patrick-mahomes-chiefs-usatsi.jpg

This is a pretty chalky week at QB. Joe Burrow is the only one of the top quarterbacks on a bye, and with Russell Wilson expected back from his finger injury, things more or less look how we expected them to for Week 10 -- with the notable exception of Kyler Murray (ankle) and Ben Roethlisberger's (COVID) absences. 

The one other exception is probably Patrick Mahomes, who ranks sixth for the week, in what feels like a generous ranking. This is probably the lowest Mahomes has ever been ranked since becoming the superstar we know him as, and it's still giving him a lot of credit -- his 17.2 points per game over the past five rank 22nd at the position. The Chiefs still have an implied total of 27.25 for the matchup against the Raiders, so Vegas still believes in them, and Mahomes has accounted for 84% of the team's offensive touchdowns, so if they're going to put up 27, Mahomes is probably going to be a big part of that. 

The question is whether you actually believe they'll put up 27. They scored at least 27 in 33 of Mahomes' first 46 starts, but just once in his past five. The reasons why are well documented at this point, but the deep ball just hasn't been there for the Chiefs, as defenses have made it a point to keep two safeties up high for most plays. They're willing to let the Chiefs run the ball and complete short passes, but opposing defenses have simply decided not to let Mahomes beat them deep.

The result has been a reduction in the rate of passes attempted between 11 and 20 yards of the line of scrimmage (20.1% of their attempts in 2020 to 16.6% this season) and an overall lack of effectiveness throwing deep. Mahomes has just a 78.2 passer rating on passes traveling at least 20 yards down the field:


AttCompComp%PsYdsY/ATD%INT%
2018883640.9%136915.5611.4%8.0%
2019693144.9%110315.9917.4%2.9%
2020712636.6%87712.3516.9%2.8%
2021441534.1%484119.1%6.8%

The thing is, this isn't really anything new: Teams have known that playing a two-safety shell defense can take away the big play from these elite quarterbacks, and we've seen guys like Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen struggle with it at times as well. It's a fairly simple defensive strategy, and if it was a sure-fire way to slow down a guy like Mahomes, it wouldn't have taken four years for defenses to figure it out. The issue goes deeper than that.

Mahomes just isn't playing well right now, and he's not getting much help from an offensive line that hasn't been as good as hoped after some big offseason additions. There's probably some bad luck involved, too; Mahomes got away from a lot of wild throws in the past that he just hasn't gotten away with this season, and that'll probably regress before long. But he's also forcing a lot of throws that just aren't there, and likely passing up easier options to do so. 

The point is, Mahomes needs to play better, regardless of the line or the defense or any other factors. If he does, he'll be able to punish defenses for sitting on the long ball and force them to adjust. Maybe the return of Clyde Edwards-Helaire can make the running game more dangerous and force an adjustment. But, given his track record, I have to keep betting on Mahomes figuring it out, even if I can't rank him as the No. 1 QB anymore. 

Here are my QB rankings for Week 10. To see the rankings from Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, and Heath Cummings, make sure you head here.  

Week 10 QB Rankings

  1. Lamar Jackson @MIA -- Jackson is averaging 6.5 pass attempts per game more than his career-high and he's averaging eight yards per game on the ground more than last season. If his touchdown rate (4.9% vs. a 6.7% career rate) normalizes, he's going to be the top QB in Fantasy. Miami's blitz-heavy scheme has been torched by Josh Allen over the years, and I expect much the same from Jackson. He had five touchdowns in his only previous game against them in 2020 -- albeit with a different coaching staff. 
  2. Tom Brady @WAS -- Want Brady as the No. 1 QB? Sure, that's fine.
  3. Josh Allen @NYJ -- Allen is coming off his worst game of the season against a cake matchup and has definitely taken a step back from last season, but that's no reason to even consider going away from him. 
  4. Dak Prescott vs. ATL -- Hopefully Prescott is closer to 100% this week. Hopefully, CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper are, too. He should dominate this matchup. 
  5. Justin Herbert vs. MIN
  6. Patrick Mahomes @LV
  7. Jalen Hurts @DEN -- The Eagles have been shockingly run-heavy the last two weeks, and I do believe it represents a bit of a shift in philosophy. Still, I expect Hurts to throw more than 15.5 times per game moving forward, so I'm really not worried about it. 
  8. Matthew Stafford @SF 
  9. Russell Wilson @GB -- Wilson is going to make his return after missing three games following finger surgery, and that's good news for the team's offense. He hasn't done much as a rusher this season -- 13.6 yards per game, a career-low -- so it's a bit harder to get excited about him for Fantasy than it has been in the past, especially with the Seahawks running a league-low 55.3 plays per game. 
  10. Aaron Rodgers vs. SEA -- There's a chance Rodgers won't be cleared in time for this week's game -- based on COVID protocols, the earliest he can be cleared is Saturday, and he has to pass a conditioning test and return two negative COVID tests before being cleared. If he does play, I'm expecting a pretty good performance. Which will be good to see after Jordan Love simply did not look ready in his first start. 
  11. Derek Carr vs. KC
  12. Carson Wentz vs. JAX -- The concern here would be that the Colts go up big early and don't need Wentz to throw, but that wasn't an issue last week as he scored 28.9 in a 45-30 win over the Jets that wasn't nearly as close as the final score. 
  13. Matt Ryan @DAL -- Ryan was great against a tough Saints defense in Week 9, a promising sign given his struggles without Calvin Ridley the week before. 
  14. Kirk Cousins @LAC
  15. Taylor Heinicke vs. TB -- You're hoping for garbage time production in this one, but Heinicke should have plenty of opportunities. 
  16. Ryan Tannehill vs. NO -- The first game without Derrick Henry was an impressive 28-16 win over the Rams, but I came away pretty concerned about this offense. Tannehill had a decent Fantasy game, but also had just 143 yards on 27 pass attempts. Hopefully it was just one bad game, but a matchup with the Saints this week won't be any easier. 
  17. Teddy Bridgewater vs. PHI
  18. Jimmy Garoppolo vs. LAR
  19. Trevor Lawrence @IND -- Lawrence is in question for this week due to an ankle injury, so you'll want to keep an eye on practice reports to see whether he's going to miss time. However, you'll probably only have to worry about it in two-QB formats. 
  20. Jared Goff @PIT
  21. Baker Mayfield @NE
  22. Jacoby Brissett vs. BAL -- Tua Tagovailoa still has a chance to play this week and would rank a little higher than this, but it's a tough matchup, so I wouldn't recommend using either outside of a two-QB format. 
  23. Mac Jones vs. CLE
  24. Colt McCoy vs. CAR

2021 NFL jerseys now available

The new NFL season is here! Win or lose, you can shop jerseys, shirts, hats, and much more to support your favorite team. Shop here and show your colors.

We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.