By Stephen Johnson–
(CBS) “Sit ‘Em, Start ‘Em” is a breakdown of some of the best and worst fantasy football matchups to help you navigate setting your lineups for the week.
The six-team bye weeks are in the rearview mirror as fantasy owners head toward the final month’s stretch before league playoffs begin. Week 9 had its fair share of major fantasy performances and a few “Fight Club” re-enactments along the way, causing A.J. Green owners to suffer the consequences. With Week 10 in view, let’s dive into some of the more intriguing matchups with some early season waiver wire options ready to take advantage of some prime matchups.
Bye weeks: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland and Philadelphia.
START – Josh McCown, Jets (at Buccaneers) Through nine weeks, McCown is QB10. Who saw that coming? The journeyman has more points than Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan, and now he has a great matchup against a Tampa Bay team giving up 20 points per game at home to the position. This matchup does carry some risk, as McCown has turned the ball over nine times this season. However, the Bucs struggle defensively to force turnovers, ranking 21st in interceptions in addition to ranking dead last in sacks and pressures on the quarterback.
SIT – Philip Rivers, Chargers (at Jaguars) Jacksonville’s defense continues to wreak havoc on opposing signal-callers and should do the same this week to Rivers. In their last five games, the Jaguars have allowed only one passing touchdown. On the season, allowing an average of 7.5 points per game to quarterbacks has Jacksonville well ahead of the rest of the league in that category. To add insult to injury, Rivers has struggled mightily against teams with a formidable pass rush, ranking among the worst in completion percentage and turnover ratio when pressured. Meanwhile, the Jaguars convert one sack on every four pressures, the highest rate in the league.
START – Jerrick McKinnon, Vikings (at Washington) Over McKinnon’s last four games, he’s averaged 21.6 PPR points, good for fourth-most in that time span. The question remains when will he get more touches, considering the lack of productivity coming from his platoon teammate Latavius Murray? The Redskins’ rushing defense is respectable, allowing the ninth-fewest points to the position, but McKinnon’s skill set is built to buck the trend by attacking one of their biggest flaws — Washington ranks 21st against the pass against running backs, a role McKinnon has made a name for himself in over the past few years.
SIT – Ameer Abdullah, Lions (vs. Browns) It looked as though Cleveland was ready to pluck players off the street to play defense two weeks ago against Minnesota, but low and behold, the Browns’ solid run defense continued to dominate opposing rushing attacks. Allowing just 74 yards at 2.9 yards per carry, the Browns should have easy pickings against a running back who’s averaging just 40 yards on 14 carries over his past four games. Despite Abdullah’s struggles, he has reached double-digit carries in every game this season. But success will be very difficult to come by this week.
START – Jarvis Landry, Dolphins (at Panthers) Landry gets a gift this weekend in Captain Munnerlyn, who’s allowing 75 percent of the targets thrown at his coverage to be caught, one of the highest rates in the league. Ranked third in targets and second in receptions among all wide receivers, Landry should be the beneficiary of several dump-off passes if the game script goes as planned and the Dolphins’ offensive line is unable to keep the Panthers’ pass rush at bay. Landry has been on a hot streak as of late, exceeding his projected fantasy totals four of the past five contests.
SIT – Kelvin Benjamin, Bills (vs. Saints) Benjamin will see his first action as a member of the Bills this weekend, and while he escaped the NFC South, he won’t escape its most intimidating rookie in Marshon Lattimore, currently the highest-graded cornerback in the NFL through nine weeks, according to Pro Football Focus. It wouldn’t come as a shock to see Benjamin shadowed in this game by Lattimore, who helped hold Benjamin to just two catches for eight yards back in Week 3. Couple this difficult matchup with the fact that Benjamin has yet to play a game with his new quarterback, there are bound to be difficulties getting on the same page and having a big impact in this game.
START – Cameron Brate, Buccaneers (vs. Jets) Fitzpatrick needs throw the ball to someone, right? Mike Evans’ absence this week should spell big plays for Brate, who has a strong matchup sitting in front of him. The Jets allow the seventh-most points to opposing tight ends and the third-most touchdowns, including five over their last five games. Brate is coming off his worst game of the year, a one-catch performance against New Orleans, but prior to that matchup, he strung off five straight games of 60 or more yards receiving.
SIT – Jason Witten, Cowboys (at Falcons) Feast or famine has been the name of the game for Witten in 2017, with three games with one reception and three with seven or more receptions. As of late, he’s coming off a total of eight receptions for 90 yards over his past three contests, which doesn’t leave much for fantasy owners to rely on. The Falcons rank third-best in points allowed to tight ends this season with just one touchdown allowed. While it’s entirely possible Dez Bryant does miss this matchup for the Cowboys, giving Witten more opportunities, don’t count on it — Bryant’s absences in the past three seasons have had little impact on Witten’s opportunities.
Stephen Johnson is 670 The Score’s 2017 Fantasy Football Expert winner. He’s a weekly guest on “Chicago’s Fantasy Football Today,” every Sunday morning during football season from 8.a.m.-9 a.m. CT on WSCR-670 and 670thescore.com/listen. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen_Roto.