It’s time to take a look at Week 7! We have a couple great games on tap, including a clash between the defending champion Steelers and the undefeated Vikings. We’ll also get the privilege of a game across the pond, as the Patriots and Buccaneers square off in London. Cheerio!
Who to start: Chad Ochocinco
Ochocinco’s a top 10 WR in most formats and gets a banged up secondary here.
Others to start: Jay Cutler, Devin Hester, Greg Olsen, Cedric Benson, Carson Palmer
While Cincy has a 2009 reputation of shutting down a team’s #1, Houston last week managed to break through their scheme. Jay Cutler has enough weapons to not need to rely Hester. Benson plays his old team — the one that cut him and allowed the Bengals to sign him. Some reports talk of him being motivated to prove his ex-team wrong. Until Palmer consistently proves otherwise, he’s putting up game-manager numbers.
Others to consider: Johnny Knox, Andre Caldwell, Matt Forte
Last week, the Bengals force-fed the ball to Laveranues Coles. Caldwell can’t truly be considered the team’s #2 WR yet. While Forte is no longer a must-start, he’s not a guy to keep to the bench at all costs either. The Bengals don’t present a favorable enough matchup to demand starting him.
Who to bench: Laveranues Coles
One decent game doesn’t mean you must start him.
Who to start: Aaron Rodgers
A top-tier QB going against the #23 pass defense? Yes, please.
Others to start: Ryan Grant, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver
If there is ever a game Green Bay’s offense hits on all cylinders, this is the game.
Others to consider: Jermichael Finley, Josh Cribbs, Mohamed Massaquoi
Finley is one of the team’s few game-breakers. Cribbs is probably the team’s only game breaker and is getting repeated usage in Wildcat formations. Mossaquoi is the team’s #1 WR and could pick up nice garbage time stats.
Who to bench: Jamal Lewis, Jerome Harrison
This is a muddled and useless backfield situation.
Others to bench: Derek Anderson
Who to start: Frank Gore
Gore comes back after several weeks off and has been ready for this. He’s fully healthy and faces the 9th-worst run defense.
Others to start: Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub
Not an ideal matchup, but these are two studs or near-studs.
Others to consider: Shaun Hill, SF Def, Isaac Bruce
For the first time this season, Hill gets called out by his coach to “do a better job”. Against the 19th-ranked pass defense, San Fran’s most dependable WR (Bruce) will likely put up usable numbers.
Who to bench: Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan
During the bye, Morgan trained Crabtree to take his WR spot. The two will split duties, making neither an attractive option. Regarding Crabtree, don’t let the hype overwhelm you.
Others to bench: Hou Def
A weak defense faces a team coming off the bye and getting their offensive cog back.
Who to start: Philip Rivers
Others to start: LaDainian Tomlinson, Vincent Jackson, Larry Johnson, Matt Cassel
Others to consider: Darren Sproles, SD Def
San Diego’s defense is no longer an elite unit. A lack of pressure from the defensive line, epitomized by the struggles of Shawne Merriman, combine with weakness up the middle (Pro Bowl NT Jamal Williams is done for the year) to give opposing offenses time and opportunity to exploit them. Only the fact six teams are on bye this week makes them worthy of consideration.
Who to bench: Chris Chambers
Malcolm Floyd and Legedu Naanee have cut into his snaps. His four targets last week lend him some appeal, but only extreme desperation would lead me to even consider starting him.
Others to bench: KC Def
Who to start: Adrian Peterson
This game initially had the appeal of an offensive shootout. Injuries in Min’s secondary could encourage the Steelers to air it out. But they’ll need to lay down new sod as the field was used for college football just yesterday.
Others to start: Brett Favre, Min Def, Sidney Rice, Vinsathe Shiancoe, Hines Ward, Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller, Pitt Def
This may not turn into a shootout, for the reasons listed immediately above. Temper your expectations for both sides’ skill players accordingly. Favre has been talking up Rice since training camp, so Sidney has value even if this game is played in more-adverse conditions. Only the huge number of byes keeps some of these players as must-starts. While neither defense may be a strong play, at least Pittsburgh will have Troy Polamalu back.
Others to consider: Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous/desperate, Wallace will be facing off against the Vikings’ nickel and dime corners due to injuries in Minnesota’s defensive backfield. Mendenhall, while he has been productive since getting his team’s carries, is dealing with a knee injury and now will be splitting carries with Willie Parker against the 24th run defense. Perhaps Pittsburgh’s offense (tied-1st in yards per pass attempt) will force open running lanes.
Who to bench: Percy Harvin
Harvin is now 4th on the team in receptions (Rice, Berrian and Taylor top him) and is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. He hasn’t broken four receptions or had an offensive touchdown since Week 2 as Favre becomes infatuated with other toys.
Others to bench: Chester Taylor
In this week of bye-craziness, Taylor holds value only in PPR leagues, as he’s 7th among RBs in receptions.
Who to start: Peyton Manning
Indy may burst out to an early lead and rely on the running game the rest of the way, but Manning is the most dependable of the players in this game.
Others to start: Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai, Ind Def, Donnie Avery, Steven Jackson
The Colts get out to a commanding lead, then let loose Dwight Freeney and company. Avery and Jackson may rack up some garbage-time points, while Jackson maintains value even in a blow-out with 20 receptions and 170 receiving yards in five games.
Others to consider: Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, Donald Brown
Not saying Indy’s #2 and #3 WRs are untalented, but the Colts could quickly turn to their ground game.
For the truly desperate: Randy McMichael, Daniel Fells
The Rams have been ransacked by injuries to their WRs and their TEs stand to gain. McMichael has the bigger contract, but reports recently suggest their looking to faze him out. Fells isn’t very athletic, but he has dependable hands, like Visanthe Shiancoe.
Who to bench: Marc Bulger
That whole “Dwight Freeney and company” thing above.
Others to bench: Keenan Burton
Burton’s only getting chances with the injuries to the Rams’ receiving corps. He’s again not impressing the coaching staff with his lack of speed.
Who to start: Tom Brady
The most dependable of the players in this game.
Others to start: Wes Welker, Randy Moss, NE Def
Others to consider: Laurence Maroney, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Josh Johnson, Carnell Williams
Fred Taylor is injured, and Sammy Morris didn’t even travel with the team. Maroney had 123 yards and a TD last week. His problem the last couple of years is that he hasn’t capitalized despite being the most-talented RB on the Patriots’ roster. Should he again fail to seize the lead-dog position, Green-Ellis could earn a sizable portion of the carries in what will likely be a blowout.
For the truly desperate: Sammie Stroughter, Kellen Winslow
Stroughter has shown a connection with Johnson, presumably from their time as second-teamers. Winslow may be one of the top-scoring fantasy TEs, but New England is in the bottom 3rd in fantasy points given up to TEs.
Who to bench: Antonio Bryant
Bryant has scored less points each week and appears to have little chemistry with QB Johnson.
Others to bench: Michael Clayton
Who to start: DeAngelo Williams
Williams faces the defense that gives up the most rushing yards per game (181.8) and most yards per rush (5.3).
Others to start: Johnathan Stewart, Marshawn Lynch
Buffalo is so bad in its run defense that Stewart and Williams will both likely have a good game. Carolina is almost exactly bad as Buffalo against the run, giving up 5 yards per rush (2nd-most in the league) and 149.2 ground y/gm (4th-most).
Others to consider: Lee Evans, Terrell Owens, Steve Smith
While Carolina’s and Buffalo’s rush defense are equally, Carolina’s pass defense is significantly worse than Buffalo’s. Combine with Carolina’s measly 3 Ints (good for 25th in the league), one can see how Buffalo’s passing game can be successful- not will be, but can be.
Who to bench: Fred Jackson
Once Lynch came back from his three-game suspension, he immediately was given half his team’s RB touches. Additionally, when he did come back, it was expected Lynch would get the carries while Jackson got the receptions. However, in the three games Lynch has been back, he’s had 13 receptions to Jackson’s 5. Finally, Jackson’s been given the punt return duties this week, relegating him purely to special teams duties.
Who to start: Thomas Jones
Coming off 210 yards on the ground last week, Jones gets the 28th run defense.
Others to start: NYJ Def, Zach Miller
The Jets’ defense has lost their anchor in the middle (Kris Jenkins) and faces an offense that heavily favors the run. While that is cause for pause, keep in mind the QB is JaMarcus Russell. Unfortunately for Miller, Russell is his QB. However, he does deserve to start, especially in a bye-heavy week.
Others to consider: Braylon Edwards, Leon Washington, Justin Fargas
Don’t start Edwards expecting top-tier WR numbers. He’s more of a WR3, at best. Washington racked up 145 combined yardage last week and plays another week run defense.
For the truly desperate: David Clowney
With Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith out, Clowney’ll be starting. However, Sanchez’s struggles and the running game’s dominance likely mean he won’t produce. Like last week, when he wasn’t even targeted.
Who to bench: Mark Sanchez
My, how the mighty (-ily hyped) have fallen. A 3-0 start (with 4 TDs and 2 Ints) has been followed by an 0-3 record, with 1 TD and EIGHT interceptions. Ouch. Nail him to the bench; duct tape him there, if you have to. He’s a rookie looking too much to Braylon Edwards and needs Jerricho Cotchery. Unfortunately, Cotch likely won’t be back till Week 10, after their bye.
Others to bench: Jerricho Cotchery
He was declared out for today’s game on Saturday.
Who to start: Roddy White
As Brandon Marshall highlighted in Week 4, Dallas’ secondary has issues covering and tackling.
Others to start: Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Tony Romo, Jason Witten
Ryan will be able to abuse Dallas’ shoddy tackling at all levels, as will Turner. Romo has a good matchup, with a defense missing one of its starting CBs, Brian Williams. Romo’s gotta see a big green light over new starting CB Chevis Jackson. Witten, while not performing as expected, is still an upper-tier TE and gets a favorable matchup after Dallas’ bye, but he hasn’t been targeted in the red-zone for three weeks now.
Others to consider: Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, Miles Austin, Roy Williams
With Barber, Choice and Jones all probable coming off the bye, it’s difficult to tell how the carries will be divided up. Barber has a fractured left thumb (sustained in Week 5) and may lose carries if the thumb or quadriceps issue crops up again. Austin gets a favorable matchup, but I’m not ready to recommend him as a must-start. You’d have to have pretty good players/matchups to keep him on your bench, however. Williams is a weak-minded WR who is struggling to come back from a shot to his ribs during a Week 4 game. If Austin can draw defensive attention, opposing DBs won’t be able to press him at the line and bring a safety down over the top anymore.
Who to bench: Felix Jones
After 2 games and the bye to recover from his knee injury (he’s shed his brace), Felix Jones is listed as probable. While the defense is soft, I’d want a game to see how he shares carries with Barber and Choice.
Others to bench: Patrick Crayton
During the bye, Crayton lost his starting spot.
Who to start: Drew Brees
In case you were thinking of benching him: Miami has a reputation of a good defense, but the Dolphins give up the 2nd-most y/pass with 8.4.
Others to start: Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey, Ronnie Brown
The Dolphins have given up the 8th-most fantasy points to TEs.
Others to consider: Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, Ricky Williams
Henderson is a field-stretcher on a roster loaded with them. Lance Moore is a sure-handed route-runner on a team fairly devoid of them. Williams has performed very well, ranking as a top-15 to top-20 RB this year, but this may be the week to bench him.
Who to bench: Chad Henne
For all practical purposes, Henne is a rookie. The last time Darren Sharper and the Saints defense faced a rookie, Mark Sanchez threw for 138 yards and three interceptions.
Others to bench: Ted Ginn, Davone Bess, Anthony Fasano, Greg Camarillo
Ginn, Bess or Fasano might well pick up some desirable garbage points, but gambling who is not worth the risk. Camarillo is primarily used as a blocking WR and has little upside in the blowout/shootout this kind of game will likely be.
Who to start: Eli Manning
With Brandon Jacobs struggling, Manning has turned the Giants into a passing team: 11th in passing yardage, tied-3rd in passing TDs. Arizona is ranked 31st against the pass.
Others to start: Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, NYG Def
With Boldin likely severely hobbled, Breaston will be the main beneficiary.
Others to consider: Hakeem Nicks
Since getting back on the field Week 4, Nicks’ production has steadily increased. With 3 targets in Week 4, 6 in Week 5 and 8 in Week 6 and a TD in each game, Nicks has been cutting into Manningham’s snaps. A home-run hitter, Nicks can take any given reception to the house against an aggressive Arizona defense.
Who to bench: Anquan Boldin
It’s tough to bench an early pick, but Boldin’s injured again and will try to gut it out. He confirmed Saturday that he has a high-ankle sprain, the normal recovery time for which is several weeks. The matchup is rather favorable, but it’s best to keep him on the bench.
Others to bench: Ari Def
Wildcards: Chris Wells, Tim Hightower
Wells is listed as questionable with a hip injury. Regardless, he and Hightower have a somewhat favorable matchup against a Giants defensive line struggling with injuries.
Who to start: Donovan McNabb
Washington has a recent history of playing well under the bright Monday night lights. That history, though, must deal with the 2009’s soap-opera-like realities. I’m not willing to call this a rout, but in McNabb’s favor is the loss last week against Oakland, as Philly’ll likely come out more balanced this week and break some deep as the Redskins DBs respond to the constant pounding.
Others to start: Phi Def, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Brian Westbrook, Chris Cooley, Santana Moss, Clinton Portis
Sherman Lewis, coordinator for a number of prolific West Coast offenses, now guides Washington’s offense. Moss’s and Cooley’s game-breaking abilities demands you get them the ball. A risk-taking defense could leave them a chance (or two, or more) to break a play.
Others to consider: Jason Campbell, LeSean McCoy
As bad as the Redskins offense has been struggling, one can’t call him a must-start, but he does deserve consideration as a bye-week replacement. McCoy deserves consideration for two reasons: 1) Philly could blow out the Redskins and the Eagles could try to save Westbrook; 2) after last week’s 46:14 pass:rush debacle, the Eagles could gameplan to pound the snot outta Washington.
Who to bench: Kevin Curtis
After undergoing surgery late last week, Curtis will be unavailable Monday night. He had little chance of starting for a fantasy team, but his unavailability cascades snaps to other players.
Kevin Pina is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Kevin in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Kareighuis.
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