Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 7: Smart Matchup Plays, Sleepers and More
Most fantasy-football leagues are into the second half of the season, a stretch that will decide which teams are getting seeded in the playoffs and which teams are finding their way into the consolation bracket.
Like every week in fantasy football, matchups will again decide the week.
Those owners who make the right decisions with their lineups before Sunday (well, actually, Thursday now) are those who will continue getting a chance to make those choices in the playoffs.
In the following slides, we break down some of the favorable matchups, sleepers, studs and duds for Week 7 of the fantasy-football season.
Favorable Matchup: Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No running back in fantasy-football land has a better overall matchup in Week 7 than Tampa Bay's Doug Martin.
The Bucs, fresh off a 38-10 thrashing of the Kansas City Chiefs, welcome the New Orleans Saints—the worst fantasy defense against running backs this season—to Tampa Bay on Sunday. Overall this season, New Orleans has allowed over 700 rushing yards, 300 receiving yards and seven total touchdowns to the position.
Martin has averaged just nine fantasy points a week through five games, and he's yet to go over 100 rushing yards. But he should get the necessary touches Sunday against a bad defense, and Martin is good enough as a receiver to hurt the Saints in multiple ways.
Favorable Matchup: Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
There is just one fantasy defense this season that has given up 100 receptions and 12 or more touchdowns, and it just happens to belong to the Cleveland Browns. Reggie Wayne and the Colts welcome Cleveland to Indianapolis on Sunday.
Admittedly, not having Joe Haden for four games this season is a big part of the reason why Cleveland's stats against receivers are so high. Haden has returned, but Bengals receiver A.J. Green (seven catches, 135 yards, two touchdowns) mostly had his way with Haden in his first game back on Sunday.
Wayne had his quietest fantasy day of the 2012 season (five catches, 87 yards) against the Jets in Week 6, but his targets should go back up against the Browns. ESPN is projecting 10 catches and 137 yards for Wayne in Week 7.
Sleeper: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo Bills
There's really no reason why any fantasy owner should trust Ryan Fitzpatrick. Over the last two weeks, he's thrown for less than 300 combined yards with zero touchdowns and one interception.
Granted, both the 49ers and Cardinals have top-10 fantasy defenses against quarterbacks in 2012.
But if there's any week for Fitzpatrick to get back into fantasy relevancy, it's Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, trailing only the Bills. Quarterbacks have scored at least 16 points in each of the season's first six weeks against Tennessee.
Fitzpatrick has been start-worthy in 2012 when the defenses he's faced are poor. That's the obvious case for him again on Sunday.
Sleeper: Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Is the Mike Williams of 2010 officially back? Save for one clunker of a fantasy performance this season, it certainly looks like it.
In the Buccaneers' five games this season, Williams has either a touchdown catch or 100 yards receiving in four. His one poor stat line came at Dallas in Week 3.
Since then, Williams has two straight 100-plus-yard games. In Week 7, Williams gets a chance to take another bite out of a Saints secondary that has allowed the third-most points to fantasy receivers in 2012.
Chances are high that Williams can extend his streak of 100-yard games to three on Sunday afternoon in Tampa Bay.
Stud: Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
Arian Foster may have carried 17 times for just 29 yards in a blowout defeat to the Green Bay Packers in Week 6, but he should have the matchup to get back on track this Sunday.
The Texans are playing host to the Baltimore Ravens, a team with a once-proud defense that now looks like a shell of its former self.
The Ravens, who will be without Ray Lewis and likely Haloti Ngata, have allowed running backs to go over 200 yards rushing in back-to-back weeks for the first time in franchise history. The 227 rushing yards by the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6 was a franchise record.
This is a reeling defense that will likely be without two key run-stoppers. Foster could have a field day carrying the football.
Stud: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
You'll have to overlook Eli Manning's struggles against Washington last season (0 touchdowns, four interceptions, 0-2 record) to qualify him as a stud in Week 7.
But considering how poor the Redskins have been against fantasy quarterbacks this season, it's hard not to like Manning a lot this week.
Washington has allowed at least 300 passing yards in five of six games this season, and the one time the Redskins did allow less than three bills, Tampa Bay went for 299. The 14 touchdown passes allowed by the Redskins ties them for second-to-last in the NFL.
With a receiving corps that continues to get healthier, Manning should have no problem finding 300 yards and a couple of scores against the Redskins' pass defense.
Dud: Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Stafford had his highest fantasy-point total of the 2012 season in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles, throwing for over 300 yards and scoring two touchdowns (one rushing).
His rebound from a disappointing start this season might have to take another detour on Sunday.
Stafford and the Lions take on the Chicago Bears, who currently sport the No. 1 fantasy defense against opposing quarterbacks this season.
The Bears are allowing just 7.0 points a game to quarterbacks to go with four touchdowns and 13 interceptions. No fantasy defense has allowed fewer passing touchdowns or intercepted more passes in 2012.
Stafford has struggled in four career games against the Bears, throwing four touchdowns against six interceptions. Those struggles should continue in Week 7.
Dud: Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets
Fantasy owners should know better than to trust Shonn Greene, even after his breakout performance Sunday (161 yards, three touchdowns) against the Indianapolis Colts.
The clunker is coming. And it's coming already in Week 7.
The Jets travel to New England to take on the Patriots, who have actually allowed the fifth-least fantasy points to opposing running backs. In fact, New England has kept opposing backs under 70 yards in three games and has allowed just one rushing touchdown.
Expect Greene to have another typical day at the office—something like 15 carries for 32 yards and no touchdowns in New England.
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