Marcus Mariota entered Week Ten’s matchup against the Green Bay Packers already on a hot streak, having four consecutive top-12 weekly finishes at his position. In those four games, Mariota has been running the ball more and has gotten multiple pass-catchers involved, most notably WRs Rishard Matthews and Kendall Wright, both of whom are top-12 fantasy scorers at their position over the past month.
Then, on a huge stage against a team always in the spotlight, Mariota shined. He dominated the Packers defense from the start and never let up, throwing for four touchdowns and just shy of 300 yards. He easily outplayed Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, though he too piled up some nice numbers in the comeback attempt. Mariota has elevated all players around him and the team’s offense looks like one of the best in the league.
Mariota is up to the QB4 rank on the season and since Week Five, he’s the top scoring player across all positions. With just around a month left until the fantasy playoffs, Mariota is an easy call as a weekly starter, though the late bye in Week Thirteen could hurt some teams as many begin their playoffs that week.
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In Other News
The Green Bay Packers’ trouble at the running back position has been well documented, but here’s a quick recap. Following injuries to starter Eddie Lacy and backup James Starks, the team promoted undrafted rookie Don Jackson and traded for perennial disappointment Knile Davis. After both flopped, the team used WR Ty Montgomery out of the backfield and he had a great deal of success. Fast forward to Week Ten and Starks is ready to return. No one was sure how the team would mix in Starks and Montgomery. The team didn’t get much of a running game going at all, with only ten total carries other than Aaron Rodgers scrambles. Starks saw seven of those and ran for 33 yards. Montgomery had three rushes for only nine yards. The fantasy appeal of Montgomery has been wiped away in just one game. He will still be involved, but I will have a hard time using him in a fantasy lineup going forward.
The past two weeks, Eagles HC Doug Pederson has taken every opportunity to tell us that veteran Darren Sproles is his lead back, not the struggling Ryan Mathews. So, fantasy owners listened and happily plugged in Sproles to their fantasy lineups with a tasty Atlanta matchup. Sproles carried the ball just twice the entire game and while he was heavily involved in the passing game, this was a disappointment. Mathews, who has dealt with injuries and general poor performances all season, had his best game in the past two years, totaling 139 yards and a pair of scores. That’s good enough to make Mathews a top-five back for the week and leaves fantasy players feeling very frustrated. Mathews looks like the play going forward, but I’m not ready to trust anything we hear from Pederson.
In the game of the day and maybe the game of the year, the Dallas Cowboys outlasted the Pittsburgh Steelers. The two teams matched each other score for score Sunday, but RB Ezekiel Elliott ran for a back-breaking touchdown with just 14 seconds left to seal it. Elliott had a career day just nine games into his NFL tenure, totaling over 200 yards and accounting for three touchdowns and became the first player this season to total 1,000 rushing yards. Elliott looks like a lock for the NFL Rookie of the Year Award, unless of course, his teammate QB Dak Prescott claims the prize. There was not much talk of a quarterback controversy Sunday as Prescott carved up the Steelers defense for 319 yards and two scores, including a 50 yarder for WR Dez Bryant. This rookie duo shows everyone just how important a couple of draft picks can be.
RB DeMarco Murray put on a show for the Titans, rushing for 123 yards, catching a pair of passes for 33 yards and throwing a ten-yard touchdown to TE Delanie Walker… Vikings QB Sam Bradford had one of his better statistical games, throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Vikes lost their fourth consecutive game and fell out of first place in the NFC North… QB Matt Ryan had a down game for the Falcons as they fell on the road to the Eagles. Ryan had 267 yards and a touchdown, but the offense never really got going… Bears RB Jordan Howard was again impressive, rushing for 100 yards with little sign of Jeremy Langford. Although Howard denies it, there is at least talk of the rookie suffering an injury towards the end of the game… QB Bryce Petty made his starting debut for the Jets and the team was unable to produce much offense at all. Petty threw for 163 yards and one score. I assume we’ll continue to see Petty going forward, but there is a chance the Jets are once again in the market for a QB this offseason, despite having four of them on the roster… QB Brock Osweiler was bad once again, but he was good enough to get the Texans a win. Os threw for just 99 yards, but did have a pair of TD passes… In New Orleans, it was a classic battle of offense versus defense as the Saints hosted the Broncos and QB Drew Brees threw a pair of interceptions early. He also ended with over 300 yards and three scores in the close loss that ended on a blocked extra point… Panthers QB Cam Newton finally had a big game too, aided by his 54 rushing yards and rushing score. He also threw for 261 yards and a TD… Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill played his best game of the year as Miami went across the country and got a win in San Diego. Tanny threw for 240 yards and two TDs with no interceptions… Cowboys WR Dez Bryant bounced back from his quiet game last week, catching six passes for 116 yards and a score… RB David Johnson started strong with two early scores, but was quiet most of the game. He did manage 101 total yards as the Cards squeaked out a win… WR Davante Adams continued to look like a breakout star after a major letdown last year. Adams caught six of his nine targets for 156 yards. He’s a weekly fantasy starter going forward… WR Stefon Diggs continues to be the only real threat in the Vikings offense. He is seeing a ton of volume and caught 13 balls for 164 yards… RB Tevin Coleman was once again out and Devonta Freeman managed just 81 total yards… The Bucs waxed Chicago thanks to multiple turnovers by QB Jay Cutler. Tampa’s QB Jameis Winston threw for 312 yards and a pair of scores… Rams RB Todd Gurley was once again unsuccessful in establishing anything, totaling just 72 yards… WR Allen Robinson looks to be breaking out of his early season funk. After setting a new season high with 76 yards last week, ARob caught nine passes for 107 yards and a score against Houston. He’s back to weekly starter status thanks to the volume of the Jacksonville pass offense… The Denver backfield was under a microscope and rookie Devontae Booker remained the lead back, carrying 24 times for 76 yards. Kapri Bibbs drew just seven carries for 22 yards… With WR Jeremy Maclin out, rookie Tyreek Hill saw increased action, catching 10 of his 13 targets for 89 yards… QB Philip Rivers’ stat line looks good with 326 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw four picks, which was a major factor in the Chargers’ loss… The Steelers stars were back on track after laying an egg last week. QB Ben Roethlisberger had over 400 passing yards and three scores. WR Antonio Brown caught 14 of his 18 targets for 154 yards and a TD. RB Le’Veon Bell totaled 134 yards and scored his first two touchdowns of the season… WR Larry Fitzgerald just keeps putting up numbers and he did it again, catching 12 of 18 targets for 133 yards. He also got a bit banged up though and will reportedly undergo an MRI on his knee. Stay tuned… WR Jordy Nelson also saw 18 targets, catching 12 for 126 yards and a TD for the Packers… Rookie RB Rob Kelley is the new starter for Washington and Matt Jones was a healthy scratch. Kelley managed 97 rushing yards, but has limited upside due to his lack of involvement in the passing game… No surprise, but even in a poor game for the Falcons, WR Julio Jones got his numbers, catching 10 passes for 135 yards… RB Doug Martin made his return to the field and regained his role as lead back, rushing for 33 yards and a TD on 16 carries… No matter how bad the Rams offense may be, WR Kenny Britt manages to produce. He caught seven passes for 109 yards in a game in which his QB only threw for 165 yards… WR DeAndre Hopkins continues to disappoint. The first-round fantasy bust had five receptions on 13 targets, totaling 48 yards… The Saints’ backfield is still a timeshare, though RB Mark Ingram had the biggest share, carrying 11 times for 50 yards. Veteran RB Tim Hightower had eight carries for 21 yards… RB Jay Ajayi failed to break 100 total yards for the first time in a month, but did still total 80 yards in a tough Miami win. Ajayi remains a weekly starter given the Dolphins new game plan to focus on the run… WR Michael Floyd has been terrible this season, but made a couple of huge receptions Sunday, ending the game with a 5/101 line… WR Alshon Jeffery had another quiet game, due in large part to the horrid QB play of Jay Cutler. Jeffery finished with four receptions for 47 yards… With the QB carousel for the Jets, WR Brandon Marshall has struggled. That continued in Week Ten as he caught four passes for 15 yards. He’s no longer an automatic weekly starter… Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas isn’t done yet, and he caught eight balls for 87 yards and a TD. Thomas and his teammate Sanders have overcome some iffy QB play to remain fantasy relevant… RB Melvin Gordon cooled off a bit, but still put up 132 total yards, but failed to find the end zone, which has become rare for the second-year back… We may have seen a changing of the guard for the Seahawks at running back. With Christine Michael dealing with an injury, rookie RB C.J. Prosise took over totaling well over 100 yards, while being heavily involved in the Seattle passing game… Sunday night was a Blount game as the Pats big man LeGarrette Blount rushed for three touchdowns, earning himself the league lead for rushing scores…
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