Carson Palmer, Ari, QB (6-percent started)
Matchup: at Oak
Just a few days ago, the veterans status was in limbo. A painful nerve condition in his throwing shoulder, which triggered burning sensations up and down his arm, kept him under wraps. However, after undergoing a successful experimental treatment in a part of the country known for such exercises (Denver), he surprisingly returned to the lineup and experienced no repercussions. Against Washington he completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, he highly involved both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, a tandem that floundered with Drew Stanton and briefly Logan Thomas at the helm. Operating behind an improved offensive line, Palmer has played well in two games. Hes delivered strikes often downfield (5-for-11 on passes beyond 20 yards), excelled on play-action (111.1 QB Rating) and functioned admirably under pressure. His resulting 23.2 fantasy points per game (vs. SD and Wash) ranks top-seven at the position. This week, another QB1 level performance is a strong likelihood. The Raiders, deceivingly stout versus the pass entering Week 6, were exposed by Philip Rivers last Sunday, surrendering 313 yards and three touchdowns. To be fair, T.J. Carrie has executed laudably (54.7 QB rating allowed), but Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, whove given up 41 catches on 50 targets, certainly have not. Palmer, returning to the Black Hole for the first time since he last played there in 2012, lands a stinging blow.
Fearless Forecast: 25-38, 269 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 6 rushing yards, 22.1 fantasy points
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Justin Forsett, Bal, RB (59-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Atl
Over his seven-year career, Forsett, despite being impressively productive as a starter, has been constantly questioned. His diminutive stature and slender frame led many to label him a change-of-pace rusher. However, the former Cal standout continues to silence his critics. He remains involved in a three-back rotation with Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro, but without a doubt the little guy has been the most consistently effective. Forsett would probably find it difficult busting through a pile of leaves, but his shiftiness and speed through the hole should not be underestimated. Among eligible RBs, he ranks top-15 in elusive rating (46.6) and breakaway percentage (45.5) according to Pro Football Focus. A top-20 rusher since taking on an expanded role in Week 2, he could penetrate the positions top-10 in Week 7. Atlanta is a sieve up front. No defense has allowed more fantasy points to the position this year. In total, RBs have rolled up 190.7 total yards per game and 11 scores against it with eight RBs achieving Flame status. On 14-18 touches, he lights up the virtual scoreboard.
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 71 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 23 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.4 fantasy points
James Starks, GB, RB (3-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Car
Unlike some head coaches (Hint: One likes to wear hoodies, the other rhymes with Chisenfunt), Mike McCarthy is a coach of his word. For the past couple weeks hes maintained his commitment to a two-back rotation. After last Sundays near dead-even split between Eddie Lacy (39 snaps) and Starks (38), the HC obviously isnt waffling. Roughly 10-14 touches per game should be the norm for No. 44 rest of season. When toting the rock, Starks has displayed impressive power and burst. In what will be a surprise to most, hes recorded almost the same yards after contact rate (61.8) as Lacy (62.1). Sunday he could improve on that number. Carolina, defensively, has done a complete 180 from last fall. Luke Kuechly continues to rank highly against the run (No. 12 among all LBs), but going from strong to squishy, the Panthers, collectively, have conceded 5.5 yards per carry, 170 total yards per game and eight touchdowns to RBs. Only Atlanta has given up more fantasy points per game to the position. With two teams on bye, most owners have numerous options to employ at RB. Still, Starks is a FLEXY sexy option in almost any format.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 62 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 9 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.6 fantasy points
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James Jones, Oak, WR (13-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Ari
Quite possibly the MVP of the Rodney Dangerfield All-Stars, Jones is arguably the most disrespected commodity in the entirety of fantasy sports. If he suited up for a higher profiled club and caught passes from a proven passer, he would be coveted. Instead, owners, even those who repeatedly trot out the maddening likes of Keenan Allen, Cordarrelle Patterson and Percy Harvin, continue to give him the cold shoulder. Dumb. Whether PPR or standard, Jones has churned out WR2 numbers in 12-team leagues. Smelling like a rose in garbage time, hes tallied a near identical line as DeAndre Hopkins in one fewer game (35-26-328-3). Equally impressive, his 78.8 catch percentage ranks No. 5 among wideouts with at least 200 snaps. Arizonas ballyhooed secondary has failed it. Rolled in flour and dropped in oil, Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie are extra crispy. On the year, the duo has surrendered 17.34 yards per catch and a 117.8 QB rating. Yes Andre Holmes role is growing and putting trust in a rookie quarterbacks hands is always a risky proposition, but if Derek Carr can carry over momentum from last weeks breakout, Jones crosses the chalk for the fourth time in six games.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.5 fantasy points
Sammy Watkins, Buf, WR (43-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Min
From a pure talent standpoint Watkins is unequivocally the cream of this years rookie wide receiver crop. His NASCAR wheels, ridiculous body control, ball-tracking skills and tacky hands should give defensive backs nightmares for years to come. Largely because E.J. Manuel would overthrow a Wampa from 10 yards out, Watkins played unevenly out of the gate. Kyle Orton, inserted into the lineup two weeks ago, also hasnt helped him establish consistency. With only a pair of touchdowns and two games of 40-plus yards to his name, he ranks outside the positions top-36. Despite the rollercoaster ride, Watkins is a strong play in Week 7. Minny DBs Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson have performed admirably in coverage, but if Watkins matches up with Captain Munnerlyn, hes sure to sink the corners ship. Targeted 22 times, Munnerlyn has yielded 16 catches and a 137.9 QB rating. Overall, seven wideouts have posted Flame worthy numbers against Minnesota this year. Sensational Sammy will be the eighth.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 77 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.2 fantasy points
SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)
Josh Hill, NO, TE (0-percent started)
Matchup: at Det
A product of Idaho St., the ex-Vandal could steal the show this week in Detroit. With Jimmy Graham expected to nurse a shoulder injury for the next 2-3 weeks, Hill will be called upon to fill Shaq-sized shoes. In spurts the backup has looked effective. His strong route-running abilities, huge mitts, athleticism and deceptive speed, have occasionally stunned opponents. Targeted only eight times, hes reeled in seven passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Ben Watson, a more adept run-blocker, has seen more action (170-to-87 snaps), but clearly the second-year weapon is a better vertical talent. Detroit has defended the pass with uncharacteristic success. The Lions rank top-five in lowest allowed YPA, passing yards and fantasy points to QBs. Major props to Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis. Though theyve given up few explosive pass plays, tight ends have chipped away underneath. Larry Donnell (5-56-1), Greg Olsen (6-72-0), Andrew Quarless (4-43-1) and Jace Amaro (5-58-0) each posted useful PPR days against them. Off the bye, Hill steps out of the shadows.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 50 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.0 fantasy points
BONUS WEEK 7 FLAMES
#TEAMHUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via [email protected] How large are your stones?
Reader Record: 14-27, 34.1%
Want to bull rush Brad? Find him on Twitter. Also, check out the Yahoo! Fantasy and Rotoworld crew every Tuesday-Thursday on Fantasy Football Live starting at 6:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network (Find channel here). Additionally, tune into FFL radio on Yahoo! Sports Radio Sundays at 9 AM ET.
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