Week 10 is about to draw to a close, and as always we saw some interesting performances, big upsets and shifting ground. For fantasy players, Monday often brings a mix of emotions. For those seeking a miracle, the NFC North battle between the Vikings and the Bears provides some potential, but more on that in a minute. First, let’s consider what we learned from the rest of Week 10.
The Dolphins Are A Serious Contender
When the Dolphins, sitting at 3-3, announced they were turning things over to rookie Tua Tagovailoa, it seemed like a curious decision. Ryan Fitzpatrick was humming along and the team seemed poised to make a playoff run. Four weeks and three games later, that’s still true. In fact, it might be even more true. While Joe Burrow has started all season, putting up decent numbers, and Justin Herbert has looked great as a passer for the Chargers, Tua might be the most successful of the rookie quarterbacks. His team is 6-3, has won three straight and now sits a half game back in the AFC East with the Denver Broncos coming up and the Bills on a bye. By this time next week, if Tua moves to 4-0 as I’d expect, the Dolphins will be in a tie atop the division.
It’s Too Early to Write Off the Patriots
When the team slumped to 2-5, it seemed grim. It was easy to dismiss the Patriots and the experiment with Cam Newton. But the team still has Bill Belichick as its head coach, and two weeks and two wins later, it seems like the team is putting it together. The Patriots overcame the Jets on Monday Night Football last week, then put up a 23-17 win over the Ravens last night to get two wins in six days and move back to 4-5 on the season. Next Sunday the Patriots travel to battle the struggling Houston Texans with a chance to pull back to .500 on the season. There’s still plenty of work to be done, and the Patriots are still a long way from a playoff berth, but rumors of their demise for this season, at least, seem premature.
The Seahawks Have A Problem
During the first quarter of the season, the Seahawks looked like a strong contender in the NFC West, and Russell Wilson looked like a near lock for NFL MVP. Now, a few weeks later, the Seahawks find themselves in a three-way tie atop their own division, having lost to both the Cardinals and Rams, the teams they are locked in a battle with. Wilson has traded clutch touchdowns for turnovers, the defense has struggled, and the Seahawks have piled up losses to the Cardinals, Rams and Bills to slump to 6-3. They still have time, and talent, to right the ship, but that puts enormous pressure on the team to get it right, beginning with a Thursday night battle with the Cardinals in Week 11.
Now, on to the Monday Night Football preview.
Minnesota Vikings (3-5) at Chicago Bears (5-4)
The Bears are 5-4, but they’ve lost three straight. The Vikings looked lost early, but thanks to Dalvin Cook they’ve been making a big run of late. So, despite the records, this feels like a game tilting toward Kirk Cousins and the visiting Vikings. That makes me weary.
The Bears, meanwhile, are trying to climb out of a hole after a 5-1 start. Head Coach Matt Nagy has turned over the play calling duties, but the question is whether it will make a difference. The Vikings’ defense has struggled, especially against the pass, but can Nick Foles take advantage? If he can, and if the change makes a difference, the Bears could be back on the path toward making a playoff run. But that’s a big if.
For fantasy purposes, most of the intrigue is on the Vikings, despite a solid Bears’ defense. Cook has been on fire, and is an RB1. No one needs to tell you to fire him up. Cousins is a low-end QB2 for me this week, but you might not have better options. I also like Adam Thielen and rookie Justin Jefferson at receiver, though I’m moderating expectations over where they were a couple weeks ago. Finally, Irv Smith isn’t a bad play if you’re desperate at tight end. He seems to be getting Red Zone looks of late, and touchdowns have been the great equalizer for tight end options.
For the Bears, running back David Montgomery is out. Ryan Nall figures to lead a committee to replace Montgomery and had a receiving touchdown last week. Still, that feels like a bit of a desperation play. If you’re truly looking to score points and come back, Allen Robinson is a WR1 for me and Jimmy Graham has been a great option at tight end, getting plenty of looks in scoring range. If the Vikings’ pass defense struggles again, Darnell Mooney feels like a better deep league flex option than Anthony Miller, but both are Hail Marys.
Prediction: I think the Vikings will get it done, further muddying the NFC North standings.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.