You never want a bad showing from your Thursday night players, whether it’s because they busted in your lineup or starred on your bench. This week’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ matchup features the Broncos and Browns — two offenses that hampered by injuries and other factors against two solid defenses on a windy, rainy nights in Cleveland. That means limited chances for yards and points, but there are few worthy starters in season-long leagues, especially in a week with six teams on bye. We break down all the tough fantasy start ’em, sit ’em decisions so you can get your Week 7 started off right.
We also have some NFL DFS tips at the end for those planning to try their luck in a DraftKings Showdown or FanDuel single-game contest. Even if you aren’t thrilled about any of the Broncos or replacement Browns in your season-long lineup, it’s worth taking a daily fantasy shot in this low-scoring challenge.
Broncos: Who to start or sit in fantasy football on Thursday night
Sit: QB Teddy Bridgewater
Theodore Two Gloves has gone from steady caretaker with a high floor to a shaky playmaker with a limited ceiling. He’s been more volatile of late with Denver’s running-and-defense formula not working against better defensive opponents. You can’t play with him a bad foot coming off a three-interception game against a talented and hungry pass defense ready to make amends for two bad games.
Sit if you can: RBs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams
This committee has been horrible for fantasy. It’s too evenly split for either player to make a big difference. Gordon finished as RB6 against the Giants in Week 1 and RB20 against the Jets in Week 3 in half-point PPR leagues. Against non-New York teams, he hasn’t cracked a RB25 finish. These are the dynamic rookie Williams’ finishes in half-point PPR over the first six games: 48-30-24-39-32-28. Both backs’ true values have maxed out as borderline RB2s/flexes. There’s no reason to think that will change against the Browns’ stout run defense. Then again, you might be in bye-week purgatory and need to start one and hope for a TD.
Start: WR Courtland Sutton
Sutton has been frustrating. He was awful in Weeks 1, 3 and 4. He was excellent in Week 2, 5 and 6. So, which Sutton shows up against a Browns cornerback duo (Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome) that has been above average outside? The concern here is Bridgewater having enough time with his bad foot, knowing left tackle Garret Bolles is banged up and both Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney loom. That said, Sutton is better than most options you have as the Broncos’ default No. 1 with no Jerry Jeudy (ankle). Hope for the best with solid target volume.
Sit: WR Tim Patrick
Hopefully, you don’t need to start Patrick this week. His ceiling has been capped as a borderline WR2/WR3, and like Sutton, he was downright bad in some games. If you’t can feel comfortable about Bridgewater, it goes to say you can’t trust Patrick filling in for Jeudy in that same game.
Start: TE Noah Fant
Fant hasn’t exactly blown the doors off and become an elite TE1, but he’s a solid option, posting four top-10 finishes in six games. He’s coming off his best game (nine catches on 11 targets for 97 yards and a TD against the Raiders). Cleveland’s tight end defense has been pretty good, but it did give up 6-76-2 to Travis Kelce in Week 1.
Start: Broncos DST
They will get to Case Keenum a few times with Von Miller leading the edge rush with a chance to force a turnover or two. This should live up to the reputation of a low-scoring game, too.
Start: K Brandon McManus
McManus is K12 on the season. That should be good enough to plug him in here for a game that will feature multiple field goals.
Browns: Who to start or sit in fantasy football on Thursday night
Sit: QB Case Keenum
We’re not close-minded on Case for two-QB and superflex formats, but you won’t be living the streaming dream in single-QB leagues. Think of it this way: Would you have started a “healthy” Baker Mayfield had he kept playing through his bad left shoulder against the Broncos’ pass rush and pretty good cover men?
Start: RB D’Ernest Johnson
Let’s be D’honest: We never thought a third Browns running back would have so much value. However, he has both the talent and the opportunity with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt shelved by calf injuries at the same time. Chubb might be rested enough to come back in Week 8, so this might Johnson’s one big chance to shine in prime time. Look for the 2019 undrafted back to see about 20 touches as the Browns don’t deviate much from their run-heavy game script with their strong interior blockers still intact.
Sit if you can: WR Odell Beckham Jr.
If active, Beckham (shoulder) can’t been seen as more than a desperation WR3 at this point. It was a struggle just to get to a WR29 finish (his best of the season) in half-point PPR last week. The Broncos’ secondary behind a good pressure defense isn’t the formula for him to get on track, especially with a new QB who might not force-feed it to him when nothing is there.
Sit: Every other WR and TE
Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins are pretty good players. So are Austin Hooper and David Njoku. But good luck figuring out how the Browns will throw to them in any given week. You can’t chase DPJ’s big box score vs. the Cardinals. Keenum makes this even a greater wild card. There’s a greater chance one of them can be close to a zero than a surprise hero.
Sit: K Chase McLaughlin
Wrong! It doesn’t take a McLaughlin group to tell you don’t want to play him in season-long leagues when there are so many better options, including McManus.
Start: Browns DST
Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney should have some success getting to Teddy Bridgewater after the Raiders applied good pressure. Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome, and the rest of the Browns’ secondary are overdue for big plays in coverage.
Broncos vs. Browns: FanDuel single-game lineup
- MVP (1.5X): RB D’Ernest Johnson $10,000
- AnyFLEX: QB Teddy Bridgewater $14,500
- AnyFLEX: QB Case Keenum $5,000
- AnyFLEX: WR Courtland Sutton $12,500
- AnyFLEX: TE Noah Fant $9,500
The pricing wasn’t prepared for Keenum starting for Mayfield, so we took full advantage of that to make our own little superflex fun with both QBs. Then it made sense to go for a cheap feature back in Johnson and the two best receivers for Bridgewater.
Broncos vs. Browns: DraftKings Showdown lineup
- Captain (1.5x): RB D’Ernest Johnson $6,900
- FLEX: QB Teddy Bridgewater $11,000
- FLEX: WR Courtland Sutton $10,000
- FLEX: QB Case Keenum $9,400
- FLEX: TE Noah Fant $8,200
- FLEX: K Chase McLaughlin $4,000
Here, the guy that got underpriced was Johnson, so he was a no-brainer for captaincy to allow for two quarterbacks with plenty of money to spare to bring Sutton and Fant into the mix again. Going with the Browns kicker over the Broncos’ Brandon McManus suggests the home team will win a field-goal fest late.