In projecting Week 7 of the fantasy football season, several big names from each position should be considered risky starts.
Among those we included in the risky-start category are Matthew Stafford, Shonn Greene, Brandon Lloyd and Jermichael Finley, although we'll highlight several players at each position who you should consider putting on the bench this week.
Stafford and the quarterbacks will kick us off.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
The problem with Stafford isn't about racking up yards. He's currently fourth in the NFL at 298 yards a game this season, with three of five games seeing Stafford go over the 300-yard mark. In 2012, scoring touchdowns has been the major fantasy issue. He has just four this season. And don't forget, Stafford threw four interceptions against one touchdown in Chicago last season, and the Bears have the top fantasy defense against quarterbacks in 2012.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Cutler has had his own problems getting the ball into the end zone against the Lions recently. Over his last three games in this matchup, Cutler has just two touchdown passes. Also, when the Lions traveled to Chicago last season, Cutler completed just nine passes for 123 yards and zero touchdowns. There is some upside with a shaky Lions secondary, but Cutler has big-time bust potential too.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger is a must-start almost every week, but there's reason to give some pause in Week 7. The Bengals haven't allowed over 250 yards passing since Week 2, and opposing quarterbacks have only thrown four total touchdown passes against Cincinnati over that four-game span. Also, Roethlisberger failed to crack 250 yards in two chances against this defense last season.
Mikel Leshoure, Lions
We're not picking on the Lions, promise. But the matchup for Leshoure in Week 7 is concerning, to say the least. Chicago is the No. 4 defense against opposing running backs this season, and no back has found the end zone on the Bears since Week 1. Leshoure will get the lion's share of carries Monday night, but the production will likely be minimal.
Shonn Greene, New York Jets
Don't be fooled by Greene's 161-yard, three-touchdown outburst in Week 6. In his previous four games, Greene had rushing totals of 23, 40, 34 and 26 with zero touchdowns. You just can't trust the guy. New England has actually been very good against opposing running backs, allowing under 10 fantasy points a game to the position this season. Don't get burned by Greene again in Week 7.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
The carries are slowly starting to erode for Jackson, who is splitting the Rams backfield with rookie Daryl Richardson these days. He'll still get 10-15 touches most weeks, but Jackson simply hasn't done a lot with the opportunities this season. He's failed to crack 80 yards or find the end zone in six games in 2012. Start him with caution, especially considering the explosive Packers are coming to St. Louis in Week 7.
Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
The Steelers defense isn't the same cement wall it has been in year's past, but this is still a unit that has kept opposing running backs under 100 yards in four of five games season. Green-Ellis hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire recently, either. The Lawfirm has failed to go over seven fantasy points in four-straight weeks, so temper your expectations for him in Week 7.
Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots
Lloyd did not appear on the Patriots injury report this week, despite falling hard on his shoulder while attempting to make a diving catch in Seattle. Healthy or otherwise, Lloyd faces a difficult matchup in Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie. In consecutive weeks, Cromartie has mostly shut down veteran receivers Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne. Lloyd has just 11 fantasy points over his last two weeks, so he's an especially risky start in Week 7.
Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans
Some will see a matchup with the Buffalo Bills and assume Washington is a lock for big fantasy numbers. Don't be so sure. Washington has just nine fantasy points since Matt Hasselbeck took over the injured Jake Locker at quarterback. The receiver you want to start is Kendall Wright, who should take full advantage of the Bills lack of coverage against slot receivers this season.
Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals
Owners jumped on Roberts two weeks ago when he caught two scores against Miami, which brought his season total to a surprising four. Since then, however, Roberts has seven catches and just four fantasy points. He'll likely see plenty of Antoine Winfield in the slot Sunday in Minnesota. Even if Roberts doesn't, the rest of the Vikings secondary has allowed the third-least fantasy points to fantasy receivers this season.
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
For fantasy owners and Packers fans alike, Finley has been one disappointment after another this season. Since Week 1, Finley has just one game with 60 or more yards receiving and three with less than 30. His only touchdown catch came in the season-opener. Things likely won't get better Sunday, considering Finley is still battling a shoulder injury and the Rams are the fifth-best fantasy defense against tight ends.
Fred Davis, Washington Redskins
Tight end is a position that almost always needs touchdowns to be productive, and Davis simply hasn't delivered in that category. Dating back to last season, Davis hasn't scored in seven straight games. Projecting him to break that streak Sunday is overly optimistic, as the Giants haven't allowed a score to a tight end this season.
ESPN projects the Texans as the third-best fantasy defense in Week 7. We don't agree. Houston has faced two good offenses in 2012 (Packers and Broncos), and both smoked this defense (only four fantasy points in each). The Ravens are a good offense. Don't expect a lot here.
New York Giants
Giants defense, meet Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. Robert Griffin III, meet the defense you will be attempting to beat for the next 10 years. We like Round 1 to favor RG3, especially considering some of the struggles this defense has had in the past against athletic quarterbacks.
In their last two road games, the Dallas defense has allowed 58 points and scored a grand total of two fantasy points. The Cowboys go on the road Sunday to Carolina, where the Panthers have had two weeks to get Cam Newton back on track.
Justin Tucker, Ravens
After a blazing-hot start (16 fantasy points in both Week 1 and 2), Tucker has cooled off. The Ravens are also facing the Texans, who have allowed the fourth-least amount of points to fantasy kickers this season.
Nick Folk, Jets
Folk has kicked just seven field goals this season, while the Patriots have allowed just six attempts in 2012, the fourth-least in the NFL. Not a good mix for a fantasy kicker.