Complete Week 10 Lineup Rankings
It seems that every year in fantasy, a late-season star emerges out of the woodwork to help lead teams on a championship run. In 2004, Billy Volek started a total of 8 games for Tennessee in place of injured starter Steve McNair, and during that time, proved to be more than just a capable replacement on many fantasy rosters. Beginning in week 13, Volek went on a 3 week run that saw him throw for nearly 1300 yards and 11 TDs, and included 2 separate 400+ 4 TD days during fantasy playoff weeks 14 and 15. The main beneficiary during that run was WR Drew Bennett, who put together a career year in 2004 with 1247 yards and 11 TDs. During Volek’s same 3 week run, Bennett alone accounted for 517 yards and 8 TDs. The playoff owners who were forced to scrape by with Volek and/or Bennett were rewarded with an unlikely run to their championship game. Some other late-season out-of-nowhere stars include Devin Aromashadu and Arian Foster in 2009, and CJ Spiller last season. This week, we’ll mark the return of [I[TopX[/I] with some predictive analysis of the under-the-radar players most likely to break out over the stretch run, and lead your team to a championship.
10. Taiwan Jones, RB (Raiders)
- With Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson both out of action with high ankle sprains, Taiwan Jones figures to be the biggest benefactor. While the Raiders are calling McFadden day-to-day, we’ve been down this road with them before. Just last year, McFadden had what was publicly labeled a minor sprain of his foot, yet he ended up missing the rest of the season with a lisfranc injury. With Mike Goodson also hurt, if McFadden does miss a relatively significant amount of time this year, Jones will step into a lineup that faces the most fantasy-friendly schedule against the run the rest of the way. Yes this is a longshot, but sometimes, all it takes is opportunity.
9. Matt Schaub, QB (Texans)
- Following this week’s game with the Bears, the Texans will be facing the following defenses- Jacksonville, Detroit, Tennessee, New England, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Indianapolis. Not exactly a murderers row, eh? Yes, they’ll likely run the ball a lot, but if you’ve been relying upon 2nd tier QBs and playing the matchups, there’s no better QB to own the rest of the way than Schaub.
8. Brandon LaFell, WR (Panthers)
- As opposing teams focus their attention toward Steve Smith, LaFell has done a decent job this season of taking advantage of some tough matchups, putting together 53 yards and a TD against Dallas, and 88 yards against Chicago. LaFell was concussed against the Bears, and missed last week’s game, but is good to go this week and beyond, which could be a great thing for a fantasy team in need of an upside play at WR. The Panthers schedule is one of the easiest the rest of the way when it comes to WR points allowed, and LaFell continues to be one of the league’s most explosive receivers averaging more than 10 yards per target this season. Steve Smith is still likely to lead the Panthers in receiving the rest of the way, but grabbing LaFell and his big-play capability, and only one injury away from a huge role in that offense, is a good way to improve your roster on the cheap.
7. Rashard Mendenhall, RB (Steelers)
- Mendenhall is close to returning to the lineup, and has already been declared the starter when he does make it back. The Steelers have been fantastic running the football over the last 3 weeks with Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, and have the 4th easiest schedule remaining for RBs. The Steelers are also not a team that typically uses a time-share, so if Mendenhall has been dropped by an impatient owner, now is the time to go get him.
6. Cam Newton, QB (Panthers)
- Newton has clearly been a disappointment thus far in this, his second season. But he’s started to show some signs of improvement over the past couple of weeks, and as noted with Brandon LaFell above, the Panthers schedule gets significantly easier as the season goes on. With Newton’s rushing ability, and the Panthers reliance upon his legs in the red zone, it will only take a small uptick in his passing production to return Newton to the upper tier at QB.
5. Denarius Moore, WR (Raiders)
- For the first half of the year, my bold breakout prediction was that Demaryius Thomas would finish as a top 10 WR. For the 2nd half, my sites have turned to Denarius Moore. Moore has become the favorite target of Carson Palmer, and with a banged up backfield, the Raiders are likely to throw the rock even more during the 2nd half of the season. Moore has had 4 catches or more in every game since week 3, and has scored 4 TDs over that 6 game stretch. With a decent schedule, and some likely shootouts ahead, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Moore adds another 600 yards and 5 TDs to his total over his last 7 games.
4. Shonn Greene, RB (Jets)
- I can’t believe I just typed his name either, but here are the facts. Shonn Green is on pace to total over 1000 yards and 10 TDs this year despite the fact that he’s 6 games against SF, NE, Hou, Mia (twice), and Pit, who rank 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 8th respectively in least points allowed to RBs this year. His schedule lightens up significantly in the coming weeks, closing out the year with Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Buffalo in 3 of his last 4 games, all of whom rank in the bottom 4 on the season against RBs.
3. Cecil Shorts, WR (Jaguars)
- Bigger than you think at a Hines Ward-like 6’0” 200, perhaps no receiver has broken out over the past few weeks more than Cecil Shorts. Shorts has proven to be an explosive threat for a Jacksonville team that is frequently behind in games, proving that big-time production can even come from the worst of situations. Since grabbing the starting WR job following their bye 4 weeks ago, Shorts has tallied two 100 yard games, 2 TDs, and 3 separate games with 10 or more targets. With a relatively friendly schedule the rest of the way, and a team that figures to be playing catchup most weeks, Shorts is a great bet to provide a positive return on your investment.
2. Andrew Luck, QB (Colts)
- Luck has been absolutely fantastic thus far, leading Indianapolis to a surprising 6-3 record, while being on pace for the NFL rookie record in completions, attempts, and yards. You can expect more of the same as Luck faces New England, Buffalo, Detroit, and Tennessee over the next 4 weeks. If you own Luck as a backup behind a guy like Rodgers or Brady, it may be wise to take a calculated gamble and trade either of the elite talents to help fill another hole on your roster, while allowing Luck to take over the starting reigns.
1. CJ Spiller, RB (Bills)
- Arguably no skill-position player in football is as dynamic as Spiller, who has put together top 10 production at RB this year despite splitting the work load with Fred Jackson. Spiller is averaging 7.2 yards per carry this year, and an additional 9.8 yards per catch. Following last week’s game, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chan Gailey both echoed sentiments that they need to get Spiller more involved moving forward. If the Bills can find a way to give him 15-18 touches per game, Spiller has #1 overall RB upside. If you’re in need of a home run, there is no better player to acquire right now than Spiller, whose potential reward should far outweigh his cost.