When Week 7 kicks off this Sunday, a lot of new faces will be under center for NFL teams. Washington, Denver, Oakland, Minnesota and potentially St. Louis (depending on Sam Bradford’s ankle) will all have new players starting for the first time this season. We took a look at some tape from all these guys to try and help you fantasy owners try and sort things out with these teams. Our one piece of advice is to try and avoid starting these guys until they get settled in being “the guy”. However, some of them should be able to increase the value of the players around them even before they themselves get on track.
Here’s Part I of our Week 7 Fantasy Tips. . .
SEA @ CLE
- With Peyton Hillis being questionable for the game this week, Montario Hardesty steps into the starting role. Based on his bump in carries, Hardesty should earn some consideration to start this week. The Seahawks possess a big, strong front four that has developed into one of the toughest units against the run. Hardesty has shown the elusiveness to gain yards with only a small crease, but the size Seattle has up front should limit any big numbers from Montario.
- Seattle does not possess any guys that really jump out to us for fantasy purposes. However, since it looks like Joe Haden will be out again this week, we feel the Seattle passing attack perform well. Coming off a bye, Doug Baldwin should continue to have success. Regardless of who starts at QB, teams have made it a priority to limit Sidney Rice over the top of their defense which has allowed Baldwin to flourish underneath and down the field opposite of Rice.
DEN @ MIA
- Denver fans have gotten their wish to have Tim Tebow start. In the fantasy world this does not change much for the Denver Broncos. Tebow has not shown us accuracy or passing efficiency that would make us want to noticeably bump up the value of guys around him. Tebow’s ability to run the ball all over the field, especially around the goaline could hurt the value of Willis McGahee. Willis is a big productive back around the goaline, but Tebow’s past shows that he can do the same. McGahee is a safe start this week but know that his touches around the goaline could potentially decrease.
- Brandon Marshall has another tough matchup this week going up against Champ Bailey. We anticipate that Bailey will shadow Marshall most of the game to try and take away the Dolphins only true weapon in the passing game. Bailey manned up Vincent Jackson two weeks ago and shut him out. The Broncos do not possess an overall talented secondary minus Bailey, but have shown the ability to shut out a team’s physical #1 WR. Marshall showed streaks of his ability and physicality, if given the same effort to target him early and often he could have a big week this week.
- It looks like Reggie Bush might sit out this week and even if he plays Daniel Thomas will continue to get a healthy amount of carries. Against the Chargers, Denver kept a safety over top of Vincent Jackson for the majority of the game leaving them unable to keep an extra guy in the box to limit the run game. We anticipate much of the same should happen. Denver’s DEs love to rush up field to the passer, but that also leaves a lot of lanes off tackle that suit Daniel Thomas’ downhill running style.
SD @ NYJ
- Unlike Miami, San Diego should be able to show a commitment to the run by limiting turnovers and not falling behind early. The Jets have yet to show they can stop a team from generating consistent success on the ground. Their DL is not overly strong at the point of attack, which allows teams to consistently get positive yards. Off-tackle is where the Jets have given up big plays on the ground, so a fresh Ryan Mathews coming off of a bye week can exploit that weakness for a good week on the ground.
- Just like with Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson has yet another tough matchup going up against Darrelle Revis this week. The Broncos seemed to take a page out of the Jets Defensive playbook and really bracketed Jackson to limit his success. Bailey constantly re-routed him at the line of scrimmage and Denver kept a player over top to prevent any big plays. We feel that the bye week will help the Chargers have more success against this coverage as a unit, but do not anticipate Jackson to have a big game this week. Malcolm Floyd will have an opportunity to make big plays on an ailing Antonio Cromartie who will most likely play through his groin injury.
- We simply have not been impressed with the Jets offense the past few weeks. Their attempt to get back to a ‘ground and pound’ style offense was shut down again last week and we think those struggles will continue this week. Mark Sanchez has yet to show he can consistently win games on his own and until he does that, teams will be keying on stopping the run. Sanchez’ erratic play is also a result of the Jets up and down wide receiver production. Continue to proceed with caution playing the Jets RBs or WRs.
HOU @ TEN
- Ray Rice and the Ravens were able to run all over the Texans last week. The Texans missed a lot of tackles and were unable to get a consistent push with their interior DL. Both of those are keys to stopping the zone running scheme, which means the Titans should be able to run the ball this week. On the tape, running lanes for Chris Johnson have been inconsistent to scarce. This week Johnson should have clearer lanes on an injured and lighter Houston front, which on average surrenders over 100 yard/game.
- Last week against the Ravens, Owen Daniels was forced to stay in to help keep Matt Schaub upright. The Houston OL has really struggled to protect which has hurt Daniels’ value. The Titans do not blitz as much as the Ravens, but they do possess an ability to rush the passer which means Daniels could be called on to block more than owners would like. Andre Johnson’s absence has really affected Daniels. This should continue with the Titans who like to bring an aggressive Courtland Finnegan in the box more this year: Finnegan has been a force against the run and passing games by aligning at linebacker level this season.
KC @ OAK
- The Carson Palmer trade should help the Raiders Offense in the long run, but be cautious of their passing attack until Palmer gets his feet under him and mind acclimated to his new playbook. However, not having Kyle Boller behind center still gives Oakland a passing attack that teams must respect. The Raiders are going to give Darren McFadden a lot of carries to help ease Palmer back into the NFL, but he should not face an absurd amount of defenders in the box because of Palmer’s ability as a QB. Until more clarity emerges, McFadden is the only Raider worth starting against the 21st ranked run defense in the NFL.
- Dwayne Bowe tore it up his last time out against a pretty poor Indianapolis secondary. This week he faces off against a physical and aggressive Raiders Defense, and we are excited to see how he responds. Bowe and Matt Cassel have started to develop chemistry similar to last season, which can be about as good as any in the league. Bowe has shown an ability to get off of press coverage, so we are not too worried about him getting open. He will get good numbers this week, but the pressure the Raiders generate up front could cause a lot of problems for Matt Cassel and potentially affect Bowe’s production. The Chiefs will need more than that on offense and Dexter McCluster has the potential to produce; especially receiving against a group of LBs with inferior athleticism in open space.
BAL @ JAC
- Once again the Ravens Defense should put up great numbers this week. Last week they shut down a Texans rushing attack that is top 10 in the NFL. The Ravens were able to control the run by always getting penetration up front and this shouldn’t change against the Jags. Their stout D-Line and exotic blitz packages have forced turnovers and bad decisions by QBs. Maurice Jones-Drew will be the focal point of their game plan and they should have no problems limiting his production. Blaine Gabbert has really pressure and contact in the pocket- affecting his throws down the field in a negative way. The Ravens track record on film leads us to believe that they will generate their fair share of pressure and even come down with a few of the balls Gabbert throws up for grabs.
- Anquan Boldin was able to get back on track last week because of the changes the Ravens made with how they utilize him. Boldin is at his best when he can roam through the middle of the field. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron moved him around more last week and it proved to be beneficial. Boldin saw a lot more clean releases and was able to find soft spots in the middle of the field. Against a low blitzing front and soft-zone secondary in Jacksonville, expect the same if not better from Boldin and Joe Flacco as well.
- The Ravens front 7 was very active against the Texans. They did a good job fighting to get off blocks, while also refusing to give up ground at the point of attack. They are a team that swarms to the ball meaning Maurice Jones-Drew might break some tackles, but his ability to get big gains should be limited. MJD had a lot of success on cutbacks last week, but the Ravens are simply too disciplined to allow that to happen often.
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