Whether you are taking your mind off the sweat you’re about to go through during MNF or taking your mind off the roster decisions that cost you week 6, it’s never too early to start thinking about next weekend. So start to think about the Week 7 options you should consider – or not – while the most recent action is still fresh in your mind. It can’t hurt. Good luck.
Tom Brady vs. NYJ ($8,500) – This is not an endorsement of Tom Brady against the Jets. To say he is outperforming his preseason draft position is putting it mildly, but the Jets are playing excellent defense right now, they have the pieces in the secondary to stay with the Patriots’ outside receivers, and they have, historically, always played the Pats well. On a week with that going on for Brady, Rodgers on bye, Luck clearly still not 100%, and the next couple of guys on the list playing on the road, this – for me – is not going to be a week I spend big on QB.
Carson Palmer vs. BAL ($6,700) – If you saw the game yesterday, what you saw was John Brown and Michael Floyd making some pretty athletic plays for big gains. You saw running backs who know how to catch and make plays in space. You saw Fitzgerald continuing his resurgence. Even though it was a loss, the 421 passing yards from Palmer was just another sign that his performance so far this year is for real, putting up 21 fantasy points despite just the one TD. I expect even more in a matchup with the struggling (to put it mildly) Ravens secondary. I mean, Colin Kaepernick just dropped 320 and 2 TDs on them.
Cam Newton vs. PHI ($6,600) – Cam just played a great game in Seattle, and now he is going to be at home, against Philly. Philly is maybe middle of the road against the pass, but that “success” is only in the sense that they are pretty middle of the road at everything, including scoring points, so no one has needed to chuck it around much against them. And neither will Cam. He accounts for so much of his team’s offense, though, it is difficult to imagine him not scoring 20 or so fantasy points at a minimum. And the potential is there for a lot more. I like Cam and Palmer both MORE than the guys priced $1-2,000 higher, never mind the value. Even for the same price, I would take either of them over Brady or Luck.
Ryan Tannehill vs. HOU ($5,700) – I don’t know if it was the coaching change, but let’s face it, it was the coaching change. The Dolphins as a whole looked better than they have all season, and Tannehill in particular played his best game of the season (except maybe his game against Jacksonville in Week 2). Yesterday, he completed 75% of his passes, actually getting the ball in the hands of the weapons at his disposal, and he he has enough playmakers around him to let that approach net him some big fantasy days. And next week he is facing a Texans team that has just not played the kind of defense many (including themselves) expected – they just allowed Blake Bortles to throw for 331 and 3 TDs in a losing effort. I could see Tannehill putting up similar numbers here.
NOTE: Ben Roethlisberger @ KC ($6,800) – There is a chance Big Ben plays this weekend. Bryant is back and playing well, Antonio Brown is aching for his QB’s return, he’s playing a Chiefs team that has given up plenty of big plays, he opened the season costing $500/week more than this… and he will return to that level immediately with a good game. Just sayin’.
Devonta Freeman @ TEN ($7,900) – If you’re waiting for Freeman to slow down, thinking you’ll be there to pounce when he fails because he’ll be so heavily owned, you’ll have an advantage over everyone else who drafted him… well, good luck. You might also just keep losing to him. He’s facing Tennessee in Week 7, coming off four straight games of 35+ fantasy points. Tennessee, on paper, is a tough matchup, but here is the list of RBs they have faced so far this year: Doug Martin, Crowell, Gore, Boom Herron, and Lamar Miller. “But some of them are good!,” you might say. Yeah, well Frank Gore averaged 6 yards a carry and had two scores, Lamar Miller crushed it yesterday, and even Crowell got in on the action with a TD. They are third in fantasy points allowed to RBs through a unique combination of great matchups, favorable game flow, and dumb luck. They should not be a run defense that scares you off a player you like.
Dion Lewis @ NYJ ($6,500) – I actually like Lewis in this game – the Jets defense is good, but the Pats aren’t getting shut out, and he is exactly the kind of weapon who can exploit a defense that is focused on stopping Edelman and Gronk. Most teams just aren’t actually good enough to stop Edelman and Gronk, so they get the ball anyway, but in this one, Lewis could get a ton of targets out of stretch formations. But the key word there is could, and here is my problem with this pick: it seems to me like a big game on Sunday Night Football was baked into this price, which didn’t end up happening. If last night’s game was at 1:00, I feel like Lewis would cost a few hundred bucks less right here. And that removes enough value for me to think twice about trying to predict a Patriots game plan.
Mark Ingram @ IND ($6,300) – This is not Colts! Saints! of eight or five or even three years ago, when you would expect 70+ points on the scoreboard at the end of the whole thing – their offenses just aren’t quite that efficient any more. Luckily, they’re both pretty terrible on defense too. The Saints have been effective at stopping the deep ball, to an extent, but they can get picked apart by Luck’s accuracy, even if his arm IS at 75% strength. And the Colts have the secondary to lock down the Saints’ receiving “threats,” but not the front to stop a power running attack, and that is exactly what Ingram provides. The benefit of Ingram, really, though, has been his versatility – the Saints are most effective when they can run him up the middle for positive gains, but don’t have to be predictable about it when the guy also is averaging right around five catches a game.
Todd Gurley vs. CLE ($5,000) – After last week… and the week before… his priced has jumped. Just not high enough, is all. He went up from $4,300 but only to $5,000. This in a week, coming off a bye, with 49 carries and 305 yards in their two previous games. He doesn’t have a TD in either of those games, but when a running back is averaging over 6 yards a carry, he doesn’t need to be on a great offense for the scores to start coming – he is a great offense all by his lonesome self. Think young Adrian Peterson.
DeAndre Hopkins @ MIA ($8,600) – Miami played better, but don’t let that give you too much pause. If Miami is playing terribly again by next week, Hopkins is your man. And if the Dolphins are playing better on offense, scoring a lot of points, then Houston will be airing it out and Hopkins will get all the targets and Hopkins is your man. If Miami is playing better on defense, getting after the QB, then he’ll get rid of the ball quickly to his best option, and Hopkins is your man. Basically, Hopkins gets all the targets, can beat defenders one on one, can beat zone coverage, can catch everything thrown near him and can run after the catch. Basically, Hopkins is your man. He’s only getting better from here.
Antonio Brown @ KC ($7,900) – Obviously, this pick is contingent on Big Ben (see above). But if Ben can play, he is getting Antonio Brown back involved in this offense ASAP, because Pittsburgh needs Brown out there making big plays if they want to hang with the best teams in the AFC. Brown was priced up closer to $9,000 to begin the season, and if he immediately posts 100+ yards and a score when Ben returns, he will be that expensive again by next weekend. Take advantage.
Travis Benjamin @ STL ($5,400) – This pick here came down to a choice between Benjamin, John Brown ($5,500) and Vincent Jackson ($5,300). But with John Brown, there is too much competition on his own team for targets and with Vincent Jackson there is just too long of a history of inconsistency. I do like both of them, but Benjamin is the #1 receiver on his team, and he has scored at more than 3x his cost in every game of the season so far. While St. Louis’ defense is good, their secondary is their weak spot, so I would expect any points the Browns do muster up to come from the passing game, and right now, that means Benjamin.
Eric Decker @ NE ($5,300) – This is me predicting game flow again, but this is how I see the Patriots’ game plan on defense: stop Chris Ivory. They will devote all the resources they can to stopping the run, and try to contain the passing game with pressure on the QB. But Decker and Marshall are both capable of getting open close to the line of scrimmage, which could mean plenty of the “bend but don’t break” style drives for the Jets that Belichicks’s defenses have been known for recently. When you then consider that Marshall costs $7,800 and will draw New England’s best corner, I like Decker as a value play grabbing a handful of catches next weekend and possibly a score.
Rob Gronkowski vs. NYJ ($8,100) – He had five targets yesterday, after getting five targets the week before. Prior to that, he had 11 straight games of seven or more. Clearly the Jets WANT to contain him, but two things: one, as usual, ignore their ranking against tight ends in general, because it does not apply here (Gronk is not all other tight ends). And two, if the Jets defense is as good I think they might be, and they shut down running lanes and blanket outside receivers, then who would you throw passes to all day if you were Tom Brady? The unguardable monster over the middle? Yeah, me too.
Antonio Gates vs. OAK ($5,000) – He has 18 catches for 187 yards and 2 TDs in his two games back. Next week, he’ll be at home, where Rivers plays better. He will be going against the Raiders, who are the worst team in the NFL at defending against tight ends. And he will still be on a team chock-full of banged up and inconsistent receiving threats. It all adds up to a solid performance out of Gates in this one. I am on board.
Travis Kelce vs. PIT ($4,900) – Now that Charles is hurt, there is a solid chance that Kelce is the most dynamic playmaker on this roster, as sad as that may be. He hasn’t scored since week 1, but he has continued to be a part of their passing game, and Pittsburgh has allowed some big numbers in that area so far this season. If Big Ben is back, you expect the Steelers to score, and if the Chiefs are in catch-up mode, Kelce is going to be involved.
Jordan Cameron vs. HOU ($3,300) – He caught three out of eight targets yesterday, meaning he missed five of them. Tannehill only threw seven incomplete passes, total. But what that tells me is that Cameron is a safety valve, someone Tannehill trusts to try to make a play even when he is not running around virtually uncovered. When you get to this point in the tight end list, you are basically just hoping for a TD, but with Cameron, at least, the potential is actually there for that big game to come.
New England Patriots vs. NYJ ($3,200) – I am not normally a big proponent of spending up on defenses, only because with a little research you can usually get one for cheaper that doesn’t kill you and because no matter how much research you do, it’s random dumb luck if you come up with the defense that happens to have a pick six and a punt return for a TD or whatever. But if you saw what I wrote above, I do think the Patriots defense has the potential for a big output this weekend. They are going to try to put the clamps down on the Jets attack with lots of pressure up front, and that could lead to both sacks and turnovers. Of course, it could also lead to one of those random Fitzmagic 4-TD games, which is why we also like to present you with a cheaper option. See below.
St. Louis Rams vs. CLE ($2,400) – This is a fantasy defense that has had double-digit points in three of six games this year, and is now facing a Cleveland team that doesn’t really seem primed to reverse that trend. For a defense near the very bottom in pricing, you would expect at least one or two negative-point efforts on their game log, but that is not the case here. It is clear there is a risk factor being priced in, because they do have upside, but I guess I don’t think their floor is all that low either. They have at least two sacks in every game, and typically play relatively low-scoring games. That’s an easy recipe for a consistent return on prices in this range.