NFL Fantasy Picks: Justin Fields and the players who have earned the right to be taken seriously

Getty Images

Every year, a host of NFL players and teams head into seasons looking to prove themselves.

Some fall short, but others rise to the occasion spectacularly.

It is the latter Stats Perform has focused on for this week's edition of fantasy picks, with every selection except for that at tight end for Week 10 looking at players and areas of certain teams that have emphatically answered the bell.

These offensive players and our selection in the defense slot deserve to be taken seriously, and they deserve a place in your fantasy team if you have them rostered or they are somehow available on the waiver wire.

Quarterback – Justin Fields, Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions

After following up impressive games against the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys with a spectacular performance in defeat to the Miami Dolphins last week, it’s time to accept Fields is a starter-level quarterback in fantasy football.

Against Miami, Fields threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another score while adding 178 yards on the ground, that tally the most by a quarterback in a regular-season game since 1940.

The Lions may have only conceded nine points against the Green Bay Packers last week, but they still surrendered 389 net yards, with theirs a defense allowing a league-high 6.39 yards per play. Facing an opponent ill-equipped to stop him on the ground or through the air, Fields will reaffirm his legitimacy as a fantasy quarterback and one of the NFL’s most promising young signal-callers at Ford Field.

Running Back – Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs

Etienne, effectively playing his rookie year having seen his 2021 season lost to injury, is now the undisputed focal point of the Jacksonville run game following the Jaguars' decision to trade James Robinson to the New York Jets.

It is a role in which Etienne has thrived, racking up 100 yards in each of his last three games, across which he has scored four touchdowns.

This week, he faces a Chiefs run defense that has allowed a success rate of 41.5 per cent, the fourth-worst in the NFL.

Jacksonville may eventually be forced to move away from the run game if they fall behind against the Chiefs as most expect, but the numbers suggest Etienne will put up good enough numbers to be worthy of a fantasy start regardless.

Wide Receiver – Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins vs. Cleveland Browns

There was plenty of doubt surrounding a Dolphin offense helmed by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa going into the season. Those concerns have been emphatically allayed, however, with the Miami attack second in the NFL in yards per play through nine weeks of the season.

Waddle and Tyreek Hill have been the primary beneficiaries of the beautiful marriage between Tagovailoa and Dolphins head coach and offensive play-caller Mike McDaniel.

Hill has already surpassed 1,000 yards receiving, and Waddle is rapidly closing in on four figures. He heads into the Dolphins' meeting with the Browns on 812.

Cleveland's defense has been solid against the pass but has allowed 12 big play touchdowns, tied for the third-most in the NFL, with eight of those coming through the air. The Browns are therefore still a defense Waddle and Hill can exploit, with the former joining his three-time first-team All-Pro team-mate as one of the most dynamic deep threats in the NFL.

Tight End – Greg Dulcich, Denver Broncos @ Tennessee Titans

There has been little reason to take the Bronco offense seriously so far this season, but Dulcich's emergence in recent weeks has provided something for Denver to be optimistic about.

He has 12 receptions in his three games so far as a rookie, averaging 15.2 yards per reception and swiftly earning the trust of Russell Wilson

With 14 targets over the last two games, Dulcich already looks to be an established part of the passing attack, and that is likely to remain the case against a Titans defense in the bottom half of the league in success rate against the pass (41.7 per cent). Dulcich is an intriguing fantasy play this week at a position where it is famously difficult to find consistent contributors outside of the league’s elite.

Defense/Special Teams – Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers

The Cowboys' high dependence on turnovers last season made their defense a tough one to trust going into the campaign.

However, it has remained one of the best in the NFL and is fourth in the league by success rate (36.1 per cent). Only two defenses have forced more negative plays than Dallas (62), and this week the Cowboys get to face a Packers team in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has grown increasingly careless with the ball as their woes have continued, and with the Packers dealing with injuries on the offensive line, this is a matchup that looks ripe for Micah Parsons and Co. to dominate and deliver substantial fantasy points.