Plus what tight ends are must starts this week?
So did you heed my start/sit fantasy advice for wide receivers and tight ends last week? Should you have? Let’s take a look back and see how I fared in Week 7.
Sit Jordan Matthews (1.4 fantasy points) – Matthews just can’t catch the football right now.
Sit Benjamin Watson (5.9 FP) – Just because Watson had a huge game the week before didn’t mean he was going to have repeat success last week.
Sit Jordan Cameron (2.3 FP) – The Dolphins’ offense looks explosive, too bad Cameron isn’t a part of it.
Start Willie Snead (2.5 FP) – Has the Snead bubble burst? Probably not, but he’s not turning into the WR1 that some people were hoping for.
Start Brandon Marshall (6.7 FP) – The Patriots shut down Marshall, which allowed Eric Decker to have a big game.
Sit Amari Cooper (19.3 FP) – Cooper sure does have some kind of chemistry with Derek Carr.
Teams on bye: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Washington
START THESE WRs...
Keenan Allen, SD (at BAL)
If you were smart enough to draft Allen, you may have got yourself the steal of your fantasy draft (okay, that award probably goes to the guy who got Devonta Freeman, but you get my point). Allen is a target monster, he’s currently third in the league with 84, which has him trailing only DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones. With Antonio Gates limited by an MCL injury, you can bet that Allen is going to continue to see 10-plus targets per game, especially when you consider the fact that the Chargers can’t run the ball and are often forced to air it out because they are playing from behind. This week Allen and the Chargers pay a visit to the Baltimore Ravens and their defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to WRs this season. You can expect another 10 catches for more than 100 yards and a touchdown from Allen this week.
Alshon Jeffery, CHI (vs. MIN)
Fantasy owners waited a very long time to be able to put Jeffery in their starting lineups. And in Week 6, Jeffery finally played and rewarded the patience of his owners with an outstanding game – eight catches for 147 yards and a touchdown. Then he had a bye week, which is a good thing because that gave him another week to rest his hamstring. On paper, this week’s matchup against the Vikings isn’t really a good one, as Minnesota has a stout pass defense, highlighted by the fact that this unit is among the top 10 teams in fewest fantasy points allowed to WRs this season. But you just know that Jay Cutler has been itching to throw the ball to Jeffery all season and that isn’t going to change this week. Jeffery is still going to see at least 10 targets and should be good for close to 100 yards and one touchdown.
Jeremy Maclin, KC (vs. DET, London)
This could be considered a bit of a gamble seeing that Maclin missed last week due to a concussion, but all signs are pointing towards him being a go this week when the Detroit Lions come to town. The Chiefs’ offense isn’t very good, but it’s a whole lot better with Maclin in the lineup, as he’s easily Alex Smith’s favorite target. The Lions have been generous fantasy-wise to opposing wide receivers, currently ranking seventh in fantasy points allowed, and this game could be a shootout. The only way for the Chiefs to hold their own in a high-scoring game is to throw the ball to Maclin as much as possible.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Brandin Cooks, NO (vs. NYG)
At the beginning of the year you would be hard-pressed to find a breakout list that didn’t have Cooks’ name near the top. After all, Cooks looked like he had excellent chemistry with Drew Brees last season as a rookie before a hand injury ended his season prematurely. The duo resumed this rapport in the preseason, looking unstoppable at times. But so far this season things just haven’t clicked, but maybe that is about to change. Last week Cooks saw 13 total targets, by far his most this season, and managed 81 receiving yards. Those numbers probably could have been better if the Saints didn’t jump out to a 27-0 lead against the Colts. This week the Saints play host to the New York Giants and it should be interesting to see if Cooks can pick up where he left off.
SIT THESE WRs...
T.Y. Hilton, IND (at CAR, Mon.)
With Andrew Luck back Hilton finally had that big game that may fantasy owners had been hoping for, scoring 27 fantasy
points last week against the New Orleans Saints. But if you take a closer look you’ll see that Hilton was targeted a whopping 15 times, caught just four of those and two of his receptions were for long touchdowns after the defender fell down both times. This week the Colts travel to Carolina to face a Panthers defense that has given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. To make things worse is that Hilton will most likely be eliminated from the game because he will see blanket coverage from arguably the best cornerback in football right now, Josh Norman.
Randall Cobb, GB (at DEN)
Cobb is discovering that life without Jordy Nelson sure isn’t fun. With Nelson out and no other real receiving threat out there for the Packers, teams are double-teaming and shading their coverage over to Cobb, making it really hard for him to make plays. In his last three games Cobb has scored 4.4, 2.3 and 3.8 fantasy points respectively. That’s terrible for someone who was drafted as an elite WR1 in all formats. The hard times are going to continue this week for Cobb as he and the Packers travel to Denver to play the best defense in football. The Broncos have given up by far the fewest fantasy points to opposing WRs this season and even with Aaron Rodgers, Cobb is going to struggle again to be fantasy-relevant this week.
Mike Evans, TB (at ATL)
This might seem crazy for two reasons. One, Evans scored 22.4 fantasy points last week thanks to 164 receiving yards and one touchdown and he’s playing the Atlanta Falcons who are supposed to have a poor defense. While it’s true that Evans had a huge game last week, keep in mind that he scored a total of 7.3 fantasy points in his previous two games. Also, the Falcons’ defense has more than held its own against the pass. Other than a bunch of garbage time points to the Texans, the Falcons’ defense has actually allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to WRs this season. Don’t expect another big game from Evans this week.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Amari Cooper, OAK (vs. NYJ)
Cooper is slowly becoming matchup-proof because he is so good and Derek Carr loves throwing the ball Cooper’s way no matter what. However, so far in his young career Cooper has struggled against elite corners, like in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos and their dynamic duo of Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. This week Cooper and the Raiders play host to the New York Jets, which means that Cooper is going to be covered by Darrelle Revis for most of the game. The Jets as a unit has given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing WRs on the season, so don’t expect a big game this week from Cooper.
START THESE TEs...
Martellus Bennett, CHI (vs. MIN)
Bennett has been nothing but a huge fantasy disappointment so far this season. Easily picked as a top-5 tight end, Bennett has only had one really good game and is averaging closer to six fantasy points per game, that’s Zach Ertz territory. There is good news though. Bennett has seen 35 targets in the last three games and this week he plays the Vikings, who have allowed the last two tight ends they’ve faced to lead their teams in receiving yards while both also scored touchdowns. Look for Bennett to go over 75 yards with a touchdown in this one.
Tyler Eifert, CIN (vs. PIT)
Eifert has had a breakout season thanks to the newly explosive Bengals offense and he’s easily one of the best tight ends in all of football. Eifert also is a blessing to his fantasy owners because he’s consistent. He’s scored nine or more fantasy points in all his games except two, which is great production from an often frustrating position. Eifert will continue his excellent season this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have given up six touchdowns and an average of 12 fantasy points per game to tight ends. Eifert is as must-start as must-starts go this week.
Travis Kelce, KC (vs. DET, London)
Because of his rare size and athleticism, Kelce has gained the nickname “Little Gronk” but unfortunately he doesn’t really deserve that moniker because his stats aren’t even close to Gronkowski’s. Kelce has been a real disappointment this season to all his fantasy owners. He’s been widely inconsistent and a basic non-factor in the red zone. Of course having Alex Smith as your quarterback doesn’t help, but Jeremy Maclin is having a pretty good season. This week Kelce should be able to finally hit double-digit fantasy points for the first time since Week 3 against a Detroit Lions defense that has given up five touchdowns and close to nine fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Jason Witten, DAL (vs. SEA)
If Tony Romo was under center for the Cowboys, Witten would be an absolute must-start this week against the Seattle Seahawks. Unfortunately Romo is still weeks away from playing and the Cowboys look stuck with Matt Cassel as their starting quarterback for now. At least Cassel looked Witten’s way last week against the New York Giants. Witten was able to haul in six of eight targets for 73 yards. Witten could have an even bigger game and approach 100 yards receiving against Seattle because the Seahawks just can’t cover tight ends, as evidenced by the fact that they have allowed the second-most fantasy points to the position this season. This makes Witten worth the gamble.
SIT THESE TEs...
Jimmy Graham, SEA (at DAL)
Graham and the Seattle Seahawks’ offense are not meant to be together. Why the Seahawks traded a Pro Bowl center for a tight end that they aren’t going to use is beyond reason. If you look at the Seahawks’ struggles on offense, it all has to do with their offensive line, and right now they could really use that Pro Bowl center (Max Unger) back. Graham has been absolutely pathetic this season and he is killing many fantasy teams. He’s not going to have a good game this week either, as he is playing a Cowboys defense that has given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season and loves to blitz the quarterback. So once again Graham is going to have to stay home and block so Russell Wilson can stay upright. Stay away from Graham this week.
Eric Ebron, DET (vs. KC, London)
For those who love to stream tight ends, Ebron will be a popular play this week thanks to the 14.9 fantasy points he scored last week against the Minnesota Vikings. That came after he missed the two previous games thanks to a bruised knee. If you’re thinking of starting Ebron this week, you might want to reconsider. He’s playing in London against a Chiefs defense that has only given up two touchdowns to tight ends and is giving up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends. Go back to the waiver wire and find someone else – like Benjamin Watson.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs. CHI)
Another streaming tight end candidate this week is Rudolph, mainly because he’s scored a touchdown in each of his last two games. That’s great, but what isn’t so great is that he’s had a total of 19 receiving yards in those two games. Need another reason not to start Rudolph this week? He’s hasn’t produced more than 30 yards in a game since Week 1, so much for the Norv Turner effect on tight ends. This week the Chicago Bears come to town, who have actually been outstanding in defending tight ends. The Bears have only allowed two touchdown catches to tight ends and are giving up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position. Leave Rudolph on the waiver wire this week.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Heath Miller, PIT (vs. CIN)
Miller has basically disappeared off the face of the earth ever since Ben Roethlisberger got hurt and now that Big Ben may be back, many might think that Miller will be a sneaky play this week. That may not be such a good idea. Take into consideration Miller’s career numbers against the Bengals. In 18 games, Miller has recorded just four touchdowns and he’s also put up more than 50 yards just twice in those 18 games. As the saying goes – history does repeat itself – and it probably will this week for Miller.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.