Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes. Anybody can tell you to start the Lamar Jacksons, Mark Ingrams, and Marlon Macks of the world. That’s not what I’m doing here. I’m looking deeper at legitimate mostly-borderline candidates who owners may truly be contemplating using in lineups.
Start of the Week: Jameis Winston vs. Cardinals: Fantasy’s QB9 in points per game, Winston is coming off another 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns game, as the Bucs blew a 14-point lead and lost to the Seahawks in overtime. Winston has 300 yards and/or multiple touchdown passes in six straight games after a lousy start to the season. The Bucs are No. 7 in passing offense. Winston does lead the league in interceptions along with Baker Mayfield, but unlike Mayfield, Winston is compiling passing numbers throughout the box score. Winston couldn’t ask for much better of a Week 10 draw. The Cardinals are 31st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 29th in overall pass defense, 28th in pass-defense DVOA, and dead last in the NFL with just two interceptions. The return of CB Patrick Peterson from suspension hasn’t helped things either. Jimmy Garoppolo had easily his best statistical game of the season last Thursday night in Arizona, throwing for a flawless 317 yards and four touchdowns as the overall QB2 for the week. In Week 8, Drew Brees returned from his lengthy absence and went for 317 yards and three scores en route to the QB4 finish. This defense doesn’t rush the passer and now gets to travel cross-country for a 1 PM ET start. Winston should be fired up with confidence. Cardinals-Bucs sports a hefty 51-point total, the second-highest of Week 10. And Tampa Bay’s implied team total of 27.5 points trails only the Saints’ total of 32.25 points.
Kyler Murray at Bucs: You’ll notice a theme throughout this article. We want to hammer this Arizona-Tampa Bay game for fantasy purposes. Murray is the overall QB10 in fantasy points per game but has big weeks or ones to forget. Murray has tossed two-plus touchdowns in 4-of-9 games. In the other five contests, Murray has thrown a combined zero touchdowns. Not great. However, Murray’s rushing numbers have picked up after not using his legs the first couple weeks of the year. Over the last seven weeks, Murray is averaging 7.1 rushing attempts and 40.6 yards on the ground with two scores. The Bucs are 30th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 26th in pass-defense DVOA, and do not harass opposing signal-callers. Both the Bucs and Cardinals are bottom-nine in opponent plays per game while the Cardinals play at the league’s fastest offensive pace and the Bucs are No. 3 in offensive plays per game. Both offenses should possess the ball plenty Sunday. As mentioned above, this game’s 51-point total is the second-highest on the board. Murray is a lock-and-load, set-and-forget QB1 play. Russell Wilson just hung the overall QB1 day on this Bucs defense with 378 yards and five touchdowns.
Drew Brees vs. Falcons: Brees returned from his five-week thumb injury in Week 8 to put 317 yards and three touchdowns on the Cardinals en route to the overall QB4 finish that week. He completed a season-high 79.1% of his throws that afternoon and looked like his normal self. The Saints are now coming off their bye to host the league’s most giving defense. Atlanta is 23rd in passing yards allowed but 29th in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks and 31st in pass-defense DVOA. They get zero pressure on opposing quarterbacks while the Saints field an elite offensive line. Brees should have all the time in the world to pick this defense apart. After starting hot with strong showings against Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz in Weeks 1-2, the Falcons have surrendered multiple touchdown passes to the last six quarterbacks they’ve faced at a 293.3 yards per game clip. This game’s 51.5-point total is the highest of the week, and New Orleans’ implied total of 32.25 points is easily the highest team total on the board.
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Ryan Tannehill vs. Chiefs: I wasn’t a fan of Tannehill’s on-paper matchup in Carolina last week, but he responded with his best fantasy game to date. Tannehill put 331 yards and one touchdown along with 38 rushing yards and a second score on the Panthers and finished as the overall QB5 for the week. He’s registered at least four rushing attempts in all three starts since taking over for Marcus Mariota and is the overall QB9 in fantasy points per game Weeks 7-9. The Chiefs are expected to get Patrick Mahomes (knee) back under center Sunday, increasing the likelihood the Titans will have to play in catch-up mode and up their offensive pace. Kansas City is an impressive No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA but 20th in opponent pass attempts faced and 22nd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. The Chiefs have surrendered the most rushing touchdowns to the position. They allowed three touchdowns to Kirk Cousins last week, and that was with Adam Thielen not playing and Stefon Diggs catching just one pass for four yards. Aaron Rodgers hung 305 yards and three scores as the QB3 in Week 8. This defense is getting healthier with DT Chris Jones returning last week, but DE Frank Clark is still dealing with a neck issue. The Chiefs are 30th in opponent plays per game, and due to Mahomes’ quick-strike nature, the opponent tends to get a couple extra possessions. Tannehill has shown enough of a floor to warrant streamer appeal for Deshaun Watson and Tom Brady owners.
Jared Goff at Steelers: Fantasy’s QB15 in points per game, Goff is coming off a bye after hanging the QB8 day on the Bengals in London back in Week 8. His road splits haven’t been as dramatic this season, though Goff also hasn’t been as good at home in 2019 as he was last year. Overall, he’s been extremely average at best in year three with coach Sean McVay. On the road, Goff averages nearly a full yard-and-a-half less per pass attempt and over two percentage points lower on his completion rate. Goff sports a mediocre 82.8 QB rating away from L.A. Coliseum compared to 91.2 at home. Goff’s fantasy finishes in road games: QB29 > QB21 > QB11 > QB5. He now draws a Steelers unit that is No. 6 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 10 in pass yards allowed, and No. 2 in interceptions. This defense also harasses opposing quarterbacks, checking in at No. 2 in adjusted sack rate. Goff lost Brandin Cooks to another concussion in Week 8. It’s not like Cooks was dominating the box score by any means, but he’s easily the team’s top field-stretcher, opening up the middle of the field for other pass catchers. This game’s 43.5-point total is the fourth-lowest of Week 10. Goff is best treated as a mid-range QB2.
Matthew Stafford at Bears: Stafford has enjoyed a fine bounce-back season and would be in the MVP conversation if the Lions had a better record. He’s fourth in passing yards, fourth in yards per attempt, second in touchdowns, and fifth in QB rating. Stafford is also attempting the highest percentage of passes 20-plus yards downfield. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are both on pace for well over 1,000 yards. Chuck Pagano’s Bears Defense isn’t generating nearly as many turnovers as ex-DC Vic Fangio’s unit did in 2018, but this defense is still one of the best in the NFL. Chicago is No. 7 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 7 in opponent yards per attempt, No. 6 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and 12th in adjusted sack rate. The Bears have surrendered a total of four touchdown passes across three games since their bye, holding Carson Wentz (QB18), Philip Rivers (QB25), and Teddy Bridgewater (QB15) to QB15-or-worse finishes. Stafford has two dates with the Bears over the next four weeks. He’s merely a two-QB league play for me this week in a game with a 41.5-point total, the second-lowest of Week 10.
Kirk Cousins at Cowboys: Since Week 5 when the Vikings opened up the playbook and started throwing the ball after their receivers started making noise in the media, Cousins is the QB8 in fantasy points per game. He’s looked like the early-2018 version of himself that was playing like an every-week fantasy starter. However, Adam Thielen (hamstring) is again sidelined, and the Cowboys are No. 5 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, No. 5 in opponent yards per attempt, No. 7 in passing yards allowed, and No. 8 in opponent QB rating. Stefon Diggs has to win his matchups because Laquon Treadwell and Olabisi Johnson don’t strike fear into a defense. Josh Doctson is preparing to return from I.R. to add some juice to this receiver group, but he is no game-changer. This game has a healthy 48-point total, the fourth-highest of the week, but it feels more like a chance to get Dalvin Cook rolling again after a down Week 9.