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FFL: Week 7 | NFL: Week 7

Vikings-Texans Preview

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Houston Texans running back David Johnson (31) gets past Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (23) to score a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook runs from Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Kamalei Correa (40) during a 39-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)


HOUSTON (AP) Dalvin Cook could be due for a big game Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings visit the Houston Texans in a matchup of winless teams.

Cook ranks third in the NFL in yards rushing after running for a career-high 181 yards last week in a loss to Tennessee. Houston (0-3) has the worst run defense in the NFL, allowing a whopping 188.3 yards rushing a game this season.

''It's a very, very difficult challenge,'' Houston coach Bill O'Brien said. ''We're going to have to do a good job of fundamental football. Setting the edge, playing good gap control and then tackling. If he gets into the secondary or gets around the edge, he's got great speed so you're going to have an issue.''

Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer has been impressed with Cook's work this season.

''Dalvin's great,'' Zimmer said. ''All backs are a little bit different, but I think Dalvin has such great feet. The way he can sliver through a hole, the way he can catch the ball. The way ... for a smaller size guy, he runs with power and determination. If he gets in the open field, he's a really tough, tough guy to get tackled.''

The Texans have not only had trouble stopping the run this year, they've also been unable to run the ball effectively. Houston ranks 31st in the NFL in yards rushing with just 66 a game. They had 118 yards rushing in their opener when David Johnson ran for 77 yards, but have managed just 80 yards combined in the past two games to tumble to the bottom of the league.

The Texans received Johnson in the trade with Arizona for DeAndre Hopkins and hoped he could get going to lead their running game this season after a tough year in 2019 when he managed just 345 yards rushing.

Instead he's been unable to do much of anything since the opener and averaged just 1.77 yards a carry last week as Houston failed to score after halftime in a 28-21 loss to the Steelers.

As these teams both search for their first win, players from Minnesota and Houston insist there isn't any panic, but instead a determination to do more to turn things around.

''You just get to work,'' Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said. ''This isn't the first time anybody on this team has faced adversity, so you just go right back to work, keep your head down and embrace the grind.''

Added Houston defensive end J.J. Watt: ''If whatever you're doing at the moment's not working, work harder. So, that's what I'm doing. That's what we're doing. We're looking forward to it paying dividends.''

INTERRUPTED ROUTINE

The Vikings had to close their facility on Tuesday and Wednesday after the Titans reported multiple positive tests for COVID-19, including players who played in the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. Instead of conducting a normal practice on Wednesday, typically the most important day of the week when specific aspects of game plan for the upcoming opponent are installed, coaches and players participated virtually from their homes. Just like in May and June when the virus outbreak prevented teams from gathering.

''We were able to communicate and really watch tape on our iPads. That wasn't too bad, honestly. Probably if we weren't able to do it in the spring, it would have been a lot more hectic than it was,'' Zimmer said. ''We're going to try and get in everything that we normally get in.''

FAMILIAR FACES

When the Vikings visit on Sunday, they'll bring with them the first two men who coached the Texans in senior defensive assistant Dom Capers and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Capers was the first coach in franchise history and coached the Texans for their first four years before he was let go after the 2005 season. Kubiak took over after Capers and remained with the team until he was fired after 13 games in 2013. O'Brien took over the next season after Wade Phillips finished out the 2013 season as interim coach.

''I think they probably need to get a picture of that, the three of us on the field at the same time on Sunday,'' O'Brien said.

Zimmer spoke at length about his affinity for all three men.

''In my opinion they've been very fortunate to have those three guys coaching for that franchise,'' Zimmer said.

JUSTIN TIME

The Vikings had 464 yards in their loss to Tennessee, nearly tripling their output from the 28-11 loss at Indianapolis on Sept. 20. Cook was again the catalyst with his huge game, but rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson gave the unit a vital boost with seven catches for 175 yards and a touchdown. The emergence of the first-round draft pick from LSU was just what Cousins needed - a dynamic complement to wide receiver Adam Thielen who can help keep defenses from selling out to stop Cook.

''It just shows the playmakers we have in this offense,'' Thielen said. We've talked about it all training camp, going into these first couple weeks of these season, talked about all these guys that can make plays. You kind of saw a glimpse of that on Sunday. We're going to continue to have guys step up and make plays in big situations.''

Player Notes
Tom Brady Oct 24 1:00am ET

The Las Vegas Raiders defense has been statistically one of the worst defenses in the league this season. They are averaging under two fantasy points per game and face an ascending Buccaneers offense this week. Tom Brady is currently fourth in the league in passing touchdowns, and this Tampa Bay offense is ascending after hanging 31 offensive points on Green Bay in Week 6. The Raiders rank 27th in scoring defense and 24th in yards allowed. There is nothing to suggest they will have a good performance this week and should be kept on the bench or dropped entirely.

From RotoBaller

Darren Waller Oct 24 12:40am ET

Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller has a tough test against the Buccaneers this week, but he should be able to produce a solid fantasy performance. Waller has been great at home this season, with 21 catches, 193 yards, and a touchdown in two games. The Buccaneers have one of the league's best defenses, but the Patriots are the only team to hold Waller under five catches so far this season. He currently ranks third in fantasy points per game among tight ends, and he leads the Raiders in targets. The Buccaneers rank sixth in the league against tight ends, but fantasy owners should feel comfortable starting him based on his performances so far this season.

From RotoBaller

Henry Ruggs III Oct 24 12:20am ET

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III will have a tough matchup against a good Buccaneers secondary in Week 7. Ruggs had a breakout performance in his last game against the Chiefs, but his value rests with the deep ball at this time. That is not great news considering the Buccaneers are one of the best defenses against the deep ball, ranking third in the league in allowing receptions of over 20 yards. He was able to get loose in the Chiefs secondary with a 72-yard reception in the first half but caught just one other pass the rest of the game. Ruggs' big-play potential makes him a fringe flex option in deeper leagues, but don't expect a lot of targets for the rookie this week.

From RotoBaller

Josh Jacobs Oct 24 12:10am ET

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will face one of the league's best run defenses this week in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are allowing just three yards per carry and rank second in the league in total rushing yards allowed. Jacobs is having a productive year and is certainly a must-start option, but he is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry on the season. Jacobs has just one game this season where he has rushed for over four yards per carry. With that being said, he is still seventh in points per game among running backs. It will not be an easy day for Jacobs, but fantasy owners should feel encouraged that he can put up a solid fantasy performance despite a difficult matchup.

From RotoBaller

Derek Carr Oct 24 12:00am ET

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will have one of his most difficult tests of the year against a great Buccaneers Defense. The Buccaneers defense has allowed just seven passing touchdowns and have grabbed eight interceptions in their six games this season. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 82 against this Todd Bowles defense. They confused Aaron Rodgers and made him uncomfortable, so this will not be an easy day for Carr. With that being said, Carr has thrown for almost 600 passing yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in two home games this season. The Raiders are coming off a bye, and Carr is having a career year. However, he is likely a bench option this week due to the matchup.

From RotoBaller

New Orleans Saints Oct 23 9:10pm ET

The New Orleans Saints Defense faces a middle-of-the-pack matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 7. It's a date with former Saint Teddy Bridgewater, who started five games for the team in 2019. New Orleans' defense is finally starting to get healthy after a rash of injuries, as they will get Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) back and essentially be at full strength. This unit may start to put together some good performances, starting with this week. They can be used as a starting option.

From RotoBaller

Wil Lutz Oct 23 9:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz faces a favorable matchup in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers. Lutz is perfect on the season, having made all nine field-goals and all 18 extra-points. Carolina ranks 22nd in fantasy points allowed to kickers, making this a juicy matchup for Lutz. Expect strong fantasy numbers from the 26-year-old.

From RotoBaller

Jared Cook Oct 23 8:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook could see more opportunities in Week 7 against the Panthers. Cook had one of his better games against the Chargers, catching two passes for 52 yards and a score. New Orleans is down two of it's best pass-catchers- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- heading into the contest against the Panthers. The veteran tight end should see more targets, making him a good start as a TE1 in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Carlos Hyde Oct 23 8:43pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde (shoulder, toe) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.

Fantasy Spin: Hyde will serve as the backup for Chris Carson but should see a handful of touches during the game. Fantasy players should be able to find better options and can keep Hyde on the bench.

From TheHuddle

Raheem Mostert Oct 23 8:43pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.

Fantasy Spin: Mostert is expected to miss multiple weeks because of the injury, so fantasy players should look for other options to use. Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty likely will share playing time while Mostert is sidelined. McKinnon probably has more fantasy value and can be a flex option in leagues. Hasty should be rostered in leagues and has a chance to be a flex option depending on the opponent.

From TheHuddle

Keenan Allen Oct 23 8:33pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen (back) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.

Fantasy Spin: Allen has been targeted at least eight times in four of the five games this season and seems to have a good connection with Justin Herbert. Allen can be considered a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

DeAndre Hopkins Oct 23 8:33pm ET

Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) was limited during practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is listed as questionable for Week 7.

Fantasy Spin: Hopkins likely will be able to play despite the injury, but fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his status. He is a must-start option in all leagues if he is active for the game.

From TheHuddle

Tre'Quan Smith Oct 23 8:30pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith faces a tricky matchup in Week 7 against the Panthers. However, matchup concerns are alleviated by the fact that New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Smith will be busy against a Panthers Defense that has surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to wideouts. With a good chance of finding the end zone, Smith is looking like a high-end WR3 in Week 7, despite the matchup.

From RotoBaller

Sammy Watkins Oct 23 8:23pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.

Fantasy Spin: Demarcus Robinson served as the No. 2 receiver for the Chiefs last week and probably will have a similar role this week. He can be a flex option or bye week replacement in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Alvin Kamara Oct 23 8:20pm ET

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara gets an excellent matchup against the Panthers Defense. Kamara has offered fantasy managers the safest floor of any running back, particularly in PPR formats, as he's had at least 19 fantasy points in every game this season. He'll go up against a Panthers defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing halfbacks. The Saints will probably go with a more run-heavy approach, seeing as their top-two wideouts- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- are out for the contest. Kamara is a must-start in redraft leagues and is well worth the price in DFS formats.

From RotoBaller

Latavius Murray Oct 23 8:20pm ET

New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray has a favorable matchup in front of him against the Panthers in Week 7. Murray has had at least 13 touches in three of five contests this season, with two of those games coming against teams that struggle to stop the run. New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) against the Panthers' 24th-ranked run defense. Murray is a good bet for 12-15 touches in Week 7, putting him squarely in the flex discussion.

From RotoBaller

Robert Woods Oct 23 8:13pm ET

Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods (groin) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.

Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to keep an eye on the situation to see if Woods will be able to play in Week 7. He can be a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues if he is cleared to play.

From TheHuddle

Tyler Higbee Oct 23 8:13pm ET

Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.

Fantasy Spin: Higbee probably will need to practice Saturday, Oct. 24, if he wants a chance to play in the Week 7 game. He is coming off his best game of the season and would see a few targets if he plays this week. He could be a low-end No. 1 tight end in some leagues.

From TheHuddle

Aaron Donald Oct 23 8:13pm ET

Los Angeles Rams OT Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) and DT Aaron Donald (non-injury) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23.

From TheHuddle

Drew Brees Oct 23 8:10pm ET

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees faces the Panthers in Week 7. Brees will face a sneakily-good Carolina defense without his top two receivers, Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Despite not having Thomas, Brees has thrown for at least 250 yards or two touchdowns in each game this season, giving fantasy managers a solid floor. The Panthers allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, limiting Brees' upside. However, he should be able to finish as a solid QB2 in Week 7.

From RotoBaller