(Image courtesy of CBS Sports)
It’s already Week 7; the one thing I hate about the NFL season is how it flies by so fast.
Here are the games being played this week:
Teams on BYE: Raiders, Seahawks, Packers, Steelers
Thursday, 8:20 P.M.
Broncos (2-4) @ Cardinals (1-5)
Sunday, 9:30 A.M.
Titans (3-3) @ Chargers (4-2) [@ Wembley Stadium in London]
Sunday, 1:00 P.M.
Panthers (3-2) @ Eagles (3-3)
Vikings (3-2-1) @ Jets (3-3)
Bills (2-4) @ Colts (1-5) (Who’d have thought the Bills would have a better record than Indy at this point…?)
Patriots (4-2) @ Bears (3-2)
Browns (2-3-1) @ Buccaneers (2-3)
Texans (3-3) @ Jaguars (3-3)
Lions (2-3) @ Dolphins (4-2)
Sunday, 4:05 P.M.
Saints (4-1) @ Ravens (4-2)
Sunday, 4:25 P.M.
Cowboys (3-3) @ Redskins (3-2)
Rams (6-0) @ 49ers (1-5)
Sunday, 8:20 P.M.
Bengals (4-2) @ Chiefs (5-1)
Monday, 8:15 P.M.
Giants (1-5) @ Falcons (2-4)
The most interesting games of the week (to me) are NE-CHI, HOU-JAC, NO-BAL, DAL-WAS and CIN-KC… although I will say that Monday night’s Giants-Falcons game could be entertaining in a sense. Will Eli Manning be able to take advantage of the banged-up Atlanta defense, or will his offensive line falter once again?
With the match-ups above in mind, let’s get right to it.
QB Jameis Winston, Buccaneers vs. Browns
While the Browns’ pass defense has only allowed two 300+ yard passers on the year (Ben Roethlisberger in the 21-all tie Week 1; Derek Carr Week 4), I believe Winston’s primed for a strong performance here. The Florida State product threw for 395 yards and 4 TDs as well as 2 INTs in the 34-29 loss against the Falcons last week, hitting tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard for two of the scores while surprisingly, slot man Adam Humphries paced the team in receiving yards (82 on 3 receptions).
Look, the Buccaneers have too many good skill-position players for Winston not to be successful. 300 yards should be his floor! But in order for Winston to succeed, he’s got to do what he did last week and spread the ball around to these different players. Star WR Mike Evans was targeted only 5 times in the contest – spreading the ball around is one thing, but if your best receiver is being targeted only 5 times and he’s on the field the whole game, something’s wrong.
WR Chris Godwin led the team in receptions last week, catching 6 of his 9 targets for 56 yards and a TD. I don’t know who will be the Buccaneers’ top pass-catcher against Cleveland, but I know Winston come out with a strong fantasy day.
Prediction: 28/37, 318 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT; 2 rushes, 14 yards
QB Joe Flacco, Ravens vs. Saints
Flacco’s been on a cold streak of late, throwing only 1 TD but 2 INTs in his last two games (@Browns, @Titans) while throwing for under 300 yards in both as well. But that cold streak gets hot come Sunday.
The Saints have gotten better against the pass these last two weeks, allowing under 300 yards per contest – but that was to the struggling Eli Manning and the conservative Alex Smith. New Orleans’ has given up a whopping 11 TD passes this season in 5 games (they were on bye last week)!
With a receiving corps of Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead IV as well as a platoon of dependable tight ends (Hayden Hurst, Nick Boyle, Maxx Williams, etc.), Flacco should have a solid day even if Saints’ CB Marshon Lattimore (concussion) is active.
Prediction: 30/40, 307 yards, 3 TD; 4 rushes, 6 yards
RB Tarik Cohen, Bears vs. Patriots
This hurts me to say as a Patriots’ fan, but their defense isn’t that great when it comes to covering speedy skill-position players. Now Tyreek Hill’s 3-TD game last week is about the highest production you’ll ever see out of one, Cohen is very capable of making big plays too. Despite being on the field for 34 snaps and touching the ball just 12 times in Chicago’s 31-28 loss to the Dolphins in overtime last week, Cohen made the most of his opportunities. He rushed 5 times for 31 yards and a TD while snatching 7 receptions for 90 yards while losing a fumble.
Cohen has a lot of upside against a Patriots’ defense that doesn’t have any fast linebackers that can cover him in the flat or on wheel/angle routes. QB Mitchell Trubisky has been reading defenses well of late, throwing for a 9:1 TD:INT ratio in his last two games while also reaching the 300-yard mark in both games (vs. TB, @ Mia).
Bottom line – even though Cohen splits snaps with Jordan Howard, Cohen has a much higher floor and his ceiling could be big depending on game flow.
Prediction: 6 rushes, 39 yards; 8 receptions, 94 yards, 2 TD
RB LeSean McCoy, Bills @ Colts
While Colts have been decent against the run this year, allowing 100+ yards only once this season (to the Eagles Week 3), they’ll be facing a slightly reinvigorated McCoy that’s seen 40 carries in his last two games. McCoy hasn’t rushed for 100+ yet, but this could be the game where he does.
McCoy’s increased usage has resulted in two straight games of 70+ rushing yards, making him a little more respectable for fantasy purposes. The Colts are actually giving up the 12th-most fantasy points to running backs this season despite having a decent track record against them. If Derek Anderson decides to check down to McCoy more than Peterman or Allen have this season, his value will jump in PPR leagues (only 8 receptions in his last 3 games).
Prediction: 18 carries, 101 yards, TD; 4 receptions, 27 yards, TD
WR Sammy Watkins, Chiefs vs. Bengals
I know Watkins isn’t exactly on the top of the Chiefs’ pecking order, with guys like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt to feed – but Watkins is up against a suspect Bengals’ secondary allowing 6 TDs in as many games to the position.
With the Chiefs’ high-flying aerial attack putting up 40 points against New England last week, momentum is high for the unit as a whole with Watkins primed to rebound from a 2 catch, 18 yard outing on 4 targets. Watkins had 8 targets the week prior against Jacksonville, and he’ll land around there in what will likely be a shootout.
Prediction: 7 receptions, 131 yards, TD; 1 rush, 3 yards
WR John Brown, Ravens vs. Saints
See “Joe Flacco” for the reasoning behind this one, but if you need any more convincing, Brown is among the league leaders for air yards per target, even averaging close to 15 in his sub-par performance last week in the 21-0 shutout win over the Titans (2 receptions, 28 yards).
Oh, and just to add the icing on the cake, the Saints allow the most fantasy points to wideouts this year. Play Brown with confidence, even if CB Marshon Lattimore plays for New Orleans.
Prediction: 5 receptions, 131 yards, TD
TE C.J. Uzomah, Bengals @ Chiefs
Like I stated when mentioning Watkins earlier, this game is going to be high-scoring. Maybe not 43-40 like the Chiefs-Patriots game last week, but at least 55 points combined high.
Tyler Eifert (ankle) went on IR after his gruesome injury a few weeks ago and Tyler Kroft (foot) is out, which will again make Uzomah a valuable safety valve in the flats and short-to-intermediate passing game for QB Andy Dalton.
Coming off a 6-54-0 line against division rival Pittsburgh last week, Uzomah is a hot commodity at an overall thin position fantasy-wise.
Prediction: 7 receptions, 103 yards
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, Cardinals vs. Broncos
Denver is in the bottom half of the league when it comes to covering tight ends, allowing 100+ yards to the position on two occasions (Seattle Week 1 to Will Dissly; KC Week 4 to Travis Kelce).
Seals-Jones caught 5 passes for 69 yards against the Vikings last week, and while he didn’t receive any targets at all the week prior, he’s a vital part of the Cardinals’ offense alongside star RB David Johnson and rookie WR Christian Kirk.
With the Broncos’ defense likely keying in on Johnson (their Achilles’ heel this year being the run), I expect Seals-Jones will catch his second TD of the season Thursday night.
Prediction: 6 receptions, 91 yards, TD
Bills D/ST @ Colts
We all Andrew Luck throws the ball a lot, but the Bills’ defense is a solid play this week because of their floor. The unit is coming off a season high 7-sack performance against the Texans and QB Deshaun Watson. They’ve also gotten at least 2 sacks in every game thus far, which makes this a juicy match-up considering the quality of Indy’s offensive front.
Even with WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) practicing in full Wednesday and on track to play in this one, the Bills have collected at least one INT and one fumble recovery in each of their last 4 games. This is a solid streaming option.
Prediction: 24 points allowed, 5 sacks, 2 INT, 1 FR, TD
Colts D/ST vs. Bills
Let’s be real, the Bills’ offense hasn’t been very stellar this season. RB LeSean McCoy is about the only promising aspect on that side of the ball, and while I think he’ll have a solid day Sunday, he’ll likely be the only one (offensively at least).
The Bills have allowed double-digit points to opposing defenses 4 times in the 6 games they’ve played thus far. Only once have they allowed just one sack in a game (Week 5 vs. Tennessee), although they’ve only allowed 3 in their last two.
The Bills will be starting QB Derek Anderson against the Colts. There’s a risk to playing the Colts, but it’s definitely one of the safer streaming options this week.
Prediction: 16 points allowed, 4 sacks, 2 INT, 2 FR
QB Philip Rivers, Chargers vs. Titans
Rivers is normally a must-start for me considering his floor (he’s thrown at least 2 TD passes every game thus far). However, the match-up ahead for Rivers is bleak. The Titans’ defense has allowed under 30 points in every game, allowing over 20 three times. One other telling stat – this defensive unit has not allowed a multiple-TD performance by any QB yet.
Rivers only threw the ball 20 times because of how dominant RB Melvin Gordon was. The Chargers will likely win this game given the offensive struggles the Titans have displayed lately, but there are safer options than Rivers this week.
Prediction: 21/31, 241 yards, TD, INT
QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys @ Redskins
Last week’s game against the Jaguars is an outlier – Prescott’s point total jumped from 82 yards rushing and his first TD on the ground this season.
Washington has a pretty stingy pass defense headed by CB Josh Norman, so unless Prescott can squeeze out another 50+ rushing yard performance (last week is the only time he did so this season), I would avoid picking him up on the waiver wire to start in lieu of Roethlisberger, Rodgers, or Wilson due to their byes.
Prediction: 19/28, 194 yards, TD, INT; 3 rushes, 14 yards
RB Alex Collins, Ravens vs. Saints
Coming off a multi-TD performance against the Titans, it’s understandable why Collins is a popular waiver wire addition. However, the Saints’ front is stingy against running backs, allowing less than 80 rushing yards in each of their first 5 games and only 3 rushing scores in that span.
With Collins not being a large part of the Ravens’ passing attack, he doesn’t normally have any appeal in PPR leagues, but he’s worthy of an add – I’d just stash him though, as this match-up favors the passing game much more.
Prediction: 11 carries, 41 yards; 1 reception, 8 yards
RB Latavius Murray, Vikings @ Jets
I chalk up Murray’s 155-yard day against the Cardinals as an outlier. Before that game, Murray had failed to reach 50 yards on the ground in any game this season despite Dalvin Cook’s limited presence. Speaking of Cook, he practiced fully Wednesday, so it’s looking like he’s on track to play in this match-up, which will severely lower Murray’s ceiling.
The Jets have allowed four scores on the ground, but the last TD they allowed was to Jacksonville Week 4. They’ve only allowed 100+ on the ground twice, including last week to the Colts. Murray will fall back down to Earth this week.
Prediction: 6 rushes, 31 yards; 1 reception, 7 yards
WR Albert Wilson, Dolphins vs. Lions
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the last Miami receiver to catch 6+ passes and accrue 150+ receiving yards was Irving Fryar in 1994. Believe me, Wilson’s performance in the 31-28 OT win over the Bears was a major outlier and is severely unlikely to happen again. Especially against a Lions’ secondary that ranks 4th against the pass.
If there’s anything you should understand about fantasy football, it’s consistency and volume. Wilson possesses neither.
Prediction: 3 receptions, 29 yards; 1 rush, -3 yards
WR Sterling Shepard, Giants @ Falcons
Great match-up for the Giants’ WR2, however, SO many things make him hard to play.
For one, TE Evan Engram (knee) is feeling good about returning this week after being absent for a majority of the season. If he does, that’ll put a damper on the 7+ targets Shepard has been receiving consistently.
Secondly, it’s no secret the Giants’ offense has been struggling (well, the offense OTHER than RB Saquon Barkley). Until I see improvement from QB Eli Manning and the offensive line, it’s hard for me to consider Shepard over other more reliable options.
I could go on – let me just say this; Shepard certainly isn’t the WORST play to make at flex, but it’s definitely risky. Odell Beckham Jr. and Barkley dominate this lackluster offense.
Prediction: 5 receptions, 43 yards
TE Jordan Reed, Redskins vs. Cowboys
Even with WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) and RB Chris Thompson (ribs/knee) out against the Panthers last week, Reed put up a 5-36-0 line. Dallas hasn’t been friendly to tight ends, only allowing one score to the position thus far (ironically to Evan Engram, mentioned above).
Reed is limited by the one throwing him the ball, unfortunately. Alex Smith just doesn’t sling the ball like he should, and it lowers the ceiling of anyone on the team not named Adrian Peterson.
Prediction: 3 receptions, 42 yards
TE Trey Burton, Bears vs. Patriots
I’m gonna keep this simple – Burton is very TD-dependent. Not the worst option, but New England’s stats against tight ends are misleading; outside of the game against the Colts where Eric Ebron caught two TDs and Eric Swoope caught another, the team has allowed under 70 yards to the position per game.
Play Burton with caution – it’s either TD or bust, and he’s only caught a max of 4 passes in any one game thus far.
Prediction: 3 receptions, 39 yards
Panthers D/ST @ Eagles
The Eagles have allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing defenses only once (the Vikings came out with 12 during their Week 5 game). With the Panthers sacking the QB only 4 times in their last two games and allowing 20+ points in their last four, I’d avoid this unit against a Carson Wentz-led offense.
Prediction: 31 points allowed, 1 sack, 1 INT
Lions D/ST @ Dolphins
The Lions are going up against a Brock Osweiler-led offense that just upset their division rival Bears last week, winning 31-28 in OT over the vaunted Chicago defense.
While Osweiler lighting up the scoreboard a second week in a row is unlikely, the Lions’ D/ST hasn’t been particularly amazing this season. They’ve forced six turnovers all season, with 3 of them (all fumble recoveries) coming against the Packers before their bye last week. This unit has not surpassed 9 fantasy points all season.
Better to seek other options.
Prediction: 23 points allowed, 3 sacks