Marcus Mariota (vs New England)
This one could be a little rough with the Titans #2 and #3 receivers banged up and Corey Davis likely facing Stephon Gilmore, but that could also encourage Mariota to run more. The game script should force the Titans to play catch up ball in the second half and Mariota played one of his best games of the season last week against a solid Dallas defense on the road with the same compromised set of receivers for most of the game. Since Week 2, only Brock Osweiler has failed to throw for multiple scores against the Patriots.
Alex Smith (at Tampa Bay)
Which will collapse first? The terrible Tampa pass defense or the piecemeal Washington offensive line? The Washington defense appears to be vulnerable after Matt Ryan took them apart last week, and Ryan Fitzpatrick will be in attack mode. This should create a game script that forces Smith out of his shell. Only Nick Foles threw for less than two scores against the Bucs this year and he still piled up 334 passing yards in that game. Smith has a high floor as long as his offensive line is functional this week.
Baker Mayfield (vs Atlanta)
Mayfield looked much more comfortable in Freddie Kitchens offense last week, and he faces another generous defense this week. Only Nick Foles failed to post at least 20 fantasy points against them this year, and in the last two weeks even Eli Manning and Alex Smith posted eclipsed 300 yards against the Falcons. The Falcons offense should put up plenty of points to keep Mayfield throwing all day in this contest.
Austin Ekeler (at Oakland)
Ekeler hasn’t done much for our fantasy teams lately, but in a matchup against the worst team in the league, he should have ample opportunity to make up for it. The Raiders gave up 179 total yards and two scores to Chargers backs in the first matchup, including 59 and a score to Ekeler, and they haven’t allowed fewer than 155 total yards to opposing backs since then. The Colts backs racked up 248 total yards against them just two weeks ago, and the 49ers had 157 last week with a third string quarterback. There has also been at least 13 carries for backs other than the #1 against the Raiders in each of the last three weeks as their season has gone down the drain.
Mike Davis (at Los Angeles Rams)
This one will be elementary if Chris Carson can’t go, but Davis is worth a look as an RB2 or flex even if Carson guts it out. The Seahawks backfield gashed the Rams for over 200 total yards in the first matchup, and the Rams have allowed five scores to opposing backs over the last two weeks. Davis has had at least 107 total yards in each of the games that he has been the lead back, and as we saw last week, even if Carson starts, there’s a decent chance that Davis will finish the game.
Ito Smith (at Cleveland)
The Browns defense is decimated with injuries right now just as the Falcons running game is hitting its stride. Smith scored last week for his fourth score in the last five weeks, and the Browns have allowed nine scores to opposing backs in the last four weeks. Three of the those four weeks they have allowed over 200 total yards to opposing backs, with only the anemic Bucs backfield failing to go off against them. Backup Spencer Ware had 81 total yards on only six touches last week and Austin Ekeler had 60 on seven touches. Smith has had at least nine touches in each of the last three games, so he should be a worthy flex or bye/injury RB2 play.
Spencer Ware (vs Arizona)
If you have to go to the waiver wire for a starter this week, Ware could come through for you (and he’s worth carrying as a lottery ticket bench stash anyway). The Cardinals have faced at least 26 carries from opposing running backs in every game this year and the Chiefs have only given Kareem Hunt more than 19 carries once this year. It’s possible that this game gets out of hand with rookie quarterback Josh Rosen coming to Arrowhead, and Ware showed last week that he is still an explosive player capable of starting for teams that don’t have a back of Hunt’s caliber.
Peyton Barber (vs Washington)
It’s tricky to try to time the rare good start from Barber, but this week has some trends that point in that direction. The Washington run defense collapsed against the Falcons last week, allowing 220 total yards and three scores to their backs, and the offense might not be able to keep up with Fitzmagic down three starters on the offensive line. That could set Barber up for a lot of work in the second half and scoring opportunities as Washington didn’t fare much better against the Falcons passing game last week.
Maurice Harris (at Tampa Bay)
Alex Smith zeroed in on Harris last week with good results, and he might have no choice but to do the same this week in Tampa. Ryan Fitzpatrick is likely to turn this into a high-scoring game, and the Washington running game is likely to struggle with only two starters going on Sunday. The Bucs have allowed at least 88 receiving yards to at least one opposing receiver in every game this year except last week, and that is likely to be Harris if the Washington offensive line is good enough for Smith to have some success against a league worst pass defense.
Tyler Lockett (at Los Angeles Rams)
All signs point to the Seahawks having to pass more this week to keep up with the Rams, and Lockett could be in for a big target load. Doug Baldwin has a groin issue and it could affect his status this week, while David Moore had two key end zone drops that might erode trust between Russell Wilson and #3 receiver. The Rams let Lockett get free for a long score in the first matchup on his way to a 3-98-1 line, and they’ve given up at least 200 yards to opposing receivers in three of the last four games, with only the CJ Beathard led 49ers failing to do damage against them outside the numbers.
Godwin and Jackson were quiet against the Panthers corners last week, but this week they should be back to their Fitzmagic form against a more vulnerable secondary this week. Washington has allowed multiple pass scores to receivers in four of the last six weeks, and in the two weeks they didn’t allow multiple scores, they gave up at least 200 receiving yards to opposing receivers. Players like Cameron Meredith, Allen Hurns, and Torrey Smith have had solid fantasy games against Washington during that stretch, so Godwin and Jackson should have a good chance to get back on track this week.
Christian Kirk (at Kansas City)
The Cardinals are not likely to go quietly at Arrowhead Stadium this week. While that makes the Kansas City D/ST an excellent play against a rookie quarterback that sometimes doesn’t know when to give up, it also brings the Cardinals wide receivers into play as strong garbage time production candidates. Josh Rosen and Kirk riffed well on the game-winning score going into the bye and he should get one of the better matchup in the Chiefs secondary lining up outside.
Chris Conley (vs Arizona)
Conley should be a starter if Sammy Watkins can’t go this weekend, and he’ll benefit from facing a defense that will likely be focused on stopping Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The Cardinals #2 corner is very vulnerable and any time Conley lines up against Jamar Taylor, he could be a target for Patrick Mahomes II. Conley has two scores on only 21 targets this year, and he had six targets in the game Watkins left early against Denver back in Week 4.
Vernon Davis (at Tampa Bay)
Last week when Alex Smith had to pass more, Davis was more prominent and productive than Jordan Reed in the Washington passing game. The 34-year-old is averaging more than 15 yards per catch this year, and the Bucs are giving up big plays to opposing tight ends almost every week . They have also allowed scores to opposing tight ends in five of the last six games and all five of those tight ends had at least 52 receiving yards.
It has been a few weeks since Vance McDonald’s last outburst, but Week 10 could be very good to teams that stream him against the Panthers. The outside corners for Carolina were excellent last week and funneled passes to the middle of the field, where McDonald does his damage. The Panthers have allowed five scores to tight ends in the last four games, and opposing tight ends have at least seven catches in all four of those games. That’s also a reason to look at Jesse James as a streamer. He has at least three targets in each of the last three games and could get a touchdown to hit as a desperation play this week.
Jonnu Smith (vs New England)
The Titans #2 and #3 receivers are banged up and their #1 is going to tangle with Stephon Gilmore this week. That leaves Smith, who scored and had his longest reception of the year in the Monday night win over the Cowboys. The Patriots linebackers have struggled to cover tight ends this year, giving up six touchdowns to the position and 100+ yard games to Trey Burton and Eric Ebron.