The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 10 2020
I think that is the one-word summation of the 2020 Fantasy Football season. In my personal life, the country abroad, my leagues and on social media - things have been utterly chaotic. In certain aspects, chaos can be a good thing - it ensures that complacency and boredom doesn't set in, and reinforces the idea of thinking on one's feet and preparing for any and all circumstances. Mostly, chaos is a nuisance. I don't even have to start with the chaos that COVID-19 has caused this year in Fantasy Football - attempting to juggle lineups has proven difficult, to say that least.
Week 9 around the league? No different. Chaos ensued both on and off the field, both in terms of injuries and underperformance. As we nudge ever closer to the playoffs in a few weeks, remember to stay on your toes and remain active - and as always stay tuned to my articles and Twitter account for all the latest news around the league and lineup recommendations.
Packers 34, 49ers 17
The question of "Can Nick Mullens be a serviceable starter in the absence of Jimmy Garoppolo" was quickly put to rest with a resounding NO. San Francisco was dealt a difficult hand due to COVID concerns, and was forced to play without both Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne due to a false-positive test where they couldn't be legally reactivated by game time. This forced Mullens to throw the ball to Richie James (9/184/1) early and often. It was expected with Raheem Mostert out that JaMycal Hasty would get the start for San Francisco, but Jerick McKinnon led the backfield in touches, and came through with a late garbage-time touchdown. Moving forward McKinnon is a PPR FLEX option and Hasty can be dropped.
Aaron Rodgers feasted in this one (25 completions for 305 yards and four touchdowns) and brought Green Bay out to an unsurmountable lead early on that the team wouldn't relinquish. Davante Adams (10/173/1) ran roughshod over the porous 49ers defense, and for most of the game actually outpaced the other team's total yards. Aaron Jones was a surprise active - many assumed that Tyler Ervin would see the bulk of carries. Jones finished with 20 touches and almost 80 all-purpose yards.
Waiver Wire Targets: None
Giants 23, Football Team 20
Fun statistic? Daniel Jones has only beaten one team in his NFL career - Washington. That is it. Every other contest he's lost. To his credit, this marked the first game in 2020 that Jones didn't commit a turnover, and led by the strength of their defense, Big Blue took home the victory in this one. Sterling Shepard struggled against a tough Washington secondary, catching six passes for just 39 yards. Evan Engram should have posted bigger numbers, but multiple dropped passes continue to haunt him. Even with his issues, Engram's 5/48/1 line will make him a top-5 tight end option most weeks. And that says something. With Golden Tate staying in New York for disciplinary reasons undrafted rookie Austin Mack caught four passes for 72 yards, leading the team in receiving. Darrius Slayton was held in check - he remains a boom-or-bust WR3.
Washington quarterback Kyle Allen suffered a horrific ankle injury that will force him to miss the remainder of 2020, thrusting Alex Smith in as the team's starting option. Though he's a great comeback story, it is difficult to envision Smith on any viable Fantasy roster. Washington has three viable players - Terry McLaurin (7/115/1), Antonio Gibson (I'd view him as a RB3/FLEX) and J.D. McKissic (RB3 in PPR formats). Gibson is the more talented player (as I've said a billion times on Twitter), but this coaching staff feels that McKissic is the superior receiving option. Why that is the case? I have no idea. Gibson played receiver at Memphis in college, one would imagine that he'd be more adept at it. Game script will determine which back is on the field.
Waiver Wire Targets: I don't think that Austin Mack needs to be added immediately per se, but see what his role is once Tate comes back. He's a bigger, faster option who could potentially make a splash.
Falcons 34, Broncos 27
What do you know, the Falcons CAN hold a lead. Kind of. Up 20-3 at halftime, Atlanta eased off of the gas pedal in the final two quarters, which allowed Drew Lock to once again go into full-time garbage mode. Lock's 313 passing yards and two touchdowns look good on paper, but he is quickly turning into Blake Bortles 2.0 (that isn't a compliment). It was good to see Jerry Jeudy finally break out of his funk - he turned 14 targets into 7 receptions for 125 yards and a score. Jeudy is amazingly elusive and a delight to watch. Noah Fant was expected to have a big game in a prime matchup, then promptly re-injured his ankle three minutes into the game and hobbled around the remaining four quarters. He has been quite frustrating to own.
No Calvin Ridley? No problem. Matt Ryan spread the ball around to his receivers, with four players seeing more than five targets each. Julio Jones finished with 5/54/1, Hayden Hurst went 7/62 and Olamide Zaccheaus led the way with 4/103/1. Odd man out yet again was Russell Gage - he was inefficient when targeted and at this point, I have zero faith in playing him. I'd assume that Zacchaeus has taken his place as the WR3 in Atlanta. Todd Gurley's Fantasy value continues to be tied to finding the end zone, and his usage as a receiver continues to be lackluster.
Waiver Wire Targets: Zaccheaus can be taken a chance upon in 14-team leagues or larger as a bye-week FLEX start.
Bills 44, Seahawks 34
Contests living up to their hype is always enjoyable, especially when it is a matchup of two Super Bowl-hopeful squads. It is rare to write "Russell Wilson was outplayed"… yet that actually occurred this week by Josh Allen. Allen was simply dominant against the Seattle defense, completing 31-of-38 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns, adding another 14 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. THIS is the Allen that owners have been clamoring for, and the same one that had him as an early MVP candidate. As expected, this was a great game for both Stefon Diggs (9/118) and John Brown (8/99). Gabriel Davis made me raise an eyebrow on several plays - he's a dynamic option. Oddly enough, the Bills did absolutely nothing on the ground, rushing for just 34 yards on 19 carries.
To his credit (and before we get into any criticism), Wilson threw for almost 400 yards and had three total touchdowns. It is unfair to insinuate that Seattle lost because he played poorly, or anything of the like. However, Wilson's desire to extend plays led to several sacks and unforced turnovers. He will need to be slightly more decisive and have his offensive line perform better moving forward. D.K. Metcalf (7/108/1) continues to dominate, with Tyler Lockett playing the Robin to his Batman. Lockett's erratic usage is baffling.
Waiver Wire Targets: None
Titans 24, Bears 17
Yet another game where the final score wasn't indicative of 95 percent of the actual game. The Bears continue to flounder away their 2020 season, and at this point I'm unsure if anyone other than Allen Robinson (7/81) and Jimmy Graham (6/55/1) are startable on a weekly basis. Others will suggest Darnell Mooney is an option to consider, but he's an inefficient deep threat on a defensive-oriented team. Call me a skeptic. David Montgomery continues to plod along - he suffered a concussion during the fourth quarter, which led to Ryan Nall catching dump off passes in mop up duty.
The Titans offense was stuck in neutral for the vast majority of this game, and Ryan Tannehill struggled to find any open receivers against a stout Chicago defense. With Derrick Henry averaging barely 2.5 YPC, Tennessee relied upon Nick Foles making mistakes and field position to win the game - and it worked. Corey Davis had his double-digit point streak snapped in PPR leagues - better days are ahead for him. A.J. Brown was the sold standout here with a 4/101/1 line.
Waiver Wire Targets: Monitor the health status of David Montgomery and his availability in concussion protocol. Ryan Nall would be a Hail Mary FLEX against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10 if he gets the start.
Ravens 24, Colts 10
If you enjoy watching defenses dominate games, you loved this game. If you enjoy Fantasy Football where offense rules - you hated it. Seriously. There is very, very little to discuss here, so I'll be brief.
Lamar Jackson's regression was inevitable, but to see him struggle like this as a passer (note that I'm making a distinction here, he's still a phenomenal runner) is striking. Indianapolis has a fantastic defense that mitigated any major plays, and not one player on Baltimore topped 50 yards, through the air or on the ground, other than Jackson with 58 rushing yards. Ouch. Mark Andrews is a buy-low candidate for sure (as is Marquise Brown). In a competitive game to see just 23 passing attempts was odd.
The Colts weren't any better. Philip Rivers continued his stretch of poor play, and one has to wonder if the team would be better off with Jacoby Brissett under center. Brissett may not have the same mental acuity as Rivers, but his much stronger arm opens plenty of options in the passing game. The Colts only had two players reach double-digits in a full PPR format - Zach Pascal (5/55) and Jonathan Taylor (27 rushing yards and a score coupled with two catches for seven yards). Better days are ahead for Indy - hopefully.
Waiver Wire Targets: None
Chiefs 33, Panthers 31
Carolina was extremely competitive in this game throughout the day, and was noticeably more explosive on offense following the return (and with recent news, subsequent loss) of Christian McCaffrey. In a game where CMC was rumored to split the workload with Mike Davis he out-touched his backup 28:6 - that isn't particularly close. McCaffrey was declared "day to day" after injuring his shoulder on the last drive of the game, and his status for next week is in question. Curtis Samuel (9/105/1) continues to outshine both Robby Anderson (9/63) and D.J. Moore (2/18). I ranted about this several times on Twitter - why Carolina is refusing to target their most explosive receiver in Moore is both stupid and astounding. He deserves more than three targets per week, especially in a competitive game.
Can we finally put to bed the "Is Patrick Mahomes the best quarterback in the NFL" discussion now? Not to toot my own horn loudly here, but I was shocked that I was actually in the minority ranking him atop the quarterback projections during the preseason. I've said it a hundred times - I prefer pocket passers to those who run. Mahomes (30-of-45 for 372 and four touchdowns) relentlessly peppered his top options Travis Kelce (10/159) and Tyreek Hill (9/113/2) with targets en route to victory. Kansas City finished with just 12 rushing attempts on the day - it was surprising to see them move away from that so early, a decision that tanked the hopes of Clyde Edwards-Helaire. CEH has dropped from a backend RB1 to an upside FLEX play of late.
Waiver Wire Targets: If Mike Davis was dropped in shallow leagues, feel free to snag him back up. He's worth starting as long as CMC is out with this shoulder issue.
Vikings 34, Lions 20
Matthew Stafford's activation from the COVID list prior to the game was the major story leading up to kickoff, but his poor play while on the field and ensuing concussion scare shouldn't be overlooked. Stafford was under duress for a large portion of this game, and he was unable to move the ball as effectively with the absence of Kenny Golladay. DeAndre Swift out-touched Adrian Peterson 16:11, but this split continues to be truly annoying for Fantasy purposes. At this point AP is siphoning too many touches from Swift, and how Detroit's offensive coordinators don't see this is discouraging. Perhaps the plan was for AP to get more involved in a theoretical "revenge game", but assuming that narrative is silly. Kudos to T.J. Hockenson (5/39/1) for continuing his ascension in the tight end ranks.
On Minnesota's end, this was the Dalvin Cook show, again. Cook finished with 24 touches, over 250 all-purpose yards and two scores. Again. Kirk Cousins didn't need to do much (only 20 passing attempts), but performed admirably enough. Cook's dominance has put a damper on the rookie season of Justin Jefferson and capped targets to Adam Thielen. That said, if Minnesota keeps winning, expect this trend to continue.
Waiver Wire Targets: None
Texans 27, Jaguars 25
Welcome to the NFL, Jake Luton! And perhaps more importantly, welcome back to Fantasy relevance, D.J. Chark! With Luton under center, Jacksonville's best player and top receiving threat was thrust back into the spotlight, catching seven passes for 146 yards and a score. With Chark dominating looks in the passing game, James Robinson faced less defenders in the box - he feasted on that, finishing with just under 100 rushing yards and a score. Robinson continues to be the biggest Fantasy surprise of 2020. Luton played well enough to fend off Gardner Minshew a while longer, though it will be interesting to see how this situation plays out once Minshew returns from his injured thumb.
No running game? No problem. Early in the game David Johnson sustained a concussion, and he is now in the league's protocol. Following his absence Duke Johnson rushed for 16 times, totaling 41 yards and a score on the ground. Keep an eye on news from Houston's beat reporters for the status of David Johnson. Houston continues to be a two-man show in the passing game between Will Fuller (5/100/1) and Brandin Cooks (3/83/1). Houston takes on the Cleveland Browns next week, who have been a top-10 defense against the run. Expect DeShaun Watson to continue scrambling when necessary to boost his floor.
Waiver Wire Targes: Duke Johnson would be the logical recommendation here, should David Johnson miss any time with his concussion. Next week's matchup isn't easy, but Duke would be a FLEX in a pinch.
Raiders 31, Chargers 26
Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker formed a nice 1-2 punch against Los Angeles, and although Jacobs came away with the larger workload, Booker was more productive with the touches that he was given. Jacobs normally out-snaps his cohorts in the backfield by a wide margin - one has to wonder if Booker did enough in this contest to garner a few extra looks. Henry Ruggs continues to baffle me - how Las Vegas doesn't target him more often each week is truly befuddling. Carr has taken the "safer" approach on short passes to Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller this season, which doesn't play to the downfield strengths of their first-round selection. Regardless, the Raiders try to take the ball out of Derek Carr's hands when possible.
Justin Herbert continues to be an absolute phenom. He is an utter stud - the fact that he throws in an additional rushing floor of 20-30 yards each week is just gravy. As Herbert becomes more comfortable (if possible) - I'd anticipate ranking him within my top-10 at the position in 2021. Keenan Allen continues to be a target-hog, and he came down with 9 receptions on 11 targets for 103 yards and a score. Barring health flareups, Allen is without question a plug-and-play WR1. Also? Welcome back, Mike Williams. Somehow Williams has the unique ability to make every single reception seem like the most difficult one ever converted. Hunter Henry has regressed into a "touchdown or bust" option at the position.
Waiver Wire Targets: None
Steelers 24, Cowboys 19
To use a famous "dad-ism" from my father: This is why they play the games. EVERYONE expected Pittsburgh to absolutely mop the floor with Dallas, and this game came down to a final throw with no time remaining to decide it. Garrett Gilbert played much better than expected, and was able to step up routinely in the face of pressure and deliver the ball effectively to CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. The best news for Ezekiel Elliott owners? He came away from this contest with no reports of hamstring tightness. A surprise active following multiple missed practices, it was assumed that Tony Pollard would see additional work. Zeke still finished with 20 touches - I would have bet half of that when asked before the game started.
Pittsburgh had plenty of story lines to cover following the conclusion of this one. First and foremost, Ben Roethlisberger came away with an injury to both of his knees on a nasty low hit. He managed to get treated at halftime and then play the remainder of the game - the team is "cautiously optimistic" that he will be able to start in Week 10 against Cincinnati. James Conner laid a major dud in a primo matchup, falling forward for just 22 yards on nine carries. He was visibly annoyed on the sidelines. Juju Smith-Schuster continues to outplay Chase Claypool on a per-target basis, and has really flourished opposite Diontae Johnson. Johnson actually made it out of this game healthy - a first for him in months. Chase Claypool (on paper) had a strong game, catching eight receptions for 69 yards. He could have had a MUCH bigger day, but committed several costly drops. All three Pittsburgh receivers are Fantasy viable every week.
Waiver Wire Targets: Keep tabs on the James Conner situation. If he's either injured or in the doghouse, Anthony McFarland would be an advisable pickup in 14-team or larger options as a bench stash.
Dolphins 34, Cardinals 31
Miami is now 2-0 under Tua Tagovailoa, and give credit where it is due - he shred the Arizona defense all afternoon, even without a running game to balance things out. Unlike Fitzpatrick, Tua really spreads the ball around to all receivers, so the days of Devante Parker seeing double-digit looks may be over. Without Myles Gaskin, carries were given to "fall forward for a yard" Jordan Howard. Man, he looks brutal. I was high on Mike Gesicki entering the season, hopefully a quarterback change allows him to be a starter in a 12-team format once more.
For Arizona - welcome to the Kyler Murray show.
21/26 for 283 yards and three touchdowns passing.
11 rushing attempts for 106 yards and a score on the ground.
Yes please. In the absence of Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds was handed 25 carries and surprisingly finished with just 70 yards. Even more eye-opening was Murray checking the ball down to Edmonds just three times - he was expected to be much more involved in the passing game. Miami made a major effort to stifle DeAndre Hopkins in this one (3/30), so Murray pivoted to Christian Kirk (5/123/1) instead when he needed to air it out. Just a blip on the radar for Hopkins.
Waiver Wire Targets: None
Saints 38, Buccaneers 3
Lets make the Tampa Bay recap short and sweet, shall we? This was possibly the worst game of Tom Brady's career. The team finished with 5 rushing attempts, the fewest in NFL history. Antonio Brown did little in his debut, despite being on the field for the majority of snaps. Perhaps in this case, less would be more. Simplify things a little, Tampa Bay.
"Drew Brees is washed up and can't throw the ball downfield". Truth be told, he doesn't need to thrown the ball down field very much when he can dump it off to Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas and they make defenders miss. Is Adam Trautman a thing now? Who the heck knows - throwing weight behind anyone OTHER than Kamara and Thomas on this team as a weekly start is ill-advised (12 players on New Orleans came away with a reception 12!!!). Flag Trautman as a player of interest though. Marquez Callaway and Tre'Quan Smith can be benched or dropped in nearly all formats now that Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are back and healthy.
Waiver Wire Targets: None, though flag Trautman as someone to watch.
Patriots 30, Jets 27
Losers find a way to lose - and boy, the Jets are freaking awful. Despite Joe Flacco playing his best football in recent memory, Breshad Perriman (5/101/2) and Denzel Mims (4/62) playing extremely well, New York's porous defense let up chunk yardage on the final three possessions for New England, resulting in yet another loss. As discuss in earlier weeks - there is little to discuss on the Jets outside of Jameson Crowder. Mims and Perriman can be started in 14-team leagues as a FLEX option on a difficult bye week, but shouldn't be rostered in redraft leagues otherwise.
New England won the game, but I still think Cam Newton looks terrible as a passer. His floor is 5-7 points per week due to his rushing upside and ability to find the end zone inside the 20, but he's thrown a total of two passing touchdowns all year. In the absence of Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers had a career game this past week, catching 12-of-14 targets for 169 yards. He'll be widely recommended (and I can endorse that, for what its worth) but owners looking to drop a ton of FAAB to pick him up need to remember that the Patriots square off against the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills in upcoming weeks - their cornerback play is much better.
Waiver Wire Targets: Meyers is an add in 12-team PPR leagues or larger.