Fantasy Football Focus: Who to start, sit in a pivotal Week 7

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Photo: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s talk about luck. There’s a lot of luck in fantasy football. Me and my buddy Cole, who gave us some all-pro trade advice last week, have always argued about how much. I’ve long held it’s 70/30 in favor of luck over skill. Cole, on the other hand, feels the opposite. He thinks its 70/30 in favor of skill.

First off, we really shouldn’t be using the word skill. There is no skill to fantasy football just like there is no skill to gambling. It’s just a matter of how much time you want to waste doing research. So I don’t think it’s actually 70 luck/30 skill. I think it’s 70 luck/30 how much time you want to waste doing research.

Secondly, fantasy football is not complicated. They always say sports isn’t rocket science. Well, fantasy football isn’t even algebra. I’ve been playing fantasy football since I was nine years old, and while I learned a lot about the game in those first couple years, since then, it’s been more just wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s really just a matter of knowing what you’re doing. Every league has a few idiots that draft kickers and D/STs too early, don’t do a good job on the waiver wire and generally make confounding decisions in roster-building. But I think most people who consider themselves real football fans and put real time and effort into fantasy know what they’re doing, and even though I’ve been playing for 20 years and write on the internet about this stuff, I don’t think there’s a difference between me or them.

I decided to talk about luck today because I dealt with a little bit of bad luck and good luck recently in regards to fantasy football. It all started when I dropped Adrian Peterson, who was only getting 17 percent of the snaps with New Orleans. Simply put, it’s not worth rostering a RB that’s only on the field one out of every six plays. So I cut him two weeks ago. Six days later, he’s traded to Arizona, is immediately inserted as the starter, and rumbles for 134 yards and two touchdowns. That’s bad luck.

But then something else happened to me last week that was pretty fortunate. I’m always scouring for RBs on the waiver wire, especially this year since I didn’t draft my first RB until the 6th round. Oftentimes, my pickups are completely meaningless, like getting Shane Vereen after he caught nine passes week 1 or J.D. McKissic after he scored two touchdowns on five touches week 4. This next pickup, at the time, I thought was going to be one of those.

I honestly had no idea who Orleans Darkwa was before I saw that he had rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown on eight carries against the Chargers week 5, and I honestly didn’t think he would help my team. But ‘screw it,’ I said. I need help at RB, might as well just keep taking chances on guys until someone sticks. Well, Darkwa got 21 carries (the same amount he had in his first four games combined) and gained 117 yards against the best rush defense in the NFL (Denver). Looks like he might stick, and I’m going to take zero credit for it. All the glory goes to the fantasy football gods. They control everything.

In conclusion, I don’t think luck is everything, but I do think fantasy football is more luck than skill, or, ahem, amount of time you want to waste doing research. With that being said, here are my start/sit picks for this week. Let’s hope I get lucky.


Dale Zanine- USA Today Sports

START: Matt Ryan, Atlanta – I had Ryan ranked No. 4 in my preseason QB rankings and he currently sits 19th at the position on a PPG basis. Sorry if you listened to me, but fantasy football is all about matchups, and Ryan has a great one this weekend with New England. The Patriots are giving up the most completions, passing yards and tied for the most passing touchdowns in the league.

SIT: Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay – Winston is only one spot ahead of Ryan, though that has a bit to do with that he only threw 10 passes before getting injured last week. There’s a chance he might not even play next week, but even if he does, it would probably be best to sit him. Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said Winston will not even attempt to throw until later in the week. He’s also going against a Bills defense that’s given up just two passing TDs and has allowed the third-least fantasy points to QBs

Running Backs

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

START: Adrian Peterson, Arizona – I don’t want to talk about this guy. Let’s just hope Darkwa isn’t a one-week wonder and I don’t regret dropping AP for the rest of the year. Peterson should have another splendid afternoon as he plays a Rams defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to RBs this year.

SIT: DeMarco Murray, Tennessee – Murray has not been worth the high draft pick, as Derrick Henry continues to eat at his work load. Murray has only six more carries than the second-year man out of Alabama after getting 183 more rushes than him last year. Toss in the matchup against Cleveland’s run defense that is allowing only 3.0 yards per carry, and it’s clear Murray might not be a good play this week.

Wide Receivers

Geoff Burke- USA Today Sports

START: Terrelle Pryor, Washington – It’s been a bad year for Redskin receivers, as both Pryor and Jamison Crowder are shooting well below expectations. But if there is a week for them to get back on track, this is it. The Eagles are allowing the most receptions and yards to opposing WRs. Teams know they can test their corners and Washington will likely follow that plan by throwing to their 6-foot-4 man on the outside. Pryor hasn’t seen more than five targets since Week 1. Don’t be surprised if he sees at least eight on Sunday.

SIT: Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia – Jeffery’s catch rate has been alarmingly low this season with just 24 receptions on 48 targets. He simply isn’t clicking with Carson Wentz. In his previous matchup with Washington, the former Gamecock had only three catches for 38 yards. Expect a similar output against a defense that’s given up just 46 catches (second-least) and one touchdown (least) to opposing WRs.

Tight Ends

Sep 18, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) rushes against Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Mark Barron (26) during the second half of a NFL game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Los Angeles won 9-3. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

START: Jimmy Graham, Seattle – Graham has picked it back up after a lackluster first two weeks. He has 17 catches for 170 yards and one touchdown in his last three games. He should be fresh off the bye week and ready to abuse a New York Giant secondary that can’t seem to figure out TEs. They’ve given up more yards and touchdowns to the position than anyone else in the league.

SIT: Jason Witten, Dallas – Witten had eight receptions for 61 yards in his last outing, but at this age, you just can’t rely on him week-to-week, as evident from his two one-catch performances he had in weeks 3 & 4. This Sunday he takes on a 49er defense that is allowing the least amount of fantasy points to TEs. Don’t expect Witten to flashback to the glory years in this one.

Defense/Special Teams

Crystal LoGiudice-USA-TODAY Sports

START: Panthers – Carolina’s D/ST unit hasn’t quite been racking up the fantasy points it was expecting, but that’s not for lack of trying. The Panthers are tied for second in the league with 20 sacks, and I love a good pass rush when selecting a D/ST. This will also be a prime matchup against a Bears team that is giving a rookie QB just his second start and is allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing D/STs.

SIT: Bills – Buffalo’s defensive stats are good, but they’re middle of the run in getting pressure on the quarterback and play a Tampa Bay team that is allowing the third-least fantasy points to opposing D/STs.

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