Welcome back to the Rookie Report! If you're like me, you're going to need fantasy football to distract you from the nightmare our country brought down on us on election night. We're getting close to the final playoff push, so if you're not mathematically eliminated from contention yet, keep grinding. You might just wind up fighting your way back in. There are a few more byes to get through this week, so fill-ins might be necessary again, and as usual there are a few rookies who may be able to help. Let's dig into this week's matchups:
Rookies to Start:
QB Dak Prescott, DAL (Wk. 10: @Pit.): Dak is fresh off his best career fantasy game last week against Cleveland. The Steelers certainly boast a better defense than the Browns, but they will still struggle to slow down the Cowboys’ rushing attack, which will open things up for Dak to be able to throw the ball once again. Prescott has scored at least 17 fantasy points (all point totals from ESPN standard scoring) in every game after week 1, and he should again be a top-12 option this week, especially with Stafford, Carr, Luck and Tyrod all on bye.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (Wk. 10: @Pit.): As mentioned above, the Cowboys should be able to run the ball on Pittsburgh. You know what to do with Zeke. The Steelers have allowed the 4th-most RB fantasy points per game despite allowing just 3 points to the Ravens’ backs last weekend. Zeke should be a no-brainer RB1 this week.
RB Jordan Howard, CHI (Wk. 10: @TB): Howard regained his stranglehold on the Bears’ lead back role after shredding the Vikings on Monday Night Football before the bye week. Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford will probably see a little bit of work, but Howard should see the bulk of it. Tampa Bay has allowed at least 14 fantasy points to opposing RBs in every single game this season. Howard should be a locked-and-loaded RB2 in this plus matchup.
RB Devontae Booker, DEN (Wk. 10: @NO): Booker was less than impressive in a good matchup with the Raiders last weekend, and his backup Kapri Bibbs shined in a limited role. While Bibbs may have earned more work, Booker should still be the lead back and see 60%+ of the RB work. That should be plenty to do damage with against New Orleans. The Saints just got done making DuJuan Harris the RB7 last week, and for the season have allowed the 2nd-most RB fantasy points per game and rank 25th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat, which measures defensive efficiency. Booker should be well worth a start as a low-end RB2 or high-end flex.
QB Carson Wentz, PHI (Wk. 10: vs. Atl.): Wentz has struggled mightily of late with just 2 TDs and 5 turnovers in his past 4 starts, but the Falcons just might cure what ails him. The Falcons have allowed the most QB fantasy points per game, and have allowed 24 points or more to the opposing signal-caller in 6 of their 9 games this season. Wentz hasn’t scored more than 12 in any of the past 4 games, but he has a great shot to break out of that funk this week. He should be a high-end QB2.
RB Rob Kelley, WAS (Wk. 10: vs. Min.): Kelley has been named the Washington starting RB for week 10 against Minnesota. He stole Matt Jones’s job ahead of the team’s bye week with a strong performance against the Bengals while Jones sat with an injury. The Vikings have shown some vulnerability vs. the run lately, being shredded by Jordan Howard on Monday Night Football in week 8 and then allowing Theo Riddick to put up 70 yards on 14 carries last week. Despite those two down weeks, the Vikings still rank 9th in run defense DVOA, and I don’t expect Matt Jones to completely disappear from the rotation. I like the Minnesota run defense to get back on track, but Kelley’s expected volume in a tough matchup will make him a decent flex play option this week. I’d be less excited to run him out as my RB2.
RB Peyton Barber, TB (Wk. 10: vs. Chi.): This outlook hinges on Doug Martin’s status for week 10. Martin feels optimistic that he’ll be able to go, but it’s certainly not definitive. The team is already without Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith, so there isn’t much else there if Martin is out again. The matchup isn’t a good one this week, as the Bears surprisingly have allowed the 3rd-fewest RB fantasy points per game, and have held opposing backs to single-digit points in 4 of their past 5. Because of the tough matchup, I’d lean toward avoiding Barber, but you could do worse if you are in a tight spot this week and Martin does in fact sit again.
WR Corey Coleman, CLE (Wk. 10: @Bal.): Coleman’s return to action was less than stellar, but he did see 7 targets as he shook off the rust of a lengthy layoff. He stepped right back into a big role in the offense, and coach Hue Jackson talked about wanting Kessler to throw deep more often and Coleman has averaged 21.4 yards per catch so far. While the Ravens have been solid against the deep ball (they rank 2nd in pass defense DVOA on deep throws), they’ve still allowed the 3rd-most WR points per game in the league. Coleman is an upside WR3 option this week.
WR Sterling Shepard, NYG (Wk. 10: vs. Cin.): Shepard finally returned to the end zone last week, and his target share has remained consistent (6-8 targets every game since week 1). The Bengals’ defense has limited WR points this year, but they rank just 24th in pass defense DVOA. Shep remains a viable WR3 option this week, and is actually a pretty good one if Victor Cruz misses this game with an ankle sprain.
WR Will Fuller, HOU (Wk. 10: @Jax.): Fuller has been fighting through a leg injury the past couple weeks, but seems to be on track to play in week 10. He’ll return to boom-or-bust WR3/4 status if he’s a go. The Jaguars have limited big pass plays a little bit. Only 2 teams have allowed fewer passes of 20+ yards than Jacksonville, but the Jags rank a miserable 30th in pass defense DVOA on deep throws. There is upside here, but if you own Fuller you are well aware of the risk he brings as well.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Cody Kessler, CLE (Wk. 10: @Bal.): Kessler is nothing more than a desperation QB2 option this week. He’s topped 13 points just once in 4 full games, and the Ravens have an above-average pass defense, allowing the 12th-fewest QB points per game. There are a couple reasons for optimism for Kessler…his receiving corps is back at full strength, and coach Hue Jackson has said he wants Kessler to take more shots downfield. The question is whether or not those deep shots will be successful. Kessler has connected on just 4 of 16 throws that traveled 20+ yards downfield, and as mentioned earlier, the Ravens rank 2nd in pass defense DVOA on deep throws. I don’t forsee this being the week where he gets the downfield game going.
RB CJ Prosise, SEA (Wk. 10: @NE): There are bright spots to mention for CJ this week. He played more than 50% of the Seahawks’ RB snaps on Monday night, and the Patriots have allowed the 3rd-most receptions to running backs in the league. Coach Pete Carroll also said he’d like to get him more work going forward. In spite of his increasing playing time, however, Prosise has topped 1 fantasy point just once all year. I would expect Christine Michael to get more work this week than he got on Monday night. You’re really just buying into coachspeak to expect a productive game out of Prosise this week.
RB Derrick Henry, TEN (Wk. 10: vs. GB): Henry seems unlikely to play as he battles through a calf injury suffered in pre-game warmups last weekend. The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Henry. He had just had his best game of the season the week before, and seemed poised to take a bigger role in the offense. If he is able to play this week, I expect him to have a very limited role, and the Packers allow the 6th fewest RB points per game in the league.
WR Michael Thomas, NO (Wk. 10: vs. Den.): I will probably get some flak for this call, but I wouldn’t feel great starting Thomas this week. I know, he’s been on an absolute tear with 60+ yards and/or a TD in 6 straight games, propelling him to top-15 WR status for the season. I also know that Drew Brees is an animal at home, averaging 382 yards and 3 TDs per game in the Superdome this year. Despite those numbers, the Broncos’ defense is stifling against WRs. They allow the fewest points per game to the position, and allow a full FIVE points per game less than the next best team. Look, you might not have a better option than Thomas, and he does get the best matchup of the Saints’ WRs, expecting to match up most with Bradley Roby. There is a chance that Thomas has an ok game. I’m listing him as a player to sit just to stress how concerning the matchup is this week. If you have other decent options, I’d play them.
WR Tajae Sharpe, TEN (Wk. 10: vs. GB): Even against what has been a crumbling Green Bay secondary, Sharpe just doesn’t have the ceiling to warrant a start. He’s had 2 games in the past 3 weeks with 4 catches and just under 60 yards, but they were his best 2 games since week 1. Rishard Matthews and Kendall Wright are both better options this week. Sharpe’s production has been trending in the right direction, but he’s just not to a point where he’s startable yet.
WRs Robby Anderson & Jalin Marshall, NYJ (Wk. 10: vs. LA): Marshall had a solid outing last weekend with a 3-59-1 output in week 9, but he ran just 11 routes in the entire game. Anderson has been playing far more snaps than Marshall, but he appears to be locked in at about 4-40 each week. Their roles will be clouded further with Devin Smith being activated from the PUP list this week. The matchup is actually decent in week 10, as the Rams have been significantly worse vs. WRs on the road than at home (They allow 31 fantasy points per game to the position on the road and 14 per game at home), but it would be really hard for me to rely on any Jets’ receiver not named Brandon Marshall this week.
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN (Wk. 10: @NYG): Boyd has maintained a role in the offense after the return of Tyler Eifert, but he’s still a guy you shouldn’t be starting. He’s reached 5 fantasy points just twice all year, and the Giants rank 10th in pass defense DVOA.
TE Austin Hooper, ATL (Wk. 10: @Phi.): I liked Hooper last week, and he rewarded you by turning 6 targets into 3-46-1 if you gave him a shot, but I don’t have as rosy an outlook for him this week. As I mentioned last week, Jacob Tamme was leading the league in red zone targets before getting hurt, and Hooper will have a significant role if Tamme is out again. The matchup is much tougher this week though. Philly has given up just 2 TE scores all season, and hasn’t allowed 60 yards to the position in any game this year. There just isn’t a lot of upside for Hooper this week, and you can likely find a better streaming option on the wire.
TE Tyler Higbee, LA (Wk. 10: @NYJ): Don’t get excited about Higbee’s season-high 7 targets or 31 yards last week. He still only caught one of those 7 targets, and has hauled in just 3-of-14 targets on the year. The Jets do allow the 9th-most TE fantasy points per game, but it’ll be Lance Kendricks who benefits from the matchup, not Higbee.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Kenneth Dixon, BAL (Wk. 10: vs. Cle.): Dixon’s increased workload didn’t go quite as planned in week 9. He definitely got more work, tallying 9 touches, but he turned them into just 13 yards against the Steelers. Luckily for him, Terrance West wasn’t much better with 27 yards on 16 touches. The matchup gets much juicier this week. The Browns have allowed 101 RB points in the past 3 games. If Dixon again approaches double-digit touches, he could be a usable flex option.
RB Paul Perkins, NYG (Wk. 10: vs. Cin.): Perkins isn’t quite startable yet, but he has reached the point where he is definitely worth a stash. He finally started to see a bigger share of the work last week, and while he got off to a slow start, he played a big part in salting the game away late. He hasn’t quite overtaken Rashad Jennings yet, but the Bengals rank 22nd in run defense DVOA and have allowed 24 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs in their past 4 contests. Perkins will get an opportunity to impress in this one, and it could earn him more work going forward.
WR Tyreek Hill, KC (Wk. 10: @Car.): Although he had a down game last week with Nick Foles starting, Hill has proven to have a consistent role in the Kansas City offense. It looks likely that Jeremy Maclin will miss this week’s game, and that should mean in increase in targets for Hill. The Panthers’ secondary has predictably fallen apart after losing Josh Norman, Bene Benwikere and Charles Tillman and replacing them with a bunch of rookies. Carolina is allowing the 6th-most WR points per game, and ranks just 30th in pass defense DVOA on short throws, which are in Hill’s wheelhouse. Hill ranks just 92nd amongst WRs in air yards per target. He also has been targeted on 20% of the snaps he’s played, and he should certainly play more of them with Maclin out. Hill is a great cheap DFS option this week, and could be a solid flex in deep leagues.
WR Roger Lewis Jr., NYG (Wk. 10: vs. Cin.): Lewis could have some value this week if Victor Cruz does indeed sit out against Cincy. The Giants run more 3-WR sets than anyone, with 3 different WRs playing over 85% of the possible snaps this year. I would expect that to continue even if Cruz sits. Lewis has already scored 2 TDs on just 6 targets this season, and he would be thrust into a nearly every down role if Cruz is out. He’s probably a better option as a cheap DFS tournament play than for season-long leagues, but he’s got upside to have a surprising game this week.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully, it helps you with the tough lineup decisions this week. Keep an eye on the injury report and make sure you don't play anybody who's not suiting up. If you have any specific questions or want to yell at me about anything included above, feel free to reach out via twitter and let me know (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.