Last Second Decisions: Jay Ajayi or Melvin Gordon?

On Sunday morning, fantasy owners will inevitably struggle through decisions of which similarly priced players to start. Let fantasy expert Ricky Sanders guide you through five difficult decisions many will dealing with heading into Week 10:

QB – Carson Wentz/Jay Cutler – This season, the Buccaneers are allowing 29.0 points per game and listed as 2.0 underdogs at home against the 2-6 Bears. Something is going on with this line because it seems like virtually any team should be favored at home against Jay Cutler and co. Since Vegas is so hopeful, and the Buccaneers rank 20th in passing defense according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA), the Bears’ QB feels like an excellent play. Even so, his prospects are nowhere near as enticing as Carson Wentz in a matchup against a Falcons team whose average game ends in a score of 33-28. Not only are their games high-scoring but they have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs including the second most passing yards (2,739) and absolute most passing TDs (25). Wentz has been trending upwards in terms of fantasy points in four consecutive weeks and has been trending upwards in terms of passing attempts for three consecutive weeks. At his miniscule price tag ($10,600), there is simply too much value to pass on. Verdict: Carson Wentz

RB – David Johnson/Le’Veon Bell – According to DVOA, the Cowboys rank eighth in terms of rushing defense but Le’Veon Bell is an absolute anomaly. Despite not having scored a TD this year, Bell has averaged nearly the identical amount of fantasy points per game as Ezekiel Elliott. It is just insane how productive he has been without finding the end zone and clearly it is due to his six-plus targets and five-plus receptions in each game. The problem is Dallas ranks first in terms of time of possession (33:09) so the Steelers offense may not be on the field as much as an average game. Meanwhile, David Johnson, the best RB in football, will square off against the worst rushing defense in the NFL…by far. Opposing RBs have rushed for 1,375 yards against them or nearly 100 more than the next team and almost 300 more than third place. In fact, they have allowed a back to rush for 100-plus yards in seven consecutive games. This matchup is basically not fair and fading Johnson is simply a mistake (outside of possible large field GPPs for game theory purposes alone). Verdict: David Johnson

RB – Jay Ajayi/Melvin Gordon – The mid-tier of RBs is loaded this week and both these guys stand out amongst the best in tier. Over the last three weeks, Jay Ajayi has rushed for a whopping 529 yards and now he will attempt to roast the Chargers similarly at home. To this point, the Chargers have allowed the fifth most fantasy points to the position although, to be fair, opponents have only managed 3.8 yards per carry (YPC) and 85.3 yards rushing per game. Ajayi is a monster and difficult to overlook but Melvin Gordon has not exactly disappointed recently either. After failing to exceed 3.5 YPC for a two week stretch, Gordon has exploded for 4.8 YPC and 6.1 YPC en route to 111 and 196 yards rushing respectively over his last two games. Now, Gordon take on a middle of the road Dolphins rushing defense. Recently, Gordon has proved he is a rock solid RB1 considering he has added efficiency to his absurd total of red zone touches so far this season (14 more red zone rushes than any other back this year). Yet, his price tag is a solid tier below the top tier backs so this is actually a bargain. Although both these backs are in play, Gordon’s spot is slightly more favorable. Verdict: Melvin Gordon

WR – Alshon Jeffery/Jordan Matthews – Following a game where Alshon Jeffery scored his first TD of the season, he will ride his momentum in to a favorable matchup against a Buccaneers team that ranks 19th in  DVOA against opposing number one WRs. His individual matchup ranks as one of the five most advantageous of the week, per Pro Football Focus, and Jay Cutler will remain under center so there is no reason to believe the mojo will not continue. On the other hand, Jordan Matthews will face a Falcons team that has allowed the second most fantasy points out of the slot this season and has been roasted by WRs as a whole. There is only one team that has allowed more fantasy points to opposing WRs than the Falcons and they are the aforementioned Buccaneers. The Eagles are implied to score more points and game script pretty much guarantees the team will be forced to throw in nearly all scenarios. Either the team gets up early and will need to fend off a tough Falcons offense or they get down and are forced to try and catch up. All roads lead to a big Matthews performance and he is the absolute lock of the week at the WR position. While Jeffery is probably option 1B, Matthews is definitely option 1A for the week. Verdict: Jordan Matthews

TE – Antonio Gates/Zach Miller – Antonio Gates absolutely showed me something last week when he caught five passes for 75 yards and a TD. He averaged more yards per catch in Week 9 than his previous longest catch of the season (13) in his first eight games combined. Obviously, Philip Rivers loves this guy as the two have been playing pitch and catch since 2008 en route to 870 career receptions (RECs). Still, it is hard to overlook the spot Zach Miller is in this week having been targeted eight-plus times in three of the last four games. The target uptick has led to him catching six-plus passes thrice during that stretch including 14-plus fantasy points on two separate occasions. With Cutler under center, Miller averages 0.42 TDs per game compared to just 0.38 with all other Bears QBs throwing to him, so in theory he should have a greater chance to score. With the Buccaneers allowing the ninth most fantasy points to opposing TEs, he edges out Gates in terms of safety. Both are viable but Miller is the cash game TE to build around. Verdict: Zach Miller

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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