Fantasy Football: Chris Johnson Leads 'Start-or-Sit' Scenarios for Week 7

Jay ClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterOctober 18, 2012

Fantasy Football: Chris Johnson Leads 'Start-or-Sit' Scenarios for Week 7

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    The following countdown details start-or-sit scenarios for Week 7, factoring in competitions at quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

    For the most part, the rushing and receiving conundrums were broken down with standard-scoring leagues in mind.

    But as routinely stated on The Fantasy Blog, it's hard to make rational decisions about wideouts and tight ends without factoring in receiving targets.

    Enjoy the show!

Start: QB Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    2012 Stats: 1,118 Yards Passing, 8 TD

    Week 7 Opponent: Saints (Home)

    Fantasy Reasons To Start

    There are some glowing positives in Josh Freeman's favor this week:

    1. Supporting talent: Tailback Doug Martin (131 total yards last week) and receivers Mike Williams (228 yards, 1 TD in last two games) and Vincent Jackson (20 catches, 370 yards, 4 TD) are off to superb starts.

    2. Opponent: The Saints currently rank 26th in pass defense (283.2 yards per game).

    3. Comfort: In three home games, Freeman has respectable averages of 264 total yards and 1.67 touchdowns.

    4. History: Freeman recently notched 300 total yards in back-to-back games for the first time in his four-year career (Weeks 5 and 6).

Sit: QB Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers

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    2012 Stats: 1,287 Yards Passing, 8 TD

    Week 7 Opponent: Seahawks (Home)

    Fantasy Reasons To Bench

    1. For the season, Alex Smith already has three outings of zero or one total touchdown. And of these three games, he averaged only 182.3 yards passing.

    2. The Seattle defense didn't surrender more than 20 points or 250 yards passing for Weeks 1-5.

    3. Only Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis have compiled decent numbers this season, among 49ers pass-catchers. But then again, Crabtree (30 catches, 337 yards, 1 TD) has fewer touchdowns than Green Bay backup tight end Tom Crabtree (5 catches, 111 yards, 2 TD).

Start: RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

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    2012 Stats: 408 Total Yards (301 Rushing)

    Week 7 Opponent: Buffalo (Away)

    Fantasy Reasons To Start

    1. Chris Johnson has racked up 100-plus total yards in two of his last three games, a telltale sign that his early-season slump has ended.

    2. Last year against the Bills, Johnson rolled for 157 total yards (153 rushing) and two touchdowns. And in 2009, he crushed all Buffalo comers with 232 total yards and two touchdowns—including nine catches for 100 yards!

    3. Johnson is wayyyyyyyy overdue to find the end zone in 2012.

    4. Here's a stat that will make Johnson owners sing (for one Sunday, at least): For Weeks 4-6, the Bills surrendered an absurd average of 247 rushing yards per game.

Sit: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals

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    2012 Stats: 418 Total Yards (362 Rushing), 2 TD

    Week 7 Opponent: Steelers (Home)

    Fantasy Reasons To Bench

    BenJarvus Green-Ellis actually has more rushing yards, total yards and touchdowns than Chris Johnson. So, why the lukewarm endorsement for Week 7?

    1. The Steelers currently rank as the NFL's No. 10 defense against the run (95 yards per game).

    2. Green-Ellis is averaging only 60.5 total yards at home this season.

    3. With New England last year, BJGE accounted for only nine total yards in a Week 8 loss to Pittsburgh. (On the flip side, Green-Ellis had 123 total yards against the Steelers in 2010).

Start: RB Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints

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    2012 Stats: 326 Total Yards (91 Rushing), 2 TD

    Week 7 Opponent: Buccaneers (Away)

    Fantasy Reasons To Start

    1. The Buccaneers have yielded 233 combined rushing yards in their last two games. Plus, the pass defense currently ranks 31st—a crucial stat to consider when tracking the highly versatile Sproles.

    2. In two games last year, Sproles averaged 80.5 total yards and 0.5 touchdowns against the Bucs.

    3. With tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) nicked up, the Saints' passing attack will need a complementary asset to Marques Colston. And Sproles obviously fits that bill as Drew Brees' go-to guy between the 20s and inside the red zone.

    4. It's fun to ride gut feelings every now and then...and this one calls for Sproles netting 110 yards and one touchdown.

Sit: RB Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers

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    2012 Stats: 147 Total Yards (107 Rushing), 1 TD

    Week 7 Opponent: Cowboys (Home)

    Fantasy Reasons To Bench

    1. Jonathan Stewart has fallen short of 70 total yards in all three games he's played (missed two to injury).

    2. The Cowboys currently rank as the NFL's No. 13 run defense, allowing 103.6 yards per game. For good measure, Dallas only yielded 63 rushing yards to Baltimore star Ray Rice last week.

    3. Stewart hasn't registered a 100-yard rushing effort in 21 games—dating back to the 2010 campaign.

    4. The Panthers offense, on the whole, has been stagnant all season. That's led to fewer Stewart touches in the red zone.

Start: WR Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills

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    2012 Stats: 27 Catches, 316 Yards, 3 TD

    Week 7 Opponent: Titans (Home)

    Fantasy Reasons To Start

    1. Steve Johnson has accrued double-digit targets in his last four games. That's a telltale sign of his mini-slump (205 yards, one touchdown in that span) ending soon.

    2. The Titans are the NFL's 29th-ranked pass defense, allowing 292 yards per game.

    3. Against Tennessee last year, Johnson caught five balls for 52 yards and one touchdown (with eight targets).

    4. Scott Chandler and Donald Jones have been productive at times. But Johnson remains QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's most consistent (and high-end) performer in the Buffalo passing realm.

Sit: WR Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens

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    2012 Stats: 21 Catches, 394 Yards, 4 TD

    Week 7 Opponent: Texans (Away)

    Fantasy Reasons To Bench

    1. In two road games this season, Torrey Smith has pedestrian averages of 2.5 catches, 44.5 yards and zero touchdowns.

    2. Along similar lines, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco has averaged only 187 yards passing and 0.8 TDs in his last five regular-season road games.

    3. Against Houston last year (two games), Smith had a grand total of four catches and 93 yards.

Start: WR Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders

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    2012 Stats: 17 Catches, 287 Yards, 2 TD

    Week 7 Opponent: Jaguars (Home)

    Fantasy Reasons To Start

    1. Denarius Moore has collected eight-plus targets in all four games (missed one to injury).

    2. In his last two outings, Moore accounted for nine catches, 17 targets, 175 yards and one touchdown.

    3. Through five games, Raiders QB Carson Palmer has passed for 297 yards and/or three touchdowns four times. And Moore stands as his go-to target—between the 20s and in the red zone.

    4. The full-time return of Darrius Heyward-Bey and continued improvement of tight end Brandon Myers should limit the amount of double coverage headed Moore's way.

Sit: WR Brandon Gibson, St. Louis Rams

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    2012 Stats: 20 Catches, 275 Yards, 2 TD

    Week 7 Opponent: Packers (Home)

    Fantasy Reasons To Bench

    1. In 14- or 16-team leagues, Brandon Gibson would be a fine start at the WR2 or flex spots. But when compared to Denarius Moore in 12-team leagues, I'm less optimistic about his Week 7 prospects.

    2. Gibson hasn't scored a touchdown since Sept. 16. And for Weeks 3-5, he had a grand total of seven catches for 80 yards. To be fair though, Gibson had a nice breakout effort against the Dolphins last week (seven catches, 91 yards)—the receiving corps' first game without the injured Danny Amendola.

    3. Through six games, Rams QB Sam Bradford has accounted for zero or one touchdown four times. And for Week 5, when Bradford tallied two scores, he only had seven completions.

Start: TE Martellus Bennett, New York Giants

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    2012 Stats: 20 Catches, 226 Yards, 3 TD

    Week 7 Opponent: Redskins (Home)

    Fantasy Reasons To Start

    1. For the first time in four weeks, Martellus Bennett wasn't mentioned in the Giants' mid-week injury report (he previously had a balky knee).

    2. When Bennett was presumably healthy in September, he caught 15 balls for 185 yards and three touchdowns for Weeks 1-3. Of equal importance, the athletic tight end was targeted 23 times in that span.

    3. Through six games, Giants QB Eli Manning has per-outing averages of 295 yards passing and 1.83 TDs.

    4. Four NFL tight ends (Jimmy Graham, Jermaine Gresham, Tony Gonzalez, Kyle Rudolph) have already scored a touchdown against the Redskins this season.

Sit: TE Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    2012 Stats: 14 Catches, 116 Yards, 2 TD

    Week 7 Opponent: Raiders (Away)

    Fantasy Reasons To Bench

    I don't have a lot of ammunition against Marcedes Lewis this week. In the realm of catches, targets and touchdowns, he's had a decent start to the season—when grouped with other low-key tight ends.


    1. The Jaguars would be wise to ride running back Maurice Jones-Drew against the Raiders. Something in the neighborhood of 27 carries...and four catches.

    2. Rookie receiver Justin Blackmon should have his best pro game. Oakland allows 275 yards through the air on average per week.

    3. I do have one Lewis-based gripe: For the first time since 2006, he does not boast a yards-per-catch average in double figures. And that's a bad trend with fantasy GMs in standard-scoring, PPR and TD-only leagues.

    Even the ones caught in bye-week purgatory this weekend.