Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 7


Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 7

Can you believe it? We're nearly halfway through the fantasy football season.

Sitting 6-0 in your league and think you're in the clear?

That's probably how Michigan punter Blake O’Neill felt before he took the field on Saturday.

Ouch. The hard work never stops if you want to be a champion. That's why we're here to help you for Week 7.

[MORE: Get all your Fantasy Sports coverage for the week here]

If you've got specific questions, drop us a question on Twitter @CSNFantasy or use #CSNFantasy and we'll give you our take.

Without further adieu, let's get into it:


Blake Bortles, QB, JAX (vs. BUF) - Don't let the early start fool you; the Jaguars offense has already woken up in a big way. Leading the charge has been Bortles, quietly fantasy's No. 4 quarterback. That seemingly has him in must-start territory, but this is simply to confirm it. The Bills' 25th-ranked pass defense won't be any match for Bortles and his pair of Allens (Robinson and Hurns), meaning you should roll the signal caller out once again. Don't expect him to be a top-5 QB the rest of the way, but he'll keep his QB1 tag for now. (Mark Strotman)

John Brown, WR, ARI (vs. BAL) - So I may have been a little early to his coming out party (better than being fashionably late) but now every one of his fantasy owners is popping bottles. He's exploded the last few weeks (especially last week with his 10 catch 196-yard effort) and it's just getting easier for him this week against a bad Ravens secondary at home. Carson Palmer should have another big game and Brown's big play ability will shine in the brightest of lights. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Jamison Crowder, WR, WSH (vs. TB) - Crowder has quietly become a big part of the Redskins offense. He has 29 targets in the past three weeks, five more than Pierre Garcon over that same time span. DeSean Jackson doesn't look like he's going to play and the Bucs defense isn't anything special. If you're looking at a lot of guys on byes, Crowder is a nice FLEX play, especially in PPR leagues. (Paschall)

Eric Decker, WR, NYJ (@ NE) - Decker has been remarkably consistent, scoring a touchdown in every game he's played this season. The only reason he's outside the Top 25 among receivers is because he missed Week 3 and has already had his Bye. He's got a good matchup going up against the Patriots, who are 25th in the league at limiting opposing WRs. The Jets will have to throw and Decker should be on the receiving end of that, pun intended. (Tony Andracki)

Michael Floyd, WR, ARI (vs BAL) - Welcome, Mr. Floyd. A terribly quiet start to the year was erased with his 5/50/1 line last week against the Steelers last week. He still has to contend with the run game, John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald, but against an ugly Ravens defense there will be enough to go around for Floyd to be started in your lineups. He's a solid FLEX play this week with plenty of upside. (Strotman)

Rashad Jennings, RB, NYG (vs. DAL) - I know the Cowboys have had a week to prepare for this always-tough NFC East showdown with the Giants, but the extra time ain't gonna fix the Cowboys' porous run defense. Dallas heads into Week 7 allowing the third-most points to opposing fantasy running backs. Jennings has been shaky this season, but I think he's going to have an extra early Thanksgiving feast on Sunday. 20 carries, 100 yards with a few receptions should be in order. (Scott Krinch)

Travis Kelce, TE, KC (vs. PIT) - I love when I can pick a tight end in Start/Sit and it's especially sweet when it's my boy Kelce. He's been solid, but unspectacular this season after a gigantic Week 1 (6 catches, 106 yards, 2 tuddies). I'm betting he breaks out again this week with a fantastic matchup at home against the Steelers, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends. (Andracki)

Latavius Murray, RB, OAK (@ SD) - Murray has had a pretty pedestrian year, especially of late. But the Chargers are very bad against the run, as evidenced by James Starks running wild on them last week. (I'm still butthurt that Eddie Lacy was the one that went off, but whatever.) Murray is primed to once again state his case as a Top 20 fantasy back this week. (Andracki)

[MORE: Complete Fantasy Football coverage at Rotoworld]

Joseph Randle, RB, DAL (@ NYG) - The running back by committee taking place in Dallas still doesn't have me down on Randle this week. He had 15 carries and even caught four passes last week. He's still found the end zone two of the last three weeks and hasn't lost a fumble. He's still the Cowboys' most trusted running back, and with no Tony Romo or Dez Bryant for another week they'll need to rely on their run game. Start Randle coming off his bye as an RB2 with touchdown-upside against the Giants. (Strotman)

Willie Snead, WR, NO (@ IND) - The Willie Snead hype train has left the station and hopefully you hopped aboard. If not, limited tickets will be on sale in Indy on Sunday. The second-year receiver out of Ball State has become Drew Brees' favorite target in the Big Easy. The sure-handed Snead has an ideal matchup against a brutal Colts secondary — Pro Bowler Vontae Davis will likely be matched up with Brandin Cooks — and should victimize Greg Toler with ease. (Krinch)

Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA (vs. HOU) - See what happens when you don't over-coach the talent? Dan Campbell simplified things and would ya look at the outcome? Just look at it. The Dolphins destroyed the Titans and looked like the playoff team which everybody thought they would be in doing so. Yes, Tannehill had two turnovers but he threw for nearly 300 yards in the win. Sunday's matchup against the Texans (five passing touchdowns allowed the last two games) should further boost Tannehill's value for the stretch fantasy run. (Krinch) 

Shane Vereen, RB, NYG (vs. DAL) - He's a PPR stud and should continue his ways against the Cowboys defense. The Cowboys pass rush should be pretty active and aggressive so expect Eli Manning to have a lot of short, dump off passes to Vereen. Dallas also isn't great covering backs out of the backfield (anyone remember C.J. Spiller's game-winning TD?). Vereen should be a bright spot this week for the Giants. (Paschall)


Sam Bradford, QB, PHI (vs. CAR) - The Panthers defense has been playing well all year and they're especially stingy through the air, allowing just five touchdown passes in five games. Bradford really only has two good games this season and has thrown multiple INTs in four of his six contests, so I'm gonna stay far away from him this week. (Andracki)

Michael Crabtree, WR, OAK (@ SD) - I think Crabtree will always be one of those players who's a better real life wide receiver than an NFL wide receiver. Crabtree has posted respectable numbers in his first year in Oakland, but nothing really stands out from a fantasy perspective, especially if you take away his Week 2 stat line against the Ravens. The Chargers are stingy against opposing wideouts, having allowed just four total touchdowns all season. Staring Crabtree is a pure gamble that likely won't pay off. (Krinch) 

Melvin Gordon, RB, SD (vs. OAK) - I feel like I'm watching the Titanic sink. I'm trying to hold on to hope that Gordon is going to be okay this season but it almost seems like every week is getting worse. From fumbling issues to just being ineffective, it's clear the guy to own with the Chargers is Danny Woodhead. The Raiders defense is also sneaky good against the run. It's not a great lookin' Sunday for Gordon. (Paschall)

Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE (vs. NYJ) - Of course you're not going to sit Gronkowski. If he's on your roster, you HAVE to start him. It'd be silly not to. But if ever there was a matchup to be scared of, it's this one. The Jets are awesome against tight ends, allowing just one touchdown to TEs this season and never allowing an opposing TE to go above 65 yards. In fact, over the last four games, the Jets have permitted TEs to accumulate just 10 catches for 109 yards and a TD. Over FOUR games! Of course, Gronk is not your average tight end, but temper your expectations. This could spell a very pedestrian week for the Gronk. (Andracki)

Chris Johnson, RB, ARI (vs. BAL) - The Ravens defense is very susceptible through the air, but they're pretty stingy on the ground. They've allowed just one game of more than 75 rushing yards by opposing RBs and only two TDs on the ground. Chris Johnson is far from a stable fantasy option and given the presence of David Johnson and Andre Ellington in the backfield and a passing offense that is firing on all cylinders, expect plenty of fantasy production from Carson Palmer and the WRs, but not from any of the RBs. (Andracki)

Jordan Matthews, WR, PHI (@ CAR) - As I mentioned earlier in the year, the Panthers are really good at taking away team's top receiving options. So it may not be pretty for Matthews. Sam Bradford also hasn't inspired any hope in me that he can get this Eagles offense moving. A team on a short week that hasn't looked good on offense against one of the top defenses in the league? Not a good recipe. (Paschall)

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Alfred Morris, RB, WSH (vs. TB) - There can't be a bigger disappointment at the position following his 121-yard outing in Week 1. Since his 14.1-point outing in Week 1, he's combined for 22.8 points since then. Even with Matt Jones out, Morris hasn't been able to grasp the reins and put things together. And even against an average Bucs defense, I can't trust him just yet. Consider me happy if he puts together a solid game on my bench this week; at least I'll know he's improving some. (Strotman)

Matthew Stafford, QB, DET (vs. MIN) - Maybe I'm bitter having predicted a Bears win last week or maybe I'm just in denial. Having said that, I'm still not buying into Stafford's performance against the Bears secondary. I still see a guy with bad mechanics and poor decision making. Those two areas will exploited by a Minnesota Vikings defense which keeps getting better and better each week. (Krinch) 

Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR (vs. PHI) - I'm still on board the Eagles run defense hype train. They're good and Stewart is the definition of "meh." The Eagles haven't given up a rushing touchdown to a running back this year and I think it continues in Week 7. Look elsewhere if you can. (Paschall)

Golden Tate, WR, DET (vs. MIN) - The volume game has allowed Tate two double-digit scoring weeks, and he found the end zone (kind of) for the first time against the Bears. Still, I can't keep running him out there when the Lions look so atrocious on offense and the Vikings' pass defense has been so good. I promise this will be the last week I put Tate here, but it's worth noting every week: Keep him out of your lineup. (Strotman)

Charcandrick West, RB, KC (vs. PIT) - A poor man's Jamaal Charles, huh? More like fantasy irrelevant, amirte? Alright I won't compound on West's struggles against the Vikings too much, it was his first career NFL start. I think he'll get better in time. But his time won't come against the Steelers. Pittsburgh has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season, and I'm guessing that won't change this weekend. (Krinch)

T.J. Yeldon, RB, JAX (vs. BUF) - Yeldon certainly is getting better (double-digit points in his last two games) but he is listed as questionable and is facing a stingy Bills run defense ranked 13th against the run. If you need to play him in a running back spot that'll do, but there's probably better FLEX options out there, assuming he even plays Sunday. Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson would be sits as well, should Yeldon miss Sunday's game. (Strotman)

Film review: Why wasn't Khalil Mack an effective pass rusher against the Patriots?


Film review: Why wasn't Khalil Mack an effective pass rusher against the Patriots?

Khalil Mack was not 100 percent against the New England Patriots, a development that became abundantly clear over the course of the Bears’ 38-31 loss.
Mack rushed Tom Brady on only 16 of his 54 snaps, dropping into coverage more frequently (18 times) than he tried to get after the quarterback, according to Pro Football Focus. He didn’t record a sack or a quarterback hit, and while PFF credited him with two pressures, his impact was far more limited than it was in the first four weeks of the season.
So what went wrong? Was his ineffectiveness due to a bum ankle, or something Brady and the Patriots did?
The answer is somewhere in between, after reviewing the 15 clear pass rushing snaps Mack had (the 16th came on a pop pass touchdown to James White, and while it technically counts in PFF’s totals, there was no opportunity for anyone to rush Brady given he got rid of the ball in about a third of a second).
The blow-by-blow:
No. 1: Mack is lined up, as he was for almost all of these snaps, over the left side of New England’s offensive line. Tight end Dwayne Allen blocks him on play-action, which delays Mack’s rush a bit. While Brady takes about 2.8 seconds to get the ball out on a short pass to running back Sony Michel, the throw goes away from Mack, and he doesn’t have much of a chance on this play. Still, he isn’t able to beat Allen, which becomes a theme here.
No. 2: Left tackle Trent Brown has Mack singled, and immediately retreats as soon as the ball is snapped. But that’s by design — running back James White leaks out in the flat, and as soon as Mack engages Brown (instead of being responsible for covering White), Brady dumps the ball off to his running back for a gain of 14 yards. There wasn’t much Mack could’ve done differently here, though New England’s first drive of the game ends with Mack missing a tackle on a Julian Edelman touchdown.
No. 3: From the left, White chips Mack, and instead of engaging with Brown, Mack flows back toward the middle of the field as Brady throws a short pass over the middle. Brady needed just a shade under three seconds to get the ball out on this pass.
No. 4: This began as one of Mack’s better pass rushes of the game. With his hand in the ground on third-and-seven, Mack has a strong rush toward Brown and executes a good spin move on the left tackle. But Brown was able to re-set and re-gain leverage on Mack after the spin move, taking Mack out of the play. Leonard Floyd, rushing from the right, pressures Brady and forces him to scramble. But from the time Brady got the snap to when he decided to scramble, about 4.3 seconds go by.
No. 5: This was the fourth-and-one conversion from Brady to Josh Gordon. While Brady essentially stares down Gordon and leaves his blind side exposed to Mack, he throws the pass about 1.5 seconds after receiving the snap.
No. 6. Another quick throw that gets out in a second and a half. By the time Mack engages with Brown, Brady already has got rid of the ball.
No. 7: Allen motions from right to left near the goal line, with his responsibility to block Mack — though Mack doesn’t immediately rush at Allen. By the time Mack beats Allen, Brady — who was rolling to his left, toward Mack — is throwing the ball, though the pass falls incomplete.
No. 8: Mack is able to pressure Brady by knocking Brown back, and Floyd forces Brady to step up in the pocket. Mack dis-engages and goes back toward the line of scrimmage to chase Brady, forcing him to get the ball out quickly for an incompletion.
No. 9: Mack gets doubled on the left and is a non-factor. The sideline mic picks up someone yelling “get him, Leonard” but Floyd slips to the ground while one-on-one with backup right tackle LaAdrian Waddle. Akiem Hicks, though, provides pressure up the middle and forces Brady to throw deep and out of bounds, though he had a little over three seconds to make that decision.
No. 10: Near the goal line, the Patriots go hurry-up from under center, and Mack is barely set when the ball is snapped. Roquan Smith and Bilal Nichols, though, quickly generate pressure up the middle, leading to the Bears’ only sack of the game.
No. 11: On another quick throw — Brady gets it out in about a second and a half — Brown throws his right shoulder into Mack, making sure he has no chance of affecting the play.
No. 12: Mack goes to the inside shoulder of Brown and picks up left guard Joe Thuney on a stunt with Eddie Goldman, which generates some pressure, but Brady makes a short throw a little under three seconds after receiving the snap that’s dropped by White.
No. 13: This was one of Mack’s most disappointing pass rushing snaps. Facing a third and two after Mitch Trubisky’s second interception, Mack is one-on-one with Brown and isn’t able to mount any pressure, allowing Brady to easily pick out White in about 2.2 seconds for a first down.
No. 14: Mack is lined up to the right this time but gets successfully chipped by Allen. By the time Brady throws the ball, Mack is about five yards from the quarterback, and this pass went for 55 yards to Josh Gordon, setting up a touchdown.
No. 15: Mack is one-on-one with Brown and doesn’t mount pressure, though Roy Robertson-Harris does, forcing Brady to make an ill-advised throw that’s picked off by Kyle Fuller.
Some visual evidence:

The verdict: New England did occasionally commit multiple players to Mack, but frequently it was only the left tackle (Brown) or the tight end (Allen) who were on him. And while Brady is a master of getting the ball out quick and protecting his body, he didn’t seem bothered by Mack at all.
The quick throws would’ve been part of New England’s gameplan if Mack were healthy, but chances are the Patriots wouldn’t have singled Mack as much as they did — and almost certainly not with a tight end. That Brown and Allen had the success they did blocking Mack (Allen, in particular, was excellent in blocking Mack while the Patriots were running the ball late in the fourth quarter) speaks to Mack not being 100 percent.
The Bears may not get Mack back to 100 percent in the near future, though Nagy said the highest paid defensive player in the NFL is “kind of a freak in regards to his health and how he goes and pain tolerance.” Chances are, Mack will continue to play — he’s never missed a game in his career — but if he does, the Bears need to get more production out of him, especially when there’s only one player keeping him from the opposing quarterback.

Power Rankings Roundup: People are pretty apathetic about losing to the Patriots

Power Rankings Roundup: People are pretty apathetic about losing to the Patriots

While the notion of a "good loss" is more coachspeak than anything of real substance, it looks like NFL media agree. 

After a close loss to the Patriots -- about three feet close, to be exact -- Power Rankings makers aren't blaming the Bears too much. In fact, shoutout to our mothership, Big NBC Sports, for actually *raising* the Bears in their latest rankings. Thanks guys! 

Here's what they're saying: 

Ours: #17, down 4 -
You can do worse than barely losing to the Patriots, but what on earth has happened to Chicago's defense?

NBCSports: #10, up 1 - 
Bears went toe-to-toe with the Patriots and made it to the later rounds before taking one on the chin. No shame in that. #11, N/A - 
The opportunities were there for the Bears, who took it to the Patriots in the first half Sunday. The second half was a different story, as Chicago was stuck in catch-up mode.

Washington Post: #16, down 1 - 
The Bears came up a yard shy of a tying TD on the Hail Mary against the Patriots. This was a far less egregious loss than falling to Brock Osweiler and the Dolphins a week earlier. But it was still a loss.

ESPN: #13, down 1 - 
Need more from: RB Jordan Howard. Howard is averaging only 3.46 yards per rush, which ranks 41st out of 47 qualifying running backs. Bears running backs as a whole rank 30th with 1.45 yards after contact per rush, and Mitchell Trubisky has led the team in rushing in two of the past three games.

Sports Illustrated: #18, N/A - 
The Bears were 3-1 before starting a four-game tour of the AFC East. They need to take care of business against the Jets and Bills to keep pace in a tough NFC North.

Sporting News: #16, down 1 - 
Mitchell Trubisky and the offense have become a fun, unpredictable and mostly explosive roller-coaster ride, but the defense is showing it has plenty of leaks behind Khalil Mack.

FanSided: #17, down 2 - 
Mitchell Trubisky and those special teams were a disaster on Sunday.

Bleacher Report: #15, N/A - 
The problem is the Bears also have five tough divisional games remaining, including two with the Vikings. A date with the Rams also looms. However, if the Bears take care of business in the first four games mentioned, they will need to go just 3-3 in their remaining six matchups to go 10-6 and (presumably) make the playoffs.