As the majority of the NFL's Week 7 action kicks off on Sunday, it's worth looking ahead at some of the later games that have massive fantasy implications and involve some of the league's biggest stars.
The game that is sure to steal all the headlines is the prime-time clash between the hosting Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos, who are led by ex-Colts signal-caller Peyton Manning.
It's always a bit tricky to figure out which of Manning's many weapons will benefit most from his passing prowess, but it's as guaranteed as anything in the unpredictable NFL that The Sheriff will light it up.
Below is a last-minute fantasy outlook for Manning and the other marquee names at each offensive position that should project best based on their respective opponents, with a ranking of the top stars at the end.
Projections for Top Stars
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
For owners fortunate enough to have Manning in their lineups each week, these circumstances are a luxury few can boast. They're almost impossible for both the Broncos' opponents and those facing Manning in fantasy to overcome.
None of that should change in Week 7 when Manning returns to Lucas Oil Stadium.
The official NFL on ESPN Twitter has Manning as the top-rated fantasy QB for the whole week—and rightly so:
Manning disappointed some with "only" two touchdown passes against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, but Knowshon Moreno had three touchdown runs inside the 10.
This should be where Manning gets back on the torrid pace he was on before. Moreno and the Broncos' backfield stable will establish the run against the league's 31st-ranked rush defense, setting up plenty of big plays down the field for Manning and Co.
Projected Numbers: 30-of-40 for 385 yards, 4 TDs, INT
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
It's desperation time in Houston, and with Case Keenum making his starting debut for the Texans against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, expect a supple dose of Foster.
Not only will Foster be the foundation of Houston's game plan—or at least he should be—but Keenum will be looking to him as a frequent checkdown option and on screen passes.
That can be one way for Keenum to get rid of the ball quickly against a Chiefs pass-rush that leads the NFL with 30 sacks on the year—including 10 in Week 6's win over the AFC West rival Oakland Raiders.
Foster has made headlines more for the literal stock available for purchase in his career than what he's done on the gridiron. However, he's quietly gaining some steam fantasy production-wise in the midst of the Texans' four-game slide.
The time to buy on Foster is now, and not just in terms of capitalizing on his IPO.
He's going to put up big numbers and give the Texans a shot at saving their season in Kansas City in what could be Sunday's big upset.
Projected Numbers: 25 carries, 145 yards, 2 TDs; 7 receptions, 50 yards, TD
Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
One of the few holdovers during the drastic roster turnover the Colts underwent in the post-Manning era is Wayne, who has been Andrew Luck's go-to guy in the young signal-caller's career.
Wayne is averaging over nine targets over the past three games and is bound to have his best game of 2013 against the league's last-ranked pass defense.
As usual, he's going to be razor-sharp and all-business in attitude.
Since no one has been able to stop Manning all year, conventional logic would lead a fantasy owner to believe that the Colts will have to put up a ton of points to keep up.
Since Denver surrenders very little on the ground, it's up to Luck to find his groove, which means hooking up with Wayne on a consistent basis.
There's nowhere on the field Wayne can't line up, and that should give the Broncos enough problems defensively to produce a monster game from the 34-year-old veteran on the big stage.
Projected Numbers: 11 receptions, 150 yards, 2 TDs
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns
According to ESPN.com's profile on Cameron, his 38 receptions are the most ever for a Browns player through six games.
That type of history indicates how big of a star Cameron is, and how he is due to snap out of a recent funk since Brandon Weeden returned as the starting quarterback.
Part of the dip in production has to do with defenses adjusting to and preparing more for an athlete of Cameron's caliber:
Outside of Josh Gordon, though, there aren't many other places for Weeden to go for big plays.
Weeden needs to realize this, and also that one of the biggest areas he can improve—velocity and ball placement on crossing patterns—will be enhanced the more he looks to Cameron.
ESPN.com also points out how the Packers have allowed double-digit fantasy points to tight ends in three of their five games.
Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Brad Jones are all out, per the injury report on the Packers' official website.
That is as depleted of a linebacker corps as you'll see, and it should translate to Cameron getting a ton of favorable matchups.
Even with Weeden staring him down often, Cameron should be able to create enough separation in those situations to generate several explosive plays for Cleveland's passing game.
Projected Numbers: 8 receptions, 90 yards, TD
|Week 7 Late-Game Fantasy Football Rankings|
|Rank||Quarterback||Running Back||Wide Receiver||Tight End|
|1||Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos||Arian Foster, Houston Texans||Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts||Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns|
|2||Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts||Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers||Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers||Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers|
|3||Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers||Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs||Wes Welker, Denver Broncos||Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos|
|Rankings are strictly opinion|
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