Week ten is in the books. There is only a few more weeks left in the fantasy football season. Yes, the time has certainly flown by. The playoffs are just around the corner. Teams in some leagues have probably already been eliminated from playoff contention. If you have team on the bubble, be looking ahead at your league’s schedule to get an idea of your chances to make a playoff run. By now you know who the top teams are and should be able to get a pretty good idea where you are going to stand at the end of the season. Week ten started fantasy football’s crunch time and here were the best of the best for it.
Drew Brees is becoming the most valuable quarterback in fantasy football. He has claimed top quarterback honors more than anyone else in the league. He threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys. It was expected Brees would put up very good stats against the struggling Cowboys’ defense. Next week’s matchup against the 49ers will prove to be a much bigger challenge, but Brees will still be able to post a good stat line against the league’s eighth ranked passing defense.
Marshawn Lynch turned on his “Beast Mode” against the Falcons. Seattle’s featured back tallied 145 rushing yards and a touchdown in the game. He also added 16 receiving yards on three catches to his already impressive rushing total. Lynch continues to be a boom or bust type player, but luckily this past weekend was all boom. Even with his consistency issues, Lynch is still a top five running back and should always be in fantasy owners’ starting line-ups. The Seahawks host the Minnesota Vikings in week eleven. The Vikings run defense in is ranked in the bottom half of the league meaning Lynch has a good chance of posting another huge day. However, be forewarned: just because the matchup looks good on paper does not mean Lynch will perform up to expectations. Take his games against the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as examples.
Demaryius Thomas has been one of the most interesting players to watch this season. Just when it seems like he is being shorted on his number of targets, he goes off for a big game. Thomas scored three touchdowns and gained 108 receiving yards on seven receptions against the San Diego Chargers. In the past three weeks, Thomas has scored at least one touchdown. It looks like he put the speed bump he hit in the middle of the season is behind him, and he has regained his title as a top five wide receiver. He has a very difficult challenge ahead of him next week against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are third against the pass, but expect the Broncos to test that strong passing defense early and often. If the Broncos get a lead early in the game, the Chiefs will not be able to catch up. Expect Thomas to have another good game. He will have to if the Broncos want to claim the top seed in the AFC.
Here is a quick question for you: who led the Vikings in receiving yards in their win over the Washington Redskins? It was not Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph, or even the great Adrian Peterson. Believe it or not it was second tight end John Carlson. Carlson was by far the best tight end of the week catching seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. More than likely, he is available on your waiver wire. However, do not go rushing to pick him up. Remember he is not the top tight end on the team. There are so many better receiving options on the Vikings. He will not be able to duplicate or even come close to duplicating his performance this week against the Seahawks.
Steven Hauschka did a great job against the Falcons in week ten. The Seahawks’ kicker hit all four of his field goals and made three successful point-after attempts. Out of those four field goals, three came from beyond forty yards out. Hauschka is undervalued in fantasy football, but after a week like this where he showed both leg strength and accuracy he will gain a lot of respect. The Seahawks offensive style of play is perfect for kickers. They are not afraid to run the ball and they do so very effectively. Kickers tend to get more shots at field goals on teams who are better at running the football than passing. Hauschka should definitely be looked at as a good option for the rest of the season, even this week against the Vikings who more than likely will not be able to stop Wilson, Lynch, and the rest of the Seahawks’ offense on third downs.
The St. Louis Rams’ defense has not gotten the respect they deserve this season. The Rams do not have a losing record because of the defense; that is completely on the incapability of the offense to move the ball. The defense has been sound all season long. In week ten, they held Andrew Luck and the Colts to a mere eight points. They posted three sacks, four interceptions, and recovered a fumble. One of those interceptions was brought back to the endzone by defensive end, Chris Long. Aside from the defensive touchdown, rookie kick returner Tavon Austin also scored on a 98 yard punt return. In standard scoring formats the Rams Defense, not Austin, would be credited for this touchdown. Next week the Rams are off work.
Tavon Austin had his coming out party against the Indianapolis Colts. Up until week ten, Austin was seen as somewhat of a disappointment this season. However, this week he burned Indy’s defense for 138 receiving yards and two touchdowns. As was mentioned earlier, he also scored on a punt return. Though he would not be credited for this is standard scoring league, a lot of scoring formats would give an additional six points to Austin for the touchdown. In these leagues, Austin would have been the top wide receiver. The question now is whether it is time to start him week in and week out. There is a very glaring stat in all this. Tavon Austin only caught two passes in the contest and was only targeted three times. It is very hard to see him putting up big stats each week when he does not receive many looks from the quarterback. It is better to take a wait and see approach with this rookie. Let him reproduce this stat line before starting him.
Mark Ingram scored his first touchdown of the season in week ten against the Dallas Cowboys. He also burned their defense for 145 rushing yards. Ingram shares the Saints’ rushing load with Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas. At any given week, any one of these three backs can go off for a huge amount of fantasy points. It just so happened, all three of them did just this in week ten. Ingram is the dark horse of the Saints’ back field. He is not built for their offensive style. Sproles and Thomas are both good at catching the ball out of the backfield, whereas Ingram is more of a between the tackles type back. Next week, he will probably see a fair share of touches against the 49ers defense.
Mark Ingram also made a strong case for this fantasy award as well. Ingram had been injured for a majority of the season. He came back to the Saints’ lineup in week nine and did not perform well at all. This week he showed he is fully healthy and completely capable of being a workhorse type running back. He is definitely a good option to start in deeper leagues and on teams with a depleted back field. His week ten outing will gain him a few more touches in the upcoming weeks.
Wes Welker was the model of consistency at the wide receiver position all season long. Something must have changed against the San Diego Chargers. Welker only caught three passes for 21 receiving yards in the matchup. He failed to find the endzone for the second week in a row. This came from a player who scored in each of his first six games of the season. Fantasy owners should not be concerned about this performance though. Welker is still one of the best in the game. He will have to show it this weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs. Look for him to have a big rebound in week eleven.
The Rams defense and special teams were extremely impressive against the Colts. How valuable were they? For one, this defensive/special teams unit scored in the top ten this week in terms of fantasy points. They scored almost doubled the number of fantasy points as the next best defensive unit. In standard scoring formats, this defense would have scored more points than Demaryius Thomas or Marshawn Lynch, both players of the week at their positions. This is what fantasy owners only dream of. This is a borderline starting defense. Owners probably could have acquired them on the waiver wire. When they put the Rams defense into their lineup, other owner were probably laughing to themselves. After all, they were not playing an easy matchup. Those owners who were being laughed at over their defense of choice were made out to look like a genius this week. Making decisions like this are what wins fantasy championships. The Rams have proved to be a valuable fantasy defense and their performance in week ten was one of the most impressive fantasy outings of the entire season.