2014 Fantasy Football: Week 7 Start/Sit
Below are the guys I like or dislike in Week 7 compared to the other experts on FantasyPros.com. I’m focusing on guys that are actually on that start/sit bubble in 12-team leagues. For quarterbacks and tight ends, that means I’m focusing on guys I have on one side of 12th at the position while the consensus is on the other side. For running backs and receivers that means guys I have on one side of 24th at the position while the consensus is on the other side. For example, there’s no need to tell you I’m higher on Eddie Lacy when I have him ranked #8 and the expert consensus rank (ECR) has him ranked #13. Both rankings have him in the top 24 and tell you to start him.
If you have specific start/sit questions, leave them in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @TheRealTAL.
Jeremy Hill / at Indianapolis / ECR: 28 / My rank: 24
Among running backs who have taken 25 percent or more of their team’s snaps, Hill leads the league in fantasy points per snap (per ProFootballFocus). The reason everyone else has him ranked as a non-starter is because he doesn’t get enough snaps to really capitalize on that efficiency. He’s a clear backup to Giovani Bernard. But he gets enough work to be a flex play or possibly an RB2. Last week he took a third of Cincinnati’s snaps. If he gets about that much work against Indy, he should be worth starting. The Colts are next to last in 4for4.com’s schedule adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to running backs.
If you don’t think Hill is a top 24 running back, who would you put ahead of him? Here are the guys I have ranked just behind Hill: C.J. Spiller, Trent Richardson, Steven Jackson, Zac Stacy and Isaiah Crowell. That’s a big bag of meh.
Keenan Allen / vs. Kansas City / ECR: 30 / My rank: 24
Allen is averaging fewer than five fantasy points per game this year after averaging 11.5 fantasy points per game in his final 13 games of 2013. That’s obviously a surprising difference, but it’s even more surprising when you realize that he’s seeing a slightly higher average of targets per game this year, catching the same percentage of his targets and having a slightly higher average depth of target.
With all those things being essentially the same, what’s causing the massive gap in fantasy production? Touchdowns and yards after catch. Allen has yet to score, but Mike Clay’s oTD stat tells us he should have a couple of scores so far based on how he’s used near the end zone. And he’s averaging just 3.3 yards after catch per reception after averaging 6.2 last year. Yards after catch is a pretty variable statistic, and certainly one in which a player can buck a trend with one long run after catch. His struggles in the department shouldn’t necessarily concern you that he’ll continue to struggle.
Percy Harvin / at St. Louis / ECR: 29 / My rank: 22
St. Louis ranks next to last in aFPA to wide receivers, but Football Outsiders has them ranked 2nd best in the league at defending #1 receivers. To complete the holy trinity of referencing resource websites, ProFootballFocus helps explain this discrepancy by grading Rams corner E.J. Gaines as well above average in pass coverage. It appears that Gaines shuts someone down, and the other defensive backs let opposing receivers go ham. Gaines will move around a bit, but he spends about three quarters of snaps lined up on an outside receiver at left corner. That’s good news for Harvin who lines up in the slot about three quarters of the time. He shouldn’t see too much of Gaines which, if the pattern holds, means he should go ham.
I couldn’t quite find it in me to make Brian Hoyer and Jace Amaro top 12 options at their positions, but they’re possible waiver wire fill ins if you’re missing Nick Foles or Zach Ertz this week and are without a backup. I wrote more about each of them here.
Drew Brees / at Detroit / ECR: 8 / My rank: 13
This feels dumb. But here we are. This is part Brees not being Brees so far this year and the matchup being as bad as a matchup can get. On Brees’ end, he hasn’t been bad this year, but he has been far from elite. He’s averaging 17.6 fantasy points per game, which ranks tenth at the QB position. The non-elite guys are subject to benching when the matchup dictates. And this matchup certainly dictates a benching as the Lions have been the toughest matchup for QBs by a wide margin. They haven’t faced a ton of great competition, but they did shut down Aaron Rodgers in Week 3. This game is also in Detroit, and you’ve surely heard stats quoted about how much better Brees is at home.
If you took Brees and a top backup like Rivers, Romo and Cutler (yes, they were all drafted outside the top 12 QBs), go with your non-Brees option for the week.
Jerick McKinnon / at Buffalo / ECR: 24 / My rank: 33
It’s funny how much context matters because, in the article linked to above in reference to Hoyer and Amaro, I wrote about McKinnon in a positive light as a sleeper. But sleeper implies a guy who isn’t a sure-fire starter who could over-deliver. And I believe that accurately describes McKinnon this week. He out-touched Matt Asiata 17-3 last week, and if he continues getting that much work, he’ll always have a chance to be fantasy relevant. But I don’t think he’s an obvious starter, and the expert consensus has him ranked like one.
The matchup is way too tough for him to be a consensus starter as the Bills allow the second fewest fantasy points per game to backs and are the second toughest matchup according to aFPA. And we also don’t know if McKinnon will continue to dominate the touches in the Minnesota backfield. Prior to last week, Asiata had been dominating the touches. It’s probably McKninnon’s job, but it might be a good idea to give it one more week to make sure, especially since McKinnon will have one of the toughest possible matchups in that one more week.
Reuben Randle / at Dallas / ECR: 20 / My rank: 30
The Dallas Cowboys are the fourth toughest matchup for wide receivers according to aFPA, and Football Outsiders has Dallas as the eighth best pass defense in the league. This is the same defense that Bill Barnwell said in the preseason might be the worst defense assembled in a generation. In fact…
Yes, the absence of Victor Cruz is going to help Randle. Or at least it’s going to help him in the long run. He’ll see some of the six or seven targets that Cruz was averaging that will have to be distributed elsewhere. But the matchup might force those targets elsewhere this week. The Cowboys pass defense ranks fifth against No. 1 receivers per Football Outsiders, but they rank 19th against No. 2 receivers. It might make more sense for the Giants to push those extra targets toward their No. 2 receiver, Odell Beckham, Jr., and their tight end, Larry Donnell.