Avoiding the MASH Unit
Fantasy football is a game of luck and attrition. Much like poker, only with no ligament injuries. Godspeed to those players who have suffered injuries—it is easy to forget they are human beings with livelihoods at stake here in the fantasy realm.
Hopefully that attrition hasn’t hit your fantasy team. With New Orleans and Oakland on byes, on top of potential injury woes on your team, you might be left with some serious questions about who to start. We are here to help.
Sit: Russell Wilson
True, it might seem easy to suggest benching Russell Wilson, considering he is coming off his second zero-touchdown game out of three, but he has still had plenty of fantasy value thanks to his rushing abilities. This week, things might be worse for his stat line.
Wilson faces a tough Cardinals defense, one that has allowed three touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks over the past three weeks. It held Cam Newton in check two weeks ago, and, were it not for the super-heroic exploits of Vernon Davis last week, Colin Kaepernick would have suffered a similar fate.
Wilson has no Davis on his team right now. He is certainly running the ball well, but the Cardinals have done a good job holding running quarterbacks in check the past couple of weeks.
Benoit Says: “That offense doesn’t have a ton of rhythm right now, and they run the ball more than any other team in the NFL. The passing game is one-third play-action based, and Wilson hasn’t been as sharp as last season. The offensive line probably contributes to it, and the team doesn’t want to throw the ball.”
Start: Ryan Tannehill
The hype behind Ryan Tannehill has been far truer in reality than fantasy football. He looks very much the part of a young stud, but he hasn’t really done much in the fantasy realm. That changes this week.
Miami is coming off a bye week, presumably a good time for the offense to straighten some things out like protection and avoiding drops. Tannehill’s rapport with Mike Wallace—his new $60 million receiver—has left something to be desired, but the duo gets a nice matchup this week against a Bills secondary that has been one of the worst in the league to date.
Benoit Says: “Buffalo doesn’t have a great edge rush, which means they can’t exploit Miami’s weakness along the offensive line. They might blitz Tannehill a lot, which will tell us a lot. Will Tannehill try to throw deep or be more cautious?”
Sit: Stevan Ridley
Stevan Ridley is back! Now bench him.
Last week the Patriots running back finally did what we all thought he would do with regularity this season—score a bunch of fantasy points. To that point he was a bitter pill of disappointment for fantasy owners who might have drafted him in the second or third round. While that was a great performance to get him rolling this season, he'll be rolling into a brick wall this Sunday.
The Jets boast one of the league’s top defensive lines, anchored by the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. That front has allowed just 12.4 standard fantasy points per game thus far this season, third-best in the league. Ridley might get the majority of the workload again, but his results will be far less palatable to your fantasy team.
Benoit Says: “Normally I’d say start Ridley—he looked excellent last week—but I’m inclined to sit anyone who plays against the Jets. I don’t think the Patriots will challenge that run defense a whole lot either—they will try to do more in the passing game and avoid playing to New York’s strength.”
Start: DeAngelo Williams
How long has it been since DeAngelo Williams delivered on any sort of fantasy promise?
His 2013 season has been pretty good, but he continues to struggle to find the end zone with Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert stealing all the goal line carries. This week’s matchup is Williams’ best in a while, though. As Arian Foster proved last week, you don’t have to get into the end zone to have a nice fantasy day against the Rams. Whether a date with the end zone is a fate for the fantasy gods to decide, 150-plus total yards that factor in several receptions make him an excellent PPR option for this week.
Benoit Says: “The Rams run defense has been porous this season. I don’t know what’s going on with James Laurinitis; he just looks soft. Williams, meanwhile, looks very shifty and dangerous, and the offensive line did an excellent job blocking against Minnesota last week.”
Sit: Larry Fitzgerald
Last week might have been brutal for you as a Larry Fitzgerald owner. If you are like one of us, you benched him in case he was inactive for the afternoon game. He was, of course, active, and he rewarded our cautiousness with a 75-yard touchdown grab and overall excellent game.
He did injure his other hamstring, however, and he gets to match up against Richard Sherman and that Seattle defense on a short week. Thursday Night Football has been a fickle mistress—some weeks delivering huge fantasy scores, other weeks giving us duds—but that Cardinals offense figures to have a tough time moving the ball against the Seahawks.
It looks like Fitzgerald will gut it out one more time, but don’t count on a long touchdown catch on broken coverage this week.
Benoit Says: “This is a tough matchup for Fitzgerald. The Cardinals do a good job of moving him around—especially in three-receiver sets—so I would guess he will draw Walter Thurmond more than Richard Sherman throughout the game. But I don’t think the Cardinals offensive line can deal with the Seahawks pass rush.”
Start: Alshon Jeffery
It was a magical two-week run for Alshon Jeffery, who might have scored many of those points on fantasy benches across the league. Naturally, when everyone put him in the starting lineup in a good matchup against the Giants, the second-year receiver laid an egg.
That was through little fault of his own, however. Twice Jay Cutler targeted him deep when he had gained separation, only to overthrow his big receiver in disappointing fashion. One other time Jeffery couldn’t hang on to a longish pass because he was immediately crunched.
This week, Jeffery is out for fantasy redemption against another soft pass defense in Washington. True, that defense held Tony Romo and Dez Bryant in check last week, but the Cowboys didn’t have to do much in the passing game to win that game thanks to their special teams and running game.
Benoit Says: “Alshon Jeffery is getting a ton of one-on-one coverage because defenses have to respect Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett. Jeffery is a big receiver that has outstanding body control, so he can win a lot of those one-on-one matchups.”
Week 7 Survivor Draft
It’s back to the loser’s column for Team Miglio, which was ravaged by yet another unexpected goose egg and Tony Romo’s flat game in a juicy matchup against Washington. At 1-5, this team is teetering on the brink of collapse. Can it pull a miracle turnaround?
It all falls on the Dolphins offense this week, as I hope Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace will combine their powers to put up big numbers against that weak Buffalo secondary. Of course, tasty matchups don’t guarantee points, as we have been over with Romo and last week’s abominable fantasy score.
We are only in Week 7 and running backs are already starting to run thin, so it seems I will be playing just two for the foreseeable future. I am pinning my hopes on the upside Ryan Mathews has against that Jaguars defense and Bilal Powell has against a Patriots defense that is now missing Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo.
As usual, I stuck with my “whoever is playing the Jaguars” defensive strategy, though that didn’t work out too well in Denver last week. I am also hoping Eddie Royal and Antonio Gates will benefit from the attention Keenan Allen should be getting now that he has had a couple of big weeks.
The Edholm train scratched out another win in ugly fashion. A balanced, if not uninspired effort, although the good news is that no one let me down. This week, I saved up a pair of rookie running backs—both of which Alex had already used—in Eddie Lacy and Giovani Bernard with solid matchups, so I picked them last knowing he could not touch them.
I focused instead on my almost weekly QB-WR exploitative pair—this week, it’s Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall—and tried to find a few other players (such as Greg Jennings) who might be able to break out. I also feel better than I normally do about my defensive (Chiefs) and kicking (Nick Novak) choices.
The weekly survivor-style fantasy game has reshaped my thinking—I honestly get more enjoyment out of playing weekly matchups, and strategizing all-new weekly lineups, than I do in traditional leagues where my rosters are virtually static. You should try it.