Week 10 fantasy football highs and lows

Week 10 of the fantasy football season featured plenty of notable performances. What should we make of them? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft are here with analysis on the biggest performers — and duds — of the week.

Patrick Mahomes continues historic pace

In his return from a knee injury, Mahomes scored 29.8 fantasy points on Sunday behind his third career 400-yard and 15th career three-touchdown passing game, numbers that look all the more impressive if you consider that the opposing Titans entered the day affording opposing quarterbacks only 15.2 fantasy points per game. With that score, Mahomes now has 606.6 points through the first 25 career NFL starts, easily shattering Deshaun Watson’s former mark of 564.3 for the most by any quarterback in history through that many starts. Remarkably, Mahomes was started in only 57.1% of ESPN leagues in Week 10, sixth-highest among quarterbacks. — Cockcroft

I’ll jump in here, too, on Mahomes. The Titans were down starting cornerback Malcom Butler, but this is still a pretty good defense in Tennessee. And Mahomes lit that group up. If you had any concerns about Mahomes’ movement skills or his ability to sling the ball around after his knee injury, his numbers today should’ve answered those. Mahomes completed 36-of-50 passes for 446 yards with three touchdowns. And I didn’t see any limitations to his game. He can still make those ridiculous second-reaction throws. — Bowen

Will Kareem Hunt eat into Nick Chubb’s production?

In his Browns debut on Sunday, Hunt played 38-of-66 (58%) of the team’s offensive snaps and scored 14.4 PPR fantasy points, 0.3 more than Chubb. Despite that, Chubb’s performance shouldn’t warrant any worry amongst his fantasy managers. He played 53-of-66 (80%) offensive snaps, amassed 20 of the team’s 26 rushing attempts and was targeted four times, with those numbers falling right in line with his seasonal per-game rates (including Sunday) of 75% of the offensive snaps played, 19.3 rushing attempts and 4.0 targets.

It’s clear based upon Sunday’s usage that the Browns regard Hunt their passing-down back and Chubb the focal point of their offense, meaning that the only concern for the two should be game flow, something that shouldn’t be a huge issue looking at the final seven games on their schedule. Chubb remains a locked-in RB1 for me, but Hunt could have use in full-PPR formats as a flex play against some of these weaker upcoming defenses. — Cockcroft

I’ll add this, as the Browns did use personnel packages with multiple running backs. Get Hunt and Chubb on the field at the same time. That’s a game plan thing from Freddie Kitchens, and along with Hunt’s receiving production (seven receptions, 44 yards), it tells us that the running back is going to play a defined role for this squad. That meshes with Tristan’s note on Hunt’s PPR value. — Bowen

Darius Slayton’s career day

Slayton enjoyed a career day against the Jets, scoring 34.1 PPR fantasy points, with his 10 catches exceeding his total in his previous four games combined (8). It was, however, the second time in his past three games that he scored multiple touchdowns, as he continued to strengthen his rapport with rookie QB Daniel Jones. Slayton, who was started in a mere 5.0% of ESPN leagues in Week 10 and remains available in 87.7%, is regardless not an easy player to add, since the Giants enjoy their bye during Week 11 before facing a tough matchup against the Bears defense in Week 12 (not to mention a somewhat difficult one against the Packers in Week 13).

It’s the fantasy playoffs schedule that looks so attractive for Slayton, with a pair of games against the Eagles and one apiece against the Dolphins and Redskins from Weeks 14-17 (and Jones to a lesser degree in two-quarterback leagues). That makes Slayton more of a situational add — you’ll need a roster spot to burn with his upcoming bye, and you’d be assuming that Sterling Shepard’s (concussion) injury is indeed a season-ender. It’s a move I couldn’t make in a 10-team standard ESPN leagues, but would love to in any deeper format where I had the luxury. — Cockcroft

Lamar Jackson makes it look easy

Jackson was again outstanding, scoring 33.4 fantasy points while playing only three quarters of the Ravens’ 49-13 blowout of the Bengals. He enjoyed his fourth consecutive game with a rushing touchdown, becoming only the 17th quarterback since at least 1950 to enjoy a streak of at least that length, ran for at least 65 yards for the sixth consecutive game (longest such streak in NFL history) and pushed his season total for fantasy points to 237.6. That’s the fifth-most fantasy points by any quarterback in history through his team’s first nine games of a season. Jackson also now has 367.8 fantasy points in his first 16 career starts, which trails only Patrick Mahomes’ 410.1 and Cam Newton’s 370.3. — Cockcroft

Christian Kirk dominated the Tampa Bay secondary on Sunday. AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio

Christian Kirk has three TDs

I expected Kirk to win underneath versus the Bucs secondary on quick game throws, screens, etc. That’s why he jumped up in the ranks for me this week as a WR2. But it was the deep ball targets from Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray — plus the sudden touchdown production — that allowed Kirk to rack up 37.8 fantasy points in PPR formats. Kirk got over the top of the Tampa secondary twice, and also cashed in on a red zone target from Murray to get six. Just a monster day for Kirk, who caught six of a team-high 10 targets for 138 yards and three scores. He simply played faster than the Bucs defensive backs.

With the 49ers defense up next, Kirk is going to slide back down in the ranks. Going back to Week 9, Kirk caught only 2-of-5 targets for 8 yards against San Francisco. However, Kirk’s numbers today are a reminder to take the positive matchups with wide receivers in your lineup. — Bowen

David Johnson not fantasy relevant … again

In 55 previous NFL games, Johnson had never been shut out … until Sunday. His zero PPR fantasy points gave him his second miserable score in the past four weeks — he also scored 0.2 points in Week 7, but played only three snaps — and while the matchup (the Buccaneers, who sport by far the league’s best run defense to this point) and Johnson’s limited snap count (45% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps) played a part, both factors influence his rest-of-year value.

The Cardinals have Kenyan Drake (and potentially Chase Edmonds) available to ease Johnson’s workload, and the injury might coax them to limit him for the remainder of the year, meaning he’ll be susceptible to upcoming poor matchups against the 49ers (Week 11), Rams (Week 13) and Steelers (Week 14). This just isn’t a RB1 right now, and if his practice weeks don’t progress smoothly, he might not be a RB2 some of those weeks, either.

Saquon Barkley has a rough day

Barkley concluded Sunday’s action with 13 rushing attempts for 1 yard, becoming only the seventh player since at least 1950 to carry the football at least that many times while amassing a yard or fewer. And for only the second time in a full game in his career, he was held beneath 10 PPR fantasy points (8.1).

Daniel Jones’ inconsistent play and fumbling issues have caused the Giants to play a fair share of their games from behind, and while that might suit a good pass-catcher like Barkley, his fantasy production just hasn’t shown it: He has averaged only 15.3 PPR fantasy points per game in his five games played that Jones started, compared to 23.7 when Eli Manning started. — Cockcroft

Cooper Kupp gets shut out

The Steelers defense is playing very well, but did anyone see Kupp getting completely shut out today? He saw four targets, and finished with zero grabs. Chalk that up to the Pittsburgh pass rush — which rattled quarterback Jared Goff — and sticky coverage versus Kupp in the secondary. The Rams offense never established a rhythm in the passing game, and the Steelers took away the inside crossing routes where Kupp usually makes his money. Up next for Kupp? It’s the Bears defense on Sunday night in Week 11. — Bowen

Here’s how unusual Kupp’s donut on the fantasy scorecard: In the 13 seasons for which snap-count data is available, he’s only the 36th player at any position to play 90%-plus of his team’s offensive snaps (he played 91%), be targeted at least four times (4) yet score zero PPR fantasy points. That’s an average of fewer than three per season, and most of the individuals who previously did it were far from household names in fantasy. Kupp, meanwhile, was started in a whopping 79.2% of ESPN leagues in Week 10. — Cockcroft

Aaron Jones carries the Packers

Thanks to his second career three-touchdown game, Jones tallied 27.3 PPR fantasy points in Week 10, the fourth time this season that he has scored at least 25 points. He’s now the No. 2 scorer among running backs for the year with 211.3 points, though the No. 3 scorer, Dalvin Cook, has played one fewer game. Interestingly enough, Jones didn’t garner a single target in this game, unusual for him after he totaled 37 in his previous six games combined, though it probably helped that he was facing a Panthers defense that has struggled far more against the run than the pass.

Jones will now enter his bye week before returning for a difficult matchup against the 49ers, but he does have one of the more fantasy-friendly schedules in the month of December. He remains a legitimate weekly RB1. — Cockcroft

Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST continues to dominate

For the sixth consecutive game, the Steelers’ defense/special teams scored double-digit fantasy points, their 22 pushing their season total to 109. That’s the second-most by any D/ST this season, behind only the Patriots’ 168, though the 49ers (107) will have a chance to catch and/or pass them on Monday night. Still, the Steelers will conclude Week 10 among the top three at the position, with the fourth-place team (the Rams) resting at 80 points, illustrating just how well this defense has played.

Even better: The Steelers have one of the most fantasy-friendly D/ST schedules the rest of the way, with games against the Browns (twice), Bengals, Jets, Bills and Cardinals. If this is your defense, you have to feel pretty secure in locking the Steelers in for the duration. — Cockcroft


Ronald Jones II: We can all see that Jones gives the Bucs more juice at the running back position, right? I think Bruce Arians is on board as well, after Jones out-snapped Peyton Barber 38 to 20 on Sunday. Jones finished with 106 total yards and a touchdown on 19 touches. And the majority of his production came in the passing game, as he caught 8-of-8 targets for 77 yards. With the Saints on tap in Week 11 — and four teams on a bye — Jones is going to be in that RB2/Flex discussion in my ranks. — Bowen

Marquise Brown: I don’t want to give out high-fives for beating up on the Bengals secondary, but I do like seeing Brown back in the mix for the Ravens pass game. After catching 3-of-4 targets for 48 yards in Week 9 versus the Patriots, Brown hauled in 4-of-4 targets for 80 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Even with the 49ers and Steelers still on the schedule, Brown’s deep ball speed and explosive play ability put him in the WR3 discussion as a high upside/low floor play. — Bowen

Kenny Golladay: Golladay managers got some relief late he caught a jump-ball throw from backup quarterback Jeff Driskel for a 47-yard touchdown. But I have some concerns for Golladay’s production moving forward if Matthew Stafford is down again next week versus Dallas. Sure, the targets will still be there for Golladay in a Lions offense that simply can’t generate consistent run game production. But if Stafford isn’t throwing the ball, Golladay has to drop down in the ranks as a mid-tier WR2. — Bowen

O.J. Howard: In a matchup against a Cardinals defense that has been ripped up by opposing tight ends all season, Howard caught 4-of-7 targets for 47 yards and a score. That’s a decent line, and Howard did make a nice grab on a seam ball throw from Jameis Winston. However, the touchdown came on either a busted coverage or poor communication from the Arizona secondary (maybe both). Given that the Bucs play the Saints next week, Howard will once again be ranked as a low-floor TE2 for me. — Bowen

Drew Brees: Yes, that was a prime matchup for Brees against a sub-par Atlanta defense. But with pass protection issues, and New Orleans’ inability to finish drives, Brees had just 11.5 fantasy points. That’s a bust. However, with Tampa on the schedule next week, I’m still going to rank Brees as a top-five QB. — Bowen

Christian McCaffrey: McCaffrey’s 26.1 PPR fantasy points gave him 272.5 for the season, the third-most by any running back through his team’s first nine games of any season since at least 1950. Using non-PPR scoring, McCaffrey’s 224.5 fantasy points are the ninth-most by a running back during that same time span. — Cockcroft

DJ Moore: After catching 9-of-11 targets for 120 yards against the Packers, Moore has now seen at least eight targets in his last five games, and he’s gone over the 100-yard receiving mark in two straight. Moore’s lack of touchdown production (only one touchdown catch this season) knocks down his value a bit. But the steady volume will keep Moore in the WR2 mix again in Week 11 versus the Falcons. — Bowen

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