Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB (vs NYJ) - Fitzpatrick always goes down swinging. He is facing one of his many old teams, one that has given up multiple pass touchdowns in six of eight games this year, and over 30 rushing yards to four quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick is liable to run and the Tampa defense and Josh McCown are liable to give him a deficit to dig out of. Even though Mike Evans is suspended this week, Fitzpatrick is still a very viable waiver wire to your lineup bye week quarterback.
Jay Cutler, MIA (at CAR) - It’s clear that the Dolphins offense is going to run through Cutler without Jay Ajayi to gameplan around in the backfield. He had one garbage time drive against Oakland last week, but still had a very solid game before that juncture. Carolina on the road is tougher than Oakland at home, but Cutler faces a Panthers defense that has allowed multiple passing scores to five of the last seven quarterbacks they’ve faced, with Jameis Winston and Mitchell Trubisky the exceptions. Cutler’s role in the offense gives him a high floor, which is more than you can say for Philip Rivers this week.
Eli Manning, NYG (at SF) - Manning has the best matchup he’ll have for the rest of the season. The 49ers defense is so decimated that even Drew Stanton had a solid game against them, with two scores and 201 yards passing last week. Manning was even more productive last week against the Rams despite no Odell Beckham, and the matchup is much better this week. Manning is as safe a play as he’ll be and worth a bye week look.
Case Keenum, MIN (at WAS) - Keenum has only been a strong play twice since taking over for Sam Bradford, but he also had a long stretch without a healthy Stefon Diggs. Diggs is off of the injury report and Keenum also knows that Teddy Bridgewater is active and breathing down his neck for the starting spot. Between Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph, and Jerick McKinnon, the Vikings have a better passing game than running game, and that makes Keenum a surprisingly viable start this week at Washington and going forward. C.J. Beathard actually looked like an NFL quarterback against Washington at home, so Keenum could have a higher ceiling than we think this week.
Bilal Powell, NYJ (at TB) - Matt Forte hasn’t practiced yet this week because of swelling in the knee he had worked on this offseason. Powell has been a week winner many times in the last two years when Forte was out, and this week’s matchup against Tampa is tailor made for a huge week. A running back has scored multiple touchdowns against the Bucs three times in the last four games.
Thomas Rawls, SEA (at ARI) **Thursday** - Rawls is the clear starter. He’ll yield to CJ Prosise and JD McKissic on passing downs and maybe in other situations, but he’ll get the bulk of carries and any goal line looks, which could be valuable in Arizona, where the Seahawks have won in a blowout three of the last four times the teams have met there (the other being the worst game in NFL history, last year’s 6-6 tie). Christine Michael had RB2 value as the starter last year, and Rawls could have that this week against a Cardinals team that will have to rely on Drew Stanton to keep them in this game.
Rex Burkhead, James White, NE (at DEN) - The Patriots faced the best edge pass rush in the league already this year and reacted by completing 14 passes to running backs. Why take the bull by the horns? Tom Brady may choose to not challenge the Broncos corners and be a sitting duck for the pass rush by throwing downfield, and instead pepper White and Burkhead with passes, including (and especially) in the red zone.
Kenyan Drake, MIA, (at CAR) - Drake was very good in his increased role in Week 9, with his superior physical gifts accounting for production in a way that he hadn’t been able to accomplish on previous short stints on the field. The Dolphins should remain pass-heavy, which feeds into Drake’s PPR value. He’s the better bet out of the two Dolphins fill-in backs.
Theo Riddick, DET (vs CLE) - Riddick could see more work in key situations this week after Ameer Abdullah fumbled twice last week. The Browns are outstanding at stopping the run anyway, so the Lions should remain in pass mode most of the afternoon. That puts Riddick on the field often in an offense that should be in the red zone at least three or four times this week.
Terrance Williams, Brice Butler, Cole Beasley, DAL (at ATL) - Ezekiel Elliott will be out this weekend serving the first game of his six-game suspension, and Dez Bryant is battling an ankle sprain. Both of these developments serve to put more of the Cowboys offense on the capable shoulders of Dak Prescott and their secondary receivers. Williams came out of Week 9 with a dinged ankle of his own, but appears to be fine for Week 10 and is the most likely to lead the team in targets coming off of the best game of his career. Butler could start if Bryant doesn’t play and he has been a big play specialist in small flashes, with the potential for more with sustained snaps. Beasley could be the replacement for Elliott on goal-to-go play calls, he already has two two-score games this year. You should feel good starting players that Dak Prescott throws to for the rest of the season.
Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, LAR (vs HOU) - The Rams may put up two straight fiftyburgers this week. Watkins is the most enticing play against a Texans defense that has had a couple of complete collapses against the deep passing game this year. Woods is the safest play with his steady volume, and Kupp has the best chance at scoring. All three Rams receivers are good plays this week.
Sterling Shepard, NYG (at SF) - Shepard is the Giants #1 and that could be good enough to mean WR2 numbers on its own against a 49ers defense that has lost two safeties, most of its starting defensive line and is starting a rookie corner. A wide receiver has scored against San Francisco in every game this year except one, and in that one, TY Hilton went off for 7-177.
Tyler Lockett, SEA (at ARI) **Thursday** - Lockett could see Patrick Peterson when Doug Baldwin is in the slot, so there’s risk here, but Paul Richardson Jr is probably going to be limited with a groin issue, and the Cardinals have generally allowed big games to good passing attacks this year, with a big dropoff to their second, nickel, and dime corners. Lockett has a high ceiling this week.
Juju Smith-Schuster, Martavis Bryant, PIT (at IND) - Bryant will be active after a one-game team disciplinary absence and he has been running with the first team. Smith-Schuster showed us in Week 8 what we are potentially missing when we leave him on our benches. While the return of Bryant will split the non-Antonio Brown wide receiver targets, they should still be high value enough to make both Bryant and Smith-Schuster enticing upside WR3/Flex plays. The Colts have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, and they have allowed 50+ yards to three different receivers three times already this year.
DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, TB (vs NYJ) - The Jets pass defense has allowed six wide receiver scores over the last three weeks and 11 on the year. A wide receiver has gone over 70 yards receiving against them in each of the last five weeks, and two have gone over 70 twice in the last three games. As stated above, Ryan Fitzpatrick is not shy when he’s on the field, and Jackson should be a top target with Mike Evans suspended. Godwin is making his first start and could make a big splash right away after a very strong offseason, camp, and preseason. He’s worth a look in very deep leagues if you’re in a pinch.
Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, ATL (vs DAL) - Sanu is already a safe WR3/Flex, but he becomes a WR2 if Julio Jones is out, and could be boosted even if Jones is active because Jones might be limited. Gabriel might not be owned in most leagues, but if Julio Jones can’t go on Sunday, he’ll start against a vulnerable secondary in a game that could be one of the highest scoring of the week. The Cowboys have allowed multiple wide receiver touchdowns three times this year, and only Eli Manning (without Odell Beckham) and CJ Beathard failed to hook up with a receiver for a score against them this year. Gabriel can help if you’re in desperate straits at wide receiver
Eric Ebron, DET (vs CLE) - Ebron actually looked like a steady football player last week. Perhaps the benching and negative energy around him got his game straightened out. It happened just in time for one of the best tight end matchups he will see all year. Tight ends have scored six times against the Browns, and four have gone over 50 receiving yards. The Lions can’t run the ball, the Browns can only stop the run, so expect lots of Matthew Stafford passes, which only helps the case for Ebron as a bye week coverage or streaming tight end.
Hunter Henry, LAC (at JAX) - Henry has been maddeningly inconsistent, but the strength of the Jaguars against wide receivers should encourage Philip Rivers to target him frequently in Week 10. Tight ends have scored three of the four passing touchdowns against the Jaguars, and five tight ends have gone over 40 receiving yards. Henry is a suitable bye week replacement or streamer this year.
Garrett Celek, SF (vs NYG) - How much do you trust matchups? The Giants have given up at least one tight end score in every game this year, but for that to happen this week, CJ Beathard has to throw one. The only healthy tight end on the 49ers roster is Celek, so he’ll have to catch it. The Giants have also given up at least 45 receiving yards to tight ends in every game, including to teams like the Rams and Broncos, who don’t rely on their tight ends in the passing game.
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