By the Numbers: Week 7 (2020 Fantasy Football)
Outside of nuclear energy, there is perhaps no industry more reactive than fantasy football.
A big game from a rookie running back? He’s the next Barry Sanders. The wily veteran receiver off to a slow start after returning from injury? “Welcome to Dumpsville!”
Every week, it’s the same formula, with poor and strong performances catalyzing “hot takes” from pundits whose jobs are to entertain as much as – and sometimes more than – they educate.
Experienced fantasy managers can typically identify which takes are overblown, but groupthink and confirmation bias can lead us astray, even when context says both the pundit’s and the fantasy manager’s hunch is incorrect. In the television production world, slow news weeks like the one we’re in now often lead to “filler” segments, which have to be engaging even if there aren’t major moves to discuss.
Especially with no clear-cut waiver star for Week 7, be wary of dumping that wily veteran right before a breakout — or of holding too tightly the sure-thing rookie running back in trade discussions. Fantasy experts get paid to produce content daily, but this week, there’s likely to be more “noise” than “news” coming to a screen or podcast near you.
In Monday night’s broadcast of the Cardinals vs. Cowboys game, the ESPN commentators mentioned Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s desire for running back Kenyan Drake to become more of a north-south runner.
It appeared Drake took the message to heart, as his 2.28 rushing efficiency was his best of the season by a landslide, and it was the second-best output of any NFL running back in Week 6.
Coming into the game, there were questions about whether Chase Edmonds would supplant Drake as the RB1 in Arizona, but it appears — at least for now — that Drake’s job is safe. Even better, his fantasy production is trending in the right direction.
Kansas City wide receiver Demarcus Robinson led the Chiefs receiving corps on Monday night with 69 snaps, but he totaled an uninspiring 9.4 half-PPR points in the contest.
Robinson has been a popular streaming option for fantasy managers when filling in for the perpetually injured Sammy Watkins, but he has averaged a lowly 4.7 half-PPR points in three such games over the past two seasons.
An advantageous matchup against the Denver Broncos on Sunday may tempt managers into starting Robinson, but I’d opt for someone like Cole Beasley, who’s rostered in less than 35 percent of ESPN and Yahoo leagues. He has quietly averaged six targets and 10.3 half-PPR points per game this season.
The Bills are also playing the Jets, so yeah, grab Beasley if you need a receiver, and he’s available for cheap.
There’s been a clear effort to get Brandin Cooks involved in the Texans’ offense over the past two weeks after he secured just 10 total receptions in his first four games with Houston.
It’s a small sample, but since Week 4’s zero-point fantasy effort, Cooks has averaged 21.7 half-PPR points per game, and his 17 receptions and 21 targets over that span rank first and fifth in the NFL, respectively, among wide receivers.
Cooks’ usage will be something to monitor, but it appears that he’s awoken from an early-season fantasy slumber, and he could offer WR2 value moving forward.
With a relatively easy remaining schedule, which includes upcoming games against the Packers, Jaguars, and Browns, Cooks is a solid low-cost trade target for wide receiver-needy managers.
Miami Dolphins running back Matt Breida ranks last in the NFL with -1.3 rush yards over expected per attempt.
Including Jordan Howard, who has rushed 18 times for 14 yards, the projected Miami backfield heading into this season has been a major disappointment.
That said, the veteran duo’s futility has opened the door for Myles Gaskin, who has averaged 12 half-PPR points per game and has a running back DVOA that ranks just ahead of Ezekiel Elliott, David Montgomery, James Robinson, Chris Carson, Joe Mixon, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Gaskin has also been one of the most heavily used running backs in the NFL this season, as he ranks among the top 10 at his position in targets, red-zone touches, route participation, and offensive snap percentage.
After dodging a Le’Veon Bell signing this week, Gaskin managers can confidently place him in the RB2 slot moving forward.
There isn’t much to love about the New York Jets’ offense under head coach and known fantasy stock suppressor Adam Gase, but wide receiver Jamison Crowder is experiencing a full-on breakout in 2020.
Crowder currently leads the NFL with 11.5 targets per game, a pace that was matched only by Michael Thomas during the 2019 campaign.
Averaging 16.2 half-PPR points per contest, Crowder is a high-end WR2 and potential WR1 for the rest of the season — assuming he’s able to maintain his usage in an offense bereft of other playmakers.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.