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Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 7 quarterbacks

Kirk Cousins finished on top of the leaderboards with 27.8 NFL fantasy points this week. Does that mean I’ll start ‘em in Week 7?


Week 7 presents a few interesting matchups of leading fantasy quarterbacks against leading defenses and lesser quarterbacks against lesser defenses. Finding the sure things will take a few extra minutes of thought or research. Unless you just read about them here…

Start this guy: Jared Goff, LAR vs AZ

Jared Goff had a rough couple of weeks against two top defenses. First, the Seattle Seahawks came into town, held Goff without a touchdown, and saddled him with three turnovers. In Week 6, he faced Jacksonville’s top-rated NFL fantasy pass defense. The strategy was to run Todd Gurley a lot and for Goff to do just enough without mistakes to win. The task was made easier by two special teams touchdowns, but it worked. Goff put up only 124 yards and a touchdown, but there were no turnovers. 

This week, it should be back to work as usual against the third-most generous NFL fantasy D/ST for quarterback points. Arizona might also be without their shutdown cornerback, Patrick Peterson, who hurt a quad. After Peterson left last week’s game, Tampa Bay put up 33 points in about 22 minutes. Look for Jared Goff to pad his NFL fantasy points total. 

Sit this guy: Jameis Winston/Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB at BUF

Jameis Winston struggled against the same Cardinal defense we expect Goff to shred. If he plays this weekend, it will be with a sore throwing shoulder against the Bills third-best NFL fantasy defense against quarterbacks. If Ryan Fitzpatrick plays, he will be hard-pressed to repeat his Arizona exploits against Buffalo’s strong secondary. Look for another letdown on the road for the Buccaneers and their quarterback. 

Start this guy: Tyrod Taylor, BUF vs TB 

On the other side of the field, we have a rested Tyrod Taylor who just finished the toughest part of his schedule, which included four top-ten NFL quarterback defenses. He emerged from that stretch with a QB-13 rating before his bye week. He kicks off eight consecutive weeks of games against lower-half defenses by hosting the fifth-worst D/ST versus quarterbacks. Taylor will be without his top wide receiver and top overall receiver in tight end Charles Clay. But Nick O’Leary filled in after Charles got hurt with six catches. Zay Jones and Andre Holmes had an extra week to get in sync with Taylor, who will pad his stat line with screens to running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback draws. 

Sit this guy: Andy Dalton, CIN at PIT 

Since Bill Lazor took over the offensive coordinator job in Cincinnati, Andy Dalton has averaged just under 20 NFL fantasy points per game. In Week 7, he comes off a bye to face the second-ranked pass defense in the league in the Pittsburgh Steelers. There is a chance the Bengals will have rookie John Ross back as he returned to practice Monday. That is no sure thing as coach Marvin Lewis emphasized that he needs lots of practice before he can play. Tyler Boyd is not expected to play, leaving Dalton with few outlets for the passing game. AJ Green and tight end Tyler Kroft are his main receivers and he’ll feed Joe Mixon some passes, too. But Pittsburgh will be ready. If Dalton continues to force balls to a covered AJ Green, this game could resemble opening day when Dalton finished with a -4 NFL fantasy score. 

Start this guy: Matt Ryan, ATL at NE

By this time last season, suggesting that you start Matt Ryan would have been met with a big “Duh!” But one anomaly of this crazy NFL fantasy season is that Matty Ice is ice cold. His last four games have left him rated as the QB-15, 23, 18, and 27. Miami shut him down completely in the second half of last week’s game. Julio Jones playing hurt and missing Mohamed Sanu doesn’t help, but Atlanta has plenty of other receiving options Ryan has used before. 

What do you do if your quarterback needs a breakout game? You hope to face the league’s worst pass defense and the team that gives up the most NFL fantasy quarterback points per game. That would be this week’s opponent, the New England Patriots. Look for Ryan to put up some numbers in Week 7 and consider stacking him with any Falcon who can catch a pass. 

Sit this guy: Cam Newton, CAR at CHI 

Here is something I learned this week: An NFL team can have a lousy D/ST and still be a good defense. The Chicago Bears are a good example. Despite their offensive woes, the Bears defense isn’t that bad. But they don’t get many turnovers and their 23 points allowed per game doesn’t offer much in D/ST points. But many of those points were scored on short fields. You can tell by checking how many NFL fantasy numbers they allow to offensive players. Despite their D/ST-18 ranking, Chicago allows the ninth-fewest NFL fantasy points to quarterbacks in the league. They are top-12 against running backs, too, so their QB rating does not mean teams are running on them. Add to that the excitement around their new quarterback and three turnovers and a defensive score last week and you can understand why I think the Bears can end Newton’s string of top-5 fantasy QB rankings this week. 

Week 7 flash in the pan prediction

With a week of preparation and reps, Brett Hundley throws two touchdowns and runs for another to offset two turnovers. Drew Brees emerges victorious, but Hundley still sits among the top-ten NFL fantasy quarterbacks in his first NFL start.

Full disclosure: about last week 

My Week 6 start ‘ems were limited to two since Jameis Winston left the game early with an injury. I correctly started QB-7 Josh McCown, but Jacoby Brissett missed a top-12 finish by less than half a point. I incorrectly sat Carson Palmer, although, after the Adrian Peterson trade, I changed him to a start. He finished as the QB-4 and Alex Smith snuck in just ahead of Brissett to give me a 3/5 score for the week.

Do you have a question about NFL fantasy football? Send it to us at c[email protected] We’ll publish the answer Wednesday in our weekly NFL Fantasy Mailbag.

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Pat Opperman

Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.

Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 7 quarterbacks

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