Analysis Paralysis: Week 7 Start & Sit
With the exception of Justin Blackmon (when the heck did he become a Top 15 wide receiver?!), tiers of players are starting to get a little more defined as the season advances. However, just because a player belongs in a certain tier of players at his position doesn't mean he is going to finish within his tier each and every week. Matchups, opportunity, coaching decisions, injuries, and a whole host of things can factor into how a produces on any given Sunday, so examining as many factors as we can as we make our start/sit decisions each week. The key is obviously not to get too bogged down in your analysis and avoid the dreaded analysis paralysis.
And with that, let's get into the Week 7 players who deserve to be in your lineup (or on your bench).
12-Pack of Goodness
(12 players who are primed to outplay their normal value this weekend)
Nick Foles: Out steps Michael Vick. In steps Nick Foles. The one constant in the Eagles offense is Chip Kelly's system, and Foles is the latest member of said offense who stands to benefit. After finishing as the second-best fantasy quarterback in Week 6, Foles moves onto a Week 7 matchup that is statistically the best fantasy matchup for a quarterback. The Cowboys are giving up almost 23 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and should serve as a good foil for Foles to build upon his 29-point effort from last week. I have him ranked as a QB1 this above players like Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, and Robert Griffin III.
Eli Manning: Don't bury him just yet. While Manning has six interceptions in his last two games, he's been playing better than his horrible Weeks 3 and 4. The good news is that he's still on pace for over 4,500 yards, has three good receivers and has a great Week 7 matchup against the Vikings (whose 13 passing touchdowns allowed are second-worst in the league). Manning makes for a great bye week fill-in this week (and also gets to play Philadelphia next week).
Brandon Jacobs: I'll spare you the Brandon Jacobs jokes (I think I've beat them all into the ground) and focus on the positives here. Jacobs was running like a man possessed against the Bears last week and gets to face a Vikings defense that has given up the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. He's nursing a hamstring injury, but Jacobs should finishing as a Top 20 running back this weekend as long as he plays.
Joseph Randle: I can't say I love Randle long term, but sometimes opportunity and opponent trump talent. DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar will both miss this week's game against the Eagles, which means the Randle (and less so Phillip Tanner) will see the majority of work in the Cowboys backfield. Despite rushing for only 17 yards on 11 carries last week, Randle found the end zone and should be able to do so again this week (in addition to building upon that yardage total).
Giovani Bernard: I think we're almost at the point where we can finally say that Bernard is the Bengals lead back. His carries have climbed each week from four in Week 1 to 15 in Week 6 and he's also been much more involved in the Bengals passing attack (with a 10 yard per reception average). While he's still getting a few less carries than BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard is averaging 0.7 yards more per carry than Green-Ellis and is the much more explosive runner. Couple all of that with a matchup against a Detroit defense that allowed seven receptions and a receiving touchdown out of the backfield to Chris Ogbonnaya last week, and you've got a recipe for a strong week for Gio.
Julian Edelman: Remember what happened the last time the Patriots leading receiver (yes, really) played the Jets? He caught 13 passing and was targeted a whopping 18 times. That's what. I'm not saying that Edelman is bound to duplicate his performance just because he's playing the Jets again, but the Patriots will likely be without Danny Amendola or Rob Gronkowski this week and will have to rely on Edelman to move the chains. If you're in a PPR league, Edelman could very well work his way into the Top 15-20 at wide receiver this week.
Harry Douglas: Douglas won't confuse anyone for Calvin Johnson, but Matt Ryan has to throw the ball to someone, right? With Julio Jones out for the season and Roddy White nursing a myriad of injuries, Douglas has an opportunity to step into the void and give fantasy owners a mid-season boost at wide receiver. He's currently second on the Falcons in red zone targets and should be able to produce this week with the Buccaneers likely focusing on shutting down Tony Gonzalez.
Keenan Allen: One of the hotter waiver pickups this week, Keenan Allen has been a fantasy revelation with over 100 yards and a touchdown in each of his last two games. Allen was clearly Philip Rivers' favorite receiver during that span (as evidenced by his 21 targets) and has the good fortune of facing the lowly Jaguars this week. I have Allen ranked in my Top 20 this week, which would make him a must-start in 12-team leagues.
Antonio Gates: Sticking with the Chargers-Jaguars theme... I don't mean to pick on the Jaguars here, but they've also allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. I'm guessing most Gates owners are starting him if they have him, but it's also very easy to question that decision given his inconsistency over the past two years. With the Jaguars having allowed five touchdowns to tight ends in their last four games, Gates is a must-start this week.
Jeff Cumberland: This is more of a shot-in-the-dark if you're desperate, but the Patriots struggle at guarding tight ends (despite what their performance against Jimmy Graham last weekend would lead you to believe). With Jerod Mayo out for the season, the Patriots will be missing an integral part of the middle of their defense and could very well give Cumberland his third touchdown in four weeks.
Carolina Panthers: Surprisingly, the Panthers have put together quite a defensive performance this season. They've allowed the second-fewest points in real football and are a surprising 10th in terms of fantasy points thus far. The Panthers are available in a lot of leagues and have a nice matchup against St. Louis at home this weekend. Make sure you check to see if they're available if you're looking to stream a defense.
San Diego Chargers: I'll explain this one in two words: Jacksonville Jaguars (sorry Jaguars fans).
6-Pack of Sorrow
(Six players you should think about benching if you have better options)
Carson Palmer: I don't know why anyone would still own him at this point (let alone start him), but I still get questions about him here and there. Palmer has been plain old bad this season (there are 26 quarterbacks with more fantasy points than him at the moment) and has to face a tough Seahawks defense this weekend. I assure you, Palmer-owners: there are better options than Palmer out there -- both to start and to own.
Willis McGahee: I feel into the McGahee trap last week, but I'm not doing it twice in a row (and I'm not including him here out of spite). He only touched the ball 11 times last weekend, while Chris Ogbonnaya got more involved in the Browns offense (12 touches). The uncertain carries are bad enough, but the Browns also face a Packers defense that is only allowing 78.2 yards per game to opposing rushing attacks.
Andre Ellington: Ellington has been a popular waiver target for the past two weeks, but this seems like a good week to sit him as he faces a Seahawks defense that has allowed the sixth-fewest points to opposing running backs so far this season. There's also that whole Thursday Night Curse issue going against Ellington this week -- if you believe in those sorts of things.
Dwayne Bowe: Three. Four. No, I'm not reciting soccer scores. I'm reciting Dwayne Bowe's point totals from the past two weeks (to go along with a season average of just over five fantasy points per game). Bowe also has to go up against a Texans defense that has absolutely shut down opposing wide receivers this year (least amount of fantasy points allowed per game) and should definitely not be in your starting lineup this weekend.
Garrett Graham: I'm still bullish on Graham for the rest of the season, but this is a bad week to start him. The Texans face a Chiefs defense that has held opposing tight ends to just over two fantasy points per game (fewest in the league) and Graham will likely have to match up against Eric Berry and Justin Houston (not an enviable task). Graham isn't worth the headache this week.
Cincinnati Bengals: I like the Bengals defense a lot for fantasy this season, but I don't like them a lot for fantasy against the Lions this week. The Lions have been putting up 27 points per game this season (sixth in the league) and will benefit from playing on their home turf this weekend. All bets are off if Calvin Johnson doesn't play, but all indications are that he will, so avoiding the Bengals seems like a smart move for this weekend.
Your Questions. My Answers.
@c0LDbL00D_eD: seems obvious, but would you bench Trent Richardson or Jason Witten for Rueben Randle?
Nick: I get the thought, but I think I'd stick to your guns there. I like Randle a lot (and I like his matchup too), but I'd just personally have a really hard time sitting either of those guys for him.
@seamus_carr: hi. Eddie Lacy, Keenan Allen or Terrance Williams in a .4 PPR this week?
Nick: I'm tempting to go with Allen, but I like Lacy against the Browns this weekend more. He looked good against a tough Ravens rushing defense last week and should see plenty of opportunities with the Packers thin at wide receiver.
@Peppy_Pants: Make up my mind: I've got the Bengals defense/special teams rostered now, there are a ton of options. Chargers, Panthers, Bills, Lions, Packers, Browns...
Nick: I like the Panthers this weekend, but that Jaguars argument is just too compelling to me. I'd go with the Chargers against the Jaguars.
@Jstn478: Alright I need one, Larry Fitzgerald, Steven Jackson if active, Harry Douglas or Danny Woodhead for non-ppr flex
Nick: This is tough because of the non-ppr aspect. I'd say Woodhead if it was ppr, but I think I'd have to go with Fitzgerald and hope he produces against a tough Seahawks secondary. Jackson is just too risky even if he plays, Douglas is an interesting yet unproven option, and Woodhead is much more valuable in ppr.
@CJCHIPS: Nate Washington, Stephen Hill or Jerome Simpson Flex spot 12 team
Nick: I like Hill's matchup against the Patriots. Geno Smith needs options to throw to with Santonio Holmes out and Hill provides him with a nice downfield threat - especially if Aqib Talib misses the game.
As always, I’ll be checking the comments section for start-sit questions all week, so drop them in there below this post and I’ll make sure I get back to you!