Outstanding Fantasy Matchups: Week 7
It was a bit of a rough week for me in Week 6, but much was due to injury rather than the actual calls. We saw Eddie Lacy be much more banged up than we were led on, but James Starks had a big day on the ground. Also, while Ted Ginn Jr. didn’t hit on my flier GPP pick, Cary Williams continued to be a liability in the Seahawks secondary.
Otherwise we saw James Jones find the end zone — albeit be disappointing elsewhere — Colin Kaepernick torch the Ravens secondary, and Ryan Fitzpatrick finish as a top-five quarterback.
I have another five matchups to exploit this week so let’s get to them!
Start Wide Receivers vs. Ravens
Cardinals Passing Game Should Bounce Back
I don’t think anyone saw the Cardinals losing to the Steelers last week and it was a very uncharacteristic poor performance from Carson Palmer and company. That said, they get another juicy matchup this week against the Ravens so I’d go right back to the Cardinals well without hesitation.
How bad has the Ravens secondary been against the pass this year? Here are some interesting stats through six weeks of action:
- Their three primary cornerbacks have combined to allow 67 receptions on 101 targets (66 percent completion rate) for 793 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions, which also comes out to 1.75 PPR points per target.
- The Ravens have allowed fewer than 340 passing yards in two of their six games — Peyton Manning (175 yards, 0 TD) and Mike Vick (124 yards, 1 TD). Otherwise they have allowed 340-plus yards to Derek Carr (351 yards, 3 TD), Andy Dalton (383 yards, 3 TD), Josh McCown (457 yards, 2 TD), and Kaepernick (340 yards, 2 TD).
- The Ravens pass defense ranked 22nd according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric and 18th according to Pro Football Focus’ grades.
Whew. This defense is coming off two straight weeks getting torched by below-average pass offenses and now gets one of the most efficient offenses in the league followed up by the pass-happy Chargers. Vegas has the Cardinals at an implied total around 27-28 points, which is a very high projection and should provide plenty of fantasy production this week.
Patriots Offense vs. Jets Defense
Who Will Produce For New England In A Tough Matchup?
Normally, I would never recommend fading the star-studded Patriots offense even in a tough matchup, but we’d be foolish to acknowledge how banged up the Patriots are right now — especially on the offensive line. That’s where my worry primarily stems from as the Jets defensive front is one of the best in the league, especially now with Sheldon Richardson back. Richardson dominated the Redskins on Sunday with one sack and six hurries.
Of course, Tom Brady is the greatest equalizer of all as he can make even the worst offensive line look good due to his quick release and decision making. Per Pro Football Focus, Brady leads the league with an average of 2.19 seconds to throw the ball. However, if the Jets can pressure Brady the game could turn into a slug fest.
I’m never going to recommend you bench Brady or Rob Gronkowski because those are player you just ride no matter what. That said, Julian Edelman could see a lot of Darrelle Revis on Sunday and he has a broken pinky finger so this could be a week to look elsewhere if possible. As for Dion Lewis, I can see a lot of dump offs and short passes, which make him a great PPR play this week, but in standard leagues I worry he may not find the end zone. This is very likely a week to fade LeGarrette Blount.
Call it a hunch, but I think the Patriots formulate a tight end-heavy game plan where we see a lot of two tight end sets and Brady attacks the middle of the field with his twin towers — both Gronkowski and Scott Chandler come in at 6-foot-7. The Jets safeties both come in under six foot tall so that could be a mismatch to exploit. Vegas still has the Patriots with an implied total of 28-29 points, which goes to show you this offense still has some upside even in tough matchups.
Chris Ivory vs. New England
Ivory Should Continue To Roll
Chris Ivory has now had back-to-back huge performances (separated by a bye week) and gets another nice matchup against the Patriots, who have the fourth-worst rush defense according to Football Outsiders DVOA and have earned the fifth-worst grade on Pro Football Focus.
Over his last two matchups, Ivory has averaged 24.5 carries, 156 rushing yards, and one touchdown. Last week he even added three receptions for 50 yards. As I mentioned above, I think the Jets are capable of keeping this game close and while everyone is focused on Ryan Fitzpatrick exploiting a weak Patriots secondary it’s likely the Jets will rely on the run game early to try and control the pace and keep the Patriots offense off the field.
Predicting game script is a dangerous game, which is why you start good players in good matchups. Don’t sit Ivory because you think this game will turn into a shootout and/or blowout.
Antonio Gates vs. Raiders
All The Gates This Week…All Of It
I doubt people will forget even though it’s been almost three weeks since the Raiders were torched by a tight end, but the Raiders cannot cover tight ends. In Week 5, they blanked a Manning and Owen Daniels combination that is looking like it belongs in a retirement home rather than a football field. Here’s a refresher on who has exploited the Raiders this year:
- Week 1: Tyler Eifert (CIN) — 10 targets, 9 receptions, 104 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Week 2: Crockett Gillmore (BAL) — 6 targets, 5 receptions, 88 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Week 3: Gary Barnidge (CLE) — 9 targets, 6 receptions, 105 yards, 1 touchdown
- Week 4: Martellus Bennett (OAK) — 12 targets, 11 receptions, 83 yards, 1 touchdown
It doesn’t really matter why the Raiders are bad against tight ends, but we at least know that Antonio Gates is coming into a dream matchup this week. You’re obviously starting him in your season-long leagues, but as a DFS play he’s a no-brainer cash game play at a modest $5,000.
Since he came back from suspension in Week 5 the Chargers have targeted him on 24 percent of pass plays (leads the team), 44 percent of red zone pass plays (leads the team), and 40 percent of goal line pass plays (leads the team).
Dorial Green-Beckham Time?
We Could Be Close To DGB’s Breakout
We finally saw the big jump in snap counts played for rookie Dorial Green-Beckham as went from 15 percent of snaps played in Weeks 1-3 to 27 percent played in Week 5 and then 41 percent played last week. While we don’t know if this means anything for Week 7, it’s clearly time to get him on your radar in your season-long leagues.
This season is slipping away from the Titans, especially now with Marcus Mariota hurt. I’m not going to pretend I can get into Ken Whisenhunt’s brain because nothing can explain why Harry Douglas is getting as much playing time as he’s currently getting. He’s only caught nine of his 23 targets for a embarrassingly low 39 percent catch rate and it’s not like he’s being targeted on only deep throws; his average depth of target is 12 yards (lowest on the team).
This week the Titans are moving forward with Zach Mettenberger, who was a great deep thrower last year — 23 attempts, 9 completions (2 drops), 394 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions — and Green-Beckham is probably the Titans’ best deep threat receiver.
I’ve been taking some shots with these matchup articles on some flier GPP plays in DFS and I’m taking another one with DGB. The Titans will be playing from behind for most of this game against the Falcons and they’d be foolish not to utilize maybe their top weapon in what could be a blowout.
George has been playing fantasy baseball since he was a kid, filling out every Sporting News salary league card, but never sending one in due to his lack of a checking account. He still remembers the time he spot-started Storm Johnson and got a rushing TD out of it. Never forget.