By MIKE HERNDON
Playing matchups is common best practices in fantasy football. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to plug Josh Allen, Justin Jefferson or Saquon Barkley in your lineup every week and leave him there. But for the mere mortals on our rosters, we’re often going to play the ones that are facing weaker defenses that week. It only makes sense.
Except this season, it doesn’t. A Pittsburgh defense missing four of its top defensive backs shut down Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. A Seattle defense that had been gashed by everybody not named Russell Wilson holds the Cardinals to 9 points. The Jets frustrated Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The Falcons put San Francisco in such a hole the 49ers run game became irrelevant.
Playing matchups got us beat last week. But that doesn’t mean we stop. We just try to be smarter. And we don’t take anything for granted.
So let’s pick ourselves up off the mat and try again in Week 7:
Aaron Rodgers, Packers: He’s coming off an embarrassing loss to the Jets and facing a Commanders’ defense yielding the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Keep an eye on his thumb during the week, but he should be good to go and eager to put last week behind him.
Jared Goff, Lions: He’s had a week off to figure out what the Patriots did to him and the Lions offense. But now he gets another tough assignment at Dallas. There has been a stark difference in his numbers against strong defenses.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys: He’s been productive against tough defenses the last two weeks, gaining 78 yards against the Rams and 81 yards and a score against the Eagles. This week, he gets one of the most forgiving defenses in the league in the Lions. With Dak Prescott expected to start his first game after returning from a long injury hiatus, look for the Cowboys to lean on the run game.
Kenneth Walker III, Seahawks: He did you right last week with 97 yards and a touchdown, and now he gets a forgiving Chargers run defense. Fire him up again.
David Montgomery, Bears: He’s sharing carries with Khalil Herbert and, while he’s still on the upper end of that timeshare, his coach has been hinting that Herbert may see more work. And now here comes the Patriots’ defense, which has been lights out the last two weeks.
Melvin Gordon, Broncos: Nathaniel Hackett says Gordon will be starting this week. But he started last week too until he didn’t, spending most of the game watching 32-year-old Latavius Murray barrel into the line. At this point, it’s difficult to trust anyone in Denver’s backfield, including the quarterback, and the Jets’ defense is no longer a pushover.
Allen Lazard, Packers: As expected, he’s been the steadiest receiver in a room full of newcomers, and he’s had eight targets are more in each of the last three weeks. The Commanders’ pass defense has not exactly been stout.
Michael Pittman, Colts: He soaked in 16 targets and turned them into 134 yards last week as the Colts revved up the passing game with Jonathan Taylor sidelined. Taylor is expected to return this week, but the Titans give up the second-most fantasy points in the league to receivers.
Courtland Sutton, Broncos: He’s the only Broncos receiver I trust in this offense, but Sauce Gardner has lived up to his first-round billing for the Jets and presents a difficult matchup. Oh, and Russell Wilson now has a hamstring injury to go with his shoulder ailment.
Garrett Wilson and Corey Davis, Jets: It’s generally wise to sit receivers who are facing the Broncos – particularly ones whose quarterback only threw for 110 yards the week before.
George Kittle, 49ers: He finally got some volume last week, turning 10 targets into 83 yards. That was largely due to game script, as the Niners fell behind and had to throw. Facing Kansas City this week, they’ll likely have to be throwing again.
With Dallas Goedert, Dawson Knox and Tyler Higbee on bye weeks and Darren Waller potentially out again with injury, start whoever you can find getting more than a couple targets a game.
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