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Week 7 lineup calls: Quarterbacks
Every year, fantasy owners try to create new paths to a title. This year, one of the new avenues included the decision to roll with a single quarterback.
To execute this plan, the owner must:
1. Forget about the possibility of an injury.
2. Forget about the bye week until it arrived.
3. Trust that their No. 1 option will do their job and that they will not waver and contemplate another alternative.
This week, that draft-day strategy will be tested, as owners of Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub scour the wire for a plug-in play (Mark Sanchez of the Jets and Shaun Hill, now injured, will also sit).
Let’s dig deep in this week’s "Lineup Calls" to mine some fantasy gold.
Top 10 Quarterbacks
(other than Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Kyle Orton, Tony Romo, Tom Brady or Philip Rivers)
Matt Cassel vs. Jacksonville
Cassel rolled up a huge effort in the Week 6 shootout with Houston. He passed for 201 yards and three touchdowns, including two strikes to embattled wideout Dwayne Bowe (he’d famously dropped a would-be touchdown in Week 5). He’s now entering a very favorable stretch on the schedule. Cassel faces the 28th-ranked Jacksonville pass defense this season, which has surrendered 273.4 yards per game and 14 touchdowns. The Jaguars have generated only 11 sacks this season.
Joe Flacco vs. Buffalo
Flacco posted a strong game, as expected, against the youthful New England secondary in Week 6 (285 passing yards and two touchdowns). He’s a strong play this week at home against a Buffalo defense that struggles to get a push up front (six sacks) and has produced just one interception against 11 touchdown throws. I’m still moderately concerned about what we’ll see from Flacco in upcoming contests against better units. Strike while you can.
Eli Manning at Dallas
With five touchdown passes in his past two starts, Manning is primed and ready for a big divisional showdown with the Cowboys. He performed well against Dallas in 2009, averaging 285.5 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in two games. His entire receiving corps is back for another, and I don’t suspect that Hakeem Nicks repeats his Week 6 disappearing act (three catches for eight yards).
Dallas does rank fourth in pass defense. The Cowboys average 2.4 sacks and a meager total of 180.6 yards per game (seven touchdowns). The balanced New York offense gives Dallas fits this week.
Brett Favre at Green Bay
Favre’s return to Green Bay would normally be met with great anticipation. Add the ongoing NFL investigation, Aaron Rodgers’ struggles in close games and Minnesota’s uneven start to the season, and you’ve got a ratings bonanza.
We didn’t see the aerial assault that we anticipated against Dallas last week, but I suspect that we see more shots downfield against the banged-up Green Bay secondary. Opposing quarterbacks have averaged 306.3 yards per game with five touchdowns in the past three weeks.
Jay Cutler vs. Washington
Cutler continues to absorb hit after hit, and we can reasonably expect the Redskins to bring the heat again this Sunday (13 sacks to date). However, this is also a defensive unit that has been hit repeatedly by big plays this season, surrendering 298.2 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game.
Ben Roethlisberger at Miami
Roethlisberger returned to the field in Week 6 and posted a tremendous effort in front of the home crowd (257 yards and three touchdowns with one interception). He faces a more difficult task this week against Miami, a unit that ranks 12th against the pass at 201.8 yards per game with six touchdowns and seven interceptions. If the offensive line is up to the task (Miami averages nearly three sacks per game), Roethlisberger does have ample weapons at his disposal and can make plays downfield.
Matt Ryan vs. Cincinnati
Ryan produced his third multi-touchdown game in his past five starts during Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia. He passed for 250 yards with two touchdowns (both to Tony Gonzalez) and turned the ball over twice. Fantasy owners seek a similar effort (even with the turnovers) against the Bengals. Cornerback Leon Hall will do his best to track Roddy White, but the return of steady veteran Michael Jenkins does help to open things up downfield for the aforementioned Gonzalez and speedster Harry Douglas. Ryan won’t have to contend with Antwan Odom, who is serving his suspension.
Donovan McNabb at Chicago
McNabb piles up yardage fairly consistently despite the lack of depth in the Washington receiving corps. He’s passed for 236 or more yards in four of six games this season, including two games over 350 yards. McNabb continues to find success downfield with Santana Moss, and tight end Fred Davis has served as a capable backup to Chris Cooley. I don’t anticipate that we get a huge scoring barrage from McNabb here (the Bears have allowed three passing touchdowns this season), but he’ll move the ball with support from Ryan Torain.
Carson Palmer at Atlanta
Palmer posted passable fantasy numbers in two games ahead of the Week 6 bye (580 passing yards and four touchdowns). However, he’s been fairly loose with the ball, having turned it over seven times in the past three weeks. As such, I expect somewhat of a mixed bag against the Atlanta defense this week. They’re opportunistic, having generated 11 interceptions already, but also rank 25th in terms of yardage. Did the bye week allow Cincinnati to find more spots for Chad Ochocinco?
Sam Bradford at Tampa Bay
Bradford engineered another win last week at home against San Diego (198 yards and a touchdown). He also finished the upset win without a turnover, his first such game of the season. It wasn’t a huge game, but it’s one to build on this week against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers surrender 210 passing yards and two passing touchdowns per game. Additionally, Tampa Bay has averaged two interceptions per game despite generating inconsistent pressure (four sacks). Look for Bradford’s timing with his young receiving corps to take another step forward in Week 7.
Matt Hasselbeck vs. Arizona
Hasselbeck returned from the Week 5 bye to post a strong effort against the Bears. He passed for 242 yards and a touchdown, effectively integrating Mike Williams and Deon Butler into the mix. I’m intrigued to watch Seattle this weekend at home against Arizona. The Cardinals’ pass defense ranks 26th, having surrendered 241.2 yards and 1.8 touchdowns per game. Hasselbeck’s worth a look-see this weekend.
Alex Smith at Carolina
Smith has tossed multiple touchdown passes in back-to-back weeks. Granted, he’s needed a verbal challenge from his coach and the fans to get inspired. Smith faces an interesting road test this week against the fifth-ranked Carolina pass defense (182.4 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game). However, this is a unit that ranks 26th against the run. As such, the passing yardage total is somewhat misleading. The Panthers are returning from their bye week, so there is some element of risk. However, owners looking for a bye week play may benefit from the short fields afforded Smith by the San Francisco defense.
Max Hall at Seattle
Hall won his debut for the Cardinals. It wasn’t an overwhelming effort (168 yards and an interception), but a win is a win. Given the extra week of work with Larry Fitzgerald and the return of Steve Breaston to the lineup, I expect to see a more efficient Arizona offense this week on the road. Seattle allows 290.8 yards per game. The key to this contest is Arizona’s pass protection. Seattle has generated 17 sacks (six of them last week against Jay Cutler), while the Arizona quarterbacks have absorbed 19.
Kevin Kolb at Tennessee
I know. Kolb is playing lights-out football right now and has started to open things up with more frequent downfield tosses. However, Kolb will play this week without big-play threat DeSean Jackson and will face supreme pressure from the sack-happy Tennessee front (24 sacks).
Chad Henne vs. Pittsburgh
Henne qualifies for inclusion here, as fantasy owners are starting to get excited about his three-game streak of multi-touchdown games. That streak comes to an end this week in front of the home crowd. Pittsburgh surrenders 233 yards per game, but has ceded only three touchdown passes to date while averaging 3.2 sacks per game.
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