Week #7: The Inside Slant
John Holler - 10/17/2017
Week 7 typically marks the midway point of the fantasy regular season and this where the separation begins between those who are on their way to a title and those who will be done in Week 13 when most regular seasons end. Games are more critical and there will be a lot of separation coming. The same is true in the NFL and this will be a huge week for teams in contention or on the cusp of falling out of contention.
The week starts with a classic AFC West battle between the Chiefs and Raiders and it is just the start. In the early games, Buffalo looks to stay atop the AFC East when the Bills host Tampa Bay, the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers play their first home game against a resurgent Saints team, Jacksonville looks to bury divisional rival Indianapolis on the road, the Cardinals try to keep their hot streak going against the Rams in London and the Steelers and Bengals renew their divisional war. The week ends with a rematch of the Super Bowl when Atlanta rolls into New England and ends with the Eagles looking to make a statement at home against the Redskins.
Week 7 is often when the wheat and chaff get separated in fantasy leagues and much the same is true in the reality NFL. This year should be no different.
THURSDAY NIGHT GAME
KANSAS CITY AT OAKLAND
Kansas City RB Kareem Hunt – Part of the reason for the Raiders 2017 tailspin has been their complete inability to stop the run game, including DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry (18-69), Bilal Powell and Matt Forte (15-66), Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson (27-87), the combo of C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles (25-128), the pairing of Buck Allen and Alex Collins (33-128-1) and Melvin Gordon (25-83-1 and a receiving TD). It’s not that they’re getting shredded on the ground, but teams are able to control the clock and control the tempo of games, taking the fight to the Raiders and making the most of it.
Oakland WR Michael Crabtree – We’re no longer clumping Amari Cooper as a fantasy starter with Crabtree. The Chiefs are a dominating team, but struggle against top end receivers, including Danny Amendola (6-100), Brandin Cooks (3-88), Alshon Jeffery (7-92-1), Zach Ertz (5-97), Travis Benjamin (5-105), Terrelle Pryor (3-70-1), DeAndre Hopkins (4-52-3) and Antonio Brown (8-155-1). Crabtree has proved to be the big threat. Maybe that will change with Cooper, but, for now, he’s poisonous and Crabtree is the main man.
SUNDAY EARLY GAMES
ARIZONA VS. LOS ANGELES RAMS (at London)
Arizona RB Adrian Peterson – The Rams have had some significant issues with stopping running backs, including Chris Thompson (3-77-2), Carlos Hyde (25-84-2), Ezekiel Elliott (21-85-1 rushing, 4-54-1 receiving) and Leonard Fournette (21-130-1). Peterson made a big splash in his first game with the Cardinals, so he’s likely going to be given every opportunity to make a difference, which is big with a division game against a team that has struggled in that regard.
Los Angeles RB Todd Gurley – The Cardinals have had their share of struggles, but it hasn’t been in terms of limiting running backs to huge days, including Ameer Abdullah (15-30), Frank Gore (14-46-1), Ezekiel Elliott (22-80-1), Carlos Hyde (16-68), LaGarrette Blount (14-74) and Doug Martin (14-53-1). Gurley will be a big test to this trend, but so was Elliott and he was kept in check.
BALTIMORE AT MINNESOTA
Baltimore WRs Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace – Who is the best wide receiver for the Ravens? That’s a good question because nobody has stood out consistently. That’s bad news because, thanks to Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota has shut down elite wide receivers, including Michael Thomas (5-45), Antonio Brown (5-62), Mike Evans (7-67), Golden Tate (3-29), Kendall Wright (4-46) and Jordy Nelson (6-60). The Ravens don’t have a true-go receiver, but much better have been held down as much or more.
Minnesota WR Stefon Diggs – Diggs missed last week’s game and, if he’s out this week, Adam Thielen takes this spot. The Ravens have done a great job of holding down a No. 1 receiver, including A.J. Green (5-74), Corey Coleman (1-9), Allen Hurns (3-20-1), Antonio Brown (4-34), Amari Cooper (1-8) and Kendall Wright (2-36). Minnesota will need to throw to win, but the Ravens don’t give up yards easy and almost never give a touchdown to the top dog in the receiving game.
CAROLINA AT CHICAGO
Carolina QB Cam Newton – The Bears haven’t been great this season, but quarterbacks haven’t lit them up all season, including Matt Ryan (321-1), Jameis Winston (204-1), Ben Roethlisberger (235-1), the combination of Sam Bradford and Case Keenum (176-1) and Joe Flacco (180-0). Newton has been surging lately in the pass game, but too many teams have struggled to put up big fantasy points on the Bears to be ignored.
Chicago QB Mitch Trubisky – The Panthers have struggled with holding down quality quarterbacks, including Drew Brees (220-3), Tom Brady (307-2), Matthew Stafford (229-2) and Carson Wentz (222-3). Nobody is claiming that Trubisky is anywhere close to a quality QB and the Panthers have done a good job of keeping the pedestrian/young QBs in check, but they can be had down field and in the red zone.
CINCINNATI AT PITTSBURGH
Cincinnati PK Randy Bullock – The Steelers have been fantasy poison for kickers all season, posting weekly point totals of 4-3-5-3-6-7 to kickers. Divisional games are typically more prone to kicking field goals because of the familiarity between division teams and that cards are played closer to the vest in order to get points on the board.
Pittsburgh RB Le’Veon Bell – The Bengals have had their struggles against two-headed running backs, including Baltimore (42-157-1), Houston (35-168-1) and Buffalo (23-81). Bell is coming off a 32-carry game and he has a solid history against the Bengals, so he could singlehandedly post the kind of numbers it has taken two or three backs to achieve.
JACKSONVILLE AT INDIANAPOLIS
Jacksonville PK Josh Lambo – The Jaguars cur Jason Myers Monday because he missed too many field goals. The Colts have been routinely and consistently lit up by kickers, allowing a whopping 63 points in six games, including five with nine points or more. The Jaguars are going to have a new kicker Sunday and his job will likely be made easier by the number of opportunities the Colts are allowing.
Indianapolis QB Jacoby Brissett – We keep waiting for Andrew Luck to return, but that hasn’t happened yet and, despite the need for a division win, it looks like Brissett again. The Jaguars pass defense has consistently throttled quarterbacks, including Houston’s Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson (164-1), Marcus Mariota (215-1), Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Ryan Mallett (64-1), Josh McCown (224-0), Ben Roethlisberger (312-0 with five interceptions) and Jared Goff (124-1). The Colts need to win this game very badly to keep pace in the division, but they don’t have the kind of offense that can recover from a big deficit because that’s when the Jags defense is at its best.
NEW ORLEANS AT GREEN BAY
New Orleans WR Michael Thomas – Over the last five weeks, the Packers have allowed big games from the top wide receiver on the opposing team, including Julio Jones (5-108), A.J. Green (10-111-1), Kendall Wright (4-51-1), Dez Bryant (5-52-1) and Adam Thielen (9-97). No. 1 receivers have either posted huge yardage numbers, scored touchdowns or both. Thomas is the main man in the Saints offense and big numbers could be waiting for him as they have for the last five top guys.
Green Bay WRs Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams – The Packers are reeling from the loss of Aaron Rodgers, but the Saints are a defense that has routinely been ripped apart by top receiving threats, including Adam Thielen (9-157), Stefon Diggs (7-93-2), James White (8-85), Rob Gronkowski (6-116-1), Christian McCaffrey (9-101), Golden Tate (7-96-1) and Marvin Jones (6-96-1). Nelson and Adams aren’t guaranteed plays anymore without A-Rog at their disposal, but they aren’t going to turn into a Nebraska offense from the 1950s.
NEW YORK JETS AT MIAMI
New York RB Elijah McGuire – Whether you think the main guy in New York is McGuire, Matt Forte or Bilal Powell, the Dolphins have done a great job limiting opposing featured backs, including Melvin Gordon (9-13-1), the trio of Saints running backs (23-74-0), the combination of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry (18-67-0) and Devonta Freeman (9-68-0). In their first meeting, Powell was the primary running back and, while he scored a touchdown, he rushed 15 times for just 37 yards. The names change in the Jets backfield, but the results have been consistently the same.
Miami PK Cody Parkey – The Jets have been a defense that allows teams to finish drives, not settle for field goals. Through six games, teams have scored 21 times – 17 touchdowns and just four field goals. They’re allowing less than five kicker points a game and even Stephen Gostkowski could manage just six against them.
TAMPA BAY AT BUFFALO
Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin – The Falcons hit Buffalo for a couple of big runs, but, for the most part, the Bills have dominated the ground game, including the Jets tandem of Bilal Powell and Matt Forte (15-38-1), Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey (28-77), the combination of C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles (17-92-1) and the three-headed RB crew in Cincinnati (21-69-1). Martin is due to blow up – it’s his history – but he doesn’t have the ideal play to go up against.
Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor – Taylor isn’t the kind of guy fantasy owners jump to play, but neither was Carson Palmer last week and he did just fine. Quarterback have riddled the Buccaneers defense for big yards and the occasional big touchdown day all season, including Mike Glennon (301-1), Case Keenum (369-3), Eli Manning (288-2), Tom Brady (303-1) and Carson Palmer (283-3). Taylor doesn’t have a lot of big yardage days, but he would be bucking a season-long trend if he doesn’t.
TENNESSEE AT CLEVELAND
Tennessee WR Rishard Matthews – The Browns can't stop the opposing No. 1 receiver, including Antonio Brown (11-182), Jeremy Maclin (4-31-1), T.Y. Hilton (7-153-1), A.J. Green (5-63-1), Jermaine Kearse (4-38-1) and DeAndre Hopkins (2-19-1). If you view someone other than Matthews as the top guy in the Titans pass game, jump on him.
Cleveland WR Kenny Britt – The Titans limited Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton Monday night, but that hasn’t been the norm all season. They’ve been hit hard by wide receivers, including Michael Crabtree (6-83), Amari Cooper (5-62-1), Marquise Lee (7-76), Allen Hurns (6-82-1), Doug Baldwin (10-105-1), DeAndre Hopkins (10-107-1) and Will Fuller (4-35-2). The Browns have struggled to throw the ball all season, but this could be the best shot for a guy like Pryor to start earning his money.
SUNDAY LATE GAMES
DALLAS AT SAN FRANCISCO
Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott – The 49ers are 0-6 in part due to not being able to keep teams from running the ball and, in most instances, running it effectively, including Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey (31-112), Chris Carson (20-93), Todd Gurley (28-113-2), the combination of Frank Gore and Marlon Mack (23-139-1) and the group approach to the Redskins (33-94-1). If this is Elliott’s last ride before his TRO goes away, the 49ers could be the ideal opponent to get the job done.
San Francisco WR Pierre Garcon – The Cowboys have allowed individual players to piledrive them on a weekly basis and far too often, Shane Vereen (9-51), Emmanuel Sanders (6-62-2), Larry Fitzgerald (13-149-1), Todd Gurley (7-94-1) and Davante Adams (7-66-2). Someone has burned them every week, whether it’s a wide receiver, a running back or a tight end. In the 49ers offense, the best option to accomplish that is Garcon.
DENVER AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Denver RB C.J. Anderson – The Chargers have been hit up by running backs for both yardage and averages all season long, including C.J. Anderson (20-81), Jay Ajayi (28-122), Kareem Hunt (17-172-1), LaGarrette Blount (16-136), the Giants three-man RB attack (24-144-1) and Marshawn Lynch (13-63). Anderson is the main man in the Broncos backfield and, given their history, Anderson could be in line for some sweet gravy this week.
Los Angeles RB Melvin Gordon – Last Sunday, the Broncos got routinely gashed by the troubled Giants offense, which is reason for concern, but they have been a dominating run defense and have shut down people consistently, including Ezekiel Elliott (9-8), Shady McCoy (14-21) and Marshawn Lynch (9-12). That list also includes Gordon, who played Denver in Week 1 and managed just 54 yards on 18 carries, giving some credence to the thought that he’s going to have to earn everything he gets.
SEATTLE AT NEW YORK GIANTS
Seattle TE Jimmy Graham – The Giants simply can’t keep tight ends out of the end zone. It happens every week to them, including Jason Witten (7-59-1), Eric Ebron (5-42-1), Zach Ertz (8-55-1), Cameron Brate (4-80-1), O.J. Howard (2-63-1), Hunter Henry (3-42-1) and Jeff Heuerman (2-24-1). Eventually a tight end won’t score against the Giants, but until it happens, Jimmy looks like the golden ticket.
New York RB Orleans Darkwa – Seattle is known for its defense and have been hit hard all season on the ground, including Ty Montgomery (19-54-1), Carlos Hyde (15-124), the combination of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry (27-169-1), the collective from Indianapolis before they got blown out in the second half and abandoned the run (25-98-1) and the Rams (22-100-1, despite holding Todd Gurley in check). Only the desperate will play Darkwa, but the points are there to be had.
SUNDAY NIGHT GAME
ATLANTA AT NEW ENGLAND
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan – The Patriots have been hammered by quarterbacks great and not so great all year, including Alex Smith (368-4), Drew Brees (356-2), Cam Newton (316-3), Jameis Winston (334-1) and Josh McCown (354-2) through the air and both Newton and rookie Deshaun Watson ran for touchdowns. Ryan is an assassin through the air and, given the Patriots weaknesses, he may be ready to slam them with 40 or more passes and huge numbers.
New England RB Mike Gillislee – Jay Ajayi ripped up the Falcons for 130 yards on 26 carries last week, but the Falcons have done a strong job of containing running backs, including Jordan Howard (13-52-1), Ty Montgomery (10-35-1), Ameer Abdullah (14-47-0) and LeSean McCoy (20-76-0). Gillislee is the main fantasy back in New England’s backfield, but the Pats are much more likely to throw – and not get 28 points behind this time around.
MONDAY NIGHT GAME
WASHINGTON AT PHILADELPHIA
Washington WR Terrelle Pryor – The Eagles have played strong defense all season, but have struggled badly against No. 1 receivers, including Travis Kelce (8-103-1), Odell Beckham Jr. (9-79-2), Keenan Allen (5-138) and Kelvin Benjamin (9-99). In their first meeting in Week 1, Pryor was limited more than most – six catches for 66 yards. It could be argued that Jordan Reed belongs in this spot, so if you have him, you may want to consider giving him a long look in this spot instead of Pryor because big things are there for the taking.
Philadelphia TE Zach Ertz – The Redskins have had problems containing tight ends from having solid fantasy days, including Gerald Everett (3-95), Jared Cook (4-43-1) and Travis Kelce (7-111-1). That list also includes Ertz, who caught eight passes for 93 yards in their first meeting. At this point, Ertz is one of the top fantasy tight ends in the game and the Redskins could be his latest victim.
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