Fantasy Football: What To Watch For In Week 7

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Hey there #Footclan, and welcome back to the weekly series, “What To Watch For“. Each week we take a look at the schedule and the matchups and point out some interesting things that we all should pay attention to. These can be something simple, or those ongoing burning questions we have in the back of our minds. Let’s take a look at Week 7.

The Super Bowl Rematch

Let’s start out this week’s article with a well-known fact: Matt Ryan has been a complete bust so far this season. He was drafted early and often as a top 5 player at his position according to ESPN and now Ryan comes into Week 7 as the 27th ranked quarterback in 6 points per passing TD leagues.

In comparing him to other quarterbacks who have made just five starts, he has the same amount of fantasy points as Case Keenum. Yep, I was stunned with those findings as well. But now is the time for Matt Ryan to do something about it and get back on track to what was his MVP career season in 2016.

There is no better week for him to turn things around than against the New England Patriots. Since the Super Bowl on February 5th, all Ryan has thought about was the Patriots and the loss that occurred with the biggest comeback victory in Super Bowl history. He’s been taunted with 28-3 non-stop through memes on social media and @ mentions through Twitter and so on. They have been calling him and the Falcons choke-artists the entire offseason. If he can get the passing yards and touchdowns needed for a good fantasy week, then he can take advantage of their defense ranked dead last in NFL and giving up the most passing yards per game. Can this rematch be the spark and motivation Ryan will need to help fantasy owners get back to playing him with confidence since paying a high draft capital? We get to see this grudge match unfold Sunday night!

Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers

With Aaron Rodgers likely gone for the season with a collarbone injury, backup Brett Hundley struggled in relief last week against Minnesota. He completed 55 percent of his passes for 157 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions, although running back Ty Montgomery dropped a touchdown that would have helped his stats at the end of the day.

He doesn’t have the ideal matchup in Week 7 against a Saints defense that has played well of late. Hundley has also been behind Rodgers for a couple of seasons now, and though A-Rod had every snap with the first team, Brett Hundley knows this system and this offense. He’s had a full week to practice now with the 1s and has had a gameplay assembled. Hopefully, the practice during the week will get the likes of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams back in the fold as viable fantasy assets. Brett Hundley is a sneaky “cash play” this week for DFS this week and would be a very deep sleeper.

Does The Giants Run Game Really Exist?

The Broncos were torched on Sunday Night Football in Week 6 against the then-winless New York Giants, who all together put up a total of 148 rushing yards combined with the tandem of Orleans Darkwa, Wayne Gallman, and Shane Vereen. That was a surprising change of events considering before the game the Giants had only produced 389 yards on the ground beforehand. With most of their top WRs out on IR or out for the game, the Giants put on a brilliant gameplan to keep it on the ground and keep Eli Manning passing into 2-Tight End sets, which is one of the weaker points in what usually is a iron clad Broncos defense.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

But is this display that happened in Week 6 the same thing we will see moving forward as the season continues? Is this a fluke or because head coach Ben Macadoo gave up play calling abilities now gives the Giants more freedom to be more versatile and not so heavy on the passing game? I don’t think the pass will go away entirely, with Sterling Shepard coming back fully healthy this week and rookie TE standout Evan Engram being a surprisingly dependable fantasy start, this new balance could be just what the doctor ordered.

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The Giants go head-to-head against the Seattle Seahawks. If New York can get it done two weeks in a row against another top 3 defense, then you have to start taking the Giants running backs seriously, and its time to start making moves on waivers and trades to acquire one or two of them for a big fantasy playoff push.

AFC North Rivalry: Bengals vs Steelers

This weekend we get a new chapter of a very storied rivalry in the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals traveling to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers in a late afternoon game in Week 7. Let’s take a brief walk down memory lane to see how this rivalry has come to be.

Considered one of the most “lopsided rivalries” in professional football as the Steelers hold a 27-9 record against the Bengals since 2000. Many Bengals fans consider the Steelers to be their greatest rivals, much like Cleveland Browns fans. Steeler fans, however, often consider the Baltimore Ravens as their top rival. It is disputed which is the more widely bitter rivalry, but this specific rivalry is often ranked as one of the NFL’s most bitter, mainly due to the Steelers having more championships. Similarly, these are the only two AFC North teams to experience Super Bowl losses, with each team losing two.

Getty Images Sport / Dilip Vishwanat / Stringer

Though the Steelers have mostly dominated this rivalry, it has heated up in recent seasons due to the Bengals resurgence among NFL teams. Even during the Bengals’ dismal years in the 1990s and early 2000s when they were one of the NFL’s worst teams, they would at times get the better of the Steelers, who were usually the dominant team in the division. One notable example came in 1998 when the Bengals swept the Steelers in the season series while finishing 3-13 overall. The loss knocked the Steelers out of playoff contention who finished 7-9 overall.

The rivalry has enjoyed a renewal and rose to new heights in 2009 when the Bengals were AFC North Division champions. They boasted a perfect 6-0 division record, not only twice beating the long-time champion Steelers, but the Ravens and Browns. Despite their division dominance, the Bengals were only 4-6 against the rest of the NFL, finishing 3-1 against the NFC North and 1-5 against other AFC teams. The Bengals made the playoffs as AFC North Champions but lost in an upset at home to the New York Jets. From 2010 to 2012, the Steelers won five straight games in the rivalry until the Bengals defeated them at Heinz Field on December 23, 2012.

The rivalry has reached nuclear heights as a result of the 2016 Wild Card playoff game. After previously having bad blood between the divisional rival from incidents in the 2015 regular season, the two teams met in the postseason. The contest was rife with physical play and penalty flags on both sides. Ryan Shazier knocked Giovani Bernard unconscious and celebrated the hit on the field riling up the Bengals and their fans as no flag was thrown on the play. The game appeared over after Vontaze Burfict intercepted Landry Jones, who was in due to an injury to Ben Roethlisberger after being sacked by Burfict. However, Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball and the Steelers recovered at their 9-yard line with 1:36 remaining in the game. Ben Roethlisberger returned and drove the Steelers to the Bengals 47-yard line with :18 remaining. Burfict was flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver, Antonio Brown, on an incomplete pass while Jones was penalized for bumping a referee while going after Steelers assistant coach Joey Porter during the injury timeout. Porter received no flag for his actions. These fouls advanced the Steelers 30 yards with under 20 seconds remaining in the game, allowing Pittsburgh to kick a 35-yard field goal for the victory.