Monday - Sep 28, 2020

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Northern Exposure

After five seasons, the popular “dramedy”
Northern Exposure left the air waves in 1995. Brett Favre was already in his third season. Fifteen years later, the NFL’s “Iron Man” continues to battle each week to keep his consecutive starts streak alive while enduring the distractions of harassment charges and nagging elbow pain as he tries to captain the Minnesota Vikings to their third straight playoff berth.

Fellow NFC North quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers turned 12 years old in 1995, yet both are currently engaged in a heated competition to stand in Favre’s path. After a dismal start, the Minnesota Vikings’ hope is stay alive after knocking off an even more disappointing Dallas Cowboys. Through six weeks of the season, the popular pick to win the division, the Green Bay Packers, sit at 3-3. More significantly, the Packers have suffered season-ending injuries to tight end Jermichael Finley and running back Ryan Grant. The Chicago Bears currently sit atop the division at 4-2 and are much improved offensively and defensively in comparison to last season. However, Chicago has lost two of its last three games. Although the Detroit Lions are a better team this season, they are still not ready to be included in any playoff conversations at 1-5.

Unlike last season, it is obvious that Minnesota will not be running away with the division this year. In the next month, the Vikings will play road games against the Bears and Packers, which will help determine their chances for another playoff run. With the onboarding of Randy Moss and recovering Sidney Rice rejoining in the coming weeks, the Vikings appear to be steering their ship back on track. Without a doubt, the NFC North should be a highly competitive division all season with an assortment of fantasy stars, sleepers and injuries to monitor.  

Whether you are vying for the bye atop your standings or making a run to snag the sixth spot to avoid watching Northern Exposure reruns while your friends battle in the playoffs, it is time to take a dive in preparation of Week 7.     

Kevin Kolb
– Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid is plagued by a problem that other coaches could only dream of … two high-performing quarterbacks. There was anxiety in the hearts of Eagles’ fans as Kolb returned to the starting position after Michael Vick’s rib injury sidelined him. Week 1’s panicky and insecure Kolb is now a ghost of the past as he has successfully rebounded with more than 200 passing yards and at least one touchdown in the last three games (one of which he did not start). Although Reid stands by Vick as his starter, early reports point to Kolb to start in Week 7.

With several top quarterbacks resting on a bye this week, including Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub and Mark Sanchez, you may want to snatch Philadelphia’s “backup” as he is producing better numbers than many starters. Although Kolb’s matchup against Tennessee is not overwhelmingly flattering, the Titans rank only 20th in pass defense and are playing on the road in a short week following their Monday night win. More importantly, Week 7 may potentially stand as Kolb’s last start this season, so he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder as he looks to make a lasting impression on Philadelphia and the rest of the NFL. However, with Reid’s indecisiveness and Vick’s injury risk, there may be more opportunities for Kolb to earn his wings this season. Kolb should have another strong performance with 250 passing yards and two touchdowns. I may have projected more, but I chose a slightly more conservative route as DeSean Jackson will not play due to last weekend’s severe concussion.  

Marshawn Lynch
– Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll promised that the newly acquired Lynch would “play a lot” against the Chicago Bears last weekend. Although Justin Forsett earned more yards on less attempts, Lynch did indeed receive the bulk of carries with 17. The minor success that Seattle earned on the ground was impressive against one of the top run defenses that has allowed only 84 yards per game. If Carroll keeps his promise through this week, then Lynch should run in his infamous “Beast Mode” against the Arizona Cardinals, who are the fourth-worst rush defense in the NFL. In three of five games already, Arizona’s defense has been broken down for more than 120 yards. Despite Forsett impinging on Lynch’s workload, Seattle should produce enough rush yards to make both backs an attractive start or flex. Lynch will post 80 rushing yards, 35 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 7’s divisional battle of the birds.

Jeremy Maclin
– 2010 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Philadelphia Eagles. Apparently, Andy Reid had more tools at his disposal than initially realized as his team sits alongside the New York Giants atop the NFC East standings. Maclin has been a key component in the Eagles’ aerial assault and set a new career high with 159 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Week 6. Although it was very unfortunate to see Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson suffer a severe concussion and leave the game, Maclin stepped up to continue Philadelphia’s offensive onslaught against the Falcons. With initial reports leaning to both Jackson and Michael Vick sitting out this weekend, Maclin should have the stage set for an encore performance with Kevin Kolb at the helm against Tennessee. On Monday Night Football, the Tennessee Titans’ tenacious defense held the Jacksonville Jaguars’ docile offense to only 249 total yards, while forcing four turnovers. With a matchup against the 23rd ranked pass defense that will have a short week to prepare, ‘J-Mac’ should soar high in Week 7 with at least 100 receiving yards and will score his seventh touchdown.  

Todd Heap
– After nearly getting his beak chopped off with a cheap shot from New England Patriots’ safety Brandon Meriweather on Sunday, it is difficult for me to recommend Heap this week. Fortunately, Heap’s MRI revealed no concussion or neck issues, which means he should play this weekend. The Baltimore Ravens host the Buffalo Bills, which have struggled mightily in guarding tight ends. In fact, Buffalo has allowed two-touchdown games to their last two tight end opponents, Dustin Keller and Marcedes Lewis. Assuming Heap has no residual effects affecting his status for Week 7, start him in this favorable matchup as I forecast 60 receiving yards and a score.  

– If I asked you to name the top defenses this season, you may respond with Pittsburgh, Chicago and San Diego. Quietly, the Seattle Seahawks have perched themselves into this conversation. If you don’t believe me, then I encourage you to sort your league’s defenses by average points per game and see for yourselves. Not to mention, Seattle will play Arizona twice and Oakland over the next month. Seattle’s home matchup this week may be a valuable stream if your primary defense has a tough opponent. In Week 7, the Seahawks should glide past Arizona’s offensive line that has allowed the fifth-most quarterback hits, third-most quarterback sacks and rank second-to-last in offensive yards per game.

That’s a wrap for this week. As always, check your player’s health as injuries seem to be occurring at an alarming rate. There should not be any weather hazards this weekend, except for some mild showers in Baltimore. Good luck this weekend!

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