Fantasy Preview: Week 7

Posted Oct 18, 2013

The football world is enamored with Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis this week, and while that is a huge story for both casual fans and fantasy owners alike, there are plenty of other subplots to follow.

One we can't follow is Jimmy Graham's health, as the Saints are on bye (along with the Raiders). Graham's foot will be a heavy source of scrutiny once practice starts next week, but for now, fantasy owners will have to settle for the weekly “Gronk Watch” to see if the Pats' star TE will play.

The Eagles' QB battle might be sealed if Nick Foles has another big game, and it will be interesting to see if he continues developing a rapport with Riley Cooper and Zach Ertz. Both loom as potential late-season sleepers.

Josh Freeman will try to salvage his season in Minnesota, and despite the great matchup, it's tough to recommend a player who's only been with his current team for two weeks. Sorry, Drew Brees owners – you'll have to look elsewhere for a sub.

There are plenty more things to watch this week, so let's get to them. Here are some key numbers to know about every contest, plus a stud, sleeper, stumbler or injury concern to watch for with a brief explanation why. Note that the “studs” are guys who are either better than most owners realize or established stars who owners might be foolishly thinking about benching.

Rams at Panthers

Stat to know: It could be a tough week for the Rams' fantasy contributors. Carolina ranks 21st or lower in fantasy points per game (FPPG) allowed to every offensive position. They've also allowed the fewest pass plays of 25-plus yards (five). If you're going to take a shot with a Rams' “player,” go with the D/ST.

Stumbler: TE Greg Olsen (Rams allowing 6.2 FPPG to TEs, tied for seventh fewest.)

Buccaneers at Falcons

Stat to know: Both Roddy White (ankle) and Steven Jackson (hamstring) haven't practiced this week, and with Julio Jones (foot) already out, the Falcons are thin all over the field. Matt Ryan will have limited options, and Tampa is allowing just 13.5 FPPG to RBs (seventh fewest). It's tough to trust anyone other than Tony Gonzalez for the Falcons.

Sleeper: TE Tim Wright (Falcons allowing 11 FPPG to TEs, seventh most.)

Bears at Redskins

Stat to know: Jay Cutler has scored at least 21.3 fantasy points in all but one game this year, and the Redskins are allowing the ninth-most FPPG to QBs (23.7). Along with Martellus Bennett, who's third in TE red-zone targets with 10, Cutler is a solid “under-the-radar” starting option.

Stumbler: Bears D/ST (Just eight sacks; Redskins allowing just 6.0 FPPG to D/STs.)

Cowboys at Eagles

Stat to know: With DeMarco Murray (knee) likely out, Joseph Randle is expected to start. The Eagles aren't that bad against RBs (15th in run defense), and Randle hasn't showed much burst in limited action (1.6 yards per carry). He might be a touchdown-or-bust player who looks better on paper than he actually is.

Sleeper: WR Terrance Williams (Eagles allowing most FPPG to WRs.)

Patriots at Jets

Stat to Know: Danny Amendola (concussion) is likely out and Rob Gronkowski (forearm, back) is still a mystery, so expect more targets for Julian Edelman and Kenbrell Thompkins again. The Jets are slightly below average against WRs (23.9 FPPG allowed, 15th), so both can have at least moderate success in the Pats' quick-strike system.

Stumbler: RB Stevan Ridley (Jets allowing second-fewest FPPG to RBs.)

Bills at Dolphins

Stat to know: Expect breakouts from Dolphins WRs Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. The Bills have allowed 33.7 FPPG to WRs (second most), as well as 14 pass plays of 25-plus yards (tied for sixth most). Perhaps surprisingly, Buffalo is tough against TEs, allowing the second-fewest FPPG (4.6). Charles Clay isn't a great option.

Sleeper: Bills D/ST (Dolphins have allowed 24 sacks; Bills have 21.)

Chargers at Jaguars

Stat to know: WR Cecil Shorts (shoulder/ribs) isn't expected to play, which means even more targets for Justin Blackmon. San Diego is allowing the fourth-most FPPG to QBs (25.7) and seventh most to WRs (26.6), so Blackmon should be in line for a monster day, but Jacksonville doesn't have anyone else who can take advantage.

Sleeper: RB Ryan Mathews (Jacksonville allowing a league-leading 4.7 yards per carry to RBs.)

Bengals at Lions

Stat to know: The Lions are giving up 268 passing yards per game, but that comes with a 7:10 TD-to-INT ratio. Andy Dalton has a 5:4 TD-to-INT ratio in three road games. A.J. Green is still a must-start, but Dalton and the rest of the Bengals receivers/tight ends are hands off.

Sleepers: RBs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard (Lions tied for seventh-most FPPG allowed to RBs.)

49ers at Titans

Stat to know: Tennessee is allowing the fourth-fewest FPPG to QBs (13.9), which includes an average of 10.3 points in home games. Colin Kaepernick hasn't topped 19.9 fantasy points in a game since Week 1, and this doesn't seem like the game for him to get back on track.

Stud: RB Chris Johnson (getting 19.5 touches per game; 49ers allowing seventh-most rushing yards per game to RBs.)

Texans at Chiefs

Stat to know: The Chiefs have the third-ranked pass defense (190.3), and Houston is starting Case Keenum at quarterback. That adds up to a tough day for Andre Johnson, who has just 12.7 fantasy points in his past two games. He's a very risky WR3 given his shin injury.

Stumbler: WR Dwayne Bowe (Texans allowing fewest FPPG to WRs.)

Ravens at Steelers

Stat to know: Both Ray Rice and Le'Veon Bell are coming off poor performances, and in this traditionally rough matchup, owners might be nervous about them. But the Steelers are allowing the sixth-most FPPG to RBs (20.9), and the Ravens, despite allowing the fewest FPPG to RBs (12), just gave up 120 rushing yards to Green Bay rookie Eddie Lacy. You can take a shot with both backs.

Sleeper: TE Heath Miller (Ravens allowing ninth-most FPPG to TEs.)

Browns at Packers

Stat to know: Randall Cobb (leg) is out and James Jones (knee) might be out, which means either Jarrett Boykin or Jermichael Finley would essentially function as Green Bay's No. 2 receiver. The Browns are allowing the fourth-fewest FPPG to WRs (16), so even though the Packers have a great offense, both are risky plays.

Stumbler: RB Willis McGahee (Packers allowing eighth-fewest FPPG to RBs.)

Broncos at Colts

Stat to know: All Broncos starting skill players are must-starts, and the Denver defense ranks 10th or worse in FPPG allowed to QBs, RBs and WRs. It should be a fantasy free-for-all in Indianapolis on Sunday night.

Sleeper: TE Coby Fleener (Six targets last week; Colts allowing 9.4 FPPG to TEs, tied for 11th most.)

Vikings at Giants

Stat to know: The Vikings are allowing the most FPPG to RBs (23.9), so Brandon Jacobs should have another good game. They're also seventh in FPPG allowed to QBs (25.4), so Eli Manning should be given one more chance.

Stud: WR Greg Jennings (Giants allowing 26 FPPG to WRs, 10th most.)