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Fantasy Football: Trust or Bust Week 10

Rich Hribar lists the players you should start and players you should bench in your fantasy football leagues.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder

Nov 3, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) throws prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

In Fantasy Football Trust or Bust, we will focus on who we deem as trustworthy starts and pepper in a few sits for your Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues.

TRUST

Christian Ponder vs WAS

Don’t look now, but Ponder has finished as a top 13 fantasy scorer in each of his past three starts. He’s also provided a real boost on the ground in standard leagues, rushing for thirty yards and a touchdown in each of those games. Since returning from his injury and demotion, he’s been an efficient passer as well, completing 39 of his 58 attempts (67 percent) versus Green Bay and Dallas.

This week, the Vikings host a Washington defense that hasn’t stopped the run or the pass. Washington has allowed at least one touchdown pass in every game this season, as well as 15 plus fantasy points to six different quarterbacks. Passers who have mobility have had small success as well, as Michael Vick (54 yards) and Josh McCown (33) added close to the equivalent of a passing score on the ground.

Ponder also faced this defense a season ago and threw for the second most yardage in his 32 career games, torching Washington for 352 yards through the air with two scores while attempting a career high 52 passes. While those numbers are a lofty expectation level, anticipating low level starting fantasy owners is well within reason on Thursday night.

Maurice Jones-Drew @ TEN

The season got off to a horrible start for MJD, carrying 57 times for only 138 yards (2.4 YPC) over his first four games in 2013. Things haven’t picked up on astronomical levels, but over his past four weeks, he’s picked up his fantasy production, rushing 65 times for 253 yards (3.9 YPC). In three of those past four, he’s reached 70 yards rushing and is coming off of his best game as a receiver, catching six passes for 47 yards. With Justin Blackmon now out of the picture for the remainder of the season, he may be involved a little more often as a pass catcher going forward.

Tennessee has allowed a rushing score to a lead back in four straight weeks, including allowing two ground touchdowns to Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore and Zac Stacy in each of the past three. Six backs have reached 75 yards rushing in a game and six have had at least 30 receiving yards. Even if MJD fails to reach the century mark for a twelfth consecutive game, he can provide enough total yardage to return running back two value.

Lamar Miller @ TB

Joe Philbin has finally heard the freedom cries of Miller’s fantasy owners. Over the past two weeks, Miller has carried 18 and 16 times for 194 yards total (5.7 YPC) while Daniel Thomas has carried 21 times for 85 yards combined. He’s also been involved in the passing game, catching seven passes for 47 yards the past two weeks. Owners can live with Thomas becoming an eight to ten touch guy, as Miller has out snapped him on average of 42 plays to 23 over the past four weeks.

Tampa Bay started the season as a solid run stopping unit, allowing an average 94 rushing yards per week over the first month. Since then, they’ve allowed an average of 121 yards rushing per week, and that’s including an 18 yard performance from the pathetic Atlanta rushing attack. Outside of that game, the Tampa D has been gashed for over 130 yards rushing and coming off of giving up a season high 198 yards to Seattle. The Dolphins have rushed for over 150 yards in each of the past two weeks, making a perfect meeting of that positive trend continuing.

Emmanuel Sanders vs BUF

With the Steelers passing game picking up volume as the season goes on, Sanders is becoming a steady PPR option. After a dud in week seven versus Baltimore (one catch for seven yards), Sanders has seen 11 targets in each of the past two weeks , securing 13 of them for 186 yards and a score.

Pittsburgh welcomes a Bills secondary into town that has allowed 12 different receivers to reach at least 70 yards though the air. Even with Stephon Gilmore back, who hasn’t played to the level of 2012 since returning from injury, Sanders should find plenty of space as the Bills concentrate efforts into stopping Antonio Brown.

Jordan Reed @ MIN

Reed finally came back down to earth a bit last week, catching four passes for only 37 yards. Even with that modest effort, his 34 targets rank as the eighth highest over the past four weeks. He’s gone over 50 yards receiving in four of his past five, with four or more receptions in every game played other than one.

Minnesota hasn’t been terrible versus tight ends as a whole, but the teams with better options have exploited their depleted linebacking and secondary unit. Martellus Bennett, Heath Miller, Jordan Cameron and Jason Witten all reached 65 yards and combined for six receiving touchdowns. With Reed becoming the only reliable option outside of Pierre Garcon in the Washington aerial attack, he should bounce back in a big way this week.

BUST

Cam Newton @ SF

Although his start wasn’t as slow as it was in 2012, Newton didn’t exactly burst out of the gates this year. In his first four games, he threw six touchdowns and five interceptions, completing less than 60 percent of his throws in three of those games. He also only had one rushing touchdown, topping 20 fantasy points only once over the first month.

Since then, Mike Shula has tailored his offense to Newton’s strengths, adding much more option football and using his athleticism. His play has soared, tossing seven scores to only two picks, completing an astonishing 75 percent of his passes and rushing for three touchdowns.

That hot streak will be tested traveling across the country into San Francisco, who is coming fresh off a bye. The 49ers have held five quarterbacks to less than 230 yards passing. They’ve allowed only three quarterbacks to throw for two or more touchdowns and have had success defending mobile quarterbacks. Facing Jake Locker, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, only Wilson reached 30 rushing yards (33) and only Luck scored a touchdown.

Ryan Mathews vs DEN

Mathews has had a slight resurgence, like many Chargers this year, under Mike McCoy. Being used in a Mark Ingram type role in the San Diego offense, he has touched the football on 64.2 percent of his offensive snaps, the highest percentage of all skill players in the NFL. The problem with that is it has diminished his pass catching role. This season, Mathews has only seven receptions after 89 over the past two injury filled seasons. Despite averaging a highly effective 4.7 yards per carry over his past 50 attempts, his role week to week is completely dependent on San Diego having a positive game script.

That’s something that is hard to bank on happening this week as the Broncos visit, fresh off of a bye week. The Broncos have given up seven rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs, but most of their points allowed stem from team dumping passes down late in games. Alfred Morris is the only back to top 75 rushing yards in a game on the ground (93 yards) against them this season. All bets continue to be placed on Danny Woodhead being the more effective fantasy option again this weekend.

Larry Fitzgerald vs HOU

Fitz has bounced back from his disastrous 2012 season where he was hindered by the Cardinal quarterback succubus of Brian Hoyer, Ryan Lindley and John Skelton. The problem with his return to effectiveness is expectations were still too high on how lofty that bounce back would be. After battling through two different hamstring aggravations, he currently ranks as the 20th best receiver, with just two more points than Cecil Shorts, Julian Edelman and Julio Jones, who hasn’t played since week five.

Despite giving up chunk yards to Indy last Sunday as part of T.Y. Hilton’s coming out party, Houston still ranks first in points allowed to wide receivers. Part of that is deceiving, because teams haven’t been forced to pass on them, carrying big leads late in games, something you can’t assume Arizona will do. However, the only receivers to give them any kind of trouble this year are Hilton and Torrey Smith, two receivers with massive home run potential, something that has faded a bit from Fitzgerald’s game. Those two players are the only receivers to top 70 yards in a game against the Texans this season. Houston should also have no problem applying pressure on Carson Palmer regularly, as they average a sack every 8.7 percent of opposing drop backs. Arizona ranks as the 20th ranked team in allowing Palmer to be sacked (7.5 percent).

Full Disclosure From Week 9

TRUST

PLAYER

PPR PTS

RESULTS

Alex Smith

5.7

QB25

Danny Woodhead

18.8

RB12

Kendall Wright

9.9

WR40

Steve Smith

9.2

WR44

BUST

Andy Dalton

6.7

QB24

Mike Wallace

14.2

WR23

Ray Rice

6.8

RB37

Tony Gonzalez

20.1

TE4

SEASON RESULTS

W

L

TRUST

24

24

BUST

19

15

 

 

*Stats used were provided from ProFootballFocus, Pro-Football-Reference, NFLData.com.

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