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Fantasy plays: Players to start and sit for NFL Week 10

Week 9’s fantasy football slate was tough for many.

The under hit in 10 of last week’s 14 games. Five teams failed to score a single touchdown.

Fantasy managers felt the consequences of that (unless you rostered Houston Texans — in that case, kudos).

The offensive struggles likely won’t improve much with the Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles, and Rams all on byes in Week 10.

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That’s three of the league’s 12 highest-scoring teams in addition to a Rams squad that has a pair of fantasy stars at receiver.

Being down so many options in fantasy makes start/sit decisions all the more important, but don’t sweat. This piece has you covered.

Every week I list out every fantasy-relevant player, sorted by position and bucketed into tiers with the higher-tiered players deemed more start-worthy.

For specific start/sit advice between two players in the same tier, refer to numberFire ’s projection model.

These tiers are meant to reflect your typical 12-team, half-PPR scoring formats with only one starting quarterback — though the general rankings can be loosely applied to most formats.

Any player not listed can be assumed sit-worthy in most leagues.

All betting references refer to the NFL odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. All statistics via NFL Next Gen Stats and Pro Football Focus unless otherwise stated.

QUARTERBACKS

Tier 1: Lineup locks

— Josh Allen (BUF)

— Joe Burrow (CIN)

— Lamar Jackson (BAL)

— Justin Herbert (LAC)

— Jared Goff (DET)

— Dak Prescott (DAL)

Tier 2: Probable starters

— C.J. Stroud (HOU) will be difficult to keep out of lineups after his 40-point effort in Week 9. He may not do that against a Bengals secondary allowing the ninth-fewest adjusted fantasy points per drop-back (0.36), but Stroud just attempted 42 passes — his most since Week 2. Houston is an underdog, so a potentially negative game script gives him too much upside to sit.

— Kyler Murray (ARI) could be back this week for the Cardinals. The plan is for last season’s QB7 in fantasy points per game (18.9) to make his season debut this week against the Falcons. Atlanta just let up 24.9 fantasy points to newly acquired Joshua Dobbs, and it’s now giving up the sixth-most adjusted fantasy points per drop-back (0.44) for the season. Considering Murray has been practicing in full for two weeks now, I’m willing to start him without much of a second thought.

— Trevor Lawrence (JAX) has a tough matchup versus San Francisco this week, but Lawrence has proven to be a steady fantasy contributor. He still hasn’t hit 20 fantasy points (after doing so six times in 2022), but he’s scored between 15 and 19 points in seven of eight games thus far. The 49ers haven’t been so good where I’m completely off Lawrence, but you do have to temper expectations.

— Sam Howell (WSH) threw 45 passes last week and now has at least 40 attempts in five of his past six games. The Commanders enter Week 10 with the third-highest pass rate over expectation (8.6% PROE) and the highest pass rate plus PROE (76.9%). I don’t love him playing in Seattle, but that volume gives Howell a stable floor regardless of the matchup.

— Geno Smith (SEA) has had a rough go at times this season, but I’m bullish about his prospects against the Commanders. Washington has allowed the second-most adjusted fantasy points per drop-back (0.49), the fourth-highest EPA per drop-back (0.08), and the third-most passing touchdowns per game (2.1). Smith is still putting up 253.2 air yards per game, so expect him to hit on some big plays with the Commanders allowing the fourth-most deep yards (1,203) in the league.

Tier 3: On the fence

— Brock Purdy (SF) stock has taken a hit after the past three games, but he threw for a career-high 365 yards and completed 71% of his passes in their final outing before the bye. Purdy’s fantasy value remains firmly intact. The Jags rank in the top 10 in adjusted fantasy points per drop-back (0.35) and EPA per drop-back (-0.17), but Purdy’s supporting cast and system keep him on the QB1 radar, especially if Deebo Samuel returns.

— Russell Wilson (DEN) hasn’t thrown for more than 200 yards since Week 4, but a good 16-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio has kept his fantasy value afloat. This week’s matchup is good — Buffalo has allowed the fifth-highest passing success rate (50.3%) — but Denver’s -3.1% PROE keeps Wilson’s upside in check.

— Baker Mayfield (TB) is the QB6 over the past three weeks. It was a little concerning to see him manage just 19 fantasy points in a game where his team scored 37 points, but Mayfield has at least established something of a solid floor. The Titans have allowed the third-highest passing success rate (50.9%) and the fifth-highest completion rate over expectation (5.0%), so there’s some upside here.

— Derek Carr (NO) is one of the most reliable quarterbacks in fantasy. Carr has scored between 15 and 19 fantasy points in five consecutive games and just completed a season-high 73.5% of his passes, so he’s at least somewhat trending up. The Vikings aren’t a pushover, but they’ve given up 15.6 and 15.7 fantasy points to Jordan Love and Taylor Heinicke in the past two weeks. A similar output can be expected from Carr.

— Joshua Dobbs (MIN) had a remarkable performance this past week, finishing as the QB5 (24.9 points) despite being acquired by the Vikings earlier that week. That effort marked his fourth 20-point game this season. A solid supporting cast and encouraging Minnesota debut make him a quality streamer option this week even against a tough New Orleans defense.

Tier 4: Sit if possible

— Deshaun Watson (CLE) has played four full games this season. He’s been a top-10 fantasy quarterback in three of them. Still, it took a tipped touchdown to get him to 19 fantasy points last week, and that was against the Cardinals. Baltimore has allowed the second-fewest adjusted fantasy points per drop-back (0.28) and the second-lowest EPA per drop-back (-0.32), so I’d be hard-pressed to risk starting him.

RUNNING BACKS

Tier 1: Lineup locks

— Christian McCaffrey (SF)

— Travis Etienne (JAX)

— Austin Ekeler (LAC)

— Breece Hall (NYJ)

— Jonathan Taylor (IND)

— Alvin Kamara (NO)

— Saquon Barkley (NYG)

— Joe Mixon (CIN)

— Derrick Henry (TEN)

— Bijan Robinson (ATL)

— Josh Jacobs (LV)

— Tony Pollard (DAL)

— Kenneth Walker III (SEA)

— Javonte Williams (DEN)

— Rhamondre Stevenson (NE)

— David Montgomery (DET) (questionable)

— Jahmyr Gibbs (DET)

— Aaron Jones (GB)

— Rachaad White (TB)

— James Conner (ARI) (questionable)

Tier 2: Probable starters

— Gus Edwards (BAL) played just 18.7% of Baltimore’s snaps last week, but still managed 52 yards and a pair of scores. He now has six rushing touchdowns in his past three games — an unsustainable pace long term, but one we need to continue to ride while it’s happening. Cleveland has allowed the lowest running back rush success rate (33.1%) and the fewest adjusted fantasy points per carry (0.44). Edwards’ touchdown upside is hard to sit.

— Alexander Mattison (MIN) had 20 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets) and wound up with 16.3 fantasy points last week — his most since Week 18 of last season. With Cam Akers out for the season, Mattison’s workload feels pretty safe, but keep expectations in check this week as the Saints have allowed the fifth-lowest running back rush success rate (36.3%).

— James Cook (BUF) again split snaps with Latavius Murray — though Cook did run 10 more routes and had 10 more adjusted opportunities than the veteran. Still, he’s now been held under eight fantasy points and outside the top 24 running backs in four of the past five weeks. If there was ever a bounce-back spot, it’s this week. Denver has allowed the second-most adjusted fantasy points per carry (0.66). Cook is on the flex radar.

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— Najee Harris & Jaylen Warren (PIT) finished as the RB12 (14.6 points) and RB15 (12.8), respectively, last week. That was the second time in three weeks both of Pittsburgh’s backs have finished as top 24 options. The Packers have been pretty stout against receiving backs (eighth-ranked, 1.01 adjusted fantasy points per target), but they’re allowing a pedestrian -0.07 EPA per attempt (19th). Both are start-able.

— Chuba Hubbard (CAR) is worth putting back out there in Week 10 despite 8.7 points last week. He still dominated the snap share (64.8% to Miles Sanders’ 25.4%) and adjusted opportunities (28 to Sanders’ 16) despite the lackluster fantasy finish. The Bears have actually been pretty strong against the run, but they’re allowing the second-most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.46) to the position.

Tier 3: On the fence

— Jerome Ford & Kareem Hunt (CLE) have both been top 24 running backs in three of the past four weeks. Hunt has five rushing touchdowns over that span, while Ford has averaged 21.8 adjusted opportunities per game so it’s clear they both have value in most matchups. Unfortunately, the Ravens — sixth-best run D by adjusted fantasy points per carry (0.50) — are not most matchups. Ford’s volume at least gives him a solid floor, but they’re both risky starts this week.

— Brian Robinson & Antonio Gibson (WSH) both have some value this week. Robinson has scored between eight and 13 fantasy points in five of his past seven games and continues to get nearly 20 adjusted opportunities per game, including the bulk of the red zone work. Gibson, meanwhile, has value in only more pass-happy matchups. Washington is a 6.0-point underdog and passing at the third-highest rate over expectation (8.6%), so expect a heavy dose of check-downs.

— Zach Charbonnet (SEA) out-snapped Kenneth Walker (27-22) for the second consecutive week. I’m officially intrigued, but it’s hard to make conclusions from a 37-3 rout. Still, it is enough to put Charbonnet on the flex radar against a Washington defense allowing the seventh-most adjusted fantasy points per carry (0.64).

— D’Onta Foreman (CHI) dominated the Chicago backfield last week, getting 59.4% of snaps and 20 of the 24 running back rush attempts. He wasn’t especially efficient (4.2 YPA) and was a nonfactor in the passing game (zero targets), but that rushing volume gives him some value against Carolina’s 32nd-ranked run defense, per numberFire’s nERD-based rankings.

— Tyler Allgeier (ATL) still has fantasy value. Though he’s played just 34.1% of snaps the past four games, he’s had 17 adjusted opportunities per game and 57.1% of Atlanta’s red zone rushes over that span. That gives Allgeier flex appeal against an Arizona defense allowing the fourth-highest running back rush success rate (46%).

— Keaton Mitchell & Justice Hill (BAL) are difficult to trust fantasy-wise. Mitchell is the hot name — he was the top waiver wire target for a reason — but he still played just 17.3% of snaps in Week 9. Meanwhile, Hill led the team in carries (13) and played a season-high 64% of snaps, but had his second-worst fantasy outing of the season. Cleveland has one of the best run defenses, so both backs are more desperation starts.

— Devin Singletary (HOU) finished with 3.6 fantasy points in a game where his team scored 39 points. Granted, the matchup was a tough one, but it’s difficult to trust Singletary after that performance. The Bengals have given up the fifth-highest running back rush success rate (45.8%), but they’re also 6.5-point favorites. I’m not sure how much Houston will be relying on Singletary as a runner. He’s likely touchdown-dependent in Week 10.

Tier 4: Sit if possible

— Zack Moss (IND) has had his snap share dip each of the past three games — down to a season-low 19.3% in Week 9. He’s proven his fantasy value when given the opportunity, but can’t be trusted as a starter with Jonathan Taylor all the way back.

— A.J. Dillon (GB) is in the same situation as Zack Moss. Dillon played a season-low 39.7% of snaps while starter Aaron Jones eclipsed a 50% share for the first time and had his best fantasy output of the season. That relegates Dillon to our fantasy benches, assuming he wasn’t already there.

— Dameon Pierce (HOU) faces the same matchup issue as Devin Singletary, but also has an injury to deal with. Easy sit.

— Miles Sanders (CAR) was more efficient than Chuba Hubbard, but played just 25.4% of snaps. Lacking volume in a bad offense is not the recipe for being a fantasy starter.

— Tyjae Spears (TEN) played a season-high 60.3% of snaps last week, but didn’t do much with 17 adjusted opportunities. He’s still worth stashing on benches, but can’t be trusted as a starter against a stout Bucs run defense.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Tier 1: Lineup locks

— Stefon Diggs (BUF)

— CeeDee Lamb (DAL)

— Amon-Ra St. Brown (DET)

— Keenan Allen (LAC)

— Chris Olave (NO)

— Ja’Marr Chase (CIN) (questionable)

— Tee Higgins (CIN)

— D.K. Metcalf (SEA)

— Brandon Aiyuk (SF)

— Adam Thielen (CAR)

— Michael Pittman Jr. (IND)

— Mike Evans (TB)

— Davante Adams (LV)

— Garrett Wilson (NYJ)

— Diontae Johnson (PIT)

— Terry McLaurin (WSH)

— Chris Godwin (TB)

— Deebo Samuel (SF)

— Christian Kirk (JAX)

— DeAndre Hopkins (TEN)

Tier 2: Probable starters

— Marquise Brown (ARI) was the WR6, averaged 14.7 fantasy points per game, and had a 26.7% target share in the first six weeks of 2022 with Kyler Murray under center. He is the WR21 with Joshua Dobbs and Clayton Tune this season. Brown should quickly re-enter the WR1/high-end WR2 conversation — perhaps as soon as this week. Atlanta has allowed the fifth-most adjusted fantasy points per target to wide receivers this season, making Brown a near must-start in Week 10.

— Nico Collins & Tank Dell (HOU) helped the Texans offense go last week, so it’s hard not to feel good about this pair in Week 10. The Bengals have a good defense, but they rank just 20th in adjusted fantasy points allowed and have let up a league-high 13.4 average depth of target (aDOT) to the position.

— Jahan Dotson (WSH) has had consecutive WR1 finishes, getting 107.4 air yards per game in that time — a number that would rank eighth over the full season. His 18.9% target share over that span isn’t especially impressive, but the Commanders have passed at an absurd 12.0% over expectation, per RBSDM. If Sam Howell continues to throw 40-plus times a game, Dotson is more than start-able.

— Tyler Lockett & Jaxon Smith-Njigba (SEA) are facing the Commanders this week, so I’m doing everything I can to get them both into my starting lineup. Washington has allowed the second-most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.65) and the most yards per route run (2.00) to WRs, while both of Seattle’s secondary receivers have run a route on more than 70% of drop-backs since the bye. Find a way to start them.

— Calvin Ridley (JAX) had his highest target share (31.3%) since Week 1 in Jacksonville’s final game before the bye, but it’s hard to ignore the 4.6- and 1.0-point games he had the two games prior. The 49ers strength is not their secondary, so there’s at least some upside given the Jags’ sixth-ranked 3.3% PROE.

— Zay Flowers (BAL) had just one target last week and has eclipsed double-digit fantasy points only once since Week 1. He’s still Baltimore’s clear No. 1 perimeter option, but he doesn’t seem to fare well in blowouts —of which Baltimore has had plenty. He was targeted only four times in their previous matchup with Cleveland, but his 24.3% target share and 91.5% route participation still need to be in starting lineups.

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Tier 3: On the fence

— Amari Cooper (CLE) dominated at home against the Cardinals D last week, but things get more difficult in Week 10. A stellar air yard share in Deshaun Watson’s four full games (43.4%) keeps Cooper’s value afloat if you’re desperate, but I’d rather not start him against a Ravens defense allowing the second-fewest adjusted fantasy points per target (1.06) to opposing wideouts.

— Demario Douglas (NE) did about as much as you could ask for in his first game as New England’s No. 1 receiver. He had only a 16.3% target share and a 6.4 aDOT, but ran a route on 81.8% of drop-backs — his third consecutive week clearing 75% route participation. The Colts held the Panthers in check last week, but they’re still allowing the ninth-most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.48) to receivers.

— Jordan Addison (MIN) had his worst fantasy outing since Week 4, failing to catch a touchdown for just the third time this season. He still easily paced Minnesota’s receivers with a 20% target share, and Joshua Dobbs looked capable enough that you can probably start Addison going forward. Just keep expectations in check against a strong Saints pass defense.

— Gabriel Davis & Khalil Shakir (BUF) fit different roles in the Bills’ offense, but they’re both decent starts with Josh Allen under center. Davis’ inconsistencies (19.2 points in Week 8; 0 in Week 9) are difficult to deal with, while Shakir’s lack of upside (one game with double-digit points) make both wideouts risky starts. Still, the Broncos have allowed the third-most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.61) to opposing wideouts. One of the two is likely in for a big game.

— Courtland Sutton & Jerry Jeudy (DEN) have essentially flip-flopped No. 1 receiver roles in this Denver offense. Jeudy has had a 25.3% target share over their past four games, but Sutton’s superior snap rate (85%) and red zone target share (27.3%) keep them both on the flex radar against a Bills secondary allowing the seventh-most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.50) to receivers.

— Drake London (ATL) is hoping to play in Week 10 after missing last week. Taylor Heinicke has looked decent enough that I’d feel OK starting London against the Cardinals, but it’s risky given their lack of familiarity. Still, Arizona has let up the highest catch rate (72.4%), fifth-most yards per route run (1.89), and the most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.67) to opposing wide receivers.

— Romeo Doubs & Christian Watson (GB) are borderline must-sit, but the Steelers secondary has struggled at times. They’ve allowed the 10th-most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.46), the fourth-highest target rate (22.3%), and the fourth-most yards per route run (1.93) to wideouts this season. Doubs and Watson both had sub-13% target shares last week, but still lead the team with 21.2% and 16.3% target shares for the season.

Tier 4: Sit if possible

— Jakobi Meyers (LV) has had just a 14.5% target share in Aidan O’Connell’s two starts. Even though Meyers caught a touchdown from the rookie in a relief outing in Week 7, that lack of volume makes Meyers difficult to start against a Jets defense allowing the fewest adjusted fantasy points per target (0.93) to the position.

— George Pickens (PIT) has had his target share dip to 14.5% with Diontae Johnson fully healthy the past two games, so I’m not eager to start him this week. Pickens always has big-play potential, but his upside is capped against a Packers secondary that’s allowed the fifth-fewest deep yards overall (706) and the second-lowest aDOT (9.4) to wide receivers.

— Michael Thomas & Rashid Shaheed (NO) are pretty difficult to trust in bad matchups given the plethora of offensive options in New Orleans. The Vikings have allowed the fourth-lowest aDOT (9.7) to wide receivers, but they’re also giving up the second-highest target rate (22.6%). That gives Thomas some flex appeal, but neither has a ton of upside.

— Brandin Cooks & Michael Gallup (DAL) are clear tertiary options with the dominance of CeeDee Lamb and the emergence of Jake Ferguson. The Giants have quietly let up the eighth-fewest adjusted fantasy points per target (1.31) to the position, relegating both pass catchers to fantasy benches.

TIGHT END

Tier 1: Lineup locks

— Sam LaPorta (DET)

— Mark Andrews (BAL)

— T.J. Hockenson (MIN)

— Dalton Kincaid (BUF)

— Jake Ferguson (DAL)

— Evan Engram (JAX)

— George Kittle (SF)

Tier 2: Probable starters

— Taysom Hill (NO) just keeps producing for fantasy managers. He’s the TE1 (16 points per game) over the past four weeks and just had his most rush attempts (11) and second-highest target share (15.6%) of the season. New Orleans has a healthy 21.75-point implied team total this week, so Hill has sizable touchdown upside.

— Dalton Schultz (HOU) is the TE5 in points per game (13.1) since Week 4, getting a 20.3% target share in that time. The Bengals have allowed the fifth-highest target rate (20.6%) and the fourth-most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.59) to tight ends this season, locking Schultz into TE1 status.

— Trey McBride (ARI) struggled after his big Week 8, but it was against the Browns with Clayton Tune under center. With Kyler Murray possibly back, McBride is on the TE1 radar. Murray gave Zach Ertz a 19.5% target share and propelled Ertz to a TE3 ranking over the first nine weeks of 2022, perhaps hinting at McBride’s upside. McBride is someone I’m looking to start against a suspect Atlanta secondary.

— David Njoku (CLE) has finished as a top-12 tight end each of the past three weeks and has eclipsed a 20% target share in four of his past five games. The Ravens are a tough matchup, but Njoku’s recent utilization is strong enough to warrant a start.

— Cole Kmet (CHI) has proven his fantasy relevance regardless of who’s under center. Kmet garnered a 27% target share in Week 8, followed by a 30% share in Week 9. The Panthers have been stingy against the position, but you won’t find many other tight ends who consistently get this kind of volume.

Tier 3: On the fence

— Cade Otton (TB) has enjoyed elite utilization all season, but finally broke onto the fantasy scene with a 20-point performance last week. Otton won’t score twice every week, but his 83.1% route participation and growing target share make for a fine streaming option this week.

— Kyle Pitts & Jonnu Smith (ATL) both turned in quality fantasy performances last week, getting 14.7% and 17.6% target shares, respectively. The Cardinals have been uncharacteristically strong against tight ends this season, but these two are a big enough part of this offense that you can start either in a pinch.

— Logan Thomas (WSH) is at only a 15.2% target share this season, but that’s more than enough to support his fantasy stock given Washington’s third-ranked PROE (8.6%). Seattle ranks in the middle of the pack against tight ends, so Thomas is a fine dart throw.

— Hunter Henry (NE) had his highest route participation (84.1%) since Week 2 and scored his third touchdown of the season last week. While we can’t count on him to get a 16.3% target share every week, New England lacks many pass catching options, and the Colts have allowed the third-highest target rate (22.3%) and the sixth-most yards per route run (1.50) to the position.

Tier 4: Sit if possible

— Gerald Everett (LAC) only had two targets last week despite the Chargers lacking pass catchers outside of Keenan Allen. That’s just not going to cut it, especially with a stout Detroit defense coming to town.

— Luke Musgrave (GB) caught a touchdown and had his second-highest target share (16%) of the season last week, but that was against the Rams. Pittsburgh has allowed the fourth-fewest adjusted fantasy points per target (1.09) to the position, so you can safely bench the rookie.

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