Here is what you need to know for Week 10:
Game of the Week
Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington Redskins
There are many good games this week as the Cowboys face the Steelers and the Seahawks play the Patriots for the first time since Super Bowl XLIX, but I have chosen an under-the-radar game as the best game to watch this week. The Vikings face the Redskins in a potential playoff preview and it is a game that could have major playoff implications.
The Vikings started off 5-0 but have dropped three straight since their bye week. They still hold a lead in the NFC North but their lead is thin as the Packers and Lions are both within a game of Minnesota. This is a must-win game for the Vikings as a loss could put them on a path to knock them out of the playoffs. The defense has continued to be strong but the offense needs to improve if it wants a chance to keep their lead in their division.
The Redskins are coming off their bye week and had a disappointing tie in London in their last outing. This is a very talented team looking to make a statement and a run at the Wild Card. The NFC East is the most successful division this season with all four teams at .500 or better. It is a tight division, and a win against a quality NFC East opponent could give the team a lot of confidence heading into the second half of the season.
Minnesota has struggled so much recently so I cannot see them winning this game. Washington is a very talented team coming off a bye week, so they are well-rested. They need this game for momentum and they have not lost at home since Week 2. They have been the more consistent team and a win against the Vikings will keep them in line for a playoff berth.
Washington 27, Minnesota 17
Upset of the Week
Dallas Cowboys over Pittsburgh Steelers
Despite Dallas winning seven straight and facing a team that has dropped three straight, the Cowboys are still an underdog for this week’s matchup against the Steelers. This is not a knock against Pittsburgh, but Dallas has been one of the most solid and consistent teams in the league this season.
Pittsburgh’s concerns are with QB Ben Roethlisberger, who is still less than a month removed from knee surgery. Last week, it was an apparent problem against the Ravens. The Steelers also have a very spotty defense and it showed against New England and specifically against Miami, where the Steelers gave up more than 200 rushing yards to Jay Ajayi.
Dallas looks like a legitimate contender to challenge New England as the unofficial title of “Best in the League.” They have the leading rusher in the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott, near shoo-in for Rookie of the Year, but they also have Dak Prescott at quarterback, who has been sensational for them. He has officially supplanted Tony Romo as the starting quarterback and this is Dak’s team for the season.
The Cowboys have been clicking all season long and have the chance to double their win total from last year with a win. This is not just a great offensive team, but this is a complete team and the defense will give Roethlisberger fits. This is a must-win game for the Steelers, but the Cowboys are riding the momentum and are the better team in this matchup.
Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 21
Fantasy Start of the Week
Bucs WR Mike Evans
After witnessing Evans live in Tampa for Thursday Night Football a week ago, I saw how incredible this guy really is. He is definitely a Top 10 wide receiver in the NFL and he is on pace for his third straight 1,000 yard season. Last week, he had 11 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns against a poor Atlanta secondary. He was concussed during the game but he is on track to exit the concussion protocol before Sunday’s game against the Bears, another favorable matchup at home. He should be starting in all formats and should be selected in all daily games. Expect Evans to go off again next week and continue his spectacular season.
Fantasy Sit of the Week
Saints WR Willie Snead
The Saints have been flying recently, winning four of their last five and are in contention for a wild card. This week, they face the defending champion Denver Broncos coming off of a loss. The Saints are capable of winning this game, in fact they are favored. However, very little of this success is because of Snead, and his production has been lower recently. On the field, Snead is a great player, but as a fantasy option, he is not who you want to start this week. He has not seen the end zone since Week 2 and is losing targets to breakout rookie Michael Thomas. Snead is still worth a roster spot, but keep him on your bench because you likely have two or three better options at receiver.
Fantasy Pick-up of the Week
Rams TE Lance Kendricks
The tight end spot is the trickiest spot in fantasy football, and this week is no different. There are so few tight ends that are worth an automatic starting spot each week, but this week, a tight end that has been flying under the radar could be worth a surprise start this week: Lance Kendricks. Kendricks has been around for awhile, as he is in his sixth season with the Rams, but last week against the Panthers, he enjoyed a career high in targets (12) and had more yards in a game for himself since 2012 with 90 receiving yards. It was an above-average day for Kendricks in the fantasy tight end spectrum, and he could enjoy another good day against a subpar Jets defense. The Rams’ receivers have been ice cold and Todd Gurley is not the leader of the offense that they expected, so why not Lance Kendricks?
Lock of the Week
Arizona Cardinals over San Francisco 49ers
The 49er offense was rolling last week against New Orleans, but their defense was garbage and they gave up 41 points in a loss to the Saints. They gave up too many rushing yards to both Tim Hightower and Mark Ingram, and this week, they face David Johnson, arguably the best running back in the league.
Johnson already torched San Francisco on the road this season, and Carson Palmer was not even playing. Now, Palmer is healthy, Johnson has only gotten better, and the game is in Arizona. The Cardinals have regressed from their 13-3 mark from a year ago. However, this is a team very capable of beating a pitiful 49ers team at home.
San Francisco has already had a quarterback change, but the quarterback situation is still in shambles. The coaching is disastrous, but they just swapped out the coaching staff this offseason. The defense is in shambles, specifically the defensive line, but they have drafted two first-round rookies in the last two drafts. This team’s changes are not helping and it is best to just regroup and work towards 2017 at this point.
Arizona 37, San Francisco 24
Buzzer’s Best Bet
Jim Buzinski’s picks of the week
Bengals at Giants, Pick
This one is pretty simple: The Bengals are 0-4 on the road and the Giants are 3-1 at home. The Giants passing game is too much for a less-than-stellar Bengals defense.
Last week: Tie. Season: 4-4-1
Hot Player of the Week
Seahawks LB Brock Coyle
Congrats to the third-year linebacker on getting his first career sack in his team’s win on Monday Night Football against the Bills. Hopefully there will be many more for him.
Jeremy Brener is a student at the University of Central Florida who writes a weekly NFL column for Outsports. He can be reached via email (email@example.com) and followed on Twitter.