By Chance Smith
Why hello, Matthew Stafford. Nice of you to join the party. After putting up single-digit numbers in his last three games, the big guy showed up with 33 fantasy points in an overtime win against the Bears. Falcons’ speedy second-year Devonta Freeman continued to show that he is currently the best option at running back in all fantasy formats. Gary Barnidge proved that he is the go-to guy in Cleveland and Alshon Jeffery returned from injury to remind us why he’s the number one guy in Chicago. We’ll be missing three undefeated teams in week seven ─ Broncos, Bengals, and Packers─ along with the Bears who also have a bye. So, who are the guys to sit and start this week?
Who to Start:
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers QB vs. Oakland Raiders. The Chargers’ all-time leading passer threw for a ridiculous 503 yards and two touchdowns in a loss Sunday to the undefeated Green Bay Packers. The veteran Rivers threw the ball 65 times against the Packers, completing 43 pass attempts on the day. Rivers is currently the eighth-ranked quarterback in ESPN fantasy leagues, but his 28 points in week six ranked second to the Lions’ Matthew Stafford among all QBs. At this point in the season, Rivers is a must start in all league formats. The Chargers have averaged 50.3 pass attempts per game─the most out of any team in the league─ and Rivers’ 65 pass attempts in week six ranks seventh all time in NFL history. The 2-4 Chargers haven’t been able to find a rushing game this season, and the Rivers-Keenan Allen connection has provided the only real spark in the offense. Expect the North Carolina St. product to keep throwing the ball successfully against an Oakland Raiders defense that has allowed two touchdowns to quarterbacks in all but one game this season.
Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings WR at Detroit Lions. The rookie receiver out of the University of Maryland has exploded onto the scene for the Vikings in the last two games. After not seeing the field in his first three games, Diggs caught six passes on 10 targets for 87 yards in week four against a dominant Broncos defense. Coming off a bye in week five, the speedy Diggs did not disappoint against the Chiefs─ reeling in seven receptions for 129 yards on nine targets. The Vikings still look very inconsistent with Teddy Bridgewater at QB, but Diggs appears to be his top target as of late, with fellow receivers Charles Johnson (ribs) and Mike Wallace (knee) banged up this week. Minnesota squares off this Sunday against a Detroit Lions team that gave up 44 combined points to the Bears’ wide receivers this past weekend. Diggs, who is currently third in the NFL in yards per game, has a lot of upside as a free agent acquisition in week seven.
John Brown, Arizona Cardinals WR vs. Baltimore Ravens. The second-year wide receiver out of Pittsburgh State dominated the Steelers’ secondary in a 25-13 loss this Sunday. Brown finished the game with 10 receptions for a career-high 196 yards on 14 targets. A shot in the barrel for fantasy owners at the beginning of the season, Brown has finally established himself as the number two guy behind veteran Larry Fitzgerald. Brown has showed that he has that deep threat capability that quarterback Carson Palmer needs in order for the Cardinals to be successful. I expect him to continue getting the looks fantasy owners need him to get against a Ravens defense that has allowed the fourth-most passing yards to opposing teams this season.
Who to Sit:
Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals RB vs. Baltimore Ravens. Advising fantasy owners to sit Johnson seems to have become a consistent trend across advice pages in the past couple of years─ probably for a good reason. Don’t let his two touchdown performance in week three fool you into thinking he’s a starter in your lineup. He hasn’t been the same 4.3 second 40 yard dash guy he was in his few crazy seasons with the Titans. On top of his lack of consistency on the fantasy scoreboard, Johnson is splitting time with two other formidable running backs for the Cardinals. Andre Ellington, their starter from last season, is still working his way into the lineup after coming back from injury and David Johnson has been biting into CJ’s carries all year long, meaning we’ll see his rush attempts lessen game-to-game. Also, what the Ravens lack for in protecting the pass, they somewhat make up for in stopping the run. They give up the tenth least fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and should force Palmer and the Cardinals to air the ball out early.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles TE at Carolina Panthers. Ertz was drafted eleventh on average among all tight ends in ESPN fantasy leagues at the start of the season. People hoped that the young product out of Stanford would become a bigger part of Chip Kelly’s run-and-gun offense this season, but it just hasn’t panne out. Ertz has yet to score a touchdown this season and currently ranks 27th in fantasy points among all tight ends. The saddest part is that Ertz has been targeted the second most of any Eagles wide receiver. They spread the ball around too much for any one player to have a blowout week. Definitely leave Ertz on the bench this Sunday when the Eagles face off against a Panthers defense that is first in the league in least points allowed to opposing tight ends.
Andre Johnson, Indianapolis Colts WR vs. New Orleans Saints. There is no doubt that Andre Johnson will one day be in the Hall of Fame. He just isn’t putting up the same numbers in his new home with the Colts. He has only broke the 50-yard mark in one game this season against his former team, the Texans─ where he also scored two touchdowns. Other than that, he has been virtually non-existent in the Colts passing game. With a healthy T.Y. Hilton and a budding star in Donte Moncrief, the Colts can’t seem to find a spot for Johnson in the passing game. Even though they face off against a Saints secondary that has given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, I don’t expect Andrew Luck to connect with Johnson often enough to warrant a start.