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Cassel, Winslow smart plays Week 7
We’re six weeks into the season, meaning that the Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed tool has meaningful sample sizes. The bye weeks continue, making matchup-hunting a popular and necessary strategy.
Please keep in mind that the players listed are mostly meant to be borderline guys, who need reasons for you to play or bench them. You won’t see a recommendation to start Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson, because you should always start Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson. Make sense? Good.
Note: The fantasy points referenced below are from FOXSports.com standard leagues.
Week 7 Byes: Bills, Bengals, Patriots, Giants, Eagles, 49ers
Stay away: Kevin Kolb, Cardinals (vs. Steelers)
Kolb is averaging 256 passing yards per game, making him a tempting bye-week start. However, the Steelers have been shutting down opposing quarterbacks, giving up just 18 completions, 174 yards and 12.8 Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG). You should be able to find a better QB option. We’ll even suggest one for you a couple of paragraphs down.
• Mark Sanchez has averaged just 162 passing yards over his last three games, and this week the Jets host the Chargers, who rank in the top third of the league with 16.7 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Keep the Sanchize on your fantasy bench this week.
Play, play, play: Matt Cassel, Chiefs (at Raiders)
There will be plenty of hoopla surrounding Carson Palmer’s Raider debut on Sunday, but he’s probably not going to be the best fantasy quarterback on the field. Palmer’s teammates rank 29th in the league with 23.5 fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs, and even though Jackie Battle looked pretty good in Week 5, the Chiefs’ running game is suspect without Jamaal Charles. Cassel might have to throw quite a bit for them to have a chance, and should put up solid numbers.
• Bears QB Jay Cutler may have told offensive coordinator Mike Martz to go $#@! himself on Sunday night due to a constant lack of protection, but Cutler has been putting up solid fantasy numbers this season, throwing eight touchdown passes and averaging 246 yards. On Sunday in London, Cutler will throw against the slightly below average Bucs’ defense (19.6 FPPG to opposing QBs). The local fans might not have any idea what’s going on when Cutler has another strong outing, but we will.
Stay away: Peyton Hillis, Browns (vs. Seahawks)
Hillis might miss the game with a hamstring injury, and if he does, this warning goes for Montario Hardesty as well. The Seahawks are pretty good against the run, allowing just 16.6 FPPG to opposing running backs, and just a shade over three yards per carry. Bet the under on this game, and don’t expect the Browns to do much damage on the ground.
• James Starks is a solid platoon back, but he’s had just one game with more than 63 yards on the ground, and hasn’t carried the ball more than 13 times. The Vikings’ penchant for giving up rushing touchdowns has them allowing 20 FPPG to opposing backs, but they’re permitting just 76.5 yards per game to those backs, which ranks fifth in the NFL. Combine that with the here-to-stay Starks/Ryan Grant timeshare, and you probably want to keep Starks on the bench under most circumstances this week.
Play, play, play: DeMarco Murray, Cowboys (vs. Rams)
Is Murray a superstar in the making? Probably not, and his offensive line isn’t very good at opening holes. However, the Rams’ run defense has been getting shredded, giving up a league-worst (by a lot) 161.8 yards rushing yards per game. Murray has been the most popular add this week on FOXSports.com, and with good reason. He’s a solid fantasy start in Week 7.
• Are you giving up on Ryan Torain after his gigantic disappointment in Week 6? Go ahead, but I’m sticking with him. The Redskins will start John Beck at quarterback, so they’ll probably want to run the ball to take pressure off him. The Panthers haven’t been very good against the run, giving up a league-high 28.3 points to opposing running backs. If Tim Hightower wasn’t around, Torain would be one of fantasy’s best starts in Week 7. Even with Hightower posing a threat, Torain is worth playing as a bye-week replacement. Don’t break my heart, Mike Shanahan.
Stay away: Santonio Holmes, Jets (vs. Chargers)
Holmes has caught a TD pass in each of the last two games, but has pedestrian totals of 20 receptions and 287 receiving yards for this season. This week, he faces a Chargers’ defense that has allowed just 13.1 FPPG (second in the league) to opposing wideouts. If you want to bet on a Holmes breakout, you might want to wait a couple of weeks.
• Arizona’s Early Doucet has been a somewhat popular free-agent pickup since his eight-catch, 92-yard (and 17-target) performance in Week 5. However, the Cardinals apparently spent the bye week figuring out ways to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald more often, and as we mentioned in Kevin Kolb’s entry above, the Steelers are very strong against the pass. They’ve allowed a league-low 12.7 FPPG to opposing wide receivers, and if Fitz’s workload picks up, that won’t leave much room for Doucet to succeed.
Play, play, play: Mike Williams, Buccaneers (vs. Bears)
Williams has been a fantasy disappointment this season, with 25 catches for 242 yards and a score through six games. However, he’s been targeted eight, nine and 13 times over the last three games, and faces a very average Bears’ passing defense this week (21.2 FPPG to WRs). Tampa Mike is going to break out one of these weeks, and you won’t want him on the fantasy bench when that happens.
• We mentioned above that the Seahawks’ defense has been strong against the run, but they’ve been subpar against the pass, permitting 24 FPPG (19th in the league) to opposing wide receivers. Greg Little is quickly becoming a featured performer in the Browns’ offense, catching six passes in each of his last two games, and getting 12 targets in Week 6. Whenever Colt McCoy throws this week, Little is likely to be his first option. Play him if you have him.
Stay away: Jared Cook, Titans (vs. Texans)
With the Patriots’ twin tight end monsters on a bye this week, many fantasy owners will be looking for a temporary fill-in. You might be tempted to grab Cook in the wake of his 80-yard touchdown in Week 4 and his four-reception, 59-yard game in Week 5. Beware, because the Texans have been stingy against opposing tight ends, allowing fewer than three receptions and just 4.3 FPPG. You can do better than Cook.
• The Cardinals have allowed tight ends to catch just 19 passes in five games this season. Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller is usually just a so-so fantasy option, and with 10 catches for 88 yards in his last three games, he’s a worse option than usual against Arizona on Sunday. Miller has good games sometimes, but you can’t count on him.
Play, play, play: Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers (vs. Bears)
Cutler, Mike Williams and now Winslow. Are we in for a London shootout between the Bears and Bucs? Probably not, but the Bears have been fantasy’s worst team against tight ends this season, allowing 12.5 FPPG. Since they haven’t played the Patriots like some of the other bad-against-tight-end teams, that number looks even worse. Winslow is usually a low TE1 who can be benched depending on matchups, but he’s a rock-solid start in Week 7.
• Rams rookie Lance Kendricks was a fantasy sleeper entering the season, but he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. However, he’s caught four passes in each of his last two games, and the Cowboys’ D ranks 31st against opposing fantasy tight ends (11.7 FPPG). Kendricks is a sneaky good play if you’re looking to replace Vernon Davis, Jermaine Gresham or one of the Pats this week.
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