If you drafted wisely and have a strong bench, you will likely face lineup decisions on a weekly basis. Those decisions can often make or break fantasy seasons. For example, owners who started Matthew Stafford or Ryan Tannehill over Aaron Rodgers may have won in Week 9 due to a risky or bold call. However, if you decided to play Aaron Jones or Tevin Coleman over Damien Williams or Devin Singletary, the decision may have cost you a victory. It is small lineup decisions like those that can leave fantasy owners saying the dreaded words: “My bench outscored my starters.” Well in order for that not to happen, it’s vital to be aware of players drawing tough matchups who pose a significant risk to your fantasy success. Let’s take a look at several players who check that box in Week 10.
As always, I’m not telling you to sit all of these players. I am telling you to examine your bench to consider whether or not you have a better option.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (vs BUF)
It appears many fantasy owners are counting on using Mayfield as a bye week replacement for Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson or Tom Brady, as evidenced by his 73% ownership in leagues. The second-year signal caller has been a complete bust this season, failing to throw multiple touchdowns in any game this season. Mayfield did take a step forward last week against Denver ending his string of eight consecutive games with multiple interceptions.
However, the brash quarterback has failed to live up to all his preseason confidence and banter with a disappointing touchdown-to-interception ratio (seven-to-12) in eight games. In Week 10, Mayfield, who has displayed a lack of leadership by calling out his own teammates for a lack of discipline, will face a third-ranked Bills' defense that has surrendered just five touchdown passes all season.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (vs BAL)
It is always difficult to sit a player who was likely a top-30 draft pick and is averaging 15.5 touches per game, especially with six teams on bye. However, despite scoring three touchdowns this season, Mixon (owned in 98% of leagues) has failed to find the end zone on the ground in any game this season. The third-year back who has a receiving touchdown in back-to-back games has proven to be unreliable. Mixon has posted no more than seven PPR fantasy points in four-of-eight games.
On Sunday, he faces a Ravens’ defense that completely shut him down in Week 6. Baltimore limited the versatile back to just 39 total yards the last time these two teams met. The Ravens, who just handed the Patriots their first loss of the season, have only allowed one opposing running back to top 65 rushing yards all season (Nick Chubb). Mixon is a desperation flex option at best in Week 10.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (vs NO)
Freeman (owned in more than 99% of leagues) has posted double-digit PPR fantasy points in five-of-eight games this season. If we delve deeper, we discover that the veteran back has zero rushing touchdowns heading into a brutal matchup against a Saints’ defense that has held all opposing running back to less than 72 yards rushing over the past six games.
Owners should also be wary of thinking Freeman will perform in the passing game when Atlanta faces their NFC South rival New Orleans Saints. New Orleans has not allowed any opposing running back to surpass 46 receiving yards this season. With James White, Mark Ingram, Miles Sanders, Phillip Lindsay, Carlos Hyde, Leonard Fournette and Sony Michel all on bye, I understand owners will be forced to use Freeman but expectations should be tempered.
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals (vs BAL)
We learned late Wednesday that Bengals star WR AJ Green will be making his 2019 debut on Sunday versus the Ravens. This news, combined with rookie Ryan Finley making his first career start, lands Boyd (owned in 91% of leagues) atop the risky start list at the wide receiver position this week. The fourth-year wide receiver has struggled over the past three weeks with just 26.3 PPR fantasy points combined over that span. Boyd has led the Bengals in targets (30) over the last three weeks but has only managed to haul in 14 of them while failing to find the end zone.
Baltimore is the seventh-best defense against the pass, as they have only allowed eight passing touchdowns on the season. Boyd is a huge bust candidate with the expected loss in target-share to Green, as well as his performance against the Ravens back in Week 6 when he only managed three receptions for 10 yards.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs LAR)
Smith-Schuster’s production has been wildly inconsistent over the past five games after a solid first three weeks of the season. The third-year veteran, who had big expectations taking over as the top receiving option following the departure of Antonio Brown, has 16 or less receiving yards in three of his last five games. Mason Rudolph has resorted to check downs and dump offs to his running backs and tight ends, frustrating Smith-Schuster owners who have only been rewarded with one 100-plus receiving-yard game all season. In Week 10, the star wide receiver's ceiling is severely limited as he is expected to be shadowed by Rams' newly acquired CB Jalen Ramey.
Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers (vs CAR)
The star tight end, who was highlighted in this exact spot last week, disappointed as my model predicted with just 17 yards receiving against the Chargers. Graham (owned in 82% of leagues) has just one touchdown over his last five games, and has just one double-digit PPR fantasy-point performance over that same span. With the return of star wideout Davante Adams, who led all Packers with 11 targets in Week 9, the veteran tight end has lost his status as Green Bay’s top red zone target. In Week 10, he has a matchup against a Panthers' defensive unit that has not been kind to opposing tight ends. Carolina has only allowed two touchdowns to the position in 2019. Graham is probably not worthy of a starting roster spot in Week 10.
Looking for an edge? Check out the Fantasy Assistant from FullTime Fantasy. Sync with your league, and this premium tool offers personalized waiver advice, team analysis, projections, optimal lineups and trade suggestions. Got Cooper Kupp on a bye week? Fantasy Assistant can automatically help you pick the best replacement. Join now for a free seven-day trial. Use promo code sifantasy for 30% off your first month or year.