerous pass-catchers, which should keep him north of five targets per game, and make him particularly effective against a Buffalo defense that has been worse against backs in PPR than standard leagues.

BELLER: Target and Snap Report: How Jared Goff and the Rams Improved on a Stellar 2017 Season

Sit

LeSean McCoy, Bills (at Jets)

It’s impossible to have faith in anyone on Buffalo’s offense at this point, no matter who is under center. McCoy likely still has plenty in the tank, but it’s impossible to tell with the incompetent offense surrounding him. He has rushed for exactly one yard per carry over his last three games.

Isaiah Crowell, Jets (vs. Bills)

This may be a bit of a surprise with the Jets 6.5-point favorites this week, but Crowell has given us too many duds in too many seemingly good spots to trust him. Since blowing up for 219 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against the Broncos, he has rushed for 143 yards on 50 carries in his last four games. A solid on-paper matchup, based mostly on the fact that the Jets are heavy favorites, cannot save him.

Peyton Barber, Buccaneers (vs. Redskins)

Barber has alternated good and bad games for the last four weeks, but he remains one of the hardest players in the league to trust for a few reasons. First, he has 376 yards on 104 carries this season, and 1,022 yards on 267 carries in his career. We have ample evidence that suggests he simply isn’t very good. Second, he’s a non-threat as a receiver playing in one of the pass-happiest offenses in the league. The Buccaneers do all their best damage through the air, and Barber isn’t getting in on any of that action. He has to thread too tricky a needle to show up as even a worthy flex play this week.

Ito Smith, Falcons (at Browns)

Smith truthers are going to be out in full force after their lodestar ran for 60 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries last week. Of course, Tevin Coleman racked up 88 yards on 13 carries, and also caught five passes for 68 yards and two scores. Smith is basically a poor man’s Austin Ekeler, and that’s not a compliment. He’s going to have useful games, but they’re going to come in wholly unpredictable spots, and he has an RB5/6 floor every single week. That’s not someone you want to play unless you’re backed into a corner.

Wide Recievers

Start

Golden Tate, Eagles (vs. Cowboys)

Tate’s best game this season came back in Week 4 when he caught all eight of his targets for 132 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys. The Eagles have yet to play the Cowboys this season, meaning Tate will get to face them twice more this season, with the first meeting coming on Sunday. Past results are no guarantee of future performance, but clearly Tate matched up well with this secondary the first time around. You can bet that Doug Pederson spent part of the bye week watching tape of that game to see how the Lions were able to create a gameplan in which Tate was so successful.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers (vs. Dolphins)

Over his last four games, Valdes-Scantling has 15 catches on 28 targets for 317 yards and two touchdowns. He has had at least 100 yards or a touchdown in all four games, averaging 12.8 points per game in half-PPR leagues in that span. Even with Randall Cobb back the last two weeks, Valdes-Scantling has held onto a huge share of Green Bay’s passing attack. It’s safe to say that won’t change anytime soon.

Doug Baldwin, Seahawks (at Rams)

Baldwin got just four targets last week, but caught all of them for 77 yards. What’s more, it appeared Russell Wilson was targeting actually targeting him on Jaron Brown’s 10-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, but Brown streaked in front of him at the last second. It’s been a frustrating season for Baldwin, but he has shown signs of breaking out over the last three weeks. As good as the Rams are in all facets of the game, they rank 22nd in wide receiver aFPA in standard leagues, allowing 13 touchdowns to the position this season.

Amari Cooper, Cowboys (at Eagles)

Cooper checked nearly every box in his first game with the Cowboys, catching five passes for 58 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers don’t leap off the page, but he led the team with eight targets, good for a 25.8% target share, and played 84.7% of the team’s snaps. We surmised last week that he’d have less competition for targets in Dallas than he did in Oakland, and that seems to be the case. The Eagles haven’t been nearly as stout defensively this year as they were last year, ranking 25th in wide receiver aFPA in both standard and PPR leagues.

Tyrell Williams, Chargers (at Raiders)

Williams has made the most of his targets the last three weeks, turning 11 looks from Philip Rivers into nine catches for 259 yards and four touchdowns. That touchdown rate can’t possibly stand up to time, but the Raiders have been terrible against the pass this season, ranking 26th in both quarterback and receiver aFPA.

EAKINS: Fantasy Football Buy, Sell, or Hold: Take a Shot on David Johnson

Sit

Marquise Goodwin, 49ers (vs. Giants)

Despite just 13 receptions and 27 targets, Goodwin has four touchdowns, and that has masked how ineffective he has been in fantasy leagues. It certainly isn’t his fault, with the 49ers forced to play three different quarterbacks due to injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard, but it is Goodwin’s unfortunate reality. He isn’t getting much opportunity, topping four targets in a game just twice this season. In his last two games, he has two catches on eight targets, though one of those did go for a 55-yard touchdown. Still, there just isn’t a foundation here that makes Goodwin fantasy-relevant.

Tre’Quan Smith, Saints (at Bengals)

Smith was in this space last week because he was sure to draw attention as a fantasy starter, yet his low target share made him a riskier play than his backers would have you believe. He got just three targets in the Saints’ 45-35 win over the Rams, but he turned one of them into a touchdown. Now, those same backers are doubling down, giving him a FantasyPros consensus ranking of 36th at receiver, even with Dez Bryant in the fold. I’ll say again exactly what I said last week. Smith’s role has reached its ceiling. He has played at least 68% of the team’s snaps in all of his last four games, yet has just 16 targets in those games. This is not someone you can trust, even in one of the league’s best offenses.

Mike Williams, Chargers (at Raiders)

Williams scored his fifth touchdown of the season last week, but it was his only catch in the Chargers’ 25-17 win over the Seahawks. He was also rather fortunate to get the score, as replay appeared to show him stepping out of bounds definitively before the call was upheld by the officials. Williams has had no more than five targets in game this season, and has had more than three since September 23. Williams is getting by on a ridiculous touchdown rate, needing just 18 receptions and 32 targets to get his five scores. That cannot possibly hold up, even in an offense like the Chargers’. Only one of the Chargers’ Williamses can be worth playing, and Tyrell is the better bet.

Tyler Lockett, Seahawks (at Rams)

There’s a theme to our wide receiver sits for Week 10: fade unsustainably high touchdown rates. Lockett has scored six times this year despite just 28 catches and 37 targets. It has been even more conspicuous the last four weeks, in which he has hit paydirt three times on 11 catches and 14 targets. That’s an impossible touchdown rate to keep up, even with Russell Wilson having one of the most efficient seasons of his career. With Doug Baldwin getting healthier, Lockett hasn’t had more than four targets in a game since the final week of September.

Tight Ends

Start

Jack Doyle, Colts (vs. Jaguars)

Doyle caught seven of 10 targets for 60 yards way back in Week 1 this season. He got five targets in Week 2, catching two for 20 yards, though he played through a hip injury for most of that game. That injury ended up costing him five weeks, and when he returned to the field in Week 8, he hauled in six of seven targets for 70 yards and a touchdown. Doyle managed 80 grabs for 690 yards and four touchdowns without Andrew Luck last year, and 75 receptions for 584 yards and five scores in Luck’s last healthy season. This is a true TE1. Get him in your lineup.

Austin Hooper, Falcons (at Browns)

Simply by virtue of getting regular targets in a top-flight offense, Hooper is going to be right on the TE1/2 border every week. He has slowed down a bit the last two weeks, but it’s still encouraging to see him convert seven targets into six catches for 89 yards. He doesn’t get the opportunity of someone like Zach Ertz or George Kittle, but he has legit big-play ability along their lines that separates him from the other borderline starters.

Chris Herndon, Jets (vs. Bills)

Herndon has turned in four straight useful games, catching 11 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns in that span. His three-game touchdown streak snapped last week, but in some ways it was his best game of the season. Herndon caught four passes for a career-high 62 yards in that game, marking just the third time this season that he got at least four targets. He’s becoming a bigger part of the Jets’ offense, and that shouldn’t change with Josh McCown starting in place of an injured Sam Darnold.

PAULSEN: Week 10 Fantasy Football Sneaky Starts

Sit

Jordan Reed, Redskins (at Buccaneers)

Reed hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1, hasn’t topped 50 yards since Week 3, and has all but stopped producing big plays. This is a great spot for him, but it’s hard to trust anyone tied to Washington’s passing game right now. In addition to the players above, I’d play Ben Watson and Vance McDonald ahead of Reed.

Eric Ebron, Colts (vs. Jaguars)

When Doyle returned in grand fashion to the Colts’ lineup in Week 8, Ebron was relegated to spot duty. He did score a touchdown in that game, but got just three targets, a new season-low. and played fewer than 30% of the snaps. With Doyle and T.Y. Hilton healthy, it’s hard to see anything more than a bit role for Ebron.

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