Usually, the introduction below that precedes the fantasy football advice is well thought-out -- sometimes funny, sometimes serious, often somewhere in between ... but always real and from the heart of the Talented Mr. Roto, Matthew Berry.
This week, however, a family emergency kept Matthew from being able to produce this week's column. Thankfully, the emergency situation is not life-threatening or serious in nature long term, so Matthew will be back in action for Thursday and Friday episodes of The Fantasy Show with Matthew Berry on ESPN+, Friday's Fantasy Focus Football podcast, as well as Fantasy Football Now on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN2 (Editor's note: He's not the only company man around here).
Because we know many of you anticipate the publishing of Love/Hate each Thursday during the NFL regular season, a trio of our fantasy analysts stepped up to offer their own version for this week's games.
Field Yates (quarterbacks), Tristan H. Cockcroft (running backs) and Matt Bowen (pass-catchers) each took a position and offer their loves and hates below.
As always, thanks go out to "Thirsty" Kyle Soppe and the Stat-a-Pillar Damian Dabrowski for their help with this column. Let's get to it.
Quarterbacks Field Yates loves in Week 10
Kyler Murray, Cardinals (at Buccaneers): Have you seen the Buccaneers' pass defense this season? That's right, neither have I, as Tampa Bay has once again struggled to provide any resistance to opposing quarterbacks in 2019. I don't expect Murray to go full Russell Wilson on Sunday, but there are plenty of reasons to love his outlook, both based on his skills and the savory matchup. A league-high 79% of yards against Tampa Bay this season have come through the air, as the Bucs' brick-wall run defense has eliminated some of the best backs in the NFL. Funnel! There should be plenty of opportunities for Murray to throw touchdowns, too, which he got back to in Week 9 (two against San Francisco) after failing to throw a touchdown in four of five games. The Bucs give up 3.9 red zone drives per game this season, fourth most in the NFL. Arizona has scored 25 or more points in four of its past five games. Let's roll!
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers (vs. Cardinals): I'm not entirely sure if Winston is good at football (no one tell @Jameis1of1 on Twitter, though), but I do know that he has a pair of star receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, each of whom ranks among the top four wideouts in fantasy so far this season. That's good. And those two always give a quarterback a chance for dominance, particularly against an Arizona defense that allowed Jimmy Garoppolo to score 28.9 fantasy points last week ... the third-best effort against the Cardinals all season. Even Patrick Peterson struggled last week, an atypical performance from the best coverage player on their defense. This feels like a high-scoring game to me, just as it does to our friends in the great city of Las Vegas, as this is the highest over/under of the week. And, if it comforts you at all, in the league I co-manage with my wife, we're starting Jameis Winston. Happy wife, happy life. Go Jameis.
Daniel Jones, Giants (at Jets): Jones has been predictable this season, in a few ways. Defenses would tell you he has been predictable enough to intercept the ball 10 times, but fantasy managers would tell you he has been predictable in this sense: He has struggled against competent-to-good defenses and gone scorched earth in his two favorable matchups (Buccaneers and Lions). Next up (*checks schedule and stats*): the New York Jets, who are desperate to be doused by Danny Dimes. The Jets allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to carve them up in Week 9, which -- anecdotally speaking -- feels like a good sign. Moreover, Jones should be able to expose the Jets in the slot, where he has two talented options (Golden Tate and -- if healthy -- Sterling Shepard). The Jets are below average against the slot in completion percentage, passer rating, yards per completion and touchdown percentage. An inefficient Giants defense has left them in plenty of shootouts, as Jones ranks fourth in the NFL since Week 5 with 43.6 dropbacks per game. YOLO.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers (vs. Panthers): This is my first and probably last time writing any portion of Love/Hate, so I can't go full saucy with my picks. Aaron Rodgers, you are my Mr. Reliable! I know, before you tell me that calling one of the best ever a "Love" is obvious, remember that starting A-Rod last week proved futile, as he had just 12.9 points. But legends aren't held down for long, as Rodgers has posted fewer than 13 points on six occasions since 2016, only to follow those up with an average of 21.8 points per game next time out. It's as if Rodgers starts himself weekly in fantasy and won't let himself down. Moreover, he now faces a Carolina defense that is the worst in the NFL in the red zone (giving up a TD on 69.2% of trips) and is giving up a league-high 15.9 completions to opposing wide receivers each game. After some extensive research, I have concluded that Davante Adams is a star and should feast on Sunday. There you have it: Start Aaron Rodgers in fantasy.
Others receiving votes: Philip Rivers completes the fourth-most passes per game and those completions figure to do damage against a Raiders defense that is allowing the second-most yards per completion this season (12.5). ...Brian Hoyer has thrown for more than 265 yards in 45.9% of his career starts. It's hard to not like him in this spot against a Dolphins secondary that is giving up a touchdown on a league-high 7.8% of passes.
Quarterbacks Field Yates hates in Week 10
Josh Allen, Bills (at Browns): The Browns don't do a lot well, but they do some things often: make head-scratching decisions on offense and create pressure on defense ... at the third-highest rate in the NFL this season. Here's a complete list of quarterbacks who have a worse passer rating than Josh Allen when facing pressure this season: ______. Nope, that wasn't a pre-written underline that I forgot to fill in; Allen has the worst passer rating when facing pressure this season. Though his legs were a staple down the stretch in 2018 and catapulted him to fantasy dominance, he has only one rushing touchdown in his past four games and is coming off just 12 rushing yards last Sunday. This feels like a grind-it-out game for Buffalo and Cleveland on Sunday.
Jared Goff, Rams (at Steelers): Contrary to early-season forecasts, the Steelers are good. As a matter of fact, the Steelers are giving up only 18 points per game since Week 3, seventh best in the NFL, are fifth in the NFL in sacks, third in the NFL in interceptions and playing with extreme confidence. Meanwhile, a list of all quarterbacks with at least three passing touchdowns in a game this season goes 29 deep ... but does not include Jared Goff. He is also a noted subscriber to the home/road splits (actually, he doesn't subscribe to the splits, he's just a better player at home than on the road). He's averaging just 14.7 fantasy points per game on the road since the start of 2018, compared to 22.0 points per game at home. He has completed just 57.4% of his passes in his past four games and could be without Brandin Cooks (concussion), suggesting this is a limited-ceiling game for Goff.
Matthew Stafford, Lions (at Bears): Stafford is on fire right now. He has been the anti-Trubisky over the past three weeks, lighting up all defenses in his way. But I'm nervous for Sunday against a Bears defense that is not its 2018 self, but still really darn good. Consider the struggles of quarterbacks this season against Chicago, as just one (Case Keenum, naturally) has thrown for more 300 yards, and the Bears have given up only eight total passing touchdowns this season. Stafford has also had his own recent struggles against Chicago, with more games with multiple interceptions (four) than multiple touchdowns (three) in the past six meetings, throwing for at least three touchdowns in exactly zero of those games. Stafford ranks first in the NFL this season with 1.24 fantasy points per completion on throws to the perimeter, but that strength will be offset by a Bears defense that ranks second in points allowed per perimeter completion (0.53) in 2019. By the way, it's not just Stafford the Bears have had their way with of late. The last time any NFC North quarterback had 20 or more fantasy points at Soldier Field (where the game is this Sunday), was Stafford himself in 2015.
Running backs Tristan H. Cockcroft loves in Week 10
Aaron Jones, Packers (vs. Panthers): The Packers are coming home following an embarrassing loss to the Chargers, into a dream matchup for Jones and their running game. To put into perspective how poorly the Panthers' run defense has performed, opposing running backs have totaled 225.5 fantasy points on 207 total touches against the unit this season. Panthers star Christian McCaffrey, on the same number of touches, has 246.4 points. Expect the Packers' offensive line to play a much more disciplined game, with its poor Week 9 more of an aberration than a trend. Jones might be a household name in fantasy at this point, but put aside any "about last week" doubt. Among backs ranked outside of the top five, he's the one most likely get there in Week 10.
Mark Ingram II, Ravens (at Bengals): After Lamar Jackson gashed this run defense for 152 yards and a score in their Week 6 meeting, and totaling 329 yards and four touchdowns on 49 rushing attempts in the past three meetings, expect the Bengals to focus most of their attention on containing him Sunday. That should leave plenty of running lanes open for Ingram. Bear in mind that he's already excelling in yards before first contact (3.4 per attempt, seventh-best in the league), while the Bengals have been consistently losing one-on-one battles at the line of scrimmage, as evidenced by their league-worst 3.7 rushing yards before first contact mark. Give Ingram even just 12 carries and he could convert them into RB1 numbers.
Devin Singletary, Bills (at Browns): He played 67% and 66% of the offensive snaps in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively, and had 20 touches in the latter (a single-game high for a Bills player this season). He's even taken over as the team's passing-down back with T.J. Yeldon a healthy scratch each of the past three weeks. Frank Gore should still factor into short-yardage situations, but the tide appears to be turning in Singletary's favor, just in time for a matchup against a Browns defense that has allowed 30.7 PPR fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in the past five weeks (27th in the league).
Ty Johnson, Lions (at Bears): Call this one a hunch, but Johnson is the speediest of the Lions' running back choices, and he paced them in Week 9 with 60% of the offensive snaps played and nine carries. Since losing Akiem Hicks to an elbow injury, the Bears' run defense has been a mess, surrendering 86.7 fantasy points on rushing plays to RBs in the past five weeks, third-most in the league despite the team having its bye during that span. You can't go wrong with passing-down back J.D. McKissic, either, but Johnson has the greater matchups-driven ceiling for Week 10. After all, in games against combo backfields the past two weekends, it was the run-oriented back who had the better fantasy day (Melvin Gordon for the Chargers, Jordan Howard for the Eagles).
Others receiving votes: Blame the matchups for Nick Chubb's forgettable Weeks 8 and 9 (Patriots, Broncos), and don't sweat the return of Kareem Hunt to the active roster in Week 10. Chubb is sixth at the position in PPR fantasy points (151.4), so Hunt should initially serve in a change-of-pace role. And even if that means 15 carries rather than 20 for Chubb, he should easily compile RB1 numbers against a Bills defense that allowed 84.1 points to the Dolphins', Eagles' and Redskins' running backs the past three weeks. ... Ronald Jones II set personal bests with 16.2 PPR fantasy points and by playing 57% of the offensive snaps, and he matched his career high of 20 touches in Week 9, signaling his emergence as the Buccaneers' go-to back right in time for a matchup against a Cardinals defense that allowed 84.2 PPR fantasy points to RBs the past three weeks. ... David Montgomery has 41 carries, eight red zone carries and a league-leading four goal-line carries in the past two games combined. Even with Damon Harrison Sr. back in the lineup, the Lions have allowed a running back to score at least 24 PPR fantasy points in each of their past three games.
Running backs Tristan H. Cockcroft hates in Week 10
Joe Mixon, Bengals (vs. Ravens): A top candidate for Fantasy Bust of the Year, Mixon's 48.0 PPR fantasy points receiving is just 20th at the position, a concern during a game in which the Ravens are likely to dominate time of possession. Mixon managed just 5.9 PPR fantasy points in these teams' Week 6 meeting, behind 10 yards on eight rushes and two catches on three targets. In two games since, the Ravens have allowed 239 yards and one score on 46 total touches to opposing running backs -- and Chris Carson, Sony Michel and James White were on that list.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons (at Saints): The Saints' defense had been playing outstanding football in the weeks leading up to New Orleans' Week 9 bye, and the week's rest can only help matters on that front. For the season, this defense has limited running backs to the third-fewest fantasy points per rushing attempt (0.47) and the third-fewest per target (1.3). The Falcons, meanwhile, have run the third-most plays per game while trailing on the scoreboard, something that could be a problem in a road game at the Superdome. Freeman has averaged 13.7 PPR fantasy points per game in a disappointing season, and he should struggle to exceed that Sunday.
All Cardinals RBs (at Buccaneers): The early-week prognosis has David Johnson (ankle) expected to play but Chase Edmonds (hamstring) expected to sit with their respective injuries. And then there's the matter of Kenyan Drake and his stunning Cardinals debut on Halloween. Roles in the Cardinals' backfield have become difficult to predict, dependent upon health, but this is a matchup that mutes the potential of any who suit up. The Buccaneers, behind outstanding play from defensive linemen William Gholston, Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea, have afforded opposing running backs a league-low 127.4 PPR fantasy points -- and that's despite facing top-scorer-in-the-NFL Christian McCaffrey twice, and Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley II and Chris Carson once each. Johnson's managers are probably going to need to play him if he's OK to go, what with six teams on bye, but the uncertainty of roles casts a lot of downside on this entire backfield.
Todd Gurley II, Rams (at Steelers): His role has shrunk considerably this season, as he's played 71% of the offensive snaps while averaging 13.1 carries and 15.3 total touches per game. That's down from 85%, 18.3 and 22.5 in 2018, so there's no longer that volume-driven angle he enjoyed in the past. The matchup is a greater problem. The Steelers have allowed opposing running backs the fifth-fewest PPR fantasy points this season, and have held Matt Breida, Chris Carson, Mark Ingram II and Marlon Mack beneath 13 points in games in which each played at least 50% of the offensive snaps and received at least 15 touches.
Pass-catchers Matt Bowen loves in Week 10
Keenan Allen, Chargers (at Raiders): I get it. Allen is ranked as WR1/WR2 every week, but the numbers don't match up. In fact, Allen hasn't caught a touchdown pass or topped 100 yards receiving since Week 3 versus the Texans. However, even with his current run of subpar production, I love Allen this week versus the zone-heavy Raiders defense. That means split safety coverage and open windows for Philip Rivers to pepper the intermediate zones or take shots at the end zone. The Raiders are allowing a league-worst 297.5 passing yards per game, while surrendering an average of 42.4 WR fantasy points per game (second-worst). Plus, of the 22 touchdown passes allowed by Oakland, 18 have come outside of the numbers. Remember, this Oakland defense doesn't generate consistent pressure, and the zone schemes cater to both Allen and Rivers in the Los Angeles passing game. Find those windows. That's why I'm looking for Allen to break out of his slump Thursday night, posting legit WR1 numbers.
T.J. Hockenson, Lions (at Bears): I'll roll with a Hawkeye this weekend. And I like the matchup, too, versus a Bears defense that is allowing 25.4 completions per game (fourth-most). While Hockenson hasn't produced consistent numbers after ripping up the Cardinals' defense way back in Week 1, the rookie saw a boost in volume this past Sunday with seven targets -- double his average usage -- and he has run a route on 51.3% of his snaps this season. With the Lions trending more to a pass-heavy approach after the injury to running back Kerryon Johnson, the volume for Hockenson should continue to climb. Think more middle-of-the-field throws here, flood routes and underneath concepts to move the sticks. Plus, with a lack of a true bell-cow back in scoring position, Hockenson can be a prime target for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in the tight red zone. This season, Hockenson has been targeted on 25.9% of his red zone routes (20% elsewhere), while opponents are completing 61.8% of red zone passes against the Bears (seventh-most). Create an inside matchup versus a quarters safety or flex from the formation. Either way, there will be opportunities for Hockenson to produce TE1 numbers out in the field or in the red area against a Chicago defense that is allowing 15.9 TE fantasy points per game (fourth-most).
Christian Kirk, Cardinals (at Buccaneers): Throw the ball hot this week, Kyler Murray. Why? Because Kirk can feast on a Tampa Bay defense that is allowing 135 yards per game on passes of less than 10 yards (seventh-most in the league). And that meshes with the film on Kirk. Sure, coach Kliff Kingsbury can dial up some deep-ball throws to Kirk -- which really equates to an occasional slot fade or corner route -- but this cat gets open because of his movement skills and separation speed. He can scoot. Per NFL Next Gen Stats data, Kirk ranks eighth among qualified receivers (minimum 40 targets) in average yards of separation. I'll take that all day versus this group of Bucs cornerbacks. Throw the quick outs, the shallow drive routes, the seam balls and toss in the some wide receiver screens, too. It's the anticipated volume here -- and the matchup -- that puts Kirk in the mix as a high-end WR2 this week.
Amari Cooper, Cowboys (vs. Vikings): Cooper is undergoing an MRI on his knee Thursday, so we'll have to wait on his status for Sunday. But if that comes back clean and he's ready to roll, he can produce top-10 WR numbers against Minnesota. Cooper has at least seven targets in four of his past five healthy games and true vertical ability, as 45% of his targets in his past three healthy games have been down the field. Sure, we used to fade receivers against the Vikings in the past, but at least five times this season, the opponent's top target either went over 100 yards or caught a touchdown versus Mike Zimmer's unit. And opposing teams are challenging Minnesota this season, passing the ball 64.9% of the time (ninth-highest), compared to just 59.2% in 2018 (fifth-lowest). Add in Cooper's slick route-running chops (which jump off the film) and I expect the Cowboys wide receiver to attack all three levels of the field in Week 10. The matchups are there versus Vikings cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes.
Others receiving votes: Since Week 5, opponents have completed 45 of 54 passes for 515 yards and three touchdowns to the slot against the Giants. That's high-percentage stuff for Sam Darnold. That puts Jamison Crowder in the flex discussion for me after he caught 8 of 9 targets for 83 yards and a score in Week 9. ... With six teams on a bye, you could do a lot worse than Jason Witten at tight end. The veteran has seen at least six targets in three consecutive games, with a 21.8% target share during that stretch. The volume is climbing here, and Witten can always grab the ball off boot action in the Cowboys' system. Those are layup throws for Dak Prescott. I'd take a shot at Witten this weekend as a lower-tier TE1 in deeper leagues versus the Vikings' defense. ... I will feel better about Zach Pascal if Jacoby Brissett is up for this game. However, Pascal caught five of a team-high six targets in Week 9 for 76 yards and a score with T.Y. Hilton out of the lineup, while running a season-high 35 routes. Given the matchup versus a suspect Miami defense -- one that has allowed 2.4 passing touchdowns per game (tied for third-most) and 8.6 yards per pass attempt (fourth-most) -- I like Pascal as a WR3 or flex option this weekend. ... DJ Moore has seen at least eight targets in each of his past four games. The only other players who can say that: Julian Edelman, DeAndre Hopkins, Chris Godwin and Michael Thomas. Moore has 25 grabs during that stretch for 303 yards. Bet on the volume here versus the Packers' defense this weekend and treat more Moore as a mid-tier WR2.
Pass-catchers Matt Bowen hates in Week 10
Odell Beckham Jr., Browns (vs. Bills): I roster OBJ in my home league, and I'm not going to sit one of my top draft picks. But this is yet another weekend when we have to manage our expectations for Beckham -- versus a pretty salty Bills secondary -- in a Browns passing attack that lacks both rhythm and identity. Since Week 3, Beckham is averaging just 57.2 receiving yards per game (he averaged 92.8 receiving yards per game during his time with the Giants), and he plays in an offense that ranks next-to-last in both completion percentage (58.4%) and passing touchdown percentage (2.6%). Now, throw that Buffalo defense into the mix, one that has yet to allow an opposing player to go over 100 yards receiving, while surrendering the third-fewest yards per attempt (6.1). Yeah, I want to see the volume jump for Beckham. Can we throw this man some more slant routes, fade balls, etc.? It doesn't have to be complicated. But after Beckham saw just six targets last weekend on 41 routes run, I'm prepping for another below-average weekend for Cleveland's top wideout.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers (vs. Rams): With only one end zone target since Week 4 and fewer than 20 receiving yards in three of his past five games, I can't start Smith-Schuster versus the Rams' defense, particularly with newly acquired cornerback Jalen Ramsey lying in the weeds. Since the Rams made the trade for Ramsey, they have been more man-heavy on third downs. And with a front four that can get home -- plus the blitz schemes of Wade Phillips -- L.A. ranks fifth in pressure rate since Week 5. Sure, you can go with Smith-Schuster as a WR3 in deeper leagues. And you might have to with the number of teams on bye. But the lower-tier production, the matchup and the underwhelming quarterback play of Mason Rudolph isn't enough for me to lean on Smith-Schuster to provide viable fantasy scoring this weekend.
Allen Robinson II, Bears (vs. Lions): Robinson has the makeup of a No. 1 wide receiver, but this Bears offense is brutal right now. From the dialed-down route tree to the limitations at the quarterback position with Mitchell Trubisky, Matt Nagy's offense is a shell of what we saw in 2018. And we are seeing the fallout with Robinson's production. Since that 102-yard night against the Packers in Week 1, Robinson is averaging just 61.4 receiving yards per game. He's a touchdown-dependent target who needs volume, in an offense that is averaging just 2.6 red zone drives per game. And the playcalling in scoring position? Man, it's rough. And Robinson now gets the Lions' heavy man-coverage defense with cornerbacks Darius Slay and Rashaan Melvin. That's a hard sell after Robinson caught just one of five targets for six yards in Week 9 versus an Eagles secondary that has been routinely smoked this season.