The moment has arrived. Week 10 is here, and with it, up to six teams won’t see the field due to byes. Phillip Lindsay, Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, D.J. Chark, Leonard Fournette, Deshaun Watson, and DeAndre Hopkins are just some of the big names to sit. So, what does all of this mean? You’ll have tough decisions on which of your usual reserves—or even waiver wire pickups—deserve a start this weekend. Now is the time to prove yourself as the best GM of your league by fielding a team full of win-not-kill guys for Week 10.
Whether you’re playing in an 8-, 10- or 12-team league, you must have doubts about who to put in that widely open flex position, who to stream at quarterback, or how you could address all of the uncertainty surrounding the tight end slot. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options you should consider.
Jameis Winston, TB (vs ARI) - START
Believe it or not, Winston has been one of the safest plays at any position this season so far. Yes, his future is up in the air with an extension pending, but he’s still entrenched in Tampa’s starting QB role. He can throw as many interceptions as you can imagine, but he’s also a lock to get you touchdown-points weekly. Winston has scored more than 15 fantasy points in every game except his season opener and is in a three-game streak in which he has thrown either two touchdowns and 300-plus yards, or 400 yards, and a touchdown. This weekend presents a winning combination for those using Winston. He has a true-floor of about 18 points, has the upside to reach 30, and Arizona is a cupcake matchup. The Cardinals are giving up the most fantasy points per game to QBs (29.5) and have surrendered the most passing yards and touchdowns by far while getting a league-worst two interceptions in nine games. All systems check for Winston...
Kyler Murray, ARI (at TB) - START
...and so do they for rookie-sensation Murray. This game has the highest total of the weekend at 52 points, and if Arizona has a style of play that starts with the pass. Murray has had a very similar season to Winston in fantasy terms when it comes to carrying a high floor, high upside, and not so much variance in his outcomes. He’s not throwing so many touchdowns, but he’s also keeping interceptions at bay. Although Murray went through a little bit of a bump against the Giants and the Saints in weeks 7 and 8 (324 yards on 33 completions combined for an average of 10.2 fantasy points), he came back firing against no less than the Niners last week. He was this close to getting away with the win. Murray was able to pass for 241 yards and two touchdowns with a completion rate of 70.8% and an average of 10 yards per attempt—and he added 34 yards on the ground. Going from facing the no. 2 defense to facing the no. 30 Murray looks primed to burn the Bucs this Sunday.
Matthew Stafford, DET (at CHI) - SIT
The Lions have limited Stafford in practices this week, and it looks like the QB is little banged up nursing a back injury—the same he had last season and saw his fantasy production drop massively in the final stretch of the year. Stafford hasn’t missed a game in ages, so he’s going to be on the field no matter what, count on that. But a hurting quarterback facing Chicago is not what I want in my lineup this weekend. These are the Bears against QBs in the last two games combined: 440 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and an average of 15.75 fantasy points allowed (they rank seventh-best in FP given up this season). Stafford has no problem throwing for big yardage and touchdowns, but he has also shown flaws, and so far, he’s been limited to under 300 yards in half of his games. He has had three under-18 fantasy points games and five over-26 ones, making him a risky boom-or-bust play. Against Chicago, I’m envisioning a potential flop more than a successful weekend.
Kirk Cousins, MIN (at DAL) - SIT
Remember the first weeks of the season when Cousins was almost a lock to keep out of every lineup? Things have changed quite a bit with the Vikings QB having a respectful year so far, but it’s time for him to ride the pine again. Cousins is just a low-volume thrower (18th in pass attempts) that his game comes down to efficiency, and his success is tightly related to the work of receivers after the catch (only Patrick Mahomes has a higher YAC average from his receivers). The two times Cousins has faced a top-10 defense this year (Green Bay and Chicago), he threw for 230 and 233 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions on just 29 completions combined. Other than those, Minnesota has not played any other above-average passing defense and Dallas—in what could easily be the game of the weekend—ranks fifth-best in fantasy points allowed to QBs. The Cowboys have limited quarterbacks to fewer than 15 points in four of their eight games and have never given up more than 25 points (to Sam Darnold... call it a fluke). With the Vikings having a stud rusher in Dalvin Cook, there will be no need to force their way through the passing game.
Marlon Mack, IND (vs. MIA) - START
While Mack is not having the best of seasons, the Colts have been filling their injury-sheet at light speed. Their leading (actually backup, if we’re honest) quarterback is questionable. T.Y. Hilton will be missing for weeks, Parris Campbell could be out for the season, and Devin Funchess is still to play since Week 1. That has opened the door to other receivers, but it looks to me like the perfect opportunity to Mack to rack up points this weekend against the tanking Dolphins. Backfields have demolished Miami in the last two weeks: Pittsburgh combined for 163 yards and a touchdown from scrimmage and the Jets hung 137 yards on them. All in all, 25.3 and 21.7 fantasy points given e up. Indianapolis is probably going to lead, and Mack will easily log more than 20 carries—remember, there is a real chance Brian Hoyer starts at QB—and go home with a touchdown.
David Montgomery, CHI (vs. DET)
It took them time, but the Bears finally came to their senses and started putting the rookie Montgomery in a heavy-workload role once and for all. Montgomery has rushed the ball 41 times in his last two games (fourth-most in that span) and averaged 23.65 fantasy points to the tune of 223 combined yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Tarik Cohen is the go-to tailback in the passing game, but Montgomery has also done some work there, receiving four and three passes for 48 combined yards in those two games. Perhaps the most encouraging bump up in Montgomery’s late outings is the fact that one of them came against a good defense in Philadelphia’s, which ranks sixth against the position. Detroit is much worse—the worst, in fact, in fantasy points allowed to RBs—and with Mitchell Trubisky playing as bad as ever, it is reasonable that Chicago turns to the ground game this weekend once again.
Latavius Murray, NO (vs. ATL) - SIT
Alvin Kamara hit the injury report again this week, but it looks more and more like he will make his comeback against Atlanta. He’s already missed two games plus rested on New Orleans’ Week 9 bye, so he should be good to go. Assuming he starts—even if not at 100%—Murray will be back to the no. 2 role at the position and become the volatile player he’s been all season long. Sure, Murray comes from two massive 150- and 157-yard games sweetened with four touchdowns, but those happened because of the volume he accrued: 32 and 30 touches, respectively. With Kamara around from weeks 1 to 6, Murray never topped three receptions nor eight rush attempts, had only one rushing touchdown, and his yards amounted to 205 from scrimmage through six games. His fantasy scores: 12.7, 3.3, 0.2, 3.0, 5.4, and 10.9. The Falcons rank 13th in defense against the run but just 29th against the pass. That, combined with a potential timeshare with Kamara—if anything—doesn’t bode well for Latavius.
Chris Carson, SEA (vs. SF) - SIT
Benching Carson makes for a tough decision, but it can make sense this weekend. To start, the Niners are in Seattle this weekend, and they rank third in points per game allowed to RBs. San Francisco is 8-0 and has only allowed 20-plus points to its rivals just two times (Pittsburgh and Arizona) while only two running backs have reached more than 87 yards or scored a touchdown against them this season. I’m not saying Carson can’t beat those marks—he’s the RB12 this season—but it looks improbable. He has been on the low lately and couldn’t reach 100 yards from scrimmage in two of his past three games. Other than a great three-game run from Week 4 to Week 6 (21.2 fantasy points on average), his other six games yielded a rather ugly average of 14.1 points per game. The matchup is terrible both on the passing and the rushing side of the game, but I believe Seattle will trust Russell Wilson more than Carson in this one.
Golden Tate, NYG (at NYJ) - START
I don’t think there is a player in a better position to break all expectations than Golden Tate this weekend. First of all, the Jets have been bad covering wide receivers. They are giving up 40.2 points per game to the position (sixth-worst) and in their last two games (against Jacksonville and Miami...) have surrendered at least 180 receiving yards and three touchdowns in each. Then, there are the hurting Giants receiving corps: Sterling Shepard has concussion symptoms. He might not play again this season, while no. 1 weapon TE Evan Engram injured his foot, and he may miss multiple weeks. On top of those two things, Tate himself is having quite a year. Tate has hauled in six or more passes in his last four games, logged 80-plus yards in three of them, and also scored a touchdown. He’s been the most reliable offensive player other than Saquon Barkley, and in a tight game (43.5 total, Giants -2.5), I’d bet on Tate getting all the work he can handle.
DeVante Parker, MIA (at IND) - START
Before you start shouting at me for telling you to start a Dolphin, remember that we’re entering Week 10 and that six teams are on a bye. Check your roster, you’re missing players at the receiver position, and Parker can help you make up for it. Miami has lost Preston Williams for the season after he got injured in Week 9 when he was looking as good as he ever had. That aids Miami’s tanking efforts, but also means the Dolphins don’t have more usable assets other than Parker at the receiving position. Parker himself has flown under the radar this season, perhaps due to playing on the wrong team from Florida, but he has been far from bad. He’s on a five-game streak of scoring 11.8 or more fantasy points per game, has a touchdown in four matches, is catching three or more passes every weekend, and has dropped from 55 receiving yards just once. Now with a slight uptick in volume, he will raise his floor and be a high-upside weekly play. Consider this a play based more on opportunity than matchup, though the Colts are average against WRs.
Marvin Jones Jr., DET (at CHI) - SIT
The Lions have three perfectly capable receivers in Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and Danny Amendola. The problem with that unit in fantasy leagues is that there is no way to know who will be the next in line. Jones and Golladay have averaged 19.9 and 18.4 fantasy points since Detroit’s bye in Week 5. The problem with Jones, though, is that he’s made that average from wildly varying performances: Jones has had games gone from 3.7 points to 43.3 to 6.2 to 26.2. He had two receptions, then 10, 4, and 8. He received for 17 yards, then 93, then 22, then 126. It’s been a rollercoaster for him lately, and while he might have the highest upside among Lions wideouts, he’s also the riskiest of them. Chicago’s stout defense against the pass (fourth-best in points per game allowed to opposing WRs) has everything to make Jones come back to earth again following his up-and-down trend.
Diontae Johnson, PIT (vs. LAR) - SIT
Another bumpy receiver has been Diontae Johnson. He wasn’t thrust into a substantial role until Donte Moncrief got virtually canned in Week 3, and everything looked great for Johnson the first two weeks he was put on that position. He caught nine passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns combined in weeks 3 and 4, but since then, he’s only had 13 more receptions for 128 yards in double the games with an outlier of performance against Miami (five receptions, 84 yards, a touchdown) skewing the numbers. Other than that, Johnson has not even been able to reach eight fantasy points (translated to real-life stats, he’s not reached 30 receiving yards nor topped five receptions, let alone score a touchdown) although Mason Rudolph has been back for two weeks now. The Rams are not the cream of the crop in defense (14th-best in points allowed to wideouts), but Johnson is expected to face Jalen Ramsey this weekend, which doesn’t sound great for the rookie WR.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (at DAL) - START
As if the tight end position wasn’t already barred of talent, the NFL goes and leaves six teams out of the schedule in the same week. Thanks mates! If you have read Kirk Cousins blurb above, you know I’m not too excited about his upside. Even with that, Rudolph has turned the clock a bit lately. He’s been targeted at least once inside the 20-yard line in his last four games and scored a touchdown in two of them. Rudolph is averaging TE1 fantasy points (10.9...) over the previous three weeks and has caught 11 passes on such span. Those numbers are low no matter how you look at them, I know, but for the tight end position, they are good enough. Dallas has the fifth-worst defense against tight ends, and they are allowing only 14.9 fantasy points per game. Streaming Rudolph will do you no harm.
Greg Olsen, CAR (vs GB) - START
While the Packers have stopped WRs from scoring big fantasy point tallies (eight-fewest fantasy points per game), they have suffered against tight ends (sixth-most). Oakland torched them in Week 7 (172 yards, three touchdowns), and the Chiefs and Chargers later combined for 147 yards and another touchdown. With clarity at the QB position and Carolina entering this game as a five-point underdog, Kyle Allen will need to throw the ball more often than not. Olsen should see around six targets without a problem and finish the day with at least four catches. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 3, but at least he has been targeted inside the 20-yard line a couple of times since then. The ceiling is high, but the floor is as low as a zero. The matchup looks good, though, so Olsen is another good streaming option on a weekend full of byes.
Mark Andrews, BAL (at CIN) - SIT
Andrews suffered against the Patriots, and it wasn’t new. Yes, the Patriots have the best defense in the league, but Andrews had already put on a dud in Week 7 against Seattle, so that made it two games in a row under-performing. Most of Andrew’s fantasy value comes from his first two games this season (24.8 and 25.2 fantasy points). Since then, he’s only scored a combined 53 points and never reached 16, plus he has yet to catch more than six passes after hauling in eight in both of those first two games or to reach 100 receiving yards. Cincinnati, although a mediocre team overall, has limited tight ends all season long and in their last two games dried Jacksonville and the Rams leaving them at zero (!) and 5.3 fantasy points (23 yards on three receptions).
Jimmy Graham, GB (vs. CAR) - SIT
Other than a Tampa Bay touchdown in a weird London match, Carolina hasn’t allowed a tight end to score since Week 1. I’ve fallen for Graham other times this season, but he has mostly upset his owners and me. It’s either touchdown-or-bust with him, as every time he’s failed to score, he hasn’t topped four receptions or 41 yards. Those are terrible numbers, and I wouldn’t bet on him scoring against a team that has allowed two scores in eight games. With Davante Adams back and Marquez Valdes-Scantling also looking like a starter (he’s been limited in practice this week), and a Panthers defense much worse at stopping WRs than TEs, this shouldn’t be Graham’s best game of the year.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is chapulana) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.