Fantasy Football

Rivers, Floyd lead Week 10 plays

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John Halpin

John Halpin has been a fantasy contributor for since 2007. He has written and co-hosted webcasts about fantasy football for, and managed websites for the NHL, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Network. Listen to his "Fantasy 15 Podcast" on and follow him on Twitter.


Through nine weeks, our Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed is an increasingly strong tool to help you find good matchups.

As always, please remember that the players listed are mostly meant to be borderline guys, who need reasons for you to play or bench them. You won’t see recommendations to start Calvin Johnson and Drew Brees, because you should always start Calvin Johnson and Drew Brees. Make sense? Good.

Note: The fantasy points per game (FPPG) referenced below are from standard leagues.

Week 10 Byes: Cardinals, Browns, Packers, Redskins

Thursday game: Colts at Jaguars


Stay away: Matt Schaub, Texans (at Bears)

Eek! The Bears! Against a defense that has allowed just 11.6 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks – best in the league – you’ll want to give Schaub a seat on the bench for what figures to be a low-scoring Sunday night matchup. Sure, Peanut Tillman’s wife might go into labor and make him miss the game, but we probably won’t know that until it’s too late.


We don’t have to go far for the second recommendation here, as the Texans’ defense ranks 10th with 16.5 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks, and fourth in real football with 203.8 passing yards per game allowed. Watch this game for the defense, but not for Schaub or Jay Cutler.

Play, play, play: Philip Rivers, Chargers (at Bucs)

The Buccaneers have given up some big outings to quarterbacks this season, which is why they’re last in the NFL in pass defense (321.1 YPG) and 23rd against opposing fantasy QBs (21 FPPG). Rivers has had an up-and-down season, but should be ready to post strong numbers here.


Joe Flacco has a terrific matchup against the Raiders’ 24th-ranked fantasy defense (21.1 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks). Flacco has thrown for less than 200 yards in three of his last four outings, and a bounceback appears to be in the offing.

Running Backs

Stay away: Steven Jackson, Rams (at 49ers)

The 49ers are murder on opposing runners, acting as sort of a cousin to Revis Island (back when Darrelle Revis used to play), ranking first with 9.8 FPPG allowed to opposing backs. Steven Jackson, on the other hand, is now sharing carries with speedy Daryl Richardson. SJ39 hasn’t carried more than 12 times in his last three games, and has broken the 60-yard barrier just once all season. Avoid, avoid, avoid.


Has Fred Jackson fallen behind C.J. Spiller in the Bills’ pecking order? Not yet, but he hasn’t been as effective as his explosive teammate, amassing just 351 yards from scrimmage in five games since returning from a knee injury. This week, Jackson faces a Patriots’ defense that ranks fourth with 12.7 FPPG allowed to opposing running backs. I’ve got Jackson at RB22, meaning that he’s OK as a low-end starter in 12-team league depending on who else you own, but not a strong option.

Play, play, play: Vick Ballard, Colts (at Jaguars)

Donald Brown hasn’t practiced this week, so it appears that Ballard will once again lead the way in the Colts’ backfield. The rookie will run against a swiss-cheesy Jags’ D that ranks 30th with 25.9 FPPG allowed to opposing runners. Ballard has carried 48 times for 199 yards over the last three games. With that kind of volume, he should be productive tonight.


Earlier in the week, I wondered if Taiwan Jones would be a better fantasy option than Marcel Reece, since the Raiders project to be without both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson for Sunday’s game in Baltimore. Unfortunately, Jones has issues with both fumbling and pass blocking, and while he could always break off an 80-yard TD run, odds are that Reece will see more snaps and at least as many touches. Reece is a terrific receiver, and could run enough to get 15 touches against a Ravens’ D that ranks 25th with 21.2 FPPG allowed to opposing backs. If you’re looking to fill a hole, Reece is an interesting option, especially in PPR leagues. I’m not saying you can’t pick up Jones – I just like Reece better.

Did you know that over the past two games, Daniel Thomas has been on the field for 74 snaps to Reggie Bush’s 48? That doesn’t necessarily mean that Thomas will be a more productive fantasy back, but he should be useful enough to consider against the Titans’ 29th-ranked fantasy defense (25.6 FPPG to opposing backs).

It’s too early to tell if Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Jonathan Dwyer (groin) will return to action this week, but early signs point to Dwyer playing and Mendenhall resting again. Even if Dwyer is active, Isaac Redman appears to have earned a timeshare, and the Steelers figure to run quite a bit against the Chiefs’ 26th-ranked defense (21.2 FPPG to opposing backs) on Monday night. Plan to start Redman if you have him.

Wide Receivers

Stay away: Jeremy Maclin, Eagles (vs. Cowboys)

The Cowboys’ defense ranks seventh with 18.4 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers. Earlier in the season I favored Maclin over teammate DeSean Jackson, but he can disappear sometimes, like in last week’s two-catch, 28-yard outing against the terrible Saints. I’ve got Maclin at WR27, which means you can flex him if you must, but not with a lot of confidence.


J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS! OK, the Jets aren’t so great, but they do lead the fantasy world with only 15.1 FPPG allowed to opposing wideouts. Sidney Rice has some good fantasy numbers after catching TDs in three of his last four games, but he’s averaging just 47 receiving yards per game this season. Rice similar to a running back that gets one-yard plunge TDs – Andre Brown, for example. He might produce, but won’t offer much help if he doesn’t score.

Play, play, play: Malcom Floyd, Chargers (at Buccaneers)

The Bucs have been almost helpless against opposing wideouts this season, ranking 30th with 28.7 FPPG allowed, and last in the league in real-life pass defense, as mentioned in the Philip Rivers recommendation above. Floyd can be an inconsistent receiver to own, the type of guy you agonize about from week to week. This is the best matchup he’ll have between now and the end of the season.


With the Patriots ranking 28th against fantasy wideouts (26.8 FPPG allowed), the disappointing Stevie Johnson has a Week 10 matchup worthy of targeting. And if you need to reach for someone off the wire, teammate Donald Jones (six receptions for 65 yards on nine targets in Week 9) can be considered as well.

The Colts rank 26th with 26.2 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers. That doesn’t mean Blaine Gabbert will unleash an aerial assault on them tonight, but it could mean good things for Cecil Shorts, who had a disappointing Week 9 outing, but caught 12 passes for 195 yards and a score in his previous two games.

Tight Ends

Stay away: Brent Celek, Eagles (vs. Cowboys)

In addition to being strong against opposing wide receivers, the Cowboys have been stingy with tight ends as well, ranking eighth with six FPPG allowed. Like most non-elite TEs, Celek’s stats tend to be pedestrian, as he averages four catches and 52 yards per game. He’s a matchup play, and this matchup isn’t good.

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Heath Miller has been a frequent target for Ben Roethlisberger this season, but he’s not exactly piling up the yards, and his touchdown pace probably isn’t sustainable. That’s not meant to denigrate Miller, but he faces a Chiefs’ defense that allows just 3.1 receptions per game to opposing tight ends, which ranks second in the NFL. There’s a decent chance that the Steelers could spend the entire second half of Monday’s game running the ball against Romeo Crennel’s overmatched squad. You don’t want to bench Miller often, but this would be a spot to consider it.

Play, play, play: Greg Olsen, Panthers (vs. Broncos)

Olsen figures to run relatively freely against the Bronco D that ranks 30th with 10.9 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends. He figures to be a better option in PPR leagues than standard formats, but is a top-12 tight end either way.


The Giants’ defense has given up a mediocre 7.5 FPPG to opposing tight ends, but they’re second from the bottom in receptions allowed with 6.4 per game. Cincinnati’s Jermaine Gresham had his first career 100-yard game in Week 9, and should be in line for a handful of receptions this week.

Good luck in Week 10!.

Tagged: Bills, Bears, Cowboys, Lions, Colts, Raiders, Rams, Dolphins, Saints, Giants, Jets, Eagles, Panthers, Jaguars, Ravens, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Drew Brees, Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Steven Jackson, Heath Miller, Fred Jackson, Calvin Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Stevie Johnson, Jeremy Maclin, Donald Brown, Marcel Reece, Andre Brown, Jonathan Dwyer, Donald Jones, Taiwan Jones, Vick Ballard

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