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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Cold Plays: Week 2
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III has more upside as an RB2 this weekend against the Steelers with teammate Phillip Lindsay (toe) week-to-week with turf toe. The matchup is a daunting one, though, as the Steelers Defense held Saquon Barkley in check (15 carries for six yards) in Week 1. But the extra touches that Gordon should receive on Sunday push him from a flex play to more of a low-end RB2. Royce Freeman should help spell Gordon when he needs a breather. In his first game with Denver, the 27-year-old had 86 total yards and a touchdown on 18 touches, but he also had a costly lost fumble in the first half. Gordon had 18 yards in eight carries against Pittsburgh last year while with the Chargers.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring) has been officially ruled out for Week 2 against the Packers. Golladay will miss his second straight game to open the season, but hopefully his fantasy managers will be able to put him into their lineups for Week 3. The Lions will use three-wide sets of Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola and rookie Quintez Cephus against their division rivals on Sunday. Jones will be a high-end WR3 and Amendola will be in flex consideration in DFS and deeper leagues. Tight end T.J. Hockenson will be intriguing with some TE1 upside with Golladay out again.
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock faces a stiff test in Week 2 on the road against the Steelers Defense. The 23-year-old second-year signal-caller had his ups and downs in the Week 1 Monday night loss to the Titans. His mobility and arm strength were on display, but he was hurt by some drops and overthrows and he also fumbled the ball twice but recovered. His final line was 22-for-33 for 216 yards and one touchdown. Lock should get both Courtland Sutton (shoulder) and rookie K.J. Hamler (hamstring) back for this one, but the matchup is too tough to consider him as anything more than a low-end QB2 in leagues that start two quarterbacks.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) was not present at practice on Friday for the second straight day. There were reports that Thomas "felt fantastic" at practice on Thursday, and there is a "glimmer of hope" that he can play in Week 2 on Monday night against the Raiders, but it's a long shot, at best. The All-Pro receiver is dealing with a high ankle sprain, which can keep players out up to a month or more. The 27-year-old is known as a quick healer and wants to get back out there as soon as possible, but fantasy managers need to keep realistic expectations. You should be planning to be without Thomas this week. Both Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook should have heavy target shares with Thomas likely out.
Chicago Bears linebackers Khalil Mack (knee) and Robert Quinn (ankle) are both questionable to play in Week 2 against the Giants. Mack was also questionable for the season opener against the Lions, but he played and was quiet with just four combined tackles. Quinn missed Week 1 with Chicago after a big season with the Cowboys. The Bears are counting on the combination of Mack and Quinn to be a big pass-rushing force this year, so if they both sit out, it'll be excellent news for Daniel Jones and the Giants passing attack. Chicago's defense/special teams should be considered a midrange starting unit in fantasy, but they'll lose a little luster if one or both of Mack and Quinn are ruled out.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (ankle) practiced in full the last two days and was taken off the Week 2 injury report. Conner will be active this Sunday against the Broncos, but he might play second fiddle to Benny Snell Jr. after Snell replaced the injured Conner in Week 1 against the Giants and ran for over 100 yards on the ground. Conner couldn't stay healthy last year as the team's lead back, so perhaps this will become more of a backfield committee in 2020 to preserve Conner's health. Snell is probably the more attractive RB3/flex this week, but both running backs are hard to trust because of the uncertain playing time split.
New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Bears. Tate sat out in Week 1 against the Steelers, but he was much more active in practice on Friday than he was last week. Even if the 32-year-old plays this weekend, there are likely better flex options you can plug into your fantasy lineups. If he doesn't play for the second straight week, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and tight end Evan Engram would all stand to benefit from extra targets in the passing game. Slayton was the biggest beneficiary in Week 1, hauling in two touchdowns.
The Carolina Panthers Defense has ruled out defensive tackle Kawann Short (foot) and rookie defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (concussion) for Week 2 against the Buccaneers. A shaky Panthers defense that allowed over 30 points to the Raiders in Week 1 will be hoping that rookie defensive tackle Derrick Brown can step up against their division rivals on Sunday. Already at the bottom of the pile for fantasy defenses, Carolina should be avoided like the plague this weekend against Tom Brady and the Bucs, who are looking for their first win of the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (hamstring) practiced in full on Friday and was taken off the Week 2 injury report. Evans will be good to go against the division-rival Panthers. The 27-year-old should draw the coverage of cornerback Donte Jackson, but he's good enough to put up points, and he should be targeted even more by cornerback Tom Brady with Chris Godwin (concussion) doubtful to play. Evans had a quiet Week 1 but still managed to find the end zone to salvage his day. With Godwin likely out, Evans will be a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 this Sunday.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Bills. Parker is in line to be a game-time decision on Sunday morning, but fantasy managers will know well in advance of the early games whether Parker will be able to play. The 27-year-old was able to get in three practices this week, so that bodes well for his availability. However, Parker will be a risky flex option for fantasy managers if he plays, since he'll likely be covered by Bills All-Pro cornerback Tre'Davious White. Preston Williams, Miami's No. 2 wideout, would be more attractive as a flex if Parker suits up. Otherwise, he'll likely draw the coverage of White in this one.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich said that tight end Jack Doyle (ankle, knee) is out for Week 2 against the Vikings. Doyle missed practice all week and will give way to Mo Alie-Cox as the team's starting tight end with Trey Burton already on Injured Reserve. Alie-Cox is a low-end TE2 to begin with, but on top of it, the Vikings were the best against opposing tight ends in 2019. When healthy, the 30-year-old Doyle is a low-ceiling TE2 in a Colts offense with plenty of mouths to feed, even after Marlon Mack's (Achilles) season-ending injury. He went for 49 yards in the season-opening loss to the Jaguars.
Veteran running back C.J. Anderson announced his retirement from football on Friday at the age of 29. Anderson went to the Pro Bowl in 2014 and won a Super Bowl with the Broncos in 2015 after being an undrafted free agent. He plans to pursue a career in coaching. Anderson managed 10 total touchdowns in 2014, and he also ran for 1,007 yards and three touchdowns in 2017 in his final full season with the Broncos. He'll finish his career with 776 carries for 3,497 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground while catching 108 passes for 900 yards and five additional scores.
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said that wide receiver A.J. Brown (knee) will not play in Week 2 against the Jaguars. Brown is dealing with a bone bruise in his knee and is listed as week-to-week. Make sure you remove the second-year receiver from your starting lineups this weekend. Corey Davis, who surprisingly caught seven of eight targets for 101 yards in the Week 1 win over the Broncos, should see a healthy amount of targets once again with Brown out. Consider him in the picture as a WR3/flex. Adam Humphries and Kalif Raymond should comprise three-wide sets on Sunday, with Humphries being a sleeper in DFS. Tight end Jonnu Smith has TE1 upside with Brown out.
Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) hasn't practiced all week due to a neck injury, and a decision will be made on his availability for Week 2 against the Falcons on Saturday. Head coach Mike McCarthy said that Smith wants to play. This is something to monitor since the Cowboys already have offensive lineman La'el Collins and Cam Erving on Injured Reserve. Losing Smith against Atlanta would be another big blow to their offensive line and could be bad news for quarterback Dak Prescott's protection this Sunday. Terence Steele would likely step in on Prescott's blind side if Smith doesn't get clearance.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said that wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) has been dealing with a hamstring injury for a couple of weeks, but he added that "my concern level is low" for the injury impacting Jones' play. The 31-year-old veteran All-Pro often deals with nagging injuries but has managed to play through them and remain productive in Atlanta's offense. Jones caught nine of his 12 targets for 157 yards in the Week 1 loss to the Seahawks. He has been limited this week with the hamstring injury, but he should be just fine to suit up this Sunday against Dallas. Jones is an elite WR1 that is a must-start if he's active.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (hamstring) is expected to play in Week 2 against the Rams after sitting out the season opener. Sanders practiced in full on Thursday and should make his season debut as the team's bell-cow back this weekend. Against a Rams Defense that gave up plenty of yardage on the ground against the Cowboys in Week 1, fantasy managers should consider Sanders a strong RB2 this weekend. In other injury news, defensive end Derek Barnett (hamstring) is also expected to play after practicing in full on Thursday. Undrafted rookie Nate Herbig will start at right guard, according to head coach Doug Pederson.
Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia said that wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring) will be "very limited" in practice on Friday. Golladay missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday and is in real danger of missing his second straight game to kick off the 2020 season. Detroit's No. 1 receiver is on the wrong side of questionable for Sunday against the Packers, and you might even say he's doubtful at this point. You should be preparing for him to miss another game. Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola and rookie Quintez Cephus should operate in three-receiver sets, with tight end T.J. Hockenson seeing more targets if Golladay sits again.
Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (concussion) practiced Friday, Sept. 18, but still has not cleared the league's concussion protocol and will be listed as doubtful for the Week 2 game against the Carolina Panthers. Godwin is scheduled to go through more tests tomorrow and if doctors clear him then, he will be upgraded to questionable.
Fantasy Spin: Godwin owners are likely going to need to monitor the situation right up through the release of the pre-game inactive list Sunday.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner (ankle) said Friday, Sept. 18, that things are 'definitely trending in the right direction' for Week 2 after practicing Wednesday and Thursday.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy GMs will definitely to check his practice status later Friday, but things are surprisingly looking up for Conner following his early-game Week 1 injury. Have him ready for a RB2 role if he proves good to go.