Welcome to the Week 7 edition of the Twitter Fantasy Football Roundtable!
RookieBlitz.com is happy to host some of the best fantasy football minds on the internet to help you dominate your fantasy football leagues this week.
The fantasy football landscape is becoming much clearer, and some of the playoff matchups are taking shape. If you are a contending team, it is time to consider positioning yourself to have the best chance to win your league through trade and being ahead of the curve on your waiver wire.
Pay extra attention to your lineups this week as the Ravens, Broncos, Lions, Jaguars, Seahawks, and Titans are all on their Bye Week.
“They are who we thought they were, and we let them off the hook!”
-Dennis Green, then Head Coach of the Arizona Cardinals
I’ve always wanted an excuse to use that gem of a sound bite from that memorable Monday Night game where the Bears edged out the Cardinals without scoring an offensive touchdown.
Now on to our thoughts for Week 7 in the NFL:
Sleeper #1: Laurence Maroney, RB, New England Patriots
I was in attendance for the Patriots drubbing of the Titans in Week 6 and I’m not sure what was more shocking: The Patriots scoring 45 points by halftime, the snow falling in October at Foxboro, or that Laurence Maroney looked like the back that the Patriots took in the first round several years ago. It remains to be seen if the Titans did in fact just give up or that the equipment manager forgot to bring the right cleats for the team; but Maroney now vaults into being a viable starting RB in fantasy circles. The snow clearly helped Maroney run more north and south instead of dancing in the backfield. Next up are the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London, England and they were gashed for 267 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns by the Panthers in Week 6. Sammy Morris is unlikely to play, so expect Maroney to post a similar stat line as he did against the Titans with around 15-20 carries with the Law Firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis to handle the rest of the carries.
Sleeper #2: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
Jonathan Stewart is coming off a huge game against the Buccaneers in which he totaled 110 yards rushing and a TD. After a slow start to the season, the Panthers running game has really gotten on track despite the struggles of Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith. Stewart is still the 2nd back to DeAngelo Williams but take note that the Bills allowed the Jets to run for 318 yards on 40 carries. This game will play right into the Panthers strength, expect a heavy dose of Williams and Stewart and you can probably expect another 100 yard rushing game a TD this week for Stewart.
Sleeper #3: Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
Nicks is currently 3rd on the depth chart for the Giants, but with more performances like he had in Week 6 it will only be a matter of time before Nicks supplants Mario Manningham in the starting lineup. Nicks has caught a TD in three straight games since returning from injury. He has put up most of the production in garbage time but fantasy owners will not be picky about it. The Cardinals have not been able to stop anyone from passing the ball and rank 31st in the NFL in pass defense. With so many key players out on bye this week, Nicks makes a great case for a long shot option that could pay off huge once again.
Bust #1: Chad Henne, QB, Miami Dolphins
If you’re looking for a bye-week filler, you might want to consider looking elsewhere this week. Granted, Chad Henne has done a sufficient job at moving the chains and putting his running backs in position to score, but this week’s contest versus New Orleans will be an uphill battle. While the Saints’ passing defense is moderately generous in giving up passing yardage (an average of 216.6 yards per game), they are very stingy in allowing passing touchdowns (only four on the season). Not to mention, they have generated 11 interceptions. Against New Orleans, quarterbacks score an average of 8.4 fantasy points to game.
Bust #2: Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, RBs, New York Giants
As a duo, these two backs average 4.5 YPC and run up an average of 147.7 rushing yards per game. This week however, at home against Arizona, they face a difficult contest. The Cardinals allow only 59.6 rushing yards per game (a league-low) while only having allowed two rushing scores all season – and those stats come after facing formidable runners in Frank Gore, Maurice Jones-Drew, Joseph Addai, Steve Slaton and the rejuvenated Julius Jones. Against Arizona, running backs score of average of 12.8 fantasy points per game.
Bust #3: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston, WRs, Arizona Cardinals
First, let me preface this by stating: I am not advocating that fantasy owners sit these receivers. I am simply noting that conditions this week are not favorable for them to perform at their average level. On the outside, things look good for the Arizona receivers and Kurt Warner this week as they travel to the Meadowlands. Entering this contest, they average 280.2 passing yards per game, with Larry Fitzgerald reaping of those benefits (35/360/5) and Anquan Boldin not far behind (29/306/1). After suffering an ankle sprain last week, Boldin’s status currently up in the air. Steve Breaston, who is arguably the best slot receiver in his conference, will have no problem stepping in if Boldin is a no-go. Regrettably, the Cardinals squad has to face a Giants team who is looking for revenge for last week’s loss and look to put on a good home-show. On top of that, they are currently the NFL’s top-ranked passing defense, allowing 147.3 passing yards per game. Against the Giants, wide receivers score an average of 12.5 fantasy points per game.
Sleeper: Shaun Hill – San Francisco 49ers
Hill has been doing just enough to keep the 49ers competitive the past couple of weeks (besides that nasty loss to Atlanta), but will benefit greatly from the return of Frank Gore this week. Gore is the heart and soul of that offense and when he is on the field distracting defenders, it gives Hill more time to throw and more confidence as a signal caller. Add in the fact that Michael Crabtree will finally be stepping on the field and Hill suddenly becomes a top quarterback to look at if you have one of the many guys on bye this week (Flacco, Orton, and Hasselbeck). Crabtree will probably struggle in his first game, but he will be an added weapon for Hill as he does his best to keep up with Matt Schaub and the Texans.
Bust: Carson Palmer – Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are a team that absolutely baffles me. Sometimes they’re a smooth running machine on offense and other times they just fade away. Last week, they didn’t score a single point in the second half against Houston and I was left scratching my head as to why Palmer and his offense are so streaky. Times don’t get any easier for them this week as they welcome Chicago into town a week after a tough loss to Atlanta on national television. The Bears have limited opposing quarterbacks to an average rating of 79.6 and have 14 sacks to go along with five interceptions. They shut down Matt Ryan last week and Palmer will struggle just the same.
Sleeper: Larry Johnson – Kansas City Chiefs
Larry Johnson is in no means the stud he used to be, and in fantasy terms, he is just not someone you can count on to start each week, but he is coming off his best effort of the season as he put up 95 total yards against the Redskins. This week he faces a San Diego defense that is a former shadow of itself. They have given up 4 TDs to RBs in their last 3 games. This week I expect Johnson to get close, if not surpass, the 100 yard mark and maybe even toss in a TD. He is the only running back in the league to get every goal line carry for his team.
Bust: Jamal Lewis – Cleveland Browns
One week after going for 117 against Buffalo, Lewis turns around and drops a whopping 21 yards on 11 carries against the Steelers. This week he faces the stingy Packer rush defense which has only allowed 1 TD to opposing RBs. In their last two games the Packers have held Adrian Peterson and Kevin Smith to 55 and 61 yards respectively. Lewis is not even close to that talent so expect Lewis to be shut down all game.
Sleeper: Mike Wallace – Pittsburgh Steelers
Without Antoine Winfield the Vikings poor pass defense just got a lot poorer. Add to that the Williams Wall will continue to make it difficult for opposing back to run on the Vikings and you could see a big game out of Big Ben. Then add to that Mike Wallace’s emergence as a deep threat and you have a good chance he’ll get into the endzone on a long pass while also hauling in a few more catches for good measure.
Bust: Steve Smith – Carolina Panthers
The Buffalo Bills just picked off rookie Mark Sanchez 5 times and there is no reason they can’t do some damage to the free wheeling Jake Delhomme. That doesn’t mean Steve Smith can’t get a catch or two, but there is absolutely nobody to really take the heat off of him. If Jake locks onto Smith he will be picked, over and over again.
Sleeper: Dante Rosario – Carolina Panthers
Greg Olsen and Heath Miller face good matchups this week, but each is too regular a fantasy producer at this point to qualify as a sleeper. The Bills’ defense, which Rosario will face, has seen just the 10th most pass attempts in the league so far but the third most thrown to tight ends. Dustin Keller only caught two passes against Buffalo on Sunday, but he was thrown to a team-high 10 times. Jake Delhomme has only thrown four touchdown passes through five games, but all of those have gone to his tight ends. It can be frustrating to guess whether the score will go to Rosario or Jeff King — each has two so far this season — but Rosario has been the more-targeted player in three of five games. King has yet to be targeted more than three times in a game and was only once targeted even that many times. Rosario’s the play here.
Bust: Zach Miller – Oakland Raiders
The Raiders tight end is clearly the most reliable receiver the team has on the field (would Chaz Schilens be better), but that only gets you so far in Oakland. It would be nice to believe the game against the Eagles was a coming-out party (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but the Raiders now face a Jets defense that has allowed the third-lowest completion rate in the league and the third-fewest touchdown passes. In addition, no opposing tight end has picked up more than 44 yards against the Jets. Miller’s outlook is brighter now than it was a week ago at this time, but try to look elsewhere this Sunday.
Sleeper: San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chargers are not playing as we all we all thought, and especially on
the defensive side of things. They are the NFL’s 23rd ranked unit overall
and in terms of fantasy production, they are ranked in the bottom five.
No worries though…they have the Chiefs in Week 7. Their offense just
isn’t good at all, they can’t block anyone and the Chargers have too much
overall talent for them to stand a chance on either side of the ball. If
you have one of the six defenses on a bye this week, take a shot on the
Bust: Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bears Defense hasn’t been their usual selves and with a tough offense
like the Bengals to contend with on the road this is not the week to roll
with them. With the way Cedric Benson is running as well as the potential
of Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco, you should look elsewhere for your
defensive points this weekend.