The main fantasy football slate for Week 10 in the NFL had plenty of surprises. While not all were the good kind of surprises (sorry Saints, Rams and Colts fans), there were several players who stepped up with breakthrough weeks.
Which of Sunday’s unexpected standouts should be a part of your lineup in the future? Let’s break it down in this Week 10 edition of “Ride or Fade.”
WR Christian Kirk, ARI at TB, $5,200 — 40.8 DKFP
Kirk was one of my favorite sleepers coming into the season but had been mostly a dud until this week. He hadn’t found the end zone until Sunday’s game, when he caught three touchdowns as part of his six catches for 138 yards. He was the highest scorer of the week and the only player to reach the 40-point plateau. Kirk was targeted a team-high 10 times by Kyler Murray ($6,500), who seems to have settled on Kirk as his No. 1 WR.
For most of the early season, Kirk was slowed by an ankle injury that seems to be firmly behind him. He struggled on the quick turnaround against the 49ers in Week 9 but bounced back in a big way in this contest. He’ll get a rematch with the 49ers next week before a bye week and matchups against the Rams, Steelers and Browns. Even though the matchups are less than ideal, his high volume, high ceiling and key role make him worth a look in the coming contests.
WR Darius Slayton, NYG at NYJ, $4,200 — 37.1 DKFP
Slayton stepped up with his second multi-touchdown game in the past three weeks. He led the G-men with 10 catches for 121 yards on his team-high 14 targets and had his first career game with more than 100 yards. Slayton was New York’s fifth-round pick in last year’s draft and quickly has developed a good connection with fellow rookie Daniel Jones ($5,700).
With Sterling Shepard (concussion) and Evan Engram (foot) battling injuries, Slayton has stepped up and become a nice option both on deep throws and shorter routes with the potential for yards after the catch. New York is on a bye next week before taking on the Bears, Packers, Eagles, Dolphins and Redskins down the stretch. Especially if Shepard is shut down for the year, Slayton should remain very involved as the Giants try to find a way to replace Odell Beckham’s production going forward.
RB Ronald Jones II, TB vs. ARI, $4,300 — 23.6 DKFP
Jones made his second straight start this week but continued to share work with Peyton Barber ($3,700), who actually had the same number of carries and out-gained Jones on the ground while also getting all the snaps on the Bucs’ game-winning drive. Jones saved his fantasy day, though, with eight catches for 77 yards, which was enough to push him to his best fantasy output of the season and his second straight week with more than 15 DKFP.
Coming into this week, Jones had just eight catches all season, so don’t count on this kind of receiving effort each week. Next week, the Bucs host the Saints, who have been excellent against the run. That matchup is followed by contests with the Falcons, Jags and Colts, who each rank in the bottom half of the league for DKFP allowed to RBs. Even though he’s starting now, he’ll continue to share work and be a volatile option on a weekly basis.
QB Sam Darnold, NYJ vs. NYG, $5,800 — 21.7 DKFP
Darnold and the Jets badly needed a bounce-back week after an ugly and embarrassing loss to the Dolphins. They got the win against their crosstown rivals, the Giants, and Darnold led the way with 230 yards passing, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Darnold finished well behind Daniel Jones ($5,700) and his 34.32 DKFP, but I already told you to ride Jones a few weeks ago, especially in good matchups like this one. Can we trust Darnold as a fantasy option?
Next week, the Jets get a great matchup in Washington against the Redskins, but I’m still not all in on Darnold, even in that game. He has thrown only four touchdowns in his past four games to go with eight interceptions. His rushing touchdown was from two yards out when he decided to keep the ball on an option play and seems to be more of an anomaly than anything to count on in the future. After the Redskins, the Jets face the Raiders, Bengals and Dolphins in what should be excellent matchups. However, this offense and Darnold’s overall production have been too inconsistent even in good matchups for me to trust.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN vs. BAL, $4,700 — 20.1 DKFP
The Bengals came back from their bye with a new QB in Ryan Finley ($4,800) but still got more of the same results as the Ravens thumped them 49-13. With Finley getting his first NFL action, Cincinnati relied heavily on Mixon, who ran for 114 yards on 30 carries and hauled in two catches for 37 more yards. It was Mixon’s best fantasy game of the season and set season-highs for carries, yards and fantasy points even though he didn’t get into the end zone.
Before this contest, Mixon hadn’t even had 20 carries in any game, so it was a significant leap to get all the way to 32 touches. With Finely under center, the Bengals likely will build their gameplan around Mixon every week and keep using him even when trailing like they did this week. They face the Raiders in Oakland next week before returning home for matchups with the Steelers and Jets. The final few weeks of their schedule also has some soft matchups with two games against the Browns and a date with the Dolphins.
TE Greg Olsen, CAR at GB, $3,600 — 17.8 DKFP
Olsen had a throwback week and was targeted a season-high 10 times in the Panthers’ 24-16 loss to the Packers. He hauled in eight of those 10 targets for 98 yards, which fell just short of his 110-yard performance back in Week 2. Olsen didn’t find the end zone but showed he is still a key part of Carolina’s offense.
Before this week, though, Olsen had been held under 55 yards in five straight games, including a game with just five yards and a game where he didn’t record a catch. Part of his success this week was due the game script that forced Kyle Allen to throw 43 passes as Carolina tried to rally. The Panthers have favorable matchups on the horizon playing the Falcons twice and the Redskins once in their next four games. However, they likely won’t have to throw this much in those contests, which could limit Olsen’s production.
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