Carson Palmer and Doug Martin led their respective positions in fantasy production in week nine. I could have told you both would have had quality games, but I can honestly say I would have never picked either one to be the top guy – much less top-five, probably.
But one week changes a lot. Martin is now a borderline top-five guy from now until eternity, while Palmer’s knack for putting up yardage on a routine basis makes him a casual flirter with top-10 fantasy football production. Maybe. Perhaps.
All we know for sure is that there are always going to be those random breakout performances that no one really saw coming. For the rest of it, we just have to use history, numbers, matchups, logic and that big, round, feverish gut we’ve got hanging over our belts.
I’m sticking with mine – Palmer and Martin be damned.
With that, let’s parachute jump into week 10′s fantasy football last second decisions:
Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans (Shoulder)
Locker is expected to start barring any setbacks, and I think he’s ready to pick up where he left off. He’s basically still a rookie, but he’s a freak athlete with a cannon arm. That should equate to some magical things against a spotty Miami pass D.
Brady Quinn, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (Head)
Quinn is out. I know you’ll miss him dearly. Matt Cassel is available, but you really shouldn’t use him against the Steelers. Or against invisible people.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks (Wrist/Back)
Lynch is a bit banged up, but he’ll play against the Jets this week. New York has been burned against the run a ton this year, so Lynch is easily a top-10 fantasy option.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (Head)
Charles has passed all of his concussion tests, so it looks like he’ll face the Steelers on Monday Night Football. He’s explosive and can get it done against anyone, but this would be a fantastic week to sit him if you can afford to.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders (Ankle)
McFadden has a bad ankle sprain and is highly questionable for week 10. He still could give it a go, but the injury and his sketchy season so far make him a major risk against the Ravens. His top backup, Mike Goodson, is also unlikely to play.
Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints (Hand)
Sproles will miss at least one more game with a broken hand. Pierre Thomas will continue in his role, while Chris Ivory will operate as the main back (even if he’s not the actual starter).
DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys (Foot)
Don’t bank on Murray playing this week. The Cowboys need him, but his bum foot will get at least one more week of rest. Felix Jones should get the majority of carries again this week.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions (Knee)
Megatron is in no danger of missing action this week. He’s better off than he as last week at this time, and that’s after torching the Jaguars. I love him against the Vikings this week.
Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings (Ankle)
Harvin’s ankle is mangled, but he’s not a guarantee sit call just yet. I’d be a little scared to use him, but you know he’ll touch the ball a ton if he plays. Just stay on top of his status up until kickoff.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants (Knee)
Nicks still has that troublesome knee, but he’s likely to face the Bengals this week. The matchup could work for him, but he’s not healthy and has been pretty quiet for several weeks now. It should be another big day for Victor Cruz.
Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills (Thigh)
Johnson is on the injury report with a sore thigh, but should play against the Patriots. New England and Buffalo have combined for over 60 points in their last three outings, so expect a solid game if Johnson suits up.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots (Ankle)
Hernandez’s ankle still isn’t where it needs to be, but he’s had two weeks to rest and has a shot at playing this week. The matchup with the Bills is inviting, but his status is shaky.
Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans (Hip)
Daniels is dealing with a crazy sore hip and has been limited all week, making it a tough road to make him a full-fledged start this week. Head coach Gary Kubiak alluded to as much, so monitor his status heading into game day.
Crescent Role Watch
Andre Brown vs. Ahmad Bradshaw (red-zone)
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Bradshaw is still the full-blown starter and a solid RB2, but fantasy owners might be raising eyebrows over the red-zone results. After all, Brown has a rushing score in three straight games, while Ahmad has just one. I say keep the panic at bay and realize this: Bradshaw has carries to Brown’s five over that three-game span. Color it luck and stop banking on Brown to rescue you in the Flex spot. Sooner or later it’ll catch up with you.
Steelers Ground Attack and the Men Not Named Mike Wallace
Isaac Redman is the only healthy Steelers running back, so look for him to get the majority of work as the team’s lead runner against the Chiefs on MNF. Jonathan Dwyer should return and have a roll, but Pitt looks to ride the hot hand. Since Redman is the healthier one and did well last week, expect it to be him.
There is a similar issue at wide receiver with Antonio Brown out this week, and it’s coming down to Emmanuel Sanders vs. Jerricho Cotchery. Cotch played more last week, but Sanders was the one to score a touchdown. Look for Sanders to get the start opposite of Mike Wallace and have a WR3-esque game against Kansas City.
The Battle of Fantasy Gettysburg
Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
Freeman against a pretty good Chargers defense or Eli rolling in an ugly drought? I’m actually leaning towards Freeman’s run hitting a snag this week, and Eli getting back on track against a beatable Bengals defense. Go with Manning.
Marcel Reece, RB, Oakland Raiders vs. Taiwan Jones, RB, Oakland Raiders
Jones is supposedly slated for the early down work, but I’m not buying him as the better value. After all, once Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson went down last week (both should be out in week 10), it was Reece, not Jones, who saw a ton of work (8 rec, 90 + yds, TD). If the Raiders get down against the Ravens (and they will), Reece will once again be active as a receive rout of the back-field.
Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins vs. Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams
Amendola makes his return this week, which is awesome. But he faces the 49ers, which is not. I know they’re both underrated white guys, but Hartline actually returned to relevance last week (100+ yds, 7 rec), and he gets a weak Titans D. I like Hartline.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings vs. Brandon Myers, TE, Oakland Raiders
I was very high on Rudolph going into the season, and for a while I was looking pretty smart. Unfortunately, Christian Ponders has sunk to new lows (under 70 pass yds in 2 of last 3 games), and Rudy simply can’t be trusted. He’s worth a shot in the dark in TD leagues, but Myers is a PPR beast and even scored twice last week. Start Myers with confidence.
I know this column can’t possibly answer everything, so for everything else, hit me up on Twitter @NFLSoupKevin. I’m not always able to get to every question on the message boards below this article (although I certainly will try), but I should hit every question I get on Twitter.