Fantasy Football 2013: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down For Week 7
I swear, sometimes I wish I was a wizard or something.
Hear me out. Now, I’m not the biggest sci-fi guy in the world, but I would assume that if I was a wizard, I’d probably be able to stop time. And considering that we are already approaching Week 7 of the NFL season, stopping time is exactly what I’d like to do right now.
Weeks five and six have been very annoying. I mean, Thad Lewis outscored Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees last week. Are you kidding me? Hopefully Week 7 returns back to the norm. Or at least, whatever the norm in fantasy football is.
Week 7 byes: New Orleans, Oakland
Thumbs Up; Quarterbacks
Jay Cutler @ Washington Redskins: I’ve advertised Cutler a lot this year, and he’s been paying off. Head coach Marc Trestman has been everything I had hoped for and more. Cutler currently ranks as the number six fantasy quarterback. He is sixth in the league in touchdown passes (12), 6th in completion percentage (65.9), 10th in yards (1,630) and 8th in rating (95.2). The offensive line has been much improved, and Cutler has plenty of weapons around him to continue this success. I love him for the rest of the season, and especially love him this week against a Redskins secondary that is allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing signal callers. They have unproven, banged up corners, and Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery should have a field day with this group. Expect another top-10 finish from Cutler this week.
Nick Foles vs Dallas Cowboys: Early signs are pointing towards Foles starting for the Eagles once again in Week 7. Foles is coming off of a 296-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Bucs, and he could post a repeat performance this week. Dallas is currently allowing the most fantasy points per contest to quarterbacks (28.06), and Foles has played well against them. In two career games against the Cowboys, Foles has thrown for 470 yards and two touchdowns, with just one turnover. And while it may be a small sample size, Foles currently leads all quarterbacks in fantasy points per dropback with 0.83 (compliments of PFF). He is making the simple throws in this offense, but can throw the deep ball as well. I’m sipping the Foles Kool-Aid this week, as I have him ranked ninth among quarterbacks, ahead of guys like Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Colin Kaepernick.
Chad Henne vs San Diego Chargers: Okay, so perhaps it wasn’t the garbage time onslaught that many were expecting, but Henne did still throw for over 300 yards. He’ll have another opportunity to post monster numbers in a much better matchup against the Chargers. Head coach Gus Bradley has already stated that Henne will start Sunday’s game against San Diego, a defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Meanwhile, wide receiver Justin Blackmon continues to prove that he is a top talent in this league, and as long as Henne keeps throwing towards him, good things should follow. And only five teams are allowing more passing yards per game (288.8) than San Diego.
Russell Wilson @ Arizona Cardinals: Yes, this is a Thursday night game, and say what you want about them, but this does play a role in my ranking of Wilson. It’s just always shaky with starting quarterbacks on Thursday night, but more of it is about Wilson in general. He’s an incredible player, but does that necessarily translate to fantasy numbers? Not at all, and this is what I was afraid of coming into the season. After a season in which he only attempted 393 passes, Wilson is only averaging 26 passes per contest in 2013. And even when he does throw the ball over 30 times, he’s only scored more than one touchdown once. This week’s matchup isn’t all that great either, as Arizona has been strong on defense this season, allowing less than 20 fantasy points per game to opposing signal callers.
Joe Flacco @ Pittsburgh Steelers: With the running game shut down, Flacco stepped up and tossed his first 300-yard game since Week 1. However, don’t expect a repeat performance this week, as Baltimore travels to Pittsburgh. The Steelers may not be the same team as year’s past, but their passing defense is still top-notch, ranking fourth in the league, only allowing four passing touchdowns on the year. With that, they are also allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (12.84 per game). Flacco, meanwhile, is averaging just 219 passing yards per game in his last four games against the Steelers, and oh yeah, it’s a road game. No thanks.
Thumbs Up; Running Backs
C.J. Spiller @ Miami Dolphins: Call it a gut feeling, call it me being a homer, call it whatever you want. But I just have a feeling that this is the week Spiller finally goes off. He’s been running pretty well for someone on a bummed ankle, and the healthier he gets, the more explosive he’ll be. This week, he heads to Miami to meet a defense that has been banged up, allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs (25.46 per game). In two games against the Dolphins last year, Spiller failed to score, but averaged a healthy 5.2 yards per carry. I think with an ugly quarterback and banged up Stevie Johnson, Buffalo will have to feature their best player. This will be the week he rewards patient fantasy owners.
Danny Woodhead @ Jacksonville Jaguars: Woodhead might be one of my favorite runners in the league. I just love watching him play the game. He’s been stellar this season for the Chargers, a perfect fit for that offense. Coming off of a nine-carry game, Woodhead couldn’t do much in the running game, but of course, had five more catches for 47 yards. He is on pace for well over 90 grabs this year, sporting an incredible 88 percent catch rate (caught 36-of-41 targets). Woodhead even saw a fair share of red zone carries, and considering San Diego isn’t quite fond of running Ryan Mathews in that area, we could see more of that from Woodhead. This week, he gets Jacksonville, a defense that is surrendering the fifth-most fantasy points per game to runners, allowing 152.5 rushing yards per game, the most in the NFL. He’ll be utilized a ton, seeing 30.7 snaps per game.
Brandon Jacobs vs Minnesota Vikings: Because the running back landscape is so ugly this year (I can’t believe I’m saying this), I would actually recommend putting Jacobs into your lineup if you need a back. Jacobs is coming off a shocking 22-carry, 106-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Bears on Thursday night. He ran well, and even though the Bears are hurting on defense, he showed some of that power that made him so fantasy relevant in the past. This week, the Giants host the Vikings on Monday night. Jacobs could have another strong outing against this group, as Minnesota is currently allowing the most fantasy points to opposing backs (27.48 per game). They’ve allowed six rushing touchdowns this season, and considering the Giants still like to run the football when up close, I could definitely see Jacobs finding the end zone in this game. With David Wilson (neck) still sidelined and Da’Rel Scott cut (again), Jacobs is the only game in town. Take it or leave it.
Joseph Randle vs Philadelphia Eagles: With running back DeMarco Murray likely out for this week’s contest, Randle will be the fill-in. When Murray exited Sunday night’s game with a knee injury, Randle was the beneficiary, carrying ball 11 times for just 17 yards, but he did score a touchdown. And while he will be a starting running back in the league for Week 7, owners shouldn’t go crazy trying to plug and play him. The Eagles are the 20th-ranked fantasy defense against running backs, and quite frankly, I don’t think Dallas is going to run the ball a lot in this game. They have always been a pass-first team, and without their top running back, I don’t see that changing at all.
Lamar Miller vs Buffalo Bills: Many will look at this matchup and assume it’s a good one, but led by stud rookie Kiko Alonso, this run defense has been better than expected. Allowing 17.33 fantasy points per game to running backs (22nd), Buffalo’s defense has been playing inspired football, considering all of the injuries they have suffered. Besides, it’s getting very difficult to trust Miller in fantasy. He is coming off of a seven-carry, 15-yard performance, and although he is now one week removed from his bye, I don’t see a lot changing. He’ll be a boom or bust guy from here on out, and considering he hasn’t fully separated himself in the snap count between Daniel Thomas, it’s hard to roll with him. Thus far, Miller is seeing 34.6 snaps per game, while Thomas is right behind him with 31.2. Would I be surprised if Miller had a strong outing. No, not really. But it’s hard to bank on it. You have to start him because the running back position is so ugly, but don’t be surprised if he puts up another dud.
Thumbs Up; Wide Receiver
Justin Blackmon vs San Diego Chargers: How do you not start this guy? Blackmon certainly benefited from some garbage time last week, catching 14 of 20 (yes. 20) targets for 190 yards. He continues to prove that he has top-10 upside for the rest of the season, and we could be in store for his third straight monster performance. One would assume Jacksonville will be playing from behind again this week, which means Blackmon should see plenty of looks against a San Diego defense that is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. His value is even higher if Cecil Shorts (shoulder) can’t suit up for this game.
Rueben Randle vs Minnesota Vikings: Randle has found the end zone three times over the last two games, and his role may be slowly expanding in this offense. He’s been targeted 19 times over the last two weeks, and with his size and speed, he can make plays, even as the third receiving option. The Vikings are a very friendly matchup, allowing 33.96 fantasy points per contest to receivers. They were just absolutely torched by the Panthers wideouts, and Randle has the opportunity to do the same. Also, consider this. Quarterback Eli Manning has thrown 15 interceptions this year, and six of them have come from targets to Randle. Imagine if these two can get on the same page. Oh, and of course, if Hakeem Nicks gets traded, Randle emerges into a top-25 guy.
Terrance Williams @ Philadelphia Eagles: The rookie continues to earn that trust from quarterback Tony Romo, as Williams has posted consecutive strong outings. He’s found the end zone in both contests, totaling 178 yards. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Williams scores again this week against the Eagles, who 45.18 fantasy points per game to wideouts, allowing them to score 2.2 touchdowns per contest. Also, the Eagles have allowed six receivers to score two touchdowns, including Vincent Jackson last week. On the season, Philadelphia has allowed 13 scores and 23 plays of 20-plus yards. Williams is a big-play guy, and should continue to receive looks from Romo.
Larry Fitzgerald vs Seattle Seahawks: I didn’t even rank Fitzgerald last week because I didn’t think he would play. He must have known, because he caught six balls for 112 yards, including a 75-yard score. Idiot. Anyway, Fitz is still dealing with a nagging hamstring injury, but he did say he will suit up for Thursday night’s game against Seattle. Don’t expect another 100-yard day, as Seattle has the best secondary in football, only allowing five receiving touchdowns this year, tied for the second-lowest in football. Richard Sherman may be the best defensive player in football, and should be blanketing Fitz all night long. There are better options out there this week, but of course, since I’m talking against him, he’ll probably go off.
Roddy White vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: White’s consecutive game streak could be in jeopardy, as he wasn’t seen during Tuesday’s practice. Even if he does play, I’m staying far, far away. He draws a matchup with Darrelle Revis and the Bucs secondary that has allowed just eight receiving touchdowns this season (five prior to last week). There is too much uncertainty with this Atlanta offense, and even if White does play, it’ll be difficult for him to get going.
Thumbs Up; Tight Ends
Coby Fleener vs Denver Broncos: After a disappointing Week 6 performance (granted, the Colts offense was hardly on the field), Fleener should have better luck in Week 7. Peyton Manning makes his return to Indy along with the high-powered Denver offense, so opposing quarterback Andrew Luck should have to throw the ball quite a bit. Meanwhile, Denver is allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends (12.80), and Fleener is Luck’s security blanket. You could do worse than Fleener this week.
Scott Chandler @ Miami Dolphins: A streaming option for this week, Chandler has the ideal matchup. The Dolphins are allowing 17.50 fantasy points per contest, which is the second-most in football. The quarterback situation is still a bit concerning, but he has been targeted four times in each of the last two games, and found the end zone on Sunday. He’s only been targeted in the red zone twice this season, but his two scores have come from him beating defenders and taking it the distance. Those without Jimmy Graham should take a good hard look at Chandler for this week.
Jared Cook @ Carolina Panthers: It’s hard to invest in any of the Rams pass-catchers, but especially Cook. After his monster 141-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 1, Cook has been as quiet as ever. He hasn’t posted more than 45 receiving yards in any game since the first week, and is targets aren’t nearly where you’d like them to be. Quarterback Sam Bradford insists on looking for fellow tight end Lance Kendricks more often than Cook. In a matchup against the Panthers, who are allowing just 8.88 fantasy points to opposing tight ends per game, I’d sit Cook until he starts producing again.
Joseph Fauria vs Cincinnati Bengals: Many people may be looking to grab and play Fauria this week after his three-touchdown performance. Not me. You can’t predict touchdowns in fantasy football, and that is exactly what Fauria is good for. I mean, come on. Fauria has caught seven passes this season and five of them have been for touchdowns. That pace is obviously absurd, and considering he is not used inside the 20′s, you can’t trust him. Besides, when Calvin Johnson gets healthier, he should see more of those red zone looks. I’m not buying the Fauria hype/
Thumbs Up; D/ST
Chargers defense @ Jacksonville Jaguars: No, Blaine Gabbert isn’t under center, but it’s still the Jaguars, after all, who may be without Cecil Shorts in this game. Meanwhile, the Chargers defense is coming off of a very strong performance in which they only surrendered three field goals to Andrew Luck and the Colts. Opposing defenses are scoring the third-most fantasy points per contest against the Jags, and the Chargers should see double-digit fantasy totals in this one.
Texans defense @ Kansas City Chiefs: The Texans defense was once a powerhouse in fantasy land, but not any longer. Houston is coming off two-straight zero-point performances, and while the Chiefs don’t have a ton of firepower, Houston’s mess is just too much for me to invest in.
*Stats provided by Yahoo! fantasy and fantasydata.com
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.