Maybe it's just me, but there seem to be more debilitating injuries to standout stars in reality and fantasy football this year more than ever. Perhaps it's perception overshadowing what seems to be otherwise fairly normal, but after Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone, perception is way stronger than reality. With these injuries piling up, and the league knee deep in bye weeks, these may be the toughest times on these fantasy streets.
Byes: DET, HOU
Start of the Week: QB Matt Ryan (ATL) at NE
Matt Ryan's 2016 season looks like a thing of the past, but some of that form may be recaptured in Sunday night's Super Bowl rematch. The Patriots secondary is not very good, as all passers who have gone against them this season have thrown for more than 300 yards each. Ryan may not be an every week starter anymore, but this week he certainly is.
Who to Start:
QB Dak Prescott (DAL) at SF: Most people coming into the season didn't think of Dak that highly as a fantasy QB, but his performances in the last three games (two of them Cowboy losses) have perhaps changed that opinion. Going up against the putrid 49ers secondary may allow the streak to continue into a fourth straight game of wonderful fantasy form.
RB Mark Ingram (NO) at GB: With Adrian Peterson in Arizona, Ingram has asserted himself even more as the Saints featured running back. He has quietly had a very solid season, and that should continue against a less than stellar Green Bay rush defense that is dealing with a myriad of rough injuries. Alvin Kamara is also a decent flex play.
WR Rishard Matthews (TEN) at CLE: He hasn't been that spectacular in a fantasy sense this season, but almost everyone is worth a gamble against the Browns and whatever it is that they call a secondary. They've given up seven TD's to wideouts this season, and that somehow seems like a low number.
WR Adam Thielen (MIN) vs. BAL: No matter who is healthy at any of the skill positions in Minnesota, Adam Thielen is a heavily targeted man. He hasn't scored a TD this season, yet is a machine, especially in PPR leagues thanks to his targets. Even against a rough-ish matchup in Baltimore, Thielen is worth a gamble.
TE Jimmy Graham (SEA) at NYG: He has not come anywhere close to living up to the hype when he was traded from New Orleans to Seattle. That said, he's been a sneaky decent fantasy play in the last few games for Seattle, and he is again against a Giants defense that cannot defend tight ends.
DEF Carolina at CHI: Mitchell Trubisky may have lead the Bears to a victory in Baltimore, but that wasn't much due to him and the offense. Carolina's defense, even potentially without Luke Kuechly, is a wise fantasy play considering the troubles rookie QB's like Trubisky usually have in these games.
Sit of the Week: QB Jameis Winston (TB) at BUF
I still love Jameis as a fantasy option, but not nursing a shoulder injury, and not on the road against a better than expected Bills secondary this week. The Bills have only given up two TD passes all season in their first five games.
Who to Sit:
QB Philip Rivers (LAC) vs. DEN: The no-fly zone was not the reason Denver stumbled at home against the Giants, holding Eli Manning to almost nothing through the air, as expected. Philip Rivers has never performed well against the Broncos at home in his career, and Denver is likely going to be mad after what happened last Sunday night. This isn't a good recipe.
Any Seattle RB at NYG: The Giants have a bad rushing defense. So why then would I say not to start any Seattle running back (Lacy, Rawls, McKissic)? Because no one knows the running back pecking order in Seattle until it shapes itself out over the course of a few weeks. Even though this is a decent matchup, it's worth avoiding all Seattle running backs until they prove themselves consistently as viable fantasy options.
WR Sammy Watkins (LAR) vs. ARZ LONDON: He is listed on the Rams roster, but you'd be hard-pressed to know that even watching Rams games, where he barely gets targeted, let alone gets meaningful touches. Patrick Peterson will likely match up against him Sunday, which means he might be erased from the stat sheet even further.
WR Martavis Bryant (PIT) vs. CIN: I'm not saying to sit him because he requested a trade and then sloppily backtracked on those comments. I'm saying to hit him because JuJu Smith-Schuster has clearly surpassed him on the depth chart, and because Cincy's defense is underrated against the pass.
TE Martellus Bennett (GB) vs. NO: Tight Ends on teams whose #1 QB's are hurt are always sneaky plays in fantasy land, but even with Aaron Rodgers, Bennett wasn't performing up to expectations. With Brett Hundley under center, this doesn't bode well.
DEF Baltimore at MIN: The Ravens defense has been a solid fantasy option in spite of their injuries and up and down performances, but even with Case Keenum, the Vikings are not a good matchup here. Minnesota's offense is consistent and doesn't make many mistakes, which is not a good combination for opposing fantasy defenses.
3 Super Sleepers:
QB Marcus Mariota (TEN) at CLE: On one good leg, Mariota looked quite solid Monday night against the Colts, even if his fantasy numbers didn't show it. Against Cleveland's defense, or lack thereof, Mariota, one week healthier, should fare a lot better.
RB Adrian Peterson (ARZ) vs. LAR LONDON: Mea culpa: all of us who analyze fantasy football whiffed on Peterson last week against the Bucs, big time. While he's probably not hitting the heights from last week against a good Rams defense, he's a viable flex option for sure now that he's established himself as the feature back.
RB Marlon Mack (IND) vs. JAX: For all the talk of how great Jacksonville's defense is, they don't stop the run very well, in their losses that is. It's therefore worth the risk to start the rookie Marlon Mack, who has flashed great potential every time the Colts give him the ball.
RB LeGarrette Blount (PHI) vs. WSH MON: Consistently inconsistent in fantasy land: that's been Blount's story this season. After some rock star performances against the Giants and Chargers, he's been quiet against the Cardinals and Panthers. Washington held him in check in week one, and that could easily happen again on Monday night.
Good luck in Week 7!