Fantasy Football

Positional Matchups: Week 10

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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 tool has become a pretty good guide to help you find good matchups. We say that here every week, but now we mean it more than ever!

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 Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson, because you should always start Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson. Peterson plays tonight, by the way.

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Fantasy editor Ryan Fowler hosts his MLB and NFL podcasts weekly on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Note: The fantasy points per game (FPPG) referenced below are from standard leagues, and always refer to the position being discussed.

Week 10 Byes: Browns, Chiefs, Patriots, Jets
Thursday game: Redskins at Vikings


Stay away: Andrew Luck, Colts (vs. Rams)

Luck had a big game in Week 9, an outing that was partially due to having to come back from a 21-3 deficit. He’s a terrific real-life quarterback, but is 17th in the league in pass attempts because the Colts still appear committed to establishing the run. The Rams rank 12th against opposing fantasy quarterbacks (18.4 FPPG) and ninth in real-life pass defense, but are easy to run on. The Colts should cruise on Sunday, and that could work against Luck racking up big numbers. He’s not a terrible play, but you might have better options – a few of which are mentioned below.


- Matt Ryan has a home date with the second-ranked Seahawks’ fantasy defense (12.6 FPPG to opposing QBs). I’m not ready to write Ryan off for this season, but with Roddy White not yet back to full health and Julio jones missing until 2014, he’s in a tough spot this week.

Play, play, play: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (vs. Bills)

The 25th-ranked Bills’ fantasy defense (22.3 FPPG to opposing QBs) has allowed a league-worst 20 touchdown passes. Though Roethlisberger has been inconsistent this season, he’s had some huge fantasy games, and this could be another one.


- Nick Foles isn’t here because he threw seven TD passes last week (though they were pretty cool to watch). He’ll face a 21st-ranked Packers’ fantasy defense (22 FPPG to opposing QBs) that just gave up 272 yards and two touchdowns to Josh McCown. Foles looks like a top-10 play this week.

- Jake Locker let us down in this space last week with just 185 passing yards, two interceptions and a low-volume day due to the Titans’ run-heavy attack. Let’s give him another try with the 30th-ranked Jaguars’ fantasy defense (24.4 FPPG to opposing QBs) coming to Nashville on Sunday. Jake, if you can run for a score this week, some of us will be very happy. Thanks.

Running Backs

Stay away: Ryan Mathews, Chargers (vs. Broncos)

The sequence at the end of regulation time at the one-yard-line against the Redskins (one Danny Woodhead run, two passes) adds to the argument against any goal-line work for Mathews, right? Beyond that, he ran just seven times for 34 yards (after two 100-yard games), and faces a Broncos’ defense that ranks third in rushing yards per game allowed (81.3) and first in yards per carry allowed (3.4). The Broncos give up a hefty 19.1 FPPG to opposing runners, but those points are touchdown-heavy, and Mathews doesn’t get many of those.


John Halpin hosts his fantasy baseball podcast throughout the 2014 MLB season on iTunes and SoundCloud.


- In real life, I like the plodding BenJarvus Green-Ellis. I even understand why the Bengals want to use him a lot at the expense of the explosive Gio Bernard. If you think your running game will help propel you to the playoffs, a little thunder and lightning is a nice way to keep your smaller rookie fresh. However, there are some defenses that aren’t so easy for the Law Firm to soften up, and the top-ranked Ravens (10.7 FPPG to opposing RBs) are one of them. Green-Ellis is in FlexVille this week – RB32 on my board – and you should explore alternatives.

Play, play, play: Pierre Thomas, Saints (vs. Cowboys)

Confession: I salivated about putting Thomas in this space when I thought Darren Sproles (concussion) would miss Sunday night’s game. And even though Sproles practiced Wednesday, Thomas stays put for the matchup against the Cowboys’ 24th-ranked fantasy defense (19.6 FPPG allowed to opposing RBs). He’s not a great play, but he’s a solid one.


- Did Tampa Bay’s Mike James earn must-start status with his 158-yard breakout in Seattle last week? Maybe not, but Monday’s battle with the 29th-ranked Dolphins’ fantasy defense (22.3 FPPG to opposing RBs) is friendly.

- Remember when the Bears used to be really good at defense? Yeah … not so much anymore. They’re 28th against opposing RBs (22.2 FPPG allowed). If injuries or byes cause you to reach deep, Detroit’s Joique Bell isn’t a terrible option.

Wide Receivers

Stay away: Harry Douglas, Falcons (vs. Seahawks)

See: Ryan, Matt. If you were a smallish, No. 3 WR masking as a lead option because of injury, would you want Richard Sherman beating up on you all day? Me neither. Douglas is startable, but not in all cases at WR32 in my rankings.


- In Charlotte, we’re getting a wee bit excited about Sunday afternoon’s game at San Francisco, since we might learn just how good the streaking Panthers are. We know their defense is very good – ranking third with just 16.6 FPPG allowed to opposing wideouts – which is why Anquan Boldin isn’t a recommended play.

- Michael Floyd, anyone? I usually have Floyd in FlexTown, but I’d rather avoid him against a Texans’ unit that ranks second with 16.1 FPPG allowed to opposing WRs.

Play, play, play: Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers (vs. Bills)

Sanders has caught 13 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown over his last two games, emerging as a reliable (if not explosive) option for Ben Roethlisberger. Against the 31st-ranked Bills’ fantasy defense (31 FPPG allowed to opposing WRs), he sneaks into WR2 range.


- The Cowboys are giving up more than 300 passing yards per game, and 23.9 FPPG to opposing wide receivers. Lance Moore, who caught six passes for 70 yards against the Jets in his second game back from injury, looks to be a pretty good fantasy play whether or not the Saints have Marques Colston (knee).

Tight Ends

Stay away: Greg Olsen, Panthers (@49ers)

Olsen has hauled in touchdown passes in each of his last two games, but has just 13 receptions for 153 yards in his last four. This week, he’ll face a 49ers’ fantasy defense that ranks sixth with just six FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends. Take a pass on Olsen if you can.


- Are we still waiting for Coby Fleener’s breakout? It’s probably not coming in this week’s matchup with the Rams’ third-ranked fantasy defense (five FPPG allowed to opposing TEs).

Play, play, play: Tim Wright, Buccaneers (vs. Dolphins)



R-U-Rah-Rah! Wright is one of approximately 74 Rutgers players on the Bucs’ roster, and he’s been one of the more productive lately, with 18 catches for 212 yards and two scores over his last four games. Who would have guessed that a rookie quarterback might bond with his tight end? Oh, right – everybody. Anyway, the Dolphins rank 30th with 10.5 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends, so try to grab Wright (owned in 14.3 percent of leagues) if you’re without Rob Gronkowski or Jordan Cameron this week.


- All aboard the Garrett Graham bandwagon! The Cardinals’ otherwise stout defense ranks last (by a lot) with 14.6 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends. They probably won’t be as susceptible to the deep ball as the Colts were against the Texans last week, so QB Case Keenum should have more reason to look in Graham’s direction. This is a case where the matchup is a bigger factor than the player’s ability.

- Psssssst … Eagles rookie TE Zach Ertz has been getting more playing time lately, and had a mini-breakout in Week 9 with five catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. This week, he’s got a matchup with the 27th-ranked Packers’ fantasy defense (10.1 FPPG allowed). Deep league owners might want to consider Ertz.

Tagged: Falcons, Bills, Bengals, Cowboys, Broncos, Titans, Colts, Rams, Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots, Saints, Eagles, 49ers, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Panthers, Cardinals, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Ben Roethlisberger, Greg Olsen, Pierre Thomas, Matt Ryan, Rob Gronkowski, Ryan Mathews, Andrew Luck, Case Keenum

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