Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 7
Another week, another mix of breakouts, disappointments, and injuries. As we progress closer to the mid-point of the season and see multiple teams on bye every week, the options for fantasy football owners shrink. Plus, every week provides an opportunity for owners to add another win in the column or just have a chance to keep their playoff hopes alive. We’ll take a look at the players who should be in lineups and who should take a seat on the bench this weekend. Let’s examine Week 7.
Recapping last week
It was another mixed bag of results with our Week 6 picks. Kirk Cousins had a top-10 performance while Joe Burrow had a top-15 game and Matthew Stafford finished outside the top-20. Myles Gaskin turned in a top-10 game while Devonta Freeman had a top-36 game and James White had a top-20 turnout. Christian Kirk had a top-three performance while Laviska Shenault unfortunately finished outside the top-50 and Tyler Boyd had a top-30 game. It didn’t get any easier at tight end as Eric Ebron finished outside the top-30 but Zack Ertz finished just inside the top-24. With that, we’re on to Week 7.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Quarterbacks
Panthers vs. Saints
ESPN Starting Percentage: 8.3%
After a couple of weeks with 20+ fantasy points scored, Bridgewater crumbled like many other fantasy quarterbacks against the Chicago Bears. While he had a season-high 48 yards rushing yards, he finished a season-low 216 passing yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. He now faces a division rival in the New Orleans Saints, who have been extremely generous to opposing quarterbacks in fantasy football. They have given up at least three passing touchdowns in four straight games while only forcing one interception. This represents a “get-right” match-up with Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, and Mike Davis also looking to rebound.
Chargers vs Jaguars
ESPN Starting Percentage: 0.5%
Herbert will come off the bye with hopefully Keenan Allen healthy and ready to go in Week 7. He and the Chargers have a plus match-up against the Jaguars, who have given up 20+ fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in all but one game this season. Prior to going on bye, Herbert had thrown for at least 260 yards and three touchdowns in each of the past two games. He has shown the ability to make huge plays regardless of who he is throwing to and he’ll look to continue his high-scoring ways against a Jaguars defense that has struggled on defense in Week 7.
Saints vs Panthers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 6.2%
With a bye week to get rested and Michael Thomas expected to return, it’s easy to want to place Brees back in starting lineups. However, Brees has a surprisingly tough match-up on his hands with the Panthers on tap. They have forced an interception in four of the last five games and only allowed one quarterback to throw for more than one touchdown this season. Thomas is undoubtedly a difference-maker and will boost Brees’ fantasy outlook but in watching Brees, he’s simply not able to hide his age. He’s only thrown three touchdowns against two interceptions in his last two games. It’s definitely possible that Brees can be a top-12 quarterback for the rest of the season but it’s hard to see it in Week 7.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Running Backs
Chargers vs Jaguars
ESPN Starting Percentage: 0.9%
With Austin Ekeler out right now, it was expected that Joshua Kelley would pick up the bulk of the work left behind. But we saw Jackson out-touch Kelley 20-12 and out-gain him 94-38. It’s not to say that Kelley won’t be involved but Jackson is the hot hand and comes into a strong match-up. The Jaguars have given up seven different double-digit performances to opposing running backs in half-PPR leagues, including to both De’Andre Swift and Adrian Peterson in Week 5. So even if we see a 60-40 split between Jackson and Kelley in Week 7, Jackson is still in line for plenty of work against an opponent who is generous in giving up fantasy points.
Saints vs Panthers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 1.6%
Despite being the clear “1B” running back in this Saints offense behind Alvin Kamara, Murray has at least 10 offensive touches and 57 scrimmage yards in each of the last three games. It’s evident that he is going to be involved on a weekly basis for the Saints. He and New Orleans now face the Panthers, who have given up six double-digit performances to opposing running backs with four of them being for 20+ points in half-PPR leagues. While the Panthers have a better-than-expected defense, it’s still expected to be a high-scoring affair between both teams and Murray has a solid floor on a strong offensive team.
Patriots vs 49ers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 19.6%
Since returning, White actually has 15 receptions for 103 yards in the last two games. With the lack of solid wide receiver/tight end depth for the Patriots, White has been forced to be one of the main pass-catchers for the Patriots. He faces the 49ers this weekend, who have given up three or more receptions to only three opposing running backs. They also haven’t allowed an opposing running back to gain more than 34 yards receiving. White’s production comes almost entirely from the receiving game with only 12 carries for 51 yards on the season. It’s best to keep him on the bench in a tough match-up.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Wide Receivers
Cardinals vs Seahawks
ESPN Starting Percentage: 10.2%
After recommending him as a “start” in Week 6, Kirk came through with two touchdowns and a top-three performance at wide receiver. He now heads in Week 7 facing the Seahawks, who have given up 21.6 receptions, 294.4 receiving yards, and 1.4 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers PER GAME this season. In what is expected to be a high-scoring game, Kirk and the Cardinals are lined up for a nice day in fantasy football against the generous Seahawks defense. As the number two wide receiver in this explosive offense, Kirk should continue to put up solid numbers going forward. That’s especially true in the cupcake match-up this weekend.
Bengals vs Browns
ESPN Starting Percentage: 12.6%
In a wide receiver group featuring Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green, Higgins has surprisingly been the most consistent one of late for the Bengals. He has at least seven targets in each of the last four games and at least 62 yards in the last three games. He is coming off his best game with six receptions for 125 yards for a cool 20.8 yards-per-reception. The Browns have struggled against opposing wide receivers as of late as they allowed James Washington and Chase Claypool to each rack up four receptions, 68+ yards, and a touchdown (Claypool’s was of the rushing variety). The Bengals nearly beat the Colts with their young offense and now face a reeling Browns team coming off a crushing defeat to the Steelers.
Patriots vs 49ers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 29.8%
While we saw Edelman blow up in Week 2 against the Seahawks (eight receptions for 179 yards), he has done very little since then in the receiving game. While he has six targets in each of the last three games, he only has a combined seven receptions, 66 yards, and zero touchdowns to show for it. The passing offense has struggled mightily outside of Week 2 for the Patriots and they now face a 49ers defense that is still causing issues despite all of their injuries. Over the last three games, the 49ers haven’t allowed a single wide receiver to catch more than four receptions with only one having more than 50 yards receiving during that span. The Patriots will need to do an about-face on offense to have a chance to keep up with San Francisco. Don’t expect Edelman to be the potential catalyst for that.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Tight Ends
Cowboys vs Washington Football Team
ESPN Starting Percentage: 20.6%
While it’s fair to assume that the Cowboys offense won’t be nearly as productive with Andy Dalton under center as they were with Dak Prescott, Schultz may be one of the few players to retain similar value moving forward. While uninspiring, he secured four receptions for 35 yards on five targets in Week 6. He had a top-24 week and was one of the most targeted players on the Cowboys after excluding the numerous dump-off passes to Ezekiel Elliott. He and the Cowboys now face a Washington squad that has given up either a touchdown or 45+ yards to opposing tight ends in each of the last four games. It doesn’t take much for a tight end to finish as a top-12 scorer in fantasy football and Schultz has a few factors working in his favor to have a low-end TE1 week.
Buccaneers vs Raiders
ESPN Starting Percentage: 31.3%
It’s tough to justify recommending any tight end as a “sit” this season with how barren the position is in fantasy football. “Gronk” is also coming off his best game of the season (five receptions, 78 yards, and a touchdown on eight targets) but he has a very tough match-up against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday night. Outside of allowing Travis Kelce to go for eight receptions, 108 yards, and a touchdown in Week 5, the Raiders have been extremely difficult on opposing tight ends. Besides Kelce, the Raiders hadn’t given up more than two receptions and 17 yards to an opposing tight end, with only one touchdown, scored over that time as well. With the Buccaneers nearing full strength on offense with Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Ronald Jones, and Leonard Fournette (likely returning in Week 7), Gronk may stand to be the one losing the most work especially with a team that has such a strong defense.
Doug Moore is a fantasy football writer for Gridiron Experts. He has previously written for sites such as ESPN, SBNation, FFToday & Inside The Pylon. He also was the co-host for the highly-rated fantasy football podcast Overtime Ireland for several years. You can find him on Twitter at @DMooreNFL