Week 7 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em
Jay Cutler has been a pleasant surprise for the Bears and owners in 2013. Our Jamey Eisenberg is all in for Week 7 and explains why in his latest Start 'Em and Sit 'Em.
I picked the wrong quarterback to highlight in Week 6. Instead of going with other predicted starters in Cam Newton, who was the No. 1 overall scorer in standard leagues, or Jay Cutler and his Top 6 finish at the position, we chose Robert Griffin III as our Start of the Week.
He was a huge letdown.
Griffin was a touchdown shy of a respectable stat line at Dallas, but he failed to score and left Fantasy owners with minimal production. He was one of several poor start selections along with Terrelle Pryor, Fred Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. We also recommended to sit some top finishers in Sam Bradford, DeSean Jackson and Kyle Rudolph.
On the positive side, Newton had a great game, and Vincent Jackson was the No. 1 Fantasy receiver in Week 6. We also correctly said to start Cutler, Giovani Bernard, Eddie Lacy, Justin Blackmon and Keenan Allen. And we said to sit Russell Wilson, Chris Johnson and Anquan Boldin, among others.
This week, we're backing Griffin again, but not as the Start of the Week. That distinction belongs to Cutler, who should remain hot in a head-to-head matchup with Griffin in Washington.
|Player||Fantasy Pts. (proj.)||Fantasy Pts. (actual)||Start %||Pos. rank|
|Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins||25||12||76||21|
|Cam Newton, QB, Panthers||24||36||76||1|
|Vincent Jackson, WR, Bucs||13||23||83||1|
|Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers||9||16||42||7|
|Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks||18||16||45||17|
|Chris Johnson, RB, Titans||7||5||54||39|
|Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers||8||2||66||70|
|Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders||21||14||23||20|
|Fred Jackson, RB, Bills||12||4||75||40|
|Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears||12||3||81||54|
|Sam Bradford, QB, Rams||16||22||12||9|
|DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles||9||18||90||5|
|Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings||4||15||11||3|
Start of the Week: Jay Cutler, QB, Bears
Cutler has been spectacular this season, and he enters Week 7 against the Redskins as the No. 7 Fantasy quarterback in standard leagues. He has at least 20 Fantasy points in five of six games -- including three in a row -- and he's gone consecutive games without an interception against New Orleans and the Giants.
It's clear new coach Marc Trestman's system agrees with Cutler, and it helps that he's getting protection from his offensive line. He's only been sacked nine times through six games -- he was sacked 19 times at this point last year. He's using all of his weapons in Brandon Marshall, Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte, and Cutler's even running a little with 47 rushing yards the past two weeks.
|Matthew Stafford||vs. CIN|
|Colin Kaepernick||at TEN|
|Russell Wilson||at ARI|
|Cam Newton||vs. STL|
|Matt Ryan||vs. TB|
The Redskins have done a better job in pass defense the past two games against Oakland and Dallas, although Matt Flynn started for the Raiders in Week 4, which isn't a true indication of their success. But in the first three weeks of the season the Redskins allowed an average of 32 Fantasy points a week to Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
I'm confident Cutler will keep rolling in this matchup, and I consider him a Top 3 Fantasy quarterback this week. The only quarterbacks ranked ahead of Cutler are Peyton Manning and Tony Romo, so I'm expecting big things from Cutler against the Redskins.
Philip Rivers (at JAC): It's an interesting week for Rivers and the Jaguars defense. Rivers is coming off one of his worst statistical games of the season with just 15 Fantasy points against the Colts, and the Jaguars just held Peyton Manning to 17 Fantasy points at Denver last week. To put that in perspective, Seattle backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson had 17 Fantasy points against Jacksonville in garbage time behind Wilson in Week 3. Rivers is averaging 23 Fantasy points on the road this year and should remain hot in this matchup.
Nick Foles (vs. DAL): If Foles plays another game against the Cowboys like he did against Tampa Bay then Vick (hamstring) may stay on the bench. Foles was amazing with 296 passing yards and three touchdowns, and he's combined for 493 passing yards and five touchdowns the past two weeks after taking over for Vick in Week 5 against the Giants. The Cowboys are without standout pass rusher DeMarcus Ware (quad), and four quarterbacks this season (Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Rivers and Peyton Manning) have already scored at least 25 Fantasy points on them. Foles has the potential for another big game this week, and he should be considered a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback.
Robert Griffin III (vs. CHI): There is now full-blown concern with Griffin after he struggled at Dallas in Week 6 following Washington's bye. He hasn't topped 16 Fantasy points in three consecutive games with just one touchdown over that span. But the encouraging thing from the Cowboys game was Griffin running for a season-high 77 yards on nine carries, and if that continues the Fantasy points will follow. The Bears defense is beat up with injuries (D.J. Williams and Henry Melton are out, and Charles Tillman missed Week 5), and Griffin is due for a big game. I can understand benching him, especially for guys like Cutler and Rivers -- and even Foles. But don't be surprised when he snaps out of this funk in a home game with everyone doubting him.
Eli Manning (vs. MIN): Manning has looked so bad this season that finding the right adjective to describe his play is difficult. Abysmal? Atrocious? Awful? Vomit inducing? Take your pick -- no pun intended -- after he's thrown 15 interceptions compared to just nine touchdowns and has one game with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in the past four outings. But the Vikings could be the cure he needs. Three quarterbacks have thrown for at least 320 yards against them, four have multiple touchdowns and three have one interception or less. The Vikings also have three games this season with one sack or less, and Manning should have the chance to lead the Giants to their first victory at home.
Tom Brady (at NYJ): Brady is poised to have his best game of the season. Not only could tight end Rob Gronkowski (forearm, back) return this week, but the Jets have struggled in pass defense of late with three of the past four quarterbacks they've faced (EJ Manuel, Jake Locker and Matt Ryan) scoring at least 21 Fantasy points. Ben Roethlisberger had just 17 Fantasy points last week, but he stopped throwing in the second half. And Brady has an interesting history against the Jets and Rex Ryan where he's improved statistically against them in the second meeting each year. Over the past four seasons, Brady's yards have improved by an average of 61 in the second meeting against the Jets with 1.5 more touchdowns and one fewer interception. He had 185 passing yards and one touchdown against the Jets in Week 2, and based on the average he would hit 246 passing yards, at least two touchdowns and no interceptions this week, which is 21 Fantasy points in a standard league. Shockingly enough, that would be just his second game with more than 20 Fantasy points this year, but we can see it happen in this matchup, especially if Gronkowski plays.
|Ryan Tannehill||(vs. BUF)||BUF has allowed three QBs to score at least 20 Fantasy points this year.|
|Josh Freeman||(at NYG)||He should challenge the depleted NYG secondary in his first MIN start.|
|Brandon Weeden||(at GB)||GB has allowed three QBs to score at least 23 Fantasy points this year.|
Alex Smith (vs. HOU): Smith fooled us all with his performance to start the season when he had at least 20 Fantasy points in three of this first four games. He hasn't been the same the past two weeks with 15 Fantasy points combined and no touchdowns over that span. His rushing totals have decreased with just 39 yards the past two games, and that was a big part of his success. He could rebound against the Texans, who just allowed 22 Fantasy points to Bradford, but that would be a surprise. Prior to facing St. Louis, the Texans held Joe Flacco, Wilson and Colin Kaepernick to 30 Fantasy points combined. It's great that Smith is winning for the Chiefs, but he's no longer a Fantasy option to consider in the majority of leagues.
Sam Bradford (at CAR): Bradford has been great this season with at least 22 Fantasy points in four of six games, and he has just three interceptions for the year. But this is a tough matchup for him since Carolina has yet to allow a quarterback to score 20 Fantasy points with four touchdowns allowed and eight interceptions. Granted, the best quarterbacks they've faced are Wilson and Eli Manning, but they're limiting the opposing passing attacks on a weekly basis. Bradford could be the first to top the 20-point threshold, especially given his performance to date, but there are better quarterbacks to consider starting this week based on the matchups.
Colin Kaepernick (at TEN): Kaepernick's time is coming, and he's a great buy-low candidate. Mario Manningham (knee) is nearing a return, and Michael Crabtree (Achilles) should be back in mid-November. Once Kaepernick has those two receivers to pair with Vernon Davis and Boldin, he'll be poised for greatness and will make a great playoff-caliber Fantasy option. But right now he's producing minimal stats and hasn't topped 20 Fantasy points since Week 1. The Titans have only allowed Matt Schaub to reach 20 Fantasy points this year, including matchups with Roethlisberger, Rivers and Wilson, so Kaepernick could be limited again. Be patient with him or trade for him if you can because Kaepernick could be solid down the stretch after a poor start.
Russell Wilson (at ARI): As my colleague Adam Aizer likes to say, "When in doubt, Thursday's out" in regard to the first game of the week. He's right when it comes to quarterbacks. Discarding opening night when teams actually have time to prepare, the Thursday night games have been brutal for quarterbacks. Cutler last week was the first one to post at least 20 Fantasy points, and he had a good matchup against the Giants. Wilson doesn't have that same luxury this week. The Cardinals have held Newton and Kaepernick to 25 Fantasy points combined the past two weeks. Wilson is coming off a down game last week with just 16 Fantasy points against the Titans, and this should be another outing where Marshawn Lynch dominates.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. BAL): Roethlisberger has had the chance for some big games of late, but he's failed to take advantage of good matchups. He scored 20 Fantasy points against the Bears in Week 3 -- which was his season high -- but he followed that up with just 17 points each against Minnesota and the Jets. The Ravens are a tough matchup, and since getting destroyed for 60 Fantasy points in Week 1 by Peyton Manning, Baltimore has allowed just three passing touchdowns combined in the past five games. Roethlisberger also has a terrible history of late against the Ravens. He is averaging 274 passing yards in his past five meetings against Baltimore but has just five touchdowns and six interceptions over that span, including three fumbles.
Bust alert: Matt Ryan (vs. TB): The first test for Ryan without Julio Jones (foot) could be a tough one because Roddy White (hamstring) and Steven Jackson (hamstring) might also be out. As much as we love Tony Gonzalez and like the upside for Harry Douglas, there's only so much they can do to help Ryan succeed. He's been great so far this season with at least 22 Fantasy points in four of five games, and the Bucs just allowed Foles to score 35 points. But he's the only quarterback to top 20 Fantasy points against Tampa Bay -- including matchups with Drew Brees and Brady -- and Ryan is missing a lot of talent. It's hard to bench Ryan in the majority of leagues, but Cutler, Rivers and Foles have a higher ceiling this week if you're looking for alternatives.
Giovani Bernard (at DET): Bernard rebounded from two poor performances with his outing in Week 5 at Buffalo. He struggled to run the ball with just 15 carries for 28 yards, but he had six catches for 72 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. Bernard now has four games in a row with double digits in carries, and his 15 carries against the Bills were a season high, so hopefully he continues to take more work from BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Lions have allowed seven running backs to score at least nine Fantasy points with eight touchdowns allowed, and if Cincinnati is chasing points we could see Bernard again heavily involved in the passing game.
Bilal Powell (vs. NE): Powell may or may not have injured his shoulder in Week 6 against Pittsburgh depending on who you ask -- Rex Ryan said he did, Powell denied it -- but he's ready to go for the rematch with the Patriots. Powell did well in the first meeting in Week 2 with 13 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 22 yards, and New England's defense has lost some key players since then. Vince Wilfork (Achilles) and Jerod Mayo (pectoral) are out for the season, which will further hamper a run defense that has allowed five rushers to score double digits in Fantasy points this season. In the past two games without Wilfork, two running backs have scored rushing touchdowns against the Patriots. Powell also doesn't have to worry about losing touches to Mike Goodson (knee) since he's out for the season, and Powell struggled the past two weeks with Goodson active. This should be a rebound game for Powell.
DeAngelo Williams (vs. STL): Williams is still looking for his first touchdown this season, but he's been productive of late with double digits in Fantasy points in two of his past three games. His performance in Week 6 at Minnesota was especially encouraging for PPR owners since he had a season-high five catches. The Rams have allowed seven running backs to score at least eight Fantasy points this season with seven touchdowns allowed, and three running backs have run for more than 140 yards against them. Williams is going strong right now with Jonathan Stewart's return potentially looming, so keep him active in a plus matchup.
Eddie Lacy (vs. CLE): Are the Packers becoming a running team? Green Bay heads into Week 7 against the Browns with a running back getting 20 or more carries in three of the past four games. A running back only had 20 carries for the Packers six times in the entire 2012 season and none in 2011. Lacy has been the catalyst of this ground attack with 23 carries each of the past two weeks against Detroit and Baltimore, and he ran over the Ravens for 120 yards. He now has at least nine Fantasy points in three of the four full games he's played, and the Browns have allowed plenty of production to opposing rushers this season with five scoring double digits in Fantasy points with seven touchdowns allowed. If Lacy has another quality performance this week he'll be a must-start option the rest of the season no matter the opponent.
Joseph Randle (at PHI): Randle will fill in for the injured DeMarco Murray (knee) for this week and maybe the foreseeable future depending on how long Murray is out. It's a great offense to be the starting running back because the Cowboys have had a running back score at least nine Fantasy points in five of six games, including three in a row. Murray was averaging 4.7 yards per carry and four catches a game before getting hurt last week, and Randle scored against the Redskins after Murray went down. The Eagles have allowed four touchdowns to opposing running backs, and Randle will handle the majority of touches with the chance to show off his skills.
|Ryan Mathews||(at JAC)||Mathews and Danny Woodhead have the chance for a big game.|
|Lamar Miller||(vs. BUF)||BUF has allowed six RBs to score at least eight Fantasy points this year.|
|Brandon Jacobs||(vs. MIN)||He had 22 Fantasy points last week and should stay hot vs. porous MIN run D.|
|Chris Ogbonnaya||(at GB)||PPR sleeper has at least five catches and a TD in two of his past three.|
|Jacquizz Rodgers||(vs. TB)||Steven Jackson (hamstring) is likely out, giving Rodgers increased touches.|
Chris Johnson (vs. SF): This, hopefully, will be the last time Johnson is listed as a sit. The Titans have a bye in Week 8 and then face St. Louis, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Oakland, Indianapolis and Denver in the following six games. It should be a dream finish for Johnson, but use caution with him this week. He has gone from at least 19 carries in each of the first three games to 22 total carries the past two weeks. His catches have improved with seven the previous two games, but he's still searching for his first rushing touchdown. The 49ers have allowed a running back to score double digits in Fantasy points in each of the past two games, but Johnson is unlikely to reach that mark based on his overall production to date. His time is coming so be patient, and he will be a must-start option again in two weeks.
Zac Stacy (at CAR): Stacy is someone you definitely want to buy into, and he's giving the Rams a running presence for the first time all season with his performance the past two games. He's averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and it was good to see him get two receptions in Week 6 at Houston. But keep in mind the Rams have yet to have a running back score a touchdown all year, and the Panthers have been great in run defense. C.J. Spiller is the lone running back to run for more than 65 rushing yards against Carolina, including matchups with Lynch and Adrian Peterson. The Panthers have also allowed just two running backs to score touchdowns. We like that Stacy is getting the majority of the work for St. Louis, and you can consider him a flex option this week. But it's a tough matchup, and it would be a surprise to see him reach double digits in Fantasy points.
Le'Veon Bell (vs. BAL): The Ravens run defense was pushed around in Week 6 by the Packers as Lacy averaged 5.2 yard per carry en route to 120 yards. That was the first time all season Baltimore has allowed a 100-yard rusher, and Fred Jackson in Week 4 is the only running back to score on the Ravens this season, including matchups with Knowshon Moreno, Trent Richardson, Arian Foster and Lamar Miller. Bell struggled against the Jets last week with 16 carries for 34 yards, and he's averaging just 2.8 yards per carry in two games. He does have seven catches for 49 yards, but it's hard to trust him as anything more than a flex option in what should be a tough matchup. If he doesn't score a touchdown you're looking at a low point total for this scoring period.
C.J. Spiller (at MIA): Spiller is still running on an injured ankle, and he seems to limp every time he's done with a carry. He missed practice Wednesday, but he'll continue to play at less than 100 percent. He's been surprisingly effective the past two games since getting hurt at 6.7 yards per carry against the Browns and Bengals, but he has just 18 carries over that span with only three catches the past four games. The Dolphins have allowed four running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points, but no running back has rushed for 100 yards against this defense. Jackson's presence continues to limit Spiller, as well as his ankle, and he should just be considered a flex option this week.
Willis McGahee (at GB): McGahee was a non-factor in Week 6 against Detroit as expected because when the Browns get pass happy he leaves the field. He played 29 of 73 snaps against the Lions and finished with 10 carries for 37 yards and one catch for 2 yards. By comparison, Chris Ogbonnaya played 41 snaps and had five carries for 24 yards and seven catches for 61 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets. Ogbonnaya has more value than McGahee this week because the Browns will likely be chasing points. Green Bay has held Reggie Bush and Ray Rice to 10 Fantasy points combined the past two games, and Alfred Morris in Week 2 is the only running back to rush for more than 50 yards against this defense all year. McGahee is also averaging just 2.8 yards carry since joining the Browns in Week 3.
Bust alert: Stevan Ridley (at NYJ): The Jets run defense has been among the best in the NFL this season and comes into this matchup No. 2 in fewest Fantasy points allowed to opposing running back behind the Ravens. Doug Martin, Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers are the only running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points, and no running back has run for more than 75 yards against this defense. Ridley was a beast in Week 6 against the Saints in a great matchup with 20 carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns. It was the most carries he's gotten all year and his first touchdown. He struggled against the Jets in Week 2 with 16 carries for 40 yards, and he has just one touchdown in three meetings with the Jets since 2011. Ridley could easily find the end zone again and have another game with double digits in Fantasy points, but we don't consider him a must-start option this week. He's more of a flex against this tough run defense for the Jets.
Hakeem Nicks (vs. MIN): All three Giants receivers are worth using this week with Victor Cruz as a must-start option, Nicks as a quality No. 2 receiver and Rueben Randle as a No. 3 receiver with upside. The Vikings have allowed five touchdowns to opposing receivers and six to score at least eight Fantasy points. Nicks has played well of late with 13 catches for 212 yards in his past two games against the Eagles and Bears with 20 targets over that span. He's still looking for his first touchdown on the year, but he could be heavily involved this week if the Giants are truly trying to showcase him for a potential trade.
Mike Wallace (vs. BUF): There's a pretty simple formula with Wallace: When he gets the targets he produces. Twice this season Wallace has gotten double digits in targets with 11 in Week 2 at the Colts and 16 in Week 5 against Baltimore. Both times he's had at least seven catches for 105 yards. The Bills have been a cure-all for all receivers this season with nine reaching double digits in Fantasy points, thanks to 10 touchdowns allowed. The past three No. 1 receivers to face Buffalo are all outside threats in Torrey Smith, Josh Gordon and A.J. Green, and they each had more than 85 receiving yards and a touchdown. We expect Wallace to follow suit as long as Ryan Tannehill gives him enough chances to succeed.
Alshon Jeffery (at WAS): Cutler and Jeffery just missed on a couple of big plays in Week 6 against the Giants, and Jeffery was left with a mediocre stat line of one catch for 27 yards and one carry for 15 yards. He had just five targets, which was his lowest total since Week 2. Look for him to be more involved this week in a great matchup. The Redskins are among the worst teams in Fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers with six touchdowns allowed and six reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Marshall should be dominant in this matchup, but the Redskins have also allowed multiple receivers to have success in the same game with three Packers receivers scoring double digits in Fantasy points, two Lions and last week Terrance Williams scored a touchdown for the Cowboys. Jeffery was as hot as any player in the NFL prior to Week 6, and he should rebound with a strong performance this week.
Keenan Allen (at JAC): Allen has emerged as a must-start Fantasy option with his performance the past three weeks, and it's clear Rivers has found his go-to weapon. He has 20 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns against Dallas, Oakland and Indianapolis, and he should remain hot this week. The Jaguars have allowed five touchdowns to opposing receivers with nine touchdowns allowed, and a receiver has scored against Jacksonville in each of the past four games. Allen leads all the Chargers receivers in targets the past three weeks with 27, and he could be this year's version of Danario Alexander as a savior for the passing game in San Diego and Fantasy owners in all formats.
Steve Smith (vs. STL): Smith scored last week at Minnesota for the first time since Week 1, and that saved his Fantasy production. He finished with just eight Fantasy points, and he's still searching for his first game with more than 60 receiving yards. The Rams pass defense has been good for Fantasy owners since every No. 1 receiver they've faced this season prior to Andre Johnson in Week 6 scored a touchdown, including Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Boldin and Blackmon. Johnson dealt with the loss of Schaub (foot) during last week's game but still managed seven catches for 88 yards. We hope Smith will follow suit and produce like the other No. 1 receivers against the Rams, and you should also consider Brandon LaFell a sleeper this week.
|Terrance Williams||(at PHI)||He's scored in consecutive games and now gets a great matchup vs. PHI.|
|Kenbrell Thompkins||(at NYJ)||He has a TD in three of his past four and Tom Brady trusts him.|
|Harry Douglas||(vs. TB)||TB has allowed six TDs to opposing receivers in its past three games.|
|Jerome Simpson||(at NYG)||He gets a new QB in Josh Freeman and a plus matchup against NYG.|
|Jarrett Boykin||(vs. CLE)||He could be the No. 2 receiver this week if James Jones (knee) sits out.|
Andre Johnson (at KC): Johnson should not be considered a sit candidate in PPR leagues because no matter the quarterback he's capable of catching seven passes a game, which is something he's done four times this season. But he has trouble scoring touchdowns with just two in his past 21 games, including the playoffs, and 10 games in a row. By comparison, Eddie Royal, Austin Pettis, Leonard Hankerson and LaFell all have two touchdowns in one game this year. Schaub (foot) is out and Case Keenum is in for the Texans this week, so it's a downgrade for Johnson. The matchup is also tough, especially if Brandon Flowers (knee) is active, and Johnson should be considered more of a bust alert this week.
Miles Austin (at PHI): Austin was thrown back into the mix in Week 6 against Washington after missing the previous two games with a hamstring injury. He had four targets but finished with no catches. He played 35 of 54 snaps compared to 37 snaps for Terrance Williams, but Williams was more productive with two catches for 27 yards and a touchdown. The matchup is great for Austin this week since the Eagles allow the most Fantasy points to opposing receivers, but it's too risky to trust Austin. He has yet to score this season and has one game this year with more than 35 receiving yards, which was Week 1 against the Giants. Williams is the better Fantasy option of the two in this matchup.
Anquan Boldin (at TEN): The Titans have been fantastic in their defense of opposing receivers this season. DeAndre Hopkins in Week 2 is the only receiver to reach double digits in Fantasy points against this defense, and Hopkins and Jerricho Cotchery in Week 1 are the only receivers to score touchdowns, including matchups with Antonio Brown and Johnson. Granted, they haven't faced a gauntlet of tough receiving corps with matchups against the Jets, Kansas City and Seattle the past three games, but Boldin has also been non-existent of late with one game with double digits in Fantasy points in his past five outings. He has four Fantasy points combined the past two weeks against Houston and Arizona despite 14 targets, and he's suffering as a result of the 49ers devotion to their running game. Until Boldin starts to produce on a consistent basis he should be considered just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best.
Dwayne Bowe (vs. HOU): It's disappointing to watch Bowe post poor stat line after poor stat line because he's more talented than his production shows. He does have two games with double digits in Fantasy points this year, but he has combined for 10 Fantasy points in his four other outings. He hasn't had more than four catches in a game or topped 60 receiving yards, and Alex Smith's inability to throw downfield is ruining Bowe's season. The Texans just lost safety Danieal Manning (leg) for the season, which will hurt their secondary, but only two receivers have reached double digits in Fantasy points against this defense all year, which was Royal in Week 1 and Kendall Wright in Week 2. We don't expect Bowe to join that list based on how he's played so far this season.
Torrey Smith (at PIT): Smith had his worst game of the season in Week 6 against Green Bay with one catch for 12 yards on four targets, which were all season-low totals. He will rebound from that performance, but he might not post a huge stat line in this matchup. The Steelers have shut down some impressive No. 1 receivers this season with Green and Marshall combining for 11 catches and 93 yards. Cornerback Ike Taylor will present problems for Smith, and the Steelers have held him in check their past two meetings with four catches for 40 yards combined. Pittsburgh also has allowed just two receivers to reach double digits in Fantasy points this season, which were the Vikings duo of Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson in a surprise performance in London.
Bust alert: Larry Fitzgerald (vs. SEA): Fitzgerald was great last week with six catches for 112 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets, and he excelled in a tough matchup at San Francisco despite playing with a hamstring injury. He has the same scenario this week, but with the game on Thursday night the quick turnaround is troubling. Seattle also has made things tough for No. 1 receivers this season, and Fitzgerald has just one touchdown in his past five meetings with the Seahawks and one game with more than 100 receiving yards over that span. It's difficult to bench receivers like Fitzgerald, Johnson or Smith based on their upside, but just consider the circumstances and matchups for each guy when setting your lineup this week.
Kyle Rudolph (at NYG): Please let the Rudolph from Week 6 show up every week because that would be great for Fantasy owners. Rudolph had career highs in catches (nine) and yards (97) and grabbed his second touchdown of the year on a season-high 11 targets against Carolina. This was after just two catches for 6 yards the week before, so obviously he's lacking a consistent track record. But the Giants are among the worst teams at defending tight ends with five touchdowns allowed and four reaching double digits in Fantasy points, and the addition of Josh Freeman at quarterback will only help. If there's a time to buy into Rudolph as a starting option it's now.
Martellus Bennett (at WAS): Bennett has cooled off of late with no touchdowns since Week 2, but he's still been a significant contributor for the Bears. He has at least five catches in his past three games with 24 targets over that span, and he has a favorable matchup this week. The Redskins have allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends and three to reach double digits in Fantasy points. We're all in on the Bears this week, and Bennett should do his part. He's been a Top 12 Fantasy tight end four times this season, and we expect him to make it five this week.
Timothy Wright (at ATL): Wright is probably more of a sleeper than a must-start option, but I'm excited about his outlook this week and the rest of the season. The Bucs have been looking for a tight end all year, and the converted rookie receiver from Rutgers has provided a spark. He had seven catches for 91 yards in Week 6 against Philadelphia and now has 12 catches for 132 yards on 15 targets since quarterback Mike Glennon took over as the starter. This week, Wright is facing a Falcons defense that has allowed five touchdowns to opposing tight ends, including three in the past two games. It's a risk to start Wright with a limited sample size, but the matchup and his recent play make him worth the gamble.
|Scott Chandler||(at MIA)||MIA has allowed six TDs to opposing tight ends this season.|
|Jordan Reed||(vs. CHI)||He has nine catches for 108 yards in his past two and is due.|
|Brent Celek||(vs. DAL)||Celek and Zach Ertz are sharing time in a favorable matchup vs. DAL.|
Coby Fleener (vs. DEN): Fleener might break out of his two-game funk this week against the Broncos. He's due, the Colts will be throwing a lot and he should remain involved after six targets in Week 6 at San Diego. But he's combined for five catches, 31 yards and no touchdowns the past two games and struggled with drops against the Chargers. The Broncos have also allowed just one tight end to score against them and reach double digits in Fantasy points, which was Jason Witten in Week 5. Until Fleener starts to perform at a higher level I'd keep him reserved in the majority of leagues.
Garrett Graham (at KC): So much for Graham stepping in for the injured Owen Daniels (leg) and becoming a star. If one game was an indication, Graham won't help Fantasy owners much. He had four targets against St. Louis in Week 6 and finished with two catches for 25 yards. With Keenum starting for Schaub it's hard to trust Graham to do much in this matchup. The Chiefs have also allowed the fewest Fantasy points to opposing tight ends, and we need to see Graham post a quality stat line post-Daniels before he can be considered a starter in most formats.
Greg Olsen (vs. STL): The Rams have been outstanding against tight ends this season when you consider the talent they've faced. In matchups with Gonzalez, Witten and Davis this season, the Rams have held that trio to 16 Fantasy points combined with Davis scoring the only touchdown. No tight end has scored more than eight Fantasy points against St. Louis this year, and Olsen has just one touchdown on the season. Furthermore, he had two of the best matchups any tight end could ask for the past two weeks against Arizona and Minnesota and finished seven catches for 98 yards and no touchdowns on 10 targets. I'd rather start Rudolph, Wright or Scott Chandler this week.
Bust alert: Charles Clay (vs. BUF): Clay has been among the best surprises this season filling in for the injured Dustin Keller (knee), and he's been hot of late. Prior to Miami's bye in Week 6 he had scored a touchdown in three of the past four games, and he has at least six targets in every game this season. But Buffalo is second to Kansas City in fewest Fantasy points allowed to tight ends, and Olsen is the only one to score or reach double digits in Fantasy points against this defense. The Bills just held Jordan Cameron to three catches for 36 yards, and Clay has topped out at five Fantasy points in the games where he's failed to score a touchdown. We like Clay as a long-term option at tight end this season, but this could be a week where he falters based on how Buffalo has done with tight ends to date.
Packers (vs. CLE): Brandon Weeden was sacked only twice in Week 6 against Detroit, but in four appearances this season he has been sacked 18 times. He also has five interceptions and three fumbles over that span, and the Packers showed they didn't miss pass rusher Clay Matthews (thumb) at Baltimore last week with five sacks and a fumble recovery. Losing linebacker Nick Perry (foot) is also a problem, but Weeden should help produce positive results. In his three starts against Miami, Baltimore and Detroit, those three opposing DST units have averaged 15 Fantasy points, and the Packers have scored at least 11 Fantasy points in each of their past three games.
Bengals (at DET): The Bengals DST is proving to be a Jekyll and Hyde unit this season with their performance at home and on the road. In three home games this season against Pittsburgh, Green Bay and New England, the Bengals DST has scored at least 14 Fantasy points in a standard league. But in three road games at Chicago, Cleveland and Buffalo the unit has combined for just 20 Fantasy points. The Lions also have allowed just two DSTs to reach double digits in Fantasy points with the Redskins in Week 3 and the Packers in Week 5, and the Green Bay game was without Calvin Johnson (knee). Otherwise the Vikings, Cardinals, Bears and Browns have scored seven points or less against Detroit. With Cincinnati on the road, you might want to find another DST to start this week.
|Mason Crosby||vs. CLE|
|Ryan Succop||vs. HOU|
|Shaun Suisham||vs. BAL|
Caleb Sturgis (vs. BUF): Sturgis has been a nice surprise this season, especially at home. In two home games this season against the Falcons in Week 3 and the Ravens in Week 5, he has scored 11 Fantasy points in both outings with 5 of 6 field goals and five extra points. He has 11 Fantasy points in three games, including his Week 1 performance at Cleveland, and the Bills have allowed every kicker they've faced this season to make at least two field goals. Stephen Gostkowski, Graham Gano and Billy Cundiff each made three field goals, and no opposing kicker has scored fewer than eight points against Buffalo this season.
Randy Bullock (at KC): Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski continued the trend this season of kickers struggling against the Chiefs. Since Week 2 when Dan Bailey had 14 points against the Chiefs, Alex Henery, Josh Brown, Rob Bironas and Janikowski have combined for 11 Fantasy points with two field goals on six attempts. Bullock has been a tremendous disappointment and has failed to reach double digits in Fantasy points this year. And now with Schaub going down, it's hard to trust him for the foreseeable future. He has combined for three extra points in the past three games, and it's doubtful Keenum will lead the Texans on many scoring drives this week.
Disclaimer ... … Please understand that we are not in the business of stating the obvious and wasting your time (or ours), so you won't be reading here why you need to start Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson or any other top-tier players. We're here to help you with the tough decisions.
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