Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 10: Analyzing the Toughest Lineup Decisions

Week 10 has just four teams on byes—New England, Cleveland, NY Jets and Kansas City.  Tough break for Rob Gronkowski or Jamaal Charles owners, but overall, it’s not a week that should be wreaking havoc on your fantasy football lineup, unless you’re directly related to Jason Campbell or Stephen Hill.

If there’s one prevailing theme on the schedule, it’s that there are lots of high-powered offenses meeting up.  Games like Denver-San Diego, Dallas-New Orleans and Detroit-Chicago should light up the scoreboard, which is always good news for fantasy owners.  

With that, here are some of the toughest fringe calls owners will need to make this week, as well as analysis for four of the higher profile situations:

Start’Em or Sit’Em Week 10
QB Jake Locker Matt Ryan
RB Zac Stacy Trent Richardson
WR Keenan Allen James Jones
TE Garrett Graham Coby Fleener
D/ST Titans 49ers
K David Akers Mason Crosby

Week 10

The Breakdown

Sit Matt Ryan

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Matt Ryan’s subpar season isn’t entirely his fault, as losing Julio Jones and having Roddy White hobbled the whole season will submarine any quarterback’s production.  But with seven picks in the past two weeks, the wheels are really starting to fall off for Matty Ice and the Falcons.

If you want a silver lining, you can argue that the Falcons are at home, where Ryan has not put up fewer than 18 points all year.  But coming off two atrocious performances, and with a receiving corps that will remain crippled the rest of the season, there is little reason to trust Ryan.

If you need any further discouragement, consider that the Seahawks, Atlanta’s opponent this week, have allowed the second-fewest points to quarterbacks among all teams.  Richard Sherman and the rest of the big Seattle secondary should have little trouble blanketing the Falcons’ diminished receivers, making life tough for Ryan once again.

Start Zac Stacy

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Zac Stacy is one of the hottest running back names out there, bursting onto the scene with 56 points in the past three weeks.  The Colts are an above-average run defense, but Stacy has been running hard and generating yardage beyond the point of contact:

Nice day for Zac Stacy as box score suggests. Broke seven tackles and averaged 3 yards per carry after contact.

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) November 4, 2013

That fits in with Indianapolis’ greatest weakness: defense up the middle.  As ESPN’s Matthew Berry notes, the Colts have allowed 4.8 yards per carry in between the tackles over the past month, the second-highest mark in the league.  

Don’t let the questionable designation fool you; Stacy has been skipping Wednesday practices in order to buy a little extra rest for his ankle, but he has returned in time for game action.  Moreover, the Rams are no longer employing a backfield by committee, as Stacy took 27 of the Rams’ 32 carries last week.  He’s a must-start at this point.

Sit James Jones

Tom Lynn/Getty Images

Jones finally returned last week, only to see his value take a huge wit with Aaron Rodgers‘ injury.  The Eagles have actually allowed the second-most points to receivers all year, but with Seneca Wallace in, Jones is probably not more than a deep-league flex play.  

It would be one thing if Jones was seeing targets, with him and Jordy Nelson the two remaining receivers from an injury-plagued corps.  But based on how Wallace distributed his passes, it doesn’t appear as if he and Jones have much of a rapport:

Green Bay Packers Targets Last Week
Jordy Nelson 7
Andrew Quarless 7
James Jones 2
Jarrett Boykin 1
Myles White 1

via Pro Football Focus

That makes sense, given Jones status as more of an outside vertical threat.  Those are harder throws to make and require more timing, something he and Wallace simply have not had the time to work on. Pass unless you’re absolutely desperate for healthy bodies.

Start Garrett Graham

Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

As of this writing, Graham is owned in just 22.3 percent of ESPN leagues, something that really needs to skyrocket by the end of the week.  Graham has not caught a touchdown in four weeks, an understandably frustrating deterrent, but the Cardinals have allowed an average of 14.5 points to opposing tight ends, by far the highest mark in the league.  For reference, the difference between Arizona and second-ranked Dallas is roughly equivalent to the gap between the Cowboys and the 29th-ranked 49ers.

That screams start, even if Graham hasn’t been on fire recently.  At the very least, it’s encouraging that Graham caught four of his five targets, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), indicating some chemistry with Case Keenum. 

Keenum has proven himself a competent quarterback against two solid defenses, and the Texans have done a tremendous job of altering their offense to include more pistol formation and simpler reads.  If only for this week, Graham should benefit from his young quarterback’s comfort in the system.

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