Its crazy to think that we’re already into the home stretch of the fantasy regular season. Just five more weeks to go (in most leagues), and as the playoffs near, every minute advantage you can gain can take you one step closer to pretend GM glory. To help with this, each week I take a look into the slate of games and pick out the ones I'm most intrigued about from a fantasy perspective, and using the statistical metrics I've built for analyzing the game, try to identify the nuggets that will help you make the best decisions for your fantasy team.
For context in my game breakdowns, you can find my latest rankings via the below links:
RODS Team Rankings
ROPE Quarterback Index and ROPED Pass Defense Index
RORO Rushing Offense and RORD Rushing Defense Indexes
Here are my top match ups for week 10.
New Orleans Saints (6-2) @ Buffalo Bills (5-3)
I love this match up. I’ve been wanting the Saints to be good for so long now, I can hardly believe that its actually happening, and the fact they now face the ‘upstart’ Bills in a pivotal non-conference game is actually pretty damn exciting.
In terms of my RODS rankings, this game the sees the 2nd placed Saints travel to the 15th placed Bills, but more importantly than that, its the strength on strength match up of the Saints’ 2nd rated offense, and the Bills 17th rated defense (but who are 9th in fantasy points allowed). On paper it looks like an easy Saints win as they rate higher in every one of my comparative metrics bar the Saints run defense (23rd) slightly below the Bills rushing offense (19th).
The Saints offense has been so well balanced this season, with Drew Brees currently ranked as my number one quarterback (9th in fantasy), with the rushing offense ranked 4th (6th in fantasy). They actually average more fantasy points per game on the road this year (87.8 vs 83.5) than they do at home, but face a Bills team that concedes on average under 75 fantasy points per game at home. The Bills are ranked 12th against the pass from a fantasy perspective and 11th against fantasy running backs so I expect the Saints offense to continue to shine this week.
From a Bills offensive perspective, Tyrod Taylor continues to be a much better fantasy quarterback than in ‘real life’, ranking 13th in Fantasy points, but 19th in my ROPE Index, which doesn’t account for rushing numbers. Kelvin Benjamin is set to make his debut for the Bills against a Saints pass defense that ranks 11th in fantasy points given up to receivers. Benjamin is outside the top 30 receivers in fantasy so far this year and I don’t expect a huge impact in his first game. As a rushing offense, the Bills are below average, per my RORO index in 19th, but is 10th in fantasy points and Le Sean McCoy could may hay against the Saints run defense ranked 15th in fantasy points allowed
Must Starts: Drew Brees (QB), Mark Ingram (RB), Alvin Kamara (RB), Michael Thomas (WR)
Solid Options: Saints D/ST, Will Lutz (K), Tedd Ginn Jr (WR)
Deeper Leagues: Brandon Coleman (WR), Coby Fleener (TE)
Must Starts: LeSean McCoy (RB)
Solid Options: Tyrod Taylor (QB), Bills D/ST
Deeper Leagues: Kelvin Benjamin (WR). I need to see it first. Charles Clay (TE) if healthy
Avoid: Any other Bills receiver.
Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)
Another interesting match up and a pretty crucial one for both teams as the Chargers look to keep their playoff hopes alive and Jaguars look to keep pushing on at the top of the AFC South.
The keys to this game are how the Chargers offense will compete against the number one defense in football, and how the Chargers run defense can hold up against the Jaguars league-leading rushing offense.
The Chargers, led by the evergreen Philip Rivers, face an uphill task against a Jaguars pass defense that’s allowing less than 15 receiving points per game this season, half the league average. Rivers is currently my 17th rated quarterback in the ROPE Index and is 17th in fantasy points. In terms of receivers, the Chargers’ number one, Keenan Allen, is the latest to face off against the top cornerback duo in the league of AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey and their smothering coverage. Where the Chargers have their best chance is on the ground as the Jaguars run defense ranks 26th in the RORD index and 25th in fantasy points allowed and the Chargers have Melvin Gordon, who is 11th in rushing fantasy points.
The Jaguars continue on their mission to run the ball as often as possible and against the Chargers’ 28th ranked run defense, should continue to see success with that formula. Leonard Fournette has made his apologies and should be back to lead the rushing attack, with Chris Ivory a more than capable back up. Their 22.6 fantasy points per game is second in the league, just behind the Cowboys’ 23.1. On the passing side, Blake Bortles continues to do enough not to hurt the Jaguars offense. Bortles is my 21st rated quarterback, and ranks 23rd in fantasy points so isn’t a viable starter, especially against the 14th ranked pass defense, who rank 9th in fantasy points allowed. The Jaguars top receivers, Marquise Lee (currently questionable but likely to play) and Allen Hurns, are flex starters at best unless you’re in a deep league.
Must Starts: Melvin Gordon (RB)
Solid Options: Philip Rivers (QB), Keenan Allen (WR)
Deeper Leagues: Hunter Henry (TE), Travis Benjamin (WR), Tyrell Williams
Avoid: Chargers D/ST
Must Starts: Leonard Fournette (RB), Jaguars D/ST
Solid Options: Chris Ivory (RB)
Deeper Leagues: Marquise Lee (WR), Allen Hurns (WR)
Avoid: Blake Bortles. He might not be the problem, but he sure aint the solution either.
New York Giants (1-7) @ San Francisco 49ers (0-9)
I know what you’re thinking. Why in the world would I find this game intriguing, especially when the two teams have a combined 1-16 record and are two of the bottom four teams in the NFL? Well so the saying goes, ‘even a dead cat bounces’, so there’s still some value to be had in this match up.
Both teams are in the bottom 8 for both their offense and defense and so predicting fantasy points is tough but there is enough quality on both teams for some viable starters. For the Giants, the main man is likely to be Orleans Darkwa as the 49ers concede the most fantasy points in the league to running backs and Darkwa has been the ‘stand out’ back on the Giants’ 29th ranked rushing offense. Eli Manning ranks 22nd in fantasy points amongst quarterbacks, but has the chance to put up some points against the 49ers, who rank 24th in fantasy points allowed to receivers. That means the Giants top two (and only two) receiving options of rookie tight end Evan Engram and wideout Sterling Shepard, should be viable starters this week.
The 49ers face the Giants’ 31st ranked fantasy pass defense, though the 49ers dont have great options to take advantage of it, and the Giants welcome back Janoris Jenkins after a team suspension this week. Marquise Goodwin has big play ability at receiver, but with CJ Beathard (the least accurate passer in the league) likely to be starting his last game for the 49ers, his opportunities are likely to be limited. Carlos Hyde remains the 49ers best offensive option and is in the top 15 for rushing fantasy points in 2017. The Giants rush defense has given up the 18th most fantasy points to running backs, far from the fearsome run defense of last year.
Must Starts: Evan Engram (TE)
Solid Options: Eli Manning (QB), Orleans Darkwa (RB), Sterling Shepard (WR)
Deeper Leagues: —
Avoid: Giants D/ST
Must Starts: Carlos Hyde (RB)
Solid Options: Robbie Gould (K)
Deeper Leagues: Marquise Goodwin (WR)
Avoid: CJ Beathard (QB), 49ers D/ST