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Lineup Prep: Week 7

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.

HOT PLAYS

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.

COLD PLAYS  

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. 

SLEEPERS  

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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Buffalo Bills Nov 17 6:10pm ET

The Bills Defense had an ideal matchup against the lowly Dolphins in Week 11, but came out with a somewhat underwhelming fantasy day. The highlight was their ability to come up with seven sacks on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, they allowed 20 points in the game, the third-most points they've allowed all year. Additionally, they only came up with one turnover, a fumble recovery. Next up for the Bills is a home game against another struggling offense, the Broncos, so make sure to keep them in your lineup.

From RotoBaller

Irv Smith Jr. Nov 17 6:10pm ET

Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. caught all three of his targets for 20 yards and a touchdown in a 27-23 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 11. The touchdown was a 10-yarder in the third quarter and it was the first career touchdown for the rookie tight end out of Alabama. He's seeing 4.8 targets per game in his last five games and has been a decent desperation streaming option with Adam Thielen (hamstring) out. The Vikings have their bye next week and Thielen should be back for Week 13, but Smith Jr. has put himself in the TE2 conversation moving forward with his recent production.

From RotoBaller

Chris Conley Nov 17 6:10pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley caught six passes for 58 yards in Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts. He was targeted eight times, making it the fourth game in a row where Conley saw at least seven targets. Conley's not going to light the world on fire, but he's got some deep league appeal based on his current target share. With Nick Foles back at quarterback, the Jaguars offense should be trending upwards, so maybe we'll see some more solid performances out of Conley moving forward.

From RotoBaller

Dede Westbrook Nov 17 6:10pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (neck/shoulder) returned to the field in Week 11, but he wasn't able to get much going. Westbrook caught four passes for 32 yards in the loss to the Colts. His six targets were fourth on the team, and it's become apparent that Westbrook isn't the top fantasy receiver that many guessed in the preseason that he might be this year. He's got appeal in deeper PPR leagues, but it's looking like it's time to fade Westbrook in shallower formats.

From RotoBaller

Dawson Knox Nov 17 6:00pm ET

In Week 11, Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox found the end zone for the first time since Week 3. He caught two of his three targets for 32 yards against the Dolphins in Week 11. Meanwhile, fellow tight end Tyler Kroft caught his only target for six yards. Knox has only exceeded two receptions in a game once since Week 4 and has only topped 40 receiving yards three times all year. He could be a low-end starting tight end option in deep leagues going forward but he's very risky with a very low floor. His next matchup is at home against the Broncos in Week 12.

From RotoBaller

Alexander Mattison Nov 17 6:00pm ET

Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison was pretty much silent in Week 11 as he had just three carries for five yards in a comeback win over the Denver Broncos. Mattison was just not involved in the game plan and lost work due to the Vikings playing from behind for almost the entire contest. Mattison has had some nice outputs backing up star Dalvin Cook this season, but Week 11's tough matchup against the Broncos Defense wasn't the spot to stream the rookie. He won't be a recommended start when the Vikings return from their bye in Week 13 against the Seattle Seahawks, but he remains a high-priority handcuff.

From RotoBaller

Brett Maher Nov 17 6:00pm ET

Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher made all of his kicks in Week 11, making two field goals and three extra points. He wasn't needed for any long kicks this time, making a long of just 34 yards, but he still showed the consistency that makes him one of the better kickers in fantasy football.

From RotoBaller

Isaiah McKenzie Nov 17 6:00pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie was second on the team in targets with six in Week 11. He had two more targets than Cole Beasley and only trailed John Brown, who had a whopping 14 targets in the game. Unfortunately, McKenzie did very little with his six targets, catching just three for 21 yards. Duke Williams was inactive for the game and Robert Foster went without a catch. So McKenzie appears to be the team's de facto No. 3 receiver for now. He can be left on waivers in all leagues until he shows he can do something productive with his workload.

From RotoBaller

Dallas Cowboys Nov 17 6:00pm ET

The Dallas Cowboys Defense was disappointing again in Week 11. They managed a win, 35-27 over the Detroit Lions, but with Matthew Stafford (back) out for the Lions, the Cowboys defense was one of the top predicted units of the week. Instead, they allowed 27 points and did not record an interception or a fumble recovery. They were only able to sack backup quarterback Jeff Driskel three times. The Cowboys are unlikely to be a recommended fantasy defense next week against the New England Patriots.

From RotoBaller

D.J. Chark Nov 17 6:00pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark was the bright spot for the Jaguars in Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, catching a pair of touchdowns and finishing with 104 yards on eight catches. He led the team with 15 targets. There was question about whether or not Chark would remain Jacksonville's top wide receiver with Nick Foles back, but Sunday provided some evidence that Chark's role is safe. He's a strong WR2 option moving forward.

From RotoBaller

Nick Foles Nov 17 5:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles returned on Sunday from a collarbone injury that had kept him out since Week 1. His first game back didn't go greats for the Jags on the scoreboard, but Foles did end up with some solid numbers. He was 33-for-47 throwing the football, finishing with 296 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Foles should have a higher fantasy ceiling than Gardner Minshew had, but he's likely no more than a mid-tier QB2 at best moving forward.

From RotoBaller

Jason Witten Nov 17 5:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten caught five passes in a Week 11 win over the Detroit Lions, gaining 33 yards. Witten did his usual thing, catching the ball then falling to the turf. Second tight end Blake Jarwin gained 38 yards on his two targets, but Witten was still clearly quarterback Dak Prescott's first choice for short gains. Witten will continue to be a low-ceiling option but should maintain his decent non-zero floor each week.

From RotoBaller

Cole Beasley Nov 17 5:50pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley caught all four of his targets in Week 11 against the Dolphins for 38 yards. He was third on the team in targets behind John Brown, who went for a whopping 137 receiving yards in the game, and Isaiah McKenzie, who earned six targets. This was the second straight week in which Beasley caught exactly four passes. He hasn't had more than four catches since Week 4, when he caught seven against the Patriots. He's a WR3 or flex option in PPR leagues but his upside is limited due to his low yardage outputs.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Fournette Nov 17 5:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette struggled to get going on Sunday against the Colts, finishing with just 23 yards on eight carries. He also added 34 receiving yards on seven catches. The receiving total helped make up for the slow rushing game in PPR leagues, but owners in standard scoring leagues can't be happy about Fournette's lack of production. The game script didn't favor the run, though Fournette should still be a high-end RB2 with RB1 upside moving forward.

From RotoBaller

Blake Jarwin Nov 17 5:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin was targeted twice in Week 11, catching both passes for 38 yards. He fell significantly behind starter Jason Witten, who saw seven targets and caught five passes. Jarwin can do way more after the catch than Witten at this point in their respective careers, but Witten has proven to still be the safety valve for Dak Prescott. Jarwin could have a fantasy significant role if Witten were to miss time, but unless that happens, Jarwin's role is too unpredictable to trust in any fantasy format.

From RotoBaller

Dalvin Cook Nov 17 5:50pm ET

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook carried 11 times for 26 yards (2.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown in Week 11 against the Denver Broncos. He tacked on five catches for 31 yards in the 27-23 comeback win, but he was just not that involved in the offense as his 16 touches were the lowest he's had all season. His three-yard rushing touchdown was his 11th of the year and it saved what was an otherwise nondescript fantasy day for the third-year back. Look for Cook to rebound in a big way against the Seattle Seahawks and their below-average run defense in Week 13 after the bye.

From RotoBaller

Michael Gallup Nov 17 5:40pm ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup caught nine of his 13 targets in a Week 11 victory over the Detroit Lions. He gained 1448 yards, leading the team in receptions and yards by a wide margin. Amari Cooper wasn't able to do much in this one, leaving Gallup to run wild through the Lions secondary. Gallup will have a tough matchup against the Patriots next week, but he's moving further and further up the WR2 ranks.

From RotoBaller

Randall Cobb Nov 17 5:40pm ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb played another great game in a Week 11 win over the Detroit Lions. He caught four of his seven targets, gaining 115 yards and scoring a touchdown. Cobb's touchdown came on a 19-yard pass at the end of the first half. Cobb has been racking up yards lately and could have another significant role next week if Amari Cooper is still not at 100%.

From RotoBaller

Frank Gore Nov 17 5:40pm ET

Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore received 11 carries in Week 11 against the Dolphins, but failed to do much with them, gaining just 27 yards, good for only 2.5 yards per carry. His biggest offensive contribution on the day was an 18-yard reception, his only reception in the game. Devin Singletary led the team in carries (15) and rushing yards (75), but he had two fumbles in the game, which likely led to Gore's increased workload. Gore is the clear No. 2 back on the team for now and would need either an injury to Singletary or quite a few more Singletary fumbles in order to regain fantasy value.

From RotoBaller

John Brown Nov 17 5:40pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brownwent wild against the Dolphins in Week 11, catching nine of his 14 targets for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Nearly half of quarterback Josh Allen's 33 passing attempts went in Brown's direction and no other Bill had more than 38 receiving yards in the game. Brown is a solid WR2 going forward who should be locked into your lineup on a weekly basis. His next matchup is at home against the Broncos in Week 12.

From RotoBaller