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Fantasy: Matchups to avoid or exploit in Week 7

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Justin Boone, TSN.ca
10/18/2012 11:13:32 AM
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As you prepare to set your lineup each week, TSN.ca's NFL Editor Justin Boone breaks down some of the less obvious matchups you should capitalize on and those you should steer clear of for the weekend games.

For specific lineup decisions, consult the Weekly Fantasy Player Rankings.

QUARTERBACKS

Exploit

Josh Freeman (vs. Saints) - Freeman isn't going to win the NFL passing yards title while playing in the Buccaneers' conservative offence, but that doesn't mean he can't dial up a big game when needed. In his last two outings, against sub-par pass defences in the Redskins and Chiefs, Freeman has averaged 313 yards and two touchdowns per game. This week's opponent is the Saints, who are bottom seven against the pass and will also challenge the Bucs with their high scoring offence. It's the perfect storm for Freeman in Week 7.  

Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. Titans) - In the first four weeks of the season Fitzpatrick was fantasy gold, with touchdown totals of three, two, three, and four. However, his last two games the Bills' passer has been held out of the end zone and has looked like a third stringer. The recent performances had more to do with the defences in Arizona and San Francisco and that signals a rebound game against a weak Titans' defence. You can't trust Fitzpatrick most weeks, but grab him as a bye week replacement and enjoy the rewards.

Avoid

Jay Cutler (vs. Lions) - The Bears are coming off a bye week and home teams coming off their bye can be dangerous, but the Lions have played Cutler tough in the past and I believe Chicago will focus their attack around Matt Forte and not Cutler's arm. The Lions haven't been the same ferocious force that they were a year ago when they were posting points on anyone and everyone. Detroit is now trying to create a balanced approach on offence and that will help keep this game close, meaning the Bears will rely on their defence and running game to claw out a win.

Christian Ponder (vs. Cardinals) - I've been a big supporter of Ponder this season and coming off a 352-yards effort it seems strange that I would recommend benching him, but that's exactly what I'm doing. Ponder had 52 attempts last week in the loss to the Redskins and that's a recipe the Vikings would like to stay away from. On top of that, the Cardinals are one of the league's best defences and they won't make life easy on the second-year passer.

RUNNING BACKS

Exploit

Felix Jones (at Panthers) - Jones has shown us that he can't stay healthy for long stretches, so capitalize on his value while you can. The Panthers are in the bottom tier of the league when it comes to defending the run, and with centre Phil Costa back, the Cowboys run blocking appeared much improved. After averaging 5.1 yards per carry last week, Jones should be a solid start in Carolina.

Chris Johnson (at Bills) - Which Chris Johnson will show up? The Bills seem like a choice matchup for the former 2,000-yard rusher, but he's had his best games against tough opponents. With Matt Hasselbeck still under centre for Tennessee, they will continue to lean on the run and with 15-20 touches, Johnson will deliver.

Avoid

Shonn Greene (at Patriots) - Greene had 161 rushing yards last week and 123 combined rushing yards in the four games prior. Don't be fooled by one monster stat line. If you weren't able to sell Greene high this week, then you missed your chance. Keep him on your bench.

Steven Jackson (vs. Packers) - We teach children that sharing is important. Unfortunately, in the fantasy world sharing is a death sentence. Jackson has stumbled into a time share with Daryl Richardson, who is giving the team a different look in the backfield. Jackson should still get the goal line carries, but in an offence that doesn't score a tonne of points, his value is dropping.

WIDE RECEIVER

Exploit

Denarius Moore (vs. Jaguars) - After battling injuries, Moore seems to be healthy and is beginning to put up the kind of production that fantasy owners expected when they drafted him. 175 yards and a touchdown in the last two games is a great sign and now he will be set loose against the Jaguars.

Kenny Britt (at Bills) - The Titans force fed the ball to Britt last week, giving him 11 targets and he managed four catches, 62 yards and a touchdown. Britt isn't even listed on the injury report this week, meaning the Bills should be worried. Britt will only get better from this point on and he has a ceiling as a WR1 if he can stay on the field.

Avoid

Michael Crabtree (vs. Seahawks) - Crabtree has shown that he can be a strong PPR receiver with at least six catches in four of his six games, but he will meet a Seahawks' secondary that may be the best collection of pass defenders in the NFL. If the Seahawks can handle the Patriots elite passing attack, then Alex Smith could have a lot of trouble getting the ball into Crabtree's hands.

Andrew Hawkins (vs. Steelers) - Hawkins had three strong games to start the season and many, including myself, thought he could emerge as the second option for Andy Dalton. Since then, Hawkins has been quiet and is no longer worthy of a start, outside of a longshot in your flex spot.

TIGHT ENDS

Exploit

Heath Miller (at Bengals) - Miller may not have touchdowns in his last two contests, but he has been highly productive in the Steelers' offence. The only worry is that with their offensive line struggling, Pittsburgh may revert to using Miller as a blocker more often, but for now you can use him to help you get through the bye week blues at tight end.

Greg Olsen (vs. Cowboys) - Olsen is coming off his bye week and that has allowed the hype around him too cool off a bit. Prior to that, he had 15 catches, for 224 yards and one touchdown in his previous three games. Outside of Steve Smith, Olsen is the most dependable receiver in Carolina.

Avoid

Martellus Bennett (vs. Redskins) - Bennett's name is off the injury report, but I'd like to see him show he still has the burst to get separation like he did early in the season before I would put him back in my starting lineup. The Redskins' secondary is downright awful and Eli Manning may be able to get it done through the air with his receivers, without needing to check down to Bennett.

Dennis Pitta (at Texans) - The Ravens' offence may need to score more now that their defence has lost so many significant pieces to injury. I don't see that meaning an increase in targets for Pitta, who has fallen off the radar after starting the season extremely hot. Anquan Boldin is back to being the chain mover and working the middle of the field and that leaves Pitta low on the stat sheet most weeks.

Josh Freeman  (Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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