The fantasy football playoffs are fast approaching with the postseason just a month away for many leagues. We still have a few more weeks with teams on byes, so you might need to do some digging to add some impact players to your starting lineup for this weekend.
Plenty of new talents have emerged throughout the 2013 season, and a few of them are primed to have big fantasy football point totals in Week 10. Predicting breakout stars is always a tricky proposition, but let’s take a look at some players who have favorable matchups and might still be available in your league.
Quarterback: Case Keenum
On Friday afternoon, Houston Texans running back Arian Foster was declared out for Sunday’s contest against the Arizona Cardinals. Later in the day, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle revealed that Foster could be looking at a season-ending injury.
Going forward, that means Texans fans should get used to a whole lot of Case Keenum. The rookie gunslinger has brought new life to the offense since taking over for an injured Matt Schaub in the Week 7 contest in Kansas City. During last week’s start against the Indianapolis Colts, Keenum went 20-of-34 for 350 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
While you might not be able to count on Andre Johnson having another performance like he did against the Colts (nine receptions, 229 yards, three touchdowns), Keenum looks like a safe bet for a big day against a subpar Cardinals pass defense.
Arizona ranks 24th in the NFL, giving up an average of 254.3 yards per game through the air, while its rush defense ranks fourth in the league, allowing 88.3 yards per game. Facing such a stingy rush defense without their top running back, the Texans will most likely air it out on Sunday.
Running back: Andre Ellington
The Arizona Cardinals had a bye last week, so we weren’t able to see how Andre Ellington’s 15-carry, 154-yard, one-touchdown performance in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons would affect the workload in the backfield. But recently, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he would like to get Ellington 20 touches a game heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Texans, per Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com.
Urban also reported that Rashard Mendenhall will maintain his spot as the starting running back for Arizona, but don’t let that deter you from putting Ellington in your fantasy lineup. The rookie has carved out a growing role for himself by creating missed tackles at an Adrian Peterson-like rate, according to Gordon McGuinness of ProFootballFocus.com:
With 13 MT forced from 65 touches, Arizona’s Andre Ellington is 2nd only to AP in terms of Elusive Rating at PFF
— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) November 9, 2013
While the Texans possess the league’s top pass defense, they rank just 19th against the run, giving up an average of 115.5 rushing yards per game. As such, expect the Cardinals to keep it on the ground and for Ellington to have his busiest game of the year.
Wide receiver: Kenny Stills
If you play receiver in New Orleans long enough, Drew Brees will make you a viable fantasy option. Sure, Kenny Stills isn’t a weekly play just yet, but he deserves consideration for your starting lineup this week when the Saints face the Dallas Cowboys.
The rookie out of Oklahoma came on strong in Weeks 6 and 8, collecting a combined six catches for 193 yards and three touchdowns, but he followed that up with a quiet three-catch, 35-yard outing against the New York Jets in Week 9.
So what can you expect from him on Sunday? Against the porous Cowboys secondary, look for him to put up some major fantasy points.
He’s emerged as one of the top big-play receivers so far in 2013, as his 22.6 yards per catch are tops in the NFL. The Cowboys, meanwhile, rank 31st against the pass, giving up an average of 305.2 yards per game.
Tight end: Zach Miller
The Seattle Seahawks tight end isn’t a vertical threat by any means, but he is a sure-handed red-zone target for quarterback Russell Wilson. Seattle figures to have plenty of scoring chances against Atlanta on Sunday, as the Falcons rank 25th in scoring defense (25.7 points allowed per game) so far this year.
With receiver Sidney Rice out for the season due to a knee injury and wideout Percy Harvin still on the mend, Wilson might be leaning on Zach Miller more. In the past three weeks, he has seen an uptick in the balls thrown his way. He’s been targeted 15 times, hauling in 10 of them for 103 yards and a score.
While those aren’t astounding numbers, the Falcons gave up four catches, 66 yards and a touchdown to Greg Olsen in last week’s 34-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Miller put up similar stats, with a depleted Seahawks receiving corps facing Atlanta’s 19th-ranked pass defense.