Before we parse through this week’s must plays, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the unpredictably winding road leading us to this strange place in fantasy football land. If you told me at the beginning of the season that Justin Forsett, Golden Tate, and three Cleveland Browns would comprise half of the “must start” selections, I would’ve asked you why FanDuel cut their salary cap allotment in half. However, make no mistake about it, all of the aforementioned, once-labeled fantasy misfits represent solid value this weekend. Blending a formidable combination of these cheapies along with the outlined top studs should yield a prosperous, cash-inducing lineup on FanDuel. So with that, let this article serve as your “fantasy GPS” while traveling down the unmarked path of NFL Week #7.
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Top-dollar options who will justify their hefty price tag.
MUST PLAY: Jordy Nelson (WR) – GB - $8,900
A repeat platinum selection from last week, it’s hard to steer your lineups away from the most productive receiver in the league. As if Nelson’s baseline average of 7-105-1 wasn’t enough, the Panthers rank 27th in limiting opposing WR’s. Mohamed Sanu was able to work this Carolina secondary last week (10-120-1), leaving little reason to believe Nelson won’t eclipse his already impressive average.
BORDERLINE: Cam Newton (QB) – CAR - $8,400
Cam finally looked healthy last week, piling up 100+ rushing yards (1 TD) to go along with a decent 284 yard 2 TD performance through the air. The Packers present a seemingly difficult matchup on paper (5th vs pass), but multiple injuries to the secondary paint a less gloomy picture. Expect Cam’s dual-threat ability to inspire another solid fantasy line in this potentially high-scoring affair.
Players priced in the “second-tier”, but could easily boast top flight numbers.
MUST PLAY: Ben Tate (RB) – CLE - $7,300
This is an absolutely fantastic spot for Ben Tate. He’s coming off two solid games, compiling 47 carries, 202 yards, and 2 TD’s against Tennessee and Pittsburgh combined. The Jaguars profile as middle-of-the-road against the run, but Cleveland’s dedication to the rushing attack (2nd in attempts) sets up well for Tate to enjoy another 20+ attempts. It’s realistic to envision the Browns controlling this game, prompting a heavy-dose of Tate running behind one of the better offensive lines in the league.
BORDERLINE: Brandon Marshall (WR) – CHI - $7,700
This is more of a “price point play” than anything. Well, the matchup against a Miami team that has been gashed by WR1’s this season doesn’t hurt either. Marshall is coming off his first 100+ yard game this year, which not so coincidentally came one week following Marc Trestman’s promise to get him more involved. That trend should carry into this game, so enjoy the savings on Marshall before a likely salary ascension.
Mid-range picks with favorable prices and situations.
MUST PLAY: Golden Tate (WR) – DET - $6,700
As of Friday morning, Calvin Johnson is listed as “very doubtful” for Sunday’s game. That means Golden Tate will once again enjoy a featured role that has prompted 22 receptions, 294 yards, 1 TD with Megatron ailing the past three weeks. He’s a safe source for targets and receptions, while the Saints’ 29th ranked pass defense presents considerable upside for this mid-range salary.
BORDERLINE: Andre Ellington (RB) – ARI - $7,100
One noteworthy trend throughout the first half of the season: stream capable RB’s against Oakland. The Raiders rank 31st in rushing yards allowed, and Ellington should see plenty of work to exploit that susceptibility. On top of a regular dose of 20+ carries, he’ll likely factor into the passing game as well, exemplified by 10 catches, 138 yards, 1 TD in the past two weeks.
The best of the bargain bin.
MUST PLAY: Justin Forsett (RB) – BAL - $6,200
Atlanta has allowed the most fantasy points to running backs, and Forsett currently owns a league-high 6.4 yards per carry: you do the math. The Ravens seem adamant on giving Forsett regular carries, which has translated to a 16 fppg average over the past three weeks. That’s Le’Veon Bell/Giovani Bernard-like production for a fraction of the salary. I have no problem dubbing Forsett as the “must play value” of the week.
BORDERLINE: Jordan Cameron (TE) – CLE - $6,100
Cameron had a nice bounce-back 100+ yard effort last week, aided in large part to a breakaway 51-yard TD grab. He’s still not getting an especially high volume of targets, but matching up against a Jaguars team that hemorrhages fantasy points to opposing TE’s is enough to consider Cameron as a “borderline must” this weekend.
Kicker, Defense, and a few honorable mentions.
KICKER: Nick Novak – SD - $5,000
I usually like to take a near-minimum priced kicker, but I’m not finding any appealing options in this slate. Novak provides the most comfortable, semi-cheap selection, given his reliably high average of 9.5 fppg this year.
DEFENSE: Cleveland Browns
Another anecdote from the first half of this season: Stream defenses against the Jaguars. Jacksonville ranks dead last in yards per game, yards per play, and 29th in giveaways.
BEST OF THE REST: Peyton Manning (QB) – DEN, DeMarco Murray (RB) – DAL, Antonio Brown (WR) – PIT, Mike Wallace (WR) – MIA, Kirk Cousins (QB) – WAS, Justin Hunter (WR) – TEN, Jordan Reed (TE) – WAS, Buffalo Bills (DEF)