Fantasy Football Recap and Takeaways: Week 7
Week 7 delivered some tightly contested shootouts, most notably Thursday’s nailbiter between the Chiefs and Raiders where Amari Cooper restored his plummeting stock in a hurry. It also hosted three shutouts with four more squads saddled to single-digit finishes.
Nine kickers converted three or more field goals, so many managers are likely celebrating or cursing their luck at seeing a kicker or defense determine the matchup. The others are trying to figure out why Ezekiel Elliott is still playing.
Let’s stroll around the NFL for notable Week 7 scores, top performers, and fantasy takeaways.
Oakland Raiders 31, Kansas City Chiefs 30
- Another disappearance from the disappointing Cooper, who caught just one… Wait, he had 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns? The same Cooper who entered Thursday night with 146 yards on the season? Fantasy football is a nightmare sometimes. Everyone angry at themselves for benching the 23-year-old receiver should remember that they’re not alone. At least they can stop wearily eyeing the “drop” button, though a Week 8 matchup with Buffalo-who had allowed two passing touchdowns in 2017 before surrendering three to Jameis Winston-remains a perilous spot with a dangerous low floor.
- Most of those sentiments double for Derek Carr, who compiled 417 passing yards and three touchdowns in a wild win decided with two untimed downs. Following two efficient games against the Titans and Jets, he totaled 432 passing yards, three scores, and four picks in the next three contests. Although the healthy Raiders quarterback is once again a trustworthy starter, those with a strong alternative can still consider sitting him at Buffalo.
- After “game manager ” Alex Smith culminated a three-play, 99-yard drive with a 64-yard touchdown strike to Tyreek Hill, the wide receiver has scored three times for an average of 56.3 yards this season. The second-year pro has elevated his floor with at least four receptions and six targets in every game, so investors can hope for the huge play without risking a worthless dud. Smith is even trying to make more than one Chiefs wideout fantasy viable, as DeMarcus Robinson caught five of eight targets for 69 yards, giving him 13 targets over the last two games. Both are in for a far tougher Week 8 when Kansas City hosts Denver.
Chicago Bears 17, Carolina Panthers 3
- Mitchell Trubisky completed four passes-including a 70-yarder to Tarik Cohen-in his first NFL win, a 14-point triumph over a Panthers squad that had scored 83 points over its last three games. Chicago’s offense did nothing of note, but rookie safety Eddie Jackson returned a fumble recovery for a 75-yard score and an interception for a 76-yard touchdown. Don’t get any ideas about adding the Bears defense, as they travel to the Superdome to face the Saints in Week 8 before taking a Week 9 bye.
- While Chicago benefited from two big breaks, it also stifled Cam Newton to 211 passing yards and no touchdowns on 34 throws. The Panthers quarterback, who averaged 13 interceptions per season before 2017, has relinquished 10 interceptions after tossing another pair on Sunday. At least he ran for 50 yards and gets a strong Week 8 matchup against the Buccaneers, who gave up 53 yards on the ground to Tyrod Taylor.
- Devin Funchess finished with 41 yards, but he has now received at least eight targets in each of Carolina’s last five games. He has also caught a pass of 15 yards or more in every contest, so he’s a strong choice to start against Tampa Bay. With his status in question, Kelvin Benjamin recorded 65 yards, giving him 326 yards over the last four games. Count on their heavy workloads leading them to bigger fantasy returns.
Buffalo Bills 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27
- Like everyone always says, rookie tight ends are amazing fantasy options. O.J. Howard joined the fun with 98 yards and two touchdowns, including a 33-yard pass where Winston found the rookie wide open on the opposite end of the field. He entered Week 7 with five catches before collecting six on Sunday, so don’t get too excited about his immediate utility. Although Cameron Brate‘s touchdown streak snapped after four games, the third-year tight end remained involved with six catches for 60 yards on nine targets. Brate is still a top-five option while Howard needs a more refined role and regular playing time before trusting.
- With Charles Clay inactive on the other side, Taylor completed 20 passes to nine different players. Zay Jones led the way with nine targets, but secured just two for 17 yards. Replacement tight end Nick O’Leary procured 58 yards, but only received two targets. Signed earlier in the week, Deonte Thompson tallied 107 yards on four receptions. He immediately earned Taylor’s trust by making some tough plays downfield, so he warrants a speculative add in case he sticks as Buffalo’s new favorite pass-catcher.
- Clay’s absence also meant more work for LeSean McCoy, who registered a team-high five catches alongside 23 carries for 91 rushing yards and his first two touchdowns of 2017. He’s still averaging 3.4 yards per carry and fumbled in the second straight game, but the veteran should climb back to RB No. 1 status with the Raiders, Jets, Saints, and Chargers looming.
Minnesota Vikings 24, Baltimore Ravens 16
- Following two huge games from Jerick McKinnon in place of the injured Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray seized the spotlight with 113 yards and a touchdown on 18 handoffs. McKinnon, meanwhile, mustered 57 yards on 17 touches. Although McKinnon is younger and faster with far more big-play potential, the Vikings have increased Murray’s workload in every game since losing Cook. Both merit starting consideration when Minnesota faces Cleveland in London, but Murray may cap McKinnon’s high ceiling.
- Baltimore averaged a moribound 3.2 yards per play, and it’s only touchdown came on a meaningless Chris Moore score as time expired. The 24-year-old wide receiver has 15 targets over the last two games, but that at most makes him someone to monitor on the waiver wire. If not for the garbage-time score, Joe Flacco would have gone three games without a touchdown. This offense is a mess.
- The Ravens’ best fantasy producer: Justin Tucker. He made field goals of 47, 48, and 57 yards in the loss, but still took a back seat to Kai Forbath’s six field goals, two of over 50 yards. Even during a career day, Forbath reminded everyone of the position’s chaos by missing an extra point. Tucker has yet to miss an extra point in 176 career tries.
Tennessee Titans 12, Cleveland Browns 9
- Cody Kessler replaced DeShone Kizer, who replaced Kevin Hogan, who was replacing Kizer. While Kizer threw two interceptions, Kessler only surrendered one. Does that mean he’s the starter going forward? Cleveland’s offense could become a bigger disaster after Joe Thomas left with a triceps injury, snapping a remarkable streak of 10,363 consecutive snaps played. Isaiah Crowell could be in line for more 35-yard games if the All-Pro tackle misses the first start of his career.
- Tennessee’s entire offense disappointed. A popular Week 7 recommendation after having his best game of the season (seven catches for 88 yards) last Monday night, Eric Decker delivered a goose egg. Marcus Mariota pieced together 203 passing yards, 40 to Rishard Mathews. Delanie Walker, who at least offered 63 yards on seven catches, left the golden matchup early with a sprained right ankle. Tennessee has topped 30 points three times, but averaged 13 points in the other four games. Beware of the hyped unit’s annoying inconsistency.
- DeMarco Murray‘s 70 yards made him the backfield breadwinner over Derrick Henry, who followed up a monster Monday night with 13 rushing yards on as many carries. Before torching the Colts with a late 72-yard score, he registered 16 yards in two prior October games. It’s even more frustrating for Henry backers since Murray was listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. Both Titans rushers have needed big runs to reinforce their only respective 100-yard games of the season. Their owners shouldn’t lose much sleep about having to bench them with the Titans taking their bye week.
Jacksonville Jaguars 27, Indianapolis Colts 0
- Despite Leonard Fournette missing the game with a foot injury, Jacksonville dominated on the ground with 122 rushing yards from T.J. Yeldon and 47 from Chris Ivory. Both backs found the end zone. As expected, last week’s nine-catch game was an anomaly for Ivory, who was not targeted once in a featured role. Yeldon hadn’t reached 100 yards in nearly two years before breaking off a 58-yard score in his season debut. Neither needs to be a high-priority pickup since Fournette has two weeks to recover before Jacksonville’s next game.
- The Jaguars’ defense dominated from a real and fantasy perspective despite not forcing a single turnover. In addition to shutting out the Colts-they have allowed single-digit points in all four victories-they padded their NFL-high sack tally with 10 more on Jacoby Brissett. Most knowledgeable fantasy managers won’t roster more than one defense, but Jaguars investors should try to reserve them through Week 8’s bye with the Bengals, Chargers, Browns, and Cardinals setting the table for some huge November showings.
- Marlon Mack fielded just five handoffs to Frank Gore‘s nine in a blowout loss, but he added four receptions for 40 yards while playing 10 more snaps (32) than the 34-year-old starter, per Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke. Exceeding 2017’s previous high of 17 snaps is an encouraging sign for the rookie slowly unseating his veteran teammate, so Mack should be owned in all leagues.
New Orleans Saints 26, Green Bay Packers 17
- Last week’s column opined that Ty Montgomery had more Week 7 fantasy potential than Aaron Jones against the Saints due to his ability to make plays as a pass catcher. Oops. Jones ran for 131 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Montgomery tallied six rushing yards and nine receiving yards. According to Jahnke, Jones played 44 snaps to Montgomery’s seven. It’s clear how Green Bay wants to proceed with Aaron Rodgers on the shelf.
- Montgomery isn’t the only Packers skill-position player whose value is sinking without Rodgers. Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams amassed 13 and 12 yards, respectively, against an improved, but far-from-elite Saints defense. Brett Hundley totaled 87 passing yards on 27 attempt with no play longer than 14 yards. A well-timed bye allows gamers to bench Nelson and Adams without remorse, but they face a difficult decision in two weeks.
- With their superstar quarterback still healthy, Saints receivers Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. had way more fun in Sunday’s matchups. Following an 11-yard faltering against the Lions, Thomas bounced back with 82 yards on seven catches. A Willie Snead hamstring injury gave Ginn another opportunity to bask in the limelight, and he submitted a season-high seven catches and 141 yards. Averaging 8.8 targets and 67.2 yards per game, Thomas is a high-end No. 2 WR who was drafted like a low-end No. 1 option. A notorious all-or-nothing threat as an unpolished receiver, Ginn has now caught all 11 targets in his last two games. Perhaps Drew Brees is turning him into a solid flex play, but a healthy Snead will hamper that progress.
- Even if Adrian Peterson‘s trade isn’t the sole catalyst, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are hitting their stride in an offense conducive to fantasy greatness. Ingram, who went four games without a 100-yard game or touchdown, cleared 100 rushing yards and scored his third touchdown in two weeks. Don’t forget about the rookie, who supplemented the starter with 107 yards (57 rushing, 50 receiving) on 14 touches. Sean Payton is featuring both as a prominent one-two punch, giving Ingram and Kamara 42 and 37 snaps respectively, per Jahnke. Ingram has suddenly earned a locked spot in all starting lineups, and Kamara is also a viable flex play in PPR formats.
Miami Dolphins 31, New York Jets 28
- After Jay Cutler left with a rib injury, Matt Moore led Miami to a comeback win with 188 yards and two touchdowns, both to Kenny Stills. Before making the easy, “If only the Dolphins had someone like Moore to replace Ryan Tannehill all along” jokes, consider that Cutler went 12-of-16 for 138 yards and two touchdowns before exiting the game. Nevertheless, Moore is a perfectly competent passer who tossed eight touchdowns in three starts last year. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Cutler is expected to miss two or three weeks with cracked ribs. The offense is more likely to get better than worse, but Moore himself shouldn’t warrant any immediate attention with Miami going to Baltimore on Thursday night. Stills scored a touchdown in each of Moore’s 2016 starts, so bump him up considerably if Cutler misses time, even if DeVante Parker returns.
- Per Jahnke, Matt Forte led the Jets’ backfield in snaps by playing half of their 56 plays. The 31-year-old produced 41 rushing and receiving yards apiece, giving him 163 total yards and 13 catches in two games since returning from a toe injury. As long as Gang Green continues to prefer him over Bilal Powell, he makes a decent PPR play in Week 8-during which six teams have byes-against a Falcons defense that allowed 6.4 receptions per game to running backs before Sunday night.
- Another day, another touchdown for Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The tight end extended his streak to three despite registering 96 combined yards in those games. Keep going back to the well, as Josh McCown now has four multi-touchdown games this season.
Los Angeles Rams 33, Arizona Cardinals 0
- In a devastating loss beyond the box score, Carson Palmer broke his arm during the blowout. The team expects him to miss eight weeks, so it’s possible he does not return this season. The offense cratered without him; Drew Stanton went 5-of-14 with 62 yards and an interception. When Stanton led a brutal quarterback carousel in 2014, Larry Fitzgerald finished the worst season of his Hall-of-Fame-worthy career with 784 yards and two touchdowns. His value tumbles to WR No. 3/flex territory, and even that might be generous. Drop Palmer and any other receiver besides Fitzgerald. It also hurts their newest addition…
- Maybe one game doesn’t make Adrian Peterson an MVP again. A week after demolishing Tampa Bay, he procured just 21 rushing and 12 receiving yards. The Cardinals will want to give him the ball often with Palmer hurt, but that might not always be soluble while playing from behind, as was the case on Sunday. That’s not a major concern in a mouth-watering Week 9 matchup with the 49ers following a Week 8 bye. But kudos to shrewd negotiators who sold high after his amazing Arizona debut.
- Sammy Watkins can’t blame a rout for another quiet day. He finished behind Robert Woods (5-59-7), Cooper Kupp (4-51-10), and Todd Gurley (4-48-8) in catches (three), receiving yards (42), and targets (five). Woods has settled into a stable role with three straight five-catch games, so treat him as an interesting depth option. Kupp scored his third touchdown, but is a bit more valuable without too high of a ceiling. For those about to cut Watkins altogether, remember that Cooper owners were in the same situation before his sudden revival.
Dallas Cowboys 40, San Francisco 49ers 10
- Still playing despite a federal appeals court reinstating his suspension earlier in the week, Elliott registered 219 total yards and three touchdowns against the mismatched 49ers. All the relevant Cowboys had huge days. Dak Prescott threw three touchdowns for the third straight game and ran in another, giving him 17 total scores in 2017. Along with a 72-yard bomb to Elliott, the star quarterback connected with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten in the end zone. A prolific offense took advantage of a vulnerable defense, and all-pending Elliott’s status-are top options at their respective positions heading into a Week 8 NFC East showdown at Washington.
- Just how good is Prescott? He has finished every week-excluding Dallas’ bye-as a top-12 quarterback with top-10 placement in each game since Week 2. Nobody at the position has averaged more fantasy points per game, but he has also yet to exceed 275 passing yards in 2017. Some touchdown regression and/or an Elliott suspension can downgrade him from the top tier, but the sophomore is currently exempt from sitting for a streamer.
- C.J. Beathard posted a solid first start with a major boost from 30 rushing yards and a score on the ground. Marqise Goodwin garnered 80 of Beathard’s 235 yards on eight targets, tying Carlos Hyde for the team lead. Goodwin did not develop a consistent rapport with Brian Hoyer, but keep watching his progress with the rookie passer.
Los Angeles Chargers 20, Denver Broncos 0
- C.J. Anderson squandered another breakout opportunity by running for 44 yards against a Chargers defense that had permitted 152.5 rushing yards per game. He hasn’t scored since Week 2 and now has 30 touches in Denver’s three losses. He needs Trevor Siemian to steer the offense back on track before falling into flex territory.
- Playing without Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas tallied nine yards, his lowest output since 2011. Don’t panic; he had an 81-yard play taken back because of an offensive pass-interference penalty. Tight end A.J. Derby instead led the way with a devilish six catches and 66 yards on seven targets, but he also lost a fumble. Bennie Fowler caught all five targets for 45 yards. Denver has scored 42 points in four games since dropping 42 on Dallas, so don’t expect any of them to replace Sanders. Derby and Fowler are depth adds and possible bye-week fill-ins.
- Melvin Gordon: 38 rushing yards, six receiving yards. Austin Ekeler: 38 rushing yards, six receiving yards, and a touchdown. Considering Gordon had 34 touches last week, owners need not panic over getting vultured in a quiet game against an elite defense. The same goes for Keenan Allen‘s ordinary 41 yards, and Hunter Henry leading the Chargers with 73 yards bodes well for him usurping Antonio Gates as Philip Rivers‘ go-to tight end.
Pittsburgh Steelers 29, Cincinnati Bengals 14
- JuJu Smith-Schuster celebrated his touchdown by playing hide-and-seek with Le’Veon Bell. Nobody bothered finding Martavis Bryant. On Sunday morning, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the disgruntled wide receiver-who reportedly requested a trade-would see more playing time against the Bengals. He caught one pass for three yards. As noted by Fantasy Guru’s Graham Barfield, his snap count stayed down at 52 percent for the second week in a row. Bryant might need a trade to salvage any fantasy value. Smith-Schuster warrants a waiver-wire add, as Pittsburgh’s No. 2 wide receiver should be a lucrative role.
- Tyler Kroft now has three touchdowns in Cincinnati’s last three games, tying A.J. Green‘s season tally. The star wideout’s scoring streak halted at three with a season-low 41 yards, but he’s still a stud poised to annihilate the Colts. Emerging as a frequent red-zone target for Andy Dalton, Tyler Eifert‘s replacement also looks like a streamable play against the Colts, who have yielded four touchdowns to tight ends.
- Following his second 35-carry game of 2017, Bell is on pace to hoard 386 handoffs. The Steelers are working to reduce the responsibilities of Ben Roethlisberger, who attempted a season-low 24 passes in a victory after throwing 25 times in Week 6’s upset at Kansas City. Bell may eventually wear down, but enjoy the substantial workload for now. Roethlisberger is a low-level play against the Lions on Sunday night, and not just because he’s on the road.
Seattle Seahawks 24, New York Giants 7
- This game didn’t help solve Seattle’s backfield puzzle. Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy each handled 11 carries, respectively recording 36 and 34 yards. Although the Giants stifled Anderson in their previous bout, they still entered Week 7 allowing 123.5 rushing yards per game. The answer may just be Russell Wilson, who went 27-of-39 for 334 yards and three touchdowns. Don’t feel compelled to roster any Seahawks running back.
- More passing produced a big game for Doug Baldwin, who caught nine of 12 targets for 92 yards and his second touchdown of the season. The wide receiver also shoved offensive line coach Tom Cable, but he said he apologized. Pete Carroll also tried to downplay the incident, so there’s unlikely to be any disciplinary action. Baldwin had games of 35 and 37 yards before Week 7, but is narrowly back on pace for his third straight 1,000-yard season. Look for him to flourish with Seattle struggling to establish the run.
- The day went as expected with the Giants facing the Seahawks without their three best wide receivers. They totaled 177 yards. Orleans Darkwa following Week 6’s breakout with 48 yards on a dozen touches. Evan Engram, however, once against boasted their only offensive touchdown. While Darkwa will merit on-again, off-again flex appeal, Engram has gained a must-start label far sooner than anticipated on account of New York’s depleted receiving corps.
New England Patriots 23, Atlanta Falcons 7
- Dion Lewis branched off Week 6’s emergence with 76 rushing yards on 13 carries, but New England’s backfield got even messier. Playing for the first time since Week 2, Rex Burkhead matched Mike Gillislee‘s 31 rushing yards. Although James White didn’t relive his Super Bowl LI heroics, he once again registered a receiving touchdown. With four viable contributors healthy, this is the type of unpredictability drafters feared from the Patriots. Lewis should garner the highest Week 8 ranking against the Chargers, but White also carries PPR flex appeal with a depleted talent pool. It will take more than seven touches to devote a high waiver priority to Burkhead.
- In his first game since Week 4, Mohamed Sanu secured six of 10 targets for 65 yards. Most of Matt Ryan‘s other throws went to Julio Jones, who wrestled his first touchdown of the season away from Malcolm Butler. Taking out the Bills game where he injured his hamstring, Sanu has 31 targets and 225 yards in four bouts. He’s a solid PPR plug-in against the Jets. Jones needed to take away an interception to finally score, but he’s still a stud.
- While Atlanta’s starting receivers fared fine, the defending NFC champions have now scored 41 combined points in three straight losses. Ryan had his fifth one-touchdown game with a measly 233 passing yards. The Patriots had ceded over 300 passing yards to all six previous opponents, most recently McCown. Last year’s MVP campaign is looking more like a one-year outlier sparked by offensive guru Kyle Shanahan, so demote Ryan to the streamer tier.