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Quick Grades Week 7 (Fantasy Football Start or Sit Advice)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Oct 23, 2020

This week, I want to borrow a page from Mike Tagliere. In this week’s Primer, Tags talks about being in the right place at the right time and how potentially insignificant day-to-day interactions and routines can suddenly become life-changing events. He explains that these “lucky” moments occur because people are willing to put themselves out there, try new things, and keep working hard despite adversity. My takeaway from his intro was “Make your own luck.” Essentially, if you put the time and work in, you’ll catch a break down the road, and “luck” might not be as much chance as we believe it to be.

His Primer intro really hit home with me this week, because I firmly believe in making your own luck and that spending time always looking over the fence at how others are doing is counterproductive. So, after taking some inspiration from FantasyPros’ resident wordsmith, I wanted to write a few sentences of my own. I don’t do long intros for this article, because – let’s face it – you’re here for a quick read. Heck, the word “quick” is in the title of the article! But today, I want to talk about gratitude and get a little personal. I publish this article very early on Friday morning from my personal laptop, then I jump on my work laptop, put in my 8-10 hours, finish the work week out strong, and find time to hang out with my four kids. My weeks are usually hectic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In addition to Quick Grades, I write two other articles (Running Back Roundup, Early Waiver Wire Pickups), provide weekly rankings, and write player notes. I’m very active on FantasyPros and love every minute of it. Plain and simple, I love to write, and I love to talk football. Combining those two loves and being able to connect with people in the fantasy football community (those who play, read, write, etc) is a true blessing. So for everyone taking time out of your day to read this article, THANK YOU.  I’m sure this intro and short bio isn’t what you were expecting, but thanks for bearing with me. Publishing fantasy content is something that I am very fortunate to be able to do, and I don’t take it for granted.

Once the season begins, the most difficult part of any fantasy manager’s week is start or sit decisions. These lineup choices can make or break a week, but unfortunately, not everyone has time to sit down and read lengthy fantasy advice articles. That’s where Quick Grades comes in. Each week of the football season, I’ll be providing a condensed and easily digestible chart of grades for over 250 fantasy-relevant players based on the following four criteria:

Fantasy Ability
Despite a tough matchup, Miles Sanders broke through on a long 74 yard TD run last week

Expected Volume
Travis Kelce is always heavily targeted as one of Kansas City’s top pass-catching options

Matchup
Tyreek Hill got loose for 200 yards against Cincinnati’s porous secondary

Surrounding Talent
Sam Darnold has one of the weakest receiving corps in the league

Each of those criteria will be graded on a scale of 1-25, with the cumulative total resulting in a final grade (A+ to F) and a recommendation based on that grade. The criteria are weighted differently based on position, so it’s not a direct 1-for-1 conversion. Surrounding talent refers to offensive line for RB, quarterback play for WR and TE, and skill-position talent for QB.

The players are sorted by grade in descending order with the highest grades at the top and the lowest at the bottom. The highest-graded players receive A+ (Must start), and the lowest receive F. However, there are varying degrees of the F grade, and some players with this grade are flex plays, desperation plays, Hail Mary plays, or should remain on your bench, depending on the grade and position.

I’ll also include D/ST grades, and just like the skill-position players, there will be four criteria used for grading on a scale from 1-25, and final grades will be from 1-100. The four criteria for a D/ST grade are: Matchup, Turnovers, Sacks, and Points Allowed.

The charts are screenshots of a spreadsheet, but the link to the original can be found below. Because players are not searchable within the sheets in this article, they’ve been added to the bottom of the page so that they can be searched and referenced quickly. In addition to the player grades, I’ll provide:

  • Start of the Week: A player outside of the elite, weekly must-starts who could have a big week
  • Stream of the Week: The best player who will likely be available on your waiver wire
  • Deep-League Stream of the Week: The best player who is less than 5% rostered in Yahoo leagues
  • Fade of the Week: A notable player who could be in for a let-down performance
  • Tough Calls: Two similarly valued players who may give fantasy managers difficult decisions

Link to Full Quick Grades Document

It’s easy to see that an ‘A+’ or ‘A’ grade makes a player a must-start, but it might not make sense at first glance why some players are rated ‘C’ or worse and still have ‘Start,’ ‘Strong Start,’ or ‘Flex’ attached to their names. Because of all the different variables that go into a player’s performance in any given week, only those players with the absolute highest potential, best matchup, and strongest talent get ‘A+’ or ‘A’ grades. Therefore, even solid plays will earn grades that may appear sub-optimal on the surface, but it’s all relative from position-to-position. The hard cutoff is 50 for every position, as grades lower than this will earn a ‘Desperation’ or ‘Hail Mary’ tag in every situation.

Now that I’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the grades. Best of luck in all your matchups this week, and if you have any questions, please hit me up on Twitter @ZaktheMonster.

Note: As always, remember to check back on FantasyPros ahead of kickoff to get the latest injury news. I’ll provide “what-if” grades in the event that an injured player doesn’t suit up, but otherwise, these grades assume full health at the time the article is published on Friday morning. 

Additional note: The Atlanta Falcons had to shut down their team facility after a positive coronavirus test. Sunday’s game against Minnesota is still expected to be played, but this is a situation to keep a close eye on. 

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Running Backs

This week, Alvin Kamara is in a smash spot against Carolina’s soft run defense, and earns a near-perfect grade. Familiar faces make up the rest of the top 10, including waiver wire darling Mike Davis, who may be on the final week of his magical run, with Christian McCaffrey‘s return inching ever closer. After three consecutive 100-yard performances, Ronald Jones earns a top-10 grade, as he faces the league’s most giving rush defense.

There is no reccomended deep-league stream of the week here, as the running backs who are less than 5% rostered do not have grades higher than ‘F Desperation.’

Start of the Week: D’Andre Swift

Stream of the Week: J.D. McKissic

Fade of the Week: Le’Veon Bell

Tough Calls: As mentioned above, Ronald Jones is in a smash spot this week.

* With Joe Mixon out, Giovani Bernard becomes a ‘D Flex’

Wide Receivers

Don’t you love it when things just come together? DeAndre Hopkins faces the league’s most giving defense to wide receivers, and the already-elite option is a near ‘100’ grade for Week 7. A pair of Falcons remain firmly planted in the top tier, Stefon Diggs continues to rise in his weekly grade, and Terry McLaurin is in line for a huge day against Dallas’ porous secondary.

Start of the Week: Tee Higgins

Stream of the Week: Cole Beasley

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Demarcus Robinson 2% rostered (criminally low!)

Fade of the Week: Robert Woods

Tough Calls: A couple of Panthers come in with solid grades this week, though it’s Robby Anderson who gets the edge. The two have nearly identical target shares this season, and while I’ll give the edge to Moore in that department, Anderson’s dynamic playmaking puts him over the top. Both are great plays against New Orleans.

* If KJ Hamler is cleared to play, he’ll enter this list as an ‘F Desperation’ play

Quarterbacks 

Stacks on stacks on stacks on stacks. Yep, it’s a Cardinals stack for the ages this week, with Kyler Murray – currently fantasy’s QB1 – and the abovementioned DeAndre Hopkins grading out as the best plays of the week at their respective positions. Murray’s matchup with Seattle’s swiss-cheese defense is incredible, and he should be able to continue his stellar run. Excellent matchups propel Joe Burrow, Matthew Stafford, and Gardner Minshew into the top-10.

There is no reccomended deep-league stream of the week here, as the quarterbacks who are less than 5% rostered do not have grades higher than ‘F Desperation.’

Start & Stream of the Week: Andy Dalton

Fade of the Week: Drew Brees

* If Sam Darnold returns this week, he enters this list as a ‘D+ 2QB/SuperFlex’ play

Tight Ends

Surprise, surprise. It’s Kelce, Kittle, Waller, and Smith with the highest grades of the week once again. This group has become the most reliable foursome in fantasy, and they represent a tier far above the next group of tight ends. Dalton Schultz and T.J. Hockenson have excellent matchups, while “Big Bob” Tonyan (pronounced Tun-yan apparently) remains among the top-10 options.

Start & Stream of the Week: Logan Thomas

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Drew Sample 2% rostered

Fade of the Week: Hayden Hurst

Tough Calls: T.J. Hockenson should be a strong play against Atlanta this week, though Dalton Schultz isn’t too far behind in his grade. Schultz should see more work than Hock and has a good matchup of his own, though the latter’s better matchup and touchdown-upside gives him the edge for Week 7.

* If Dawson Knox is out, Tyler Kroft enters this list as an ‘F Desperation’ play
* If Jonnu Smith is out, Anthony Firkser is enters this list as a ‘D Flex’ play

D/ST

The top-5 this week is a bit unusual. Cleveland tops the grades here for a couple of reasons: a terrible Cincinnati offensive line and an opportunistic defense. New England, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Buffalo round out that elite group, and while Buffalo’s matchup with the lowly Jets is the best available, the Bills haven’t played great defense thus far, and Sam Darnold may be back to replace Joe Flacco.

Start & Stream of the Week: Washington Football Team

Fade of the Week: Chicago Bears

Player Search, Find

Running Back

Wide Receiver

Quarterback

Tight End

D/ST

  • Cleveland Browns B+ Must Start
  • New England Patriots B Must Start
  • Kansas City Chiefs B Must Start
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers B Must Start
  • Buffalo Bills C+ Must Start
  • Seattle Seahawks C Start
  • Washington Football Team D+ Start
  • Pittsburgh Steelers D+ Start
  • Arizona Cardinals D+ Start
  • Los Angeles Rams D Start
  • San Francisco 49ers D Start
  • Chicago Bears F Start
  • New York Jets F Desperation
  • Green Bay Packers F Desperation
  • Cincinnati Bengals F Desperation
  • Atlanta Falcons F Desperation
  • Dallas Cowboys F Desperation
  • Los Angeles Chargers F Desperation
  • Tennessee Titans F Desperation
  • Denver Broncos F Desperation
  • New Orleans Saints F Desperation
  • Jacksonville Jaguars F Bench
  • Carolina Panthers F Bench
  • Las Vegas Raiders F Bench
  • Detroit Lions F Bench
  • Houston Texans F Bench

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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