I’m a fantasy manager just like you. I eat waffles just like you. I dream about three-legged zombie tigers chasing me, just like you. And just like you, I rack my brain over difficult fantasy football start/sit decisions. Heading into Week 10’s Sunday/Monday slate, who are some borderline players I’m eyeballing, and where do they fall on the start/sit spectrum?
NFL Start ‘Em for Week 10
Neither of these players are obvious starts in most leagues. For example, the last two weeks, I pushed the unheralded Pat Freiermuth. There’s more value in finding diamonds in the rough than in starting the obvious guys. So here are two under-the-radar bargains in Week 10.
Start ‘Em | Mason Rudolph, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
“What?! I came here for good, old-fashioned fantasy advice. Not this … new-age rock and roll!” OK, I get it. Mason Rudolph is not on anyone’s radar. But there’s a logic to the seeming madness.
Who has the fewest fantasy points among QBs who’ve started every game this season? Ben Roethlisberger. Despite having an elite running back, a high-end pair of wideouts, and the rapidly ascending Pat Freiermuth, Big Ben has become what Philip Rivers was late last season — a 39-year-old former great lacking the arm strength to do what once came naturally.
So from a fantasy perspective, Roethlisberger has been at or near the bottom of the barrel. Do we really believe Rudolph will be worse? Forget the Big Ben of the past. We’re talking about this season. Is it possible that Rudolph is actually a better QB at this stage of their divergent careers? Moreover, are we simply going to ignore that the opposing Lions are giving up the most passing yards (4,249) and passing TDs (35) in the NFL?
I like writing about players no one is talking about but should be. For his career, Rudolph is sporting a 94.9 QB rating in home games. 44% of Najee Harris’ fantasy points have come in the passing game. Diontae Johnson is somehow the WR11 in fantasy points per game. Rudolph has everything he needs to be a top-16 QB this week. Chalk him up as a shocking streamer.
Start ‘Em | Tyler Johnson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I was big on Johnson in Week 8 when Antonio Brown was sidelined. He turned in only 2 catches for 16 yards. But the next week, he showed what he could do, finishing with a 5-65 receiving line. There’s a lot to like about Johnson talent-wise. The question is when he can get more opportunities.
My colleague Tommy Garrett and I are hyping him once again. With Brown and Rob Gronkowski out again in Week 10, and with Chris Godwin questionable, Johnson should be no worse than the No. 3 receiving option against a beatable Washington defense. At best, he could be Tom Brady’s No. 2 target. I’m starting him in my league.
NFL Sit’ Em for Week 10
Neither of these players are obvious sits in most leagues. But too often, managers feel pressure to start players who are supposed to do well, even if the circumstances are more challenging than they seem. Here are two under-the-radar Week 10 busts.
Sit ‘Em | Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan is a fringe streamer this week, owning an expert-consensus QB15 Week 10 ranking. I believe he’ll be worse. Since their inexplicable collapse in Super Bowl LI, this franchise has descended continually into sub-mediocrity.
Their surprising 4-4 record does not adequately reflect their diminished offensive talent nor the capped fantasy upside of their longtime quarterback. Three of their wins have come against the Giants, Jets, and Dolphins. They’ve lost to Washington and Carolina. Enough said.
This season, Ryan has had as many fantasy performances above 28 points (two) as he has below 7 points. His competent numbers stem almost entirely from Kyle Pitts and the seemingly unstoppable Cordarrelle Patterson.
But today’s matchup in Dallas will be tough. After the Broncos crushed the Cowboys last week, I believe Dallas will regroup and handle the Falcons comfortably. Ryan won’t be stream-worthy.
Sit ‘Em | Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers
How much can we trust Elijah Mitchell? He’s been a fantasy revelation. He also plays in a Kyle Shanahan-led offense that historically has rotated running backs like tires. He’s the expert-consensus RB16 in Week 10 based on a body of work spanning six NFL games. The 2021 sixth-rounder has only 9 receptions. Jeff Wilson is expected to return, barring a setback. Third-round rookie Trey Sermon is looming (never underestimate talent).
And the Niners are facing a rejuvenated Rams team that’s recently added Odell Beckham Jr. on offense and Von Miller on defense. LA’s defense is yielding a respectable 4.1 yards per carry. I’m expecting the Rams’ offense to put up significant points, forcing the 49ers into passing mode in the second half. Most people are starting Mitchell as an RB2. I doubt he’ll be better than a mid-range RB3.