Week 7 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Play or Bench Advice on Top Fantasy Football Stars

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2018

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson, left, runs in front of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster (56) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

Strap in, fantasy football owners—the NFL Week 7 schedule is about to provide a wild ride. 

While the week starts Thursday with a ho-hum affair between Denver and Arizona, it then transitions into possible high-scoring games between Carolina and Philadelphia, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco, Dallas and Washington and—best of all—Cincinnati and Kansas City in the Sunday night slot. 

This doesn't mean every start-sit decision will be easy by any means. To assist, let's compare some of the week's top matchups and outline some notable start-sit decisions.  



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Patrick Mahomes (vs. CIN) vs. Carson Wentz (vs. CAR)Patrick Mahomes
Matt Ryan (vs. NYG) vs. Andy Dalton (at KC)Andy Dalton
Dak Prescott (at WAS) vs. Cam Newton (at PHI)Cam Newton
Kirk Cousins (at NYJ) vs. Philip Rivers (vs. TEN) Philip Rivers
Jared Goff (at SF) vs. Alex Smith (vs. DAL)Jared Goff
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Eli Manning, NYG (at ATL)

Eli Manning has been an absolute disaster for most of the season, and it is rather apparent a front office with a bevy of issues should have started a rebuild, not tried to prop up his tired arm. 

Still, this doesn't mean Manning never has good fantasy value. In fact, he has elite fantasy value in Week 7 heading into a game against an Atlanta Falcons defense coughing up the second-most points to opposing quarterbacks on average. 

Five quarterbacks have scored 22 or more points on the Falcons defense this year, and Manning should merely be the sixth. While he's only scored 15 or more twice, casual dumpoffs and finding Odell Beckham Jr. should lead to a big day against a unit that can't seem to slow much of anything. 

On paper, this could be the best week of Manning's fading season. 


Star to Sit: Jameis Winston, TB (vs. CLE)

The return of Jameis Winston created another interesting streaming option for owners. 

So far, things have gone exactly as expected. Winston fell flat on his face against an elite Chicago defense, scoring only 8.5 points. He then turned around and exploited that Atlanta defense to the tune of 32.7 points. 

As it stands, expect another off week for Winston despite the droves of talent around him as he welcomes the Cleveland Browns to town. The elite defense allows just the seventh-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks this year, with only one getting above the 20-point mark. 

Unlike Manning in his matchup, it doesn't matter that Winston has stars like Mike Evans to get the ball to in this one. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
David Johnson (vs. DEN) vs. Kareem Hunt (vs. CIN)David Johnson
Saquon Barkley (at ATL) vs. Ezekiel Elliott (at WAS)Saquon Barkley
Todd Gurley (at SF) vs. Joe Mixon (at KC)Joe Mixon
Christian McCaffrey (at PHI) vs. Melvin Gordon (vs. TEN)Christian McCaffrey
Peyton Barber (vs. CLE) vs. Lamar Miller (at JAX)Peyton Barber
Author's opinion

Star to Know: David Johnson, ARI (vs. DEN) 

The Arizona Cardinals have fumbled the usage of David Johnson while predictably going from Sam Bradford to Josh Rosen in a hurry.

Still, Johnson is talented enough to produce even if the staff is inexplicably ignoring some of the ways he got used during an MVP-caliber season a few years back. He's sitting on three outings of 15 or more points and has only failed to hit double digits once. 

We haven't seen that huge game for Johnson yet, but it might come over the weekend against a Denver Broncos defense that simply isn't as scary as it used to be and permits the fifth-most points to backs. 

Denver just let Todd Gurley erupt for 35.5 points, so Johnson's skill and versatility could see him flirt with a 20-plus game. 


Star to Sit: Lamar Miller, HOU (at JAX) 

Lamar Miller simply hasn't been the same Lamar Miller this year, which makes him a tough go in a bad matchup despite the Houston Texans offense around him. 

Miller has only scored double digits twice this year, never even hitting the 12-point mark. He returned from an injury in Week 6 and only put up 71 total yards on the way to 8.1 points. 

On one hand, Houston could look to implement Miller more now that he's back. On the other, he's dealing with a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that allows the seventh-fewest points to backs, with only Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott finding room for big days. 

Miller isn't those guys anymore, and a bad offensive line doesn't help the outlook. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Odell Beckham Jr. (at ATL) vs. Tyreek Hill (vs. CIN)Odell Beckham Jr.
Adam Thielen (at NYJ) vs. A.J. Green (at KC)A.J. Green
Jarvis Landry (at TB) vs. Mike Evans (vs. CLE)Jarvis Landry
DeAndre Hopkins (at JAX) vs. Stefon Diggs (at NYJ)Stefon Diggs
Tyler Boyd (at KC) vs. Terrelle Pryor (at MIN)Tyler Boyd
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Jarvis Landry, CLE (at TB) 

Now would be the time to bank on the Jarvis Landry comeback. 

Landry has been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments of all over the last two weeks, scoring just 9.4 and 2.1 points. The latter number somehow happened despite Landry receiving 10 targets—because he only caught two. 

The bad days should be behind Landry, though, thanks to a matchup with the Buccaneers—owners of a defense letting up the second-most points to wideouts this year. Some of this is because of a tough schedule, but most of it is simply due to a severe lack of talent in the secondary. 

This is something Landry will exploit often while his defense continually puts the offense in a great position to do damage. 


Star to Sit: Golden Tate, DET (at MIA) 

Rey Del Rio/Associated Press

The Detroit Lions coming out of a bye and hitting the road to play the Miami Dolphins doesn't offer the best outlook for someone like Golden Tate. 

Granted, Tate hasn't helped much either. 

While Tate has double digits in three games with a high of 29.2, he also has two single-digit outings including his last time out, where he only turned seven targets into 6.7 points. Now he's lining up against a Dolphins defense that allows the 12th-fewest points to his position. 

Clearly no longer a matchup-proof option, Tate could have a long day lined up against a talent like Xavien Howard. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Travis Kelce (vs. CIN) vs. David Njoku (at TB)David Njoku
Rob Gronkowski (at CHI) vs. Evan Engram (at ATL)Rob Gronkowski
Eric Ebron (BUF) vs. C.J. Uzomah (at KC)Eric Ebron
O.J. Howard (vs. CLE) vs. Charles Clay (at IND)O.J. Howard
Austin Hooper (vs. NYG) vs. Ricky Seals-Jones (vs. DEN)Austin Hooper
Author's opinion

Star to Know: David Njoku, CLE (at TB)

While Landry should have plenty to eat at the table with the Buccaneers serving out a soft defense, it's also impossible to ignore tight end David Njoku. 

Superbly talented but only hitting double digits for the first time last week, Njoku has seven or more targets in five games, including 23 over his last two games. Production has followed, with his scoring 9.9 and 15 points over his last two. 

Week 7 should set a new career-best for Njoku as he gets to exploit a Buccaneers defense allowing the most points to his position on average, including big allowances to names like Trey Burton, Austin Hooper and Joshua Perkins. 

In other words, Njoku will merely be the latest to feast. 


Star to Sit: Jordan Reed, WAS (vs. DAL) 

The wait for a big Jordan Reed game hasn't been fun. 

Simply put, it might never happen. The new-look Washington offense featuring spread-it-around ideals has resulted in Reed scoring double digits just once and topping out at 12.8 points. He's scored 6.5 or fewer in three of his last four, including just 6.1 points in Week 6 despite nine targets while fellow tight end Vernon Davis got in the end zone. 

The clouds aren't clearing in Week 7, with the rival Dallas Cowboys only permitting the 13th-fewest points to tight ends. 

While it isn't the worst matchup in the world, only one tight end has hit double digits on the Cowboys this year, and Reed isn't exactly a focal point of the Washington offense. 


All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues.  


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