Through six weeks, our Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed tool is solidifying as a tool to help you find good matchups. It’ll keep getting stronger as the weeks go by, and we’ll have less reason to say things like, "But they played against Ezekiel Elliott last week, so of course they gave up 70,000 fantasy points to running backs!" Elliott is matchup-proof, obviously. The guy is a monster.
As always, please remember that the players listed are mostly meant to be borderline guys, who need reasons for you to play or bench them. You won’t see recommendations to start Julio Jones and Rob Gronkowski, because you should always start Jones and Gronk. Make sense? Good.
Note: The fantasy points per game (FPPG) referenced below are from FOXSports.com standard leagues.
So, the Seahawks struggled a bit against Matt Ryan (and got away with a blatant pass-interference call) in Week 6. They still rank third with 12.1 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Palmer has taken a step backwards this season, throwing for seven touchdowns with five interceptions in five games, and surpassing 300 yards just once. No, thanks.
On the other side of the ball in Arizona, Russell Wilson faces a Cardinals’ defense that ranks fourth with 12.9 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks, and permits a league-low QB rating of 65.1. This game has one of the week’s lowest projected points totals at 43.5, and you should probably pass on both quarterbacks.
The Lions allow 24.1 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks, which is 11.6 percent more than the next worst team. Case Keenum torched them last week, for crying out loud. With Cousins averaging a healthy 21.6 fantasy points per game of his own, he’s a strong Week 7 start.
We like the Browns. They’ve been more competitive than their talent suggests, and can put points on the board. The defense, though … ugh. They’re allowing 21.5 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks, ranking 30th in the league. Andy Dalton has scored fewer than 19.6 fantasy points in just one of his six games, and is a good bet to surpass that total against Hue Jackson’s overmatched D.
Stay away: Matt Forte, Jets (vs. Ravens)
Remember when Forte carried 52 times for 196 yards and three touchdowns in his first two games of the season? Those were the good old days. Forte has rushed for a total of 99 yards in his last three games, was outsnapped 39-21 by Bilal Powell on Monday night, and will face a Ravens’ team that ranks second with 11.6 FPPG allowed to opposing running backs. Pass.
Speaking of low snap counts, Ryan Mathews played 11 snaps on Sunday, as referenced in our weekly RBBC article. Basically, Mathews is sharing the non-Sproles snaps with Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner. That might change, but until it does you should bench Mathews – especially in his matchup with a Vikings’ defense that ranks ninth in FPPG allowed (14.8) and fourth in rushing yards per game allowed (77.8).
Play, play, play: Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles, Chiefs (vs. Saints)
In that same RBBC article, I wrote that the Chiefs’ timeshare would likely "lean toward Ware." However, all fantasy options are in play against the Saints, who rank dead last with 28.3 FPPG allowed to opposing running backs. Charles is RB23 on my board due to workload, but he could get big chunks of yardage this week. Most analysts have him ranked higher.
James White has 12 catches in Tom Brady’s two games, and faces a Steeler defense that allows 6.2 receptions per game to opposing running backs. PPR owners rejoice! … Tevin Coleman probably isn’t as good as his year-to-date stats suggest because his workload isn’t big enough, but he’s playable at home against a Charger defense that ranks 27th with 23.3 FPPG allowed to opposing running backs.
Stay away: Doug Baldwin, Seahawks (@ Cardinals)
Disclaimer: My success rate on Baldwin prognostication over the last few seasons is approximately .000003 percent. With that said, check out the Cardinals’ pass defense stats in the note above on Russell Wilson. The Cardinals rank a respectable 10th with 21.4 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers, and have allowed just one game of 100-plus receiving yards (to 49ers slot receiver Jeremy Kerley). Baldwin might have a nice game, but you shouldn’t bet on it. He’s been targeted just nine times over his last two games.
If Will Fuller returns to action this week, it’ll be against a Bronco D that allows a puny 10.5 FPPG to opposing wide receivers. Denver swallows up opposing fantasy players and spits them out. Godspeed, owners of Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins.
Play, play, play: Allen Hurns, Jaguars (vs. Raiders)
Hurns’ breakout game hasn’t happened yet, but things are set up for it this week. He plays at home against a Raider squad that ranks 30th with 28.1 FPPG allowed to wide receivers, and last in overall pass defense (312.7 ypg). Hurns was targeted 11 times in Week 6, which is encouraging. If not now, when?
Do you need to be told to start the NFL wide receiver with the most targets (27) over the last two weeks? Maybe, if he was owned in 20 percent of FOXSports.com leagues last week. Cameron Meredith’s Thursday matchup with the bottom-ranked Packers fantasy defense (28.7 FPPG to opposing WRs) is ripe for success … Mike Wallace gets a Jets’ D that has given up 28.4 FPPG to opposing wideouts. Wallace was targeted nine times to Breshad Perriman’s eight in Week 6, if you’re looking for more of a sleeper.
Stay away: Coby Fleener, Saints (@ Chiefs)
The Chiefs have allowed three receptions and 32.4 yards per game to opposing tight ends, which isn’t good for Fleener. Also, if you believe the narrative about the Saints’ offense playing worse away from the Superdome, you’ll note that Fleener is 5-48 in two road games this season. Fleener is seventh among tight ends in targets, but he doesn’t get so many looks that you have to start him. This week, you don’t.
Do you LOVE Hunter Henry? Same here, especially with a matchup against a Falcons’ defense that ranks 29th against opposing fantasy tight ends (11.1 FPPG). Henry had eight targets in Week 6 – only four tight ends (Miller, Pitta, Graham, Gronk) had more.
If Jordan Reed is out again, consider Vernon Davis against a Lions’ defense that has given up seven touchdowns to tight ends in its first six games. Davis caught just two passes for 50 yards in Week 6, but his touchdown made fantasy owners happy.