The theme for week 7 has been set. There are going to be a lot of close contests, but the two I’m watching the most are the Indianapolis showdown against Cincinnati, and the Cowboys hosting the New York Giants. Both the Bengals and the Giants have something to prove after stumbles of late, and I think they will stand tall. But who will step up across the board to help their teams, and by extension your fantasy team?
It’s time for Setting Your Lineup…
Carson Palmer, ARI. Palmer didn’t look bad last week after coming back from injury, and he gets to face a suspect Oakland Raiders defense this week. But the Raiders showed they still have some fight in them, and this should be a scoring battle. That makes Palmer a viable option to get the ball deep to Michael Floyd, and underneath to Larry Fitzgerald. Look for 20+ fantasy points from him this week.
Kirk Cousins, WAS. There’s just something about the way Cousins looked poised last week, even though the Redskins were outmatched, getting the ball out early and often, and making something happen despite the lack of a solid offensive line, and despite the defense giving up points in droves. I think he continues it this week against Tennessee, and I think he gets both Garcon and Jackson heavily involved in the process. I like all three as solid fantasy plays this week.
Matthew Stafford, DET. Time was not so long ago when Stafford would have been too obvious to put here, and he will probably be without Calvin Johnson again this week, but I actually like his chances against a highly suspect New Orleans defense. I think Golden Tate has a huge week, and Eric Ebron finally gets his breakout performance. Stafford will be QB1 material again, at least for this one week.
Andy Dalton, CIN. Despite the two poor games by the defense, Dalton has been pretty good all season. I’m not sold on that Indianapolis defense being solid, and even without A.J. Green I think Dalton gets the ball out to his receivers in Sanu, in Gresham, and in Bernard. I think it will be high-scoring, and that favors the Cincinnati quarterback in this one.
AVOID: Ben Roethlisberger, PIT. The Houston defense is for real, and it’s not like Big Ben has been lighting it up against lesser defensive squads. Pittsburgh has some major issues, and while I’m not pinning them on Roethlisberger I’m also not saying he’s playing great despite those issues. He is struggling, and I don’t trust him against Houston on Sunday.
Justin Forsett, BAL. They’re playing against a deplorable Atlanta defense, and they’re in Baltimore. That should be enough to get you to play Forsett in this matchup, but if it’s not, consider that Forsett has been hot, going over 100 yards against a better run defense last week than he will face this week in Atlanta. Get him active, and fast.
Ahmad Bradshaw, IND. Remember what I said about a high scoring affair in Indianapolis? Both ground games will get a lot of work in, and will do well. Just like Bernard, Bradshaw will see a lot of touches, including goal-line work, and against a suddenly suspect Bengals defense, he will get yards. I like Bernard, Hill, and Bradshaw in this one. A lot.
Ronnie Hillman, DEN. It’s not like the Denver running game has been that effective so far this year… until last week, that is, when Ronnie Hillman exploited the holes he was given to spring for over 100 yards rushing, and I don’t see why he can’t keep it up against that San Francisco defense. It seems like a tough matchup on paper, but so did last week, and Hillman shined. Having Peyton Manning as good protection helps, and Hillman will make the most of his touches this week. Count on him for over 100 yards and a touchdown.
Andre Williams, NYG. I know. I know. He wasn’t quite dynamic against the Eagles, but neither was anyone else on that Giants team. The Eagles just had their number, which is fine. But after a solid week of getting first reps, and with a game plan firmly in place for the Cowboys, I think Williams gets his feet underneath him and has a good game. He will get the majority of the snaps, and I think he outperforms DeMarco Murray in this one.
AVOID: Branden Oliver, SD. I know it’s hard to bench Oliver after his back-to-back 100-yard games, but the Kansas City defense has been pretty good against the run this year, and Oliver is due for a letdown, especially since I believe Philip Rivers will have to throw more in this game to keep pace with that Kansas City offense that will roll with Jamaal Charles, Travis Kelce, and Dwayne Bowe. I say temper expectations for Oliver this week.
Torrey Smith, BAL. Now that Flacco has finally decided to spread the ball around to others not named Steve Smith, I think Torrey Smith (the other Smith) has a great matchup against that Atlanta defense that gives up yards and points to wide receivers. Flacco will find him early and often in this game.
Malcom Floyd, SD. Speaking of spreading the ball around, Philip Rivers is doing it better than most this year, getting Floyd, Royal, and Gates very active in the passing game. It seems like it would be Keenan Allen time, but there’s just not that connection this year that there was last year, and I doubt it shows this week either. I like Floyd, though, based on his recent play, and the looks that Rivers is giving him. He’s a top-15 play this week.
Michael Floyd, ARI. I’m all-in on the Floyds this week, with Malcom in San Diego and Michael in Arizona both in line for good stat lines. With Carson Palmer back, Floyd showed once again that he’s a viable fantasy threat, and I think that continues here against the lowly Raiders.
Mike Wallace, MIA. I’m not sold on the Chicago defense as relevant against the pass, and Miami is good getting the deep ball down the field with Wallace. While he hasn’t been lights out this year I believe he steps up in this one with Tannehill getting him the ball early and often. I like him to top 100 yards with a touchdown.
AVOID: T.Y. Hilton, IND. You know the Bengals have studied the game tape of Hilton from last week, and they’ve planned a strategy to take him out of his comfort zone and make others from that Colts team beat them. After an all-world game like he just had, it’s natural for a letdown anyway, and I think that’s coming for T.Y. here. The other Colts receivers are more relevant because of this, as I would get both Hakeem Nicks and Reggie Wayne active.
Scott Chandler, BUF. Chandler quickly became Kyle Orton’s go-to guy in Buffalo, and that’s good news for Chandler owners. Last week he stepped up big, going for over 100 yards. I think he will continue his rapport with the veteran quarterback, getting a ton of yardage again this week, and maybe even a score.
Jared Cook, STL. Having Lance Kendricks to push him for production has done wonders for Cook. He performed well against a strong San Francisco team last week, and I think both tight ends will do well again against a Seattle defense that has shown it is vulnerable to the tight end position this year. Keep him active as Austin Davis will find him early and often on Sunday.
Jermaine Gresham, CIN. This game is an anticipated shootout, and I like Gresham because 1) AJ Green is still out, and 2) he stepped up last week in a similar scenario. The Colts are not lights out against tight ends, and Gresham should find some room underneath, especially in the red zone. Count on him for a touchdown in this matchup.
Dwayne Allen, IND. Perhaps in your mind Allen is a must-start anyway, but I still look at it as a matchup situation with him. This week, though, is a good matchup as the Bengals defense hasn’t done well corralling tight ends of late, letting both New England tight ends score on them, and giving up huge yardage to Greg Olsen. Allen should do well against them with that kind of data behind him, as well as his big-play ability he’s already showcased this season.
AVOID: Larry Donnell, NYG. Donnell became the darling of the waiver wire a few weeks ago when he exploded for three touchdowns, but in the immortal words of Janet Jackson, “What have you done for me lately?” In the case of Donnell, much of nothing. He caught a lovely touchdown pass last week that was called back due to penalty, but that was about it, much of nothing. I don’t see that changing against a Dallas defense that plays tight ends well. I think Donnell still has a lot to learn about being a quality tight end, and I don’t want to be around while he’s learning it.
Good luck setting your lineups.
The Fantasy Ace