It’s easy to rank Calvin Johnson #1 overall in weekly fantasy football rankings. Well, not this week. Seems he’s destined to miss a second straight game. The same goes for Jimmy Graham. It’d be easy to rank him as the top tight end, were he not dying a horrible injury depth (also, likely out).
It’s calling out the duds that takes a special eye. Of course, neither is ever necessarily easy, but it’s got to be true that we almost always focus all of our energy on which guys are locks to blow up. How often do we actually check ourselves, take a look at matchups and say, hey, maybe this guy needs the week off? Not as much as we probably should.
Keenan Allen hasn’t scored yet. On the damn season. Wes Welker, the PPR machine, had exactly one reception last week. Against the freaking Jets. The New York Giants got shutout in week six. Against the Eagles.
We can’t predict the future, but we sure as heck should try. With that thought in mind, let’s focus on why some guys are lower than expected in my week seven player rankings. Here’s one at each spot to get the ball rolling. Hit the rest of the rankings for who to start or sit this week:
Quarterbacks: Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford and Ryan Fitzpatrick
Brees is easy to love, but on the road against the best defense in the league? Oh, and he’s without Jimmy Graham. I’m sure Brees is capable of going off like he tends to do in these situations, but the Lions are allowing a paltry 9 fantasy points to passers over the past four games. In daily leagues, Brees is one to avoid, although you may have to still roll with him in season long leagues. Stafford has a good matchup on paper, but the Saints have oddly given up just one passing score in the past four weeks, while Stafford has been fairly pedestrian. Calvin Johnson might also be out again. Fitzpatrick can be spare regardless of the matchup, but the Steelers aren’t ideal here. They give up yardage all day, but they actually have only allowed just three passing scores the past four weeks.
Running Backs: Marshawn Lynch, Jerick McKinnon and Ronnie Hillman
McKinnon looks like he’s the feature back in Minny now, but that won’t help him against the best run defense in the league. He and Hillman are solid value plays on daily sites, but neither has an ideal matchup this week. They are players to avoid overall. Lynch needs to be started in season long leagues, but he had a down week six and now faces a Rams run D that has actually been quite strong the past four weeks. He could always go Beast Mode, but I’m refraining from him on daily sites in week seven.
Wide Receivers: Brandin Cooks, Rueben Randle and Eric Decker
Decker is facing Darrelle Revis, who the Pats have seemingly finally unleashed upon the world. He’ll want to kill it against his former team on TNF, plus Eric Decker isn’t much of a task for a guy like him. Randle is a solid play on paper, as Victor Cruz’s fantasy death spells more targets for him. He’s super inconsistent, though, while Dallas has actually been decent against the pass lately. Cooks could get a ton of looks with Jimmy Graham on the shelf, but the Lions are a really bad matchup on the road. He might be an OK WR3 in regular leagues but I’m not using him in daily formats.
Tight Ends: Julius Thomas, Eric Ebron and Antonio Gates
Gates is hit or miss and Ebron is a rookie, so both of these guys are easy bench and find solid replacements for. They both face defenses that are top-5 against tight ends the past four weeks, so the matchups are not ideal at all. Ebron certainly could see more looks with Calvin Johnson likely out again, but he’s not reliable enough to guarantee a matchup exploitation. Orange Julius is the head scratcher, of course, but the Niners have been solid against tight ends on the year. They’ve dipped a bit the past four weeks, but they’re still decent. This obviously changes if Patrick Willis (toe) is out, but Thomas has also scored in every single game this year and that streak eventually has to end. I’m betting it does this week and I’m not paying to roster him in daily leagues. That being said, he’s a stud and you have to keep him in lineups in season long leagues.