Welcome back loyal 5th Down Fantasy readers! With Week 10 officially in the books, we’re now through the most aggressive bye weeks, most trade deadlines have come and gone and those of us who are playoff bound are looking toward December.
This is fantasy football crunch time and it comes right at the same time where teams in the league are starting to stake their real-life claims to the playoff picture. This week’s collection of stand-outs features some big names making their first appearances as well as some old friends stopping by to say hello again. Let’s catch up:
DAVID JOHNSON (Arizona Cardinals)
DAVID JOHNSON OWNERS REJOICE! As a fellow, long struggling owner of DJ I can speak for us all when I say the move to Byron Leftwich at interim OC has been a godsend. In the weeks following the firing of former OC Mike McCoy in Arizona, the superstar tailback has seen his presence in the passing game more than double and his production officially went through the roof in Week 10.
In an ideal matchup with a notoriously bad Chiefs defense, Johnson lit up the fantasy scoreboards for (28 touches/183 yards/2 TDs) and accounted for roughly 100% of the Cardinals offensive output on the day. Johnson looked like his 2016 self and rewarded those who stood by him with a season high 30-point performance (even higher in PPR leagues). This breakout becomes even more exciting when you look at DJ’s matchups for the rest of the season (including fantasy playoffs):
- Oakland (4th worst run defense)
- Chargers/Packers (mid-tier run defenses)
- Detroit (5th worst run defense)
- Atlanta (9th worst run defense)
- Rams (mid-tier run defense)
Those who stuck with No. 31 through the tough times are set to be rewarded mightily for their faith down the stretch. The Cardinals may be rebuilding at the moment, but with Johnson in the backfield they have plenty to be excited about for years to come.
TYREEK HILL (Kansas City Chiefs)
The “Cheetah” once again lived up to his nickname (and Twitter handle) in Week 10 as he routinely roasted Patrick Peterson and the Arizona secondary. His final line on the day (8 touches/137 yards/2 TD’s) showed off just how explosive Hill can be. He was targeted even more than usual (10 targets) with Sammy Watkins out of the lineup and caught 7 of them, scoring on a trademark 75-yard strike on the first drive of the game.
— Ty Hill (@cheetah) November 7, 2018
Everything that can be said about Hill’s natural athletic ability has been said over a million times by now, but what I want you to focus on is how great of a route runner this guy is. He gets the “Cheetah” moniker because of his speed, but Hill isn’t a pure burner, he’s a talented wide out that can run an impressive route tree. So much so that he had a perennial All Pro like Patrick Peterson turned around routinely in this game. On the season Hill has now scored double digit points in 5 of 10 matchups (even more in PPR leagues) and is a locked in WR1 the rest of the year. Watkins’ health being a major question mark makes him an even safer bet week after week.
MARK INGRAM (New Orleans Saints)
Let’s take a break from Alvin Kamara for a moment, is that okay? I want to acknowledge the fact that the Saints offense has another All-Star in the backfield. Mark Ingram was the bane of Kamara owners’ existence for the first four weeks of this year’s fantasy season. Despite him being around for the entirety of Kamara’s incredible rookie year, owners were terrified that his presence would diminish their superstar RB’s numbers.
In reality, the Saints have looked like an even BETTER version of themselves from 2017 so far this year, and they have their versatile backfield combo to thank for a lot of that success. Ingram’s Week 10 performance showed two things were abundantly clear: The Saints can score on you with anyone, and Ingram is still a top tier RB when called upon. His line (16 touches/162 yards/TD) showed his ability to work in both the passing and rushing games for New Orleans and gave owners flashbacks to how dominant his pairing with Kamara was last season. Ingram isn’t an every-week slam dunk like his 2nd year teammate, but he deserves to be recognized this week as the Top 10 caliber fantasy asset that he can be whenever his number’s called.
BEN ROETHLISBERGER (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Well, that was unexpected. When most people looked at this past week’s Thursday Night Football matchup, they were probably shocked to see what appeared to be a competitive game (on paper). The Panthers were cruising, feeling themselves after multiple victories and brimming with confidence, and then the Steelers stream-rolled them. Pittsburgh dominated this matchup in every imaginable way and handed Carolina their worst loss since the Franchises inception in 1995.
The Steelers defense dominated the line of scrimmage, put Cam Newton under constant duress and may have finally made T.J. Watt the house-hold name he deserves to be. But we’re here to talk about Big Ben, and we have a lot to talk about. Roethlisberger put in one of the best performances of his historic career on Thursday night, punishing the Panthers defense for (353 total yards/5 TDs), and he made it look easy. Ben evaded pressure like a younger version of himself, ran for first downs, and threw picture perfect deep balls to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown. The man had more touchdowns than incompletions on a night that told the rest of the league that the Men of Steel are back in a big way, and that should scare the rest of the AFC.
AARON JONES (Green Bay Packers)
Look everyone, it’s Aaron Jones! You know, the Green Bay running back you tried to draft late because he was suspended the first two weeks? The Packers back that pundits told you may lose his job to Jamaal Williams before he had a chance to return to the field?
Yes, I’m talking about THAT Aaron Jones, because he’s the undisputed best RB in Green Bay and one of the best waiver wire/late draft pickups of the year. Jones had scored double digit totals before (Weeks 4/8), but Week 10 was different. What he did against the Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field was more than just a great fantasy performance, it was a coming out party for his star power, which is only going to rise.
Jones gashed the Dolphins (18 touches/172 yards/2 TDs) in a matchup the Packers needed to win. He also out touched the aforementioned Jamaal Williams (18-3) and boosted his YPC average from (6.0) to (6.76) in a performance that will no doubt anoint him as the bell-cow back for this team moving forward. Plug Jones into your line-ups comfortably and ride his production into the fantasy playoffs.
NICK CHUBB (Cleveland Browns)
A little back story on Nick Chubb’s impressive pedigree (if you didn’t hear it a million times during the national broadcast). Chubb is the 2nd leading rusher in the history of the University of Georgia, a college that’s produced names like Garrison Hearst/Herschel Walker and Todd Gurley. Chubb’s 3,424 yards put him just behind Walker and 200 yards ahead of Todd Gurley. That’s how great Chubb was in college, and that’s how great he’s beginning to look in Cleveland with the Browns.
The rookie tailback played the role of Thanos on Sunday, he snapped his fingers and the already tragic Falcons run defense seemed to completely disappear. On the day Chubb produced a line of (23 touches/209 yards/2 TDs) and displayed a versatility in both the run/pass games that puts him firmly in the same mold as the other top tier young RB’s in the league today.
In Chubb the Browns have their Kareem Hunt/Melvin Gordon/Todd Gurley equivalent, and that’s something that should be getting as much/if not more attention than how Baker Mayfield is doing. That tandem in the backfield for the foreseeable future gives the Cleveland offense a legitimate chance to be good/great in the coming years.
LESEAN MCCOY (Buffalo Bills)
The Bills denied the cries to #FREESHADY during this seasons trade deadline so McCoy decided to just free himself in Week 10. After not scoring a single touchdown on the year, McCoy erupted (27 touches/118 yards/2 TDs) in a game that will likely go down as one of the most unlikely blowouts in league history.
In a contest that featured Matt Barkley and Josh McCown at QB someone needed to be a difference maker for either team on Sunday, and Shady seized that opportunity by offering up a vintage performance. His trademark agility and elusiveness were on full display, and his swagger gave a less than mediocre Bills offense a spark for the first time in what feels like a decade.
This will likely go down as a major outlier in an otherwise forgettable fantasy campaign, but it was nice to be reminded just how great McCoy is/can be on any given snap. So, I say good for Shady, and good for Bills fans. It’s a shame the blowout had to happen to another long standing “also ran” in the AFC East like the Jets, but at least both fanbases can rejoice in the Pats getting blown out by the Titans.
COREY DAVIS (Tennessee Titans)
The Titans are one of the most confusing teams in the NFL today. Their offense wanes from week to week based on Marcus Mariota’s decision making, but they’ve got something this year that they lacked last season. The Titans have got a set of brass balls in 2018, and they come courtesy of newly minted coach (and former Patriot) Mike Vraebel.
Vraebel and his team had a nearly insurmountable hill to climb in Week 10. The Patriots were rolling, and Bill Belichick had a reputation for handily beating his former proteges. Yet, on Sunday in Tennessee, none of those things seemed to matter. The only thing that mattered was whose team played better, and the Titans throttled New England thanks largely to the efforts of 2nd year wide-out Corey Davis.
The former 5th overall selection in the 2017 draft had been a middling player so far in his Titans tenure, but he put his stamp on this contest by systematically taking apart All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Davis had Gilmore’s number all afternoon, and Marcus Mariota dialed it up early and often (7 Rec/125 yards/TD).
This may have only been Davis’ 2nd double digit fantasy performance of the year (in standard format), but the young man’s target share (8 per game), and natural ability speak to a player that owners should be looking at fondly as his career moves forward. This was a statement victory for the team, the coach and the career of Corey Davis.
RASHAAD PENNY/MIKE DAVIS (Seattle Seahawks)
Something odd has been happening nearly all year in Seattle. They’ve been competing/keeping pace with their opponents with a strong running game. Yes, the Seahawks; the team that just five minutes ago seemed to have one of the worst offensive lines in the entire league. That Seahawks team is not only running the ball well, but they’re running it effectively and with the intent to win games. The committee approach of Chris Carson/Mike Davis/Rashaad Penny was slanted heavily towards Carson earlier in the year, but with him currently sidelined it’s given Davis/Penny a shot to shine, and they’re making the most of it.
Davis was a popular waiver add when Carson went down two weeks back, and he’s rewarded fantasy owners with back to back double digit performances. In a lot of ways Mike Davis has been a Ryan Fitzpatrick type of reclamation project in Seattle. The former 4th round pick has been a journeyman since leaving the team that drafted him (San Francisco), and showed up in the Pacific Northwest to show he could still play ball. To that end, he’s given fantasy owners and the Seahawks themselves every reason to believe he can contribute.
On the other side of this coin is the highly touted, 1st round rookie Rashaad Penny. He’s the exact opposite of Davis in almost every foreseeable way. His first-round pedigree shows how much Seattle valued him coming into the league, but his perceived lack of work ethic/injury history led to him showing up out of shape to training camp.
After sitting out/getting back into shape for most of the year, Penny finally saw a real chance to produce in Week 10 and milked the opportunity for all it was worth. The first-round selection put up a line of (12 Car/108 Yards/TD) and left coach Pete Carroll applauding his efforts even after a harsh loss to the Rams. Carroll was quoted post-game saying that Penny, “Looked like the guy we (the Seahawks) drafted”, and I couldn’t agree with him more. Though the committee is still firmly in play, I think Penny’s future (both in fantasy and Seattle) is a bright one.
DAVANTE ADAMS (Green Bay Packers)
Last week I highlighted Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints and called him the most underrated name brand star in the NFL. While I still stick to that statement there is one other wide out in the league that gives him a run for his money. That man is Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers.
The perks of having Aaron Rodgers as your QB can’t be understated, and Adams has proven himself to be among the best targets Rodgers has ever had so far this season. On the year, Adams 9 receiving TDs trail only Antonio Brown for the league lead, and he’s been as good as gold nearly every week for fantasy purposes. Adams’ weekly fantasy totals are among the most consistent you’ll find at any position in the entire league (14/12/11/8/20/25/13/10/17). Yes, you read that correctly, Adams has put up double-digit fantasy totals in all but one week this season, and he’s scored 1 or more touchdowns in 7 of those contests. The games where he didn’t score a TD saw him catch a combined 13 balls on 21 targets for 214 total yards. In short, Adams is one of the surest bets in the league for positive production both on the real life and digital gridirons. He’s a locked in WR1 asset that will undoubtedly be a staple on plenty of fantasy championship teams by years end.
MY TAKEAWAY FROM WEEK 10
Russell Wilson should be a dark horse MVP candidate.
Yes, my friends, it’s that magical time again. The holidays are upon us, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas will soon be here as well. But there’s one other staple of this season that is returning, and that’s the dark horse MVP candidacy of Russell Wilson.
Last year, Wilson was touted as an outside bet for the league’s most prestigious individual achievement because he literally was 80% of the Seahawks offense. Even though Seattle ended up falling short of the playoffs last year, Wilson was still a lot of pundit’s trendy selection for the MVP award.
So, I ask that the same open mind be used when looking at Wilson’s credentials this season. With the Rams sweeping the NFC West, and the NFC as a whole being more competitive than ever it’s a fair bet that Seattle will miss the playoffs again in 2018, but that won’t be due to a lack of superhero efforts from their quarterback.
On the year, Russell Wilson’s numbers look like this:
- Completion Percentage: 66%
- Passing Yards: 1,967
- Rushing Yards: 210
- TD:INT Ratio: 21/5
Wilson’s current numbers at key stats (Comp %, Avg. YPA, TD %) are all up from his performance last season, and his current TD:INT ratio puts him in both the bottom 10 in INT’s and Top 10 in TD’s thrown. Add in. a 110 QB rating and a flair for dramatic comebacks into that mix and you have yourself a portrait of what Wilson’s been his entire career; a dependable, gutsy, innovative signal caller with the ability to do things almost no one else in the league can do.
His team’s record will hold him out the running this season more so than his individual performance, and while that’s understandable, it should be noted that Wilson is still one of the best quarterbacks in the game in his 7th season in the league.
His greatness transcends into the fantasy realm as well, as most fantasy owners know, Wilson is one of the all-time great second half quarterbacks in any format. In 9 games this season he’s scored either 20 points or more and thrown for 2 or more touchdowns in all but one game this year. With stiff competition from both conferences (Gurley/Brees/Mahomes/Rivers/etc.), Wilson isn’t likely to win the MVP award, but he should be a name you bring up when you’re discussing the league’s best this season. Don’t judge this bird by his record.