by Ray Kuhn
Each week is a struggle. Filling out a starting lineup is not easy, and at times it feels like you might be better off just flipping a coin. However, we know that is not the case (at least most of the time), and there is a real science to making lineup decisions. Let’s take a look at some potential choices we might have for Week 10:
Start – Josh McNown – New York Jets – at Tampa Bay
Yes, this feels weird to me as well. Before the season started, it was questionable whether or not McNown would even still be starting at this point in the season. Instead, here we are advocating for the Jets’ quarterback against Tampa Bay. Personally, I found myself grabbing McNown in a few leagues to replace Carson Wentz, and it is well deserved. The Jets have been moving the ball better than expected so far this season, and so far this season, McNown actually ranks as a borderline QB1 so far this season based solely on point production. So far this season, Tampa Bay has allowed the fourth most points to opposing quarterbacks, so he stands to be in for another good week. You aren’t going to get a spectacular outing from McNown, but he has been averaging two touchdowns a game over the last five weeks, and will continue to be a dependable option.
Sit – Eli Manning – New York Giants – at San Francisco
Manning may have the name recognition, but this season has not exactly gone according to plan. You might be tempted into rolling the dice with Manning this week against the 49ers as they have allowed the third most points to opposing quarterbacks, but I would go in another direction. The Giants’ offense, their whole team in fact, is in utter disarray and Manning is without both targets and an offensive line. In his last four games, the quarterback hasn’t eclipsed 225 passing yards, an average of 177, and he has just six touchdowns. Quite simply, you can’t take the chance on Manning having another lackluster day.
Start – Alfred Morris – Dallas Cowboys – at Atlanta
Are we finally here? Until Sunday afternoon, I’m not sure I will actually believe in Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension, but at this point, it is looking that way. The Falcons have allowed the ninth most points to opposing running backs, and all indications are that Morris will take control of the starting job this week. So far this season, the veteran has just 14 carries, but he is averaging 8.3 yards per carry. Morris won’t be the only running back Dallas uses, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith, but if you have to pick one, he is it. The Cowboys have a strong offensive line, and while they are confident in Dak Prescott and the passing game, Morris figures to have a role worthy of at least FLEX appeal.
Start – Devontae Booker – Denver Broncos – vs. New England
At this point, Booker is more potential than actual results. Denver is struggling to get much going on offense, and facing New England likely doesn’t help this week, but someone has to gain yards for the Broncos. C.J. Anderson has been less than stellar, and last week Booker’s 22 snaps were just one less than his counterpart’s 23. Booker didn’t exactly impress, 6 carries for 21 yards with another nine yards on two catches, but one of these weeks, there is the possibility of a breakout. Of anyone in Denver’s backfield, Booker has looked the best as of late, even if the results in the box score don’t exactly back that up. The fact that Booker has value in the receiving game also helps his case. If you are looking for a dependable option, Frank Gore perhaps, then Booker is not your man. But if you are looking for a higher reward, albeit with more risk, Booker is worth a look.
Sit – Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – at Chicago Bears
Monday night proved that the Packers just aren’t very good with Brett Hundley under center. In turn, that impacts Jones as he is finding little room to run. Additionally, game flow also hinders the rookie carried the ball just five times for 12 yards last week. While things will go better for the Packers this week since Chicago’s offense isn’t close to that of Detroit, we also can’t discount the Bears’ defense. Green Bay is trying to avoid a heavy workload for Ty Montgomery as a ball carrier, but he is still going to be a factor, and he is the preferred option in the passing game.
Sit – Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – at Los Angeles Rams
Almost by default, Miller is going to be highly ranked (I’m guilty of it too) as a starting running back. That means there aren’t going to be many situations where Milller isn’t in your lineup this week, but I’m going to stay away if possible. This is more true for DFS formats, but try not to get blinded by the fact that the Rams have allowed the second most points to opposing running backs so far this season. Los Angeles has a strong defense, will be at home, and they don’t need to worry about Houston’s passing game with Tom Savage under center. So far this season, Miller has just two rushing touchdowns and he hasn’t gained more than 75 yards on the ground.
Start – DeSean Jackson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. New York Jets (2 Receiver Leagues)
Even with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, we like the big play potential of Jackson this week. The Jets secondary, especially Buster Skrine, has struggled so far this season, and with Mike Evans suspended, the targets have to go somewhere. Jackson hasn’t really popped yet this season, just one 100-plus yard game and two touchdowns, but the potential is there and the match-up is right.
Start – Jermaine Kearse – New York Jets – at Tampa Bay (3 Receiver Leagues)
If we are going to tout McNown, it makes sense to pair him with a receiver. Yes, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is going to be a factor, especially in a revenge game, but while everyone looks at him, Kearse is the direction I’m turning in. Robby Anderson is more of a big play threat, while Kearse has developed into a dependable receiving option for the Jets. The suspension of Jeremy Kerley will also lead to a few more targets for Kearse. After starting off strong, Kearse has slowed down (just five receptions in the last three games), but he is worth taking a chance on against the Buccaneers.
Sit – Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers – at Jacksonville (2 Receiver Leagues)
So far so good for Allen this season, but this week he runs into a difficult situation in Jacksonville. Last week Jalen Ramsey drove A.J Green to violence, and he has been shutting down opposing wide receivers all season. The Jaguars have held opposing receivers to the fewest points so far this season, and I would expect to see that continue this week. San Diego is targeting Allen often so far this season, he is on pace for 144, but he only has one week with more than five receptions and just two games of more than 100 yards. In his other six games, Allen hasn’t gained more than 67 yards, and he has just one touchdown so far this season. There isn’t much upside there.
Sit – Brandon LaFell – Cincinnati Bengals – at Tennessee (3 Receiver Leagues)
If LaFell wasn’t going to come through last week with A.J. Green ejected, yes it was Jacksonville, we can’t count on him to have value at all this season. LaFell is getting playing time, but the production just isn’t coming as he is averaging only 26 yards per game with just one touchdown all season. The Titans have done a good job against opposing receivers so far this season, and LaFell is nothing more than a complementary piece to the Bengals and waiver wire fodder for your fantasy team.
Start – Evan Engram – New York Jets – at San Francisco
I know, we are telling you to sit Eli Manning, but the Giants are still going to gain some yards through the air. And that is where the rookie tight end comes in. Last week, Engram led New York with 10 targets and I would expect to see that trend continue for the rest of the season. Engram caught four passes for 70 yards and scored a touchdown for the third straight week. At a minimum, Engram has caught four passes a game this year and over the last four weeks, he hasn’t gained less than 60 yards.
Sit – Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills – vs. New Orleans
There aren’t many strong tight end options this week, and Clay isn’t going to make the situation much better. The Saints defense is stronger than they have been in years past, and also tougher than we give them credit for. So far this season, they have held opposing tight ends to the third fewest fantasy points, and Clay is entering the week at less than full strength. Clay has missed the last three games, but the expectation is that he will return this week. Even if he does though, it is likely the Bills keep him on a pitch count.