With six NFL teams on a bye this week, it’s time to dig around the bench to try and find your week seven starters. Without Roddy White in your lineup, who do you play instead?
We all fight our inner fantasy GM before deciding who to start, staring at those ESPN projections in awe.
Can Jeremy Kerley really get me 15 points this week? You think to yourself, surmising that ESPN must know best. It’s ESPN!
Don’t get sucked into the ESPN black hole they call projected points. If my team lived up to their projections every week, I’d be sunbathing in the Bahamas, drink in hand with a wallet full of fantasy earnings.
Brees has been stellar for fantasy owners this year, and faces a middling Tampa Bay secondary that allowed Eli Manning to throw for 500 yards.
2. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Eli has been great at home this year, and against an awful Redskins secondary, he should have a field day.
3. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
In a battle of elite fantasy quarterbacks, I give the edge to Eli, but RG3 will rack up points as well. The Giants have been pretty good defensively, but RG3 has shown he can throw (and run) against the best.
4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers went off for six touchdowns last week against a vaunted Houston defense. He’s back folks.
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben has struggled a bit of late, throwing just one touchdown in each of his last two games. Against a Cincinnati defense that he knows well, I expect him to rebound.
6. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady struggled late last week, but still posted 395 yards and two TDs against a tough Seattle defense. The Pats will no doubt run the football against a terrible Jets run defense, but Brady will get his.
7. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Romo bounced back nicely from his five-INT game to throw for 261 yards and two scores against Baltimore. Facing a mediocre Carolina secondary, expect more good Romo than scary Romo.
8. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Cutler has a 5-1 record on MNF, with his only loss coming last year against Detroit. Playing the Lions on MNF once again, Cutler will be out for revenge. I like his chances against an average-at-best Lions secondary.
9. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Luck has shown promise this season, and he’ll continue that against an awful Cleveland pass defense.
10. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
If Stafford could play all four quarters at the level he plays the last one, he would be much higher on this list. The quarter he does show up for is good enough for you to start him.
1. Arian Foster, Houston Texans
He’s the best, regardless of matchup.
2. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
DMC toted the rock 27 times last week, indicating that his shoulder is healthy. While he didn’t do much with those carries, his matchup against Jacksonville is much more favorable this week.
3. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
Ridley faces a bad Jets run defense that he will no doubt exploit. His upside is limited only by fellow RBs Brandon Bolden and Danny Woodhead.
4. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Rice gets it done week in and week out, regardless of his opponent. He has managed to average 120 total yards against the Texans in their last three meetings, so don’t let the matchup scare you.
5. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
AP has run hard this year, but hasn’t found the end zone since week one thanks to TE Kyle Rudolph. Leslie Frazier has to call Peterson’s number in tight at some point; I say it’s this week.
6. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
Forte has been worth every penny of his contract-extension so far this year other than battling an injury. Now healthy, Forte will have a solid game against Detroit.
7. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
Richardson got nicked up last week, but is fully expected to play this Sunday. If he plays, the kid is one of the best RBs in the league.
8. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Mojo’s only fault is that he plays on such a bad team. The bright side is the fact that Jones-Drew is all Jacksonville has on offense. They should feed him the ball against a bad Oakland run defense.
9. Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants
After running for 100 yards and a touchdown against San Francisco, fear no matchup. My only concern with Bradshaw is his ever-present foot injury.
10. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Spiller rounds out the top ten despite finding himself in a timeshare with Fred Jackson. Even with half the touches, Spiller is a great start this week against Tennessee in just about every format.
11. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
12. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
13. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
14. Alex Green, Green Bay Packers
15. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
16. Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys
17. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints
18. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
19. Steven Jackson, St Louis Rams
20. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Begals
1. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
Cruz has been a fantasy stud this year with or without Hakeem Nicks on the field. Against Washington, who has given up more points to opposing WRs than any other team, he will go off.
2. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
At home against the third-worst pass defense in the NFL? Sign me up.
3. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Megatron can’t be single-covered by any corner in the NFL, and Detroit’s receivers are talented enough to prevent the Bears from doubling Johnson every down. Last year in the MNF game between these two teams, Johnson had 130 yards and a score.
4. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
I’m a little nervous about ranking Colston this high, as he has been known to disappear at times. The fact that Drew Brees has fed Colston the ball in the last two games makes me feel better. 18 catches and four TDs over his last two games seems convincing enough.
5. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Green’s incredible season will continue, even against a tough Pittsburgh defense.
6. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It seems that New Orleans has found their game, which leads me to believe the Bucs will be throwing all day in an effort to come back. At least a few of those balls will end up in Jackson’s mitts.
7. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Fitz has averaged almost eight catches per game in his last four, and don’t expect a decrease with John Skelton under center: Fitzgerald was by far Skelton’s favorite target when he was the Cardinals signal-caller last year.
8. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings
Harvin may be the fastest wideout in the NFL, and is a fantasy stud when healthy. He’s healthy, so he’s a top WR.
9. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
With Mike Wallace stretching the field deep, Brown has found room over the middle consistently this year. Don’t let last week’s dud fool you, Brown is still a top-tier WR.
10. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
Jordy is coming off a monster game, and Aaron Rodgers will surely look his way regularly. Greg Jennings may return to the field this week, limiting Nelson’s potential slightly, but start him with confidence.
11. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
12. Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
13. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
14. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
15. Wes Welker, New England Patriots
16. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
17. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
18. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
19. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
20. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Gronk hasn’t been quite as good this year as he was last year, and Aaron Hernandez returned to the field last week. Hernandez will steal some of Gronkowski’s targets, but he will also draw defenses away. There is no physical specimen out there quite like Gronk, which is why he is the number one TE option week in and week out. Especially with Tony Gonzalez on a bye.
2. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Witten has posted two solid outings in a row, and seems to be back on track to elite status at the TE position.
3. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans
Daniels has seen at least five targets a game, and has reeled them in effectively. With three TDs in his last four games, I recommend riding the hot streak.
4. Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots
The Jets have struggled to guard opposing tight ends this year. There will be enough to go around for both New England TEs.
5. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
He has scored five TDs in his last five weeks. ‘Nough said.
6. Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals
Gresham finally broke out last week with a 55-yard touchdown snag early in the game. He has been seeing five or so balls per game thrown his way, and has been doing decent damage with them.
7. Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
Pettigrew had two nice games in a row going into last week, but then was outproduced by fellow TE Tony Scheffler. Don’t read into this too much, Pettigrew will continue to be #1 in Detroit.
8. Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
Chandler faces Tennessee this week, who has allowed more points to opposing TEs than any other team.
9. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
Davis struggled last week and has struggled historically against Seattle. The matchup isn’t good, but Davis is such a physical freak that he’ll rarely drop out of my top ten.
10. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Bengals may key on Pittsburgh’s wideouts, leaving Miller room to operate over the middle. Cincy doesn’t defend TEs well (25th).
Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny