Welcome to the Fantasy Football Rundown: a weekly article written by yours truly in which I give at least one sentence on every single fantasy relevant player for Week 7. Starts, sits, sleepers, busts, you name it, I talk about it here. Be warned, this is a beast of a piece. If you’re looking for a specific player, I recommend using your web browser’s search function to head straight to said player. Otherwise, enjoy reading!
Carolina Panthers and New York Giants
QB Sam Darnold — Darnold has struggled in recent weeks but NYG offers get-right potential. Despite a having a number of solid coverage defenders, the Giants rank 31st in NEFF pass defense efficiency (34.8%) and are currently allowing the T-8th most FPPG to opposing signal callers (22.1). Darnold is a borderline QB1/2 this week.
WR D.J. Moore — Top-5 in both targets (63) and catches (40), and 7th in receiving yards (513). Every-week fantasy WR1.
WR Robby Anderson — Anderson’s 28 targets over the last 3 weeks are T-8th most in the NFL. It’s been a brutal stretch but he’s a screaming buy-low. Consider the downfield receiver a volatile WR4 this week.
WR Alex Erickson — The former Bengal looks like he’ll get the start in the slot this week with Terrance Marshall in the concussion protocol and Brandon Zylstra recently placed on Injured Reserve (hamstring). Erickson is a WR6 in redraft but could be deployed in DFS as the Giants’ slot coverage has been underwhelming this year.
TE Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas — With the two-injury pileup at slot receiver, it’s possible the tight ends get a little more run this week. Consider both boom/bust TE2s.
RB Chuba Hubbard — Hubbard has solidified himself as a dual threat lead back aka the type of back best suited to pummel the G-Men’s front-seven. NYG’s 122.5 RB rushing yards allowed per game ranks 4th most in the NFL and receiving-capable backs like J.D. McKissic (5-of-6 for 83 yards), Cordarrelle Patterson (6-of-7 for 82 yards), Mike Davis (4-of-4 for 20 yards), Tony Pollard (4-of-4 for 28), and Darrell Henderson Jr. (2-of-3 for 29 yards and 1 touchdown) have thrived through the air. Hubbard is this week’s RB10.
RB Royce Freeman — No. 3 RB Rodney Smith has been phased out of the rotation. Freeman is Carolina’s current primary bellcow backup with Christian McCaffrey on IR. Freeman is an RB5 for Week 7.
New York Giants
QB Daniel Jones — Jones had a nuclear meltdown last week, tossing three interceptions and losing one fumble to the Rams’ vaunted pass defense. Things won’t get much easier against Carolina this week as their 54.3% NEFF pass defense rating is just two points behind LAR’s 56.3%. Jones is a low-end QB2.
WRs Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton — Kenny Golladay (hyperextended knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle) are very unlikely to play this week, leaving Shepard and Slayton alone at the top. Shepard saw a Faustian 14 targets come his way in his Week 6 return to play (hamstring) and that number isn’t out of reach in Week 7. Shepard is a safe WR2. Downfield receiver Slayton is a volatile WR3/4 both due to the type of targets he gets and given the fact that he’s returning from a finicky soft tissue injury.
WR Collin Johnson, John Ross, and Dante Pettis — Crap shoot as to who takes on No. 3 WR duties.
TE Evan Engram — Unusable in fantasy.
RB Devontae Booker — Saquon Barkley (ankle) has a chance to suit up but for now, fantasy managers should expect another week of Bellcow Booker. Booker led No. 2 RB Elijah Penny in carries (12 to 3), targets (4 to 2), and routes run (30 to 9, per PFF.com). Carolina has some ballers up front, ranking 13th in NEFF run defense efficiency and limiting opposing RBs to 13.9 .5PPR PPG, the fewest in the NFL. Do-it-all linebacker Shaq Thompson (foot) is at risk of missing his second consecutive game though. Last week, the Vikings backfield combined for 180 rushing yards and 1 rushing touchdown with Thompson absent. Booker is a mid-to-high RB2 right now.
New York Jets at New England Patriots
New York Jets
QB Zach Wilson — Wilson’s made strides since the Jets and Pats faced off in Week 2 but Wilson was truly lost with New England turning all attention to No. 1 WR Corey Davis. Wilson is just a QB3 this week.
WR Corey Davis — The talent and volume aren’t the issue. New England’s defensive strategy is. When facing a developing quarterback, Bill Belichick will do everything he can to take away the No. 1 pass game target and he did so successfully earlier this year, limiting David to two catches on five targets for just eight yards. Davis is a volatile WR4 this week but will return to the borderline WR2/3 spectrum in Week 8.
WRs Jamison Crowder, Elijah Moore, Keelan Cole, and Denzel Mims — As mentioned by Adam Levitan on Establish The Run’s Week 6 AFC Team-by-Team Recap, the Jets’ coaching staff is evidently aware of the fact that they’re playing Moore out of position by running him as the Z-receiver instead of as the starting slot. Until they fix that, he’s unstartable in fantasy. Crowder is a WR5 in full-point PPR. Cole and Mims are fantasy-afterthoughts.
TE Ryan Griffin — Not a fantasy factor.
RBs Michael Carter, Ty Johnson, and Tevin Coleman
|RZ ATT/Inside-5 ATT
|RZ TGT/EZ TGT
|Michael Carter (Wk4)
|Michael Carter (Wk5)
|Ty Johnson (Wk 4)
|Ty Johnson (Wk 5)
|Tevin Coleman (Wk 4)
|Tevin Coleman (Wk 5)
Carter and Johnson are steadily separating from Coleman, with Carter on the bike and Johnson securely in the sidecar. The Patriots’ 12th ranked front-seven in NEFF run defense efficiency is no slouch but a number of enemy backs have been able to salvage their outings through the passing game. The position has averaged 47.3 receiving yards per game against New England, 10th most in the NFL which keeps Carter in the mix as a back-end RB2/high-end RB3. Johnson is a mid-to-high RB3. Coleman can safely be dropped.
New England Patriots
QB Mac Jones — Jones’ number shouldn’t be called too often in this one as New England is likely to ground’n’pound its way to a win. Back-end QB2.
WR Jakobi Meyers — Meyers finally made it into the end zone last week—bittersweetly on a two-point conversion. The third-year slot receiver’s 52 targets lead the team by a margin of 22; the touchdowns will come. Meyers is a high-floor WR3 against the Jets.
WRs Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne — Boom/bust WR6s.
TEs Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith — Per PFF.com, Smith has blocked on 75.9% of his offensive snaps two s. His 3 targets pale in comparison to Henry’s 10 during that span. Smith isn’t even on the TE2 radar while Henry is entering the mid-range TE1 discussion.
RBs Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Brandon Bolden — We’re going to learn a lot in Week 7. Harris has battled a ribs injury for two weeks now and it’s allowed the rookie Stevenson to enter the mix. We don’t know for sure but it appears as though Stevenson may actually be stealing the pass catching RB job from the veteran Bolden, who’s made a career out of special teams. Bolden’s passing game role (PFF.com) took a hit last week, with his routes dropping from 17 in Week 5 to 7 in Week 6 and his targets sinking from 4 to 1. Stevenson’s usage went in the opposite direction going from 7 routes to 8 and 0 targets to 3, catching all 3 for an efficient 39 yards. Stevenson also looked good as both a pass and run blocker. Opposing backs have pummeled the Jets at a rate of 28.8 .5PPR PPG, 2nd most in the NFL. Count on Harris as a back-end RB1, Stevenson as a mid-range RB3, and Bolden as a borderline RB3/4.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans
Kansas City Chiefs
QB Patrick Mahomes — Tennessee is allowing 22.5 FPPG to opposing QBs, 5th most in the NFL. Bull in a china shop game. Mahomes should be the favorite for overall QB1 honors in Week 7.
WR Tyreek Hill — Hill’s nursing some sort of quad injury and was on a substantial snap count last week but he still finished as the WR12. Tennessee is now allowing 42.3 .5PPR PPG, 2.5 more than any other team in the NFL—an even wider margin than it was last week. Hill’s a top-3 WR for Week 7 even if he’s playing in a limited capacity.
WRs Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, and Josh Gordon — Hardman’s five red zone targets over the last three weeks trail only Hill and they’re dead even at two apiece in the end zone target department. Hardman is a volatile borderline WR3/4 this week. Robinson and Pringle are just DFS dart throws. Gordon holds nebulous upside as a WR5.
TE Travis Kelce — Kelce suffered a stinger in his shoulder/neck area last week. It’s not expected to be an issue for him moving forward but there are some “if it happens again” concerns to keep in the back of one’s mind. Kelce remains the No. 1 tight end in fantasy this week.
RB Darrel Williams — One has to wonder if Williams won’t force a timeshare upon Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s return from Injured Reserve in a few weeks as HC Andy Reid seems far more comfortable using him than he does CEH. Williams’ 59 snaps, 21 carries, 4 targets, 29 routes run (PFF.com), and 7 blocking reps (PFF.com) all beat CEH’s 2021 season-highs. Williams is Week 7’s No. 6 RB.
QB Ryan Tannehill — Tennessee’s thin pass catching corps has made it harder for Tannehill to find true ceilings but a date with KC breathes new life into his 2021 prospects. KC’s 37.4% NEFF pass defense efficiency rating ranks 4th worst in the NFL and their 23 explosive pass plays are T-9th most, per SharpFootballStats.com. The Chiefs’ stud DL Chris Jones (hand/wrist) should return to play this week but rangey ILB Anthony Hitchens (triceps) is looking like he’ll miss, enhancing the chances of a Derrick Henry house call via screen pass. Tannehill is quietly a QB1 this week in redraft and should be targeted as a low-rostered option in DFS. Stack him with A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry.
WR A.J. Brown — A bad Chipotle burrito kept Brown from practicing on Wednesday but he’ll be good to go on Sunday. As for AJB, he’s a locked-in WR1 this week. No one on the KC roster can cover him and he’s the only WR with serious talent that Tannehill gets to throw to.
WR Julio Jones — A bum hammy kept Julio from practicing on Wednesday and fantasy managers should expect him to miss a week or two. He very clearly did not receive dry needling treatment this off-season. The Titans’ hamstring protocol is not good.
WRs Josh Reynolds and Marcus Johnson — Reynolds had been operating as Julio’s pure backup through Week 4 but the team effectively benched him in favor of Johnson, the former Colts WR, and Johnson did about as well as and Titans WR did that week, catching 3-of-5 targets for a healthy 52 yards. Expect Johnson to fill Julio’s shoes again this week as the downfield Z-receiver, running routes from the perimeter of the formation. Given the success of other downfield play-makers like Marquise Brown (6-of-10 for 113 yards and 1 touchdown), Mike Williams (7-of-9 for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns), and Emmanuel Sanders (3-of-5 for 54 yards and 2 touchdowns), Johnson is a surprising fantasy WR4 candidate this week.
WRs Chester Rogers and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine — Slot receiver Rogers suffered a groin injury in Week 6 and Westbrook-Ikhine replaced him in the lineup. Rogers kicked the week off with a DNP and is unlikely to play. Slot receivers sometimes have to worry about S Tyrann Matheiu’s attention but that shouldn’t be the case this week and Mathieu will be tasked with aiding CBs vs. AJB. Aside from Mathieu, KC’s remaining slot defenders are DBs L’Jarius Sneed and Daniel Sorenson. The lackluster duo has allowed 15 of 21 passes to be completed against them for a whopping 128 yards and 2 touchdowns this year, per PFF.com. Like Johnson, NWI has a decent shot at WR4 fantasy production. Both garner DFS stacking consideration.
TE Anthony Firkser — Firkser will have to compete with MyCole Pruitt and Geoff Swaim for looks but he’s the clear-cut receiving TE in Tennessee and Kansas City has been waxed by opposing tight ends this year. The Chiefs’ D is averaging 15.2 .5PPR PPG allowed to the position, T-5th most in the NFL. The loss of ILB Anthony Hitchens (triceps) is a massive blow to an already lacking unit. Firsker is a redraft TE1 this week with high-end DFS appeal.
RB Derrick Henry — The Great Wolf will feast on Sunday. Kansas City’s 39.0% NEFF run defense rating is 4th worst in the NFL this year. Henry remains the unquestioned No. 1 ranked running back again this week.
Washington Football Team at Green Bay Packers
Washington Football Team
QB Taylor Heinicke — Green Bay is sorely missing edge rusher Za’Darius Smith and CB Jaire Alexander (IR) and may also be missing S Darnell Savage (concussion) this week. Heinicke remains his volatile high-end QB2-self.
WR Terry McLaurin — McLaurin suffered a hamstring injury last week but played 95% of the team’s snaps in Week 6 and reportedly suffered no setbacks. The Team will manage his practice reps this week but he should be a full-go on Sunday. He’s a locked-in WR1.
WRs Dyami Brown and Adam Humphries — WR/KR DeAndre Carter proved to be Fool’s Gold and Brown and Humph resumed Nos. 2 & 3 WR duties last week. Brown is a boom/bust WR5 who’s yet to boom. Humphries is a low-ceiling WR6.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones — RSJ is a mid-tier TE1 and his 29% rostership on Yahoo! is completely unacceptable as he’s being treated as if he were Logan Thomas — he’s seen 19 targets over the last 3 weeks!
RBs Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, and Jaret Patterson — The good news: GBs 41.7% NEFF run defense rating is 5th worst in the NFL. The bad news: As Dr. Edwin Porras has said, Gibson is “the most physically volatile RB in the NFL until [his shin injury] is appropriately addressed”.
Video cut off but here are the cliff notes: Antonio Gibson is a trade target for teams who are desperate and on the block for teams where he’s an anchor. pic.twitter.com/1wBkmp4eIr
— Edwin Porras, DPT (@FBInjuryDoc) October 20, 2021
WFT plans on resting him during the week when they can but firing him up on Sundays. He’s a volatile RB2 who can finish at the bottom of the barrel as well as in the RB top-10 on any given week. McKissic is the man to bet on here, operating as a target hog who can carry the ball proficiently. He’s a mid-tier RB2. Patterson must be rostered across all formats but cannot be started as more than a high-end RB4 with Gibson active.
Green Bay Packers
QB Aaron Rodgers — WFT’s 28.1% NEFF pass defense rating is T-26th in the NFL and their 1,857 passing yards and 16 passing touchdowns allowed are the most in the league. Rodgers is a safe QB1.
WR Davante Adams — King Kong week incoming.
WRs Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Amari Rodgers — Lazard and Cobb are volatile WR4s, and Rodgers is a WR6.
TEs Robert Tonyan and Mercedes Lewis — Both are TE3s.
RBs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon — This is now a 1A/1B backfield and it’s been 4 weeks since Jones got more than 15 carries but his steady receiving usage helps keep him afloat. Were a whopping six teams not on bye, Jones would probably be ranked as a high-end RB2 but there are, so he’s a mid-to-low RB1. Dillon has worked his way into the high-end RB3 tier and could easily finish as a top-24 RB this week.
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
QB Matt Ryan — MIA CBs Byron Jones (Achilles/groin) and Xavien Howard (shoulder/groin) sat out last week but look like they’re on track to return for Week 7 as both got in limited practice participation on Wednesday. Ryan is a mid-to-low QB2 as a result.
WR Calvin Ridley — Ridley is playing with a cooked quarterback against tight coverage. He’s just a mid-tier WR2 this week.
WRs Olamide Zaccheus and Russell Gage — Underwhelming receivers in a struggling passing attack. Both are just WR6s.
TEs Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst — The Pitts Faithful were rewarded in Week 5 as his sublime usage finally produced box score success. Most notably, the Falcons finally made him the focal point of their red zone passing attack in both Weeks 4 and 5. That trend should continue given the recent success. Pitts is an elite TE1 every week but his cause is certainly aided by Miami’s 13.4 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing tight ends, 8th most in the NFL. Hurst is a mid-tier TE2.
RBs Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson — Do-it-all back Patterson is this week’s RB11. He’s effectively the focal point of the offense and Miami’s getting shredded by opposing back both on the ground (112.5 yards, 7th most, and 1.2 rushing TDs, T-3rd) and through the air (6 receptions and 45.7 receiving yards, both 11th most) at a rate of 26.5 .5PPR PPG, 4th most in the NFL. Davis is a mid-range RB2 and has a great chance to turn 15-18 touches into a double-digit .5PPR outing.
QB Tua Tagovailoa — Rumors abound as to Tua’s status in Miami but he’s a QB2 streaming option this week. Atlanta’s 38.8% NEFF pass defense rating is 25th in the league and their 21.2% QB pressure rate is 29th.
WR DeVante Parker — Parker’s missed the last two weeks but returned to practice on Wednesday (hamstring) in a limited fashion, putting him on track to play in Week 7. Parker is a volatile WR4 with a top-36 finish solidly in his potential range of outcomes.
WR Jaylen Waddle and TE Mike Gesicki — Miami’s league-leading usage (46%) of 12 personnel (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB) leaves the pass catching tree narrow and at times fruitful. Slotsters Waddle and Gesicki should get the job done this week against backup slot CB Avery Williams, who’s currently filling in for the injured Isaiah Oliver. Treat Waddle as a high-end WR3 and Gesicki as a mid-tier TE1.
RBs Salvon Ahmed, Malcolm Brown, and Myles Gaskin — The Dolphins really only feature Gaskin when they’re facing a decent pass rush and as mentioned above, the Falcons do not have one. It will be a three-way RB committee this week that should be avoided at all costs.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
QB Joe Burrow — This divisional showdown features a pair of passers who are both top-10 in Completion Percentage Above Expectation (CPAE) this year. Burrow’s 4.3% CPAE ranks 7th among all NFL signal callers and his laser pointer accuracy should be on display once again this week against Baltimore’s injury-depleted defense. He’s a locked-in fantasy QB1.
WR Ja’Marr Chase — Chase’s 47.47% team-air yards share is 2nd in the league, his 553 receiving yards are 3rd and his 5 touchdowns are T-4th. Chase also owns the top spot in our newly minted WR NECC consistency ratings with a score of 1.2%. He’s an every-week fantasy WR1.
WRs Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd — Higgins has begun to separate from Boyd in the target column but Boyd gets to square off against the ever-favorable slot CB Tavon Young this week and Young is now battling a knee injury. Both players are back-end WR3s.
TE C.J. Uzomah — Uzomah is purely a situational pass catcher at this point, but Week 7’s situation is mighty fine. Baltimore is allowing 15.7 .5PPR PPG to opposing tight ends, 2nd most in the NFL, putting Uzomah squarely on the TE1 streaming radar. He’s a sneaky DFS option this week.
RBs Joe Mixon, Chris Evans, and Samaje Perine — Mixon’s 124 RB touches are 3rd in the NFL and Cincy excitingly threw him a season-high 6 targets last week. Baltimore’s 24.3 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing RBs is 10th most in the NFL and they’re a nervous wreck against RBs in the passing game. Enemy backs are posting 71.5 receiving yards on a weekly basis against them. Mixon is a top-3 RB play this week. Evans played very well while Perine was on the COVID-19/Reserve List last week and may have forced a timeshare for the No. 2 RB role. Both men are borderline RB3/4s this week but the pass catching specialist Evans makes for a stronger play.
QB Lamar Jackson — As mentioned above, Jackson’s 3.4% CPAE ranks 8th in the NFL and his 63.5 QB rushing yards per game rank No. 1. He’ll compete for overall QB1 honors once again this week.
WR Rashod Bateman — No slow start for the rookie Bateman in these parts. The rookie WR tied TE Mark Andrews for a team-high six targets last week and Bateman’s positional competition, Sammy Watkins, is battling a thigh injury. Bateman lined up on the perimeter 86.4% of the time (PFF.com) like the big boy that he is, setting him up for a Week 7 bout with lackluster veteran CB Eli Apple. Start Bateman as a back-end WR3 in redraft formats.
WR Marquise Brown — Brown is an every-week WR2 with game-breaking ability. He and Jackson look destined for 1-2 punch stardom for years to come.
WR Devin Duvernay — Duvernay is only relevant in formats that reward return yardage points. He’s just a WR6 in normal leagues.
TE Mark Andrews — Elite TE1.
RBs Devonta Freeman, Le’Veon Bell, and Ty’son Williams — Nominal lead back Latavius Murray registered consecutive DNPs (ankle) to start the week, indicating he’s unlikely to play this week and Bell was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster well ahead of his typical late-week activation. Expect Freeman to get the start with Bell and Williams cycling in behind him. It would be a shock if Freeman got more than 12 touches though. He’s a high-end RB3 while the other two are nebulous RB4s.
Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams
QB Jared Goff — Goff stands little chance of producing against the Rams’ 4th ranked pass defense (per NEFF). He’s a QB3 this week.
WRs Kalif Raymond, KhaDarel Hodge, and Amon-Ra St. Brown — Do not start any of these players in redraft. ARSB has been decent as of late but he’ll have to face CB Jalen Ramsey in frequent nickel packages.
TE T.J. Hockeson — Hock’s still rehabbing his knee but it didn’t stop him from catching 8-of-11 targets for 74 yards last weekend. He’s a mid-tier TE1 this week.
RBs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams — The Lions will be in catch-up mode all day, which bodes very well for Swift and very poorly for Williams. Swift is our RB8 this week, Williams is our RB30.
Los Angeles Rams
QB Matthew Stafford — Think Legolas at the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Stafford will literally be skateboarding his way down the stairs of victory on the shields of fallen Lions, launching arrow after arrow to Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. High-end QB1 this week.
WRs Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods — Kupp is an elite WR1 this week while Woods is a high-end WR2. The Lions’ NEFF pass defense rating comes in as 3rd worst in the NFL.
WRs DeSean Jackson and Van Jefferson Jr. — Boom/bust WR4s in redraft. Savvy WR options in DFS.
TE Tyler Higbee — Run of the mill mid-to-low TE1 but, have a look at this exchange between bonafide soothsayers Dwain McFarland and Matt Harmon to find out why this could be the week for a Higbee boom.
RBs Darrell Henderson Jr. and Sony Michel — Henderson comes in as the RB2 in our rankings this week. Michel is expected to play but will likely be limited due to a shoulder injury and the Lions are allowing 30.1 .5PPR RB PPG, the most in the NFL. Michel is an RB5.
Philadelphia Eagles at Las Vegas Raiders
QB Jalen Hurts — Hurts’ 50 QB rushing yards per week trails only Lamar Jackson. Hurts is an elite QB1 every week.
WR DeVonta Smith — Smith should get back on track as a fantasy WR2 this week against a Raiders’ CB group that’s sorely missing Trayvon Mullen Jr.
WRs Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor — Watkins has fully replaced Greg Ward as the starting slot receiver and actually led the team in targets in Week 6. Watkins garners WR4 consideration with WR3 upside in Week 7 as he squares off with Raiders slot CB Nate Hobbs who’s allowed 21-of-24 passes to be completed for 151 receiving yards when lined up on the interior (PFF.com). Reagor is a WR6.
TE Dallas Goedert — Goedert missed Week 6 on the COVID-19/Reserve List and Zach Ertz, after rocking the house on Week 6’s Thursday Night Football, was promptly traded to the Cardinals. Goedert concerningly registered a DNP on Thursday due to an illness after being taken off of the COVID-19/Reserve List. If active, Goedert’s a high-flying TE1 against an LV defense that’s currently allowing 15.5 .5PPR TE PPG, 4th most in the NFL.
Update 10/22/21: Goedert will be active. He’s a mid-to-high TE1.
RBs Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell — Snaps, carries, and targets teeter-tottered back into Sanders’ favor last week, but Philly’s overall lack of RB usage keeps him limited to the high-end RB3 ranks even against a squishy Raiders’ front-seven. Gainwell is a back-end RB3 with little upside.
Las Vegas Raiders
QB Derek Carr — Hat tip to the ETR boys and their AFC Team-by-Team Recap podcast for highlighting the scheme changes made by OC Greg Olson now that Jon Gruden is out and no longer calling plays. Per PFF.com, Vegas had run play-action on just 11.5% of the dropbacks in Weeks 1-5. That all changed in Week 6 as Derek Carr and Co. ran play-action on 31% of their drop backs against the Denver Broncos. This will only benefit the offense and should keep Carr in the low-end QB1 ranks for good.
WRs Henry Ruggs, Hunter Renfrow, and Bryan Edwards — The increased play-action clearly benefited Ruggs who caught 3-of-4 passes for 91 yards and 1 touchdown. Get ahead of the crowd and bank on Ruggs as a trusty WR3 this week. Renfrow retains his every-week borderline WR3/4 safety blanket role while Edwards is a back-end WR5.
TE Darren Waller — The Eagles’ tight end coverage improved with the return of safety Rodney McLeod in Week 4 (ACL reconstruction) but Waller’s as good as it gets at the position and should be started with confidence as an elite TE1.
RBs Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake, and Jalen Richard — Jacobs had a brief uptick in targets in Weeks 4 and 5 but the team activated Richard over that span and Jacobs is back to competing with two pass catching backs for receiving work. He saw just one target last week and can only be trusted as a rushing-centric, mid-to-low RB2 this week. Drake and Richard are respectively an RB4 and RB6.
Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals
QBs Davis Mills and Tyrod Taylor — Taylor is now considered day-to-day but Mills is likely getting the start again this week. He’s a lowly fantasy QB3.
WRs Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins — Whoever is taking snaps at QB may get a little more time in the pocket than initially expected as Arizona pass rusher Chandler Jones is still on the COVID-19/Reserve list. This alone might get Cooks an extra target or two. He was already expected to see an increased workload with Collins showing up on the injury report with a foot issue on Thursday. Cooks is a volume-based borderline WR2/3.
WRs Chris Moore and Chris Conley — Neither are fantasy relevant.
TE Jordan Akins — Akins is a fantasy TE3.
RBs Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay, and David Johnson — The only fantasy relevant back here is Ingram but the Cards’ are limiting opposing RBs to just 18.4 .5PPR PPG, 9th fewest in the NFL. Ingram’s just a high-end RB4.
QB Kyler Murray — Houston’s pass rush is generating pressure on quarterbacks at the 3rd lowest rate in the NFL (19.4%). It’ll be a walk in the park en route to a high-end QB1 finish.
WR DeAndre Hopkins — Revenge game incoming for Hopkins. Start him as an elite WR1.
WR A.J. Green — Green is having a lesser version of the renaissance Randy Moss enjoyed after he left the team he hated. Green’s scored between 11.9 and 16.4 .5PPR points in 4-of-6 games this year. Consider him a high-end WR3 in one of the softest matchups he’ll see all year.
WRs Rondale Moore and Christian Kirk — Both Moore and Kirk are running the vast majority of the routes from the slot but Moore’s usage is much more dynamic as he’s also getting rushing and return work on a weekly basis. Some of the run game action may be a result of RB Chase Edmonds nursing a shoulder injury but Moore was seeing backfield action before Edmonds suffered the injury a couple weeks ago. Both Moore and Kirk are somewhere in the WR34-40 range this week and are capable of tearing the roof off for long gains against the tanking Texans. Houston’s defense is giving up explosive pass plays of 20-yards or more on 13% of opponent passing attempts. That’s tied for the 3rd highest rate in the NFL, per SharpFootballStats.com.
TE Zach Ertz — Ertz isn’t the player he once was and the Cards haven’t heavily utilized a tight end during the Kliff Kingsbury era. Ertz should be rostered across all formats though as a solid TE1 ceiling is there.
RBs James Conner and Chase Edmonds — Edmonds will surely be effective with his touches but expect a heavy helping of Conner this week as the Cards kill the clock against the league’s worst team. Houston’s 33.3% NEFF run defense rating is dead last and they’re currently allowing 24.9 .5PPR RB PPG, 8th most in the NFL. Conner is a high-end RB2, Edmonds is a mid-tier RB2.
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Justin Fields — Tampa Bay’s loaded secondary has been decimated by injuries and as a result, they’re allowing 22.9 FPPG to opposing signal callers. Fields is as volatile as ever but this really could be the week where he and Allen Robinson take flight.
WR Allen Robinson — Robinson hasn’t found the end zone since Week 2 but he’s seen three end zone targets in each of the last two weeks (PFF.com). The touchdowns will come. Robinson is a back-end WR2 this week.
WR Darnell Mooney — Mooney leads Robinson in the target department through Weeks 5 and 6, 13 to 12 and has a great shot at corralling a long score against the Bucs this week. Like Robinson, Mooney is a top-24 play this week.
TE Cole Kmet — Tampa Bay has allowed four tight end touchdowns over the last four weeks. Kmet’s not seeing enough work to be redraft-viable though. He’s just a DFS dart throw, unless you’re truly desperate.
RB Khalil Herbert — Saturday will be day 10-of-10 for Damien Williams’ mandatory isolation window, given his unvaccinated status. Williams will be able to play on Sunday if he’s unvaccinated and able to produce back-to-back negative PCR tests. Herbert should see a full complement of snaps against the Bucs’ top rated NEFF run defense. The spry rookie impressed last week, playing 89% of the team’s offensive snaps, carrying the ball 19 times for 97 yards and 1 touchdowns, and catching 2-of-3 targets for 15 yards on a whopping 30 routes run per PFF.com. The passing game usage was a promising sign. He’ll need it if he’s going to get the job done against Tampa Bay. Herbert is the RB21 in this week’s rankings.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Tom Brady — Edge rusher Khalil Mack (foot) and DL Akiem Hicks (groin) both started the week with a pair of DNPs, indicating that if they’re active, they’ll be far less than 100%. Edge rusher Robert Quinn also landed on the COVID-19/Reserve List. Brady’s an elite QB1 once again this week.
WRs Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown — Antonio Brown looks like he’ll miss Week 7 with an ankle injury after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday, which means Evans and Godwin are both good bets for double-digit targets. Consider both as top-12 WR options this week.
Update 10/22/21: Antonio Brown is Out. Evans and Godwin are both Top 12 WRs this week.
WR Tyler Johnson — Johnson is a viable redraft WR4 if Brown misses Week 7 due to his ankle injury.
TE O.J. Howard — Rob Gronkowski has been all but ruled out after consecutive DNPs (ribs) and Howard ran well ahead of Cam Crate in Week 6. Bears safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. (hip) went from LP to DNP between Wednesday and Thursday, indicating he suffered a setback and is unlikely to play. Gipson’s absence would elevate Howard from a back-end TE2 to a low-end TE1. Howard likely earned Brady’s trust last week by securing the end zone targets that was thrown to him from two-yards out.
RB Leonard Fournette — Gio Bernard and Ronald Jones had a combined 8 touches last week — Fournette had 28 all to himself, including going 6-of-6 for 46 yards via the passing game. Against the Bears’ injury plagued front-seven, Fournette is a locked-in RB1.
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers
QB Carson Wentz — Wentz is the QB13 over the last three weeks, mostly taking advantage of good matchups against the Ravens and Texans. He did play well against Miami in Week 4 though. San Francisco’s struggled to generate pressure on quarterbacks this year—their 27.1% QB pressure rate is 7th worst in the league—and stud DL Javon Kinlaw (knee) has registered back-to-back DNPs to start the week. Meanwhile, Colts’ All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson has been designated to return from Injured Reserve. Consider Wentz a mid-to-high QB2.
WRs Michael Pittman Jr. and Zach Pascal — Pittman and Pascal both took substantial hits in the target column last week as T.Y. Hilton returned to play. Hilton suffered a quad injury last week though which led to a pair of DNPs on Wednesday and Thursday. He is unexpected to play, which should get Pittman back to eight or more targets and Pascal in the five-to-seven range. Both are WR3s—Pittman of the high-end variety and Pascal of the low-end.
WR Ashton Dulin — Dulin was the first man off the bench after both Hilton and Parris Campbell (now on Injured Reserve) were ruled out. Dulin’s unlikely to be more than a fantasy WR6.
TE Mo Alie-Cox — MAC has seen 7 targets to Jack Doyle’s 2 over the last two weeks but there’s hardly a difference in their number of routes run during that span; 24 for Doyle and 22 for Alie-Cox, per PFF.com. That’s risky volume to chase for the latter. Alie-Cox has seen three of his seven red zone targets (PFF.com) during that span as well, which could indicate that a scoring position role is being carved out for him as much as it could be variance. MAC is a boom/bust top-15 TE option.
RBs Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Marlon Mack — Somehow sports media is able to generate buzz on the Mack/trade narrative. Maybe the Colts are able to sucker someone into giving up a late round pick but one struggles to see how Mack’s 12-yards on 5 carries from Week 6 counts as “showcasing him in the hopes of a trade”. Regardless, the Taylor Truck Stick should be in full effect against a 49ers front-seven that ranks 26th in NEFF run defense rating. He’s this week’s No. 5 ranked running back. Mack’s usage has kicked Hines’ in the pants and this isn’t the high-paced game that would elevate Hines well above him. Hines is just an RB4 this week.
San Francisco 49ers
QB Jimmy Garoppolo — Garoppolo is practicing in a limited capacity while rookie Trey Lance is being held out due to a knee sprain. Garoppolo may feel the heat a hair as LT Trent Williams is unlikely to play due to ankle and elbow injuries but the Colts’ front-seven has generated the lowest rate of pressure on opposing QBs this year (16.1%). Garoppolo is a high-floor QB2.
WR Deebo Samuel — Deebo’s 37.15% team-air yards share is more than double that of the next closest Niner, TE George Kittle who’s on Injured Reserve (calf). Ball. Hog. Indy’s likely to be missing its top-2 perimeter corners again this week. T.J. Carrie is assuredly out as he’s on IR but Rock-Ya Sin re-aggravated his ankle injury in Week 6 and has been unable to practice all week. Deebo’s a high-end WR1 again this week.
WRs Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Sherfield, and Mohamed Sanu — The match-up’s right for one of these guys to hit. Aiyuk has all the talent in the world but something’s up between him and Kyle Shanahan. Boom/bust WR5s all around but Aiyuk is the best bet to succeed.
TE Ross Dwelley — Fantasy TE2.
RBs Elijah Mitchell, Trey Sermon, and J.R. Hasty — Hasty (Injured Reserve) reportedly returned to practice this week but the team has 21-days to actually bring him onto the active roster. His Sunday status is unknown. SF was on bye in Week 6 but last we saw them in Week 5, Mitchell out-snapped Sermon 68% to 3%, out-carried him 9 to 1, and saw 2 targets to Sermon’s 0. Mitchell should handle clear cut lead back duties and could be counted on as a mid-tier RB2. Sermon is unstartable. Monitor news feeds for info on Hasty.