Oct 13, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman (12) sits on the sidelines in the game against the Carolina Panthers at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Panthers win 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
A ton of interesting matchups pockmark week seven of the NFL season. Where can fantasy owners pinpoint their best opportunities and which games should they avoid all together?
Start – Jay Cutler against Washington Redskins
Few quarterbacks have shown more improvement in 2013 than Jay Cutler. Despite the occasional hiccup every stat is up. He’s completing 66% of his passes, has a career-high 95.2 quarterback rating, and has already gone over half the passing yards in six games than his entire 2012 season. This success has led him to quietly become one of the better fantasy producers among quarterbacks, and now he goes into a game against the Washington Redskins who boast the 24th ranked pass defense. If the Chicago Bears offensive line can hold off Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, Cutler is poised for another solid performance under new head coach Marc Trestman.
Sit – Andre Johnson against Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Schaub is done and out for the time being, though it wasn’t like he was playing well for the Houston Texans anyway. Regardless, that leaves All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson in a tough spot. Not only is he going against the 3rd ranked Kansas City Chiefs pass defense, he’s doing so with backup T.J. Yates as his quarterback. Yates enters his first start since 2011 against the best pass rush in football. Even if Johnson gets open he won’t have a lot of time to find him. NFL fantasy owners should accept this game will be an ugly affair and Johnson must wait for more favorable winds before he can start again.
Sleeper – Josh Freeman against New York Giants
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. The fact is Josh Freeman no longer has the cloud of Greg Schiano hanging over him. He starts with a Minnesota Vikings offense rich with talent and a bell cow running back in Adrian Peterson. Freeman may not know the playbook very well, but considering he’s facing the 32nd ranked New York Giants pass rush it might not matter. If the Vikings keep him upright and Peterson keeps things balanced, then Freeman can have a big day in his debut.
Start – Green Bay Packers against Brandon Weeden
They are down their best play but one thing the Green Bay Packers defense does so well is adjust to injuries and take advantage of less precise passer. That is Brandon Weeden in a nutshell. The Cleveland Browns quarterback had several chances to beat Detroit last week but just can’t seem to execute with any degree of efficiency. To expect the same on the road in Lambeau Field against Aaron Rodgers is foolish. Expect the Packers to hound Weeden early, sack him often and likely pick off a few of his ugly passes in the process.
Sit – St. Louis Rams against Cam Newton
Their field day against Matt Schaub and the Texans was a nice change of pace but it seems everybody has been doing that of late. Reality should set in for the St. Louis Rams in week seven. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers remain an inconsistent bunch but there are still some things they do well. With a very strong defense going against a weak Rams offensive line, Newton and his running backs should have extra chances against the 30th ranked run defense in the NFL. Unless St. Louis can force turnovers like they did in Houston, their chances outdoors on soft grass against a team that likes to ground and pound are not good.
Sleeper – Arizona Cardinals against Russell Wilson
Their frustrating game against San Francisco has Bruce Arians all hot and bothered. Perhaps taking it out in classic revenge fashion against the Seattle Seahawks is the perfect medicine. Seattle crushed the Arizona Cardinals 58-0 late last year. Returning home with a new purpose and direction, they have serious plans to avenge that humiliation. It starts with using their 5th ranked run defense to stop Marshawn Lynch. Provided they do that, it has been easy for defenses to fluster and sack Russell Wilson in 2013. NFL fantasy owners should tread carefully on this game.