Week 10 of the NFL season kicks off on Thursday night and wins are beginning to be crucial to fantasy owner’s playoff chances.
So, let’s not waste any time, and get right to the fantasy talk.
Oh, and by the way, seriously Doug Martin? If you put up more than 50 fantasy points again, I quit. Not really, but jeez, what a performance!
Thumbs Up: Quarterbacks
Ryan Fitzpatrick @ New England Patriots: With guys like Robert Griffin III and Aaron Rodgers off this week, the Amish Rifle is a viable option for a bye week filler. He faces division rival New England, who is a safe bet to be leading all game. This bodes well for Fitzpatrick owners, as he will be forced to throw much more than he usually does. When you throw a lot against the Patriots, good things will usually happen, as they have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Ben Roethlisberger vs Kansas City Chiefs (Mon.): Big Ben has quietly been putting together a very nice fantasy campaign for owners thus far. Roethlisberger currently ranks 7th in fantasy points among quarterbacks, and has a great chance to climb the ladder come Monday night. The Chiefs are allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to signal-callers, and with an absolute mess in the backfield, expect Ben to throw quite a lot.
Matthew Stafford @ Minnesota Vikings: Don’t look now, but Stafford has been heating up a bit in fantasy land. The combination of that and a good matchup makes him a very good start this week. The Vikings defense has been slowing down a bit, allowing 20 or more fantasy points to quarterbacks in three of the last four weeks. In Stafford’s past four meetings against them, he has averaged 287 yards per game and has thrown five touchdowns.
Michael Vick vs Dallas Cowboys: Vick had the best possible chance to put up monster fantasy numbers on Monday night against the New Orleans Saints, an historically terrible defense. However, he threw for just 272 yards, 1 touchdown and a pick. Can you really trust him? Not a chance. Especially not against the Cowboys, an elite pass defense allowing the 4th fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Matt Schaub @ Chicago Bears: In case you live under a large rock, the Bears defense is scary good. They are allowing the least amount of fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2012 and have allowed just 9.0 points per game (ESPN scoring) to the position. This Sunday night showdown features two of the best defenses in football, and could very well be low-scoring affair.
Thumbs Up: Running Backs
Stevan Ridley vs Buffalo Bills: During the team’s Week 4 meeting, Ridley exploded for 106 yards and two scores on the ground. The scary thing is, he would have put up even bigger numbers if teammate Brandon Bolden wasn’t also in the mix. However, this week, Bolden is unlikely to play, so the touches will be all Ridley’s. The Bills are one of the worst defenses in football, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to runners in 2012. The Pats could be way ahead, resulting in running the clock down. Having said all of this, Ridley could be the top fantasy running back this week.
Michael Turner @ New Orleans Saints: Remember when I discussed how terrible the Saints defense is? Yeah, you’re going to want to start as many players that you have in this game, as it could very well be a shootout. While Turner is more of a touchdown guy, he has a great chance to produce with yards and scores against the Saints. This defensive unit is being decimated this year, giving up 24.0 fantasy points per game to running backs.
Vick Ballard @ Jacksonville Jaguars (Thurs.): Fantasy owners may be worried about the Thursday night letdowns. However, I myself, am starting Ballard this week, and feel great about it. Ballard has been quietly playing well lately, averaging 91 total yards per game over the past three weeks. He has a great chance to put up at least 91 yards on Thursday night, as the Jaguars are the third-most generous defense to fantasy backs. Also, with teammate Donald Brown not practicing, it doesn’t look like he’ll play, insuring Ballard all the touches.
Steven Jackson @ San Francisco 49ers: How many times have I hated Jackson this year? Seems like a ton. Anyway, you simply cannot trust this guy because he isn’t the same runner fantasy owners were accustomed to seeing. Rookie back Daryl Richardson has been significantly cutting into his carries, though neither should find success against the 49ers top notch run defense.
Jonathan Stewart vs Denver Broncos: Another thing you cannot trust in fantasy is the Carolina backfield. The team stated that Stewart would be the feature back in the offense, but after DeAngelo Williams saw a bit of work, fantasy owners are puzzled. Until one of these guys is either hurt (god forbid) or traded, stay away from this backfield.
Thumbs Up: Wide Receivers
Roddy White @ New Orleans Saints: Let me reiterate, you want absolutely everything to do with this game! Anyway, White is a scary good play this week against the Saints (or should I say Aints) generous defense, allowing the most fantasy points to receivers. In 5 career games at the Superdome, his stats are just that; Super. White has hauled in 38 balls for 578 yards and three touchdowns during the span. Still worried about White struggling on the road? I didn’t think so.
Vincent Jackson vs San Diego Chargers: You can expect Jackson to be playing with extra incentive this week to show his former team how much they need him. His team’s offense has been firing on all cylinders lately, especially rookie runner Doug Martin.
However, the Chargers have a very good run defense, so I expect him to slow down, forcing Josh Freeman to air it out quite a bit. This bodes well for Jackson owners, as San Diego can certainly be beat through the air.
Brian Hartline vs Tennessee Titans: Hartline has been a bit of a roller coaster for fantasy owners this year. He’ll have a monster game and then a few bad ones. But this week, expect him to have one of those monster ones. The Titans defense is absolutely terrible this season, against both the run and pass. Expect him to see a boatload of targets on Sunday, possibly upwards to a dozen. Tennessee has the 27th-ranked pass defense in football, and Hartline could please those who own him, especially in PPR formats.
Michael Crabtree vs St. Louis Rams: Look, I realize quarterback Alex Smith is coming off an historical performance a few weeks ago, where he was slinging the ball all over the field. However, I don’t expect him to have too much success this week against a very good Rams secondary. Having said that, I obviously don’t expect much from Crabtree either. The Rams have given up the tenth-fewest fantasy points to wide-outs this year, and Crabtree has been on and off all season.
Dez Bryant @ Philadelphia Eagles: Bryant has been sporadic all season long. One week, he will show signs of brilliance, and the next, we wonder why we even drafted him. This week, I don’t expect Bryant to please fantasy owners. While the Eagles defense hasn’t been all that great, they still have one of the better cornerback tandems in football, and with Bryant still dealing with a hip injury, I wouldn’t count on him to do too much.
Thumbs Up: Tight Ends
Brandon Myers @ Baltimore Ravens: Myers is coming off a very nice fantasy performance on Sunday, where he caught 8 balls for 59 yards and 2 scores. After ending the game with 13 targets, it seems that Carson Palmer is looking for him early and often. I expect that to continue this week, as both running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson are both suffering from high ankle sprains. If neither can play, look for Palmer to throw a lot, as he usually does, but especially to Myers.
Anthony Fasano vs Tennessee Titans: I think it is safe to say that you want to start anyone who plays the Titans defense, and Fasano could be a sneaky good play here. Tennessee has allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends this year and Fasano is a big part of that red zone offense. He won’t put up big time numbers, but a touchdown or two is very possible.
Jermaine Gresham vs New York Giants: He may be a bit inconsistent this year, but Gresham is a nice play in Week 10. Coming off a 6 catch, 108-yard performance on Sunday, Gresham gets the Giants this week, who allowed a ridiculous 18 catches for 167 yards to Jason Witten two weeks back. Now, Gresham is certainly no Witten, but he has been targeted at least five times in every game this year, and should see a ton in this game.
Kyle Rudolph vs Detroit Lions: Remember when Rudolph was one of the hottest tight ends in fantasy football? Well, that is certainly a thing of the past, as Rudolph has put up two goose eggs in the past three weeks. Two! With Percy Harvin unlikely to play on Sunday, you would assume Rudolph would get those targets. However, it is difficult to trust him, as he is touchdown or bust.
Jared Cook @ Miami Dolphins: Cook was a fantasy sleeper to start during the preseason. Too bad he has yet to wake up. He has been brutal to fantasy owners this year, including a ridiculous negative point effort last week. This week, he gets the Dolphins, who have yet to surrender a touchdown to tight ends this season.
Thumbs Up: D/ST
Pittsburgh Steelers defense vs Kansas City Chiefs (Mon.): Did you see what that Chargers defense did in fantasy land last Thursday night? I think the Steelers can do just that, and then some. Matt Cassel will be getting the start so expect him to turn the ball over at least twice. The Black and Yellow are the start of the week among defenses.
San Francisco 49ers defense vs St. Louis Rams: Look, it’s not as if you need me to tell you to start this vaunted defensive unit. But just for some reassurance, the Rams offensive line is a complete mess, their best running back looks like their worst and the game is in Candlestick.
Atlanta Falcons defense @ New Orleans Saints: The Falcons defense have been a pretty viable fantasy option this season, however, they must be on your bench this week. This NFC South battle will be an absolute shootout, and especially on the road, sit this defensive unit.
San Diego Chargers defense @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Many fantasy owners may be falling in love with the Chargers defense, especially after scoring two touchdowns last Thursday night. However, I’d temper expectations for this week a bit. The Bucs offense is on fire as of late so I’d look elsewhere if possible.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy football columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.