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Week 8 bullet points for QB/DEFs
Tony Romo v. Washington - #6 in Weekly Rankings
Four weeks ago Tony Romo threw for 262 yds and 3 TD against a poor Saints defense in a dominating 38-17 home win. Romo hadn’t broken out prior to that week 4 performance and with three difficult pass defenses on the horizon in Houston, Seattle and the Giants, he still had plenty of doubters in the fantasy world.
Fast forward to week 8 and Romo has certainly caught the attention of football fans and fantasy owners worldwide. His three “difficult” matchups resulted in a per game average of 284 yds and a 7/2 TD to INT ratio. Outside of the top 5 QBs (P. Manning, Luck, Wilson, Rodgers, Rivers) there may not be a hotter and better QB to own at the moment. Washington, the 31st ranked team against fantasy QBs, comes to Dallas in week 8 for a nationally televised Monday Night Football matchup.
The Redskins just lost arguably their best defensive player and pass rusher in Brian Orakpo for the season and their downward spiral against the pass will certainly be on display for the world to see. The calendar still reads October, so look for Romo and the Cowboys to continue their dominance. The floor is awfully high, as is the ceiling in this cake walk of a matchup.
Dallas Cowboys - #2 in Weekly Rankings
I can’t help but to continue to pile on the Redskins here. Newly appointed starting QB Colt McCoy is somewhat of a hero in Texas, but I don’t think he’ll be treated too kindly in Dallas. McCoy will be forced to try to make big plays in a game that Washington should be trailing from the get go.
McCoy is a dink and dunk type of QB and when he’s forced to try to make big plays, big plays will happen…..for the defense. In 2010-2011 as a starting QB, McCoy was sacked 55 times in 21 games and threw only 20 TD vs. 20 INT. With RG III being close to a return, look for the Cowboys to end the Colt McCoy era in Washington by racking up sacks and turnovers in bunches along the way.
Ryan Tannehill @ Jacksonville - #12 in Weekly Rankings
Ryan Tannehill is in the midst of his coming out party in his 3rd season in the league. He’s on pace for about 3800 yards passing, 27 TD and 13 INT, a fine season for a top 15 QB in any year. However, his last three weeks have may have gone under the radar to the average fantasy owner but the mindful owner, should have been able to see potential for greatness. His 6/3 TD ratio in these 3 weeks is nice and he’s been consistent throwing 2 TD in each week.
That's all fine and good but the potential for greatness theory does not kick in until you check out his rushing totals. The man has 132 yards rushing in the last three weeks! Now this is exciting stuff. These rushing yards have not come as a result of some fluky scrambles either. Tannehill has been lining up in the pistol and is getting 3-6 designed runs called for him, ala Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.
He’s turned these runs into huge gains including a 40 yard run and a 30 yard run. This trend is not going anywhere. Miami goes to Jacksonville to take on the 25th ranked defense against fantasy QBs. Jacksonville, an already putrid defense lost 2 of their better players in linebacker Paul Posluszny and defensive lineman Andre Branch to injury in week 7. Look for Tannehill continue to his hot streak and his running ways in this matchup. Start him as a bye week option or matchup play and hold onto him since he may provide huge value the rest of the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Minnesota - #11 in Weekly Rankings
If you’re streaming defenses, and many of us are, this is one defense that should be available in most leagues.Tampa has had some real disasters, including the week 6 debacle against Baltimore, that have skewed their statistics in the wrong direction.
The numbers are not lying. This defense is really not a good one, and there might only be 1 or 2 matchups where I would recommend playing them. Well this week presents one of those matchups with a home game against Teddy Bridgewater and Minnesota. Bridgewater in 4 games this season has only 1 passing TD vs. 5 INT.
That is not a typo. Again, he has 1 passing TD in 4 games. And also not a typo, he’s been sacked 15 times in four games including 13 in the past 2 weeks. Tampa Bay has some talented defensive players in LBs Lavonte David and Mason Foster and defensive lineman Gerald McCoy and Michael Johnson, that should be able to force Bridgewater, a QB with 0 success outside of a home game against Atlanta, into several more sacks and turnovers. By going with Tampa you’re taking a leap of faith but the upside of this matchup is just too high to not give it a try.
Jay Cutler at New England - #13 in Weekly Rankings
After starting the season with 8 TD and only 2 INT in the first three weeks of the season it seemed like Jay Cutler had turned the corner in becoming an elite NFL and fantasy QB. He won back to back road games in weeks 2 and 3 despite his 2 best playmakers in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall playing injured. In the last few weeks, his wide receivers have gotten healthy, but Cutler has regressed to the quarterback we’ve been accustomed to seeing in Chicago.
His last 4 performances have been underwhelming to say the least with only 6 TD and 5 INT including games against poor pass defenses (Carolina, Atlanta). The Bears’ many injuries to their starting defense have limited Cutler’s time on the field and therefore his upside. He has not been given great field position and the offensive opportunities in total have been few and far between.
Week 8 brings a matchup in Foxboro with the Patriots, who have some problems of their own with their best defensive player and pass rusher Chandler Jones out. However, the Bears’ decimated defense won’t be able to stop the Patriots. As a result, Cutler will be held off the field and Cutler even when he is on the field, is looking too much like the old Cutler to justify starting him.
Denver is the 8th ranked fantasy defense headed into week 8. They’ve been fairly consistent throughout the season despite matchups against potent offenses such as Indianapolis, Kansas City, Seattle, Arizona and San Francisco. Normally at home, I’d recommend them against just about anyone but not against San Diego.
Since taking over as head coach of the Chargers in 2013, Mike McCoy has found a way to play the Broncos in high scoring tough games, with his offense scoring 27 and 20 points in 2 matchups against the Broncos.
Phillip Rivers is not going to make many mistakes and even if the Broncos do win the game easily, the Chargers will put up too many points and there won’t be enough turnovers for the Broncos to be worth a start. If you own them, check out our rankings and stream one of the defenses ranked above them.
The wild running, the wild running, the ripping and the tearing, the ripping and the tearing.
Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris ran the ball with a sense of anger during his first season in the NFL. He was one of the toughest tackles in the league, often dragging several defenders on his back as he chugged along for extra yardage. He looked like a man possessed at times.
I mean look at this run from 2012, where Morris explodes through a hole on an off tackle play, loses his helmet and doesn't miss a beat as he rumbles for a few more yards. Always has to be a drag to be a defender closing in on a tackle when you know the guy you're tackling doesn't have his helmet on. It's good that now a helmet loss is an automatic dead ball.make animated gifs like this at MakeAGif
Morris burst onto the scene immediately as a rookie in part due to Mike Shanahan's run-heavy version of the west coast offense, a scheme Morris flourished in. He totaled 1,613 rushing yards which was good for third in the league, and proved one of the best bangs-for-draft buck after getting selected in the sixth round by the Washington Redskins.
Morris suffered a minor sophomore slump in 2013 but still managed 1,275 yards despite playing on a bad Redskins team that won just three games. Morris crossed the 100-yard plateau only three times last season but more importantly, he had four more other games of at least 90 yards. So while his numbers dipped slightly, he was still an effective running back and his 4.6 yards per carry average was more than respectable. Overall, he gave fantasy owners consistent production.
While Morris established a reputation for an aggressive running style which involved mowing down defenders as opposed to avoiding them with his agility, it wouldn't be fair to suggest Morris maintain that crazy, explosive running ability throughout an entire career. It's obviously dangerous to your long-term health and we've seen how many tough runners have faded out early in their careers (Marion Barber from the Cowboys being a prime example). Still, 2014 Morris just hasn't lived up to the bill of one of the most consistent running backs in the league.
What has gone wrong
Morris kicked off 2014 with a series of decent performances, rushing for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns in the Redskins' first two games, but he's tapered off since. Over the last three games, Morris hasn't rushed for 100 yards in a game and his yards per carry average is down to a mediocre 3.8 yards per carry, nearly 1 yard less than a season ago.
His workload started off strong enough, as he averaged slightly over 20 carries for the first three games of the season, but has seen his attempts drop to around 15 per game over the last three weeks. He also hasn't recorded a touchdown in three games.
The offensive line has struggled as well, with pro bowl tackle Trent Williams battling a knee injury that forced him out of the team's Week 4 matchup against the New York Giants.
Competition creeping in
Fellow running back Roy Helu Jr. has started to make a case for more touches as of late. Previously viewed as a goal line back who can catch the occasional pass out of the backfield, Helu saw five carries last week against Tennessee and turned them into 29 yards, nearly half of what Morris had with nearly 1/3 of his carries. Helu's five carries were the most he's seen since the Redskins 41-10 blowout win against Jacksonville.
It's not so much saying that Helu getting slightly more carries ups his value as much as it lowers Alfred Morris's. It's a deathblow to fantasy value when another running who isn't exactly going to replace the RB1 but instead siphons a few more carries which eventually washes out both of their value. It's just one more thing to worry about when it comes to owning Morris.
Jay Gruden's offense
After RG3 went down in Week 2, the Redskins shifted to a more pass-based offense. After filling in for Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins threw 204 times in roughly 5.5 games played. That's about 38 pass attempts per game. Morris has never been a reliable receiver and his one dimensional game has proved limiting so far in a pass-heavy offense.
Is RG3 the answer?
People tend to think Morris is only valuable if quarterback Robert Griffin III is on the field due to another added run threat. While Morris' numbers were better in the first two games when RG3 was healthy. it's tough to think he'll all of a sudden flip a switch and morph into 2012 Morris when RG3 returns in 2-3 weeks.
When you watch Morris run in 2014, the problem isn't all scheme-based or RG3-based, Morris simply isn't breaking tackles or running with the desire we've seen in the past, which is probably the biggest concern for this value going forward.
A favorable schedule and a new QB
One thing Morris has working in his favor is the Redskins' upcoming schedule. Four of the next five defenses Washington plays (Dallas, Minnesota, Indianapolis) are all giving up at least 4.4 yards per carry to running backs. Also, third-string quarterback Colt McCoy is expected to start against Dallas on Monday night. Largely known as a game manager, it wouldn't be surprising if Morris is given more carries as Gruden relegates the weak-armed McCoy to more of a game manager role.
Overall, even with a slate of easier defenses upcoming, Morris probably won't improve all that much until he regains his desire to run the ball with the same kind of purpose he's displayed in his first two seasons. Until then, consider benching him for another RB2.
View Keith Allison's Flickr page here.
Start of the week
DeMarco Murray vs. New York Giants — #1 in weekly rankings
It's impossible to rank Murray behind anyone else at this point. If his owners aren't already fist pumping for all his production so far this season, his matchup for Week 7 is also decent. The Giants defense allowed 203 rushing yards last week from the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that has struggled in the run game due to a battered offensive line.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, have one of the best offensive lines in the league and Murray has yet to run for less than 100 yards in a game this season. Dallas also has the added benefit of playing at home, where a rocking crowd that finally has a reason to cheer a winning team will no doubt add another advantage.
It's not to say the Giants can't surprise and keep Murray in check. They're one of the most resilient teams in football as evidenced by their three straight wins following an 0-2 start. Still, they haven't fared too well against the run this season. They've allowed 116 rushing yards per game on average (17th in the NFL) and surrendered seven rushing touchdowns which is tied for third worst in the league.
If Murray somehow doesn't have a good game, it will be more because they opt to use their backups in a blowout or they simply scale his carries back and rely on Romo a bit more. That's unlikely to happen though based on how well the formula has worked so far for Dallas. Also, the Cowboys (5-1) will want to keep the pedal to the medal to gain some distance from another 5-1 team in Philadelphia while the Eagles rest on their bye week. Murray is as much of a lock as any RB in the league this week.
Andre Ellington @ Oakland — #12 in weekly rankings
Ellington has yet to the cross the 100-yard plateau this season, with the closest coming in Week 2 against the New York Giants where he rushed for 91 yards. But this week is his best chance to do just that. The Raiders are coming off a game where they allowed more than 100 yards to Chargers RB Branden Oliver.
Oakland has been dismal against the run. They'r allowing 149 rushing yards per game this season, which is second worst only to Green Bay. Carson Palmer is expected to play, which should help Ellington's numbers in the receiving game as he recorded a season-high six catches last week against Washington. Ellington is one of the more versatile running backs in fantasy and should give owners a decent outing in Week 7.
Fred Jackson vs. Minnesota — #18 in weekly rankings
Old Mr. reliable. Running backs in the NFL often age like milk, but Jackson is aging like wine. He always finds a way to make fantasy owners who start him happy. If he doesn't rush for a lot of yards, he scores a touchdown. If he doesn't score a touchdown, he gets you some good PPR numbers and 30-40 rushing yards. He never explodes for big games, but he always hovers around the 5-8 fantasy point mark, which is all you need out of a flex guy. Jackson's 30 total targets is second most in the NFL among running backs, trailing only Matt Forte.
While Jackson has more upside than Spiller, there's some still points of concern. The Bills offensive line is just not good, as evidenced by their recent struggles in the run game against both Detroit and New England. If you watched those games, you noticed running backs like C.J. Spiller getting surrounded by defenders before they even have a chance to get up the field. The difference is, Spiller runs east and west while Jackson bursts through for all the yards he can get. Spiller could have more upside if the line was better since he's more a straight line speed guy.
But that's why Jackson is the better fantasy option — he's more versatile. The Bills like to split him out wide from time to time and use him in the screen game, which gives him added value in the receiving game. Laterally, he can make guys miss in a way similar to Ahmad Bradshaw in Indianapolis (who also suffers from a bad offensive line). He's better in pass protection as well. Overall, Jackson's just a better player than Spiller for this scheme.
Jackson's best chance for a big week may very well be against Minnesota. The Vikings' defense ranks 17th against the run, having allowed 117 yards per game through six weeks. They've also allowed six rushing touchdowns which is tied for 24th in the league. Quarterback Kyle Orton, while not playing his best football as of now, still has more upside than E.J. Manuel and should target Jackson plenty in the backfield. Expect Jackson to rush for anywhere between 60-70 yards and add 6-10 catches for 50-70 yards. A goal line touchdown is not out of the question either and would be icing on the cake.
Marshawn Lynch vs. St. Louis — #2 in weekly rankings
I know we have Lynch ranked high this week and you should definitely still start him, but beast mode hasn't been activated in a while which is cause for concern. Lynch only carried the ball 10 times last week against Dallas in a 23-30 loss. Those 10 carries were his second lowest output since Week 2 against San Diego. In that game, he ran just six times in a 21-30 loss. It would seem the Seahawks might be starting to realize their success hinges on Lynch being used more in the run game. It's also worth noting Lynch hasn't run for more than 100 yards since Week 1 against Green Bay.
The Seahawks play the Rams at home, a division rival with a history of giving Seattle trouble no matter what the records are. The Rams defense are also playing better as of recently. They kept Frank Gore in check last Monday night, allowing him just 2.8 yards per carry on 16 rushing attempts. They held LeSean McCoy to under 100 yards a week earlier as well.
Another interesting twist is the Percy Harvin trade, a move which reportedly made Lynch and a few other players irate.
With Harvin gone, the Seahawks might need to rely on Lynch even more so if the Seahawks receiving core doesn't pick up the slack. The Rams could easily stack the box and force more throws from Russell Wilson, something that would keep Lynch from getting more carries. He's still startable, but there's some uncertainty this week.
View FFSwami's flickr page here.
Start of the Week
1. Andre Johnson v Pittsburgh Steelers #10 Weekly Rankings
Fantasy owners almost take for granted the consistency Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson has provided them over his illustrious career. Going on the age of 33, Johnson is not going to get any younger but has shown he can still be the number one option in the receiving game.
Going into week 7, Johnson draws a great matchup with the Steelers inconsistent defense. The Steelers just benched No. 1 cornerback Cortez Allen who signed a four-year contract extension this offseason due to his terrible play (worst rated CB according to Pro Football Focus), and are looking like they will be without the services of rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier due to a knee injury.
Despite the emergence of second-year receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Johnson is still the primary target in Houston's passing game. He leads the the Texans in targets (48), receiving yards (419) and does not have a game this year being targeted fewer than 7 times and with the Steelers defense looking to patch up an already shaky secondary, expect a big day from Johnson and the rest of the Texans passing game.
2. Dwayne Allen v. Cincinnati Bengals #11 Weekly Rankings
It has been tough to depend on any of the Colts tight ends this year from a fantasy perspective. Allen has been the clear favorite in terms of red zone targets, and has also shown a much better ability to stretch a defense up the middle of the field. Although Allen had a mediocre game last week, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that he will once again provide another quality fantasy day.
Allen has a great matchup this weekend with the Bengals who are allowing the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. While the Bengals defense is stout against the run, their linebackers are don't have the ability to play man-coverage against opposing tight ends.
Even though Allen put up a mediocre three receptions for 49 yards, he was still targeted 6 times in the game. Now going up against a defensive unit that's giving up an average of 12.4 fantasy points to opposing tight ends, I expect a big day from both the Colts tight ends.
1. Larry Donnell v. Dallas Cowboys #8 Weekly Rankings
How can someone lose all the fantasy equity they built up with just a couple of bad weeks? After posting three touchdowns in the Giants week 4 matchup with the Redskins, Donnell was invisible in the Giants passing game in week 6 after catching one pass for 6 yards. While fantasy owners may be questioning whether or not they can depend on Donnell as a consistent fantasy option, I still recommend rolling with him for at least one more week.
Now that Victor Cruz has been placed on injured reserve due to a knee injury, there are going to be plenty of opportunities for the rest of the Giants' receivers to make a fantasy impact. While a lot of fantasy owners are going to pick up rookie Odell Beckham Jr., he will need a couple weeks to prove himself as a consistent option for Eli Manning. Last week was the only week Donnell registered fewer than 6 targets in a game, showing that him and Manning are developing pretty good chemistry.
Fantasy owners have to be hopeful for a bounce back week from Donnell due to his matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys defense has given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, as well as the second most receiving touchdowns (6) this season. I am still going to consider Donnell a lower-level TE1 due to the shaky performance last week. However, with a juicy matchup and a quarterback that's making a conceded effort to get him involved, try and keep Donnell in your lineup.
2. Pierre Garçon v. Tennessee Titans #24 Weekly Rankings
After leading the NFL in targets (178) and finishing second in receptions (110), Garcon has not had the same fantasy success under new head coach Jay Gruden’s new offense. Despite the recent struggles (8 catches through three weeks) I feel like there are a couple of reasons to expect Garcon to bounce back.
Earlier this week when asked about Garcons recent struggles, coach Gruden made it clear that they needed to get him involved in the offense more. Even though Garcon was able to get double-digit fantasy points last week, he salvaged a day that was looking like a dud after he snagged a fourth quarter touchdown reception late.
Despite the recent success of Desean Jackson, Garcon is still leading the team in both targets and receptions, and will prove to be the more consistent option going forward due to Jackson’s reliance on big plays.
Fantasy owners have to be happy to see the Titans on the Redskins schedule this week. Over the last three weeks, opposing quarterbacks have completed 66 percent of their passes, allowing an average 340 passing yards per game and an average of nearly 2.5 passing touchdowns per game. The recent success of opposing quarterbacks give hope to the Redskins passing attack that is in dire need of consistency.
1. Brian Quick v Seattle Seahawks #30 Weekly Rankings
After posting at least 7 receptions or a touchdown in every week, Quick saw that streak come to an end after San Francisco’s secondary made it evident they wanted to slow him down with bracket coverage most of the night. Now after dealing with Chris Culliver, Quick gets the pleasure of matching up with the self-proclaimed “best corner in the league” Richard Sherman and the rest of the Legion of Boom.
Even though the LOB has not been as good as it was last year, they're still formidable. They are allowing 19.6 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers.
While Quick is the only receiver on the Rams that comes close to any fantasy relevance, fantasy owners do need to take note of this difficult matchup.
2. Jason Witten v. New York Giants #16 Weekly Rankings
Witten finally found pay dirt last week against the Seahawks,showing he still does have some semblance old Witten left in the tank. Despite the touchdown Witten only totaled 11 fantasy points, which was good for his highest total of the season as well as the only time Witten has reached double-digit fantasy points (.5 PPR) this year.
I don't think the touchdown is a sign of greener pastures the rest of the season. Dallas finally committed to DeMarco Murray instead of putting pressure on Romo to make plays, and the early results seem to be positive. Murray is currently on pace for well over 2,000 yards this season and has a chance to break Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record. The Cowboys are going to continue to lean on the running back as well as feature a downfield passing game with Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams. Witten has been nothing more than a low-end TE1/mid TE2 for most of the season, a trend that I think will continue unless an injury opens up some opportunities.
Week 7 Sleepers and Busts
Week 6 is in the books and the playoff picture is starting to take shape. The sample size is becoming significant and win/loss records are becoming meaningful. There are still seven weeks for teams to jockey for position and nobody has clinched anything at this point but we all know how we fantasy owners tend to over react based on our place in the standings around this time of year. In honor of our crazy fantasy football imaginations, I’d like to do things a little differently this week and go into the mindsets of many insane fantasy owners around the country by record.
The 0-6 team: “……..” Silence. This owner has 137 unanswered text messages, 58 voicemails and thousands of opened emails from league members all with the same general message “Hey Johnny/Jenny, your team STINKS”. The messages will usually be more graphic in nature like “How do you take that kind of pounding week after week and still be able to walk the next day?” But you get the gist. This owner will not be changing his lineup from here on out. He/She never wants to see his/her friends seemingly ever again and the single, non-married owner may move and change his/her name without telling anybody just to end the daily abuse. However, on the positive side the 0-6 married male owner will suddenly be nominated for National Husband of the year after taking the Mrs. for picnics, ice skating, apple picking, flea markets, opera, and ballet on Sundays, Thursday nights and Monday nights from now until January. These owners can be positively identified by a tattoo of this quote “Screw you AP/Calvin/Montee”.
The 1-5 team: “If I give you my password you can change my lineup but I’m not paying for any pickups.” This owner has slightly less text messages and slightly less voicemails than the 0-6 team and their season and mental well-being are both hanging by a thread. He/she is willing to compete for now but can’t bear to look at the names on the computer/tablet/cell phone screen. He/She has unsuccessfully reached out to the 0-6 team to see if they can hang out on Sunday since he/she really can’t bear to see anybody else.
The 2-4 team: “I’m in a must win situation.” His/her friends will hear about this all day every day over the next several weeks but especially this week. This team will make 25 pickups/drops and 5-10 trades even trading away and trading for the same players before Sunday.
The 3-3 team: “Am I a contender or a pretender? I’m not sure.” This team is neither confident nor pessimistic. He/she is fired up to potentially be above .500 but going below .500 would be the end of the world.
The 4-2 team: “Nobody is talking about my team. I’ll show them.” These owners hate how everyone loves the talent on the two teams that have better records, but totally disregard their team discussing the cream of the crop. Somehow they talk even more trash than the 5-1/6-0 owners but it’s really just a cover up for their insecurity.
The 5-1 team: “Ahhhh 1 more win and we can punch that playoff ticket”. These owners are quietly confident to a point where they look and sound downright smug. Their quiet confidence annoys everybody including the 6-0 owner.
The 6-0 owner: “First place pays $1000 right?….I’ll make you a deal, if you agree to pay me $990 right now we can just end the league today.” This owner is not quietly confident. He’s responsible for 130 of the text messages and 53 of the voicemails to the 0-6 team. He sends out group texts and reply-all emails 50 times/day talking smack. We all want to conspire against this team to ensure they don’t win the league.
My advice to you….don’t over react like these owners. It’s only week 7. We have seven more weeks in the regular season to decide our fate. We shouldn't turn into these people until at least week 8.
Now let me help you advance in the standings with some sleepers and busts. It’s an easy week schedule wise with only the Eagles and Buccaneers on byes so be smart with these recommendations and apply them to your league depending on your league format.
Without further ado, your week 7 Sleepers and Busts:
DISCLAIMER: A sleeper is not a must start and a bust is not a must bench, they are merely indications that a player will have a better or worse game this week than they normally do. It all really depends on your alternatives. I will give an example of a few players for whom I personally would start the sleeper over or bench the bust for. These players are simply there as an indication of how good or bad I think the sleepers/busts will perform so you have a comparison in mind when applying it to your actual lineup. For example if I am comparing a QB to a stud like Andrew Luck, I am not necessarily saying you need to start him over Luck (even if I would) but it will imply that I feel really good about him.
· Kirk Cousins vs. Tennessee. Luck, Manning, Rodgers, Rivers, Cutler, Wilson, Ryan, Kaepernick. Those are the names of the QBs that average more fantasy points per game than Kirk Cousins. Since taking over the starting job in week 2, Cousins is averaging over 300 yards passing and 2 TDs per game. The Redskins struggle to stop anybody on defense so Cousins is often forced to throw the ball and with weapons like DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, and Andre Roberts, which gives Cousins the chance to be fantasy gold. Sure the high volume of passes has forced Cousins into 8 INT on the season, but ignore that and look at those names above again to realize what you have here. Tennessee’s pass defense has struggled of late with Brian Hoyer and Blake Bortles averaging 314 yds and 2 TDs over the last 2 weeks. This matchup is oozing with upside so get Cousins in the lineup in all 2 QB leagues and in leagues where you are playing the matchups at QB or have any of the below players as a starter. He’s #14 in my QB rankings so refer to the rankings for other start/sit decisions.
I’d Start Kirk Cousins over: Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Brian Hoyer
· Eli Manning at Dallas. The Giants come into Dallas having allowed 8 sacks last week so I think it’s safe to say there are some offensive line issues. They’re now minus their best RB and best WR with Rashad Jennings and Victor Cruz out. The loss of Rashad Jennings has impacted them in a bigger way than one would think. Jennings is a dual threat back that always does a great job making himself available as a safety valve when Eli is under duress. Andre Williams is a violent runner but he brings so much less to the table than Jennings as an all-around back. The Giants top skill position players are now comprised of RB Andre Williams, WRs Reuben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. and TE Larry Donnell. With the offensive line struggling, and the youth and inexperience at all of the skill positions, expect the Cowboys fans to rock the stadium and cause miscommunications between Eli and his young supporting cast. This will result in multiple sacks and turnovers much like you saw last week in Philadelphia. The Cowboys rank 3rd against fantasy QBs despite having faced Colin Kaepernick, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. Stay away, even in 2 QB leagues.
I’d Start the following players over Eli Manning: Ryan Tannehill, Blake Bortles, Charlie Whitehurst, Kyle Orton
· Ronnie Hillman vs. San Francisco. Ronnie Hillman broke off big run after big run en route to a 100+ yard performance against the Jets, a team that ranks 8th in rushing yards against. The yardage was great but the stat that surprised me the most was his snap count. Hillman played 74% of the snaps and was only spelled on a couple of drives. In other words, Hillman is currently the featured back in the Peyton Manning led, most explosive offense in football. That to me alone makes him a RB1 every week until Montee Ball returns regardless of matchup. But the icing on the cake is that Patrick Willis looks like he’ll be inactive with a bad toe. This defense is simply not the same without their leader and All-Pro in the lineup. Look for another 100 yard performance and maybe a TD from Hillman and make sure he’s in your lineup.
I’d start Ronnie Hillman over: Alfred Morris, Eddie Lacy, Lamar Miller, Fred Jackson, Joique Bell
· Joique Bell vs. New Orleans. Last week in Minnesota, fantasy owners finally got to see the Joique Bell they thought they were drafting in the early rounds this season when he totaled 97 yards and a TD. While he looked really good and it was an encouraging performance, Reggie Bush is making is return and will once again steal touches. Bush will be playing with a chip on his shoulder against his old buddies, the Saints, and will lead the team in snaps, touches and yards. The Saints rank 15th in rushing yards against as opposed to 25th in passing yards against so look for the Lions to attack them through the air benefiting the better receiving back in Reggie Bush. Bell is ranked as a solid RB2 around the internet but I see him as a flex option at best this week.
I’d start the following players over Joique Bell: Ronnie Hillman, Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Bishop Sankey, Isaiah Crowell
· James Jones vs. Arizona. I’m not sure what James Jones has to do in order to get some respect. Maybe he’s not getting noticed because he plays for the Raiders, but he’s having a great season under the radar. Jones is on pace for 83 receptions, 1050 yards and 10 TDs. He's the number 18 WR in .5 PPR leagues and has been consistent along the way with 4 games out of 5 that every fantasy owner would want in their lineup. The emergence and presence of Andre Holmes is leaving Jones in 1 on 1 situations. He’s being targeted regularly in the redzone and despite playing with a rookie QB in Derek Carr I don’t see many better QB/WR combos when it comes to executing the 15 yard back shoulder catch and throw down the sideline. He’s being ranked in the 40th WR range in most rankings but I see him no worse than a top 25 WR. The matchup at home against Arizona is actually favorable as the Cardinals shockingly rank dead last in passing yards against (309 yds/g). Make sure James Jones is in your lineup this week and basically every week in leagues that start 3 WR.
I’d Start James Jones over: Mohamed Sanu, Michael Crabtree, Brian Quick, Percy Harvin, Brandon Cooks, Roddy White
· Marques Colston at Detroit. It's unclear to me why Marques Colston, fantasy football's 60th ranked WR in .5PPR leagues continues to be ranked as a WR3 or a top 36 WR. The matchup is as poor as can be as the Saints travel to Detroit, fantasy's number 1 ranked team against WRs. Brandon Cooks emergence onto the scene has bumped Colston to the Saints 4th option in the passing game behind Jimmy Graham (who looks like he may play), Cooks, and running back Pierre Thomas. Furthermore, Colston has had major problems with ball security and drops in the early part of the season. He will remain a threat in the redzone because of his size, but gambling for a score against the NFL's top defense is too risky whether Graham is playing or not. Keep him stashed in case he does have a second half resurgence like he did last season but leave him out of lineups in all formats for the time being.
I’d start the following players over Marques Colston: Anquan Boldin, Allen Robinson, Cecil Shorts, Kendall Wright, Davante Adams, Robert Woods
· Jason Witten vs. New York Giants. It seems crazy that I am allowed to list Jason Witten as a sleeper TE. He’s been one of the most consistently great TEs during his 12-year career, but the fact is that he’s struggled to put up stats this season. However, when I see the film I see the same guy with the same hands and the same knack for getting open. The Cowboys have become a run first team and Witten, as an elite blocker, has been a big part of that. That being said, look for him to get in the endzone in this matchup. Last season in 2 games he scored a whopping 4 TDs against the Giants and in 2012 he had a single game of 18 catches for 167 yards against them so it’s apparent that the Cowboys like to take advantage of the matchup of Witten vs. a Giants LB/Safety. It’s been a frustrating year for Witten owners but plug and play him and you’ll finally get vintage Witten stats.
I’d start Jason Witten over: Antonio Gates, Jordan Reed, Jordan Cameron, Vernon Davis, Travis Kelce, Larry Donnell.
· Antonio Gates vs. Kansas City. Yardage totals of TEs against KC in 2014: Delanie Walker 37 yds, Julius Thomas 39 yds, Charles Clay 21 yds, Rob Gronkowski 31 yds. A few of these guys did get in the endzone but it’s become clear that TEs are completely TD dependent against Kansas City. If you want to start Antonio Gates knowing he’ll most likely be held under 50 yards and sit there all game praying for a redzone TD then be my guest. I’d rather look elsewhere this week for a higher upside option.
I’d start the following players over Antonio Gates: Jason Witten, Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker, Jordan Cameron, Dwayne Allen
That’ll do it for this week everyone. Feel free to comment, criticize and ask any questions you may have on our Facebook page. Listen to our podcast to hear George and I talk more about Week 7.
Good luck in week 7. Except you 6-0 teams. We all hope you finally lose.
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