By Matt Citak
We are in crunch time of the fantasy football season with the playoffs just a few weeks away. Let’s not waste any time and jump right into it.
Here are CBS Local Sports’ Week 10 Fantasy Football Starts and Sits.
QB: Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
Goff is riding high after putting together the best performance of his NFL career against the Giants in Week 9. The second-year QB threw for a career-best 311 yards and four touchdowns while helping the Rams rout the Giants, 51-17. Los Angeles’ offense is clicking on all cylinders right now, which is amazing news for Goff’s fantasy owners as they enter a Week 10 matchup against the Texans. Houston, whose season looks lost after Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in practice last week, just allowed Jacoby Brissett to throw for 308 yards and two touchdowns in Week 9. Goff and the Rams offense is a whole lot better than Brissett and the Colts, which means the NFC Week 9 Offensive Player of the Week could end up winning the award two weeks in a row.
QB: Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
While Taylor’s passing stats may not jump off the page, it’s his ability as a runner that makes him a solid fantasy quarterback each and every week. The dual-threat QB has carried the ball 26 times over the last five games, which has resulted in 104 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Taylor is one of only 10 quarterbacks with at least 16 fantasy points in five games this season. With new target Kelvin Benjamin now in the fold, along with the return of tight end Charles Clay, Taylor suddenly has some attractive weapons to throw the ball to in the Bills offense. Even going up against New Orleans’ much-improved defense, Taylor should be in your fantasy lineup this weekend.
QB: Josh McCown, New York Jets
Believe it or not, McCown enters Week 10 with the 10th-most fantasy points among quarterbacks this season. The veteran quarterback has scored at least 17 fantasy points in five consecutive games, including three with at least 22 points. McCown has been playing so well that Jets GM Mike Maccagnan said this week that the team is open to bringing the quarterback back next season. This week, McCown and the Jets face the Buccaneers and their 30th-ranked pass defense. Tampa Bay has allowed over 20 fantasy points to an opposing quarterback four times this season, including matchups against Case Keenum and Eli Manning. McCown is in a great position to up up another good performance in Week 10.
RB: Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
Hyde has quietly been very solid for the 49ers this season. The 27-year-old back ranks 12th among running backs in carries, second in targets, and fifth in carries inside the 10-yard line. Oh yeah, he also currently has the seventh-most fantasy points. While Hyde has been held out of the end zone for three straight games, his role in the passing game continues to make him a strong fantasy play. With Pierre Garcon, Trent Taylor, and George Kittle all out for San Francisco, Hyde should receive even more targets this week from rookie QB C.J. Beathard against the Giants. Between his involvement in the passing game, to New York’s poor rush defense (the Giants have allowed 100 yards rushing in every game but one), Hyde should be in every starting lineup this weekend.
RB: Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants
It may be tough to trust a Giants running back, and there definitely is some risk there, but Darkwa’s Week 10 matchup is too juicy to pass up. 2017 is now the third straight season that the 49ers are surrendering the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Dating back to last year, San Francisco has allowed either a touchdown or 100 total yards to an opposing running back in 24 consecutive games. Darkwa has also been a pleasant surprise out of the Giants backfield. The fourth-year back out of Tulane has either 75 yards or a touchdown in three of New York’s last four games, while collecting five receptions over the past two. Fire Darkwa up as an RB2 this week.
RB: James White, New England Patriots
White has done little to impress in the run game, carrying the ball just 28 times for 120 yards through the first eight games of the season. But it’s his presence in the passing game that has been downright impressive in 2017. White has 43 receptions for 365 yards and a touchdown, and leads the Patriots in targets since Week 4. With Chris Hogan out for the Patriots’ Sunday night matchup against the Broncos, White is likely going to see even more work as a receiver. While the matchup against Denver may look daunting, Brady might lean heavily on White.
WR: Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
Jones has seen a ton of volume over the last month, which has helped make him one of the best wide receivers in fantasy during that span. During the last month, the veteran receiver leads all wide receivers in targets per game (12.0), targets inside the 10-yard line per game (1.3), targets inside the 20-yard line per game (2.7), and end zone targets per game (3.3). Jones has received double digit targets in three consecutive games, totaling 19 receptions for 331 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Although he will be seeing coverage from Jason McCourty on Sunday, you simply cannot bench Jones with this type of volume.
WR: Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
Shepard finally returned to the field in Week 9, and Eli Manning wasted no time getting the ball to him. Shepard was targeted nine times, trailing only Evan Engram’s 10 targets, and caught five of them for 70 yards. The second-year receiver was able to do this despite a tough matchup against the Rams pass defense. This week, Shepard faces a 49ers defense allowing a 126.6 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks when targeting slot receivers, which is the second-worst mark in the league. Similar to Darkwa, while it may be difficult to have faith in any member of the Giants, Shepard is primed for a big game this weekend.
WR: Robby Anderson, New York Jets
Anderson has played well over the last four games, catching either a touchdown or finishing with over 75 receiving yards in every game over that stretch. During that same span, Anderson leads all Jets receivers in targets by 10 (27) and fantasy points by 30 (61). Just like McCown, the 24-year-old receiver has a fantastic matchup in Week 10 against the Buccaneers. The Tampa Bay defense is allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season, and has given up double digit fantasy points to at least one opposing receiver in every game this year.
TE: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph hasn’t topped 47 receiving yards in a game this season, but that could easily change this week. The big tight end has seen between seven and nine targets in every game since Dalvin Cook tore his ACL during Minnesota’s Week 4 loss to the Lions, and has scored a touchdown in two of those contests. The Vikings face off against the Redskins this week, who are allowing the most receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends and the second-most fantasy points per game over the last two seasons. All signs point to a big performance out of Rudolph in Week 10.
TE: Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
Similar to Rudolph, Hooper has seen a good amount of volume over the last five games. The second-year tight end has been targeted between six and nine times in four of Atlanta’s last five games, finishing with either five receptions or a touchdown in three of those contests. The Falcons have a home battle against the Cowboys in Week 10, which could mean good news for Hooper. Dallas is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends over the last two seasons. With the number of weapons the Falcons offense has, starting Hooper doesn’t come without a risk. But if you need a fill-in tight end this week, you could do a lot worse than Hooper.
QB: Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
While Cousins and the Redskins were able to pick up a huge win in Seattle last weekend, the quarterback did not have himself a very good fantasy day. Cousins failed to crack 10 fantasy points, and now has just 18.8 fantasy points over his last two games. Things won’t get any easier this weekend as the Redskins welcome the Vikings to Washington. The Minnesota defense has allowed only one quarterback to finish as a QB1 this season, and with Washington’s offensive line still recovering from numerous injuries, Cousins is probably better off on your bench in Week 10.
QB: Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
You likely weren’t going to start Rivers this week anyways, but in case you were thinking about it, don’t. The Chargers are traveling across the country to take on the Jaguars in Jacksonville in Week 10. The Jaguars defense leads the NFL with an opposing passer rating of 62.9 on 252 attempts, and has not let an opposing quarterback score more than 15 fantasy points this season. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging a measly 7.5 fantasy points per game against Jacksonville’s elite secondary. Benching Rivers is probably one of the easiest “sit” decisions you’ll face this season.
QB: Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts
Brissett is coming off a strong performance against the Texans last week in which he completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 308 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. This strong outing might lead to those in need of a fill-in QB to consider the young Colts signal-caller this week against the Steelers. Well, that is a very bad idea. The Steelers defense has been one of the strongest in the league in 2017. Stafford’s 423 yards in Week 8 is the only game that Pittsburgh has allowed an opposing quarterback to throw for over 246 yards, while Andy Dalton’s two passing touchdowns in Week 7 was the only time they have allowed a quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns against them. Leave Brissett on waivers.
RB: Adrian Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
There’s no denying that Peterson has been better than the Cardinals ever could have imagined after trading for him last month. Peterson has 314 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the three games he’s appeared in, while adding three receptions. But in Arizona’s Week 9 victory over the 49ers, Peterson received a career-high 37 carries. 37 carries is a lot for any running back, but when you’re 32-years-old and have struggled for most of the season, that is a ton. Arizona plays on Thursday this week, meaning Peterson has a short week to get his legs back underneath him. Oh yeah, he’s also playing Seattle, whose defense ranks sixth in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs.
RB: Rob Kelley, Washington Redskins
It’s been an interesting few weeks for Kelley. The bruising running back has appeared in six games this season, and has only topped 30 yards only once (Week 2). In Washington’s last two games, Kelley has carried the ball 22 times for just 37 yards, averaging a mere 1.7 yards per carry. However Kelley has also scored all three of his 2017 touchdowns during the last two weeks. Going up against the Vikings this week, Kelley should be no where near your starting lineup. Minnesota ranks fourth in rushing fantasy points allowed to running backs this season. Kelley barely deserves to even be on your roster, let alone your starting lineup.
RB: Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins
Drake ran extremely well in his first action as the Dolphins’ lead back, taking nine carries for 69 yards (7.7 yards per carry) while adding six receptions for 35 yards. Damien Williams finished Miami’s Week 9 loss with 13 touches for 61 yards, and a similar split can be expected this week. However last week’s performance came against the Raiders and their struggling defense. In Week 10, the Dolphins face a tough Carolina defense on Monday Night Football. No running back has scored double digit fantasy points in standard leagues against the Panthers this season. Both Drake and Williams are no better than risky flex plays.
WR: Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
It has been an extremely frustrating season for anyone with Nelson on their fantasy team. A quad injury led to Nelson leaving Green Bay’s Week 2 matchup against the Falcons early, causing the Pro Bowl receiver to finish with zero points. That was a complete dud. But forgetting that one game, Nelson had six touchdown catches entering the Packers’ Week 6 contest against the Vikings. Then Aaron Rodgers got hurt, and Nelson has not looked the same since. With Brett Hundley starting at QB the last two weeks, Nelson has a total of five receptions for 48 yards. Fantasy owners have to hope and pray that Hundley can perform better. Otherwise all Green Bay receivers will be useless for the rest of the season.
WR: T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Hilton has frustrated his fantasy owners this season with his inconsistency. After totaling 61 yards from Weeks 6-8, Hilton exploded for 175 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts’ 20-14 Week 9 victory over the Texans. Don’t expect that sort of production this week though. The Colts take on the Steelers and their elite pass defense in Week 10. Pittsburgh’s defense ranks third in opposing passer rating and third in fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers this season. QB Jacoby Brissett should struggle against this defense, which does not bode well for Hilton.
WR: Will Fuller, Houston Texans
Fuller is suffering from the same circumstances as Nelson. Deshaun Watson was lost for the season prior to Houston’s Week 9 game against the Colts, and Houston’s offense is clearly hurting from his absence. Tom Savage was only able to complete 43.2 percent of his passes last week, and against the Rams and their surprisingly solid pass defense this week, things are unlikely to get any better. With Savage under center, Fuller hauled in just 2-of-8 targets for 32 yards. Fuller is a lethal downfield threat, but with an inaccurate quarterback unable to make those deep passes, his value is extremely limited.
TE: Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills
Clay looks set to make his return to the field this week upon missing the last three games after undergoing a procedure to address a knee injury. Prior to leaving Buffalo’s Week 5 loss to the Bengals, Clay was having a great start to his season. The veteran tight end has 20 receptions for 258 yards and two touchdowns in 4+ games this year, and clearly had established a nice rapport with Tyrod Taylor. However since he went down with the injury, the Bills have traded for WR Kelvin Benjamin, a move that could cut into Clay’s targets. While it is unclear how big of a role Benjamin will play early on, Buffalo’s Week 10 matchup against the Saints is one to avoid for Clay. Besides Rob Gronkowski, no tight end has finished with more than 30 yards against New Orleans this season. Wait a week before putting Clay back in your starting lineup.
TE: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Old Faithful over here got off to an extremely hot start this season, catching 17 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys’ first two games. But in the six games since, Witten has been able to find the end zone only once, and has seen his targets decrease dramatically. After a total of 17 targets in Dallas’ first two contests, the veteran tight end has totaled just 18 in the six games since. The Cowboys face off against a Falcons defense that has been stingy against opposing tight ends this season. Atlanta has surrendered just one touchdown to a tight end in 2017, and has allowed only two tight ends to score more than eight fantasy points. Witten’s outlook will improve if Dez Bryant or Terrance Williams can’t suit up on Sunday, but either way, things don’t look great for the Pro Bowl tight end in Week 10.
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.