Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who's Hot and Who's Not for Week 7

It's week 7 and the following teams have a bye week: Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, Seattle, Tennessee.  Time to find replacements for a whole slew of wideouts including Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Mike Sims-Walker, Torry Holt, Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and no one from the Titans (please tell me you're not playing a receiver from that tossing travesty). 

Start 'Em!


Carson Palmer (CIN) vs. Chicago

The last time these two teams met, Palmer threw three touchdown passes against a more dominating defense than the Bears have now.  However, Palmer has had mixed success against strong defenses, but has still managed at least one touchdown against each expect for the Denver Broncos.  The Bears will have to put a stop to the jilted Cedric Benson, who has been a huge producer this year and will look to show up his old team.  All the while, Palmer can use play action for big games with his strong receiving core led by the trash-talking Chad Ochocinco, who will draw a lot of attention for the Bears' secondary.  What happens when you watch No. 85 too closely?  Andre Caldwell explodes or Laveranues Coles sneaks away from coverage.  Be warned Bears, Palmer is the leader of an emotionally charged team that wants to prove something to everyone this year.

The Line: 34 attempts, 20 completions, 248 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, 2 carries, 3 yards rushing

Eli Manning (NYG) vs. Arizona

Last week, the Cardinals made Matt Hasselbeck look terrible, even with their then-last-ranked pass defense.  Coming up a slot to 31st in the league won't mean anything against a Manning brother looking to find glory after last week's humiliation against the Saints.  It will be tough-going for the Cardinals with Steve Smith and Mario Manningham hungering to produce against the vulnerable secondary.  Manning also has something that Hasselbeck did not - a reliable offensive line.  Though the Cardinals can bring the pressure, it won't be enough to stop this offense looking to bounce back in week seven.  Also, Brandon Jacobs should have an expanded role as a power back to get play action moving against the 1st ranked run defense in the league.  If the big man can make magic happen, Lil' Manning could see an ever better day than predicted.

The Line: 33 attempts, 22 completions, 237 yards passing, 2 touchdowns

Running Back:

Michael Bush (OAK) vs. New York Jets

Little breezes of change in the NFL jet-stream are heading towards Bush this week that make him a potential starter in 12-team formats this week.  The Raiders are coming off a surprising victory against the previously mighty Philadelphia Eagles and the Jets are fresh from a loss to the hodgepodge efforts of the Buffalo Bills.  The big story here benefitting Bush is the diminished Jets defensive line.  Rex Ryan's defense started the year in strong fashion, making the Jets look like a potential contender for a playoff bid until Pierre Thomas broke the defense's back in week four.  The now-sinking Jets need nothing short than their very own Captain Sully to resuscitate the injured front seven and land safely.  Until then, expect opposing running backs to poise a threat.  Bust takes advantage of the sinking rush defense that is now 21st in the league allowing 115.7 yards per game.  In addition, JaMarcus Russell is coming off a shockingly decent performance and the Jets will actually have to give consideration to defense packages to disrupt the quarterback.  To top it off, Bush won't be splitting carries with the injured Darren McFadden, though Justin Fargas is expected to get some touches.  Expect Bush's name to be called on in the red zone to avoid mistakes by Russell, making him a scoring threat this week.

The Line: 15 carries, 58 yards rushing, 1 rushing touchdown

Laurence Maroney (NE) vs. Tampa Bay

Maroney is bound to be the talk of the town with Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor both out with injuries.  It takes away some of the guesswork required to analyze the New England backfield.  While most people think of Tom Brady when it comes to the Patriots, there is another reason that they have been one of the top offenses for so many years.  They can run the ball.  That's the thing about such a robust offensive line - it makes the offense look really good.  Expect for Maroney to lose some touches to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk, but he will be the featured back.  The other major factor here is the matchup.  Maroney is up against the breakable Tampa Bay defense that is allowing 171 yards per game to opposing running backs.  He could finally be the back he was supposed to be in the 2007 campaign.

The Line: 15 carries, 74 yards rushing, 1 rushing touchdown, 3 receptions, 20 yards receiving

Wide Receiver:

Pierre Garcon (IND) vs. St. Louis

If you're looking to replace any of your receiver this week, look no further than Pierre Garcon, one of the extremely talented receivers for the Colts.  With Anthony Gonzalez still banged up, Garcon should see some strong action this week against a defense that ranks 27th in the league against the pass.  Peyton Manning will be able to spread the ball to multiple talented receivers and Garcon will be a benefactor in what could be a ludicrous blowout in week seven.  If you're not playing him in your lineup, take a peak at Austin Collie.  Both receivers are under-owned and deserve attention, but this week looks good for Garcon.

The Line: 6 receptions, 59 yards receiving, 1 touchdown, 1 carry, 10 yards rushing

Lee Evans (BUF) vs. Carolina

Buffalo may not be the most effective offense in the league, but they are coming off an exciting win and are hoping to build on that success against a team that is ready for the emotional battle.  Though Carolina is ranked 2nd against the pass, they are 24th in points against and not all of those happen on the ground.  Matt Ryan carved Carolina apart for three touchdowns on only 220 yards passing in week two.  Trent Edwards is not big in the yardage department, but he will have to get the ball to Evans this week as T.O. is a fading star that Edwards will look away from more, giving the ball to a more deserving Evans who showed his ability to streak past secondaries last week.  If Buffalo can get some kind of rhythm going on the gournd, the perennial disappointment could slide into the end zone and see some solid numbers against a guessing defense.

The Line: 9 receptions, 84 yards receiving, 1 touchdown

Tight End:

Jermichael Finley (GB) vs. Cleveland

It looks like Finley is the go-to receiving tight end for sure in Green Bay and will continue to earn that distinction this week against a battered Cleveland team that is suffering from a bout of the flu.  With 15.3 yards per reception, Finley will cruise past the Puppies of Ohio and find big totals with Aaron Rodgers throwing unimpeded to his strong receiving core.  If pressured at all by the Browns, the dump to Finley will grow all the more popular for Rodgers and he will put even more distance between himself and Donald Lee on the receiving charts of Green Bay.  As an added bonus, Cleveland is giving up 24.7 points per game and 242 passing yards per game, making them 26th and 23rd in the league, respectively.

The Line: 5 receptions, 63 yards, 1 touchdown

Defense/Special Teams:

Atlanta vs. Dallas

The only two defenses that you're probably needing to find a replacement for this week are Denver and Baltimore, so you probably don't need a bye-week replacement, but if you do or you're looking to replace that lackluster unit you currently have, take a peak at Atlanta's defense.  Their 24th ranking in terms of overall yards against opponents is juxtaposed by their hefty 4th place ranking in points against.  Preventing scoring is what matters in fantasy football, so they are a strong force and an ample replacement this week against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Line: 17 points against, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 2 sacks

Surprise of the Week

Michael Crabtree (WR-SF) vs. Houston

Josh Morgan reported this week that Crabtree has taken his position as the No. 1 receiver for Mike Singletary's offense.  However, there are a number of things going against Crabtree in this game, the least of which it being his first start.  The Niners will probably be looking to their ground game to pummel the Texans into submission and may not need to look to the passing game in the red zone, which would likely be a great relief to most of the fans.  Frank Gore is back to being healthy and could rack up big points, but it is Crabtree who could be the quiet hero of the offense in his first outing.  Shaun Hill will want to test his fresh toy to stir up some gametime chemistry, so expect at least a few targets to the rookie.

The Line: 5 receptions, 61 yards receiving

Sit 'Em...


Brett Favre (MIN) vs. Pittsburgh

It has been a phenomenal start for the Grey Gunslinger and he is a huge part of the Vikings' success.  However, he is due for a bad game and Pittsburgh's defense, renewed with Troy Polamalu back in the lineup, is just the squad to hand it to him.  Really, the main concern is that there are definitely better options to field than Favre.  You just don't want to risk the matchup unless you don't have a better alternative.  Plus, the Steelers are looking to defend their title at home against a team that is looking like a championship contender this year and will shut down the rampant passing game rather efficiently to do so.

The Line: 27 attempts, 20 completions, 196 yards passing, 1 touchdown, 1 interception

Donovan McNabb (PHI) vs. Washington

Washington may be absolutely incapable of gaining any productivity on offense, their defense can be a formidable foe.  They are only allowing an average of 169 yards per game through the air and 16 points per game to their foes, making them 3rd and 5th in those respective categories.  McNabb is fresh off of a rough match against Oakland, one of the weakest defenses in the league.  The numbers may be deceiving, with Washington not facing particularly strong quarterbacks, but the fresh eyes for play calling could help this talented group.  Don't risk playing McNabb except in 14+ team formats.  DeAngelo Hall is a likely candidate to pick off the wild armed quarterback and Albert Haynesworth should keep the ground game limited as long as he can stay on the field uninjured.  Finally, with Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy biting at the bit after last week's lopsided pass/rush ratio.  Expect the running game to get going early and to be used eagerly.

The Line: 27 attempts, 17 completions, 204 yards passing, 1 passing touchdown, 2 interceptions

Running Back:

Clinton Portis (WAS) vs. Philadelphia

There's just no good reason to risk starting Portis.  The aging rusher is far past his prime and has an injury-plagued right leg (which is so bad that it is a joke to the head of the Redskins backfield).  With a new bingo play-caller in Washington, don't be surprised if Portis loses more touches than usual to LaDell Betts and possibly even Roc Cartwright.  The old man of those three can't outrun defensive backs and so the big runs are cut short of the goal line (as proven against the Chiefs).  Even when presented with strong matchups, he can't be leaned upon to produce a helpful stats line and this week he faces a defense that is much more capable than that of Kansas City.  While the 'Skins look to get their mojo back under new guidance, leave Portis on the bench or the trading block.

The Line: 12 carries, 36 yards rushing, 2 receptions, 11 yards receiving

Steven Jackson (STL) vs. Indianapolis

With no touchdowns this year, Jackson is looking in bad shape.  His yardage totals are strong, but the Colts can shut down the opposition, allowing the 2nd fewest points per game.  There's just no hope for the addled offense of the Rams and Jackson has to suffer along with it all.  Try Jonathon Stewart or another strong secondary back (Mike Bell and Reggie Bush of the Saints come to mind) to fill the spot.

The Line: 16 carries, 65 yards, 1 fumble, 4 receptions, 22 yards

Wide Receiver:

Antonio Bryant (TB) vs. New England

There will be two primary reasons to leave Bryant behind this week.  1) The weather in London will freeze him solid on the field.  2) The Patriots are going to cripple the Bucs' offense quickly and efficiently, which Josh Johnson won't be able to handle.  Expect Bryant to spend most of his time on the sidelines watching the offense of the Patriots stack up points.  You would be better off picking off a third string receiver on a stronger team from free agency or waiver wire than to play this wideout.

The Line: 2 receptions, 21 yards

Mohamed Mossaquoi (CLE) vs. Green Bay

It's a mess in Ohio.  The flu, the coach, the unhappy Josh Cribbs, the quarterback situation.  It all adds up to a rough outing for the Browns.  They aren't playing with the emotional gravitas that the turnaround story of the year, the Bengals, have going for themselves.  It's just crumbling in Cleveland, and without a solid quarterback in charge, the receivers will continue to suffer, especially against the prolific defense of Green Bay.  Being at home could help Mossaquoi, but not enough to make him a starter this week.

The Line: 3 receptions, 39 yards

I've decided to add a new element to my sit and start column to encourage you all to check back each week called The Investment Corner.  Each week I will highlight any number of players who you may want to pick up off of the waiver wire to lead you to fantasy victory.  Often it will be a player who has a strong matchup grouping for the fantasy playoffs (usually weeks 14-16 in Yahoo! standard leagues), since that's what separates the wheat from the chaff after all.  I may not always give you the next DeAngelo Williams or Michael Turner, but these players should be solid choices and may just be worth keeping out of the hands of your opponents.

The Inve$tment Corner

Chad Henne (QB-MIA)

Notable Matchups:  Week 14 vs. Jacksonville, Week 15 vs. Tennessee, Week 16 vs. Houston (Playoffs)

The matchups really speak for themselves, especially the week 15 game against the Titans.  The Wildcat formation should continue its run, leaving Henne to enjoy the distracted defenses and able to air it out downfield to Ted Ginn, Jr.  He may not be a top 10 play all the time, but he's becoming a valuable part of the Dolphins offense.  Chances are he will stay on the wire for a good while longer, but keep your eye on him.  People may sweep him up prior to his week 10 matchup against Tampa Bay and the subsequent games against Carolina and Buffalo.  All of those teams are meager against the run and will have to focus their attention on the one-two punch of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, making Henne a feasible option if his quarterbacking continues in the right direction.

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