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Top 10 Fantasy Football Busts for Week 7

It's Week 7 and we are officially halfway through the fantasy regular season. With fingers crossed that the season continues to operate with minimal disruption, we can allow football to the forefront of our minds as it appears all games will be played as scheduled this week.

Assuming that's the case, fantasy GMs rostering Ravens, Colts, Vikings, and Dolphins will have to make alternate arrangements. That means prominent names such as Lamar Jackson, Jonathan Taylor, Dalvin Cook, and Ryan Fitz... err, I mean, Tua Tagovailoa, will not be available.

Luckily, our RotoBaller team is here to help fantasy managers navigate through issues such as bye weeks and waiver wire pickups while providing insight on every fantasy football matchup. As you prepare to set your lineups for a victorious Week 7, make sure to move potential fantasy landmines to your bench. Below are my top ten fantasy football busts for Week 7. Good luck!

 

Jared Goff vs. Chicago Bears

Jared Goff takes on a menacing Bears Defense in Week 7 that he has seriously struggled against in recent times. The past two matchups with the Bears have produced five interceptions and zero touchdown passes from Goff, the current QB16 on the season. Goff has been hit or miss, with three QB1 performances mixed in amongst three bust weeks.

The Bears have allowed the lowest completion percentage in the NFL at 57.1% and Goff lacks the mobility to extend plays and escape Khalil Mack and company. Expect the Rams to lean on the run in a projected low-scoring affair, affording minimal fantasy upside to the former number one pick.

 

Josh Jacobs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The entire Las Vegas Raiders’ starting offensive line currently resides on the reserve/COVID-19 list. That is troublesome, to say the least, for a starting running back. Fortunately, there is hope that they can be cleared prior to kickoff, but the NFL has changed the schedule in anticipation of a potential outbreak. Fantasy managers, therefore, must pay close attention to the status of this game, as well as its participants, as the fantasy fate of Jacobs could swing wildly depending on the outcome of test results.

Beyond that, the Buccaneers rank eighth against fantasy running backs, meaning Jacobs will have his work cut out for him even if his top blockers are available. The Buccaneers completely shut down the red-hot Packers last week and are an imposing matchup for offenses in general, as they rank third against quarterbacks to go along with their stifling run defense. Jacobs is a talented workhorse and simply cannot be benched, but managers rostering strong alternatives may be forced to consider such a drastic move if his offensive line is inactive.

 

Michael Gallup vs. Washington Football Team

Michael Gallup is fifth in targets for Dallas, behind Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dalton Schultz. He has lost his starting quarterback and the division-rival Football Team poses a challenging test in Week 7, as Washington has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Andy Dalton looked much worse than many expected in his first start as a Cowboy and his injury-riddled offensive line could pose serious problems.

Dalton should have better days than he had versus Arizona, as Ezekiel Elliott’s costly fumbles put the team in a difficult position, but this offense is going to take a bigger hit than fantasy managers hoped following Dak Prescott’s injury. Gallup is best left on the fantasy sidelines this week.

 

Tyler Higbee vs. Chicago Bears

Over the past four games, Tyler Higbee has run 67 routes to Gerald Everett’s 52 routes, has out-targeted Everett only 12-11, and has been outscored by Everett 25.3 to 19.8 in terms of fantasy points. This has become a full-blown timeshare, a fact not demonstrated by Higbee’s TE8 standing. Higbee was the TE1 overall during his Week 2 explosion but has not finished above TE16 in any other week. With only two games above 40 receiving yards, Higbee is touchdown-dependent. Considering he has scored in only one game this season and Goff has failed to throw a single touchdown pass in his last two matchups with the Bears, GMs can find more viable options elsewhere.

 

Jimmy Garoppolo vs. New England Patriots

Jimmy Garoppolo is fresh off a three-touchdown performance against a strong Rams’ defense. Unfortunately, he gets another tough opponent this week. Although he finally has both George Kittle and Deebo Samuel in the lineup at the same time, the Patriots have been downright dominant against opposing quarterbacks who aren’t named Russell Wilson.

Last week was the first time Garoppolo has finished inside the top eighteen quarterbacks and a road trip to Foxborough is not the recipe for streaming success. Even Patrick Mahomes was held to a QB17 finish against the Patriots. Garoppolo has yet to throw more than 33 times in a game this season and will require either increased volume or top-notch efficiency to justify a spot in fantasy lineups. Don’t bet on either of those things occurring and leave Garoppolo on benches this time around.

 

Henry Ruggs III vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Henry Ruggs is coming off the first fantasy-relevant performance of his career but faces the sixth-toughest matchup for wide receivers this week in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even in last week’s 118-yard performance, Ruggs accumulated only three targets. The volume is clearly not there for Ruggs yet. Fortunately, he possesses the type of skill set that does not require heavy volume. On any given play, Ruggs can produce a week’s worth of fantasy points.

While that makes him somewhat matchup proof, at least to an extent, the Buccaneers have not been prone to allowing big plays this season. Receivers average the second-fewest yards per reception against Tampa Bay. Further, with the entire Raiders’ offensive line in question, quarterback Derek Carr may be forced to get the ball out of his hands quickly. As such, the time for longer routes to develop may not be there. Ruggs is an upside play for managers needing a home run but be aware of his basement-level floor.

 

John Brown vs. New York Jets

John Brown went for 70 yards and a score in his first outing against the Jets this year. Since following that up with a second score in Week 2, Brown has done practically nothing. Injuries have played a big role in that, but the injury bug has not yet abandoned him. Brown missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday and appears nowhere near 100% health. Even if he suits up, Brown is likely to be extremely hobbled, as was evident in his zero-catch performance last week.

The Jets are middle of the road against fantasy receivers, mostly due to teams running out the clock in blowout wins against them and present a beatable matchup for Brown if healthy. Thus, it remains pertinent that managers monitor practice reports to see whether Brown returns to a limited session prior to gameday. Otherwise, Brown’s risk outweighs his potential reward.

 

Hayden Hurst vs. Detroit Lions

Hayden Hurst has not approached the breakout level that many fantasy enthusiasts dreamed of when he arrived in Atlanta to replace Austin Hooper. Although his involvement has not garnered every-week TE1 treatment, the state of the position has forced managers to treat him as such. While that remains the case, the Lions have been a surprisingly daunting matchup for opposing tight ends this season. That point remains to be truly tested, as the Lions have yet to face a top-tier tight end, but one could argue that trend is continuing this week.

The entire offense has functioned at a higher level whenever Julio Jones is in the lineup, for obvious reasons, so managers rostering Hurst can look to that fact for positive reinforcement. Otherwise, one could shutter at the notion that the Lions have allowed the lowest completion rate to tight ends in the NFL and that they allow only 5.3 fantasy points per game to the position, which is second in the league. Pivot where possible.

 

Jerry Jeudy vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Jerry Jeudy has taken a back seat lately as Tim Patrick has broken out with back-to-back games over 100 receiving yards. Patrick has out-targeted Jeudy fifteen to nine over that span. Jeudy had been averaging 8.33 targets per game prior to this slide and we will have to see him move back towards that number before getting excited about starting the rookie in tough matchups.

The Chiefs rank fifth against fantasy receivers, giving up an average of only 25.5 points to the position. Stefon Diggs was held to a meager 46 receiving yards against Kansas City last week, and although Diggs saved his day with a touchdown, Jeudy has scored only once thus far. Noah Fant is expected back this week, as is Melvin Gordon. The offense should operate more efficiently at full strength, but there is also more competition for targets. Jeudy is a promising stash but not one to be started until he reclaims a more prominent role in the offense.

 

Jared Cook vs. Carolina Panthers

There was a point this season that it appeared Emmanuel Sanders was done. In his last three games, Sanders has commanded 28 targets and turned that opportunity into 22 receptions for 271 yards and a touchdown. Comparatively, Jared Cook has been targeted only 4.5 times per game. That is notable, as last year Cook did not have to compete with Sanders for targets behind Michael Thomas.

Thomas has missed basically the entire season and is questionable for this week after picking up a hamstring injury to go along with his ankle issue. If Thomas suits up, it would mean considerably fewer targets available for options such as Cook, Sanders, and Tre’Quan Smith. Even if Thomas misses this week, the matchup is not ideal for a low-volume pass-catcher such as Cook. The Panthers are eighth against fantasy tight ends and have managed that success despite facing names like Darren Waller, Rob Gronkowski, Hunter Henry, Hayden Hurst, and Jimmy Graham. The common theme amongst brand name tight ends is that managers are forced to play them due to a lack of capable alternatives, and that remains true here. GMs should not kick Cook to the curb for a desperation streaming candidate but should plug in a more attractive option wherever possible.



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Booms and Busts - Starts and Sits for Week 7 Lineups

Week 6 in the NFL brought what may be one of the cleanest weeks of action to begin the season. With no catastrophic injuries affecting teams for the remainder of the year, the play on the field seemed to settle in as the more well-known players performed up to par. With big weeks from Derrick Henry and Julio Jones, along with others, it felt like all was right with the world. Now the question will be can they keep it up, or will we go back to the wild and wacky guessing game that is fantasy football?

Now that we are six weeks into the NFL season the crystal ball is becoming more clear. The cream always rises to the top and talent always finds a way. Which is what we are seeing if you look at positional rankings over the first six weeks. Players like Alvin Kamara and DeAndre Hopkins find themselves in their rightful places. But of course, there are outliers like Josh Allen and Robby Anderson taking full advantage of plus matchups to begin the season and it reflects in their rankings. The guessing game of the early parts of the fantasy season is out the window now and looking at matchups breeds success. Knowing which players are set up for big games while knowing which players are in for tough days and require benching is key for fantasy managers. With several weeks of data at our disposal, sifting through to set optimal lineups should be fairly easy.

Knowing positive and negative matchups is vitally important to a manager's success. That is what we provide for you here with the Woos and Boos of Week 7. I take a look at those under the radar plays that should be considered starting options for the week, while also pointing out the household names that could be in for disappointing weeks based on tough matchups.

 

Week 7 Woos

Matthew Stafford @ Atlanta Falcons

The beneficiary of "Who plays the Falcons?" this week will be Stafford. He has been an up-and-down performer to begin the season and is valued as a QB2 most weeks. But the offense has been without a fully healthy Kenny Golladay and the passing offense was struggling without him. Now with Golladay back, the Lions will be facing the worst defense in fantasy in points allowed to opposing quarterbacks (29.9 FPPG). The defense has continued to play horribly, allowing at least three touchdowns in each game except one (Week 5). Look for that to continue this week as the Stafford/Golladay connection is primed for a big day.

David Johnson vs. Green Bay Packers

I'm usually not one to promote playing David Johnson as I'm not very high on him as a fantasy player. But coming off a solid RB1 week against the Titans he is set up for success yet again in Week 7. He will be facing a Packers Defense that next to last in points allowed to the position (28.0 FPPG) and allows 6.8 FP over the average in scoring. They have had back-to-back weeks allowing multiple touchdowns to opposing RBs and we all saw what Ronald Jones did to this defense. Now the multi-faceted Johnson will get his turn and could turn in yet another RB1 scoring week for fantasy managers.

Tee Higgins vs. Cleveland Browns

Higgins continues to shine each week as the targets have been consistent since Week 3. He seems to be a big play waiting to happen as he is currently top-20 in air yards (525) and deep targets (9). This week he will look to take advantage of a Browns Defense that is near the bottom in points allowed to the position (30.5 FPPG). With the Bengals having plenty of weapons to cover on defense, Higgins should be able to see single coverage all day and I would count on another score in this matchup. I view him as a WR3 going into the week with WR2 upside and should be starting in all lineups.

Logan Thomas vs. Dallas Cowboys

Thomas re-emerged from his vanishing act in Week 6 as he found the end-zone for the first time since Week 1. There could be some sort of rapport between him and Kyle Allen as Thomas recorded a season-high 42 yards on four targets, finishing as TE9 on the week. This week he will look to take advantage of the porous Cowboys Defense, which is currently allowing 9.5 FPPG to the position. Thomas is the perfect candidate to start for managers that like to stream the position.

 

Week 7 Boos

Drew Brees vs. Carolina Panthers

My how the mighty have fallen. What used to be a perennial top-5 QB, Brees has been able to muster only two QB1 finishes on the season. He ranks 20th in passing yards (1,331) and 28th in air yards (1,010), showing that there is an unwillingness to take the shot down the field for the big play. This week could yet again be a struggle facing a Panthers Defense that is one of the best in the league in points allowed to the QB (14.6 FPPG). With Michael Thomas again in question for this offense in Week 7, starting Brees could be a risky proposition for fantasy managers.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire @ Denver Broncos

There are multiple factors here in play as I look at Edwards-Helaire for Week 7. Most fantasy managers will be starting him, or in a position to have to start him. But with Le'Veon Bell set to make his team debut, and facing a very stout Broncos run defense (12.1 FPPG, best in the league), Edwards-Helaire could struggle to find consistency. Sure, he recorded an RB1 finish a week ago (his first since Week 1) and is currently second in rushing yards (505). But he ranks just 16th in yards-per-carry (4.6) and 14th in evaded tackles (25). Look for the sure-tackling Broncos to bring him down early, eliminating his chances to get to the second level. He still will be played by fantasy managers in Week 7, but be sure to temper expectations.

Allen Robinson @ Los Angeles Rams

Robinson, bad quarterback play aside, remains the WR9 on the season. He requires plenty of targets to do his damage in matchups as his ability to get into the end-zone has just not been there (two TDs on the season). He is fourth in the league in receptions (40), third in air yards (674) but just 23rd in scoring. Expecting a quality start from him against a tough Rams secondary (16.3 FPPG, best in fantasy) will be a bit much to ask. He is another player that fantasy managers will be in a position to have to play, but the likelihood that he scores well enough to help you win will be minimal.

Tyler Higbee vs. Chicago Bears

Higbee has been by and large a disappointment for fantasy managers to begin the 2020 season. Aside from his three-score game in Week 2, he has not found the end-zone. The other statistics are not kind to him either. He ranks 21st in targets (21), 26th in routes ran (105), and 25th in red-zone targets (3). All showing a player that is inconsistently used in an offense that ranks 29th in the league in pass plays per game. This week he faces a tough road yet again as the Rams face a Bears Defense that allows just 7.8 FPPG to opposing TEs. With the poor play to begin the season, Higbee could be a player that most fantasy managers should be benching this week and use the waiver wire to stream a better matchup.



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Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 6 Analysis

Your wide receivers remain essential components toward your primary goal of securing league championships. As this unique regular season continues to unfold, an expanding assortment of tools is available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge regarding this critical position. Those results are contained in this weekly statistical breakdown of multiple categories, which is designed to help you fulfill your championship aspirations.

This will be the sixth installment that will examine game-specific data, including updated totals for targets, first downs, red-zone targets, snap counts, and a compilation of advanced statistics. The information that is contained in this weekly report will analyze how various receivers are being utilized, and how effectively they are capitalizing on their opportunities. This massive collection of data supplies the foundation from which the numbers that are generated in various categories can be evaluated.

As the season progresses noteworthy changes in usage and production will be blended into the equation. That will bolster your efforts to determine which wide receivers should be in your lineups, and which are worthy of remaining on your rosters. Pro Football Reference, PFF, NextGenStats, Rotowire, Rotoviz, and Football Outsiders were all used as resources in compiling this data.

 

Week 6 Target Leaders 

Wide Receivers Total Targets Targ/Game YPT
Allen Robinson 66 11 7.2
Amari Cooper 65 10.8 7.7
DeAndre Hopkins 61 10.2 9.9
Stefon Diggs 59 9.8 9.4
Terry McLaurin 58 9.7 8.4
Calvin Ridley 57 9.5 9.6
Robby Anderson 51 8.5 11.1
Keenan Allen 50 10 7.1
CeeDee Lamb 50 8.3 9.9
Adam Thielen 49 8.2 8.5
Tyler Boyd 48 8 8.7
D.J. Moore 48 8 9.9
Jamison Crowder 46 11.5 8.3
Cooper Kupp 45 7.5 8.3
A.J. Green 45 7.5 4.8
Darius Slayton 44 7.3 9.2
Odell Beckham 43 7.2 7.4
Marquise Brown 42 7 9
Brandin Cooks 42 7 8.7
Robert Woods 41 6.8 8
Will Fuller 41 6.8 11.1
DeVante Parker 40 6.7 9.1
D.K. Metcalf 39 7.8 12.7
Tyler Lockett 38 7.6 8.9
Tee Higgins 38 6.3 8.9
Keelan Cole 38 6.3 9.5
Tyreek Hill 38 6.3 10.1
Mike Evans 37 6.2 7.6
T.Y. Hilton 37 6.2 6.5
Cole Beasley 37 6.2 9.7
Emmanuel Sanders 36 7.2 8.4
Russell Gage 36 6 8
Julian Edelman 36 7.2 8.4
Justin Jefferson 36 6 14.9
Laviska Shenault Jr. 35 5.8 8
Greg Ward 34 5.7 5.6
Michael Gallup 34 5.7 10.9
D.J. Chark 34 6.8 7.8
Jerry Jeudy 33 6.6 8
Jarvis Landry 33 5.6 9.7
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 30 6 8
Darnell Mooney 30 5 6.5
Davante Adams 30 10 8.4
Julio Jones 30 7.5 11.7

 

Allen Robinson leads all wide receivers in targets for the second consecutive week (66). Amari Cooper is second (65), followed by DeAndre Hopkins (61), Stefon Diggs (59), Terry McLaurin  (58), and Calvin Ridley (57). Robby Anderson is next (51), followed by Keenan Allen (500, CeeDee Lamb (50), and Adam Thielen (49), while D.J. Moore and Tyler Boyd are tied with 48. Jamison Crowder is next (46), followed by Cooper Kupp (45), A.J. Green (45), Darius Slayton (44), and Odell Beckham (43). Marquise Brown (42), Brandin Cooks 42.  Will Fuller 41, Robert Woods, (41), and DeVante Parker (41), are the only other wide receivers who have eclipsed 40 targets.

Robinson also leads all wide receivers with 48 targets since Week 3. Cooper is second once again with 42, followed by McLaurin (41), Diggs (37), Hopkins (36), and a three-way tie with Boyd, Ridley, and Lamb at 35. Kupp and Anderson have collected 34 targets, while Crowder and Thielen are tied with 33 during that four-game span. Allen and Tee Higgins are next with 32, Fuller has captured 31, and both Marquise Brown and Justin Jefferson have been targeted 30 times. Jefferson’s recent surge in usage and production will be examined further in the 5 Things I Noticed section.

Robinson also leads to the position with 25 targets during the last two weeks, while Diggs is located directly behind him with 24. Crowder and the surging Travis Fulghum are in a tie for third (23). Cooks and Lamb are next (21), while Cooks’ teammate Fuller is tied with McLaurin at 19. D.J. Chark Anderson and Thielen are next (18), followed by Kupp, and Ridley in a tie at 17.  Five different receivers have also been targeted 16 times during that two-game span – Higgins, Moore, Jefferson, A.J. Brown, and Marquise Brown.

Crowder leads all receivers in targets per game (11.5) and is one of six receivers who is averaging 10+ - Robinson (11), Cooper (10.8), Hopkins (10.2), Allen (10), and Adams (10).

Justin Jefferson leads all receivers with a 14.9 yards per target average. Chase Claypool is the only other receiver with an average of 14+, followed by Metcalf (12.7), Julio Jones (11.7), and three receivers who are tied with an average of 11.1 - Anderson, Fuller, and Scott Miller. Michael Gallup and Travis Fulgham are next (10.9), followed by four receivers that are tied at 10.8 – Josh ReynoldsCorey Davis. Gabriel Davis, and Mecole HardmanTim Patrick and Kenny Golladay are tied at 10.7, while Tyreek Hill (10.1), Hunter Renfrow, and Christian Kirk (10.0), are the only other receivers who currently have an average of 10+

 

Largest Weekly Changes

Wide Receivers Week 5 Week 6 Changes
A.J. Green 1 11 10
D.J. Chark 4 14 10
Davante Adams INJ 10 10
Julio Jones INJ 10 10
Tim Patrick BYE 8 8
Breshad Perriman INJ 8 8
Amari Cooper 4 10 6
D.J. Moore 5 11 6
Julian Edelman BYE 6 6
Justin Jefferson 5 11 6
Adam Humphries COVID 6 6
Terry McLaurin 7 12 5
Robert Woods 5 10 5
DeVante Parker 3 8 5
Jerry Jeudy BYE 5 5
Marquez Valdes-Scantling BYE 5 5
Zach Pascal 2 7 5
Marcus Johnson 3 8 5
Jamison Crowder 10 13 3
Will Fuller 8 11 3
Keelan Cole 6 9 3
James Washington 4 7 3
Calvin Ridley 10 7 -3
Brandin Cooks 12 9 -3
Tyreek Hill 6 3 -3
Larry Fitzgerald 7 4 -3
Brandon Aiyuk 6 3 -3
Travis Fulgham 13 10 -3
Marquise Brown 10 6 -4
Jarvis Landry 9 5 -4
Odell Beckham 9 4 -5
T.Y. Hilton 10 5 -5
Allen Robinson 16 9 -7
Robby Anderson 13 5 -7
Darius Slayton 11 4 -7
Mike Evans 9 2 -7
Chase Claypool 11 4 -7
Jeff Smith 11 4 -7
Stefon Diggs 16 8 -8
Adam Thielen 13 5 -8
Gabriel Davis 9 1 -8

 

D.J. Chark captured 14 targets during Jacksonville’s Week 6 matchup with Detroit, which was the highest total for any wide receiver during the week. It was also his first double-digit target total since Week 14 of last season. Chark was one of 13 different receivers who collected 10+ targets during the Week 6 matchups. Jamison Crowder continued his streak of double-digit targets in every game this season while also attaining the second-highest total for the week (13). Terry McLaurin’s 12 targets placed him third, while four receivers were all targeted 11 times during Week 6 -Will Fuller, D.J. Moore, A.J. Green, and Justin Jefferson.

Robert Woods was among the six receivers who captured 10 targets, as he was joined by Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Travis Fulgham, and two receivers who returned after being sidelined by injury - Julio Jones and Davante Adams. Robinson, Cooks, Kupp, and Keelan Cole all received nine targets while a group of eight receivers was targeted eight times - Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, DeVante Parker, Tim Patrick, Marcus Johnson, Breshad Perriman, and Cincinnati teammates Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd.

Four different receivers experienced a week to week increase of +10 in their target totals. Both Devante Adams and Julio Jones had been sidelined during Week 5 and re-emerged to join the two other receivers who attained a weekly increase of +10 during their Week 6 matchups. They were joined by Chark who had been averaging five targets per game from Weeks 1-5. A.J. Green also experienced a surge of +10 by collecting 11 targets just one week after being targeted just once when the Bengals traveled to Baltimore.

Tim Patrick returned from his Week 5 bye and promptly captured eight targets in New England. That tied him with Breshad Perriman who easily established a new season-high by collecting his eight targets. Amari Cooper, D.J. Moore, and Justin Jefferson all attained a week to week increase of +6. They joined by Julian Edelman and Adam Humphries who did not perform in Week 5 but resurfaced to capture six targets in Week 6. The weekly totals for seven different receivers rose by +5 during their Week 6 matchups - Terry McLaurin, Robert Woods, DeVante Parker, Jerry Jeudy, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Indianapolis teammates Zack Pascal and Marcus Johnson.

Gabriel Davis established a career-high when he received nine targets in Week 5. However, Josh Allen only launched one pass in his direction during Buffalo's Week 6 matchup with Kansas City. The week to week decrease of -8 ties him with his teammate Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen. However, managers will not be concerned about the Week 6 results for either veteran.

Six different receivers experienced a week to week reduction of -7 -Allen Robinson, Robby Anderson, Darius Slayton, Chase Claypool, Jeff Smith, and Mike Evans - whose two targets in Week 6 tied his career-low.

 

Week 6 Air Yards

Wide Receivers Air Yards Cmp AY % AY aDOT
Calvin Ridley 836 453 39.5 14.9
D.K. Metcalf 717 374 44.5 17.5
Adam Thielen 696 358 43.3 14.5
Marquise Brown 673 275 45.8 16
Allen Robinson 665 343 32.8 10.2
A.J. Green 659 170 30.4 14.6
Stefon Diggs 637 420 35.1 11
Will Fuller 610 360 32.1 14.2
Tyreek Hill 580 259 34.6 15.3
Amari Cooper 569 273 26.6 8.8
Terry McLaurin 562 216 42.8 10
Darius Slayton 559 331 45 12.7
D.J. Moore 559 320 41.3 11.9
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 556 169 35.8 18.3
Odell Beckham 531 272 38.7 13.3
Michael Gallup 528 285 27.1 16
Robby Anderson 503 322 36.9 9.5
DeAndre Hopkins 494 317 30.5 8
Tim Patrick 474 259 26.2 16.3
CeeDee Lamb 471 310 22.1 9.6
Justin Jefferson 469 351 27.6 13
Tee Higgins 467 227 25.3 13.2
Brandin Cooks 456 255 26.2 11.4
Tyler Boyd 448 301 21.4 9.3
D.J. Chark 431 219 24.1 12.7
Jerry Jeudy 429 188 24.7 13.8
T.Y. Hilton 424 180 27.6 11.8
Keelan Cole 420 261 24.9 11.1
Keenan Allen 410 201 31.1 8.7
Darnell Mooney 408 166 20.7 13.8
John Hightower 400 65 19.5 21.2
Preston Williams 398 181 24.9 14.4
DeVante Parker 389 282 25.2 9.6
Mike Evans 387 209 22.6 10.5
Julian Edelman 386 230 37 10.7
Mike Williams 379 167 27.7 17.2
Christian Kirk 378 124 24.2 16.4
Scott Miller 374 201 19.3 16.3
Jamison Crowder 367 189 23.1 8
Julio Jones 359 227 16.5 12

Calvin Ridley continues to lead all wide receivers in air yards after six weeks of game action (836). He is followed by D.K. Metcalf (717), Adam Thielen (696), Marquise Brown (673), Allen Robinson (665), A.J. Green (659), Stefon Diggs (637), and Will Fuller (610). No other wide receivers have eclipsed 600 yards entering Week 7. Tyreek Hill is next (580), followed by Amari Cooper (569), and Terry McLaurin (562), while Darius Slayton and D.J. Moore are tied at (559). Marquez Valdes-Scantling is next (556), followed by Odell Beckham (531), Michael Gallup (528), Robby Anderson (503), DeAndre Hopkins (494), Tim Patrick (474), CeeDee Lamb (471), and Justin Jefferson (469).

Marquise Brown has emerged as the new league leader in percentage share of air yards (45.8). Slayton is second overall (45.0), followed by Metcalf (44.5), Thielen (43.3), McLaurin (42.8), and Moore (41.4). No other receivers have obtained an average of at least 40%. Calvin Ridley is next (39.5), followed by Odell Beckham (38.7), Julian Edelman (37.0), Anderson (36.9), Valdes-Scantling (36.0), Diggs (35.1), and Hill (34.6).

John Hightower leads all wide receivers in targeted air yards (21.3), followed by Valdes- Scantling (18.4), Mike Williams (17.6), Michael Gallup (16.8), Marquise Brown (16.4), Metcalf, and Scott Miller in a tie at 16.3. Christian Kirk is next (16.1), followed by Tim Patrick (16), Andy Isabella (15.8), Ridley (15.4), Preston Williams (15.3), and Hill (15.1). No other wide receivers have attained an average of 15+. Thielen spearheads a group of four receivers that are averaging 14+ through Week 6.

 

Week 6 First Downs

Wide Receivers First Downs
DeAndre Hopkins 31
Calvin Ridley 28
Amari Cooper 28
Tyler Boyd 27
Terry McLaurin 26
Stefon Diggs 25
Robby Anderson 24
CeeDee Lamb 24
Allen Robinson 23
D. J. Moore 23
Adam Thielen 22
Justin Jefferson 22
Keenan Allen 21
Darius Slayton 21
DeVante Parker 20
Will Fuller 20
D.K. Metcalf 19
Cole Beasley 19
Tyreek Hill 18
Cooper Kupp 18
Marquise Brown 18
Keelan Cole 18
Tyler Lockett 17
Russell Gage 17
Emmanuel Sanders 17
Mike Evans 17
Odell Beckham Jr. 17
D.J. Chark 17
Laviska Shenault Jr. 17

 

DeAndre Hopkins has maintained his league lead in first down receptions (31), while Calvin Ridley and Amari Cooper are tied for second (28). Tyler Boyd is next (27), followed by Terry McLaurin (26), Stefon Diggs (25), Robby Anderson (24). CeeDee Lamb (24), Allen Robinson (23), D.J. Moore (23), and Minnesota teammates Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson with 22. Keenan Allen and Darius Slayton are tied with 21 first downs, while DeVante Parker and Will Fuller each have 21 receptions for first downs. D.K. Metcalf and Cole Beasley are next (19), while four receivers are tied with 18 receptions for first downs - Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, Marquise Brown, and Keelan Cole.

Jefferson collected six receptions for first downs in Week 6, while Cooper captured five. McLaurin accumulated four catches while a collection of receivers collected three first down receptions in Week 6.

 

Week 6 Red Zone Targets

Wide Receivers Inside 20 Inside 10 Inside 5 Team %
Calvin Ridley 8 4 2 26.67
Adam Thielen 8 4 2 38.1
Darius Slayton 8 5 2 28.57
Emmanuel Sanders 8 4 2 26.67
Russell Gage 8 4 2 26.67
D.J. Chark 8 3 1 21.05
Zach Pascal 8 4 3 25
N'Keal Harry 8 4 2 40
DeAndre Hopkins 7 3 1 33.33
Robby Anderson 6 2 1 26.09
Stefon Diggs 6 3 3 16.22
Amari Cooper 6 3 2 19.35
CeeDee Lamb 6 5 4 19.35
Allen Robinson 6 2 1 18.18
Will Fuller 6 2 1 26.09
Tyreek Hill 6 4 1 20
Cole Beasley 6 5 2 16.22
Keenan Allen 6 1 0 31.58
Julio Jones 6 2 1 20
Odell Beckham 6 5 4 33.33
Mike Evans 6 5 4 17.65
Sammy Watkins 6 5 2 20
A.J. Brown 6 3 0 24
DK Metcalf 5 4 0 17.86
Cooper Kupp 5 2 1 22.73
Tyler Lockett 5 4 3 17.86
Tee Higgins 5 3 3 17.24
Robert Woods 5 1 0 22.73
Travis Fulgham 5 1 1 22.73
Kenny Golladay 5 2 0 16.13
Preston Williams 5 4 3 19.23
Brandon Aiyuk 5 4 3 16.13
Trent Taylor 5 2 1 16.13

Entering Week 5, N’Keal Harry led all wide receivers with eight red zone targets. As we fast forward two weeks to the current leaderboard, Harry remains stagnant with his eight targets and is now tied with seven other receivers for the league lead - Calvin Ridley, Adam Thielen, Darius Slayton, Emmanuel Sanders, Russell Gage, D.J. Chark, and Zach Pascal. DeAndre Hopkins has collected seven targets, while 14 different receivers have been targeted six times inside the 20.

Five different receivers are tied for the league lead with five targets inside the 10 - Slayton, CeeDee Lamb, Cole Beasley, Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, and Sammy Watkins.

Lamb, Beckham, and Evans are tied for the league lead with four targets inside the five, while Pascal, Stefon Diggs, Brandon Aiyuk, Preston Williams, Tyler Lockett, and Tee Higgins, have all captured three targets in inside the five.

Julio Jones had only been targeted twice inside the red zone as he entered Week 6. But he registered more targets than any other wide receiver in Week 6 (4). Travis Fulgham, A.J. Brown, D.J. Chark, and Pascal all collected three targets inside the 20 during their Week 6 matchups.

 

Week 6 Snap Counts

Wide Receivers  Week 6 Snaps  Total Snaps Total Snap %
Michael Gallup 72/80.9% 417 89.84
Amari Cooper 79/88.7% 392 81.51
DeAndre Hopkins 48/77.4% 380 93.26
Terry McLaurin 70/95.9% 379 94.99
Tyreek Hill 67/91.8% 370 86.82
Robert Woods 57/95% 357 90.15
Adam Thielen 52/92.9% 350 92.11
Tyler Boyd 57/78.1% 348 77.85
Calvin Ridley 59/73.8% 346 79.18
Mike Evans 51/78.5% 344 83.7
Cooper Kupp 55/91.7% 343 86.62
D.J. Moore 64/94.1% 338 84.29
Allen Robinson 58/87.9% 338 83.87
Darius Slayton 40.83.3% 337 91.33
Zach Pascal 58/92.1% 324 81.41
Odell Beckham 48/84.2% 314 78.7
Damiere Byrd 55/96.5% 312 92.58
Stefon Diggs 51/96.2% 307 89.5
D.K. Metcalf BYE 304 95.6
DeVante Parker 46.82.1% 301 76.79
Marvin Jones 62/80.5% 301 88.01
Tyler Lockett BYE 300 94.34
Robby Anderson 59/86.8% 299 74.56
Kendrick Bourne 41/56.2% 299 72.93
T.Y. Hilton 59/93.7% 298 74.87
Brandin Cooks 63/87.5% 297 82.5
A.J. Green 58/79.5% 296 66.22
Larry Fitzgerald 38/61.3% 295 82.87
Will Fuller 66/91.7% 292 81.11
Keelan Cole 48/75% 292 73.37
Jarvis Landry 44/77.2% 289 72.43
Keenan Allen BYE 288 80.22
Brandon Aiyuk 62.84.9% 288 82.76
Tee Higgins 59/80.8% 288 64.43
Justin Jefferson 50/89.3% 287 75.53
Marquise Brown 62/84.9% 284 76.14
Dontrelle Inman 66/90.4% 280 70.18
Tre'Quan Smith BYE 279 83.28
Preston Williams 40.71.4% 275 70.15
Chris Hogan IR 274 82.78
CeeDee Lamb 60/67.4% 274 71.35
JuJu Smith-Schuster 42/64.6% 271 77.65
Josh Reynolds 50/83.3% 270 68.18
Russell Gage 51/63.8% 267 61.1
D.J. Chark 57/89.1% 266 80.12
N'Keal Harry 51/89.5% 266 78.93
Greg Ward 58/88.7% 266 62.88
Tim Patrick 59/92.2% 265 79.58
Jalen Guyton BYE 264 73.54
Demarcus Robinson 69/94.5% 263 62.32
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 53/84.1% 259 76.4

Michael Gallup now leads all wide receivers with 417 offensive snaps. His teammate Amari Cooper is second (392), followed by DeAndre Hopkins (380), Terry McLaurin (379), Tyreek Hill (370), Robert Woods (357), Adam Thielen (350), and Tyler Boyd (348). Calvin Ridley is next (346), followed by Mike Evans (344), Cooper Kupp (343), and two receivers who are tied at 338 - Allen Robinson and D.J. Moore. Darius Slayton is next (337), followed by Zach Pascal (324), Odell Beckham (314), and Damiere Byrd (312). Stefon Diggs and D.K. Metcalf spearhead a group of seven additional receivers that have been involved in at least 300 offensive of snaps from Weeks 1-6.

Metcalf leads the position in offensive snap count percentage (95.6), followed by McLaurin (95.0), Metcalf‘s teammate Tyler Lockett (94.3), Hopkins (93.2), Damiere Byrd (92.6), and Thielen (92.1). Slayton is next (91.3), followed by Woods 90.2, Gallup 89.8, Diggs (89.5), Marvin Jones (88.0), and Tyreek Hill (86.8). Jamison Crowder, and Cooper Kupp, are among the group of 17 additional receivers that have performed on over 80% of their teams’ offensive snaps.

Cooper led all receivers in offensive snaps during Week 6 matchups (79). His teammate Gallup was second with 72. McLaurin was next (70), followed by Demarcus Robinson  (69), and Hill (67), while Dontrelle Inman was tied with Will Fuller at 66. Julio Jones and D.J. Moore were next (64), while four receivers were tied with 63 snaps. Brandin Cooks, Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, and A.J. Brown. Three receivers were next with 62 snaps - Brandon Aiyuk, Marquise Brown, and Marvin Jones. Deebo Samuel and Jeff Smith were next 60, while a group of five receivers was tied at 59 - Tee Higgins, T.Y. Hilton, Tim Patrick, Calvin Ridley, and Robby Anderson.

Damiere Byrd led the position in snap count percentage for Week 6 (96.5). McLaurin was second (95.9), followed by Woods (95), Robinson (94.6), Moore (94.1), Hilton (93.7), Thielen (92.9), and Tim Patrick 92.2. Zack Pascal was next 92.1, followed by Fuller 91.7, Kupp (91.7), Inman (90.4), and N’Keal Harry (89.5). Justin Jefferson was next (89.3), followed by D.J. Chark (89.1), Cooper (88.7), Crowder (88.7), and a collection of four additional receivers that were involved in at least 85% of their teams’ offensive snaps during Week 6.

 

Five Things I Noticed

1. The Vikings enter their Week 7 bye while contending with the uncomfortable reality of a 1-5 record.

The numerous shortcomings that have permeated the team include an overly generous defense (ranked 28th) that has surrendered 413.7 yards per game - which is 72 yards higher than the 341.6 that their 14th ranked unit allowed during 2019. The vulnerable nature of Minnesota’s defense has not compelled Mike Zimmer to completely abandon his penchant for the ground game.

But the Vikings have risen slightly to 25th in pass play percentage (53.1%), after ranking just 30th with a 50.9% percentage during 2019. The Vikings are also ranked 21st in passing (235 yards per game). This is slightly above last season when the Vikings were 23rd while averaging 220.2 yards per game. Kirk Cousins is also averaging 29.2 attempts per game, which is slightly below the 29.6 attempts per game average that he attained during 2019. However, Minnesota’s top two receiving weapons are also commandeering an even 50% of Cousins’ targets. This has enabled Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson to function as highly productive resources for their fantasy GMs regardless of their team’s deficiencies.

 

In Weeks 1-2, Jefferson averaged 3 targets, 2.5 receptions, and 35 yards per game. But the 21-year old rookie delivered a statistical explosion in Week 3 (7 receptions/175 yards/1 touchdown) that has fueled his meteoric rise toward weekly WR2 status. He accumulated more receiving yards than any other receiver in Week 6 (166) and also tied for first at his position in receptions (9). Jefferson also resides at WR1 in scoring from Weeks 3-6 and has averaged 7.5 targets, 5.8 receptions, and 117 yards per game during that span. If you extract the results of his matchup in Week 5 versus Seattle (5 targets/3 receptions/23 yards) he has averaged 8.3 targets, 6.7 receptions, and 149 yards per game.

Jefferson was outside the top 70 in receiving yards entering Week 3 but has soared to fifth overall (537) after stockpiling 166 yards during Minnesota’s matchup with Atlanta. He has also averaged at least 18.4 yards per reception and 15.1 yards per target during three of his last four contests, which has propelled him to the league lead in yards per target average (14.9), and fourth overall in yards per reception (19.2).

None of this diminishes the numbers that Adam Thielen has attained through six matchups, as he is currently WR3 in scoring. The seven-year veteran also leads the league with seven touchdowns and is fourth in percentage share of air yards (43.3%). Thielen is also 10th in targets (49), 14th in receiving yards (415), and third in air yards (696). Regardless of the frequency with which Zimmer is willing to rely on Cousins and the passing attack, Thielen and Jefferson will not be contending with formidable competition for targets. This should sustain their current status among the league leaders in a collection of categories.

 

2. DeKaylin Zecharius Metcalf entered the NFL in 2019 after performing in a total of 21 games at Ole Miss.

Projections for his professional career contained a blend of excitement surrounding his unique blend of physical attributes that was offset by concerns regarding limitations in his experience, and his need for further development as a receiver. That contributed to Metcalf being just the ninth receiver to be selected during the NFL Draft.

Metcalf’s prospects for delivering a breakout season were discussed here last April.  The rationale was based upon his exceptional combination of size, speed, and athleticism that would enable him to explode into high-end WR2 territory. He has accomplished that, while his accelerated progression as a receiver has propelled him to the periphery of WR1 status. This has also fueled Metcalf’s emergence as arguably the NFL’s premier deep threat. His usage and production have exceeded even the most optimistic expectations entering the regular season, which provides the incentive for reviewing his accomplishments after five contests.

Metcalf entered Seattle’s Week 6 bye in a tie for 13th with 39 targets (7.8 per game). He was also second in air yards (717), third in percentage share of air yards (44.5), fifth in yards per target (12.7), and eighth in targeted air yards (16.3). Metcalf was also tied for 11th in first downs (19) and tied for fifth in targets inside the 10 (4). He had also joined teammate Tyler Lockett in placing among the top 10 in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement ratings (DYAR) for wide receivers.

Seattle's restructured offensive approach has also been beneficial in his statistical surge as the Seahawks have climbed to 11th in pass play percentage (60.9%). This represents a significant change from 2019 when the aerial attack ranked just 27th (54.0%). Russell Wilson is assembling touchdowns at a historic rate, as his 19 touchdown passes are just one short of the all-time record for the first five regular-season games.

A team-high 24.2 share of Wilson’s targets is being distributed to Metcalf, who was WR4 in scoring entering his Week 6 bye. Metcalf’s aforementioned 12.7 yards per target average is nearly four yards higher than his average as a rookie (9.0). His 22.5 yards per reception average is exactly 7 yards higher than the 15.5 he attained in 2019. Metcalf has also added an additional 42.9 yards per game when contrasted with last season 2019 (99.2/56.3). At his current pace, Metcalf would collect 125 targets, capture 70 targets, and stockpile 1,587 yards.

Tyler Lockett is also constructing a highly productive season even though he has been surpassed by Metcalf in targets, first downs, air yards, targeted air yards, percentage share of air yards, and yards per target. Lockett does lead the Seahawks in receptions (30), while his 68.4 yards per game average is still the highest of his career, However, it is Metcalf that has become Seattle’s most explosive and productive receiver. That will remain intact regardless of whether Seattle eventually adds Antonio Brown.

 

3. Several wide receivers returned to game action following their collective receiving very from injuries.

Julio Jones was leading the league in receiving yards (157), was second in air yards, and included among the top five in targets (12), and receptions (9), after Week 1. However, a protracted hamstring issue had limited him to eight targets, six receptions, and 56 yards from Weeks 2-5. It also created trepidation for many managers regarding the potential of Jones’ to deliver substandard numbers due to the lingering impact of his injury in Week 6. But he tied for eighth among all receivers in targets (10), and was third in both receptions (8), and receiving yards (137). He also accumulated 71 air yards, while averaging 17.1 yards per reception and a season-high 13.7 yards per target.

Davante Adams also re-emerged for the first time since Week 2, following a recovery from his hamstring injury. He attained a double-digit target total for the second time this season by capturing a team-high 10, and his season-long average of 10 targets per game ties him for sixth among all receivers. He also paced Green Bay in receptions (6) and receiving yards (61) during Green Bay’s matchup in Tampa. He should continue to stockpile targets and supply favorable numbers to fantasy GMs while performing as the focal point of the Packers' aerial attack.

Breshad Perriman also resurfaced in Week 6 to deliver what was easily his most productive outing since signing his one year, 8 million-dollar deal with the Jets. Perriman had been limited it came to 76 snaps, seven targets, five receptions, and 29 yards entering New York’s AFC East matchup with Miami. But he established new season-highs in targets (8), receptions (4), and receiving yards (62). The 27-year old Perriman also averaged 15.5 yards per reception and 7.8 yards per target against Miami, after averaging 5.85 yards per reception, and 4.7 yards per target prior to the contests. The Jets desperately need another receiver beyond Jamison Crowder to perform reliably, while anyone who invested in Perriman during the offseason would be ecstatic if that would transpire.

A.J. Brown was involved in his second matchup since his reemergence from a knee issue that had forced his absence in Weeks 2-3. He has collected 12 of 16 targets for 138 yards and three touchdowns since his return. Brown finished ninth among overall among all receivers with a 50.3% percentage share of air yards in Week 5 and was also 13th in target share (33.3) during that matchup with Buffalo. He has also averaged 11.45 yards per reception and 8.55 yards per target since resurfacing in the lineup. Even with Corey Davis scheduled to also return this week, Brown has reestablished his WR1 status on the Titans and should provide managers with the WR2 that they had envisioned during their draft process.

 

4. Many fantasy GMs have constructed rosters that contain Dallas receivers Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, or Michael Gallup.

If you are among them, then you might have overcome your initial concerns regarding Dak Prescott season-ending ankle fracture, and shifted into renewed optimism regarding Andy Dalton's prospects of keeping your wide receivers productive as the season advances.

Of course, that was before Dalton's calamitous performance in Week 6. Dalton's unsightly efforts included two interceptions, a 4.9 yard per attempt average, and a quarterback rating of 38.7.

However, it will be beneficial to examine the target distribution and production for Dallas receiving weaponry during Dalton’s initial start under center. Cooper was second overall in targets (55) as he entered Week 6. He was also second in receptions (39/7.8 per game), fourth in first downs (23), seventh in receiving yards (433/84.8 per game), and ninth in air yards (510). Exceptional newcomer CeeDee Lamb was 10th in targets while averaging 8-per game. He was also ninth in receptions (29/5.8 per game), and seventh overall with an 86.6 yards per game average. Lamb was also 16th in yards per target (16.8), 21st in air yards (394), 10th in first downs (20), and tied for the league lead with five targets inside the 10. Gallup was tied for 35th in targets (5.6 per game). But he was also 13th in air yards (453), third in targeted air yards (17.4), and seventh in yards per target (12.4).

Despite Dalton's deficiencies, anyone with Cooper or Lamb on their rosters has reason to be satisfied with their receiver's production. Both players collected 10 targets, caught seven of those passes, and combined for 143 yards. Cooper overcame a slow statistical start to eventually collect a double-digit target total for the fourth time this season, and the third time in his last four matchups. He also generated his second touchdown and attained a yard-per-target average of 11 + for the third consecutive game.

Lamb's 10 targets created a streak in which he has now attained a double-digit total in two consecutive matchups. His yards per reception average (9.1) was significantly lower than the 15.5 that he had averaged from Weeks 2-5. He also registered the lowest yards per target average of the season (6.4) after entering the game with an average of 10.7.

Gallup was targeted six times which essentially matched his season average. However, he tied his season-low in receptions (2) while his 23 yards were 46 fewer than his average of 69.6 prior to the matchup. He also dropped from 13th to 16th in air yards, and from third to fourth in targeted air yards. The results of the Week 6 outing also diminished his season-long yard per game average by nearly eight yards (61.8). Any continued struggles by Dalton could be most impactful to Gallup, due to his downfield usage. However, if you have been dependent upon any member of this trio for your fantasy points, there is no reason to alter your plan after one matchup.

 

5. The focus will now shift toward two receivers that have been mentioned recently in this column but still do not appear to be garnering the level of attention that they deserve among fantasy GMs.

Tim Patrick has leapfrogged presumed lead receiver Jerry Jeudy by commandeering WR1 responsibilities in Denver.

Courtland Sutton was originally expected to function as the Broncos' top receiver, but a torn ACL abruptly terminated his season. First-round selection Jeudy was the logical candidate to absorb the majority of targets following Sutton’s injury.

But Patrick has now garnered more receptions (20/17), and assembled more yardage (310/266) than Jeudy, even though his role did not expand until Noah Fant and K.J. Hamler also encountered injuries. Patrick also leads the Broncos in target share since Week 4 (25%), while Jeudy is second at 14.3%. Patrick is also leading the team in percentage share of air yards (35.1%), while easily generating the most air yards during that span (214). He has also averaged a team-high 14.0 yards per target during that sequence and is tied for third among all receivers with five receptions of 20+ yards. Even after Fant and Hamler return, Patrick should still operate as Denver’s WR1 and will supply fantasy GMs with a viable WR3 option.

 

Travis Fulgham was included in last week’s review, and his career transformation continued in Week 6. The former sixth-round pick was originally selected by Detroit in 2019. However, he did not register a reception as a Lion. But he eventually landed on the Eagles’ practice squad and was signed to their active roster in early October. His stock has soared since Week 5, as his production during the past two matchups has cemented him as Philadelphia’s primary receiving option. His ability to capitalize on his recent surge in usage has been timely for the Eagles, whose conga line of injured receiving options has been expanded following Zach Ertz’s ankle injury.

Fulgham has been WR3 in scoring since Week 5 and is third among all receivers with 23 targets during his last two contests. He also leads all receivers in air yards (124), is second in receptions (16), and is also second in receiving yards (227) during that span. He has also captured a 36.1% target share while averaging a 30.5 percentage share of air yards since his Week 5 emergence. That easily exceeds the second-highest share of both John Hightower and Zach Ertz, who were tied at 16.7%. Fulgham’s ascension into Philadelphia’s WR1 responsibilities should continue for the foreseeable future, which provides managers with a legitimate WR3 for their rosters.



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Week 7 IDP Rankings, Streamers, and Notes

The big IDP news of the week happened just this Thursday morning, as our rankings were being finalized.

It was pretty big news, too. Yannick Ngakoue was traded to the Baltimore Ravens! Let’s discuss just how big this news is, and whether it’s good or bad for his short and long term fantasy prospects, shall we?

In the short term, fantasy managers should expect Ngakoue’s fantasy potential to actually improve after this trade, even if he was already on a 13 sack pace in Minnesota. The reason for this optimism is twofold.

 

Yannick Ngakoue Implications

The first reason to be optimistic about Ngakoue’s 2020 prospects in Baltimore is the likelihood that the Ravens will use him similarly to how they have used Matthew Judon this season. In 2020, Harbaugh and company have put Judon at or on the line of scrimmage on 79% of his snaps. That is encouraging, since Ngakoue is used to being a hand-in-the-dirt pass rusher and not a stand-up coverage 'backer. Fantasy managers do not want Ngakoue learning a new position mid-season, nor do they want him serving as an all-purpose linebacker. His strength is as a pass rusher, and Baltimore should use him that way.

The second reason to expect Ngakoue to continue his 2020 tear, despite changing teams and defensive schemes, is that he should get FAR more help from the secondary in Baltimore than he got in Minnesota. Baltimore’s three best corners this year (Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, and Marcus Peters) are giving up a 63.8% completion percentage to opposing passers despite seeing a dozen more targets than Minnesota’s corners. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s corners are giving up a 72.9% completion percentage to opponents. This upgrade in corner performance, as well an increase in opponent passing plays, should spell a much better opportunity for Ngakoue’s sack totals.

While the short term ramifications of this trade are positive for Ngakoue’s fantasy managers, the long term implications are even better. According to overthecap.com, the Vikings are currently more than $8 million over the 2021 salary cap, meaning they will likely be cutting talent rather than adding it this offseason. The same cannot be said for the Ravens, who have approximately $43 million in 2021 cap space. Keep in mind that Baltimore's rosy cap situation is with players like Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Patrick Queen, and Chuck Clark all under contract through at least the 2022 season.

Overall, this trade is great for all IDP managers who roster Ngakoue. Dynasty managers should love the idea of a 25-year-old pass rusher going to a defense with good corners under contract for several years. Redraft managers should also love this move, as it makes big plays easier to come by for the stud pass rusher. In both formats, the needle is pointing up on this Maryland born star.

 

Top-25 Fantasy Defensive Linemen of the Week

Rank Player Opponent
1 Myles Garrett Bengals
2 T.J. Watt Titans
3 Joey Bosa Jaguars
4 Jason Pierre-Paul Raiders
5 Harold Landry III Steelers
6 Chase Young Cowboys
7 Za’Darius Smith Texans
8 Bud Dupree Titans
9 Khalil Mack Rams
10 Aldon Smith Washington Football Team
11 Aaron Donald Bears
12 Bradley Chubb Chiefs
13 Cameron Jordan Panthers
14 J.J. Watt Packers
15 Shaquil Barrett Raiders
16 Montez Sweat Cowboys
17 Chris Jones Broncos
18 Frank Clark Broncos
19 Josh Allen (Q) Chargers
20 Brian Burns Saints
21 Kyler Fackrell Eagles
22 Carl Lawson Browns
23 Grady Jarrett Lions
24 Jeffery Simmons Steelers
25 Sheldon Richardson Bengals

DL Streamer of the Week: Chase Young, Washington Football Team

Young sits comfortably outside of the top-15 DL rankings for multiple prominent fantasy outlets this week, and that may make sense if you just looked at his output since he was injured in Week 2. Another factor that may be scaring some IDP managers/rankers is his matchup this week with a Dallas Cowboys team famous for its pass-blocking unit. The Cowboys' pass blocking isn't what it used to be, however.

This year, the Cowboys have allowed 14 sacks, which is only slightly below the league average. That number does not reflect what the Cowboys passing game has going on right now, though. So far this year, Dallas has lost both of its starting offensive tackles, Pro Bowl Guard Zack Martin, and mobile superstar Dak Prescott. Do not underestimate how many sacks Prescott has saved this season with his legs or how many Dalton won't save with his. If you want a better idea of what this Cowboys offense really looks like aftr all of these injuries, look no further than the three sacks they allowed against a Cardinals Defense that was missing its best pass rusher (Chandler Jones) on Monday.

Given his low rankings across the industry this week and his matchup with a gimpy Cowboys squad, Young is a nice sneaky play in pretty much all IDP formats. While he may already be a starter for some managers, Young is available in 25% of leagues right now. Young’s combination of availability, talent, and matchup mean he is a strong sleeper/streamer in Week 7.

DL Fade of the Week: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

Donald is arguably the best player in the NFL, and he is always a fantasy starter in leagues where you have to play a DT. In fact, most weeks Donald is a reasonable high upside fantasy play no matter what kind of league you play in. With all of that said, Donald doesn't have the ideal fantasy matchup in Week 7.

While Chicago’s offense has surrendered 11 sacks this year (tied for 13th lowest), their starting offensive line has been surprisingly efficient. The five starting blockers for the Bears have allowed only seven total sacks and 9.3 pressures per contest this season. That type of efficiency should concern Donald fantasy managers. Although Donald has the talent to blow up any blocking unit in the league, the Bears and their style of play suggest another dud of a week could be on tap for the former Defensive Player of the Year. Donald is a boom-or-bust fantasy prospect in Week 7

Sneaky Good Matchup of the Week: Jason Pierre-Paul v. the Oakland Raiders’ Offensive Line

You don’t need me to tell you to start Pierre-Paul. The fireworks fan stands third in the NFL in sacks right now, and he has already forced three fumbles while averaging nearly four tackles per game. He is arguably a top-ten DL each week, regardless of matchup. His matchup this week is particularly interesting, though.

On paper, fantasy managers should consider downgrading any defensive linemen going against the Raiders’ offensive line. Las Vegas has allowed the sixth least sacks in the NFL so far this season, and the Raiders rank 12th in Adjusted Sack Rate according to Football Outsiders. However, things in Sin City aren't quite as rosy in Week 7 as those factors may suggest.

One of the Raiders’ best pass blockers is Trent Brown, who just went on the COVID list. If Brown doesn’t play, Pierre-Paul could take advantage. On top of that, the Raiders are currently quarantining all of their starting offensive linemen because they had contact with Brown. If Vegas is missing multiple starting offensive linemen, it could turn into slaughter and a terrible fantasy week for the Raiders’ offensive players, too.

 

Top-25 Fantasy Linebackers of the Week 

Rank Player Opponent
1 Bobby Wagner Cardinals
2 Blake Martinez Eagles
3 Jaylon Smith Washington Football Team
4 Roquan Smith Rams
5 Fred Warner Patriots
6 Devin White Raiders
7 Zach Cunningham Packers
8 Lavonte David Raiders
9 T.J. Watt Titans
10 Micah Kiser Bears
11 Shaq Thompson Saints
12 Joe Schobert Chargers
13 Jordan Hicks Seahawks
14 Deion Jones Lions
15 Jon Bostic Cowboys
16 Myles Jack Chargers
17 Foyesade Oluokun Lions
18 Kenneth Murray Jaguars
19 Jayon Brown Steelers
20 Demario Davis Panthers
21 Alexander Johnson Chiefs
22 Tremaine Edmunds Jets
23 Kyzir White Jaguars
24 Dre Greenlaw Patriots
25 Avery Williamson Bills

LB Streamer of the Week: Dre Greenlaw, San Francisco 49ers

Kwon Alexander missed last week’s matchup against the Rams with a high ankle sprain. It seems increasingly likely that he will miss this week’s game after he sat out practice this Wednesday, too. In games that Alexander sits, Dre Greenlaw averages a fantasy friendly nine tackles per game, with a ceiling of 13 tackles.

The Patriots are the third most run-heavy team in the NFL. Even better, Cam’s powerful yet improvisational running style tends to involve linebackers in the game more than usual. That bodes well for a guy like Greenlaw, who brings with him a high floor and ceiling in tackle premium IDP leagues.

LB Fade of the Week: Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys

For those who read all of our IDP columns, you will notice that we have advised you to both add Vander Esch and fade him in this week. That is not an accident or a typo. As a season-long asset, fantasy managers should be eager to add the Boise State product. That doesn't mean you should start him this week, though.

As a Week 7 fantasy prospect, there are simply too many questions floating out there to start him. Chief amongst those questions is how much playing time Vander Esch will see against Washington. Last week he played only 52% of the Cowboys’ snaps, and it would make sense for this team to continue to take things slow with a guy who has a history of neck issues and a recently repaired clavicle. With only six total tackles this year and less than 55% of his team’s snaps in both of the games he has played (granted Week 1 was due to injury), Vander Esch should be rostered but benched until he is back to being a full-time starter.

Cautious Optimism of the Week: Foyesade Oluokun, Atlanta Falcons

If you know who Foyesade Oluokun is or how to pronounce his name, then you are probably one of his family members, a teammate, or an IDP fantasy manager. The Yale alumnus has never had the profile of an NFL superstar, nor has he ever been given the playing time necessary to become one. He is finally getting that opportunity now, though, and he is doing enough to make casual fans wonder just who this guy is and whether he is for real.

You want a reason to believe Oluokun is for real? Well, it helps that the Atlanta Falcons finally seem to think he is. While Oluokun occasionally popped with double-digit tackle games during his first two pro seasons, the Falcons rarely rewarded that play with significant playing time. For example, in 2018 the Yale grad only played on 29.88% of the Falcons’ defensive snaps, despite being available in all 16 games. This season is a different story, though, as the Yale Bulldog has played on nearly 60% of Atlanta’s defensive snaps despite missing time to injury. Expect that increased usage to continue, as Oluokun saw 100% of the team’s defensive snaps in Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris’s first game leading the Falcons.

A second reason for Oluokun optimism, beyond how often Atlanta is using him, is how Atlanta uses him. In his first two seasons combined, the Falcons brought Oluokun on a blitz just 25 times. In just five games this season, the Falcons have already sent him after the quarterback on 23 times. That increased blitz usage spells an increase in sack and TFL opportunities, which raises his fantasy value in all formats. Additionally, Oluokun has significantly improved in pass coverage. While quarterbacks had a 115.4 Passer Rating targeting him in 2017, they are now putting up an 85.6 Passer Rating against him. That improvement is likely one of the reasons that Atlanta feels comfortable keeping Oluokun on the field during passing downs.

Given his current production and increased usage, Oluokun is worth rostering in 16-team IDP leagues and unique IDP setups. Do not make the mistake of thinking you have to know how to pronounce his name in order to roster him, though. You don’t. If your friends ask you who he is or how you knew to add him, just say, "He’s that guy from that thing… you know, the guy! I've always liked him! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go poop!” That should end the conversation right there.

 

Top-25 Fantasy Defensive Backs of the Week

Rank Player Opponent
1 Budda Baker Seahawks
2 Jamal Adams Cardinals
3 John Johnson III Bears
4 Jordan Poyer Jets
5 Tracy Walker Falcons
6 Jessie Bates III Browns
7 Jeremy Chinn Saints
8 Antoine Winfield Jr. Raiders
9 Justin Simmons Chiefs
10 Landon Collins Cowboys
11 Malcolm Jenkins Panthers
12 Josh Jones Chargers
13 Taylor Rapp Bears
14 Vonn Bell Browns
15 Johnathan Abram Buccaneers
16 Jabrill Peppers Eagles
17 Jordan Whitehead Raiders
18 Carlton Davis Raiders
19 Marcus Maye Jets
20 Pierre Desir Bills
21 Justin Reid Packers
22 Keanu Neal Lions
23 Logan Ryan Eagles
24 Adrian Phillips 49ers
25 Kenny Vaccaro Steelers

DB Streamer of the Week: Taylor Rapp, Los Angeles Rams

As we have already covered in past articles, fantasy managers with Taylor Rapp on their roster are in a precarious position this season. Rapp performs very well when he sees a ton of snaps, but he doesn’t tend to see a ton of snaps when rookie Jordan Fuller is healthy.

When Fuller was healthy in Weeks 1, 2, and 5 of his season, Rapp never played more than 24% of the Rams’ defensive snaps. When Fuller wasn’t healthy in Weeks 3, 4, and 5, Rapp played a vast majority of his team's snaps, and he consistently put up starter level fantasy numbers. This trend consistently reflects Rapp's 2019 season, too. Last year Rapp started ten games and saw more than 80% of his team's snaps in nine contests. Rapp put up enough stats to be a fantasy starter in most formats in each of those games.

The lesson to learn from all of this is that when Rapp plays a lot, fantasy managers play him. With Jordan Fuller on the IR, he isn’t going to play this week. That means Rapp will play a lot. It also means you should play him.

DB Fade of the Week: Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A constant favorite of mine and a streamer recommendation for us last week, Davis is a bit of a fade in Week 7. The primary concern with Davis this week is the fact Derek Carr likes to spread the ball around. Carr has given double-digit targets to seven different skill players on the Raiders this year. His most-targeted weapon by far is Darren Waller, who lines up inline or in the slot on 77.6% of his snaps this year. Davis rarely goes into the slot, preferring to stick outside. A diverse target selection and primary target in the slot means the Raiders could easily avoid Davis without changing their game plan much at all.

While Tampa may use Davis to shadow Waller, it seems unlikely. It also seems unlikely that Carr will force the ball to his tight end if Davis is blanketing him in good coverage. That means Davis should see limited opportunities for fantasy points this week.



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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Avoid - Week 7

The CB Matchup Chart has been a helpful resource all season, specifically in Week 6Last week's article was predictive in forecasting boom games for Julio Jones, Justin Jefferson, and Christian Kirk. It also predicted let-downs from Robby Anderson, Cooper Kupp, and Mike Evans. This week's chart will give the most accurate landscape of CB matchups yet, as I have continued to update it with new data and left and right alignment splits.

The chart below is a snapshot of each team's cornerback group as it relates to allowing fantasy points. There are inherent flaws within the data compilation of cornerback play. The first being the fact that quantifying a 1-on-1 matchup in an NFL game is unfair because of zone coverages, mental errors, certain passing concepts, and a million other things. Assigning fantasy points against a cornerback isn't a perfect science. The purpose of this chart is to give more of a general sense of how defenses are handling opposing WR groups, rather than identifying exactly where, when, and how every single encounter happened.

The "Rtng" column is the rating of each cornerback based on film study and analytics. The lower a player is graded, the easier the matchup for the WR, so low ratings are green and high ratings are red. The "PPGA" is the number of fantasy points per game that the player has given up. A name in blue means the corner could possibly shadow the WR1. A name in red means that the player is dealing with an injury. WRs highlighted in yellow have an easy matchup. WRs highlighted in pink have a tough matchup.

 

Cornerback Ratings and Matchups - Week 7

 

WR/CB Matchups to Target

The analysis below will help contextualize the chart, as in most cases a receiver did not score 100% of his points against the same player. However, the chart is a useful tool in getting a sense of the weakest links among corners. This weekly process has made it clear to me that the WR talent and his target share are more important than his opposition.

It’s become a tradition to start this space each week with attacking Atlanta. Kenny Golladay could have his best game of 2020 this Sunday. All of Atlanta’s outside CBs are below average, so the fact that Kenny G and Marvin Jones Jr. split time on the right and left shouldn’t matter much. Jones has had a down year so far. If he fails to produce against Atlanta, it might be time to drop him in fantasy leagues.

I highlighted both A.J. Green and Tee Higgins because they play right and left side just about evenly.  Whoever gets more snaps on the left side will have the easier matchup against Terrance Mitchell. Denzel Ward is a completely different story.  It would make sense to attack Mitchell with Higgins, but we can’t be sure until game day. Ward plays exclusively LCB.

Denver’s secondary didn’t give up much to the New England passing attack last week. Prior to their win against the Patriots, they were one of the most frequently burnt units in the league. Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill are in bounce-back spots after Buffalo chose to play their safeties 20 yards deep in Week 6.

Detroit has been dominated by outside WRs, so in a game with a 56.5 total, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are both potential slate-breakers.

Stefon Diggs is in a good spot against the Jets. They move him around the formation and he has a plus matchup against two bad outside CBs.

The chart projects a very favorable matchup for DeAndre Hopkins as the LWR against Seattle. The Seahawks have been gashed by LWRs all year, and Hopkins lines up on the left side the majority of the time. However, it’s important to note that Tre Flowers has been responsible for a lot of fantasy points against that position. Quinton Dunbar hasn’t been good this year, but he’s better than Flowers. I’ll be watching that matchup very closely, especially after Hopkins inexplicably flopped against Dallas.

In the slot, Jamison Crowder gets a Bills Defense that he exposed in Week 1.  Meanwhile, Greg Ward gets a matchup with Giants rookie Darnay Holmes, who has been abysmal.  Finally, the underwhelming JuJu Smith-Schuster gets another easy matchup against Tennessee’s Kristian Fulton. Fresh off a disappointing outing against the Browns, anything other than a breakout game could mean JuJu simply isn’t a priority target for the Steelers anymore.

Finally, Tyler Boyd does not have as easy a matchup as the chart indicates. Kevin Johnson has been a much better slot corner in recent weeks compared to who the Browns used earlier this season.

 

WR/CB Matchups to Avoid

James Bradberry is having an amazing season and probably deserves some DPOY consideration at this point.  I expect him to shadow and severely limit Travis Fulgham in Week 7.

In that same game, I expect Darius Slay to match up against Darius Slayton and limit him as well.

Jaire Alexander is one of the best corners in the league and may shadow Will Fuller.  Alexander had Deshaun Watson's number in college so I wouldn't be surprised if Watson tried to avoid him.  The bad news for Brandin Cooks is that even if Alexander moves off his home at LCB and shadows Fuller, Cooks will have a tough matchup with Green Bay's other outside corners.

Tre’Davious White is back for the Bills, so Breshad Perriman is not an advisable start this week.

D.J. Chark plays both right and left, but the bad news for him is that both Chargers’ outside corners are outstanding. Laviska Shenault Jr. is going to have a game with an explosive touchdown sooner or later, but this not a good matchup for him either.

The Saints have done a terrific job against RWRs this year, so downgrade Robby Anderson a bit for the second consecutive week.

The Washington Football Team's pass defense has been well above average at limiting fantasy points to opposing WRs. With Andy Dalton at QB, all three of the top Dallas WRs should be downgraded a bit.  I especially don’t love Amari Cooper’s matchup against Kendall Fuller.

Similarly, Kyle Fuller and the Bears have done a great job against WRs all year.  This might not be the best week for the Rams’ WR group, especially Robert Woods.

As far as slots go, there are a lot of good players in bad spots.  Randall Cobb, Jerry Jeudy, Cole Beasley, Julian Edelman, and Hunter Renfrow have the most difficult slot matchups in the league this week.  I would like to specifically highlight Brian Poole, who has been stellar as the Jets’ slot corner.  The Jets have been atrocious, but Poole deserves All-Pro consideration at this point.  Nickel backs are no longer just sub-package players.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.



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Pivot Plays and Post-Waiver Pickups - Week 7

Things are starting to get difficult for fantasy football managers.

Indianapolis, Minnesota, Miami and Baltimore all have the week off, so fantasy managers are already playing shorthanded. Fielding a full lineup is going to be tough as it is if you have a few injuries. If one of your key guys is listed as questionable heading into their game, you better have a backup plan the A-Team would have been proud of back in the 80s.

Without further ado, here are my pivot plays and post-waiver pickups for Week 7 --- and the questionable superstars who you might need to replace:

 

Week 7 Pivot Plays and Post-Waiver Pickups

Darren Fells (HOU, TE) vs. GB

If Denver’s Noah Fant (ankle) cannot go again on Sunday, you could go with…

Before you go thinking Fells is a bottom-of-the-barrel choice at the tight end position, remember that he scored a career-high seven touchdowns last year. Deshaun Watson loved throwing to him inside the red zone, but then early in 2020 Fells lost his place as Houston’s top tight end to up-and-comer Jordan Akins. Fells subsequently only caught six passes over his first four games.

Akins is banged-up with multiple injuries, however, and Fells has reclaimed his role and has thrived just like he did last season. He recorded eight receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown during the last two weeks he has been Houston’s main man at tight end. Fells is a nice fallback option if you are a Fant fan who gets burned at the last minute as his home matchup against Green Bay should not scare any fantasy managers away.

 

Anthony Firkser (TEN, TE) vs. PIT

If Tennessee’s Jonnu Smith (ankle) cannot suit up on Sunday, you could go with…

Backup tight ends are about as valuable in fantasy football as punters and waterboys. Even if you were in an AFC South fantasy league you probably would have passed on Firkser. Smith started strong as Tennessee’s top tight end (19-234-5) and made Firkser a fantasy non-factor the first month-plus, but Smith is on a limpy leg due to an ankle injury suffered this past week.

All Firkser did once Smith got hurt last Sunday was step in and step up to the tune of eight catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. I know Firkser is facing an undefeated Pittsburgh team with a top-10 pass defense, but we have seen how well the Titans passing attack has gone with Ryan Tannehill as its leader. No matter who is plugged in as a pass catcher, that person produces when Tannehill is throwing to him. Firkser is the perfect insurance policy if you have Smith on your roster. 40 yards and a TD is not out of the question if he starts for Smith.

 

Nelson Agholor (LV, WR) vs. TB (MONDAY)

If New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (ankle) cannot find his way to the field on Sunday, you could go with…

Agholor is getting to be a modern-day Cris Carter --- all he does is catch touchdown passes. Despite only being targeted 11 times in five games, Agholor has reached the end zone a trio of times and is averaging an impressive 18.5 yards per catch after never averaging more than 12.5 yards a catch in any of his first four seasons.

Agholor is not Derek Carr’s top target or second-best target. Might not even be his third-best. The fact is that Agholor is making plays every time the ball is spiraled his way, however, and he could break a play or two versus Tampa Bay on Sunday night. When picking up a player for fantasy purposes when you have a lineup emergency, it is sometimes best to get a game breaker who can post a ton of fantasy points in one shot rather than go for a guy who needs a volume of targets to be worthwhile. Agholor has shown he can give fantasy managers a lot with just one or two catches in a game.

 

Frank Gore (NYJ, RB) vs. BUF

If Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon (foot) cannot overcome his injury on Sunday, you could go with…

I know Gore is 100 years old. I know being a favorite of Adam Gase is like being a favorite of Rich Kotite. And I know Gore has not amassed more than 70 combined yards in a game this season and is facing a desperate Buffalo defense that will be out for blood after losing two straight games and tail spinning out of control. I know all this.

I also know that there is not much on the waiver wire at running back at this point of the season, especially at the end of the week after the first round of waiver picks have happened. On top of that, Buffalo has the 25th-ranked run defense in the league and can be exploited if the Jets offensive line brings its best game of the season. The Jets have nowhere to go but up, and neither does Gore. If you need someone in a pinch if Mixon’s foot holds him back, you might as well plug in this veteran and pray for the best. One thing is for sure --- Gore will get touches because there is not much behind him on the depth chart in the Jets backfield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Week 7 Stream Team - Shallow and Deep-League Pickups

Welcome to Week 7 of the NFL season. Each week we will be providing streamer advice for all of those who need it, which is pretty much anyone and everyone. Streaming players with the best matchups each week as well as during your stud's bye weeks is an integral part of winning a fantasy championship and we are here to provide the best choices week in and week out.

Each week in this article, we will break down streamers for both shallower leagues of 8-10 teams (around 40% rostered or less) and deeper leagues of 14 or more teams (around 20% rostered or less). We will provide a specific roster in each type of league, which will include a QB, RB, WR, TE, and Flex. It should also be noted that if you play in a deep league, but a shallow-league player mentioned here is available in your league, feel free to stream them as

Everything seemed to go off pretty well last week and we did not have any games recommended here canceled, so let's hope for the same as we head into Week 7. Some of the best options to stream are highlighted below.

 

Stream Team for Shallow Leagues (<40% Rostered)

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

36% Rostered

Quarterback is slim pickings for streaming this week, so Mayfield gets the nod in this spot. He will be going up against a Bengals Defense that is currently allowing nearly 18 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. The total in this game is currently set at 50, so scoring should not be a problem. Also, Mayfield had his best fantasy performance of the season in Week 2 at home vs the Bengals when he threw for 219 yards and two scores.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

51% Rostered

I struggled to decide between recommending Jackson or Joshua Kelley here, but decided to go with Jackson based on his production from a week ago when he carried the ball 15 times for 71 yards while also hauling in five receptions for 23 yards. He gets a matchup vs. a Jaguars Defense that is allowing nearly 113 rushing yards per game to running backs as well as over 4.3 yards per carry. They have also allowed seven rushing touchdowns and are allowing backs to be active in the passing game as they have given up 36 receptions, which is tied for seventh-worst in the league.

Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals

41% Rostered

This game is expected to be a shootout with a total currently sitting at 56. The Seahawks have been awful vs. wide receivers as they are allowing over 394 receiving yards to wideouts thus far in 2020. Kirk has seen an average of five targets per game and could have a major impact in this one much the way he did last week vs. the Cowboys when he hauled in two scores. The Cardinals are also 3.5 point dogs, so Murray could be throwing a bit more, not to mention the Seahawks have one of the best run defenses in the league, likely making passing a priority for this offense.

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys

51% Rostered

Schultz is rostered a bit high for this section, but hopefully, you can grab him and stream him in your league. He saw five targets last week in Andy Dalton's first start and could see even more vs. a Football Team Defense that struggles vs. the tight end position. They are currently allowing almost 17 points per game to tight ends as they have given up 32 receptions for 386 yards and five scores.

Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans

25% Rostered

Corey Davis should return from the Covid-19 list this week and could have a solid day vs. the Steelers. The Steelers are giving up the ninth-most fantasy points per game to the position by allowing nearly 40 points per game. Davis saw an average of over six targets per game through his first three games and could be the benefactor of a similar target share this week. The Titans are slight dogs, so some additional passing could be instore in this game, especially because Pittsburgh has allowed the fewest rushing yards to running backs thus far in 2020 with 274 rushing yards allowed through their first five games.

 

Stream Team for Deep Leagues (<20% Rostered)

Kyle Allen, Washington Football Team

4% Rostered

As I said above, choices are limited at the quarterback position this week and that is also why Allen finds himself in this spot. The Cowboys secondary has been atrocious in 2020 and the defense as a whole is currently allowing over 21 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. They have given up 13 passing touchdowns on the season, which is ranked tied for fourth-worst in the league.

Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers

25% Rostered

Williams has been involved in the past couple of weeks as he has 12 carries and eight receptions in the previous two games. He could find success with limited action vs. a Texans Defense that is allowing nearly six (!) yards per carry and has allowed eight rushing touchdowns to running backs, which is worst in the league.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos

19% Rostered

I am going to stick with Patrick for the third straight week this week vs. the Chiefs. While the Chiefs do have a strong pass defense, the Broncos are 9.5 point dogs and are going to have to be throwing often to stay in this game. In the previous three weeks, Patrick has caught 14 balls for 257 yards and scored twice. He should be a favorite target of Drew Lock on Sunday.

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

16% Rostered

Logan Thomas continues to see a solid target share as he received four targets last week and hauled in three of those targets for 42 yards and a score. He will be facing a Cowboys Defense that has allowed over 14 points per game to the tight end position.

Kendrick Bourne, San Francisco 49ers

4% Rostered

I am going out on a limb again this week and recommending Kendrick Bourne. Bourne has seen an average of nearly five targets per game in 2020 and could have a nice day vs. the Patriots' secondary. New England is allowing an average of 36 fantasy points per game to wide receivers and has allowed 164 receiving yards per game to the position. They have also allowed seven receiving touchdowns to wideouts, which ranks tied for fifth-worst in the league.



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Lies, Damned Lies, and Fantasy Football Statistics (Week 7)

The more data we get as the season goes on, the better equipped we are to interpret matchups and make informed decisions. Then Week 6 comes along and blows it all to hell.

The unpredictability of sports is what keeps us intrigued, as frustrating as it may be at times. Numbers are supposedly to be black and white, with no inherent bias. That may be true, but it doesn't mean that we can't misinterpret them.

Not all advanced metrics are meaningful and some can be downright deceptive. My aim here is to point out potential outliers that could steer you wrong when making key lineup decisions for Week 7 and beyond.

 

Target Share

The very talented (and lovely) Phil Clark publishes his FSWA-award-nominated series on WR Snap Counts and Target Trends on RotoBaller each week. A major component of fantasy value for receivers, tight ends, and running backs alike is target totals. By recognizing trends and major risers or fallers, we can identify players to add, drop, start, and sit based on matchups.

Of course, this is where I reveal that even target share can be misleading at times. "Owning" a large market share of your team's passing targets doesn't always translate to production, especially on a bad offense. Thinking of one in particular where the gang wears green...

Conversely, players who are more efficient with the targets they see or may have a lower rate based on a high-volume passing attack could be undervalued. Let's look at both sides of the coin in this week's editions of "Stats That Lie."

 

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

26.4% Team Target Share

It's no surprise that Hollywood Brown is third in the league in total air yards and AY%. He is the field stretcher for a run-first offense that exploits the secondary when they least expect it. It might be surprising to see that he is ninth in TGT%. At first blush, the reaction is that he garners that market share because the Ravens don't have a deep receiving corps and limit their passes to Brown, Mark Andrews, and the running backs. This is true to an extent but Brown's 42 total targets rank 18th among all wide receivers.

Brown is known as a boom-or-bust player in fantasy but his target totals have been steady and he is among the leaders in that area. He hasn't seen fewer than six targets in a game this season, even as the Ravens rank in the top-five in total rush attempts once again.

Here's the deceptive part: his 61.9% catch rate ranks 133rd among all skill players. The targets will be there, but he isn't always going to come down with them. That's by no means an indictment on him as a player, it's a byproduct of how he is used in this offense. Brown does have seven receptions of 20 yards or more, so the boom aspect is still there while the bust has been mostly mitigated.

Brown isn't as risky as you may imagine, nor will he have the potential to be a top-1o fantasy receiver as some posited in the preseason. He is simply a volatile WR3 with a high weekly ceiling. If you happen to play in a league that rewards PP1D (points per first down), you'd be glad to know that Brown is tied for 19th in that department. More leagues should play PP1D instead of PPR, don't you think?

 

Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles

26.0% Team Target Share

I'm almost afraid to touch this one because anything short of calling Fulgham this year's breakout performer doesn't go over well in the fantasy community. This particular stat is also very telling yet misleading at the same time.

Fulgham was non-existent in terms of fantasy relevance for the first year of his NFL career and the first three weeks of 2020 as well. He caught two passes for 57 yards and a touchdown in San Francisco but only saw two targets that game. Then came Pittsburgh where we ALL discovered his name. Fulgham didn't just have big yardage, he caught 10 of the 13 targets thrown his way. He followed up with six receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown, making it three straight games with a score. His 10 targets that day made 23 in a two-week span and 26 over his three weeks on the active roster.

While that target total ranks far down the list, his extraordinary target share over the small sample places him 11th among all wide receivers, ahead of Odell Beckham, Cooper Kupp, and DK Metcalf. With an average of 10.9 yards per target, this could indeed be indicative of a breakout season but perspective is needed.

Fulgham has achieved his target share due to two huge games. One down week might tank that. As of this writing, the Eagles haven't played on Thursday Night but once again I am being realistic in suppressing expectations. The Giants have only allowed one 100-yard receiver all year (CeeDee Lamb) and no other WR has even reached 75 yards, thanks mainly to James Bradberry. With no other options to distract from Fulgham, he'll draw plenty of attention from Bradberry and others. I am ready to buy into Fulgham as a streaming option even if Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson ever return but it's with the understanding that his target share will eventually even out.

 

Emmanuel Sanders, New Orleans Saints

21.3% Team Target Share

It was a slow start in the Big Easy for Sanders but the last couple of games before the bye reaped great rewards for fantasy managers. Sanders caught six of nine targets for 93 yards in Week 4 and outdid that with 12 catches on 14 targets for 122 yards in Week 5. Steadily trending upward, the return of Michael Thomas comes at an inopportune time. That is, if it's coming at all.

The team's franchise wideout is now questionable again after aggravating a hamstring that could be related to his existing ankle injury. Don't forget about his mysterious suspension that came on the eve of his supposed return too.


If Thomas doesn't go in Week 7 or beyond, Sanders seems like an obvious start. Otherwise, it's a tricky proposition.

His value has been buoyed by the target volume but a decline, especially a substantial one that could happen when Thomas returns, could make him unplayable outside of very deep PPR leagues. For what it's worth, Thomas had the second-highest target share among all WR in 2019 at 34.5%. The only player who topped that was... Emmanuel Sanders at 43.8%. Of course, that was with Denver and San Francisco, so circumstances have changed.

Targets are indeed the lifeblood of a receiver's fantasy value but we do need to see them convert into yardage and touchdowns. Sanders' 39.9% Air Yard Share is even higher than his target share but his 9.0 aDoT is middle-of-the-pack and his air yard total is barely higher than guys like Zach Pascal and Jeff Smith (see below).

Sanders is worth a shot in Week 7 based on the uncertainty surrounding Thomas but GMs should know that the Panthers allow the lowest points per reception to WR relative to the opponent's average. Here's a chance to share the very latest #DFBeersReport courtesy of Mike Beers on Twitter.

The Saints' next two opponents are Chicago and Tampa Bay which allow the third and 11th-fewest fantasy PPR to the receiver position. This is a good time to exploring trading Sanders away if possible.

 

Jeff Smith, New York Jets

21.2% Team Target Share

I'll admit to being excited for a minute about the potential of a fantasy sleeper on a forgotten team (or a team we wish we could forget) like the Jets. By Week 4, they were rolling out Braxton Berrios and Chris Hogan as starting wideouts due to the sheer volume of injuries. In stepped Jeff Smith, an undrafted second-year player out of Boston College with 4.4 speed and apparent doppelganger to Travis Fulgham in terms of career trajectory.

He was inactive for three weeks, suddenly burst onto the scene with seven catches and 81 yards in Week 4 on nine targets, then saw 11 targets the following week, catching only three for 23 yards sadly. Was Smith the playmaker this team sorely needed? Apparently not, as he fell to four targets in Week 6 with Breshad Perriman back in action. Despite the ball being thrown his way a ton, he only averaged 4.7 yards per target.

Jamison Crowder is already second in the league in target share, so with Perriman on the field again and Denzel Mims looking ready to return this weekend, Smith is a distant fourth in pecking order for a team that ranks last in passing yardage. He could be a deep dynasty stash for 2021 if Crowder is traded and/or Perriman signs elsewhere but he would need Trevor Lawrence on the team in order to jump back to relevance.

 

Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders

11.2% Team Target Share

The first WR picked in this year's draft, Ruggs hasn't gotten the chance to full showcase what he can do yet. He missed two games, exited early in two others and the Raiders have already had their bye. Since we're looking at target rate rather than total targets, that shouldn't matter if he was a major part of the offense in those couple of games, much like Fulgham.

Ruggs hasn't been targeted much when he's actually on the field but he doesn't need to be. Unlike a slot receiver who depends on volume, Ruggs is content to take one pass and turn it into a 72-yard touchdown. He has quickly shown exactly what Mike Mayock envisioned when drafting him with his blazing 4.2 speed. A mere 11 targets has resulted in 177 yards.


Simply put, his target share doesn't matter if he's hyper-efficient on deep balls and can outrun the defense at every step. When a player averaged 16.1 yards per target, it doesn't take very many to be productive. If Ruggs stays healthy, he has boom potential any given week regardless of opponent and may be considered a midseason trade target.

 

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

15.2% Team Target Share

Here is another rookie, albeit one who has yet to explode on the scene to the level of Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb or Chase Claypool. Shenault had been steady but not especially fantasy relevant until last week's dud. He had been on a steady climb in terms of targets and receptions until he laid an egg in a great matchup with Detroit.

image taken from RotoWire

His steady snap count totals and occasional involvement as a runner are good signs. The red flag isn't his one-week drop in target share, it's the complete lack of involvement in the red zone.

As far as his low Target%, it has to do with the fact that the Jags are passing so much to so many players. After six games, they are fourth in total pass attempts at nearly 43 per game. D.J. Chark absorbs most of those when healthy and Keelan Cole is actually the team leader with 38 targets. Shenault is right up there with 36.

Shenault has yet to provide a huge play or a breakout game but he should continue to grow as the season progresses. He can provide a steady floor in PPR leagues but is nearly useless in standard leagues without any touchdowns. He has seen just as many targets this year as Emmanuel Sanders, so being higher on the veteran than the rookie would reek of recency bias. Maybe reverse ageism too.



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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 7) - Targets and Avoids

It started off as a great day of football but the decision to have just two 4 p.m. games quickly backfired when the Dolphins-Jets and Bucs-Packers became blowouts after the first quarter. Another decision that is still, and will continue to be, scrutinized is the Texans decision to go for two. It was the right decision. Houston's defense was awful Sunday and Romeo Crennel, a defensive guy, knew his team wouldn't be able to stop Tennessee. A two-point conversion would've iced the game. They had the right play, the receiver was wide open, but the ball got deflected. I'm always in the belief when you can control a situation and finish something, then go for it.

Underdogs went 9-5 against the spread with six outright upsets. The biggest was the Broncos beating the Patriots in Foxborough which knocked out around 20 percent of remaining entrants in pools. Majority of entrants chose the Dolphins which required no sweat in an easy win against the Jets. My survivor plays went 3-1 straight-up. The Vikings were an avoid and they got blown out.

Week 7 kicks off with the Giants at the Eagles Thursday night. The Colts, Dolphins, Ravens, and Vikings are on bye.

 

Survivor League Week 7

Teams favored by a touchdown or more in Week 7; Bills -13.5 @ Jets, Chiefs -9 vs. Broncos, Chargers -7.5 vs. Jaguars, Saints -7.5 vs. Panthers.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

I also give out my three top plays against the spread. That can be found at the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 7

Bills -13.5 @ Jets

Not only are the Jets winless but they're also 0-6 against the spread. There's really not much to say about this game, only whether the Jets will cover. It's really remarkable to not have covered a game yet but that should eventually end.

Bills 30 - Jets 19

 

Packers -3.5 @ Texans

Both these teams have similarly explosive offenses, but the one difference in the stats are the Packers are fifth in converting third down's while Houston is 21st. Green Bay hadn't been tested before Sunday and they got a refreshing wake-up call, especially their defense. The Texans Defense though is so bad giving up 6.1 yards per play, 27th, and 23rd in opponent third-down conversion percentage. Aaron Rodgers should pick apart the secondary.

Packers 31 - Texans 23

 

Chargers -7.5 vs. Jaguars

The Chargers could really be 5-0. They should have beaten the Chiefs, had a great chance to beat the Panthers, and blew leads to the Bucs and Saints. Justin Herbert has been getting better by the week. Their defense ranks 17th in yards per play, 10th in getting off the field on third down, and fifth in opponent red zone touchdown percentage. But they have looked a lot better than the stats and they're fresh off a bye.

I wrote this last week about Jacksonville; "the Jaguars are who we thought they were before the season; a bad team." The Chargers should finally cruise to a win.

Chargers 26 - Jaguars 14

 

Chiefs -9 @ Broncos

Denver played a great game Sunday in New England but six field goals just won't come close to cutting it against Kansas City. I don't care how great your defense is, you won't hold Kansas City to less than 17 points or less. The Broncos offense ranks 27th in yards per play, 29th in third down conversions, and 30th in scoring touchdowns in the red zone. They may very well cover but you can't beat the best offense like that.

Chiefs 28 - Broncos 20

 

Rams -5.5 vs. Bears

Chicago keeps winning despite an offense similarly bad to Denver's; 28th in yards per play, 27th in third down conversions, and 26th in touchdowns in the red zone. Their defense is in the top six in those defensive categories. The Rams though have had all their wins come against the NFC East. They've lost to the Bills and 49ers. Jared Goff struggles in bad weather and a good pass rush. The weather will be fine in LA but the Bears pass rush will put him under immense pressure. Sean McVay better have a good plan to get the ball out of Goff's hands quick.

Another point is if the Bears are actually good and since the Rams have played a cake schedule, shouldn't this line be three. I think that's a big tell from the Vegas bookmakers.

Rams 24 - Bears 17

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

 

Saints -7.5 vs. Panthers

This game goes either two ways; the Saints come off their bye and win convincingly or struggle immensely. I can't get over the memory of last year when New Orleans came off a bye at 7-1, and were double-digit favorites over the Falcons only to be beat 26-9. The Saints don't look like a team that should be favored by more than a touchdown over anyone. Not even Carolina despite them looking awful against the Bears. However the Panthers have been up-and-down and this is a divisional game which usually tends to be close.

Saints 23 - Panthers 21

 

Browns -3.5 @ Bengals

This teams met on Thursday night football in Week 2 with the Browns winning 35-30. The game was not as close as the score was but Joe Burrow would not go down. Both teams are off losses, but Cleveland got blown out and you wonder how they'll respond. A road divisional favorite of 3.5 is too much with a guy like Burrow on the other side.

Bengals 23 - Browns 21

 

Best Bets for Week 7

  • Packers -3.5 @ Texans
  • Dallas -1.5 @ Washington - Cowboys are off an embarrassing blowout loss on national television. Teams in that situation usually rebound the following week.
  • Chargers -7.5 vs. Jaguars

 

Running Totals

  • Last week: 2-1
  • 2020 season total: 9-9
  • 2019 season total: 23-26-2


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Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

Week 6 was like the 2020 of fantasy football weeks. All those great matchups meant nothing, those studs let you down, and your bench likely went crazy. The good news is that we didn't have any season-ending injuries to running backs or games canceled due to COVID, so in retrospect maybe we shouldn't complain.

The waiver wire will be more important in 2020 than any previous season, especially after waivers clear in most leagues. Use the players suggested here for your early-week claims but keep the rest in mind for later in the week if necessary and check our NFL news feed for the latest injury updates.

As always, the options listed at each position below are listed in order of priority to help you plan your claims accordingly. Players listed include only those rostered in approximately 50% or fewer Yahoo leagues. For a deeper look at each position, check out our separate weekly waiver wire columns at QB, RB, WR, and TE.

 

Quarterbacks - Waiver Wire Options

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers - 54% rostered

Herbert's availability is limited in competitive leagues but he may have been dropped out of necessity with the unexpected bye in Week 6. He should be the top option regardless of matchup but when you add in the fact that their opponent is Jacksonville, a bottom-10 pass defense, he becomes an automatic start and top QB pickup.

Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys - 32% rostered

The Boys play on Monday night, so we've yet to see how he fares in his first start filling in for Dak Prescott. He should be viewed as a high-end QB2 most weeks; the upcoming matchup with Washington in Week 7 doesn't change that. For a deeper look at Dalton's projected value in Dallas, read here.

Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers - 45% rostered

Bridgewater had his worst day as a Panther in Week 6 as the Bears limited him to 216 passing yards. He went without a touchdown and was picked off twice. The matchup can be blamed, as the 5-1 Bears are now statistically the toughest defense to opposing quarterbacks. He should bounce back in New Orleans, facing his former team. The Saints allow the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders - 23% rostered

Coming off a bye, Carr gets to face a Buccaneers Defense that just made Aaron Rodgers look like an AAF outcast. Carr has been on a roll, throwing multiple touchdowns in each of the last four games with a 10-1 TD-INT rate in that span. Carr put up solid numbers against the Patriots and Chiefs, both good pass defenses, so he's safe to play in Superflex formats or as a streamer in deep leagues.

Others to consider: Daniel Jones, New York Giants (31% rostered); Kyle Allen, Washington Football Team (3% rostered)

 

Running Backs - Waiver Wire Options

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers - 45% rostered

When we last saw the Bolts in action, Jackson was getting more touches than Joshua Kelley and saw the key snaps in the fourth quarter and on passing downs. It's still likely to be a two-man committee but Jackson has a better rushing average and should have the higher floor based on his pass-catching ability. The Chargers will face Jacksonville in Week 7 which makes him very flex-worthy.

Boston Scott, Philadelphia Eagles - 13% rostered

Because the Eagles needed more injuries... Miles Sanders left with a knee injury in the second half without returning. He has already been declared out for Thursday Night Football, which means Boston Scott becomes the RB1 as he was in Week 1. That was a huge letdown game for him, seeing as how he collected 54 total yards and caught only two passes. It contributed to an upset loss to Washington, their only victory of the season so far. Scott has shown nothing of value this season, averaging 3.3 yards per carry and one reception per game. Those in a bind might have no choice to pivot here, unfortunately.

D'Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns - 26% rostered

Those who added Johnson as soon as Nick Chubb went on IR have been massively disappointed. He was invisible in Week 6, running three times for three yards and dropping an easy screen pass that couldn't inspire confidence in the coaching staff. He gets a pass to some extent because the past two games, Cleveland has faced the Colts and Steelers, who were No. 2 and No. 4 respectively as far as limiting fantasy points to running backs. This coming week brings Cincinnati, a far better matchup. He doesn't need to be flexed but can be if needed.

Jeremy McNichols, Tennessee Titans - 1% rostered

Rookie Darrynton Evans has been placed on IR, so McNichols is officially the insurance policy for all of Derrick Henry's fantasy managers. He won't get much run but if, God forbid, something should happen to Henry, he becomes the hottest waiver wire pickup around. McNichols looked sharp in spare duty this week, rushing five times for 51 yards. He has no stand-alone value as of right now.

La'Mical Perine, New York Jets - 18% rostered

In a logical world, the rookie would have a golden opportunity to showcase his skills and take over a significant portion of the backfield work now that RB1 Le'Veon Bell has been released. Unfortunately, we live in a world where Adam Gase is still the head coach of the Jets, he hates all running backs (and good players), so Perine saw fewer touches and snaps than 37-year-old Frank Gore. It didn't matter that the game was out of hand in the first quarter and no reason not to see what Perine could do with an extended workload. Only consider Perine once there are real rumblings that Gase might be on his way out.

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens - 3% rostered

The bye week comes at a perfect time for the Ravens but not so much for fantasy managers. Mark Ingram left early with an ankle injury and didn't return, which could clear up this situation and turn it into a two-man split between J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards rather than a three-man RBBC. With an extra week to rest, it should be back to status quo which means none of the three are more than desperation RB3 plays any given week. Too bad because Edwards saw most of the carries in this game and could be a reliable starter, especially in standard leagues. For now, he's just a speculative add for Week 8.

JaMycal Hasty, San Francisco 49ers - 1% rostered

Another Raheem Mostert injury forced Hasty into action on Sunday night. Had Jeff Wilson been active, Hasty might not have seen the field. He wasn't overly impressive, gathering 37 yards on nine carries with nothing in the passing game. Monitor the injury report to see if Mostert and/or Wilson are pegged to miss more time before making a claim for Hasty.

Others to consider: Frank Gore, New York Jets (31% rostered); Duke Johnson, Houston Texans (25% rostered); Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers (15% rostered); J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team (11% rostered)

 

Wide Receivers - Waiver Wire Options

Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers - 49% rostered

I know, he's not available in your league. If you read this column last week and didn't add him, you're clearly not taking my advice anyway. He's technically (inexplicably) under half-rostered across Yahoo leagues, so it provides me an opportunity to expand on his involvement in this offense. In Week 6, Claypool tied for the team lead in receptions (four), led the team in yardage (74), and was second in targets (four). Not outstanding numbers but add in a rushing touchdown and you have the makings of a solid day considering the Steelers didn't really need to pass throughout the second half. He's not just a must-add anywhere he's available, he is entering must-start territory.

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers - 45% rostered

After a quiet start to the season that included a zero in Week 4, Williams came up huge in Week 5 with 109 yards and two touchdowns. Keenan Allen is expected back for the upcoming matchup with the Jaguars but there will be plenty of targets to go around and a favorable matchup to boot.

Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles - 31% rostered

While Fulgham predictably didn't put up the type of game he did last week, he came away with 75 yards on six catches and a jump-ball touchdown that saved his fantasy day. The most encouraging stat is his 10 targets which tied Zach Ertz for the team lead. Ertz won't be on the field for another 3-4 weeks due to an ankle injury suffered in-game. It's hard to tell whether DeSean Jackson or Alshon Jeffery has a realistic shot at returning but it's reasonable to assume they won't see much action even if they do take the field. Fulgham is flex-worthy in the right circumstances as long as you don't expect a monster game each time out. The Giants have only allowed one 100-yard receiver this season, which was CeeDee Lamb in Week 5. No other WR has reached 75 yards against them. Add now and use as needed to patch holes in your lineup.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos - 10% rostered

Make that back-to-back 100-yard games for Patrick, who is easily outproducing first-round pick Jerry Jeudy. Patrick went for 113 yards in a tough matchup with the Patriots while Jeudy had just 32 yards. In fact, no other wide receiver even registered a catch for Denver. Patrick is the lead target on this team and a WR3 candidate in standard leagues.

Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders - 47% rostered

The week off should help Ruggs get closer to full health but the matchup with Tampa Bay makes him a stash rather than a streamer. Tampa's defense is for real and CB Jamel Dean has become a breakout star in his second season. Ruggs can be added wherever WR depth is needed but don't count on much in the short term.

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars - 46% rostered

His steady, predictable climb in target share took an unpredictable nosedive in Week 6. Shenault was targeted seven times but took a backseat to Keelan Cole (nine targets) and D.J. Chark (14 targets) and was even less productive, catching three passes for 10 yards. Chalk it up to a bad game and keep him on the streaming radar.

Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars - 29% rostered

The biggest beneficiary of D.J. Chark being less than healthy was Cole, who went for 143 yards on six catches. This was his first true "boom" game of the year. Cole's previous high was 58 yards back in Week 2. He won't go off most weeks but he's getting the touchdowns that Shenault isn't and could be a factor if Chark still isn't 100%.

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons - 29% rostered

For the first time in four games, Gage caught more than two passes and went over 30 yards in a game. In fact, his 65-yard total in Week 6 is more than the previous three games combined. Maybe a coaching change is what Atlanta needed to get going. The matchup remains favorable again, as the Detroit Lions come to town.

Breshad Perriman, New York Jets - 8% rostered

He's back and looks good, even if his team is hard to watch. Perriman finished second on the team in targets with eight, behind only Jamison Crowder. Four catches for 62 yards isn't game-breaking but once Sam Darnold returns, there is enough big-play ability to make Perriman relevant.

Marcus Johnson, Indianapolis Colts - 0% rostered

This week's "who went off?" award goes to Johnson, who finished with five receptions for 108 yards. He wasn't on the active roster for the first three weeks of the season and has now done something no other Colts receiver had done yet - go for 100 yards in a game. They have a bye in Week 7 so don't get too excited. Stash him in deep leagues if you have the space but don't get your hopes up for consistent production. This is still a run-first offense.

Others to consider: Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals (39% rostered); Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins (25% rostered); James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers (10% rostered)

 

Tight Ends - Waiver Wire Options

Darren Fells, Houston Texans - 5% rostered

With Jordan Akins out the past two games, Fells has scored in each and contributed 57 and 85 yards respectively. That'll play at tight end, especially for those who have been without Noah Fant and now may be without Zach Ertz. The Packers had been one of the tougher defenses versus the tight end but they didn't stop much of anything against Tampa Bay, including Gronk. Fells has the edge over Firkser because he has been more consistent both this season and over the last couple of seasons.

Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans - 0% rostered

Jonnu Smith was this year's breakout performer at tight end, going for 221 yards and five TD in the first four games. Seeing him leave early in Week 6 with an ankle injury is frustrating enough but especially after witnessing what his replacement did. Somehow, Firkser went for eight receptions and 113 yards with a touchdown, making him the top-scoring fantasy TE of the week so far. He had a grand total of 498 yards in his two-and-a-half-year career thus far, so it's hard to imagine that he suddenly becomes this year's version of Tyler Higbee. Still, this offense is clicking on all cylinders and Firkser makes a smart streamer if Smith, currently listed as questionable for Week 7, doesn't suit up.

Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings - 9% rostered

The bye week for Minnesota makes this a stash only recommendation but one that should get some attention for the remainder of the year. Smith was a complete non-factor for the first month, catching a total of two passes for 14 yards over the first four games. Forget that ever happened - Smith has four receptions in each of the last two games, going over 50 yards each time. Just like it took a couple of weeks for Gary Kubiak to figure out how to use Justin Jefferson, he seems to now have figured out how to use his young tight end. Smith is a talented receiver on an offense bereft of WR depth which makes him fantasy relevant in good matchups the rest of the way.

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team - 15% rostered

After a hiatus, Thomas re-emerged onto the scene with 42 yards and a touchdown in Week 6. He also played on 63 snaps with the next-closest tight end, Jeremy Sprinkle, in on just 11 snaps. Thomas' upside with Kyle Allen isn't much higher than it was with Dwayne Haskins, nor is he suddenly a desirable weekly option. He is streamable in Week 7 since his opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, is one of the least effective at defending the tight end.

Richard Rodgers, Philadelphia Eagles - 0% rostered

It's unclear what Zach Ertz did to anger the gods but his disappointing season has gotten worse. He left the game against Baltimore early with an ankle injury and will be out for at least three weeks. Although it was Jason Croom getting the touchdown in his place, it was his only catch of the day and it came on the only offensive snap in which he appeared. The veteran Rodgers caught three passes for 31 yards and will see the majority of TE snaps and targets for the time being. There isn't much upside but he can be used as an Ertz replacement if no better options are available.

Adam Shaheen, Miami Dolphins - 0% rostered

Is Shaheen the new Gesicki? No, because Mike Gesicki is still there and is pretty good when the ball is actually thrown his way. Shaheen has a touchdown catch in consecutive games, though, so he is at least a factor in this offense that is thin at the receiver position. The Fins are off next week so just keep him in the back of your mind in case you need a desperation streamer or Gesicki finds a way to get hurt on his week off.

Others to consider: Greg Olsen, Seattle Seahawks (21% rostered); Drew Sample, Cincinnati Bengals (4% rostered)

 

Team Defense - Waiver Wire Options

Philadelphia Eagles Defense - 30% rostered

The past two games have been miserable for Philly's defense, which explains their low rostered rate. The Ravens scored 30 a week after the Steelers put up 38 on this unit. They shouldn't have as much trouble with the Giants, who remain one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the NFL. One thing that has been consistent with the Philadelphia defense has been sacks. They came into Week 6 third in sacks and now have 21 on the season. Daniel Jones has no problem taking a sack, or turning the ball over for that matter. For leagues that reward sacks more so than turnovers, this is the unit to target.

Cincinnati Bengals Defense - 3% rostered

For leagues where turnovers matter most, this embattled Cincy DST could come through. The Bengals have picked off a pass in five straight games and will get the Browns in Week 7. If Baker Mayfield is healthy enough to play, that might be a good thing for the defense. He was picked twice by the Steelers and didn't look right all game, clearly bothered by his rib injury.



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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has required a new level of flexibility to also absorb the COVID-related postponements and ever-changing scenarios for adjusted schedules.

We have also progressed into weekly planning for scheduled bye weeks, which includes the four teams that will be affected by this week’s revised schedule - the Colts, Ravens, Dolphins, and Vikings. This ensures that Jonathan Taylor, Myles Gaskin, Dalvin CookAlexander Mattison. Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and J.K. Dobbins will not be available this week. It also will provide managers with an additional factor that could fuel interest in locating alternative options on the waiver wire.

These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing and progressing to runners for anyone that is struggling with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. After you've finished this breakdown, you can also find news updates and data-fueled analysis that is designed to help you maximize the scoring potential of your rosters.

 

Running Back Leaderboard

Week 6 Rushing Leaders Team Attempts Yards TDs
Derrick Henry Tennessee 22 212 2
Miles Sanders Philadelphia 9 118 0
D'Andre Swift Detroit 14 116 2
Ronald Jones Tampa Bay 23 113 2
Phillip Lindsay Denver 23 101 0
James Conner Pittsburgh 20 101 1
Myles Gaskin Miami 18 91 0
Darrell Henderson Los Angeles Rams 14 88 0
Raheem Mostert San Francisco 17 65 0
Devonta Freeman New York Giants 18 61 0
Jonathan Taylor Indianapolis 12 60 0
David Montgomery Chicago 19 58 0

 

Frontrunners - Week 7 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the options that are available on most waiver wires. Some will be more beneficial in PPR formats than standard. All players have 60% or less ownership in typical fantasy leagues.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

46% rostered

Jackson and Joshua Kelley were expected to split touches during Austin Ekeler’s absence (hamstring) and that is what transpired during the Chargers’ Week 5 matchup in New Orleans. However, Jackson garnered the most extensive workload by accumulating eight more touches than Kelley (20/12). Jackson easily accrued more total yards than Kelley (94/38), while also capturing a 59% snap share. Kelley’s 35% share was his lowest since Week 3 after he had exceeded 50% in two of his three previous matchups. While this was only the first contest in which Ekeler was unavailable, the results were encouraging for Jackson - who also performed more effectively with the touches that he received.

Not only did he run with a greater burst with his rushing attempts, but he also collected more targets (5/1), and receiving yards (23/9) than Kelley. The promising touch distribution and Jackson’s superior production have elevated him among this week’s most enticing waiver wire options. Any fantasy GMs who are successful in securing him can also start him as a low-end RB2/high-endRB3 during this week's matchup with Jacksonville.

 

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens

3% rostered

Mark Ingram’s ankle injury forced him to the sideline during the Ravens' Week 6 matchup with Philadelphia. That shifted the touch distribution for Baltimore's backfield to Edwards and J.K. Dobbins. It also elevated Edwards and Dobbins among this week’s most viable waiver wire options at the running back position, as the tandem could absorb expanded workloads if Ingram is absent from Baltimore's lineup. Dobbins is already rostered in 64% of all leagues. However, Edwards’ resides on 97% of all waiver wires.

The third-year back received a team-high 14 attempts versus the Eagles and has averaged 8.8-attempts per game since Week 2. He has also accumulated 48 carries throughout the season, which is just two fewer than Ingram. Baltimore's Week 7 bye will supply Ingram with additional time to recover before the Ravens host Pittsburgh in Week 8. However, fantasy GMs with Ingram on their rosters should prioritize the addition of Edwards as they monitor Ingram's health. Anyone else can also target Edwards, who could become a viable resource for your rosters in the upcoming weeks.

 

Boston Scott, Philadelphia Eagles

13% rostered

Miles Sanders bolted for 118 yards on just nine carries when Philadelphia hosted Baltimore. However, he was also sidelined by a knee injury at the conclusion of a 74-yard burst. His status for Week 7 will remain uncertain until the severity of his issue is determined by an MRI. However, the Eagles are scheduled to play on Thursday night, which increases the possibility that he could be absent for that matchup. Scott’s role would expand considerably if that scenario transpires, which elevates him among this week’s primary targets on the waiver wire.

Corey Clement would also garner touches. But Scott would operate as Philadelphia's primary back. He has carried 21 times during the season opener while accumulating 67 yards. While those numbers are uninspiring, he did explode upon the fantasy landscape last season by accumulating 350 total yards from Weeks 14-17.  He should become a top priority for any managers who depend on Sanders in their starting lineups. He is also included in this week's frontrunners among backs that are available on most waiver wires.

 

In The Running - Week 7 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs remain available on the waiver wire but are not necessarily must-adds.

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers

55% rostered

Even though Jackson's stock has risen significantly following his performance in Week 5 that does not mean that Kelley should be dwelling on waiver wires. He was dropped by some fantasy GMs during the Chargers’ bye week which expanded his availability to 45% of all leagues. He did assemble 167 yards on 43 carries in Weeks 1-3 and has been utilized with consistency in the red zone (10 attempts/7 inside the 10).

Kelley will continue to split touches with Jackson, and his usage and production should normally reside somewhere between the expanded workload that he experienced earlier in the season and the role that he was entrusted with during Week 5. His ability to function as an inside runner will also keep him involved in the offense whenever Ekeler resurfaces. Managers who invest in him will be attaining a back that has already completed his bye week, and he remains a viable RB3/flex option.

 

Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions

60% rostered

Even though Detroit is operating with a committee approach, Peterson's role as a vital component with the Lions’ rushing attack remains intact. He was 16th in attempts prior to the team’s Week 5 bye and has now led the team in carries and rushing yards during four of their five matchups. Since Week 3, he has accumulated 48 carries, compared to 10 for Kerryon Johnson and 18 for D’Andre Swift. That includes his team-high 15 carries in Week 6 versus Jacksonville when Swift was allotted 14 attempts, and Johnson only rushed four times.

Swift did deliver the most prolific performance of his rookie season in Week 6 (17 touches/123 total yards/2 touchdowns), and should continue splitting touches with Peterson as the season continues. The combined usage for the tandem will remove Johnson completely from the fantasy radar. But the timeshare will not deter Peterson from absorbing a respectable number of early-down carries, along with a sizable percentage of red zone opportunities. That presents your motivation for adding him as a flex option.

 

Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills

55% rostered

As fantasy GMs have steadily released Moss from their rosters, he has now become available in over 40% of all leagues. He generated 64 total yards on 20 touches in Weeks 1-2. But interest in the once-promising rookie has diminished during his three-game absence, as he recovered from a toe injury. However, he should eventually recapture a role that is similar to his previous responsibilities. This should include red zone carries, as Moss collected seven during those initial two matchups.

He is now healthy and will resume his responsibilities in a committee with Devin Singletary. But Moss remains capable of performing effectively between the tackles, while also running with sufficient power to accumulate carries near the goal line. This presents fantasy GMs with greater potential to deliver fantasy points than many other options that are available on the waiver wire. It also elevates his potential for him to develop into as a flex option for anyone who is contending with bye weeks and injuries.

 

Dark Horses - Week 7 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you are willing to wait for the possibility of a larger role during the year, or consider your situation to be desperate due to injuries.

J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team

11% rostered

There is a dearth of productive players contained in Washington’s 32nd ranked offense, and Antonio Gibson remains the most appealing option from the team’s backfield. But McKissic has absorbed a consistent role as the pass-catching specialist while providing managers with increased incentive to seize him in PPR leagues. McKissic collected all six of his targets and generated 43 yards during Washington’s Week 6 matchup with long-time NFC East rival New York in Week 6.

That easily led his team’s running backs in each category, while McKissic also expanded his lead in season-long numbers among all Washington’s backs (31 targets/23 receptions/167 receiving yards). This also places McKissic second only to Terry McLaurin in receptions and yardage, while he has also averaged 7.3 targets, 6.3 receptions, and 43 yards per game since Week 4. McKissic was also included in this section one week ago. However, he still remains available in nearly 90% of all rosters. Anyone searching for scoring from your running backs in the PPR format should strongly consider securing him this week.

 

Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons

18% rostered 

The fifth-year back currently does not present stand-alone value. However, he is performing proficiently when he receives carries (35 attempts/161 rushing yards/4.6 yards per attempt). His value would also surge significantly if Gurley would be sidelined during the season. Hill would share touches with Ito Smith if Gurley were to become unavailable for any reason. However, Hill has attained a 27% snap share while Ito Smith's share dwells at 17%, and Hill would commandeer the largest workload if that scenario transpires.

Even though Hill’s numbers as a receiver might appear unimpressive (11/targets/9 receptions/75 yards), he has already established new career-highs in receptions and receiving yards. Those numbers would also rise substantially as he absorbed more opportunities, should Gurley be absent from the lineup. Hill remains available in over 80% of all leagues and presents an excellent insurance policy for anyone with Gurley on their rosters. He is also a viable roster stash for all managers in deeper leagues.

 

La'Mical Perine, New York Jets

18% rostered

The release of Le’Veon Bell was just the latest unsightly development for the increasingly beleaguered Jets. But it also reshaped the landscape of New York’s backfield. This presents an opportunity for any fantasy GMs who are willing to stash Perine and exercise patience after they have secured him.  Perine’s usage and production after six matchups will not excite you, as he has now carried 22 times, and has accumulated 83 yards (3.8 yards per attempt).

However, his prospects of Perine being entrusted with a larger workload provides your motivation for including him on your rosters. The inexplicable decision-making of Adam Gase is well-chronicled, as is Gase’s ongoing comfort level with Frank Gore. But Perine possesses a ceiling that easily exceeds the 37-year old Gore's. This could eventually lead to an expanded touch total – particularly if Gase is no longer determining the weekly touch distribution. This supplies an opportunity for anyone who is searching for a back that could reward your decision as the season progresses.

 

Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure a running back with greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

Sony Michel, New England Patriots

30% rostered                                                                                                                   

Michel was already on injured reserve due to his quad injury, before New England placed him on the COVID-19 list.  These issues will keep Michel affixed to the sideline. However, there are additional concerns surrounding the third-year back. Whenever Michel does return, it is highly unlikely that he will receive a role that even remotely resembles his touch total prior to his absence. New England’s backfield remains highly congested, starting with Damien Harris – who has accumulated 23 carries during Michel’s absence. Rex Burkhead remains capable of pilfering opportunities, while James White has attained a 54% snap share since he returned to the Patriots in Week 5.

Michel’s inability to capitalize on his touches has also diminished considerably since his 2018 rookie season. He averaged just 3.7 yards per attempt and 57 yards per game during 2019 and had manufactured even lower averages in Weeks 1-2 (28 yards/3.2 yards per game) before an uncharacteristically productive outing in Week 3 (117 yards/13 per attempt). There are other backs that should be targeted for your critical roster spots.

 

Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions 

21% rostered 

Adrian Peterson's frequent usage was discussed previously as was D'Andre Swift's season-best performance in Jacksonville. While that tandem has commandeered the majority of opportunities, Johnson has been relegated to a minimal touch total. The third-year back has averaged an anemic 3.3 attempts per game since Week 3, while has he managed just 34 rushing yards during that sequence. Peterson has consistently received early-down opportunities, and 48,3% of the team's red zone usage, while Swift’s role should expand following his highly productive outing against the Jaguars.

These developments have left Johnson as an after-thought within the offense. His nominal usage is primarily creating frustration for anyone with Peterson or Swift on their rosters, while also failing to present any reason for optimism if your roster contains Johnson. No improvement in Johnson’s situation is imminent unless Peterson is sidelined by a health issue. There are running backs on your waiver wire that are accumulating more touches than Johnson. This provides tremendous justification for dropping him this week.

 

Jordan Howard, Miami Dolphins

28% rostered

Howard will be included yet again in this section since managers in nearly 30% of all leagues continue to waste a valuable roster spot by retaining him. Since Week 1, he has experienced a steady decline in his weekly allotment of rushing attempts (8/5/3/2) which were punctuated by the fifth-year back being relegated to healthy scratch status in both Week 5 and 6. His inability to generate yardage with the carries that he did receive was undoubtedly a factor, as Howard had only managed 14 yards on his 18 attempts (0.8 per attempt) before being removed from the backfield equation completely.

Myles Gaskin has easily confiscated lead back duties for the Dolphins, while Matt Breida has been entrusted with a modest role as Miami’s RB2. The team’s interest in Le’Veon Bell also provided an indication of how Howard is perceived by the team’s offensive decision-makers. The alternative options that are now available on the waiver wire eliminate all rationale for managers to use valuable roster space by retaining Howard.



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Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs.

In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only three receivers on Sunday had multiple receiving touchdowns, and all three are rostered in at least 87 percent of leagues. Anyway, let's get to the waiver wire.

Not all options are the same. Some players may be better in PPR or deeper leagues, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all comparison. Use your best judgment when deciding which of these players is the right fit for your roster. Check here for a complete list of our Waiver Wire Adds for Week 6 for help at all the skill positions. All players on this list here are around 30% rostered or below.

 

Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles

31% rostered

With their top three receivers still out, Fulgham had another strong game, catching six of his 10 targets for 75 yards and a touchdown. We're in a really weird spot here with Fulgham, because he's playing like someone who needs to not only be rostered, but needs to be in your WR2 spot. The problem is that we don't know what his workload looks like when Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Jalen Reagor are back in the fold, so in terms of value as the season goes along...it's hard to know. But Fulgham should at least be startable next week against the Giants, and should be on your radar.

Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars

29% rostered

Cole's scored 9.7 fantasy points or more in 0.5-PPR in four of the six games this year, and Sunday was the best performance of all for him, as he grabbed six passes for 143 yards. Cole's role is likely to look more like it did in Week 3 and Week 4 -- a pair of games with four catches for 40-something yards -- than it is to look like this, but he's a fine bye-week fill-in in deeper leagues, especially full PPR ones.

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons

27% rostered

Gage was looking like a solid WR4 play for the first couple weeks of the year but has faded since. On Sunday, he caught four passes for 65 yards, and maybe with both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley on the field, there will be more chances for Gage to get some open looks? He's not an exciting play, but if the Falcons start to play better after firing Dan Quinn, Gage can get back to having some WR4 appeal in deeper leagues.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos

18% rostered

Jerry Jeudy struggled against the Patriots, catching just two passes for 32 yards. But Patrick continued his ascension, turning his eight targets into four receptions and 101 yards. Three consecutive games with at least 100 yards or a touchdown have Patrick in a really good place, though before we anoint him as a weekly WR3 play, we probably need to see how he looks when K.J. Hamler and Noah Fant are back. Still, Patrick deserves a spot on most fantasy rosters.

Randall Cobb, Houston Texans

17% rostered

A Cobb touchdown helped cover up that he had just three catches for 17 yards. Still, Houston is throwing more and Cobb has WR4 upside in full PPR leagues due to his role, and the fact that it seems Kenny Stills just isn't part of this passing game now can offer Cobb a few more opportunities each week.

James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers

10% rostered

So, about JuJu Smith-Schuster...

James Washington led the Steelers wide receivers in targets this week with seven, turning them into four catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. Diontae Johnson (back) missed this game, opening room for Washington. He should maintain a role until Johnson returns, though the bigger question is if he can leap over Smith-Schuster once Johnson is back. Washington has been outplaying JuJu. For now, Washington is a deep league option.

Adam Humphries, Tennessee Titans

9% rostered

With Corey Davis still on the COVID-19 list, Humphries had a nice workload upon his own return from the COVID-19 list, catching all six of his targets for 64 yards and a touchdown. Humphries fits an archetype I like in deep leagues: he's a slot receiver who should get six or seven targets per game, which gives him a really nice floor. There's plenty of chances for guys like that to make positive impacts in your lineup, especially as bye week replacements. And hey, Humphries is already past his bye week!

Breshad Perriman, New York Jets

8% rostered

Well, Perriman returned from an ankle injury that had caused him to miss three games. He was targeted eight times, catching four of them for 62 yards. Look, we saw last year in Tampa what Perriman can do in a good offense -- he can be really, really good for fantasy football managers. He's very clearly not in a good offense now in New York -- this offense is just ridiculously bad -- but when Sam Darnold gets back, Perriman might be able to carve out some fantasy viability in deeper leagues. I think his talent is worth a roster spot in a 14-team league.

Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts

6% rostered

Pascal was expected to be the No. 2 receiver while Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr. were out, and he is, though he's closer to the 1A receiver at this point with how T.Y. Hilton has been playing. Pascal was targeted seven times against the Bengals, catching four passes for 54 yards and a score. He has a bye week coming up, but should be a WR4 option until this team gets healthier.

Marcus Johnson, Indianapolis Colts

0% rostered

Like teammate Pascal, there's a bye week next week for the Colts and Marcus Johnson, but I still have to mention a guy who caught five passes on eight targets for 108 yards. While T.Y. Hilton has floundered, Johnson has seen his role grow in each of the past three games. He's the big play receiver for Philip Rivers and should be rostered in 14-team leagues.



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Tight End Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Week 7 is not going to be a lucky one for millions of fantasy football managers. The bye week is going to create some gaping holes at the tight end position for millions of fantasy squads. The biggest loss is Baltimore’s Mark Andrews, although Miami’s Mike Gesicki, Indianapolis’ Mo-Alie Cox, and Minnesota’s Irv Smith Jr. will be missed by many fantasy teams as well.

To win fantasy football leagues, you need to have depth at every position and need to weather roster-related storms by making smart pickups on the waiver wire. This week will test the waiver wire skills of many fantasy managers.

Here are the top tight end candidates to pick up in fantasy football leagues heading into Week 7!

 

Top Tight End Waiver Wire Options

Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans

0% rostered

Little did we know we may have a future Hall of Famer on our hands with Firkser! One minute he is Jonnu Smith's hardly-heralded backup. Next minute he is a fantasy darling or demigod because he caught eight passes for 113 and a touchdown. This is the crazy world of fantasy football, folks!

We are not sure of the extent of Smith’s ankle injury, so Firkser’s fantasy value is tied to that. The longer Smith is out, the longer Firsker has fantasy worth. It is that simple. All I know is Ryan Tannehill is throwing passes these days like he is the second coming of Joe Montana, so if Firkser is Tennessee’s top tight end the next couple weeks than he is somebody to consider picking up for short-term help if you are in need at that position.

Darren Fells, Houston Texans

5% rostered

There are not many tight ends who have been better the past two weeks than Fells, who racked up eight catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Fells has reminded fantasy managers that when given the opportunity to play he can find the end zone as quickly as Kim Kardashian can find a camera to pose in front of. As long as Jordan Akins misses time with his injuries, Fells will be a fantasy force since QB Deshaun Watson trusts him inside the red zone.

Fells will be facing a Green Bay defense that has allowed a tight end to break the 50-yard barrier three times over its past four games. The Packers-Texans game will be a shootout, so as long as Fells is starting he is an excellent play this week whether you pick him up in a regular league or stick him into your DFS contest lineup.

 

Other Tight End Options to Consider

Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings

9% rostered

Smith was a wall of glass the first month of the season. Now Kirk Cousins is finding him almost as often as he is finding opposing cornerbacks. Smith has recorded eight catches for 119 yards over the past two weeks and has found his groove in Minnesota’s inconsistent offense. More importantly, he is in the process of leapfrogging veteran Kyle Rudolph atop the Vikings depth chart at tight end, which makes him more attractive in dynasty leagues and standard leagues. Smith is on bye this week but should be a constant contributor from here on out.

Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

6% rostered

For the third week in a row, Brate is one of the top tight ends available in many fantasy leagues. This has more to do with the lack of available playmakers at the position on waiver wires than it does about how valuable he is, though. The re-emergence of Rob Gronkowski and the return of wideout Chris Godwin will stunt Brate’s fantasy worth, but Brate could do some damage running routes against Las Vegas’ beatable defensive backfield this weekend.

Trey Burton, Indianapolis Colts

20% rostered

For whatever reason, T.Y. Hilton is not receiving the volume of targets he has the past several seasons in Indy. Meanwhile, Indianapolis has a rotating “Tight End of the Week” thing going on. One week Mo-Alie Cox wins the award. Next week it is Jack Doyle. This past Sunday it was Mr. Burton, who scored one touchdown on a run and another on a catch after being M.I.A. since 2018. It is hard to bank on him consistently producing since Indy has three solid tight ends, but he is worth a watch. Just know you will not get anything out of him until Week 8 since he is off this upcoming week.

Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams

3% rostered

Tyler Higbee entered the season as a top-10 fantasy tight end. Everett has more receptions, yards and targets over the Rams’ past two games, however. Everett has above-average speed and playmaking ability for a tight end and should continue to be featured almost as often as Higbee when both tight ends are healthy. Everett has a stiff test against Chicago’s defense next Monday night, so he may be someone to consider more this week if you are looking long-term fantasy-wise.

 

Don’t Forget About…

Logan Thomas, Washington Redskins

15% rostered

Thomas and his whopping 7.6 yards per catch have not been wowing many fantasy managers this year, but Washington’s No. 1 TE has had at least four targets in each of his outings this season. Thomas is also coming off his best game of the season (3-42-1) and has Dallas’ porous secondary lined up next. He is an intriguing one-week play thanks to his targets and his matchup.

Adam Shaheen, Miami Dolphins

0% rostered

Is Mike Gesicki in danger of losing his job as Miami’s top tight end? It is probably farfetched, but Shaheen has scored touchdowns in back-to-back weeks and is a former second-round pick who has been besieged with injuries over his career. Now that he is finally healthy he seems to be coming into his own. The only issues for Shaheen are that Gesicki is still around and will take his targets, and that Miami is on bye this week.

Dan Arnold, Arizona Cardinals

0% rostered

Kliff Kingsbury loves having Kyler Murray pass the ball early and often. He just does not love having Murray pass to his tight ends. This makes Arnold not very attractive in fantasy leagues because he is targeted less than Joe Biden is by MSNBC. But Arnold is facing Seattle’s 32nd-ranked pass defense, so Arnold could have his best game of the season this week.



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Week 7 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

We had some surprise defenses crack the top-10 in Week 6 with the Atlanta Falcons picking off Kirk Cousins seemingly at will and the Tampa Bay Bucs easily handling Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Even with that, we were able to get six of the top-10 defensive units, but the Indianapolis Colts may be showing some cracks in the armor, and Washington offensive ineptitude surprisingly flipped the script and allowed the Giants to finish as the only top-10 unit in that matchup.

I've been mentioning this for weeks, but it bears repeating that scoring and yards are at an all-time high this year. 4,621 points or 25.4 points per game so far this season and are gaining 363.3 yards per game, which are both the most through the first five weeks of any season in the Super Bowl era. With offenses putting up video game numbers, it means that we can't continue to judge a defense solely by the number of points they allow or the number of yards they give up. Those numbers will naturally be higher than we're used to. Instead, we need to look for which offensive lines are truly weak points and which defenses will either be blitz-heavy or get consistent pressure with their pass rush. These are all incredibly important pieces of information in determining which defenses to play in any given week.

Remember that picking the right defense is not about identifying who will allow the fewest points, but who will cause the most turnovers or tally the most sacks since that has a higher correlation to weekly fantasy DST leaders. That means that, as much these rankings are about the talent on the defensive side of the ball, it is equally about taking advantage of the lack of talent on the offensive side. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so remember to check back here during the week as I will make updates once we get more information on some of these injuries and also get a better sense of the weather for the game.

 

Week 7 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Below are my Week 7 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 7 of the NFL and fantasy football season. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 7. I've broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 7 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 7 pickup or add.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - Since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating, which Bill Dubiel started last year, is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account: opponent injuries, home-field advantage, weather (which will be updated during the week), etc. We still have only one game of in-season data to work with, so this week's rankings weigh schedule and personnel heavier than they will down the line.

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Buffalo Bills Defense @ NYJ 13.9
2 1 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. NYG 13.5
3 1 Kansas City Chiefs Defense @ DEN 12.3
4 1 Los Angeles Rams Defense vs. CHI 11.8

Perhaps I'm about to be overly hard on the Bills as a life-long Bills fan, but their defense is concerning me right now. Yes, the Jets are a terrible offense. They rank 31st in passing yards, 26th in sacks allowed, 31st in drives ending in a score, and 15th in rushing and now are without Le'Veon Bell. But, as the Chiefs showed on Monday night, the Bills can be run on, even though Frank Gore and the Jets offensive line are not Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the Chiefs unit. This is clearly not the same Bills defense that we've seen over the last couple of years. In addition to being gashed by the run, they are dead last in pressure rate. If you are not creating pressure, then you don't give yourself much chance to add fantasy points through sacks and turnovers. With Sam Darnold coming back, the Jets should become a little better on offense, though not much. I know you simply want to play defenses going up against the Jets, and the Bills have enough talented defensive players that you have to imagine they can take advantage of this matchup, but I could just as easily see the Eagles as the #1 DST this week due to their ability to create pressure.

The Eagles have started to get healthier on defense and are currently fourth in the NFL with 21 sacks. The Giants are 25th in the NFL with 17 sacks allowed, so I expect a healthy Eagles defensive front to get in Daniel Jones' face throughout the game which is good news since the Giants are already third-worst in the NFL with 18.4% of drives ending in a turnover. Even without the pressure, the Giants simply aren't a good offense right now. They're 27th passing yards, 28th in rushing yards, and 25th in drives ending in a score. If the Eagles are without Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz, who both left hurt on Sunday, the already sputtering offense will be even more short-handed which could lead to some short fields for the Giants. However, that's not enough to scare me off using this Eagles unit against one of the worst offenses in the NFL.

The Chiefs defense came to play Monday night against a solid Bills offense. The Chiefs send blitzes at one of the highest rates, and although they didn't sack Josh Allen, they were in his face all night long. Kansas City is 7th in the league in pressure rate, tops in quarterback knockdown rate at 1o.6%, and 9th in quarterback hurries. That will be useful against a Denver offensive line that is 22nd in sacks allowed and 5th-worst in the league with 16.7% of drives ending in a turnover. Obviously, having Drew Lock, Melvin Gordon, and Phillip Lindsay back will help the Broncos offense overall, but they don't have the firepower to keep up with the Chiefs and their defense is too banged up to keep the Chiefs from scoring. That will mean the Broncos will be forced to pass in the second half, which will lead to more blitzes, sacks, and turnovers for the Chiefs defense.

The Rams had been riding high on defense before falling short against the 49ers on Sunday night. However, maybe you're noticing a trend, but the Bears offense is simply not as good as the 49ers with all their pieces back. The Bears are 15th in sacks allowed, 18th in passing yards, 25th in rushing yards, and 27th in drives ending in points. While their sack numbers aren't egregious, the Rams defense is 5th in the league in sacks and 5th in drives ending in points against. With Jalen Ramsey likely shadowing Allen Robinson, I don't expect the Bears to be able to move the ball much in this game, which will allow more chances for Aaron Donald and company to get to a super immobile Nick Foles.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense  vs. LV 10.9
6 2 San Francisco 49ers Defense   @ NE 10.6
7 2 New York Giants Defense @ PHI 10.3
8 2 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense @ TEN 9.8

Tampa Bay thoroughly dominated Green Bay on Sunday, so it's not too much to expect a similar outing against a lesser-talented Las Vegas team. It's clear that losing Vita Vea didn't inhibit the Bucs' ability to stop the run. They're tops in the NFL with only 3.0 yards allowed per carry, which should help them against a Raiders' offense that relies heavily on Josh Jacobs. The Bucs are 3rd-best in pressure rate at 28.3% and second-best sack total, which means that, despite the Raiders not allowing many sacks this season, the Bucs should still be able to generate pressure on Derek Carr and the offense. That's good news considering Las Vegas is 9th-worst in the league in drives ending in turnovers. I expect Tampa Bay to score nearly at will against this Las Vegas defense, and even if the Raiders do put up points, they will also likely cough up a few turnovers. Tampa Bay is just playing too well to bet against right now.

The 49ers came to play on Sunday against the Rams, starting to look a little more like the playoff contenders they've been in recent years. Despite their rash of injuries, they are still fifth in the league in pressure rate, third in quarterback knockdowns and fourth in quarterback hurries. As we saw on Sunday against the Broncos, this is not the same Patriots offense, even with Cam Newton back. They are 17th in sacks allowed, 30th in passing yards, 7th-worst in drives ending in points, and worst in the league in drives ending in an offensive turnover at 19.2%. The Patriots are unlikely to put up lots of points against this 49ers defense, which raises their defensive floor and it wouldn't surprise me if San Francisco can also notch a few sacks and force some turnovers.

I honestly can't believe I have the Giants this high, but here we are. They just finished as a top-10 unit against Washington and now will face an Eagles offense that will be without Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz and possibly still without Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson. This is also an Eagles offense that is dead last in sacks allowed, 26th in yards per play, and 27th in drives ending in a turnover. Also, this Giants defense hasn't been as bad as many think. James Bradbury has been great in shadow coverage against opponents' top receivers, and the team is 9th in pressure rate, 10th in sacks, and 10th in quarterback knockdowns. With the Eagles not even entirely sure who will be starting for them at right guard on Thursday, I expect the Giants to be able to get into Carson Wentz's face throughout what should be an ugly game with lots of turnovers.

The Steelers absolutely dismantled the Browns on Sunday. Now they will get a much stiffer test in the Tennessee Titans. I think the Steelers are the best defense in the NFL, but the Titans are no joke on offense, so it moves Pittsburgh down a little bit in our weekly ranks. The Titans offense is second in the league in drives that end in a score, fourth in the league in yards per play, and best in the league in sacks allowed. However, there is only so far down that I can drop a Steelers defense that is the best pressure defense in the NFL by a large margin. Their 38.9% pressure rate is well above the second-best rate of 29.2%. The Steelers blitz the most in the league (46.3%), have the most quarterback hurries, and are 2nd-best in yards per rushing attempt at 3.3 yards. Add to that the fact that the Titans just lost starting left tackle Taylor Lewan to a torn ACL, and I think the Steelers will be able to get some pressure on Ryan Tannehill in this game.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Los Angeles Chargers Defense vs. JAX 9.3
10 3 Cleveland Browns Defense @ CIN 8.9
11 3 New England Patriots Defense vs. SF 8.6
12 3 New Orleans Saints Defense vs. CAR 8.3
13 3 Chicago Bears Defense @ LAR 7.7
14 3 Washington Football Team Defense vs. DAL 7.5
15 3 Green Bay Packers Defense @ HOU 6.9

The Chargers are fresh off the bye and have two weeks to prepare for a Jaguars offense that has been struggling with consistency of late. While Jacksonville is 6th in passing yards, Minshew has also thrown 11 interceptions, the offensive line has given up the 18th most sacks, and the Jaguars have the 7th-most drives ending in a turnover. The Chargers may only have eight sacks on the season, but they are 11th in pressure rate and 3rd in quarterback hurries. The Chargers are getting healthier on defense with Melvin Ingram and Justin Jones back both at practice. If either one of them, or both, is able to return on Sunday, it would be a big boost to a pass rush that could wreak havoc on an over-matched Jaguars offensive line.

As I mentioned above, the Browns got trampled on Sunday by the Steelers, but their defense had been playing good football up until that point. They will also face a much softer test this week. The Bengals are 31st in the NFL in sacks allowed, 24th in drives ending in points, and have an offensive line that has been below average in almost every blocking metric. The Browns defense is 6th in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing only 3.6 yards per attempt, but they have been destroyed through the slot. That means the Bengals only hope is Joe Burrow to Tyler Boyd. If the Browns can build an early lead against a bad Bengals Defense and force passing downs, it will give more opportunity for sacks for a defense that is 2nd in the NFL in quarterback hurries and 2nd-best in the league in drives that end in an offensive turnover at 18.2%.

The Patriots defense certainly wasn't the reason they lost to the Broncos on Sunday. They are 4th in the league in pressure rate and best in the league in drives ending in a defensive turnover. That pressure will be a factor on Sunday considering the 49ers are 27th in the league in sacks allowed and may not have as strong of a running game with Raheem Mostert out to keep the Patriots from coming after Jimmy Garropolo. What keeps me from pushing the Patriots into the top-10 is the fact that their defensive faults have been overshadowed a bit by the talent-level of opponents and gamescript. They are 18th in the NFL in yards per play allowed, 13th in yards allowed per carry, 15th in drives ending in a score, and 27th in yards allowed per pass attempt. The 49ers offense is middle of the road in drives ending in turnover and has been much better at protecting the ball with Jimmy G and Deebo Samuel back in the lineup. I expect them to take better care of the ball and scheme ways to take advantage of a Patriots defense that is giving up a fair amount of yards per play and surviving by slowing down the pace of play.

The Saints will come off their bye week with two weeks to prepare for a Carolina offense that is 19th in sacks allowed and just scored 16 points against the Bears. Teddy Bridgewater has been solid for the Panthers, but he also has five interceptions to only six touchdowns on the season. With the Saints offense expected to get Michael Thomas back, they should exploit a vulnerable Panthers Defense and force Bridgewater to have to throw often to keep up. That will leave open opportunities for a defense that had the bye week to get healthy. What this comes down to for me is simply that the Saints have been a strong defensive unit for a couple of years now and have too many good players to keep giving up this many yards and touchdowns through the air. With Sean Payton and company coming out of the bye week, I expect them to begin to right the ship.

The Bears defense showed up to play against a solid Panthers offense on Sunday, but this still a defense that is underperforming its previous levels. They are 21st in pressure rate, 24th in quarterback hurry percentage, and 15th in drives ending in an offensive turnover. The best way to slow down the Rams offense is to get pressure on Jared Goff. However, the Bears pressure rate matched up against a Rams offense that is 4th in the league in sacks allowed doesn't give me confidence that Goff will be under a lot of pressure. That means he can manage an offense that is 10th in yards per play and 4th in expected points contributed by the offense.

What we saw from the Cowboys offense on Monday night made me even more confident in playing the Washington defense against them. The Cowboys may be 21st in sacks allowed, but their cobbled together offensive line gave up a ton of pressure against the Cardinals, and the task won't be any easier against a Washington team that is 8th in sacks, 13th in pressure rate, and 11th in quarterback hurry rate. The Cowboys offense is 31st in the NFL in offensive drives ending in a turnover and clearly doesn't have the firepower to score quickly with Andy Dalton under center. I don't expect Washington to handle them the way Arizona did, but a few turnovers and sacks seem likely.

The Bills' offense set the league on fire for the first four weeks, but we've seen the return of frazzled Josh Allen. The strong-armed quarterback has continued to score points and gain yardage with his legs, but he has also begun turning the ball over a bit more and the Bills are now 25th in the league drives ending in a turnover. The Jets get pressure at a below-average rate and their offense continues to put the defense in poor positions, but if Josh Allen is trending towards past issues with inaccuracy and holding onto the ball too long, it's likely going to lead to some questionable decisions, sacks, and maybe turnovers.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Dallas Cowboys Defense @ WAS 6.7
17 4 Tennessee Titans Defense vs. PIT 6.3
18 4 New York Jets Defense vs. BUF 5.9
19 4 Denver Broncos Defense vs. KC 5.1
20 4 Cincinnati Bengals Defense vs. CLE 4.9
21 4 Seattle Seahawks Defense @ ARI 4.4
22 4 Atlanta Falcons Defense vs. DET 3.9

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
23 5 Arizona Cardinals Defense vs. SEA 3.4
24 5 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. LAC 2.9
25 5 Las Vegas Raiders Defense vs. TB 2.3
26 5 Detroit Lions Defense @ ATL 1.9
27 5 Houston Texans Defense vs. GB 1.1
28 5 Carolina Panthers Defense @ NO 0.9
29 5 Miami Dolphins Defense BYE 0.0
30 5 Baltimore Ravens Defense BYE 0.0
31 5 Indianapolis Colts Defense BYE 0.0
32 5 Minnesota Vikings Defense BYE 0.0


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Week 7 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

This NFL season continues to be the weirdest one that I’ve seen in my lifetime. In Week 6, we saw games that we expected to be close turn into blowouts, and we had blowouts turn into close games. If it weren’t for some winding back the clock magic by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, they were headed towards another loss to a bad Cincinnati Bengals team. 

We saw some explosive kicker performances in Week 6. Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus single-handedly beat the New England Patriots, as he scored all 18 of the team’s points en route to a 24-point fantasy outing. Younghoe Koo of the Atlanta Falcons also broke 20 thanks to his team’s 40-point scoring outburst.

With COVID-19 continuing to weave its way through NFL locker rooms, bye weeks are getting more and more difficult to navigate. We have four teams currently slated for byes this week in the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. A couple of these guys have been locked for fantasy lineups, so you could be forced into a switch here.

 

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

  1. Mason Crosby (GB) @ HOU
  2. Harrison Butker (KC) @ DEN
  3. Wil Lutz (NO) vs CAR
  4. Matt Prater (DET) @ ATL
  5. Brandon McManus (DEN) vs KC

The Green Bay Packers got absolutely waxed in Week 6 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite that, Crosby gets the top spot. Crosby has been automatic and the Houston Texans are the perfect get-right spot. Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker grabs our second spot. The Chiefs can still put up points in bunches, and they’ll be looking to thrive in that thin Denver air, even if he hasn't been nearly as accurate this year. 

New Orleans Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz is up next. This offense has been playing well, and they should be getting All-Pro wide receiver, Michael Thomas, back. The recipe is there for a big week. Detroit Lions’ kicker Matt Prater slides in at four this week. Detroit has scored at least 20 points in every game this season, and the Atlanta Falcons’ defense is still not that good. Denver Broncos’ kicker Brandon McManus rounds out the top five. His offense isn’t perfect, but they’re serviceable. At home against a KC defense that has been suspect over the last three years, he should get into scoring range frequently.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

  1. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) vs SEA
  2. Tyler Bass (BUF) @ NYJ
  3. Chris Boswell (PIT) @ TEN
  4. Younghoe Koo (ATL) vs DET
  5. Jason Myers (SEA) @ ARI

We have Arizona Cardinals’ kicker Zane Gonzelez up to start the second tier. This Cardinals’ offense is still finding their footing, but just about anyone can put points up on Seattle. Buffalo Bills’ kicker Tyler Bass comes in seventh. The New York Jets are bad, and the Bills are good on offense. That is all. Pittsburgh Steelers’ kicker Chris Boswell is in the middle of these ranks this week. This team is just playing good football. It’s not pretty, but it works. I think they move the ball better than their Tennessee Titan opponents in Week 7.

Koo grabs the ninth spot. This offense showed their explosiveness in Week 6, and they can do that again against the Lions’ defense that is allowing over 28 points per game on average this season. Seattle Seahawks’ kicker Jason Myers rounds out our second tier. This Seattle team is just firing away right now, and they’re not going to slow down against the Cardinals. Plug him in once again.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

  1. Michael Badgley (LAC) vs JAX
  2. Ryan Succop (TB) @ LV
  3. Robbie Gould (SF) @ NE
  4. Stephen Gostkowski (TEN) vs PIT
  5. Greg Zuerlein (DAL) @ WAS

Los Angeles Chargers’ kicker Michael Badgley is 11th in our rankings. Even if this team isn’t going to compete for a title, they’re finding ways to score, and that will continue against a Jacksonville Jaguars Defense that’s giving up 30 points per game. Buccaneers’ kicker Ryan Succop slides in at 12. Tampa has all of their pieces back, and they’re going to continue to get in sync as the season moves along.

San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould is next. The 49ers moved the ball well against the Los Angeles Rams, and I think they can put up some points on the road this week. Titans’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski comes in at 14. The Titans are humming right now, but this is a tough defensive matchup. Some regression should be expected here. Dallas Cowboys’ kicker Greg Zuerlein rounds out the ranks this week. This offense has too many weapons not to score points against the Washington Football Team regardless of quarterback or location. They should bounce back enough to make Zuerlein at least streamable.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Sam Ficken is our first avoidance of the week because *checks notes* Adam Gase is still the head coach. Even if quarterback Sam Darnold returns, I don’t want any piece of the Jets regardless of the matchup. 

Jonathan Brown of the Jaguars grabs our second spot. This Jaguars roster continues to struggle after a surprising win to start the season. Until they’re able to turn things around, Brown just can’t be trusted to produce. The Jags have been inclined to go for it on fourth downs rather than attempt a long field goal these days.

Joey Slye of the Carolina Panthers grabs our final spot. This New Orleans Saints team will be looking to come out and make a statement, and they can make that over this young Panthers’ roster. Teddy Bridgewater finally struggled in Week 6 and could do so again this week.



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Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 7

Week 6 of the NFL season has mostly come and gone and it was one of the more explosive offensive showcases yet. Six quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards, three quarterbacks passed for four touchdowns, and another three signal-callers had three passing scores. NFL teams have continued to feast on defenses that missed out on training camp and have a bunch of moving parts. Thankfully, we also avoided major injuries to quarterbacks this week after a week that saw Dak Prescott lost for the year.

The grind doesn’t stop in fantasy football and we cannot rest on our laurels. Four teams have bye weeks in week 7, and three of them feature perennial QB1’s this season. The Colts, Dolphins, Vikings, and Ravens will be getting a week off (unless COVID shenanigans move schedules around again), so we will need to find some upside plays.

In this article, I will be focusing on players who are under 65% rostered in fantasy leagues while adding a couple of deep sleepers for two-quarterback leagues (less than 20% rostered).

 

Top QB Streamers and Adds

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Yahoo: 60% rostered ESPN: 51.2% rostered

Despite leading the league in interceptions (9), Carson Wentz has had surprisingly steady fantasy numbers the past four weeks. Wentz has scored at least 21 fantasy points in three of the last four weeks and has thrown for at least two touchdowns in each of his last two games against the Steelers and Ravens. Wentz is doing all this despite missing four offensive lineman and his top passing weapons being Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward Jr., and Zach Ertz. As time goes on, Dallas Goedert and Jalen Reagor should return, boosting his ability to establish a higher weekly floor. His next two opponents are the Giants and Cowboys, two weak defenses that should allow Wentz to succeed regardless of the players around him.

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Yahoo: 54% rostered ESPN: 45.6% rostered

Fantasy players will likely have just one more chance to capitalize on having Justin Herbert on the waiver wire thanks to his bye week. Heading into the bye, Herbert threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns against the Saints despite losing Keenan Allen early in the game. Herbert will have a healthy Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry coming out of the bye, three players that should help him maintain his high fantasy floor. Matchups against the Jaguars, Broncos, Raiders, Dolphins, and Jets have high shootout potential, giving Herbert fringe QB1/QB2 upside for the next five weeks. That can only come in handy as you navigate byes and potential COVID shutdowns.

Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys

Yahoo: 32% rostered ESPN: 24.4% rostered

If your league allows rolling waivers for players who haven’t played, you may want to do yourself a favor and snag Andy Dalton before tonight’s contest. Dalton was 9 of 11 for 111 yards in cleanup duty against the Giants, leading Dallas to a win after Dak Prescott’s devastating leg injury. Dalton has a history of producing QB1 numbers (yes, I know it has been a few years) and finds himself in an offensive system with coaches that know how to get the most out of quarterbacks. It also helps to have one of the best running backs and three wide receivers who could be the top pass catcher on a majority of NFL teams.

Dalton has an embarrassment of riches and plays in one of the softest divisions in terms of team defenses. Grab him while you can.

 

2QB League Options and Stashes

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

Yahoo: 23% rostered ESPN: 22.5% rostered

Derek Carr gets a bad reputation as a game manager, but he has quietly put together a really good fantasy season so far. Carr has thrown for 1,442 yards and 11 touchdowns with just one interception in five games for the Raiders this season. He has also had three games with at least 20 fantasy points so far this year. Carr is a matchup dependent QB2 but isn’t going to make mistakes and has an array of explosive weapons in the passing game that give him great value as a fantasy quarterback. He may not win you many weeks outright, but he is a consistently solid play and worthy of a bench spot on most teams.

Kyle Allen, Washington Football Team

Yahoo: 3% rostered ESPN: 1.6% rostered

Despite Alex Smith taking over for the Washington Football Team in Week 5, Ron Rivera went right back to Kyle Allen in week 6. Allen played with for the WFT’ers, going 31 of 42 for 280 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. If Allen can limit the turnovers (unlike last season in Carolina), he has a solid array of players around him that can move the football. Like Andy Dalton, Allen gets the benefit of playing in the NFC East with their terrible secondaries.

If Allen can hold on to the starting job, he will face the Cowboys, followed by a bye, and then the Giants, Lions, Bengals, and Cowboys again. That is a very soft passing schedule for a quarterback that unseated a former first-round pick. Don’t use Allen as your QB1, but he is worth a stash in deeper leagues as bye weeks approach.



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Top IDP Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 7

Pickings can always be slim in deep IDP leagues, but this year it is looking thinner than usual in even the shallowest of setups. In fact, going shopping for IDP players in 2020 can often feel like you’re going to the grocery store for filet mignon, only to bring home a roll of toilet paper and a tube of Preparation H. Sure, that hemorrhoid cream may come in helpful someday… but it isn’t what you went to the store to get. And it definitely isn’t going to serve the same purpose as the steak you meant to buy but never got… at least I hope it won’t. But maybe it will? I mean, who am I to judge what you do and don’t eat? If you want to eat Preparation H, you do you!

Anyways, the point is that pickings can be slim out there on the IDP waiver wire, depending on your league’s scoring and roster setups. That doesn’t mean there aren’t guys available who can help you, though. It also doesn’t mean that you should dump your starter after one bad game, nor should you keep starting a big name who has played like a bust all season (i.e., Cory Littleton). You must be a reasonable and vigilant manager, which means you should occasionally to listen to my (sometimes) passable advice!

P.S. Thank you for finally rostering Jeremy Chinn in over 25% of IDP leagues! We can finally remove him from this list!

 

IDP Settings

As a reminder, we will use the following IDP designations/league settings for our FAAB recommendations:

  • Standard Scoring Leagues: This system usually rewards 1-point per tackle, 3-points per sack, 4-points per turnover, and sometimes offers 2-points for a tackle for loss (TFL) or pass deflection (PD). Standard leagues also usually only start one DL, LB, and DB, respectively. You will always prioritize your FAAB budget towards offensive players in Standard Scoring IDP leagues, though you shouldn't underestimate the value of adding a great defender in them.
  • Defense Premium Leagues: Defense Premium leagues tend to try to make defensive players worth as much as offensive players. Commissioners often accomplish this by rewarding 2-points per tackle, 3-points for TFL or PDs, 4-points per sack, and 6-points per turnover. In these leagues, you don't necessarily prioritize offensive players on waivers. While it is a case-by-case analysis, defenders in these leagues can often be worth as much as most offensive waiver additions.
  • Deep Defense Leagues: These are leagues that have you start a full defense, or require you to start CBs and DTs, or they are leagues so deep (think 16 team leagues) that at least 32 players at each position (DL, LB, and DB) start every week.
  • Dynasty Leagues: This is self-explanatory to most. Dynasty leagues are those in which every player you draft/add is on your team until you trade or release him.

Now that we have that explanation out of the way, let's get to this week's top adds! Remember that we will only address defenders who are rostered in less than 30% of IDP leagues on ESPN, Yahoo, or other prominent sites. We will also do our best to avoid obvious additions. While players like Myles Garrett are somehow rostered in only 31% of ESPN IDP leagues, we assume that anyone reading this material knows to add Garrett if they can.

 

1. Chase Young, DL, Washington Football Team

Young was on this list last week, and his roster percentage hasn’t gone up at all since then. While Young didn’t take advantage of a great matchup in Week 6, there are few defenders with his weekly upside. He is a must roster in dynasty leagues, Deep Defense leagues, and pretty much all IDP formats.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 3%

Defense Premium FAAB: 4%

Deep Defense FAAB: 5%

Dynasty FAAB: 5%

2. Jason Pierre-Paul, DL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pierre-Paul is a relatively obvious name that was left off of some of our early lists because we assumed he would be picked up in a large number of leagues relatively early in the season without our help. However, that does not appear to be the case as Pierre-Paul is still available in approximately 85% of IDP leagues.

The guy is third in the NFL in sacks right now and he has done well against some top-notch blocking units, like the one in Green Bay. He should be rostered in all IDP leagues where he qualifies as a DL, and in Defense Premium leagues as either a DL or LB.

Standard League FAAB: 1%

Defense Premium FAAB: 4%

Deep Defense FAAB: 4%

Dynasty: 1%

3. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys

Vander Esch’s roster percentage only dropped low enough to qualify for this column because of his recent collarbone injury. Now that the former Boise State star is back on the field, he should be rostered in more than 25% of leagues… but he isn’t.

The kid has averaged nearly six solo-tackles per game for his career and over eight total tackles per game, which means he has a lot of value in Standard IDP setups and in leagues that place a premium on tackles. His youth and ability to tip passes mean he isn’t just worth rostering in Standard leagues, though. Vander Esch should be rostered in almost all IDP leagues with ten or more teams.

Side note- Jaylon Smith’s fantasy production could eventually take a slight dip when Vander Esch gets up to speed, as the two young thumpers split stats.

Standard League FAAB: Wait

Defense Premium FAAB: 1%

Deep Defense FAAB: 3%

Dynasty FAAB: 1%

4. Carlton Davis, DB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While Davis is only rostered in 11% of fantasy leagues, he sits tied for third in the NFL in interceptions and tied for first in PDs. The Auburn product is also averaging nearly four solo-tackles per game, which means you can count on him in pretty much all IDP scoring formats. This steady fantasy production is largely thanks to the fact opposing passers still target Davis, despite his elite resume. Expect that heavy target share to continue against receivers like Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, and others.

With a heavy target share and terrific ball skills, Davis is probably already rostered in any leagues that require you to start a CB. If he isn’t, he should be. It isn’t just CB mandated leagues where Davis should be rostered, however. He is a top-20 fantasy DB in pretty much every league, every week. Start Davis in all IDP leagues any time he lines up against a stud WR who you know will get targets, like Michael Thomas or Julio Jones.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 2%

Defense Premium FAAB: 8%

Deep Defense FAAB: 8%

Dynasty: 2%

5. Brandon Graham, DL, Philadelphia Eagles

Graham sits fourth in the NFL in both sacks and TFLs this season, and he is on a career high pace in both categories. That pace should continue, as the former Michigan star has six more games this season against pass blocking units that rank in the bottom half of the NFL. Expect this grizzled vet to produce fantasy points in the five remaining games he has against the NFC East, as well as against Seattle. That kind of outlook makes him a worth an add in all 14-team IDP leagues, and in Deep Defense setups.

Standard League FAAB: Wait

Deep Defense FAAB: 2%

Defense Premium FAAB: Wait

6. Leonard Williams, DL, New York Giants

This one is not a flashy or particularly popular name to add to our list, but hear us out. So far, Williams has averaged four tackles, one TFL, and 0.5 sacks per game this season. That isn’t half-bad for fantasy purposes. His overall stats aren’t the primary reason to roster him in deep IDP leagues, though. Rather, the main reason to roster Williams this year is his schedule.

Half of the remaining games on the Giants' schedule this year are against teams who rank in the bottom half of the NFL in Adjusted Sack Rate. That isn't even counting a Dallas offensive line that is declining rapidly without Tyron Smith. These matchups are prime spots for Williams to put up fantasy stats, and he has already shown the ability to take advantage of these kinds of matchups against San Francisco and Washington.

While Williams isn't a must-add in Standard leagues, he is worth considering in Deep Defense IDP leagues. Leave him on your bench half of the time if you like, but you may want to start the former Trojan in matchups with Washington, Philadelphia, Seattle, Cincinnati, and Dallas.

Deep Defense FAAB: Wait

7. Dre Greenlaw, LB, San Francisco 49ers

Greenlaw was on this list last week, and he rewarded those who listened to our advice with eight solo-tackles and a TFL. Those results are consistent with what has happened over the past year when Kwon Alexander is out of the 49ers’ lineup. When Alexander sits, Greenlaw plays close to 100% of the 49ers’ snaps and he rakes in the tackles.

This former Arkansas safety is young and worth a long-term roster spot in deep dynasty leagues. He is also a worthwhile pick-up in deep redraft leagues, or in Standard IDP leagues where you need a guy to fill-in for Darius Leonard or Kwon Alexander.

Standard Scoring FAAB: Wait

Deep Defense FAAB: 1%

Dynasty FAAB: 1%

8. Malcolm Butler, DB, Tennessee Titans

It's been some time since Butler was particularly relevant in anything, but he is having a solid fantasy season so far. Right now, he is averaging six solo-tackles per game, playing a similar role to what Logan Ryan did in Tennessee last year. On top of that, Butler sits tied for seventh in the NFL in PDs, and he has returned his two interceptions for a total of 97 yards, showing big-play potential.

While Butler isn't a long-term asset, and he isn't worth rostering in shallow IDP leagues, he will continue to get you targets and tackles. He is rosterable in Deep Dynasty leagues and, perhaps, in 16-team Defense Premium setups. You won't have to pay much for Butler, either, as his name has lost a lot of luster over the past few years.

Defense Premium FAAB: Wait

Deep Defense FAAB: Wait



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The Cut List (Week 7) - Time to Let Go?

Even in the most bizarre of NFL seasons, the first six weeks of 2020 have provided us plenty of information with which to evaluate most players' rest-of-year outlooks. We've given our fringe starters the chance to show us something. We've held onto that tight end or wide receiver with breakout potential for more than a month, and he's never come off our bench. We've endured the nightmare that is rostering any Jets player not named Jamison Crowder with the belief that someone among that group of professional football players would eventually do something (sorry folks, we're just going to have to wait till the Trevor Lawrence era).

But now we're gearing up for the second-half playoff run, and we simply can't continue to waste roster spots on players who are never going to crack our starting lineups. It is time to start identifying the guys who have a future with our teams, and who to release in favor of giving someone else a shot.

I'm new to this weekly RotoBaller installment (hi, I'm Chris), but I'm going to try to follow the same formula as my predecessor. We'll highlight a few underperforming players who are rostered in 30% of leagues and discuss why it is time to part ways. I'll also include a player or two each week who you might be thinking about dropping, but who is worthy of your patience or confidence. For simplicity's sake, I'm going to use roster percentages from ESPN.com. Let's get going - it's The Cut List for Week 7.

 

Droppable Players

Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams

44.3% rostered

Malcolm Brown inexplicably leads Sean McVay's backfield in snap-count rate after six weeks, but he's been trending down from a performance standpoint ever since Week 1 and that is now beginning to seep into his playing time. Brown logged at least 54% of the offensive snaps in three of the Rams' first four games, but has come in at 38% and 45%, respectively, in the last two.

Don't let McVay's mystifying refusal to let Cam Akers see the field fool you into believing Brown is the guy you want on a muddled Rams RB depth chart. He's averaging under four yards per touch in his last five games and is now being out-snapped by Darrell Henderson Jr. If I'm stashing a Rams running back on my bench, I'd rather have the upside of Akers over the much larger sample of ineffectiveness from Brown.

Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars

71% rostered

Gardner Minshew hasn't been awful, but he's definitely a difficult guy to trust on a weekly basis. He's committed eight turnovers in five games since a spotless Week 1 outing, and those issues are tough to tolerate in fantasy matchups with a fringe starting/streaming option like Minshew. His completion rate has steadily decreased in each of his last four games, from 71.43% in Week 3 to a suspect 56.82% in Week 6, and he hasn't exactly been facing the toughest defensive matchups in that time frame.

His team is usually losing by multiple scores, which certainly aids his cause from a passing volume perspective. But that's the thing with the Jaguars; we have to account for the fact that they are mostly bad on both sides of the ball, and Minshew hasn't yet developed into the type of QB who can overcome that environment consistently.

Perhaps the most telling development in Jacksonville is this peculiar quote from D.J. Chark after a Week 6 drubbing at the hands of the Lions, courtesy of Jaguars.com:

(On what the Lions' defense was doing to make it difficult game for the Jaguars' wide receivers) "I mean, I felt like we were open. Yeah."

Could be nothing. Could be a number-one wideout getting frustrated with the play of his quarterback. Minshew will have his moments the rest of the way in 2020, but he's also going to frustrate you with inconsistency and turnovers. If you want an AFC South QB you're evidently not going to use every week based on his roster percentage, why not just go get Ryan Tannehill, who is inexplicably available in 33.8% of ESPN leagues?

Matt Breida, Miami Dolphins

29.9% rostered

Matt Breida comes in one-tenth of a percentage point below the 30% threshold, but at this point he's clearly an afterthought behind Myles Gaskin. Gaskin is averaging over 20 touches per game in his last four, while Breida's season-high is 10. The workload gap includes both rushing and receiving work; Breida has reeled off a couple of 20-plus-yard gains on receptions in the last three weeks, but he's simply not seeing enough opportunities in that aspect to believe it will materialize into something more. He's seen just six targets in his last three outings.

Breida has just five red-zone carries in Miami's first six games, and none inside the five-yard-line. Considering his scoring-position involvement hasn't changed with Jordan Howard (team-high eight carries inside the five) inactive for the Dolphins' last two games, we can't even count on a cheap touchdown every now and then.

I can understand if you have Gaskin as a weekly starter and you want to hold onto Breida in case of an injury. Otherwise there is just no viable way for him to carve out a reliable fantasy role in the foreseeable future, and I'm not interested in waiting for that to change.

 

Tough Calls

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

96.9% rostered

I can't believe I'm saying this, but unless I have an IR spot on my roster I am considering outright dropping Zach Ertz. What the Eagles have had to deal with in terms of injuries this year is no one's fault but the football gods, but it has adversely affected Ertz in a way I never would have predicted. And now he's hurt, too.

The Eagles have been without Jalen Reagor since Week 3, without DeSean Jackson and Dallas Goedert since Week 4, and Alshon Jeffery hasn't played at all. While conventional wisdom suggests this lack of pass-catching options would funnel an obscene amount of work Ertz's way, the counter to that is opposing defenses have been able to make him a focal point of their game plans. Ertz has been targeted 21 times in Philly's last three games, but he's only hauled in nine of those for a ghastly 48 yards. His first catch of the year was a touchdown, and he doesn't have one since.

After leaving in Week 6 with an ankle injury, Ertz is now expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Look, I know he's Zach Ertz. But one of the toughest things about managing a fantasy team is knowing when to acknowledge that a big-name player isn't producing like a big-name player. The way things have been going, you had to be thinking about benching him for a week at the very least anyway. Now with the injury, you might not have the roster depth to justify holding an inactive tight end who's been torpedoing your lineup on a weekly basis. Again, if you have an IR spot available, slot him in there and hope for a late-season resurgence. If not, you're placing an awful lot of faith in a situation that hasn't treated you well in 2020.

 

Hold For Now

N'Keal Harry, New England Patriots

33.1% rostered

I won't attempt to articulate how disgusted I am with the Patriots after their Week 6 loss to a Broncos team that didn't even get into the endzone, nor will I try to find some higher meaning in the fact that N'Keal Harry caught zero passes on two targets in a game in which the Patriots spent nearly the entire time trailing by at least a touchdown.

What I am willing to do is write off the last few weeks of the Patriots' season as... weird. The offense was clicking through three weeks before a string of COVID-related issues shut down their practice facilities, rescheduled their Week 4 game, took their starting quarterback off the field for that Week 4 game, and ultimately forced them into an emergency Week 5 bye. In a sport so reliant on unit cohesion, it's hard to expect a team to function effectively with all that going on. So let's turn the page and look at how things were going for Harry before it happened.

In Weeks 1-3, Cam Newton attempted 91 total passes. Harry was targeted 22 times in that span, good for a 24.2% target share. Per Lineups.com, only five players in the league are seeing a target share above 24% as of this writing: DeAndre Hopkins, Stefon Diggs, Terry McLaurin, Keenan Allen, and Adam Thielen. I'm not saying Harry is destined to become a weekly WR1, but I'm willing to wait to see if that level of opportunity returns for him.

For good measure, guess who leads the Patriots in red-zone targets? Harry's eight targets inside the 20 are tied for the second-highest total in the league. Don't quit on him just yet. Give the well-coached Patriots a chance to get back into the swing of things now that their COVID troubles are (hopefully) behind them.

Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers

65.9% rostered

I don't quite know that you're looking to jettison Robert Tonyan after one questionable performance, but I figured I'd talk you off the ledge just in case you're worried about that performance coinciding with the return of Davante Adams. After obliterating opposing fantasy teams with 13 catches for 173 yards and five touchdowns in Weeks 2-4, Tonyan posted a pedestrian three receptions for 25 yards on four targets in Week 6 with Adams back in the fold. To be honest, four targets is actually kind of a lot for anyone sharing a field with Adams; as we're all aware, Aaron Rodgers loves to force the ball into the hands of his favorite receiver (and he threw to him 10 times on Sunday).

To me, Tonyan's dud in Week 6 was less about Adams coming back and more about the Packers failing to respond to being punched in the mouth by the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay boasts one of the league's better pass defenses, and after jumping out to a surprisingly big second-quarter lead despite beginning the game down 10-0, they were able to force Rodgers to try to beat them through the air. He didn't. Rodgers posted what has got to be a bottom-10 performance in his entire career, completing 45.7% of his throws with zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

I think I speak for everyone when I say I don't expect that to happen again this season, and also that I don't expect the Packers as a team to lose anymore games by four touchdowns. The Packers offense is absolutely surgical when they are able to dictate the pace of the game, which they normally are. And in the weeks they were able to do that before this forgettable rout, Tonyan was heavily featured and extremely effective. He should remain a fine low-end TE1 going forward.

 

Other Options To Consider



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Deeper League Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

The NFL proceeded with Week 6 after several COVID scares last week. Fortunately, no games were canceled and teams were back in action. With a lot of players injured right now, the waiver wire has proved to be incredibly important in terms of getting solid streamers and depth.

At this point, many fantasy managers have likely figured out their weekly starters, but with bye weeks coming now, it’s important to have good substitutes. That’s where the depth comes in and this week offers the chance to pick up some very good options for your team.

As always, players in this deep league column are going to be rostered at or below 15% in Yahoo leagues. Let’s look at some “sleepers” for you to consider.

 

Free Agent Quarterbacks

Nick Foles, Chicago Bears- 10%

The Bears are 5-1 and the wins haven’t always been pretty. One thing for sure is that Nick Foles has helped this team much more with his veteran presence. Look, deep league pickups at QB are going to be limited, but you can’t do much worse than Foles. When looking at other options like Sam Darnold and Kyle Allen, Foles may as well seem like an elite fantasy addition. He does have one passing touchdown in the past three games along with over 200 yards passing in two of those contests as well.

 

Free Agent Running Backs

Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals- 6%

Giovani Bernard stepped in during Week 6 after RB1 Joe Mixon went down with a foot injury. Now, Mixon’s status remains unclear going forward, which means Bernard is a terrific insurance policy. If Mixon misses any time, Bernard will be the RB1 and could take on a huge workload. Cincy’s RB2 did have a rush touchdown in Week 6 and ended up with eight carries.

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens- 3%

An ankle injury sustained by RB1 Mark Ingram meant a bigger role for Gus Edwards in Week 6. The back finished with 14 carries for 26 yards and a score. Like Giovani Bernard, Gus Edwards is a good insurance policy pick up this week in case Ingram can’t play. Edwards would be a bigger factor in the game plan as the likely RB1.

 

Free Agent Wide Receivers

Greg Ward, Philadelphia Eagles- 11%

The Eagles lost another pass-catcher in Zach Ertz during Week 6. With their main TEs out and the star WRs still hampered for the most part, Ward should remain a factor in the passing game. He’s a good stash at this point more than anything considering he hasn’t gotten more than 38 yards in the past three games.

James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers- 10%

Amidst all the spotlight fellow receiver Chase Claypool has been put under, James Washington has been quietly putting up good numbers this season too. He finished Week 6 with four receptions for 68 yards and a score on seven targets. He has also seen at least three targets in five games as well. Washington will remain a factor in this passing game, though his production each week will likely vary. He’s still a flex consideration.

Adam Humphries, Tennessee Titans- 9%

Humphries has been quietly productive as the Titans’ WR3 this season. He finished Week 6 with six receptions for 64 yards and a score on six targets. The wideout has also gotten at least four receptions, 41 yards, and six targets in four games played thus far. That’s about as consistent as you will find on this column. Humphries is a solid depth piece and potential starter.

Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts- 6%

Pascal had a terrific Week 6, accumulating four receptions for 54 yards and a score on seven targets. Now the WR2 on the Colts, Pascal has seen at least seven targets and 54 yards in two of the past three games. That bodes well for his fantasy value going forward, making him a worthy addition.

Kendrick Bourne, San Francisco 49ers- 4%

Bourne may not be explosive, but his role in this passing game has been stable during 2020. The receiver has seen at least four targets in five of six games and has recorded at least 40 yards in three of six games. He’s developed some consistency and is worth a stash.

Damiere Byrd, New England Patriots- 4%

With New England lacking weapons in the passing game, 27-year-old Damiere Byrd has emerged as a solid option for Cam Newton. The South Carolina product has been inconsistent, but productive when given the chance to shine. He can be a great deep league starter if his numbers become more consistent weekly. For now, he’s at least worth a stash.

Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears- 2%

2020 pick Darnell Mooney is now becoming a bigger factor in this Nick Foles-led Chicago offense. What’s encouraging is the receiver has seen at least five targets in the past four games. What’s not is his inconsistent production (52 yards in Week 4, 19 yards in Week 5). This adds up to Mooney being a good stash for right now with room to become a starter if he becomes consistent.

 

Free Agent Tight Ends

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team- 15%

Though the production has not been there, the targets have been for TE Logan Thomas on a Washington team that features unknown pass-catchers aside from Terry McLaurin. Thomas has gotten at least four targets in all six games thus far, which is encouraging for his value on this offense. However, he has only recorded over 30 yards in three of six games. All in all, Thomas is worth storing as TE depth on your team, especially considering bye weeks are now in full swing and many star TEs will not be playing some weeks.

Darren Fells, Houston Texans- 5%

Last week, I talked about Darren Fells and his rise in 2019. Well, his 2020 season is now starting to get better as he posted his best numbers of the season in Week 6. He scored another touchdown this past week and added six receptions for 85 yards on seven targets. Fells and Deshaun Watson have a solid rapport and the player could be a worthy bye-week fill-in at TE along with having the potential to be a TE2 if his numbers stay like this.

Richard Rodgers, Philadelphia Eagles- 0%

With the Eagles now down their top-two TEs, Richard Rodgers will see his role become larger going forward. When considering the injured WR corp on this team too, Rodgers’ fantasy value should escalate a bit right now, making him a solid addition this week. He also has the potential to be a good fantasy starter for deep leagues, but it’s best to monitor how he does in the first couple of games with an expanded role.



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Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 7

After the NFL started with a scorching hot offensive showcase, last week was somewhat of a letdown. Many players came back down to earth for the first time this year. From the Tampa Bay defense smothering Aaron Rodgers to the Cardinals overpowering the dwindling Cowboys, something just didn’t feel the same last week. Thankfully, we have some great matchups in week 7 to fix that.

What is usually a tight division rivalry will have a new look this Thursday as both the Giants and the Eagles have multiple offensive injuries. Given the list of notable players above, it is clear that lots of players who are usually buried on the depth chart will have their time to shine this Thursday. Who will be up to the challenge?

It all starts on Thursday night with a division rivalry. Unfortunately, lots of players are injured, but the one thing you can’t take away is how much this game means for both teams. The winner of this game should be first in the division heading into this weekend. With so much on the line, it has to be a good game. Here is your Thursday night preview for Week 7.

 

NYG @ PHI 8:20 pm EST

Notable Injuries

 

Must-Starts

Carson Wentz (QB, PHI): After looking like he should be benched for Jalen Hurts in the first half, Wentz led his team to a 22 point fourth quarter against Baltimore’s stout defense last week. Though the comeback fell short, it was very impressive to see, especially given that prior to this performance, Wentz was commonly seen to be having a “down” year. What many people don’t realize is that he is the QB10 on the year and remains one of the most steady quarterbacks in the NFL.

For the second straight year, the Eagles pass catchers all seem to be getting injured. Thankfully, there is a possibility that Goedert, Jeffery, Jackson, and Reagor all back for this game. If even one of those weapons comes back this week, Wentz is a must-start.

Graham Gano (K, NYG): Yes, Gano makes this section. Currently, he is tied for fourth in field goal attempts, hitting 15 of 16, and has yet to miss an extra point. Rivalries usually bode well for the kickers, and I don’t think this game will be any different. Besides, don’t you remember when Jake Elliott hit that 61 yarder to win the game? It might be time for the Giants to return the favor.

 

Solid Options

Darius Slayton (WR, NYG): It might come as a surprise, but Slayton is currently the WR-20 in Half PPR formats. In the last two games, he has racked up 170 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions. He is proving himself to be the WR-one on this team and is the only real deep threat on the roster. If Shephard comes back, he might see less volume, but I think it is time to give Slayton the respect he deserves and put him in your lineup. Darius Slay returning for the Eagles is the only reason I am placing him outside of the “Must-Start” tier.

Travis Fulgham (WR, PHI): Wow, if Slayton surprised you, just wait for this guy. Travis “Full-Yard” Fulgham was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 184th pick in 2019. Since then, he has had a nine-day stint with the Packers and joined the Eagles right before this season. With the current state of the Packers’ receivers, maybe they should have looked closer at this guy. Anyways, in Fulgham’s three games played, he is averaging six receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown.

To put this in perspective, he is currently averaging THE MOST fantasy points per game of all Wide Receivers (18.5). If Jeffery or Jackson come back soon, he may lose some volume, and like Slayton, he’ll have a great corner covering him in James Bradberry. This combination pushes him outside of the “Must Start” options. Even though it’ll seem risky, it’s time we stand in the flames and start him this week as a solid option.

Devonta Freeman (RB, NYG): Full disclosure, I do not think Devonta Freeman looks like a back talented enough to turn down a $4 million contract from Seattle. Having said that, last week Freeman was the only running back on the roster to have a rush attempt. There is no question he is the guy in New York. It is hard to find any back with that kind of workload, and he is going against a defense that is allowing the 12th-most rushing yards per game. I’m giving you the confidence to make him a relative must-start, RB-two/flex play this week. 

Daniel Jones (QB, NYG): I can’t believe I am doing this. Trust me, I don’t want to do this, but Daniel Jones should be in consideration in many 2QB leagues and 12+ team, single QB leagues. Hear me out.

Yes, Jones has yet to crack 18 fantasy points this year. And yes, four of his weeks are under ten points, but I like this matchup. Division game, against a defense that is allowing an average of 355.2 passing yards per game, plus he might get Sterling Shephard back. It might be gross, but the stars are aligning. The hidden gem for me is that Jones currently has the fourth-most rushing yards at the position. That’s only behind Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, and Cam Newton!

With the rushing floor, the passing volume, and if he can hang onto the ball (big IF) he should have a good week. I would start him over Sam Darnold vs. Buffalo, Drew Lock @Kansas, and Gardner Minshew @LA Chargers.

 

Potential Sleepers

Sterling Shepard (WR, NYG): Shepard looks to return to the field after his three-game absence on the IR. In the one full game we have seen, Shepard brought in 6 receptions for 47 yards. The next week, while only playing 23% of snaps due to injury, he was targeted four times. We’ve seen Jones hyper-target Shepard before, and with Tate disappointing lately, I’d keep my eye on Shepard. 

Evan Engram (TE, NYG): Fun fact: in Engram’s matchups against the Eagles he is averaging 10 targets, 6.5 receptions, and 66 yards. Fantastic. However, it is important to note that he has only played the Eagles twice in his career… and both times were in his rookie season. Ouch. This is the perfect section for Engram because all he has done is sleep. One of my favorite tight ends to draft this season, has shockingly underperformed. I blame a lot of this on the entire team looking horrific, however, you still expect more from the fourth-year tight end.

Given the tight end landscape, if you are looking to move away from Engram and stream the position, I’m going to encourage you not to. I would rather play Engram with his talent and his 17.4% target share over players like Eric Ebron, Trey Burton, and Logan Thomas this week. 

Since I’m already in the flames, I might as well start playing with fire. I’d like to make Engram my Pie Shop call for this week. The Eagles have allowed six touchdowns in six weeks to the tight end position, making this Engram’s best chance to get his first receiving touchdown of the season.

*Pie Shop: An Australian term (usually used in Rugby League) to describe who will score a Try (or in this case touchdown) this week.

 

Consider Sitting

Boston Scott (RB, PHI): This might surprise some people, especially with Miles Sanders out, all the FAAB that was spent, and the fact that we know Scott is the next man up. Although he hasn’t shown much this year, he did end last year on a 33.8 fantasy game without Sanders. I’m not saying this can’t happen again, as he should get the majority of the work for a team that is 12th in rushing yards per game. However, if there is one bright spot on the Giants’ defense, it’s their defensive line. Despite trailing in almost every game they’ve played, they are currently allowing the eighth fewest rushing yards against.

I suspect this to be a tight game and for Corey Clement to get some work as well. Thankfully Scott should receive all the passing work making him game-script proof. I believe he will be a fine volume flex-play in any PPR format, but I am placing him in the “sit” section to warn people he might not have been worth the FAAB this week.

Dallas Goedert (TE, PHI): Before you read any further, as of this writing Goedert is still questionable to play. If he does, most people will think he is a smash-play. However, I think there’s something else going on with the Eagles.

Yes, Ertz looks like his age has caught up to him over the last few weeks. Plus, there is a world where Goedert explodes and takes the job in his absence, but I just don’t think it will be this week. I say that for two reasons. One, if he still hasn’t been cleared for the game and it’s Wednesday, we can almost guarantee he won’t be 100% healthy. Secondly, say what you will about Ertz being washed, but you can’t take away the fact he is the TE22 on the season. To me, that says more about the system than just Ertz’s ability. I’m thinking there is something else going on in Philly and that “role” isn’t the same this year.

The last deal-breaker for me is that the Giants have only allowed one touchdown to the tight end position all season. Pair that with him not being fully healthy, and I just don’t trust it. This goes for any other Eagles tight ends that are playing this week.  If you are a Goedert manager, there is reason to be excited if he heals up for next week against the dejected Cowboys Defense.

Corey Clement (RB, PHI): If I am not recommending Scott, there is no way I am putting faith in Clement. Corey Clement has proven himself to be a serviceable backup over the last few years. However, we don’t know what this backfield will look like, nor have we really seen Clement play this year. You can’t start this man. 

Golden Tate (WR, NYG): 3.8 receptions, 31.2 yards, and zero touchdowns is what Golden Tate is averaging a game this season. I’ll let you make the call here. 

Any Other Philadelphia Wide Receivers: Whether it’s Jeffery, Jackson, or Reagor, you need to be cautious with all of them - I would need to be blown away by a practice report in order to consider playing them. But I’ll warn you, you can’t win your matchup on Thursday, but you can definitely lose it.

 

There are some rivalries that always manage to end up in tight games and this is one of them. I think the Giants hang around in this game, and I expect both offenses to produce.

Here are my picks: Giants +4.5 (2-4), Over 43.5 (2-4)



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Week 6 Outliers Analysis - We Must Overreact!

Deshaun Watson led the way at the quarterback position in Week 6, finishing with 32 points. Six of the top-seven quarterbacks on the week, Watson, Ryan Tannehill, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz and Lamar Jackson were all involved in the same three games which were shootouts with at least 58 points scored. George Kittle had another huge game finishing as the No. 2 tight end on the week and other than that, the position was a disaster with Anthony Firkser, Trey Burton, Darren Fells, Adam Shaheen and Nick Boyle making appearances in the top-10.

The Vikings and Falcons Defenses are terrible on the back-end and as a result, Justin Jefferson and Julio Jones finished as the top-two wide receivers on the week. Keelan Cole was a bit of a surprise finishing as WR-8 on the week against the Lions, even though D.J. Chark led the Jaguars in targets. On the low-end, Odell Beckham Jr., Julian Edelman and Cooper Kupp had terrible weeks, all finishing outside the top-50.

Derrick Henry ripped off a 94-yard touchdown run which made him RB-1 on the week. Ronald Jones, James Conner and Myles Gaskin all finished inside the top-six at running back as the beneficiaries of positive game scripts. Generally, running back was a tough position in Week 6 as only 10 players exceeded 15 points. Now that Week 6 is behind us, let's take a look at some of these unexpected performances and evaluate whether these guys will continue to produce moving forward.

 

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts

Week 6 Stats: 29-of-44 passing, 371 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT

The Colts went down 21-0 to the Bengals very early in Week 6 and as a result, Rivers needed to put the ball in the air a season-high 44 times. Rivers has now exceeded 30 pass attempts in just two games this season. The Bengals defensive line also lacked any consistent pass rush, which afforded Rivers adequate time to throw without forcing him to move around much.

Bottom Line: The Colts were basically forced to abandon the running game early in this contest, rushing the ball just 15 times in the entire game. Philip Rivers will not throw the ball enough to be fantasy relevant unless the Colts are big underdogs or find themselves behind like they did against the Bengals. Don't rush out to your waiver wire and pick up Rivers unless you're in a two-QB league.

 

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 6 Stats: 2 targets, 1 catch, 10 yards

The Buccaneers Defense had Aaron Rodgers under siege for the entire game and he was never able to get settled. Rodgers threw his first two interceptions of the season on back-to-back drives in the first half, one of which went for a pick-six. Tom Brady only needed to throw the ball 27 times for 166 yards in a game that the Buccaneers controlled from the start, and they didn't need to push the ball down the field much through the air. Regardless of the game-flow, Chris Godwin received seven targets compared to just two for Evans.

Bottom Line: In the games where Chris Godwin starts, Godwin has 20 targets compared to just 10 for Mike Evans. You may want to consider shopping Evans in trade deals because if Godwin remains healthy, Evans will be the clear No. 2 receiver in the Buccaneers passing game.

 

Marcus Johnson, Indianapolis Colts

Week 6 Stats: 8 targets, 5 catches, 108 yards

In Week 6 Marcus Johnson played 63.5% of the Colts offensive snaps due to injury and since Week 4, Johnson has played at least 47.2% of the snaps. In Week 5, a game that the Colts lost to the Browns, Johnson was only targeted three times, hauling in all of them for 53 yards. The Bengals used their best defensive backs to cover T.Y. Hilton and Marcus Johnson was the beneficiary of decent matchups in the secondary. The Colts went down big early and Johnson racked up big yardage as the Colts needed to abandon the running game.

Bottom Line: Marcus Johnson will be extremely boom-or-bust until Michael Pittman returns from injury. Once Pittman does return to the lineup, Johnson will return to the bench. This game will likely be Johnson's best of 2020.

 

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 6 Stats: 11 targets, 8 catches, 96 yards

I have personally watched every single snap of the Bengals 2020 season, and heading into Week 6, it appeared that A.J. Green had fallen off. In Week 6, Green looked like the player we remembered from 2017 and 2018. Green was running great routes, routinely beating the Colts defensive backs and he was able to get open with ease. Green simply looked different in Week 6 and played a season-high 79.5% of the Bengals offensive snaps.

Bottom Line: A.J. Green showed us that he's back in Week 6. If somebody grew impatient and dropped him in your league, he's definitely worth a waiver claim. If Green is on your roster, you may want to consider selling-high because although he looked good, he's on a team that's loaded with play makers and he may not see consistent volume.

 

D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

Week 6 Stats: 14 carries, 116 yards, 2 TD, 4 targets, 3 catches, 7 yards

D'Andre Swift played just 37.7% of the Lions offensive snaps in Week 6. This means Swift touched the ball on 17 of the 29 snaps he played. Adrian Peterson played 35.1% of the Lions offensive snaps, while Kerryon Johnson played just 25.6%. The Lions are clearly looking to run more and throw less in 2020, as Matthew Stafford has only exceeded 31-pass attempts twice this season

Bottom Line: D'Andre Swift is clearly the best running back on the Lions roster, but the Lions appear to be using a full blown three-man committee at the position. If you have Swift on your roster, he's worth starting consideration, but don't overblow this game because he may be boom-or-bust until he starts playing more.

 

Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns

Week 6 Stats: 13 carries, 40 yards, 3 targets, 2 catches, 17 yards

The Browns were dismantled by the Steelers in Week 6 and had to abandon the running game fairly early in the contest. Hunt played 52.6% of the snaps compared to 29.8% for D'Ernest Johnson and 12.3% for Dontrell Hilliard. The Browns offensive line wasn't able to get much movement up front and they didn't have much success throwing either, with Baker Mayfield throwing for just 119 yards.

Bottom Line: The Browns offense didn't generate much of anything in Week 6 and ended up benching many of their players late with the game out of reach. Buy-low on Hunt, because complete implosions like this won't happen often.

 

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

Week 6 Stats: 2 targets, 0 catches

The Dolphins dominated the Jets and simply didn't need to throw much. Complicating matters for Mike Gesicki, Adam Shaheen and Durham Smythe, both of which are tight ends, each scored.

Bottom Line: If you have Mike Gesicki on your roster, he may frustrate you at times, but he's a big-play threat and a top-10 option at the position, so you just need to roll him out there.

 

Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans

Week 6 Stats: 9 targets, 8 catches, 113 yards, 1 TD

Jonnu Smith went down with an injured ankle and as a result, Anthony Firkser played a season-high 54.7% of the snaps. The Titans trailed for much of the day against the Texans, and as a result Ryan Tannehill threw the ball 41 times.

Bottom Line: Jonnu Smith's ankle sprain is considered to be minor, and if he plays in Week 7, Firsker will see his snaps fall back into the 30%-range. If you are counting on Jonnu Smith, you may want to add Firkser as insurance in the event Smith misses Week 7.

 

Trey Burton, Indianapolis, Colts

Week 6 Stats: 1 carry, 1 yard, 1 TD, 5 targets, 4 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD

Every time Trey Burton was tackled in Week 6 he looked like he wasn't going to get back up. Logan Wilson matched up well on Burton for much of the game, and Burton's touchdown reception was a spectacular catch with Wilson all over him.

Bottom Line: Burton's performance was rather fluky, especially because of the rushing touchdown. If not for the scores, Burton would have had a very underwhelming stat-line, and he should only be rostered and started if you're desperate.



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Monday Night Football Matchups Analysis: Cardinals vs Cowboys

Week 5 is in the books and the NFL train just keeps on rolling. Week 6 begins our first week with a heavy dose of bye teams (Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Chargers, and Las Vegas Raiders) with each team off providing at least two majorly fantasy-relevant players this season. Navigating these bye weeks will be challenging, but luckily the Monday Night contest between the Cardinals and Cowboys boasts plenty of talent to pull your team through the bye week.

Arizona has been somewhat disappointing this year offensively but sits at 3-2 thanks to massive efforts from Kyler Murray on the ground and DeAndre Hopkins in the pass game. The Cardinals have tried (and failed) to get Kenyan Drake going, which in turn has opened up more opportunities for Chase Edmonds to have a role this season. More importantly, the Cardinals Defense looks to be improved from last season, although the loss of Chandler Jones should test their depth in the pass-rushing department.

Meanwhile, what started as an exciting matchup between two fast-paced offenses has become somewhat of an enigma. A compound fracture ankle injury has knocked Dak Prescott out for the season and has forced Andy Dalton to become the starter in Dallas. Dalton can utilize the Cowboys’ firepower at wide receiver, but only time will tell how much this changes the dynamic of their passing game. Ezekiel Elliott figures to see more work in Dak’s absence, and the Cowboys’ defense is still trying to get healthy enough to entertain stopping anybody’s offense this season.

 

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys 

  • Game time: Monday 10/19 @ 8:15 PM EST
  • Game line: Arizona -1.5
  • Over/Under: 55

 

Must-Starts

Kyler Murray (QB, AZ)

Fantasy managers who were expecting a Lamar Jackson-esque breakout from Kyler Murray in year two have undoubtedly been disappointed so far. Murray is completing nearly 70% of his passes on the year with 1,299 yards, but he only has eight touchdowns with six interceptions passing thus far. Thankfully, his running ability has sustained him as a fantasy player thanks to 296 yards and five touchdowns through five games. Murray should have an excellent opportunity to stabilize his passing statistics against a Dallas secondary that is allowing 19.8 points per game to quarterbacks thanks to 11 touchdowns surrendered.

Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL)

After two games with underwhelming rushing totals against Seattle and Cleveland, Zeke Elliott returned in a big way against the New York Giants in week 5. Elliott carried the ball 19 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns but his pass game totals (one reception for 14 yards on two targets) took a considerable hit. However, Zeke should be poised to go absolutely nuclear in Week 6. The Cowboys will likely utilize the run game to help protect Andy Dalton from having to put the ball in the air too much. However, few teams run plays as quickly as the Cardinals, which could lead to a negative game script. Those things combined give Zeke a massive upside as a runner and receiver. The Cardinals have been average against running backs this year (21.8 points per week against) but struggle particularly in the passing game against players in the backfield.

Kenyan Drake (RB, AZ)

Of all the running backs selected in the first two rounds of NFL fantasy drafts, none have been more disappointing than Kenyan Drake. Despite getting double-digit carries in all five games this season, Drake has yet to surpass 90 yards rushing and has only found the endzone twice this year. More upsetting is his complete non-factor in the pass game, collecting just six targets in five games. The Cowboys aren’t a great matchup for running backs (20.6 points per week) but just lost run-stopping defensive tackle Trysten Hill to a torn ACL. Drake will have solid value once again and could bust a big run against an ailing Cowboys’ front seven.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, AZ)

One week after disappointing against the Panthers (seven receptions for 41 yards), DeAndre Hopkins exploded against the Jets. Hopkins was targeted seven times, catching six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown against a terrible New York secondary. Hopkins has been targeted at least seven times in every game this season and now has three games over 100 yards receiving this year. It seems like a strong bet that Hopkins will exceed those numbers yet again since the Cowboys hapless secondary is allowing 32.6 points per week to opposing wide receivers this year. The Cowboys have also allowed nine receiving touchdowns to wideouts, the most in the league this year.

Amari Cooper (WR, DAL)

Amari Cooper had been everything the Cowboys hoped for as a WR1 up until a disappointing Week 5 performance against the Giants. Cooper was held in check on Sunday, catching just two of four targets for 23 yards against James Bradbury. Thankfully, Cooper’s skill set meshes well with what Andy Dalton has historically liked to do (a steady diet of slants and short to intermediate routes), so the quarterback change shouldn’t negatively impact him too much. The Cardinals have been stellar against wide receivers this season (18.1 points per week), but few teams have the offensive firepower that the Cowboys utilize. We will get a real glimpse into how legit the Cardinals secondary is this weekend, led by Cooper.

CeeDee Lamb (WR, DAL)

If you haven’t been paying attention, you’ve likely missed the fact that CeeDee Lamb is, at this point, the 2020 Rookie of the Year. Lamb has been targeted 40 times, catching 29 passes for 433 yards and two touchdowns through five weeks. Despite being on the field for the lowest percentage of offensive plays this season (55%), Lamb had his most productive day as an NFL wide receiver. Lamb was targeted 11 times, catching eight passes for 124 yards against the Cardinals. The Dak Prescott injury may harm Lamb, but it is worth noting that he runs a lot of his routes out of the slot which could make him a nice safety valve for Andy Dalton.

Consider Sitting

Andy Dalton (QB, DAL)

If you went out and added Andy Dalton on waivers, you ultimately made the right decision. There aren’t many teams in the NFL that boast two legitimate WR1’s, much less three. However, we had a very limited sample size with Andy Dalton running the Cowboys offense and it was largely with the team trailing. Dalton was 9 of 11 passing for 111 yards while leading the Cowboys to a game-winning field goal in his first game action as a Cowboy. So why is Dalton on the consider sitting list? We just don’t know what Dallas’ offense is going to look like with Dalton as a starter. It is highly unlikely Dalton has the same passing volume as Dak Prescott did, so the uncertainty is troubling at the moment. If you can afford to give Dalton a week on the bench, then it is for the best. However, if your team has a QB on bye (or had Dak Prescott), you can fire up Dalton and hope for the best.

Larry Fitzgerald (WR, AZ)

Surprisingly, Larry Fitzgerald is getting plenty of volume in the Cardinals passing game… he just isn’t doing anything with it. Fitzgerald has been targeted 25 times this season, catching 18 passes for 123 yards this season. Fitzgerald has at least three targets in every game this year and has had at least five targets in three contests. For the first time in his career, Fitzgerald is under five yards per target and has been feasting on check-downs near the line of scrimmage. Dallas has been terrible against opposing wide receivers, but Larry Fitzgerald just won’t do enough to warrant being in a starting lineup this week with all the younger, more explosive weapons around him.

Michael Gallup (WR, DAL)

Michael Gallup was on his way to another disappointing fantasy day through three quarters in Week 5, catching one pass (on one target) for eight yards. Once Andy Dalton took over, Gallup saw his workload (and big-play potential) increase. Gallup caught all three of his targets from Andy Dalton for 65 yards, including two catches for 57 yards on the final drive of the game. Gallup has been a massive disappointment this season as he has seen his targets redirected to players like CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and Zeke in the passing game. However, if Andy Dalton isn’t afraid to throw the ball downfield, Gallup can rediscover some of his fantasy value. Give it a week with the new signal-caller before you lock him into your lineup, but a new quarterback may give Gallup new life this season.

Dalton Schultz (TE, DAL)

After four pretty sizable weeks of production, Dalton Schultz fell flat in a big way against the Giants. Schultz saw his lowest number of targets (3), receptions (1), and yards (6) since taking over full time for Blake Jarwin in week 2. Schultz didn’t see any targets from Andy Dalton at the end of the game, which makes sense considering the Cowboys had to rely on deep shots to complete the come from behind win. After spending last season as a laughing stock against tight ends, the Cardinals have bounced back in a major way this season, utilizing their versatile defensive weapons to allow just two passing touchdowns and 6.9 points per week to tight ends on the season.

 

Potential Sleepers

Chase Edmonds (RB, AZ)

Chase Edmonds has seen his snap share rise for the Cardinals in the past three weeks (32% à 37% à45%) and with it so has his production. Edmonds has carried the ball seven times for 52 yards and a touchdown while adding 10 receptions on 12 targets for 80 yards and a touchdown the past two weeks. Most importantly, based on just the eye test, Edmonds looks like the more explosive player out of the backfield for the Cardinals this year. Dallas has been awesome against running backs in the receiving game this season (just 100 yards allowed), but if you’re desperate for some big plays, Edmonds makes for an interesting FLEX option given his rising usage.

Tony Pollard (RB, DAL)

The injury to Dak Prescott should result in a higher dependence in the run game, which in turn could mean more work for Tony Pollard out of the backfield. Pollard has been on the field for over 20% of the offensive snaps the past two weeks and has steadily seen his role grow for the Cowboys’ offense this year. In Week 5, Pollard had six carries for 30 yards and added two receptions on three targets for two yards. If the Cowboys decide to utilize their running backs more, Pollard could be in line for a jump in his work. Given his explosiveness, he just needs one play to take the ball to the house and be a viable RB option on any given week.

Christian Kirk (WR, AZ)

Christian Kirk has steadily seen his work increase each week of the season, culminating in a seven target, five reception, 78-yard performance against the Jets in week 5. Kirk is seemingly starting to take some of the deeper routes from Larry Fitzgerald and is starting to be productive with that work. Hopefully, the Cardinals are getting more comfortable with finding ways to utilize Kirk alongside DeAndre Hopkins. Given how porous the Dallas secondary is, don’t be surprised if Kirk continues his upward trajectory this week.



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Monday Night Football Matchups Analysis: Chiefs vs Bills

What’s better than one football game? Two Football games! This Monday, I am moving from my usual Thursday preview to breakdown the first matchup of our Monday double-header. Originally, this was scheduled for Thursday, October 15th, however, due to COVID rescheduling, it is now being played at 4 pm EST on October 19th. 

This game features two 4-1 AFC division leaders and has a slew of fantasy-relevant pieces. The Kansas City Chiefs are taking on the Buffalo Bills after each team faced their first loss of the season last week. Both teams will be looking to rebound, but only one will be successful.

I hope you are all as excited as I am to break down this barn burner. So without further ado, here is your RotoBaller Monday Night analysis.

 

Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills

October 19, 4 pm EST

Notable Injuries:

  • Sammy Watkins (WR, KC) - Hamstring - Out
  • Mecole Hardman (WR, KC) - Ankle - Full Friday Practice
  • Chris Jones (DE, KC) - Groin - Full Friday Practice
  • John Brown (WR, BUF) - Knee - Questionable
  • Zack Moss (RB, BUF) - Toe - Full Friday Practice
  • Tre’Davious White (CB, BUF) - Back - Full Friday Practice

 

Must-Starts

Patrick Mahomes (QB, KC)

Mahomes is the definition of a must start. The reigning Super Bowl MVP has continued to set the fantasy world on fire. He is the QB2 on the season, averaging 27.6 fantasy points per game on a foundation of 15 total touchdowns and just a single interception. One noticeable change from previous years is the degree to the Chiefs are utilizing his rushing ability, especially in the Red-zone. He has two touchdowns on the ground and is averaging 25.8 yards per game (more than Josh Allen). Although Buffalo is widely recognized for its elite defensive weapons, they are currently allowing the ninth-most passing yards per game. Josh Allen will make this game competitive and Mahomes will do what he always does and light the fantasy world on fire. 

Josh Allen (QB, BUF)

The NFL’s most improved player from last year is Josh Allen. So far this season he is the QB3 with only three interceptions (two last week). Not only does he have the third-most rushing touchdowns at the position, but he also has the second-most passing yards. There is no reason he shouldn’t keep this pace up at home against the best offense in the league. However, one potential downside to consider is that four of his five games have come against teams that are Top 12 in passing yards allowed per game. Kansas, on the other hand, is averaging the fifth least passing yards against per game. 

Tyreek Hill (WR, KC)

For the first time in his career, Tyreek Hill is having one of the most consistent fantasy seasons at the position. Although he has not cracked 20 fantasy points, he also has not had less than 13 (Half PPR). Currently sitting as the WR5 on the season, Hill is a must-start every week. 

Stefon Diggs (WR, BUF)

The WR6 on the season has taken full advantage of Josh Allen’s jump forward. With the fourth most targets and second-most yards at the position this year, he appears to be a sure-fire WR1 and a weekly must-start. Considering he only has two touchdowns on the year, and his target share, it's only a matter of time before he gets another. If he falls in the endzone he has top-five upside.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, KC)

This may be the last week of the season we see CEH with the full workhorse role in this offense. The recent signing of Le’Veon Bell makes Edwards-Helaire’s outlook for the rest of this season questionable. Thankfully for CEH managers, Bell will be unavailable for this game due to COVID protocols. Edwards-Helaire is the RB-13 on the year and has the seventh most rushing attempts in the league. Although the matchup on paper isn’t amazing (the Bills are 12th in the least rushing yards allowed per game) this workload on the Chiefs offense makes him a must-start option. Clyde can get it done both on the ground and in the passing game, making him an RB1 with the top 3 weekly upsides. The Pie Shop looks to be open for CEH, and I expect him to take a pie on the road before Bell comes into play.

*Pie Shop: An Australian term (usually used in Rugby League) to describe who will score a Try (or in this case touchdown) this week.

Travis Kelce (TE, KC)

The best tight-end in fantasy over the last four seasons hasn’t missed a beat this year. Sitting on his throne on top of the 2020 tight end landscape, there is no questioning his elite fantasy ability. His 74.5 fantasy points on the season would make him the WR7 ahead of Mike Evans. There isn’t much to say. If you have the privilege of rostering Kelce, sit-back and watch one of the NFL's best put on a show.

 

Solid Options

John Brown (WR, BUF)

A surprise inactive last week for Tuesday night football, Brown has been listed as questionable going into this game. After watching the Bills’ last game, it seemed clear that Josh Allen was missing his sure-handed, veteran receiver. Although Diggs and Cole Beasley are solid receivers, Brown opens up the field for both players. In Brown’s three full games this season he has cracked 16 fantasy points twice. Surprisingly, last year’s WR-20 has maintained consistent production. Although Kansas is known to limit WR production, Brown has displayed the type of upside and consistency needed to be a good flex-play with upside for more.

Mecole Hardman (WR, KC)

Hardman is usually a very tough player to place in your fantasy lineups each week. His big-play ability is undeniable, however, he can completely disappear some weeks. This week, with Sammy Watkins offiically ruled out, Hardman may be a very reasonable flex player with week-winning upside. 

Devin Singletary (RB, BUF)

Unfortunately, last week Singletary failed to capitalize on the positive matchup and Zack Moss’s injury. However, in the first four weeks, Singletary averaged a steady 81 total yards per game and has five or more targets in three games this season. With this in mind and the Chief’s being slight favorites, Singletary should receive the volume to be an RB-three this week.

 

Consider Sitting

Cole Beasley (WR, BUF)

Beasley is sitting at the WR-29 on the season, and I’m warning you to not let this standing fool you. Currently having six or more targets in all but one game so far, and averaging 62.9 yards per game, he definitely has a steady floor. However, with John Brown returning from injury, he really only has value as a high-floor flex play in PPR formats. I would personally look for a higher-upside player elsewhere. 

Zack Moss (RB, BUF)

Coming off a toe injury, the rookie will look to make his NFL return. In his two-game career, he only has 17 carries and 64 total yards. You can’t start him in any format.

Demarcus Robinson (WR, KC)

Being linked to Mahomes makes you a weekly threat for a 50+ yard touchdown. With Watkins out, Robinson may receive more looks from the SuperBowl MVP, but considering he has 50 yards in 5 games played, you can’t bet on that.

 

This is just a great game. These two elite teams have shown to be Superbowl contenders and are both looking to bounce back from losses. Usually, in games with sky-high totals, I tend to look to the under. However, these quarterbacks and offenses are just too good. Buffalo being home definitely helps my confidence for them to stay in the game as they will look to keep the ball on the ground and out of Mahomes’ hands.

So, with that, here are my picks this week: 

Chiefs -4.5 (1-4), Over 57.5 (2-3)



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Wide Receiver Matchups To Target in Week 6

The Week 5 wide receiver matchup article only featured one player that finished inside the top-10, and that was Jamison Crowder who finished as WR-7 on the week. Tee Higgins underwhelmed in a tough matchup against the Ravens Defense, Golden Tate flopped in a great matchup against the Cowboys and Deebo Samuel’s performance suffered due to poor quarterback play and the return of Byron Jones to the Dolphins secondary. Other than that, we did alright as CeeDee Lamb, Marquise Brown, Robby Anderson, Will Fuller and Laviska Shenault Jr. finished between WR-15 and WR-25 on the week.

As we’ve seen so far this season, nothing is more important than matchup analysis when it comes to fantasy football. The 49ers Defense was once strong, but it has gotten so beat up over the last few weeks, they’re no longer a matchup you need to avoid. The Colts, Ravens, Patriots and Bears Defenses are looking like units you want to avoid in the passing game. The Seahawks, Falcons, Saints, Browns, Cowboys and now the Chargers Defenses are looking like units you can really exploit moving forward.

Now, here are the top WR vs CB matchups for Week 6. Use these to set season-long lineups, as well as gain a competitive edge in the DFS games.

 

Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

$7,200 FanDuel / $6,200 DraftKings – vs Chris Claybrooks

The over/under is set at 54.5 points and the Lions are only favored by 3.5 points so this one should remain close throughout which means the Lions will likely need to throw for most of the game. Chris Claybrooks has been burned deep lately, and he’s giving up a 77% catch-rate along with 2.24 yards-per-route covered which is the fourth-worst mark in the NFL. The Jaguars Defense surrenders just over 38 fantasy points to wide receivers per game, and with Marvin Jones fading, Golladay should get most of the action in the passing game this week.

 

Will Fuller, Houston Texans

$6,700 FanDuel / $6,800 DraftKings – vs Malcolm Butler

In general, the Titans Defense struggles to cover quicker wide receivers and they’ve given up the ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers so far in 2020. Will Fuller is a speedster and should give Malcolm Butler problems. This game has an over/under set at 53.5 points and the Titans are favored, which means Fuller should be the recipient of plenty of targets this week.

 

DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins

$6,400 FanDuel / $6,800 DraftKings – vs Pierre Desir

At one time, Pierre Desir was a pretty good cornerback, but in 2020 he’s surrendering an 80% catch-rate and 1.79 yards-per-route covered which isn’t great either. The Jets Defense gives up the eighth-most passing yards in the NFL and 8.3 yards-per-attempt which is third-worst in the league. Parker is the Dolphins most-targeted wide receiver and he has a better matchup than Preston Williams or Isaiah Ford, so he should have a decent game.

 

Jamison Crowder, N.Y. Jets

$6,600 FanDuel / $6,100 DraftKings – vs Nik Needham

Byron Jones finally returned to the lineup for the Dolphins Defense in Week 5 which is trouble for opposing wide receivers that primarily play on the outside. Luckily, Jamison Crowder plays in the slot for 77% of his snaps and should avoid Jones for the most part. Nik Needham gives up a 67% catch-rate and 1.52 yards-per-route covered, both of which are the worst marks amongst all the Dolphins defensive backs. The Jets are 9.5-point underdogs so Joe Flacco should be throwing a lot here. Until Chris Herndon emerges, Crowder is the only thing going in the Jets passing game.

 

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

$5,900 FanDuel / $6,000 DraftKings – vs Isaiah Oliver

Although Justin Jefferson did have a poor stat-line in Week 5, he showed us his ceiling in Week 4. In Week 6, Jefferson will face Isaiah Oliver when he lines up on the outside, who surrenders a 74% catch-rate and 1.77 yards-per-route covered. When Jefferson bumps into the slot, which he plays 46% of the time, he will see Kendall Sheffield who gives up 2.35 yards-per-route covered which is third-worst in the NFL. On top of the solid cornerback matchup, in general, the Falcons Defense gives up over 42 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers each game which bodes well for Jefferson’s outlook. This game has an over/under set at 54.5 points so Jefferson may be involved in a shootout.

 

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

$5,800 FanDuel / $5,200 DraftKings – vs Desmond Trufant

The Lions have given up the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far in 2020, allowing five wide receivers to score more than 15 fantasy points (note that the Lions have only played four games). Laviska Shenault weighs 30 pounds more than Desmond Trufant who figures to be covering him this weekend. Normally I wouldn’t make a big deal about the weight difference between a wide receiver and cornerback, but it’s relevant because Shenault is so dangerous running with the ball after the catch and Trufant may have trouble bringing him down. D.J. Chark suffered an ankle injury last week which means he may be slowed, possibly making Shenault the No. 1 option in the Jaguars passing game.

 

Isaiah Wright, Washington Football Team

$4,500 FanDuel / $3,000 DraftKings – vs Darnay Holmes

Steven Sims was placed on IR last week and in his absence, Isaiah Wright played 77.8% of Washington’s offensive snaps. While Wright didn’t do much in Week 5, in fairness to him, Kyle Allen was knocked out of the game early and the receivers did have a tough matchup against a solid Rams secondary. In Week 6, Wright will see Darnay Holmes in coverage who has been a weekly fixture in this article. Wright has a four-inch height advantage over Holmes who gives up 1.75 yards-per-route covered and a 74% catch-rate. The Giants secondary has been decent as a unit in 2020, but Holmes has been the weak link. Wright is more of an tournament play in DFS formats and should only be played in the deepest season-long leagues if you’re desperate.



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Booms and Busts - Surprise Starts and Sits for Week 6 Lineups

The hits keep on coming during the 2020 season of fantasy football. Each week that passes by seems to bring yet another major talent crashing down due to injury. This past week it was Dak Prescott that was lost for the season with a broken ankle. As much as this injury affects the outlook for the Dallas Cowboys, it is equally devastating for his managers in fantasy. Even with as deep as the quarterback position is viewed, an injury to a player the caliber of Prescott can be a catastrophic loss. The safety of having that spot filled every week is taken away and sends managers scrambling for a replacement. That replacement can come from a trade or most likely via the waiver wire. These types of moves bring strategy into play more for fantasy managers. As decisions now must be made more from a matchup standpoint as opposed to just plugging the player into the starting lineup.

After the first five weeks of the season, managers have a better understanding of good and bad matchups to take advantage of. The better defenses around the league are obvious, which can open the door for those under the radar plays against poor competition. At the beginning of the 2020 season, no one could have predicted the likes of Mike Davis and Travis Fulgham setting the fantasy world on fire, but here we are. It's what can make this game fun, while also make it maddening. The constant battle between who is good enough to be in the lineup and who should be left on the bench for the week. One wrong decision could be the difference between a win or a loss. Ultimately making that decision the difference between making the playoffs or not.

Knowing positive and negative matchups is vitally important to a manager's success. That is what we provide for you here with the Woos and Boos of Week 6. I take a look at those under the radar plays that should be considered starting options for the week, while also pointing out the household names that could be in for disappointing weeks based on tough matchups.

Week 6 Woos

Kirk Cousins vs. Atlanta Falcons

You always have to question yourself when you're high on a QB that has not put up a QB1 performance since the first week of the season. That is where we are with Kirk Cousins. But facing a Falcons Defense that is the worst in points allowed to the position (30.5 FPPG) can do wonders for a player's performance. In fact, the Falcons have surrendered at least four scores to opposing QBs in all but one game. Add in the possibility of Dalvin Cook missing this game and you could see Cousins put together his best game of the season. If you are looking for a QB this week with Russell Wilson and Drew Brees on bye, look no further than Kirk Cousins.

David Montgomery @ Carolina Panthers

Montgomery has struggled to get it going in 2020 with three of his five games finishing outside the top-30 in scoring at the position. But look for that to change in Week 6 as he faces a Panthers Defense that has been run all over to start the season. They are third in the league in points allowed to opposing RBs (27.4 FPPG) giving up at least one score in each game. Even though his rushing totals have been suspect, Montgomery has been picking up the slack in the receiving game (seven receptions in Week 5). If he can put it all together in Week 6, Montgomery is a lock to finish as an RB1.

Preston Williams vs. New York Jets

After weeks of disappointing results, Williams finally put together a solid effort in Week 5 (four receptions for 106 yards and a score). The production has yet to fully click, but he is top-10 in average depth of target (15.8) and inside the top-30 in air yards (348). Something has to give and that should be this week in a plus matchup against a very subpar Jets Defense that is allowing 23.8 FPPG to opposing wideouts. With the Dolphins offense playing well in recent weeks, take a shot with Williams as your WR3 in Week 6.

Austin Hooper @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Hooper started his Browns career very slowly with subpar performances during the first few weeks. But he has picked up the pace with back-to-back games with five receptions each. Even with the slow start, he is top-12 at the position with 17 catches on the year (speaking to how poor the position has been this year). Although the matchup may not be the best in Week 6 against the Steelers (5.7 FPPG allowed), you have to ride the hot hand if you are in need at the position. With the Browns possibly playing from behind in this game, Hooper may find himself as a vital piece to the makeup effort. Managers that like to stream the position could use Hooper as a valuable fill-in for Week 6.

 

Week 6 Boos

Tom Brady vs. Green Bay Packers

Brady's performances have been like clockwork to start the 2020 season. If the matchup is good, he has performed well. In three plus-matchups, he has three QB1 finishes. In two tough matchups, his best finish is QB19. That could be the case in Week 6, facing a Packers Defense that is 20th in the league allowing just 18.6 FPPG to the position. With other QBs out there with better matchups (Cousins, Fitzpatrick), managers may want to look elsewhere in Week 6 to fill this position in their starting lineups.

Joe Mixon @ Indianapolis Colts

Obviously, you will be starting Mixon in your lineups due to the workload he gets on a week-in-week-out basis (first in opportunity share at 85.5% and second in carries with 101). On the season, he has just one RB1 finish (RB1 in Week 4) with all other performances outside the top-24. Facing a stout Colts Defense will not help matters either (only 13.5 FPPG allowed). Managers must adjust expectations for this matchup as he will be likely starting for most due to lack of depth. But expecting an RB1 finish might be a stretch for Week 6.

Robby Anderson vs. Chicago Bears

One of the bright spots early during the 2020 season, Anderson has risen to become a weekly staple in fantasy starting lineups. He has been the most targeted receiver for Teddy Bridgewater, ranking third in the league in receptions (36) and fourth in yardage (490). But what has been hurting him is the lack of scoring (one touchdown back in Week 1). That could be the case yet again this week facing a Bears Defense that has allowed just one touchdown to opposing wideouts on the season (Mike Evans in Week 5). This may be a week for managers to look elsewhere to fill their WR3 role in the starting lineup.

Zach Ertz vs. Baltimore Ravens

Talk about disappointing and you have to look at the performance of Ertz to begin this season. The targets have been there (35) and he is first in routes run at the position (194). But the production has yet to catch up as he is 22nd in yardage (145) and has found the end-zone just once. Don't look for that to change in Week 6 as he faces the tough Ravens Defense that is currently allowing just 7.7 FPPG to the position. Ertz is a player that most owners keep in their lineups because of who he is, but until the production picks up you must continue to temper expectations.



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WR/CB Matchups to Target & Avoid - Week 6

It's Week 6 and with a larger sample size, the CB Matchup Chart is becoming even more meaningful. This week's chart will give the most accurate landscape of CB matchups yet, as I spent time reviewing alignment percentages for WR and CB groups and updated the chart accordingly.

The main idea of the chart was previously to assign points based on defenses scheming to take away their opponent's "WR1." This was somewhat arbitrary and didn't take into account where that "WR1" was lining up. Or the "CB1" for that matter.

I'm excited to present this week's chart which reflects actual alignments in terms of LWR vs RCB and RWR vs LCB. All the numbers are updated accordingly.

 

WR/CB Matchups Chart

The chart below is a snapshot of each team's cornerback group as it relates to allowing fantasy points. There are inherent flaws within the data compilation of cornerback play. The first being the fact that quantifying a 1-on-1 matchup in an NFL game is unfair because of zone coverages, mental errors, certain passing concepts, and a million other things. Assigning fantasy points against a cornerback isn't a perfect science. The purpose of this chart is to give more of a general sense of how defenses are handling opposing WR groups, rather than identifying exactly where, when, and how every single encounter happened.

The "Rtng" column is the rating of each cornerback based on film study and analytics. The lower a player is graded, the easier the matchup for the WR, so low ratings are green and high ratings are red. The "PPGA" is the number of fantasy points per game that the player has given up. A name in blue means the corner could possibly shadow the WR1. A name in red means that the player is dealing with an injury. WRs highlighted in yellow have an easy matchup. WRs highlighted in pink have a tough matchup.

The analysis below will help contextualize the chart, as in most cases a receiver did not score 100% of his points against the same player. However, the chart is a useful tool in getting a sense of the weakest links among corners. This weekly process has made it clear to me that the WR talent and his target share are more important than his opposition.

 

Cornerback Ratings and Matchups - Week 6

click image for full-screen view

 

WR/CB Matchups to Target

Each week, this space starts with attacking Atlanta's terrible CB play. Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson should feast against the Falcons.

Chase Claypool is an example of why gathering CB data is tricky. Last week, he scored from various alignments, including the slot matched up with a linebacker despite his primary home for stat-gathering being at RWR. James Washington subbed in at LWR when Diontae Johnson left with an injury. So, while Claypool was the beneficiary in terms of targets and designed plays, he did not actually slot in Johnson’s position. In Week 6, Claypool at RWR has an on-paper matchup versus the highly-skilled Denzel Ward, who has played almost exclusively at LCB for Cleveland. The better matchups for the Steelers are actually at LWR and in the slot. It would make sense for Claypool to play more on the left side to take advantage of Terrance Mitchell. Whoever plays LWR - whether it’s Claypool, Diontae Johnson, or James Washington – has an easy matchup.

Dallas’ corner situation is a mess as they have been shredded by all three receiver spots at different times this season. Odell Beckham Jr. dominated Trevon Diggs in Week 4, while Darryl Worley was assigned zero points due to no Browns WR2 recording a catch. Last week, Darius Slayton torched Worley, but the Giants' non-existent WR2 situation assigned a zero to Diggs. This is a perfect example of what has become abundantly clear to me doing this work – the WR matters more than the matchup. In the case of Dallas’ secondary, start all your WRs against them regardless of position. DeAndre Hopkins is in line for a monster game, and all of the other Arizona WRs have the potential to put up good numbers. I wouldn't mind taking a flier on Christian Kirk this week.

Detroit has been terrible against outside WRs. Laviska Shenault Jr. let managers down in Week 3, but he might be worth a look again. If D.J. Chark is out, that could mean even more targets. If Chark is in, Shenault is still not a bad play because the offense just seems to be better with their No. 1 healthy. Chark is a fine play if he starts.

D.K. Metcalf just torched the Vikings' outside corners, who have been consistently terrible since Week 1. Julio Jones (if healthy) and Calvin Ridley are in boom spots.

The RCB spot in San Francisco has been a problem for a defense decimated by injuries. Whether it's Akhello Witherspoon or Brian Allen, the Rams should have no issue taking advantage on Sunday night. Robert Woods is in a great spot.

DeVante Parker also has a cake matchup against the New York Jets. He and Preston Williams play both right and left, so we don't know exactly who will draw more of RCB Bless Austin's subpar coverage. The good news for both is that Pierre Desir is arguably worse than Austin.

As for slot WRs this week, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Randall Cobb get upgrades. The chart lists Tyreek Hill as the primary slot for Kansas City, but they use all of their receivers in the slot in different formations. Buffalo has been gashed by slots all year, so Hill and Mecole Hardman get a boost.

 

WR/CB Matchups to Avoid

A.J. Green has looked like a shell of himself and will likely see a lot of Xavier Rhodes in Week 6. If Green is out, or the Bengals choose to use Tee Higgins as the LWR, the rookie would have to deal with Rhodes. Regardless, T.J. Carrie has been stellar as the LCB, so Higgins has a tough matchup no matter what.

The Rams' pass defense has been terrific at limiting wide receiver production. Jalen Ramsey is a household name, but both Darious Williams and Troy Hill have also been excellent this season. Downgrade all the 49ers receivers, including Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, and Deebo Samuel. One of them may have a decent game based on volume, but it's going to be tough.

Darius Slayton just enjoyed some success against the pitiful Dallas secondary, but this week he's up against Kendall Fuller. Washington's shutdown RCB has been outstanding this season.

Kendall's brother Kyle will face off against the red-hot Robby Anderson in a very interesting matchup of two guys having great years. Anderson has been tremendous for Carolina but this could be his worst game as a Panther.

Finally, there are three possible shadow situations that aren't highlighted in the chart. First is with Arizona's Patrick Peterson who would cap Amari Cooper's upside if the Cardinals choose to shadow with Peterson. If Peterson stays at LCB, Michael Gallup gets a downgrade. The second is with Jaire Alexander in Green Bay. The Packers could choose to stick him on Mike Evans. Using one of their bigger corners on Evans might make sense. It's a tough matchup for Evans regardless. The third shadow situation to look out for is Darius Slay on Marquise Brown. The Ravens' speedster finally scored a touchdown last week but may have a tough assignment in Week 6.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.



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Top 10 Fantasy Football Busts for Week 6

Week 6 is here! The weirdness from last week has continued, as we have now had a Tuesday Night Football game but then had Thursday Night Football taken away from us.

Assuming and hoping that there are no cancellations this weekend, fantasy managers can count on not having any Saints, Seahawks, Chargers, or Raiders this week due to the ever-changing bye week schedule. Those four teams happen to roster several star fantasy players and GMs will have to navigate their absence.

Fortunately, our RotoBaller team is committed to providing top-notch advice each week to aid you with waiver wire pickups and provide insight on every fantasy football matchup. I'm here to help you set winning lineups by highlighting players who are poised to let you down. Below are my top ten fantasy football busts for Week 6. Good luck, Rotoballers!

 

Joe Mixon vs. Indianapolis Colts

Joe Mixon is the RB11 yet has only finished inside the top 23 running backs on one occasion. In fact, 52% of Mixon’s fantasy points this season came in only one game. Otherwise, you have performances of RB46, RB27, RB33, and RB23. Managers of Mixon last year should be unsurprised by this development, as he was the RB32 after five weeks a season ago. He ultimately finished as the RB13 for the season, meaning GMs should keep the faith long-term. Short-term, however, is an unappetizing date with a stingy Colts’ defense.

The Colts rank third against rushers in fantasy points allowed per contest and only Kareem Hunt has posted a finish better than RB17 against them. Game script is unlikely to favor Mixon in this matchup and Joe Burrow could have trouble moving the offense coming off a rough showing versus Baltimore. Looking at the current running back landscape, it is impossible to bench Mixon. Nonetheless, managers should keep expectations in check for the workhorse back this week.

 

Deebo Samuel vs. Los Angeles Rams

It has been a slow return to action for Deebo Samuel, as he has posted fantasy finishes of WR61 and WR78 in his limited work thus far. Awaiting him in Week 6 is a matchup with the top-ranked defense against fantasy wide receivers. Terry McLaurin made an appearance in my bust column last week and was appropriately shut down versus Jalen Ramsey and company. The Rams have employed a run-heavy approach that limits the opportunity for opposing offenses and the 49ers’ offense looked shockingly terrible against the Dolphins last week. Jimmy Garoppolo was forced to exit that tilt due to aggravating his ankle injury and it is unclear whether he will be at full health against Los Angeles.

Brandon Aiyuk has been used in a similar fashion to Deebo and George Kittle remains the clear number one target for this squad. We need to see the 49ers’ passing attack get back on track before inserting Deebo into fantasy lineups, especially in matchups as daunting as this one.

 

Teddy Bridgewater vs. Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears rank second against fantasy quarterbacks through five weeks. Here are the quarterbacks who have faced the Bears: Matthew Stafford, Daniel Jones, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and Tom Brady. Here are their weekly fantasy finishes versus the Bears: QB21, QB31, QB27, QB27, and QB19. This is not a team you want to throw on and Bridgewater is not a matchup-proof starter.

Teddy is off to a nice start in his new home and checks in as the QB15 to this point in the season. Coming off a predictably nice stat line versus the Atlanta Falcons “defense”, Bridgewater is in for a rude awakening as the competition level ramps up significantly this week. While he did come through versus the Cardinals, Bridgewater struggled in his two previous games when he took on the Buccaneers and Chargers. Although he does have a couple of excellent receiving options in Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore, Chicago also happens to be the second-toughest opponent for fantasy receivers, making this a matchup to avoid.

 

Rob Gronkowski vs. Green Bay Packers

Rob Gronkowski is the most highly rostered TE30 in recent memory. His top finish has been TE16 and he has given managers performances of TE36 and TE33 while adding a goose egg for good measure. It is promising that he is coming off a season-high 52 receiving yards, but unfortunately for Gronk he gets a matchup with the Green Bay Packers this week.

Green Bay ranks second against tight ends. T.J. Hockenson, Jared Cook, and Hayden Hurst posted finishes of TE19, TE40, and TE14 against the Packers and they have allowed only 6.6 points per game to the position. Chris Godwin has a legitimate shot to take the field this week and his presence would take even more targets away from Gronk. While O.J. Howard is lost for the season, Cameron Brate was resurrected to tie Gronk in targets last week, showing that Howard’s injury hasn’t actually opened up the level of additional opportunity that was expected. Managers are better off streaming the position in hopes of finding the end zone, a destination Gronk has yet to reach in 2020.

 

Mark Ingram II vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have been sturdy versus fantasy runners this season, rating 13th as we approach Week 6. Mark Ingram has been an immense disappointment as the volume that was there a year ago is nowhere to be found, leaving Ingram at RB37 on the season. Ingram has handled only nine carries per outing and has only three total receptions.

To make matters worse, a player who seemed a sure bet for touchdowns has scored only twice thus far. Finding himself in a true three-back committee, Ingram has topped 37 scrimmage yards only twice all season. The floor and ceiling are extremely low, as Ingram has devolved into a touchdown-dependent RB3. Ingram has out-carried Gus Edwards only 19 to 16 the past two weeks and the snap count has actually favored Edwards, with J.K. Dobbins also mixing in almost evenly with Ingram. The last three weeks have featured running backs such as Joe Mixon and James Conner fail to impress against the Eagles and those players do not come with the volume concerns of Ingram. Starting Ingram is banking on a touchdown, which is something we have not witnessed with regularity to this point.

 

Darius Slayton vs. Washington Football Team

Darius Slayton, the WR21 on the year, has been the definition of boom-or-bust this year. Finishes of WR4 and WR15 bookend performances of WR82, WR69, and WR55. Last week’s performance snapped a three-game funk for Slayton, but keep in mind that it came against the barely-there Cowboys’ secondary.

Washington has completely shut down opposing wide receivers this season, ranking third against the position. Robert Woods managed a WR21 performance against the Football Team last week, but Cooper Kupp finished as the WR39 after watching Marquise Brown do the same a week prior. Continuing the trend, Odell Beckham posted a WR47 finish against Washington in Week 3. Daniel Jones has really struggled in his sophomore campaign and hasn’t topped 222 passing yards since Week 2. Slayton is always one big play away from saving an outing from a fantasy perspective but is best left on benches in this matchup.

 

Joe Burrow vs. Indianapolis Colts

Joe Burrow appeared in my busts list last week and responded with a QB29 finish. Unfortunately, things do not get any easier this week for the much-hyped and likable rookie sensation. Burrow has only finished above QB20 twice this season and has only one QB1 finish. The Colts rank first against fantasy quarterbacks and have yet to allow a QB1 finish. Granted, the Colts have yet to face any elite signal-callers, but they appear to be quite formidable in every defensive area, as evident by their rankings of ninth against receivers, third against rushers, and first against tight ends.

With the obvious ability to shut down all positions, there will be slim pickings for Burrow as he attempts to evade the Colts’ pass rush behind a troublesome offensive line. A.J. Green is unlikely to play this week, and although he has not been producing for fantasy, he still commands attention from opposing defenses and therefore opens up space for other pass catchers. Leave the rookie on the bench during his first road trip to Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

Jimmy Graham vs. Carolina Panthers

Jimmy Graham is enjoying a surprising resurgence to fantasy relevance in his first season with the Bears, checking in as the current TE6. The Panthers also happen to be enjoying a surprising run of success, but on the defensive side of the ball. The young Panthers were expected to be dreadful defensively but have actually been solid against both tight ends and quarterbacks, limiting Graham’s upside this week. The Panthers rank ninth against tight ends and third against quarterbacks, respectively.

The Panthers are the friendliest team in the NFL to fantasy running backs and this recipe should allow the Bears to lean on the running game. Graham’s season-long numbers are inflated by his TE1 performance in Week 3, as he has only one other top-12 fantasy finish through five games. The touchdowns have been there for Graham, as he has four on the season. However, his floor is still extremely low, as evident by the fact that he has only topped 33 receiving yards in one game. Darren Waller, Hunter Henry, and Hayden Hurst have all failed to deliver against the Panthers, and Graham is likely to do the same.

 

Damien Harris vs. Denver Broncos

The Broncos have been the toughest matchup for opposing rushers in fantasyland in 2020, even after facing the likes of Derrick Henry and James Conner. Damien Harris took over early-down duties for the Patriots versus the Chiefs after Sony Michel was placed on IR and managed to hit the century mark on seventeen totes. Unfortunately, there are a few concerns with putting your trust in Harris this week, and possibly moving forward.

Both James White and Rex Burkhead operated ahead of Harris in the passing game, and this remains a true committee. Further muddying the waters is the fact that Harris’s breakout came with Cam Newton residing on the reserve/COVID-19 list. With Cam now activated and ready for game action, he takes away significant opportunity on the goal-line and in the running game in general. Harris essentially stepped into Sony Michel’s exact role as the early-down bruiser, and while he did look both better and faster than Michel, his fantasy success will be limited unless Cam concedes more goal-line looks than he did early this season. It is advisable that fantasy managers give this situation a week to play itself out before anointing Harris a starting running back, especially due to this week’s unfavorable matchup.

 

Travis Fulgham vs. Baltimore Ravens

Travis Fulgham broke out in a big way last week and stepped forward as the number one receiver for the Eagles. There are positives with Fulgham, such as his 6’2, 215 lb frame, but there are also notable red flags to pay attention to this week and in general.

Fulgham was a 6th-round pick of the Lions in 2019 and has a total of twelve NFL receptions to his name. Ten of those receptions came last week. Greg Ward has established himself as a reliable target for Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz is still a threat to command significant looks. Although Ertz has had a slow start to the season, the Ravens are more vulnerable to the tight end position than perhaps any other. The Ravens rank 19th against tight ends but seventh against wide receivers. DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are both practicing this week and if either were to be active it would further limit the targets available for Fulgham.

Tyler Boyd was the WR54 last week versus Baltimore. Will Fuller was blanked versus Baltimore. Odell Beckham was the WR77 versus Baltimore. Although there is room for success, as Terry McLaurin and Tyreek Hill were able to prove, Fulgham is not someone to force into lineups the way managers should with players of their ilk. Sit Fulgham this week.



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Week 6 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

I was riding high after predicting eight out of the top ten defenses two weeks ago, but we saw some craziness this Sunday (along with some top tier defenses postponed or canceled), which caused only a 50% success rate in identifying top-10 units. Miami throttling San Francisco was truly a surprise, as was a Kansas City defense that hadn't allowed more than 20 points in any game this season allowing 40 points to Las Vegas.

I touched on this last week, but teams have now scored 3,900 points or 25.6 points per game so far this season and are gaining 367.4 yards per game which are both the most through the first five weeks of any season in the Super Bowl era. With offenses putting up video game numbers, it means that we can't continue to judge a defense solely by the number of points they allow or the number of yards they give up. Those numbers will naturally be higher than we're used to. Instead, we need to look for which offensive lines are truly weak points and which defenses will either be blitz-heavy or get consistent pressure with their pass rush. These are all incredibly important pieces of information in determining which defenses to play in any given week.

Remember that picking the right defense is not about identifying who will allow the fewest points, but who will cause the most turnovers or tally the most sacks since that has a higher correlation to weekly fantasy DST leaders. That means that, as much these rankings are about the talent on the defensive side of the ball, it is equally about taking advantage of the lack of talent on the offensive side. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so remember to check back here during the week as I will make updates once we get more information on some of these injuries and also get a better sense of the weather for the game.

 

Week 6 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Below are my Week 6 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 5 of the NFL and fantasy football season. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 6. I've broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 6 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 6 pickup or add.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - Since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating, which Bill Dubiel started last year, is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account: opponent injuries, home-field advantage, weather (which will be updated during the week), etc. We still have only one game of in-season data to work with, so this week's rankings weigh schedule and personnel heavier than they will down the line.

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Baltimore Ravens Defense @ PHI 13.4
2 1 New England Patriots Defense vs. DEN 12.9
3 1 Indianapolis Colts Defense vs. CIN 12.1
4 1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense vs. CLE 11.6

Yes, Philadelphia is set to get a little bit healthier on offense with the returns of Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, and they just put up 29 points on the Steelers, but they are also the third-largest underdog on the slate, according to Las Vegas.  The Eagles are still going to be hobbled on the offensive line, and Lane Johnson is getting a second opinion on his troublesome knee, which is an even bigger issue than their beleaguered receiving corps. Philadelphia has allowed the third-most sacks in the league, with 19 in only five games. The relentless pressure has also caused Carson Wentz to throw nine interceptions, which is the most in the league. As I mentioned above, I'm not really concerned if the Eagles are able to put up 20 points in this game since most teams are doing that relatively consistently this year. The Ravens defense hasn't been elite this year, ranking only 14th in pressure ate, but they are 6th in the NFL in sacks and should find themselves in the backfield consistently on Sunday, racking up sacks and causing a few interceptions. All of which makes them one of the best bets at DST in Week 6.

Holding the Chiefs offense in check the way the Patriots did during the first half last Monday night was a truly impressive feat; however, I'm not sure we should have expected much different from Bill Belichick. Yes, the Chiefs wound up with 26 points and the win, but their offense was stalled way more than usual. Belichick has always been an incredible defensive coach, but now his task gets significantly easier on Sunday, even if the Denver Broncos get Drew Lock back under center. The Patriots may only have six sacks on the season, but they are second in the NFL in pressure rate at 30.9% and third in the league with 26 quarterback hurries, numbers that are more impressive when you consider that three of the four teams the Patriots have played are in the top-13 in pressure allowed. Meanwhile, the Broncos were 28th in the league with 13 sacks allowed before missing this Sunday with a "BYE" and simply don't have the playmakers to scare these Patriots defenders. Yes, Jerry Jeudy will be good, but he's not somebody that is going to consistently get the better of Stephon Gilmore, who should be back from his COVID diagnosis on Sunday. I expect the Patriots to control this game and cause lots of problems for the Broncos offense.

The Colts are the second-largest favorite according to Vegas odds, but this game will hinge on the health of their defense. Star linebacker Darius Leonard missed Sunday's game against the Browns with a groin injury and, despite playing, fellow linebackers Anthony Walker and Bobby Okerele were banged up during the week and came into the game hobbled. As a result, the Colts gave up 385 yards to the Browns and lost 32-23. The Colts were able to pick Baker Mayfield off twice, but only got one sack against the Browns stalwart offensive line. It will be a much different story on Sunday against a Bengals offensive line that has been one of the worst in football, allowing a league-leading 22 sacks, including seven last week to a Ravens team that has consistently gotten less pressure on the quarterback than Indianapolis. That's good news for a Colts defense that is 8th in the NFL in pressure rate and 9th in quarterback hurry percentage. With Phillip Rivers more likely to find success against the Bengals Defense than he did against the Browns, and the Bengals likely playing this game without A.J. Green (who admittedly wasn't really productive when in) the Colts should get up early in this game and take advantage of a weak Bengals offensive line.

As I mentioned above, the Browns don't give up a lot of sacks, but Baker Mayfield is still one of the more turnover-prone quarterbacks in the league. Only 53.2% of his passes have been on target, according to Pro Football Reference, and he was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league last year when pressured. So far this season, he has only been pressured on 13.5% of dropbacks and has been hurried a total of 13 times in five games. That has allowed him to curtail some of his mistakes (even though there have been a few head-scratching throws); however, the Steelers have the third-highest blitz percentage at 38.7% and the best pressure rate in the league at 38.1%. Since the Steelers are second in the league with only 3.3 yards allowed per rush, the Browns may have to turn to Baker more often than they want. If he is not able to stand in a clean pocket, he's more liable to make mistakes that lead to turnovers. Pairing that with the likely low-scoring total in this division rivalry, and I like the Steelers as a high floor offense with a good chance at a defensive touchdown.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 Miami Dolphins Defense  vs. NYJ 11.3
6 2 Washington Football Team Defense @ NYG 10.4
7 2 Tennessee Titans Defense vs. HOU 10.2
8 2 Los Angeles Rams Defense @ SF 9.8

The Dolphins defense just manhandled a near-full strength 49ers team, so it makes sense to have faith in them to put up a similarly inspired effort against an undermanned Jets team. Le'Veon Bell came back, but his usage continued to be questionable. Sam Darnold missed last week, as did left tackle Mekhi Bechton, but they may return this weekend which would be a boon for the Jets. The Dolphins as a unit have been fairly average on the year, ranking 13th in pressure rate and 16th in hurry percentage despite being tied for 7th in sacks. This pick is really more about the ineptitude of the Jets offense that is 25th in the league in sacks allowed and 28th in total yards.

If we're attacking the Jets, then we should also be attacking the other New Jersey (sorry, New York) team. The Giants put up 30+ points against the Cowboys, but that is more about Dallas featuring one of the worst defenses in the league than the Giants all of the sudden becoming a strong offense. Devonta Freeman lacks explosiveness and Darius Slayton gives the Giants one consistent weapon on the outside, but he doesn't have much help. Washington got Chase Young back this Sunday, which is great news for a pass rush that suffered a bit without him. However, on the year, they are 3rd in the league in interceptions, sixth in the league in sacks, 12th in quarterback hurry rate, and will now face a Giants team that is 27th in total yards and 26th in sacks allowed. I think Washington will be a surprisingly high-scoring defensive unit this week.

As of this writing, the Titans have only played one half of football in two weeks, but they look pretty good for a team that was a bit short-handed due to their COVID designations. Another week should allow them to get talented players that Kristian Fulton and Jeffrey Simmons back in the fold. Coming into Tuesday night's game, they are fourth in the league in pressure rate and first in quarterback knockdowns, despite having only four sacks. That tells me that a big week is coming, and who better to have it against than a Texans offensive line that is 28th in sacks allowed. The Titans defense is 7th in the league in drives ending in points, so I expect them to keep this from turning into a truly high-scoring affair, especially with Derrick Henry grinding down a weak Texans Defense, so I feel more confident in using the Titans this weekend.

As I mentioned above, the Dolphins defense held the 49ers to 259 yards of offense, picked off two passes, and registered five sacks. They've also consistently generated a worse pass rush than the Rams throughout the season. That makes me a little bullish on a Rams defense that is 9th in the NFL in pressure rate and tied for first in sacks. The 49ers are 29th in the league in sacks allowed and are clearly discombobulated right now as they recover from a slew of injuries, which means it's the wrong time to have to face Aaron Donald. The Rams defense has been steadily improving on the season, so I look for Los Angeles to take advantage of a beaten-down 49ers team.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 New York Giants Defense vs. WAS 9.1
10 3 Kansas City Chiefs Defense @ BUF 8.9
11 3 Chicago Bears Defense @ CAR 8.4
12 3 New York Jets Defense @ MIA 8.1
13 3 San Francisco 49ers Defense  vs. LAR 7.9
14 3 Denver Broncos Defense @ NE 7.6
15 3 Cleveland Browns Defense @ PIT 7.1

OK, we all know the Giants defense is not that good, but Washington's offense may be worse. They benched Dwayne Haskins and got even worse production from Kyle Allen and Alex Smith. It was great seeing Smith back on the field, but he was hit constantly and he clearly doesn't have the mobility that he used to. The Giants are 11th in pressure rate and 12th in sacks, but this play is simply about attacking one of the worst offenses in the NFL. If Alex Smith starts again, which should be expected, the Giants really only have to worry about stopping Terry McLaurin and can go to work on an offensive line that is 31st in the NFL in sacks allowed with 21 in five games.

The Bills offense has been an elite offense this season, but they looked relatively mediocre in a first half without John Brown and both starting right guard Jon Feliciano and his back-up Brian Winters. That's not a great sign against a Chiefs defense that is 7th in the league in pressure rate. Josh Allen has gotten away with a few questionable throws heading into Tuesday night, and then had those decisions come back to bite him against the Titans on national television. The Chiefs were exposed against the Raiders on Sunday, but this is still a strong defensive unit that blitzes the 6th-most in the league and could cause problems for replacements on the Bills'offensive line. I think this game will be fast-paced and involve a fair share of sacks and turnovers.

The Bears defense has so far lacked the bite of recent seasons, ranking 18th in pressure rate, 16th in sacks, and 23rd in quarterback hurry percentage. They're also 12th in the number of drives ending in scores and will face off against a surprisingly strong Panthers offense that has the fourth-most yards in the league. The Panthers have allowed the 15th-most sacks in the NFL, so it's likely that the Bears bring down Bridgewater a couple of times, but this isn't the slam dunk game people would have assumed once Christian McCaffrey went down.

I know we don't want to pick on the Dolphins offense after what they just did to San Francisco, but we've seen enough of Ryan Fitzpatrick to know that turnovers are always on the table when he takes the field. The Jets' secondary has struggled, but they are 9th in the NFL with five interceptions, tied for third in quarterback knockdowns, and are 17th in the NFL in pressure rate, so they still have a little bit of pep, unlike the offensive side of the ball. Maybe I'm alone here, but I think we could just as easily see the Dolphins throw two interceptions and yield three-plus sacks as I can see them turn in another rout.

This hasn't been a great season for the 49ers, and they've lost some key pieces on the defensive line, but they are still 5th in the NFL in pressure rate and 7th in quarterback knockdowns, which means they're getting after the quarterback. The Rams have only allowed seven sacks total on the season and are third in the league in total yards, so they will score points and keep the 49ers from putting up a massive fantasy total, but we all know how Jared Goff's play diminishes when he's under pressure, so there's a chance we can see Bad Goff on Sunday in a messy game overall. I think the 49ers are too well-coached to come out and lay another egg.

An extra week means the Patriots will most likely be starting Cam Newton in this game instead of Jarrett Stidham, which is, as I'm sure you know, a massive difference. The Broncos defense is still 6th in the NFL in pressure rate and 5th in quarterback hurry percentage, but they banged up enough that I'm not sure they can contain a well-coached Patriots offense for the entire game. I just don't see a lot of upside in the matchup, especially with how the Broncos offense put their defense in bad positions throughout the entire game against the Jets. However, I think the Broncos can get to Cam a couple of times, and I can't envision this being a high-scoring, or exciting, football game.

The Browns have played really solid defense of late, including a strong game in limiting an admittedly average Colts offense. The Steelers have a near-elite offensive line that has allowed only six sacks in four games and should have little problem with a Browns pass rush that has a mediocre 19.6% pressure rate. However, the Browns do lead the league in quarterback hurries with 30, which could cause problems for Ben Roethlisberger since the veteran loves to hold the ball a little longer than he should. Chase Claypool was superb last week, but if Diontae Johnson misses next week, Claypool will really need to deliver against since JuJu Smith-Schuster will likely get a heavy dose of Denzel Ward. I expect this to be a grinding, low-scoring game that should keep the fantasy DST floors relatively safe.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Buffalo Bills Defense vs KC 6.9
17 4 Green Bay Packers Defense @ TB 6.3
18 4 Carolina Panthers Defense vs. CHI 6.1
19 4 Cincinnati Bengals Defense @ IND 5.3
20 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense vs. GB 4.9
21 4 Arizona Cardinals Defense @ DAL 4.5
22 4 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. DET 4.2

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
23 5 Houston Texans Defense @ TEN 3.8
24 5 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. BAL 3.1
25 5 Detroit Lions Defense @ JAX 2.7
26 5 Dallas Cowboys Defense vs ARI 2.1
27 5 Atlanta Falcons Defense @ MIN 1.2
28 5 Minnesota Vikings Defense vs. ATL 0.9
29 5 New Orleans Saints Defense BYE 0.4
30 5 Las Vegas Raiders Defense BYE 0.3
31 5 Los Angeles Chargers Defense BYE 0.0
32 5 Seattle Seahawks Defense BYE 0.0


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Week 6 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

This NFL season continues to be the weirdest one that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’ve seen teams come out and get embarrassed by bottom dwellers, and I just watched Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins absolutely dismantled the San Francisco 49ers. If you ever think that you’re going to be able to accurately predict a week in the NFL, you’re wrong.

We saw some explosive kicker performances in Week 5. Dolphins’ kicker Jason Sanders put up 22 points on the afternoon, and he was tightly contested by New York Giants’ kicker Graham Gano, who had a 20-point outing for himself. As defenses are adapting and improving, we’re going to see more big kicker performances, so keep that in mind when setting your lineups.

With Covid-19 continuing to weave its way through NFL locker rooms, bye weeks are getting more and more difficult to navigate. The New England Patriots were originally slated to have their bye in Week 6, but there will now be just three teams off this week. Those will be the New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders. In addition to their regular fantasy talent, all three of them have had great fantasy kickers thus far.

 

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

  1. Justin Tucker (BAL) @ PHI
  2. Harrison Butker (KC) @ BUF
  3. Dan Bailey (MIN) vs ATL
  4. Tyler Bass (BUF) vs KC
  5. Jason Sanders (MIA) vs NYJ

Baltimore Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker has reclaimed our top spot. After his team thoroughly beat the Cincinnati Bengals, they now draw the Philadelphia Eagles’ who have struggled mightily on defense all season. Points should abound here. Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker gets our next spot. Even in a loss, this offense still put up 32 points. I think we should see plenty of points from these two high-scoring units. Minnesota Vikings’ kicker Dan Bailey is up next. Even though they’re 1-4, they Vikings are putting points up, and Bailey is the primary beneficiary of that.

Buffalo Bills’ kicker Tyler Bass grabs the fourth spot this week. This offense has put up at least 27 points in all four games this season, and they’ve cleared 30 in their last three. Against the Chiefs, they will find ways to move the ball. Sanders wraps up our first tier. Through five games, he has scored 62 points, which leads all players at the position. Against the dumpster fire that is the New York Jets, he’s a near must-start for the week.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

  1. Mason Crosby (GB) @ TB
  2. Samuel Sloman (LAR) @ SF
  3. Rodrigo Blankenship (IND) vs CIN
  4. Cairo Santos (CHI) @ CAR
  5. Ryan Succop (TB) vs GB

Green Bay Packers’ kicker Mason Crosby gets our next spot. He’s nearly perfect to start the season, and he’s playing with one of the NFL’s best offenses. Have no qualms starting him this week. Los Angeles Rams’ kicker Samuel Sloman comes in at seven. His offense continues to hum along, and they have a matchup with the division-rival 49ers. This game could be lower scoring, but I think Sloman still gets a good amount of work.

Indianapolis Colts’ kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is next. After five games, Blankenship is the only other kicker to clear 60 points. His offense isn’t perfect, but the Cincinnati Bengals are the perfect get-right spot. Chicago Bears’ kicker Cairo Santos gets the next spot. This team isn’t winning pretty, but they’re still winning. They can move the ball enough to get Santos scoring chances against the Carolina Panthers. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ kicker Ryan Succop rounds out this next group. The Packers’ defense isn’t the best unit, and the Bucs should be able to get some plays working against them.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

  1. Matt Prater (DET) @ JAX
  2. Stephen Gostkowski (TEN) vs HOU
  3. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) @ DAL
  4. Robbie Gould (SF) vs LAR
  5. Greg Zuerlein (DAL) vs ARI

Detroit Lions’ kicker Matt Prater slides into the lineup after a week off. The Jacksonville Jaguars have lost four straight after a surprising win over the Colts in Week 1, and this Lions’ team has been moving the ball well as of late. Tennessee Titans’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski is up next. As of this writing, he has played just three games, and he’s still tied for K12 on the year. I think they can move the ball on the Houston Texans. Zane Gonzalez sneaks in at the 13th spot. This offense finally showed some life last week, and now they head for a shootout in Texas with the Dallas Cowboys.

This San Francisco team struggled last week, but kicker Robbie Gould remains consistent. This team should be able to bounce back at home to give him a solid outing. Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein gets our final spot this week. Even with quarterback Andy Dalton in over Dak Prescott (ankle), this offense has enough weapons to keep putting up points, especially against a suspect defense like Arizona.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Sam Ficken is our first avoidance of the week because *checks notes* Adam Gase is still the head coach. Even if quarterback Sam Darnold returns, I don’t want any piece of the Jets regardless of the matchup. 

Younghoe Koo of the Atlanta Falcons grabs our next spot in this category. This Falcons’ team is reeling, and they just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Even with an easier matchup, I’m not seeking Koo out this week, especially with a new head coach calling the shots. 

Randy Bullock of the Bengals is our final avoidance of the week. Quarterback Joe Burrow has looked as advertised to start the year, but he gets another tough matchup in this Colts’ defense that has played very well through five games. Bullock and the team as a whole could easily struggle.



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2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Betting Picks - Sports Bets, Wagers, Advice Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 6) - Targets and Avoids

Five weeks into the season and we're starting to see who some teams really are. We already knew the Jets and Giants were awful, but are the Rams actually good? They're 4-1 with all their wins coming against the NFC East and their lone loss against the Bills. It'll also be real interesting to see how the Saints play in the coming weeks with Drew Brees unable to zip a throw in.

Underdogs went 8-6 against the spread with four outright upsets. The biggest was the Raiders beating the Chiefs which knocked out around 25 percent of remaining entrants in pools. The Dolphins beating the Niners did a little damage too. My survivor plays went 5-1 straight-up. None of my avoids lost but the Saints and Seahawks both had to come back late to win.

This is a difficult week with only three teams favored by a touchdown or more, but there is one play I really like and it's a team you won't want to choose again. There is no Thursday night football this week due to COVID rescheduling. The Chargers, Raiders, Saints, and Seahawks are on bye.

 

Survivor League Week 6

Teams favored by a touchdown or more in Week 6; Colts -8 vs. Bengals, Ravens -8 @ Eagles, and Dolphins -8 vs. Jets.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

I also give out my three top plays against the spread. That can be found at the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 6

Lions -3.5 @ Jaguars

You won't get another chance to take the Lions. They fit one of my favorite gambling trends; road favorite off a bye. The trend is 63-26 since 2002. RJ Bell explained why the trend is so successful.

"The team that's traveling is clearly better. Because you can't be favored on the road unless you're clearly better. But because you're clearly better, you have the distractions on the road. You might be looking ahead. You might be a little beat up from last week. Whatever it is, it's going to cause you not to play your best game; you're more susceptible to a team you think you should easily beat, even more susceptible on the road. That's why road favorites are so dangerous. Well, when you have a bye, all that stuff goes out the window. If you haven't played for two weeks, you're not going to look ahead. You're going to be focused on that team. You're not going to be tired. All the things that make traveling tough, you have that total focus."

The Lions are 1-3 and have held a double-digit lead in all three of their losses. The Jaguars are who we thought they were before the season; a bad team. They surprised many with their Week 1 against the Colts but have since lost four in a row. The stats point to Jacksonville but the eye test points to Detroit. If the Lions shore up their defense, particularly in the red zone and on third down, they could run away with this one.

Lions 27 - Jaguars 16

 

Colts -8 vs. Bengals

Cincinnati better figure out a way to protect Joe Burrow because he's been getting crushed. Now they face a ferocious Colts Defense that's first in opponent yards per play. Phillip Rivers was awful Sunday but should rebound against an average Bengals Defense. They allow 159 rushing yards per game, 29th in the league. That will allow Indy to go back to the running game to open up the passing game. Colts will control this through and through.

Colts 24 - Bengals 13

 

Ravens -8 @ Eagles

As I keep saying, Baltimore beats up on bad teams. Are the Eagles bad though? It's unclear because their win over the 49ers two weeks ago doesn't seem so good after they got blown out by Miami. Philly is off a tough loss to Pittsburgh in which their defensive front looked better, but will they be able to stop the Ravens rushing attack? They're 17th in that department and even if they do slow down Baltimore, their offense won't be able to keep up. Baltimore is fifth in opponent yards per play, and fifth in getting off the field on third down.

Ravens 30 - Eagles 20

 

Panthers -2.5 vs. Bears

Chicago is the most overrated 4-1 team I can ever remember. They should've lost to the Lions, barely beat the Giants, should've lost to Falcons, were a no-show against the Colts, and somehow beat the Bucs last Thursday. Their offense is bottom-ten in yards per play, third-down conversions, touchdowns in the red zone. But their defense is top-ten in all those statistical categories. But the defense will have their hands full with the Panthers offense. They rank sixth in yards per play and are sixth in converting on third down. Teddy Bridgewater has looked better and more comfortable each week. If they can put up 20 points in this one, they should win.

Panthers 23 - Bears 17

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

Dolphins -8 vs. Jets

You probably think I'm crazy to lean toward the Jets here but, Miami is off their biggest win of the season. This is a divisional game with an over/under at 47.5. That's pretty low for current NFL standards with 59 percent of games going over the total. A lower total means less points will be scored which gives you a lean to the underdog. The stats are pretty even for these teams with Miami's defense ranking 27th in opponent yards per play and the Jets, 22nd.

Dolphins 23 - Jets 21

 

Vikings -3.5 vs. Falcons

Minnesota may be an appealing survivor pick because they're playing the putrid Falcons and when would you be able to take Minnesota again? Atlanta is also off firing their general manager and head coach. Their owner won't even commit to Matt Ryan in the future. The team is a mess. But there are just too many question marks with not only the Falcons but Vikings too. How will Minnesota respond after a gut-wrenching last-second loss in Seattle. Their defense seems to be much improved in the past two weeks but the Falcons will throw, throw, and throw. I don't trust the Vikings in this spot.

Vikings 31 - Falcons 30

 

Best Bets for Week 6

  • Lions -3.5 vs. Jaguars - Road favorite off a bye.
  • Panthers -2.5 vs. Bears - Chicago will get exposed in this spot.
  • 49ers +3.5 vs. Rams - Niners have lost two in a row, and looked awful Sunday. Rams haven't beat anyone good yet. I'll take the home team and the hook.

 

Running Totals

  • Last week: 2-1
  • 2020 season total: 7-8
  • 2019 season total: 23-26-2


Win Big With RotoBaller

Be sure to also check out all of our other daily fantasy football articles and analysis to help you set those winning lineups, including this new RotoBaller YouTube video:

More Weekly Lineup Prep