Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Week 7: Is Zach Ertz a must-start in his first game with the Cardinals?

With the NFL in full swing and fantasy football lineups being set, who makes the list of the top start 'em and sit 'em options for Week 7?

With six weeks of NFL games in the bag, fantasy football managers are starting to feel like they have a solid idea of who to start and who to sit heading into Week 7. But is that accurate, or are we jumping to conclusions after only six games? With not all matchups being equal, here are our top start ’em and sit ’em plays for Week 7 of fantasy football.

NFL Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em for Week 7: Quarterbacks

Which QBs are must-starts, and who should remain on the bench in Week 7?

Start ‘Em | Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

In case you were not aware, the options this week are not good. In fact, they are downright dreadful. This is the aptly named “Byepocalypse.” Six teams are on a bye, and nearly all those clubs are full of high-end players: Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Three of the usual top seven quarterbacks are out this week, so we have to get creative.

At some point, Ryan Tannehill has to start playing better, as does Tennessee’s offense. In full transparency, I am writing this before the Monday Night Football game, and I am fully expecting Tannehill to struggle because the Bills are a brutal matchup. However, in Week 7, the Titans take on the Chiefs. While Kansas City held Taylor Heinicke to 182 passing yards, we have to remember Washington has virtually no pass catchers available.

The Titans, on the other hand, are getting healthier. A.J. Brown is back in the lineup, as is Julio Jones. It’s no wonder Tannehill has had his ups and downs when his top WR has been Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. The Chiefs are allowing the second-most fantasy points to QBs at 24.95, and Tannehill seems due for a big game — or at least a useable one for fantasy. He will be a lower-end QB1 in Week 7 that could start in a pinch.

Sit ‘Em | Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

The Browns are the new Giants. Apparently, the injury bug has stopped in the city of Cleveland and hit hard. Not only did Baker Mayfield reinjure his shoulder, but Odell Beckham Jr. hurt his shoulder, Nick Chubb missed Week 6 altogether (calf), and it was just reported Kareem Hunt is going on the injured reserve as well (calf). Both of Cleveland’s starting offensive tackles — Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin — also missed the game against the Cardinals. Luckily, Jarvis Landry is set to make his return from IR (MCL).

Did I mention that the Browns play the Denver Broncos — one of the best defenses in the NFL — in just a few days on Thursday Night Football? Even if Cleveland decides to put more responsibility on Mayfield to carry the offense, are we sure that’s a good idea based on injuries and matchup? Mayfield has finished as a QB1 (top-12) just once (Week 5) while ranking as the QB18 or worse five times. I would not get too cute in this one. Sit Mayfield in Week 7 as he is more of a QB3 than anything.

Running Backs

While these RBs found themselves with adjusted roles following injuries to surrounding players and poor play from others, they are on opposite sides of start/sit debates for Week 7.

Start ‘Em | Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons

Not only is Cordarrelle Patterson a start, but he is also a must-start and is even inside the top-12 conversation for the week. What Patterson has been doing this season is nothing short of remarkable, as he is finding absurd levels of production while seeing a minimal amount of touches. He is averaging 13.2 touches per game yet posting 20.36 PPR fantasy points. There’s no question this will regress, but I don’t believe it does this week.

The Falcons are coming off a bye in which they have been able to rest and game plan for their Week 7 matchup with the Dolphins. Not only did Miami give the Jaguars their first win in more than a calendar year, but they have to make the trip back from London. Teams are given the option to take a bye the week after they travel to London. While the Falcons, Jets, and Jaguars all chose to take a break after going abroad — the Dolphins declined. Bold strategy, Cotton.

Miami is 29th in points allowed to RBs (29.48) and allowed 101 total yards and a TD to James Robinson. I am all in on Patterson this week, and he is a must-start in Week 7 for fantasy.

Start ‘Em | James Conner, Arizona Cardinals

James Conner is playing some solid football as of late. Over his past four games, Conner has 193 rushing yards and 5 TDs on 55 carries, along with 34 yards receiving on 5 receptions. Averaging 15.1 touches per game, Conner is eighth in the NFL in red-zone carries at 17 and is tied for third in carries inside the 5-yard line (6). Over this time, he’s been the RB12, RB8, RB31, and RB32, while facing the Jaguars, Rams, 49ers, and Browns. That’s very usable in fantasy, especially in a week where options are severely lacking.

Conner has a great matchup in Week 7 against the Houston Texans, who are No. 20 in points allowed per game (25.48), 30th in yards (121.83), and 29th in rushing TDs allowed (6). Those needing a bye week fill-in could turn to Conner as a solid RB3 or better.

Sit ‘Em | Damien Williams & Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears

I’m going to knock both of these guys out at once. Whether it’s Damien Williams or Khalil Herbert as Chicago’s primary back in Week 7, neither can be started.

The Bears are still trying to figure out their identity with new play-caller Bill Lazor taking over duties from Matt Nagy. In Week 7, they face the Buccaneers, who no one runs the ball against. Tampa Bay has allowed 254 yards — 42.3 per game —  and 1 rushing touchdown the entire season. Avoid the headache and sit both Bears’ RBs in Week 7. 

Sit ‘Em | Alex Collins, Seattle Seahawks

There is no denying Alex Collins had an impressive game in Week 6 against a Steelers defense that entered the week allowing just 16.2 points per game to RBs. Collins rushed 20 times for 101 yards and a score, with a lot of his work coming in the second half. But it came at a cost. Collins exited the game early with a hip and glute injury. He has a chance to play in Week 7, per head coach Pete Carroll, but is clearly not 100%. 

In a case of serendipitous timing, fellow RB Rashaad Penny (calf) is eligible to come off IR this week, with Carroll stating Penny is “full speed, ready to roll.” That screams timeshare to me, at best. This also means I want nothing to do with Seattle’s backfield as they take on the New Orleans Saints and their eighth-ranked fantasy defense (20.46).

Tommy Garrett is a Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read all of Tommy’s work here, listen to him on PFN’s Fantasy Football podcast, and check out his contributions in PFN’s free fantasy newsletter. Give him a follow on Twitter: @TommyGarrettPFN.