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NFL fantasy football stats & trends for Week 10: Planning for the playoffs

Each week, NFL fantasy researcher Joel Smyth will identify important stats and trends to inform fantasy decisions ahead of your next matchup. These won't be your basic, elementary stats, but rather deep and unique insights to give you an edge over your friends (and enemies).

Here are eight notable nuggets ahead of Week 10 of the 2023 NFL season.

1) Planning ahead

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Although there are five weeks until the fantasy playoffs begin, the time to trade with a championship run in mind is now. The following players either have exciting or concerning playoff matchups (Weeks 15-17 of the NFL season). All defensive rankings listed are adjusted positional rankings, meaning they consider fantasy points allowed relative to the players and offenses they've faced.


  • QB Tua Tagovailoa: He faces the Jets (second vs. QBs), Cowboys (14th) and Ravens (first). In games against top-16 QB defenses this season, Tagovailoa is averaging 16.6 fantasy points.
  • RB Saquon Barkley: Barkley faces the Saints (10th vs. RBs), Eagles (first) and Rams (seventh). Moreover, the Giants' offense is scoring 10.4 points per game this season, last in the NFL (by a lot).


  • *RB Austin Ekeler:* Ekeler faces the Raiders (29th vs. RBs), Bills (24th) and Broncos (32nd). He ranks in the top-three among running backs in targets per game and goal-line carries per game in 2023.
  • RB Bijan Robinson: The rookie faces the Panthers (28th vs. RBs), Colts (26th) and Bears (31st). Despite 13 fewer carries than Tyler Allgeier through nine weeks, Robinson has three more rushing yards after contact than Allgeier has total rushing yards.
  • WR DK Metcalf: He faces the Eagles (31st vs. WRs), Titans (29th) and Steelers (27th). For the second straight year, Metcalf is leading the NFL in end-zone targets. His receiving touchdowns should positively regress toward the top-10 in the league -- as they were in 2022.

2) Prepare to launch

Calvin Ridley
Jacksonville Jaguars · WR

On the subject of strategizing around matchups, Calvin Ridley is a fascinating study. There may be no receiver more matchup-dependent than the Jaguars' wideout. In four games against top-12 WR defenses, Ridley averages 6.4 fantasy points per game. In his other four, that number jumps by 10(!) to 16.4 PPG. The near future is bright for Ridley, as he faces two bottom-seven defenses against WRs in the 49ers and Titans. But after Week 11, Ridley is a must-sell. In five of his final six games, he has just one matchup with a bottom-16 defense against wideouts, with half of his remaining opponents ranking inside the top five. Time your trade around the predictable future matchups to maximize return. 

3) Our Kittle secret

George Kittle
San Francisco 49ers · TE

In the last two years, George Kittle’s success has been very predictable. In an offense with elite weapons at every turn, we can't always rely on the star tight end to put up staggering fantasy numbers. However, remove one weapon and Kittle rises to the occasion. In three games this year without either Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk, Kittle's targets nearly tripled, from 3.2 to 9.0, resulting in his three best games by receiving yards. Extending the sample size to 2022 provides further confidence. Four games missed for Samuel. Six touchdowns for George Kittle in those games. For as long as injuries continue to affect San Francisco, the Niners TE should be viewed as a top-three option.

4) Picken up where they left off

George Pickens
Pittsburgh Steelers · WR

Wait, Diontae Johnson is the volume receiver in Pittsburgh? Yes, always has been. When he's on the field, the Steelers continue to deploy George Pickens as a “take the top off” deep-threat -- likely a side effect of the young wideout’s lack of success in more nuanced route-running. Not unlike his rookie season, Pickens ranks second in the NFL in go routes, with an astonishingly large drop down to 69th in all other routes run, per Next Gen Stats. And although 48 percent of his routes are vertical (second-highest in the NFL), he ranks 20th in deep targets. In other words, he's more of a decoy than a top dog. On the other hand, in Johnson’s six quarters with Kenny Pickett since his snap count was lifted, he has out-targeted Pickens 19 to six. The efficiency is even more drastic: 152 receiving yards for Johnson compared to -1 for Pickens. As long as Diontae stays healthy, Pickens can’t be trusted in fantasy lineups with this kind of floor. 

5) King of the Hill

Taysom Hill
New Orleans Saints · QB

I have no idea what position Taysom Hill plays. But it doesn’t matter, he’s dominating in all of them. Technically, according to the depth chart, he's a tight end. The second-highest scoring tight end in fantasy over the last four weeks. But his rankings at other positions are no less impressive, as Hill's fantasy output would also make him the QB10, RB7 or WR7 in points per game over the last month. His success isn’t coming from luck or overperformance either, but from an increase in volume -- and valuable volume at that. Hill’s touches have increased in four straight games, bolstered by an increase of 15 snaps per game. The most important volume, however, comes in the red zone. Not only is Hill taking snaps in the red area, he's getting carries at the goal line -- earning more in these four weeks than all but six players in the league.

6) Tampa 2 easy

Will Levis
Tennessee Titans · QB

Will Levis has three of the eight longest touchdown passes in the NFL by Next Gen Stats' air distance metric. Not over the last two weeks. On the entire season. And who does he play next? A Buccaneers team that ranks dead last against explosive pass plays in 2023. After a strong start, Tampa has allowed three top-three fantasy QB finishes in its last four games. To add salt to the wound, no team has allowed more rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks than Tampa Bay -- a weakness Levis can exploit after scoring 17 touchdowns on the ground in his collegiate career. 

7) You got unMossed!

Jonathan Taylor
Indianapolis Colts · RB

Jonathan Taylor's time as a committee back is over. For the fourth straight game following his return, Taylor’s snaps increased, reaching a season-high of 75 percent in Week 9. Since being drafted in 2020, the Colts star averages more than 21 fantasy points per game and nearly 25 carries when given three quarters of the snap share. And importantly, he's accomplishing the rare RB feat of combining goal-line work and passing routes, which only solidifies this level of production for the 2023 home stretch. So far, only three running backs are averaging more than 20 fantasy points this year: Christian McCaffrey, Travis Etienne Jr. and Alvin Kamara. Taylor will likely join that list sooner than later. 

8) Stroud-pleaser

Dalton Schultz
Houston Texans · TE

Not only has C.J. Stroud been lighting up defenses, he's been rapidly building chemistry with Houston’s new weapons. The rookie played in a wide receiver-centric Ohio State offense before being drafted to the Texans. Through four games, the tight ends in Houston ranked 25th in target share, with the seven teams below them featuring no one near the talent of Dalton Schultz on their depth charts. Not only has that completely flipped since that first month, up to sixth-highest in the NFL, but Schultz now leads the position in end-zone targets. A slow start can set false expectations for the rest of the year. Don't be deceived by Schultz, who has averaged more than 16 fantasy points per game in this most recent span -- a 10-point increase over the first month. He's a stud moving forward.

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