If you hated the bye weeks prior to Week Seven, you’re really going to be pissed moving forward. The reason? Instead of the four bye week teams you were getting used to, the next three weeks will each have six teams taking it easy. Never fear, though, because there are still plenty of good plays out there. In fact, if you continue reading through the rest of the Fantasy Football Week Seven Start Ems, you’ll see some of the better ones for Week Seven.
QUARTERBACKS – START ‘EM
Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) vs. Minnesota
Big Ben, a top-five Fantasy QB in standard football leagues? This may come as a surprise to many fantasy owners, but the Steelers are not the same smash mouth team that wants to run the ball 35 times a game. Head coach Mike Tomlin has shown an interest in relying on Roethlisberger’s arm, and Big Ben has accepted the challenge.
The Vikings haven’t been great against the pass (partially because of their stellar run defense) allowing almost 250 yards per game and nine TDs through six games. Roethlisberger may get put on his back a few times by DE Jared Allen, but his 18.7 fantasy points per week prove that he can light up the scoreboard as well.
Eli Manning (New York Giants) vs. Arizona
The Cardinals’ pass defense has been second worst in the NFL, allowing more than 265 yards per contest. Eli has been quite successful as a QB this season posting 11 TDs versus only three INTs.
We know you don’t get points for QB rating, but fantasy owners must admit that his rating of 102.2 is impressive as it ranks ahead of star fantasy QBs Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, and Jay Cutler, among others.
With playmakers throughout his receiving corps in receivers Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, and Hakeem Nicks, who is emerging as a viable threat, New York could be posting some high passing totals.
Arizona’s troubles flying to the East Coast have been well documented the past two seasons, and this will be one of their tougher matchups throughout the season.
Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs) vs. San Diego
How the mighty have fallen … The San Diego Super Chargers have been the absence of Super in 2009, recording a 2-3 record thus far. It’s not that we think the Chiefs will beat the Chargers, but come on; JaMarcus Russell threw for more than 200 yards on them.
The Chargers rank 13th in the NFL in allowing 217 passing yards per game and eight TDs through five games, but the Chiefs run game is bad and will force Cassell to throw.
To say that Matt Cassell has been good would be an overstatement, but we think he could be a reliable option for Week Seven against the Chargers. While he may only be necessary in the deepest leagues (or ones with 2 starting QBs), to expect 200 yards and one or two TDs would not be unreasonable in KC.
RUNNING BACKS – START ‘EM
Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers) @ Houston
We don’t need to say much about this. Frank Gore is supposed to play this week against a Texans run defense that is ranked 24th in the league, allowing 125 yards per game and 10 TDs through six games. Self-explanatory … Get him in your lineup!
Jonathan Stewart (Carolina Panthers) vs. Buffalo
Where we don’t need to tell you to start DeAngelo Williams, Stewart has made for a solid RB3/Flex play the past few weeks.
In Week Five, Stewart had 10 fantasy points with 45 total yards and a TD. In week Six, he exploded with 110 rushing yards and a TD (although he did lose a fumble). Stewart and the Panthers (good band name?) face their third weak opponent in a row, as they’ll take on the Bills in Week Seven.
Buffalo ranks last in the NFL against the run, giving up 182 rushing yards per game, along with eight TDs through six games. We think Williams and Stewart could both prove to be effective, especially with the passing game in a big-time funk.
Laurence Maroney (New England Patriots) @ Tampa Bay
The biggest waiver wire pick-up this week has undoubtedly been RB Laurence Maroney.
Maroney has been inconsistent since joining the NFL; however, we believe he can have another solid game in London this weekend.
Tampa Bay is 31st in the NFL allowing 172 rushing yards and a TD per game, and Maroney could definitely hit the century mark with a TD. Maroney showed explosiveness against one of the better rush defenses in the NFL (Tennessee); and he should hit those stats again making fantasy owners with bye-week issues happy all the way from the UK.
Donald Brown (Indianapolis Colts) @ St. Louis
While Joseph Addai has done nothing to prove he’s incapable of carrying the load in Indy (averaging 11.70 fantasy points per week), Donald Brown has only been slightly worse than him (8.20 fantasy points per week). After the Colts’ bye week, many experts claimed that Brown would play a bigger role in their offense, so this would be the week to tell. The Colts should be up early against the Rams, so expect a heavy dose (although with Peyton Manning it’s hard to tell) of RBs Donald Brown and Joseph Addai .
WIDE RECEIVERS – START ‘EM
Steve Smith (New York Giants) vs. Arizona
As Eli Manning goes, so does his star receiver. Steve Smith had his worst game of the young season against the New Orleans Saints last week, and fantasy owners can expect a solid rebound from him in Week Seven. Prior to Week Six, his worst fantasy output was seven points, so you know that Smith can give you the consistent numbers that every fantasy owner looks for in a wide out.
Much like Eli Manning’s Start ‘Em, the Cardinals are second to last in pass defense and they are flying cross country to play the Giants, can you say Steve Smith, touchdown?
Sidney Rice (Minnesota Vikings) @ Pittsburgh
Just in case you’ve been out of the country for the past few weeks, Rice has now become a fantasy WR. He has a great relationship with Brett Favre and is quickly developing into the No. 1 WR in Minnesota, ahead of Bernard Berrian.
Rice is in his magical third season, and the past four weeks he has proven his worth averaging almost 12 fantasy points per week. The Steelers aren’t bad against the pass (especially with Polamalu in the lineup), but Favre should be looking Rice’s direction, so 60 yards and a TD seem easily reachable.
Johnny Knox (Chicago Bears) @ Cincinnati
The Bengals are allowing 255 passing yards and 1.5 passing TDs per game, so they haven’t been too strong in that category.
While some would like Devin Hester in this matchup, the Bengals have limited almost every No. 1 receiver (sans Andre Johnson in Week Six) to pretty bad numbers (Brandon Marshall, 27 yards; Greg Jennings, 0 yards; Santonio Holmes, 18 yards; Braylon Edwards and Derrick Mason, 0 yards).
Whether the Bengals are double-covering the main receiver or not, it is No. 2 and No. 3 WRs that are flourishing against the Bengals pass defense. Knox fits into that mold, and should be a solid bye-week replacement for this Week Seven matchup.
Austin Collie (Indianapolis Colts) @ St. Louis
A fast receiver that plays the slot for the Colts and has a good relationship with Peyton Manning; sounds like Brandon Stokley.
Well, Collie, a rookie WR out of BYU is very similar to him; runs great routes and has some fantastic hands as evidenced by his first ever TD catch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Qydejk4k_E @ :36 in).
Indoors in St. Louis, Collie’s speed should be a huge asset, and Manning will be looking his way often along with receivers Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Dallas Clark. In fact, we think all four of them should post good fantasy numbers in Week Seven.
TIGHT ENDS – START ‘EM
Heath Miller (Pittsburgh Steelers) vs. Minnesota
Heath Miller has re-made himself into a fantasy tight end again. Miller and Roethlisberger have a solid relationship and Big Ben trusts Miller, which bodes well against the 24th-ranked Vikings pass defense. Heath Miller is a great fantasy play for Week Seven since the Vikings cannot cover the tight end.
Todd Heap posted 51 yards against them last week, and they have also allowed big games to Jermichael Finley (128 yards and a TD), and Vernon Davis (96 yards and 2 TDs).
KICKERS – START ‘EM
John Kasay (Carolina Panthers) vs. Buffalo
The Panthers have been the opposite of fantasy gold this season, while RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have been solid, nobody else is even worth rostering at this time (WR Steve Smith included. Don’t drop him, we’re just saying!).
John Kasay makes for a nice play in Week Seven against the Buffalo Bills defense that has given up an average of seven kicker points a week in the past three weeks. We think the Panthers will be able to move the ball, but struggle to punch it in, meaning that John Kasay could be a decent pickup with all the bye weeks.
DEFENSES – START ‘EM
Indianapolis Colts D/ST @ St. Louis
Bob Sanders is coming back to being an already solid defense, coming off a bye week, AND going against the St. Louis Rams?
Start them with the utmost confidence! They have freaks on the defensive line (against a weak offensive line), and they are playing a turnover-prone offense with very few playmakers. We realize we’re just listing the obvious now, but we really needn’t say more. Start the Colts.
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THIS ARTICLE WRITTEN BY BRUNO BOY JACOB LERMAN.