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Favorable Fantasy Matchups: Week 7

QB: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (vs. Oakland Raiders)

Rivers will never forget his performance last week, passing for over 500 yards at Lambeau Field in the closest game the Packers have had at home in a while. Rivers’ 65 pass attempts demonstrated how much faith the San Diego staff has placed in him as the leader of their offense. His 66% completion rate and 99.7 QBR are a reflection of a quarterback in control of the game, which Rivers certainly appeared to be for the majority of Sunday’s game.

The return of Antonio Gates has been crucial for Rivers and the Chargers offense. Since his return, Gates has amassed 18 catches for 187 yards and two scores in just two games. Having a Hall of Fame caliber tight end back in the lineup has been and will continue to be a huge asset for Rivers. Oakland is giving up an average of 14.4 points to tight ends per game (according to ESPN standard leagues), which spells trouble when Rivers and Gates are playing at the level they are. Rivers only has one three-touchdown game so far this season, but I expect him to have another this week.

RB: Christine Michael, Dallas Cowboys (@ New York Giants)

Alright, I’ll admit it, I’m not original. Just about every fantasy writer has Michael as his or her running back sleeper this week. Can you blame us? The Cowboys are battling injuries and inconsistencies at every offensive position except for offensive line and tight end (more on this later). So, what makes Michael the guy to come in and provide what Dallas has been lacking in the backfield all season?

When the Seahawks drafted Michael, the idea was that he was an exceptional athlete, a true combination of power and finesse, and a guy capable of filling in for Marshawn Lynch. Obviously, that didn’t happen as Lynch helped Seattle reach another Super Bowl, and Michael was waiting for his shot. Dallas RB coach Gary Brown said this week they plan to let Michael loose and “let him rock.”

WR: Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints (@ Indianapolis Colts)

The Colts secondary is beyond depleted. All season, they’ve struggled to slow down opposing passing games. Through six weeks, the Colts rank in the bottom five in defensive efficiency vs. opposing receivers, having already surrendered nine receiving touchdowns to wide receivers this season, allowing challenging WRs to reach double digit fantasy points each game this year.

With no Jimmy Graham and no Kenny Stills, Drew Brees has had to look elsewhere for consistency, and Snead has assumed that role. Snead has recorded at least four catches each game this season since Week 1, and is averaging nearly 17 yards per reception. Given how inefficient the Colts pass defense has been this year, this game has some serious potential to turn into a shootout. If that’s the case, Drew Brees could have a field day.

TE: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (@ New York Giants)

With 973 career receptions, Witten is likely to become the second tight end in NFL history with 1,000 career receptions. Year after year, Witten has been one of the most reliable targets in the NFL, no matter who his quarterback has been. Of course, the most consistent of those QBs has been Tony Romo, currently sidelined with a collarbone injury. This week, Witten will have Matt Cassel slinging him passes against a Giants defense ranked fifth worst against opposing tight ends this season.

In the Cowboys’ season opener against the Giants, Witten had eight grabs for 60 yards and two scores. The buzz around Dallas this week has been that Dez Bryant will likely not be back on the field and available. Even if he isn’t 100%, the distraction of having an elite wide receiver back on the sideline for Dallas should open up the middle of the field, an area that Witten has been earning a living for 13 years. 

D/ST: Atlanta Falcons D/ST (@ Tennessee Titans)

An injury to Marcus Mariota means the Titans offense is now in the hands of Zach Mettenberger. Immediately, the offense shrinks. Mariota’s agility and speed adds a dynamic to an offense that Mettenberger simply doesn’t bring to the table.

Regardless of who has been under center for the Titans thus far this season, they’ve struggled. They’re 1-4 and in dire need of a win if they want to keep this season meaningful. Through five games, the Titans have allowed opposing defenses to rack up 12.6 points per game, a number that is worst in the league by over a point.

The Falcons look rejuvenated under head coach Dan Quinn, playing like a completely different team. They’ve already tallied six interceptions as a unit, one for a score. They also have seven sacks and six forced fumbles, numbers that are likely to go up this week. The defense as a unit is giving up just over 23 points per game, but I really don’t see how a Zach Mettenberger offense eclipses that number this week.


Image: Witten

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