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.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller has strung together three underwhelming outings, but he will look to right the ship in Week 11 versus the Bengals. The 26-year-old has caught just seven passes over the last three weeks after averaging over seven receptions a game through the team's first six games. Teams have begun to shadow the 6'6" pass-catcher in recent weeks, but that hasn't stopped Derek Carr from peppering him with 15 targets in this span. Waller has an excellent chance to redeem himself versus a Cincinnati team who has been vulnerable on defense and are coming off a game where they allowed two touchdowns to Ravens tight end Mark Andrews in Week 10. Waller is a firm TE1 this week as he looks to get back in his high-volume groove from the season's first half.
After a couple of down weeks, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams will look to rebound in a great matchup versus the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals Defense is susceptible to the passing game, and it's looking likely that their top cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick will be sidelined once again. This is terrific news for Williams, who began the year collecting a TD pass in each of his first five games, although he's yet to find paydirt in his last two outings. The 27-year-old has still seen plenty of opportunities in these games as he's sitting second on the team in targets with nine as the team's WR1. His high-volume role should continue this Sunday, although the offense could lean more on the run game if they get out to an early lead. Williams should be treated as a WR3 in Week 11 with a decent shot at finding the end zone.
With all of his competition for touches being either traded or suspended, Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage did little to impress in last week's 16-12 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Rushing for only 43 yards on 20 carries, and having rushed for only 113 yards on the season, Ballage has been a complete disappointment this year but will get an easier matchup in Week 10, as their opponent, the Buffalo Bills, have given up the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs in 2019. Ballage should continue to get a high volume of touches - with his only competition coming from Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin - but he is still struggling to gain yards after first contact and is running behind one of the league's worst offensive lines. Even facing a Buffalo defense that struggles to stop the run, Ballage is no better than an RB3 this week, carrying a floor of zero and little upside. Leave him on your bench if at all possible, until Ballage proves he can contribute in a meaningful way.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker is the most talented man left standing in the receiving corps but will face an uphill battle in Week 10, with the Buffalo Bills coming into town. Led by shutdown corner TreDavious White, the Bills secondary has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, trailing only the New England Patriots. With teammate Preston Williams out for the season following knee surgery, Parker is clearly quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's favorite target, with his 10 targets leading the Dolphins last week in their 16-12 win over the Indianapolis Colts. While the speedy wideout has a touchdown in four of his last six games and should get close to double-digit targets every week, Parker might also be shadowed by the aforementioned White in Week 10, limiting his ceiling and dropping his floor down to zero. Avoid starting him this week but don't sleep on Parker in the future, as three of his next four opponents are in the bottom-six in points allowed to receivers.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (knee) and wide receiver Dante Pettis (back) were both limited in practice on Thursday. Mostert has been limited all week but should play and serve as Tevin Coleman's backup in Week 11 against the Cardinals with Matt Breida expected to miss one to two weeks. Mostert will have some flex appeal in deeper leagues in a good matchup with Arizona. Pettis was added to the injury report on Thursday. The 24-year-old has been an utter disaster this year in San Fran's run-first offense, and he could continue to see his role shrink after going catchless on three targets last week. Even if Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) is inactive on Sunday, there are way better options in fantasy than Pettis.
Chicago Bears rookie running back David Montgomery (ankle) and tight ends Trey Burton (calf) and Adam Shaheen (foot) missed practice on Thursday. Montgomery rolled his ankle in practice on Wednesday and could wind up as questionable for Sunday night against the Rams. That will obviously pose a big headache for fantasy owners, but Montgomery is a shaky low-end RB2 even if he does play against an LA defensive front that has been stingy against the run. If he can't get the green light, Tarik Cohen would have RB2 upside. The tight end position has been a fantasy wasteland in Chicago, so Ben Braunecker wouldn't even be appealing if both Burton and Shaheen were inactive Sunday night.
Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway is reportedly appealing a 10-game suspension that the NFL handed down earlier in the season. He tested positive for a banned substance after using a CBD edible product in the summer to deal with an ankle injury. Callaway has had several drug-related incidents since declaring for the NFL draft, including a positive test at the combine and a four-game suspension to begin the 2019 season. Cleveland finally gave up on Callaway on Thursday, waiving the former fourth-round draft pick while citing that the receiver had "too many issues." Callaway's appeal with the NFL was heard on Friday and he is still awaiting the NFL's final decision.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) remains out of practice on Thursday. Green suffered a setback due to swelling in his ankle last week and remains without a timetable to return. He was getting close to making his season debut, but he now appears unlikely to play in Week 11 against the Raiders. At this point, Green could be put on season-ending Injured Reserve. He's not a lock to help your fantasy team before or during the playoffs, and even if he does return, his upside will be limited on a winless Bengals squad with rookie Ryan Finley at quarterback. Cincy will continue to roll with Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate and Alex Erickson in three-wide sets.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson (back) returned to a limited practice on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. Even with A.J. Green (ankle) unlikely to return this weekend, Erickson isn't a recommended fantasy starter in any league as the No. 3 receiver on a winless Bengals team with rookie quarterback Ryan Finley under center. Erickson missed both of his two targets in Week 10 with Finley throwing him the ball. He had a blowup on Oct. 20 against the Jaguars when he went for 137 yards on eight catches, but that was clearly an outlier. You can avoid Erickson unless you're truly desperate.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said he expects tight ends Gerald Everett (wrist) and Tyler Higbee (knee) to play on Sunday night against the Bears in Week 11. Everett has had a breakout season in 2019 and has become the preferred pass-catching tight end over Higbee. With Brandin Cooks (concussion) out at least another week, Everett has TE1 appeal this weekend, even in a tough matchup with the Bears Defense looming. Unless Everett gets hurt and misses time, Higbee can be left on the waiver wire in redraft leagues.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (ankle, knee) returned to a limited practice on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. He should do more in practice on Friday and remains on track to play in Week 11 against the Lions. Cooper has battled through several injuries this year but has remained one of the most consistently productive receivers in the NFL. He'll be a high-end WR1 against a Lions secondary that has been one of the most generous units in the league against opposing wide receivers. Cooper is a must-start.
In a surprise move, the Cleveland Browns announced that they waived wide receiver Antonio Callaway on Thursday. Callaway was suspended ahead of the team's Week 10 matchup against the Buffalo Bills for arriving late but he was expected to return for Thursday night's showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead, Callaway didn't respond well to the benching, prompting Cleveland to release the 2018 fourth-round draft pick. The Browns will move forward with Rashard Higgins as their No. 3 receiver. Callaway should catch on somewhere as he is regarded as a talented player but he might have to settle for a practice squad spot. Offensive lineman Drew Forbes was activated off of injured reserve to take Callaway's roster spot.
The Pittsburgh Steelers placed wide receiver Ryan Switzer (back) and fullback Roosevelt Nix (knee) on Injured Reserve on Thursday. Switzer injured his back in the Week 10 win over the Rams. In corresponding moves, receiver Tevin Jones and linebacker Jayrone Elliott were added to the active roster. Switzer was more of a special teams guy and had only eight receptions on 11 targets for 27 yards in three games for the Steelers this year. He wasn't even on the fantasy map to begin with.
Washington Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan said that moving rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin around more could help get him out of his slump. The impressive rookie is versatile and capable of moving to different spots in the formation. The 24-year-old hasn't found the end zone since Oct. 13 against the Dolphins (twice that day), but it's mainly the team's offense and the quarterback situation holding him back. It hasn't helped matters that rookie Dwayne Haskins is now in charge. The matchup against the Jets couldn't be any better, but McLaurin is still more of a boom-or-bust WR3 for fantasy owners. He has nine catches in the last three games.
Washington Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan said that running back Adrian Peterson was rested in practice on Thursday, and he'll be fine for Week 11 against the Jets. The 34-year-old has been the bell-cow back since Callahan took over, and he's seen at least 18 carries in three of the last four games, so rest is certainly in order coming out of the bye week. Peterson's floor has been higher in recent weeks, but that will change with Derrius Guice (knee) returning this Sunday to an expected big workload. AD will still have a role, but he's back to being a low-upside RB3/flex in deeper leagues.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (hand) is expected to be activated from the Injured Reserve this week to play in Week 11 against the Vikings. Cornerback Bryce Callahan (foot) is expected to go on IR in a corresponding move. Patrick came on strong at the end of last year after the Broncos traded Demaryius Thomas, but that's unlikely to happen again to close the 2019 season with either inexperienced quarterback Brandon Allen or rookie Drew Lock at the helm. Denver's low-upside offense just can't really support another fantasy relevant receiver behind Courtland Sutton right now. Patrick is only a stash candidate in dynasty leagues.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle, knee), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and kicker Robbie Gould (quadriceps) all missed practice for the second straight day this week on Thursday. It's looking like Kittle and Gould will miss their second straight game, while Sanders is doubtful after injuring his ribs on Monday night. Even in a great matchup, it'll make quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo one to fade if he's missing his top receiving targets. Rookie Deebo Samuel will have WR2 upside if both Kittle and Sanders sit out. We wouldn't recommend backup tight end Ross Dwelley or kicker Chase McLaughlin as deep league streamers.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said that wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) has a chance to play in Week 11 against the Broncos despite the fact that he hasn't practiced yet this week. We'll believe it if Thielen returns to practice on Friday, but even then he'll likely be a long shot, especially with the chance to rest up even more during the Week 12 bye. If you own Thielen, you should be expecting him to sit again this weekend. Stefon Diggs has been shut down the last two weeks with Thielen hobbled, and that could continue this Sunday against Chris Harris Jr. and company. Olabisi Johnson is second on the depth chart, but he's a dice roll for fantasy production behind Diggs.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense eliminated any doubts about their weekly fixture in fantasy lineups by recording five sacks, four turnovers and one touchdown against the vaunted Seattle Seahawks in Week 10. Theyre pitted against another division rival in Week 11 versus the Arizona Cardinals. Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray surprisingly diced up the Niners in their Week 9 matchup, limiting the defense to their only turnover-free game of 2019. Even with Murrays ascension, the season-long havoc the Niners have wreaked make them a must-start. With the leagues best pass rush and Arizonas porous offensive line, fire up the unit with confidence.
The moment could be now for San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel. With tight end George Kittle (knee, ankle) and wideout Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) banged up in Week 10, Samuel drew a season-high 11 targets, converting them into eight grabs and 112 yards. With both Kittle and Sanders likely to miss Week 11s tilt against the Arizona Cardinals, Samuel is a plug-and-play WR3. Samuel possesses an intriguing speed and burst combination in the 80th percentile and ranks ninth in the NFL with an 86 percent catchable target rate. Although hes battled consistency this season, Samuel has a golden opportunity to embrace the lead dog role against a Cardinals pass defense ranked 26th in DVOA.