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Inside the Matchup

Week 7

By: Andy Swanson | Ken Ilchuk | Nick Caron | HC Green



Sunday Early:



Sunday Late:

DET @ LAR | PHI @ LV | HOU @ ARI | CHI @ TB | IND @ SF



- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Broncos @ Browns - (Green)
Line: CLE -2.0
Total: 41.0

Passing Game Thoughts: After starting the season 3-0, the Broncos have dropped three in a row and find themselves tied for last place in the AFC West. Teddy Bridgewater (foot) has averaged 311 passing yards in two games since returning from a concussion he suffered in Week 4, but that has been accompanied by five turnovers, including four interceptions, to match his five TD passes. Bridgewater is questionable with a sore foot coming out of Sunday’s loss to Las Vegas, but head coach Vic Fangio indicated that he expects the veteran to make the start Thursday night.

With Denver playing from behind, the Broncos have cranked up their passing, averaging 43.5 attempts in the last two games -- they averaged 32 per game during their 3-0 start. The primary beneficiaries have been Courtland Sutton (8-94-1) and Noah Fant (9-97-1), both of whom have become solid starting options. With Jerry Jeudy (ankle) still making his way back from a high ankle sprain and KJ Hamler (knee) lost for the season, Tim Patrick (3-42-1) has emerged as a flex play, at least in the short term.

Although Cleveland ranks ninth in passing yards (220.7 per game), bear in mind that is skewed by their Week 4 dismantling of Justin Fields, whom they sacked nine times and held to one net passing yard. It’s been a different story the past two weeks with both Justin Herbert and Kyler Murray slicing up the Browns defense for 600-plus yards, 8 touchdowns and 0 INTs combined. Assuming he starts, Bridgewater should be viewed as a strong QB2 or shaky QB1 in this one.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: In a lot of ways, Denver’s backfield operates similarly to the Browns with Javonte Williams (11-53-0) and Melvin Gordon (10-50-0) working a nearly 50/50 split -- Gordon has 83 combined touches this season to Williams’ 79. Cleveland has been strong against the run, allowing 87 yards per game (6th) and 3.6 per carry (3rd), but it’s fair to wonder about fatigue after Arizona ran 69 plays on Sunday with nearly 35 minutes of possession. Consider both backs as RB3s.

Value Meter:
QB2: Teddy Bridgewater (inj-foot)
RB3: Melvin Gordon
RB3: Javonte Williams
WR2/WR3: Courtland Sutton
TE1: Noah Fant
Bench: Jerry Jeudy (IR), Tim Patrick

Passing Game Thoughts: Every team must battle through injuries over the course of an NFL season, but the Browns may have reached critical mass in that area. Let’s start with Baker Mayfield (shoulder), who already was dealing with a torn labrum and suffered a dislocated shoulder last Sunday. The fact that he returned speaks to his toughness, but he’ll sit Thursday night in favor of Case Keenum. The journeyman has had his moments, but he hasn’t started since 2019 and is very much a game manager.

In addition to Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) and Jarvis Landry (knee) are both banged up as well. OBJ (5-79-0) hasn’t practiced this week after a shoulder injury of his own, while Landry remains on IR, though it’s at least possible he could be activated Thursday. If one or both don’t play, Donovan Peoples-Jones (4-101-2) could serve as the primary target on the outside and would be worth a look as a waiver-wire addition. Austin Hooper (1-4-0) and David Njoku (knee) could also be called upon.

Denver is 11th against the pass for the year at 229.2 yards allowed per game, but they had precious few answers against the Raiders last Sunday when Derek Carr averaged a whopping 12.6 yards per attempt. It looks like there are going to be some game-time decisions Thursday night, though regardless of who’s up you wouldn’t want to go with Keenum. Beckham could be a WR3 if he’s active; if not, Peoples-Jones or Landry could offer WR3/flex value. Njoku could be a lottery ticket. Stay away from Hooper.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: Did someone say injuries!? Cleveland’s top-ranked ground attack will be without Nick Chubb (calf) and Kareem Hunt (calf), and they might also be minus their two starting tackles again. It’s a mess. D’Ernest Johnson is expected to serve as the primary back against Denver, which sits fourth against the run at 85.5 yards per game. What should’ve been a strength-on-strength matchup has been compromised by injuries. Despite the Broncos’ play against the run, Johnson carries RB3 appeal here and is a priority waiver addition.

Value Meter:
RB3: D’Ernest Johnson
WR3: Odell Beckham Jr. (inj-shoulder)
Bench: Baker Mayfield (inj-shoulder), Nick Chubb (inj-calf), Kareem Hunt (IR), Jarvis Landry (IR), Donovan Peoples-Jones

Prediction: Broncos 23, Browns 15 ^ Top

Panthers at Giants - (Ilchuk)
Line: CAR -3.0
Total: 43.0

Passing Game Thoughts: I really like Sam Darnold as a quarterback, and I still think he will emerge as an elite signal caller under OC Joe Brady. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see him as anything more than a complementary player right now, given his play over the last three games with RB Christian McCaffrey out of the lineup. The numbers in three games with McCaffrey compared to the three games without are startling. Darnold has gone from a 68.2% completion percentage to connecting on just 55%. He’s gone from 8.3 yards per attempt to just 5.8. He started the season averaging just under 300 passing yards per game through three weeks, to a paltry 228 yards in weeks 4 through 6, and his TD to interception ratio has gone from 3:1 to 2:3.

D.J. Moore continues to get the lion’s share of the targets, but he hasn’t scored in two weeks, and WR Robby Anderson’s target share has actually gone up significantly in McCaffrey’s absence, but he’s suffered through a frustrating case of the drops. RB Chuba Hubbard is not McCaffrey when it comes to receiving skills, but he can make plays, while emerging targets Brandon Zylstra, and Terrace Marshall Jr. could all be sidelined this week.

Thought to be a team strength headed into the season, the Giants defense has been a huge disappointment, particularly against the pass. Their 14 TD passes allowed is tied for 30th in the NFL, and their opposing QB passer rating of 109.4 ranks 28th overall. They also sit in the bottom third of the league in yards per attempt (8.0) and have allowed 22 plays of 20 yards or more. But at the core of the problem is their inability to get to the QB. They have just 10 sacks through six games, 28th in the NFL. Big Blue has shown an ability to make plays on the ball in the air with five interceptions, which could spell trouble for Darnold, who has tossed six picks in his last three games.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: Panthers HC Matt Ruhle gave Darnold a public vote of confidence this week, but that was right before he talked about putting Darnold in more favorable positions to make plays and “re-defining who we are on offense.” That’s all coach speak for “we’re going to run the ball.” Hubbard has 61 total touches in his three starts and now has a 100-yard rushing game on his resume. He’s averaging just 4.2 yards per carry in that span, but expect a healthy dose of Hubbard this week. He’s a legitimate RB1. Darnold has proven he can maneuver in the pocket and extend plays, but he’s not afraid to tuck it and run, and is a dangerous run threat in the red zone.

The Giants run defense has been fairly consistent. While they are allowing 4.5 yards per carry, they have avoided the big play in the run game, so if Carolina is going to run the ball, they are going to have to make the commitment and stick with it. The Giants have yielded six rushing TD’s in as many games.

Value Meter:
QB2: Sam Darnold (low-end)
RB1: Chuba Hubbard (mid-range)
WR1: D.J. Moore (low-end)
WR4: Robby Anderson (mid-range)

Passing Game Thoughts: QB Daniel Jones is coming off one of the worst performances of his young career, throwing three interceptions and taking four sacks. He will likely be without top targets, WR’s Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney and TE Evan Engram while playing behind an o-line in shambles. Sterling Shepard is viable but follow his status this weekend as he was limited in practice Thursday with his hamstring injury.

The Panthers present some issues for Jones and company. Carolina has been on the fast track to the quarterback with 16 sacks on the season. That’s got to be a concern for a Giants o-line that has surrendered 12 sacks so far, including four last Sunday when Jones looked and played like he was still recovering from the concussion he suffered the week before. Carolina is currently allowing the fewest passing yards per game and less than 7.0 yards per attempt.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Giants RB Saquon Barkley has been out since spraining his ankle in Week 5 and likely won’t play this week either. Devontae Booker has taken over the workload and has 35 total touches over the last two games. Unfortunately, he’s averaging just 3.0 yards per carry and 6.0 yards per catch. Jones has shown a willingness to get out and run, but given the hits he’s taken, particularly the last two weeks, I would expect the coaching staff to keep that part of his game reeled in a little bit. Despite all that, Carolina is yielding almost 5.0 yards per carry on the season, so the run might be the Giants best option.

Value Meter:
QB2: Daniel Jones (mid-range)
RB2: Devontae Booker (high-end)
WR2: Sterling Shepard (low-end)
WR3: Kenny Golladay (if he plays)
TE2: Evan Engram (high-end)
Bench: Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney

Prediction: Panthers 21, Giants 17 ^ Top

Falcons at Dolphins - (Ilchuk)
Line: ATL -2.5
Total: 47.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Matt Ryan comes off the bye with another chance to pad his stats against a struggling defense. Despite currently sitting at QB24, Ryan has thrown 10 TD’s in his last four games. Granted, three of those games came against the Jets, Washington, and the Giants. But one of those outings also came against a very good Buccaneers defense, and he was without WR1 Calvin Ridley against the Jets. Ridley will be back this week, as will Russell Gage, giving Ryan his full complement of weapons for the first time since Week 2.

TE Kyle Pitts has begun to emerge as the threat everyone thought he would be, leading the Falcons in YPC (12.6) and coming off his first career 100-yard effort. Nineteen of his 36 targets have come in his last two games. Cordarrelle Patterson has been a surprise Swiss-army knife in this offense and should continue to bring value to fantasy owners.

The Dolphins defense ranks among the worst in the league in yards allowed per attempt and passing TD’s allowed, while opposing quarterbacks have posted a completion percentage over 66%. Miami is also dead last with 31 plays of 20+ yards and ranks in the bottom third of the NFL in sacks and interceptions.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: Mike Davis has been a disappointment, rushing for more than 50 yards just once this season. At this point, he’s not even getting the bulk of the carries with the emergence of Patterson. The former WR has played a large role in the passing game, his 31 targets ranking third on the team behind only Ridley and Pitts, but he out-carried Davis in Week 5, and given his success, that figures to be a trend moving forward. Patterson has at least 100 total yards or a touchdown in all five games this season.

The Dolphins run defense is only marginally better than its play against the pass, allowing 7 rushing touchdowns and six runs of 20 or more yards. They are also allowing nearly 4.5 yards per carry. However, until the Falcons can get their offensive line woes worked out, don’t expect the run to be a big part of this attack. Patterson’s versatility is worth betting on this week, but there’s nothing of note here beyond that.

Value Meter:
QB2: Matt Ryan (high-end)
RB1: Cordarrelle Patterson (high-end)
RB2: Mike Davis (low-end)
WR2: Calvin Ridley (mid-range)
TE1: Kyle Pitts (high-end)

Passing Game Thoughts: It all starts and ends with Tua, right? Tagovailoa returned to the lineup in Week 6 against the Jaguars and threw for 329 yards and 2 TD’s, but also threw a bad interception. We can hope that he’ll continue to clean things up with more game reps, but there isn’t a whole lot of good football on tape from Tua to give owners much confidence. WR’s DeVante Parker and Preston Williams figure to return from injury this week, but that only serves to potentially limit the touches for WR Jaylen Waddle and TE Mike Gesicki, who had begun to emerge in their absence. The truth is, no one is jumping off the page here.

Of course, Atlanta isn’t exactly the second coming of the Purple People Eaters. Through five games, they have just 9 sacks and 1 INT. Tua could have a clean pocket most of the day, which will help, but with no true top target emerging thus far, it’s hard to find any fantasy value in this group.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Against the run, the Falcons have been solid, allowing less than 4.3 yards per carry and avoiding the big play. The Dolphins average just 71.5 rushing yards per game, and the three-headed monster of Myles Gaskin, Malcolm Brown, and Salvon Ahmed has been average at best. None are getting more than six carries per game, Brown is averaging less than 4.0 yards per carry, while Ahmed’s YPC is under 3.0.

Value Meter:
WR4: Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker (if he plays)
TE2: Mike Gesicki (low-end)
Bench: QB Tua Tagovailoa, RB Myles Gaskin, RB Malcolm Brown, RB Salvon Ahmed

Prediction: Falcons 31, Dolphins 17 ^ Top

Washington @ Packers - (Green)
Line: GB -7.5
Total: 48.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Since replacing an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip) in Week 1, Taylor Heinicke has had some memorable moments. None of them have come in the past two weeks. Facing a woeful Chiefs defense in Week 6, Heinicke completed 24 of his 39 passes for 182 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. That coming on the heels of his struggles versus the Saints (248 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs) has loosened his grip on the top job with Fitzpatrick nearing a return from IR. He’ll be under the gun this Sunday and might offer QB2 appeal for those in leagues that accommodate two-quarterback lineups.

Terry McLaurin (hamstring) is one of the best young receivers in the NFL, but it’s unclear how well he’s holding up physically. He appeared late last week on the injury report and then posted a 4-28-0 line, easily his worst production this season. McLaurin missed practice Wednesday before returning Thursday and should play, though as a WR1 there is some real risk based on his uncertain health. Offseason addition Curtis Samuel (groin) looks like he’ll miss his second straight game and fifth of seven on the year. With Logan Thomas (hamstring) on IR, Ricky Seals-Jones (quad) could offer short-term value, but he’s dealing with a quad injury and has been limited in practice.

Even with starting CBs Jaire Alexander (shoulder) on IR and Kevin King (shoulder) playing in just three games this season, the Packers still sit fourth in pass defense at 206.5 yards allowed per game. King appears on track to return in Week 7, as does Darnell Savage (concussion), who departed last week’s game after suffering a concussion. The Packers signed Whitney Mercilus (3.0 sacks with Houston) this week to bolster a pass rush that’s without Za’Darius Smith (back), but it’s unclear if he’ll play this Sunday.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: In a continuing trend, Antonio Gibson (shin) has been limited in practice this week and is coming off a game where he played fewer snaps than J.D. McKissic, who led the team last week with 109 yards on 18 total touches. Green Bay has been decent against the run, allowing 108.5 yards per game (13th), but the 4.5 yards per carry is in the bottom 10. Pencil Gibson in as a risky RB2 given his health concerns with McKissic a sturdy RB3 with a little upside.

Value Meter:
QB2: Taylor Heinicke
RB2: Antonio Gibson (inj-shin)
RB3: J.D. McKissic
WR1: Terry McLaurin (inj-hamstring)
Bench: Curtis Samuel (inj-groin), Logan Thomas (IR), Ricky Seals-Jones (inj-quad)

Passing Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers could’ve thrown a behind-the-back Hail Mary from his own endzone last Sunday and all anyone would’ve been talking about after the Packers’ win over Chicago was him bellowing “I OWN YOU!” to the Solider Field faithful. Statistically speaking, Rodgers was only renting, throwing for 195 yards and 2 TDs in addition to that six-yard TD scamper. While he hasn’t been nearly as lethal as he was during his MVP run last year, bear in mind the Packers have spent the entire year shuffling around a mostly inexperienced offensive line.

Speaking of which, David Bakhtiari (knee) returned to practice this week, though he’s unlikely to suit up this Sunday. When that does happen it should offer a boost to Robert Tonyan (2-10-0), who has spent much of his time chipping and blocking. He might be a nice stash option if someone cut bait after his slow start. Of course, Davante Adams (4-89-0) is the focal point of the passing game, and he leads the NFL in receptions and yards this season. The touchdowns have yet to materialize, but after scoring 18 last year you can bet better days are ahead in that department.

Perhaps that will begin in earnest against Washington, which has allowed league highs in both passing yards (309.5 per game) and touchdowns (16). There’s obviously some legit talent along their front four, but the Packers have done well against a string of top-notch pass rushers, including T.J. Watt, Nick Bosa and Khalil Mack. Consider Rodgers an upper-tier QB1 this Sunday.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: While the Browns are viewed as the gold standard for one-two punches at the running back position, Aaron Jones (17 touches, 110 yards, 1 TD) and AJ Dillon (11-59-0) may not be far behind. The former is among the NFL’s most dangerous players, a threat to take it to the house any time he gets the ball. The latter is a bulldozer with surprising burst when he reaches open field. Washington’s 19th-ranked run defense (113.5 yards per game) figures to have their hands full here. Jones is a must-start RB1, and Dillon is a flex/RB3 with upside.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers
RB1: Aaron Jones
RB3/Flex: AJ Dillon
WR1: Davante Adams
Bench: Robert Tonyan, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (IR)

Prediction: Packers 34, Washington 17 ^ Top

Bengals @ Ravens - (Green)
Line: BAL -6.5
Total: 46.5

Passing Game Thoughts: It wasn’t surprising that the Bengals toppled the Lions, now the NFL’s only winless team, in Week 6, but their dominance over a previously pesky opponent was nonetheless impressive. Joe Burrow was efficient with his 19 completions covering 271 yards and accounting for three touchdowns. The second-year pro is on a nice three-week upward swing, averaging 300 yards passing and 2.33 TD passes per game during the span. Interceptions remain an issue, though, as only three QBs have thrown more than Burrow (7).

Does anyone remember the top story about Ja’Marr Chase in the preseason was his struggles with catching the ball? With the rookie ranking fourth in the NFL in both receiving yards (553) and TDs (5) it’s safe to say that answer is no. Chase has emerged as a top-tier deep threat, averaging 20.5 yards per catch, and become a viable WR1 for fantasy owners. Tee Higgins (3-44-0) hasn’t been as productive since returning from a shoulder injury, but he’s still a nice complementary option for Burrow. Tyler Boyd (1-7-0), however, continues to look more and more like the odd man out, managing just 31 yards on five receptions during the past two games combined.

Baltimore has been up and down against the pass, following a brutal performance against a middling Colts offense by locking down Justin Herbert and the high-powered Chargers. For the season, the Ravens rank 26th in passing yards allowed (277.3 per game), but they’ve proven capable of just about anything. Last season, they dominated the Bengals completely, allowing six points in two blowout wins. This is a different team, though, with Burrow joining Chase as a No. 1 option. Higgins is a WR3 that could outperform that slot. Boyd is a flex play at best.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: After playing a limited role in Week 5 when he was dealing with a tender ankle, Joe Mixon had a monster game last Sunday, gaining 153 combined yards and scoring his first receiving TD in nearly a year. Backup Samaje Perine missed the game on the COVID list but has since been activated and should play. They’ll need to bring their “A” game against Baltimore, which is third in the NFL with 82.0 rushing yards allowed per game. Despite the level of competition, Mixon is an RB1.

Value Meter:
QB1: Joe Burrow
RB1: Joe Mixon
WR1: Ja’Marr Chase
WR3: Tee Higgins
Flex: Tyler Boyd
Bench: C.J. Uzomah

Passing Game Thoughts: When you see a score of 34-6 against an opponent like the Chargers, you’d expect some impressive numbers. That wasn’t the case, though, as Baltimore’s triumph was more of a “death by a thousand cuts” scenario. To that end, Lamar Jackson passed for a season-low 167 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs; he added 51 yards on the ground, but it was an uninspired follow-up to his Monday night mastery. He was similarly workmanlike against Cincy in 2020, averaging 147 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, 2.5 TDs and 1 INT per game. Still, he remains a QB1 for Week 7.

With such minimal production from Jackson’s arm, only Mark Andrews (5-68-1) was able to maintain any level of fantasy relevance last Sunday. That included a disappointing 4-35-0 line for Marquise Brown, who posted a low-water mark in yardage and went without a TD for just the second time in 2021. One positive development was the NFL debut of Rashod Bateman (4-29-0), the team’s first-round pick. It’ll be interesting to see how the pass distribution adjusts with the rookie in the fold, but for now Andrews, as a TE1, and Brown, as a WR2, remain the only playable options.

While the Bengals rank a respectable 13th in passing yards allowed (240.5), they’ve been one of the best at keeping opponents out of the end zone -- among the teams that have played six games, only Buffalo (5) has allowed fewer passing TDs than Cincinnati (6). They also sit in the top 10 in sacks (14).

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: While Latavius Murray (ankle) has emerged as the top back, his status for Week 7 is iffy due to an ankle injury that has kept him out of practice. If he can’t go, Devonta Freeman (9-53-1) would likely be the head of a committee approach that includes Le’Veon Bell (8-18-1) and perhaps Ty’Son Williams, who has been a healthy scratch in two of the past three games. Cincinnati is eighth against the run (90.5 yards per game) and seventh in yards per carry (3.9). If Murray goes, he’s an RB3 with Freeman as a flex. If not, Freeman elevates to RB3 status.

Value Meter:
QB1: Lamar Jackson
RB3: Latavius Murray (inj-ankle)
Flex: Devonta Freeman
WR2: Marquise Brown
TE1: Mark Andrews
Bench: Ty’Son Williams, Rashod Bateman

Prediction: Ravens 30, Bengals 24 ^ Top

Jets at Patriots - (Ilchuk)
Line: NE -7.0
Total: 42.5

Passing Game Thoughts: One can hope that the Jets spent the bye week shoring up their offensive woes, starting with the play of Zach Wilson. While he’s flashed some playmaking ability, he’s failed to put up 200 passing yards in two of the last three games, and hasn’t thrown a TD in three of his team’s five games.

The offensive line is still a work in progress, and Wilson hasn’t always handled that pressure well. His most reliable receiving target, Corey Davis is the team’s clear leader in targets (36) and yards per catch (15.1) and no one else is close. But Davis has just one 100-yard game and is averaging just four catches per game. Meanwhile, the TE position has been a non-factor in this offense, which is a surprise given Wilson’s rookie status.

Speaking of rookies, Patriots HC Bill Belichick’s track record against rookie QB’s is sort of legendary. Look for multiple formations, pressure from all corners of the field, and plenty of pre-snap movement and tough post-snap reads for Wilson that will make his life generally miserable for three hours or so on Sunday. Though this hasn’t been a typical Patriots defense, the unit ranks in the top third of the NFL in several major categories including completion percentage, passing TD’s allowed, and interceptions. They need to get the QB on the ground more consistently, but New England has a chance to get right in that category this week. In the end, don’t expect anyone involved in the Jets passing attack to have any fantasy relevance this week.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: The picture doesn’t get any rosier for the Jets in the run game. New England is allowing just 3.8 yards per rush, and New York has three backs – Michael Carter, Ty Johnson, Tevin Coleman – who are all averaging less than 4.0 yards per carry. The Jets also rank dead last in the NFL with just 104 total rushing attempts.

Value Meter:
WR3: Corey Davis (low-end)
Bench: QB Zach Wilson, RB Michael Carter, WR Jamison Crowder

Passing Game Thoughts: QB Mac Jones has been impressive in his development into NFL starting QB, however he is clearly in game manager mode. He has yet to post a 300-yard passing game, however he has at least one TD pass in five of his first six games, and has two multi-TD games in the last three weeks.
The Jets defense has actually been respectable against the pass, but while they have put pressure on opposing passers, they haven’t gotten home, recording just 13 sacks. Given time to throw, Jones could pop and be worth consideration in two-QB leagues.

TE Hunter Henry has been the beneficiary of a quick-read pass attack behind a banged up o-line. He has scored in three straight games and has averaged 11.0 yards per catch on 12 receptions in that span. WR’s Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor are Jones’ top targets and could be legitimate flex options or low-end WR3’s this week.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Historically, the Patriots RB by committee set-up, and week-by-week matchup game plans have been bad news for fantasy owners. This season has been no different with veteran James White (when healthy) handling the passing downs and Rhamondre Stevenson and Brandon Bolden picking up carries and receptions here and there. However, Damien Harris has emerged as a punishing runner who has secured most of the 1st and 2nd down work at the moment. He has 32 carries for 159 yards and two touchdowns over the last two games. The Jets have been stout against the run, allowing 4.0 yards per carry, but may not hold up against Harris’ physical running style.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mac Jones (high-end)
RB2: Damien Harris (high-end)
WR3: Jakobi Meyers (mid-range)
WR4: Nelson Agholor (high-end)
TE1: Hunter Henry (low-end)
FLEX: TE Jonnu Smith

Prediction: Patriots 28, Jets 13 ^ Top

Chiefs @ Titans - (Swanson)
Line: KC -4.5
Total: 57.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Patrick Mahomes and the league’s fifth-ranked scoring offense heads to Nashville to take on a Titans team that just upset the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football. Mahomes once again sits atop the quarterback rankings with 28.6 fantasy points per game, which is actually a point per game better than his 50-touchdown MVP season in 2018.

It hasn’t always been pretty, and Mahomes is on pace to set a career-high in interceptions. But he makes up for it with a 50-touchdown pace and a near 70% completion rate.

Tyreek Hill is second in fantasy scoring at wide receiver, behind Cooper Kupp of the Rams. Hill has at 12 or more targets in four of six games and is tied for third with five receiving touchdowns. If there is one downside for Hill, he has not run much this season and has just four carries for 45 yards and no scores. Perhaps this is the week in which Andy Reid unleashes Hill in hopes of keeping up with the Titans potent offense.

In a game like this that features two of the worst defenses in the league and two top offenses, points will be plentiful, and you should strongly consider starting all of your skill position players in this game.

Fringe players like Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman, and even Josh Gordon are tempting plays based on the matchup, but they are all boom or bust options. Robinson had a nice day last week against Washington with 3/46/1 on six targets, but he had just ten targets combined this season up to that point. Gordon has yet to do much, and Hardman, while technically the No.2 WR, followed up 12 targets against Buffalo in Week 5 with just five last week.

Hill is dealing with a quad injury but should suit up. Tackle Lucas Niang is dealing with a hamstring injury, and stud defensive tackle Chris Jones looks to return to the field after missing time with a wrist issue.

Both the Chiefs and the Titans rank in the top-7 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, with Tennessee giving up 14 total touchdowns in six games. Not that you needed any reason to start Mahomes, but at least you can feel even more confident knowing that the Titans are a turnstile on defense and will likely give up over 30 points to the Chiefs.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: Darrel Williams carried the load at running back last week for head coach Andy Reid, posting 89 total yards and a pair of touchdowns on 24 touches. At just 3.4 yards per carry on 47 runs this season, Williams has been anything but impressive as a runner, but he does have four touchdowns and will continue to be the lead back until Clyde Edwards-Helaire returns from short term IR.

The Titans rank 20th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. James Robinson torched them for 18/149/1 back in Week 5 and Chris Carson managed two rushing touchdowns in week 2. Other than that, they have been pretty solid against the run.

Zack Moss and Devin Singletary were held to just 51 yards on 13 carries last week in what could have been a decent matchup in a high-scoring game.

Teams know that you beat the Titans in the air, and the Tennessee offense (Derrick Henry) creates a game script in which passing is required to catch up and keep pace. This game will be the highest-scoring game of the week, and Mahomes will need to throw the ball a ton. That does not mean Williams will not be a solid play, but he may not have much success in terms of rushing yards.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes (Elite)
RB2: Darrel Williams (Low-End)
WR1: Tyreek Hill (Elite)
WR4: Demarcus Robinson (High-End)
TE1: Travis Kelce (Elite)

Passing Game Thoughts: After throwing for a career-best 33 passing touchdowns in 2020, it is somewhat of a shock that Ryan Tannehill has just six touchdown passes in six games in 2021. The offense clearly goes through Derrick Henry, but considering the wide receiver weapons at his disposal, one would have thought Tannehill would have been a better fantasy option this season.

A pleasant sign last week was the re-emergence of A.J. Brown (illness) in the passing game for the Titans. Brown caught seven passes for 91 yards against the Bills, with most coming in the second half. Look for at least ten targets this week in what projects to be a high-scoring game.

A not so pleasant sign was the health of Julio Jones coming into question yet again. Jones suffered a hamstring injury late against Buffalo after missing last week with the same ailment. Starting him, even if active, is a risky proposition.

From a matchup perspective, it does not get much better than this, as both teams are terrible on defense and potent on offense. Points will be scored, and you will want to get a piece of the action.

Should Jones be unavailable, Chester Rogers or Nick Westbrook-Ikhine will get a larger role in the passing game. Who that will be and how many targets are not clear. The latter was active last week after missing week five, posting 3/27/0. Not exactly awe-inspiring, but that could jump up closer to eight targets with Jones out. These are speculative plays, mostly for DFS.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: It doesn’t matter how many carries he gets, who he plays, or how much he struggles to start the game; Derrick Henry will get his and deliver as the RB1 for fantasy football.

He is the start of the week and the clear-cut fantasy MVP (or perhaps Cooper Kupp) over the first six weeks of the season.

The Chiefs are far better at defending the pass than the run, and no opposing back has topped 100 rushing yards in a game (Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt did combine for 126 and 3 scores to start the season).

Kansas City also will get their best defensive lineman back if Chris Jones is able to return from a wrist injury. Jones is a monster in the middle of the line and solid against the run.

None of that will matter. Henry is matchup proof, and the team is content running him into the ground. 150 and three scores are not out of the question for Henry.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ryan Tannehill (Low-End)
RB1: Derrick Henry (Elite)
WR1: A.J. Brown (High-End)
WR3: Julio Jones (High-End)
TE2: Geoff Swaim (Low-End)

Prediction: Kansas City 34, Tennessee 31 ^ Top

Lions at Rams - (Caron)
Line: LAR -16.0
Total: 50.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Lions head coach Dan Campbell has said that the team isn’t considering benching Jared Goff yet, but that he expects more from him. Given that Goff hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in three of his past four games while failing to reach even 225 yards in those three games, it’d be hard to not expect more from him.

The reality is that this is a bad team. The pass catching weapons are terrible, aside from tight end T.J. Hockenson, who had even been struggling in previous weeks prior to his reemergence in Week 6. Hockenson is the only receiver who fantasy owners should have much confidence in heading into a difficult matchup with the Rams. Assuming that this will be an easy blowout win for the Rams, the Lions will likely need to pass quite a bit and that could mean some nice garbage time stats for Hockenson.

All of the Lions wide receivers should be avoided for fantasy, with the possible exception of slot receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. The rookie has now seen at least seven targets in three straight games and should be able to pretty much entirely avoid coverage from Jalen Ramsey. He’s a PPR-only flex option, but you could do worse if you’re in a pinch.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: The Detroit offense continues to be a complete disaster overall, but somehow second-year running back D’Andre Swift remains a solid RB1 for fantasy. It probably helps that he’s on pace for 96 receptions on the year and that he’s already scored four touchdowns through six games.

Backup running back Jamaal Williams remains a thorn in the side of Swift fantasy owners as he has nearly as many carries as Swift on the year while also scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns, but he hasn’t been nearly as involved in the passing game as Swift in recent weeks. Swift is also playing more than twice as many snaps per game as Williams over the past two weeks, so fantasy owners of Swift should remain confident that he’s going to continue to see the more valuable touches in the Lions offense.

This is admittedly a tough matchup against a good Rams defense, but game script could really turn into some great fantasy production for Swift down the stretch. We’ve seen it numerous times already this season, but expect five or more catches from him in this one.

Value Meter:
RB1: D’Andre Swift
TE1: T.J. Hockenson
Flex: Amon-Ra St. Brown (PPR only)
Bench: Jared Goff, Jamaal Williams, Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond

Passing Game Thoughts: Matthew Stafford has been excellent since joining the Rams and he had one of his best games in the blue and yellow thus far when he threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns against the Giants in Week 6. Stafford has now tossed 16 touchdowns with only four interceptions through six games, putting him on pace for over 5,200 passing yards, 45 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. He’s been every bit of a QB1 and he’ll now face a Lions defense that has given up at least 18 standard fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in all but one game this season. Stafford’s only real problem in this one will be if the Rams get up too quickly on the scoreboard and just decide to dial back the passing attack. Still, he should be able to provide some fantasy points along the way so his floor is relatively safe in this one, even if his upside isn’t as high as it normally is.

Wide receiver Cooper Kupp should continue to be the primary pass catcher in this offense and he’s easily been this season’s biggest fantasy difference-maker at wide receiver throughout the league. Kupp has now scored seven times in just six games, providing four 23-plus PPR fantasy days while reaching at least double digits in every game. His consistency combined with crazy ceiling has made him a must-start high-end WR1 for fantasy and that won’t change this week despite what could be a blowout Rams win.

Robert Woods, however, has to take a bit of a hit in the rankings this week. He woke fantasy owners up with a 14-target game in Week 5 against the Seahawks, but put us back to sleep with a five target performance against the Giants in Week 6. He did score in that game so it wasn’t a complete dud, but we just haven’t seen the ceiling from Woods that we’d like to, other than that one standout game. At this point it’s okay to bench Woods if you have other decent options, but bye weeks have made that hard for many, so we’re going to continue to call him a WR3 for now.

Tight end Tyler Higbee has been a disappointment for fantasy so far this year and he hasn’t yet exceeded six targets in a game. He’s not a completely terrible option against a Lions defense that gave up quality fantasy days to George Kittle, Robert Tonyan and Mark Andrews already this year, but his ceiling is probably limited in this one given that we expect the Rams to win this game by multiple scores which will likely lead to fewer pass attempts than usual.

The other Rams pass catchers, including wide receivers Van Jefferson, DeSean Jackson, and Tutu Atwell, need to remain on fantasy benches this week as their shares in the passing game just are not significant enough to make them viable in what will likely be a low volume day to begin with.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: Don’t look now, but Darrell Henderson is trending toward finishing the season as a fantasy RB1. Many expected this to be a committee backfield, but Henderson has now out-snapped Sony Michel by a ratio of almost 4-to-1 since returning from the injury that cost him Week 3. Henderson has provided fantasy owners with at least 15 PPR fantasy points in every game he’s played, including his first multi-touchdown performance of the season this past week in a big win over the Giants.

The Lions have already given up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and that’s likely to continue here in Week 7. Henderson is a borderline elite option in this one and Michel could even have some value depending on how bad the score gets.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford
RB1: Darrell Henderson
WR1: Cooper Kupp
WR3: Robert Woods
TE1: Tyler Higbee (low end)
Bench: Sony Michel, Van Jefferson, DeSean Jackson, Tutu Atwell

Prediction: Rams 34, Lions 16 ^ Top

Eagles at Raiders - (Caron)
Line: LV -3.0
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: An ugly 115-yard passing performance from Jalen Hurts in Week 6 reminded us that the second-year quarterback is still very much a hindrance to the pass catchers in Philadelphia. Sure, he’s had a couple 300-yard performances this year, but Hurts has now been held to under 200 yards in three of his six starts this season while throwing a total of one touchdown pass in those three games.

This week the Eagles face a Raiders defense that has been quite good against opposing quarterbacks this season, having held all but two of their opponents to one or fewer passing touchdowns against them so far, while allowing just one 300-yard passing day. This low upside passing game is not one we should be betting on for big fantasy production this week.

With that said, it’s still worth noting that despite his rough performance in Week 6, rookie DeVonta Smith has otherwise been decent for fantasy purposes. He’s averaging over seven targets per game and while he hasn’t yet turned that into a huge fantasy day, he’s had three usable fantasy games and is certainly the team’s top pass catching weapon. He’s a decent WR3 this week.

Tight end Dallas Goedert (illness) had been struggling to get things going with veteran Zach Ertz actually out-scoring him on the year thus far, but the Eagles moved Ertz to the Cardinals following their Thursday night game this past week. This should allow Goedert to see more playing time and it would stand to reason that he’ll also see a higher target share in the offense. With the tight end position being as weak as it is, Goedert should be looked at as a low-end TE1.

Aside from Smith and Goedert, none of the other pass catching weapons in Philadelphia are bringing enough to the table to be considered for fantasy purposes at the moment. Hurts himself, however, has remained a borderline elite fantasy option even when he’s struggled throwing the ball. Hurts has exceeded 20 fantasy points in every game so far this season and he’s doing much of the work with his legs. He’s currently on pace to rush for 850 yards and an absurd 14 touchdowns. He’s yet to fall below 30 rushing yards in any game and he’s quietly been one of the league’s best fantasy players despite his struggles passing the ball. The Raiders have shown that they are not particularly good at containing mobile quarterbacks, so Hurts should be in line for another solid QB1 fantasy day.

LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: The running back situation in Philadelphia has been ugly and it’s easy to look at Miles Sanders as a potential trade or even cut candidate right now. That might not be the wisest option, though, as Sanders has actually faced some difficult defenses and game scripts in recent weeks which have led to him not touching the ball as much as we expected. Here in Week 7, however, he’ll face a Raiders defense that has struggled to contain opposing running games and that could be just what Sanders needs to get back on track here in 2021.

The Raiders have allowed at least 103 rushing yards to opposing running backs in three straight games now, along with allowing some decent production through the air to the position. They’ve actually given up the 10th-most standard-scoring fantasy points per game to opposing running backs thus far in 2021.

Yes, Kenneth Gainwell does still exist, but it’s worth noting that Gainwell has been massively out-snapped by a margin of 93 to 28 over the past two weeks. It’s possible that Gainwell earns more playing time if he breaks off a big play in one of his few touches, but the Eagles appear to be back on the Miles Sanders bell cow train and that should be good news for those who are still holding out hope for him.

It’s tough to trust Sanders at this point, but he’s a viable Flex option here in Week 7. The bye weeks might force you to put him back in your lineup and we’ll just have to hope that his increased playing time leads to more touches in what will hopefully be a more competitive game script against the Raiders.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jalen Hurts
WR3: DeVonta Smith
TE1: Dallas Goedert
Flex: Miles Sanders
Bench: Kenneth Gainwell, Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins

Passing Game Thoughts: Derek Carr started the 2021 season off red hot with three big 20-plus-point fantasy performances before falling back into mediocrity with poor performances in Weeks 4 and 5. He got back into the good graces of fantasy owners this past week, however, when he torched the Broncos secondary to the tune of 341 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a big road win in Week 6. Carr is now teetering on the edge of being a top-12 fantasy QB for the season.

This week Carr gets an Eagles defense that has held the bad passing games they’ve faced in check, but has been lit up by some of the better ones. Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott and Tom Brady all threw for multiple touchdown passes against the Eagles and it stands to reason that Carr, who’s been quite good so far this season, could be a borderline QB1 for fantasy this week, especially considering the high number of Week 7 byes among usable fantasy quarterbacks.

Tight end Darren Waller continues to see heavy usage in the Raiders passing game, but he’s failed to turn in an attention-grabbing fantasy performance since his monster game back in Week 1. He’s been fine, with four double-digit PPR games, but he’s scored just once over his past five games and he hasn’t exceeded 65 yards in any of those contests. The tight end position remains a dumpster fire for the most part, so Waller should remain a high-level TE1, although it appears unlikely at this point that he’ll make much of a push to compete with Travis Kelce this season.

Wide receiver Henry Ruggs III has to be given some credit as he’s shown off his playmaking ability here in 2021, albeit on a relatively low target share with few total receptions. Ruggs has, however, provided a few usable fantasy games and he’s playing a ton of snaps. Many thought that it’d be Bryan Edwards who stepped up this season, but Edwards has been mostly a late game heroic type player who’s been silent throughout the majority of contests and hasn’t been useful for fantasy. Ruggs looks like an interesting option this week as the Eagles did fail to contain fellow speedster Tyreek Hill back in Week 4 when he exposed them for 11 catches, 186 yards and three touchdowns. Ruggs isn’t Hill, of course, but perhaps the Raiders will find some similar looks and give Ruggs a few chances to make big plays down the field in this one.

Hunter Renfrow remains the Raiders’ most consistent wide receiver. He turned in his first sub-10-0 point PPR fantasy day in 2021 this past week, so it’s not as if there’s a locked-in floor for him, but he has proven to be the reliable Flex option in PPR formats this year. Don’t expect big things, but you could definitely do worse than him if you’re just looking for someone to fill in for your bye weeks.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: The Raiders continued to primarily run the ball with Josh Jacobs in Week 6, with the former first round NFL Draft pick playing 36 snaps to backup Kenyan Drake’s 12 and pass-catching back Jalen Richard’s eight. Still, Jacobs hasn’t really gotten things going thus far on the ground as he’s failed to reach even a 3.5 yards per carry average in any game this season. The lack of rushing yardage performance has been masked by the fact that Jacobs has already gotten into the end zone four times on the ground despite playing in just four games. We shouldn’t expect that to continue going forward so we’re going to need him to start running for more yards as well if he’s going to continue to be a solid fantasy RB2.

Thankfully, this week he’ll face an Eagles run defense that has struggled in recent weeks. They’ve given up at least 100 rushing yards to their opponents’ running backs in four straight games, including a pair of touchdowns to Leonard Fournette this past week.

Sure, Kenyan Drake could sneak in and score a pair of touchdowns on minimal touches again, but it’s much more likely that Jacobs is the primary back for the Raiders again this week and it’s okay to trust him as your fantasy RB2 in what should be an advantageous matchup.

Value Meter:
QB1: Derek Carr (low end)
RB2: Josh Jacobs
WR3: Henry Ruggs III
TE1: Darren Waller
Flex: Hunter Renfrow (PPR only)
Bench: Kenyan Drake, Jalen Richard, Peyton Barber, Bryan Edwards

Prediction: Raiders 24, Eagles 20 ^ Top

Texans at Cardinals - (Caron)
Line: ARI -17.5
Total: 47.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Aside from one standout performance against the Patriots back in Week 5, the Davis Mills run as quarterback of the Houston Texans has been nothing short of pathetic, especially from a fantasy standpoint. Take away the Patriots game and Mills has averaged fewer than five fantasy points per game—as a quarterback!

The sad reality is that this game looks like it could be the NFL’s worst team heading on the road to face the NFL’s best team, and that just doesn’t make for a particularly good fantasy situation for anyone involved.

The only player who should even be looked at as a fantasy option in this offense is wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks has been an absolute monster given this team’s situation, hogging an absurd target share while giving fantasy owners quality performances almost every week. He’s scored just one touchdown on the year, but he’s on pace for well over 100 receptions on the year. Look for him to be targeted heavily in this one again, which should allow him to at least deliver WR2 fantasy numbers.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: It’s hard to get too excited about any running back on a team that Vegas expects to lose by multiple scores, but if you’re looking for some hope, it should be that Mark Ingram has really extended his control over this backfield split in recent weeks. Ingram has now carried the ball 16 and 18 times over his past two games and one of those games even came in a 28-point loss to the Colts.

It’d be nice if Ingram was more involved in the passing game, but he should have a floor of about a dozen carries in this game and he’s a decent bet to get into the end zone if the Texans do end up scoring any touchdowns at all, so he’s at least a Flex option in this contest.

Value Meter:
WR2: Brandin Cooks
Flex: Mark Ingram
Bench: Davis Mills, David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, Nico Collins, Chris Conley, Chris Moore, Jordan Akins, Pharaoh Brown

Passing Game Thoughts: Another huge fantasy day this past week has Kyler Murray firmly in the conversation for NFL MVP through the first six weeks of the season. The Cardinals QB has been an elite fantasy producer, as expected, but the surprising thing is that he’s been primarily doing it with his arm. Sure, he has three rushing touchdowns already on the year, but Murray hasn’t been running the ball nearly as much as he did in 2020. In fact, he’s been held to fewer than 10 yards on the ground in back to back games and he’s yet to reach even 40 yards on the ground in any game this year. We have to assume that he still has the ability to do it if necessary, but Murray is still giving us enough fantasy points through the air that it’s tough to complain.

This week Murray faces a Texans defense that hasn’t shut down any quarterback they’ve faced yet. All six starting QBs they’ve faced have scored at least 15 fantasy points and they’re averaging over 24 points per game conceded to the position on the year. Needless to say, Murray needs to be in fantasy lineups as he’ll almost certainly be able to contribute at least a score or two prior to the game getting out of hand and the Cardinals eventually leaning more heavily on the run.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has continued to be an elite fantasy option. This is despite the reality that he’s not seeing the gigantic target share in 2021 that he has in years past. He’s still easily the Cardinals’ most-targeted player, but the team is simply spreading the ball around more than we had expected and that’s hurt Hopkins’ ceiling a bit. Still, he’s the team’s best receiver and should continue to be a WR1 for fantasy.

A.J. Green has been a quiet but effective PPR WR3 this season. He’s now been targeted exactly six times in every game other than in Week 5, and he’s turned in four 13-plus fantasy point performances on the year. He’s not a particularly exciting option because of his age and the fact that he’s not seeing a bigger target share, but Green isn’t a bad WR3, especially given the matchup he has here in this game.

Christian Kirk remains extremely frustrating to own for fantasy owners because we just don’t know when he’s going to see a big target share game like he did in Week 6, or when he’s going to see just one target in an entire game like he did in Week 4—both were blowout wins for the Cardinals, just like we’re likely to see here in Week 7. With the Cardinals not likely to need to pass the ball a ton, though, it’s tough to trust the third or fourth receiving option in this passing game in this contest.

Rookie Rondale Moore seems like he might either be a year, or an injury, away from being a truly relevant fantasy option. He’s been held to four or fewer targets in three of his past four games and he hasn’t reached 60 yards in a game, or scored a touchdown, since all the way back in Week 2. He’s someone you can keep rostered for potential upside down the stretch, but he’s not worthy of a starting role for now.

With the Cardinals losing Maxx Williams to injury, they opted to acquire veteran Zach Ertz this past week. Ertz joins the team and should be an immediate contributor in a better offense than the one he was in with Philadelphia. Unfortunately he’s also facing much stiffer target competition in Arizona, so it’s hard to believe that he’s going to be a significantly better fantasy asset. It’s possible that he gets into the end zone more often as a Cardinal than he would’ve as an Eagle, but the overall target share he sees in Arizona will almost certainly be lower than what he was seeing in Philadelphia. Nevertheless, Ertz could be a low-end TE1 this week with so many teams on byes, especially facing a Texans defense that has given up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends through the first six weeks of the NFL season.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: We’ve seen what can happen for Chase Edmonds when the Cardinals are in a competitive game and he’s on the field consistently catching passes and running the ball, but we’ve now also seen what can happen when the Cardinals get ahead by multiple scores and end up turning to James Conner to grind out the clock. Seven touches for Edmonds in Week 6 gives us a real glimpse of his floor as a fantasy contributor and it’s not great. Edmonds has now finished back-to-back games—both Cardinals wins—with fewer than 10 PPR fantasy points.

These numbers should be concerning for Edmonds fantasy owners, but they should be music to the ears of Conner owners, who’ve seen their back carry the ball 26 times over the past two weeks. Conner hasn’t been particularly efficient with his carries this season, averaging fewer than 3.5 yards per carry on the year, but he’s obviously earned the trust of the coaching staff and he’s likely going to continue to see the bulk of the running back rush attempts in this offense when the Cardinals are significantly ahead on the scoreboard. We expect them to be just that here in Week 7 against the Texans, so this looks like it’s shaping up to be a potentially big game for Conner and another frustrating one for Edmonds owners.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kyler Murray
RB2: James Conner (low end)
WR1: DeAndre Hopkins
WR3: A.J. Green
TE1: Zach Ertz
Flex: Chase Edmonds
Bench: Christian Kirk, Rondale Moore

Prediction: Cardinals 33, Texans 14 ^ Top

Bears @ Buccaneers - (Swanson)
Line: TB -12.5
Total: 47.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The rookie season of Justin Fields has not been exactly one for the ages, with the former Ohio State Buckeye completing just 53% of his passes and averaging fewer than 100 passing yards per game. With one rushing touchdown in six weeks and none since he took over as the starter in Week 4, that added bonus everyone thought would be there has not materialized.

As you would expect from a QB throwing the ball so poorly, Fields has all but killed the value of second-round pick Allen Robinson. Robinson is currently 77th in fantasy points per game and has not topped 64 yards in any contest.

Darnell Mooney is the wideout to own and start in Chicago, but even he has three games of fewer than six fantasy points in half-point per game scoring.

This is a dreadful passing offense and one to avoid if possible. From a matchup standpoint, the Bucs are much better at stopping the run than the pass, and teams have found far more success passing the ball than running against the vaunted Tampa Bay front seven. But those teams who had success have been good passing the ball all season - something you cannot say for the Bears.

It would behoove the Bears to start getting their tight end tandem of Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet more involved, especially against a Bucs defense that is aggressive with their linebackers and susceptible to the run.

We are not advising anyone to start a Bears tight end in this game, but Kmet did have 4/49 last week against the Packers, and the Bucs have given up the 9th-most points to tight ends this season.

A return of Damien Williams from the COVID-19 list would be a boost for the Bears passing game, as he is the far superior pass-catching running back for the team. Only the Bengals and the Cowboys have allowed more receptions to running backs, with teams opting to forgo the run game and pass to their backs.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: The Bucs have not given up a single rushing touchdown to opposing backs in six games. Perhaps more impressive is that negative game scripts created by the Tampa offense and their stout run defense has limited the opposition to an average of just 10.8 rush attempts per game.

Not exactly a great formula for Khalil Herbert or Williams. Herbert looked great last week with over 100 total yards and a score against the Packers. He will not do anything close to that in this game and could lose his receiving role to Williams.

Starting linebacker Lavonte David and starting outside pass-rushing specialist Jason Pierre-Paul both missed practice on Wednesday with ankle injuries. Both are likely to play, but they may not be at full health, which should help the run game a tick.

Value Meter:
QB2: Justin Fields (Low-End)
RB3: Khalil Herbert or Damien Williams (High-End)
WR3: Allen Robinson (High-End)
WR3: Darnell Mooney (High-End)
TE2: Cole Kmet (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: At age 44, Tom Brady is in the midst of his be fantasy football season ever. His 26.7 fantasy points per game are more than the 25.9 he averaged when he set the NFL record for touchdown passes in a season back in 2007.

Not only is Brady playing at a high level, but he also has a top 5 offensive line to protect him, and he has arguably the greatest collection of wide receivers and tight ends in NFL history. It is a perfect recipe for success both on the field and for fantasy managers.

It looks like Brady will be without Rob Gronkowski this week with Gronk healing from some broken ribs. He may also be without Antonio Brown, who missed practice on Thursday with an ankle injury.

Those two absences will open the door for Chris Godwin and Mike Evans to come through with solid performances on Sunday against the Bears, a defense that has given up the 13th-most points to opposing wide receivers.

Cooper Kupp, Kalif Raymond, Tee Higgins, and Ja’Marr Chase all had big games against the Bears, and Davante Adams and Allen Lazard combined for over 100 yards and a score last week. If you can give your quarterback time, you can pick apart the Bears, and Brady should have time behind that offensive line.

Although he currently ranks 21st in points per game, Chris Godwin leads all wide receivers in red-zone targets and is still a vital part of the offense. Look for him to get around ten targets in this game, with his first score since Week 3 at the Rams.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: With 22 carries to just five for Ronald Jones last week, Leonard Fournette is clearly the lead back for head coach Bruce Arians and the running back you want to play in all formats.

Jones is not getting enough snaps to garner consideration, and Giovani Bernard is only worth a start in PPR formats when the Bucs are in a close game or trailing.

This game should be a blowout win for the Bucs, with a ton of close-out carries for Fournette and the offensive line.

To make matters even better for Fournette and the run game, run-stopping defensive lineman Akiem Hicks missed practice this week with a groin injury, and pass-rushing stud Khalil Mack did not practice on Wednesday with a foot issue. Both players are very questionable.

Look for the Bucs to take an early lead and run the ball out with Fournette. If it gets really out of hand, Jones could get some more touches, but he is too risky to start at this point.

Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon combined for 150 total yards and a score last week for the Packers. Considering this game projects to be a blowout, it would not surprise us to see a similar stat line for the Tampa Bay running backs.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (High-End)
RB2: Leonard Fournette (High-End)
WR1: Chris Godwin (Low-End)
WR2: Mike Evans (High-End)
TE2: Cameron Brate (High-End)

Prediction: Tampa Bay 34, Chicago 17 ^ Top

Colts at 49ers - (Caron)
Line: IND -4.0
Total: 44.0

Passing Game Thoughts: With a pair of touchdown passes and no interceptions in each of his past three games, it might not be time to bury Carson Wentz just yet—at least from a fantasy standpoint. Wentz has been slinging the ball around to a multitude of receivers over the past few weeks and with Parris Campbell now back on the IR, it looks like the targets are getting consolidated. The main beneficiaries of that should be young wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. as well as veteran T.Y. Hilton (quad), both of whom have turned in decent fantasy performances in recent weeks.

Pittman saw just three targets this past week in a huge blowout win over the Texans, but prior to that he had averaged 8.6 targets per game through his first five games. He’s easily been Indianapolis’ best receiver and it seems likely that he’ll again be asked to be the primary pass catching weapon this week as the Colts head on the road to face the 49ers.

San Francisco has been pretty good overall this season against opposing wide receivers but if there’s one spot where they’ve struggled, it’s been against the bigger bodied, more physical receivers they’ve faced. At 6’4” and over 220 lbs, Pittman certainly fits that profile. If we assume that the Colts are the underdogs in this one then it would seem likely that they’re going to pass the ball a good bit in this one, which should lead to some opportunities for Pittman to make fantasy owners happy.

The other pass catching weapons in this game are just not trustworthy for fantasy production at this point. We should keep an eye on Hilton in his second game back to see what he’s able to do on the field, but it wouldn’t be wise to put him in your fantasy lineup just yet. Meanwhile Zach Pascal’s time as a viable fantasy asset may have come and gone. He was targeted just once, failing to catch that pass, in Week 6’s contest against the Texans. He’s now failed to reach even 50 receiving yards in a game this season and he hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 2.

Tight end Mo Alie-Cox is likely getting some buzz on waiver wires given that he’s scored three times over his past two games, but that appears to be much more fluky than it does some sort of intentional gameplan to get him targets in the end zone. He’s seen just 12 passes come his way over the past three games and his touchdown rate is quite unsustainable with that sort of target share, especially when he’s still competing with Jack Doyle for snaps at tight end.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: Jonathan Taylor got off to a slow start this season, but he’s been absolutely crushing it over the past three weeks. The second-year back has contributed 441 total yards and five touchdowns over that stretch and he’s now firmly an RB1 for fantasy.

Perhaps most notably, Nyheim Hines has taken a big step back in both snaps and touches over this stretch and he was out-snapped by a ratio of almost three-to-one in Week 6. Certainly game script played a bit of a factor on that as the Colts were ahead by multiple scores for most of the afternoon, but it’s still worth noting that Indianapolis wasn’t pulling Taylor off the field even when the game was well in hand.

Taylor’s matchup against the 49ers here in Week 7 isn’t a particularly awesome one as he faces a 49ers defense that has allowed just one runner (Aaron Jones) to exceed 55 rushing yards against them in a game so far this season, but he’s seeing such a heavy workload that it’s pretty tough to rank him outside RB1 territory.

Value Meter:
QB2: Carson Wentz
RB1: Jonathan Taylor
WR3: Michael Pittman Jr. (high end)
Bench: Nyheim Hines, T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Mo Alie-Cox, Jack Doyle

Passing Game Thoughts: Early week practices make it look as though the 49ers will be without rookie quarterback Trey Lance, but that veteran Jimmy Garoppolo will be back on the field. While this might be frustrating for fantasy owners of Lance, the truth is that the San Francisco passing game did not look very effective with Lance at the helm and they’ve at least been decent under Garoppolo.

Garoppolo himself, if he’s the starter, should only be looked at as a low-end QB2 if you have to start him at all, but he should breathe life into Deebo Samuel who would’ve had his worst game of the season in Week 6 if it wasn’t for a 13-yard rushing touchdown he scored. Samuel caught a season-fewest of just three passes in that contest for 58 yards. With Garoppolo back behind center, however, we should expect a more accurate short-to-intermediate passing game, which is really where Samuel thrives. He should immediately be back in the high-end WR2 conversation with legit WR1 upside.

The other pass catchers in this offense, namely second-year receiver Brandon Aiyuk, remain afterthoughts no matter who’s behind center, so don’t bother until we see more targets going their way.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: Another week of rest should allow Elijah Mitchell to be even healthier than he was in Week 5 when he out-snapped fellow rookie Trey Sermon by a ratio of 44 to 2. It’s being underreported, but this is very much a bellcow type situation and one that doesn’t come along very often in what has historically been an extremely effective backfield.

This matchup isn’t great on paper as the Colts have been pretty effective at shutting down opposing running backs this year. In fact, they’ve given up just two total touchdowns to opposing running backs so far this season despite the fact that they’ve faced Chris Carson, Derrick Henry and Darrell Henderson.

Still, Mitchell has legit RB1 upside given his touch potential and he should be considered a solid RB2 for fantasy purposes.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jimmy Garoppolo (low end)
RB2: Elijah Mitchell
WR2: Deebo Samuel (high end)
Bench: Trey Sermon, Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Sherfield, Mohamed Sanu

Prediction: 49ers 24, Colts 20 ^ Top

Saints at Seahawks - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: While Michael Thomas is technically eligible to come off of IR this week, it appears as though he’ll remain on the list and the Saints will again be looking to Marquez Callaway to lead their otherwise weak group of pass catchers as they head on the road to face the Seahawks.

Callaway went off for his best game of the season the last time we saw him, in Week 5, as he scored a pair of touchdowns on four receptions for 85 yards. He was also targeted a season high eight times, nearly doubling his previous single game high. The Saints really don’t have much in the way of other pass catchers, so Callaway should again be the favorite to lead the team in targets. That alone should make him a viable WR3 in what is a pretty good matchup against a mediocre Seahawks secondary.

The Saints are expected to have Deonte Harris back, who has been their second-most productive receiver so far this season, but he’s dealing with a hamstring injury and should probably be avoided for fantasy purposes at least until we see that he’s fully healthy again.

Quarterback Jameis Winston has been extremely hit-or-miss this season and it’s tough to believe that he’ll be a big “hit” without getting fairly lucky on some deep balls, so we’re going to recommend benching him until we see more consistency.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: A sub-4.0 yards per carry average isn’t exactly Alvin Kamara-like, but that’s what we’ve seen from the Saints running back so far this season. He has, fortunately, been able to continue to contribute at least some in the passing game with 15 catches through five games, but 2021 has been a disappointing fantasy year for Kamara owners. Still, he’s seeing massive carry totals pretty much every week, so there’s a built-in floor that makes Kamara worth starting in any matchup. He’ll face a Seahawks defense that has given up the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs so far this season and the Saints have had an entire week to prepare for this one, so get Kamara in your lineup.

Value Meter:
RB1: Alvin Kamara
WR3: Marquez Callaway
Bench: Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Deonte Harris, Adam Trautman, Juwan Johnson

Passing Game Thoughts: With Russell Wilson out, the Seahawks had to turn to backup Geno Smith. Much to most of our surprise, Smith actually looked pretty good, all things considered, against a good Pittsburgh defense as he completed 22 of his 32 pass attempts for 209 yards and a touchdown through the air. Of course, he was limited to a Wilson-like 32 pass attempts and he wasn’t nearly as efficient with those attempts as Wilson typically is, so this offense is definitely capped under Smith, but it’s nice to know that he’s not going to completely sabotage the fantasy values of his top two passing game weapons.

DK Metcalf caught six catches for 58 yards against the Steelers with Smith at quarterback. Tyler Lockett was much less effective as he caught just two passes for 35 yards, but it’s important to note that he was targeted seven times on the day. That’s not an amazing target number, but it’s pretty good in the low pass volume Seattle passing game and it should be enough to make him a player who you can consider starting as a WR3/Flex.

These wide receivers will likely continue to be the only real fantasy options in an otherwise mediocre Seattle offense sans Wilson.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Chris Carson’s neck injury has landed him on IR and the team turned to Alex Collins who delivered a 101-yard rushing day with a touchdown against the Steelers. Collins, however, suffered a hip injury in that game and his question for this week’s contest is now in question. We’ll need more verification before we can make a more definitive statement on this situation, but it appears as though Collins will likely be limited if he even plays.

If Collins is out, look for the Seahawks to lean more heavily on DeeJay Dallas. Dallas carried the ball four times for 17 yards this past week, but perhaps more importantly was the team’s primary pass catcher out of the backfield as he caught five passes for 33 yards. Look for him to be involved again in the passing game and potentially even more as a runner. Be careful with him, however, as there’s a real chance that former first round pick Rashaad Penny, who’s returning from IR, could steal some playing time in this game.

Whoever the running back in this one is, they’ll have to face a New Orleans defense that hasn’t yet given up even 75 rushing yards to a single back this season. They have, however, struggled against opposing backs that are capable in the passing game. Most notably, Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley both caught five passes against the Seahawks defense. That could bode well for Deejay Dallas, particularly if Collins misses the game.

Value Meter:
RB2: Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas (PPR only, if Collins is out)
WR2: DK Metcalf
WR3: Tyler Lockett (high end)
Bench: Geno Smith, Dallas (if Collins is active), Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, Freddie Swain, Gerald Everett

Prediction: Saints 23, Seahawks 20 ^ Top