Fantasy Football Week 7: Must Play, OK, No Way

Like many fantasy football experts out there last year I wrote a weekly article with starts and sits for the upcoming week. Even as I write my own starts and sits I still like to look around the fantasy football writers landscape and one thing I always notice that I have never liked is the title “Start em or Sit em” or any variation of that title. After think long and hard about it this offseason I’m going to do something a little different for my starts and sits in 2015. A new lay out because sometimes just start and sit don’t tell the full story.

Instead of just a “start” and a “sit” section I will break down players into three different categories this season: “Must Play,” “OK,” and “No Way.”

“Must Play”

Player appearing in this section are guys I will be starting if I own them no matter what and you should too. These players are the ones I feel most confident, outside our stud list on ffchamps, in placing into my line up and not looking back.

“OK”

Guys I feel like could contribute to your squad for the current match up, but if you decide to play them temper your expectations because  while they have the potential to have a huge week they will need some things to go their way to live up to it. These guys will be more of a flex play or QB2/RB3/WR3.

“No Way”

Basically the “sits” of the new format. Guys who I wouldn’t put into my line up even if I was in bye week hell. I’m avoiding them at all costs for the week.

Also don’t ever forget one of our biggest rules at FFChamps.com:

Commandment #10: Thou shall ALWAYS start thy Studs

QB: Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers (BYE), Matt Ryan

RB: Le’Veon Bell, Matt Forte (BYE), Eddie Lacy (BYE), Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson

WR: Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Randall Cobb (BYE), Julian Edelman, Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green (BYE), T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins , Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas (BYE)

TE: Martellus Bennett (BYE), Tyler Eifert (BYE), Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen

WEEK 7 BYES:

Chicago Bears: Jay, Cutler, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett

Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton, AJ Green, Gio Bernard, Jeremy Hill, Tyler Eifert

Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, D/ST

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Randall Cobb

So without further ado let’s take a look at who is a “Must Play,” who’s just “OK,” and who is a “No Way” for week 7!

“MUST PLAY”

  • Blake Bortles QB JAX
    • JAX vs BUF Sunday 930AM (London)
    • “From the University of Central Florida, standing six foot five inches tall, your 5th highest scoring fantasy quarterback in 2015; BLAKE BORTLES!” Blake has been killing it this year. Double-digit points in his last 5 games, and over 20 in 3 of those 5. He’s thrown multiple touchdowns in 4 games this year; last season Bortles had just 2 games with multiple scoring passes in 14 attempts. Last week we saw how much better Julius Thomas can make this offense and Bortles has to be loving just another weapon to the Allen’s: Hurns and Robinson. The Bills are allowing QBs to average over 18PPG on them and they have given up the 3rd most passing touchdowns (13) in the NFL this year. Buffalo has allowed 5 of 6 QBs to pass for multiple TDs on them this year and every quarterback managed to hit double-digit points to this point.
  • Philip Rivers QB SD
    • SD vs OAK Sunday 405PM
    • After a 500 yard performance what could Rivers do for an encore this weekend against the Raiders? Rivers has at least one TD pass in every games this year and has multiple strike in 5 of 6. The Raiders have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in 4 of their 5 games this year. Oakland has allowed at least one passing TD to AFC west QBs in 18 of their last 20. Rivers has thrown at least 1 touchdown pass against the Raiders in 16 of 18 career games and hasn’t had a game without a scoring strike since 2007. Don’t expect Rivers to drop back damn near 70 times again but he will be throwing enough with the Raiders being a bottom half team at stopping the passing game, and with the Chargers o-line unable to get a push in the rushing game, expect Rivers to put this team on his back for most week the rest of the way.
  • Latavius Murray RB OAK
    • OAK @ SD Sunday 405PM
    • The Chargers have given up the 2nd most rushing yards in the NFL this year (733) and 3rd most rushing touchdowns (6). San Diego is also in the bottom 10 in receptions and receiving yards allowed to backs and are worst in the league having given up 3TDs via the air to backs this year. Latavius Murray has had a good season overall to this point despite playing down the last few weeks before his bye. Murray has one game over 100 yards on the ground this year and 2 more where he had at least 80 yards from scrimmage.This is his 1st career appearance against the Raiders and in his 5 career games versus AFC west competition he is averaging over 12PPG (PPR) with 2 rushing scores over those 5 games. San Diego is bottom 2 against the run but top 2 against the pass. Oakland will have to rely on a heavy dose of Murray to win this week and I believe that will be their game plan coming in since the Chargers have allowed 4 of 6 starting backs to hit the century mark on the ground and every RB1 they’ve faced has hit at least 94 scrimmage yards and 5 of 6 RBs scoring a TD.
  • Todd Gurley RB STL
    • STL vs CLE Sunday 1PM
    • What do the following names have in common: Eddie Lacy, Demarco Murray, Lamar Miller, Mark Ingram, and Marshawn Lynch. Give up? All theses guys have played in more games than Todd Gurley and all have fewer rushing yards. 3 of those 5 guys have played every game for their team and still haven’t been able to accumulate more than Gurley’s 316 rushing yards. Gurley has played in 3 games but the 1st game he didn’t have many touches and just 9 rushing yards; the last 2 games Gurley played (weeks 4 and 5) he lead all backs with 49 carries for 307 yards. He was also 2nd in yards after contact (Le’Veon Bell 1st) and 5th in forcing missed tackles. This kid is the truth! Those numbers he’s posted came against the Packers and Cardinals, both teams in the top half at stopping the run; while this week Gurley faces the Browns a team in the bottom 5 in fantasy points allowed to RBs this year. The 887 yards that Cleveland has given up on the ground is by far the worst in the NFL, over 100 more yards than the 2nd worst Chargers. I mean if a guy like Dexter McCluster can rush for 98 yards; a career high and most since 2011, just imagine how bad Gurley will tear them apart.
  • Martavis Bryant WR PIT
    • PIT @ KC Sunday 1PM
    • Bryant played in his first game of 2015 last week and man did he make some magic happen for his owners. He was catching passes from the Steelers 3rd string QB and Bryant was able to torch a very good Cardinals secondary for 137 yards and 2 scores. Now Bryant has the pleasure of taking on the Chiefs aka the WORST  defense at stopping the passing game. Kansas City has allowed at least 1TD to an opposing wide receiver in 5 of 6 games, and the one game no wide out scored on them they allowed the top 2 WRs go for better than 60 yards including one over 100. Some people may be hesitant with Landry Jones in at QB to use Bryant but after last week why would you even have pause? Last week Bryant caught 5 of Landry Jones’ 8 completions for 81% of Jones’ total passing yards (136 of 168) and both his touchdown passes. When you may be missing Alshon Jeffery, AJ Green, Randall Cobb, or Demaryius Thomas you need to take a chance on someone having a big game to replace your stud and Bryant could be that guy.
  • Brandin Cooks WR NO
    • NO @ IND Sunday 1PM
    • There has been lots of head scratching and questions about Cooks this season.  He’s had just one game with 100+ yards and has scored just once in his first 6 games in 2015, but Cooks got off to a slow start last year as well. Cooks didn’t have a game with more than 80 yards in 2014 until his 7th game. He scored 2 of his 3 touchdowns between weeks 8 and 11 (when he got hurt and missed the rest of the season) and he had his two highest yardage outputs in that same range after week 8. Cooks had 3 single-digit games and 3 double-digit games (PPR) in his first 6 weeks both last year and this and in 2014 he posted 20+ in 2 of his next 3 games. If Cooks is going to replicate his 2nd half run of 2014 this year, this is the week to get hot. The Colts are giving up the 5th most fantasy points to WRs; including the 2nd most TDs with 9 through 6 games. In Indianapolis the Colts have allowed at least one 100-yard receiver and at least 1TD to a wide out in each of their 3 home games this year and in their last 5 games, Indy has allowed every teams top 2 wide receivers to go for double-digits in PPR formats. Start Cooks with confidence this week; Willie Snead should also pay off big this Sunday.
  • Antonio Gates TE SD
    • SD vs OAK Sunday 405PM
    • Gates is a great option at tight end most weeks but especially this coming Sunday. Not only is Gates on a team that will be passing first, but he is still at least in the elite conversation at the position and when you have every week starters like Eifert and Bennett off this weekend a guy like Gates on your team is huge. Oh and he’s playing the Raiders who are still the worst team in the league at stopping tight ends. Oakland is still the only team to be allowing more than 20PPG (PPR) to tight ends this year. In 4 of 5 games this year the Raiders have allowed at least 80 yards and 1 score to the opposing starting TE; including two games over 100 yards. Gates has played in 2 games this year and has 9 catches for better than 90 yards in both and has scored twice. Gates also has a good history versus the Raiders going for at least 50 yards and/or 1TD in 7 of his last 10 contests with Oakland.

“OK”

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick QB NYJ
    • NYJ @ NE Sunday 1PM
    • Just like Rodney Dangerfield, Ryan Fitzpatrick gets no respect. While Fitzpatrick isn’t blowing the doors off defenses like Andy Dalton or Carson Palmer, he has been extremely consistent (like always) while playing on what could be the quietest top 10 offensive unit that I can remember; 8th in yards per game and 7th in PPG. Fitzpatrick isn’t going to throw for 300 yards frequently; just 10 games of 300+ in his career, but he will still get you fantasy points. Multiple touchdowns in 4 of 5 games this year and just 1 game with more than 1 pick. Fitzpatrick may have beaten the Patriots just once in seven chances but he is averaging 291 yards per game with 2TDs per contest as well. The Patriots have allowed multiple passing scores in 3 of their last 4 games and QBs are averaging 16PPG in Foxboro this season. If you need to replace Dalton or Rodgers this weekend, you could do a lot worse than Fitzpatrick in a game that will require him to throw as the Patriots will still put up better than 30 like virtually every week this year.
  • Eli Manning QB NYG
    • NYG vs DAL Sunday 425PM
    • Eli had one of the worst games of his career last week in Philadelphia. The stats may not have been his worst but he just looked lost. It was the 6th time since the start of 2010 he’s thrown for under 200 yards and multiple interceptions. The last 5 times he’s posted those numbers he’s had multiple TD strikes in 3 of the 5 following weeks; at least 1TD in each of those 5 games, and went over 250 yards in 3 of 5 with just 1 game under 200 yards. So Eli will already be looking to bounce back big, but he has the Cowboys on his home turf this week and when he played Dallas the first time this week I think we wall remember his poor mental decisions as that game closed. More reason for Eli to have a big game. Manning is already averaging a stat line of 253-2-1 in 22 career games with the Cowboys and in his last 5 home meetings with Dallas, Eli has thrown for multiple TDs four times and has gone over 300 yards 3 times. Dallas may have just allowed 9 passing touchdowns this year but they have just 2 interceptions (2nd fewest in the NFL) and 3 of the last 4 QBs have gone for at least 275 yards and all had multiple TDs.
  • Demarco Murray RB PHI
    • PHI @ CAR Sunday 830PM
    • Demarco Murray finally put together a game last week that his owners have been expecting since week 1. It was Murray’s first 100-yard rush game in an Eagles uniform and he’s now scored on the ground in 2 straight weeks. For as bad as Murray has looked at points he does have 4 games with double-digit fantasy points (PPR) in 5 played including 18+ in 3 of those contests. While Murray has scored 20+ in each of his last two games, they were against two bottom 10 teams versus RBs so what can we expect this week against the Panthers? Carolina is definitely better at stopping backs than both the Giants and Saints (Murray’s last 2 opponents) but the Panthers are still just middle-of-the-road giving up 26PPG (PPR). When taking on backs who can catch out of the backfield the Panthers don’t seem to have an answer. They let Doug Martin, Charles Sims, Mark Ingram, and Khiry Robinson all rack up double-digit points. Marshawn Lynch was able to score his first TD of the year on the Panthers as well; that coming last week. Murray has multiple catches in every game this year and four or more catches in 3 of 5. Murray is getting hot and he showed last year when he gets hot he’s hard to stop. The Panthers can stop the pass and I expect that which means a heavy does of Murray.
  • LeSean McCoy RB BUF
    • BUF @ JAX Sunday 930AM (London)
    • Shady came back early from his hamstring issues last week with Karlos Williams on the shelf and all of McCoy’s owners collectively held their breaths as Shady got his first touch. Then he ripped off better than 30 yards and continued strong the rest of the day. McCoy posted his best day as a Bill last week against the Bengals; 90 yards and a score on the ground while catching 2 balls for a few extra yards, and now McCoy faces a much softer rush defense in the Jacksonville Jaguars. Teams are running against the Jags the 7th most in the league, and have allowed the 3rd most rushing TDs and 2nd most total TDs to running backs this year. The last 4 starting RBs to face the Jags have scored double-digit fantasy points (PPR). Hell the 2 of the last 4 2nd string running backs scored double-digit points as well. Without Karlos Williams in the line up, McCoy will see virtually all the Bills rushing attempts this weekend and having Tyrod Taylor back can only help.
  • Stefon Diggs WR MIN
    • MIN @ DET Sunday 1PM
    • Diggs has been getting hot the last few weeks. He’s been Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite target the last 2 games getting 19 total targets over that period; only Mike Wallace also have double-digit targets over that period. Diggs is a rookie out of Maryland with hands, speed, and strength. He’s gone for 87 yards and 129 yards respectively in hist first 2 NFL games. The first game between the Lions and Vikings this year Diggs did not play in but he has to be licking his chops knowing the Lions are giving up the 6th most points per game to WRs at over 41 per contest. In 3 games at home this year, Detroit has allowed at least one WR to catch a touchdown pass on them while allowing 8 of 12 wide outs who caught at least one pass to go for 50+ yards. Diggs doesn’t have a big body of work to this point but if Bridgewater continues to look towards Diggs like he has the past few games this kid could be special the rest of the way and into the future.
  • Julius Thomas TE JAX
    • JAX vs BUF Sunday 930AM (London)
    • Thomas was back in the Jags line up 2 weeks ago but didn’t do much catching just 2 passes for 20 yards; however last week Thomas lit it up on the field catching 7 passes for 78 yards and a score. He lead Jacksonville in targets with 13 and with defenses having to key in on Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson as well as keeping rookie running back TJ Yeldon honest, Thomas will see plenty of open looks this week and throughout the rest of 2015. This week Thomas happens to get the Buffalo Bills who have allowed the 6th most catches (34) and 4th most TDs (3) to tight ends as well as 323 yards through 6 games. The Bills have allowed 4 or more catches to starting TEs in 4 of 6 games this year and 3 of 6 TEs have went for double-digits in PPR formats. Thomas will get his looks again and with Allen Robinson banged up, Thomas could see an increase from his 13 targets last week.

“NO WAY”

  • Sam Bradford QB PHI
    • PHI @ CAR Sunday 830PM
    • You’d think after seeing the Eagles win 27-7 last Monday Night that the offense is coming along, and in some ways they are but Bradford isn’t progressing how Philadelphia fans or fantasy owners would have liked at this point. Bradford has had maybe a game and a half total out of 6 games that he’s looked good. He has 9 picks already this year; 2nd most in the NFL and 2nd most in his career through his first 6 games in a season. He has multiple picks in 4 of 6 games this year and his 4 games giving away the ball more than once is already tied for a season-high. Bradford’s 13.8PPG is 5th worst among QBs who have started at least 5 games this year. The Panthers defense has been playing at a high-octane level this year and their secondary may be the most underrated in the league. They are one of four teams to have more interceptions than touchdowns allowed to QBs and they are tied for the league-lead with just 5 passing TDs allowed through 6 weeks of NFL action. They’ve forced at least 1 turnover by a QB in all but one game this season.
  • Any Chiefs RBs
    • KC vs PIT Sunday 1PM
    • We still don’t have a clear idea of who is going to take over this spot with Charles down. Both West and Davis looked extremely bad last week. Yes they faced a top 10 unit at stopping RBs from scoring fantasy points, but this week the face the Steelers who are a top 5 defense vs backs this year. The Steelers are one of two teams who haven’t allowed a single touchdown of any kind to a back. Stay away from this backfield until we have a clearer picture as well as a softer match up.
  • Ameer Abdullah RB DET
    • DET vs MIN Sunday 1PM
    • The Minnesota Vikings have allowed just 2 running backs to go for double-digits; that’s standard and PPR scoring. Carlos Hyde went off week 1 and since then the Vikes have gotten their rush defense together and just one back (Ronnie Hillman) has gone for over 100 yards since the opening week on Minnesota. Abdullah was off on a tear in the preseason and he had a great game week 1 going for just under 100 yards from scrimmage and a score. Since then Abdullah has 199 yards from scrimmage in 5 games; that’s fewer than 40 total yards per game. Oh and he’s found the end zone just once in those 5 weeks as well. We saw Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Golden Tate seem to get the Lions offense back on the rails last week so once teams have to stop what this passing attack can be than maybe Abdullah can get going but until then I don’t trust him. He’s already faced Minnesota this year and Ameer managed a whopping 18 yards on 7 touches. I’ll take my chance with him on my bench this week.
  • Kendall Wright WR TEN
    • TEN vs ATL Sunday 1PM
    • Wright has had 2 big games this year; going for over 100 yards and a score week one and finding the end zone again in week 3 to go along with 95 yards. He totaled 11 catches between those two performances as well. However in the 3 games he didn’t score or go for over 95 yards, Wright has combined for 9 catches for 80 yards and no touchdowns. Wright has had more than 6 targets in a game just once in 2015; he had 20 games out of 30 in 2013 & 2014 with more than 6 looks. Now the Titans may be without Marcus Mariota for this one with Atlanta and Zach Mettenberger will fill in if Mariota can’t go. Mettenberger had legit playing time in 6 games last year and went for double-digits 4 times; however 3 of those 4 games came against 3 of the worst pass defenses of the year. This week the Titans passing game has a tough competition with the Falcons. While Atlanta is horrific against the run, they are actually a top 5 unit at stopping wide outs. The only touchdown and 100-yard game the Falcons have allowed on the road to WRs both came to Odell Beckham Jr. New QB and facing a team that can stop the pass but not the run, hmmm … yeah, avoid Wright this week.
  • Torrey Smith WR SF
    • SF vs SEA Thursday Night 830PM
    • This year Torrey Smith has been to wide receivers in fantasy football what Jeremy Hill has been to running backs: a headache! Now you didn’t draft Smith anywhere near where you took Hill but still Smith has had easy match ups; i.e. week 4 against the Giants who are a bottom 10 team against WRs and Torrey managed just 5 points in that one. He’s putting up 2 points in a game or 20. He’ all over the board but don’t let last week fool you. He was taking on a bottom 5 team in the Ravens and that game was also a revenge factor. While the Seahawks don’t seem to be playing defense like we’re used to seeing the last few years, they are still a top all teams at slowing down wide outs having allowed just 1TD in 6 games while also leading the league with just 724 yards given up to WRs.

Follow me on twitter @thepprmonster and let me know how you like the new format!

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