Arguably the top fantasy quarterback and one of the best up-and-coming passers are out of action for Week 10, with Aaron Rodgers and Robert Griffin III finally getting some rest. Two big-time rookie backs also get a break for their weary bodies as Trent Richardson and Alfred Morris take a combined 316 carries into the bye week. At receiver, only Larry Fitzgerald, Randall Cobb and James Jones remove healthy and effective options from starting lineups. Not a single tight end of note is out. Week 9 offered a favorable bye schedule, but this week is a relatively close call, particularly when considering that there are some very favorable matchups for various QB2s.
The Washington pass defense won't be around for owners to pick on (though Cam Newton failed the ultimate bust test by tanking against them), but the Patriots return their shoddy secondary to give Rodgers or RGIII owners a shot to plug in Ryan Fitzpatrick and have little drop off in production. Meanwhile the Titans, Bills, Jaguars and Bucs all remain with weaknesses that are primed for exploitation. So keep taking advantage of the obvious defensive trends and continue paying attention to injuries that will hold out or limit a starter and open the door for someone like an Isaac Redman, Vick Ballard or Chris Ivory to kick it in. That means following the status of Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson's respective ankle sprains could be crucial. You just never know when that next guy up will give you a big week.
No. 2 QUARTERBACKS
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick at New England - When the teams met in Week 4, Fitzpatrick threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns. And the Patriots' 28th-ranked pass defense has gotten worse.
2. Andy Dalton vs. New York Giants - Dalton averages 266 yards per game through the air and the Giants allow 264 per game. With the Bengals lackluster defense giving up more than 27.0 points per game, expect Eli Manning and the G-Men to force Dalton into a lot of dropbacks. That figures to translate into Dalton exceeding that average of his.
3. Philip Rivers at Tampa Bay - Rivers has been wildly erratic this year, but the downs have seemed to overtake the ups in recent weeks. Nevertheless, this is a former Pro Bowl quarterback facing a pass defense giving up the most yards (321 per game) through the air of any team. A rain-soaked affair in Cleveland is the only of Rivers' past five games in which he did not toss two scores, and though his yards have been down for most of that stretch, it's safe to say the Bucs will bring them back up.
4. Ryan Tannehill vs. Tennessee - Despite being questionable last week with a knee/quad injury, Tannehill went into Indy and threw for 290 yards and a score without any turnovers. Now he gets a Titans defense in South Beach that's tied for last in the league with 20 passing scores allowed, gives up the highest passer rating to opposing quarterbacks at 108.4 and just let Jay Cutler throw for three scores in its own house. The rookie is in line for one of his best games of the season.
5. Alex Smith vs. St. Louis - Prior to its bye, the formerly stingy Rams pass defense was badly victimized in back-to-back weeks for more than 640 yards and seven scores. Of course, that was against Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. But still, Smith dissected a tough Cardinals defense in the desert prior to San Francisco's bye, finishing with a near-perfect passer rating and just one completion shy of an NFL record 95 percent for a single game. After dipping for a few weeks, Smith got back on track and figures to continue that against a division opponent coming to the Bay.
6. Russell Wilson vs. New York Jets - In the last four weeks, Wilson has thrown eight touchdowns, including the disappointing but predictable goose egg in San Francisco. In four homes games he has nine touchdowns and zero picks, and with the Jets defense traveling across country into one of the toughest places in the league to play, count on Wilson's hot home streak continuing.
1. T.Y. Hilton at Jacksonville - While it's fairly certain Andrew Luck isn't going for back-to-back 400-yard games, one thing that seems apparent is the Colts are ready to involve the speedy rookie Hilton more often. The diminutive wideout with great quickness and acceleration led the team in targets last week with 11 and posted 100-plus yards and a touchdown for the second time this season. Oh, and it just so happens the first time came in just Hilton's second career game when he put 113 and a score on these very Jacksonville Jaguars.
2. Daniel Thomas vs. Tennessee - The Titans cannot stop the run. They cannot stop the pass. That means the Dolphins will sustain drives and have chances to score. For Thomas, who's had at least 60 total yards or a touchdown in four of his last five games, that means he'll have plenty of opportunities for yards and may punch in another short score.
3. Joique Bell at Minnesota - Bell has just one game with less than 40 total yards since Week 1 despite seeing 10 or more touches in just two of those contests. Coincidentally, those are the last two Lions games. Bell just keeps playing better and is carving out a decent split with Mikel Leshoure because of his impressive play. If the Lions can build any type of lead on the spiraling Vikings, don't be surprised if Bell comes close to hitting 100 total yards in consecutive weeks.
4. Golden Tate vs. New York Jets - Expect Antonio Cromartie to square off with the longer and more heralded Sidney Rice, leaving Tate to draw Kyle Wilson most of the game. Wilson is no match for the deceptively strong and acrobatic Tate, so don't be surprised if the emerging third-year wideout finds the end zone for the fifth time at home.
5. Danario Alexander at Tampa Bay - The Bucs are absolutely hemorrhaging yards through the air, giving up a league-worst 321 per game. Conversely, they're first against the run. So when they continuously stuff Ryan Mathews, expect Philip Rivers to turn to the air often, and when he does the lanky Alexander figures to be on the other end of a good amount of targets. The 6-foot-5 big-play threat has the speed and length to beat defenses over the top and will not have a better chance to do that all year than in Tampa.
6. Ronnie Brown at Tampa Bay - See Alexander, Danario. Brown has 240 yards receiving on 23 catches over his last five outings and its safe to say he's locked up the third-down role in the Chargers offense. With Rivers likely dropping back a ton in this game, Brown should at least be a strong option in PPR leagues, with a legit chance at 100 total yards for those standard owners in need of an emergency play.
7. Shane Vereen vs. Buffalo - In the deepest of formats, Vereen actually looks like a good option this week. When the Patriots faced the Bills in Week 4 Brandon Bolden exploded out of nowhere for more than 100 yards and a score. With Bolden out, Vereen, the former second-round draft pick, has eaten into Stevan Ridley's workload and even stolen 1-yard scores in two of his last three games. Given the horrendous play of Buffalo's 31st-ranked run defense, don't be surprised if Vereen approaches 100 total yards and/or grabs another touchdown.
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