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5 Burning Questions For Week 7 (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Oct 21, 2021

This week, we’ll be looking at the utilization for some notable fantasy players entering Week 7. Bye weeks and injuries are piling up in a hurry, so it’s important to make sure we’re taking advantage of every possible edge that we can.

Remember to reach out with questions on Twitter (@toomuchtuma) anytime.

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1. Should we be worried about DeAndre Hopkins‘ volume?

“Nuk” had another strong performance in Week 6 against the Browns, scoring two touchdowns while catching three passes for 55 yards. Fantasy managers should be thankful those TDs occurred, though, because the under-the-radar numbers for Hopkins haven’t been encouraging lately. The 29-year-old received four targets for the second time this season. He has yet to receive double digit targets in a game this year.

Hopkins’ target share through six games is down to 20%. For comparison, it was at 29.4% in 2020 (per PlayerProfiler.com). The three seasons prior, while with the Texans, it was over 30%. So yeah, this is uncharted territory for the alpha wideout. The saving grace has been six touchdowns, which equals his total from last season. Hopkins is certainly the type of player who can post high TD rates, but it still isn’t a metric to bank on. His talent keeps him in the WR1 conversation, but he’s more of a low-end option if this current trend persists.

2. Will Javonte Williams be a thing this year?

Fantasy gamers who selected the rookie back in August were probably hoping that he usurped Melvin Gordon by this point in the season. While Gordon has done his part in holding off Williams, it’s noteworthy how the Broncos are using each back. Let’s take a look at the utilizations between the two, through six games:

What do you notice? For starters, their utilization is extremely similar. Sure, Gordon has an edge in the two-minute snaps, but Williams has him beat when it comes to rushes inside the five-yard line. The point is that Denver isn't shying away from using their second-round rookie in any game situation. The 50:50 timeshare is annoying, but Javonte could erupt if Gordon goes down.

My guess is he can be acquired cheaply right now. Sure, there's a chance this remains the status quo all season long, but if the opportunity cost is right than I want to get in on this situation sooner rather than later.

3. Does AJ Dillon have standalone value?

I'm not sure that I would go that far, but the usage has been trending in the right direction. The sophomore bruiser out of Boston College has double digit touches in each of Green Bay's past three contests entering Week 7, and he certainly passes the eye test. When you look at the rushing attempt shares between him and Aaron Jones (32% to 54% for the season, but even closer over the past few weeks) it's easy to become seduced by what could be.

Unfortunately, I don't think we can expect Dillon to be a fantasy football difference-maker absent an injury to Jones. In Week 6 against the Bears, 48% of his snaps and 46% of his rushing attempts came with the Packers leading by 10 or more points. Matt LaFelur likes using Dillon as the "closer." He remains arguably the top handcuff in fantasy football, but he's still just a bench stash as we move towards the end of October.

4. Should Lamar Jackson be considered the QB1 in all of fantasy?

Humans have a tendency to hold on to our priors, which means you might've missed what's occurring in Baltimore lately. The Ravens are throwing the ball at a rate 10 percentage points higher than last season, and Jackson enters Week 7 with the highest ADOT (10.6) in the NFL. What we have here is a quarterback who receives more designed rushing attempts while also scrambling more than anyone else at the position, but one who is also attempting fantasy-friendly passes at a high rate. Arguably the league's MVP through mid-October, Jackson is rewarding drafters who bought the dip after his 2020 "letdown."

5. What do we make of Tee Higgins' sophomore campaign?

The second-year receiver out of Clemson was a popular breakout candidate during the summer. Year Two players are more likely to break out than others, and we expected Cincinnati to push the envelope as a passing offense. A few things have happened, though. First, Ja'Marr Chase has simply been incredible while quickly establishing himself as the alpha within the offense.

But we anticipated Chase playing well. What we didn't see coming was the Bengals' approach. Through six games they rank third-worst in plays per game and dropbacks per game. Now, things have gotten a tad better in recent weeks, but we six data points telling us who the Bengals want to be on offense. Zac Taylor wants balance as Joe Burrow returns from his ACL injury and the offensive line continues coming into their own.

Higgins is still receiving a big piece of the pie. In fact, his targets per route run rate (22%) is actually higher than Chase's (20%). The difference is Higgins' ADOT is at 8.8 while Chase's is at 17.6!! Higgins' profile would work well on a pass-first offense (think Keenan Allen), but this offense just isn't accruing enough volume for him to be a weekly difference-maker. Higgins needs the Bengals to be trailing, or for the philosophy as a whole to shift, before he can unlock his full potential.

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Brendan Tuma is a featured writer at FantasyPros. To read more from Brendan, check out his archive and follow him @toomuchtuma.

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