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RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Week 7

Welcome back to this week’s edition of “Red Light, Green Light”, which is a matchup guide for all of this weekend’s (and Monday’s) NFL contests. While this piece is not intended to be solely a start/bench list, it can be used for some of those decisions as well.

In each of the NFL Week 7 game profiles below, players mentioned in the green light sections have a great matchup, and can be counted on as rock solid options for the week. Players mentioned in the yellow light sections have just an okay matchup and/or usage concerns, meaning they are passable fantasy options but don’t expect them to set the world on fire. Players in the red light sections have serious concerns, and need to have expectations lowered for the week, and/or should be avoided if possible. Remember, seeing your stud listed in the yellow or red light section isn’t necessarily grounds to bench them, but more of an indication they may not be the guy(s) carrying your team to victory this week.

Bye Week Teams: Detroit, Houston

Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota Vikings

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Ravens Vikings
Quarterback 29th 27th
Running Back 6th 31st
Wide Receiver 30th 12th
Tight End 3rd 15th
Defense/Special Teams 12th (tied) 26th
Vegas Line: Vikings -5.5
Vegas Over/Under: 39
Jerick McKinnon has been a stud over the past two weeks since taking over the Vikings’ backfield, averaging 122.5 total yards per game and scoring three times over that span. While Ravens’ stud Brandon Williams (foot) did return to practice this week, McKinnon’s dual threat upside makes him a great play. The Vikings D/ST are one of the top plays of Week 7 in a home matchup with one of the lowest over/unders of the week against a Baltimore offense that has committed 12 turnovers and allowed 12 sacks this season. As 5.5-point underdogs, Baltimore’s D/ST is not quite as attractive Minnesota’s, but will still be a strong option as well in what projects as a defensive struggle.
Baltimore gives up just 105.7 yards per game to opposing wideouts, though Adam Thielen is the only NFL receiver to have caught 5 passes or more in every game this season. Thielen projects to be a target magnet yet again, especially if teammate Stefon Diggs (groin) is inactive for a second straight week. Kyle Rudolph has seen 9 targets in each of his last two contests, and is a good bet to find the end zone against a Ravens defense that allowed two TE scores to the Bears last week.
Mike Wallace was a flop last Sunday, catching just 3 passes for 30 yards despite Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) sitting out. With Maclin tentatively expected to suit up Week 7, and Wallace currently battling a back injury of his own, neither Ravens’ WR projects as a viable play against CB Xavier Rhodes and company. Buck Allen and Alex Collins figure to have a tough time this week, as the Minnesota front seven give up the third fewest rushing yards per game. If you absolutely have to use a Baltimore RB this week, go with Allen who should at least be able to chip in with some receptions, unlike Collins, who is not used in the pass game. It’s unclear if Stefon Diggs will be healthy enough to play this week, but the poor matchup combined with Diggs’ dubious history of playing through injury would indicate he is better left on your bench. Latavius Murray is averaging just 2.2 yards-per-carry since the season ending injury to Dalvin Cook, and is looking like the clear backup to Jerick McKinnon. Case Keenum has not had a QB1 week since his three touchdown outburst against Tampa Bay in Week 2.

New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Saints Packers
Quarterback 12th 19th (tied)
Running Back 16th 8th
Wide Receiver 6th 14th
Tight End 13th 31st
Defense/Special Teams 28th 12th (tied)
Vegas Line: Saints -4.5
Vegas Over/Under: 
47.5
Expect bounceback performances from Drew Brees and Michael Thomas. Last week, the Saints defense did most of the heavy lifting against Detroit, which allowed Brees and the Saints offense to play conservatively with their run game. Finally freed from the three-man RB committee, Mark Ingram was used as the Saints feature back and goal line hammer last Sunday, racking up 150 total yards on 30 touches. Expect more of the same this week.
Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams‘ fantasy values take a hit with QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) out indefinitely, but they should be useful in their home matchup with the Saints, who allow 177.2 yards per game to WRs. Nelson and Adams each had 10 targets apiece last week even with Rodgers sidelined for the majority of the game. New Packers starting QB is a bit of a wild card, as he’s only thrown 44 career regular season passes. Given the high over/under and the plethora of offensive weapons at Hundley’s disposal, the young QB could be useful as a dart-throw streamer in a home matchup against a Saints defense giving up the 5th-most passing yards per game. Alvin Kamara has 29 touches over his last two contests, but may not see the pass-game usage he was originally expected to have now that the Saints are heavy favorites due to the Aaron Rodgers injury. The Saints D/ST will be looking to build on last week’s monstrous performance against a young QB making his first NFL start and whose offensive line is dealing with multiple injuries.
With Brett Hundley at the controls for Green Bay, it’s unclear how many fantasy-worthy pass catchers the offense can support. Randall Cobb and Martellus Bennett should be reserved until we get a better feel of how the new-look Green Bay offense will operate. Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery operated in a near even timeshare last Sunday, with the former out-touching the later 14-11. The two Green Bay RBs figure to cannibalize each other’s fantasy value for the foreseeable future, and should not be counted on to put up big numbers against an improved New Orleans rush defense. Willie Snead (hamstring) played just 21 snaps in his 2017 debut last Sunday, and by his own admission appears to be getting re-integrated slowly into the Saints’ offense. Tedd Ginn had his best game of the season last week, catching 4 balls for 66 yards and a score. Ginn has always been boom-or-bust, and the Saints spread the ball around too much to count on more fantasy outputs like last Sunday’s.

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Jets Dolphins
QB 14th 23rd
RB 5th 25th
WR 17th 18th
TE 8th 14th
D/ST 7th (tied) 9th
Vegas Line: Dolphins -3
Vegas Over/Under:
 38
Jay Ajayi gained over 100 yards rushing for the second time this season last Sunday. Seemingly over his early season knee issues, Ajayi should be a workhorse against a Jets defense that has allowed the 5th most rushing yards per game this season.
The clear beneficiary of DeVante Parker‘s absence, Jarvis Landry has been targeted 24 times the past two weeks. With Parker looking to be on the wrong side of questionable this week, look for Landry to continue his target hog ways, but just don’t expect him to do much after the catch. The Dolphins D/ST is worth a look as a streamer, having given up no more than 20 points in any game this season, and the over/under for this contest being the lowest of the week. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has scored in back-t0-back contests, and is starting to look like Jets QB Josh McCown‘s favorite target, as ASJ has seen his QB fire 19 passes his since Week 5. Jermaine Kearse looks like the Jets top receiver for the time being,with Robby Anderson nursing an ankle injury. Kearse has at least 59 receiving yards or a touchdown in four of six games this season.
Matt Forte returned from a three week absence and appears to have the upper hand in New York’s backfield. Bilal Powell (calf) is expected to return to action though, and Miami has not been easy to run against, allowing just the 4th-fewest rushing yards per game. Kenny Stills scored a touchdown last week, but with Jay Cutler seemingly reluctant to uncork throws deep, Stills can’t be counted on for big numbers if DeVante Parker does indeed sit. Robby Anderson (ankle) was able to return to practice this week, but has posted inconsistent numbers this season (three games with over 59 receiving yards, and three games of 28 or less).

Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Panthers Bears
Quarterback 17th 24th
Running Back 28th 18th
Wide Receiver 13th 20th
Tight End 17th 18th
Defense/Special Teams 16th (tied) 3rd
Vegas Line: Panthers -3
Vegas Over/Under:
 40.5
As of this writing, it’s unclear whether Panthers LB Luke Kuechly (concussion) will suit up for this game. Kuechly’s presence will be crucial to slowing down Bears RB Jordan Howard, who is averaging 109 rushing yards per game the last four weeks. If Kuechly plays, downgrade Howard to yellow light status.
Cam Newton‘s matchup this week may be tougher than most realize, as the Bears have allowed just the 8th-fewest passing yards per game. The feisty Carolina D/ST gets to face Bears’ rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky, who is averaging 121 passing yards over his first two starts, and has committed three turnovers during that span. If LB Luke Kuechly suits up, the Panthers D/ST goes from a solid streamer to one of the top options of the week. Kelvin Benjamin (knee) missed practice earlier this week, but there have been no indications he won’t be available to serve as Cam Newton‘s top target. Devin Funchess has been getting by as a volume play, with target totals of 11, 9, and 10 the past three weeks. Christian McCaffrey is tied for the third-most receptions of all NFL players at this point in the season, but is averaging just 17.3 yards per contest on the ground. Ed Dickson fell back down to reality last Thursday, going just 4-36-0. There are worse TE streamers out there than Dickson, as the Bears give up 53 receiving yards per game to the position.
All the Chicago pass catchers are too unreliable to use in a mediocre matchup such as this one. That includes Zach Miller, who has only accrued 64 receiving yards over the past two contests, despite scoring in both. Jonathan Stewart is averaging just 0.7 yards-per-carry (YPC) the past two weeks, and is battling an ankle injury to boot.

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (London)

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Cardinals Rams
Quarterback 5th 18th
Running Back 26th 1st
Wide Receiver 3rd 25th
Tight End 9th 21st
Defense/Special Teams 7th (tied) 29th
Vegas Line: Rams -3.5
Vegas Over/Under:
 46.5
Welcome back to fantasy relevance Adrian Peterson. After spending the first five weeks of the season rotting away on the Saints’ bench, the newly acquired Cardinal trampled the Buccaneers for 134 rushing yards and two scores on 26 carries, all while flashing the vintage AP we’ve all missed the past couple seasons. The odds are against Peterson putting up numbers like last week’s on a regular basis, but so far this season no team gives up more fantasy points to opposing backfields than the Rams.
If you’re a fantasy owner who just lost Aaron Rodgers, then give Jared Goff a look, as the Cardinals are 7th in passing yards allowed per game, and have given up 13 passing touchdowns on the season. Larry Fitzgerald‘s being ranked 6th in NFL receiving yards so far this season is mostly buoyed monster performances against Dallas and Tampa Bay. With the Arizona running game clicking, Fitz won’t be relied upon as much as a chain mover. The Cardinals are one of the stingier teams against opposing backfields, allowing just 107.6 total yards to RBs per game, thus making unlikely Todd Gurley runs wild in this one. Carson Palmer is averaging 309 passing yards per game this season, but may find his pass attempts dialed back a bit as the Cardinals try to establish a ground game against the Rams’ exploitable rush defense. Through six games, Robert Woods is the Rams’ leading receiver, and is averaging 65 yards per game over his last four.  John Brown is no longer being listed on the Cardinals’ injury report, and has caught touchdown passes in each of his last two contests. The Rams D/ST is a decent option in a home matchup against a Cardinals’ offense that is tied with Houston for allowing the second-most QB sacks so far this season.
Cardinals’ CB Patrick Peterson (quad) is looking questionable this week, but even if he sits, Sammy Watkins has caught just two passes for 28 yards on 10 targets over the past three weeks. With Adrian Peterson sparking the Cardinals’ running game, Andre Ellington may not be needed as much to catch dump offs out of the backfield. The Cardinals D/ST has allowed over 30 points in back-to-back weeks, and now has to face the NFL’s top scoring offense through six weeks. Tyler Higbee accumulated 145 receiving yards over Weeks 4 and 5, and appeared to be emerging as the Rams’ go-to TE over Gerald Everett. However, Higbee caught just one pass for zero yards last Sunday, so it looks like we are back to ignoring him. Cooper Kupp remains in boom/bust territory, as he’s put up 60 yards or more with a touchdown twice this season, and been held to 44 yards or less in his other four games.

About Will Weiler

An NFL Red Zone addict and all-around data nerd, I've been obsessed with the NFL and stats ever since I started playing the virtual pigskin game in 2005.