The injury monster struck again in Week 6. We lost a few more key players including Stevan Ridley, Knowshon Moreno and Victor Cruz. We also expect Darren Sproles to miss a few weeks and Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham are unlikely to play this week. Those are some big names off the board. On bye this week are the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The impact of the injuries creates a lot of uncertainty this week, but let’s pull up our boots and get to it.
Elite, Expensive: Aaron Rodgers, GB (Week 7 vs Carolina)
Any time Rodgers is at home, he is a solid start. Defensively, the Carolina Panthers are not nearly as fierce as they were last season. They allowed 323 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions to Andy Dalton last week, who, particularly without A.J. Green, didn’t have nearly as many weapons as Rodgers and the Packers. Carolina has the ability and play makers to force a close game offensively against the Packers defense. I expect Rodgers to take the game into his hands and put up big points.
Middle of the Road: Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (Week 7 vs Houston)
Roethlisberger put up a major dud in Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns. However, that follows a trend that he has had this season: 1 great game, 2 bad games, 1 great game, 2 bad games. Following that trend, guess what he is due for…that’s right, a great game! For his price this week and all the negative pub on the Steelers and OC Todd Haley, Roethlisberger is definitely worth the risk. He’ll have a low percentage of ownership in GPP play.
Cheap, High Upside: Carson Palmer, ARI (Week 7 @ Oakland)
Palmer, in a bit of a surprise start, finally returned in Week 6 from his shoulder injury and he had a good “welcome back” game of 250 yards and 2 touchdowns. Even better, as of right now, he came away from the game with no setbacks. Week 7 the Cardinals face the Raiders in Oakland, who are improving their competitiveness in games recently, so this could be a close battle. If that’s the case, Palmer might be forced to throw the ball more than otherwise expected.
Elite, Expensive: Matt Forte, CHI (Week 7 vs Miami)
Forte is rolling right now, making his traditional fantasy football league owners extremely pleased they “settled” for him after Adrian Peterson or LeSean McCoy. In Week 6, Forte faced the worst run-defense statistically and finished with 80 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns and 10 receptions for 77 yards. Forte is second among running backs for fantasy points and first overall for receptions. Ride the hot hand with Forte in Week 7 facing the Miami Dolphins at home.
Middle of the Road: Andre Ellington, ARI (Week 7 @ Oakland)
Ellington is the primary back in Arizona and with Palmer back, it will open up the field more for Ellington. He also is a great threat in the passing game. Oakland just allowed over 100 yards rushing to Brandon Oliver and 23 yards receiving. Ellington is a better back than Oliver, so I expect similar, if not better stats from Ellington this week.
Cheap, High Upside: Justin Forsett, BAL (Week 7 vs Atlanta)
Atlanta Falcons have the worst run defense in the league and now they face a hot running back in Forsett. He just posted 111 yards rushing against another weak run defense, the Buccaneers. Look for Forsett to continue this pace against the Falcons.
Elite, Expensive: Jordy Nelson, GB (Week 7 vs Carolina)
Carolina allows the seventh most fantasy points per game against wide receivers. As I stated above, I love Rodgers this week, so why would I not love his number one option of Nelson? Nelson is narrowly the second best wide receiver in the league. All signs point to “GO” for Nelson this week.
Middle of the Road: T.Y. Hilton, IND (Week 7 vs Cincinnati)
Hilton is coming off a career game in Week 6, making 9 receptions for 223 yards and 1 touchdown. Hilton leads the Colts in targets and receptions. While not official, he may have stepped past Reggie Wayne as the number one receiver for Andrew Luck. Cincinnati’s defense has struggled the past two weeks allowing 576 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Hilton has a great opportunity this week.
Cheap, High Upside: Torrey Smith, BAL (Week 7 vs Atlanta)
Smith is coming off his best game of the year with 4 receptions, 51 yards and 2 touchdowns. Atlanta is having a hard time stopping teams on defense, so Smith has a good chance to find the end zone again this week.
Elite, Expensive: Julius Thomas, DEN (Week 7 vs San Francisco)
Thomas is the best tight end so far this year by a landslide. San Francisco just allowed 96 receiving yards and 1 touchdown to the St. Louis Rams tight ends. Losing Patrick Willis midgame likely did not help matters for the 49ers, and Willis is expected to be inactive this week. In a primetime game between two Super Bowl contenders, I expect both teams to be pumped up, and for Peyton Manning to lean on his top red zone target.
Middle of the Road: Jordan Cameron, CLE (Week 7 @ Jacksonville)
Cameron had a great game Week 6, earning 102 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. He is the best receiving option Brian Hoyer and the Browns have right now. Cameron has another great matchup Week 7 against Jacksonville, who rank fourth worst in fantasy points allowed to tight ends.
Cheap, High Upside: Clay Harbor, JAC (Week 7 vs Cleveland)
Since Blake Bortles has taken over at quarterback, Harbor has 14 receptions, 183 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. It is obvious Harbor is Bortles’ safety valve. For his price, he has great value. I expect Bortles to lean on Harbor again this week as Cleveland has a good defense.
Buffalo Bills (Week 7 vs Minnesota)
Buffalo is home and playing the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota struggled last week with Teddy Bridgewater under center, trying to figure out what kind of football they want to play. Buffalo has a good defense that should take advantage of the Vikings woes.
Cleveland Browns (Week 7 @ Jacksonville)
Cleveland is playing some of its best football right now, on both sides of the ball. Factor in the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are just not very good, and Cleveland should be able to get the win while creating some chaos (sacks, turnovers) for the Jaguars offense along the way.