Fantasy Football Rankings: Week 10 Matchups to Consider
The back stretch of the fantasy regular season is upon us, and each player in your fantasy lineup needs to be the right one to ensure the highest seed possible for the fantasy playoffs. Every Thursday throughout the season, I’ll take a look at the Ballers’ rankings for the week and highlight a few matchups at each position that are worth a closer look.
Your best friend Kurt won’t leave you hanging though. I’ll offer some advice for who I’d play someone over or offer a suggestion to shift to instead.
Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) vs LA Chargers
It may be easy to forget since they didn’t play last week, but the 49ers’ offense looked unstoppable when we saw them last in Week 8. With another week to get their new weapon, Christian McCaffrey, further integrated into their system and hopefully getting Deebo Samuel back from injury, this is an offense that fantasy managers are going to want to be involved in at all levels.
Jimmy Garoppolo was perhaps the only main offensive player for the 49ers that had a below-par day for fantasy purposes in their last game, but I wouldn’t expect that to be something that continues. Garoppolo has proven that he’s more than capable of distributing the ball to high-end fantasy options as he did with Deebo Samuel in his overall WR2 season from 2021.
Getting Jimmy G into fantasy lineups consistently will be dependent on how many times he’s called upon to throw the ball. In every game that Garoppolo has thrown the ball at least 30 times, he’s finished inside the top 10 QBs for the week.
The Chargers pose a tough matchup for Garoppolo from a fantasy perspective. Through eight games played, LA’s defense has only allowed one top-12 fantasy finish to an opposing QB.
Kurt would start Garoppolo over: Geno Smith (QB7)
Tom Brady (TB) vs Seattle
Fantasy managers were bailed out by Brady’s late heroics after a last-second TD throw salvaged another poor showing from TB12. The Bucs’ QB has finished outside of the top 12 for four straight weeks, averaging just 14.4 fantasy points in that stretch. Possibly the only bright spot to be found is that Brady has thrown 47 passes per game in the last two weeks, so there are plenty of opportunities still there to bounce back.
At a glance, Seattle’s defense should give Brady a chance to break back into the top 12 for just the third time this season. However, the Seahawks have only given up 20 points to opposing fantasy QBs once this season. Seattle is only allowing one passing TD on average per game over the last month, which won’t be enough to make fantasy managers glad they put Brady in their lineup.
Kurt prefers to start: Justin Fields (QB9)
Jeff Wilson Jr. (MIA) vs Cleveland
Miami’s trade deadline acquisition paid off immediately after Wilson finished as the RB10 in his debut with the team. Wilson was effective on the ground, but where he may be the most dangerous for the Dolphins is in the passing game, which added three receptions for 21 yards and a TD. Based on what our eyes saw, it makes total sense for Wilson to step in and take over the lead role for Miami down the stretch.
Cleveland has been a juicy matchup for RBs throughout the season. The Browns have allowed 20 or more points to opposing teams’ RBs in all but three games this season and have allowed a top-8 RB finish in three of their last four games. Where the matchup falls into Wilson’s lap is going to be with receiving work. Cleveland’s defense has given up at least four receptions to their opponents’ lead backs three of the last four weeks.
James Conner (ARI) at LA Rams
James Conner’s return from injury brings the Cardinals’ offense closer to full strength, and fantasy managers that held on to Conner got what they were expecting when they drafted him. Conner only saw seven rush attempts, but out-produced fellow RB, Eno Benjamin, and saw five targets in the passing game.
The Rams present a tough matchup on the ground for Conner to get back into the top 24 on consecutive weeks, but it may be the passing game that creates a path again this week. In their last three games, the Rams are averaging five receptions from their opposing offense’s main RB. If Conner can continue to stay involved in the passing game, he should be another solid play for fantasy managers in Week 10.
Jaylen Warren (PIT) vs New Orleans
It might be the words nobody wants to speak out loud, but Jaylen Warren has been making a case to be more of a factor in Pittsburgh’s offense. Warren hasn’t been a top-24 back once this season, but was effective in his highest usage to date in the Steelers’ Week 8 loss to Philadelphia, finishing with 75 total yards on just nine touches.
Based on recent comments from Mike Tomlin, Warren may be given a chance to see an increased workload, which could put him into FLEX range if he makes the most of it.
The Saints’ defense has been middle of the road against opposing fantasy RBs this season, ranking as the 17th ranked schedule adjusted matchup. However, New Orleans is giving up a top-24 RB in 67% of their games and has allowed a top-5 finish in two of their last three. Warren may be too risky of a play for most fantasy managers, but it will be interesting to see how he’s used which could bring him into consistent FLEX range.
Terrace Marshall Jr. (CAR) vs Atlanta
Perhaps the most unpredictable beneficiary of the Panthers’ trades this season, Terrace Marshall Jr. has quietly finished inside the top 30 for two weeks straight. In that stretch, he’s seen a combined 15 targets that he turned into 140 yards and a TD. Aaron Larson points out in this Week’s Target Trends article, Marshall’s role seems to be getting more defined, so fantasy managers can feel more confident putting him into their FLEX spots this week.
We’ve seen this version of Carolina’s offense have success against Atlanta just two weeks ago. The Falcons’ defense ranks as the second-best matchup for WRs when you adjust for their schedule. It always feels like a riskier play when you have a player in the Thursday night game, but this is the time of the season when you take the shots for the big payoff.
Mecole Hardman (KC) vs Jacksonville
Back-to-back weeks inside the top 10 WRs, and it feels like Mecole Hardman may have finally arrived in the Chiefs’ offense. Kansas City’s receiving options were kind of a mixed bag through the first five weeks of the season, but Hardman and Smith-Schuster seem to have carved out better-defined roles that fantasy managers feel they can rely on. Hardman has scored five TDs (three receiving and two rushing) over the last three weeks and has also received an uptick in red zone looks as an added value.
Jacksonville was just completely torched by Devante Adams, allowing 10 receptions for 146 yards, and most of that came in one half of play. As long as the Chiefs continue to intentionally get Hardman involved in their offense by manufacturing touches for him, fantasy managers should consider him a solid WR2 play.
Michael Pittman Jr. (IND) at Las Vegas
It feels weird to have to be advocating for fantasy managers to play Michael Pittman Jr., but I guess that’s where we are now. Pittman has continued to see targets since the Colts made the change at QB, but has only finished inside the top 36 WRs three times this season. AJ Passman notes in the Targets Per Route Run article for this week, Pittman is only seeing a target on 20% of his routes, and the Colts are throwing the ball less than 30 times per game over the last two weeks. To top it off, Indianapolis has a first-time NFL play caller leading its offense into their matchup against Las Vegas.
The Raiders may be the only saving grace for fantasy managers with Pittman on their rosters this week. Las Vegas has allowed a top-24 WR six times this season and four times in their last five games. Fantasy managers should consider Pittman a FLEX option this week in what might be his last chance to save any fantasy relevance going forward.
Kurt would play Pittman over: Adam Thielen (WR35); Gabe Davis (WR21)
Cole Kmet (CHI) vs Detroit
We’ve seen signs of life from Cole Kmet over the last two weeks. After failing to even be a top-15 TE through the first seven weeks, Kmet has finished as the TE12 and TE2 in Weeks 8 and 9. The biggest difference in Kmet’s fantasy production is getting red zone targets and being able to turn them into TDs. Over the last two weeks, Kmet has turned four red zone targets into 33 yards and three TDs.
Lauren Carpenter notes in the weekly waiver article, Kmet was available in 22% of leagues heading into Week 10, so you may still be able to grab him for nothing.
The 48.5 points that are expected in this matchup may be a bit low since the Lions’ and Bears’ defenses have allowed a combined 124 points over the last two weeks. Detroit has allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing teams’ TEs three straight weeks, and Kmet has seen every TE target for the Bears the over last two games. Fantasy managers should be confidently playing Kmet in this matchup.
Kurt would play Kmet over: Taysom Hill (TE10)
Cade Otton (TB) vs Seattle
Tampa Bay’s rookie TE seems to have been fully worked into the offense over the last three games. After seeing just 64% of snaps through his first five games, Otton has been on the field for 85% of plays since Week 7 and has posted fantasy finishes of TE10 and TE4 in two of those three weeks. The biggest value Otton presents for fantasy purposes is as a red zone option for Tom Brady. Over the last two weeks, Otton has seen five red zone targets. While that’s only turned into six yards and a TD, Brady’s trust being earned in such a pivotal area of the field can only mean good things for Otton.
Seattle is the best matchup for fantasy TEs on the season. Through nine weeks, the Seahawks have allowed five receiving TDs to TEs, and we all know a TD from a TE is all you need sometimes to make the play worth it.
Kurt would play Otton over: Dawson Knox (TE17)