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FFL: Week 7 | NFL: Week 7

Rams-Browns Preview

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Players: Drew Brees, Odell Beckham Jr., Malcolm Brown, Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold

In this Feb. 3, 2019, file photo, New England Patriots' Tom Brady (12) passes under pressure from Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald (99) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game in Atlanta. The Rams, the defending NFC champions, with an offense teeming with talent and defense led by incomparable star tackle Donald, will visit Cleveland in the Browns first nationally televised Sunday night game in 11 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)


CLEVELAND (AP) The Browns passed their first prime-time test. The second one won't be nearly as easy.

Here come Aaron Donald and those big, bad Los Angeles Rams.

The defending NFC champions, with an offense teeming with talent and defense led by incomparable star tackle Donald, will visit Cleveland in the Browns' first nationally televised Sunday night game in 11 years.

On Monday night, the Browns (1-1) bounced back from a dreadful 30-point loss in their season opener to Tennessee by bullying the New York Jets, who were already missing quarterback Sam Darnold when his replacement, Trevor Simiean, went down with a season-ending injury.

The uber-hyped Browns, who have gone from winless two years ago to somewhat overexposed in 2019, get a chance to see how they stack up to a legitimate Super Bowl contender, one fixated on winning an NFL title this season.

''It'll be a challenge and we'll be able to really measure where we're at as a team,'' said Browns guard Joel Bitonio. ''Now it's a true team, a true playoff team, a team that was in the Super Bowl, a team that we can see, `Hey, how are the Cleveland Browns this year?'''

It's hard to gauge them to this point. The Browns were undisciplined in Week 1, committing 18 penalties and allowing the Titans to score 28 unanswered points in the second half. Cleveland cleaned things up considerably against the Jets, but quarterback Baker Mayfield had his second straight shaky performance and the Browns suffered a couple major injuries that may force first-year coach Freddie Kitchens to play rookies in key spots.

That could help the Rams (2-0), not that they really need any.

Quarterback Jared Goff and the Los Angeles offense have had some issues, but Donald and the rest of the defense are playing at a high level already. They shut down New Orleans last week, helped by Donald inadvertently sidelining Saints quarterback Drew Brees with a thumb injury.

Browns star Odell Beckham Jr. said Donald will have everyone's attention.

''There's no way to even go around him,'' said Beckham. ''He's probably the best player in the league. If not the best player in the league, one of the most disruptive players I've ever seen. So, yeah, No. 99 has to be accounted for. The game plan starts right there. They have a lot of other stars, a lot of very, very talented, great players, but it starts with 99.

''So we have to get that handled, and we're going to be tested in every position.''

DONALD, DUCK

The two-time AP Defensive Player of the Year, Donald has no sacks and just two tackles through two games. The numbers are deceiving as teams are scheming to stay clear of Donald. The Browns will probably do the same.

''Everybody is sliding to him,'' defensive end Michael Brockers said. ''He's going to get a lot of attention, and that's what's happening now. It's leaving a lot of opportunities for other guys to make plays. As the season goes on, they're going to have to pick their poison on which guys to block, and that's when it's going to get really fun.''

It didn't get fun for Donald until Week 4 last year. He have record a sack in his first three games and still finished with 20 1/2.

THROW IT

Mayfield has been guilty of holding onto the ball too long, and not taking advantage of receivers being open while trying to complete long passes.

He's still getting into a rhythm with Beckham, who sat out the preseason but showed why he's elite on Monday by scoring on an 89-yard play.

''It's a learning curve,'' said Mayfield, who while not as accurate as usual has still completed 60 percent of his throws. ''Needing to know when I can take my shots and check the ball down to get completions. It's a little difficult at times but, like I keep harping on, I just need to get completions.''

LINE WORRIES

The Browns could exploit inexperience up front for the Rams, who are likely to have three untested starters on their offensive line.

Right guard Austin Blythe is unlikely to play due to a left ankle sprain. If he becomes the first starting offensive lineman to miss a game due to injury in McVay's tenure, sixth-round pick Jamil Demby is expected to make his first start alongside fellow 2018 draft choices Brian Allen at center and Joe Noteboom at left guard.

Allen and Noteboom will be making their third career starts. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right tackle Rob Havenstein haven't been spectacular so far this season, either.

GURLEY GOES

Rams running back Todd Gurley has fond memories of the team's last meeting with the Browns: Gurley scored his first two NFL touchdowns against Cleveland during a 128-yard performance as a rookie in St. Louis in 2015.

Gurley is a quiet ninth in the league this season with 160 yards rushing on 30 attempts. Backup Malcolm Brown has 17 carries as the Rams attempt to lessen the load on Gurley, who leads the NFL in yards rushing since the start of the 2017 season. Gurley has insisted his knee is fine and he's ready for any workload.

Player Notes
Vic Beasley Oct 18 5:10pm ET

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley has been put on the trade block with the deadline approaching, according to a league source. The former first-round pick is making $12.8 million this year and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The 27-year-old had a career-high 15.5 sacks in 2016 but had a combined 10 sacks the following two seasons as the Falcons moved him around. He has 12 total tackles and 1.5 sacks through six games in 2019. He's off the IDP radar for now, but he could become more attractive if he lands in the right spot.

From RotoBaller

Jeremy Sprinkle Oct 18 5:00pm ET

Washington Redskins tight end Jeremy Sprinkle will be the starter for the third consecutive week with Vernon Davis having once again been ruled out and Jordan Reed's entire career up in the air. The Redskins are the only team, real or otherwise, that he should start for this week. The 49ers are allowing fewer than four catches per game to tight ends, and Sprinkle has caught a total of four in his two weeks as the starter. There isn't much else to say. Sprinkle isn't relevant on his own bad team, so he is thereby a player to ignore in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Paul Richardson Oct 18 4:50pm ET

Washington Redskins wide receiver Paul Richardson hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3, has caught three or fewer passes in four of six games, and has broken 40 receiving yards just once. His next opponent is a 49ers Defense that is certain to highlight all of those shortcomings for another week, as they have allowed opposing wideouts to catch an average of nine passes a game. Terry McLaurin figures to see over half of that average on his own, leaving little else for Richardson or any other Washington pass-catcher.

From RotoBaller

Josh Gordon Oct 18 4:50pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon (ankle, knee) missed a second straight practice on Friday. Tight ends Ryan Izzo (concussion) and Matt LaCosse (knee) also sat out. Gordon looks unlikely to play on Monday night against the Jets, so fantasy owners should make plans to be without him. If that's the case, it's likely that Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett will be the team's top two receivers in a good matchup against Gang Green. Dorsett has sneaky flex and DFS appeal after missing last Thursday's game. LaCosse is out multiple weeks and Izzo is in danger of sitting out Monday, leaving the Pats dangerously thin at tight end. It's why they re-signed veteran Benjamin Watson earlier this week.

From RotoBaller

Trey Quinn Oct 18 4:50pm ET

Washington Redskins wide receiver Trey Quinn looked like he might be on the brink of carving out a PPR-relevant role for himself early in the season, hauling in 13 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown in his first three games. Since then, he has seven catches for 36 yards. Even the return of Case Keenum in Week 6 against an atrocious Dolphins team wasn't enough to bring Quinn back up, as he failed to eclipse even 10 receiving yards in his team's most inviting matchup to date. Now he'll have to deal with a 49ers secondary allowing opposing WRs to catch nine passes a game. Dynasty owners who are looking to tank the 2019 season for the number-one pick in their draft next year would be wise to start Quinn this week. For everyone else, stay away.

From RotoBaller

Terry McLaurin Oct 18 4:40pm ET

Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin has been his team's lone bright spot on offense in 2019, but he's about to face a 49ers Defense that has dimmed those bright spots on each and every one of its previous adversaries. The Niners create pressure on 33.9% of opponents' drop-backs, which is the second-best rate in the league. This will inevitably have Case Keenum scrambling for his life behind a shaky offensive line, in turn minimizing the amount of time he has to find his favorite target downfield. Only one quarterback has thrown for more than 200 yards in a game against San Francisco, and the 49ers haven't given up a touchdown pass in their last two games. McLaurin is a volume-based flex play at best in this matchup.

From RotoBaller

Deebo Samuel Oct 18 4:40pm ET

San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel (groin) has been ruled out for Week 7 against the Redskins. Samuel has been a little-used receiver in his rookie season in a run-first offense, so he belongs on the waiver wire in the majority of leagues. His absence is good news for both Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis, but the Niners probably won't have to rely on the passing game all that much against a poor Redskins team all around.

From RotoBaller

Washington Redskins Oct 18 4:20pm ET

The Washington Redskins Defense is allowing an average of 4.6 yards on opposing rushing attempts, and they're about to go up against a 49ers team that has attempted the second-most rushes in the league despite playing one fewer game than a majority of NFL teams. San Francisco's commitment to the run isn't just some stubborn refusal to diversify its game plan, either, as they're averaging 4.6 yards per carry. They've got two capable running backs in Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida, so there will always be a relatively fresh set of legs ready to rumble over what is sure to be a worn-out Washington front seven. The Redskins allow opponents to extend drives on 50.6% of third down opportunities, the second-worst mark in the league. Steer clear.

From RotoBaller

Tre'Quan Smith Oct 18 4:20pm ET

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (ankle), tight end Jared Cook (ankle) and wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (ankle) have all been ruled out for Week 7 against the Bears. Make sure to remove Kamara and Cook from your lineups now. With Kamara sidelined, backup Latavius Murray will be the backfield workhorse and will have RB2 value, albeit in a tough matchup on the road against Chicago. Josh Hill should see starting tight end duties, but he can be avoided in fantasy. No. 1 wideout Michael Thomas should be targeted heavily, but Chicago's superior defense will game plan to slow him down. The Bears Defense, already a weekly top play, just got more attractive in fantasy. Even with Smith out, fantasy owners shouldn't be banking on Ted Ginn.

From RotoBaller

Christian Kirk Oct 18 4:10pm ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (ankle) will be a game-time decision in Week 7 against the Giants. Kirk is cutting more often in practice but is not all the way back. He sounds on the wrong side of questionable in what is a great matchup for Arizona's receivers. If Kirk sits, it'll be his third straight absence. Larry Fitzgerald should see heavy targets and has WR2 upside this weekend, especially if Kirk is inactive. Damiere Byrd and rookie Keesean Johnson would also have expanded roles if Kirk is out, but they have been too inconsistent in this offense to be realistic starting options in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Malcolm Brown Oct 18 4:10pm ET

Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown (ankle) is doubtful for Week 7 against the Falcons. Todd Gurley (thigh) is expected to return from a one-game absence anyway, so Brown's fantasy appeal would've taken a hit anyway. With Brown unlikely to play, though, look for rookie Darrell Henderson to see his biggest workload of the season with Gurley likely to be scaled back. The Falcons have been generous to opposing running backs in 2019 as well, making Henderson a sneaky DFS pick and RB3/flex in deeper leagues.

From RotoBaller

Wendell Smallwood Oct 18 4:10pm ET

Washington Redskins running back Wendell Smallwood should see a season-high in touches in Week 7 with Chris Thompson out. The downside is that "season-high" could be defined by as few as seven touches, and the team he'll be taking them against is a 49ers Defense that has yet to allow a running back to cross the goal line. If Smallwood inherits the full share of Thompson's passing game workload, it is worth noting that Thompson was averaging seven targets per game in the five contests the Redskins lost. The Redskins are a two-score home underdog this Sunday, bringing about the potential for similar usage for Smallwood. Either way, this is not a player or matchup you should be targeting in fantasy lineups.

From RotoBaller

David Johnson Oct 18 4:00pm ET

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said that running back David Johnson (ankle) will be a game-time decision in Week 7 against the Giants. If the Cardinals had to play on Friday, Johnson would've been inactive. We thought there wouldn't be drama around Johnson's status this week with him getting in more practice work, but that won't be the case. Ultimately Johnson should be able to play in a mouthwatering matchup, but you'll need to check Sunday morning inactives just to be sure. DJ is a surefire RB1 if he plays. If he doesn't, backup Chase Edmonds would be a strong RB2 fill-in.

From RotoBaller

Todd Gurley Oct 18 4:00pm ET

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay expects running back Todd Gurley (thigh) and cornerback Jalen Ramsey (back) to play in Week 7 against the Falcons. Gurley missed last week's game but should be back on the field in an excellent matchup with the free-falling Falcons Defense. Gurley will be more of a low-end RB2 for this game and will be at risk of losing valuable snaps to both Malcolm Brown and rookie Darrell Henderson. But the good news is that fantasy owners should have Gurley back. Ramsey is set to make his debut with the Rams after coming over in a trade from Jacksonville. He's tentatively expected to match up with Falcons top wideout Julio Jones on the outside. It's a downgrade for Jones in fantasy, but he should still be a must-start in all leagues. Avoid the Rams Defense as a streaming option in fantasy this week.

From RotoBaller

Vernon Davis Oct 18 3:40pm ET

Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis (concussion) was limited in practice all week but has been ruled out for Week 7 against the 49ers. Davis is recovering from his head injury but just couldn't get cleared in time. With Jordan Reed (concussion) on Injured Reserve, Jeremy Sprinkle will continue to start for the 'Skins. He's an unattractive TE2, though, having caught just four passes for 41 yards in the last two weeks with Davis banged up. You can't really trust any pass-catcher outside of rookie Terry McLaurin in this dysfunctional offense.

From RotoBaller

Tyrell Williams Oct 18 3:30pm ET

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams (foot) has officially been ruled out for Week 7 against the Packers. Williams is dealing with plantar fasciitis and should be considered week-to-week at this point. In his absence, it'll be Hunter Renfrow, Zay Jones, Keelan Doss and Trevor Davis battling for targets in a tough matchup on the road against the Packers. Expect the Raiders offense to continue to function through rookie running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller, making all of the Raiders receivers low-upside WR4/5 options.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Kroft Oct 18 3:20pm ET

Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft (ankle) practiced in full all week and was left off the final injury report for Week 7 against the Dolphins. Kroft is set to make his season debut this Sunday. The matchup is a great one against the winless Dolphins, but fantasy owners can't expect much of Kroft right away, and he could split snaps with rookie Dawson Knox. Kroft is off the fantasy radar for now, even for those desperate at the position. His return is undoubtedly bad news for Knox owners, though.

From RotoBaller

Taylor Gabriel Oct 18 3:10pm ET

Chicago Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion) practiced in full all week and was taken off the final injury report for Week 7 against the Saints. The last time Gabriel played, he caught three first-half touchdowns before suffering a head injury. He'll be back in the fold this weekend but shouldn't be in many team's starting lineups against a Saints Defense that has actually limited opponent's passing games quite well so far this year. Gabriel's three-score game the last time he played was an outlier.

From RotoBaller

New Orleans Saints Oct 18 3:10pm ET

The New Orleans Saints Defense gets a good matchup in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears. New Orleans ranks 11th in the NFL in points allowed and seventh in sacks. They'll take on a Bears offense that ranks 26th in scoring and will likely get injured quarterback Mitch Trubisky back on the field. Trubisky struggled with accuracy at times when he was healthy this season, so the Saints' defense has the potential to generate turnovers. Whether it's Trubisky or backup Chase Daniel, the Saints should be able to get several sacks and an interception or two in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Chris Thompson Oct 18 3:10pm ET

Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (toe) has officially been ruled out for Week 7 against the 49ers. Thompson is dealing with turf toe, so he could also wind up missing Week 8 and potentially beyond. It means that Adrian Peterson will handle the early downs, with Wendell Smallwood chipping in on passing downs. However, neither running back is a good fantasy weapon against a 49ers Defense that has yet to allow a rushing or receiving touchdown to a running back this year. Smallwood should be faded in deep PPR leagues, even if you're desperate.

From RotoBaller