It’s now Week 7, meaning we’ve just about reached the halfway point of the fantasy season, so let’s give out some awards to the best players at each position. All of these stars have helped fantasy owners either shoot to top of their leagues, or made them seem incredibly smart on draft day or on the waiver wire.
QB: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts- By far the best fantasy QB through the first six weeks of the season. Almost 2,000 passing yards and an NFL-best 19 TDs. Before drafts, he averaged out as the fifth QB off the board, and he’s surpassed everyone else ahead of him.
RB: DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys- Just an incredible first six games for the NFL’s leading rusher, who’s been good for at least 20 points per week for fantasy owners. His injury troubles and inconsistent play in his first three years in the league made him the seventh back off the board in most drafts.
WR: Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers- The departure of James Jones opened up a huge opportunity for Nelson. He’s now on pace for an incredible 100-reception,1,700-yard season with a double-digit TD total. Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown is right on his tail though, and could overtake Nelson later this season.
TE: Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos- His yardage and receptions are a little off-pace from his breakout 2013, but Thomas is still Peyton Manning’s touchdown machine with nine so far. Last year he totaled 12 through 16 games. He’s well on pace to reach 18 TDs this year, putting him one up on Rob Gronkowski’s stellar 17 TDs in 2011.
DST: Detroit Lions- No.1 versus the pass, No. 2 against the run, No. 1 in sacks, tied for No. 5 in interceptions and No. 1 in points allowed. The San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens, the only other teams allowing fewer than 17 ppg, are honorable mentions, but Detroit ran away with the first six weeks of the season. Really, barely anyone saw this coming. The Lions were the 19th defense off the board in most drafts.
If you managed to pick up any of these top players, you’re likely in contention in your league, and obviously they should all be started in Week 7.
But as we know, most starting lineup decisions are much harder than just inserting Luck and Nelson and watching the points fly.
Let’s breakdown some of the running backs and wide receivers who could be started and those owners should think about sitting in Week 7. There are also a few sleepers for owners to study before setting their line ups. Remember, always start and sit players at your own discretion.
RBs To Start/Sit
Branden Oliver, San Diego Chargers
Oliver has stepped in for the Chargers with two straight 100-yard games, and has the potential to extend his streak against a Chiefs defense that’s No. 23 in rushing yardage. However the Chiefs are one of two teams that haven’t allowed a single rushing TD all season (Buffalo being the other). Oliver could put up solid points in yardage, and in full-point PPR leagues he’s a must start, with three straight four-catch games. As a RB2 he’s a must start.
Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
With Knowshon Moreno now done for the season, Miller’s value has increased exponentially. He’s facing a Bears D that’s No. 10 against the run, which might seem daunting, until you look at the running attacks they’ve faced the last three weeks: No. 19 Atlanta, No. 23 Green Bay and No. 28 Carolina. Expect a big week for Miller
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Other than his 100-yard game versus Minnesota, Lacy’s failed to build on his awesome rookie season. That likely had more to do with the Packers breaking in some new guys on the offensive line due to injuries. Owners shouldn’t be worried this week though, with Lacy and Green Bay facing Carolina’s weak rushing attack sans defensive end Greg Hardy.
Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
Crowell has filled in well for No. 1 Browns back Ben Tate, scoring four touchdowns and averaging 5.4 yards per carry. But Tate looked like his old self against Pittsburgh in Week 6, garnering 25 carries for 78 yards and 2 TDs. Crowell was right behind him with 11 carries for 77 yards and one score. To keep Tate healthy, Crowell’s likely to complement Tate for the rest of the season. In PPR league’s Crowell is not a serviceable RB2 or flex, but in standard league’s he’s good as your RB2. This week he’ll face the Jaguars’ No. 19 rush defense, and likely feast for one touchdown.
WRs To Start/Sit
Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals
With AJ Green down, Sanu stepped up as the No. 1 WR and totaled 10 catches for 120 yards and a TD in Week 6. Green’s status is still up in the air, so repeating that performance against the Colts in Week 7 seems likely, with Indy giving up 22 plays of 20-plus yards, the sixth highest in the league.
Cecil Shorts III, Jacksonville Jaguars
Playing in just his third game of the year, Shorts exploded for 10 catches for 103 yards off 16 targets. He didn’t reach the end zone, and likely won’t against Cleveland’s D. The Browns secondary is giving up a ton of yards, but are only surrendering one passing TD a game. Cleveland will key on Shorts, so perhaps Allen Hurns is a better start.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
Very tough call here. Cooks is second on the team in targets, receptions and receiving yards, and Jimmy Graham’s injury seems like the perfect opportunity for the rookie to step up. But Detroit’s D has been incredible this year, with the league’s best pass rush likely to terrorized Drew Brees all game thus limiting Cooks value this week.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
For three straight weeks Crabtree’s faced some of the toughest pass defenses in the league, and that will continue against Denver in Week 7. He’s had nine catches for 108 yards and one TD the last three games. Denver's secondary is also on a tear. Since giving up three in Week 1, the Broncos have surrendered one receiving TD at home.
Week 7 Sleepers
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Carolina Panthers
With the Panthers running game decimated, and rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin’s status unclear due to a “mild” concussion, the veteran could be very reliable for Cam Newton and fantasy owners in PPR leagues this week. Jason Avant is another play here as well at the WR3 spot.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Injuries have limited the former USC standout, but when healthy and targeted he’s proven he can be effective. In Week 1 he had six catches for 62 yards off 10 targets. If Shorts struggles, Lee and Hurns could be the next best option for Blake Bortles vs. the Browns.
James White, RB, New England Patriots
The loss of Stevan Ridley is a big blow to the Pats, but it does create some chances for White. He’s currently behind Shane Vereen, but the Pats will likely use both backs to avoid another injury. The rookie White played his college ball at Wisconsin, where all they do is run the ball. In his final season in Madison he totaled 1,444 yards and 13 TDs, and caught 39 balls for 300 yards. Against the Jets No. 8 rushing D is a tough order, but White has big play ability.