Week 10 of the 2019 NFL season has come and gone! This past week saw the last undefeated team fall, the MVP candidacy of Russell Wilson continue to pick up steam, and the bittersweet return of Patrick Mahomes. It was one of the wildest weeks of the year so far, and it produced plenty of stand-outs worth mentioning. Let’s see who made the cut:
LAMAR JACKSON (Baltimore Ravens)
All rise for the honorary, uncrowned MVP of sportswriters across the country! The NFL media has worn their fascination with Jackson on their sleeve since Week one of this year, and it’s hard to blame them. The superhuman sophomore has been even better than advertised so far in 2019, doing things that have a genuine chance to shift the balance of power in the league as a whole. Jackson followed up his statement victory over New England in Week 9 with a gleeful thrashing of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10.
The hapless Bengals had no answer for Baltimore’s dual-threat offense, and Jackson had a field day, finishing with a final stat line of (288 total yards/3 passing TD’s/1 Rushing TD). He will look to build on his banner year against a fellow MVP favorite when he locks horns with Deshaun Watson and the Texans in Week 11.
DARIUS SLAYTON (New York Giants):
This is a great case of a breakout player arriving in a bad situation. Darius Slayton was not drafted in even the deepest of fantasy leagues to start the season, but he’s emerged as one of Daniel Jones’ favorite targets in New York all the same. Slayton produced the best game of his young career in Sunday afternoons loss to the New York Jets, catching 10 passes on a team-high 14 targets for 121 yards and 2 TDs.
With the status of Sterling Shepard constantly under question, Slayton should continue to see more targets in the Giants offense. He is well worth a speculative add for FLEX consideration depending on matchup. Savvy owners can grab him during the Giants week 10 bye and stash him on their bench.
RYAN TANNEHILL (Tennessee Titans)
While plenty of credit is obviously due to the Titans defense and special teams, ultimately, Ryan Tannehill was the driving force behind their victory against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Titans were the metaphorical bug that everyone anticipated to splat on the windshield in Week 10, but they rose above that label and produced arguably the biggest upset of 2019 so far.
Tannehill’s stat line didn’t light the world on fire (181 pass yards/2 TD’s), but his composure in the games waning moments willed Tennessee to victory. His 23-yard strike to Adam Humphries with under 30 seconds left in regulation was the definition of clutch and Tannehill deserves to be praised for his effort. Unless the wheels completely fall off for him in the next month, we safely assume that he will be the Titans quarterback moving forward past this year.
PATRICK MAHOMES (Kansas City Chiefs)
For all the praise that we just heaped on Tannehill, it’s only fair to address how great Patrick Mahomes looked in his return to action. Returning only weeks after suffering a potentially season-ending leg injury, Mahomes looked no worse for wear. His mobility in the pocket looked spot on, and his arm produced multiple deep touchdowns to both Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman.
Mahomes cannot be analyzed like most quarterbacks, because he simply isn’t like most other humans. The fact that he was able to recover as quickly as he did and return to throw for over 400 yards & 3 TD’s is a testament to how special he is. You don’t need us to tell you to start him every week moving forward, but that would probably be a good idea.
JARVIS LANDRY (Cleveland Browns)
Straight from the #FANTASYFILES and into this week’s stand-out column it’s Jarvis Landry! We haven’t had much positive to say about the Browns resident PPR darling, but Landry made us eat our words against the Bills in Week 10. Despite Freddie Kitchens/Baker Mayfield being seemingly addicted to forcing the ball to Odell Beckham Jr, Landry proved himself to be the team’s most valuable wideout in a must-win contest. His final stat line of (9 Receptions/97 Yards/TD) marked his second-highest yardage total and second touchdown reception of the year.
With trips to the end-zone in back to back games and a staggering 23 targets in that span, Landry should be considered a favorable WR2/strong FLEX option moving forward. His upcoming schedule (PIT, MIA, PIT, CIN) is one that he should be able to exploit.
CHRISTIAN KIRK (Arizona Cardinals)
So THIS is what people meant when they talked about the Kliff Kingsbury “Air Raid offense” in the off-season. Well, color me impressed. The Cardinals offense under Kingsbury and 1st overall pick Kyler Murray has been one of the more interesting side stories of the 2019 season so far. From Murray’s week to week growth to the teams revolving door of running backs, Arizona has played better than their record would indicate.
They may have discovered another young star in Week 10, as Christian Kirk broke out in the grandest way imaginable against the Tampa Bay Bucs. The rookie wide-out incinerated the Bucs secondary, catching 6 balls on 10 targets for 138 yards & 3 TDs. Kirk’s 34 point fantasy outing is a supreme outlier compared to his season average so far, but his stock will continue to rise given his target share (averaging 9 targets per game) and growing rapport with Murray.
MELVIN GORDON (Los Angeles Chargers)
We’ve had our fair share of hard-luck losers on this week’s rundown, but that’s a worthwhile reminder that players can still be individually impressive in even the toughest situations. Melvin Gordon’s slow process of removing the off-season rust came to a head on Thursday night against the Oakland Raiders.
The would-be first-round pick rushed for over 100 yards for the first time in 2019 and found the end-zone for the 4th time in three weeks. The Chargers took their time getting Gordon up to speed, but it appears that he’s back to full strength after two straight games with 20+ touches. He should be considered a weekly RB2 with RB1 upside depending on matchup and backfield share with Austin Ekeler. We recommend starting him as more of an RB1 against a dreadful Chiefs run defense in Week 11.
JOSH JACOBS (Oakland Raiders)
We spoke about the MVP candidacy of Lamar Jackson at the top of this rundown, and now it’s time to discuss the growing Rookie of the Year buzz surrounding Josh Jacobs. The Raiders’ 1st round pick has been as good as advertised in his first year in silver and black. He’s cleared 100+ rushing yards in three games, rushed for seven touchdowns and cemented himself as a legitimate work-horse in Oakland’s backfield, handling an average of 20 carries per game.
Jacobs is another in a seemingly unending string of breakout running backs to enter the league over the past few years, and he’s proving himself to be exactly what Raiders fans need him to be. Jacobs’ game-sealing rushing touchdown this past week showed that the rookie isn’t just statistically impressive, he’s clutch too. With nothing but quality match-ups on the horizon (CIN/NYJ/KC/TEN) Jacobs has the look of a potential league winner.
MY MAIN TAKEAWAY FROM WEEK 10
Jon Gruden is a dark horse candidate for Coach of the Year.Embed from Getty Images
I know, I know, this is where I’m supposed to tell everyone I’m kidding and soak up a few quality laughs. I’m not laughing though, and neither should anyone else. What Jon Gruden has accomplished so far in Oakland this year was unthinkable going into Week 1 of the 2019 season.
For all of the jokes, media quips and perceived lack of talent, the Raiders are currently 5-4 and just one game behind the Chiefs for the AFC West division lead. That is a testament to the effect Jon Gruden has had in just two years as head coach, and it’s a performance that he should be applauded for.
Heading into the 2019 NFL season the Raiders were the subject of controversy already. With the seemingly unending news cycle surrounding Antonio Brown and the added stress of being featured for HBO’s Hard Knocks on their plate, it was expected that Gruden’s team would be a dysfunctional tire fire by Week one. Week one arrived, and Gruden’s team seized their opportunity to quiet their critics with a statement divisional victory at home against the Denver Broncos. Following the game (the last season opener in Oakland) Gruden took a victory lap around the field, greeting fans and soaking in the energy of the big win.
That victory proved to be a costly one, as Oakland lost both corner-back Gareon Conley and highly touted rookie safety Johnathan Abram for the year due to injuries. Those personal losses gave way to two straight team losses to both the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings, but Gruden’s team did not waver. The Raiders lifted themselves from the mat and reeled off back to back surprise wins against the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears. Oakland would then go on to lose their next two and win the two after that to reach their current 5-4 mark. Each time they’ve been counted out, they’ve rallied back to surprise the league. Under Gruden, the Raiders are a scrappy young group of fighters, they believe in their leader, and they believe in themselves.
The final feather in Gruden’s cap is the way he’s put together the Raiders offense without Antonio Brown. Oakland exercised a classic case of addition by subtraction when they relieved themselves of Brown. In his place, Gruden has gotten the most out of unheralded players like Darren Waller, Tyrell Williams and rookies Hunter Renfrow/Josh Jacobs. The cherry on top has been the team’s stellar offensive line play. For a team that willingly lost two big names in Kalechi Osemele and Donald Penn, they look more than justified in doing so after 10 weeks.
Jon Gruden in all likelihood will not be strongly considered for Coach of the Year honors, but I would not be surprised to see this Raiders team go on a run to end the season. He’s gone from the overpaid, league-wide laughing stock to a legitimate leader with a strong young team in under one year. That’s something he deserves a good deal of credit for orchestrating.