Remember that scene in Back to the Future when Marty first arrives in 1955 and Old Man Peabody mistakes him for an alien who eats brains? It’s because he’s never seen anyone wearing the futuristic clothes the teenager from 1985 is sporting. It’s also because he assumes anything that is different must be avoided or eliminated at all costs. Luckily he misses with his shotgun blast and takes out his own pine tree instead of Marty. Which makes my point, that we often make our decisions based on preconceived notions instead of what we see with our own eyes, just because we haven’t seen something like it before.
The Browns are abysmal. I don’t know if we’ve ever seen this kind of futility in the professional game of football before. When asking yourself if you want to put any of their players in your lineup, the answer should generally be no. But, just like with Marty, appearances might not tell the whole story. Part of that story is that some parts of the Browns are still good, for fantasy purposes anyway. Just as with any team, it’s the subtleties that should decide for us whether or not each player will be useful in the long run, or even in the short term.
Speaking of the short term, it’s time for Week 7, and in fantasy terms that means we are at the halfway point of our season. The decisions we make this week may very well determine our fantasy playoff lives. Let’s not rule players out until we have analyzed everything, so we’re not like Old Man Peabody, shooting our own property in our haste to rid ourselves of what we do not understand. Here are my Week 7 Lineup Moves…
1. Andy Dalton (vs. CLE) – Dalton likes playing against the Browns, and it should be obvious why. They don’t really have anyone who can match up with his receivers besides Joe Haden, and he can keep the ball away from his side of the field. Besides, he has A.J. Green, who is matchup proof, in my opinion.
2. Blake Bortles (vs. OAK) – They were exposed last week by the Chiefs, and Alex Smith doesn’t even try and stretch the field. Bortles isn’t afraid to let it go, and you know how I feel about Allen Robinson (see below). This will be a big game, and I don’t think he turns the ball over either.
3. Marcus Mariota (vs. IND) – It’s the Colts defense. Sad to say, because they weren’t always like this, but they have issues in the secondary. While Mariota can run the ball, he can also throw it, and his receivers have been getting open. That will be easier to do for them here. This could be a really special game from him.
4. Colin Kaepernick (vs. TB) – After knocking off the rust, Kaepernick comes into this one refreshed, and it’s a good matchup for him against a stagnant Buccaneers defense that doesn’t do well against mobile quarterbacks.
AVOID: Ryan Tannehill (vs. BUF) – It’s Miami, and they’re coming off a big win against the Steelers, but Tannehill didn’t have the best day in that one. If the team is smart they will lean on the hot hand in Ajayi again in this one. Buffalo has been good against opposing arms, and I don’t see that changing here.
1. Devonta Freeman/ Tevin Coleman (vs. SD) – I was going to just champion Freeman here, but these guys have become somewhat interchangeable this season, and both are on pace for top 10 fantasy campaigns. I don’t see any of that changing, especially not this week against a Chargers defense that can be run on all afternoon long.
2. Spencer Ware (vs. NO) – Jamaal Charles is obviously still sore, and he suffered a bit of a setback this week, but I would have been on the Ware bandwagon anyway. I had him as an “Avoid” last week, and he made me look foolish. I don’t see any of that changing this week against a still poor Saints defense.
3. Jeremy Hill (vs. CLE) – Hill has been quiet of late, but this Browns defense can be exploited on the ground. Both he and Giovani Bernard have the potential for solid fantasy numbers, and I think they get it.
4. Mike Davis (vs. TB) – I would have loved Carlos Hyde in this one, so why not give some of that love to the guy who will actually be shouldering the load? They need to keep the pressure off Kaepernick, so the 49ers will establish the run early and often. I really like Davis to make a splash in his starting debut.
AVOID: Rashad Jennings (@ LA – but really in London) – I still don’t think Jennings is 100% healthy, and he’s still sharing touches with Darkwa and Perkins. I also expect the Giants to be chasing points, which leans more on the receivers getting the lions’ share of the touches late.
1. Allen Robinson (vs. OAK) – That Raiders defense looked to be righting the ship before they let the Chiefs run all over them last week. While I don’t really know what to make of them, I know that Blake Bortles is finally finding Robinson out in space where he’s most dangerous. That combination and uncertainty with the Oakland defense makes Robinson a must-start.
2. Terrelle Pryor (@ CIN – if he plays)* – There’s really no one as versatile as Pryor in the entire league, and that helps him gain a sizeable share of his team’s offense. If he plays in this one, he will be needed, and will be relied on heavily to keep the Browns in the game.
3. Pierre Garcon (@ DET) – Don’t look now but Garcon is on the upswing again. While DeSean Jackson has outshone him for most of the time the two have been teammates, I think Cousins understands that it’s Garcon who moves the sticks. He should be busy in this one, possibly in a comeback effort.
4. Kenny Britt (vs. NYG – in London) – I like Britt as a wild card in this game, as I believe Case Keenum will be getting the ball out early and often. Those Giants cornerbacks can be exposed, and Britt has the speed and length to break a couple of big plays and score at least one touchdown.
AVOID: Michael Floyd (vs. SEA) – I know John Brown might not play in this one, or might be limited, but I just can’t trust Floyd against that defense regardless. If he was able to stretch the field, sure, but he’s not, or at least he hasn’t been so far this season.
1. Jack Doyle (@ TN) – Doyle has thoroughly outplayed Dwayne Allen, who had been thought of as the “pass catching” tight end coming into this season with Coby Fleener gone. But that’s how things have shaken out so far, and I have no reason to believe that will change in this matchup against a defensive unit that isn’t bad against wide receivers.
2. Dennis Pitta (@ NYJ) – The Jets don’t particularly use their own tight ends, but they’ve proven to be relatively good at limiting those from the opposing team. But Joe Flacco will be under duress in this one, and Pitta saves him in those circumstances. Look for him to get Pitta the ball often.
3. Cameron Brate (@ SF) – Brate could be a solid option the rest of the way, especially now that Vincent Jackson was just put on IR. He’s a good streaming option this week too, if your tight end is on bye, as he faces a 49ers defense that can be exploited.
4. Vernon Davis (@ DET) – With Jordan Reed out again, Vernon Davis will be the safety valve for Kirk Cousins on the road in the hostile environs of Detroit. Cousins likes to look to his tight ends in the red zone, which gives Davis a good chance to score in this one.
AVOID: Antonio Gates (@ ATL) – He’s splitting reps with Hunter Henry, and getting outplayed by the younger tight end. It’s possible he steps up here, but the odds are against it based on performance this year.
1. Jacquizz Rogers (@ SF)
2. Jeremy Maclin (vs. NO)
3. Michael Crabtree (@ JAC)
4. Giovani Bernard (vs. CLE)
AVOID: Jordan Matthews (vs. MIN)