What a flurry of action that was featured in Week 9…literally. For a second, I thought the NFL had adopted a new brand of ‘Fight Club’ after three different brawls broke out across the league. A.J. Green and Carlos Hyde were ejected after their respective skirmishes, while Mike Evans was seemingly bulletproof after a violent attack on New Orleans Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Green and Hyde will remain unscathed for fantasy owners in Week 10, but Evans won’t be so lucky as he will sit this week against the New York Jets. Plenty of injuries also factoring into fantasy lineup decisions ahead of the weekend, so let’s dive into the starts and sits for Week 10…
Josh McCown, QB, New York Jets (START)
McCown you say? That’s right! The 38-year-old has been the unsung hero for this Jets offense all season long and now he gets the opportunity to exploit one of the NFL’s worst secondaries this Sunday. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are giving the 7th-most fantasy points (standard scoring) to opposing QB’s this season and now they enter the Meadowlands without their top QB-WR tandem of Jameis Winston and Evans. McCown is operating as QB10 overall this year with a 13:7 TD:INT ratio and 1,980 passing yards (12th in the NFL).
Drew Bress, QB, New Orleans Saints (SIT)
This might come as a surprise to many of you, but I’m not buying into this matchup as a high-scoring affair between the Saints and Buffalo Bills. For starters, the Saints have been on fire with a six-game winning streak, but their defense has been most impressive in that span allowing just 167.8 PY/G and picking up 9 INT’s and 3 FUM’s in the process. Accordingly, the Bills defense is no slouch either with 17 takeaways (2nd-best in the NFL) and they are and NFL-best +11 in the turnover ratio. The Bills were downright embarrassing last Thursday in the Meadowlands, but I think the extra few days of preparation, paired with a cold-weather environment is a recipe for a fantasy dud this week from Brees.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears (START)
This will likely be a low-scoring matchup between two of the NFC North’s oldest divisional rivals at Soldier Field on Sunday. Many people have been overlooking a steady Bears defense this season and it will definitely pose a problem for Brett Hundley. Expect the Bears to lean on their ground game in this one as the Green Bay Packers are giving up the 5th-most fantasy points (half-point PPR scoring) to opposing RB’s this season. Howard has been getting the lions share of the offensive snaps since Week 4 — averaging 41 snaps per game to Tarik Cohen’s 17.2 — and he should continue to see plenty of volume against a weak Packers run defense this week.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (SIT)
Derek and I disagreed on this pick a little bit on this week’s ATFP Podcast, but I’m not wavering here as the Jacksonville Jaguars defense scares the crap out of me and it should scare you too! Sure, the one kink in that Jags defense might be against the run — tied for 11th-fewest fantasy points to RB’s — but, this looks to be a similar spot for Gordon as it was for Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5. If Philip Rivers can’t protect the ball, then some early turnovers could lead to the Chargers playing catchup for much of the second-half. As we saw in Week 5, the Steelers couldn’t get Bell going and he was limited to just 93 total yards from scrimmage (he averages 122.4 per game this year).
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos (START)
Anytime Brock Osweiler’s name is scribbled into the starters column it’s usually a recipe for disaster and make fantasy owners cringe. But, consider that the New England Patriots are tied with the Bucs in surrendering the 2nd-most fantasy points to WR’s. Osweiler doesn’t do many things right under center, but Sunday night’s matchup could be as good as any for Thomas against that porous Pats secondary. Hey, the two even connected for eight catches, 70 yards and a score last week amidst the blowout in Philadelphia and it doesn’t hurt that Thomas is averaging 98.5 Y/G in six career meetings with the Pats.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings (SIT)
This decision has everything to do with the matchup for Diggs. The Washington Redskins are terrible against TE’s this year (4th-most fantasy points allowed) and Kyle Rudolph could very easily vulture some Red Zone targets from Diggs this week. Not to mention, Josh Norman is back in the mix and the Skins were pretty impressive in pulling off last week’s upset of the Seahawks in front of that 12th-man…they have also surrendered the 5th-fewest fantasy points to opposing WR’s.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (START)
The Jets are giving up the 7th-most fantasy points to the position this year and so far, Brate has acted as TE5 through nine weeks overall. His fantasy value should get an uptick this week with Evans on the sideline, which means Ryan Fitzpatrick (we will see if there is any ‘Fitzmagic’ in that arm) will be looking his way a little more this week. The Jets have also given up a league-leading 19 passing TD’s this year.
Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo Bills (SIT)
Clay returned to practice on a limited basis this week following the knee scope that was performed four weeks ago. But, even if he does suit up for Sunday’s game against the Saints, I don’t love the matchup. The Saints are giving up the 4th-fewest fantasy points to the position this year and there will be concerns about Clay’s health leading up to the game.