[sc name=”Author – Chris Mangano”]
Welcome to our Week 7 matchups analysis and starts/sits column for fantasy football. We’ll be covering every matchup from every Sunday game to help you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups.
I’ll be on Reddit each Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to answer all your start/sit questions as well. You can also reach me directly on Twitter @ChrisMangano if you can’t wait.
Let’s get to the matchups for Week 7!
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Week 7 NFL Matchups – 1:00 PM ET Games
Important note and credits about data used in this article:
- All snap counts taken from Football Outsiders. Adjusted line yards also taken from Football outsiders. You can read more here.
- Success rate is taken from Sharp Football Stats (Warren Sharp). You can read more about it here.
- Wide receiver snap percentages and corner grades/stats are taken from Pro Football Focus.
Buccaneers at Bills
Matchups We Love:
Cameron Brate (TE, TAM)
Brate is now the teams clear go-to tight end and draws a good matchup against a Bills defense that ranks dead last in success rate and is giving up 8.7 YPA (29th). While they have only given up the third fewest points to the position, Brate has seen at least six attempts over the last three games and has eight red zone attempts over the last four. He is an easy start this week.
Tyrod Taylor (QB, BUF)
The Buccaneers present one of the best defenses to start a quarterback against. They are allowing 8.2 YPA, a 57% success rate on passes and have given up 10 touchdowns versus four interceptions. They have allowed the seventh most fantasy points to the position and rank dead last in adjusted sack rate so Taylor should face very little pressure in this one. He makes for a great streaming option for quarterback-needy teams.
Jordan Matthews (WR, BUF)
Matthews looks ready to return from his hand injury and draws a great matchup against slot corner Robert McClain. On the season McClain is allowing 89% of targets to be caught and is giving up 11.3 YPA. If Matthews is healthy and involved he should have a great day. He is a risky flex play with upside.
Matchups We Hate:
Jameis Winston (QB, TAM)
Winston reportedly has an AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder and is day-to-day but is expected to suit up. If that isn’t enough reason to worry, he will have to go against a Bills defense that is allowing just 6.7 YPA, a 47% success rate on passes, and has given up just two touchdowns versus eight interceptions. They are also allowing the second fewest fantasy points to the position. Winston should be left on benches if possible.
Doug Martin (RB, TAM)
Martin has looked great since returning from his suspension but draws a tough test against a Bills defense that ranks sixth in adjusted line yards and is allowing the 10th fewest fantasy points to the position. Martin has seen 13 and 14 carries in his two games back, and two red zone carries in each. He should be in the RB2 discussion based on volume against a tough defense.
Mike Evans (WR, TAM), DeSean Jackson (WR, TAM)
Evans and Jackson each play 89% of their snaps on the outside and will battle E.J. Gaines and Tre’Davious White. Combined Gaines and White have allowed just 30% of targets against to be caught and one total touchdown. Allowing just 14.36 PPR points per game this duo is one of the best. Evans is a must start regardless of matchup while Jackson is nothing more than a boom/bust WR3.
Charles Sims (RB, TAM) has seen 12 targets over his last two games and should continue to be used in the passing game against a Bills defense that ranks 24th in success rate on throws to backs and is allowing 6.4 YPA (20th). He is a low end flex play in PPR formats. Adam Humphries (WR, TB) draws the best matchup out of the slot against Leonard Johnson. Johnson is allowing 71% of targets to be caught but just 8.2 YPA. Humphries has seen at least seven targets in three of the last four games and makes for a flex in deep PPR formats.
While the Buccaneers do a fairly good job of limiting running backs on the ground, ranking 14th in adjusted line yards, they struggle against pass-catching backs. LeSean McCoy (RB, BUF) continues to get 20 plus touches and could do plenty of damage through the air against a defense ranking 22nd in success rate on throws to backs and allowing 6.8 YPA. McCoy should be used heavily in the passing game with the abscence of Charles Clay and is a must start. Zay Jones (WR, BUF) draws a favorable matchup against outside corners Vernon Hargreaves and Brent Grimes who are allowing 71% of targets to be caught and giving up 13.7 YPA. Jones has yet to see more than six targets in a game but he could be a flex play for teams in need. Nick O’Leary (TE, BUF) saw six targets as the Bills starting tight end with Charles Clay out and caught five passes for 54 yards. The Buccaneers are tough against tight ends ranking 14th in success rate but allowing just 5.7 YPA (2nd). O’Leary is a low-end TE2 at best.
Ravens at Vikings
Matchups We Love:
Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN)
After being the odd-man out with Case Keenum at quarterback for three weeks, Rudolph has seen nine targets in each of the last two games and has once again become a big part of this passing game. With Stefon Diggs set to miss his second straight game, Rudolph should once again see plenty of targets. The Ravens are one of the friendliest tight end matchups allowing the third most points to the position and giving up a touchdown per game. Rudolph is an easy TE1.
Matchups We Hate:
Joe Flacco (QB, BAL)
Flacco can’t be trusted in a good matchup so you should definitely be sitting him this week in a bad one. The Vikings allow just 6.8 YPA, a 50% success rate on throws, and have given up eight touchdowns versus seven interceptions. They rank 13th in adjusted sack rank and are surrendering just the sixth fewest fantasy points against to boot. Bench Flacco, please.
Javorius Allen (RB, BAL), Alex Collins (RB, BAL)
This backfield is a weekly nightmare for fantasy owners, as one week it’s Allen dominating the usage and the next it’s Collins. Luckily this week is easy, just avoid them both. The Vikings rank 10th in adjusted line yards and are allowing the second fewest points to running backs. They also excel at stopping pass catching backs ranking second in success rate and giving up just 4.3 YPA (4th). Both backs should be benched if possible.
Case Keenum (QB, MIN)
Keenum has been a capable fill-in for Sam Bradford but draws one of the toughest matchups against a stout Ravens defense. The Ravens allow just 7.1 YPA, a 42% success rate on throws and have given up nine touchdowns versus nine interceptions. They rank sixth in fantasy points allowed to the position. Keenum is a low-end QB2 in Week 7.
Jeremy Maclin (WR, BAL) draws the best matchup against slot corners Terrance Newman and Mackensie Alexander. Newman and Alexander are allowing 71% of targets to be caught and giving up 10.7 YPC. Unfortunately Maclin is not 100% and has only seen more than six targets in one game. The matchup should put him in the WR3 discussion but he comes with risk. Mike Wallace (WR, BAL) has yet to practice but remains adamant he will play. Playing 87% of snaps outside he’ll square off against Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. Rhodes is a stud allowing just 50% of targets to be caught for 9.6 YPC. Waynes presents a better matchup giving up a 71% catch rate and 13 YPC. Wallace has only seen eight targets combined in the last two games and remains nothing more than a PPR flex play. With Maclin sidelined in Week 6, Benjamin Watson (TE, BAL) saw a team high eight targets. He could once again lead the team in targets against a Vikings defense that ranks 19th in success rate and allows 6.9 YPA (14th) while giving up the 13th most points to the position. Watson is a TE2 and a viable streamer.
Jerick McKinnon (RB, MIN) continues to split carries with Latavius Murray (RB, MIN) but is dominating in targets and production. The matchup this week is good as the Ravens rank 12th in adjusted line yards and are allowing the fifth most fantasy points to backs. Since they lost stud interior lineman Brandon Williams this run defense has been gashed. They also struggle against pass catching backs ranking 17th in success rate and giving up 7 YPA (25th). McKinnon is a great PPR start while Murray could have low end flex value in standard formats. With Stefon Diggs (WR, MIN) out another game, Adam Thielen (WR, MIN) will play less in the slot and move around the field more. In Week 6 with Diggs out, Thielen’s slot percentage dropped from 64% to 45%. The Ravens secondary is great allowing the third fewest points to the position so it will be difficult wherever he lines up. Thielen did see 13 targets without Diggs and will likely be heavily involved again but owners should temper expectations against a tough defense.
Jets at Dolphins
Matchups We Love:
Jay Ajayi (RB, MIA)
Ajayi has seen 51 carries over his last two games and looked great in Week 6 against the Falcons. The Jets are giving up the fourth most points to the position, and rank just 18th in adjusted line yards. Ajayi is a must start this week.
Jarvis Landry (WR, MIA)
The matchup with the Jets is just OK as they rank 16th in points allowed to the position and corner Morris Claiborne has played quite well. What makes this such an appealing spot for Landry is the absence of DeVante Parker (WR, MIA). Since Parker got hurt in Week 5, Landry has seen a 40% target share and should continue to be the favored target of Cutler. He is a must start.
Matchups We Hate:
Matt Forte (RB, NYJ), Bilal Powell (RB, NYJ), Elijah McGuire (RB, NYJ)
With Powell out in Week 6, Forte saw nine carries iwhile McGuire saw 10, but Forte had eight targets to zero. Powell is set to return from his calf injury which just makes the backfield more muddled. The Dolphins are a tough matchup ranking fifth in adjusted line yards and allowing the sixth fewest points to the position. None of these backs can be trusted this week.
Josh McCown (QB, NYJ) now has 14 or more points in four out of six games and gets a decent matchup against a Dolphins defense allowing 7.4 YPA, a 54% success rate and six touchdowns versus just one interception. They do a good job pressuring the quarterback, ranking 11th in adjusted sack rate, and are only allowing the ninth most fantasy points, but McCown should still be a viable streaming option for teams in need. Robby Anderson (WR, NYJ) leads the team in yards but has caught just 18 of 41 targets. Outside corners Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley are allowing 73% of targets to be caught but just 9.6 YPC. Anderson is a boom/bust play. Jermaine Kearse (WR, NYJ) has only seen more than five targets twice but continues to be a safe PPR play with a limited ceiling. That should be the case again this week against Howard and Tankersley. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, NYJ) has been one of the most feel-good stories of the young season. He has seen 19 targets and three red zone targets over his last two games and has asserted himself as the Jets primary target. The Dolphins do a good job against tight ends, ranking 11th in success rate and giving up just 5.9 YPA (5th) while allowing the 18th most points to the position. Still, Jenkins is in must-start territory at this point.
Jay Cutler (QB, MIA) has yet to score more than 13 fantasy points and draws an OK matchup against a Jets defense allowing just 6.5 YPA and a 45% success rate, but have given up 11 touchdowns through the air. Because of all the touchdowns they rank 21st in fantasy points allowed. The Jets pass rush is almost non-existant which should work in Cutler’s favor, still he has had better matchups with little success this season and should be considered barely a QB2. Kenny Stills (WR, MIA) can be viewed as a desperation flex play with Parker out. Stills caught all four of his targets and scored a touchdown as the number two receiver last Sunday. The Jets outside corners of Claiborne and Darryl Roberts are combining to allow just 56% of targets to be caught but are allowing 11.4 YPC.
Cardinals at Rams
Matchups We Love:
Adrian Peterson (RB, ARI)
After looking like he had nothing left, Peterson exploded in Week 6 with 26 carries and ran like his old self. The Cardinals appear committed to using him and he gets a great matchup this week against a Rams defense that ranks 16th in adjusted line yards and is giving up the most points to running backs. He is a must start.
Jared Goff (QB, LAR)
Goff has struggled the last two weeks against tougher defenses, but gets a Cardinals defense that is allowing 7.4 YPA, a 46% success rate and have given up 13 touchdowns versus six interceptions. They are poor at rushing the passer as well ranking just 29th in adjusted sack rate while giving up the fourth most fantasy points to the position. Goff makes for a good start this week.
Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)
After seeing 15 targets in the previous two games, Kupp saw just three last Sunday as the Rams pounded the Jaguars on the ground. That number should improve as he gets to attack this Cardinals secondary were they are most weak, the slot. Slot corner Tyrann Mathieu is allowing a 70.8% catch rate while giving up 12.9 YPC. Kupp makes for a great start.
Robert Woods (WR, LAR)
Woods now appears to be the teams number one receiver with at least six targets in the last four games. With Patrick Peterson likely shadowing Sammy Watkins, Woods will get to matchup against Justin Bethel. All Bethel is doing this year is allowing a 62% catch rate, 17 YPC and six touchdowns. Woods makes for a great spot start and could continue to have value going forward.
Matchups We Hate:
Sammy Watkins (WR, LAR)
Watkins draws the dreaded Patrick Peterson matchup. If that’s not bad enough, he has only seen more than four targets in a game twice. Watkins should be left on benches this week and is trending towards drop status.
Todd Gurley (RB, LAR)
Gurley is a weekly must start, but owners should temper expectations as he plays a Cardinals defense that ranks fourth in adjusted line yards and is allowing the ninth fewest points to the position. Gurley saw only one target in Week 6 and could find it tough in the passing game again as the Cardinals rank fourth in success rate against pass catching backs and allow just 5 YPA (7th).
Carson Palmer (QB, ARI) continues to be a solid fantasy start, but gets just an OK matchup this week against a Rams defense that is allowing 7.2 YPA, a 44% success rate and has given up eight touchdowns versus seven interceptions. The Rams also do an excellent job rushing the passer ranking seventh in adjusted sack rank. Allowing just the 16th most fantasy points to the position, and likely being under pressure most of the game, means Palmer owners should temper expectations. After three solid weeks, Andre Ellington (RB, ARI) was relegated to watching the Peterson show seeing a season low one target. Game script didn’t help as the Cardinals were crushing the Buccaneers, but with the return of John Brown, and Peterson’s involvement, Ellington is back to being a low-end flex in PPR formats only. Larry Fitzgerald (WR, ARI) has just an OK matchup against slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman who is allowing a 71% catch rate but giving up just 6.3 YPC. Still, Fitzgerald is weekly start and a target monster. John Brown (WR, ARI) is once again the teams clear-cut number two option and is second on the team in target share since returning from injury. The matchup is not great as outside corners Trumaine Johnson and Kayvon Webster are allowing just 57.8% of targets to be caught but are allowing 14.8 YPC. Brown is in the WR3 discussion. Jermaine Gresham (TE, ARI) has seen only four targets and zero red zone targets over the last two games. He should not be started in any format.
Gerald Everett (TE, LAR) has seen three targets in each of the last three games and four red zone targets. The Cardinals are not good at stopping tight ends, ranking 29th in success rate, allowing 7 YPA (15th) and giving up the seventh most points to the position. Still, Everett is nothing more than a desperation dart throw who will need a touchdown to pay off.
Jaguars at Colts
Matchups We Love:
Blake Bortles (QB, JAC)
Bortles gets one of the best matchups in Week 7, drawing a Colts defense that allows 8.6 YPA, a 52% success rate on throws and nine touchdowns versus seven interceptions. The Colts should also offer little in the way of pressure as they rank 25th in adjusted sack rate. Giving up the seventh most fantasy points to the position makes Bortles a solid streaming option in deeper leagues and a viable play in two-quarterback and superflex formats.
Leonard Fournette (RB, JAC)
Fournette suffered an ankle injury late in the game in Week 6, but reports are he could have come back in the game. He hasn’t practiced yet this week so owners should have backup plans ready. If he does start he will be playing against a Colts defense that ranks 24th in adjusted line yards and is allowing the 18th most fantasy points to the position. Fournette is a weekly must start and should be in all lineups if he’s on the field.
Frank Gore (RB, IND), Marlon Mack (RB, IND)
The Jaguars are a reverse funnel defense, meaning teams have success running the ball but not throwing. On the season they rank 31st in adjusted line yards and are allowing the sixth most fantasy points to the position. Gore has seen at least 10 carries in every game this season and should be a solid RB2 play. With Robert Turbin’s season likely over, Mack should see an uptick in work but remains little more than a low-end flex play.
Matchups We Hate:
Allen Hurns (WR, JAC)
Hurns has seen just three targets in three of the last four games, and now must contend with slot corner Nate Hairston. Hairston has been a bright spot for the Colts giving up a 56% catch rate and just 8.6 YPC. Hurns is best left on benches.
Jacoby Brissett (QB, IND)
Brissett has been an adequate replacement for Andrew Luck, but has to go against the toughest pass defense in the league. The Jaguars are allowing just 5.8 YPA, a 43% success rate and have given up four touchdowns versus 10 interceptions. They are also the best team at pressuring the quarterback. Anyway you look at it, Brissett is in for a long day and should be left on benches if possible.
T.Y. Hilton (WR, IND), Donte Moncrief (WR, IND)
The Jaguars are this years “no fly zone.” With stud corners Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye receivers are averaging just 11.67 points against this defense. As pointed out by Graham Barfield, Hilton has only had four top 24 PPR scoring weeks without Andrew Luck and is unlikely to add to that this week. Moncrief, meanwhile, has been a major disappointment and dropped an easy touchdown in Week 6. Both should be avoided if possible.
Chris Ivory (RB, JAC) remains an elite handcuff and has stand alone value as a low-end flex play in deeper leagues. While owners should not expect 10 targets ever again for Ivory, this team is committed to the run enough that he gets his share of work. If Fournette were to sit he would instantly vault into low end RB2 territory. Marqise Lee (WR, JAC) is coming off a 10 target game but has only seen more than seven targets one other time. Still, he is Blake Bortles’ number one receiver and gets an OK matchup against outside corners Vontae Davis and Rashaan Melvin. Davis and Melvin have combined to allow a 58% catch rate and 10.3 YPC. Lee is little more than a flex. Since erupting for three touchdowns in the Week 3 London tilt, Marcedes Lewis (TE, JAC) has seen just eight total targets and two red zone targets (zero over his last three games). He should not be started in any format.
Jack Doyle (TE, IND) now has seven or more targets in three of five games and gets an OK matchup against a Jaguars defense that ranks 14th in success rate and is allowing the seventh most points to the position. With the Jaguars corners locking down the Colt receivers, Brissett could rely on his tight end in this one. He makes for a solid TE2 play.
Saints at Packers
Matchups We Love:
Matchups We Hate:
Coby Fleener (TE, NO)
Fleener has seen just 10 targets over the last four games and draws a Packers team that ranks 14th in success rate, but is allowing the fewest YPA and points allowed to tight ends. Fleener should be left on benches.
Drew Brees (QB, NOS) is coming off his worst game of the season throwing for just 186 yards with two interceptions. He should rebound this week against a Packers defense allowing 7.1 YPA, a 51% success rate on throws and eight touchdowns versus four interceptions. Without Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram (RB, NO) ran wild seeing 25 carries and receiving another five targets. He should continue to handle the bulk of the work but does face a Packers defense that is tough against the run ranking eighth in adjusted line yards and allowing just 3.8 YPA. Still, he’s a locked in must start from here on out. Alvin Kamara (RB, NO) also benefited from Peterson’s absence seeing a season-high 10 carries to go with four targets. The Packers struggle against pass catching backs, ranking 26th in success rate and allowing 5.7 YPA (14th). Kamara is a solid start this week in PPR formats.
Michael Thomas (WR, NO) saw a season low six targets coming off the Week 5 bye but should rebound against a Packers secondary allowing the 12th most points to wide receivers. Thomas lines up all over the field so he’ll get chances against the Packers relatively weak secondary. Ted Ginn (WR, NO) has yet to see more than six targets in a game and will remain a boom/bust flex option. In a good matchup this could be a week he booms. Willie Snead (WR, NO) made his season debut but played just 23% of snaps as he was nursing a hamstring injury. The Packers will likely use Kevin King in the slot after Quinten Rollins was placed on IR. King has allowed a 54.5% catch rate and 11 YPC. Snead may not see a full usage of snaps just yet and remains little more than a deep league flex play at the moment.
Brett Hundley (QB, GB) will be making his first start in place of Aaron Rodgers. While the Saints defense has been better than expected, this still isn’t a must avoid matchup. They are allowing 7.9 YPA, a 51% success rate and nine touchdowns versus seven interceptions. One area they are good in is pass rush, ranking 10th in adjusted sack rate. Hundley makes for a decent streaming option for teams in need.
It’s anyone’s guess how this Packers backfield will unfold as Ty Montgomery (RB, GB) had 10 carries and three targets in Week 6 while Aaron Jones (RB, GB) had 12 carries and four targets. This could likley remain a 50/50 split and the Saints are a decent run-stopping unit ranking 17th in adjusted line yards and allowing the 14th fewest points to the position. Both Montgomery and Jones should be considered flex plays unless one can assume control of the backfield.
Jordy Nelson (WR, GB) was targeted on 26.4% of Hundley’s throws last week. While the Saints have been playing better defense of late, they are still allowing the 10th most points to the position. While Nelson certainly takes a hit without Aaron Rodgers, his value should remain high even with Hundley. Davante Adams (WR, GB) led the team with a 29.4% share of Hundley’s targets but draws a somewhat tough matchup against outside corners Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley. Lattimore and Crawley are allowing just 52% of targets to be caught for 10.6 YPC. Still, if Adams remains Hundley’s favorite target he should have WR2 value. Randall Cobb (WR, GB) has the best matchup out of the slot, but was only targeted on 8% of Hundley’s throws. Slot corner Kenny Vaccaro is giving up a 66.6% catch rate and 12.4 YPC. Unfortunately Hundley may not use the middle of the field enough to make Cobb more than anything but a flex play. Martellus Bennett (TE, GB) has a good matchup against a Saints defense that ranks 18th in success rate, allows 8.1 YPA (24th) and is giving up the 20th most points to the position. The problem is he was a forgotten man with Hundley under center, seeing just 2.9% of his targets. Bennett come with plenty of risk in a plus matchup.
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Panthers at Bears
Matchups We Love:
Matchups We Hate:
After a slow start, Cam Newton (QB, CAR) has resembled his old self the last two weeks but does draw a bit of a difficult test this week against a Bears defense allowing just 6.5 YPA, a 47% success rate on throws and ranking seventh in adjusted sack rate. They have given up eight touchdowns versus just two interceptions, however. Newton should be considered a low end QB1. Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR) is turning into a nice PPR asset as he now leads the Panthers with 38 targets in the games Greg Olsen has missed. He should continue to dominate through the air as the Bears rank 17th in success rate against throws to running backs and are allowing 5.1 YPA (10th). Jonathan Stewart (RB, CAR) has been seeing less snaps with the emergence of McCaffery, but the good news for his owners is when he is out there he is getting the ball. Still, this run-blocking unit looks terrible and Stewart doesn’t look elusive. You hopefully have better options.
Kelvin Benjamin (WR, CAR) is coming of a 13 target game, but had only averaged five targets in the previous five games. He also popped up on the injury report and missed Wednesday and Thursday’s practices with a knee injury but looks on track to play. The matchup isn’t great as the Bears are allowing the 13th fewest points to wide receivers. Benjamin is a shaky WR3. Since Greg Olsen’s injury, Devin Funchess (WR, CAR) has 36 targets and has seen at least eight targets in every game. Against a stingy Bears secondary he can’t be considered more than a low end WR3/flex play. Ed Dickson (TE, CAR) continues to see his targets rise as he’s had four, five and eight over his last three games. The Bears are just an OK matchup ranking third in success rate but allowing 7.6 YPA (20th) and giving up the 13th fewest points to the position. Dickson remains a TE2.
Mitchell Trubisky (QB, CHI) will be making his second career start and gets an OK matchup against a Panthers defense that allows just 6.5 YPA, but is giving up a 53% success rate on throws and 10 touchdowns versus one interception. They do possess a fierce pass rush, ranking fourth in adjusted sack rate, so Trubisky will likely be under pressure a lot in this one. Trubisky is nothing more than a low-end QB2. Jordan Howard (RB, CHI) has now seen at least 18 carries in four straight and is coming off a 36 carry game. Carolina is a tough run defense but may be without stud linebacker Luke Kuechly. If Kuechly is out Howward will get a big boost, otherwise this is a tough spot and owners should temper expectations. Tarik Cohen (RB, CHI) has yet to see over four targets since Week 2 and remains a PPR flex play only, though he would also get a bump if Kuechly were to sit. With Kuechly the Panthers are solid against pass catching backs allowing just 4.7 YPA (5th). Zach Miller (TE, CHI) looks like Trubisky’s safety blanket and has now posted double-digit PPR points in back to back games. The Panthers are just an OK matchup, ranking 21st in success rate and allowing 6.7 YPA (12th). They are giving up the 13th fewest points to the position and that keeps Miller in the high-end TE2 range.
Titans at Browns
Matchups We Love:
Marcus Mariota (QB, TEN)
Mariota will be making his second start since missing one game with a hamstring injury and gets a dream matchup against the league’s worst pass defense. The Browns are allowing 7.9 YPA, a 53% success rate on throws and have given up 14 touchdowns versus just four interceptions. Mariota should build on his Week 6 performance and is a locked in start.
Rishard Matthews (WR, TEN), Eric Decker (WR, TEN)
It looked like Matthews was going to be shadowed by Jason McCourty, who is currently PFF’s highest graded corner, but McCourty tweaked his ankle in practice and seems unlikely to play. If McCourty sits, the Browns will either move slot corner Briean Buddy-Calhoun to the outside or use Michael Jordan, a special teamer who was a waiver claim earlier in the year. The Browns only other outside corner, Jamar Taylor, has allowed a 75.8% catch rate and 15.3 YPC. Whoever ends up replacing McCourty doesn’t matter, Matthews and Decker will have a big advantage.
Delanie Walker (TE, TEN)
Walker has seen at least five targets in every game but one and has 20 over his last three games. The Browns are a dream matchup for tight ends as they rank 31st in success rate, allow 7.3 YPA (17th) and are giving up the second most points to the position. Walker is questionable this week with a calf injury and didn’t practice on Friday so owners should be prepared. If he can’t play, Jonnu Smith (TE, TEN) will be a great replacement.
Ricardo Louis (WR, CLE)
Louis has led the Browns receivers in targets four straight weeks and has yet to see less than six targets during that stretch. Louis lines up all over the field and the Titans are one of the friendliest secondaries allowing the ninth most points to the position. Louis can be a great flex option for teams hurting this week.
Matchups We Hate:
DeMarco Murray (RB, TEN), Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)
Murray and Henry continue to split the work even with Murray dealing with a hamstring issue that he’s had since preseason. Murray seemed to aggravate the hamstring in the second half which is a big reason why Henry had 19 carries to his 14. Regardless of how they are used this week the matchup is tough as the Browns are a funnel defense. They rank second in adjusted line yards and are allowing the 11th fewest points to running backs. If Murray plays he can be considered a low-end RB2 in PPR while Henry will be a flex. If Murray sits Henry will vault into RB2 status in all formats.
DeShone Kizer (QB, CLE) has been given a second chance at starting and faces a weak Titans defense that is allowing 6.9 YPA, a 50% success rate on throws and 13 touchdowns versus four interceptions. The Titans are also poor at putting pressure on quarterbacks ranking 30th in adjusted sack rate. If Kizer is going to have a strong game this is the week. Still, given what we’ve seen so far it’s hard to trust him as anything more than a low-end QB2. Isaiah Crowell (RB, CLE) continues to be Hue Jackson’s preferred back despite his inefectiveness. The Titans are just an average run-stopping unit ranking 20th in adjusted line yards and 15th in points allowed to the position. Crowell has only seen more than 12 carries twice all year and should be left on benches if possible. Duke Johnson (RB, CLE) has now seen at least five targets in every game but one, but remains nothing more than a flex option in PPR formats. The Titans rank 13th in success rate against pass catching backs but are allowing 7.3 YPA (27th) so opportunity may be there for Johnson this week. The Browns tight end timeshare is a mess for fantasy owners as Seth DeValve (TE, CLE) and David Njoku (TE, CLE) continue to split the work. For the first time this year Njoku out-targetd DeValve but it’s hard to say this will be a trend. For now, both should be avoided if possible.
NFL Week 7 Matchups – 4:00 PM EST Games
Cowboys at 49ers
Matchups We Love:
Dak Prescott (QB, DAL)
So much for a sophomore slump for Prescott, he’s been every bit as good in 2017 as he was in 2016. This week should be no different as he gets a 49ers defense allowing 7.9 YPA, a 52% success rate on throws and nine touchdowns versus four interceptions. Allowing the eighth most fantasy points to the position, Prescott is a must start.
Dez Bryant (WR, DAL)
Bryant leads the Cowboys with a massive 27% target share and nine red zone targets through five games. The 49ers pose little resistance as their outside corners are allowing a 62% catch rate, 12.4 YPC and have given up five touchdowns. Bryant is an easy WR1 play.
Cole Beasley (WR, DAL)
Beasley has seen at least five targets in every game but one, and makes for a good PPR flex start against slot corner K’Waun Williams who is allowing 75.6% of targets to be caught for 8.5 YPC.
Carlos Hyde (RB, SF)
A week after taking a backseat to Matt Breida, Hyde was once again the main back getting 13 carries and six targets. The Cowboys rank 29th in adjusted line yards and are allowing the ninth most fantasy points to the position. Hyde looks like a great start for Sunday.
Pierre Garcon (WR, SF)
Garcon has seen double-digit targets in four of six games and gets a matchup against a Cowboys secondary that is allowing the seventh most points to wide receivers. Even with Beathard set to make his first NFL start, Garcon should be heavily involved and makes for a safe play, especially in PPR formats.
George Kittle (TE, SF)
If Kittle is on your waivers this may be your last chance to grab him before he breaks out. He’s seen 17 targets over the last two weeks and gets a Cowboys defense that ranks 23rd in success rate and allows 8.1 YPA (25th). Kittle has seen seven red zone targets the last two weeks as well and looks primed for a breakout.
Matchups We Hate:
Jason Witten (TE, DAL)
The 49ers defense doesn’t do much well, but one area they are good at is stopping tight ends. They rank 1st in success rate, allow just 6.3 YPA (10th) and are tied with the Packers for fewest points allowed to the position. Witten may likely be the odd-man out as the Cowboys wide receivers have their way with this secondary.
Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL) somehow continues to dodge his suspension and will play this week against a 49ers defense that ranks 11th in adjusted line yards but is allowing the second most fantasy points to running backs. He’s had over 20 touches in every game but one this year and is a locked in must start. Terrance Williams (WR, DAL) will get chances against a terrible 49ers secondary but has averaged just over four targets a game. He is little more than a desperation flex play in PPR formats.
Rookie C.J. Beathard (QB, SF) will be making his first NFL start and it’s in a good spot against a Cowboys defense that allows 7 YPA, a 55% success rate on throws and 11 touchdowns versus just two interceptions. Their pass rush is OK, ranking 12th in adjusted sack rate, but Beathard should get plenty of chances in a clean pocket. The Cowboys are giving up the fourth most points to the position, and if it was anyone but a rookie making his first start he’d be a matchup we love, but we’re tempering expectations for one week. A week after getting 10 carries, Matt Breida (RB, SF) got just four but did receive four targets. He now has at least four targets in three of his last four games and offers low-end flex value in deep PPR formats.
Broncos at Chargers
Matchups We Love:
C.J. Anderson (RB, DEN)
Anderson saw just nine carries in Week 6 as the Broncos came out of the bye and got throttled by the Giants. He has seen 20 or more carries in three out of five games and should be in for another heavy workload against a Chargers defense that ranks dead last in adjusted line yards and is allowing the 11th most points to the position. Anderson is a solid start.
Demaryius Thomas (WR, DEN)
Thomas is likely to be shadowed by Casey Hayward who was a stud in 2016 but has struggled thus far in 2017. Hayward is only allowing a 55% catch rate but is giving up 16.7 YPC and has surrendered two touchdowns. Coming of a game in which he caught seven of seven targets for 115 yards against Janoris Jenkins, and without Emmanuel Sanders in the lineup, Thomas makes for an easy WR1 play.
Hunter Henry (TE, LAC)
It’s official, Henry has been able to do what no other tight end could for the last 14 years, supplant Antonio Gates (TE, LAC) as the team’s number one tight end. Over the last two weeks Henry has 15 targets to Gates’ four, and four red zone targets to Gates’ one. If there is an area to attack this Broncos defense it is with the tight end. The Broncos rank 26th in success rate, allow 7.9 YPA (21st) and are giving up the sixth most points to the position. Henry is a TE1 this week and rest of season.
Matchups We Hate:
Melvin Gordon (RB, LAC)
In the two games Branden Oliver has missed, Gordon has 20 and 25 carries and eight and 12 targets. In the four games Oliver has played Gordon has yet to see more than 18 carries and averaged just over four targets. Oliver is healthy and not on the injury report, and Gordon draws a tough matchup against a Broncos defense that ranks third in adjusted line yards and is giving up the fewest points to the position. Gordon is a must start regardless of matchup but owners should temper expectations.
Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)
Yes, Allen had a nice fantasy day in week one against this defense, but he caught just five of 10 targets for only 35 yards, a touchdown saved his day. To make matters worse, he hurt his shoulder in practice on Thursday and is now a game-time decision. You likely can’t sit him, but with him not 100% and in a tough matchup owners should temper expectations.
Trevor Siemian (QB, DEN) and the Broncos looked flat coming out of the bye and could struggle once more against a Chargers defense allowing just 6.9 YPA and a 48% success rate on throws. They are also great at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks ranking fifth in adjusted sack rate. Siemian should be viewed as a mid range QB2 in Week 7. Jamaal Charles (RB, DEN) has only seen double-digit carries once and offers little value. The coaching staff did come out this week and say they want to get him more involved, but actions speak louder than words. He should be kept on benches. Don’t be fooled by Devontae Booker’s (RB, DEN) six targets. He beneffited greatly from the negative game-script. While he should have a role in the passing game which could expand, he is still worth little more than a bench stash in very deep leagues. With Emmanuel Sanders out, Bennie Fowler (WR, DEN) should get plenty of targets. Sanders and Thomas combine for a 53% target share and Fowler will benefit from his absence. The Chargers secondary is allowing the sixth most points to wide receivers which makes Fowler a flex option. A.J. Derby (TE, DEN) seems to have passed Virgil Green (TE, DEN) but will be hard to trust against a Chargers defense allowing the third fewest points to the position. Derby is a desperation play only.
Phillip Rivers (QB, LAC) threw for three touchdowns in the teams Week 1 meeting and will look to duplicate that against a defense allowing 6.3 YPA, a 47% success rate on throws and ranking ninth in adjusted sack rate. While this is no longer a defense that is a must avoid, it’s still a tough test and Rivers owners should temper expectations. Tyrell Williams (WR, LAC) has fallen off the fantasy radar with just five targets over the last two games. He cannot be started in any formats in a tough matchup. Rookie Mike Williams (WR, LAC) made his NFL debut in Week 6 but saw just one target. He could eventually overtake T. Williams and is worth a stash in deep leagues but still can’t be started in any format.
Bengals at Steelers
Matchups We Love:
Matchups We Hate:
Andy Dalton (QB, CIN)
The Steelers pass defense has been terrific this year allowing just 5.9 YPA, a 46% success rate on throws and four touchdowns versus five interceptions. They also rank second in adjusted sack rate so Dalton will be under immense pressure behind a suspect offensive line. Against a defense giving up the third fewest points to the position Dalton is a tough start.
A.J. Green (WR, CIN)
Green is seeing a 32% target share and should continue to see a heavy dose of Dalton’s passes with no other real receiving threats on this offense. The Steelers are a tough unit against the pass and are giving up the fewest points to wide receivers, but Green is a weekly must start regardless of matchup. Still, owners should temper expectations.
Tyler Kroft (TE, CIN)
Kroft has replaced Tyler Eifert as the teams tight end and has seen 16 targets over the last three games. Unfortunately the Steelers present a tough matchup as they rank 28th in success rate but allow just 5.8 YPA (3rd) and give up the sixth fewest points to the position. Kroft is a low-end TE2 this week.
Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)
Roethlisberger’s struggles will likely continue against a Bengals defense that allows just 5.7 YPA and a 40% success rate on throws. Like Dalton, Roethlisberger will likely be under pressure all game against a defense that ranks sixth in adjusted sack rate. The Bengals are giving up the seventh fewest points to the position and Roethlisberger should likely remain on benches.
Antonio Brown (WR, PIT)
Brown is a stud, arguably the best receiver in the game, but draws a tough matchup against a Bengals secondary that is allowing the fifth fewest points to the position. Corner Adam Jones is doubtful which will help Brown’s cause as Jones has historically been one of his toughest matchups. Still, Brown is matchup proof and is a must start regardless of who is covering him.
Since being named the starter, Joe Mixon (RB, CIN) has had at least 15 carries in every game. Unfortunately he has not looked good running behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines. This week he faces a Steelers defense that ranks 7th in adjusted line yards but is allowing the sixth most points to the position. Mixon could get it going this week but still remains a low-end RB2. Giovani Bernard (RB, CIN) and Jeremy Hill (RB, CIN) are barely relevant at the moment as neither has seen more than seven opportunities since Mixon took over the starter role.
Le’Veon Bell (RB, PIT) looked like a man possessed last Sunday running wild all over the hapless Chiefs defense. Things will be tougher this week against a Bengals unit that ranks 19th in adjusted line yards but is allowing the fifth fewest points to the position. Bell is still a must start in all formats. JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT) has now passed Martavis Bryant (WR, PIT) for second on the Steelers passing chart. His matchup with slot corner Darqueze Dennard is just OK as Dennard is allowing a 58.8% catch rate and 10.1 YPC. Schuster has only seen more than four targets twice and remains a distant third in the pecking order behind Brown and Bell. Bryant, meanwhile, continues to be a boom/bust option who has busted more than boom. As the fourth option he remains nothing more than a desperation flex play. Jesse James (TE, PIT) was not targeted in Week 6 and has not seen a red zone target since Week 3. He is a touchdown or bust hail mary play and should be left on benches if possible.
Seahawks at Giants
Matchups We Love:
Jimmy Graham (TE, SEA)
After a slow start to the season, Graham now has 25 targets over the last three games and should be fully healthy coming out of the bye. The Giants are one of the best matchups on the slate as they allow 8 YPA (22nd) and give up the most points to the position. Graham is a top five TE play.
Matchups We Hate:
Eli Manning (QB, NYG)
Drawing a tough matchup against a Seahawks defense that allows just 6.2 YPA, a 43% success rate on throws and just four touchdowns against five interceptions, Manning is a risky start and should be avoided if possible. The Seahawks allow the fourth fewest points to the position as well. Bench Manning.
Russell Wilson (QB, SEA) draws an OK matchup coming off the bye against a Giants defense that allows just 7 YPA and a 42% success rate on throws, but has given up 11 touchdowns versus just three interceptions. One thing in Wilson’s favor is the Giants lack of pass rush, ranking 24th in adjusted sack rate. Wilson is a solid start. Prior to the Week 6 bye, Eddie Lacy (RB, SEA) saw nine carries, Thomas Rawls (RB, SEA) saw eight and J.D. McKissic (RB, SEA) got five targets. With the return of C.J. Prosise (RB, SEA), McKissic is likely back to irrelevance while Lacy and Rawls cannot be trusted. This is a backfield to avoid at the moment until we get some clarity. Doug Baldwin (WR, SEA) has been a disappointment to start the year with just one game of double-digit targets. Seemingly healthy and coming out of the bye, he is in a good spot against slot corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who is allowing an 81% catch rate and 10.7 YPC. Baldwin has to be viewed as little more than a WR2 until we see more. Paul Richardson (WR, SEA) and Tyler Lockett (WR, SEA) continue to split the number two role as Richardson saw eight targets over the last two games before the bye and Lockett nine. Lockett is probably the preferred play this week as Richardson plays 57% of snaps on Janoris Jenkins’ side. Still neither can be trusted for more than a low-end flex start.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of Week 6 was Orleans Darkwa (RB, NYG) running wild on the Broncos defense turning 21 carries into 117 yards. He looks poised as the team’s number one and gets an OK matchup against a Seahawks defense that ranks 15th in adjusted line yards but is allowing the eighth fewest points to the position. Owners may not have better options but he should be viewed as a flex play. Positive game script all but eliminated Shane Vereen (RB, NYG) in Week 6 but he should have PPR value on those weeks when the Giants are down. This could be one of them and he should be considered a deep flex play. Wayne Gallman (RB, NYG) has at least nine carries in the last three games but offers little value at the moment with Darkwa seemingly being “the guy.” Still he’s worth keeping on benches in case his role increases. Sterling Shepard (WR, NYG) returns after missing one game with an ankle injury and should take over as the Giants number one receiver. It remains to be seen if he will continue to play from the slot, or if the Giants will move him around more with Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall done for the season. Regardless, the Seahawks pose a matchup problem for receivers as they are allowing the eighth fewest points to the position. Shepard should see targets but is likely just a flex play in a tough matchup. In the Giants’ first game without Beckham, Evan Engram (TE, NYG) led the team with seven targets. He should continue to be one of the teams top targets and gets an OK matchup against a Seahawks defense that ranks fifth in success rate but is allowing 6.9 YPA (13th) and the 17th most points to the position. Engram is a TE1 from here on out and needs to be started every week.
NFL Week 7 Matchups – Sunday Night Football
Falcons at Patriots
Matchups We Love:
Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)
If there’s anything we’ve learned this season it’s to start your players against the Patriots. This defense is allowing an abysmal 8.8 YPA, a 57% success rate on throws and has surrendered 14 touchdowns versus just five interceptions. Even with Ryan struggling to start the year he is a must start in Week 7 and should be a top five option.
Devonta Freeman (RB, ATL), Tevin Coleman (RB, ATL)
If you have players going against the Patriots defense just start them. Don’t even think about it just do it. This is a unit that is ranked 30th in adjusted line yards and is allowing the third most points to the position. They are also terrible stopping pass catching backs ranking 31st in success rate and allowing 8.3 YPA (32nd). Freeman is a locked in RB1 while Coleman could be considered a low-end RB2 or high end flex.
Julio Jones (WR, ATL)
If it wasn’t for Amari Cooper’s dreadful start (prior to Thursday night’s game, of course), Jones may be considered the biggest “bust” of the 2017 fantasy season. He’s only seen more than seven targets in two games and has yet to score a touchdown. Like Cooper, he is in a get-right spot this week against a Patriots secondary that is allowing the third most points to receivers and will be without Stephon Gilmore. If Jones can’t do it this week it is officially panic time.
Danny Amendola (WR, NE)
Amendola gets the best matchup of the Patriots receivers against slot corner Brian Poole. Poole is allowing a 75% catch rate and 9.6 YPC. Amendola has been a sneaky-good PPR player with three games of 15 or more points. He could make it a fourth this week.
Matchups We Hate:
Many people are going to view this game as a shootout and think Tom Brady (QB, NE) is in a great spot, but really the matchup is just average. The Falcons allow just 6.2 YPA and a 45% success rate on throws. One area they struggle in is pass rush, which should make Brady’s day easier. Regardless, Brady is a weekly must start no matter the defense. Another year, another confusing backfield for fantasy owners. Mike Gillislee (RB, NE) had 10 carries before fumbling and being benched. James White (RB, NE) only got three carries but was targeted seven times, the fourth time this year he has had at least seven targets. The biggest surprise, however, was Dion Lewis’ (RB, NE) increased role seeing 11 carries after the Gillislee benching, but no targets. To make things even tougher, Rex Burkhead (RB, NE) is set to return from injury. The Falcons are a good matchup, ranking 26th in adjusted line yards and allowing the ninth most points to the position, but it’s hard to predict who will be the running back of choice this week. White seems like the safest bet as a PPR flex play, while Gillislee, Lewis and Burkhead will likely battle for early down work.
Brandin Cooks (WR, NE) plays 84% of snaps on the outside and will have to contend with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. Trufant and Alford are allowing a 56% catch rate and 11.2 YPC. In what should be a high scoring game Cooks is a solid start in all formats. Chris Hogan (WR, NE) will also primarily play on the outside with Amendola healthy and is a solid option as well, especially in standard formats were he is always a threat for a touchdown. He is tied with Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE) on the team with nine red zone targets. The Falcons do a good job stopping tight ends, ranking second in success rate, allowing just 6.6 YPA (11th) and giving up the sixth fewest points to the position. Still, Gronkowski is as matchup proof as any tight end in history and is a must start every week he is on the field.
Mohamed Sanu (WR, ATL) will return from his hamstring injury that sidelined him for two and a half weeks. In the first three games he saw at least six targets and posted double-digit PPR points in each. In a great matchup, Sanu is an easy flex play in PPR formats. Taylor Gabriel (WR, ATL) saw 13 targets in the two games Sanu missed, but only 13 in the prior three games Sanu played combined. He should take a backseat to Sanu once again and is nothing more than a boom/bust desperation play. Austin Hooper (TE, ATL) has a good matchup against a Patriots defense that ranks 25th in success rate, allows 7.1 YPA (16th) and is giving up the third most points to the position. The concern here is in the three games with Sanu in the lineup Hooper saw just two targets each game. He saw 16 in the two games Sanu missed so Hooper owners have to hope the last two weeks helped develop a connection with Ryan if he is going to take advantage of the matchup.