Here are my top 10 things to watch from a fantasy perspective in Week 10:
1. Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension is back on and he’s reportedly out of appeal options that have any reasonable chance of being successful. Scott Pianowski and I both agreed on our podcast with almost everyone that the back to get is Alfred Morris. While we disagree in that I see Morris approximating 75% of Elliott and Scott sees the over/under being 60%, Scott had projected more points per week from Elliott so we’re only about half a point different: 11.25 for me and 10.80 for Scott. Morris through age 27 is ranked 29th in yards per carry of 87 qualifiers with at least 1,000 attempts.
2. Kirk Cousins had a lot to prove this season with Washington giving him a one-year deal for the second-straight season. He’s responded with a career-best 102 passer rating and is on pace for over 4,000 passing yards and 25-plus touchdown passes. But the most impressive thing about Cousins’ year is being one of the game’s top passers without the benefit of even one productive wide receiver — leading wideout Jamison Crowder is on pace for just 544 receiving yards. In fact this feat, as I discussed in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, is historic.
3. Do we bet on T.Y. Hilton again as a WR1? Jacoby Brissett has a 97.5 passer rating on passes that travel at least 20 yards — 11th best. This supports my theory that poor passers (Brissett’s overall rating of 87.5 is 22nd) should just chuck it and duck. Hilton has caught 6 of 14 Brissett heaves for 242 yards. Why not more of this? But, no, Hilton is a WR2 because Brissett is bad and doesn’t throw deep quite enough.
4. Big money is on Chargers with line movement of a point and a half. Jacksonville is like the 2009, 2010 Jets in that they can beat anyone and lose to anyone, depending on whether their defense is great or merely okay that day. To be fair I note that Blake Bortles has a 105.5 rating his last two games. But we know who Bortles is, so let’s not kid ourselves.
5. Announcers on one of the networks were talking about how this is a trap game for the Jets. As a Jets fan, the fact that the Jets, who many expected to go winless, could have a trap game is hilarious. Matt Forte is likely out, making Bilal Powell a top 10 back. Since 2016, Powell is averaging a fifth best 5.12 yards on 194 carries; he’s sixth in yards before contact and 13th in yards after contact. He also is averaging more yards per catch than Forte.
6. It was a hot topic coming out of Week 9, but is A.J. Green soft? The last three years combined he has 11 catches over the middle. I randomly picked a comparable fantasy wideout, Julio Jones, who has 42 in the same period, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Green has 192 catches in the period compared with 262 for Jones. So Jones has 16% of catches over the middle compared with 5.7% for Green. Pretty damning.
7. Drew Brees’ attempts are way down and given his sterling YPA it’s killing him. You used to be able to bet on 650 attempts. His current pace is 550. His YPA is 8.1 so that’s 810 lost yards and his TD% is (a too low given his YPA) 4.7% — so that’s 4-6 TDs lost (should have a 6% TD rate with a YPA over 8, historically).
8. Marvin Jones is a top ___ WR? I’m going to say 15. I would rank him over Golden Tate because TDs matter and Jones is getting consistent targets too. Even top 12 is fine with Jones.
9. Where should Jared Goff rank this week? I’m playing him in a big league over Tom Brady unless I chicken out by Sunday. While both defenses (Houston and Denver) have maybe checked out given their respective QB play, the Texans are a bad defense that checked out. The Texans are 26th in YPA allowed and Goff leads the NFC in YPA.
10. Are players automatic plays against the 49ers? Kurt Bullard of Harvard studied this and found a minimal boost of 5% or so for middle tier players. But this is a weird year with few top players so maybe matchups matter more. But note the 49ers are 25th in YPA allowed. It’s the Jets (Robby Anderson please) you should be streaming this week, given the Bucs are last in YPA allowed. The 49ers are last in rushing yards per game allowed but 14th per play so this is a function of losing. Still, I would rank Orleans Darkwa top 24 this week, easy.
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