Start Em, Sit Em Week 7: Who Are the Smart Matchup Plays?
We're now six weeks into the 2011 fantasy football season, and as injuries continue to mount and with the bye weeks now in full swing many fantasy owners are forced to look beyond the Top 10 Players at Every Position in order to field a competitive starting lineup.
For these owners finding solid matchup plays for a given week can be essential, and these matchup plays can mean the difference between the sweet smell of victory and the stench of defeat.
To aid those fantasy football owners in their quest here are 10 players who have solid matchups in Week 7 and whose statistical output this week should merit consideration for insertion into starting lineups for teams that, for whatever reason, find themselves in the proverbial bind.
1. Matt Cassel: QB, Kansas City Chiefs (at OAK)
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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel had by far his best game of the season in leading the Chiefs to their second straight victory two weeks ago, completing 21 of 29 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
With a matchup on tap with an Oakland Raiders defense that has surrendered the third most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season the seventh-year veteran has a very good chance to have his third solid game in a row.
2. Josh Freeman: QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. CHI)
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Quarterback Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked the best he has this season in propelling the Buccaneers past the New Orleans Saints Sunday, topping 300 passing yards and tossing a pair of touchdown strikes.
The Chicago Bears, who the Bucs meet in merry olde London this week, are the fifth friendliest fantasy matchup for opposing signal-callers, so Freeman should represent an excellent option for teams in a bye-week bind at quarterback.
3. Jackie Battle: RB, Kansas City Chiefs (at OAK)
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Fourth-year running back Jackie Battle was one of the big surprises of Week 5, as Battle racked up 140 total yards and averaged a robust 6.3 yards per carry in the Kansas City Chiefs victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Kansas City's opponent this week, the Oakland Raiders, have allowed the fourth most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs so far this year, so fantasy owners in need of a spot start may want to ride Jackie into, well, Battle.
4. Darren Sproles: RB, New Orleans Saints (vs. IND)
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Running back Darren Sproles has quietly become the most dependable fantasy asset in the New Orleans Saints backfield, averaging over 85 total yards a game, scoring two touchdowns, and ranking among the top 15 at his position in fantasy leagues that award points for receptions.
The Indianapolis Colts struggle both in stopping the run and defending passes over the middle, so the table is set for for the diminutive Sproles to once again post big numbers, especially if your league awards points for return yardage.
5. Ryan Torain: RB, Washington Redskins (at CAR)
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Ryan Torain (and the whole Washington Redskins offense for that matter) looked pitiful in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week, as the third year pro managed only 22 rushing yards on 10 carries.
However, a matchup with the Carolina Panthers, who rank 31st against the run and have allowed the second most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, should be just what the doctor ordered to get the Torain train on track this week, so fantasy owners in need of a running back should hop on board.
6. Doug Baldwin: WR, Seattle Seahawks (at CLE)
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Rookie wide receiver Doug Baldwin had far and away the best game of his young career in Seattle's surprising Week 5 victory over the New York Giants, reeling in eight passes for 136 yards and his second touchdown of the year.
The playing status of fellow Seahawks wideout Mike Williams is very much up in the air and the Cleveland Browns likely will be without top cornerback Joe Haden this week, so Baldwin could easily be in line for another strong statistical outing.
7. Pierre Garcon: WR, Indianapolis Colts (at NO)
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Pierre Garcon's fourth quarter fumble proved very costly in the Indianapolis Colts loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday, bur Garcon still managed to post serviceable numbers, hauling in eight passes for 52 yards.
The fourth-year wideout has emerged as the favorite target of quarterback Curtis Painter and the Colts best deep threat, an area in which Indy's opponent this week, the New Orleans Saints, have struggled in coverage, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see Garcon get past the secondary for a long one Sunday night.
8. Nate Washington: WR, Tennessee Titans (vs. HOU)
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With wide receiver Kenny Britt lost for the season to a torn ACL the job of top pass-catcher in the Tennessee Titans aerial attack has fallen to seventh-year wide receiver Nate Washington, who has responded with a respectable 15 catches for 223 yards with a touchdown over his past three games.
Washington and the Titans face a Houston Texans defense that has been average against the pass this season, ranking 13th both in yardage and fantasy points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers, so fantasy owners in a pinch at the position could do worse than taking a flier on Nate Washington this week.
9. Ed Dickson: TE, Baltimore Ravens (at JAX)
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Baltimore Ravens tight end Ed Dickson has grown into a viable weapon in the Ravens passing attack in his second year in the National Football League, averaging over 11 yards a reception and scoring one touchdown so far this season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had issues with covering tight ends this year, allowing the second most fantasy points per game this season to opposing tight ends, so Rob Gronkowski or Vernon Davis owners in need of a spot start may want to give Dickson a look.
10. Miami Dolphins Defense/Special Teams
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I know what you're thinking.
Am I nuts?
The Miami Dolphins are 0-oh dear lord, rank 30th in the NFL in both total defense and sacks, and have looked absolutely hideous on defense as often as not this season.
However, the Dolphins have top cornerback Vontae Davis back and healthy, looked much better against the New York Jets Monday night, have a home date upcoming with a Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos team that has struggled nearly as badly as the Dolphins have and have a dangerous return man in tailback Reggie Bush.
Yes, it's a bit of a desperation play, but in deeper leagues sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.