The final third of the fantasy regular season is upon us in week 10. Trade deadlines typically don’t last much longer than this week so be aware of what you can and can’t do. Those in dynasty leagues might be looking to “load up” for the playoffs by shipping off younger talents or draft picks to teams out of the race. Buyer beware however. Mortgaging your future for players with short shelf lives is a one-way ticket to a rebuild. It might be worth it if you come away with the championship but there are no guarantees. One thing you want to consider is moving or dropping bye week coverage to shore up questionable areas of your team as the bye weeks start to come to a close. Free agent talents only get fewer and farther between as the season wears on. Don’t wait until the last minute to fill your bench. Speaking of bye weeks, the second last bye weeks of the 2017 NFL season has Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland and Philadelphia getting the week off.
Will Compton led last week’s recommendations with 8 solo tackles, 1 assist, 3 passes defensed and an interception while playing all defensive snaps but one. If I’m being honest, if Compton has better hands, he would have had three interceptions. Compton was everywhere on Sunday against the Seahawks and deserves a look as a LB2-LB3 for rosters in most any league type. Martrell Spaight was not used much at all and managed to get dinged up on special teams. Mychal Kendricks posted 4 total tackles and 2 passes defensed in a blowout win over the Broncos, playing 73% of the snaps. While not exciting in first glance, 4 total tackles tied for the Eagles’ team lead. Finally, Brock Coyle scored 7 solo tackles, 1 assist and a pass defensed against the Cardinals where he played 83% of the snaps. That performance was a welcome one in a week that saw many teams struggle to fill bye week gaps in their lineup.
Reuben Foster SFO LB – 4-3 WLB Value: LB1 – LB2
Although Reuben Foster’s ultimate destination is likely to be the middle of San Francisco’s defense, he returned from a high ankle sprain and rib injury to man the weakside with Brock Coyle playing in the middle, for now. Foster’s health has been his biggest question mark before and after the draft this year with the rookie failing to finish either game he had played in prior to week 9 against the Cardinals. In his first full game, Foster responded with 13 solo tackles and 1 assist. That 14 total tackle performance was good for a tie at the top of the NFL for the week. Foster scored those tackles on 75 out of a possible 77 defensive snaps. The Cardinals committed to running the ball on 42 of those snaps which boosted his tackle totals. The 49ers’ anemic offense makes games like this one possible so if Foster has found the waiver wire in your league due to his oft-injured status this year, I’d look him up in tackle-heavy or balanced leagues as long as his health holds out. The Giants visit San Francisco in week 10 and have been a good to great matchup for opposing LBs this year. Grab Foster if he is available.
Ramon Humber BUF LB – 4-3 WLB Value: LB1 – LB2
After a great start to his season with 28 solo tackles and 10 assisted tackles through his first four games, Ramon Humber went down with a thumb injury that required surgery that caused him to miss three games. Humber returned to the lineup in week 9 and got back to business with 5 solo tackles and 2 assists against the Jets on 50 of a possible 67 snaps (75%). Humber was a LB1 before injury so as long as the Bills keep his usage high, I think that is achievable. The Saints are a good matchup for the Bills linebackers as the average amount of tackles supplied to the top opposing linebacker has been 12 total tackles over their last three games. With the Chiefs and the Patriots twice in the Bills future, I like Humber’s rest of the year projections as well.
Curtis Grant/Calvin Munson/Jonathan Casillas NYG LB – 4-3 MLB/WLB Value: LB3
The multitude of injuries that the Giants continue to suffer at the linebacker position grows weekly. BJ Goodson (ankle) and Jonathan Casillas (neck) failed to suit up in week 9 and Keenan Robinson got 25 snaps against the Rams before a quad injury ended his night. That left second year UDFA Curtis Grant and rookie UDFA Calvin Munson left to man a defense that was repeatedly abused by the Rams in week 9. Grant managed to pile up 6 total tackles on 88% usage with Munson also scoring 6 total tackles along with a forced fumble on 64% usage. Neither of these guys are starter caliber players but in a game where opportunity can be the best thing you have going for you, I’d look at one of them if pickings are slim. It’s worth mentioning that Jonathan Casillas was limited in practice and might be close to returning to the lineup as well. The Giants are not a good team right now and often, those kinds of teams can be the ones that yield IDP fantasy gold. The Giants visit San Francisco, host Kansas City and visit Washington in their next three weeks.
Jarrad Davis DET LB – 4-3 MLB Value: LB2
I had many people ask me if Jarrad Davis’ 2 total tackle performance on 100% usage game in week 8 was a fluke. I think that we got our answer in week 9 against Green Bay. Davis led the Lions in tackles with 7 solo tackles and an assist. While you can argue that Tahir Whitehead might have some more splash play ability, Davis should be the regular tackle option for the Lions going forward. His weak game against the Steelers saw him hit the free agent market in too many shallow leagues to ignore. If your league was one of them, I’d give him a look.
Sneaky play of the week – Denzel Perryman SDC LB
Denzel Perryman is expected to make his return from injured reserve this week after missing the entire season to this point with an ankle injury. It couldn’t come at a better time as the Jaguars face the best rushing team in the NFL in the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road. With Jatavis Brown nicked up and the team relying on Hayes Pullard, the time is right for Perryman to assume the lead of the Chargers defense. While it’s completely warranted to worry about usage in his first game back, he’s unlikely to get a better look at rushes coming his way than in week 10.
Defensive linemen plays
While the 3 solo tackle effort put out by Henry Anderson on 77% usage against the Texans wasn’t awful, I had hoped that the Colts would have gotten to a cold Tom Savage moreso than the two times they did. On the other hand, Leger Douzable was everything I’d hoped he would have been in replacement duty of Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead. Douzable scored a linebacker-esque 7 total tackles (6 solo) against the Cardinals on 73% usage in week 9. Those kinds of tackle numbers put him in the top 10 for tackle heavy scoring leagues. Finally, Vinny Curry was able to sack Brock Osweiler once to go along with 2 solo tackles on 53% usage in a game that featured much less sacks than a 51-23 might imply. Derek Barnett scored 3 solo tackles in 45% usage in the same game. Far from horrible production but I expected more.
Avery Moss NYG DE – 4-3 DE Value: DL2 – DL3
With Olivier Vernon continuing to miss time with an ankle injury, 5th round rookie Avery Moss has been establishing himself as the primary benefactor of that playing time. He continued his high usage in week 9 with 88% usage against the Rams. That playing time turned into 6 total tackles and a pass defensed. With the Giants heading to San Francisco in week 10, the potential is there for continued high tackle games as well as some big plays if the Giants can gain a lead. Tackle numbers will keep Moss’ floor high so I don’t mind him as an option as long as the usage remains there.
Muhammad Wilkerson/Leonard Williams NYJ DE – 3-4 DE Value: DL2 – DL3
With news dropping that Jameis Winston is likely to be shut down for the next few weeks, Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to draw the start at quarterback for the Buccaneers. The Jets’ defense looked great against the Bills on Thursday night football in week 9 and the Buccaneers protection looked weak against the Saints as well. I don’t expect Fitzpatrick to fare particularly well against the Jets pass rush if the Jets can get out to a lead. Muhammad Wilkerson (3 total tackles, 1 sack, 1 PD) and Leonard Williams (5 total tackles, 0.5 sack) both were startable DLs last week and could easily have start-worthy weeks in week 10 as well.
Sneaky play of the week – Stephon Tuitt PIT DE
Plain and simple, the Colts are the most sacked team in football right now at just shy of 4 sacks per game given up. With Andrew Luck being sent to IR for lingering shoulder pain, things don’t appear to be improving much in the protection department despite a win against the Texans in week 9. The Colts are unlikely to be as fortunate in week 10 as they play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers, fresh off of a bye. Stephon Tuitt also figured to draw back into the lineup after missing the last two Steelers games with a back injury. Tuitt has only 0.5 sacks this year across four games but is virtually unowned compared to Cameron Heyward. Either make a great play this week.
Defensive back plays
Kurt Coleman led last week’s recommendations with a top 10 performance amongst defensive backs with 10 total tackles while playing every snap against the Falcons. He remains a quality option going forward. Daniel Sorensen tied for the Chiefs team lead with 6 total tackles on 97% usage but I had hoped for more given how the game went. John Johnson posted a solid game against the Giants in a blowout win with 7 total tackles and a pass defensed on 84% usage. No Rams defensive player saw more than 85% so don’t read into that usage. It was likely a function of a blowout win resulting in second and third stringers getting into the game. LaMarcus Joynerposted left a bit to be desired with his 4 total tackles on 82% in the same game. Shalom Luani gave way to a returning Karl Joseph for the Raiders and as a result, didn’t make an impact on Sunday night.
Adrian Phillips LAC S – 4-3 SS Value: DB2
Adrian Phillips has come on recently for the Chargers as a third safety/nickel linebacker, playing about 70% of defensive snaps over his last two games. In those games, the fourth year safety out of Texas has 16 solo tackles, 4 assists, a forced fumble and two passes defensed. The Jaguars are the number one rushing team in the NFL and could present some decent opportunity for Phillips depending on his usage. With Denzel Perryman expected to return to the lineup in week 10, Phillips could lose snaps if the Chargers decide to keep Hayes Pullard on the field more than they have. Buyer beware here.
Jordan Poyer/Micah Hyde BUF S – 4-3 SS/FS Value: DB2 – DB3
If Jordan Poyer’s injury in week 8 scared a few owners into dropping him, his 7 total tackle performance in returning to the lineup against the Jets might have him back in prospective owners’ sights. Poyer showed no ill effects from the knee injury that caused him to miss time as evidenced by his 100% usage in week 9. Meanwhile, Micah Hyde is quietly showing ballhawk skills that are making him a feared center fielder while still scoring enough tackles to stay relevant. The New Orleans Saints visit Buffalo in week 10 and I expect that the opportunity for Poyer, Hyde and the rest of the Bills to be plentiful. In recent weeks, the Saints have carried opposing safeties such as Adrian Amos and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix to DB1 performances and I don’t think that it’s a stretch at all to put Poyer and Hyde in that conversation.
DeAngelo Hall WAS S – 3-4 FS Value: DB3
DeAngelo Hall saw his first game action of the year in week 9 against the Seahawks and despite just returning from a knee injury that delayed the start of his year, the Redskins opted to put him on punt returns. The results were pedestrian at best with Hall getting blown up on his first attempt and gaining 7 yards on the next. On defense, Hall logged 5 total tackles and 2 passes defensed on 100% usage (83 snaps). That’s a high snap count that won’t be equaled most weeks but the Vikings and Saints in successive weeks could spell another couple decent outings for the 14-year veteran. He’s in DB3/flex territory however.
Sneaky play of the week – Orlando Scandrick DAL CB
The Cowboys and Falcons in week 10 will be an interesting game in that I am curious on how the Falcons will respond to a dominant Cowboys running attack versus how the Cowboys defend a passing attack that can be dominant but has struggled as of late. I expect that the Falcons will need to throw in this game and Orlando Scandrick, who has logged 13 total tackles over his last two games, might be the beneficiary of the tackle opportunities that result from those throws. Jeff Heath and Byron Jones are safer plays but also are more likely to be owned.