Week 10 is upon us. There are four teams—the Ravens, Broncos, Texans and Vikings—on bye, and several big injuries—to A.J. Green, Chris Carson and Rob Gronkowski, just to name three—that may have fantasy owners scrambling for decent replacements this week.
A great way to identify a potential spot start is to leverage 4for4’s signature strength-of-schedule metric, adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA). Many sites publish raw fantasy points allowed by position, but 4for4 goes a step further and adjusts those numbers for a defense’s relative year-to-date schedule strength. So if a defense has seen a murderer’s row of running backs, it will be reflected in the defense’s aFPA. As a ranker, I use this metric weekly when putting together our award-winning projections.
Last week, I discussed Ryan Fitzpatrick, Baker Mayfield, Alex Smith, Duke Johnson, Tre’Quan Smith, Tyrell Williams, Josh Doctson, Chris Herndon and Jordan Thomas in this space. Let’s see if we can dig up a few more gems for Week 10.
Marcus Mariota, Titans (vs. Patriots, 25th in QB aFPA)
Mariota came out of his bye fully healthy and had a nice fantasy day against the Cowboys, throwing for 240 yards and two scores, while adding 32 yards and another score as a runner. The visiting Patriots have given up an average of 314 yards and 2.0 touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers, Derek Anderson/Nathan Peterman, Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes in recent weeks. Obviously, Rodgers and Mahomes are two of the best fantasy quarterbacks in the game, but Trubisky is a pretty similar to Mariota—they’re both dual threats—and he managed 333 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 81 yards and a touchdown on the ground against the Patriots in Week 7.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars (at Colts, 28th in QB aFPA)
After getting benched in Week 7, Bortles bounced back with a pretty good outing against the Eagles, throwing for 286 yards and a touchdown, and running for 43 more yards. In his last four games against the Colts, he has averaged 19.9 fantasy points and has thrown for 300 or more yards three times. The Colts’ defense is better this year, but they recently gave up 244 yards and three scores to Derek Carr, and 280 yards and a touchdown to Sam Darnold.
Mike Davis, Seahawks (at Rams, 11th in RB aFPA)
Keep an eye on Chris Carson (hip) this week. If he can’t play, then Davis should see the lion’s share of the touches against the Rams. If the Seahawks are going to pull off the upset, they’re going to need to control the clock, and that means running the ball. The Rams gave up 152 total yards and three scores to New Orleans running backs last week, after yielding 101 total yards and two scores to Green Bay running backs in Week 8. Rashaad Penny could get more involved, but Davis has out-touched Penny by a 4.5 to 1 ratio (33-7) in the last two games.
Duke Johnson, Browns (vs. Falcons, 24th in RB aFPA)
In his first game with a new offensive coordinator, Johnson didn’t get any additional work as a runner (one carry for eight yards against the Chiefs), but he was a frequent target in the passing game, often in plays designed to get him the ball as the primary target. Expecting another 9-78-2 against the Falcons is foolhardy, but he should be able to catch five-plus passes fairly easily.
Dede Westbrook & Donte Moncrief, Jaguars (at Colts, 24th in WR aFPA)
Keelan Cole fumbled for the second time in three weeks against the Eagles and only played 23% of the snaps, as D.J. Chark saw his snaps increase from 44% in Week 7 to 75% in Week 8. This means that Westbrook and Moncrief should be safer starts since they are more established in the offense. Moncrief will face his old team for the first time, bringing the always-fun revenge game factor into the mix. Westbrook has been the most consistent receiver in this offense, posting 8.5 or more fantasy points (PPR) in six of eight games thus far.
John Ross, Bengals (vs. Saints, 32nd in WR aFPA)
Ross is coming off a groin injury, so he’s a little dicey from a health standpoint, but the Bengals are going to need him to play quite a bit with A.J. Green out for a few weeks. If he’s a full participant in practice, he’ll be worth a spot start in a great matchup against the Saints.
Vance McDonald, Steelers (vs. CAR, 32nd in TE aFPA)
McDonald didn’t do much last week against the Ravens, but he was targeted six times and played 63% of the snaps, so he remains a big part of Pittsburgh’s potent offense. The Panthers are last in the league in TE aFPA, making this a better matchup than it might appear at first glance.
Ricky Seals-Jones, Cardinals (at Chiefs, 28th in TE aFPA)
Seals-Jones is playing a lot and has seen 16 targets in his last three games. This game is likely to get out of hand quickly, so the Cardinals will probably throw the ball more than they’d like. Who knows, maybe Seals-Jones will find the end zone for the first time since Week 3. The volume is certainly trustworthy enough to make him a solid long-range play in Week 10.