There are few things more frustrating in fantasy football than tinkering with your lineup and ultimately picking the wrong player to have a big game. I’m currently having a staring contest between John Brown, Brandin Cooks and Sterling Shepard; they’re all going to eat, BUT WHO’S GOING TO EAT MORE? Sometimes you just need someone to give you a firm, but loving, smack in the face and say, “Pick someone you fool! You’ve been standing there staring at your phone, slackjaw for the past 30 minutes and clearly have forgotten that we’re in the middle of business pitch!”
I won’t be able to answer all fantasy start/sit conundrums in this article (that’s what our mailbag is for *cough* *cough*) but I thought I might as well share the guys who I am SUPER high on this week and maybe, just maybe, help those people who’ve been staring at their phones wondering if the same player is worth starting.
I made an effort to pick players that you might be debating on since a “must start” article is kinda dumb if it’s filled with RB1s and WR1s. I shouldn’t have to say start A.J. Green against the Chiefs. That much should be obvious. To make things fun, I’ve including a ranking with each player where I think they’ll finish this weekend in standard scoring. This way we can over the weeks track and see how right I am with my must starts.
WR Josh Gordon, New England Patriots
Week 7 rank: WR15
It’s finally here people, the time when you can comfortably start John Gordon from week to week in fantasy and trust that he’s going to get you at least mild fantasy production. This week however it should be far from mild. Gordon’s role in the offense exploded last week, playing 63 snaps in Week 6 as compared to the 18 he played in Week 5. He was targeted a season high nine times against the Chiefs, five more than he received against the Colts. Clearly Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels—and Tom Brady for that matter—are starting to trust Gordon and his ability to work in the offense.
While the Bears’ defense has been very good this season, they don’t have the cornerbacks to go up against big receivers like Gordon. The secondary is currently giving up the sixth most fantasy points to opposing receivers, averaging 28.62 points per game.
RB Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions
Week 7 rank: RB16
Here’s to hoping the Lions know talent when they see it. Much like Aaron Jones clearly being the best back in Green Bay, Johnson is the best back in Detroit, yet neither team is willing to commit to them. Weird. Johnson comes into Week 7 averaging 5.7 yards per carry and should continue to gash defenses this week. The Dolphins haven’t held a running back to under 4.2 yards per carry in the last three weeks and have given up five touchdowns in that span. If I trusted Matt Patricia to give Johnson the starting workload, I’d been even MORE confident in Johnson as a start this week, but as it is, the talent and the matchup make this start a must.
WR Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
Week 7 rank: WR10
Normally Landry is a guy you always start, no questions asked. But he’s coming off two bad games where he didn’t record a touchdown or crest 70 yards receiving. Lucky for him and for Landry owners (myself included) there’s no better cure for a struggling receiver—really a struggling offense—than the Tampa Bay defense. Sure Mike Smith just got fired and they now have a new defensive coordinator but you really think this pass defense is going to magically change overnight? Hell, it took the ugly duckling all of adolescents before he become a beautiful swan.
The Bucs defense currently is bottom in receptions, yards and PPR points allowed to opposing slot receivers and I would fully expect Landry to get back on track against this unimpressive secondary. Also, start David Njoku will tons of confidence. I didn’t want to put him on the list because if you have Njoku you’re not benching Njoku, but just know he gonna ball out this weekend.
RB Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 7 rank: RB18
It’s risky picking a member of the Buccaneers’ backfield but I liked what I saw out of Barber last week and hopefully the Bucs did as well (at least enough to give him a solid workload this week).
This pick is primarily based on matchup though as the Browns’ defense has been pretty bad against the run this season. They’ve given up the third most yards and second most touchdowns on the ground so far this season and rank sixth in fantasy points allowed to opposing backs (23.55). It doesn’t help that their run D took a major hit last week losing linebacker Joe Schobert. After Schobert went down, the Browns gave up 111 yards on 17 carries in less than a quarter to Melvin Gordon and the Chargers’ offense.
RB Ito Smith, Atlanta Falcons
Week 7 rank: RB20
The Giants’ run defense has been a little below average to start the season and they’re currently allowing the 12th most fantasy points to opposing backs. With Devonta Freema ’s injury, Tevin Coleman is the presumed starting back in Atlanta now and while I consider him still a good play this week, I foresee some very annoying vulturing from Ito Smith come Sunday.
Where the Giants’ run defense (and just their defense in general) is well below average is in the red zone. They’ve allowed the fourth most plays in the red zone (68) and fourth worst in the NFL in red zone touches (31 total, 5.2 per game). Compare this with the Giants’ wide receiver red zone touches—fourth best in the league allowing only one per game—it’s clear when opponents get inside the 20 yards line, they’re looking to run the football. And for the Falcons, no one out touches Smith in the red zone. I’d expect Smith to fall into at least one touchdown Sunday.
Bonus start: RB/WR Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
I’m really, REEEAAALLY high on Tarik Cohen this week—like RB10 high—and wanted to write about him but I figured since I just wrote 1,000 words on him and how the Bears are using him, I’d talk about some other players.
Who’s most likely to live up to my rank?
This poll is closed
Josh Gordon, WR15
Kerryon Johnson, RB16
Jarvis Landry, WR10
Peyton Barber, RB18
Ito Smith, RB20