Several of the NFL’s top fantasy performers will not be available to owners this week.
No. 2 scoring quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out, as is No. 6 scoring running back Carlos Hyde. Both T.Y. Hilton, the No. 5 scoring wide receiver, and Martellus Bennett, the No. 2 scoring tight end, are listed as questionable.
Do not fret, though, as the four absentees, among others, do nothing more than create opportunity to find those less note-worthy producers.
In that search, fantasy owners will discover that a thus far dormant Jacksonville Jaguars passing attack looks primed for a breakout against one of the league’s worst passing defenses in the Oakland Raiders.
And those possibilities are nearly endless.
That being said, here are your Week 7 locks and flyers.
Andy Dalton ($8,100) is completing passes at a healthy 67.4-percent (No. 5) clip, and averaging just over eight yards per attempt (No. 5). What has slowed him and his Cincinnati Bengals — 2-4 — is his inability to find the endzone through the air.
In an in-state rivalry game with the Cleveland Browns, who have allowed the second-most passing touchdowns (16) this season, the “Red Rifle” is almost certain match (and likely exceed) his single-game season high of two passing scores. This coming on the heels of back-to-back 366-yard outputs (season high). Play Dalton top torch the Browns.
Like the Bengals, Washington and its quarterback Kirk Cousins ($7,300) head into a very favorable matchup with the Detroit Lions, who allow a league-high 23.5 fantasy points per week to the opposing quarterback. It’s safe to bet that he’ll reach the 20-point threshold for the first time this season.
In his first AFC South divisional game, Murray ($8,700) posted his season high with 24.9 fantasy points against the defensively stout Houston Texans. In his second go-around he faces a Colts defense that allows the second-most points to running backs.
He is coming off his worst output of the season — 12.5 points — which does add add some hesitation, but he is by far the safest bet at the position.
Jacquizz Rodgers ($5,600) made his first start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the tune of 101 rushing yards, 28 receiving yards (on five catches) and 15.4 fantasy points. This week, he faces a San Francisco 49ers defense struggling to find any consistency. At a very modest salary, Rodgers is more than worth a roll.
That same 49er defensive unit that has surrendered 23.3 fantasy points per game to running backs has also coughed 22.2 per game to wide outs. And their greatest weakness has been slowing the big bodied receivers —Brice Butler, Larry Fitzgerald, Kelvin Benjamin and so on — Mike Evans ($8,000) is among the biggest of the league’s big men on the outside.
That, along with the fact that San Francisco faces uncertainty regarding the health of its secondary heading into the weekend, puts Evans on watch for a monstrous game.
Mike Wallace ($6,900) looks ready to break free from his slowed performances of Weeks 3, 4 and 5, after posting a 97-yard outing last week. This week he stares down a New York Jets secondary that has been stretched for 26.7 points per game (third-most) by wide receiver groups. With “Revis Island” looking more like Aruba than Lian Yu, Wallace is a safe bet for escape.
The Colts defense has not just been gouged on the ground, it has been burnt through the air as well.
As goes Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, so to does tight end and top target Delanie Walker ($6,500). Indianapolis has done a respectable job against opposing tight ends — allowing just 7.7 points per game — but Walker is far from a standard tight end, and he is not nearly treated as one in the offensive scheme.
He should easily reach the double-digit mark this week.
Sebastian Janikowski ($4,600) has averaged 7.5 fantasy points per game for the Raiders. His somewhat modest output, though, has not entirely been for lack of accuracy — having connected on eight of 11 attempts. His scoring has been down because the Oakland offense has not stalled out as much as it has in the past.
Facing a Jaguar defense that allows more than 11 points per game to kickers (second-most), with the Raiders down a running back, he may get a few more shots this week.
The Buffalo Bills ($4,700) are second in the NFL in sacks (20) and tied for second in takeaways (12), so it should come as no surprise that their defense currently the second-highest scoring group (12.5 points per game) in fantasy. Now they face a Jets offense that has given the ball away 15 times — second-most. Play them.
WR: Julian Edelman ($6,900)