An unlucky portion of fantasy football players face an uphill climb heading into Sunday's Week 7 slate because of Davante Adams.
When given a golden opportunity to start for the Green Bay Packers last season, he scored one touchdown. Now the team's third receiving option, he reached the end zone twice while accruing five fewer yards (132) than Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Alshon Jeffery combined on Thursday night.
Tough break for anyone whose opponent took a flier on Adams. Thursday night proved to be just as painful for anyone relying on Nelson or any member of the Chicago Bears. Let's try to avoid more heartbreak by examining players worth starting and sitting this weekend.
Start: Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington
When Case Keenum burns a defense for 321 passing yards and three touchdowns on an efficient 27-of-32, that unit becomes a massive target for opportunistic fantasy managers.
Following their embarrassing effort against Keenum's hapless Los Angeles Rams offense, the Detroit Lions have relinquished a 73.7 completion percentage and 119.3 quarterback rating. According to NFL.com's Cynthia Frelund, the latter would represent the worst rate in NFL history if sustained throughout the season.
You know who likes that? The guy facing them this weekend.
Kirk Cousins has unsurprisingly struggled to continue last year's improbable breakout in full force. After suddenly curing his interception woes in 2015, he has tossed six picks in as many 2016 games with nine passing touchdowns.
This is probably the real Cousins—a maddening yet solid middle-of-the-pack passer. That works just fine against Detroit's dreadful defense, even if he doesn't have tight end Jordan Reed for the second straight week.
Sit: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
Eli Manning and the New York Giants were in line for another lackluster game last Sunday before Odell Beckham Jr. saved them both.
During the second half of Week 6's 27-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the wide receiver padded Manning's numbers with touchdowns of 75 and 66 yards. Instead of getting jealous of the star's blossoming relationship with a kicking net, the quarterback should thank Beckham for transforming another dud into a 403-yard, three-touchdown outing.
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While the passionate 23-year-old is a threat to turn every ordinary slant into a huge play, that's a big gamble for anyone counting on Manning. Having thrown six interceptions and suffering back-to-back duds against the Minnesota Vikings and Packers, he looks every bit like a pure matchup play.
The Rams are vulnerable—but not enough so to start a fringe option in London. They rank seventh with 6.8 yards relinquished per passing attempt and have allowed 51.6 yards per game to No. 1 receivers, according to Football Outsiders. Find a better quarterback streamer than Manning this weekend.
Start: Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles, RBs, Kansas City Chiefs
Not sure which Kansas City Chiefs running back will shine this Sunday? Those who exuded the wherewithal to insure Jamaal Charles with Spencer Ware should start both.
Under ESPN.com's standard scoring, the New Orleans Saints have allowed the most fantasy points per game (26.6) to opposing running backs. Favored by six points at home, per Odds Shark, the Chiefs should pound the rock against a defense that has surrendered a league-worst 11 scores on the ground.
In his second game of the season, Charles collected 47 yards and a touchdown on 11 total touches. Ware, who ran 24 times for 131 yards and a score in Week 6's win over the Oakland Raiders, remains the alpha and a top-10 play in Week 7.
Earlier this week, Charles insisted he's 100 percent from last year's ACL tear, per ESPN.com's Adam Teicher. "I'm healthy, so that doesn’t have anything to do with it," the 29-year-old said.
Don't expect him to usurp Ware as the team's top rusher any time soon, but he should receive enough work to serve as a valuable No. 2 back or flex play in all formats.
Sit: Ryan Mathews, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
New coaching regime, same fantasy headache in the Philadelphia Eagles backfield.
Ryan Mathews drew some buzz as a popular Week 6 play against Washington, which has handed opposing rushers 5.0 yards per carry. He delivered the efficiency investors expected, churning out 6.7 yards per rush.
Too bad he only received nine handoffs. Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood each carried the ball four times, and Kenjon Barner took another two.
As noted by Pro Football Focus' Mike Tagliere, the supposed starter's involvement has fluctuated dramatically over Philadelphia's first five games:
A road matchup against Minnesota, which has yielded 3.7 yards per rush and three rushing touchdowns, is not the place to anticipate a bounce-back effort. Mathews is, at best, a flex play for owners hurt by injuries or players on bye.
Start: Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets
This isn't the sure bet it seems. Brandon Marshall has had three games with only three receptions, totaling 129 yards in those blunders. Eric Decker's absence allows defenses to focus on the veteran wideout, who now must rely on Geno Smith to feed him the ball.
On the bright side, Marshall should receive more than Monday night's six targets. Smith didn't look his way much after replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Arizona Cardinals. Last year, however, he targeted the 11-year pro on 17 of his 42 throws, per Frelund.
Then again, Marshall only caught eight of them for 100 yards.
If Jimmy Smith cannot play, Marshall is a must-start. Beckham, who entered halftime last week with 11 receiving yards, went wild once the Ravens cornerback left with a concussion. If the cornerback is good to go, Marshall is more of a low-end volume play with too much upside to sit in most situations.
Sit: John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Sometimes sleepers don't wake up. This apparently applies to preseason breakout candidates popular enough to surpass true sleeper status, as John Brown is still searching for his first touchdown.
The explosive 26-year-old needed garbage-time work on Monday Night Football to pad his final line to 54 yards on five receptions. That's his third-best game of the year; he has only caught one pass in three separate dismal outings.
Six weeks into the season, he's averaging four catches and 50 yards per game. On Friday, Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website reported a possible reason for his slow start:
Per Arizona Republic's Bob McManaman, head coach Bruce Arians didn't offer much clarity on his wideout's status for Sunday night's game against the Seattle Seahawks.
"Your guess is as good as mine. I have no idea," Arians said. "It's something where he could show up on Sunday night and be fine. ... We’re investigating on how to help him get better as fast as possible."
Whether or not he suits up on Sunday, Brown must take a fantasy seat against Seattle's second-ranked passing defense. He wields a superstar ceiling, but a basement floor has won out far too often to consider him anything other than a high-risk desperation play.