Fantasy football players often look towards the future. What will a players value be in a few weeks? Who has favorable matchups next week? Who’s playoff schedule is a cakewalk? These are all excellent questions that can help you win your league if answered properly. So how do we answer them? By looking to the past. After all, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This article will highlight key developments in week 10 that fantasy managers need to keep in mind moving forward. Let’s get to the lessons learned in week 10.
Lesson one: the Miami defense is a problem
How quickly things have turned around in Miami. Last year they were the one of the worst teams in the league. This year, they sit at 6-3 after rattling off five straight wins. This streak has been sparked by the incredible play from their defense. The Dolphins defense has at least one takeaway in every single game this year and 14 total through nine games (eight interceptions and six fumble recoveries).
Byron Jones and Xavien Howard highlight a secondary that has four interceptions in the last four games. Free agent addition Kyle Van Noy has continued to impress all season, with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Emmanuel Ogbah already has eight sacks on the year. This defense is full of playmakers who are all contributing to the best football played in Miami in years.
The Dolphin’s defense in fantasy is ranked seventh overall on the year. Since their abysmal showing against Josh Allen and the Bills in week 2, they have scored 11, 0, 14, 12, 18, 5, and 8 points in standard defensive scoring leagues. The last three games have been especially impressive, as they came against the Rams, Cardinals, and Chargers, each of which have impressive offenses this year. Their next three matchups are against the Broncos (Drew Lock has ten interceptions in the last five games), the Jets, and the Bengals. Each of these three matchups are extremely favorable, and the Dolphins have a legitimate chance to be the highest scoring defense through the next three weeks.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins have quietly been holding opponent’s receivers in check over the course of the season. They held Keenan Allen to just three catches for 39 yards this week (one of which was a touchdown which saved his fantasy week). Christian Kirk had a monster game the previous week, but Deandre Hopkins posted just three catches for 30 yards and no touchdowns. Cooper Kupp led the way for the Rams with 100 yards receiving in week 8, but it took a colossal 20 targets to get there.
That’s not to say that you should sit Tyreek Hill against the Dolphins in the first round of the playoffs. Generally, it’s better to bet on the insanely talented player in the best offense in the league. But definitely reconsider starting Broncos receivers (Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick) and Bengals receivers (Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd) when it’s their turn to go up against this defense in the coming weeks.
Lesson learned: Start the Miami defense unless the matchup is an absolute nightmare. Avoid playing receivers against them if you have a choice.
Lesson two: the Baltimore backfield is unstartable
When the Ravens drafted star running back J.K. Dobbins out of Ohio State in the second round this year, fantasy managers rejoiced. It seemed that the Ravens had finally chosen a feature back, doing away with the dreaded running back by committee (RBBC) approach. Surely he and Lamar Jackson would comprise a backfield that would lead the league in rushing yet again.
Sadly for fantasy managers, this is only partially true. The Ravens’ running game is again one of the best in the league. They’ve posted at least 110 rushing yards in each game, and have the second most rushing yards as a team (1476) along with a very nice 5 YPC. The bad news is, the addition of Dobbins didn’t dissolve the running back committee: they’ve simply added another seat at the table.
Lamar Jackson still heads the rushing attack this year with 90 attempts. Gus Edwards is second with 82 attempts, just a few less than Jackson himself. Dobbins is third on the team in attempts with only 57 through nine games. Mark Ingram has just two less carries than Dobbins in two less games. In terms of attempts per game, Dobbins is fourth on the team behind those already mentioned.
This RBBC approach has, at the very least, been relatively consistent over the course of the season. The highest scoring game from a Ravens running back this year came from Mark Ingram in week 2, who posted 15.7 points in PPR against the Texans. Gus Edwards holds the second highest total with 14.7 points in week 8. Dobbins own the third highest total on the year with 14.2 points in week 1. No one running back has truly had a breakout performance yet this season.
Is all hope lost?
Dobbins managers had one last glimmer of hope in week 10 against the Patriots.
His statline? Five rushing attempts for 13 yards, to go along with two targets for one catch and one yard, for a total 2.4 PPR points. He was out-carried by Gus Edwards by two carries and had the same amount of carries as Mark Ingram.
Lesson learned: Any hope that Dobbins will emerge as the lead back should be gone by now. He may be a good stash if you have the room in case of multiple injuries to the Ravens backfield. However, even when Ingram missed two games Dobbins was unable to separate himself from the pack. At this point, you should only play a Ravens running back if you are truly desperate. And if you do play one of them, don’t expect anything more than 15 points even in the best case scenario.
Lesson 3: Wayne Gallman isn’t a fluke…mostly
Saquon Barkley’s injury early this year decimated the fantasy value of the Giants backfield. With Devonta Freeman taking over as lead back, the Giants only eclisped 100 rushing yards as a team twice through the first six weeks. Each time, Daniel Jones led the team in rushing yards. In the four weeks since, the Giants have eclipsed 100 rushing yards in every game, and Gallman has lead the running backs in yardage each week (Daniel Jones was their leading rusher overall for two of those weeks).
There are promising signs that Gallman is the real deal and not just a flash in the pan. His workload has steadily been increasing week to week. He had 10 attempts in week 7, 12 attempts in week 8, 14 attempts in week 9, and 18 attempts in week 10. He also commands the most targets out of the Giants backfield, with 10 in the past four weeks.
The downside to Gallman’s fantasy output is that it has been touchdown dependent. In the last four weeks he has found the endzone five times, which of course inflates his points per game. It’s hard to trust the Giants to score enough TDs to keep Gallman’s value where it is now. Without his touchdowns, Gallman has posted scores of 10.4, 7.2, 8.7, and 7 in PPR. These aren’t horrible as a desperation flex play, but they also aren’t enough to really move the needle in your matchup one way or the other.
There is some encouraging news for Gallman managers. Devonta Freeman has been placed on Injured Reserve and will be ineligible to return for three weeks. This means Gallman will be the lead back against the Bengals and the Cardinals. Also, it gives Gallman time to cement his role as lead back even when Freeman is eligible to return off IR.
The other good news? Gallman is actually pretty good at scoring touchdowns.
Lesson learned: While you can’t expect a score every week, Gallman has shown to have value and is a fine flex play against the Bengals in week 12. He’s someone to keep a close eye on in the coming weeks as the fantasy season inches closer to the playoffs.