Fantasy Football: 5 surprise performers through NFL Week 10

2T1WX8D Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert (31) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

QB Sam Howell, Washington Commanders: Howell has five top-10-scoring finishes, with another three top-15 finishes on top of that. Over the last three weeks, Howell has averaged 24.28 fantasy points per game. He’s a must-start every week and the surprise quarterback performer in fantasy this season.

RB Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins: Mostert is currently the RB2 in PPR scoring and is just 0.7 points away from his best-ever scoring season in fantasy. He’s scored multiple touchdowns in three separate games this season and has three top-five and two top-12 finishes.

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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Every year, there are always a few players who break through the proverbial glass ceiling and surprise us with some exceptional fantasy football performances. Here are five surprise performers through NFL Week 10.

QB Sam Howell, Washington Commanders

Yes, he takes too many sacks. Yes, he currently ranks tied for 21st at the position in turnover-worthy play rate. However, the former fifth-round pick has made a positive impression on the Washington franchise and in fantasy football.

The Commanders signal-caller is currently the QB3 in scoring right now. That didn’t feel even remotely within the realms of possibility this time last year. Howell had only started one career game before the 2023 NFL season, and that was the final game of the 2022 season. His place as the starter wasn’t even assured when the Commanders brought in Jacoby Brissett in the offseason, but Howell has responded.

As of Week 10, Howell leads the NFL in passing yards (2,783) and is tied for fourth with 17 touchdown passes. Those numbers have translated well to fantasy, too, as he has five top-10-scoring finishes, with another three top-15 finishes on top of that. Over the last three weeks, Howell has averaged 24.28 fantasy points per game. He’s a must-start every week and the surprise quarterback performer in fantasy this season.


 RB Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins

How many running backs have their breakout season at 31 years old? The answer is probably not many, but Raheem Mostert is one of them. The Dolphins running back is on pace for a career year, having rushed for 605 yards through 10 weeks. He ranks top-four at his position in yards per carry (5.6) and yards after contact per carry (3.86) and leads the NFL with 11 rushing touchdowns. Unsurprisingly, Mostert is also on track for a career-high in receiving yards.

Mostert is currently the RB2 in PPR scoring and is just 0.7 points away from his best-ever scoring season in fantasy. He’s scored multiple touchdowns in three separate games this season and has three top-five finishes and another two top-12 finishes. That includes a massive 45.2-point performance against the Broncos and a 34.2-point performance against the Panthers. It helps that Mostert is a cog of a high-powered offense, but he’s proven to be an important cog.

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WR Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams

No list of surprise performers would be complete without the addition of Puka Nacua. What the fifth-round pick has been doing this season has been nothing short of extraordinary, as he currently ranks seventh in receiving yards (827), seventh in catches (64) and 14th in receiving grade (81.8) among all NFL wide receivers. He’s scored only two touchdowns, but Nacua has been a consistent chain-mover for the Rams — only Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, CeeDee Lamb and Ja’Marr Chase have more first-down conversions than Nacua. That’s elite territory.

Nacua is the WR10 in scoring through 10 weeks. He is averaging 17.8 PPR points per game, more than the likes of Garrett Wilson, Davante Adams, Chris Olave and Jaylen Waddle.

While his numbers have dropped since the return of Cooper Kupp — he was averaging 23.87 fantasy points per game before Kupp's return — Nacua has still averaged 12.52 fantasy points per game since Week 5.

Despite the slight drop-off, Nacua is still a week-to-week WR2 with real WR1 upside, which is more than anyone could have ever anticipated.


RB Zack Moss, Indianapolis Colts

With Jonathan Taylor out of the picture until Week 5, the Colts backfield was a big question mark. Would Deon Jackson step into the role as starter, or would the recently acquired Zack Moss be the deputy until Taylor’s potential return?

In Week 1, it was Jackson while Moss recovered from a broken arm. However, from Week 2 onward, Moss served as the lead back and went nuclear. Over the following seven weeks, he was a top-15 running back on five occasions, scoring five touchdowns and averaging 17.88 fantasy points per game.

The last two weeks have seen Moss’ role in the Colts offense diminish as Taylor’s role has increased. He hasn’t played more than 50% of the team's offensive snaps since Week 7 and has had just eight total touches in the last two games, with just one carry against the Patriots in Week 10. Despite that, Moss is still the RB11  — his hot start to the season has boosted the records of a few fantasy teams, and it came out of nowhere.

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WR Adam Thielen, Carolina Panthers

Adam Thielen‘s signing with the Carolina Panthers didn’t get much attention in the offseason. The former Vikings receiver was coming off a year where he looked off the pace, and at 32 years old and dealing with injuries, that wasn’t a surprise. What has been a surprise, though, is Thielen’s performances for the Panthers this season and how reliable a fantasy option he’s been.

The Panthers have been a disaster in 2023, but Thielen has been a bright spot. He’s caught 68 passes for 652 yards and four touchdowns and is the only receiver consistently getting open for Bryce Young. He’s earned double-digit targets in five games and has three games with at least 10 catches and 100 yards receiving. Those are WR1 numbers. As a result, Thielen is the WR9 in PPR scoring.

Now 33 years old, Thielen doesn’t have long left at the top, but his strong 2023 season has been one of the nicer surprises in fantasy football, especially for the fantasy managers who roster him.

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