By Week 7, it's time to take stock of your fantasy team. You look at the players you drafted and now are on your bench. You look at the waiver wire, trying to find a diamond in the rough. As you make your way through Week 7, let's look at some guys who are poised to have good weeks and others that may struggle.
With four teams chock full of fantasy players on a bye (Denver, Chicago, Green Bay, Cincinnati), filling rosters may be a bit more difficult this week. Please note that this is not a start/sit column, just guys that are ranked higher or lower than in the past because of performance and/or matchup.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, New York Jets
The Jets always play well against the Patriots, and this week should be no exception. The Patriots have been either in the lead in games or have kept the score close, so opposing quarterbacks have to throw the ball. The Pats’ secondary can be beaten, and if Blake Bortles can throw for 242 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, Fitzpatrick can certainly do better than that. With the exception of Brandon Weeden, the Patriots have allowed opposing quarterbacks to score at least 20 fantasy points in all games so far this year. Fitzpatrick is a solid bye week fill-in, falling just outside the top 10 in the quarterback ranks this week.
Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis Rams
The Cleveland Browns have the worst rush defense in the league, and guess who faces the Browns this week? Yup, that’s right, Gurley, who is coming off two 100-plus-yard games before the bye week. Gurley should run all over the Browns and even though he is second in the running back rankings, don't be surprised if he finishes the week as the No. 1 running back. He's looked great in the two games that he's played, and a matchup with Cleveland is just icing on the cake.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Tennessee Titans
Coming out of the bye week, the Titans had said they wanted to get DGB more involved. Fantasy owners started him in Week 5, and earned a goose egg. In Week 6, he did get six targets (second most on the team, behind Delanie Walker). He turned those six targets into three receptions for 56 yards. Harry Douglas is questionable for Sunday, and if he is out, the door is open for Green-Beckham to have more targets. He has a big game in him, and it's hard to predict when it will be. However, Zach Mettenberger was able to find him and he will likely be quarterback again this week. For a bye-week fill-in that absolutely is boom-or-bust, go for DGB as a WR3.
Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers
Even though Green only had four targets in Week 6 (with Antonio Gates back), he turned those four targets into three receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown. With both Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson banged up and questionable to play, Green may earn a bigger role by default. The Chargers play the Raiders, who (except for Owen Daniels) are notoriously bad against tight ends. While Antonio Gates is certainly a great play this week, don't be surprised if Green puts up low TE1 numbers as well.
Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo Bills
Clay has emerged as a TE1 this season, and even with EJ Manuel in Week 6, he had nine receptions for 62 yards. This was mostly the result of Percy Harvin being out, and Sammy Watkins exiting the game early. Already knowing that Harvin and Watkins are out and Manuel is in, Clay is in line for a ton of targets in Week 7. The Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed big games to tight ends (Rob Gronkowski and Coby Fleener), and Clay is in line for a big game as well. Start him as a solid TE1 this week.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
This should be a good matchup for Smith. The Steelers are in the bottom third in terms of pass defense. However, Smith may be without his No. 1 receiver, Jeremy Maclin. The running game of Knile Davis and Charcandrick West didn't exactly take off last week. Pittsburgh's rush defense is much better than its pass defense, but the Chiefs have not been able to get any offense going since losing Jamaal Charles. Travis Kelce has some value, but Smith has looked awful. Don't trust him this week, even as a bye week fill-in.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots
Trying to pick a Patriots running back to play each week is like spinning a roulette wheel. Dion Lewis was supposed to have a big game last week, and fantasy owners don't know whether he was hampered by injury or the Pats just decided to go with Blount. Blount had 93 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. Lewis had four carries for 21 yards and three receptions for 18 yards. Now the Patriots face the Jets, who allow the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs. They've allowed one rushing and one receiving touchdown to running backs this season. They've also allowed the fewest yards to opposing running backs, so this is shaping up to be a very tough matchup for Blount. If Lewis is healthy, he should be the featured back in this matchup, as he excels at catching the ball. Blount is a low RB2.
John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Brown had a breakout game in Week 6, but the stats from the remaining five games are mediocre. He only has two touchdowns on the season and didn't have more than 75 receiving yards in a game prior to last week. The Cardinals’ passing offense is one of the best in the league, and Baltimore's secondary can be beat, so this should be a good matchup for Brown. However, he tweaked his hamstring (which caused him to be on the injury report last week) in practice and is questionable for Week 7. Odds are that he'll play, but if he's limited or re-injures the hamstring during the game, he's not the high WR2 that you've been counting on.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Fantasy owners of Brown know that it's been rough. It doesn't appear that Ben Roethlisberger will play this week, and Landry Jones didn't seem to find Brown any more than Michael Vick did. He did have eight targets in Week 6, but he only caught three of them. Brown drops to the No. 13 wide receiver in the Week 7 rankings. It's hard to recommend sitting him because he is arguably one of the best receivers in the NFL, but it's hard to trust him when he's not getting the ball.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
To be fair, Gronkowski is still the third-ranked tight end for Week 7. However, a fall from the top is notable. The reason why Gronk is lower (and may actually finish the week outside of the top five TEs) is because of the matchup. The New York Jets have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. While they haven't faced many top-tier tight ends, they have only allowed one touchdown to a tight end this season. Gronk, over the past three games, hasn't had more than four receptions. Sure, he was able to get in the end zone last week, but if he can't get to the end zone, a 4/60/0 line isn't what you want out of your tight end. He's still a TE1, but lower expectations for Week 7.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.