Week 10: Player Upgrades
Player Upgrades is intended for fantasy football diehards. Each week when setting a lineup, a closer analysis is necessary to find out which players are destined for a great performance. Sometimes it is a favorable matchup or it can be as simple as an increased role due to an injury. Very few players are matchup-proof in this game. For every Aaron Rodgers or Ray Rice, there are a dozen players who could potentially be interchangable depending upon a number of factors.
This weekly article isolates your best options for a statistical breakout from Week 1 to Week 17. Let FFToolbox do the homework for you! Instead of scouring the waiver wire and opening up 20 tabs to compare and contrast players, let Player Upgrades be your guide. Each week, we will identify seven players (typically two QBs, two RBs, two WRs and one TE) that you should consider starting and we'll break each player down with some analysis.
For Week 10's Player Upgrades, I will focus specifically on playoff push players. That means players with a favorable schedule from Weeks 10 to 13. If you need four straight wins to make that final spot in your league's postseason, these guys will do that for you.
For those who can not go out and trade for Matt Ryan, you can always aim your sights lower by going after Andrew Luck. In Weeks 7 and 8, I highly recommended his "tremendous value." In his last three games, the rookie has averaged 24.8 fantasy points. In Weeks 11 and 12, the former Stanford Cardinal will face New England and Buffalo, two of the worst fantasy defenses against QBs. His other two games come against Jacksonville in Week 10 and Detroit in Week 13. Neither of those two teams are anything more than average at best. The Colts are riding a three-game winning streak and are very much in the mix for a wildcard spot in the AFC playoffs. Behind that success is Luck, no better evidenced by his 433 passing yards and two TDs against Miami last week. Luck's stock is very high, but he is absolutely worth pursuing.
No quarterback in the NFL faces a weaker set of fantasy defenses than Matt Ryan from Weeks 10 to 13. Two matchups against the league-worst New Orleans Saints and a Week 12 game against Tampa Bay provide three advantageous opportunities for Ryan to score big points. New Orleans has the 32nd-ranked fantasy defense against QBs and Tampa Bay is ranked 28th. Realistically, there aren't many fantasy owners that are going to bench Ryan in the coming weeks so my endorsement may not mean much in that sense. The point of this recommendation is to suggest that you attempt to acquire Ryan if possible. For example, Robert Griffin III is slumping of late and has a far more difficult remaining schedule. It's perfectly plausible to offer up RG3 in exchange for Ryan. Even though the fifth-year veteran is having a career year, he could continue his improvement and push you into the playoffs.
Pittsburgh's Isaac Redman had a coming-out party in Week 9 by rushing for 147 yards and a score against the New York Giants. Even if Jonathan Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall are healthy in Week 10, Redman's hot-hand should carry him to the most touches in the short-term. In the coming weeks, Redman and Pittsburgh will face Kansas City (25th-ranked fantasy defense against RBs), Baltimore (24th), Cleveland (21st), and Baltimore again. If there is any indication that the Steelers will favor Mendenhall or Redman instead, this recommendation follows their lead. An injury to Antonio Brown may provide a small boost to Pittsburgh's rushing game, which has been slightly below average this season. Some stability, led by Redman, could improve what has been a relative weakness.
First, at the time of this writing, Marcel Reece is not a lock to receive a ton of touches and his value is intrinsically linked to Darren McFadden and/or Mike Goodson not playing this week. That said, not only is Reece a great add heading into Week 10 with injuries adding up in Oakland, but he has very favorable matchups from Weeks 10 to 13. In order, Oakland will play Baltimore (24th-ranked fantasy defense against RBs), New Orleans (31st), Cincinnati (23rd), and Cleveland (21st). So if McFadden and/or Goodson is somehow able to play, please consider this write-up a nod in their direction. The point is that Oakland may not be playing great football right now, but they do have a very easy path to success. Reece should be universally available on the waiver wire, so adding him is really of no consequence and can only benefit your team if he is the featured back.
You could argue that I made easy calls at quarterback between the surging Andrew Luck and undefeated Matt Ryan. Well, here's a deeper reach for you. The Cincinnati Bengals do not have a dramatic or decisive matchup advantage in the next month, but it does lean in their favor. There is no debating that A.J. Green will see a ton of looks, yet expect for Andrew Hawkins to receive a bump. Cincinnati plays the New York Giants (28th-ranked fantasy defense against WRs), Kansas City (18th), Oakland (22nd), and San Diego (21st). Hawkins has recently taken a back seat to Green over the last five games. This is an anticipatory recommendation as defenses shift more attention toward Green and Jermaine Gresham. More man coverage against Hawkins can only improve his fantasy production.