In our Week 10 fantasy football start ’em and sit ’em, we let the data give you another perspective that likely varies from the expert consensus.
Before the season started, we decided to take our model and run it through an intensive mock draft exercise to see what type of team builds we could create following the model’s preseason rankings.
With over half of the fantasy football season behind us, this is a good time to review what those teams would have looked like and how they might have performed over the first nine weeks. We picked teams beginning with the third, fifth and eighth picks in the draft.
This was a team built around pass catchers, as evidenced by our first four picks being Travis Kelce and three wide receivers. Despite a poor DK Metcalf performance – both for fantasy squads and the Seattle Seahawks, this team would be an elite fantasy squad. Without including points from the kicker or defense, the starters of this team would be averaging 116.6 PPR points per week.
And yes, that’s assuming you haven’t substituted either Terry McLaurin or Las Vegas Raiders No. 2 wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (two top-20 wide receivers) for Metcalf, and it doesn’t include any Montgomery games either.
Put simply, this team is outstanding. It’s led by two top-10 running backs accounting for 39.5 fantasy points per game, plus two top-five wide receivers and three outstanding wide receiver flex options. Not including defense (we wish we could, hello Dallas Cowboys defense) or kicker, this team would be averaging 123.5 PPR points. Plus, nabbing Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson late gives us a safeguard should Herbert go down.
We highlighted this before the season as our favorite roster construction and unfortunately, this is the what-could-have-been team. Starting with Nick Chubb in Week 2, all three of this team’s top running backs have battled injuries, as did Diontae Johnson – getting hurt in Week 1 and not coming back until Week 7.
Knowing full well that this team would have had to capitalize on the waiver wire early in the season, this is a team poised to finish strong down the stretch. Substituting Montgomery for Chubb and Marquise Brown for Johnson, this team makeup would be averaging 118.7 fantasy points per week.
The point of reviewing this exercise was to get a gauge of our model’s preseason projections and also review a couple of patterns and trends that emerged throughout this process. We highlighted five observations while writing this piece 12 weeks ago.
1. Draft Travis Kelce, and if you can’t get him, wait until later in the draft and take either Dallas Goedert or Evan Engram.
Kelce fantasy managers feel great, especially when Taylor Swift is in attendance, and those that waited for Engram are more than happy with having drafted the TE7 in the later rounds – in our mock draft examples, we nabbed him in the ninth and 10th round.
Goedert, who had to be taken a little earlier, has been a slight disappointment so far and is about to be placed on IR after getting hurt in the Philadelphia Eagles close win over the Dallas Cowboys last week.
2. Our model’s highest profile, most undervalued player – Keenan Allen.
We mentioned that we took him in seven of our eight mock drafts. Allen is WR4. He’s been a smashing success.
3. Draft an elite quarterback.
Entering the year, our model’s top-five quarterbacks were, in order: Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Fields, and Justin Herbert. By PPR points per game, the signal callers from the Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Chargers are QB2, QB1, QB4, QB10, and QB3 respectively.
Even among the elite, there’s a big gap between the top two (Hurts and Allen) and the rest, and if you have either one of them, you enter every week with an advantage at the quarterback position.
4. Draft Zay Jones as a late round sleeper.
Unfortunately, Jones has been hurt most of the year.
5. An intriguing stack opportunity for this season – the Detroit Lions running backs.
Montgomery was there to be had in the seventh and eighth round of fantasy drafts this year. He’s currently eighth in PPR points per game. Gibbs got off to a slow start, but on the back of an RB3 finish in Week 7 and an RB1 finish in Week 8 with Montgomery out, he’s 10th in PPR points per game.
If this intro seems like a long-winded pat on the back because our observations turned out to be excellent, don’t worry. We had A.J. Brown as a preseason Nay! The model got plenty of things wrong, and that’s the beauty of fantasy football.
Mock drafts are important. They are an excellent tool to help you discover pre-draft how the industry values players. This allows you to make draft-day judgement calls, like waiting on a second or third running back until the middle rounds to draft a player you like (e.g. David Montgomery) or slightly reaching to add a preferred player in the earlier rounds (like Keenen Allen).
Long story short, next year, make sure to remember to do mock drafts.
The Yays: Week 10 Fantasy Plays Projected Higher Than Expert Consensus
Note: We’re comparing our rankings to the expert consensus rankings (ECR) from Fantasy Pros. These rankings update throughout the week (we pulled these numbers from Thursday). Once again, we are using PPR unless noted otherwise.
Brock Purdy, QB (SF) vs. JAC (ECR: 8, Our Rank: 4, Projected Points: 20.03)
After leading the San Francisco 49ers to 30 or more points in five straight games, Purdy was in, if not leading, the MVP conversation through five weeks. After scoring exactly 17 points in their last three games, the conversation has switched from “Is Purdy the MVP?” to “Is Purdy even any good?”
We’ll leave that discussion to the pundits and instead just say, the answer is usually somewhere in the middle. And with Deebo Samuel coming back, facing a Jacksonville Jaguars team that is 30th in sacks and passing yards allowed, Purdy should have plenty of time to throw and open receivers to throw to, to help the 49ers get back to their high-scoring ways.
With a few stalwart QBs on bye this week, Purdy is a top-five option for our model, right below Baltimore Ravens star Lamar Jackson.
Alexander Mattison, RB (MIN) vs. NO (ECR: 22, Our Rank: 12, PP: 15.87)
The first of three players in our article this week from this Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints matchup, Mattison, now entering Week 10, is still looking for his first rushing touchdown of the year.
In fact, as a team, Vikings running backs have combined for only one rushing touchdown, and that was scored by Cam Akers in Week 8. However, Akers suffered another brutal season-ending injury last week, and so concerns about Mattison’s workload are no longer relevant.
The Saints have allowed at least 113 rushing yards in each of their last four games, including 164 yards to the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago and 156 yards to the offensively challenged Chicago Bears. With no questions about his volume, Mattison is a strong play, even with the new guy, Josh Dobbs, running the show.
Nico Collins, WR (HOU) vs. CIN (ECR: 18, Our Rank: 8, PP: 14.78)
Has there been a more fun team to watch than the Houston Texans? Has there been a quarterback more fun to watch than C.J. Stroud? Has there been a more fun game than last week’s Texans last-minute comeback over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
Just think, Stroud threw for 470 yards. There were two lead-changing touchdowns scored in the final 46 seconds of the game. Heck, eight minutes before that, a Texans backup running back kicked a field goal to give his team the lead. It was a manic finish, and because of that, it’s easy to forget that Collins scored the game’s first touchdown and is now very quietly 11th in the NFL in receiving yards per game.
Facing a Cincinnati Bengals defense that has surrendered 949 passing yards in their last three games, the opportunities will be plentiful for Collins and the Texans’ potent passing offense. He is a must-start for the model this week, just ahead of New York Jets star Garrett Wilson.
Marquise Brown, WR (ARI) vs. ATL (ECR: 25, Our Rank: 13, PP: 14.19)
Welcome back, Kyler Murray! Not only is his return good for football, and fun for fantasy managers, but it’s especially good for those that have Brown stashed on their rosters.
In eight games with Murray at quarterback, Brown has averaged 6.6 receptions and 62.9 receiving yards per game. In all other games for Brown with the Arizona Cardinals, he is averaging 4.3 receptions and 44.9 receiving yards.
The model is expecting an immediate uptick for Brown. Only seven receivers have more projected targets than Brown this week, and with his volume, he makes for a solid WR2 candidate.
The Nays: Week 10 Fantasy Plays Projected Lower Than Expert Consensus
Dak Prescott, QB (DAL) vs. NYG (ECR: 5, Our Rank: 12, PP: 16.75)
Despite coming up short in the clutch for the Cowboys and their fans last week, Dak was once again excellent for his fantasy managers. Since Week 6, no quarterback is averaging more fantasy points per game than Prescott’s 27.4. That’s why his ECR is in the top five this week.
But… our model isn’t feeling as rosy about Prescott’s chances. And you need to look no further back than eight weeks ago to figure out why. The Cowboys opened the season on the road against the New York Giants and eviscerated the G-men 40-0. Prescott’s final stat line? 143 passing yards and no touchdowns.
Entering Week 10, the Giants have scored multiple touchdowns in exactly one game (ouch). Because of that, the model is skeptical that the conditions of the game will enable Dak to produce a top-five performance and he falls into the same tier as Sam Howell.
Alvin Kamara, RB (NO) vs. MIN (ECR: 3, Our Rank: 13, PP: 15.42)
Kamara being a Nay requires some thoughtful discussion. For starters, since coming back in Week 4, only Christian McCaffrey has more fantasy points than Kamara among running backs. Furthermore, since his return, Kamara is averaging over seven receptions per game, so not only is his ceiling high, but so is his floor.
This week, facing a Vikings team that blitzes more than any other in the NFL, you’d think the opportunities for Kamara to slip out of the backfield and catch passes would be plentiful. But that’s not the case, because the Vikings often blitz six or more rushers, which usually means the running back is tasked with staying in the backfield to help block in the passing game.
Need proof? Bijan Robinson played 75% of the passing snaps for the Atlanta Falcons last week and ended the game with two receptions. Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers finished with four in Week 8 and McCaffrey only caught three passes in Week 7. And for as great as Kamara has been through the air, he’s only averaging 3.6 yards per carry. He is more of an RB2, than a surefire RB1 this week, in the same tier alongside Cleveland Browns running back Jerome Ford and Broncos running back Javonte Williams.
Chris Olave, WR (NO) vs. MIN (ECR: 8, Our Rank: 18, PP: 13.18)
Wait, so if Kamara is a Nay, then why is Olave also a Nay? Doesn’t blitzing usually open up a defense to be vulnerable downfield, which is an area where Olave thrives?
Well, the other thing the Vikings defense does well is funnel their coverage behind blitzes to their opponent’s strongest options, forcing second and third options to beat them. Against the Falcons last week, KhaDarel Hodge tied for the team lead in targets, with Jonnu Smith. That’s the Falcons’ second tight end and fourth wide receiver.
The week prior, it was Romeo Doubs that led his team. And against the Niners on Monday Night Football in Week 7, it was Jauan Jennings.
The model still thinks Olave will produce solid numbers, and he only needs one play to turn a good performance into a great one. But big plays from the Saints usually come from Rashid Shaheed. Our model is accounting for that, as it’s Shaheed, and not Olave (or Michael Thomas) that has the highest projected receiving yards this week.
With a lower output, Olave finds himself below receivers like the Carolina Panthers’ Adam Thielen, and slightly above players such as DeAndre Hopkins of the Tennessee Titans.
Looking for more on trending players like Deshaun Watson and Cole Kmet? Don’t forget to check out our weekly waiver wire takes, complete fantasy football rankings and start/sit comparison tool, as well as our NFL predictions and statistical leaderboard. Happy exploring. And follow along on Instagram and X.