An exciting week seven of the fantasy season has arrived, with six teams on the bye week, the reigning MVP playing the league’s worst team, a show-down in Steel town and yet another afternoon to wonder how Jake Delhomme has kept his job in this troublesome economy. This is crunch time boys (and one or two girls) so be sure to carefully set your rosters this week and as always, remember to check back on Sunday morning for Spike’s breaking injury news.
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Percy Harvin is active for today's game against the Steelers. Not the best of matchups for the rookie wide receiver, but for anybody needing to fill a hole, he could be a nice fit.
Marion Barber has been reporting soreness all week, and after Jerry Jones recently gave hs vote of confidence to Tashard Choice, it doesn't seem like Barber is due for a big day.
Frank Gore will officially start his first game since week 3.
LaDanian Tomlinson is over the flu and will start against the Chiefs' alleged defense.
Michael Turner has been plagued with a chest injury during the week, but will start today. With Jerrious Norwood out, he should see a lot of action in this one.
Anquan Boldin was limited in practice Friday and will see very minimal, if any, action today.
Braylon Edwards practiced fully on Friday and will be the Jets number one option with Jerricho Cotchery out.
Fred Taylor and Julian Edeleman will not play today for the New England Patriots.
Darren McFadden is also out this week with a knee injury.
The Batltimore Ravens will have a week off to forget about the Brett Favre comeback, so give Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Wllis McGahee, Todd Heap, Mark Clayton and Le’Ron McClain a rest.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will also have some time to regroup, so remember to sit David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew, Mike Sims-Walker, Torry Holt and Marcedes Lewis.
The Seattle Seahawks won’t be in action either, which means Matt Hasselbeck, Julius Jones, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson, John Carlson and Deion Branch won’t be in action either.
The Tennessee Titans will have a week to settle the Kerry Collins/Vince Young controversy, so Chris Johnson, LenDale White, Justin Gage, Alge Crumpler and Nate Washington will be off.
The Detroit Lions, who actually have more wins than the Titans, will let their starters get healthy during their bye so sit Matthew Stafford, Kevin Smith, Bryant Johnson, Calvin Johnson, and Brandon Pettigrew.
The Denver Broncos offense led by Kyle Orton, Correll Buckhalter, Knoshown Moreno, Brandon Marshall, Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Stokely, Eddie Royal and Tony Scheffler will have the week off to celebrate their undefeated start.
Start – This game has a certain Florida Gators vs. Charleston Southern feel to it. National Title favorites with an MVP quarterback playing a tune-up game against a mid-major school. The Colts are currently 5.5 games above the Rams in the overall league standings (despite only playing five games thus far) and have broken 30 points in each of their last three contests. Peyton Manning has thrown for over 300 yards in every one of his starts this year and banked nine touchdowns in his past three games. He and Reggie Wayne (touchdown receptions in all but one of his starts this year) have formed the league’s premiere quarterback-receiver duo and should end this season as the top fantasy producers at their respective positions. At the tight end slot, Dallas Clark matches up very nicely against the Rams and will produce yet another double digit fantasy output against the NFL’s 27th ranked pass defense, which gives up over 250 yards per game through the air. And if he’s still available, now is the time to pick-up and/or start Austin Collie. The BYU alum has 14 receptions and three touchdowns in his last two games. Anthony Gonzalez has still been limited in practice and likely won’t play, which means Collie, not Pierre Garcon, will be the number two receiver. As for the running game, Joseph Addai seems to finally be coming on again with 17 receptions, 175 total yards and two touchdowns in his last pair of starts. Against the Rams’ 26th ranked rush defense that let Maurice Jones-Drew go off for 133 yards and three touchdowns last week, Adai should thrive once again.
On the St. Louis side of things, I never thought I’d actually say this about a professional athlete, but I truly feel bad for Steven Jackson these days. He’s already a shoe-in for the Barry Sanders “I secretly hate my teammates and wish I could play for a winning organization” award and has to sit through film sessions every Tuesday where Marc Bulger tries to explain why completed passes are an overrated statistic in the NFL. So far this season Jackson has broken 100 total yards in four of his six starts and will once again be the focal point of the Rams’ offense.
Sit – Donald Brown has struggled in his last two starts, notching only 15 carries over that span. He and Beanie Wells from the Arizona Cardinals may have to wait another year to make people realize how truly talented the 2009 NFL Draft class of running backs is. As for the Rams’ ever-growing list of must-sit players, Donnie Avery is coming off of a hip injury and may not start. However, even if he does - it won’t be at 100 percent. Against Indianapolis’ top 10 pass defense, it doesn’t seem likely that Marc Bulger is going to make a huge fantasy impact (or stop embarrassing his family) in this game either. Randy McMichael is also a bad choice to start given the circumstances.
Start – By far the most intriguing game of the week, this matchup of the undefeated Vikings and defending champion Steelers may be worth skipping the Bills-Panthers game I planned to watch in a bar as part of their “Ironic Sports Week” promotion. If the Vikings are going to leave the terrible towel town with a victory, they’re going to need Adrian Peterson to have another game like he did against the Ravens (143 yards rushing), despite playing the Steelers’ second-ranked run defense and battling some slight soreness. It may be the only time you have to actually consider benching Peterson, but don’t pull that trigger quite yet. Against the 49ers seventh-ranked rush defense in week three, Peterson had 85 yards on just 19 carries. And don’t shy away from Brett Favre either. The last time the Steelers faced a 2008 playoff team, they surrendered three touchdowns to Phillip Rivers. Give the 40-year-old Wrangler Jeans pitchman the nod with his tight end too. Visanthe Shiancoe has touchdowns in his past three games and is emerging as one of the more reliable fantasy football players at his position.
For Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger is having a spectacular season and is coming off a 417 yard, two touchdown day against the Cleveland Browns (who, contrary to popular belief, do, in fact, have a defense). He and his top two receivers, Hines Ward (nearly 250 yards and two touchdowns in his last two starts) and Santonio Holmes (coming off a 100 yard day), should have nice games against a marginal Minnesota pass defense. And if you’re looking for an uninteresting tight end with no commercial appeal who may get you 10-15 fantasy points, look no further than Heath Miller. The six-year veteran has played strong lately, notching four touchdowns in his past three starts. Rashard Mendenhall should also be worth a start in this one thanks to his newly found ability to get into the end zone. The hard-nosed back has scored touchdowns in his last three games, and after watching Ray Rice shred the Vikings’ defense last week, it seems inevitable that Mendenhall will do the same.
Sit – Sidney Rice is coming off of a big day against Baltimore, but will face much tougher matchups against the Steelers. He and Bernard Berrian may have average games, but neither will post more than 10-12 fantasy points. Willie Parker still isn’t 100 percent and has been completely phased out by a younger, stronger running back. Sort of the Steelers’ version of running back Darwinism.
Start – Anybody fortunate enough to win their week six fantasy bouts thanks solely to Tom Brady, congratulations. The only thing better than seeing your quarterback nearly set a single-week fantasy record is getting to watch him play the 0-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their 29th ranked scoring defense seven days later. Brady and Randy Moss will hook up at least once in the end zone in Tampa Bay, while Wes Welker (who nearly broke 40 fantasy points in PPR leagues against the Titans) should have yet another solid game. But with all the attention on the passing game, it may actually be running back Laurence Maroney who banks the most fantasy points in this one. Tampa Bay has the second worst rush defense in the NFL and gave up over 125 yards to DeAngelo Williams last week. Maroney had 123 yards against the Titans and should have a shot to put up similar numbers here. With Sammy Morris potentially injured (or at least hurt after leaving last week’s game in the first quarter with a leg injury) and Fred Taylor going two straight weeks without a carry, Maroney could have a very big day.
Sit - If during a 59-0 win, Benjamin Watson and Julian Edelman couldn’t get in the end zone or put up more than six fantasy points, maybe it’s time to start checking the waiver wires for some replacements. Cadillac Williams has been too inconsistent these days to pay any real attention to. He has three games with less than 10 rushing yards and has still not broken the century mark all year. When the Bucs are forced to play come-from-behind football, the running game will be the first thing to get sacrificed. Not a bad move for most teams, but when your passing attack is led by Josh Johnson, who has struggled in two of his three starts, things will get ugly. Don’t expect Johnson or any of his receivers to put up respectable fantasy numbers in this one.
Start – How bout Matt Schaub these days? He’s put up nearly 800 yards and six touchdowns in his past two starts and has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL (not that it matters to fantasy owners, but completion percentage seems to be important to coaches outside of Oakland). Along with his top target Andre Johnson (16 receptions for 236 yards and two touchdowns in his last two starts) and emerging star Owen Daniels (over 15 fantasy points in each of his last two starts), Schaub should do well against a 49ers secondary that has not looked very impressive lately. And now that Steve Slaton is starting to become the multi-faceted back that we all assumed he would be when I used a high second round draft pick on him in the Henry Wisewood Alumni Fantasy Draft (averaging over 80 total yards and one touchdown in his past three starts), he should be able to take advantage of a defense coming off a game in which they gave up three rushing touchdowns to Michael Turner.
Frank Gore has been cleared by the 49ers to play and has had the benefit of the bye week to get healthy. Against Houston’s barely-adequate rush defense, he should make a statement in his first game back since his showdown with Adrian Peterson in week three. Vernon Davis is also a nice choice for the start, as he’s collected double digit fantasy points for three straight weeks.
Sit – During the Matt Schaub 800 yard passing exhibition, Kevin Walter only caught seven passes for 66 yards and no touchdowns. It doesn’t appear as if he’s still in good graces with his quarterback. Isaac Bruce was completely shut out of the 49ers’ loss against the Falcons and Josh Morgan has been wildly inconsistent this season and was just demoted. Probably time to drop him. With an improving Houston secondary that held David Garrard without a touchdown pass and Carson Palmer to just 259 yards and one touchdown, Shaun Hill may struggle in this one. Michael Crabtree won’t make an impact in his first game, either. He needs time to become adjusted to the speed of the NFL and remember what getting hit feels like.
Start – If Ben Roethlisberger can go all Ted Williams and crack 400 against the Browns, there’s no reason to think that a resurgent Aaron Rodgers (742 passing yards and four touchdowns in his last two starts) won’t do the same. Rodgers, Donald Driver (double digit fantasy points in three of his last four games) and Jermichael Finley (over 30 combined fantasy points in PPR leagues in his last two starts) should all excel in this one.
Sit – Greg Jennings has had two amazing starts and three bad ones this year. He hasn’t had a touchdown since the first week or broken 65 yards in his past two games during the Rodgers hot streak. On the positive side of things for the Browns, Derek Anderson threw a touchdown pass last week. On the negative side, he had his second best game of the season with a blistering 123 yards. Against the Packers’ eighth-ranked defense, the odds of doing much better are about the same as EAS renewing Brady Quinn’s endorsement deal. “When I’m standing on the sidelines as a back-up quarterback on one of the NFL’s worst teams, I don’t go home and sob gently into my pillow until I finish my EAS protein shake.” Jamal Lewis is coming off an 11 rush, 21 yard performance and Braylon Edwards still remains the Browns’ second leading receiver with 138 yards this season - even though he was traded weeks ago. This is like the 2007 Patriots offense, only if Tom Brady played left-handed and Randy Moss was replaced by Rhea Pearlman.
Start- Holding Jason Campbell in check last week is not the defensive accomplishment that the Kansas City Chiefs public relations department will have you believe. Start Phillip Rivers here, as the Chiefs have surrendered big games to nearly ever non-Jason Campbell or JaMarcus Russell quarterback they’ve faced. At tight end, Antonio Gates has been one of the most consistent players in the league (double digit fantasy performances in every PPR league start) and Vincent Jackson should excel against the NFL’s 25th ranked passing defense. LaDanian Tomlinson might also be back to his old self after a 100 total yard night against the Denver Broncos, in which he seemed to be on the field for the majority of the play calls. This should help against a Kansas City defense that has an open door policy with their rush defense.
And speaking of aging running backs refusing to retire and develop a prescription drug addiction, Larry Johnson decided it was throwback night against the Redskins last week and rushed for 83 yards on 23 carries. Now, I don’t want to get excited or jinx him immediately after, but against San Diego’s 27th ranked rushing defense he may actually have a second straight decent week, so if you’re desperate... He and his quarterback Matt Cassel are finally getting the offense going (at least a little bit) and now that Dwayne Bowe is hitting his stride, this may not just be a nice fantasy day for the top Chiefs, but a potential upset against a division rival.
Sit – It’s possible that Norv Turner has put some sort of height requirement on his rushing attack, because there’s no other real way to explain why Darren Sproles has just one carry in his past two games. Mark Bradley and Bobby Wade continue to look mediocre for Kansas City and aren’t worth consideration.
Start – Two weeks ago this looked like another “Oh come on, why does my opponent get to have half his team play the Raiders this week” game, but after the way Oakland held the Eagles to nine points last Sunday things don’t have a “Lindsay Lohan back in rehab” degree of certainty here. The only Jets player that should have an exceptional day is Thomas Jones. After his 210 yard, one touchdown performance last week against the Bills, Jones should continue rolling against a Raiders defense that gives up around 145 yards per game on the ground. Braylon Edwards is a start, simply because somebody has to catch a touchdown pass against the Raiders, and he’s the best candidate.
If there’s one guy challenging Steven Jackson for the “Please get me off this team award,” it’s Zach Miller. He may actually be the best tight end in the NFL, yet nobody would know it thanks to the collection of offensive ineptitude surrounding him. Miller had 159 yards and one touchdown last week, and will once again be the first option downfield for the Raiders.
Sit – Mark Sanchez has been abysmal lately with only one touchdown in his past two games and gobs of interceptions, including a dismal 119-yard performance against the Buffalo Bills bottom of the barrel secondary. And with Jerricho Cotchery potentially on the sidelines nursing a hamstring injury it’s unlikely that he’ll have a great week – even against the Raiders. (Especially with Dustin Keller only putting up 16 yards in his last two games.) Even with Darren McFadden out of the lineup, Michael Bush and Justin Fargas will be splitting the carries against a very talented Jets defense. And according to ESPN, just over four percent of all fantasy leagues have people with JaMarcus Russell on their roster. This is clearly because of folks that drafted a team and then died tragically, only to have their fantasy roster remain untouched by family members for the remainder of the season in order to preserve their memory. This is the only logical explanation.
Wow, here’s a game that absolutely nobody will record. With Trent Edwards suffering a concussion in the team’s overtime victory over the Jets, Marshawn Lynch should see even more action, and finally get into the end zone. Following his 152 yard performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, DeAngelo Williams has sent the message “Our quarterback is horrible, so for the love of God, please just let me run it.” And what’s even better for Williams’ owners is that the Bills have surrendered over 200 yards rushing to their last three opponents. This is even a great game to give Jonathan Stewart the nod, provided his achilles injury that the Panthers are claiming won’t affect him doesn’t start acting up.
Sit - With Edwards potentially out of the line-up this is not the week to start jumping on the Bills’ passing bandwagon. Terrell Owens and Lee Evans continue to struggle (three combined touchdowns all year), while Fred Jackson simply isn’t getting enough touches to make a major impact.
“It’s Jake Delhomme!”
“Jake Delhomme, who?”
“Jake Delhomme, the guy who threw for 65 yards last week against one of the league’s worst pass defenses. Please don’t start me or any of my receivers this week. We don’t want to cause anymore pain”
Sounds good, Jake. Neither Steve Smith (one reception for four yards last week) or Mushin Muhammed have caught a touchdown this year, while Dante Rosario has just one reception in each of his last two games.
Start – It was great not having to listen to any news from the Dallas Cowboys camp during their bye week. Sort of like when the really obnoxious kid takes a sick day from school. But now they’re back, in a must-win game and making all kinds of noise. Tony Romo had a monster performance before the break (351 yards and two touchdowns against the Chiefs) and seems to have finally found a deep threat in Miles Austin (250 yards and two touchdowns in his last outing). The duo, and consistent play of tight end Jason Witten, should put points on the board and score against a mediocre Falcons’ secondary.
Matt Ryan is coming off an emotional win that took a bit out of him, but that shouldn’t be a problem when preparing to play the fourth worst pass defense in the NFC. Ryan has multiple touchdowns in each of his last two games, and will be called upon to step up should this become a shootout. Roddy White (three touchdowns in his past two games) and Tony Gonzalez (double digit fantasy point performances in his last two starts) will be up for the challenge with the help of Michael Turner, whose running style should work well against a weak Dallas rush defense.
Sit- The only downside to Dallas falling in love with their passing game after one successful game, is that their rushing attack may suffer. Marion Barber will get the start, but reports coming out of Dallas claim that he isn’t 100 percent with a busted thumb and will be splitting time again with Tashard Choice. In fact, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said this week that Choice will be getting a lot more opportunities going forward, so keep him on your roster. Roy Williams is still hurting, and with the exceptional play of Austin, he becomes even more irrelevant. Patrick Crayton has been benched in favor of Austin, so sit him as well. Jerrious Norwood may not play thanks to a hamstring injury and Michael Jenkins hasn’t been worth starting in weeks. Sit them both.
Start- Matt Forte continues to be one of the more disappointing players of the fantasy season, but he has shown some flashes of his touted potential this year. It’s unclear if it will happen again this week, but when playing the league’s 24th ranked defense it’s as good of a time as any to start him. In the passing game, Jay Cutler has been one of the top fantasy producing quarterbacks of late with multiple touchdowns in his last four games and a 300-yard performance in the Sunday night showdown with Atlanta. His tight end, Greg Olsen, has had touchdowns in his last three games and is establishing himself as a consistent fantasy threat. For anybody looking to fill a hole, Johnny Knox is a very viable option. He has three touchdowns in his last four games and will use his speed against a slower Bengals’ secondary.
Sit - Carson Palmer has thrown just one touchdown in each of his last two games and is battling a thumb injury. Against an above average Bears’ pass defense, this could be trouble. On the ground, Cedric Benson only notched four carries in the second half (when the Bengals were trailing, meaning that this game could be a rough one for the resurgent Longhorn. The Bears only give up 88 total rushing yards per game and held Michael Turner in check last Sunday, so Benson could struggle mightily here. Chad Ochocinco only has touchdown receptions in two of his six games this year and will not benefit from Palmer’s injury problems. Devin Hester has a few great performances, but too many below average ones to consider him a starter and Earl Bennett hasn’t caught a single touchdown all season.
Start – After hanging 48 points on a New York Giants’ defense that many confused, young analysts called “one of the best in the NFL,” it’s becoming pretty apparent that nothing is going to slow this New Orleans offense down all season. In the aforementioned victory, Drew Brees had four touchdown passes, one of which was to Marques Colston – who will face a Dolphins secondary that has given up nearly 250 yards to the opposing team’s number one receiver in their past three games. Colston and the sporadically sane Jeremy Shockey should help Brees have yet another banner day.
If the Dolphins want to keep this close, they will once again be forced to rely heavily on Ronnie Brown, who has had multiple touchdowns in three of his five games this year and is basically the team’s entire offense. Along with a rejuvenated Ricky Williams, Miami will continue to use the wildcat to bail out a passing game that will struggle against a very talented Saints’ secondary.
Sit – Despite a great fantasy season thus far, this may be the week to give Pierre Thomas a rest. The Dolphins give up less than 80 total rushing yards per game, which shouldn’t help Thomas – a back whose fantasy value lies heavily on his yardage. He, Reggie Bush and Mike Bell are due for rough starts. At the receiver spot, Devery Henderson hasn’t had a touchdown since the opening week, while Robert Meachem and Lance Moore need at least one more good performance before getting any kind of starting consideration, unless of course you need to fill a bye week hole.
Chad Henne seems to have washed away the stench of failure from his four straight collegiate losses to Ohio State, and become a surprisingly talented pro quarterback. It’s just unfortunate that this week is a tough matchup to showcase just how far he’s come. Miami will need to use the run to slow down the pace of this game, and since very few fantasy leagues use the “point per handoff” scoring structure, Henne is a fantasy sit – along with receivers Ted Ginn Jr., Greg Camarillo, and Davone Bess.
Start – This should be a fun matchup in New York and a great chance to rehash the not-so-legendary quarterback controversy of 2005. Kurt Warner (who started over Eli Manning for a good portion of that season) has over 275 yards in four of his five starts, two straight multiple touchdown games, and most importantly - watched how the Saints completely exploited the Giants’ safety position for big plays last week. Look for the wily veteran to hook up with Larry Fitzgerald for at least one deep ball here. And with Anquan Boldin battling an ankle jersey, now is the time to give Steve Breaston some consideration. He’s put up great yardage totals all season, and will now be a viable end zone threat as the team’s possible number two receiver. Plus he scored last week. And for teams looking to fill a bye week hole, check out Tim Hightower. He’s getting a lot more red zone action of late and will help make up for the absence of Boldin.
Eli Manning, however, won’t let Warner have all the fun. Peyton’s little brother will get a favorable matchup against the NFL’s second worst pass defense, which means Manning, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, and Kevin Boss all make good choices against a Cardinals’ team that has given up over two passing touchdowns per game over the last two years thanks to their conference worst pass defense. Just keep in mind that the Cards shut down Matt Hasselbeck last week when he was coming off a four-touchdown game. Oh, we still feel the burn from that one.
Sit – Beanie Wells is sort of like Ohio State football (where he coincidentally played). Very talented, great against weaker opponents, but not worth putting much faith in against good teams. The Giants’ defense should slow down the back who hasn’t broken 45 yards this season. The Giants’ rushing game may also struggle this week against the Cardinals’ NFL best rush defense (no, that was not a typo). In fact, the Cardinals are only allowing 59.6 rushing yards per game, nearly 15 yards better than the second ranked Pittsburgh Steelers. Not a good omen for Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs.
Start – This is the first week that the Redskins will host a team in the 2009 season that enters the game with a victory under their belts. So, if they want to walk away with a shocking victory, they’re going to need Clinton Portis (or Clinton Tortoise as he’s being called in Washington) to carry the load against a very mediocre Eagles’ run defense to help make up for the failure of their passing game. Philadelphia will also try to win via the running back. Brian Westbrook had over 140 total yards last week and received most of the action in the second half when the Eagles really needed a push. Clearly they believe he is their best option to win at this point.
Sit – Donovan McNabb didn’t have a single touchdown pass in two games against the Redskins last year and actually led his team to a 13-9 loss against the Oakland Raiders…. Come on, the Oakland F*cking Raiders! Kevin Curtis has been practicing, but still isn’t at 100 percent, while Jeremy Maclin has yet to show anywhere near the level of consistency to become a fantasy starter. Sit LeSean Mccoy as well. He was held without a reception last week and has 11 total carries in his past two starts. When the Washington Redskins have to publically state that “Jason Campbell is our starter, no matter how awful he may be playing,” (or some variation of that verbiage) it is not a good sign. Give Campbell, Santana Moss (zero touchdowns in his past two games) and Chris Cooley (who will be used primarily as a blocker this week) a rest.