News & Analysis

Scott Barrett’s daily fantasy focus: Top plays, strategy, and advice for Week 10

Sep 16, 2018; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) celebrates scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

This article is long, so I’ll spare you a lengthy intro. Here’s everything you should need to know in order to dominate your Week 10 DFS tournaments and cash games.

Note: All numbers in parentheses refer to a player’s salary rank on each site.

Injuries, news, & notes to know

A.J. Green is out for the Bengals, which makes both Tyler Boyd (DK: WR5, FD: WR6) and Joe Mixon (DK: RB5, FD: RB6) more intriguing. (More on Boyd later.) John Ross (DK: WR45, FD: WR34), Alex Erickson (DK: WR66, FD: WR84), and C.J. Uzomah (DK: TE11, FD: TE11) are all deserving of a projections boost, but, of the three, I’d only consider Ross as a potential punt-play.

Sam Darnold is out this week and Josh McCown (DK: QB38, FD: QB27) will start in his absence. I would have said this means we should be bumping up Robby Anderson (a favorite of McCown’s), but he’s out too. In a tough matchup (Bills rank best in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks), I have no interest in McCown despite his attractive price tag. Chris Herndon (DK: TE14, FD: TE9) and Quincy Enunwa (DK: WR56, FD: WR52) are in play, but not necessarily recommended plays.

Chris Carson (DK: RB23, FD: RB17) is a game-time decision. If he is announced out before the 1 p.m. lock, then Mike Davis (DK: RB29, FD: RB25) would become a near-must-play (more on this later). If his status is still uncertain at that point, keep Davis in mind as a late-swap option.

After losing WR Paul Richardson, G Brandon Scherff, and G Shawn Lauvao, the Redskins confirmed they are also going to be without RB Chris Thompson and OT Trent Williams for Sunday. OT Morgan Moses and WR Jamison Crowder (DK: WR39, FD: WR31) are also questionable. What does this mean? Despite a cake matchup, Alex Smith is not in play this week, though Tampa Bay’s defense is. If Crowder is out, Maurice Harris (DK: WR45, FD: WR25) becomes a top value play. He recorded 10 receptions for 124 yards on 12 targets last week. That seemingly came out of nowhere but did coincide with a soft matchup against the Falcons (fourth-most fantasy points per game to slot wide receivers). His matchup this week would be even better, against a Buccaneers team that is giving up the most fantasy points per game to slot wide receivers. If Crowder returns, I suspect he becomes the better play, but I’d probably just steer clear of this offense altogether.

Geronimo Allison is out and Randall Cobb (DK: WR25, FD: WR24) is legitimately questionable for Week 10. If Cobb is out, Equanimeous St. Brown (DK: WR61, FD: WR84) would draw punt-play consideration, but he wouldn’t find his way into my player pool. I suspect even if Cobb plays, he is unlikely to be at 100%, and this just further helps the case for Marquez Valdes-Scantling (DK: WR23, FD: WR41) who projects to be one of the chalkiest plays on the slate (more on him later). Let’s also not neglect Davante Adams (DK: WR3, FD: WR2) who, though he has a tough matchup against Xavien Howard, ranks third among wide receivers in fantasy points per game, despite one of the toughest cornerback schedules of the first half.

Sony Michel (DK: RB16, FD: RB8) is questionable but likely to play for Week 10. This removes Cordarrelle Paterson out of consideration and dings James White (DK: RB6, FD: RB6). Over the past two weeks, White has averaged 10.0 carries per game and 4.0 opportunities inside the 10-yard line per game. In all other games, he averaged just 5.7 and 0.9, respectively. Still, he was putting up top-five usage and production numbers even with Michel on the field, so he remains in play.

Rob Gronkowski (DK: TE2, FD: TE2) is questionable and likely to be a true game-time decision for Sunday’s game. Even if he plays, Gronkowski would be too risky for me to consider this week, even at his attractive salary on DraftKings. If he’s out, that’s just another reason to love Josh Gordon (DK: WR14, FD: WR13). (More on him later.)

Marlon Mack (DK: RB9, FD: RB7) is off the injury report and all systems go for Week 10. Mack averages 19.3 expected fantasy points per game over his last two games, which would rank fifth-best among running backs if over a full season. Though that seems great, gamescript was ideal (two victories by a combined 46 points) and he played on just 60% of the team’s snaps, seeing just 63% of the team’s touches. However, he dominated work near the end zone and is still affordable, even with a tough matchup against the Jaguars.

Sammy Watkins (DK: WR18, FD: WR14) is truly questionable for Sunday’s game. Even if he suits up, he’s unlikely to be at or near 100%. With Patrick Peterson likely to shadow Tyreek Hill (DK: WR6, FD: WR8) on all perimeter routes, this should help funnel even more volume toward Travis Kelce (DK: TE1, FD: TE1).

Cameron Meredith and Dez Bryant are both out for the Saints. Michael Thomas (DK: WR2, FD: WR3), Austin Carr (DK: WR83, FD: WR84), and Tre'Quan Smith (DK: WR32, FD: WR34) should get a slight boost to their target projections, though I suspect New Orleans takes a run-heavy approach this week, as 6.0-point favorites.

CB Darius Slay is confirmed out, while Allen Robinson (DK: WR23, FD: WR19) is ready to return from injury. Though this makes Robinson’s matchup a good deal better, this doesn’t necessarily make me excited to play him. Before his injury he ranked just 45th among wide receivers in fantasy points per game.

Josh Allen (DK: QB23, FD: QB24) is questionable against the Jets. If he were unavailable come Sunday, I’d have no idea who the Bills would be starting in his place, but I assure you it doesn’t matter. You still don’t want any part of this offense, and you’d still want to play the Jets’ defense.

Kerryon Johnson (DK: RB20, FD: RB22) is questionable but likely to play for Week 10. He's not in play for me this week, averaging just 10.3 carries and 3.2 targets per game when Theo Riddick has been active. The Lions are underdogs by 6.5 points and Chicago has a top-three run defense.

Chad Williams is out for Week 10 against the Chiefs. I suppose this bumps up Larry Fitzgerald (DK: WR18, FD: WR26) (who I like quite a bit this week) ever-so-slightly. Williams was averaging 3.9 targets per game.

Jermaine Gresham is questionable but likely to play this week. If he’s out, you can bump up Ricky Seals-Jones (DK: TE15, FD: TE17). Gresham has been playing on 50% of the team’s snaps since returning from injury. The production hasn’t been there for Seals-Jones, but the matchup makes a bit of sense. The Chiefs rank fourth-worst in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game allowed to opposing tight ends, and should be especially soft there this week with Eric Berry doubtful.

James O'Shaughnessy (DK: TE29, FD: TE22) is questionable for Sunday's game. Jacksonville's TE1 averages 4.9 targets per game this season. Indianapolis has seen 24% of their receiving fantasy points allowed go to tight ends, which ranks sixth-most. O'Shaughnessy or David Grinnage (DK: TE29, FD: TE22) (if O'Shaughnessy is out) are vaguely in play as minimum-priced punt-options.

Matchup & usage stats to know

Over the past month of the season, Josh Gordon (DK: WR14, FD: WR13) ranks 12th among wide receivers in targets (30) and ninth in receiving yards (314). Julian Edelman (DK: WR9, FD: WR11) is actually out-targeting Gordon over this stretch (by five), but the matchup sets up much better for Gordon this week. Edelman runs 70% of his routes from the slot and Tennessee is giving up the third-fewest fantasy points per game to slot wide receivers. Gordon, meanwhile, runs 60% of his routes from Tom Brady’s left and Tennessee is giving up the most (19.2) fantasy points per game (70% more than league average) to left wide receivers. That’s also where CB Malcolm Butler spends 83% of his time. Butler leads all cornerbacks in yards (618), touchdowns (seven), and fantasy points (143) allowed. He’s actually given up more fantasy points to wide receivers than all but 13 wide receivers total themselves.

Larry Fitzgerald (DK: WR18, FD: WR26) looked healthy in Week 8, putting up 24.2 fantasy points on 12 targets, and now is coming off another week of rest following the bye. Over the last four weeks, Fitzgerald ranks seventh among wide receivers in expected fantasy points per game (17.2). Priced as just the 26th-highest-priced wide receiver on FanDuel, he’s a clear value in a game that sets up nicely for plenty of targets and garbage-time as 16.5-point underdogs.

Jordan Howard (DK: RB20, FD: RB15) has found the end zone in three straight games, and now gets his best matchup of the season. Chicago is favored by 6.5 points against a Detroit defense that ranks last in yards allowed per carry (5.58) and fourth-worst in rushing fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs (17.9).

Since Week 4, David Johnson (DK: RB7, FD: RB11) ranks 10th among running backs in expected fantasy points per game (16.7) and seventh among all players in expected fantasy point market share (27%). If new OC Byron Leftwich really plans to use Johnson in a similar capacity to how he was used in 2016, this would be an ideal spot for him. Kansas City is giving up the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, ranking 31st in yards allowed per carry (5.16), 26th in rushing fantasy points per game allowed, and 32nd in receiving fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs. Johnson is a top value on FanDuel.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (DK: WR23, FD: WR41) projects to be one of the chalkiest plays of the slate. He averages 14.7 fantasy points per game across his last four games, though he averages just 6.8 targets per game over this stretch. Volume might be better this week, with Geronimo Allison on IR, Randall Cobb banged up, and Davante Adams in a tougher cornerback matchup. Miami’s also been giving up a high percentage of big plays, which has been Scantling’s bread and butter this year. While I think he’s a great play on paper, I suspect I’ll be lower owned on him than the rest of the field.

Jarvis Landry (DK: WR13, FD: WR18) ranks sixth among wide receivers in expected fantasy points per game, and third-best over the past four weeks (18.4). He has a soft matchup for Week 10, up against a Falcons defense that has ranked bottom-five in fantasy points per game to slot wide receivers for three consecutive seasons. He’s probably the top volume-related value play on both sites and he’s “due,” but it might just be time to write him off, considering he’s had the league’s softest cornerback schedule and has, arguably, been the league’s least-efficient wide receiver in spite of it.

Like Landry, Corey Davis (DK: WR33, FD: WR26) is a top volume-related value. He ranks tied for 14th in expected fantasy points per game and ranks sixth-best in expected fantasy point market share (25%). His production hasn’t been anywhere near as good, and is due for a positive regression, but unlike Landry, he has a much tougher matchup this week. Davis is likely to be shadowed by Stephon Gilmore, our fifth-highest-graded cornerback. That said, he’s still probably a little too cheap.

O.J. Howard (DK: TE3, FD: TE3) is our highest-graded tight end this season. He played only 15 snaps in Week 4, before exiting early due to injury. If we exclude that game, he averages 15.0 fantasy points per game. That would rank third-best at the position, behind only Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz. That puts him somewhere between a value and “appropriately priced” on a brutal week at the position.

Which quarterback to play?

Patrick Mahomes (DK: QB1, FD: QB1)

By FanDuel scoring, Mahomes' 250.7 fantasy points through the first nine weeks of the season is the second-most by any player at any position all time. Mahomes has now thrown for at least 300 yards in every game this year except Week 1. He’s also thrown for at least three touchdowns in seven of nine games — the other two games came in tough matchups against Jacksonville and on the road against Denver (and he threw for at least 300 yards and added a rushing touchdown in both of those games). As I wrote last week, “they also really weren’t ‘down games’ if factoring the strength of the opponent. In fact, those performances were historically great. His 313 passing yards against Jacksonville was the most the Jaguars have allowed since the 2016 season. His 304 passing yards against Denver was the most by a road quarterback against them since the 2014 season.”

Last week, Mahomes faced off against another tough opponent in the Browns, who, up to that point, were leading the NFL in opposing passer rating (77.1) while also ranking first in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Again, it didn’t matter – Mahomes dropped 27.8 fantasy points and finished as a top-five quarterback for the seventh time this season. His opponent this week is less imposing than the others we’ve mentioned, but there might be concern that the Chiefs lean more run-heavy as 16.5-point favorites. I wouldn’t worry too much, however, as over the past two seasons the Chiefs have been the second-most pass-heavy team when leading by 14 (or even 20) points. Despite being the highest-priced quarterback on both sites, he’s still a value.

Preferred stacking option: Travis Kelce (I’ll explain why further down below).

Ryan Fitzpatrick (DK: QB8, FD: QB12)

Fitzpatrick currently ranks third among all quarterbacks in fantasy points per game (24.0), and that’s despite exiting Week 4 in the second quarter and entering Week 8 on the last drive of the third quarter. Fitzpatrick also ranks fifth-best in passer rating and is our sixth-highest-graded quarterback. As a team, the Buccaneers are averaging 356.6 yards per game, which ranks third-most all-time through the first nine weeks of the season. The matchup this week looks great as well. Over the past five weeks Washington has given up the most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (27.9), while also ranking bottom-five in opposing passer rating and fantasy points allowed per dropback. On paper (to me at least), it seems Fitzpatrick is underpriced by about $1,000 on both sites.

Preferred stacking option: O.J. Howard and all of Tampa Bay’s wide receivers are in play this week. I lean Mike Evans (DK: WR8, FD: WR9), but really, I keep getting this one wrong, so you’re mostly on your own this time.

Other: The bulk of my quarterback exposure will be on these two quarterbacks (and mostly Fitzpatrick), but I also like Jared Goff (DK: QB5, FD: QB7), Russell Wilson (DK: QB10, FD: QB10), and Andrew Luck (DK: QB12, FD: QB9).

Which high-priced running back(s) to play?

Todd Gurley (DK: RB1, FD: RB1) totals 293 yards and seven touchdowns in his last two games against Seattle. He totals 260.0 fantasy points (28.9 fantasy points per game), or the sixth-most by any player through a team’s first nine games. He also totals 46% of Los Angeles’ offensive touchdowns over the past two seasons. With a 30.25 implied point total this week, that means the potential is good for another multi-touchdown day. Last week’s 19.9-point-outing was his first disappointing game of the season (if 20 fantasy points can even be considered disappointing), but he’s had far more slate busting games (five games with 30 or more fantasy points). I’m inclined to continue riding Gurley’s outlier-ish season.

Melvin Gordon (DK: RB2, FD: RB3) ranks second or third among all non-quarterbacks in fantasy points per game (depending on DraftKings or FanDuel scoring) and now has his best matchup of the season. The Chargers have their highest implied point total of the season (30), and it’s easy to see why, with Oakland ranking 32nd in points allowed per drive. On top of that, and to benefit Gordon, they’re also one of the league’s most egregious run-funnel defenses. 35% of their allowed yards have come on the ground (fifth-most), they’re giving up the third-most rushing fantasy points per game (19.0), and rank third-worst in yards allowed per carry (5.13). There might be a concern Gordon gets pulled too early, as 10.0-point favorites, but he played well into the fourth quarter in the team’s two victories of 16-plus points.

Kareem Hunt (DK: RB4, FD: RB2) is the cheapest of these three running backs, and though all three teams rank top-three in implied point total, the Chiefs have the highest of the week (by 2.75). Since Week 3, among all running backs, Hunt ranks second in fantasy points, second in carries, and second in opportunities inside the 10-yard line. Now, he gets to face an Arizona defense that’s giving up the most rushing fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (20.7). Like Oakland, they too are a run-funnel defense – allowing the fifth-most rushing yards but the fifth-fewest passing yards to opposing offenses.

Other: Of these running backs, I think I like Gurley the most, then Hunt, and then Gordon. Ideally I want to fit at least two of these three on all of my lineups. I also like Alvin Kamara (DK: RB3, FD: RB4), but not enough to give him his own blurb. David Johnson (DK: RB7, FD: RB11) is not necessarily in their pricing tier, but I like him quite a bit as well, but mostly just on FanDuel.

Which cheap running back(s) to play?

Dion Lewis (DK: RB23, FD: RB25)

After last week’s 14-point victory against the Cowboys, it seems clear the Titans no longer have a true committee backfield. On Monday night, Lewis out-snapped Henry 59 to 14, out-carried him 19 to six, and out-targeted him four to two. That was in a game with gamescript that should have benefited Henry if this were truly a committee. Even if Lewis were still seeing the sort of usage he saw to start the year he’d be a great play at his current price tag. The Titans are 6.5-point underdogs and the Patriots rank bottom-three in receiving fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs for the second year in a row. Now, with the bonus of extra carries and even more guaranteed usage (and in a #RevengeGame), he’s rightfully chalky.

Duke Johnson (DK: RB20, FD: RB31)

After averaging only 6.9 expected fantasy points per game through the first eight weeks of the season, Johnson saw a season-high 16.3 expected fantasy points in Week 9. He was efficient as well, scoring 29.6. It’s interesting to note he finally saw usage after a coaching change that promoted running backs coach Freddie Kitchens to offensive coordinator. Of course, Johnson also took advantage of an ideal matchup against the Chiefs – who are giving up the most receiving fantasy points per game to opposing running backs – but he gets a similarly ideal matchup this week. The Falcons are currently giving up the second-most receiving fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and have ranked bottom-two for three seasons in a row.

Aaron Jones (DK: RB18, FD: RB15)

Over the past two seasons, Jones leads all 53 qualified running backs in yards per carry (5.74) and success rate (59%). Over the past two weeks, Jones has played on 60% of the snaps, seen 67% of the carries, drawn 56% of the team’s targets out of the backfield, and accounted for 60% of the team’s running back expected fantasy points. This was despite poor gamescript (Green Bay led on only 15% of their plays over this stretch) and with Ty Montgomery active and still on the team in Week 8. As 10-point favorites against a Miami Dolphins defense that leads the league in rushing yards allowed (1,073), he’s a top play that many are wrongfully overlooking. He also has the added benefit of offering leverage off of a massively owned Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Mike Davis (DK: RB29, FD: RB25)

In Week 4 with Chris Carson out, Davis played on 71% of the snaps, totaling 28 fantasy points on 21 carries and four targets. Last week, with Carson playing on only 10 of 81 snaps (due to injury), Davis played on 72% of the snaps, totaling 18 fantasy points on 15 carries and eight targets. If Carson sits this week, Davis becomes a near-must-play against a Rams defense that ranks second-worst in yards per carry allowed since Week 1 of last season.

Other: I like Davis the most of this group if we know Carson is out ahead of time, but I think that’s unlikely. Lewis might also be one of the best plays of the slate in his own right. After that (for me), there’s a tier gap, then Jones and then Johnson for tournaments. Mark Ingram (DK: RB25, FD: RB12) was almost given his own blurb alongside the other four running backs, but is harder to argue for, given recent usage.

What to do at the tight end position?

I suspect the far majority of my Week 10 tight end exposure will go to Travis Kelce (DK: TE1, FD: TE1). Why gamble when you can pay a slight premium for a nearly sure thing? On DraftKings, Kelce is the ninth-highest-priced receiver, but he ranks seventh in fantasy points per game. Already he looks like a value, but even more so when we factor in positional advantage – he’s averaging 5.0 fantasy points per game more than the next-closest tight end on the slate (excluding Eric Ebron, whose numbers are skewed by a Jack Doyle injury). On top of that, he also has the matchup working in his favor, with Sammy Watkins seriously banged up (and possibly out for Week 10) and Tyreek Hill likely to be shadowed by the league’s best shadow cornerback in Patrick Peterson.

If not Kelce, I might be looking to punt the position entirely with someone like Chris Herndon (DK: TE14, FD: TE9) or one of Jacksonville’s tight ends. There is some value in the middle tiers, however. I like O.J. Howard (DK: TE3, FD: TE3) (as mentioned above), but my preferred runner-up is Jack Doyle (DK: TE7, FD: TE8). Through three games played, Doyle has played on 87% of the team’s snaps while averaging 7.0 targets (fourth-most) and 12.0 fantasy points per game (seventh-most). Over this span, Eric Ebron played on only 31% of the snaps and averaged just 4.0 targets per game. With T.Y. Hilton likely to be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey, it makes sense for Luck to lean heavy on Doyle.

(READ MORE: Check out our DFS deep dives, including the top value plays, stacks to consider, and locks.)

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