Week 10 of the fantasy football season featured plenty of notable performances. What should we make of them? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft are here with analysis on the biggest performers — and duds — of the week.
Patrick Mahomes continues historic pace
In his return from a knee injury, Mahomes scored 29.8 fantasy points on Sunday behind his third career 400-yard and 15th career three-touchdown passing game, numbers that look all the more impressive if you consider that the opposing Titans entered the day affording opposing quarterbacks only 15.2 fantasy points per game. With that score, Mahomes now has 606.6 points through the first 25 career NFL starts, easily shattering Deshaun Watson‘s former mark of 564.3 for the most by any quarterback in history through that many starts. Remarkably, Mahomes was started in only 57.1% of ESPN leagues in Week 10, sixth-highest among quarterbacks. — Cockcroft
I’ll jump in here, too, on Mahomes. The Titans were down starting cornerback Malcom Butler, but this is still a pretty good defense in Tennessee. And Mahomes lit that group up. If you had any concerns about Mahomes’ movement skills or his ability to sling the ball around after his knee injury, his numbers today should’ve answered those. Mahomes completed 36-of-50 passes for 446 yards with three touchdowns. And I didn’t see any limitations to his game. He can still make those ridiculous second-reaction throws. — Bowen
In his Browns debut on Sunday, Hunt played 38-of-66 (58%) of the team’s offensive snaps and scored 14.4 PPR fantasy points, 0.3 more than Chubb. Despite that, Chubb’s performance shouldn’t warrant any worry amongst his fantasy managers. He played 53-of-66 (80%) offensive snaps, amassed 20 of the team’s 26 rushing attempts and was targeted four times, with those numbers falling right in line with his seasonal per-game rates (including Sunday) of 75% of the offensive snaps played, 19.3 rushing attempts and 4.0 targets.
It’s clear based upon Sunday’s usage that the Browns regard Hunt their passing-down back and Chubb the focal point of their offense, meaning that the only concern for the two should be game flow, something that shouldn’t be a huge issue looking at the final seven games on their schedule. Chubb remains a locked-in RB1 for me, but Hunt could have use in full-PPR formats as a flex play against some of these weaker upcoming defenses. — Cockcroft
I’ll add this, as the Browns did use personnel packages with multiple running backs. Get Hunt and Chubb on the field at the same time. That’s a game plan thing from Freddie Kitchens, and along with Hunt’s receiving production (seven receptions, 44 yards), it tells us that the running back is going to play a defined role for this squad. That meshes with Tristan’s note on Hunt’s PPR value. — Bowen
Darius Slayton‘s career day
Slayton enjoyed a career day against the Jets, scoring 34.1 PPR fantasy points, with his 10 catches exceeding his total in his previous four games combined (8). It was, however, the second time in his past three games that he scored multiple touchdowns, as he continued to strengthen his rapport with rookie QB Daniel Jones. Slayton, who was started in a mere 5.0% of ESPN leagues in Week 10 and remains available in 87.7%, is regardless not an easy player to add, since the Giants enjoy their bye during Week 11 before facing a tough matchup against the Bears defense in Week 12 (not to mention a somewhat difficult one against the Packers in Week 13).
It’s the fantasy playoffs schedule that looks so attractive for Slayton, with a pair of games against the Eagles and one apiece against the Dolphins and Redskins from Weeks 14-17 (and Jones to a lesser degree in two-quarterback leagues). That makes Slayton more of a situational add — you’ll need a roster spot to burn with his upcoming bye, and you’d be assuming that Sterling Shepard‘s (concussion) injury is indeed a season-ender. It’s a move I couldn’t make in a 10-team standard ESPN leagues, but would love to in any deeper format where I had the luxury. — Cockcroft
Lamar Jackson makes it look easy
Jackson was again outstanding, scoring 33.4 fantasy points while playing only three quarters of the Ravens’ 49-13 blowout of the Bengals. He enjoyed his fourth consecutive game with a rushing touchdown, becoming only the 17th quarterback since at least 1950 to enjoy a streak of at least that length, ran for at least 65 yards for the sixth consecutive game (longest such streak in NFL history) and pushed his season total for fantasy points to 237.6. That’s the fifth-most fantasy points by any quarterback in history through his team’s first nine games of a season. Jackson also now has 367.8 fantasy points in his first 16 career starts, which trails only Patrick Mahomes’ 410.1 and Cam Newton’s 370.3. — Cockcroft
Christian Kirk has three TDs
I expected Kirk to win underneath versus the Bucs secondary on quick game throws, screens, etc. That’s why he jumped up in the ranks for me this week as a WR2. But it was the deep ball targets from Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray — plus the sudden touchdown production — that allowed Kirk to rack up 37.8 fantasy points in PPR formats. Kirk got over the top of the Tampa secondary twice, and also cashed in on a red zone target from Murray to get six. Just a monster day for Kirk, who caught six of a team-high 10 targets for 138 yards and three scores. He simply played faster than the Bucs defensive backs.
With the 49ers defense up next, Kirk is going to slide back down in the ranks. Going back to Week 9, Kirk caught only 2-of-5 targets for 8 yards against San Francisco. However, Kirk’s numbers today are a reminder to take the positive matchups with wide receivers in your lineup. — Bowen
David Johnson not fantasy relevant … again
In 55 previous NFL games, Johnson had never been shut out … until Sunday. His zero PPR fantasy points gave him his second miserable score in the past four weeks — he also scored 0.2 points in Week 7, but played only three snaps — and while the matchup (the Buccaneers, who sport by far the league’s best run defense to this point) and Johnson’s limited snap count (45% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps) played a part, both factors influence his rest-of-year value.
The Cardinals have Kenyan Drake (and potentially Chase Edmonds) available to ease Johnson’s workload, and the injury might coax them to limit him for the remainder of the year, meaning he’ll be susceptible to upcoming poor matchups against the 49ers (Week 11), Rams (Week 13) and Steelers (Week 14). This just isn’t a RB1 right now, and if his practice weeks don’t progress smoothly, he might not be a RB2 some of those weeks, either.
Saquon Barkley has a rough day
Barkley concluded Sunday’s action with 13 rushing attempts for 1 yard, becoming only the seventh player since at least 1950 to carry the football at least that many times while amassing a yard or fewer. And for only the second time in a full game in his career, he was held beneath 10 PPR fantasy points (8.1).
Daniel Jones’ inconsistent play and fumbling issues have caused the Giants to play a fair share of their games from behind, and while that might suit a good pass-catcher like Barkley, his fantasy production just hasn’t shown it: He has averaged only 15.3 PPR fantasy points per game in his five games played that Jones started, compared to 23.7 when Eli Manning started. — Cockcroft
Cooper Kupp gets shut out
The Steelers defense is playing very well, but did anyone see Kupp getting completely shut out today? He saw four targets, and finished with zero grabs. Chalk that up to the Pittsburgh pass rush — which rattled quarterback Jared Goff — and sticky coverage versus Kupp in the secondary. The Rams offense never established a rhythm in the passing game, and the Steelers took away the inside crossing routes where Kupp usually makes his money. Up next for Kupp? It’s the Bears defense on Sunday night in Week 11. — Bowen
Here’s how unusual Kupp’s donut on the fantasy scorecard: In the 13 seasons for which snap-count data is available, he’s only the 36th player at any position to play 90%-plus of his team’s offensive snaps (he played 91%), be targeted at least four times (4) yet score zero PPR fantasy points. That’s an average of fewer than three per season, and most of the individuals who previously did it were far from household names in fantasy. Kupp, meanwhile, was started in a whopping 79.2% of ESPN leagues in Week 10. — Cockcroft
Aaron Jones carries the Packers
Thanks to his second career three-touchdown game, Jones tallied 27.3 PPR fantasy points in Week 10, the fourth time this season that he has scored at least 25 points. He’s now the No. 2 scorer among running backs for the year with 211.3 points, though the No. 3 scorer, Dalvin Cook, has played one fewer game. Interestingly enough, Jones didn’t garner a single target in this game, unusual for him after he totaled 37 in his previous six games combined, though it probably helped that he was facing a Panthers defense that has struggled far more against the run than the pass.
Jones will now enter his bye week before returning for a difficult matchup against the 49ers, but he does have one of the more fantasy-friendly schedules in the month of December. He remains a legitimate weekly RB1. — Cockcroft
Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST continues to dominate
For the sixth consecutive game, the Steelers’ defense/special teams scored double-digit fantasy points, their 22 pushing their season total to 109. That’s the second-most by any D/ST this season, behind only the Patriots’ 168, though the 49ers (107) will have a chance to catch and/or pass them on Monday night. Still, the Steelers will conclude Week 10 among the top three at the position, with the fourth-place team (the Rams) resting at 80 points, illustrating just how well this defense has played.
Even better: The Steelers have one of the most fantasy-friendly D/ST schedules the rest of the way, with games against the Browns (twice), Bengals, Jets, Bills and Cardinals. If this is your defense, you have to feel pretty secure in locking the Steelers in for the duration. — Cockcroft
Ronald Jones II: We can all see that Jones gives the Bucs more juice at the running back position, right? I think Bruce Arians is on board as well, after Jones out-snapped Peyton Barber 38 to 20 on Sunday. Jones finished with 106 total yards and a touchdown on 19 touches. And the majority of his production came in the passing game, as he caught 8-of-8 targets for 77 yards. With the Saints on tap in Week 11 — and four teams on a bye — Jones is going to be in that RB2/Flex discussion in my ranks. — Bowen
Marquise Brown: I don’t want to give out high-fives for beating up on the Bengals secondary, but I do like seeing Brown back in the mix for the Ravens pass game. After catching 3-of-4 targets for 48 yards in Week 9 versus the Patriots, Brown hauled in 4-of-4 targets for 80 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Even with the 49ers and Steelers still on the schedule, Brown’s deep ball speed and explosive play ability put him in the WR3 discussion as a high upside/low floor play. — Bowen
Kenny Golladay: Golladay managers got some relief late he caught a jump-ball throw from backup quarterback Jeff Driskel for a 47-yard touchdown. But I have some concerns for Golladay’s production moving forward if Matthew Stafford is down again next week versus Dallas. Sure, the targets will still be there for Golladay in a Lions offense that simply can’t generate consistent run game production. But if Stafford isn’t throwing the ball, Golladay has to drop down in the ranks as a mid-tier WR2. — Bowen
O.J. Howard: In a matchup against a Cardinals defense that has been ripped up by opposing tight ends all season, Howard caught 4-of-7 targets for 47 yards and a score. That’s a decent line, and Howard did make a nice grab on a seam ball throw from Jameis Winston. However, the touchdown came on either a busted coverage or poor communication from the Arizona secondary (maybe both). Given that the Bucs play the Saints next week, Howard will once again be ranked as a low-floor TE2 for me. — Bowen
Drew Brees: Yes, that was a prime matchup for Brees against a sub-par Atlanta defense. But with pass protection issues, and New Orleans’ inability to finish drives, Brees had just 11.5 fantasy points. That’s a bust. However, with Tampa on the schedule next week, I’m still going to rank Brees as a top-five QB. — Bowen
Christian McCaffrey: McCaffrey’s 26.1 PPR fantasy points gave him 272.5 for the season, the third-most by any running back through his team’s first nine games of any season since at least 1950. Using non-PPR scoring, McCaffrey’s 224.5 fantasy points are the ninth-most by a running back during that same time span. — Cockcroft
DJ Moore: After catching 9-of-11 targets for 120 yards against the Packers, Moore has now seen at least eight targets in his last five games, and he’s gone over the 100-yard receiving mark in two straight. Moore’s lack of touchdown production (only one touchdown catch this season) knocks down his value a bit. But the steady volume will keep Moore in the WR2 mix again in Week 11 versus the Falcons. — Bowen
Cardinals’ Vance Joseph ‘not worried’ about losing job despite struggles
TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is not worried about losing his job despite being in charge of the worst defense in the NFL.
The Cardinals are ranked 32nd in total yards per game, passing yards per game and first downs per game; and 31st in third-down percentage and goal-to-go percentage. They’re also coming off a 34-7 drubbing by the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in which they gave up 549 yards, including 424 yards to quarterback Jared Goff.
While Joseph called the game “really painful” and said the Cardinals are going through “hard times,” he’s not concerned about getting fired from his job for the second straight season. He was fired as the Denver Broncos head coach last season after two straight losing records.
“I’m not. I’m not,” he said during his weekly news conference Thursday. “I’ve been coaching a long time in this league. I’ve had success as a coach, so I’m not worried about that. That’s not my call. My job is to fix the defense.”
Joseph hasn’t been successful doing that as of yet.
He’s the Cardinals’ third defensive coordinator in as many years and brought with him a return to the 3-4 that Arizona had success with under the likes of former coordinators Todd Bowles and James Bettcher during Bruce Arians’ time as head coach from 2013 to 2017.
Joseph said Thursday he knew it was going to take time to implement his system and get it to work. He said his hope when he was initially hired was that his system would work in the first few weeks but added that he knew that wasn’t realistic.
“We have a young group,” Joseph said. “We’re in our first year of a system. Even our veteran players have been in a different system for the last three years, so it takes time and it takes courage to live through this in hard times.
“We’re gonna get it fixed and once it’s fixed, no one remembers these times, but right now it’s tough. And so if you’re not strong-willed and you don’t have courage, you can’t fix it. You can’t let the noise dictate your attitude. We have to go to work. We have to simply fix it. We have a plan here and right now, it’s the first year of the plan. It wasn’t going to be easy. It wasn’t fixed, so that’s why we’re here, so we’re trying to fix it.”
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday that he’s still confident in Joseph because of what he sees from his defensive coordinator.
“I see every day at practice,” Kingsbury said. “I watch the tape and see what’s going on and how it’s supposed to be played. Our focus right now is to get better in all three phases, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Joseph began taking steps to fix the defense this week.
Cornerback Patrick Peterson said Joseph simplified some of the calls to give the defense a better chance at playing faster.
“It wasn’t complex at all. It was just a lot of checks, a lot of moving parts, just a lot communication that was keyed upon and if you don’t get certain communication, things can break down so that’s the only thing,” Peterson said. “Just minimizing the checks, then guys are lining up and playing football versus worrying about if the Y does this and the X does that, checking into X, Y and Z versus just line it up.”
Starting this week, Peterson said the Cardinals now have one call and “not too many checks.”
Joseph believes the Cardinals’ defense is a few fixes — like the one above — away from being better. Joseph referred to Arizona’s issues defending tight ends. The Cardinals have allowed a league-high 978 yards, 13 touchdowns and 49 first downs to tight ends.
But Joseph pointed out that Rams tight end Tyler Higbee, who had 107 yards and a touchdown on seven catches on Sunday, caught three of those passes for seven yards and then gained the rest of the yards on each play after the catch.
“We can fix those things,” Joseph said. “So, sometimes the public sees it as huge issue, OK? And for us it’s simple fixes. So, again, it’s hard times right now. We’re all going through it. It takes courage to go through these times. OK? That’s where we are and it’s going to get fixed.”
Radio analyst Tim Ryan apologizes to 49ers players for Lamar Jackson comments
BRADENTON, Fla. — After the San Francisco 49ers suspended radio color analyst Tim Ryan for a game for saying Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s dark skin helps him disguise a dark football when running fake handoffs in Baltimore’s zone-read-heavy offense, he apologized to players and members of the organization at the team’s hotel here in Bradenton.
Those apologies were apparently well-received by Niners players who spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon for the first time since Ryan’s comments came to public light.
“I know Tim personally and I have listened to the dialogue and saw it written and honestly I wasn’t as outraged as everybody else,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “I understand how it can be taken under a certain context and be offensive to some but if you’re saying ‘Hey, this is a brown ball, they’re wearing dark colors and he has a brown arm, honestly sometimes we were having trouble seeing it on film. He’s making a play fake and sometimes he’s swinging his arm really fast and you’re like ‘OK, does he have the ball on that play?’ And then you look up and (Mark) Ingram is running it. So, it was technically a valid point but you can always phrase things better. You can always phrase things and not say his black skin.”
Sherman said he has had a relationship with Ryan since he signed with the Niners in 2018 and noted that Ryan has “never been anything but a great guy and a professional and a guy who takes his job seriously.”
Asked if it was difficult to find the ball when the Ravens ran zone read plays against the 49ers, Sherman said it was as Jackson rushed 16 times for 101 yards and a touchdown with a career-high 70 of those rushing yards coming via zone read plays.
“It 100 percent is an issue,” Sherman said. “That’s why it wasn’t that offensive because what he was saying was a great point. It’s been that way in any zone read scheme, the mesh point is always a tough point of contention so if you add a dark jersey to it, it’s gonna make it even harder. Obviously, you can always phrase it better but I think it’s one of those things where he could have used better words but it may have been made bigger than what it really was.”
Ryan made the comments in a phone interview Monday morning while appearing on the “Murph and Mac” show on KNBR radio in San Francisco. Ryan called into the show from the team’s hotel in Bradenton, where the Niners are spending this week preparing for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
After Ryan’s comments became known to those who didn’t listen to the interview on the radio, the Niners moved swiftly to suspend him from his duties for this week’s game. The team released a statement noting the suspension and apologizing to the Ravens for the comments with an assurance that Ryan’s comments wouldn’t be taken lightly.
Ryan also issued a statement apologizing for what he said as he also personally apologized to players, coaches and members of the organization in person.
“He walked up to me earlier and before he even said anything, I told him ‘I got your back,'” defensive end Dee Ford said. “I already knew the story. The words kind of got taken out of context. Of course, I think he knows now that he could have used a better judgment with his words but we’ve got his back. I knew what he was trying to say. This era we live in, that’s just what it is. But I know him personally. I speak to him a lot. He loves to watch the D-line and there’s not one type of bone — you know what type of bone I’m talking about in his body. I’ve got his back. So, put that to bed really fast.”
Ryan is a former Chicago Bears defensive lineman who appeared in 58 games over four seasons for that team. After 12 seasons as a color analyst for FOX television, he moved to the Niners’ radio booth in 2014.
Dennis Brown, a former Niners defensive lineman, will replace Ryan in the booth on Sunday. KNBR is the Niners’ radio partner and broadcasts all of the team’s games.
As part of his analyst role, Ryan is often around the team, watching practice and interacting with players and coaches.
“With Tim, I have always as a human being tried to judge people on how I interact with them and I love the man,” defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He’s a very genuine human being and I know he knows he made a mistake. And he’s just trying to move this on as quickly as possible.”
Adrian Peterson among 8 finalists named for Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award
The league revealed the finalists Thursday. Along with the Washington running back, Jacksonville defensive end and Los Angeles Chargers linebacker, they include Indianapolis wide receiver T.Y. Hilton; New England special teams ace Matthew Slater; Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford; San Francisco offensive tackle Joe Staley; and Los Angeles Rams safety Eric Weddle.
Staley is a finalist for the fifth consecutive season, while Campbell and Weddle are finalists for the second straight year.
Each NFL team nominates one man for the award, which recognizes players who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field. The award was created in 2014 in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
A panel of former players select the eight finalists from the 32 nominees. The panel is comprised of Hall of Famer Curtis Martin, Warrick Dunn, Karl Mecklenberg and Leonard Wheeler. The eight finalists will be listed on the Pro Bowl ballot under the NFL Sportsmanship Award category.
The winner, selected by the vote of the players, will be announced during the NFL Honors show Feb. 1 , when The Associated Press NFL individual award winners are revealed.
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