There’s something I always tell fantasy football owners — always, always start your studs. Merely considering benching a fantasy star leaves open the possibility of sitting him a week when he goes off for 20, 30 or 40 points. They’re called studs for a purpose — they have the biggest upside of any players at their position.
Plus, owners should go down swinging with their stars, not with late-round draft picks or waiver-wire acquisitions in their lineups. There isn’t much worse than losing a game with a well-performing star on the bench.
Having said that, not every starter is immune to benching. Guys I classify as “borderline” studs or regular starters are subject to benching depending on the matchup. Hopefully, owners have built depth into their rosters and have options should one of their regular starters face a difficult defense.
While owners should never sit “studs,” here are five normal starters owners should place on the bench in Week 10.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
On a few occasions, we have exceptions to the rule “always start your studs.” Brees is the lone exception this week.
The 38-year-old has a tough road matchup against the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo is below average in passing yards allowed per game and passing yards yielded per attempt, but the Bills’ defense has yielded just seven passing touchdowns versus 11 interceptions in 2017. The November weather in Buffalo could also play a factor in this one, which isn’t good for an aging quarterback who is used to playing indoors.
Yes, at this point, it’s safe to say Brees is aging. By no means is he a fantasy liability, but he has only one 300-yard passing game since Week 2, and Brees has posted just one three-touchdown game this year. He’s showed just enough age to give owners enough reason to go elsewhere in Week 10.
Matthew Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger and Jared Goff are slightly superior options this week. Consider streaming them over Brees this Sunday.
DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
Murray is having a tough year and has thus lost his stud status. The 29-year-old has one 100-yard game this year and only two touchdowns. That has resulted in an average of just 7.7 fantasy points per week in standard leagues.
It doesn’t get any easier in Week 10. Murray will face a Bengal defense that has allowed the ninth-fewest yards per carry to running backs this year. Plus, his touches could again be limited with the Titans also playing next Thursday night.
On the bright side, Cincinnati has allowed the second-most receptions out of the backfield this year, but even in PPR leagues, Murray is too risky to be considered anything but a FLEX option in 10-team leagues.
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
With four more teams on bye, an argument can certainly be made than Abdullah has earned one more start. He rushed a season-high 21 times last week and posted a touchdown.
However, he was terribly inefficient. Abdullah gained just 48 yards on those 21 attempts, and overall this year, he’s averaging just 3.4 yards per rush. If he doesn’t find the end zone, which he’s done just one time this year, he has the potential to be a fantasy dud every week.
That’s particularly true this week against Cleveland. The Browns are third in run defense, but first in rushing yards allowed per attempt, and it’s not even close. Cleveland has allowed under 3.0 yards per rush while the next closest team, Denver, is yielding 3.4 yards per carry.
Look for Abdullah to continue receiving around 15 carries, but it might not result in more than 40 yards.
Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
The 25-year-old has maintained a high floor, recording at least 41 receiving yards each of the last four weeks. The problem is that he also hasn’t gone over 70 yards during that time frame, and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1.
This week against Jacksonville will be his toughest test yet. The Jaguars feature the No. 1 pass defense in the league, and it’s not close. Opposing passers have averaged just 156 yards per game and 5.8 yards per attempt against Jacksonville this year. The Jaguars have also posted the most sacks, 35, and fewest passing touchdowns, four.
Allen remains a relatively safe play because with his amount of targets, he probably will reach the 40-yard mark, but his ceiling is very, very low against Jacksonville.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
As previously mentioned, during major bye weeks, it’s hard to sit regular starters at tight end. That’s why I had to cheat a little here and go with the injured Reed as our final man to bench.
Reed is still dealing with a hamstring injury and has been limited in practice all week. That alone could be enough to sit him, but going up against the Vikings’ defense is the final kicker.
Minnesota is ranked in the top five in passing yards allowed per game and yards per attempt. The Vikings have also yielded the 14th-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. If owners have to start a Washington tight end, make it Vernon Davis for at least another week.
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