Start of the Week:
Tom Brady v. New York Jets - #5 in Weekly Rankings
The schedule gods have not been kind to the Jets in terms of the all-star cast of QBs they’ve had to face in consecutive weeks from week 2 to week 6. The QBs are Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning. Having thrown 13 TDs vs. 1 INT, these QBs performed as one would expect they would against a much maligned Jets secondary. Fast forward to week 7. Starting CB Dee Milliner is out for the season and the schedule gods are at it again with a QB that has more Super Bowl rings than all of the above QBs combined, Tom Brady. Since the “Brady is finished” talk began after week 4, he’s responded by averaging 326.5 yards and 3 TDs per game over his last 2, bringing the “time to turn to Garoppolo” talks to a screeching halt. Expect more of the same from both the Jets Defense and Tom Brady.
Dallas Cowboys v. New York Giants - #5 in Weekly Rankings
I hope I’m not over reacting here but I don’t think I am. On the road, the Cowboys just completely shut down the Super Bowl champs. They shut down all of Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin. This marks the 3rd game in a row where they have allowed 17 points or less as a defense. They only forced 1 turnover and had 2 sacks against Seattle, but nothing Seattle did was comfortable and there were plenty of chances for more turnovers. The Giants come into Dallas having allowed 8 sacks last week. They’re now minus their best RB and best WR with Rashad Jennings and Victor Cruz out. Their 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 resulting in multiple sacks, turnovers and maybe a defensive score.
Matthew Stafford v. New Orleans Saints - #10 in Weekly Rankings
If you drafted Matthew Stafford I’m sure you drafted him to be your every week QB that you would plug in and get big points from every week. I’m also sure that if you drafted him and still own him that you’re sick and tired of him, have benched him and even thought about dropping him. I must admit, he’s looked awful. I’m not here to tell you all will be good with him long term. He’s a matchup play at best until Calvin Johnson comes back at full strength, but the good news is that the matchup is right this week. The Saints are ranked 26th against fantasy QBs. They’ve only forced 1 INT thus far and have allowed 9 TDs despite facing some bottom tier QBs (Bridgewater, Hoyer, Glennon). Star safety Jairus Byrd is out for the season and Patrick Robinson’s play has dropped off to the point where he has been demoted to nickel CB. Rob Ryan’s secondary hasn’t been able to figure anybody out and I don’t think they will turn a new leaf on the road against one of the better QBs they will have seen to date in Matthew Stafford.
Buffalo Bills DEF v. Minnesota Vikings - #2 in Weekly Rankings
Teddy Bridgewater looked hopeless last week at home against one of the better defenses in the NFL, the Detroit Lions. His decision making was slow and he lacks the weapons around him to move this offense. It seems as if Norv Turner refuses to do whatever possible to get Cordarrelle Patterson the ball opting to use Jarius Wright as the WR screen and quick hit guy instead. Bridgewater gets to see a Bills defense that had been hot before running into a hall of fame QB on a mission in Tom Brady in week 6. This defense ranks 1st in rushing yards against (67.6 ypg), so the McKinnon/Asiata duo will be in for a tough day. That will leave a lot of responsibility in Bridgewater’s hands as a passer against a team that has 19 sacks, 6 INTs and 4 fumble recoveries. Unless Bridgewater gets off to a hot start, the Bills will smell blood in the water resulting in another sack and turnover fest out of the young Minnesota QB.
Matt Ryan at Baltimore - #18 in Weekly rankings
The effect of the well-advertised injuries on the offensive line in Atlanta was on full display last Sunday. They opposed the Bears, a team that was missing all three of their starting LBs (Briggs, Mclellin, Bostic), a starting DT (Ratliff) and even safety Chris Conte left the game early due to a concussion in the 3rd quarter. The game was supposed to be a shootout but the Falcons were so weak up front that a decimated Bears defense was able to man handle them up front, eliminating the running game altogether by limiting the Falcons to 11 rushes by RBs. The pass rush forced 4 sacks and many more hurries making things uncomfortable all game in a building where only good things have happened in the past for Matt Ryan. Now the Falcons go on the road to Baltimore, a team ranked 10th against opposing fantasy QBs. Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata will feast upon the collection of subpar talent they’ll be up against on the offensive line. Every aspect of Baltimore’s defense should be better than every aspect of the Bears defense that just shut Atlanta down. You drafted Matt Ryan to play every week, but for your fantasy team’s sake, bite the bullet and sit him on the bench this week.
Detroit Lions DEF v. New Orleans Saints - #11 in Weekly Rankings
I can’t say a bad thing about what the Lions have done as a defensive unit this season. They rank 1st in opponents passing yards against and 2nd in opponents rushing yards against. All of the statistics point to this being an elite unit. However, I just can’t help but question whether this team is truly elite. Specifically I question their secondary. Rashean Mathis and James Ihedigbo were half decent players at some point in their careers but they’ve shown to be way past their primes the last couple of seasons. The Lions last three matchups have come against Geno Smith, Kyle Orton, and Teddy Bridgewater and the Jets, Bills and Vikings offenses so excuse me for thinking that their statistics against offenses are somewhat skewed. I will point out that they did completely shut down Aaron Rodgers 4 weeks ago and I have nothing negative to say about that performance. It was an incredible physical display against a struggling offensive line. The Saints also have a struggling o-line but I just have a feeling that a team opposing Drew Brees coming off a bye is a good start as a fantasy defense. I think Brees will get the ball out of his hands quickly equalizing the pass rush and he’ll find a way to exploit the Lions weaknesses in the secondary. I do have the Lions ranked 11th so it is not a must bench. Just be careful and make sure you don’t have any of the 10 teams listed above them available.
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