Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 10
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 10
As week 10 approaches it becomes increasingly difficult to make start/sit recommendations. By this point in the season, which players will produce and which won’t, begin to come into focus making lineup decisions a bit easier than earlier in the season. However, just as with any season, some players remain on the bubble being started in 40%-60% of leagues that have perhaps earned a higher percentage rate. These are the players I always try to highlight in this column. They are, by no means, automatic starts. They are simply players that I predict will outperform their projections and could be valuable for teams either suffering injuries to key contributors or scrambling to replace the production of players on bye. As always, view each suggestion through the prism of your own teams’ needs and if you find yourself in need of help this week, I hope this proves useful.
The following are my Start/Sit recommendations for week 10 in the NFL.
Week 10 Starts
Start Stat Percentage, Via Sleeper
Justin Fields (QB)
Chicago Bears vs. CAR (12% Start)
This suggestion comes with a huge caveat. Fields is currently limited in practice and has not been cleared to play, but after three weeks of the Tyson Bagent experiment it has become increasingly clear why Fields is and should be the starter. Bagent has filled in admirably, especially for a player who started as the third-string quarterback and had very few expectations coming into the season. But if Fields is good to go, the Bears will have no choice but to turn back to him after a week that saw Bagent throw three interceptions and fumble the ball against the New Orleans Saints in a game that proved to be very winnable. In fact, in three starts, Bagent accounted for four touchdowns compared to six turnovers. That’s not to mention the number of passes that could’ve been intercepted but weren’t. In the two games prior to getting injured Fields was playing very good football, throwing eight touchdowns and only one interception, with finishes of QB3 and QB1. If Fields does play, he will do so against a 1-7 Panthers team. While Carolina has been more vulnerable on the ground than through the air, as a running quarterback, Fields could put up solid numbers using both his legs and arm. There is some risk to inserting Fields into your lineup on his first week back but if you have Fields then over the last few weeks you’ve likely been relying on a waiver wire pickup, and with names like Mahomes, Tagovailoa, and Jalen Hurts on bye, Fields could be a must-start.
Jared Goff (QB)
Detroit Lions vs. LAC (6% Start)
This start percentage could be influenced by the fact that Goff is coming off a bye, but even before his bye Goff was not being started in as many leagues as you would expect a player currently in the top-12 at the position to be started in. Admittedly, Goff has had a bit of an up-and-down season, but more often than not he has been worth starting. In eight weeks, Goff has three top-6 QB finishes and has thrown 12 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Throughout the season, Goff has also had to deal with injuries to key skill players with David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Amon-Ra St. Brown all missing time this season. Coming off the bye, Goff should once again have a full complement of weapons at his disposal, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. In week 10, Goff gets to face a Chargers defense that is bottom four against opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers allowing 21 and 39.3 points to the positions respectively. With Detroit also being vulnerable through the air Goff could find himself in a shootout which would play right into the hands of anyone who chooses to take the chance on playing him. Another game that sees Goff throw 40-50 times, over 300 yards, and multiple touchdowns is not out of the question.
D’Onta Foreman (RB)/Khalil Herbert (RB)
Chicago Bears vs. CAR (21%/4%)
If I knew that Herbert was for sure going to miss week 10 then Foreman would be alone here, but since there are reports that Herbert could be activated off the injured reserve as early as this week I am throwing him in as well. If Herbert is available, you should assume the team deems him healthy enough to be out there and in that scenario, I would expect him to retake lead duties in this backfield. Before Herbert went down with an ankle injury he was averaging 5.3 yards per carry and had 28 carries combined in his last two games. He was also receiving work in the passing game with eight targets over that same span, so it would not be surprising to see a Bears team that is struggling for offensive output lean on a healthy Herbert. If Herbert is out, then Foreman becomes a guy you should look to start. Foreman hasn’t exactly lit up the stat sheet over the last four weeks, but he did manage an RB1 finish in week 7 against the Las Vegas Raiders with 31.5 points. Regardless of who the starting back is for the Bears on Thursday, they should be able to find success against a Carolina team that allows the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Foreman showed what he can do against a weak run defense and Herbert, who is a more talented and complete running back, should be able to find even more success. Both would be RB2s with upside this week.
Brian Robinson (RB)
Washington Commanders vs. SEA (45% Start)
Brian Robinson has had an up-and-down season, not just in production, but also in usage. This discrepancy seems to be directly linked to whether the Commanders can keep things close or if they are playing catch up. In competitive contests, Robinson gets double-digit touches and in less competitive games he does not. But Robinson is still RB9 on the season in half-PPR formats and over the last couple of weeks he has had 31 touches. With an emerging Sam Howell and all pass-catchers beginning to warm up, the Commanders should be able to keep things close against one of the most surprising 5-3 teams in the NFL. This should mean another 15-20 touches for Robinson and although he has lacked efficiency, he has been able to find success in plus matchups. The Seahawks are currently allowing over 23 fantasy points to opposing running backs, so as long as Robinson is the lead running back for the Commanders he is a worthy start. Robinson is not the type of running back to win you a week. He only has one 20+ game on the season, but he has also proven to have a solid floor in those games where he sees a significant amount of work. Week 10 should be one such game. Robinson is a good RB2 this week.
Christian Kirk (WR)
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. SF (11% Start)
Like Jared Goff, Kirk’s starting percentage on Sleeper is most likely because he is coming out of a bye week, but there’s also a good chance that after a down week in week 8, Kirk is not starting in as many leagues as he should be. Still, Kirk should continue to be in lineups. Out of eight games, Kirk has had double-digit fantasy points in six of them. The usage has been trending in the wrong direction with him being the 2nd or 3rd option in the passing game all of his last three games, but I expect that to correct itself as early as week 10. Kirk remains a player that QB Trevor Lawrence trusts, and while he won’t have many weeks where he’s the first option on this team he should settle into a WR2 role in both real and fantasy football. The matchup may scare some away from putting Kirk into their lineup but it shouldn’t. San Francisco has been a friendly matchup for opposing wide receivers allowing the fifth most fantasy points to the position. The Jaguars could also find themselves in catchup mode against a 49ers offense that can put up points in a hurry. If that’s the case there should be plenty of targets to go around, making Kirk a viable WR2 with some upside this week.
Jahan Dotson (WR)
Washington Commanders vs. SEA (38% Start)
Up until the last couple of weeks, Dotson looked like a complete bust. A popular preseason breakout pick, Dotson failed to score more than 11 points in any of his first seven games, even putting up a goose egg in week 6. Still, Dotson has emerged from the ashes to turn his sophomore campaign around with 18 targets over the last two weeks, two touchdowns, two top-10 finishes, and totals of 20.8 and 14.9. The production has been great to see, but the utilization is even more encouraging. This is especially so when you consider the fact that through the first six weeks, Dotson saw eight targets just once, but has reached that mark in both of the last two weeks. I understand some hesitancy with Dotson, but if he is going to continue to see 8-12 targets a game, his production and chances of scoring a touchdown will continue to increase. He is still the No. 2 option behind Terry McLaurin, but that gap is beginning to close and instead of a true WR1 and WR2, the tandem is developing into more of a WR1A and WR1B. He now gets to face a Seattle defense that is allowing nearly 38 points to wide receivers, and even that number is a bit skewed low, with matches against the Panthers, the Giants, a P.J. Walker-led Browns team, and the Cardinals. Feel free to start Dotson as a WR2 with upside.
Dalton Schultz (TE)
Houston Texans vs. CIN (42% Start)
Through eight weeks, Schultz has four top-6 finishes at the tight end position and four finishes outside the top-25, but those four top-6 finishes all came over the last five weeks. Like any tight end, Schultz’s success is linked (at least somewhat) to his quarterback and if we continue to see a version of C.J. Stroud even remotely close to what we saw this past Sunday then Schultz needs to be in starting lineups. Stroud was electric against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a record-breaking performance that saw all pass catchers benefit as a result, including Schultz who caught 10 of his 11 targets for 130 yards and a touchdown. This was good enough to make him the TE1 on the week. As a defense, the Bengals have been pretty solid overall, but they are allowing more fantasy points to tight ends than any other team, with opposing tight ends putting up 16 points a game on them. Schultz has at least seven targets in half of his games this season and has found the end zone four times in the last five weeks. With Joe Burrow playing like Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense starting to play up to their potential the Texans could find themselves in a shootout. Stroud looks like the real deal and should continue to support multiple fantasy assets. There are always going to be up-and-down weeks at the tight end position, but Schultz’s upside should be enough to keep him in lineups. Start him with confidence.
Week 10 Sits
Lamar Jackson (QB)
Baltimore Ravens vs. CLE (94% Start)
I know the idea of sitting Jackson sounds ludicrous and the reality is if you have Jackson on your team you likely don’t have a better option. If you drafted Jackson and later picked up a player like Goff or Stroud as a backup just to see what happens with them, I would consider starting either of them in Jackson’s place. Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are playing winning football. They are currently 7-2 and sit atop the AFC North, but recently the team’s success has not been translating to fantasy success for Jackson. After starting the season with three top-10 finishes in four weeks, Jackson has only hit that mark twice over the last five and has failed to hit 20 points four times over that same span. He does still provide a decent floor with his legs rushing 10 times for 60 yards in week 9, but the rushing touchdowns have not been there. Since week 4 Jackson only has one rushing touchdown, and he has thrown for fewer than 200 yards each of the last two games. That’s not going to cut it. Jackson will now face the second most stingy defense to opposing quarterbacks, only allowing 13 points to the position. With the Ravens being the #1 defense against quarterbacks this could be a very low-scoring affair which would not bode well for fantasy. You likely have to start Jackson if you have him, but, in week 10, be sure to temper expectations.
Gus Edwards (RB)
Baltimore Ravens vs. CLE (58% Start)
Gus Edwards has been incredible in recent weeks with six rushing touchdowns over the last three weeks and finishes as the RB6, RB1, and RB7. He has also averaged over five yards a carry during that span and played a key role in the success of the Ravens in those games, two of which were blowouts. Still, there are reasons for concern. First, week 9 was the Justice Hill show. Hill saw 63% of the snaps (compared to just 18% for Edwards) and almost tripled Edwards’ touches. Although Hill did not do much with those touches it’s still a red flag to see him get most of the work. There’s also the emergence of rookie Keaton Mitchell. Mitchell was not on the field much in this one, also seeing just 18% of snaps, but he looked like the most electric player and was the most productive with his touches breaking off a 60-yard run and a 40-yard touchdown run. It is not hard to imagine head coach John Harbaugh turning to Mitchell more in the near future. It’s also possible that the Raven’s backfield becomes the dreaded three-headed committee, making it impossible to know which player will produce every week. My money is on Mitchell continuing to get more involved and, if he continues to look as good as he did on Sunday, take over this backfield completely. As the goal line back there is still value in Edwards but against a Cleveland defense that is top-5 against running backs, and in a game that could be low-scoring, playing a player that needs a touchdown to make it worth the risk is not something I’d be willing to do. Edwards should be on your bench this week.
Alexander Mattison (RB)
Minnesota Vikings vs. NO (47% Start)
Mattison is currently a top-25 running back in half-PPR formats (just barely) but if you are a Mattison owner, how he has gotten there has been frustrating. In nine weeks, Mattison only has two top-10 finishes, finishing anywhere from RB17-RB52 the rest of the time. Fortunately, the volume has been there with Mattison getting at least 17 touches in three of the last four weeks. He just hasn’t been very efficient or good for fantasy with those touches, averaging fewer than three yards a carry in three of the last four games. It is possible with Joshua Dobbs taking over quarterback duties after Kirk Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles injury and with Mattison’s teammate Cam Akers suffering what is likely to be a career-ending Achilles tear of his own, that Mattison becomes even more involved. What remains to be seen, though, is whether higher volume will translate to better fantasy production. I have my doubts. While what Dobbs was able to do on Sunday was impressive, the Vikings offense will take a step back with Dobbs leading it. The good news is it should be much better than it would’ve been had rookie Jaren Hall taken over for the rest of the season. Still, with only one game with double-digit fantasy points over the last four weeks, I would not expect much this week when Mattison faces a New Orleans Saints run defense that is third-best. If you are without Pacheco, Mostert, or Swift this week due to a bye or have suffered injuries at the position and are forced to play Mattison, I understand. Just sit back and hope he falls into the end zone, because without a touchdown you’ll be disappointed. For everyone else, if you don’t have to play him, don’t.
Davante Adams (WR)
Las Vegas Raiders vs. NYJ (98% Start)
This suggestion falls into the “I know you can’t possibly sit him but if you could it might be advisable” category. 2023 has been a very odd season for Davante Adams. He has not had a top-12 finish at the position since week 3 and from weeks 4-9 has finished outside the top-20 every week and outside the top-40 four times. This is not what we have come to expect from Adams and any way you look at it, Adams has been a bust. The Raiders are a struggling 4-5 team and while the hopes were that Jimmy Garoppolo could keep things rolling, that has not been the case. So much so that in week 9 they made the switch to rookie Aidan O’Connell. As bad as it has been with Garoppolo, things may get worse with O’Connell. In O’Connell’s two starts this season Adams has 20 targets but only 16.9 total fantasy points. O’Connell has also failed to hit 10 fantasy points in either of those games. With O’Connell leading the charge the Raiders are likely to lean heavily on Josh Jacobs and the run game. In O’Connell’s two starts, Jacobs has 51 total touches, with 43 of those being carries. O’Connell simply doesn’t throw the ball down the field, so dump-offs to Jacobs and slant routes by Jakobi Meyers are what we are likely to see moving forward. The volume simply will not be there and in a week 10 matchup against the best defense against opposing wide receivers, I would be looking for pivot options if I had them.
Zay Flowers (WR)
Baltimore Ravens vs. CLE (70% Start)
Is it becoming obvious that I don’t have high hopes for the Ravens’ fantasy prospects this week? For some reason, as the season has progressed Flowers has become a player fantasy managers consider an automatic start, but I’m not sure I understand why. Through nine weeks Flowers has two double-digit games and one top-15 performance. He’s also only seen 14 targets over the last three weeks, and Lamar Jackson has been performing (from a fantasy perspective) far under expectation recently. Besides that, this is still a run-heavy team, with more rush attempts than passes in all but two games this season, and tight end Mark Andrews is still the first read in this offense. Being the No. 2 option in a low-volume passing game on a run-heavy team is not usually a recipe for success. Plus, he is still a rookie. A very talented one who looks ready for Primetime, but a rookie. There are brighter days ahead for Flowers, but they are more likely to come in 2024 than 2023, and certainly, not this week when he faces a Browns defense allowing the second-fewest points to opposing wide receivers. This contest has the making of an old-school, low-scoring affair. I’ve already mentioned that I don’t expect much out of Lamar Jackson this week and if he, once again, underperforms then the rookie wideout from Boston College is bound to disappoint. Get him out of your lineups.
Evan Engram (TE)
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. SF (15% Start)
Seeing as how Engram is owned in 92% of leagues, I’m guessing his starting percentage is largely because he’s coming off a bye week. I expect once games are played his starting percentage will be much higher than 15%, but I would avoid him if possible this week. This isn’t about the player or the usage. Engram is a top-12 fantasy tight end through nine weeks of the football season. He has yet to score a touchdown and his yardage totals leave something to be desired, but he is getting a lot of targets and catching a lot of balls. Engram has at least seven targets in every game since week 1. Those targets should continue on Sunday. I’m just not sure how successful he will be with them. The Jaguars had week 9 off, giving them time to figure some things out. I expect both Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk to get more involved coming out of the bye which could lead to lower volume for Engram. The matchup is also not a favorable one. The 49ers are a top-8 unit against opposing tight ends but are a bottom-five team against wide receivers. This should funnel the ball to the wide receivers and away from the Engram. I’m not saying Engram will lay an egg, and if all you need from the tight end position is 5-7 points then he will do in a pinch. But there are players emerging with more touchdown upside and in better matchups that if you can afford to seek other options, I would.
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A die hard Bears fan and fantasy sports fantastic, T.J. Besler earned his journalism (and theatre) degree from The University of Iowa. When he isn’t busy writing parodies for his YouTube channel Parodies for Charities he can be found either on stage performing or doing all things fantasy football related. Besler has traveled to nearly all 50 states either for work or leisure, and is grateful to everyone who has helped him along the way, especially his lovely wife Elsa, without whom much of this would not be possible. BEAR DOWN!