A Wild Week 10 Brought Epic Performances, Crazy Games, and Heartbreaking Injuries
Image Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Justin Fields.

Shawn Siegele looks at the epic performances from Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb, praises Cooper Kupp’s historic run, and discusses the unparalleled running ability of Justin Fields.

The biggest stories in Week 10 featured a Bills/Vikings game for the ages, the transcendence of Justin Fields, the reemergence of Aaron Rodgers, and the dominance of the Miami Dolphins. But before we get there, this is the perfect moment to reflect on one of the greatest runs by any player in NFL history.

From the beginning of 2021 to the start of Week 10, Cooper Kupp embarked on an insane stretch where he averaged 25.6 PPG and only missed WR1 status on four occasions.

Of course, those are the stats for fantasy and ignore the 2021 postseason where Kupp was even better. If we look at all of the top WR performances from that stretch and include all of their potential games, we get these numbers.

The size of the gap is staggering, especially when you consider his competition.

  • Davante Adams just bested Marvin Harrison and Terrell Owens for the best combined age-28 and -29 seasons this century.
  • Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase are making history for first-two-seasons and rookie seasons respectively.
  • Tyreek Hill just got off to one of the best eight-game starts this century and was catching passes from Patrick Mahomes previously.
  • Stefon Diggs, although in a mildly down season last year, is the new Antonio Brown, and one who gets to catch passes in the Josh Allen juggernaut.

Last year’s campaign was a miracle run that culminated in a Super Bowl championship. Matthew Stafford finally got credit for being one of the NFL’s premier gunslingers, Sean McVay truly earned the genius tag that gets liberally applied, and Kupp posted the clearest-cut MVP season in recent memory, although he was robbed of it in a fashion that has aged particularly poorly.

This year’s performance is even more impressive given the context. While the rest of the gang has collapsed and looked overmatched in every facet, Kupp has maintained his brilliance.

Although his yards per target has dropped from 10.1 to 8.7 – resulting in 13 fewer yards per game – his receptions have edged up 0.5 per game, while his TDs have stayed almost steady. As a result, his drop from 25.9 PPG to 25.1 feels almost miraculous in an offense that is generally doing this:

This hopefully premature postmortem comes as his streak grinds to a halt. The Rams were forced to start John Wolford in Week 10, and with predictable results given the overall quality of the offense. Kupp was sitting on three receptions for -1 yard when he took an unlucky but vicious blow to his lower leg on an attempted sideline catch.

Reports suggest Kupp has avoided a worst-case scenario, but almost anything other than the best case will be traumatizing for fantasy managers. From a real life and human perspective, it also damages Kupp’s ability to compete for a place in the WR pantheon. As a receiver who came into the NFL at an advanced age and then was (apparently) criminally underutilized during his early years, the 29-year-old Kupp got a late start in the race for any “greatest of all time” accolades, but an age-defying run into his middle-30s would have positioned him with an argument for top-five status.

We’ll have to hope that Kupp’s injury can be similar to that of Jonathan Taylor and he’ll be breaking off 66-yard TDs in the near future.

The Good News, Of Which There is Plenty

It was a rough day for Jerry Jeudy managers as well. Although he’d played second fiddle in training camp and on draft boards, Jeudy had emerged as the fairly clear 1a in Denver, with leads in both TPRR (22% to 19%) and YPT (8.3 to 7.8) over Courtland Sutton. Once you combine those metrics, Jeudy was averaging almost a half-yard more per route (1.85 to 1.46).

You could argue that it was more a matter of Sutton’s value disintegrating than Jeudy’s rising, but he came out of the Week 9 bye on a two-game mini-burst to the tune of 17.5 PPG. His Week 2 injury, where he left after 10 snaps, felt firmly in the rear view. Unfortunately, he played only one snap against the Titans, earned a target, hurt his ankle, and left the game.

Colm Kelly and I covered this and more in the Monday morning episode of RotoViz Overtime, our crash course in everything that was weird, exciting, relevant, or devastating from Sunday’s games.

And now the good news I promised . . . Justin Fields and Justin Jefferson.

There’s Almost Never Been a Konami Code Like Justin Fields

Fields’ 147-yard, two-score rushing performance came on the heels of a 178-yard performance in Week 9. The 67-yard TD was especially impressive in its timing, as it answered a pick-six only a handful of plays earlier. Fields is now at 74.9 rushing yards per game, an average that ranks just below Lamar Jackson’s pace through the first 10 weeks of 2019.

The crazy part is that Fields was averaging 11.1 PPG through the first month of the season, and you may have had to drop him at that point, especially if you paired him with Trey Lance, an injury casualty in Week 2.

Since that time, Fields’ performance has been otherworldly.

Player Games Comp% Yards aDOT TD Int Rush Att Rush Yards Rush TD FP FP/G
Justin Fields 6 62.9 1018 9.2 10 3 70 602 5 166.9 27.8
Patrick Mahomes 5 67.3 1830 6.7 14 5 21 151 1 142.3 28.5
Josh Allen 5 61.8 1506 10.4 10 7 38 293 2 123.5 24.7
Joe Burrow 5 75.1 1436 6.1 10 2 15 62 4 121.6 24.3
Geno Smith 6 69.6 1437 7.3 11 2 28 154 0 108.9 18.2
Marcus Mariota 6 64.7 968 10.6 9 3 33 252 1 101.9 17.0
Trevor Lawrence 6 65 1388 7.7 5 4 27 149 3 98.4 16.4
Kirk Cousins 5 65 1325 7.2 8 4 18 31 2 94.1 18.8
Jalen Hurts 4 69.8 922 6.7 8 0 35 121 2 93 23.3
Tua Tagovailoa 4 72.2 1230 9.4 10 0 15 34 0 92.6 23.2
Kyler Murray 5 67.9 1177 7.2 7 4 35 268 0 91.9 18.4
Lamar Jackson 5 60 875 8.1 5 2 49 319 0 80.9 16.2

Fields has played in one more game than Mahomes, who is on an epic run of his own, and has scored fewer points per game than the superstar, but he’s leaving everyone else in the dust. He’s hammering Hurts, who has only averaged 30 rushing yards in this span. He’s gained more rushing yards than Kyler Murray and Jackson combined. He’s scored more rushing TDs than the run-oriented cohort of Allen, Murray, Jackson, Hurts, and Marcus Mariota put together.

It’s also notable that his passing performance has been unlocked by the rushing exploits. He’s thrown 10 passing TDs in this span and is attacking down the field (9.2 aDOT). The vertical element and overall threat has launched Cole Kmet, the shocking TE2 over this stretch (trailing only Travis Kelce). Another player you would have dropped in redraft, Kmet caught only five passes on eight targets over the first four weeks.

As one of our strong recommendations for how to play the QB Window in Underdog formats, you have to be excited about this recent surge.

I dreamed of a 1,000-yard rushing season in my preseason Bold Predictions article – a result that has happened only three times for QBs in the last 21 years. (Big seasons for Travis Etienne and Mahomes also factored into that piece, along with the requisite slew of misses.)

Justin Jefferson Is a Purveyor of the Impossible

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Shawn Siegele

Author of the original Zero RB article and 2013 NFFC Primetime Grand Champion. 11-time main event league winner. 2015, 2017, 2018 titles in MFL10 of Death.

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