Winning Fantasy Calls for Week 7
The quarterback position is in flux for owners as we hit Week 7. Our Dave Richard shares his take onyour options under center and every other lineup decision you may face.
Patriots at Jets, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Typically Tom Brady has been better in his second go-round with the Jets than his first, and that should definitely be the case now that Rob Gronkowski is expected back. If that's the case, then his return cannot be understated: This offense has missed having a difference maker like him on the field and defenses have had an easier time slowing them down. Now, Gronkowski will force defenses to make a choice on defending him versus allowing other receivers to beat lesser coverage. With Brady beginning to gel with guys like Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson , this could get ugly quickly for the Jets.
, QB, Patriots: My Projection: 22 FPTS
The Jets aren't perfect vs. the pass -- three of the last four quarterbacks they've faced have found their way to 21-plus Fantasy points. Brady's numbers have been uncharacteristically low without Gronkowski -- just two games with over 60 percent of his passes caught and three with one touchdown or less. Gronk's addition should open everything up for Brady, not to mention give him a reliable target. Now the expectation is that Brady can take what the defense gives him and excel like he did in the past.
I'd start him over: Aaron Rodgers , Robert Griffin III , Matt Ryan
, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Ridley did well against a Saints defense that entered last week allowing 4.8 yards per carry to running backs in their last three games. The Jets, on the other hand, have allowed 2.6 yards per carry to backs in their last three games and are among the stingiest vs. the run (the Falcons' three total touchdowns notwithstanding). Ridley bounced back last week but might only benefit this week if the Patriots find themselves with a big lead late. Given how the Pats typically operate vs. the Jets, that's possible.
I'd start him over: Maurice Jones-Drew , C.J. Spiller
, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Julian Edelman , WR, Patriots: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Aaron Dobson , WR, Patriots: My Projection: 5 FPTS
The Jets' defensive weakness is against the pass. A receiver has caught a touchdown in four of six games against them this year.Though the return of Gronkowski will take opportunities away from these guys, it also lessens the safety coverage they'll face. Expect more one-on-one chances, particuarly for the outside receivers. Thompkins nearly had a touchdown against the Jets in Week 2 and is a candidate to score again here, though Brady's long-range passes aren't exactly consistently on target.
I'd start Edelman and Thompkins over: Harry Douglas , Kris Durham
I'd start Dobson over: Stephen Hill , Robert Woods
, TE, Patriots: My Projection: 11 FPTS
I don't foresee Gronk coming back and playing decoy. He's too valuable a weapon to be wasted, especially in the red zone. New York has allowed a touchdown to a tight end in three of its last four, but only two of those tight ends were No. 1 options. We have seen No. 1 tight ends post a minimum of seven Fantasy points against the Jets over their last four with three catching at least five passes. The bottom line is that the matchup is favorable and Gronk's been practicing for weeks. You didn't sit on Gronkowski all this time for nothing, did you?
I'd start him over: Everyone except Vernon Davis , Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez
, QB, Jets: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Patriots are going to try and make Smith uncomfortable in the pocket while taking away the deep ball and covering up the tight end. Three quarterbacks -- EJ Manuel , Matt Ryan and Drew Brees -- have clawed their way to between 20 and 26 points. Three other quarterbacks, including Smith, had a hard time collecting 10.
I'd rather start: Mike Glennon , Chad Henne
, RB, Jets: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Powell could have a nice rebound game -- his last two contests were hampered by Mike Goodson taking over as a passing downs back. Goodson has since torn his knee up and Powell has that job back for the rest of the year. The Patriots have allowed 4.4 yards per carry and three total touchdowns to running backs over their last two games. The Patriots also lost linebacker Jerod Mayo to a chest injury, so they're getting thin up the middle vs. the run. Powell's worth starting.
I'd start him over: Fred Jackson , Joseph Randle
Bears at Redskins, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
What can the Bears do to fix their D-line? If they don't do much then this game will belong to Washington. It's pretty easy to take the cue from the Giants and run the ball here. Defensive tackle Stephen Paea should be back for Chicago, but he might not be enough to slow down Alfred Morris . Rookie Jon Bostic might be instinctive but is also a little too raw to be a trusted run stopper.
No-brainers: Matt Forte , Brandon Marshall ; Alfred Morris
, QB, Bears: My Projection: 22 FPTS
Washington's secondary has improved over the last two weeks, holding Matt Flynn and Tony Romo to two touchdowns and 19 Fantasy points combined. The Redskins are sure to blitz Cutler a ton -- which could be a problem -- but Cutler's been red hot (under 20 Fantasy points once in six games), so it's tough to sit him.
I'd start him over: Aaron Rodgers , Andrew Luck
, WR, Bears: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Jeffery came back down to earth last week in part because he and Cutler couldn't quite hook up on four separate deep pass attempts. The Redskins secondary has improved but they still have allowed at least one score to a receiver in four of five games. Jeffery could line up from rookie cornerback David Amerson and find some success, especially if Brandon Marshall draws some double coverage.
Flow chart: Greg Jennings > Torrey Smith > Alshon Jeffery > Patriots WRs
, TE, Bears: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Redskins contained Jason Witten in Week 6 but have otherwise allowed a tight end to score in each of their other games. Bennett hasn't found the end zone since Week 2 but does have five or more catches in three straight.
I'd start him over: Kyle Rudolph , Greg Olsen
Robert Griffin III
, QB, Redskins: My Projection: 20 FPTS
It's getting tough to trust RG3. He began the season collecting great numbers in garbage time but hasn't posted any better than 16 Fantasy points in three straight, and that includes some really good matchups. The Bears have played mostly well vs. opposing quarterbacks; only two have touched 20 or more Fantasy points this year. With the Bears' run defense sure to be tested it could limit Griffin's pass attempts -- or improve his rush attempts.
I'd start him over: Eli Manning , Matt Ryan
, WR, Redskins: My Projection: 12 FPTS
The top receiving threat in four of the last six offenses the Bears have faced has come up with 10-plus Fantasy points. Garcon has led the Redskins in targets every week this season.
I'd start him over: Reggie Wayne , Hakeem Nicks
, TE, Redskins: My Projection: 6 FPTS
You don't have to start Reed but there are still signs of him being a breakout candidate. He played 71 pct. of the snaps last week and tied for second on the team with six targets and four catches. Bears have been tough on tight ends -- only one has scored on them so far this year.
I'd rather start: Brent Celek , Joseph Fauria
Chargers at Jaguars, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
You might think the cross-country trip on a short week for the Chargers would be a red flag, but they thrived at Philadelphia under identical circumstances earlier this season. In this case the matchup is even easier as the Jags defense is banged up and thin on talent. But it should also be easy for the Jaguars since the Chargers didn't exactly stifle the Colts passing game last week. Indianapolis incurred five drops and had the ball for less than 22 minutes, two huge factors in why the Chargers allowed just nine points. Jacksonville should score more.
No-brainers: Antonio Gates ; Justin Blackmon
, QB, Chargers: My Projection: 23 FPTS
There's no getting away from Rivers this week. Jacksonville has allowed 14 touchdowns to quarterbacks this season, including two or more to five of six opponents. They've also given up 20-plus Fantasy points to all but two passers.
I'd start him over: Everyone not named Peyton Manning and Tony Romo
, RB, Chargers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Ryan Mathews , RB, Chargers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
I actually like how both players are being used and a matchup like this one should give both a chance at some good stats. Mathews gets reps sprinkled in games and can pick up some clock-killing handoffs too, while Woodhead has continued to contribute at least 75 yards per game. The Jags have allowed 4.4 yards per carry and four touchdowns in their last three games.
I'd start them over: Zac Stacy , Le'Veon Bell
, WR, Chargers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Vincent Brown , WR, Chargers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
In their last four games, the Jaguars have allowed seven touchdowns to receivers and an average of 183.25 yards to the position. That's good for the Bolts' young wideouts, both of whom continue to soak up a ton of playing time and in the case of Allen, a lot of stats. Allen has 27 targets in his last three games, Brown has 21. Allen's the better bet for Fantasy, but against Jacksonville both could play well.
I'd start Allen over: Eric Decker , Andre Johnson
I'd start Brown over: Dwayne Bowe , all Rams WRs
, QB, Jaguars: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Henne is a desperation starter vs. a Chargers defense that has allowed 22-plus Fantasy points to five of six quarterbacks they faced. San Diego held Andrew Luck to under 10 Fantasy points last week, but Indianapolis was given just 22 minutes of game time and Luck was plagued by drops. Henne will fare better, but not to the point where he's start-worthy.
Bye-week QB flow chart: Ben Roethlisberger > Mike Glennon > Chad Henne > Carson Palmer
, RB, Jaguars: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Chargers have allowed 4.6 yards per carry to running backs in their last three but still have yet to allow a touchdown to a back all season long. MJD has picked up at least 19 touches in three of his last four games, a positive sign. If he could perk up his rushing average then he'd start to become a safer No. 2 Fantasy running back.
I'd start him over: Ryan Mathews , Chris Johnson
, WR, Jaguars: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Shorts sounds like he's going to play after two days of practice this week but I'm not sure if he'll be near 100 percent. That makes me nervous about starting him. Losing targets to Justin Blackmon doesn't exactly help his cause either.
I'd rather start: Brian Hartline , Jarrett Boykin
Cowboys at Eagles, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
This should be a huge game for Fantasy. Of course, I said the same thing last week of the Redskins-Cowboys game and many Cowboys players underdelivered. Neither defense has a lot of studly talent and particularly the loss of DeMarcus Ware should work out nicely for Nick Foles , who was stunning in his win over Tampa Bay last week.
No-brainers: Tony Romo , Dez Bryant ; LeSean McCoy , DeSean Jackson
, RB, Cowboys: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The matchup is pretty good. Philadelphia's run defense has allowed four touchdowns and 126.8 total yards per game to running backs on the year. The Eagles did all right daring the Bucs to throw last week and held the Chargers duo out of the end zone back in Week 2, but have otherwise been victimized. There's no way the Eagles should cheat their safeties up to the line of scrimmage considering the Cowboys' receiving corps. Randle is a versatile back with a big workload sitting in front of him at Philly this Sunday -- Dallas running backs have averaged 19.0 carries and 4.7 catches per game so far this season.
I'd start him over: Stevan Ridley , Trent Richardson
, WR, Cowboys: My Projection: 8 FPTS
It feels like we've been lucky with Williams the past few weeks. In his last two he has just six targets, but he's made them count for an improbable six catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns. If Williams was playing a tougher opponent I'd be nervous, but the Eagles have given up 13 touchdowns to wideouts through six weeks. Nine receivers have posted at least 10 points against them this year, though no one with fewer than six targets in a game have done it.
No. 3 Fantasy receiver Flow chart: Greg Jennings > Alshon Jeffery > Terrance Williams > Harry Douglas > Brian Hartline
, TE, Cowboys: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Witten's been frustrating to own but the reality is that he's too valuable a piece to the Cowboys puzzle to consider passing over in Fantasy. The Eagles have done well vs. tight ends, holding all but one (Antonio Gates) to under 50 yards per game. Witten has been under 80 yards in all but one game this season and has scored in two. Witten's last touchdown vs. the Eagles came in late 2011, but he did have over 100 yards in his most recent meeting against them.
I'd start him over: Martellus Bennett , Heath Miller
, QB, Eagles: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Foles has been amazing in Chip Kelly's offense, completing 67.8 pct. of his passes for 8.8 yards per attempt with five touchdowns and no turnovers over his last six quarters. That's flawless. The Cowboys defense has allowed four of six quarterbacks to not just 20 Fantasy points, but at least 25 per game with three getting over 30. I'm actually nervous I didn't project Foles for enough Fantasy points.
I'd start him over: Aaron Rodgers , Andrew Luck
, TE, Eagles: My Projection: 6 FPTS
I'm giving Ertz the sleeper treatment -- he's worth a stash. He had a season-high six targets last week, doubling his previous high. He also played 62 pct. of the snaps, also a season high. So far there's no sign of a change. The Cowboys got by against Jordan Reed last week but allowed three touchdowns to tight ends in their previous two games against Julius Thomas and Antonio Gates .
I'd start him over: Greg Olsen , Joseph Fauria , Brent Celek
Bengals at Lions, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Bengals won't win unless Andy Dalton plays a flawless game. The Lions pass defense isn't deep on talent but they do a good job of bending and not breaking. They also have plenty of ballhawks, totaling 10 interceptions through six games. Dalton's been known to throw a pick or two (six on the year) and must do a better job running the show.
No-brainers: A.J. Green ; Reggie Bush , Calvin Johnson
, QB, Bengals: My Projection: 18 FPTS
His big game last week could be indicative of a hot streak like the ones he had last year but Detroit's defense has held every quarterback they've faced to 20 Fantasy points or less. Dalton had his first game with 20-plus Fantasy points last week. Don't expect a Top 12 finish, making him a borderline bye-week replacement.
I'd rather start: Eli Manning , Matt Ryan
, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 13 FPTS
BenJarvus Green-Ellis , RB, Bengals: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Both backs will take on a Lions defense that has allowed at least one running back to post nine or more Fantasy points per game this season. The Lions have afforded 12-plus Fantasy points to a back in five of six games. They've especially been soft against running backs catching passes out of the backfield, allowing 36.5 receiving yards per game to rushers with three touchdowns on the year, including one last week. That benefits Bernard (20 catches, 201 yards, two receiving TDs) in a big way.
I'd start Bernard over: Knowshon Moreno , Doug Martin
I'd start Green-Ellis over: Chris Ogbonnaya , Brandon Bolden
, QB, Lions: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Cincinnati's defense has been extremely tough to get a grip on: Two weeks ago they did a fantastic job against Tom Brady , but couldn't do anything to slow down Thad Lewis . Two of the Bengals' last three games have seen them allow a quarterback to at least 22 Fantasy points. Looking at their metrics it seems simply that a quarterback can post a good Fantasy line so long as he totals at least two scores against them. The only game Stafford didn't have two touchdowns was when he didn't have Calvin Johnson at Green Bay in Week 5.
I'd start him over: Cam Newton , Robert Griffin III
, WR, Lions: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Check this out: Durham has 21 targets for 11 catches over his last two games with 113 yards and a score. And more of his catches and yardage came with Calvin Johnson on the field last week. Durham is very much a real threat and a nice bye-week receiver option.
Bye-week WR Flow chart: Alshon Jeffery > Emmanuel Sanders > Kris Durham > Marlon Brown
Rams at Panthers, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Rams are on a three-game streak of containing opposing quarterbacks, doing a number on both Texans guys last week and the Jaguars the week before and Colin Kaepernick on the Thursday night before that. But Cam Newton stands as their toughest challenge to date, as the Panthers are coming off arguably their best overall performance of the season. It'll take rattling Newton with a big game from the defensive line for the Rams to have a chance.
, QB, Rams: My Projection: 16 FPTS
Bradford has posted 22 or more Fantasy points in four of six games, struggling only at Dallas and vs. the 49ers on a Thursday. Last week's performance at Houston was particularly impressive. But get this -- the Panthers haven't allowed an opposing passer to get any better than 16 Fantasy points in a game this season. This defense has at least two interceptions in three straight and have allowed four passing touchdowns total. It's getting tougher to doubt Bradford, but this it's probably for the best this week.
I'd rather start: Ryan Tannehill , Josh Freeman
, RB, Rams: My Projection: 8 FPTS
I've enjoyed watching Stacy run the past two weeks -- he's proven to be big enough to handle the rigors of the NFL and even fights hard for extra yardage. The Panthers' tough run defense is somewhat of a misnomer, as they've allowed 4.5 yards per carry over their last two games -- Andre Ellington and Adrian Peterson both had excellent rushing averages against them, but neither had much work. The Panthers have allowed just two rushing touchdowns on the year. I'd call Stacy a borderline No. 2 running back.
I'd rather start: Danny Woodhead , Ryan Mathews
, WR, Rams: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Tavon Austin , WR, Rams: My Projection: 5 FPTS
The Rams receivers are becoming a headache to figure out because the offense uses so many players. Austin played three snaps last week, Pettis had 26 of 42. Chris Givens had even more but no Rams player had any more than four targets! The Panthers have allowed two touchdowns to receivers all year and have limited the likes of Victor Cruz , Larry Fitzgerald and Greg Jennings in consecutive weeks.
I'd rather start: Mike Brown , Riley Cooper , Stephen Hill
, QB, Panthers: My Projection: 21 FPTS
I got into why I liked Newton this week, but here's the long and the short of it: Defenses that can't consistently contain receivers give Newton's receivers a chance to make plays. I suspect the Rams will try to bring a lot of pressure to force some mistakes. While St. Louis has held three straight quarterbacks to under 20 Fantasy points, all of them were no better than decent, and in the case of the Jaguars and Texans, involved the backup quarterbacks. I'd ride with Newton.
I'd start him over: Matt Ryan , Robert Griffin III
, RB, Panthers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
The Rams have allowed six rushing touchdowns to backs in their last five games with an average of 135.6 rush yards given up per game. That makes for a fantastic matchup for Williams, who has 17-plus carries in four of his last five and over 100 total yards in two of his last three.
I'd start him over: Brandon Jacobs , Stevan Ridley , Ray Rice
, WR, Panthers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Brandon LaFell , WR, Panthers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Week 6 was the first time this season the Rams didn't allow a touchdown to a wide receiver. Before that game they had yielded eight touchdowns and 183.0 yards per game to receivers. Smith hasn't had more than 60 yards in a game this year, but he's still probably the most reliable of the Panthers' group. I don't mind LaFell (24 targets, 15 catches, 220 yards and three touchdowns in his last five) as a Week 7 sleeper.
I'd start Smith over: Rueben Randle , Terrance Williams
I'd start LaFell over: Brian Hartline , Anquan Boldin
, TE, Panthers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
The Rams' hot streak vs. opposing tight ends continued last week against the Texans. In the 22 games since Jeff Fisher arrived in St. Louis, only four tight ends have posted eight or more Fantasy points against the team. Olsen has been above eight Fantasy points once in five games this season.
I'd rather start: Charles Clay , Scott Chandler
Buccaneers at Falcons, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The once-stocked Falcons offense is expected to enter this game without at least two of their major weapons. Combine that with an offensive line that hasn't been quite as reliable as in the past and you've got a team that's going to go through some bumps. Tampa Bay continues to fight for its first win and could match up really well with Atlanta given the Falcons' injuries. Ryan is going to have to be spot-on with the players he has left to work with in order to pull out a victory.
No-brainers: Tony Gonzalez
, QB, Buccaneers: My Projection: 15 FPTS
Every quarterback to play the Falcons has thrown at least two touchdowns and all but one has posted 24-plus Fantasy points. This is a list that includes Sam Bradford and Geno Smith . The defense has 11 sacks in five games and doesn't generate a strong pass rush, which should help Glennon tremendously. I'm not ready to recommend Glennon as a sure-fire replacement for Drew Brees this week, but I will admit he hasn't played like a typical newbie since getting the starting job.
I'd rather start: Brandon Weeden , Ben Roethlisberger
, RB, Buccaneers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Martin has disappointed Fantasy owners because he hasn't scored since Week 1 and hasn't delivered 100 total yards since Week 3. He would have gotten over 100 total last week if 22 yards of offense weren't called back by Tampa Bay penalties, so it's not like he's a slug. In fact, he has at least 4.2 yards per carry in three of his last four games and has seven catches in his last two with Glennon under center. Two problems: The Falcons haven't allowed a running back to top 100 total yards since Week 1 and only two running backs have scored on them through five games. Expect Martin to deliver like a No. 2 rusher given the matchup.
No. 2 RB Flow chart: Knowshon Moreno > Bilal Powell > Doug Martin > DeAngelo Williams > Joseph Randle
, WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Mike Williams , WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Not only have the Falcons allowed at least one score per week to a wide receiver, but they've given up eight 10-plus-point Fantasy games to the position, including a minimum of one per week. That bodes well for Jackson and Williams, both of whom have already connected with Glennon for a touchdown (two in the case of V-Jax).
I'd start Jackson over: Pierre Garcon , Reggie Wayne
I'd start Williams over: Dwayne Bowe , Titans WRs
, TE, Buccaneers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
In two games with Glennon we've seen Wright get targeted 15 times, catching 12 passes for 132 yards. That's solid, and it's his work in the short- and mid-areas that have opened things up for the rest of the Bucs offense. The Falcons' defense against tight ends has turned gross -- they've allowed five touchdowns to the position including four in their last three games with at least one per game. Wright is a red-hot sleeper.
I'd start him over: Heath Miller , Greg Olsen
, QB, Falcons: My Projection: 19 FPTS
No one's quite sure what to expect from Ryan given his depleted receiving corps, but a big game seems out of reach. Sure, Ryan's a fine quarterback but his numbers really took off once he got Julio Jones . The Bucs were burned last week by Nick Foles , but no other quarterback had as much success as he had against them (the previous four had 19 Fantasy points or less). Ryan's going to have to make magic with Harry Douglas and Drew Davis against a pretty decent secondary in order to be helpful to Fantasy owners.
I'd rather start: Nick Foles , Eli Manning
, RB, Falcons: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Jason Snelling , RB, Falcons: My Projection: 6 FPTS
As of now it looks like the Falcons will go another week without Steven Jackson . They'll do it in a tough matchup against the Bucs, who haven't allowed a touchdown to a running back and gave up their first 100-yard game of the year to LeSean McCoy . Sounds bad but the last time these guys played they both scored on a very good Jets defense. They're low-end starters.
I'd rather start: Joseph Randle , Lamar Miller
, WR, Falcons: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Drew Davis , WR, Falcons: My Projection: 4 FPTS
I don't mind holding on to Douglas for now but expectations must be in check. Not only has Douglas underwhelmed over his career, but Davis is very raw, even though he came out of the Oregon program a couple of years ago. Receivers dominated the Bucs last week, particularly on deep passes, so expect the Falcons to take some shots with these guys. Tampa Bay has allowed six touchdowns to receivers, but only four have made it past 10 Fantasy points this year.
I'd rather start: Patriots WRs, Greg Jennings
Bills at Dolphins, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Thad Lewis might have been underrated before last week, but three touchdowns and a near victory against the Bengals have forced the Dolphins to pay attention. Lewis connected on two 40-plus-yard bombs, threw all over the field and even ran a bit, so he's proved he's a bit of a gamer. He and the Bills run game gives Buffalo a chance to steal a win on the road.
, QB, Bills: My Projection: 16 FPTS
Don't forget that last week Lewis totaled 216 passing yards with two passing touchdowns without the benefit of Steve Johnson . Miami's pass defense has only been torched by the Saints, so it's not a guarantee that Lewis will have another good game, but it's still possible. Enough to start Lewis as a sleeper quarterback? Probably not given your alternatives, but he is one to watch.
I'd rather start: Sam Bradford , Brandon Weeden
, RB, Bills: My Projection: 11 FPTS
C.J. Spiller , RB, Bills: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Bills' dynamic duo totaled 20 carries and six catches last week in basically a 50-50 split. Maybe a little more was expected but the Bills had a hard time running against a defense that dared them to pass. The Dolphins have been very giving to running backs in terms of Fantasy points, allowing a rusher to post a minimum of 13 points in each of their last four. Spiller had over 120 total yards in each game against Miami last year ( Fred Jackson didn't play in either game). If he were healthier then such an outcome would be expected.
Flow chart: DeAngelo Williams > Fred Jackson > Joseph Randle > C.J. Spiller > Ray Rice
, WR, Bills: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Johnson's return deepens a receiving corps that did enough to keep the Bills in the game last week. I'd expect a lot of targets for Johnson out of the slot but it might not make for a lot of Fantasy points. The Dolphins have allowed three receivers to top 100 yards, but they were all speedsters. Johnson might have to catch seven or more passes to get to that mark. No receiver has scored on Miami this season.
I'd rather start: Alshon Jeffery , Terrance Williams
, TE, Bills: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The matchup screams success for Chandler. The Dolphins have allowed six touchdowns to tight ends over five games, including at least one in their first four games. Chandler totaled 47 yards and a touchdown on two catches last week and has had at least six targets in four of his first six games. If you're in a pinch he's someone worth looking into.
Sleeper TE Flow chart: Timothy Wright > Charles Clay > Scott Chandler > Zach Ertz > Joseph Randle
, QB, Dolphins: My Projection: 18 FPTS
Tannehill should have a chance as the Bills have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in all but one game this year. They've also given up over 300 yards passing in three of their last four, including last week when Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd were in the secondary. They're a weird defense because they should be strong, but they're susceptible to the big play. Tannehill's part of the bye-week replacement crew at quarterback.
Bye-week QB Flow chart: Andy Dalton > Colin Kaepernick > Ryan Tannehill > Josh Freeman > Sam Bradford
, RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Daniel Thomas , RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Did the Dolphins come out of the bye realizing they had to give Miller more carries? Probably not. Expect to see some new wrinkles with the running backs but since Miller hasn't earned more work he's not going to get it. The Bills have allowed just two touchdowns to running backs this year but they came in their last two games. Buffalo also has given up just 98.7 total yards per game to backs in their last three, not exactly the easy matchup you might have thought.
Flow chart: Joseph Randle > Lamar Miller > Falcons RBs > Daniel Thomas > Willis McGahee
, WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 14 FPTS
Brian Hartline , WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The Bills defense against receivers has allowed 10 touchdowns through six games including a touchdown to two different wideouts in three of their last four. Five receivers have reached 100 yards against them and another three have gotten past 70 yards. Wallace should start for most people while Hartline serves as a potential No. 3 weapon.
I'd start Wallace over: Josh Gordon , Pierre Garcon
I'd start Hartline over: Mike Williams , Dwayne Bowe
, TE, Dolphins: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The matchup is tough for Clay as the Bills have allowed just one score to a tight end -- Greg Olsen . Not only has every other tight end not scored, but every other tight end hasn't even had 50 yards receiving. That's a list that includes Jordan Cameron and the Bengals duo. Clay's involved in the Dolphins offense and is a bright spot, so it could be tough to bench him.
Flow chart: Timothy Wright > Heath Miller > Charles Clay > Greg Olsen > Brent Celek
49ers at Titans, Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET
I think it's going to be interesting to see how the Titans cover Vernon Davis . The unit has allowed four touchdowns to tight ends this season but the most dangerous receiving tight end they've had to tangle with is Antonio Gates . He had 55 yards and a touchdown on them in Week 3. Davis is crucial to the Niners' operation and it wouldn't surprise me if the Titans used a cornerback with a safety over the top to try and discourage Colin Kaepernick from throwing it to Davis.
No-brainers: Frank Gore , Vernon Davis
, QB, 49ers: My projection: 18 FPTS
The Titans' secondary is no joke -- they've allowed just six passing touchdowns this season. Only one quarterback, Matt Schaub , posted over 20 Fantasy points against them. The rest have had 16 or fewer. Kaepernick will need a big game from Davis in order to have a big game himself -- I wouldn't count on it against this defense.
I'd rather start: Matt Ryan , Andy Dalton
, WR, 49ers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Of the six passing touchdowns the Titans have allowed, two have gone to wide receivers. Through six weeks, only one receiver has posted over 100 yards against Tennessee. One other has 91 yards, the rest have 76 yards or fewer. This is a tough matchup.
I'd rather start: Jeremy Kerley , Marlon Brown
, RB, Titans: My Projection: 7 FPTS
I would expect some big games from Johnson after this week and the Titans bye in Week 8. I wrote about how good he's been after slow starts each of the last two seasons and why he should be traded for right now, but this week should be a tough go. The Niners' run defense isn't perfect -- they've allowed seven total TDs and five 10-plus-point Fantasy games to running backs through six weeks -- but Johnson is not only running bad right now, he's not getting the same kind of workload we saw in the early going of the season (37 carries in his last three games). He's gaining a little value in PPR leagues as he has nine catches in his last three games but don't expect a breakout from him this week.
I'd rather start: Zac Stacy , Andre Ellington
Browns at Packers, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
I came away impressed with the Packers defense last week. Without a couple of starters missing, they harassed Joe Flacco and held together for much of the game. This week they'll again be without Clay Matthews and fellow pass rusher Nick Perry , making life a little bit easier on Brandon Weeden . The Packers need to hold together again to contain the Browns' upstart offense.
No-brainers: Josh Gordon ; Jordy Nelson
, QB, Browns: My Projection: 17 FPTS
It'll take some guts to start Weeden, though the matchup is pretty darn favorable. The Packers have allowed multiple touchdowns to quarterbacks in all but one game this season and are fielding a thin defense, particularly in the pass rush. It's especially their defense against tight ends that gives Weeden a chance to have another good game.
Bye-week QB Flow chart: Ryan Tannehill > Josh Freeman > Brandon Weeden > Ben Roethlisberger
, RB, Browns: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Willis McGahee , RB, Browns: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Ogbonnaya's been the better back in his two most recent games, scoring a touchdown in each. Heck, over his last three he's had 53, 48 and 85 total yards. He's a gem in PPR because of his role as the Browns passing downs back and he's a McGahee fumble or injury away from getting even more work. The Packers have allowed 40.2 pass yards per game to running backs but just 72.4 rush yards per. Bodes pretty well for Ogbonnaya. I like him especially in PPR leagues.
Flow chart: Ryan Mathews > Chris Ogbonnaya > Roy Helu > Willis McGahee > Bernard Pierce
, TE, Browns: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Cameron should have a pretty good game as the Packers were sloppy against Ravens tight end Dallas Clark last week. He was the third tight end to score on Green Bay in five games (four total to tight ends). On a per-game average, tight ends are racking up 77.2 yards against Green Bay, another sign for a bounce-back game for Cameron.
I'd start him over: Jason Witten , Jermichael Finley
, QB, Packers: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Before last week, the Browns had a three-game streak of zero passing touchdowns allowed. That ended abruptly when Matthew Stafford threw four -- three to his tight end. Rodgers is going to have to lean on his tight end with Randall Cobb and James Jones out. But the Packers will also run a lot, and that's something that has robbed Rodgers of big stats lately. Rodgers has one touchdown in each of his last three games -- coincidentally three games his running backs have posted 25-plus carries in. He's a bit of a risk.
I'd start him over: Andrew Luck , Robert Griffin III
, RB, Packers: My Projection: 14 FPTS
There's nothing to dislike about Lacy right now. His Fantasy points in the three games he's finished: 11, 9 and 12. Not bad consistency. Running backs have scored on the Browns in five of six games this season (seven total touchdowns) and are averaging 101 rush yards per game against them in their last three. With the Packers' air attack limited, Lacy's a fine start.
I'd start him over: Reggie Bush , Giovani Bernard
, WR, Packers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Boykin has some wiggle and acceleration to him but not a ton is expected here. The Browns' defense against receivers has been really good -- even if Calvin Johnson had scored last week he would have finished under 10 Fantasy points. For now we're in speculation mode with Boykin.
I'd rather start: Jerome Simpson , Brian Hartline
, TE, Packers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
The Packers have to lean on him. No two ways about it. And while Joseph Fauria scored three touchdowns on the Browns last week it was more due to his gargantuan size. Finley has good size but will take on a Cleveland defense that, until last week, hadn't allowed a single tight end to score. In fact, the Browns haven't allowed a tight end to tally more than 54 yards in a game. The hunch here is that Finley not only scores, but also gets around 54 yards receiving.
I'd start him over: Martellus Bennett , Kyle Rudolph
Ravens at Steelers, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
These teams almost always play each other tough in low-scoring affairs. Seven of the last eight games in the series have been decided by three points. Pittsburgh has been a terrible place for Joe Flacco to play -- he's never had a dynamite game there for Fantasy purposes. With the Ravens run game hobbled this could be a tough spot for Baltimore.
, QB, Ravens: My Projection: 15 FPTS
Pittsburgh's pass defense has remained strong so far this season. Only one quarterback -- Matt Cassel -- has thrown multiple touchdowns and finished with more than 18 Fantasy points against them. Considering Flacco's track record at Pittsburgh, this is a great week to sit him.
I'd rather start: Josh Freeman , Brandon Weeden
, RB, Ravens: My Projection: 9 FPTS
I've made the mistake before of doubting Rice against the Steelers but there's some real evidence to do it this time. Rice looks less than 100 percent healthy and it shows in his stats. He has one game with more than 3.0 yards per carry. A lot of that has to do with his O-line, but Rice himself hasn't shown much breakaway speed. His longest play of the year is for 14 yards; at this time last year he had six plays of 20-plus yards. Pittsburgh's run defense came out of the gate cold but looked really good last week against the run-heavy Jets. I'd lower expectations for Rice this week.
No. 2 RB flow chart: Stevan Ridley > Trent Richardson > Ray Rice > Maurice Jones-Drew > Le'Veon Bell
, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 8 FPTS
No surprise, Smith doesn't have a great track record against the Steelers. That's in part because of Flacco's inefficiencies. Only two receivers have scored on the Steelers and other than a colossal meltdown against the Vikings, there hasn't been a receiver to get more than 60 yards against Pittsburgh this year. It feels like Smith's best possible statistical outcome would have to involve him scoring, something he's done once in four career games against the Steelers.
Flow chart: Greg Jennings > Andre Johnson > Torrey Smith > Steve Johnson
, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 7 FPTS
I wouldn't expect a big game for Brown, but you could tell last week that the Ravens like trying to get him the ball. Brown led the Ravens in targets with seven against Green Bay and has three red zone touchdowns. He could make it four but it doesn't mean there will be big yardage to go with it.
Flow chart: Kenbrell Thompkins > Harry Douglas > Marlon Brown > Brian Hartline > Jeremy Kerley
, QB, Steelers: My Projection: 16 FPTS
The Ravens have been excellent against opposing quarterbacks since Peyton Manning slapped them around in Week 1. Since then, no passer has exceeded 18 Fantasy points or thrown for multiple touchdowns. Roethlisberger hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns against the Ravens in the regular season since 2007!
I'd rather start: Brandon Weeden , Ryan Tannehill
, RB, Steelers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Another tough matchup for Bell -- last week he went up against a great Jets defense and struggled. This week he takes on a Ravens D that got gashed by Eddie Lacy last week but has otherwise averaged 3.8 yards per attempt and given up one score. Bell is in the Flex conversation because of all the work he gets (16 carries and three or four catches in each of his two games this season).
I'd rather start: Danny Woodhead , Zac Stacy
, WR, Steelers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Emmanuel Sanders , WR, Steelers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Baltimore's great pass defense has taken a couple of hits in their last two, allowing two 100-yard receivers and a touchdown. In fact, they've allowed a touchdown to a wideout in two of their last three. Lardarius Webb has been busted for big plays over those last two games and we just saw Sanders strike on a deep ball on the same side of the field Webb plays on last week. Figure the Steelers to take some shots with Sanders, giving him some potential, but Brown remaining the constant in the Pittsburgh offense.
I'd start Brown over: Larry Fitzgerald , Andre Johnson
I'd start Sanders over: Riley Cooper , Michael Floyd , any Rams WRs
, TE, Steelers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
We've seen Miller pick up six receptions for at least 70 yards in each of the Steelers' last two games. Like other weapons in Pittsburgh, he's always a part of the game plan. The Ravens have tightened up against tight ends -- only one has scored since Week 1 -- but they're still allowing 17.4 yards per catch to the position. I don't mind Miller as a starter.
Flow chart: Kyle Rudolph > Timothy Wright > Heath Miller > Coby Fleener > Greg Olsen
Texans at Chiefs, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
The Texans will need a complete team effort to pull off the win here. Houston's defense has looked pitiful the last few weeks; they have to step up against the ball-control Chiefs offense. Houston's offense has to lean on its ground game. The Chiefs probably know the Texans will run at them a bunch to set up misdirection passes off play-action. With Kansas City allowing a pretty decent 117.5 total yards per game to running backs this year, it'll be a chore for Arian Foster to have a sensational game.
No-brainers: Arian Foster ; Jamaal Charles
, WR, Texans: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Obviously Johnson's outlook would have been better if Matt Schaub was under center. Case Keenum makes things dicey. Kansas City's secondary seems to hang on cornerback Brandon Flowers -- in the four games he's played, receivers have averaged 138.3 yards per game with one touchdown and in two games without him receivers have averaged 174.0 yards per game with two touchdowns. Johnson will need to catch nine or more passes to rack up enough yardage to be a solid Fantasy contributor this week.
Flow chart: Steve Smith > Andre Johnson > Torrey Smith > Alshon Jeffery
, QB, Chiefs: My Projection: 13 FPTS
It's not that shocking that the Texans defense allowed three passing touchdowns inside the 5-yard line last week. It's more shocking that the Texans couldn't get off the field, as the Rams drove at least 65 yards on each of their touchdown drives. Expect Smith to keep doing a lot of his dinking and dunking, making him tough to trust for Fantasy purposes. He's due for a touchdown since he hasn't scored any in three of his last four games.
I'd rather start: Thad Lewis , Mike Glennon
, WR, Chiefs: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Not only is Bowe not getting enough opportunities to make plays but this week he's in a tough matchup. Houston's allowed one touchdown to a receiver in its last four games, a positive for the defense. Bowe and his four catches shouldn't be counted on when there are so many more appealing choices out there.
I'd rather start: Austin Pettis , Michael Floyd
Broncos at Colts, Sun., 8:30 p.m. ET
We've seen the Colts come up with some great game plans to slow down offenses. They held the Niners to 7 points and the Chargers to 19 points, so they could have some wrinkles to try and contain the Broncos, potentially by attacking the tackles in an effort to push Peyton Manning into some ill-timed throws. The Colts have allowed just five touchdowns through the air on the season and they'll get safety LaRon Landry back to stabilize the secondary. Maybe the defense gives them a chance to keep it close late.
No-brainers: Peyton Manning , Knowshon Moreno , Demaryius Thomas , Wes Welker , Julius Thomas
, WR, Broncos: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Indy has allowed three touchdowns over its last two games, all to speed receivers. Decker's more of a physical receiver than a speedster. Decker's Fantasy point totals over his last five: 8, 19, 8, 14 and 5. At the very least he's caught five or more passes per game, so the opportunities will be there. Consider him a No. 2 receiver as usual.
Flow chart: Keenan Allen > T.Y. Hilton > Eric Decker > Antonio Brown > Larry Fitzgerald
, QB, Colts: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Through the first six weeks, the Broncos have allowed quarterbacks to record 10 touchdowns while sacking them 17 times. The pass rush is only going to get better with the return of Von Miller , and that could complicate Luck's life. Chances are Luck will have to throw a bunch -- quarterbacks against the Broncos are averaging 41.7 pass attempts per game. That should afford him enough chances to score a couple of touchdowns and put up some good yardage, something he didn't have a lot of time to do at San Diego last week.
I'd start him over: Cam Newton , Matt Ryan
, RB, Colts: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Richardson's last six quarters have been encouraging as he's averaged 4.27 yards per carry (22 carries for 94 yards), but he'll have to score to help your team out. Because of the Broncos' track record there -- allowing one rushing touchdown per week to running backs through the first six weeks of the season -- Richardson has a chance to be good.
Flow chart: Brandon Jacobs > Stevan Ridley > Trent Richardson > C.J. Spiller > Ray Rice
, WR, Colts: My Projection: 12 FPTS
T.Y. Hilton , WR, Colts: My Projection: 10 FPTS
The Broncos have allowed seven touchdowns to receivers and 10 or more Fantasy points to eight receivers this year. Over the last two weeks they've yielded 10-plus points to four wideouts. If the Colts end up throwing a bunch then expect these two to be productive. Hilton especially has been solid in his last two home games, catching 11 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns.
I'd start them over: Eric Decker , Steve Smith
Vikings at Giants, Mon., 8:40 p.m. ET
Both teams should go to some desperate measures to notch a win. The Vikings are doing so with quarterback Josh Freeman starting after signing with the team two weeks ago. The Giants are sticking with Brandon Jacobs , a dicey scenario to be sure, but it's not like they are full of alternatives. In a game with bad defenses and suspect quarterbacking, I'd give the nudge to the home team, which also happens to be the winless team. They're more desperate to make a statement than the Vikings, believe it or not.
No-brainers: Victor Cruz ; Adrian Peterson
, QB, Vikings: My Projection: 17 FPTS
I wouldn't have big expectations for Freeman in his first start with the Vikings. I'd expect a typical game plan where Minnesota leans on Adrian Peterson and uses play-action to trick the Giants. Freeman's arrival could actually help Peterson as he completed anywhere from 23 to 28 percent of his passes per season to rushers while the full-time starter in Tampa Bay. And the matchup is pretty darn good -- the Giants have allowed multiple touchdowns and 20-plus Fantasy points to every single quarterback they've faced.
Flow chart: Ryan Tannehill > Josh Freeman > Russell Wilson > Ben Roethlisberger
, WR, Vikings: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Some positives about Jennings: He's had at least a 20-yard catch in every game, he had six catches last week and had two touchdowns the week before. As the Vikings change quarterbacks, Jennings has gotten better. I'd say Freeman is better than Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel , and the Giants are giving up 155.3 yards per game to receivers with eight touchdowns. I just might start Jennings against this lousy defense.
Flow chart: Steve Smith > Rueben Randle > Greg Jennings > Andre Johnson
, TE, Vikings: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Vikings' interest in using Rudolph is very real. Last week he had 11 targets -- six in the first half. It's evident they want to get him involved as a receiver and might get away with not having him block all the time against the Giants and their overrated pass rush. The Giants have allowed five touchdowns to tight ends this season. Rudolph should be an easy target for Freeman in his very first game with the Vikes.
I'd start him over: Heath Miller , Jordan Reed
, QB, Giants: My Projection: 19 FPTS
This has to be the game Manning finally comes through. The Vikings have allowed 24-plus Fantasy points to four of the five quarterbacks they've faced. Four of the five have also thrown for at least 290 yards and four of five have notched multiple touchdowns. Also, the Vikings will play without starting safety Harrison Smith , one of their best defensive backs. Everything is setting up for Manning to have a solid game, even if it means turning the ball over once or twice.
Flow chart: Robert Griffin III > Eli Manning > Matt Ryan > Sam Bradford
, RB, Giants: My Projection: 11 FPTS
I overlooked Jacobs' matchup against a depleted Bears defensive line last week, and things got more favorable for him when the Bears lost a starting linebacker. Well, the Vikings defensive line isn't much better and they too just lost a starting linebacker. On the year, Minnesota has allowed five rushing touchdowns and 83.4 rush yards per game to running backs. Don't expect a ton of yards from Jacobs but an end zone trip would not be out of the question.
I'd start him over: Trent Richardson , Maurice Jones-Drew , Chris Johnson
, WR, Giants: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Rueben Randle , WR, Giants: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Vikings have allowed 191.0 yards per game to receivers with five touchdowns through five games. This includes a pair of 100-yard games and three touchdowns to receivers in their last two. Hakeem Nicks has been running better over his last two games (13 catches for 212 yards) and Randle has started to emerge as a favorite target of Manning's (nine catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns in his last two).
I'd start them over: Torrey Smith , Patriots WRs, Steve Johnson
Seahawks at Cardinals, Thu., 8:25 p.m. ET
This matchup should fit into the typical Thursday night formula: The team with the best run game wins. That's should be Seattle but it might not be so easy. Marshawn Lynch ripped them up in their last meeting for three touchdowns and 128 yards but hasn't had 100 total yards in any other meeting with the Cardinals (he's come close) and has scored in just two of six contests vs. Arizona as a member of the Seahawks. The Seahawks will try to get Lynch going before using play action to have some success through the air.
No-brainer: Marshawn Lynch
, QB, Seahawks: My Projection: 17 FPTS
The Cardinals have come alive vs. the pass, holding each of their last three opponents to 19 Fantasy points or less. That's how much Colin Kaepernick posted on Arizona last week with a big assist to tight end Vernon Davis . Wilson doesn't have a threat like that and could have a hard time racking up numbers, particularly if the Seattle run game doesn't get going.
Bye-week QB flow chart: Ryan Tannehill > Josh Freeman > Russell Wilson > Brandon Weeden
, RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Rashard Mendenhall , RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 3 FPTS
Ellington is starting to take over for the Cardinals as more than just the passing downs back. The matchup is difficult: Seattle has given up over 10 Fantasy points to two running backs all year. Maybe there's a little bit of truth to the theory Seattle's defense is worse on the road, and playing on a short week hurts them. But Ellington won't get every carry and that eats into his potential despite averaging a staggering 7.0 yards per carry and 10.0 yards per catch. Still like him in a PPR though.
I'd start Ellington over: Chris Johnson , Falcons RBs
I'd rather start over Mendenhall: Joique Bell , Roy Helu
, WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Though Fitzgerald scored on a 75-yard play at San Francisco it was due to an aggressive defender trying to make a play on the ball and not on Fitzgerald. There were many other deep pass attempts from Palmer, suggesting that he will target Fitzgerald no matter what his coverage is like. Seattle has allowed two touchdowns to receivers in its last five, though three receivers did have 100 yards in that span. Fitzgerald has scored once in his last four against Seattle in a game Richard Sherman was a backup in. Since then Fitzgerald has one game with over 100 yards and two with under 70 yards. It's another week to be nervous about starting him but Fitz showed you last week why you shouldn't be.
No. 2 WR Flow chart: Antonio Brown > Larry Fitzgerald > Steve Smith > Alshon Jeffery
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