It’s week ten and things are bleak out there, with three incredibly important for fantasy football teams (and the Rams) on bye. It’s entirely possible that if you whiffed on checking byes, that you’re missing multiple stud receivers, multiple stud backs, a stud tight end and a stud quarterback. But, if you’re missing all the guys who are out this week, I have just the article for you! It’s this one. The one you’re reading. It has three players at every position available in at least 50% of leagues, with one player available in at least 90%. Let’s dive in!
Will Levis at Tampa Bay (40% rostered)
Will Levis had an incredible first start for his fantasy managers, notching four passing touchdowns and 26 fantasy points against the Atlanta Falcons. Things went a little bit differently last week, as he finished with zero touchdowns and just under 10 fantasy points against the Steelers. This week will look more like his first start than his second. His week ten opponents, the Buccaneers allow the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks on the season, including 71 points over the last two weeks against the Bills and Texans. Of course, Will Levis isn’t in the same tier as Josh Allen and C.J. Stroud, but every quarterback not named Desmond Ridder or Derek Carr had at least 16 fantasy points against the Buccos this season.
Taylor Heinicke at Arizona (16% rostered)
Unlike Levis, Heinicke did not have a great couple of games this season. Heinicke has just over 27 fantasy points in his first to appearances, with two combined touchdowns. Unfortunately for him, he started off his 2023 season against two teams who rank fifteenth or worse in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks while playing his only full game without Drake London. However, despite that, he’s still an obvious improvement over Desmond Ridder, as his completions are going for an extra 2.5 yards each. Heinicke takes on the Cardinals this week, who haven’t been a great matchup lately, but who have given up the tenth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks on the season and who have the second-worst defensive DVOA this season.
Mac Jones versus Indianapolis in Germany (10% rostered)
It might sound silly, for me to think childish thoughts like these… but I am going to do what I please. While Mac Jones might not be your favorite fella, you should still grab ahold of him this weekend in your deeper fantasy leagues. McCorkle & Company take on the Colts in Germany this week, mercifully ending the 6:30 AM start times for West Coasters for the season. While Mac Jones has been extremely iffy this season, so has the Colts’ pass defense. Indy’s allowed at least 300 passing yards or multiple touchdowns to 6 of 9 quarterbacks so far this season, with now-benched P.J. Walker, now-benched Ryan Tannehill and just-lost-to-the-Bears-in-primetime Bryce Young failing to make the cut.
Demario Douglas versus Indianapolis (37% rostered)
If Mac Jones is Mack Daddy instead of Whack Jones on Sunday, then it will be because he finds himself a new studly option in the Patriots’ passing game. Last week was an incredibly flat performance from a “who is the new alpha” perspective, with five different players getting at least six targets, and none getting more than seven. Douglas led the Patriots in targets, as his seven targets tied with JuJu Smith-Schuster. He led the team in receiving yards, and caught five-of-seven passes. Sixteen wide receivers have at least 7 targets against the Colts this season, and they have been extremely fruitful, averaging 5 catches for 68 yards per game while allowing a 64% catch rate.
Jayden Reed at Pittsburgh (20% rostered)
Six weeks ago, I would write that we aren’t sure if Jordan Love is good or bad yet. Unfortunately, it seems that, at least for 2023, we know the answer to that question. The Packers are a limited offense, but inside that limitation, we can still find opportunity for a double-digit fantasy day with a chance of cracking a touchdown. He’s been a good fantasy football asset when Christian Watson isn’t available, which the Packers anticipate happening again on Sunday. Without Watson on the season, Reed averages 11.9 fantasy points per game on 7 targets. The Steelers allow the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers on the season, and they’ve been struggling against the position since their bye: five wide receivers have at least 10 fantasy points against them in their three games since the bye.
Kyle Philips at Tampa Bay (0% rostered)
Kyle Philips is a real person, I promise you. He’s a wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans who has seen increased usage in Treylon Burks’ absence (which will continue this week against Tampa Bay). Last week, he had a season high five targets, which isn’t much to write home about, but it’s not how many targets, it’s where they came from. On the season, Philips runs 71% of his routes from the slot, which leads the Titans in slot route rate. The Buccaneers allow the second-most fantasy points per game from the slot. So, should he use the five targets last week as a jumping-off point in the expected continued Treylon Burks absence, then we are cooking for a sleeper here.
Antonio Gibson at Seattle (48% rostered)
It’s going to be gross, and you probably don’t want to watch the game if you do this, but Antonio Gibson is sneakily a good flex option this week. He’s finished inside the top-30 at running back in four of the last five weeks, and he has 10 catches in the last two games. While the rushing isn’t really there, in a PPR league, he’s cobbled together useful weeks more often than not this season. Teams don’t pass to the running back so much against Seattle, but four running backs have at least five targets against them this season, and they all finished with double-digit PPR days. That includes guys like Emari Demarcado. So, he should be able to cobble together something useful for you this week.
Tyjae Spears at Tampa Bay (40% rostered)
The Buccaneers aren’t a good matchup for running backs, but most of that third-fewest fantasy points come because teams aren’t good on the ground against them. Then, teams haven’t really thrown to the running backs on the Buccaneers, either. Only four running backs have more than two targets against them this season, but all but one (Khalil Herbert) had a double-digit fantasy day. Spears is currently tied for fifteenth in the NFL with five running back targets per game, and he is deriving a ton of his value from there. It’s not the most solid play, but it’s a nice one nonetheless.
Latavius Murray versus Denver (10% rostered)
Leonard Fournette is currently rostered in 27% of leagues, but Leonard Fournette was also a free agent well into November, and Damien Harris had a nasty injury that might cost him the season before the Bills signed Fournette. So, why do people think that Fournette is there to supplant Murray? He’s not, he’s in a support role. Murray hasn’t been getting a ton of touches lately, but the Bills have also been on a stretch of difficult run defenses. This week, the Bills get literally the best matchup in the NFL, with the Denver Broncos coming to town for a Monday Night Football tilt. Murray has a great shot at a touchdown this week. He leads the Bills in carries inside the 5, getting 9 such carries in 9 games so far this season, scoring two touchdowns. The other running backs on this roster have six carries inside the five. So, if there’s a goal-line carry to be had, then Murray will have it. This will be a get-right game for James Cook, as well as a bounceback to fleeting relevance for Latavius Murray.
Hunter Henry versus Indianapolis (40% rostered)
The Colts gave up over 14 PPR points last week to Hayden Hurst and Stephen Sullivan, without a touchdown. I will repeat that: 14 points, to Hurst & Sullivan. They’re an absolute sieve against the tight end on defense, especially lately. Only Juwan Johnson, fresh off his injury, failed to notch a good game against them lately. Six tight ends in nine weeks have at least 8 PPR points against them, and Hunter Henry should make it another one. The Patriots are down bad for targets right now, and Henry is the clear leader in the clubhouse for a reliable Mac Jones target. Henry was quiet for four weeks before getting 6 targets last week, a return to the 5-7 targets per game he received back in weeks 1 – 4.
Tyler Conklin at Las Vegas (11% rostered)
Ty Conkowski has sneakily been one of the more consistently targeted tight ends in the league, getting 5 or 6 targets in 5 of 7 Zach Wilson starts. Last week he hit the mark of the beast, finishing with six targets, six catches, and 66 yards on the week against the #4 team against tight ends on the season. This week, his matchup isn’t as good, as the Raiders allow the 20th-most fantasy points to TEs this year. That stat is incredibly deceiving as that isn’t from a particular stoutness against the position that the Raiders showed, it was because of a disinterested opponent. Five tight ends have more than 3 targets against the Raiders this season… and all of them scored at least 8 fantasy points. Fire up your Conklins, should you find yourself in a pinch.
Juwan Johnson at Minnesota (10% rostered)
Juwan Johnson’s return and decent game were lost in the shuffle last week thanks to Taysom Hill snapping fantasy football in half. Johnson played only 61% of snaps in week eight, but got his full 75% complement in week nine, which led to 5 catches, 29 yards, and a touchdown. The Vikings allow the tenth-most fantasy points to tight ends on the season, including 9 catchines and 156 yards to Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith last week.