The Xpert Eye takes its usual look at the passing and rushing matchups to find those that will produce some nice Fantasy numbers as well as those you need to avoid in Week 10. Remember, always use matchup analysis to decide between two evenly matched players; never bench your studs just because the matchup looks tough.
Passing Matchups to Exploit
Matt Ryan vs. Buccaneers – The Falcons, losers of five straight, have struggled because their offensive line has essentially fallen apart. However, the last time they won a game it was against these very same Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who’ve had some struggles of their own. The Bucs’ defense has allowed an average of 285 passing yards per game; they’ve only generated 13 sacks with their pass rush and have just six interceptions this season. Opponents have completed 68.4 percent of their pass attempts against Tampa Bay, only the Panthers have allowed a higher completion rate. In short, this is a great opportunity for Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ receiving corps to get well, and a great opportunity to capitalize on that production for your Fantasy team. Roddy White, Julio Jones and even TE Levine Toilolo should be active in all formats for this matchup.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Jets – Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ wide receivers are rolling while the Jets’ defense, in particular the secondary, is reeling. Everybody knows that Big Ben has an even dozen passing TDs over the past two games, but did you know that the Jets have allowed a league-high 24 passing TDs this season? Oh, and their defense has generated exactly one lonesome interception this season. Only the Chicago Bears have allowed more Fantasy points per game to QBs than the Jets (24.4 FPPG). It’s very unlikely that Roethlisberger tosses another six TDs but I’m not sure there’s a team out there that could make it any more possible than the Jets.
Carson Palmer vs. Rams – Palmer is the Rodney Dangerfield of Fantasy QBs. All he’s done is throw two or more TDs and at least 249 passing yards in every single game he’s played this season, and won them all. Palmer has averaged 23.1 FPPG this season too, a career-high. Meanwhile, the Rams have allowed an average of 225 passing yards per game, have given up a dozen passing TDs, and generated just 13 sacks and only three interceptions so far. The Cardinals offense is operating at peak efficiency in all phases of the game with Palmer leading the way both confidently and consistently. The Rams are eminently beatable and simply don’t have the means to shut the Cardinals down, especially in Arizona on their home turf. Look for Palmer to put up another solid performance and leave the Rams flatfooted in the desert.
Passing Matchups to Avoid
Alex Smith vs. Bills – Alex Smith has always carried that “game manager” label and his play this season hasn’t done anything to change that designation. He’s averaging just 18.2 FPPG and 212 passing yards per game this season with 11 passing TDs. The Bills’ defense has been among the league’s best against the run but they’ve also done quite well against the pass. They’re tied for second in the NFL with 12 interceptions and they’ve generated 28 sacks, second in the league. The Bills are especially tough on their home turf; if they manage to contain Jamaal Charles and the running game to force Smith to beat them through the air, their aggressive and opportunistic defense will make things very difficult on the game manager, who could be in for a difficult game.
Eli Manning vs. Seahawks – The Seahawks playing at home against an inconsistent offense is a recipe for trouble. The Giants may have Rashad Jennings back for this game but it may not make much difference if Eli Manning is unable to get the passing game going. A lot of Seattle’s problems on defense in recent weeks are injury related, but they’re getting several key contributors back this week and should begin to dominate teams again. Manning can’t seem to get on the same page with Reuben Randle, the team’s best pass catcher, and Odell Beckham is still prone to rookie mistakes and will probably be covered by Richard Sherman to minimize the deep threat. If the Seahawks can disrupt Manning into making mistakes (he has five interceptions this season) and get ahead early in the game, this one could get downright ugly.
Ryan Tannehill vs. Lions – Tannehill has played very well this season, making plays with both his arm (14 TD passes) and his legs (at least 47 rushing yards in last four games). But it should be noted that Miami’s schedule has been very soft over the last four weeks; none of the defenses they’ve faced since Week 3 are ranked in the Top 12. The Lions have allowed an average of 216 passing yards per game and generated 23 sacks and nine interceptions so far. They are the fourth ranked pass defense in the NFL right now and playing at the top of their game.
Rushing Matchups to Exploit
LeSean McCoy vs. Panthers – McCoy has been a disappointment to Fantasy owners this season but there is reason for hope, as he has reached the century mark in two of the past three games. Chris Polk has vulture touchdowns from McCoy recently and Darren Sproles is back on the field, so he could steal some touches away from McCoy as well. However, the Panthers have allowed 11 rushing TDs this season, third most among NFL teams, and they are tied with Green Bay in allowing 4.8 yards per carry, the highest such rate in the league. Despite the presence of Polk and Sproles, McCoy should enjoy a banner day against Carolina, which is the fourth-most generous team in the NFL to RBs, allowing an average of 23.5 Fantasy points per game to the position.
Ronnie Hillman vs. Raiders – The Raiders have allowed an average of 24.4 Fantasy points per game to RBs, a figure exceeded only by the Falcons (27.4). Hillman has Wally Pipped poor Montee Ball, putting together 100-plus all-purpose yard games in three out of the last four games. Last week’s outing against the buzzsaw Patriots was his only “poor” game this season to date; although, you can hardly blame him for that game, as the whole team played quite poorly. The Raiders have been gashed either on the ground or through the air in every single game this season, and this is one matchup in which they could be shredded by both Hillman and Peyton Manning. The only caveat here is that Hillman is nursing an ankle injury that could limit him, though he has practiced with the team and should play. Just make sure before you commit to him in your lineup.
Andre Ellington vs. Rams – Between the passing game and the running game, Ellington manages to eclipse 100 yards more often than not. Touchdowns have been inconsistent, but he’s managed one in each of the past two games. Marion Grice has replaced Stepfan Taylor in the vulture role at the goal line but he won’t do much more than take away the occasional short run in the red zone, if that. The Rams rush defense has allowed 136 rushing yards on average per game this season and they’ve given up eight rushing TDs. This is a very inconsistent defense that can be beaten badly by a good run-blocking offensive line. Given the Cardinals success in the run game thus far, this looks like another tough game for the Rams, and one that Ellington should excel in.
Rushing Matchups to Avoid
Tre Mason vs. Cardinals – After a lot of hemming and hawing, it appears the Rams have finally settled on Tre Mason as their lead back. Mason got the majority of the touches last week (19) and amassed 65 yards against the 49ers. Overall, he’s been fairly effective in limited use, gaining 4.5 yards per carry to date. However, even if Mason gets all the RB touches in the Rams’ ground game this week he’ll have his work cut out for him. The Cardinals own the third-best rush defense in the NFL, allowing just 79.6 yards per game on average. They’ve given up just four rushing touchdowns this season and RBs have averaged just 12.6 FPPG against them, the lowest such figure in the NFL.
Anthony Dixon vs. Chiefs – As tough as the Cardinals are, the Chiefs are even tougher; they’ve allowed 116 rushing yards per game but have yet to surrender a rushing TD this season, the only team that can boast that claim. Meanwhile, the Bills’ running game hasn’t done anything since losing Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Neither Dixon nor Bryce Brown has done any better than two yards per carry. This could end up being a very low-scoring defensive game, and Buffalo could be on the short end of that. Their running back situation is best avoided at least until Jackson returns.