Week 7 fantasy football moves to make now:
Zach Mettenberger (Tennessee): There are likely three new quarterbacks set to make starts this week. If you are in a pinch, I like Mettenberger the most. Mettenberger gets a friendly matchup at home against Atlanta, which ranks 29th against the pass (and No. 1 against the run). Mettenberger had a fairly impressive 83.4 quarterback rating last year as a rookie with 21 throws over 20 yards and five plays of 40-plus yards.
Landry Jones (Pittsburgh): If Ben Roethlisberger can’t go this week (very much TBD) then Jones will get the start. You have to give Jones some props for a very strong game last week as he came in cold and connected on 8-of-12 passes for 168 yards and two scores. Jones is a classic under-center, pocket passer and he has tremendous weapons to throw to. If Roethlisberger is out, Jones is worth a start (especially for those with perhaps Andy Dalton, Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers on a bye). Jones was highly touted coming out of high school, a finalist for the Joe Montana Quarterback of the Year Award as a senior.
Matt Cassel (Dallas): It’s pretty hard to get excited about Cassel although he is likely an upgrade over Brandon Weeden. Over the past four seasons Cassel has started 26 games, posting a 9-17 record and throwing more interceptions (34) than touchdowns (30). It would be one thing if Dez Bryant was playing (and he might be), but Cassel shouldn’t be trusted.
Christine Michael (Dallas): I’ve recommended Michael many times and Week 7 looks to be the week where we finally see what he can do. With near ideal running back size and elite raw skills, Michael has big-time upside. Michael had an amazing 2013 NFL Combine where he was first among backs in both the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle drills, second in the broad jump and first in the vertical jump (an almost unbelievable 43 inches). Michael also showed off his strength with 27 reps in the bench press, tied for third best among RBs that year.
David Cobb (Tennessee): If you want to stay a few steps ahead in your league, look to stash away David Cobb. For starters, the Titans’ other backs have been dreadful: Antonio Andrews averages 2.9 yards per attempt and Bishop Sankey 3.8 yards in their NFL careers. This is a situation ripe for Cobb to instantly seize the starter’s role, and Cobb has upside. Cobb set the University of Minnesota single-season record with 1,626 rushing yards last year and is built to withstand a heavy workload. Note that the earliest Cobb is eligible to play would be Week 9.
Robert Turbin (Cleveland): Turbin was active for the first time as a Cleveland Brown last week and had 10 carries. Duke Johnson is the Cleveland running back you want, but it’s not entirely impossible that Turbin could supplant Isaiah Crowell.
Dexter McCluster (Tennessee): McCluster is a pure desperation play but he is getting some work. McCluster scored the team’s only touchdown last week and over the past month he is averaging 57 yards per game with 2.3 receptions.
Brandon LaFell (New England): If LaFell is on your waiver wire now is the time to add him as he has come off the physically unable to perform list. New England is light at receiver and LaFell should quickly return to his starting role. The former Panther was the 22nd-best fantasy receiver last year with 74 receptions, 953 yards and seven touchdowns.
Stefon Diggs (Minnesota): If Diggs is still on your league’s waiver wire he should be a high-priority add after another strong game (giving him 216 receiving yards in the Vikings’ past two games). Diggs accelerates quickly and gets to top speed in a hurry and has large hands. Vikings’ teammate (and former Pittsburgh Steeler) Mike Wallace was quoted recently saying “you can tell from Day 1 who can play football or not” and that Diggs reminds him some of Antonio Brown. Diggs likely has permanently claimed the starting job from Charles Johnson.
Kevin White (Chicago): White is eligible to start practicing this week although his timetable for playing remains unknown. Once White resumes practicing, the Bears will have three weeks to decide whether to activate him. White remains a key watch however given his raw talent.
Chris Hogan (Buffalo): Hogan may be pressed into a starter’s role this week with Percy Harvin and Sammy Watkins both likely out. Hogan has shown ability for the random touchdown and produced more than you might think when given an opportunity. Hogan has started five games in his NFL career, averaging 4.8 receptions and 46.8 yards when he has started. In four starts last year, Hogan scored a touchdown in each one.
Lance Moore (Detroit): Moore has come on of late and locked down the Lions’ third wide receiver spot. Moore turned in a 100-yard game last week and has scored in back-to-back games. He’s still a lower-end fantasy option but a potential bye-week filler. Moore has familiarity in offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s scheme from their days together in New Orleans and Moore has been a reliable target over the middle of late with tight end Eric Ebron missing time.
Bryan Walters (Jacksonville): A true journeyman with 27 career receptions over five seasons and three different teams, Walters looks to draw the start this week with Allen Robinson (leg) likely to miss this one (although Robinson did make the trip to London). Walters had 64 yards in Week 5 and followed that up with 87 yards last week.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Tampa Bay): Check to make sure Seferian-Jenkins isn’t on your waiver wire. Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) is close to returning, perhaps this week.
Ben Watson (New Orleans): On the one hand, we know who 34-year-old Ben Watson is, but he had a huge game last week (a career game with 127 yards and 10 receptions). It’s likely Watson won’t approach those totals again but he will be a prime add this week nonetheless and you have to like the 12 targets Watson received more than anything, and perhaps continued trust from Drew Brees.
Clive Walford (Oakland): I also mentioned Walford last week and with the Raiders’ coming off their bye, look for the talented rookie to start to get more worked in as the team’s primary tight end. Walford was particularly effective around the end-zone in college at the University of Miami and averaged 14.5 yards per catch in college.
Derek Carrier (Washington): As long as Jordan Reed remains sidelined with a concussion, Carrier will continue to have fantasy value. The Washington offense features the tight end more than most teams and Carrier is an athletic receiving option.
Miami Dolphins: Perhaps interim head coach Dan Campbell can help motivate this talented group of players to perform much better collectively than they had under Joe Philbin. That was certainly the case last week as Miami collected six sacks (they had just one all season), plus four turnovers and a defensive touchdown.
Other news and notes
▪ Depending on how your league scoring is done, Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman is anywhere from at least 55 percent higher to more than two times better than the No. 2 running back this year. It has been like watching Marshall Faulk go nuts or LaDainian Tomlinson in his prime. Over the past four games, Freeman has averaged 174 yards, 2.3 TDs and 6.3 receptions.
▪ I was sky-high in my pre-draft rankings on Pittsburgh’s Martavis Bryant (drafting him personally in all three of my leagues) and his upside was on full-display last week with Bryant catching 6-of-8 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s upset win over the Cardinals. Bryant now has 10 touchdowns in 11 NFL games played. Especially once Ben Roethlisberger returns, Bryant has top-5 receiver potential week-in and week-out.
▪ Heading into Week 7, five NFL teams remain undefeated (Carolina and New England at 5-0, Cincinnati, Denver and Green Bay at 6-0). At least three teams will still be undefeated next week with Cincinnati, Denver and Green Bay all on a bye this week. Charlotte will be abuzz as the Panthers draw the Sunday Night Game this week hosting the Eagles. The Patriots will square off against the Jets and will be a must-watch. Perhaps if anyone can slow Tom Brady and the Patriots it is the Jets, who rank second in the NFL against both the run and the pass. In his past four games against the Jets, Brady averages 214 yards passing and 1.3 touchdowns per game. On the other side, Chris Ivory and Brandon Marshall are both elite fantasy options for the Jets. Ivory has 100-plus yards rushing or a touchdown in every game in his NFL career when given 20 carries (including all three games this year), and Marshall comes into Week 7 with four straight games of 100-plus receiving yards, the first Jet to do so since Don Maynard in 1968.
Alan Satterlee is a co-owner and senior writer for DynastyFootballWarehouse.com, a comprehensive fantasy football strategy site.