Welcome to the Week 7 starts and sits. I have plenty of recommendations this week for both seasonal leagues and for DraftKings. As always, if you are looking for recommendations on players not listed in this space, consult my free lineup rankings over at Rotobahn. They will be fully updated by Saturday night after final injury reports come out, and they are comprehensive.
Week 7 is not a particularly tough week for fantasy GMs, with only the Cowboys and Panthers on the bye, but get emotionally prepared for Week 8, because we lose six teams and things will be pretty ugly on the waiver wire. If you can think ahead and make a few moves this week, you may be better off.
I hope you all join Jim Hackett and me for this week’s edition of the Fantasy Football Hour. We’ll be live at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning and you can listen on WEEI.com if you are a late riser. It’s usually posted on the home page by mid-morning.
Tom Brady, Patriots at Steelers, $7,900
He’s a great source of high-end production, but you have to pay for it. The thing is, this might be a week when you can find some deals and open up some salary space for a guy like Brady. Just like last week, the issue is, who do you stack with him? What makes the Patriots so hard to defend is the stunning array of weapons Brady has to work with. Big games can come from almost anywhere. Rob Gronkowski is the obvious choice, but he’s back to being priced at an elite level. If the lineup you construct can’t fit Gronk’s salary ($7,200), Martellus Bennett ($4,500) is a cheaper, more contrarian move that can pay off in tournaments. James White ($4,600) is another inexpensive option. He gives you some upside plus he saves you some money.
Matt Ryan, Falcons vs. Chargers, $7,200
Ryan is smoking hot and could really feast in this home matchup. His cost is actually reasonable given the matchup. He’s locked into seasonal lineups, but I’d give the Ryan/Julio Jones stack plenty of consideration this week.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers at 49ers, $5,900
He’s available at a very low price and he’s the kind of quarterback who can get hot and post big numbers. His cost is depressed because the Bucs have lost so many weapons through the first six weeks of 2016. The latest injury was Vincent Jackson, who will be out for at least eight weeks. While this may dim Winston’s star a bit over the rest of the season, I see no reason why he can’t light it up here. Stacking him is easy. Evans is a good choice, and you can throw in Cameron Brate ($2,900) or Adam Humphries ($3,000) for some low-cost differentiation.
Marcus Mariota, Titans vs. Colts, $6,000
It’s all about the wheels. When Mariota uses his legs to soften the defense, things tend to go well for fantasy purposes. He’s run for 124 yards over the last two weeks and I suspect that trend to continue this week against the Colts, who are ripe for the taking. Mariota is well worth a look on DraftKings at 6,000 units, and I’m fine using him in seasonal leagues, too. I’d look to use Delanie Walker or Kendall Wright as a stack.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars vs. Raiders, $6,200
He’s been brutal so far. No reason to candy coat it. The thing is, all the conditions are there for a big week. Even if the Raiders are crushing them early, Bortles will keep throwing and that volume will lead to success eventually, because the Raiders are just plain bad against the pass right now. Stacking him with Allen Robinson is affordable and you get powerful upside with the combo. In seasonal leagues, Bortles is a fringe QB1 in 12-team leagues this week.
Carson Wentz, Eagles vs. Vikings, $5,200
I love Wentz, but the Vikings defense is a real thing so I’d look elsewhere this week if you have that option. He’s cheap on DraftKings, but I am not feeling the upside here. Minnesota just doesn’t leave much on the table. If I want to go cheap at quarterback this week, I’d rather use Colin Kaepernick or Tyrod Taylor, and obviously Mariota and Winston (addressed above) both are potentially exploitable bargains.
DeVonta Freeman, Falcons vs. Chargers, $5,900
The fact that he is giving up significant reps to Tevin Coleman certainly takes a bit off of his upside, but Freeman could be huge this week and I’d be targeting him in all DraftKings formats. I think he teases 20 touches, and in this matchup that’s enough for a big week. He’s well worth the risk at 5,900 units.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Buccaneers at 49ers, $4,300
Based on his first start, he should see major volume and he’s a good receiver, so he really fits the full PPR DraftKings format well. With all the missing pieces in Tampa he should see plenty of targets. I’m definitely going to have some exposure in GPPs this week.
Jay Ajayi, Dolphins vs. Bills, $4,500
We can’t see the future and predict how much Arian Foster will play against the Bills on Sunday, but the way Ajayi ran last week he is easily worth a play in DraftKings tournaments at his price tag. He’s a nice RB2 option in seasonal formats as well.
Mike Gillislee, Bills at Dolphins, $3,000
This is a recommendation dependent on a contingency. Assuming that LeSean McCoy sits out with his sore hamstring, Gillislee should get the start and the bulk of the running back snaps. He could be a no-brainer play due to his price, which is at the 3,000-unit floor. If you own McCoy in a seasonal league, go add Gillislee now if he is available.
Mike Davis, 49ers vs. Buccaneers, $3,000
Davis is a good pivot play from Gillislee if things go bad with McCoy. Davis looks like a good bet to play in place of Carlos Hyde, who should miss Week 7 with a shoulder injury. Like Gillislee, Davis is available at the cost floor, so you can do a late switch if need be. Davis makes a nice flex option in seasonal leagues.
Terrance West, Ravens at Jets, $5,000
You can play him if you need to, but it’s not as good a matchup as it might seem. The Jets will rebound against the run and they will get David Harris back this week. It’s also possible, if not probable, that Ryan Mallett will be starting at quarterback for the Ravens. This is obviously less than ideal.
Julio Jones, Falcons vs. Chargers, $9,200
Yes, he’s pricey, but his ceiling merits the investment because he gives a higher ceiling than any other player in the player pool. There are ways to get him into your lineup, too, as we saw with the running backs.
Mike Evans, Buccaneers at 49ers, $7,800
Yes, he’s locked into all seasonal lineups, but I’d be playing him in my DraftKings lineups as well. He is going to see a huge amount of targets as he is now the unquestioned top weapon for Jameis Winston.
Allen Robinson, Raiders at Jaguars, $7,300
He’s locked into seasonal lineups just like Jones and Evans, and I like his price tag on DraftKings this week. Based on weeks 1-6, the Raiders will have their hands full with Robinson, who has multi-score potential in this game.
Michael Thomas, Saints at Chiefs, $4,700
Brandon Cooks leads the Saints receivers in snaps with 299. Thomas is right on his tail with 271. He’s a part of the offensive core and he’s really starting to gain steam now. Thomas has scored in each of the last three games and has been an efficient weapon for Brees all season with 26 catches on 36 targets. He should be seeing the ball more and more as the season progresses and he’s already the best weapon Brees has in the red zone. I like his price tag on DraftKings this week. If I need to save some money at receiver, Thomas is on my short list.
Anquan Boldin, Lions vs. Washington, $4,000
He’s viable this week because the Lions are so short-handed. Erix Ebron and Theo Riddick will both sit and that leaves a huge target vacuum in the middle of the field. I’d expect Boldin to take advantage of this situation. Boldin has played 334 snaps on the year and has touchdowns in two out of the last four games. He’s also cost-friendly at 4,000 units.
Kenny Britt, Rams vs. Giants, $4,300
He has been very consistent all year—lacking only the big game. He crossed that off the list in Week 6 with an explosive effort against the Lions. This week’s matchup against the Giants is a little tougher, but I still like Britt as a WR3 in seasonal leagues.
Kendall Wright, Titans vs, Colts, $3,700
He had a huge game last week, and in my view the Titans would be certifiable to not get him more involved going forward. Of course, I don’t call the plays or the personnel packages in Tennessee, so we’ll have to wait and see to find out if Wright’s playing time will indeed increase. Any smart coach would take snaps away from a declining Andre Johnson, but this is the Titans we are talking about. Still, at 3,700 units, Wright is a sneaky stack play for those who start Mariota. He’s a nice flex play in seasonal leagues with PPR scoring.
Antonio Brown, Steelers vs. Patriots, $9,300
Of course you are starting him in seasonal leagues, but I would avoid him on DraftKings. He’s more expensive than Julio Jones without the big ceiling. There are better and cheaper contrarian moves you can make. Save the big bucks for Jones if you decide to go heavy on one player.
Martellus Bennett, Patriots at Steelers, $4,500
I love his upside at this price. Sure, he has the potential to repeat last week’s stats, but in tournaments he offers the kind of upside and differentiation that you really want in your lineup. Stack him with Brady or use him as a stand-alone option.
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers at 49ers, $2,900
It’s about playing time and targets. Brate is a solid talent, but he now is playing in a target-rich environment. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is gone. Vincent Jackson is on IR. Both Doug Martin and Charles Sims are injured. All this points to Brate seeing plenty of targets both between the 20s and in the red zone. He’s a nice play this week in all leagues and on DraftKings at 2,900 units.
Jack Doyle, Colts at Titans, $2,500
Brate is cheap source of tight end points, but Doyle is almost as strong an option and you save another 400 units because Doyle is at the price floor for tight ends. I will be rostering him a lot this week and praying that he sees the type of targets we’d expect with Dwayne Allen out due to an ankle injury.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans at Broncos, $2,500
It’s a tough matchup on its face, and I am not predicting a big game or anything, but I do think Fiedorowicz will see some targets this week because you cannot attack the Broncos on the outside. The Denver corners are just too strong and the pass rush gets there far too quickly. If Brock Osweiler does find some success this week it will be in the middle of the field and that will be Fiedorowicz’s area. I’m not inclined to use him on DraftKings, but he could help you if you play in a deep seasonal format.
Zach Ertz, Eagles vs. Vikings, $3,400
He wasn’t that active last week, and this matchup is really bad. Ertz is playable if you really need him, but this is a great week to consider other options. The Vikings are just plain nasty right now.