Whether it’s because of matchups, injuries, or declining usage trends, there are plenty of reasons why a player can struggle in a given week. It’s always important to try to identify these busts in advance, and heading into Week 10, our list is features such notable names as Antonio Gibson and Jalen Hurts. We also note up-and-coming guys like Eno Benjamin and D’Ernest Johnson, who were popular waiver wire pickups despite uncertain roles. Either way, these players figure to be involved in a lot of Week 10 fantasy start ’em, sit ’em decisions.
As always, even perennial stars can bust in favorable matchups, but it’s tough to call superstars “busts” unless they’ve really been trending downward or have a particularly brutal matchup. We mostly stick to naming guys on the start-or-sit bubble — not guys who are simply going to have a good-but-not-great week and not guys who are on over 90 percent of waiver wires. Sometimes you don’t have the depth to reasonably bench these guys (or you might just totally disagree with our assessments), but you’ll at least know who is at risk this week. Nothing is worse than being taken off guard by a fantasy dud.
In Week 9, we had mixed results, but our biggest successes were on Michael Carter, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Mahomes, Jakobi Meyers, Adam Thielen, Zach Ertz, and the Ravens defense. Peterson and Thielen both scored touchdowns, but struggled overall. Our biggest misses were DeVonta Smith, Kirk Cousins, and the Browns defense. We didn’t like the chances of Dan Arnold, Tyler Higbee, and the Broncos’ defense, but while they didn’t smash, they didn’t “bust’ either.
After a mostly strong performance, we’re back at it again. Remember, we won’t select obvious choices, but guys that are reasonably on the start ’em, sit ’em bubble.
Week 10 Fantasy Busts: Running backs
Antonio Gibson, Washington vs. Buccaneers (Jackson Sparks). Gibson was just on a bye, but we’re still not confident he’s fully recovered from the shin injury that’s been plaguing him for much of the season. Additionally, Tampa Bay is the No. 2 rushing defense in the league, allowing just 78 yards/game on the ground. Running backs have found success through the air against them, but much of Gibson’s receiving work is outsourced to J.D. McKissic.
D’Ernest Johnson, Browns @ Patriots (Vinnie Iyer). Should Nick Chubb not clear COVID-19 protocol later in the week, Johnson would draw the start, but you can bet the running game would then become the “one thing” Bill Belichick makes sure he takes away from Cleveland. Should Chubb play, Johnson is unusable. (Update: Chubb has been ruled out.)
Eno Benjamin, Cardinals vs. Panthers (Matt Lutovsky). Fantasy football owners are excited about Chase Edmonds’ replacement, especially after Benjamin ran for a TD in garbage time last week. However, we don’t know how many touches he’ll get or what his role will be. Add in the matchup against a Panthers defense allowing the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game (FPPG) to RBs, and Benjamin doesn’t figure to be flex worthy this week.
Week 10 Fantasy Football Busts: Quarterbacks
Jalen Hurts, Eagles @ Broncos (Sparks). You’re still likely starting him, but Philadelphia is beginning to feed its RBs, and we know Hurts’ shortcomings as a passer. We love the rushing floor, but if there’s a matchup that warrants concern, it’s this one. Denver is the No. 2 defense against fantasy QBs, and the three best rushing quarterbacks they have faced are Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, and Taylor Heinicke. Those three combined for just 54 rushing yards on 10 attempts. That said, we have reason to believe Denver has a recipe to contain QBs and discourages QBs from taking off downfield in the first place. Von Miller isn’t a Bronco anymore, but Denver held Dallas to zero points through three quarters without him. All it would take for Hurts to prove us wrong is one or two long runs, but there are plenty of reasons to be worried.
Ryan Tannehill, Titans vs. Saints (Iyer). They won with limited help from him last week against the Rams, and the Saints present another tough pass defense that should rebound from last week.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings @ Chargers (Lutovsky). The Chargers have had a couple bad games against QBs this year, but for the most part, they’ve done a great job limiting passers (fifth-fewest FPPG allowed). Derek Carr’s Week 4 performance against L.A. (196 yards, two TDs) is probably what you’re looking at with Cousins this week, and most fantasy owners can do better than that.
Week 10 Fantasy Football Busts: Wide receivers
Christian Kirk, Cardinals vs. Panthers (Sparks). Kirk has transitioned from a boom-or-bust player to a steady performer, but this matchup is concerning all around — especially if Kyler Murray (ankle) remains out. Carolina gives up the fifth-fewest FPPG to WRs and has allowed just three receivers to eclipse 80 yards through nine games. That said, we view Kirk as a boom-or-bust guy in Week 10. One long reception could mean a boom. but without that, we’re probably looking at a bust.
D.J. Moore, Panthers @ Cardinals (Iyer). There’s no Sam Darnold (shoulder) to keep mucking it up, but here’s a gut feeling this is a big CMC checkdown game for P.J. Walker with more Robby Anderson interest all of a sudden.
Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, Jets vs. Bills (Lutovsky). Davis (hip) should be back, which immediately limits rising rookie Moore. Either way, neither of these receivers figure to do much against a Bills defense allowing the fewest FPPG to WRs by a wide margin. After Buffalo’s dismal offensive performance last week, you can’t even count on garbage-time production for New York.
Week 10 Fantasy Football Busts: Tight ends
Dallas Goedert, Eagles @ Broncos (Sparks). Only one tight end has gone over 60 yards against Denver, and it’s yet to allow a single TE to score a touchdown. The Eagles are beginning to be a run-first (and almost run-only) team, and we don’t trust Jalen Hurts to deliver the ball to Goedert with accuracy or consistency. Goedert looked like a “must-start” guy when Zach Ertz was sent to Arizona, but that is now far from the case.
Tyler Higbee, Rams @ 49ers (Iyer). Just when you think he’s involved he will go quiet. On top of that, the 49ers are easily exploited by wide receivers.
Hunter Henry, Patriots vs. Browns (Lutovsky). Henry has scored in five of the past six games, but over his past four contests, he’s caught just seven passes on 12 targets for 100 yards. In other words, Henry is the definition of “touchdown or bust.” The Browns are right in the middle in FPPG allowed to TEs, but it doesn’t really matter with Henry. At some point, the touchdowns will dry up.
Week 10 Fantasy Busts: Defenses
New Orleans Saints @ Titans (Sparks). The New Orleans defense is still strong against the run, but its secondary has been awful in recent weeks. Also, the Saints offensive struggles figure to put the defense in bad spots, so we don’t expect Tennessee to have a difficult time scoring. A.J. Brown and Julio Jones look to be healthy for the first time together all season, which is bad news for the sixth-worst team in passing yards allowed/game.
Denver Broncos vs. Eagles (Iyer). Here’s feeling a trap game, as the Eagles’ offense is weird and can diversify to attack them well in different unpredictable areas because of Hurts’ running.
Green Bay Packers vs. Seahawks (Lutovsky). If Geno Smith was starting, we’d love the Packers, who have been turnover machines since the start of Week 2. Even last week when they couldn’t generate any takeaways, they held the Chiefs to 13 points. However, with Russell Wilson (finger) due back, it’s tough to trust Green Bay. In Wilson’s five starts, he turned it over only once. Green Bay will get a couple sacks, but not much more.
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