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Fantasy football last-minute pickups for Week 10

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Each week of the NFL season, we will identify fantasy football waiver-wire pickups specifically for those of you looking for streaming options in deeper formats (including IDP leagues). These are players available in a majority of ESPN fantasy leagues (or close) who have enticing matchups in the week ahead that make them worthy of consideration for your lineups.

While you might notice some overlap with Field Yates’ pickup column that publishes on Mondays, an important distinction is the options mentioned in this column are focused solely on this week’s matchup and not the players’ values for the remainder of the season.

Editor’s note: Roster percentages are updated on Fridays and players from the Thursday night game are taken out.

Quarterback

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons at Cowboys (51.9% rostered)

There are few fantasy managers who get excited about Ryan. In the past seven games, he has averaged 19.7 fantasy points per game. With other offensive playmakers such as Kyle Pitts, Cordarrelle Patterson and Russell Gage, he can continue to succeed without Calvin Ridley. The Dallas Cowboys are allowing the seventh-most PPG to QBs this season, so Ryan is likely to exceed that average on Sunday, especially after watching Teddy Bridgewater‘s performance against them last week in the same stadium.

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars at Colts (27.1%)

Fantasy managers haven’t been pleased with Lawrence’s past two games. He has thrown for just 356 yards, a touchdown, an interception and 17.74 fantasy points. It is worth noting that Week 9 was only the second time this season he has attempted fewer than 33 passes. While he did suffer a low ankle sprain against the Bills last week, he is expected to play against the Colts in Week 10. Lawrence is a viable streamer against an Indianapolis defense that has allowed the fourth-most points per game to quarterbacks and had a dismal performance against the New York Jets last week. Second-string quarterback Mike White and third-string quarterback Josh Johnson combined for 412 passing yards, four touchdowns and just one interception against the Colts defense.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Denver Broncos vs. Eagles (30.2%)

Bridgewater dominated the Cowboys’ defense last week by completing 19 of 28 passes for 249 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He also ran for a touchdown and could have scored even more than his 21.86 points, but the Broncos played with a lead nearly the entire game. During Weeks 5 to 8, he averaged 18.9 points per game. For Bridgewater, that’s a reasonable floor against a Philadelphia Eagles defense that allows 18.15 points per game to quarterbacks. A Broncos offensive line that ranks 12th in pass block win rate is well positioned to slow down Philadelphia’s pass rush, making him a great QB2 in Week 10.

Running back

Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts vs. Jaguars (54.9%)

Colts head coach Frank Reich has been criticized for his underutilization of Hines. In last week’s game against the Jets, he rushed six times for 74 yards and a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 34 yards. Considering the Colts offensive line has the 14th-highest run block win rate and the Jaguars defense ranks 24th in run stop win rate, this trend may continue on Sunday.

Jordan Howard, RB, Philadelphia Eagles at Broncos (35.9%)

The Eagles’ statistical results over the past two games suggest Howard feels disrespected by being on the practice squad the first seven weeks. In all seriousness, Howard has rushed 29 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns in those games. He has ignited the Eagles’ offense, and the team’s offensive line, which has the fifth-highest run block win rate, has created running lanes for him. Against a Denver Broncos defense that ranks 23rd in run stop win rate, Howard is an RB3/flex option.

Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. Panthers (4.4%)

Chase Edmonds‘ high ankle sprain gives Benjamin the opportunity to inherit his opportunity share. Given James Conner‘s injury history, it would be surprising for the Cardinals to increase his workload. From Weeks 1 to 8, Edmonds averaged 14.1 opportunities (rushing attempts plus targets) per game. Last week, Benjamin gained 39 yards and scored a touchdown. Especially in deeper formats, he is a solid RB3/flex option this week.

D’Ernest Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns at Patriots (83.2%)

Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton tested positive for COVID-19. While both players are vaccinated, their status for Week 10 is unclear. You may remember Johnson was outstanding against the Broncos in Week 7, gaining 146 yards on 22 carries and scoring a touchdown. Update: Clearly, most managers do remember, as Johnson’s roster rate has spiked, so it’s unlikely he’s still available in your league.

Wide receiver

Tyler Johnson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington (2.5%)

Prior to the Buccaneers’ bye, Johnson caught five of six targets for 65 yards against the New Orleans Saints. Antonio Brown is still wearing a walking boot and could miss his third straight game this week. Brady always throws to his open receivers and Johnson faces a Washington secondary that allows the second-most points per game to receivers.

Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Cleveland Browns at Patriots (17.0%)

Peoples-Jones is exactly what the Browns need to fill the void created by the divorce between Odell Beckham Jr. and the team. He has caught 11 of 14 targets over the past three games for 257 yards and three touchdowns. The Browns should have a breakout star in Peoples-Jones for the second half of the season. He has flex value against the Patriots.

Tight end

Tyler Conklin, TE, Minnesota Vikings at Chargers (40.3%)

Last week, Conklin caught five of seven targets for 45 yards, tying Adam Thielen for the team lead in targets and surprisingly leading the team in receptions. Conklin has accumulated 19 targets over the past three games and has a good matchup against a Chargers defense that allows the seventh-most points per game to tight ends.

Dan Arnold, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars at Colts (25.5%)

Arnold has been a favorite target of Lawrence recently, drawing 22 targets over the past three games. This trend should continue against a Colts defense that has given up six touchdowns to tight ends this season.

Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Detroit Lions (45.4%)

With Eric Ebron out with a hamstring injury, Freiermuth has thrived over the past two weeks, scoring three touchdowns on his nine catches. Regardless of Ebron’s status, Freiermuth should feast in the red zone against the Lions this week.

Defense/special teams

Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks (32.9%)

Patrick Mahomes struggled against two high safeties last week and the Packers’ defense limited him to 166 yards and a touchdown. In Week 10, Green Bay will play at home against Russell Wilson after he was cleared to play. Wilson has a passer rating of 60.4 with 604 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions in three career games against the Packers on the road.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Chiefs (17.1%)

The Chiefs have the most giveaways in the NFL with 19. Kansas City has to figure out its offense sooner rather than later, but until then, it’s a good streaming target. Since Week 6, the Raiders rank 12th among fantasy defenses in points per game.

Tennessee Titans vs. Saints (40.3%)

Against the Rams, the Titans’ defense forced two turnovers and sacked Matthew Stafford five times. Tennessee has intercepted a pass in six straight games, its longest streak since 2010. In their upcoming game against the Saints, who are 28th in total yards, the Titans hope to continue this positive trend.

Kicker

Chase McLaughlin, Cleveland Browns at Patriots (18.6%)

After scoring just 11 points in the previous three games, McLaughlin matched that total in Sunday’s victory. Hopefully, this is the beginning of good things for the Browns offensively. McLaughlin has done well for Cleveland, making 13 of 15 field goals and all 23 extra points. He should have plenty of opportunities against the Patriots.

Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Lions (44.5%)

Over the past five games, Boswell has made all 10 of his field goal attempts. This week, he plays against a Lions team that has allowed the most fantasy points per game to kickers.

Dustin Hopkins, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Vikings (2.7%)

Hopkins’ chances of surpassing 10 points are good against a Vikings defense that allows the fifth-most points per game to kickers.

Individual Defensive Players (IDP)

Defensive Line

Dawuane Smoot, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars at Colts (0.1% rostered)

Last week, Smoot played 82% of the defensive snaps against the Bills. In Weeks 5 to 9, he recorded 3.5 sacks and 17 pressures, making him someone to target in deeper formats.

Linebacker

Kwon Alexander, LB, New Orleans Saints at Titans (1.6%)

The Saints had desperately been looking for someone to emerge opposite of linebacker Demario Davis after Alexander was hurt earlier this season. He returned to the starting lineup for the Saints in Week 9 for the first time since his injury and played 78% of the defensive snaps.

Defensive Back

Sharrod Neasman, S, New York Jets vs. Texans (0.1%)

Marcus Maye is out for the season, so Neasman will fill his place. When Neasman played 60 or more snaps in Weeks 4 to 5, he recorded seven tackles and two pass breakups.

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Houston Texans LB Zach Cunningham inactive for disciplinary reasons

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HOUSTON — Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham will not play against the Indianapolis Colts for disciplinary reasons, sources told ESPN.

The starting linebacker is inactive against the Colts, missing playing time for the second time this season for violating team rules. In Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns, Cunningham was benched for the first quarter for recurring tardiness.

Last Sunday, safety Justin Reid was inactive for violating team rules.

“We have rules and when the rules are broken … it doesn’t matter who it is,” Texans coach David Culley said on Nov. 28.

Cunningham, a second-round pick in 2017, signed a four-year, $58 million contract extension in 2020. The linebacker has 67 tackles and one forced fumble this season.

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Philadelphia Eagles to start Gardner Minshew at QB vs. New York Jets with Jalen Hurts ailing

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Gardner Minshew will get the start at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday’s game against the New York Jets in place of the injured Jalen Hurts, according to a league source.

Hurts will be inactive for the game, the source said.

Hurts sprained his ankle in the second half against the New York Giants when he was stepped on. He finished the game but was limping noticeably at times.

Earlier this week, Hurts declared that he would be “ready to go” for the Jets game.

“You guys obviously know I’m dealing with a little something, but it’s business as usual,” he said.

Minshew, however, got the lions’ share of snaps during practice on Thursday and Friday.

Hurts is expected to remain the Eagles starter regardless of how Minshew plays, per sources. He has completed 60.1% of his passes through 12 games for 2,435 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions while racking up 695 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Hurts is coming off arguably his worst start as a pro, throwing a career-high three interceptions in a 13-7 loss to the Giants.

The Eagles acquired Minshew for a conditional 2022 sixth-round pick in late August. He has appeared in one game this season, going 2-for-2 for 11 yards in the closing minutes of a blowout win over the Detroit Lions. Minshew, 25, started 24 games over two seasons in Jacksonville, completing 62.9% of his throws for 5,530 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

“I feel confident with either guy — either of the guys if they have to go play the way they prepared all week and went about their business,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said earlier this week.

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Kurt Warner impressed with Patriots QB Mac Jones, says rookie’s ceiling still a mystery – New England Patriots Blog

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:

1. Warner on Mac: Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner is attending Monday night’s AFC East showdown between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium (8:15, ESPN), providing analysis for Westwood One’s radio call of the game.

Warner’s presence provides an ideal opportunity to share his insight on Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

“I really like him,” Warner said. “I’m a firm believer that if you know what you’re looking at, and know where to get your eyes quickly, and you can make different kinds of throws, you can always be successful as long as your skill set is good enough at whatever level you’re playing.

“You saw it for 20 years with Tom [Brady]. He knew what to look at. He knew how to get the ball out of his hands. He knew exactly where to throw it. And that’s exactly what I see with this young kid.”

Jones, the 15th overall pick in the 2021 draft out of Alabama, is 268-of-381 for 2,850 yards, with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.

“Sometimes he might get to his check-down a little too fast, but he’s a rookie,” Warner said. “Even if it’s getting a check-down for 4 [yards], and passing up a play for 12, you can live with that. … People want to compare him to who Tom Brady was in ’01. He’s doing more for this team, and playing better than Tom Brady did in ’01.

“To me, that’s the compliment you’re looking for. Is he Tom Brady? No. Is he one of the best guys in the league? No. But … what he’s doing at such an early stage, and playing within himself and understanding he can win that way, that’s impressive. There are guys that have been in the league a long time that don’t see the field and understand their reads like he does.”

Warner is curious to see how Jones grows over time.

“We’ve seen him make some really good throws, but I don’t know what his upside is. I’ve always believed at some point that you have to consistently make these off-platform throws, or throws when guys are in your face and you’re in different places, and some guys can physically do that and some guys can’t,” he said. “That … kind of determines, to me, how good a guy like Mac can be. Will he get to the point that he becomes a Tom Brady, who can carry a team with his right arm? That’s yet to be seen.”

2. Dugger’s void: Possibly because he is so soft-spoken, Patriots second-year safety Kyle Dugger doesn’t generate a lot of media attention despite his growing impact on the defense (team-high 75 tackles). So it was no surprise the significance of his placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week — and the growing likelihood of his absence Monday night — seemed underplayed to me over the last five days. The Patriots are one of only two teams in the NFL to have three primary safeties (Devin McCourty, Dugger, Adrian Phillips) average more than 80% playing time, which reflects how the three-safety package is their base personnel (Washington is the other). The drop off after that trio — with Myles Bryant likely the next safety up, and then Joejuan Williams bumping to the third corner spot in Bryant’s place — seems major. Especially against a pass-first team like the Bills.

3. Rare stakes: How unusual is Monday’s Patriots-Bills game based on what’s at stake? Primarily because of the Patriots’ prior two-decade domination in the AFC East, this is just the third Patriots game in December or later under coach Bill Belichick where the winner is guaranteed to take over first place in the division. The Patriots won the previous two — 2001 vs. the Miami Dolphins and 2010 vs. the New York Jets.

4. Van Noy’s disruption: Kyle Van Noy leads all NFL linebackers in pass breakups (13) and completion percentage allowed (57%) as the nearest defender, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. That reflects how he’s had a solid season in his return to the Patriots. Van Noy plays, and sometimes talks, with an edge — with one example coming last week when he said of his 2020 season in Miami: “I think something a lot of people don’t realize is that I’ve gone somewhere else and played at a high level, even though people don’t think I did.”

5. UDFA traits: CBS sideline reporter Evan Washburn highlighted the Patriots’ success with undrafted free agents during last Sunday’s Patriots-Titans broadcast (e.g. cornerback J.C. Jackson), relaying four traits he said came up in his preparation for the game. What do the Patriots look for in UDFAs? According to Washburn, the top four traits are speed, quickness, competitiveness and instincts.

6. Low-scoring battle?: The Patriots and Bills are the top two scoring defenses in the NFL, which makes Monday’s game the sixth prime-time matchup in Week 13 or later to feature the league’s top two scoring defenses (since the 1970 merger). It’s the first since the 49ers-Seahawks matchup in Week 16 of the 2012 season. Linebacker Matthew Judon used the word “transform” when asked what defines the Patriots’ defense — in the sense that it can morph into different forms based on how offenses are attacking.

7. Henry-Knox connection: With seven touchdown receptions apiece, Hunter Henry (Patriots) and Dawson Knox (Bills) are tied for most in the NFL among tight ends this season. They will share the same field on Monday night, but it won’t be the first time they have done so this year. They attended the offseason “TE University” organized by George Kittle. “He’s from Nashville, so that was right there in his neck of the woods,” Henry said. “Great dude, and it’s awesome to his success.”

8. Brown’s injury: The Patriots offensive line is at its best when veteran Trent Brown is at right tackle, but his right calf ailment remains an issue. He’s battling through it, acknowledging last week, “Some days are better than others. It’s all right.” Brown wasn’t his usual dominating self in the win against the Titans, which could have been injury-related.

9. Protecting Nordin: The Patriots seemed to strategically time their decision to waive undrafted kicker Quinn Nordin last week so he wouldn’t be claimed, and they could bring him back on the practice squad to develop him as their possible future option. They couldn’t have certainty it would happen, but waiting until Wednesday when most teams were deep into their preparations on a game week increased the likelihood Nordin would slide through. Smart business.

10. Did You Know: With one more victory, the Patriots will clinch their 35th season with a winning record since the 1970 merger. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers (37) have more, followed by the Patriots, Dallas Cowboys (33), Minnesota Vikings (31), Dolphins (31) and Denver Broncos (29).

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