It’s hard to believe that it is Week 10 in the fantasy football season already, but here we are. While every week matters, this is when more and more of you are starting to face must-win scenarios if you want to have a shot at making your fantasy football playoffs.
That means choosing the right players to start, and the right players to sit this week is more important than ever, especially if you have been streaming your quarterback all season.
So can you trust guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Marcus Mariota this week? What about Tom Brady against his old teammate-turned Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel? Should you really consider sitting him?
For those answers and more (don't forget about defense/special teams), keep reading. But first, a quick glance at how my Week 9 start/sit advice turned out.
Good Calls for Week 9...
Sit Matthew Stafford (6.56 fantasy points) – Stafford and the entire Lions' offense was terrible against an aggressive Vikings defense.
Start Alex Smith (16.44 FP) – If you needed to stream a QB because of all the teams on bye last week, you’ll take Smith’s 16 fantasy points every time.
Bad Calls for Week 9...
Start Joe Flacco (8.36 FP) – Flacco just couldn’t get it going in a game where the Ravens really needed him against the Steelers.
Sit Ryan Fitzpatrick (24.02 FP) – Fitzpatrick was okay, but not magical last week. He is still way too turnover-prone.
Teams on bye: Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Minnesota
START THESE QBs...
Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB (vs. WAS)
Fitzpatrick may only be a fantasy stud because he completely dominates in garbage time, but he’s in an incredible spot this week. The Buccaneers have no running game and an offensive line that can’t elevate a non-stud into relevancy there, a defense that constantly looks like its opponents invited them for a homecoming game and an offensive coordinator that embraces the air-raid passing attack. Tampa’s 65 percent passing rate is sixth in the league and Fitzpatrick will often do enough to offset a couple turnovers per game, especially against a Washington defense that allows the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
Carson Wentz, PHI (vs. DAL)
The Eagles just sent a strong message to the players in acquiring Golden Tate, which gives Wentz a key weapon in the short game alongside Zach Ertz and then Alshon Jeffery across the middle. Nelson Agholor is an incredible fourth option to have, especially considering the current backfield committee of Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams, a group that is arguably more effective as pass catchers than rushers. Wentz also just tallied a season-high 28 rushing yards and has scored 20 or more fantasy points in each of his last five games and is playing a Dallas team that looks like it might be giving up on its season.
Matt Ryan, ATL (at CLE)
Even with the quarterback see-saw in Tampa Bay, from a fantasy football standpoint, the NFC South has been one of the better divisions at the position. That success will continue when Ryan and the Falcons head to Cleveland to take on the Browns. With the exception of his heavily criticized Week 1 performance, Ryan has been inside the top 20 among his peers for each game this season. That consistent play includes four games inside the top five, one of which came last week against the Redskins. The Browns may not be the doormat they once were, but they are still among the top 10 teams in terms of most fantasy points allowed to QBs. In Ryan’s last three outings, he has a total of eight touchdown passes with just one interception and has at least 350 passing yards in each game.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Marcus Mariota, TEN (vs. NE)
Mariota has some momentum coming off the Monday night victory over Dallas where he logged the seventh-best fantasy quarterback performance of the week. This week he takes on New England, who is giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. When these teams met in the playoffs less than a year ago, Mariota threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns and added another 37 yards on the ground. The first half of the year was disappointing for Mariota, but he looks healthy and is primed to have a better second half, including this week.
SIT THESE QBs...
Mitchell Trubisky, CHI (vs. DET)
Last week, for the first time since Week 3, Trubisky finished outside of the top 20 QBs in fantasy points. Trubisky will be a fantasy-relevant quarterback the rest of the way, but he is not matchup-proof and will have trouble this week against a divisional foe. So far this season, the Lions are allowing the sixth-fewest points to the position. Through Trubisky’s rise in 2018, the fantasy community has taken note of his ability to tuck the ball and run. That may be a problem in Week 10 against a defense that has surrendered a league-low 37 rushing yards to QBs. Again, Trubisky and Matt Nagy are building something in Chicago, but with the Lions only allowing one top-five game to the position this season, this appears to be a week to sit the Bears' young signal-caller.
Matthew Stafford, DET (at CHI)
Stafford is coming off of a rough outing at Minnesota last week, and it doesn’t look to get any better on the road against the Bears. Chicago has one of the top defenses in the NFL (even without Khalil Mack) and are giving up the eighth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Stafford missed the presence of his former top receiving option Golden Tate (traded to Philadelphia) last week, and neither Kenny Golladay nor Marvin Jones was able to step up in his absence. There are plenty of better fantasy options at quarterback than Stafford this week.
Andy Dalton, CIN (vs. NO)
The matchup against the Saints is great. The Saints have allowed an average of 29.3 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. But it's hard to trust Dalton, even at home, without A.J. Green (toe). Green missed the final six games of the 2016 season, and Dalton averaged just 16.3 fantasy points over that span. It will help Dalton if John Ross (groin) and C.J. Uzomah (shoulder) are able to return to give support to Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon. But even then, Dalton is just a QB2 at best without Green.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Tom Brady, NE (at TEN)
If there ever was a time to remotely consider sitting Brady (even though you won’t), this is the week. Going on the road to face a Titans defense that has given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks is tough enough; but mixing in that Brady has averaged 6.82 yards per attempt away from Foxborough compared to 8.12 at home really dampens his range of outcomes. Brady really misses Rob Gronkowski — the real Gronk, not 2018’s shadow — and getting Sony Michel back should help revitalize the ground game while Tennessee’s lackluster offense won’t get much going to force Brady and the Pats into pass-needy scenarios.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
New England Patriots (at TEN)
After nine weeks this season, the Patriots are fourth in the NFL in takeaways and the defense has been playing well as of late. New England has given up a total of 23 points in its last two games and in Weeks 7 and 8, the Patriots DST was top five in fantasy points scored. The Titans may be able to gain some yards and put a few points on the board, but the Pats have had success with their bend-don't-break approach. Now is the time to invest in this DST.
Green Bay Packers (vs. MIA)
The Packers have not been an elite defense this season, but they have performed better at home. This week they return to Lambeau to take on the Miami Dolphins, who have struggled to score no matter who is at quarterback. Brock Osweiler will get the start once again and Green Bay should be able to force some turnovers from the Dolphins. In a week where there's no Minnesota, Houston, Denver or Baltimore, the Packers are certainly stream-worthy.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Miami Dolphins (at GB)
Miami came through as my must-start DST last week, but that was at home against the Jets. This week the Dolphins go on the road to Green Bay to take on the Packers. Aaron Rodgers and company have their backs up against the wall and are in desperate need of a win at home, so don’t be surprised if they jump up on Miami early and often. The Dolphins shouldn’t be considered a startable DST this week.
Seattle Seahawks (at LAR)
Last week the Seahwaks DST scored just three fantasy points in a loss to the Chargers. This unit has another tough matchup ahead, on the road against a seething Rams team that took its first loss last week. Los Angeles has averaged a mere 0.8 turnovers per game, and DSTs are averaging just 1.25 fantasy points against them at home in 2018.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.
(Top photo courtesy of www.buccaneers.com)