by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Trying to decide who you should start or sit this week? Let’s take a look at a few potential decisions owners have and try to sort through them:
Start – Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans – at Cleveland
Battling a hamstring injury Mariota clearly had limited mobility on Monday night, though that didn’t stop him from completing 23 of 32 passes for 306 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT against the Colts. The matchup doesn’t get any harder this week, as the Browns have allowed the second most points per week to opposing quarterbacks (tied for a league high 14 TD allowed). With another week to get back to health it’s easy to imagine an even better performance. Fire him up as a QB1 in all formats.
Sit – Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Cincinnati
Roethlisberger bounced back from a disastrous Week 5 to produce solid numbers against the Chiefs in Week 6. He also only attempted 25 passes and taking on the Bengals isn’t an ideal situation. Cincinnati has allowed a league low 908 passing yards to opposing quarterbacks, as well as 5 TD vs. 4 INT. Roethlisberger also struggled with his efficiency against them last season:
- 09/18/16 – 51.4%
- 12/18/16 – 58.3%
Couple his recent struggles, those efficiency issues from last season and the general matchup and it’s impossible to trust him.
Start – Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Pittsburgh
We keep waiting for that breakout performance, but it still hasn’t come (2.8 yards per carry on the season). That said there are multiple reasons to believe Week 7 could finally be the week:
- He’s gotten consistent touches, with 15+ carries for three straight weeks
- Jeremy Hill has been equally unimpressive, averaging 3.4 yards per carry and failing to find the end zone
- The Steelers have allowed the seventh most points per week to opposing RB, including the fifth most rushing yards (673)
Consider him a viable RB2 in all formats due to the upside potential.
Start – Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at Chicago
We all know he’s a PPR monster, but is there a chance that he also sees a significant uptick in carries this week? Jonathan Stewart is battling an ankle injury, is likely going to be limited, at best, and is coming off a horrific performance (8 carries for -4 yards). While McCaffrey didn’t get additional looks in Week 6, that was also an extremely difficult matchup against the Eagles (fourth fewest points per week).
Things get better this week, against a Bears defense that’s allowed 574 rushing yards and 5 TD to opposing RB this season. Couple the potential to grab 8-10 carries, along with his prowess in the passing game, and McCaffrey is an easy play in all formats.
Sit – Dion Lewis – New England Patriots – vs. Atlanta
It’s impossible to predict exactly what the Patriots are going to do in any given week. It certainly appeared that Lewis emerged as the early down leader in Week 6, as Mike Gillislee was shelved after an early fumble, taking 11 carries for 52 yards and 1 TD. He’s averaged 5.0 yards/carry on the season, but even in the “lead” role we have to consider that the touches were limited and he’s only likely to see 8-12 this week. If he’s not going to find the end zone, and the Falcons have limited opposing RB to 2 rushing TD, he’s likely not going to hold value.
Sit – Javorius Allen – Baltimore Ravens – at Minnesota
Obviously the matchup is an extremely difficult one, with the Vikings allowing the second fewest points per week to opposing running backs. He also saw his usage decrease this past week, as he shared the carries with Alex Collins (Collins had 15 vs. Allen’s 10), and in a tough matchup fewer touches could mean obvious disaster. In PPR formats he’s a better play, but as long as Collins isn’t coughing up the football Allen’s role is going to be capped and he’ll be too risky of a play as a RB2.
Wide Receivers (Two-Receiver Formats)
Start – Pierre Garcon – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Dallas
The Cowboys have allowed the seventh most points per week to opposing wide receivers, including 8 TD. While Garcon has not yet found the end zone this season, there’s little doubt that he’s going to remain the top option for the 49ers and it’s not even close. Garcon has been targeted 56 times with 8+ targets in four straight games (including 10+ in three of them). There is a little bit of risk due to a rookie quarterback moving under center, but Garcon should remain a steady go to presence and the focal point of the passing game.
Sit – Alshon Jeffrey – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
Jeffrey has disappointed overall this season, with 24 receptions despite being acquired to operate as the team’s top receiver. Things get even worse if Josh Norman is able to return this week, as Jeffrey managed 3 catches for 38 yards against Norman and company in Week 1. He has 38 yards or fewer in three of his six games, and has only topped 4 receptions once all season. In three-receiver formats he’s still a usable option, but in shallower leagues I’d be skeptical.
Wide Receivers (Three-Receiver Formats)
Start – Robert Woods – Los Angeles Rams – vs. Arizona
The focus remains on Sammy Watkins and when his breakout will come, but why do we keep downgrading Woods and his performance thus far? While the offense runs through Todd Gurley, Woods continues to produce like the team’s top wide receiver (22 catches for 322 yards on 37 targets). He has yet to find the end zone, but it’s easy to call that an aberration considering the yardage. Over the past two weeks he has 10 catches for 136 yards on 15 targets, and with a favorable matchup this could be the week that he finds the end zone.
Sit – Donte Moncrief – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Jacksonville
We’ve been waiting for Andrew Luck, but his ’17 debut may never come as there have been reports of a setback. That means it’s impossible to think things will suddenly change, and Moncrief has been behind both T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle on the target chart (he has 16 receptions on 27 targets). Taking on one of the better defenses in the league, it’s hard to bank on Moncrief delivering a strong performance.
Start – Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Baltimore
The Ravens have allowed 6 TD to opposing tight ends, and the second most points per week, including Dion Sims and Zach Miller combining for 4 receptions, 67 yards and 2 TD in Week 6. That is promising for Rudolph, who has seen 9 targets each of the past two weeks, delivering 11 receptions and 1 TD in the process. With tight ends being a hit or miss position, the high potential of a TD makes him well worth using if you don’t own one of the truly elite.
Sit – Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Buffalo
Speaking to that point the Bills have yet to allow a TD to opposing tight ends. Granted Brate has caught a TD in four straight games, but all of those defenses were in the bottom half of the league against opposing tight ends and three of them are currently among the nine worst. Throw in the presence of O.J. Howard, who hasn’t done much but could take away a few looks, and Brate becomes a risky play.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 7 rankings: