Between one significant injury (we'll miss you Ben Roethlisberger) and one understandable coaching decision (show us what you got Geno Smith), the fantasy quarterback landscape will look a little different in Week 7. But before I dispense my usual weekly start/sit advice for that position and defense/special teams (DSTs), let’s see if I was more sage or crackpot as it relates to my Week 6 start/sit advice.
Start Marcus Mariota (27.76 FP) – Mariota is on a roll and don’t be surprised if he does it again this week.
Sit Joe Flacco (12.28 FP) – Flacco did throw for more than 300 yards, but zero touchdowns doesn’t help at all, and neither does this shoulder injury he’s now dealing with.
Sit Matt Ryan (21.60 FP) – Okay, I will never say sit Matt Ryan again for the rest of the season.
I warned you about sitting Eli Manning (24.12 FP) and then he threw for more than 400 yards and two touchdowns.
Teams on bye: Carolina, Dallas
START THESE QBs...
Matt Ryan, ATL (vs. SD)
Somehow Ryan has played decently (actually quite well) on the road against Denver and Seattle, two of the best defenses in the league. Now, he heads home to face the Chargers in what should be a silly, yet fantasy-appealing, shootout. If Ryan can throw for 335 yards and three TDs in Seattle, what is he going to do at home against San Diego’s 25th-ranked defense?
Blake Bortles, JAC (vs. OAK)
If anything positive came out of the Raiders' defense in Week 6 it was that it didn't allow a touchdown pass, but Oakland did let Alex Smith complete 19 of 22 passes, which is not good. Also not good is the 313 passing yards the unit allows per game. So if you have Bortles, you should be extremely fired up. Bortles has been inconsistent, but he appears to be cutting down on his turnovers. Oakland represents one of the more favorable matchups of the week for quarterbacks.
Andy Dalton, CIN (vs. CLE)
Dalton has been solid in his last two starts, scoring a combined 44.02 fantasy points against the Cowboys and Patriots. Next up is a date with the Browns, who have surrendered 16 touchdown passes and an average of about 22 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Look for the Red Rifle to fire off the fantasy points.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Marcus Mariota, TEN (vs. IND)
We now know that we can trust him to pick on bad defenses, so this week should be fine for Mariota if you have him in a deep or 2-QB league. Not only is Mariota not throwing interceptions (two in the last three weeks), but he’s tallied six TDs in that time. Now he’s facing one of the league’s most generous passing defenses in the league in Indy, and will probably get you a decent chunk of rushing yards as well.
SIT THESE QBs...
Carson Palmer, ARI (vs. SEA)
Palmer should be good to go this week physically, but now he’s playing Seattle, the No. 2 pass defense in the league, at home. Palmer’s mobility could be an issue, and there are better options out there. You probably have a Derek Carr, Andy Dalton, or Eli Manning to start over Palmer in Week 7. It’s not worth the risk. Hopefully, Palmer and the whole Cardinals' WR corps can take advantage of a better matchup in Week 8. They made strides against the Jets, but 213 yards and a TD is a far cry from his 2015 campaign.
Carson Wentz, PHI (vs. MIN)
Wentz was a "thing" a few weeks ago, but he's averaged just 12.2 fantasy points in his last two starts and is facing a brutal matchup with the Vikings next on the schedule. Minnesota, fresh off a bye week, has allowed just 13 fantasy points a game to opposing quarterbacks. Wentz is almost impossible to start this week.
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (vs. BUF)
Tannehill hasn't thrown a touchdown since Week 4. The Bills have allowed a league-low three TD passes. Tannehill has been sacked 17 times, fourth most in the NFL. Buffalo has 20 sacks, good for second in the league. In a nutshell, you don't want anything to do with Tannehill.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Drew Brees, NO (at KC)
Go big or go home, right? Brees is difficult to bench, so consider this just a warning. In his last nine road games, he's posted 12 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He's also scored more than 17 fantasy points just once in those contests, averaging a pedestrian 14 fantasy points. Kansas City also has been very tough on quarterbacks at home.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
Baltimore Ravens (vs. NYJ)
No team has been a better matchup for opposing defenses than the Jets, making the Ravens a nice option to stream this weekend. Teams have averaged a ridiculous 12.2 fantasy points per game against Ryan Fitzpatrick and crew, due in large part to his 11 interceptions. Now with Geno Smith starting, the Ravens could score even more fantasy points.
New England Patriots (at PIT)
This would be a different scenario if the Patriots were up against Ben Roethlisberger's offense, but Landry Jones will get the call in his absence. That makes New England's defense far more attractive. While this unit has been inconsistent overall in fantasy leagues, I'd start the Patriots here based on turnover potential.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. NE)
The Steelers' defense stunk worse than rotten fish in last week's loss to the Dolphins, and an upcoming matchup against Tom Brady and the Patriots makes this unit waiver-wire fodder this weekend. Over the last two weeks with Tom Brady under center, the opposition's defense has scored a combined four fantasy points.
San Diego Chargers (at ATL)
You might not know it, but the Chargers rank eighth in fantasy points among DSTs after the first six weeks of the season. Still, it's tough to trust the Bolts this week in a tough road matchup against Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Only the Raiders, Cowboys and Vikings have been tougher on opposing DSTs in 2016.
— 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.