Fantasy Football Week 7 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
I don't know what it is about NFL Week 7 that has me so fired up in fantasy. Perhaps it is the high before the lows of the impending fantasy roster drama of the heavy byes in Week 8 and 9.
It could be the shootouts we are expecting in Indy, Philly and Washington and perhaps even New York (because neither the Vikings nor the Giants will play defense Monday night). Or maybe it is the long-awaited return—we hope—of Rob Gronkowski (arm/back).
Whatever the reason, this stands to be a bountiful week of fantasy production. We help you make the tough start and sit decisions for your lineups in this six-part, position-by-position slideshow—with the caveat being: This week might be so good, you cannot go wrong.
Quarterbacks: Nick Foles Gets a Huge Chance at Making a Fantasy Statement
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
We have to admit, you shouldn't sit any of the quarterbacks among the preseason top 12 at the position you drafted to be your starter, but if you want to take a shot on a fantasy up-and-comer because of a matchup, it is the Eagles' Foles this week. Dallas is third worst against the pass, and the Cowboys are dead last in fantasy against quarterbacks.
Throw in the fact DeMarcus Ware (thigh) is doubtful on the NFL Injury Report and the Eagles are equally susceptible to the pass, and you have justifiable reasons to start this fantasy—and NFL—backup. Heck, you might want to consider Riley Cooper, Jason Avant and Brent Celek as fantasy options here too.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
As much as we just gushed about Foles, Cutler is the even better play. He has superior weapons in Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett, and the Redskins are in the bottom 10 against the pass and fantasy quarterbacks. You should also figure Robert Griffin III a candidate to play a lot more spry at home, making this another game to expect a shootout. Cutler should be good for 275 yards and a few touchdowns here at least.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
He won't be the first name you consider, but we would still trust him over the error-prone Eli Manning even in a more favorable matchup right now. Dalton is developing secondary targets outside of A.J. Green, and it should serve him well as the season unfolds.
Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu are becoming viable outside threats, and the tandem tight ends, Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, can split the seam. This game at Detroit is going to be a sneaky good one, and we expect it to get a little loose against a contender like the Bengals.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Despite playing catch with spare parts, Flacco has had his moments this season, throwing for 300-plus yards three times in six games. Don't count on that happening here, no matter what you think of the aging Steelers defense. Pittsburgh is still No. 4 against the pass right now in a down year and No. 1 in fantasy against quarterbacks.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
After a slow start on opening night—Peyton Manning will get you—the Ravens haven't given up more than one touchdown pass in any ensuing game. They even held Aaron Rodgers to just one last week. Big Ben figures to run a more methodical offense in a brute game against the Ravens here, especially with Le'Veon Bell back to give the running game some legs.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
He has had some big performances for fantasy owners, but playing on the road and against an emerging Panthers defense is a time to avoid this fantasy upstart. Bradford still needs to find someone consistent to trust in the passing game, and the Panthers are the second-best team in fantasy against quarterbacks.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs look like a million bucks, and the Texans look lost. Expect the tables to come back around here. Smith is going to struggle against a Houston secondary that is No. 1 against the pass and almost 60 yards better than the next best team. The Texans are also third against quarterbacks. The Chiefs with Smith under center are going to look a lot less capable against J.J. Watt and Co. here.
|1||Peyton Manning||Den||at Ind||1||0|
|2||Aaron Rodgers||GB||vs. Cle||3||+1|
|3||Cam Newton||Car||vs. StL||4||+1|
|4||Tony Romo||Dal||at Phi||2||-2|
|5||Andrew Luck||Ind||vs. Den||6||+1|
|6||Philip Rivers||SD||at Jac||5||-1|
|7||Matthew Stafford||Det||vs. Cin||9||+2|
|8||Colin Kaepernick||SF||at Ten||15||+7|
|9||Matt Ryan||Atl||vs. TB||12||+3|
|10||Tom Brady||NE||at NYJ||11||+1|
|11||Russell Wilson||Sea||at Ari||14||+3|
|12||Robert Griffin||Was||vs. Chi||10||-2|
|13||Jay Cutler||Chi||at Was||7||-6|
|14||Nick Foles||Phi||vs. Dal||8||-6|
|15||Andy Dalton||Cin||at Det||17||+2|
|16||Alex Smith||KC||vs. Hou||20||+4|
|17||Sam Bradford||StL||at Car||23||+6|
|18||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||vs. Buf||16||-2|
|19||Eli Manning||NYG||vs. Min||13||-6|
|20||Joe Flacco||Bal||at Pit||24||+4|
|21||Ben Roethlisberger||Pit||vs. Bal||18||-3|
|22||Brandon Weeden||Cle||at GB||19||-3|
|23||Josh Freeman||Min||at NYG||22||-1|
|24||Carson Palmer||Ari||vs. Sea||28||+4|
|25||Chad Henne||Jac||vs. SD||21||-4|
|26||Geno Smith||NYJ||vs. NE||26||0|
|27||Thaddeus Lewis||Buf||at Mia||27||0|
|28||Mike Glennon||TB||at Atl||25||-3|
|29||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Ten||vs. SF||29||0|
|30||Case Keenum||Hou||at KC||30||0|
Running Backs: Matchups, Injuries Have Created Some Opportunities for Us
Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Woodhead wasn't great against the Colts, but this matchup at Jacksonville is too good to sit either of the Chargers' timeshare backs. The Jags have allowed the fifth-most points to running backs in fantasy and have the league's worst run defense, allowing 152.5 rushing yards per game. Woodhead is going to do his damage through the air, while Mathews will break 100 yards on the ground and find the end zone as well. Both backs are breaking double digits here.
Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
He limped into the bye week with just 15 yards rushing against the Ravens, but Miller is getting the bulk of the snaps at running back for the Dolphins. Touchdown vulture Daniel Thomas has seen his touches dwindle each of the past four games. Also, Buffalo has a bottom-five rush defense, so this could wind up as the best game of Miller's young career.
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
Williams hasn't reached the end zone yet, but you have to like his chances against a Rams defense that has been the second worst in fantasy.
The Rams have given up the most rushing yards to running backs thus far this season, and we would expect Williams to be good for 100 yards and a touchdown here. Williams needs to get his big games in now because Jonathan Stewart (ankle) is nearing a return from the PUP list, according to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer.
Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys
With DeMarco Murray (knee) listed doubtful—owner Jerry Jones said he was unlikely to play earlier this week—and Lance Dunbar (knee) out on the official NFL Injury Report, the Cowboys turn to the rookie, Randle, in what should be a shootout against the Eagles.
This game is more likely to be in Tony Romo's hands than Randle's, but the volume of plays and opportunities in the red zone should create an opportunity for Randle to score for fantasy owners. Phillip Tanner is currently the only other back on the roster, so this should be a busy week for the Oklahoma State product.
Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants
Scoff all you want at Jacobs' plodding style, the Giants' laughable offensive line play and the Giants' propensity to pass way more than they should, but Jacobs is coming off a 106-yard, two-touchdown performance, and the Vikings have been the worst team in fantasy against running backs.
It should be enough for Jacobs to find the end zone Monday night, even if he totals 15 carries for a mere 25 yards. All you need in this year of the sketchy back is a touchdown. Jacobs gets those.
Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns
McGahee is not only facing a Packers team that has been very good against the run—third best in the NFL—but he is also failing to put away Chris Ogbonnaya as a fantasy option. The latter had the better fantasy day against the Lions a week ago, and McGahee has missed some practice time to a knee issue. ESPN's Pat McManamon goes so far to suggest McGahee will "probably be on the injury report for the rest of the season."
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner hinted the Browns will need to turn to Ogbonnaya and even Bobby Rainey and Fozzy Whittaker more and more.
"We have an unusual situation, and we're making the best out of it. McGahee is giving us plays. Ogbonnaya is giving us plays. Bobby's giving us some plays. Now we're going to use Fozzy a little bit and see how he does. No question, it's a group effort."
Read: McGahee might not have been the answer after the Trent Richardson trade. Watch all of the Browns' backs usage. Someone might emerge as a fantasy option over McGahee going forward.
Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling, Atlanta Falcons
The continued absence of Steven Jackson (hamstring) keeps Rodgers and Snelling in the Falcons' game plan, but the Bucs defense is one of only two in the NFL to have yet to allow a touchdown to a running back to date. The Bucs still should be one of the most feared defenses against the run despite their lost season. Rodgers and Snelling are low-end flex plays at best.
Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens
When Ray Rice returned from his hip injury, Pierce sunk back into fantasy obscurity. We should expect him to stay there against a Steelers defense that has been uncharacteristically susceptible to the run in the early part of the season.
Pittsburgh played the run-heavy Jets really well last week, though, so expect the Steelers to continue to improve against fantasy backs. Pierce is a mere Rice handcuff right now and frankly can be someone you drop during the heavy bye weeks to come.
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Adrian Peterson||Min||at NYG||1||0|
|2||Jamaal Charles||KC||vs. Hou||2||0|
|3||LeSean McCoy||Phi||vs. Dal||3||0|
|4||Arian Foster||Hou||at KC||5||+1|
|5||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||at Ari||6||+1|
|6||Matt Forte||Chi||at Was||4||-2|
|7||Ray Rice||Bal||at Pit||12||+5|
|8||Doug Martin||TB||at Atl||9||+1|
|9||Alfred Morris||Was||vs. Chi||11||+2|
|10||Frank Gore||SF||at Ten||10||0|
|11||Reggie Bush||Det||vs. Cin||8||-3|
|12||Knowshon Moreno||Den||at Ind||7||-5|
|13||C.J. Spiller||Buf||at Mia||23||+10|
|14||Danny Woodhead||SD||at Jac||21||+7|
|15||Lamar Miller||Mia||vs. Buf||17||+2|
|16||DeAngelo Williams||Car||vs. StL||14||-2|
|17||Trent Richardson||Ind||vs. Den||16||-1|
|18||Eddie Lacy||GB||vs. Cle||13||-5|
|19||Joseph Randle||Dal||at Phi||26||+7|
|20||Ryan Mathews||SD||at Jac||19||-1|
|21||Chris Johnson||Ten||vs. SF||28||+7|
|22||Stevan Ridley||NE||at NYJ||25||+3|
|23||Giovani Bernard||Cin||at Det||15||-8|
|24||Brandon Jacobs||NYG||vs. Min||18||-6|
|25||Le'Veon Bell||Pit||vs. Bal||24||-1|
|26||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||at Det||31||+5|
|27||Fred Jackson||Buf||at Mia||20||-7|
|28||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||vs. SD||22||-6|
|29||Bilal Powell||NYJ||vs. NE||27||-2|
|30||Zac Stacy||StL||at Car||29||-1|
|31||Willis McGahee||Cle||at GB||33||+2|
|32||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||vs. Sea||36||+4|
|33||Joique Bell||Det||vs. Cin||35||+2|
|34||Ronnie Hillman||Den||at Ind||41||+7|
|35||Ben Tate||Hou||at KC||38||+3|
|36||Andre Ellington||Ari||vs. Sea||32||-4|
|37||Daniel Thomas||Mia||vs. Buf||47||+10|
|38||Mike Tolbert||Car||vs. StL||39||+1|
|39||Bryce Brown||Phi||vs. Dal||51||+12|
|40||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||at GB||37||-3|
|41||Bernard Pierce||Bal||at Pit||43||+2|
|42||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||vs. TB||30||-12|
|43||Jason Snelling||Atl||vs. TB||34||-9|
|44||LeGarrette Blount||NE||at NYJ||49||+5|
|45||Robert Turbin||Sea||at Ari||58||+13|
|46||Kendall Hunter||SF||at Ten||48||+2|
|47||Montee Ball||Den||at Ind||61||+14|
|48||Daryl Richardson||StL||at Car||50||+2|
|49||Brandon Bolden||NE||at NYJ||42||-7|
|50||Anthony Dixon||SF||at Ten||71||+21|
|51||Donald Brown||Ind||vs. Den||44||-7|
|52||Chris Ivory||NYJ||vs. NE||40||-12|
|53||Ronnie Brown||SD||at Jac||54||+1|
|54||Shonn Greene||Ten||vs. SF||60||+6|
|55||Michael Bush||Chi||at Was||57||+2|
|56||Roy Helu||Was||vs. Chi||46||-10|
|57||Bobby Rainey||Cle||at GB||79||+22|
|58||Toby Gerhart||Min||at NYG||65||+7|
|59||Jordan Todman||Jac||vs. SD||81||+22|
|60||Felix Jones||Pit||vs. Bal||67||+7|
|61||Alfonso Smith||Ari||vs. Sea||87||+26|
|62||Knile Davis||KC||vs. Hou||69||+7|
|63||Jackie Battle||Ten||vs. SF||56||-7|
|64||LaMichael James||SF||at Ten||75||+11|
Wide Receivers: There Are Some Huge Shootouts to Take Advantage of This Week
Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
If there is one game on the schedule to load up on this week, it clearly is the impending shootout between Peyton Manning and the man the Colts chose to replace him: Andrew Luck. Manning still gets the edge in the battle, but the Broncos have the defense that has been exploited to date.
They have the worst pass defense in the NFL right now, allowing 337.7 yards per game, albeit all in garbage time. Fantasy owners don't care how the points rack up. Heck, you might even consider Darrius Heyward-Bey or even LaVon Brazill if you are desperate this week.
Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
Miles Austin's return from a hamstring injury scared us off Williams a bit, but now that he is scoring consistently, you have to consider him a viable start against an Eagles defense that has been the worst in fantasy against wide receivers to date.
Philly is also second worst to Denver against the pass. Potent offenses have the tendency to do that. Expect the Cowboys to break 300 yards with ease here, with Williams scoring near the top-30 fantasy receivers.
Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins
The early returns on Wallace in Miami have been a bit uneven, but this rates as a game you have to start Wallace if you own him. If you cannot start him against the Bills—second worst in fantasy against wide receivers—why bother owning him? Wallace is a must-start in this matchup.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Jeffery is coming off that stinker against the Giants, but the matchup against the Redskins should get him back in your good graces. Washington has been among the worst team in fantasy against wide receivers for most of the season, and it is currently sixth worst. Jeffery goes for 60-plus yards and a score in this probable shootout in Washington.
Rueben Randle, New York Giants
We have been stubborn with the third option in the Giants' passing game, but you have to figure Eli Manning is going to start clicking with that set of healthy receivers he has eventually.
Manning has been targeting Randle consistently amid his own struggles, racking up three touchdowns with him in the past two games. We rate Randle as a borderline must-start against a Vikings defense that has given up the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL and the eighth-most points to fantasy wideouts.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Even this great Bowe apologist cannot stomach starting this struggling wide receiver this week. Alex Smith has notoriously failed to get the ball downfield, and Bowe is facing a Texans defense that is No. 1 in the NFL against the pass (just 131.3 yards per game) and No. 1 in fantasy against wide receivers. You can buy low on Bowe to eventually get things figured out with Smith and Andy Reid, but chain this wideout to your bench in all leagues.
Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
After opening with six catches in each of the first three games, Austin has dropped a lot—in passes and fantasy value. The Panthers have a top-10 defense against the pass and fantasy wideouts, and you cannot guarantee where Sam Bradford's targets and fantasy points are going to go week to week. You can make a pretty good guess they won't be going to the struggling Austin right now, though. Sit him. No, just cut him.
Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers
Ordinarily this name wouldn't bear a mention, but fantasy owners have jumped on him amid the loss of Randall Cobb (leg) and potential absence of James Jones (knee) this week. Jordy Nelson is the Packers' lone receiver, and he figures to be blanketed by shutdown corner Joe Haden.
That seemingly opens up Boykin or Myles White. Meh. Ignore all but Nelson or tight end Jermichael Finley against a Browns defense that's eighth against the pass and No. 2 against receivers in fantasy.
|Rank||Wide Receivers||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Det||vs. Cin||6||+5|
|2||A.J. Green||Cin||at Det||2||0|
|3||Dez Bryant||Dal||at Phi||1||-2|
|4||Brandon Marshall||Chi||at Was||3||-1|
|5||Demaryius Thomas||Den||at Ind||7||+2|
|6||Wes Welker||Den||at Ind||8||+2|
|7||DeSean Jackson||Phi||vs. Dal||5||-2|
|8||Victor Cruz||NYG||vs. Min||4||-4|
|9||Pierre Garcon||Was||vs. Chi||13||+4|
|10||Josh Gordon||Cle||at GB||10||0|
|11||Reggie Wayne||Ind||vs. Den||14||+3|
|12||Justin Blackmon||Jac||vs. SD||9||-3|
|13||Jordy Nelson||GB||vs. Cle||11||-2|
|14||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||vs. Min||17||+3|
|15||Antonio Brown||Pit||vs. Bal||15||0|
|16||Andre Johnson||Hou||at KC||19||+3|
|17||Larry Fitzgerald||Ari||vs. Sea||25||+8|
|18||Vincent Jackson||TB||at Atl||12||-6|
|19||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||at Was||18||-1|
|20||Eric Decker||Den||at Ind||16||-4|
|21||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||vs. Den||22||+1|
|22||Torrey Smith||Bal||at Pit||21||-1|
|23||Mike Wallace||Mia||vs. Buf||23||0|
|24||Steve Smith||Car||vs. StL||24||0|
|25||Anquan Boldin||SF||at Ten||26||+1|
|26||Rueben Randle||NYG||vs. Min||28||+2|
|27||Keenan Allen||SD||at Jac||20||-7|
|28||Steve Johnson||Buf||at Mia||38||+10|
|29||Golden Tate||Sea||at Ari||43||+14|
|30||Greg Jennings||Min||at NYG||29||-1|
|31||Terrance Williams||Dal||at Phi||37||+6|
|32||Miles Austin||Dal||at Phi||51||+19|
|33||Harry Douglas||Atl||vs. TB||33||0|
|34||Julian Edelman||NE||at NYJ||27||-7|
|35||Brandon LaFell||Car||vs. StL||47||+12|
|36||Kenbrell Thompkins||NE||at NYJ||31||-5|
|37||James Jones||GB||vs. Cle||34||-3|
|38||Vincent Brown||SD||at Jac||36||-2|
|39||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||vs. Den||66||+27|
|40||Cecil Shorts||Jac||vs. SD||42||+2|
|41||Dwayne Bowe||KC||vs. Hou||46||+5|
|42||Aaron Dobson||NE||at NYJ||41||-1|
|43||Stephen Hill||NYJ||vs. NE||44||+1|
|44||Emmanuel Sanders||Pit||vs. Bal||39||-5|
|45||Robert Woods||Buf||at Mia||49||+4|
|46||Jeremy Kerley||NYJ||vs. NE||55||+9|
|47||Michael Floyd||Ari||vs. Sea||35||-12|
|48||Tavon Austin||StL||at Car||68||+20|
|49||Mike Williams||TB||at Atl||30||-19|
|50||Jason Avant||Phi||vs. Dal||65||+15|
|51||Doug Baldwin||Sea||at Ari||64||+13|
|52||Sidney Rice||Sea||at Ari||63||+11|
|53||Austin Pettis||StL||at Car||57||+4|
|54||Donnie Avery||KC||vs. Hou||61||+7|
|55||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||at KC||53||-2|
|56||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||at Det||71||+15|
|57||Riley Cooper||Phi||vs. Dal||59||+2|
|58||Brian Hartline||Mia||vs. Buf||32||-26|
|59||Andre Caldwell||Den||at Ind||94||+35|
|60||Jerricho Cotchery||Pit||vs. Bal||75||+15|
|61||Chris Givens||StL||at Car||56||-5|
|62||Leonard Hankerson||Was||vs. Chi||69||+7|
|63||Davone Bess||Cle||at GB||78||+15|
|64||Kendall Wright||Ten||vs. SF||45||-19|
|65||Nate Washington||Ten||vs. SF||54||-11|
|66||Jerome Simpson||Min||at NYG||50||-16|
|67||Kenny Britt||Ten||vs. SF||95||+28|
|68||Jacoby Jones||Bal||at Pit||73||+5|
|69||Kris Durham||Det||vs. Cin||52||-17|
|70||Andre Roberts||Ari||vs. Sea||84||+14|
|71||Ryan Broyles||Det||vs. Cin||90||+19|
|72||Jon Baldwin||SF||at Ten||102||+30|
|73||Marvin Jones||Cin||at Det||70||-3|
|74||Marlon Brown||Bal||at Pit||58||-16|
|75||Dexter McCluster||KC||vs. Hou||107||+32|
|76||Brian Quick||StL||at Car||103||+27|
|77||Brandon Gibson||Mia||vs. Buf||60||-17|
|78||Earl Bennett||Chi||at Was||98||+20|
|79||Greg Little||Cle||at GB||82||+3|
|80||Ted Ginn||Car||vs. StL||67||-13|
Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski Finally Cleared...So You Start Him
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Your eye rolls are justified. We are rolling our eyes too at the news Gronk's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has stated the doctors have cleared the tight end to play, according to numerous media outlets, including ESPN, citing information from Field Yates, Mike Reiss and NFL insider Adam Schefter.
We have also listed Gronk as a start for weeks, assuming he would be active. There is less reason for the Pats to keep him questionable on the NFL Injury Report than ever, but don't count on a Bill Belchick team to tip its hand. Gronk has to start in fantasy if he is active for the Pats—know that at least.
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
The Browns have a good secondary and are not bad against tight ends, but circumstances should combine to make Finley the No. 1 target for Aaron Rodgers this week. With Randall Cobb (knee) out and James Jones (knee) questionable, the Packers will need Finley more than ever.
Browns shutdown corner Joe Haden figures to cover Jordy Nelson, and Jarrett Boykin or Myles White don't figure to be trustworthy options. Add Finley to a small group of must-start tight ends this week for these reasons.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
He is coming off his best week of the season, and the Vikings turn the offense over to Josh Freeman against a Giants defense that is among the worst in the NFL against everything. It is eighth worst against tight ends. You should be confident in starting Rudolph—someone picked among the top-10 tight ends this year—in all leagues again.
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears
The Redskins are in the bottom 10 of fantasy against tight ends, so you should feel confident in starting Bennett (knee) despite his questionable status. He has started every game to date and should be productive against that suspect secondary.
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
He has had his moments, but he still doesn't rate among the top-12 fantasy options at the position. Also, the Bills are third best in fantasy against tight ends to date. Look elsewhere for your Jimmy Graham bye-week replacement.
Dallas Clark, Baltimore Ravens
He has enjoyed some surprising games when Joe Flacco has had his moments, but against the Steelers doesn't figure to be a time to trust him. They are fourth best in fantasy against tight ends and No. 4 against the pass.
Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams
Not only has Cook disappeared at times this season, but the Panthers also have a solid pass defense, and Lance Kendricks has been vulturing some touchdowns in the red zone. Cook will have his moments down the stretch this season, but a road game against the Panthers is not the time to hope for them.
|Rank||Tight Ends||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Rob Gronkowski||NE||at NYJ||8||+7|
|2||Vernon Davis||SF||at Ten||2||0|
|3||Jason Witten||Dal||at Phi||3||0|
|4||Julius Thomas||Den||at Ind||4||0|
|5||Tony Gonzalez||Atl||vs. TB||1||-4|
|6||Antonio Gates||SD||at Jac||5||-1|
|7||Jordan Cameron||Cle||at GB||6||-1|
|8||Jermichael Finley||GB||vs. Cle||7||-1|
|9||Kyle Rudolph||Min||at NYG||12||+3|
|10||Martellus Bennett||Chi||at Was||9||-1|
|11||Greg Olsen||Car||vs. StL||11||0|
|12||Heath Miller||Pit||vs. Bal||10||-2|
|13||Coby Fleener||Ind||vs. Den||14||+1|
|14||Garrett Graham||Hou||at KC||16||+2|
|15||Jared Cook||StL||at Car||17||+2|
|16||Charles Clay||Mia||vs. Buf||13||-3|
|17||Brandon Myers||NYG||vs. Min||22||+5|
|18||Tyler Eifert||Cin||at Det||30||+12|
|19||Brandon Pettigrew||Det||vs. Cin||26||+7|
|20||Brent Celek||Phi||vs. Dal||18||-2|
|21||Rob Housler||Ari||vs. Sea||37||+16|
|22||Jermaine Gresham||Cin||at Det||25||+3|
|23||Jordan Reed||Was||vs. Chi||15||-8|
|24||Jeff Cumberland||NYJ||vs. NE||20||-4|
|25||Zach Miller||Sea||at Ari||23||-2|
|26||Scott Chandler||Buf||at Mia||21||-5|
|27||Lance Kendricks||StL||at Car||29||+2|
|28||Dallas Clark||Bal||at Pit||28||0|
|29||Clay Harbor||Jac||vs. SD||27||-2|
|30||Fred Davis||Was||vs. Chi||38||+8|
|31||Delanie Walker||Ten||vs. SF||31||0|
Defense/Special Teams: It Isn't About Talent as Much as Matchups Here
They have their slow start out of their system, so we should move them back up among the defenses to trust on a regular basis in fantasy. The matchup against the Steelers is particularly start-worthy. Pittsburgh has been the fourth-worst team in fantasy against defense/special teams.
San Diego Chargers
They were a more productive fantasy unit last year with their touchdown returns, but they have gotten better of late, and they face the lowly Jaguars this week. It makes the Chargers one of the streaming options off waivers, particularly since the Jags have been the third-most generous team to opposing defenses.
This remains one of the more unheralded units in all of fantasy, and the Panthers have been particularly tough at home, slowing the Seattle Seahawks and shutting out the New York Giants. The Rams come to town, so we should expect a performance similar to at least what the Panthers had against Seattle, if not the bonanza Eli Manning provided them.
This was one of the top units in fantasy coming into the season, but you don't need a web browser to know the Broncos have been suspect defensively, mostly in garbage time.
The Broncos do get Von Miller back from a six-game suspension, but the Colts matchup figures to be a tough one. Not only will it be another shootout, but the Colts are also (somewhat surprisingly) the No. 1 team in fantasy against opposing defenses. You might even be justified cutting the Broncos defense at this point.
Speaking of teams stuck in shootouts every week, Tony Romo's pace has made it tough on his defense regularly. Also, the expected absence of DeMarcus Ware (thigh) should make slowing that fast-paced Eagles offense difficult. The Eagles are seventh worst against opposing fantasy defenses, but we wouldn't trust the Cowboys in this shootout.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips lost his father Friday, so if he is calling the shots at Kansas City this week, he would be doing it with a heavy heart. That isn't the reason you should be avoiding the Texans defense, though. Kansas City is the fourth-stingiest team against opposing defenses in fantasy, and the Texans have been suspect against the run.
|Rank||Defenses and Special Teams||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Kansas City Chiefs||KC||vs. Hou||1||0|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||SF||at Ten||3||+1|
|3||Seattle Seahawks||Sea||at Ari||2||-1|
|4||New England Patriots||NE||at NYJ||4||0|
|5||Baltimore Ravens||Bal||at Pit||6||+1|
|6||Chicago Bears||Chi||at Was||8||+2|
|7||San Diego Chargers||SD||at Jac||7||0|
|8||Carolina Panthers||Car||vs. StL||5||-3|
|9||Miami Dolphins||Mia||vs. Buf||10||+1|
|10||Cincinnati Bengals||Cin||at Det||18||+8|
|11||Green Bay Packers||GB||vs. Cle||9||-2|
|12||Atlanta Falcons||Atl||vs. TB||12||0|
|13||Minnesota Vikings||Min||at NYG||11||-2|
|14||St. Louis Rams||StL||at Car||17||+3|
|15||Denver Broncos||Den||at Ind||15||0|
|16||Buffalo Bills||Buf||at Mia||14||-2|
|17||Dallas Cowboys||Dal||at Phi||20||+3|
|18||Arizona Cardinals||Ari||vs. Sea||13||-5|
|19||Tennessee Titans||Ten||vs. SF||16||-3|
|20||Houston Texans||Hou||at KC||22||+2|
Kickers: Caleb Sturgis Can Settle This Spot for You Here on Out
Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins
If you are looking for a strong leg and a set-it-forget-it option at this position heading into the heavy bye weeks, Sturgis is your man. He has been through his bye, and he will finish among the top-12 kickers in fantasy in his rookie year. The Dolphins have been improving offensively by the week, and the Bills have allowed the second-most points to kickers thus far.
Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings
He played through his hamstring issue in Week 6, so you should expect him to be fine for the Monday night game at the N.Y. Giants. He is too good to sit or cut for that one. The Giants have been the worst team in fantasy against kickers this year.
Ryan Succop, Kansas City Chiefs
The Texans are better than they have played, particularly defensively, but more fantasy owners should be on this part of the Chiefs bandwagon. Succop is a top-eight kicker in scoring to date, and even if the Texans play better defense, it should merely mean more stops in the red zone and field-goal attempts.
Randy Bullock, Houston Texans
Not only should you be wary of Bullock's league-high five missed field goals, but the Texans are also starting Case Keenum for the first time against a Chiefs defense that has allowed the fewest points to kickers in fantasy. Bullock shouldn't even be owned at this point, much less started.
Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis Rams
If you get points against the Panthers, it tends to be by way of the field goal this season. The Panthers have allowed a league-low four extra points this year. Zuerlein and the Rams could be shut out like the Giants were in Carolina, though. Consider this a bad week for one of the best legs in football.
Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
An improved offense should have helped Gould re-emerge as a must-have fantasy kicker. Instead, he is out of the top 12 in fantasy, and he is facing a Redskins team that has allowed a league-low six field-goal attempts (tied with the Minnesota Vikings). Only the Packers have allowed fewer made field goals (five) than the Redskins.
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||at NYJ||1||0|
|2||Matt Prater||Den||at Ind||3||+1|
|3||Alex Henery||Phi||vs. Dal||4||+1|
|4||Mason Crosby||GB||vs. Cle||6||+2|
|5||Matt Bryant||Atl||vs. TB||7||+2|
|6||Blair Walsh||Min||at NYG||8||+2|
|7||Dan Bailey||Dal||at Phi||2||-5|
|8||Ryan Succop||KC||vs. Hou||13||+5|
|9||Caleb Sturgis||Mia||vs. Buf||14||+5|
|10||Justin Tucker||Bal||at Pit||9||-1|
|11||Phil Dawson||SF||at Ten||17||+6|
|12||Adam Vinatieri||Ind||vs. Den||10||-2|
|13||Nick Novak||SD||at Jac||5||-8|
|14||Greg Zuerlein||StL||at Car||20||+6|
|15||Steven Hauschka||Sea||at Ari||12||-3|
|16||Robbie Gould||Chi||at Was||11||-5|
|17||Graham Gano||Car||vs. StL||24||+7|
|18||Kai Forbath||Was||vs. Chi||16||-2|
|19||Mike Nugent||Cin||at Det||25||+6|
|20||David Akers||Det||vs. Cin||18||-2|
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.
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