DeVonta Smith Start/Sit Week 10: Can Eagles WR impress again this week?

    DeVonta Smith dominated fantasy football in Week 9, but was that a fluke or the new normal for the rookie WR? Let's look at the numbers.

    Fantasy managers are having a tough year. Sure, we say this every year, but fantasy football feels very unpredictable this year. Wide receivers and running backs drafted in later rounds are now must-starts. One of those later picks is Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith. Smith exploded last week, but can you trust him in your fantasy lineup in Week 10?

    Should you start or sit DeVonta Smith in Week 10?

    As always, let’s look back before we look ahead. Fantasy football isn’t exactly predictable, but past performances can sometimes tell us something important about future games.

    For the season, Smith has 38 catches on 62 targets for 537 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has scored 103.7 PPR points overall, putting him at WR31. However, his 11.5 points per game is slightly worse at WR44. He hasn’t exactly been lighting up the stat sheets, but Smith has been about what we should expect for where managers drafted him in August.

    Smith’s consensus ADP in August was 83 overall as the WR33 off the board. This put him near the end of the seventh round in 12-team drafts. He was viewed as a WR3 or flex pick for most lineups.

    He’s scored double-digit PPR points in five of nine games, which is right in line with what you’d expect for a WR3 in most lineups. That was until last week, at least.

    Week 9 explosion

    In the Eagles’ Week 9 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, Smith caught 5 of 6 targets for 116 yards and a touchdown. This was good enough to finish as the WR2 on the week — behind only Jets WR Elijah Moore. While the Eagles lost 27-24, Smith’s fantasy managers won. If they risked starting him, he definitely paid off.

    Oddly enough, Smith didn’t lead the team’s receivers in snaps, which is a new trend. Smith led the team in snap share through the first seven weeks, never dropping below 84.5% of the snaps. In Weeks 8 and 9, Smith only saw 44 snaps in each game (67% and 77%, respectively). Teammate Quez Watkins has recently taken that top spot, playing in 89% and 95% of the team’s snaps in the last two weeks.

    Another oddity from Week 9 was that Smith had a 19.3 yards per target average, his highest of the season by far. His only first-half catch was for 27 yards. Smith’s longest catch was his 28-yard touchdown to tie the game at 24 in the fourth quarter. His other 3 catches were for 23, 19, and 19 yards — all coming in the second half. As the game went along, Jalen Hurts was able to find Smith in the middle of the defense.

    Smith’s average yards per target this season has only been 8.7 yards. It’s hard to imagine that Week 9 was the new norm based on what we’ve seen. It’s more likely that the Chargers let him have those intermediate and deep routes as part of their defensive game plan. I’m not writing it off entirely, but it’s not something I’m banking on either.

    Smith’s Week 10 fantasy outlook

    Smith popped up on the injury report with an elbow injury after the loss to the Chargers. He logged a full practice on Thursday and is listed as active with no injury designation. At least we don’t have to speculate on whether the team will start him this week, so that’s a plus.

    Where we get to speculate is whether or not fantasy managers should start him. The Denver Broncos’ defense was very stout against the Dallas Cowboys last week, even without LB Von Miller, who they traded to the Rams.

    On top of that, Hurts could be on the hot seat if the team keeps losing. They’re 3-6 in a tough division, but both Hurts and the Eagles need a win this week.

    Personally, I’m starting Smith unless I have a plethora of better options. With four teams on a bye this week, including those with star receivers, you may not have much of a choice. As the season goes along, you sometimes have to plug your nose and hope for the best. That’s what I’m recommending this week for Smith.

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