We’re at the midpoint of the 2012 fantasy season for most leagues or approaching it this weekend for the rest of them. Being able to read the weekly tea leaves when it comes to NFL matchups is critical and will only become more so going forward.
So as we arrive at the turn or approach it, the fantasy tides are going to turn in your league based on who starts the right guys against the right teams. Or doesn’t. If you’re going to be one of the owners still playing in mid-December, it’s time to scrutinize the weekly on-field matchups. Here’s the best (and worst) of what may come in Week 7:
Smith should rebound from his worst game in nearly three years.
Yup, it’s true. I expect a guy who was picked off three times, lost at home 26-3 and finished with a QB rating of 43 to light it up in Week 7. Why? Because Sunday’s line against the Giants wasn’t Smith and hasn’t been Smith for a long time. It’s been nearly three YEARS since he’s been picked off three times in a game. He only threw five in all of 2011. The 49ers may have been blasted in Week 6 by the Giants, but they’re still the Niners. And Smith is going to remind Seattle in Week 7, at home, who he and they really are.
As good as I expect Alex Smith to be for the 49ers on Sunday, I expect Wilson to be bad. The Giants humiliated the 49ers as a team, not just Smith. That vaunted defense is going to be staring at the clock all week, waiting for Sunday to clear Week 6’s loss out of its system. Yes, Wilson’s coming off a winning three TD-effort against the Patriots. All the more reason for a rookie to come back to earth the following week on the road.
Spiller is 100% healthy and ready to host the Titans in Week 7.
Back from the scary early-season injury, Spiller is now the unquestioned No. 1 back in the Bills offense. He totaled 110 yards from scrimmage and scored in Buffalo’s overtime win at Arizona in Week 6, and now he returns to the Home That Ralph Wilson Built against Tennessee. Spiller was averaging nearly 150 yards rushing before his injury, and now that he’s back, he figures to run wild against a weak Titans defense.
Green-Ellis owners are frustrated the TDs haven't followed him from New England to Cincinnati.
If you have him on your roster, your frustration level must be spiked. When will the touchdowns come? When? The Law Firm’s adjustment to the Bengals offense hasn’t been easy, nor has it been predictable. Andy Dalton likes to throw inside the five-yard-line as much as he likes to hand it off, and that’s costing Green-Ellis scoring chances. Good for 60-80 yards rushing but not a touchdown, and with the Steelers coming to Cincy in Week 7, Green-Ellis is a “sit” from my chair.
Mock this one if you want, but Johnson’s averaging 85 yards a game rushing the last three games. And that’s including a 24-yard effort against the Vikings in Week 5. This guy’s ready to remind the world who he used to be, and the Bills in Week 7 are a perfect foil for him. He generally goes off against weaker teams, and he had a gigantic games against Buffalo in 2011 (23-153-2). If you’ve been stowing him on your bench, this is the week to give him a shot.
Greene's 161-yard, 3-touchdown game in Week 6 should turn into a 35-yard, no TD effort in Week 7. That's the life of an owner with Shonn Greene in the lineup.
Fantasy football’s enigma is coming off a huge output against the Colts. So expect a cliff-dive of a dropoff in production against the Patriots in Week 7. Greene has proven he cannot maintain good fantasy numbers week to week, let alone good reality numbers. After tearing up Indianapolis for 161 and three scores in Week 6, I’m fully expecting 13 carries for 35 yards and no end zone reaches for Mr. Inconsistent.
Cruz is becoming one of the league's elite receivers.
Already with six touchdown catches through six games, Cruz is proving that his season of 2011 was no fantasy tease. Hakeem Nicks doesn’t seem like he’s ever going to be healthy enough to re-establish himself as Eli Manning’s No. 1 target. Not that Cruz is ever going to relinquish that role, anyway. The Giants are home against NFC East rival Washington in Week 7, and the red-hot Cruz (averaging 7-83-1 per game) is a solid bet to keep the defending champs on a roll.
The Houston receiver has been one of 2012’s biggest fantasy disappointments to date (25-358-2). Johnson caught eight balls in the Texans’ season-opener and eight more Sunday night in a loss to the Packers. But in between those games were four contests where he caught a TOTAL of nine passes. Week 7 brings the Ravens to town, and after the wood Green Bay put to QB Matt Schaub in Week 6, Johnson is a shaky, shaky start at wideout.
One of the biggest fantasy staples of wisdom is don’t mess with a good thing. Green might be the best thing going through the air this season, with five TD grabs the last four games, and six overall. The Bengals will host the Steelers on Sunday night and are desperate for a win after losses to the Dolphins and Browns. Pittsburgh’s given up nine TD passes in five games, so Green should get a handful of opportunities to score.
Harvin's MVP chatter is nonsense. No one with two TDs in six weeks should garner that sort of talk.
The “Harvin for MVP” talk befuddles me. Sure, he’s versatile. But do the Vikings really use him appropriately enough to warrant such chatter? Against the Redskins, Harvin and Adrian Peterson were both pedestrians at the worst possible times in Bill Musgrave’s offense. He has two touchdowns, people. Two. Arizona, the Vikes’ Week 7 opponent, knows how to be physical defensively. I think Musgrave and Leslie Frazier will misuse him again.
By the time Sunday arrives, Graham will have gone nearly a month without reaching the end zone. That’s long enough. The Saints had a bye last week, and after a one-catch, four-yard effort against the Chargers in Week 5, Graham’s going to be demanding more quality time with QB Drew Brees. New Orleans is at Tampa Bay for a Week 7 divisional showdown, and the Bucs are putrid when it comes to guarding the pass. And that was before Aqib Talib’s suspension.
The Raiders-Jaguars game should contain plenty of field goal attempts. And Janikowski hasn't missed yet in 2012.
Nothing beats a good ol’ Raiders-Jaguars shootout, right? These two offenses could well bog down into a 19-16 affair that sees Janikowski boot four field goals, one of them from beyond 50 yards. Janikowski’s hit on all 10 of his field goal tries so far this season, and the Raiders aren’t exactly gracing the end zone with regularity. The Polish Rifle should be firing again in Week 7.
The J-E-T-S JetsJetsJets are not back, Jets fans. They beat up on an inferior Colts team and found the one week a month that Shonn Greene still cares about football. Folk has scored five or less points in four of the team’s six games to date. Oh, and there was that 34-0 shutout the 49ers laid down on the Jets. A road game at New England doesn’t bode well for Folk or his teammates. This has a San Francisco feel to it…
The Bears defense should hit double fantasy digits again Monday night against the Lions.
Chicago is on a historic pace defensively. The Bears defense has already scored five touchdowns, picked off 13 passes and registered 18 sacks in five games. The Lions may have not saved their season in Week 6 at Philly more than prolonged it. With a Monday Night Football national audience tuned in for Week 7, the Lions may be nothing more than another plate of undercooked meat for the Monsters of the Midway, led by Tim Jennings.
J.J. Watt and the Texans defense was humiliated at home by the Packers in Week 6. The Ravens and their potent offense come to town in Week 7.
A few days ago the football world saw the Texans as Super Bowl contenders and their defense as one of the toughest around. Today? They see pretenders, frauds blown out at home by a Packers team that lost at Indianapolis the week before. And now Baltimore, with Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Torrey Smith, is pulling into town. No one knows who or what the Texans defense really is and won’t until it proves otherwise.