We live in a world where Gary Barnidge is owned in 80 percent of leagues and, sigh, the percentage should be higher.
Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports
Before we get to the top fantasy football waiver wire options for week 7, I want to place three members of the Cleveland Browns under the microscope. Despite the 2-4 record, Josh McCown has been moving the chains and finding receivers in the end zone (the offense has scored only two rushing touchdowns). The Browns rank 10th in total yards per game – 364.2 – and 12th in points per game – 23.5.
Since returning from an early-season injury, McCown has thrown 180 passes. Nearly 44 percent of those targets were thrown to either Travis Benjamin (44) or Gary Barnidge (35) over the past four games. Benjamin, who I’ve been waiting to regress to the mean, has averaged 15.8 fantasy points per game over the last four games (PPR), while Barnidge has averaged 22.2.
Article continues below ...
What skeptical fantasy owners want to know is, can this pace honestly continue? The Browns face the (at) Rams, Cardinals, (at) Bengals, and (at) Steelers over the next four weeks – a tough stretch. However, what I found interesting was that Benjamin managed to keep his week-to-week productivity against the Chargers and Broncos – two top five fantasy defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed per game. Barnidge erupted against three defenses which allowed less than eight fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends – Ravens, Chargers and Broncos.
So, even in unfavorable matchups McCown, Benjamin and Barnidge continue to produce. When it comes to Cardinals, Rams and Bengals, I think the Browns’ offensive line is about to face its stiffest three-game stretch of the season. The pass rush and quality of cornerbacks could, and probably will, force the regression we all assume is coming. Part of this stems from McCown’s journeyman and Marc Trestman system-quarterback labels, but what-if, heaven forbid, he could average 18-20 fantasy points per game the rest of the way?
With no Aaron Rodgers, Andy Dalton, Peyton Manning or Jay Cutler, some owners may experience some BYE weeks blues behind center. Oh, and for those laughing at the mention of Cutler, his 18.3 FPPG is only three points per game shy of Andrew Luck.
Fitzpatrick heads into Week 7 averaging 20.3 fantasy points per game or QB14. A road game at Foxboro is never fun, but the Patriots defense is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. In a pinch, “Fitz Magic” will do.
If Fitzpatrick isn’t quite your speed, take a look at Carr who could find himself in the middle of an offensive shootout against the Chargers. San Diego’s pass defense has allowed 10 passing touchdowns and we know Philip Rivers – he of the 65 pass attempts last week – and company are going to eat well against the Raiders defense. Carr has averaged 277 passing yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions over the past four games. Plus, with Roy Helu and Marcel Reece more involved in the offense in the second half, Carr could pick up some cheap fantasy points where the running back does the work.
In his weekly running back timeshare feature, John Halpin projects Michael to get 12-or-so carries against the Giants. All reports out of Dallas suggest the former Seattle Seahawks running back is working with the first team and will get his shot to shine in Week 7. However, running back incumbents Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden are healthy and will get touches, too. Plus, you need to consider Matt Cassel’s debut behind center for the Cowboys leads most to believe the Giants will load the box and make Cassel beat their crappy defense with his arm. Although the Giants allow the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
I wish the Cowboys would just give Michael 20 touches in Week 7 and let it ride.
Note: I picked up Michael in three leagues last Thursday.
I still find this hard to believe: not counting the IR-tandem of Jamaal Charles and Lance Dunbar, 35 running backs are averaging double-digit fantasy production in PPR Leagues. With all the social media frustration surrounding running back (lack of) production, most would assume fewer backs would make that list. Reviewing some of the names in that Top 35 and adjusting for regression, James Starks must be owned in all leagues moving forward. Eddie Lacy is “banged up” according to coach Mike McCarthy and I don’t think the BYE week will be enough to get him back to 100%.
Starks posted 20 carries for 95 yards in Week 2 against the Seahawks and has averaged 4.4 yards per rush throughout his six-year NFL career. However, the Packers face the (at) Broncos and (at) Panthers – two tough rush defenses – coming out of the BYE. Just something to keep in mind.
Willie Snead (averaging 12.3 FPPG)
The Saints rest-of-season pass defenses faced is Charmin soft. Brees faces the Colts and Giants the next two weeks – advantage Snead owners. If you want to look ahead to Weeks 14-16 – fantasy playoff time – the Saints face the Jaguars, Lions and Buccaneers. Snead is currently ranked WR37 in PPR leagues.
Rishard Matthews (averaging 15.5 FPPG)
After averaging 20.3 fantasy points per game the first three games of the season, Matthews posted 2.6 FP in the Dolphins game against the Jets in London and owners bailed on him. Fears of Kenny Stills and DaVante Parker clouded their judgement. The coaching staff changed here and there, but offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is still there and Matthews filled the stat sheet with six receptions for 85 yards against the Titans in Week 6. Keep the faith. He’s currently WR25 and should be owned.