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Fantasy Football: Week 10 key wide receiver questions and tight end analysis

Orchard Park, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

  • 49ers WR Deebo Samuel (hamstring) should be downgraded to more of a top-15 option moving forward due to his lack of guaranteed volume as both a rusher and receiver.
  • Steelers WR Diontae Johnson and George Pickens could have better days ahead now that Kenny Pickett's brutal opening schedule is behind them.
  • The Dolphins' prolific passing attack is set up better than ever against a Browns secondary that has struggled to defend the deep ball all season long.
Estimated reading time: 30 minutes


Week 10 is here! It’s truly a great day to be great.

What follows is a fantasy football-themed breakdown of each and every wide receiver and tight end group. The following seven categories will be analyzed for all 28 teams playing this week:

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Rankings: Where the wide receiver falls in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
  • WR Usage: Every team’s top-three wide receivers in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
  • Week 10 Matchup: Opponent’s rank in PPR points allowed to opposing wide receivers as well as their team PFF coverage grade. Higher numbers are better for wide receivers; “32” illustrates the worst defense in a given category, and “1” is the best.
  • Shadow Matchups: Denotes whether or not any wide receivers are expected to be “shadowed” by a specific cornerback.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Where the tight end falls in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
  • TE Usage: Every team’s top-two tight ends in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
  • Key question: One key question for every team that is on my mind.

JUMP TO A TEAM:

ARZ | ATL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NO | NYG | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH


ARIZONA CARDINALS

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Ranking: DeAndre Hopkins (WR6), Rondale Moore (WR28), Greg Dortch (WR71)
  • WR Usage: DeAndre Hopkins (95% routes, 0.26 targets per route run, 2.4 yards per route run), Rondale Moore (91%, 0.17, 1.32), Robbie Anderson (86%, 0.14, 0.89)
  • Week 10 WR Matchup: LAR: 21 in PPR per game to WR, 10 in PFF coverage grade WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Zach Ertz (TE4)
  • TE Usage: Zach Ertz (98% routes, 0.18 targets per route run, 1.08 yards per route run), Trey McBride (16%, 0.05, 0.41)

Key question: Can we continue to trust Rondale Moore as a rock-solid WR3?

Yes, so long as his status as the offense’s primary slot receiver persists — and there’s no reason to expect it to change. Moore’s lone duds this season coincide with the two games that he was forced to play on the outside when A.J. Green was sidelined and Robbie Anderson was still a member of the Panthers. Otherwise, the pint-sized playmaker has put up consistent PPR goodness from the friendly confines of the slot:

  • Week 4 (26% slot rate): 3-11-0 (5 targets)
  • Week 5 (83%): 7-68-0 (8)
  • Week 6 (80%): 6-49-0 (10)
  • Week 7 (14%): 1-31-0 (2)
  • Week 8 (58%): 7-92-1 (8)
  • Week 9 (72%): 8-69-0 (10)

Meanwhile, DeAndre Hopkins’ somewhat disappointing 4-36-1 performance in Week 9 would have included a second touchdown had Anderson simply lined up before the snap. Alas, the false start took the one-yard score off the board.

Continue to fire up the artist known as Nuk as a legit WR1. I’m not expecting him to see shadow coverage from Rams CB Jalen Ramsey, who hasn’t been asked to track a specific receiver all game this season despite regularly doing so in the past. This has included matchups with clear-cut No. 1 receivers seemingly deserving of the treatment like Stefon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb, D.J. Moore and Mike Evans. The lack of shadow treatment to the latter receiver is the most convincing evidence yet that the Rams truly don’t plan on using Ramsey in shadow coverage at all this season. Furthermore, Ramsey didn't shadow specifically shadow Hopkins in Week 4 last season or in the Rams' two meetings with the Cardinals in 2020.


ATLANTA FALCONS

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Ranking: Drake London (WR37)
  • WR Usage: Drake London (89% routes, 0.27 targets per route run, 1.78 yards per route run), Olamide Zaccheaus (74%, 0.15, 2.02), Damiere Byrd (56%, 0.18, 2.58)
  • Week 10 WR Matchup: CAR: 23 in PPR per game to WR, 21 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Kyle Pitts (TE6)
  • TE Usage: Kyle Pitts (70% routes, 0.27 targets per route run, 1.76 yards per route run), MyCole Pruitt (15%, 0.2, 0.8)

Key question: Just how close was Kyle Pitts to putting up bonkers numbers in Week 9?

Pitts’ up and (mostly) down second season hasn’t caused many truthers to abandon the idea that the 22-year-old is one of the game’s most-talented pass-catchers that the position has seen in quite some time. While Pitts’ 16 targets over the past two weeks are a step in the right direction, Week 9’s 2-27-0 performance was largely sabotaged by one inaccurate Marcus Mariota heave after another.

Reminder: Pitts entered the NFL with the largest measured wingspan of any NFL tight end or wide receiver in 20 years. And yet, Mariota barely even came close to getting the ball in his general vicinity last Sunday, overthrowing Pitts on what had the potential to be 73- and 32-yard scores while not coming close to giving him a chance on other downfield opportunities.

 

Those throws weren’t gimmes, and the potential 32-yard score sure looked like it could have drawn a defensive penalty. Still: Pitts is objectively one of the largest targets that the NFL has seen … ever, and he wasn’t able to even get a finger on most of his targets last Sunday. The result: 27 receiving yards and an asinine 202 air yards. Sheesh.

Keep an eye on a potential rainy and windy Thursday night matchup in Charlotte, but otherwise continue to suck it up and fire up Pitts as a mid-tier TE1 thanks to his boom potential. Drake London isn’t a recommended start; the talented rookie hasn’t gained 50 yards in a game or scored since Week 3.


BUFFALO BILLS

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Ranking: Stefon Diggs (WR4), Gabe Davis (WR19), Isaiah McKenzie (WR42)
  • WR Usage: Gabriel Davis (98% routes, 0.13 targets per route run, 1.54 yards per route run), Stefon Diggs (86%, 0.27, 2.93), Isaiah McKenzie (69%, 0.17, 1.05)
  • Week 10 WR Matchup: MIN: 27 in PPR per game to WR, 25 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Dawson Knox (TE17)
  • TE Usage: Dawson Knox (76% routes, 0.12 targets per route run, 0.84 yards per route run), Quintin Morris (17%, 0.08, 0.77)

Key question: What would the absence of Josh Allen (elbow) mean for this passing game?

It certainly wouldn’t be ideal, although Stefon Diggs would remain a locked-in WR1 even if Case Keenum ahead of Sunday’s #RevengeGame against the Vikings.

Simply put: The Bills don’t play football with the intention of ever running the ball, regardless of whether or not Allen is under center. This was evident in Week 5, when Keenum relieved Allen in the second half of the Bills’ blowout victory against the Steelers and proceeded to throw five passes six snaps that didn’t include kneel downs. Reminder: The Bills were up 38-3 at this point.

The Bills (70.1%) join the Buccaneers (70.2%) and Chiefs (70.7%) as the NFL’s only three offenses throwing the ball on over 70% of their non-garbage time plays. It’d be fair to expect the efficiency involved to fall off without Allen’s (I hate this word but it’s kinda true) generational talents under center; just realize Diggs’ robust average of 10.4 targets per game won’t necessarily be going anywhere.

Lock in Diggs as a WR1 regardless of who is under center; Gabriel Davis would be the recommended sit considering how much more dependent he is on Allen’s touchdown and big-play upside. Davis would drop into WR3 territory being guys like Adam Thielen, George Pickens and Courtland Sutton if Allen is sidelined.


CAROLINA PANTHERS

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Ranking: DJ Moore (WR21), Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR39), Shi Smith (WR72)
  • WR Usage: D.J. Moore (97% routes, 0.22 targets per route run, 1.53 yards per route run), Terrace Marshall Jr. (97%, 0.18, 1.6), Shi Smith (84%, 0.09, 0.58)
  • Week 10 WR Matchup: ATL: 31 in PPR per game to WR, 26 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: Panthers WR Terrace Marshall vs. Falcons CB Cornell Armstrong.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Tommy Tremble (TE24)
  • TE Usage: Tommy Tremble (56% routes, 0.12 targets per route run, 0.69 yards per route run), Ian Thomas (31%, 0.17, 1.19)

Key question: Should we still trust D.J. Moore as a top-24 receiver after last week’s dud?

Yes. Moore has benefited from three key variable changes during his (mostly) good stretch in recent weeks:

  1. Improved quarterback play from P.J. Walker
  2. More volume after both Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey were traded
  3. Cozy matchups against banged-up secondaries

While Walker’s horrific first half in Week 9 was a reminder that the former variable isn’t exactly a week-to-week guarantee, the latter two variables are very much still present. The Falcons’ secondary was already bad before starting cornerbacks A.J. Terrell (hamstring, out) and Casey Hayward (shoulder, IR) were sidelined; there’s a reason why they have allowed the second-most PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers this season.

Keep an eye on the weather in Charlotte; wind speeds of 20-plus miles per hour combined with rain would warrant moving Moore down into WR3 territory. Otherwise, fire up Moore as a boom-or-bust WR2 who just boomed in a major way against this very secondary *checks notes* two weeks ago.

Terrace Marshall has also worked his way into the borderline WR3 conversation. Armstrong didn’t exactly slow down Marshall (4-87-0) back in Week 8; the second-year receiver remains a solid FLEX option to help with WR-needy teams battling through bye weeks..


CHICAGO BEARS

  • Week 10 WR Fantasy Ranking: Darnell Mooney (WR33), Chase Claypool (WR46), N'Keal Harry (WR76)
  • WR Usage: Darnell Mooney (90% routes, 0.2 targets per route run, 1.63 yards per route run), Equanimeous St. Brown (67%, 0.13, 0.86), Chase Claypool (41%, 0.17, 1.02) 
  • Week 10 WR Matchup: DET: 29 in PPR per game to WR, 30 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 10 TE Fantasy Rankings: Cole Kmet (TE14) TE Usage: Cole Kmet (79% routes, 0.12 targets per route run, 0.91 yards per route run), Trevon Wesco (8%, 0.09, 1)

Key question: Is there enough pass-game volume to confidently fire up any Bears wide receivers ahead of this winnable matchup?

Not exactly. The Bears (49.6%) join the Titans (46.9%) and Falcons (46.2%) as the NFL’s only three offenses throwing the ball on under 50% of their snaps in non-garbage time situations. Justin Fields recent hot stretch has been great to see, although he still hasn’t managed to throw for even 210 yards in a game this season. Week 9’s 28 pass attempts were his most all season.

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