Welcome to Week 10’s start/sit fantasy advice for quarterbacks and defense/special teams (DSTs). But first I know you’re really interested to see how I did last week, so let’s take a look.
Start Derek Carr (27.34 FP) – As expected, it was a high-scoring affair in Pittsburgh where Carr threw four more TD passes.
Sit Ryan Tannehill (11.56 FP) – Tannehill wasn’t terrible (and Bengals improved to 8-0), but there are far better QBs worthy of starting over him.
Sit Teddy Bridgewater (14.46 FP) – There were six teams on bye last week, so you might have needed an emergency fill-in at QB. Hopefully you didn’t bite on the Bridgewater hype
Sit Andrew Luck (21.48 FP) – Who would have thought that changing offensive coordinators in Indy would mean that Luck would tear up the vaunted Broncos secondary?
Start Eli Manning (14.42 FP) – After throwing six TDs the week before he only managed two TDs and two INTs against Tampa Bay.
Teams on bye: Atlanta, Indianapolis, San Diego, San Francisco
START THESE QBS...
Blake Bortles, JAC (at BAL)
Believe it or not Bortles has scored 18 or more fantasy points in six of his eight games this season. That’s pretty good for a player that is probably still on your waiver wire. Bortles enters this week coming off a huge game against the Buffalo Bills where he threw for 381 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Now it’s true that a lot of Bortles’ fantasy points come in garbage time because the Jaguars are usually playing the entire second half in catch-up mode, but with the two Allens (Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson), Bortles has two excellent receivers to chuck the ball too. This week he has a great matchup, as the Jaguars visit Baltimore to go up against a Ravens defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Even though Bortles might not be playing from behind in this game, look for him to air it out to the two Allens for a big day.
Andy Dalton, CIN (vs. HOU, Mon.)
For the past few years if Dalton was playing in prime time, you wanted nothing to do with him because he would shrink under the pressure. Maybe times are a changing in Bengals land. Last week was a nationally televised Thursday night game and even though it was against the Cleveland Browns, Dalton scored 21.86 fantasy points thanks to three touchdown passes. This week he’s in the Monday night spotlight, as the Bengals host the pitiful Houston Texans. The Texans are currently giving up the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks on the year and while the Bengals probably won’t need Dalton to throw for 300 yards, you can expect another three passing touchdowns this week.
Eli Manning, NYG (vs. NE)
Manning is without a doubt the absolute, most positively, inconsistent and frustrating fantasy quarterback out there today. You never know what you are going to get. One week he’ll score 6.4 fantasy points, then follow that up with a 38-point masterpiece thanks to 250 passing yards and six touchdowns. Then he’ll come crashing back down to earth like he did last week and score 14.42 fantasy points. What’s the deal? This week he should score more than 20 fantasy points because the Giants are likely to be playing most of the second half from behind and will need Manning to play like he did against the Saints in his six-TD game if they are going to have any chance of beating the Patriots. Count on him throwing for more than 300 yards and at least three touchdowns and pray that he keeps his interceptions down.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Joe Flacco, BAL (vs. JAC)
No one really wants to start Flacco, unless it’s in the postseason, where Flacco tends to shine. Last time I checked the Ravens have no chance of making the playoffs this year, but if you are in need of an emergency starting quarterback because of injuries or the teams on bye this week, take a good look at Flacco. Why? Because in his three home starts this year he’s scored 20 fantasy points in each game. He has a great matchup this week with the Jaguars coming to town. The Jags are giving up an average of 18 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and Flacco should have no problem scoring more than that.
SIT THESE QBs...
Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. ARI)
Wilson and the Seahawks are still licking their wounds from the first eight weeks of the season as they are coming off their bye week to host the Arizona Cardinals. Wilson and the entire Seahawks offense has really struggled this year and a lot has to do with the fact that the offensive line just can’t give Wilson enough time to make plays. Instead Wilson is forced out of the pocket all the time to scramble for his life and use his legs to make plays. The fact is that Wilson hasn’t thrown more than one touchdown pass in a single game since Week 2, which also was the last time he 20 fantasy points in a game. If he’s not going to throw for touchdowns, you’re hoping for rushing touchdowns, but he has zero on the season, which isn’t good. Even though the Seahawks are playing at home this week, it’s a very tough matchup against the Cardinals this week. The Cardinals have done a good job limiting the damage done by opposing quarterbacks (11th-fewest fantasy points allowed). It’s a wise strategy to consider going with a QB with more upside this week.
Jay Cutler, CHI (at STL)
Ever since coming back from injury in Week 3, Cutler has been playing like a low-end QB1, averaging close to 20 fantasy points per game. That’s pretty consistent when you look at other so-called elite fantasy quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and even Aaron Rodgers, who have been all over the map. Last week Cutler led the Bears to a big win on Monday night, throwing for 345 yards with two touchdowns and only one interception. That was good for 18.6 fantasy points. This week however it’s best to put Cutler back on your bench (that is if you have been smart enough to play him the last few weeks). The Bears travel to St. Louis to play one of the best defenses in the league. The Rams have given up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this season. That stat right there tells you everything you need to know about Cutler’s outlook this week.
Marcus Mariota, TEN (vs. CAR)
Many were surprised that Mariota returned last week after missing just two games with a MCL sprain in his knee. But all the rookie did, was return with a bang against the New Orleans Saints, scoring 33.34 fantasy points thanks to 371 passing yards and four touchdowns. That was easily the best game of Mariota’s young career. However, that was against the Saints’ pathetic defense and this week Mariota will face a much tougher opponent in the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs this season and Mariota’s stat line is probably going to look similar to Week 6 where he only scored 6.76 fantasy points against the Miami Dolphins.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Derek Carr, OAK (vs. MIN)
Carr has earned the title of being matchup-proof the way he has played the last three weeks. In his last three games Carr has scored 23.86, 29.12 and 27.34 fantasy points, respectively, with 11 touchdown passes and only one interception. Those are Tom Brady-like numbers. So why is he a must-sit instead of a must-start for Week 10? Because of the matchup against the Minnesota Vikings’ defense. The Vikings are giving up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and during their four-game winning streak they’re the second-best defense in the NFL, behind only the Denver Broncos. The Vikings are in a serious race with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North and you can bet that they are going to cause havoc and confusion for Carr this week.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
Carolina Panthers (at TEN)
Yes Aaron Rodgers came to life and threw four touchdown passes against the Panthers’ defense last week, but that’s a two-time league MVP and Super Bowl-winning quarterback. This week the Panthers travel to Tennessee to play the Titans and their rookie quarterback, Marcus Mariota, who has six career starts under his belt. The Panthers’ defense has looked good in recent weeks, scoring a combined 26 fantasy points in their last three games. Look for that scoring streak to continue this week against the Titans. Mariota did throw four touchdown passes last week, but that was against the Saints’ brutal defense. On the year opposing DSTs have scored the most fantasy points per game (11.75) when facing Tennessee.
Baltimore Ravens (vs. JAC)
No, I’m not crazy, the Ravens’ DST is actually worth starting this week. Even though Baltimore’s defense isn’t as formidable as it once was, the Ravens are a great streaming option this week because they have a very favorable matchup. This week they face a turnover-prone quarterback in Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars. DSTs have combined to score the second-most fantasy points when playing the Jaguars.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Minnesota Vikings (at OAK)
It’s true that the Vikings actually do have one of the better defenses in the entire NFL, but that’s not going to help them this week as they travel all the way to the west coast to take on red-hot Derek Carr and the rest of the Raiders’ offense. Oakland’s offense has been so good that opposing DSTs are averaging fewer than five fantasy points per game against them. That’s not good news for the Vikings, so you should find a better option this week.
Miami Dolphins (at PHI)
Remember at the beginning of the season when the Dolphins were being touted as a top-five fantasy DST? They’re not even in the conversation anymore. Even with interim head coach Dan Campbell having his team go all “primal,” the Dolphins’ defense has scored a combined total of three fantasy points in the last two games. This week the Dolphins pay a visit to Philadelphia to play the high-octane Eagles. It’s time to get rid of the Dolphins’ DST if you haven’t already.
— 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.