Outstanding Fantasy Matchups: Week 10
After a week off, my mind is rested (not really) and ready to bring you some real juicy matchups for Week 10. If you remember back in Week 8 I gave some nice recommendations such as starting Alex Smith in London — stats — although the Falcons offense didn’t quite go off against the Bucs as I had expected and Cam Newton was just alright against the Colts on Monday Night. Of course, if you followed my Bengals (vs. Steelers) or Vikings (vs. Bears) advice you were probably cursing me out by 3 p.m. on Sunday. Hey, you win some and you lose some.
We’re onto Week 10 and I think there are some great matchups to exploit so let’s get to it!
Rishard Matthews vs. Byron Maxwell
Matthews makes for a good contrarian DFS play
Every week one of my biggest challenges is trying to find a wide receiver that has flown under the radar in recent weeks and is ready to bust out. This week that’s Rishard Matthews, who gets a nice matchup against Byron Maxwell.
What makes Matthews a potentially under-owned wide receiver is that he’s been producing a rather average stat line over the last month. Over the last four games, Matthews has averaged five catches for 69 yards, and 0.25 TD. That’s just enough for us not to worry about his production, but also he’s definitely gone largely unnoticed.
That said, one of those weeks was a 44-26 massacre of the Texans where Matthews saw just 67 percent of the snaps because the team took the second half off. Matthews is playing almost every snap in competitive games and should see plenty of targets since the Eagles have such a stingy run defense. Onto the matchup with Maxwell.
On the surface, it looks as if Maxwell is turning things around this season, just take a look at these numbers:
Weeks 1-5: 300 snaps, 29 targets, 23 receptions, 354 yards, 2 TD/0 INT, 0.23 FPTS/Snap
Weeks 6-9: 211 snaps, 13 targets, 8 receptions, 68 yards, 0 TD/1 INT, 0.06 FPTS/Snap
However, over that same time frame he has still allowed an opposing QB Rating of 111.4 and Pro Football Focus has graded his coverage at -1.8. He hasn’t exactly been Darrelle Revis out there — he’s not even Malcolm Butler. The upside of the matchup coupled with low ownership makes Matthews a nice GPP play at $4,700 on DraftKings and $6,000 on FanDuel. Vegas is expecting a shootout as the over/under has risen from 46 points to 49 points throughout the week.
Marcus Mariota vs. Carolina Panthers
Sit the rookie in Week 10
It’s going to be hard to bench the rookie, especially after he just torched the Saints for 371 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. However, the Panthers are a much tougher defense despite what you saw Aaron Rodgers do to them in the second half last week. That’s Rodgers doing Rodgers.
The main issue I see with Marcus Mariota this week is that I just don’t know who is getting open for him against this secondary. The matchup to exploit — as we saw last week — is slot corner Bené Benwikere, but with Kendall Wright likely out it’s going to be Harry Douglas in that spot and I’m not getting excited about a Mariota-Douglas combination. Not to mention that the Panthers have two of the best coverage linebackers in Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis to neutralize Delanie Walker.
If Mariota were rushing the ball more to increase his bottom line I may have rolled the dice this week, but he’s relying mostly on his arm and that will lose against this defense more often than not.
Brandon LaFell vs. Giants Secondary
Patriots wideout should continue to surge
Ever since he came off the PUP list, Brandon LaFell has played in around 80 percent of the snaps in each of his three starts. He was clearly rusty in his first game back as he was credited with five drops in his eight targets. Not good. Then he had a slightly better game where he caught 4-of-7 targets for 47 yards. Finally, last week was when he looked like the LaFell of 2014 where he caught 5-of-8 targets for 105 yards.
He has yet to score a touchdown, but the Patriots are the league’s top offense scoring 3.22 points per drive and averaging 0.37 touchdowns per drive. They are also the second-most efficient red zone offense scoring 5.66 points per red zone trip. Given that the Patriots have an implied team total north of 30 points this week I expect LaFell to end the TD drought and have a big day.
Kamar Aiken vs. Jaguars
Heavy workload for Aiken this Sunday
There’s no doubt that the Ravens pass offense is hurting at the moment with Steve Smith Sr. out for the year and Breshad Perriman non-existent. The workload has fallen on the shoulders of Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, and Chris Givens. Given that the Ravens have an Vegas implied total of 27 points I’m expecting some fireworks in the passing game and Aiken will be the primary beneficiary. When Smith went out in Week 8, Aiken caught 5-of-5 targets for 59 yards in the second half.
That said, the Jaguars are dreadful in defending the pass in all aspects; they rank bottom-third in defending No.1 WR, No. 2 WR, slot WR, tight ends, and running backs in the passing game, according to Football Outsider’s DVOA metric. The entire passing game should eat and two names you should monitor this week are Crockette Gillmore and Givens. Givens is especially interesting as he played more snaps than Brown and reports are that he’s now the No. 2 WR. Givens is a great deep threat, which is something Flacco has missed this year. And yes, in case you were wondering, the Jaguars stink at covering the deep pass as well.
Akien was also included in our week 10 Fanduel picks, check that out here.
Blake Bortles vs. BAL or Kirk Cousins vs. NO
Tough decision between two cheap quarterbacks in DFS
There are two quarterbacks that scream value this week and one — Blake Bortles — is perfect for cash games while the other — Kirk Cousins — is a great GPP play. Both should be streamed in season-long leagues. Bortles gets a great matchup against a Ravens secondary that ranks 28th overall in Football Outsider’s DVOA metric. We just saw Allen Robinson put up 121 yards on Revis and the Jets so going against Ladarius Webb and Jimmy Smith will be like a walk in the park. Bortles’ floor is very high this week and he should easily return value making him a great cash game play. Bortles also made our Start’Em Sit’Em list for week 10.
On the other hand, Cousins is coming off a disappointing game vs. the Patriots, but it wasn’t his fault — the Redskins receivers were credited with seven critical drops that limited Cousins upside. Well, this week he gets a Saints secondary that has allowed 300-plus passing yards in six of its nine games this season. They have also allowed multiple passing touchdowns in all but two games. At home, Vegas has the Redskins projected for almost 25 points, which is almost a touchdown more than they’ve been averaging this season. Look for Cousins to have a big bounce-back week.
George has been playing fantasy baseball since he was a kid, filling out every Sporting News salary league card, but never sending one in due to his lack of a checking account. He still remembers the time he spot-started Storm Johnson and got a rushing TD out of it. Never forget.