Wed Oct 16 9:51am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Fournette ready for big Week 7
Well, the season just keeps chugging along. We are about at the halfway point, so it could be now or never for some fantasy teams. Just remember, you have time to get it going. All you need to do is get hot and make the playoffs. It doesn’t matter if you win first overall in your league. You can still win by getting that last spot in the playoffs. The best team all year doesn’t always win their league. So now is the time to start heating up. Make your trades and waiver wire pickups to put your team in the best position for a strong second half. Get it going now!
Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . .
For me, I think the Rams are the most disappointing team in the NFL to date, especially from a fantasy perspective. This offense is really struggling. Just look at last week. The lack of a running game has really impacted the entire offense. Todd Gurley was really the cog in the offense that made things click. He just isn’t healthy and showing like he did the past few years. Plus, you have to figure the rest of the league is figuring things out with the Rams. Defensive coordinators had a whole offseason to adjust to what the Rams have been doing offensively. And Jared Goff seems to have regressed. He just doesn't look very good right now. Not good.
Patrick Mahomes is human. He is fourth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring, which is a bit of a surprise. His receivers are dropping some passes, though, and his running game isn’t doing much. This isn’t great news for Mahomes. Fear not, though. Mahomes can still finish first overall in scoring. He has just hit a little bump in the road. We wouldn’t set off the alarm bells just yet. He still has just one interception all year and thrown for 300-plus yards all but a game.
If you can, I would sell high on Carlos Hyde. He is coming off a season best game and has scores three of four games. I’m just not convinced he keeps up this good play. He has just six receptions all season, which really holds back his fantasy value. And he has 60 or fewer rushing yards three of his last four games. This is still a pass-first team that has issues running the ball. Hyde is not going to keep playing at his current level, especially if you consider his play the last few seasons.
One guy I’m not selling high on is Chris Godwin. I have him in like 80 percent of my leagues and feeling great about that. He had double-digit receptions last week for the second time all year. He is the leading fantasy receiver right now. It is a little bit of a concern seeing Jameis Winston playing poorly but that doesn’t bother me too much. This team can’t run the ball, so I expect them to keep airing it out often despite Winston’s turnover issues. This means Godwin will continue to rack up the catches and yards. It is a lot of fun to watch Godwin have his breakout season. He is the real deal.
The Vikings are becoming a really scary team. Minnesota is playing at a high level right now both offensively and defensively. This is a pretty complete team. The rise of Kirk Cousins takes this offense to a different level and I don’t think it is a fluke. He has two of the best receivers in the game to work with, and Cousins has produced at a high level in recent years. I’m buying his recent play as well as the entire Vikings offense. And we cant forget about Dalvin Cook, having a breakout season at running back. He makes the entire offense go.
So Austin Hooper is first overall in fantasy tight end scoring. I don’t think that is a fluke. He is getting a ton of work and making some big plays along the way. He has 100-yard games two of his last three. He has at least six receptions all but a game in the Falcons pass-happy offense. I really think he can make a run at finishing first overall in tight end scoring. There are a lot of options in this passing game, which is a little bit of a concern, but the Falcons are throwing the ball so much that I’m not sure that matters. Kudos to you if you grabbed Hooper in this year’s draft. He is sure paying off for all those owners that waited on a tight end.
Last week was the first time all year Austin Ekeler was a dud for his fantasy owners. And I’m sorry to say this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens a few more times the rest of the way. The return of Melvin Gordon is really a concern. Gordon started last week and had 11 touches compared to eight for Ekeler. I don’t think I would dump Ekeler unless I get some value in return, but be ready for a few more up and down performances. He is going to be more of a flex play going forward. He’ll still get his weekly touches and receptions, but probably not the volume of past weeks. And I’m not sure Gordon reaches his full fantasy potential with Ekeler around and getting so much work in the passing game. Both these players are hurting the fantasy value of each other.
This didn’t used to be the case, but the trade deadline in the NFL is a lot more active these days. We already have seen several trades happen this week and the deadline isn’t until next week (Tuesday, Oct. 29). This is something to watch for fantasy owners. Trades can really impact fantasy value - good and bad - so keep up with all the trades from around the league when they happen. It could be an interesting week around the league.
As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Week 7 rankings.
News and Notes: The Patriots signed tight end Eric Tomlinson on Tuesday. He gives the team some more depth at the tight end position. . . . .The Browns traded offensive lineman Austin Corbett to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on Tuesday. . . . .The Rams traded cornerback Marcus Peters to the Ravens in exchange for linebacker Kenny Young and an undisclosed 2020 draft pick on Tuesday. . . .The Jaguars traded cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for first-round picks in 2020 and 2021, and a fourth-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. . . . .The Titans announced Ryan Tannehill will start the Week 7 game. This sends Marcus Mariota to the bench.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars. Fournette isn’t having a banner season but a solid one, especially compared to last year. He is ninth overall in fantasy running back scoring and sixth overall in his last three games. Fournette has three straight games with more than 100 total yards. A big plus for him this year is added work in the passing game, having at least four receptions all but a game. He should get a huge workload this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati allows the most fantasy points to running backs. The Bengals have been a disaster against the run, ranking dead last. They allow 185-rushing yards per game.
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals. Murray is playing at a high level right now, taking advantage of some poor defenses in recent weeks. He has 27-plus fantasy points two straight games. He had his first three-touchdown game of his career last week. Murray is up to seventh overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. He is getting it done on a weekly basis. Murray has his third straight poor opponent this week, facing the Giants. New York allows the sixth most fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank 31st against the pass, allowing 285-passing yards per game.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams. Woods scored his first touchdown of the season last week, which was a rushing score. But even despite a lack of scores, Woods is 26th overall in fantasy receiver scoring. He is capable of the big game in this offense as evident by his huge game in Week 4 against the Bucs. Some fantasy owners might be shying away from the Rams this week after their awful game last week, but a Week 7 matchup against the Falcons should get this offense healthy. The Falcons are 27th against the pass and have allowed 15-passing touchdowns this season.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons. Freeman is starting to show some signs of life rushing the ball. He scored two touchdowns last week and has scores two straight games. He tied a season high in rushing yards last week with 88 yards. The biggest plus for Freeman this year has been his work in the passing game, having at least three receptions every game. This can save his fantasy numbers if he is shutdown rushing the ball. He should find more success this week against the Rams. Los Angeles is reeling right now and are 16th against the run. Freeman could find the end zone, facing a team that has allowed seven rushing touchdowns.
Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys. Gallup wasn’t great last week, having four receptions for 48 yards on seven targets, but his numbers weren’t terrible. He has 100-yard games two of four and at least six receptions in all but a game. Amari Cooper is hurting, which could make Gallup the No. 1 receiver this week against the Eagles. This is a great matchup for Gallup, getting a team that has allowed the most fantasy points to receivers this year. Gallup can produce elite numbers in Week 7.
LeVeon Bell, RB, Jets. Bell has been pretty mediocre in recent weeks. He scored a touchdown last week, which saved his otherwise poor fantasy games. He had 15 touches for just 53 yards. He has 50 or fewer rushing yards three straight games and his season high in rushing is just 68 yards. Bell had 20-plus fantasy points each of his first two games but done little since. He gets a Patriots team this week that should focus their game plan on shutting down Bell. New England allows the second fewest fantasy points to running backs and just eight points per game.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions. Stafford has been a big surprise this year, ranking 11th overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. He has multiple touchdowns three of five games and at least 245-passing yards all but a game. He is healthy and producing once again. He did fail to score a touchdown last week, though, and has fewer than 15 fantasy points two of his past three games. He has another tough one this week against the Vikings. Minnesota allows the 10th fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank seventh overall against the pass.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos. Some might look at the matchup this week and think Sanders is a must start for fantasy teams, getting a Chiefs team that can struggled defensively. But it is sure hard to recommend playing Sanders despite the great matchup. He has two catches for nine yards his last two games. He has 10 or fewer yards three of his last four games. Sure, he could go off in this one, but it is hard to be confident playing him because of his recent play and production. We would just avoid him right now.
Damien Williams, RB, Chiefs. Williams returned to the lineup Week 5, but has done little since his return. He did score a touchdown last week but had just two touches in the game. He has 14 touches for 58 yards his last two games. He is yet to top 30-rushing yards in a game all year. Williams is another player that is hard to trust based on his production all season. He also has a tough matchup this week against the Broncos, a team that has allowed just 18 points per game. It is probably best to just avoid Williams right now.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Redskins. McLaurin has been the best rookie receiver in football this year. He has been great almost every game. He has two 100-yard games and scores four of the five games he has played. He is almost moving into must-start territory. But a game this week against the 49ers is a little worrisome for McClaurin. The 49ers defense has been dominating in recent weeks, especially last week against the Rams. San Francisco totally shutdown the Rams passing attack. The 49ers are first overall against the pass and allow just 13 points per game. It could be a long day for the Redskins offense in this one, making McLaurin a bit of a risky play despite his big numbers this year.
Josh Allen, QB, Bills. Allen hasn’t been off the charts this year but consistent. He has multiple touchdowns three of five games and topped 240-passing yards three games. He has more than 20 fantasy points all but a game. And he is always capable of the big game, giving him added fantasy value. He is setup for one of those big games this week against the lowly Dolphins. Miami allows the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks and are 26th overall against the pass.
Royce Freeman, RB, Broncos. Freeman has not been outstanding all year but pretty consistent, splitting work with starter Phillip Lindsay. He has double-digit carries all but a game. He also has at least four receptions four of six games, which helps his fantasy numbers. He has double-digit fantasy points three of six games. Freeman has value as a flex play, especially this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City was run over by a Texans rushing attack that hadn’t done much all year. The Chiefs are 30th overall against the run, allowing 162-rushing yards per game.
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Colts. Brissett has multiple touchdowns all but a game this year. And he has scores every game this season. He has 20-plus fantasy points three of five games. He has done very well as the starter for the Colts and is producing for fantasy teams. He is a spot play, worth using in the right matchup. And this week against the Texans is a good time to use Brissett. The Texans are just 24th overall against the pass and allow the fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Brissett is a good bye week or injury replacement for Week 7.
Cole Beasley, WR, Bills. Beasley is yet to score this year but is getting his catches as the slot receiver in this offense. He has three games with double-digit fantasy points and at least three catches every game this season. He also has 75 or more yards two of five games. He can be a help to fantasy teams, especially in a favorable matchup. And a game this week against the Dolphins is a good one for Beasley. The Dolphins are 26th against the pass and give up an whooping 36 points per game.
Darren Fells, TE, Texans. Fells had season highs in catches (six) and yards (69) last week. He has 12 or more fantasy points three of his last four games. The Texans are looking at the tight end more often in recent weeks and Fells is benefitting from the added looks. He is moving up the tight end rankings and worth using for fantasy teams. Fells has a matchup for more good things this week, playing the Colts. Indianapolis has struggled to stop the tight end this year, allowing the third most fantasy points to tight ends.
High/Low Scoring Games
Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.
High Scoring Games: Rams/Falcons, Texans/Colts, Cardinals/Giants, Eagles/Cowboys.
Low Scoring Games: Chargers/Titans.
Bye Weeks: Panthers, Browns, Steelers, Bucs.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) is still in the concussion protocol, but head coach Pat Shurmur said the team expects Shepard to be cleared by the end of the week. Despite not being cleared yet, Shepard has practiced in full the last two days. It's a sign that he will return to action in Week 12 against the Bears for the first time since Oct. 6 against the Vikings. It's great to see Shepard nearing a return, but he could have his snaps limited after a long layoff, and the matchup isn't a good one. Shepard will be a shaky flex if he's active, while his presence will also lower the upside of both Golden Tate and Darius Slayton against Chicago.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor could play a big role again in Week 12 when the Eagles host the Seattle Seahawks. With Alshon Jeffery (ankle) questionable after missing Week 11, Agholor could again serve as an incredibly overmatched WR1 for Carson Wentz. Agholor had a hard time catching the football in Week 11 as has been a theme for his whole career, but he still drew nine targets. With a softer defense to go against in Week 12, that many targets could lead to fantasy relevance even for someone with hands like Agholor's. He'll almost certainly drop a touchdown, but he might catch one too.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz hasn't had the season he, the Eagles, or his fantasy owners wanted, but he's a solid bet to have a strong Week 12 against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks Defense does fairly well against opposing running backs and wide receivers, but tight ends have been able to exploit them a bit this season. After a slow start, Ertz has now gone two games in a row with 11 targets thrown his way. Another double-digit target load isn't out of the question in Week 12. Fire him up with confidence as a TE1 with upside to be the top scorer at the position.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (ankle) will be an OK fantasy option in Week 12 if he recovers from his ankle injury. Jeffery was forced to miss Week 11's loss to the New England Patriots, but he was back at practice on Wednesday. If he is ultimately cleared to play, he'll be quarterbackCarson Wentz's top wide receiver in a game where the Eagles will likely need to make some passing plays. Jeffery has not been much of a ceiling play this season at all but has at least maintained a decent floor, and that should remain true in Week 12 if he can stay on the field.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott may or may not have a fantasy significant role in Week 12. The Eagles take on the Seattle Seahawks in Philly, but whether or not Scott plays significant snaps depends on the availability of Jordan Howard (shoulder). Howard is questionable at best at this point after missing Week 11, where Scott got seven carries and gained 26 yards. He's a viable replacement for Howard if fantasy owners are desperate, but rookie Miles Sanders will be the featured back if Howard is forced to miss another game.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi is likely to have some kind of a role on offense in Week 12. Ajayi was active in Week 11 but never saw the field. He was in uniform despite having signed with the team just two days earlier. With a full week of practice now, Ajayi should see the field for Sunday's matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. How much he plays will depend on whether or not Jordan Howard (shoulder) is cleared to play. Still, Ajayi's role is far too murky to be worth a start in any format, but he should be scooped up from any waiver wires where he's available just in case.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders should have a significant role in Week 12's matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. With Jordan Howard (shoulder) questionable at best to play, Sanders will have a prominent backfield role once again. He was shut down by the Patriots in Week 11 with Howard out of the picture, running for just 38 yards and making two catches, but the Seahawks Defense won't pose a similar threat. Sanders makes for a solid RB2 play this week with a slight bump in PPR formats. Even if Howard is cleared to play, Sanders should still provide fantasy points in his role.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) is a risky choice in Week 12 fantasy lineups assuming he is cleared to play. Currently questionable at best after missing Week 11, Howard is set for a date with the Seattle Seahawks Defense. If fully healthy, Howard would be a middling RB2 for this contest, but given the injury and the possibility of a re-aggravation, he can't be treated as much more than an RB4. Desperate fantasy owners need to keep an eye on injury reports heading into Friday's practice and should be ready to pounce on Boston Scott or anyone else potentially available on the waiver wire.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will be a QB2 for a Week 12 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Wentz is coming off an inconsistent performance against the Patriots in Week 11 in which he completed just 20 of his 40 pass attempts for 214 yards and one touchdown. The Seahawks Defense is not as talented as the Patriots Defense by any means, but they are coming off their bye week and have given some opposing quarterbacks trouble this season. Wentz has not been completely to blame, as his receivers drop his passes as if they burn their fingers. Alshon Jeffery (ankle) and Jordan Howard (shoulder) could be back in the lineup this week, which would help Wentz's outlook considerably.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense is not a highly recommended fantasy option for a Week 12 lineup. The Cowboys will be on the road to take on the New England Patriots, and it's always tough to recommend a fantasy defense against Tom Brady's squad. The Giants and Lions defensive units could be on some league's waiver wires and should make for better options in Week 12 matchups.
New York Giants tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) are not practicing on Wednesday. It seems unlikely at this point that Engram will be ready to play on Sunday against the Bears. You should be making plans to be without Engram again in Week 12. If Ellison is also out, Scott Simonson and rookie Kaden Smith would likely split playing time in a tough matchup with Chicago. Neither one of them would be very attractive as a TE2 streamer in deeper leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (ankle) and running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) are doing individual work in practice on Wednesday and are limited. Jeffery didn't practice at all last week before he was inactive in Week 11, so it's progress for him. Still, both players should still be considered questionable to face the Seahawks in Week 12. Nelson Agholor would have some fleeting flex appeal once again if Jeffery misses another game, while tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert would both remain involved in the passing game. Rookie Miles Sanders would have RB2 upside if Howard misses his second straight game. Keep an eye on their practice status the rest of the week.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher is a decent but not particularly high-upside kicking option in Week 12. The Cowboys will be on the road to face the New England Patriots and could struggle to score, limiting Maher's chances. There's always the possibility that the Patriots Defense causes the Cowboys to stall on offensive drives, leading to more field goals for Maher, but that's a risky situation to bank on. Fantasy owners who have been trotting out Maher all season might as well keep him there for another week, but streamers should look elsewhere on the waiver wire.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper (knee) won't play in Week 12 against the Buccaneers, but he could try to run a little in practice on Thursday. There's a chance that Hooper could be ready to return in Week 13 against the Saints. Keep Hooper stashed on your benches, especially if you're looking good to make the fantasy players, as Hooper could come in handy down the stretch as a high-end TE1. Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham should continue to split playing time this Sunday, but you can avoid both for fantasy purposes.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill's (hamstring) injury was deemed minor after he underwent an MRI exam, according to a source. Hill is being considered day-to-day, and there's a real chance he won't miss any time with the team's bye in Week 12. He tried to go back into the Monday night game against the Chargers. Hill was held catchless on his two targets before leaving the game and not returning, so it was a blow to his fantasy owners. The good news is that Hill should be back in Week 13 in the final week before the fantasy playoffs begin in most leagues. As long as he's on the field, Hill will be a must-start.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion, knee) remains in the league's concussion protocol on Wednesday and is also wearing a significant brace on his left knee. Smith-Schuster isn't off to a good start to the week, and he won't be a guarantee to play in Week 12 against the Bengals even if he's cleared from the protocol later this week. You should be planning on being without him this weekend. With Diontae Johnson (concussion) also questionable to play, the Steelers could be rolling with James Washington, Johnny Holton and Tevin Jones in three-receiver sets against the winless Bengals. Washington would be the best DFS streamer if both JuJu and Johnson are inactive. Tight end Vance McDonald would have more upside as well.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin is not a starting option in most fantasy lineups in Week 12. Jarwin and the Cowboys will be in New England to take on the Patriots and their great defense. Jarwin has yet to catch more than three passes in a game this season and despite his occasional touchdowns and chunk gains, is still too unpredictable to trust in fantasy lineups.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is no more than a floor play, at best, in Week 12 and is better left on most fantasy benches. With the Cowboys in New England to face the Patriots, Witten could end up with something like his two-catch, 17-yard performance against the Vikings. Witten is one of the least likely tight ends in the NFL to put up zero fantasy points, but he's also not very likely to put up double-digit points most weeks. Tight end is a very weak fantasy position this season, but most leagues will still have someone with at least more upside than Witten in Week 12.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup is a strong WR2 play despite a tough matchup in Week 12. The Cowboys will be in New England to take on the Patriots and their top-tier defense. With Amari Cooper (knee) at less than 100 percent, Gallup could be asked to pick up some of the slack. He led the team in receiving in Week 11, catching nine passes for 148 yards. He's unlikely to rack up that much yardage against the New England secondary in Week 12, but he's as likely as any wide receiver on the field to score a touchdown. Fire him up as a solid WR2 with some nice upside and a bankable floor.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb has been excellent for two games in a row and will look to keep in going in Week 12 against the New England Patriots. Cobb has two straight weeks of over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. Despite the excellent defense of the Patriots, Cobb has a chance to keep it going this week, as top New England corners Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty will focus on Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb comes into this one as a high-ceiling, middling-floor option and can be fired up as a lower end WR3 with WR2 upside.