Week 7 of the 2013 NFL season begins on Thursday night when the Seattle Seahawks visit the Arizona Cardinals in an exciting NFC West matchup.
For fantasy football owners, this week’s injury report has provided many difficult decisions on who to start and who to sit. When deciding who to play, factors such as matchups, the type of injury, recent production and importance to his team’s success should all be considered.
Here’s some advice on which injured stars to play in Week 7.
Roddy White: Sit vs. Buccaneers
White is the Falcons’ top receiver with Julio Jones out for the season, but the veteran has been dealing with an ankle injury all year and is officially questionable for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has the 13th-ranked pass defense and an elite cornerback in Darrelle Revis to shut down White.
The 31-year-old hasn’t caught more than four passes or tallied more than 45 yards in a single game this season, and he’s only been targeted five-plus times once. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan isn’t looking his way consistently, and when you combine his injury issues with a difficult matchup against one of the league’s best corners, it makes more sense to put White on the bench in Week 7.
DeMarco Murray: Sit vs. Eagles
The Eagles defense is poor against the run and would be a great matchup for the Cowboys’ No. 1 running back, but Murray is listed as doubtful for this week with a knee injury.
With the Cowboys having two capable backup running backs in Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar to split carries on Sunday, there’s no need for the team to rush an important player such as Murray back to the lineup before he’s ready.
Even if Murray was able to play on Sunday, his role would likely be limited. When you consider that the Eagles have the second-worst pass defense and Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is having one of the better statistical seasons of his career, the chances of Dallas running the ball a lot this week are slim. Put Murray on your bench and pick up Randle or Dunbar from the waiver wire to replace him in your lineup for Week 7.
Calvin Johnson: Start vs. Bengals
Johnson practiced multiple times this week and also played in Week 6, so barring any setbacks, we should see him on the field when the Lions take on the Bengals.
Johnson, who is listed as questionable right now, only caught three passes for 25 yards last week, but he ran routes well and should be improved with another week to heal his knee injury,
He was targeted eight times last week, so there’s no question that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is looking his way often. Johnson is too talented to sit if he plays, so if he’s active on Sunday, start him on your fantasy team.
Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola: Sit vs. Jets
Amendola returned in Week 5 after missing four games with a groin injury, and he suffered another injury in Week 6 when he left the Patriots’ matchup against the Saints with a concussion. He’s officially questionable for Sunday, and playing him is not worth the risk based on his two injuries and the fact that the Jets have a strong defense.
New York ranks 12th against the pass and it has a strong secondary that allowed only 13 points and 185 passing yards from Tom Brady in Week 2. According to Field Yates of ESPN Boston, Amendola was among the Patriots who didn’t practice on Wednesday and Thursday, which is enough of a concern for fantasy owners to find a replacement in Week 7.
As for Gronkowski, my advice from last week remains unchanged. If he’s active, he’s an automatic start in all types of fantasy leagues.
Justin Blackmon: Start vs. Chargers
Blackmon has emerged as an elite fantasy receiver in the last two games. He’s racked up 19 receptions, 326 receiving yards and a touchdown on 29 targets (the most in the NFL during Weeks 5 and 6) since returning from a four-game suspension. He is listed as questionable for Sunday.
Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne is looking for Blackmon often and the two seem to have established a good level chemistry already.
His matchup this week is against a San Diego Chargers defense that lacks an elite cornerback and is giving up 272.8 yards per game through the air, the seventh-most in the league. Jacksonville will likely be trailing for most of the game, which creates a situation where Henne has to throw a lot. If this happens, Blackmon should have another monster game in Week 7.