What players are on the rise and decline? Here's a breakdown of players from each position that you should be aware of heading into Week 10.
- Derek Carr - The Raiders second year signal-caller has 11 touchdown passes and 1 interception over the last three games against SD, NYJ and PIT. Not too shabby. His 33.2 FP/game in that span leads all quarterbacks. The schedule gets easier for Oakland with games against DET, TEN and KC coming in the next four weeks.
- Drew Brees - Brees and his schedule for the playoffs was discussed in last week's article, but it bears repeating - at Tampa Bay, home vs. Detroit and home vs. Jacksonville. All three of those teams have a QB rating against of 100 or higher, with the Saints themselves allowing a league-high 112 QB rating. Brees is also the 2nd best fantasy quarterback over the last four weeks.
- Tom Brady - Brady is virtually a no-brainer selection for this list. The news of Dion Lewis being lost for the season with a torn ACL, you have to think the passing game takes a step forward. Most of the time Brady has a productive game, but he really excels in games where there is some competition and back and forth scoring. The Patriots remaining schedule includes at NYG, BUF, at DEN, PHI, at HOU, TEN, at NYJ, at MIA. There's some challenging games in there that will bring the best out of Brady and the passing game. Namely the next four and last two.
- Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay has games against DET, CHI, DET and DAL in the next five weeks. It'll be hard to find an easier schedule in that same span.
- Kirk Cousins - I've got a hunch on Cousins to make some noise in the next few weeks with games at home against defensive challenged New Orleans and Giants. Quarterbacks have good and great games against these foes. Cousins has a nice opportunity ahead of him coming up. He has a tough match up at Carolina in Week 11, but even Carolina has shown some struggles giving up second half points lately.
- Carson Palmer - Palmer has 20 touchdown passes which is second only to Tom Brady's 22. So why is he on the decline? Tough match-ups upcoming. The Cardinals return from their bye week on the road to face a determined Seattle team, on Sunday night no less. They follow that with tough games against the undfeated Bengals, Rams and Vikings. Minnesota is a team people are taking for granted. They have an identical 6-2 record with Arizona right now and the Vikings have allowed only one opponent (DEN) to score more than 20 points this year. I don't think Palmer is going to tank these next few games, but I will be shocked if he keeps up the same pace.
- Peyton Manning - Manning has started all eight of the Broncos games this year and he's the 28th ranked fantasy quarterback. He has 3 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in the last three games as the 31st ranked quarterback in that span. Ouch! The Broncos got stung by the "going nowhere" Colts last week and they still have to play NE, PIT, CIN and SD twice. The weather is going to get worse and the run game isn't standing out. As bad as Manning has been this season, I sense a decline in Manning and the Broncos in the second half of the season.
- Sam Bradford - The last three games has seen Sam Bradford throw only 2 touchdowns with 4 interceptions averaging just under 14 fantasy points per game. He has never been a good down field passer, which is a concern to be aware of. The schedule is favorable in the next three weeks with home games against MIA and TB followed by a road trip to DET. As good as that looks, I just don't see him as a strong fantasy quarterback. He is not a good fit for Chip Kelly's system and hurts watching him try to run it.
- Marshawn Lynch - The Seahawks have three straight home games coming off their bye against ARI, SF and PIT. Their offensive line isn't what it used to be, but I believe they will lean on Lynch at home to control the game. As a result I like his chances of jumping back into the Top 20 conversation.
- Jonathan Stewart - Stewart has 351 yards rushing in the last four games with three touchdowns. The Panthers schedule gets easier down the stretch, which leads me to believe they will try to run the ball, control the game and win with defense. This all points to a heavy load for Stewart.
- LeGarrette Blount - It's Blount time in New England now that Dion Lewis is lost for the year with a torn ACL. I see James White and Brandon Bolden splitting duties as the change of pace back, but this has all the makings of a Blount-led rushing attack when Tom Brady isn't passing at will. The fact that James White was a healthy scratch last week tells me the Patriots aren't that high on him as someone they want getting many snaps, carries or targets. Blount is the clear answer to me while a committee approach of White and Bolden will handle the change of pace role.
- DeAngelo Williams - The Steelers are fortunate to have a plug and play system at running back, where DeAngelo Williams isn't that much of a difference from LeVeon Bell. After this week's game against Cleveland, the schedule isn't great, but it's difficult to sit Williams, who has demonstrated the ability to thrive when called upon this year.
- James Starks - Eddie Lacy is dealing with another injury (groin) and the schedule is perfect for the running game to rack up some yards and scores beginning this week vs. Detroit. Look for Starks to be among the league's best backs if Lacy is indeed out for multiple games.
- It's difficult to project specific running backs who will drop in value over the next few weeks, because so often, injuries play a role and it's the next man up who thrives. Anyone who plays DEN, ARI, NYJ or NE is facing a decline that game, simply because their defenses have limited opposing team's running games consistently this year. Such backs to be aware of include LeSean McCoy/Karlos Williams, Marshawn Lynch, Lamar Miller, the Bengals duo of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, Charcandrick West, Jeremy Langford and DeMarco Murray.
- James White - The loss of Dion Lewis (knee) automatically seems like a boost for James White, but I don't see it that way. Not only do the Patriots also have Brandon Bolden who can play a role, but people are forgetting about LeGarrette Blount. Put me in the camp that is not going out of his way to acquire James White.
- Justin Forsett - The Ravens bye last week makes Forsett out of sight, out of mind, which may not be a bad idea. He may have some big games as a receiver here and there, but as a rusher he has not met expectations. He has the most rushing yards (562) with the fewest rushing touchdowns (2). This tells me he is not a reliable red zone threat to punch it in the end zone. He won't see many goal line opportunities going forward and the Ravens offensive pieces are falling apart each week. I see more of a decline than a rise in Forsett the rest of the year.
- Cole Beasley - I was high on Beasley as a player to watch in the coming weeks before last week's two-touchdown game, but the fact that he is becoming a bigger part of the offense before Tony Romo returns is an even better sign that he's on the rise.
- Tavon Austin - The Rams are learning that they can create a mismatch for opposing defenses because they can elect to hand the ball off to Todd Gurley or utilize Tavon Austin as a homerun threat in open space as a rusher. Austin has over 500 combined yards and 6 touchdowns. That's more than Jarvis Landry.
- Michael Crabtree - Amari Cooper may be getting all of the accolades in Oakland, but Crabtree has been a consistent force this season. He has not had less than four catches in any game this year and he has 20 receptions and 4 touchdowns in the last three games. He's quickly becoming a must start fantasy receiver and is thriving in the WR2 role with the Raiders.
- Randall Cobb - The Packers upcoming schedule (DET, at MIN, CHI, at DET) is very favorable and Cobb should surely benefit. Aaron Rodgers is not throwing the ball down field much at all this year, but he is targeting many receivers on shorter, intermediate routes. This all benefits Cobb going forward. Six to seven receptions and a touchdown or two may be the norm in the next few weeks. I'm buying low on Randall Cobb. To a lesser degree this also benefits Davante Adams as well.
- Mike Evans - The injury to Vincent Jackson has opened the door for Mike Evans to see the majority of the Buccaneers receiving targets and he hasn't disappointed. He had a career high 19 targets last week against the Giants, reeling in 8 for 152 yards. The scores will come - he has only one this year after securing 12 in his rookie season. The volume is too high for him not to be finding the end zone. A progression forward is definitely in the cards and highly likely.
- Brandon LaFell - The running game may take a step back with the loss of Dion Lewis, which then opens the door for Brandon LaFell to have some decent games. The Patriots don't necessarily suffer when an injury strikes, they focus on other areas of strengths. In this case, the passing game could see an uptick in usage, where LaFell would benefit.
- Leonard Hankerson - The Falcons have a bye this week, which should help Leonard Hankerson heal his injured hamstring. His contributions on offense were evident when he was healthy. When he returns to the lineup, he's a weekly flex option who could pay dividends in the second half of the season.
- Demaryius Thomas - The once stud wide receiver has taken a step back this year, mostly due to Peyton Manning's struggles. I may be late to the party saying he is going to decline, because quite frankly the only place he can go is up. This is more of a realization that Thomas may never be the same Thomas we've grown accustomed to. Even when Manning is gone and Brock Osweiller takes over, I don't see Thomas as a foregone conclusion WR1 player. Gone are the days where Peyton Manning throws three touchdowns or more consistently every week. The weather is only going to get worse as the season wears on. I don't see Peyton Manning coming to life and igniting the offense, including Thomas anytime soon. Thomas has only one touchdown this year. I don't expect that to stay that way, but he's not going to reach 10 touchdowns like we've come accustomed to seeing from him. His dynasty value is dropping as we speak. He's just not a reliable threat to score every week like he was in the past.
- Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief - All of these receivers are dealing with losing their star quarterback for multiple games, which means there likely will be some regression in the coming weeks. Landry Jones and Matt Hasselbeck have shown signs of keeping the offense afloat, but they likely will not be as productive as the men they are replacing. Asa result, we should see a slight drop in numbers from the list of four receivers mentioned above, even Brown.
- Pierre Garcon - This could go either way, but I see Pierre Garcon dropping off while DeSean Jackson gets back into a rhythm. It's possible both thrive on offense, but I expect Jackson to see more opportunities than Garcon in the near future.
- Rob Gronkowski - The run game took a hit losing Dion Lewis, which means the passing game could fill some of that void. More passing from Tom Brady usually means more involvement from Rob Gronkowski.
- Jordan Reed - The Washington schedule is favorable with games against NO and NYG in the next three games. Reed is already a key piece of the offense. Adding a poor defense to the equation elevates him higher on my rankings.
- Eric Ebron - The Lions have been a pass-heavy offense this year which should continue into the second half of the season. Ebron is starting to see more opportunities and the week off surely helped him get fully healthy. I see the needle pointing up for Ebron in the second half.
- Jacob Tamme - Don't look now, but Jacob Tamme has double-digit target numbers in each of the last two games. Roddy White is being phased out of the offense and Tamme is seeing more looks. He could fade some when Leonard Hankerson returns, but for now, ride the wave.
- Jason Witten - Tony Romo is coming back and Witten will be a big part of his progressions. Look for Witten to see a spike in the second half of the season.
- Gary Barnidge - Gary Barnidge isn't as big of a threat with Johnny Manziel under center as he is with Luke McCown at quarterback. The expected fall is coming soon, I don't see him keeping this pace all season long.
- Owen Daniels - Daniels was the big tight end threat last week against the Colts, but the addition of Vernon Davis is the writing on the wall for Daniels. Perhaps last week's performance was Daniels' swan song game? Davis' presence should be felt soon.
- Heath Miller - The loss of Ben Roethlisberger for a few weeks will have a negative effect on Heath Miller. He was a borderline starting tight end with Roethlisberger, but with Landry Jones, Miller becomes more of an afterthought.
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org