Fins Fantasy: Top Fantasy Matchups Around the NFL for Week Seven
Well, it’s week seven, and I figure that just about every one of you who took my advice last week wants to kill me. Sure, I got a lot of things right, but I got a lot of things wrong too. And a lot of you really enjoyed yourselves by pointing out each and every one of my predictions that was “wrong”. Some of you even used words that hurt my feelings, like “Inaccurate”, “Dumb”, “Not as handsome in person”, and even “More clueless than Roger Goodell and Chuck Pagano’s imaginary lovechild.” Yeah I get it, such is the struggle of being a fantasy football expert, but you didn’t need to be so harsh, Grandma.
Just as I predicted last week (just trying to remind myself of the things that I did get right), the Dolphins were very aggressive on offense in every phase of the game. Dan “You’ve-already-lost-you-just-don’t-know-it-yet” Campbell utilized the two-tight end set to better establish the run game, and virtually eliminated Greg “Drop-it-like-it’s-hot” Jennings from the lineup in order to give more playing time to his talented young receiver corps. As a result, the Dolphins were able to run the ball in what was one of the best games of Lamar Miller’s career and were much more efficient in the pass game as well. Dan “Livin like Larry” Campbell will look to continue his success with a very favorable matchup against DeAndre Hopkins, JJ Watt, and 51 CFL players.
Dolphins’ Key Fantasy Matchups:
Ryan “The Tannchise” Tannehill– Ryan Tannehill was ok last week, but I have yet to see the player that I predicted would launch himself into the “Top 10 QB” conversation. If you have a solid QB with a good matchup, I’d take him over Tannehill, who still can’t seem to connect on deep balls as often as he should.
Jarvis “Juice” Landry– Jarvis Landry has been a consistent WR3 in fantasy football this year. He has very high floor, but his low ceiling (No receiving TDs or 100yd games this year) hurts his fantasy value. He plays like a top receiver should, but his lack of targets in the red zone and on deep looks prompts me to view him as a low-risk, low-reward WR3/Flex option in fantasy. His matchup this week is very good against a surprisingly soft Texans Defense, but if you have a better WR3 option like Donte Moncrief or John Brown, take it over Landry. He is, however, worth a spot if you’re strapped for receivers due to the bye week, or if you are in a PPR league.
Lamar Miller– The Dolphins’ run game was awful this year, but then Joe “Hayden Christensen of Football” Philbin was fired and everything became all-better. After posting 113 yards and a TD on just 19 carries last week, Lamar Miller looks like 2014 Lamar Miller. Sure, one game is a small sample size, and the Titans run defense is about as effective as my pickup lines (which are, in fact, not very effective) but I have a feeling that this is the Dolphins team we’re going to be seeing from this point forward. I think that Miami’s game plan will be similar to what it was last week; establish the run early, get first downs, and continue to let Lamar Miller run wild. Considering they’re playing an underachieving Texans’ defense, I think it likely that Lamar Miller has another solid game. Start him if you have him.
Dolphins’ Defense/ST- The Dolphins’ defense finally showed up last week, as Cameron Wake absolutely bullied the Titans’ O-line on his way to four sacks. DeAndre Hopkins, AKA the Houston Texans’ Offense, is not as easy of a matchup as Bill O’Brien and his QB carousel would have you believe. Whether they are competitive or not, the Texans’ Offense puts up points (when Brian Hoyer plays anyway), leading to fewer fantasy points for the Defense that plays against them. I’d list Miami’s Defense as a fringe start if you don’t already have a top-10 option on your team.
Rishard Matthews and Kenny Stills- These two talented wideouts should be seen as boom or bust options this week, but their favorable matchup against the Texans has me leaning more toward boom for at least one of them. Personally, I’d put my money on Kenny Stills on account of his heavily increased snaps and his presence as the only true deep threat on Miami’s roster. But, because we can’t really predict who’s going to get more snaps, they should both be seen as high risk, high reward plays this week at the WR3 or Flex position. They also could be smart sleeper plays in daily fantasy leagues, as neither one of them costs much.
For future reference, to those who have not yet noticed when reading these articles, I don’t list obvious fantasy football starts like Aaron Rodgers, Julio Jones, Le’Veon Bell, Rob Gronkowsi, Reggie Wayne, etc. because that would just be a waste of your time, and more importantly, mine. Now, that being said, here are my favorite and least favorite matchups for week seven.
Must Start QBs:
Carson “Sam Bradford, but good” Palmer vs. Baltimore Ravens– Carson Palmer has been a very solid QB1 this season, always putting up at least 300 yards or multiple TDs. Outside of last week’s confusing beatdown by the Steelers sans Ben Roethlisberger, the Cardinals have been an offensive powerhouse and definitely have a chance to blow out opposing teams each and every week. This week isn’t likely to be much different, as Baltimore’s pass defense has been atrocious since losing Terrell Suggs in Week One. Considering Palmer has played like a top-5 QB for most of the year, and has a matchup against the most toothless Baltimore Defense I’ve ever seen, he’s a near lock for a big game this week. So, unless you have Andrew Luck or another elite QB, roll with Palmer this week.
Phillip Rivers vs. Oakland Raiders- Last week, Phillip Rivers became the first QB in NFL history to throw for over 500 yards… and lose. There has never been a single statistic that is more Phillip Rivers than that one. Regardless of his team’s lack of talent, particularly in the run game, *Cough* Melvin Gordon sucks *Cough* Rivers has been very solid as a QB1 all season. This week he plays an Oakland Raiders team that’s about as bad at defending the pass as Joe Philbin is at motivating players. So yeah, pretty bad. I can easily see Rivers go for 300 yards and 3 TDs this week with a home matchup against a porous pass defense.
QB Matchups I Don’t Like:
Joe Flacco vs. Arizona Cardinals- If you’re one of the unlucky clowns that thought you could wait until round 10 to draft your starting QB and wound up with Joe Flacco, I don’t feel bad for you at all. Does he have a Super Bowl ring? Yeah. Is he great in the playoffs? Sure. Has he ever been a viable starting fantasy QB? Not in this universe, or any other for that matter. Flacco is a good matchup based QB2, and this week’s matchup against Arizona is anything but a good matchup. If you have Flacco in your lineup this week, I’d pick up literally anyone else; Landry Jones maybe a good option in deeper leagues.
Matt Stafford vs. Minnesota Vikings- Don’t be one of the fantasy football owners that fall for Matt Stafford after his incredible 400 yd, 4 TD performance last week. He was playing the Bears for God’s sake, not to mention that TD to Golden Tate was actually an interception. I swear, the recent rule changes and subsequent enforcement of said rule changes is ruining football, but I digress. This week’s matchup against a staunch Vikings Defensive unit is hardly a cakewalk, and as such I would advise benching Stafford or cutting him from your roster altogether.
Must Start RBs:
Frank “The Inconvenient Truth” Gore vs. New Orleans Saints- “The Inconvenient Truth” has quietly been one of the most solid RBs in the league over the last few weeks, despite his limited carries. While he doesn’t have a 100 yard game yet, he’s been pretty damn close. And, as a Colts fan, that makes me happier than anything after the crapshoot that was the Trent Richardson experiment (I wanted to use some expletives in place of “crapshoot”, but my editor says I’m not allowed to have fun). Gore has an extremely favorable matchup against a terrible Saints’ run defense, so start him knowing that he’ll definitely put up solid numbers, with the potential of a huge game.
Latavius Murray vs. San Diego Chargers- The prospect of writing about a Raiders’ player’s fantasy value is really bumming me out, so I’ll keep this one short. Latavius Murry = Solid RB2. San Diego Chargers Run Defense = Really Bad. Start Latavius Murray this week.
*Bonus* Todd Gurley vs. Cleveland Browns- As I’ve been saying over the last two weeks, Todd Gurley is a monster at the RB position. After seeing him play his last two games, I honestly believe he is the most complete running back to come out of the league since Adrian Peterson. His unique blend of speed, power, and skill are equal to, or greater than that of Peterson, actually. Sure, he’ll probably have a bad game here and there. He is a rookie in his 3rd start after all, but huge back-to-back 150 yard performances against good run defenses (without a TD unfortunately) lead me to believe that bad games will be few and far between. The Rams will be looking to lean heavily on their star RB as they face the 32nd ranked run defense in the NFL. I would not be shocked if Gurley is the highest scoring RB this week, and I honestly am expecting 150+ yards and a TD or two at least. I don’t care if you somehow have Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell, start Gurley.
RB Matchups I Don’t Like:
Dion Lewis/LeGarrette Blount vs. New York Jets- To put it simply, the Jets boast the NFL’s top Run Defense, and while the Lewis/Blount combo is very good, it’s not great. It’s likely that one of the two RBs will have a TD, but I’d be shocked if either of them goes over 60 yards on the day. Lewis’ presence in the pass game makes him the better option, but not by much. Unless you’re really depth challenged, keep the two Pats’ backs on the bench.
Melvin Gordon vs. Oakland Raiders- Melvin Gordon is awful, period, end of story. He’ll probably get better as time goes on, but he has looked like Trent Richardson 2.0 with his pedestrian YPC average (3.8), horrible fumble issues, and lack of TDs (he has 0 on the year). After last week’s two fumble debacle, he’s likely to lose snaps to the shifty Danny Woodhead, and even Branden Oliver. On that note, Woodhead should be a very solid RB2 play this week, especially in PPR leagues.
Must Start WRs:
Martavis Bryant vs. Kansas City Chiefs- Listing Martavis Bryant in the other column was one of my biggest mistakes last week. Now, I figure that if he can put up massive numbers (including an 88yd TD) against the Cardinals’ vaunted secondary, then he can do the same against the Chiefs’ well below average secondary. At worst he’s a moderate risk/extremely high reward play in a given week, and although I don’t actually think he’ll have as good a week as he did last week, I can easily see him go over 100 yards and a TD.
Vincent Jackson vs. Washington Redskins- Vincent Jackson has been very inconsistent this year, as Tampa Bay’s offensive game plan has been centered on running the ball with a seemingly revitalized Doug Martin. However, the games in which Tampa is forced to throw the ball have been very good for Jackson’s production. He has emerged as Jameis Winston’s (rather surprising) favorite target over Mike Evans, and has put up solid numbers when Jameis is forced to look downfield. Considering the Redskins’ run defense is superior to its poor pass defense, I think that Jackson will have his opportunities to put up very good WR3/Flex numbers this week.
Donte Moncrief/T.Y. Hilton vs. New Orleans Saints- Andrew Luck looks like he’s back to his old ways of being the bearded QB wizard that recorded 40TDs last year. This course correction, coupled with a fantastic matchup against a terrible Saints’ Defense, is very promising for the Colts’ talented wideouts. As I said last week, Moncrief has been the most impressive weapon in the Colts’ arsenal this year, and has supplanted Andre Johnson as the starter in all ways but in name. His TD catch on 4th down last week over “Super Bowl Hero” Malcolm Butler is indicative of the trust Andrew Luck has in him. His unique blend of size, speed, and concentration make him the most naturally talented receiver on the Colts’ roster, and with T.Y. constantly drawing double teams, it’s safe for me to view him as a solid fantasy WR2 from this point forward. T.Y. is also due for a big week against a Saints’ secondary that allows more big plays than nearly any other team in the league. I can easily see both receivers combine for over 200 yards and a TD apiece.
WR Matchups I Don’t Like:
Allen Robinson vs. Buffalo Bills- Robinson has been a great fantasy WR this year, and the Bills’ defense has underperformed against wideouts this season. So, why bench Robinson you ask? The Bills talented young CB tandem of Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby have been merciless against the opposing team’s WR1, shutting down nearly every top receiver they’ve faced since Week One (the exception being Julian Edelman, who had Tom Brady throwing him the ball). So expect Bortles to lean on Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas, both of which would be very good fantasy plays, a lot this week
Julian Edelman vs. New York Jets- The Jets have arguably the best defense in the league (although most would say Denver’s Defense is slightly better, and it is by far the best in fantasy, which is all anyone cares about anyway), and it looks as though Darrelle Revis will be shadowing Edelman this week. Going up against the best cornerback in the league, especially with an injured finger, is not conducive to putting up good numbers in fantasy. Play him if you’re in a PPR, otherwise you may want to bench him this week.
Travis Benjamin vs. St. Louis Rams- Travis Benjamin had a very good day against Denver last week, posting over 100 yards. However, this week’s matchup against the St. Louis Rams will also be difficult, as they also have a top tier pass defense. I just don’t think it likely that Benjamin gets as lucky this week.
Must Start TE:
Travis Kelce vs. Pittsburgh Steelers- Kelce had his best game (88 yards on 5 catches) since his monster Week One performance against the Texans. Yeah those numbers don’t scream, “Start Me!” but his matchup wasn’t as good as it is this week. Watch for Alex Smith to continue to look for Kelce’s number this week against a good, definitely not great Steelers’ Defense. The loss of Jamaal Charles, in addition to Jeremy Maclin getting banged up should see Kelce’s role increase every week. He’s definitely trending upward in terms of fantasy football.
TE Matchup I Don’t Like:
Coby “Brick-Hands” Fleener vs. New Orleans Saints- Coby Fleener actually has a very good matchup against the Saints this week. The problem is that he hasn’t been very involved in the offense since Dwayne Allen came back from injury. The fact that he’s probably the 5th or 6th best option in the offense, can’t block, and drops easy balls, reduces his opportunities immensely. The only way I see him putting up significant fantasy numbers is if the Colts’ elect to use him as their Red Zone threat, which is unlikely given Dwayne Allen’s return and Donte Moncrief’s emergence as the Colt’s best Red Zone receiver.
Must Start Defensive Matchups:
Pittsburgh Steelers Defense vs. Kansas City Chiefs- The Steelers’ Defense is pretty good, and the Chiefs’ offense with Jamaal Charles was average at best. Let’s just be nice and say the Chiefs’ offense without Jamaal Charles is a flaming pile of dog crap. Yes, I will be copying and pasting exactly what I said last week for teams playing the Chiefs until they prove me wrong.
Atlanta Falcons Defense/ST vs. Tennessee Titans- The Falcons’ Defense/ST has been very good under defensive mastermind, Dan Quinn. A very favorable matchup against a Titan’s team sans Marcus Mariota without any run game worth mentioning is definitely a recipe for success. Mettenberger was ok in limited action last year, but he isn’t the dual threat that Mariota is. If you have the Falcons’ Defense, definitely start them.
Defensive Matchups I Don’t Like:
Tennessee Titans’ Defense/ST vs. Atlanta Falcons- The Titans’ Defense is pretty good, but you’d be absolutely insane to start them against the league’s most potent offensive trio in Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones, and Matt Ryan.
Philadelphia Eagles’ Defense/ST vs. Carolina Panthers- The Eagles’ Defense is coming off a dominant performance in which they shut down Eli Manning and the Giants’ en route to a 27-7 victory. The undefeated Carolina Panthers, however, are not likely to roll over and let the Eagles bully them. Cam Newton is a legitimate MVP candidate as he continues to perform despite having the most talentless receiver corps in the league. As long as Cam Newton keeps willing his team to score points despite the ineptitude of his O-line and receiver corps, while running like a man on fire when Greg Olson is quadruple covered, I’d avoid starting defenses that stand in SuperCam’s way.