Week 7 NFL Matchup Preview Part One
Be sure to check out Part Two of our Week 7 NFL Matchup Previews. (out Friday)
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL – October 20, 2016
8:25 PM EST
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
QB Brian Hoyer: Hoyer is riding a four-game streak with 300 or more yards passing. Green Bay just got thrashed by Ezekiel Elliott, but they do have a solid run defense which will force Chicago to pass and pass often. Hoyer has a legitimate chance at a fifth straight 300-yard game putting him in the QB1/2 conversation.
RB Jordan Howard: Howard has cooled off since exploding on to the scene against Detroit and Indianapolis. He’s losing carries to Ka’Deem Carey now that Carey is healthy and Green Bay is tough against the run. Howard is a volatile RB2.
WR Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal & Cameron Meredith: Eddie Royal continues to fight multiple injuries and is out for Week 7. Alshon Jeffery hasn’t scored a TD despite 487 receiving yards, which probably explains the spotlight on Cameron Meredith. Jeffery is still a stud and a solid WR2 candidate dripping with elite fantasy production potential. His big game is only a matter of time. Meredith has two straight games with double-digit targets and 100 or more receiving yards. It’s a 1A/1B situation in Chicago, which is fine if Hoyer continues to play out of his mind.
TE Zach Miller: With all the other emerging stars on Chicago, Miller hasn’t gotten much attention but he’s piecing together a solid season. Green Bay’s defense has struggled against TEs making Zach Miller a TE1 this week. Good chance he puts up a TD in this game.
QB Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers needs to eat a Snickers Bar or something because he has just not been himself lately. The good news is, he’s thrown a TD in every game this year including a 4 TD game on only 24 pass attempts against Detroit, but he’s failed to breach 300 yards passing so far. You probably aren’t benching him in any league, but with Eddie Lacy and James Starks out, the vast majority of Green Bay’s offensive output will be through the air. If Rodgers doesn’t have a huge game here without a run game against a weak Chicago pass defense, it’s time to panic. This seems like the week we see the old Rodgers return.
RB Don Jackson/Ty Montgomery: Lacy and Starks are out. Green Bay traded for Knile Davis, but he isn’t going to have a big impact even if he sees the field. Green Bay promoted Don Xzaviar Jackson from the practice squad, but it’s tough to put him in a lineup unless you’re really desperate for a flex. As a writer, I really hope Don Xzaviar Jackson has a huge game because his name is simply amazing on so many levels. The play here is WR Ty Montgomery who had 8 targets while lining up as the RB last week. Reports indicate Montgomery will see plenty of reps as the RB. Montgomery doesn’t need to do much as an RB to return value if he gets targets like he did last week. He’s a solid WR3 or flex play this week. No one else is worth a start until the newest X-Man breaks out- fingers crossed.
WR Jordy Nelson & Randall Cobb: Cobb is finally finding his groove in the offense with double-digit targets two weeks in a row and he will probably get a few rushes this game. Cobb is a low floor WR2 with WR1 upside. Nelson started the year on fire with 5 TDs in four games, but didn’t click as well with Rodgers against Dallas last week. He’s still Rodgers’ favorite target and a weekly plug-and-play WR1.
SUNDAY – October 23, 2016
1:00 PM EST
New York Giants @ Los Angeles Rams
QB Eli Manning: Despite averaging 39 pass attempts per game, Manning only has 8 passing TDs this year. 6 of those passing TDs game from just two games. Manning completed 19 of 28 pass attempts for 3 TDs @ Dallas, but struggled mightily against Minnesota and Green Bay on the road. I wouldn’t be shocked if Manning had a big game in London because Manning is impossible to figure out, but there are better options out there in standard leagues. He’s a reluctant start in two-QB leagues, but I wouldn’t feel good about it.
RB Orleans Darkwa/Rashad Jennings/Bobby Rainey: Jennings started the year getting a healthy amount of touches, but he missed time with injury and had no impact upon his return last week. Darkwa and Rainey get consistent touches, but neither see enough to be a reliable option on fantasy teams. This is a situation to avoid if possible, but Jennings is the most flex-worthy player here.
WR Odell Beckham Jr. & Sterling Shepard: OBJ is a tricky projection since he’s dealing with a hip pointer that may have no impact this week or limit him significantly. We’re going to have to monitor his progress through the week. If he plays, you must start him. The biggest beneficiary if OBJ is limited is Sterling Shepard. If OBJ’s hip pointer is significant, the Giants may use him as a decoy to free up Shepard. Shepard is a WR3/flex play.
QB Case Keenum: Keenum had a great game on the road against Detroit, but has otherwise looked like a QB playing for Jeff Fisher’s Rams. The Giants defense is good enough to keep Keenum in check. He’s not worth a start in any format.
RB Todd Gurley: Gurley has had a tough start to the year, but he still averages over 20 touches per game and he’s had 30 or more yards receiving in the last three games. He’s an RB2 this week.
WR Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin & Brian Quick: Austin is heavily involved in the Los Angeles offense, but has done absolutely nothing with numerous targets/touches. He will have a big game here and there, but don’t chase it. He’s a desperate flex play at best. Brian Quick does have 3 TDs on only 18 targets but unless he gets more consistent targets, he’s not a playable option. Kenny Britt has used his consistent targets to piece together a solid year so far. He’s a high-floor WR3/flex play.
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals
QB Cody Kessler: Kessler has played admirably well for a third-round rookie on a team devoid of talent and riddled by injuries. The Bengals have been shredded through the air, but away at Cincinnati with a banged up receiving corps is not a good spot for Kessler. There are better plays even in two-QB leagues.
RB Isaiah Crowell/Duke Johnson Jr.: Crowell started the season hot, but turned 22 carries against New England and Tennessee into 38 yards. Cincinnati is a plus matchup for RBs, but Crowell is only a desperate RB2 or flex play at this point. Johnson may see an increased role if Pryor is out or limited. He’s a risky flex play.
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.: Pryor will be limited even if he suits up. He’s flex-worthy if he plays, but there are better options out there.
TE Gary Barnidge: Barnidge may be the only show in town for Cleveland. He has seen 5 or more targets in five straight games and this may be a double-digit target game for him. He’s a TE1 play.
QB Andy Dalton: Dalton only has one game with two or more TDs this year. He has a high-floor, but he may be shut down for the second-half against a reeling Cleveland team. He’s a low QB1 this week.
RB Jeremy Hill & Gio Bernard: Hill is a little more risky with a lingering chest/shoulder injury and a reliance on TDs to put up good numbers, but Gio had all the opportunity in the world near the goal line last week and did nothing with it. Hill is worth a flex, but Gio is the better option and falls in the RB2/flex spot.
WR A.J. Green & Company: Green is a weekly WR1.
TE Tyler Eifert: Eifert may or may not see the field this weekend. Even if he gets some reps, he may not be needed much. This isn’t the week to get cute with Eifert.
Washington Redskins @ Detroit Lions
QB Kirk Cousins: Cousins is on the road, but will enjoy a dome environment against a weak Detroit pass defense. Detroit has given up two or more passing TDs to every QB they’ve faced. Cousins is a QB1 this week.
RB Matt Jones: Jones rarely has a good game, it’s either a great game or horrible. Detroit is giving up almost 5 yards/carry, but they have yet to give up a rushing TD yet. This may actually be a week where Jones has a good game along the 80 yards from scrimmage with a TD type line. He’s an RB2 in standard leagues and RB2/flex in PPR leagues.
WR DeSean Jackson & Jamison Crowder: DeSean is always capable of a big game, but only has 1 TD and one 100-yard game this season. He’s a boom-or-bust flex…again. Crowder reminds me of a commercial “I don’t always get targets, but when I do, it’s in the red zone.” Crowder leads the team with 10 red zone targets, but has only been targeted three times in each of the last two games. With a plus matchup, Crowder should see more than 3 targets making him a flex option.
TE Jordan Reed/Vernon Davis: Reed is still in concussion protocol, but he looks on track to play this weekend. His clearance is still far from a done deal. Detroit is like Disney World to TEs so whichever TE gets the start is a TE1.
QB Matthew Stafford: One of the top fantasy QBs so far this year with a good matchup at home. He’s a QB1.
RB Theo Riddick/Dwayne Washington/Justin Forsett/Zach Zenner: Riddick missed last week’s game and didn’t practice on Wednesday, but reports trickled out that he was seen dancing in the locker room. That’s good enough news to make him a low-end RB2 or flex. If he doesn’t play, my thoughts on this backfield- Meh!
WR Marvin Jones Jr & Golden Tate: Jones Jr. was held to two receptions last week, but one of those went for a TD saving his fantasy day. Golden Tate was pretty much dormant until last week when he exploded. The Detroit WR corps is tricky to figure out, but it may be the 1A/1B situation that we expected back in the beginning of the year. With Stafford playing as well as he ever has with Jim Bob Cooter calling the plays, Jones Jr. is a fringe WR1/2 and Tate a WR2/3.
TE Eric Ebron: No word yet on whether Ebron will play, but it doesn’t look good. With Ebron out, all Detroit WRs get a bump, especially Tate.
Oakland Raiders @ Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Derek Carr: Heading into last week, Carr had thrown for 300 or more yards or three or more TDs in four out of six weeks. Jacksonville sounds like a juicy matchup, but Brian Hoyer is the only QB to throw for more than 240 yards against them and even Hoyer didn’t throw a TD. Carr is a start in two-QB leagues, but mediocre in redraft leagues.
RB Latavius Murray/DeAndre Washington/Jalen Richard: Murray has resumed practicing, but it still sounds like he’s a ways off from 100%. Washington and Richard failed to do much in Murray’s absence. This is just a backfield to avoid in general, especially this week.
WR Amari Cooper & Michael Crabtree: Cooper has become the true #1, but Crabtree can post some good numbers too. Cooper is a WR1/2 and Crabtree is worth a flex especially in PPR leagues.
QB Blake Bortles: Bortles is as inconsistent as they come but absent a running game and against an Oakland defense that is giving up a league-worst 312 yards passing/game, Bortles is a QB1 this week.
RB T.J. Yeldon & Chris Ivory: These guys have been bad all year. Ivory should just be avoided until he proves something on the field. Yeldon is flex-worthy in PPR leagues.
WR Allen Robinson & Allen Hurns: Bortles’ struggles have trickled down to ARob and Hurns, but Oakland has allowed six 100-yard games to receivers including two games with multiple 100-yard receivers on the same team. ARob is a WR2 and Hurns a WR3.
TE Julius Thomas: When Julius Thomas gets 5 or more receptions, he gets a TD going back to last year. It’s simple as that, but he’s only had 5 receptions once this year. He’ll have a good shot in this game making him a TE2.
New Orleans Saints @ Kansas City Chiefs
QB Drew Brees: It’s tough to sit Brees because you’ll look really dumb if he has another huge game, but he’s averaging 235 yards, 1.5 TDs, and 1 Int during away games this year. He faces a Kansas City team on the road still relatively fresh from a Week 5 bye. He’s a fringe QB1/2 this week.
RB Mark Ingram: New Orleans is finding ways to make Mark Ingram terrible in fantasy. Ingram was even vultured last week by Coby Fleener of all people. He gets enough touches to be a really nice flex, but I wouldn’t trust him as an RB2.
WR Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead & Michael Thomas: It’s tough to succeed when the QB struggles on the road especially with so many mouths to feed, which limits all of these WRs. Cooks is a WR3, Snead and Thomas are WR3/Flex plays.
TE Coby Fleener: Andy mentioned last week in his Starts of the Week how Ben Watson started slow but built chemistry with Brees as the season went on. Fleener had a monster game last week and seems to be on the right track, but Kansas City is tough for TEs. He’s a TE2.
QB Alex Smith: The only team with a worse pass defense than New Orleans is Oakland who Smith played last week. He rewarded fantasy owners with a zero TDs and 224 yards passing in a game where the Kansas City defense stifled Oakland. For Smith to have a big day, Brees will have to have a big day, which doesn’t seem likely. Too many ‘ifs’ to make Smith even a streamer candidate. He’s worth a look in two-QB leagues if you’re desperate.
RB Jamaal Charles/Spencer Ware: This is a great matchup for both of these RBs. This is one of those rare games where both RBs could have good games even if they split touches 50/50. See the box score for Atlanta vs New Orleans in Week 3. Both are RB2s.
WR Jeremy Maclin: Through 5 games, Maclin has had no fewer than 35 and no more than 78 yards. At this point, he’s a safe WR3 play especially in standard leagues, but not much more.
TE Travis Kelce: Kelce had 5 or 6 receptions in each of the first four games. He’s like Maclin with a good floor, but limited upside. He’s still a TE1 this week.
Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins
QB Tyrod Taylor: Taylor has yet to exceed 300 yards passing and only has two games with 60 or more rushing yards. To his defense, McCoy has been doing all the damage that’s needed, but Taylor struggles when the game falls on his shoulders. He’s a start in two-QB leagues, but a QB2 in standard leagues.
RB LeSean McCoy/Mike Gillislee: LeSean is officially ruled out for Week 7. That makes Mike Gillislee at least a sneaky RB2.
WR Robert Woods/Justin Hunter: Robert Woods has missed a couple practices with a foot injury this week and has been steady, but not spectacular even when he has been the primary receiving threat. If Woods can’t go, Justin Hunter may be a sneaky play. He only has 2 receptions on the year, but both of those receptions have been TDs. Both plays are desperate flex plays, although, I would rather take the shot on 6’4″ Hunter if Woods is out.
QB Ryan Tannehill: Buffalo has simply dominated Tannehill through his career. Tannehill has been pretty awful this year and Buffalo’s defense is starting to dominate games. He’s a fringe play in two-QB leagues.
RB Arian Foster & Jay Ajayi: The Miami backfield has been a mess until Ajayi rushed for over 200 yards last week just like I expected-Not! Until proven otherwise, the Miami backfield is still a mess and the Buffalo rush defense that stuffed Todd Gurley and Carlos Hyde in back-to-back weeks won’t overlook Ajayi. Ajayi is a flex play.
WR Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker & Kenny Stills: The only reliable name here is Landry. Stills and Parker are huge playmakers, but neither is targeted enough to be reliable options. Landry is averaging over 9 targets a game. He’s a WR2/WR3 in PPR leagues and a WR3 in standard leagues. Parker and Stills are risky flex plays.