After a dozen teams going on vacation over the last two weeks, we return to a normalized four teams on bye.
Week 10 teams off: Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders
Even though we have two fewer teams taking a breather, fantasy gamers will be without a bunch of talented wide receivers and three very capable quarterbacks.
Ownership rates are in parentheses.
RB Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints vs. Denver Broncos (54 percent)
Hightower has capitalized on Mark Ingram’s Week 8 fumble and rushed 49 times since then for 189 yards and a touchdown. The Saints will look to run the ball against Denver’s weak ground defense for a number reasons, primarily to keep the pass rushers off of Drew Brees since they will have to respect the run.
The other reason is that Denver is lousy at stopping running backs, and Latavius Murray’s explosive Week 9 performance was not a fluke. Denver has yielded individual demonstrations of at least 15.3 fantasy points in five of eight previous games.
For the record, Hightower should remain on rosters until something significantly changes with his workload or production, but this is a fine time to deploy him.
RB Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns (12 percent)
Following Baltimore’s bye, Dixon saw an uptick in work in Week 9. The Ravens looked like they had found an undisputed starter in Terrance West for a three-game stretch, but he has been dreadful since, and Dixon carved out 20 plays to West’s 30. That should shift even more in the rookie’s favor this week.
West mustered only 21 yards on 15 carries, but Dixon was equally as ugly with a 9-13-0 line. Cleveland is up this week. If you are an owner of LeSean McCoy, Theo Riddick, Frank Gore and/or Latavius Murray, here’s your chance to take a justifiable shot on Dixon having a breakout game.
The Browns’ defense has conceded the second most points to backs over the past five games. Running backs have scored at least once in seven consecutive games versus the Browns.
Make it a fling
RBs Peyton Barber (7 percent), Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A rehash of last week’s inclusion, sort of, Barber is now down Antone Smith in the competition department, which makes playing him a little safer. Who knows what to expect with Doug Martin, but his return would greatly dampen Barber’s upside.
The matchups ahead are less than fruitful. Even if you don’t play him, owning Barber can block owners of a much-need body as we still face bye weeks, and his increased volume of work alone warrants a roster spot. How’s that for a lukewarm endorsement?
WR Chris Conley, Kansas City Chiefs (1 percent)
This is a deep dig, and the fling will have a predetermined expiration date of Week 12 when the Chiefs travel to Denver. In the interim, the likely Jeremy Maclin-less KC offense will have to find others to step up.
When TE Travis Kelce isn’t crying foul of refs, he’ll be the top target. Next, it will depend on game flow and matchups, but the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are wholly exploitable through the air.
Conley is a sheer gamble without a doubt. His best performance was a 6-70-0 line in Week 4 at the Steelers. He has been targeted at least four times in every game but one this year. For whatever it is worth, Alex Smith is expected to return to the starting lineup this week.
Put a ring on that thing
TE Lance Kendricks, Los Angeles Rams (15 percent)
Kendricks has caught seven passes in back-to-back games, coming off 21 targets in that time. He has 39 targets in his last five games and has secured 17 balls in that time. PPR owners must put him on their rosters as a reserve with matchup-play potential. He would have improved his 7-90-0 line last week with a touchdown had he not dropped on easy one — perhaps too easy — in the end zone.
The upcoming matchups are hit or miss, but involvement of his recent utilization level cannot be overlooked. The Rams probably will have to throw early and often in Week 12 (New Orleans), Week 13 (New England) and Week 14 (Atlanta). Even if you don’t have a lineup spot or want to chance starting him, he makes for a fine stash play to take advantage of those matchups.
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans (11 percent)
How is he owned in less than even one-third of fantasy leagues polled? Granted, I selected a more casual setup just to get an illustration of where his rate had fallen to after a bye, but this is crazy.
Fiedorowicz has been targeted 34 times, landing 24, in his last five games. The long written-off pass catcher has scored three times in this span. Matchups with Jacksonville, Oakland, San Diego, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville again and the Bengals fill out the schedule through Week 16. He is serviceable in PPR leagues the rest of the way and could be a toss-in when looking at a larger trade package.
The big tease
QB Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (22 percent)
Fresh off his best game in forever and a half years, Kaepernick will draw waiver interest, and possibly starts this week with several possible starters on bye. First of all, he faced the New Orleans Saints and was in catch-up mode nearly from the onset.
In addition, San Fran faces Arizona on the road, then New England, followed by at Miami and at Chicago. Where in that string does he have a chance of being useful for fantasy owners in traditional get-ups? Maybe New England, if you feel TB12 will hang 40 points on the Niners, but the Pats defense is infinitely better than that of the Saints. Let someone else waste the roster space.
Grounds for divorce
Philadelphia Eagles defensive team (94 percent)
The Eagles started the season on fire for fantasy owners, scoring double digits the first three weeks before a Week 4 bye. Philly posted six points, eight points, then erupted for 18 versus the Vikings in Week 7 and combined for just seven points in the next two games. On the docket comes Atlanta, at Seattle, Green Bay and at Cincinnati — not exactly cake matchups for a fantasy defense.