David Johnson is the mother of all matchup plays in Week 10. He’s probably the best back in the league and faces a 49ers defense that is allowing 193 rushing yards per game — which is 46.6 yards more than the next-worst team! Johnson might be the best matchup-based start in the history of fantasy football.
However, you’ll rarely see recommendations here to start guys like Johnson because you should always start guys like Johnson. Most of the players below aren’t the must-start or must-sit types.
(Note: The fantasy points per game allowed (FPPG) referenced below are from FOXSports.com standard leagues.)
Week 10 byes: Bills, Colts, Lions, Raiders
Thursday game: Browns at Ravens
Stay away: Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (at Cardinals)
Remember how we recommended Kaepernick here last week? It paid off, as Kaep was QB10 with 30.1 fantasy points against the Saints. He’s got a more difficult matchup coming at Arizona, which ranks second with 12.3 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Not this time, folks.
Kirk Cousins is QB14 for the season and always tempting because of his high volume. This week’s home matchup with the Vikings (12.5 FPPG allowed to opposing QBs) isn’t the best spot for him, however.
Play, play, play: Joe Flacco, Ravens (vs. Browns)
Opposing quarterbacks are shredding Browns, scoring 20.8 FPPG and throwing for 22 touchdowns with a 106.9 passer rating in nine awful games. Flacco has been a fantasy dud for most of the season but makes for a nice streaming option if you own Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr.
Stay away: Isaiah Crowell, Browns (at Ravens)
The Ravens have been terrific against the run this season, leading all defenses with 13 FPPG allowed to opposing backs and giving up just 76.1 rushing yards per outing. Crowell ran 18 times for 133 yards in Week 2 versus the Ravens, but aside from his 85-yard touchdown, he was a pedestrian 17-48. Yeah, we know — the TD run counts. We’re giving the Ravens the benefit of the doubt in a game that lists them as 10-point favorites, and making Crowell a so-so RB24.
Whether it’s Carlos Hyde (shoulder) or DuJuan Harris, you should sit the 49ers’ lead back against a Cardinals defense that allows 13.8 FPPG to opposing runners. Hyde will reportedly practice in a non-contact jersey this week, with his status decided a day or two before the game.
Play, play, play: Terrance West, Ravens (vs. Browns)
Are you sending a trend with the Browns-Ravens matchup? We probably shouldn’t go too heavily on the anti-Browns sentiment, but as they’ve allowed 24.7 FPPG to opposing running backs, eagerness to start Ravens’ players is warranted. Warning: West was on the field for 29 snaps to Kenneth Dixon’s 20 in Week 9, and there’s a chance Dixon could overtake him. Until we hear news to that effect, we’ve got West at RB16 and Dixon at RB31.
Kapri Bibbs scored on a 69-yard screen pass against the Raiders on Sunday night, and after the game head coach Gary Kubiak said he wanted to "give him opportunities." Devontae Booker figures to remain the Broncos’ lead back despite two consecutive subpar games (29 carries, 76 yards), but Bibbs checks in at RB32 with upside against a Saints’ D that ranks 31st with 25 FPPG allowed to opposing running backs.
Stay away: Brandin Cooks, Saints (vs. Broncos)
Even though the Broncos lost to the Raiders on Sunday, they gave up just eight receptions and 83 yards to the usually lethal combo of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Wade Phillips’ unit ranks a clear first among fantasy defenses with 11.3 FPPG allowed to opposing wideouts, and with Cooks having modest totals of 21 targets and 16 receptions over the last three games, you might want to stay away if you can. Yes, yes, we know … lots of points in the Superdome and all that. I prefer Michael Thomas to Cooks, and how much room is there for two receivers to produce against the Broncos?
Play, play, play: Jordan Matthews, Eagles (vs. Falcons)
The Eagles host a Falcons’ defense that ranks 31st with 28.1 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers, and Matthews is coming off a pair of games in which he amassed 24 targets, 17 receptions, 153 yards and a score. At WR28 for the season, Matthews is a player whose fantasy value fluctuates based on matchup. We’ve got him at WR16 for this one.
Stay away: Gary Barnidge, Browns (at Ravens)
Big Gary has been a bit of a fantasy disappointment this season after his breakout 2015, His 36 catches for 426 yards are OK, but he hasn’t scored a touchdown and ranks 14th among tight ends. The Ravens haven’t allowed a tight end to score on them this season, so Barnidge is in a tough spot to produce.
Play, play, play: Dennis Pitta, Ravens (vs. Browns)
OK, OK, this is the last guy from the Thursday night game. The porous Browns rank last with 6.8 receptions, 80.6 yards and 13.4 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends, and those of you looking to get Pitta back in the mix after a brief slump have an interesting opportunity here.