Week 7 gets us to the midway point of the regular season in the majority of fantasy leagues. If you can finish this week with at least your 5th win, you've had an excellent first half and are set up to get into the playoffs. The magic number in this game for most leagues is 9 wins so 4-3 at the break is a good sign too. If you're less than that, well, you've got your work cut out for you &/or you'll have to be satisfied with playing the spoiler. If you play in a league with any kind of keeper element, you should make moves now to set yourself up for 2016. This week's byes have us missing the Bengals, Broncos, Packers, and Bears. That's a lot of usable fantasy pieces as I can count 5 RBs, 6 WRs, and at least 2 QBs that are universally in starting lineups. Hopefully you planned well for this week's byes and can cover with decent options.
Game of the week: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Carolina Panthers - I have an infatuation with Sunday Night Football. I remember growing up when Sunday Night Football was on ESPN and I thought the telecast wasn't great while Monday Night Football was the biggest game of the week. Somehow, that's completely flipped, and NBC's Sunday Night Football is my favorite part of every week. They have the best booth guys and I think the best studio guys and they do a great job of getting premiere games. It's better than Thursday Night Football as it is on full rest and we won't lose it to NFL network in a few weeks. The flex weeks at the end of the year ensure we'll get topflight games to the end of the year.
This week is no different as the Eagles visit the Panthers. The Eagles are endlessly entertaining as Chip Kelly has made himself a lightning rod of controversy with his unorthodox roster management and offensive system. DeMarco Murray had a big game last week and Sam Bradford is starting to tease us into relevance. They are up against a surprisingly undefeated Panthers team sporting a good defense under old friend Ron Rivera. I own zero Eagles across my fantasy teams so I have no stake here but I find the story fascinating as I know many sunk high picks into this offense.
On the other side of the ball is Cam Newton and the amazing Greg Olsen. Olsen is soaking up about a third of Newton's targets, which is ridiculous, and he's on pace for Gronk-like numbers by seasons end. Olsen is a guy I've continued to cheer for and curse Angelo / Martz under my breath every time he does something well. More than anything, I just like watching Newton play football. Without Kelvin Benjamin, I didn't think Cam would be able to do much this year but he has been a decent fantasy play and has carried his team to this fast start. It should be a fun game to cap our bye week.
Matt Ryan vs. Tennessee Titans - Ryan has been depressingly average after a hot start. As someone who invested heavily in him (and Julio Jones), I'm interested to see what he can do against the Titans. With the emergence of Devonta Freeman and a better-than-expected defense, Ryan hasn't had to chuck it 50 times and he's only topped the 300 yard mark once. I'd like to see a big game this week.
Mike Evans vs. Washington - Evans started the year battling an injury and came back into our lives with a big 17 target, 101 yard performance in week 3. The problem was he only caught 7 of those 17 targets that day and it hasn't gotten much better since. Evans has 13 catches on 33 targets for a measly 174 yards and no scores. The Buccaneers had a bye week to get healthy and get right and now play a decent Washington defense. If Evans can't come out of the bye with some form of efficiency, I will hit the panic button.
Christine Michael vs. Joseph Randle - Here's one of those situations where it pays to follow league movements. Christine Michael has a ton of talent but couldn't ever put anything together in Seattle. He gets cut and signs with the Cowboys and will now reportedly see the field to share carries with the disappointing Joseph Randle. Randle, as you'll remember, had a huge per carry average last year and was critical of DeMarco Murray, saying he left a lot of meat on the bone. If Michael somehow takes the lead in this backfield, he could help both players as Randle profiles better as a second back. If Michael is still out there, sneak him onto your roster and hope it pans out.
4 Defenses to Use - This is the week the Buffalo defense puts up good points in London and I can sign off on Carolina against the Eagles. If you need a deeper play, see if Washington is still available as they get to play the Buccaneers. If they're not available, go with the Falcons defense playing the Titans, who can't block anyone so far this year.
4 Defenses to Abuse - Start all of your Cardinals (vs. Baltimore), Falcons (@ Tennessee), Bills (vs. Jacksonville), and Chargers (vs. Oakland). I would imagine the Devonta Freeman show will make a stop in Tennessee and LeSean McCoy should earn some new fans in London. You've got to make sure Antonio Gates is healthy, but if he starts, put him in the lineup. He might have 200 yards and 4 TDs.
Shotgun Longshot - Ryan Fitzpatrick - The Jets go up against the Patriots this week and New England has been friendly to opposing QBs in fantasy this year. Part of that is teams are constantly playing catch up. I think you can feel good about Fitzpatrick this week, sitting at 25% ownership in Yahoo! leagues, as he's had success finding Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker with regularity.
Toss Sweep Sleeper -Matt Jones - Remember the Matt Jones hype? Funny game we play. Jones is sitting at 35% ownership right now so he might be out there if you need to take a big swing. Jones appears to be recovered from a minor injury and will potentially share duties with Alfred Morris against the Buccaneers. I like playing offensive players against the Buccaneers defense and this might be a cheap option this week.
Fly Route Flier - Ted Ginn Jr. - ~*Sigh*~ Trying to stick to arbitrary rules, I can't recommend Stefon Diggs to you as ownership rates went through the roof this week. So, I'm going with Ted Ginn Jr. (32%) who represents the only real WR threat in this offense going against a soft Eagles secondary. Ginn has struggled his last two games (despite the double TDs against TB) to get targets or do anything with them. This is truly a flier. In fact, don't listen to me - throw a dart somewhere and see what it hits.
What are you looking forward to the most this weekend? Did any of you stash Christine Michael?