With the fantasy football season heading into Week 10, owners have a much better idea of what their rosters look like, who to start, and what matchups to take advantage of. Obviously, injuries and the seemingly growing reserve/COVID-19 list often make this tough.
For example, those that drafted Christian McCaffrey thought they had a solid RB1 for the season. So far, they’ve had a solid RB1 for two games. But that’s part of the game. Fantasy owners need to look at who will step up and who they need to bench in order to get a win each week. The playoffs will be here before we know it.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status, and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide.
Teams on bye: Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City, New York Jets
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Typically, Brees plays best at home. Obviously, he had a great game in Tampa Bay last week, but he does return to the Superdome for Week 10. Michael Thomas should be even better now that he has a game back under his belt. In Week 9, Thomas only had five receptions for 51 yards, but he should improve upon that against the 49ers. Brees should come out throwing in this one and easily exceed his No. 8 ranking. He hasn’t been a QB1 in all games this year, but he is for this week.
J.D. McKissic, RB, Washington Football Team
Because Alex Smith is at quarterback, McKissic should exceed his No. 36 ranking. Smith loves to dump the ball off and McKissic is the beneficiary. In Week 9, he was targeted 14 times. He caught nine of those for 65 yards. Antonio Gibson will likely handle the between-the-tackles work, but McKissic will have a decent role against Detroit. This game has the potential to be close, so look for McKissic to end the day with better numbers than Gibson, although both should do well against the Lions, who allow the most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Duke Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
David Johnson suffered a concussion in Week 9, and he has not been able to practice all week. Often, players miss the week following the game in which they were concussed. This would leave Duke Johnson as the running back for the Texans against the Browns in Week 10. In Week 9, Duke Johnson had 16 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown. He added four receptions for 32 yards and a fumble. Assuming David Johnson is out, Duke Johnson is an RB2 in all formats and should exceed his No. 38 ranking.
Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Reagor being ranked No. 54 is way too low. The Eagles face the Giants in Week 10 and Reagor is likely going to be one of the top options for Carson Wentz. Even with Alshon Jeffery coming back, the Eagles still are struggling to find pass catchers. Travis Fulgham has been the No. 1 receiver and even with tight end Dallas Goedert back in Week 8 (before the bye), Wentz didn’t turn to him. Reagor is healthier now and he should be viewed as a WR3/4.
Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns
Hooper missed Weeks 7 and 8 following surgery for an emergency appendectomy. The Browns had a bye in Week 9 and Hooper has returned to practice. He’s good to go for Week 10, and in the three games prior to his missing time, he had five receptions in each game. He scored his only touchdown of the season in that span as well. Now, Odell Beckham Jr. is out for the season, so Baker Mayfield should be giving Hooper more looks. Tight end is tough this year, but Hooper is a borderline TE1 for Week 10, although he’s ranked No. 11.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Carolina Panthers
Bridgewater has been a solid fantasy quarterback this season, but he has a tough matchup against the Buccaneers. While the Bucs failed to show up against the Saints, they should rebound this week. When Bridgewater last faced Tampa in Week 2, he had 367 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Bridgewater has been a matchup-dependent quarterback. When he faced tough defenses, he was a QB2; when he faced easier defenses, he was a borderline QB1. This week, he’s a QB2. He’s ranked No. 16, but may not reach that.
Wayne Gallman, RB, New York Giants
Devonta Freeman returned to practice and promptly aggravated the ankle injury that kept him out the past two weeks. It’s still possible that he plays, but it’s hard to see any Giants running back having a great game. They will each eat into the other’s workload, and Alfred Morris and Dion Lewis are also in the picture. Gallman is ranked No. 30 and he’s more of a RB4. He has scored a touchdown in each of the past three games (with Gallman out), but that streak should come to an end against a tough Philadelphia run defense.
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Since the bye in Week 7, Thielen has had a total of five receptions for 65 yards. The Vikings face the Bears on Monday night in Week 10, who have only allowed opposing wide receivers to score three touchdowns this season. There are only two wide receivers to have more than 100 yards – Calvin Ridley in Week 3 and A.J. Brown in Week 9. The Bears' defense is tough and Kirk Cousins and Adam have not been able to put it together consistently enough this season to trust him as a WR1. Thielen is ranked No. 11, but he won’t finish that high.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Lockett has had a pattern of two so-so games followed by a huge game. Based on that, this should be his week to have a big game. However, it’s been DK Metcalf who has been the favorite for Russell Wilson this season. In the past two weeks, it’s been Metcalf with more than 100 yards and three touchdowns. Lockett had a total of 73 yards in that span. He has two games where he has three touchdowns, but it’s hard to rank him No. 6 on the hope that he has one of those games against the Rams, who give up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady and Gronkowski have a connection, no doubt about it. However, Brady also has other weapons. With Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown all active and healthy, it’s hard to imagine Gronk finishes as the No. 3 tight end this week. The tight end position is brutal this season, and they are nearly all touchdown-dependent. While Gronkowski is always a touchdown threat, it wasn’t there in Week 9 when he only had one catch for two yards.
Full Disclosure from Week 9
5 Up (3/5 correct)
Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers (Ranked: 10, Actual: 31)
DeeJay Dallas, RB, Seahawks (Ranked: 33, Actual: 20)
Nyheim Hines, RB, Colts (Ranked: 46, Actual: 47)
Christian Kirk, WR, Cardinals (Ranked: 36, Actual: 12)
Jonnu Smith, TE, Titans (Ranked: 10, Actual: 9)
5 Down (4/5 correct)
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans (Ranked: 11, Actual: 19)
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys (Ranked: 12, Actual: 30)
DJ Chark Jr., WR, Jaguars (Ranked: 21, Actual: 5)
Scotty Miller, WR, Buccaneers (Ranked: 43, Actual: 95)
Mark Andrews, TE, Ravens (Ranked: 3, Actual: 27)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.