Week 7 is the heaviest bye week in the NFL with 6 teams on bye. Unfortunately, for some fantasy owners those 6 teams have some of the top quarterbacks in the league with Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Michael Vick sitting out this week. That means many fantasy owners are scrambling on the waiver wire to find a backup if they chose not to use a roster spot throughout the year on an extra quarterback. Let’s look at the candidates that you might be trying to decide between:
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick – He’s going up against a Titans defense ranked 29th against the pass and giving up an average of 292 passing yards and over 2 touchdowns per game. That looks like a pretty juicy matchup. Fitzpatrick started the year off extremely hot but has cooled off since with 0 touchdowns in his last 2 games. The Bills are due for a breakout game, and they have the playmakers to make it happen. Plus, their defense is bad enough that they need the offense to score. I could see a shootout brewing against the Titans.
2. Brandon Weeden – The Browns quarterback has improved greatly since his 4 interception start against the Eagles. He’s had 2 touchdowns in 3 of his 5 games since his debut. The game against the Colts could go several different ways. The Colts have been terrible against the run. Last week, Mark Sanchez threw 2 touchdowns but only totaled 82 passing yards because Shonn Greene was running all over the Colts D. My thought is that the Colts design a game plan to go all out on stopping Trent Richardson and the running game. They don’t want to get embarrassed like that 2 games in a row. With that kind of focus, I could see Weeden throwing for 2+ touchdowns to keep pace with Andrew Luck.
3. Carson Palmer – The Jaguars are another team that’s going to focus on stopping the run. They rank 29th in run defense at 162 yards per game on the ground and 4.71 yards per carry. Darren McFadden should be the focal point of the Jaguars defense. Palmer has been throwing the ball a lot – 39 times per game – and I like Denarius Moore to get beyond the defense at least once. Brandon Myers has also been a solid TE yet he’s been held without a touchdown so far – look for that to change this week.
4. Matt Hasselbeck – As I said before the Titans and Bills could be due for a shootout so I like the veteran Titans QB as well. However, I’m a bit more concerned with his chances to turn the ball over against an improving Buffalo defense. Mario Williams was almost non-existent in the first 5 weeks, but he began to wreak havoc on Kevin Kolb in Arizona in week 6. I liked the confidence that Hasselbeck showed in Kenny Britt last week so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the two of them hook up for another score especially now that Britt is finally healthy and practicing during the week.
5. Christian Ponder – The FSU alum has been on a nice run lately with 350+ yards passing last game and multiple touchdowns in 4 of his 6 games this year. However, the Arizona defense is one of the toughest to score passing touchdowns on as they’ve given up only 5 passing touchdowns on the year (only Baltimore and Tampa Bay have given up fewer). Plus Adrian Peterson hasn’t scored since week 1 so I feel like he’s due for a big day and could take away from Ponder’s red zone opportunities. I wouldn’t expect more than 1 touchdown from Ponder this week.
6. Mark Sanchez – I don’t like the Jets chances in Foxboro this week going up against a Patriots team that’s probably not too happy about their last minute loss to the Seahawks last week. Look for the Patriots to stack the box against the Jets to contain Shonn Greene and not allow the Jets to get the running game going. Also look for Tom Brady to pick up the pace and put up points quickly on the Jets. Being down big is not when Sanchez excels. It could be an opportunity for a cheap score or two, but I also expect some mistakes caused by a Patriots secondary that’s able to sit back and take away the big play.