As we do each week, we recap the NFL’s best and worst from a fantasy football perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks.
David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals: There’s the David Johnson fantasy managers were expecting when they made him the No. 3 overall selection on average in the preseason (3.8 ADP), as his 37.3 PPR fantasy points on Sunday represented the first time in 2018 that he exceeded the 22-point plateau and were the third most he has scored in any of his 42 career NFL games, even if it came in yet another losing effort by his team. Most encouraging was the fact that he caught seven of his nine targets for 85 yards and one touchdown, and his 21.5 fantasy points on receiving plays alone were the third most he has had in any game in his career. Johnson seems lined up for a strong finish, considering his schedule includes only two more potentially tough matchups: the Los Angeles Rams in Week 16 and Seattle Seahawks in Week 17. He remains a clear RB1.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns: His 92-yard touchdown run to put the Browns up 28-10 in a game they’d eventually win 28-16 might’ve been the day’s brightest highlight, but don’t use it to discredit Chubb’s fantasy performance as “driven by one big play.” His 35.9 PPR fantasy points were second most among all players during Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET block, meaning that he contributed more than 20 points in the game excluding that one big play. Besides it setting a franchise record for longest rushing play — Bobby Mitchell previously held the record with a 90-yard touchdown run — it gave him runs of 92, 63 and 41 yards, per ESPN’s Pat McManamon, and it pushed his seasonal yards-per-carry average to 6.2 and granted him the league’s lead, pending the performances of Aaron Jones (6.0) and Austin Ekeler (5.8). Chubb’s 35.9 points were also the most by any Browns player since Josh Gordon had 48.1 points in 2013 Week 13, and the most by any Browns running back since Peyton Hillis scored 43.4 in 2010 Week 12. Chubb and the Browns now enjoy their bye week, but their schedule is extraordinary for running backs after that: the Cincinnati Bengals (Weeks 12 and 16), Houston Texans (Week 13) and Denver Broncos (Week 15) all rank among the 13 most favorable matchups for the position using schedule-independent data.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears: For the third time in the past seven weeks, Trubisky reached the 30-point fantasy plateau, his 36.0 points leading all quarterbacks from Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET game block. It continued a remarkable run of fantasy production from the second-year quarterback, as he has 17 touchdowns compared to four interceptions while completing 63.4 percent of his pass attempts during that six-game span. Trubisky’s 168.1 fantasy points since the beginning of Week 4 are second most among quarterbacks behind only Patrick Mahomes‘ 171.4, and Trubisky did that in one fewer game played than Mahomes (six compared to seven for the latter). Trubisky now faces arguably the toughest matchup on his entire 2018 schedule in the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11, though the remainder of his schedule looks favorable enough that he has a good chance at low-end QB1 numbers from this point forward. He was started in 39.6 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 10, 12th highest among quarterbacks, a number that should rise in future weeks — certainly in Week 12 against the Detroit Lions, his Sunday opponent, if not next week.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers: Despite it coming in what was an embarrassing 52-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football, McCaffrey’s tops-from-either-team-in-the-game 36.8 PPR fantasy points was arguably the lone bright spot for the Panthers. It not only helped the second-year running back set a personal best in the category, but it also set a franchise record for a running back, besting Fred Lane’s 35.8 in 1997 Week 10. For McCaffrey, it gave him 201.8 points through nine games this season, which is 26.8 fewer than he had his entire rookie season (in 16 games) and 72.9 more than he had through nine games of last year.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Those of you bold enough to start him in his first game since recovering from a hamstring injury — and you did in 62.6 percent of ESPN leagues (20th most among running backs) — were handsomely rewarded, as Fournette roared back with a 27.9 PPR fantasy point total, which represented a season high as well as the second most that he has scored in any of his 16 career NFL games (31.4, 2017 Week 5). Fournette handled 24 carries and 29 total touches in this one, the former tied for the fourth most and the latter tied for the second most in his career, with the former number most encouraging considering his Jaguars played all but roughly 6½ minutes of the game from behind. We’ll see how his hamstring responds on Monday, but all indications are that he’s now fully healthy and the Jaguars’ go-to running back, and that’s great news considering there are some excellent matchups in the team’s near future: The Indianapolis Colts in Week 13 and Miami Dolphins in Week 16 stand out.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: He has thrived all year thanks to the breakthrough seasonal performance of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and he once again was Mahomes’ go-to guy on Sunday, scoring a wide receiver-best (from the 1 p.m. ET games) 32.7 PPR fantasy points on his 10 targets. It was the fifth time this season that Hill scored at least 20 points, and the third he scored as many as 30; he had eight of the former and one of the latter in 2016-17 combined. He remains a locked-in weekly WR1, even if he’s not nearly as talented working a camera.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: For the second time this season, Roethlisberger amassed at least 35 fantasy points, his 35.8 on Thursday night representing the third most he has had in any of his 209 career NFL games and 207 starts. That means that his second- and third-best single-game scores have come in 2018 — he also scored 39.0 in Week 2 — and he has now totaled 207.9 points for the season, which is by far the most that he has had through nine games in any of his 15 NFL seasons (his previous best was 184.3 in 2014). Roethlisberger does have three straight challenging matchups ahead with road games at the Jaguars and Broncos, followed by a home game against the Los Angeles Chargers, but his performance in a Week 9 road game against a tough Baltimore Ravens defense helped alleviate somewhat his matchups concerns. He’ll be a borderline QB1/2 for Week 11 at the Jaguars.
Eric Ebron, TE, Colts: For the first time in his 65-game NFL career, Ebron scored three touchdowns in a game on Sunday, resulting in a best-among-tight-ends (from the 1 p.m. ET games) 28.1 PPR fantasy points. That was the second-best total in his career, trailing only the 31.5 points he scored in Week 5. While it was good news for Ebron and his fantasy managers, his usage didn’t provide any hints about a shift in focus away from Jack Doyle, as each had exactly three targets and caught all three of them, and fellow Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox actually had a position-high four targets. This has the makings of a frustrating-to-read situation week over week, but Ebron does appear to be a preferred target of Andrew Luck in the red zone, making him the boom/bust, touchdown-dependent play of the two. Don’t expect a repeat, however, in Week 11 against a Tennessee Titans defense that has been very good against tight ends.
Allen Robinson, WR, Bears: Just when it seemed that his fantasy managers were losing faith in him, his 81.6 percent rate residing on ESPN rosters representing his season low, Robinson charged back with a season-best 31.3 PPR fantasy points on Sunday. That was his best performance in a single game since 2015 Week 13 (43.3), and the third best score in any of his 50 career NFL games, even if it was enjoyed by his managers in only 28.0 percent of ESPN leagues. This was quite the rebound performance for Robinson, showing good chemistry once more with Trubisky, and while the two might have trouble connecting as consistently against the Vikings in Week 11, they should be able to enjoy success in many of the more favorable matchups that’ll come after it.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills: Speaking of veteran comebacks, presenting McCoy and his season-high 24.8 PPR fantasy points on Sunday. He had struggled through an injury-marred and disappointing campaign, and hadn’t seen nearly as much work as projected due to his team’s poor quarterback play, and due to the popularity of the opposing New York Jets’ defense, was started in only 47.9 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 10 (24th highest among running backs). It’s not the kind of performance that one can expect in future weeks, however, as the Bills seem likely to continue developing rookie Josh Allen, and they’re highly unlikely to again attempt as many as their 46 carries on Sunday.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers: His 32.2 PPR fantasy points blew away his previous career high of 22.8, set in 2017 Week 7, and in fact were the most by any Packers running back since Samkon Gado had 32.8 in 2005 Week 10, almost exactly 13 years ago to the day (that game was played Nov. 13). Jones, who was started in 62.9 percent of ESPN leagues (13th highest among running backs), has clearly taken over as the leader of the Packers’ backfield, and he hasn’t seemed to lose any explosiveness despite the expanded workload. With his 145 yards on 15 carries, he improved his seasonal average to 6.8 yards per carry, recapturing the league lead from the aforementioned Chubb, who held the lead for only a couple of hours. While Jones might not be a 20-carry back at any point this year, playing for a notoriously pass-oriented Packers offense, he’s giving you some of the best points-per-attempt numbers you could ask in fantasy. He’s a locked-in RB2, though expect a slight step backward as he faces back-to-back tough matchups against the Seattle Seahawks and Vikings in Weeks 11-12.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints: Admit it, you wanted him to stay in there to begin the fourth quarter after he had dropped 28.9 fantasy points on the woeful Bengals defense while leading his team to a 45-7 advantage through three quarters of Sunday’s game. It’s a credit to Brees that he was able to perform that well despite the early hook for backup Teddy Bridgewater, as he managed the second most points among quarterbacks from the 1 p.m. ET games. Brees is now the No. 4-scoring quarterback for the season with 209.9 fantasy points, which is the second most he has had through nine team games in any of his 18 NFL seasons (217.8, in 2013). It has been quite the season for the 39-year-old.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys: For the second time this season and fifth in his 34-game NFL career, Elliott reached the 30-PPR-point fantasy plateau, his 36.7 on Sunday Night Football representing his third-best performance of his career. Remarkably, it was the first time he scored 30 points in a divisional game, and it was the first time in three tries that he had scored even 20 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Elliott remains a locked-in RB1, and he’ll be one of the strongest plays in the league in Week 11, when he faces an outstanding matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles: He had a career game, quite literally, on Sunday night, scoring a personal-best 40.5 PPR fantasy points against the Cowboys, that the highest score by any individual player on Sunday. His best two single-game scores in his career have now come against the Cowboys, as his previous career best also came against them in 2016 Week 17 (38.9). Ertz’s target total for the season reached 100 in the process, in his ninth game, continuing to cement his status as one of the top two tight ends in fantasy.
Jets defense/special teams: Through nine weeks of the 2018 season, the Bills’ offense had afforded opposing D/ST units to average a league-leading 16.1 fantasy points per game, more than three points more than another team had afforded opposing D/STs. That’s much of the reason behind the Jets D/ST ranking the most added individual fantasy commodity of Week 10 — their addition in 51.9 percent of ESPN leagues in the past seven days exceeded that of any skill player — as well as their 84.9 percent start rate, second highest among D/STs for the week, though the Jets’ four games with double-digit fantasy points entering Sunday’s action probably contributed. Chalk this one up as a massive bust, as the Jets defense completely flopped, finishing the game with minus-seven fantasy points and letting down the many who streamed them. The Bills scored a whopping 31 points before halftime in this game, which is more than they had scored in any of their previous nine games in their entirety, and finished with 41 points, which is five fewer than they scored in a span of six games from Weeks 4-9 combined. It’s a development certain to prevent anyone from streaming the Jets the next time these teams square off in Week 14, and it’ll probably also cast some doubts among fantasy managers about the Lions in Week 15 or Dolphins in Weeks 13 and 17. The unexpected one-week result shouldn’t do that, though, and future opponents should be more prepared to defend Matt Barkley (assuming he makes future starts) in the coming weeks. Keep rolling with middling-to-above-average D/STs against the Bills, still likely to be the No. 1 team in terms of affording opposing units fantasy points in their final seven games.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Though most of the blame for his Bengals’ miserable 51-14 loss to the Saints should fall squarely upon the defense, it’s odd to look at the box score and see that Dalton attempted only 20 passes in the contest. That partly explains his mere 6.9 fantasy points, but a pair of turnovers, both on interceptions, didn’t help matters. Dalton had been a popular streaming choice, active in 24.1 percent of ESPN leagues (15th highest among quarterbacks) in Week 10, as the opposing Saints entered Sunday’s action having allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to the position (25.2). Dalton should throw much more often than this in future weeks, thanks in large part to his team’s poor defense, but he’s a weak matchups choice for Week 11 despite the potential for volume against a stingy Baltimore Ravens defense.
Jordan Howard, RB, Bears: As Trubisky continues to star, Howard continues to stink for fantasy purposes, scoring 4.2 PPR points on 11 carries and a 1-for-1 performance catching his targets on Sunday. It was an especially poor output considering the strength of the matchup, as the Lions entered having allowed the eighth-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season, though in Howard’s defense, the Lions have shown considerable improvement in that regard since the acquisition of Damon Harrison. Tarik Cohen‘s continued strong performance remains a concern for Howard’s usage, though, and it’ll be difficult to trust Howard in a tough matchup against the Vikings in Week 11. At best, he’ll be a high-end flex option.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: While his 11.8 fantasy points might not have ruined his teams, they represented yet another disappointing output for our purposes, as well as an embarrassing effort resulting in a 34-10 loss for his Patriots. Brady was started in 57.5 percent of ESPN leagues, still good for ninth highest among quarterbacks, so his reputation continues to earn him starts among his fantasy managers. He failed to pass or rush for a single touchdown in this one, and in fact completed only 21 of 41 pass attempts, his 51.2 completion percentage his worst since 2017 Week 17 (48.6) and one of the 25 worst in any of his 263 career NFL games. Perhaps the bye week’s rest will help.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns: A 28-16 upset victory by his team, while facing an extremely favorable matchup for a wide receiver? Check. A 22.6-point fantasy performance by his quarterback? Check. So why was Landry able to muster only 4.2 PPR fantasy points on five targets? That was one of Sunday’s most frustrating outputs to his fantasy managers, especially in light of it coming on the heels of a so-so, 11.0-points-on-seven-targets performance in Week 9, Freddie Kitchens’ first as the Browns’ new offensive coordinator. Baker Mayfield has been much more apt to spread the ball around in two games since Kitchens’ installation, though in Landry’s defense, this was a game in which the Browns leaned much more upon the running than passing game — and rightfully so considering their early lead. The team now has its bye, but Landry’s rebound prospects against the struggling Bengals defense are outstanding for Week 12.
Sony Michel, RB, Patriots: His 3.1 PPR fantasy points on 11 carries and zero receptions (zero targets as well) were a bit more forgivable than Brady’s output, considering Michel was marking his return from a two-game absence for a knee injury. It was, however, Michel’s worst single-game output in any of his six complete NFL contests — he scored 2.5 points in his abbreviated Week 7 — which won’t answer any questions his fantasy managers have as he enters his bye week. The Patriots should fare better on the scoreboard in Week 12 at the Jets, so Michel should be a locked-in RB2 when the team returns to the field.
O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: For the first time since Week 1 (7.4), Howard was held beneath 10 PPR fantasy points, his 2.5 representing his worst single-game score since 2017 Week 9 (minus-0.4). One could even add Cameron Brate in here, as Brate matched Howard’s one-catch performance, with Brate going 1-for-3 on his targets and Howard 1-for-2. The difference: Howard was started in 66.7 percent of ESPN leagues, sixth highest among tight ends, while Brate was started in only 2.9 percent in Week 10. Chalk this one up to the matchup ruining the Buccaners’ passing game, as Howard should fare better facing a weaker defense in the New York Giants in Week 11.
David Njoku, TE, Browns: Like Landry, Njoku disappointed despite facing a favorable matchup, as he scored only 2.8 PPR fantasy points on his one target on Sunday. As noted with Landry, Mayfield spread the ball around and the Browns relied more on their running game, though this does now give Njoku only 12.1 points on six targets in his two games with Kitchens as the offensive coordinator. Here’s hoping that’s not a trend indicating less reliance upon the tight end, as the Browns’ remaining schedule does favor Njoku.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Packers: For the second time in the past three weeks, Graham caught just one pass, his 2.4 PPR fantasy points on that lone target (which he caught) representing his season low. In fact, on only 15 occasions in his 130 career NFL games has he tallied a worse point total. While Graham’s 56 targets still rank second on the team, only seven of those have come within the red zone, the former his fewest through nine team games of any season since his rookie 2010 and the latter matching his 2016 low through nine team games and representing a nine-target decline from his 2017 number. He’s just not involved enough to make a clear weekly starting case in 10-team leagues.
Golden Tate, WR, Eagles: His Eagles debut was a forgettable one, as he converted his four targets into only 3.9 PPR fantasy points, easily his lowest single-game score of 2018. Tate finished fourth on the team in targets, and while that might be partly the product of his still picking up the offense, it also raises concerns about how much he’ll be targeted by Carson Wentz in future weeks even when he’s up to full speed. Tate should fare better in Week 11 against the New Orleans Saints, with Marshon Lattimore most likely to cover Alshon Jeffery, but he’s still probably only a WR3 for that contest.