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College Fantasy Football Week 7 Start or Sit

J.T. Barrett

J.T. Barrett

It’s Week 7 of the college fantasy football season and the slate is full of enticing matchups to wet your palate. On Saturday alone there are 13 pairings of teams that average 30 or more points per game, which means we should see the scoreboard light up plenty this coming weekend.

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Note: Obvious choices will not be given such as Deshaun Watson or Christian McCaffrey as those players are typically starters regardless of the matchup.

Also below are the top 10 rankings for each position for the given week.

Quarterbacks

Start ’Em

Kurt Benkert, Virginia vs. Pittsburgh

The East Carolina transfer has become a viable fantasy option at QB with his performances the last two weeks, combining for eight touchdown passes against Central Michigan and Duke. The yardage numbers have been there as well with Benkert going for 421 and 336 in each game respectively. Maybe the most promising statistic for Benkert’s value moving forward isn’t even related to him specifically. The run game for Virginia has been poor, as the Cavaliers rank 118th in the country, averaging just 3.92 yards per carry as a team. That has forced Benkert to throw it and throw it often, to the tune of about 40 pass attempts per contest. I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw it 50 times against Pittsburgh this week with the Panthers giving up more than 300 passing yards per game.

Garrett Smith, ULM vs. Texas State

Quarterbacks have had plenty of success this season when going up against the Texas State secondary. In Week 1, the Bobcats gave up 393 passing yards and four touchdowns. In Week 2, it was 241 yards and two scores, followed by 289 and a pair in Week 3. Then two weeks ago, those numbers were 340 and two. You get the idea. Smith has struggled with turnovers during the early portion of the season, but he is coming off his best performance statistically with 302 passing yards passing and two touchdowns last week while adding in 88 yards and another score on the ground. If you need a quick starter at quarterback in a pinch, Smith is likely to be available off waivers.

Sit ’Em

J.T. Barrett, Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

Yours truly has this very dilemma this week whether to roll with a weekly top play at quarterback despite the matchup, or sit him against the No. 4 scoring defense in the country in Wisconsin. Gauging the responses on Twitter, the results were mixed, but I am leaning towards sitting Barrett this week. The Badgers have just been so tough on opposing quarterbacks this season, having given up just three touchdown passes in five games. With this being a primetime game on the road against a top-10 defense, I have a hard time envisioning Barrett putting up the kind of numbers we are used to seeing out of the Buckeyes quarterback.

Drew Lock, Missouri vs. Florida

Did anyone foresee the Missouri offense replicating how it looked during the Chase Daniel era this season? For the first four weeks that’s how it felt as the Tigers fielded a top-10 passing offense with Lock averaging 377 yards per game. Missouri hit a massive roadblock last week against LSU, scoring just seven points with 265 total yards. And that was a middle of the road defense, statistically speaking. The Tigers now trek to the Swamp to face one of the nation’s stingiest defenses against the pass. Florida is giving up fewer than 140 passing yards per game and limiting quarterbacks to a completion rate of just 39 percent. Lock has made huge strides in his sophomore season, but don’t look or expect for pretty numbers this week.

Top 10 Quarterbacks for Week 7:

Lamar Jackson, Louisville vs. Duke

Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech vs. West Virginia

Ryan Higgins, Louisiana Tech vs. UMass

Greg Ward Jr., Houston vs. Tulsa

Luke Falk, Washington State vs. UCLA

Logan Woodside, Toledo vs. Bowling Green

Deshaun Watson, Clemson vs. NC State

Mike White, Western Kentucky vs. Middle Tennessee

Quinton Flowers, South Florida vs. UConn

Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky

Running Backs

Start ’Em

James Gilbert, Ball State vs. Buffalo

Gilbert was mentioned this week in my waiver wire article not just for what he has done the previous two weeks, but more so the favorable matchup he has against Buffalo this weekend. The Bulls are ranked 125th in the country against the run, allowing more than 270 rushing yards per game. And Gilbert enters this game after piling up a combined 260 yards and five touchdowns in his last two outings against Northern Illinois and Central Michigan. With backups Darian Green and Teddy Williamson seeing fewer and fewer carries as the season progresses, that only boosts Gilbert’s stock moving forward.

Derrius Guice/Darrell Williams, LSU vs. Southern Miss

News came out on Wednesday that Leonard Fournette would miss a second consecutive start due to a nagging ankle injury that is preventing him from participating in practice. It’s not that surprising that Fournette won’t play considering the competition. That leaves the carries to Guice and Williams, each of whom fared well two weeks ago against Missouri, topping 100 rushing yards and scoring three touchdowns apiece. The stage is set for a repeat performance, as they face Southern Miss defense that allowed UTSA’s Jarveon Williams and Jalen Rhodes to each run for 100 yards last week.

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Sit ’Em

D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa vs. Houston

Brewer was money for us last week against SMU, as the junior ran for 182 yards and a touchdown. Combined with his effort against Fresno State the week prior, that’s 424 rushing yards in his last two games. Brewer’s workload also has increased dramatically with 46 and 38 carries respectively the last two weeks, and is just 27 carries from surpassing his total from all of last season. It may not happen this week, though, against a formidable Houston rush defense that ranks fourth in the country, allowing just 86 yards per game. This is set up to be a game where Tulsa QB Dane Evans throws the ball 40 or more times as opposed to handing off to Brewer.

Ito Smith, Southern Miss vs. LSU

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There are not many weeks where I would advocate keeping Smith on your bench, but this weekend against is one of those rare instances. Against Power Five teams last season, Smith struggled mightily with a total of 138 rushing yards in three games. Smith also enters this game in a mini-slump as he not eclipsed the 100-yard in either of his last two games after doing this in each of the first four to start the season. LSU has been solid against the run to this point, allowing just 3.02 yards per carry. The Tigers have yet to allow any player top 100 rushing yards against them either. Smith will be involved in the game plan as he is the team's best offensive player, but yards on the ground will be hard to come by in Tiger Stadium.

Top 10 Running Backs for Week 7:

Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State vs. Fresno State

Dalvin Cook, Florida State vs. Wake Forest

Jeremy McNichols, Boise State vs. Colorado State

I’Tavius Mathers, Middle Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky

Nick Holley, Kent State vs. Miami (Ohio)

D’onta Foreman, Texas vs. Iowa State

Derrius Guice, LSU vs. Southern Mississippi

James Gilbert, Ball State vs. Buffalo

Kareem Hunt, Toledo vs. Bowling Green

Jarred Craft, Louisiana Tech vs. UMass

Wide Receivers

Start ’Em

Cody Thompson, Toledo vs. Bowling Green

Maybe this is a cop-out considering the kind of season Thompson has had to this point, but I still feel like his name is not mentioned in the same circles as some of the top receivers in the country. The junior has started the season on a tear with a touchdown in all five games and has surpassed 100 receiving yards in four out of the five. Thompson only has 23 receptions to this point, but is fourth in the country in yards per game, due largely to his big-play ability as he leads all of college football with eight catches of 40 yards or more. It’s all but guaranteed that Thompson will find the end zone this week against a Bowling Green secondary that has allowed the most touchdown passes in the nation with 21.

Allen Lazard, Iowa State vs. Texas

Lazard has yet to have the breakout season many were expecting, mainly due in part to a foot injury suffered against TCU in Week 3. But last Saturday may have been a turning point. After two consecutive games of 100-plus receiving yards to start the year, Lazard fell of the map with just eight receptions over the next three weeks. Against Oklahoma State last week, Lazard bounced back with two touchdown receptions and stated after the game that he is feeling as healthy as he has all season. Look for him to continue that success this week against a Texas secondary that is allowing about 300 yards per game through the air and has had an opposing wide receiver reach 100 yards each of the last three weeks.

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Sit ‘Em

Steven Sims Jr., Kansas vs. Baylor

Through just five games, Sims has already surpassed his freshman year numbers in both yards (413) and touchdowns (5), and is on pace to be the Jayhawks’ first 1,000-yard receiver since 2009. And he is producing against the better teams on the schedule as well with a combined 15 receptions the past two weeks against Texas Tech and TCU. His toughest challenge to date will come this Saturday against a Baylor secondary that has allowed just three touchdown passes this season.

Jerome Lane, Akron vs. Western Michigan

After a blazing start to the season with 100-yard efforts in three out of the first four games, Lane has struggled the last two weeks with just three catches. Could it be a coincidence that Lane’s struggles began when backup quarterback Tra’Von Chapman was inserted into the lineup as the starter in place of an injured Thomas Woodson? Chapman has fared well in his two starts with a combined six touchdowns and two wins but seemingly he has not looked Lane’s way when throwing the football. With Chapman set to start again this week against undefeated Western Michigan, I would keep Lane on the bench until Woodson returns.

Top 10 Wide Receivers for Week 7:

Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech vs. UMass

Corey Davis, Western Michigan vs. Akron

Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois vs. Central Michigan

Amba Etta-Tawo, Syracuse vs. Virginia Tech

Jonathan Giles, Texas Tech vs. West Virginia

Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky vs. Middle Tennessee

Nicholas Norris, Western Kentucky vs. Middle Tennessee

Shelton Gibson, West Virginia vs. Texas Tech

Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech vs. Syracuse

Cody Thompson, Toledo vs. Bowling Green

— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. For College Fantasy Football insight, Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.