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Week 7 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”


QUARTERBACK

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Matt Ryan (@ NE)

The overall QB25 through six weeks with just over 12 fantasy points per game, Matt Ryan has been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments so far this season. He’s thrown as many touchdowns as he has interceptions, and has yet to score more than 17 fantasy points in a game. All that said, he should light up the Patriots in a Super Bowl LI rematch on Sunday Night Football, as New England is allowing the most fantasy points to the quarterback position and could be without Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe again. Matty Ice is only behind Tom Brady in our Week 7 rankings.

 

Thumbs Up: Marcus Mariota (@ CLE)

New England is allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but the Browns aren’t far behind. Despite a relatively soft schedule against Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Jacoby Brissett, Andy Dalton, Josh McCown, and Deshaun Watson, Cleveland has allowed the second-most points per game to the position. With a confident Marcus Mariota coming to town, they should get shredded again. Mariota is a high-upside QB1.

 

Thumbs Up: Brett Hundley (v NO)

A fifth-round pick out of UCLA in 2015, Brett Hundley could be the Packers’ starter for the rest of the season depending on the health of Aaron Rodgers after he broke his collarbone last week. Many people—like they typically do unfortunately—will see Hundley’s stats from last week’s loss to Minnesota and think that he’s not good. That’s wrong. I thought Hundley should have been a second-round pick in the draft when he came out, as he has the arm, mental makeup, and athleticism to be a successful NFL starter. He is a streaming option as soon as this week with a great wideout group and a full week of preparation for a potential home shootout.

 

Thumbs Up: Tyrod Taylor (v TB)

Tyrod Taylor doesn’t have any big-time weapons or a quarterback-friendly offense, but he’s an underrated player that produces anyway. This week, the Bills come off a bye to face a Tampa Bay team that is in the bottom five of all major pass-defense statistics. Tyrod should have no problem increasing his 182 passing yards per game this season, and his ability as a runner (seven rushing attempts in four-of-five games) boosts his fantasy value. There are others with more upside, but Taylor’s floor makes him a solid streaming option.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Russell Wilson (@ NYG)

Wilson is 2-0 against New York in his career, but the Giants have given him issues as a passer, as they’ve held the Seahawks quarterback to 189 yards per game and a 1:3 touchdown-interception ratio, and those games came in 2013 and 2014. Now, the Giants are even better defensively, and they will have Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie back from his one-game, team-imposed suspension. Playing on the road, I’d bench Wilson this week.

 

Thumbs Down: Ben Roethlisberger (v CIN)

Pittsburgh re-establishing their commitment to Le’Veon Bell and the running game allowed them to upset the Chiefs in Arrowhead last Sunday, and they should stick with that strategy against Cincinnati. Putting less on Big Ben’s shoulders makes him more efficient, but it also means he probably needs a play-action shot—or a lucky bounce like last week—to be worth starting. At home this decade against the Bengals, Roethlisberger is averaging just 12.7 fantasy points per game, so the comforts of Heinz Field haven’t helped him.

 

Thumbs Down: Derek Carr (v KC)

This week has a lot of really good players that struggle against a particular team for whatever reason, and Derek Carr is one of them. Carr is just 1-5 against Kansas City, and he’s completed just 55% of his passes for 202.5 yards per game with a 6:5 touchdown-interception ratio. Thursday Night Football seems to be the most unpredictable game every week, so maybe the Oakland offense will finally click, but I have Carr outside my top-15.

 

Thumbs Down: Jameis Winston (@ BUF)

If Winston is able to go this week with an injured throwing shoulder, he needs to stay far away from fantasy lineups. First of all, there’s the risk of an in-game benching like what happened to Sam Bradford two weeks ago. Even if he was 100% healthy, the Bills have the NFL’s top scoring defense, and when he was defensive coordinator for the Panthers, Sean McDermott had Winston’s number (4:7 touchdown-interception ratio in four games). This year, Buffalo has allowed just two touchdowns passes and forced eight interceptions. Keep Jameis on the bench.

 

. . .

 

RUNNING BACK

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Adrian Peterson (@ LAR)

I definitely missed on AD last week, as I had him as a “Thumbs Down” because I thought he might take a week to learn the offense and blocking scheme, but he proved again why you never bet against Adrian Peterson. I did say, however, that I love the move for the rest of the season, especially this week against a Rams defense that’s allowing 4.8 yards per carry, nearly 140 rushing yards per game, and a league-high eight touchdowns on the ground. Peterson is back as a weekly RB1/RB2.

 

Thumbs Up: Tevin Coleman (@ NE)

I’ve had Coleman here almost every week, but he keeps producing, and I’ll probably keep him here until he rules the entire fantasy world. Atlanta’s “backup” is averaging a solid 9.0 fantasy points per game in standard leagues, which is more than LeSean McCoy, Jay Ajayi, and DeMarco Murray, and that’s without even having a signature breakaway play that we’ve seen before with his elite speed and acceleration. And I didn’t think it’d be the case, but he’s actually been better in PPR leagues as the team’s main pass-catching back. He’s a high-upside RB2 in the rematch with New England.

 

Thumbs Up: Ty Montgomery (v NO)

Aaron Rodgers’ injury is going to hurt all of the Green Bay fantasy options, but Montgomery might be impacted less so than the others. The converted receiver is the team’s most-trusted running back in pass protection, so he’ll be on the field more to protect Brett Hundley, and that will lead to more receiving opportunities (and rushing opportunities, too). The Saints are allowing the most receptions per game to opposing running backs in 2017, so that bodes well for Montgomery on Sunday. He’s a quality RB2 play that could climb back into the RB1 ranks if he holds off Aaron Jones.

 

Thumbs Up: Joe Mixon (@ PIT)

Overall, the Steelers have been stingy on defense so far this season, but their ability to stop the run is still a concern, as they are allowing a weak 4.7 yards per carry. The Bengals should attack their division rival on the ground this week, and second-round pick Joe Mixon needs to be featured if Cincinnati wants to get a win and climb right back in the AFC North race. The rookie had the bye week to get more comfortable behind his offensive line, and this will be his easiest matchup yet. Anyone that needs help at running back should trade for Mixon while they still can.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: DeMarco Murray (@ CLE)

Murray is playing better than his fantasy output suggests, but there are several concerns that make him a low-end RB2 or FLEX option in Week 7. For one, Derrick Henry is still around, and he just out-touched (19 carries to 12 carries) and outgained (131 rushing yards to 40 rushing yards) Murray against the Colts. That’s partly because the veteran is still dealing with an injured hamstring, but also because Henry is too good to keep off the field. Murray is also yet to have a game with at least 15 carries this season, so there’s significant risk against Cleveland’s underrated run defense (3.1 yards per carry allowed).

 

Thumbs Down: C.J. Anderson (@ LAC)

Anderson’s production has been extremely inconsistent in 2017, as he has three games with 21+ touches and two games with 10 or fewer touches. Last week was the low point with 17 yards on nine attempts, and Jamaal Charles was more efficient again with five carries for 19 yards. Plus, since returning from injury, second-year back Devontae Booker has been the team’s main receiving option out of the backfield. Perhaps most importantly, Cris Collinsworth said on the SNF broadcast that Vance Joseph actually thought Booker would win the starting job in training camp before his injury. Even heading into a great matchup, Anderson needs to be downgraded.

 

Thumbs Down: Orleans Darkwa (v SEA)

With a combined 29 carries for 186 yards (6.41 yards per carry) and a touchdown over the past two weeks, Orleans Darkwa has finally given New York some semblance of a running game, especially in Sunday night’s upset over the Broncos when he rushed 21 times for 117 yards against the NFL’s best run defense. I still think Wayne Gallman is the best running back on the roster, though, and Darkwa’s two-game stretch doesn’t seem likely to continue against Seattle. He remains a limited FLEX option for me.

 

Thumbs Down: Mike Gillislee (v ATL)

Through two weeks, Gillislee looked like he was going to pickup where LeGarrette Blount left off for New England last season, but the free-agent signing hasn’t scored since the second game of the season, isn’t involved at all in the passing game, and has been outplayed by Dion Lewis recently. Lewis has carried it 18 times for 105 yards over the past two games, and he’s even getting red zone carries at Gillislee’s expense. There’s always the chance he finds the end zone three times like he did in the season opener with another potentially high-scoring game in primetime, but I think Gillislee is just a touchdown-dependent FLEX in a crowded backfield.

 

. . .

 

WIDE RECEIVER

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Danny Amendola (v ATL)

Amendola’s clutch play in Super Bowl LI helped the Patriots capture their fifth Super Bowl ring, as he caught eight passes for 78 yards and a touchdown—plus a memorable two-point conversion to send the game to overtime—against the Falcons. This Sunday night, he will be playing more than he did last February, as Amendola is in Julian Edelman’s old role, and Edelman caught five passes for 87 yards in the big game. New England was obviously playing from behind, but Amendola and Edelman combined for 24 targets in the thrilling victory, so the slot receiver should approach 10-15 targets as Tom Brady attacks underneath against the same Atlanta defense. He’s a WR2 in standard leagues and an excellent PPR play in Week 7.

 

Thumbs Up: Tyreek Hill (@ OAK)

I still think Hill is more of an offensive weapon than a wide receiver, but he’s undoubtedly an elite playmaker with game-breaking speed—and Andy Reid knows how to get him the ball. As a rookie, Hill caught eight-of-eight targets for 86 yards and a touchdown in two games against Oakland, including six catches for 66 yards and a score in the December matchup, which is important because he had a bigger offensive role by then. The rangy cornerbacks for the Raiders aren’t going to be able to stick with “Cheetah” on Thursday night, making him a high-upside WR1/WR2.

 

Thumbs Up: Pierre Garcon (v DAL)

Familiar with this week’s opponent because of his time with the Redskins, Pierre Garcon was held between 43 and 54 yards in five of the past six meetings with the Cowboys, but before that, he had tremendous success against Dallas when he and Kyle Shanahan were together in Washington as wide receiver and offensive coordinator. After catching six passes for 69 yards in the first 2013 meeting, Garcon was targeted a whopping 18 times and caught 11 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown in the second matchup against his then division rival. Excluding battles with Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman, Garcon is averaging 6.5 catches for 93 yards this season. Get him in lineups as a solid WR2.

 

Thumbs Up: Demaryius Thomas (@ LAC)

I’m still waiting for a classic screen pass that Demaryius takes to the house like he used to do in Mike McCoy’s first stint as offensive coordinator, but DT had his best game of the season when most people were shying away from him in Week 6, as he turned Janoris Jenkins around on his way to a 10-catch, 133-yard performance. With Emmanuel Sanders (ankle) already out for this week and potentially facing a multi-game absence, Thomas is going to be fed targets, which should make up for a matchup with Casey Hayward on Sunday.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Brandin Cooks (v ATL)

There isn’t a defense that has given Cooks more issues throughout his career than the Falcons, as Atlanta held the former Saint to 34.4 receiving yards per game in five matchups. The only good game Cooks had against them came in his career debut when he caught seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown, but since then, he’s had lines of 4/41, 5/22, 2/13, and 3/19 with no scores. He’s in a different offense, but Cooks is still primarily a deep threat, and Atlanta is good at limiting big plays on the perimeter. He could still have a solid night, but Cooks is just a low-end WR2 this week.

 

Thumbs Down: T.Y. Hilton (v JAC)

From the moment he entered the league, T.Y. Hilton has burnt the Jaguars for the most part, but he will see a new-look secondary on Sunday afternoon, as Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are shutting down opposing receivers in 2017. Without Andrew Luck yet again, I wouldn’t trust Hilton in fantasy lineups as anything more than a low-floor FLEX option with the hopes he can get behind the defense.

 

Thumbs Down: Michael Crabtree (v KC)

Another “Thumbs Down” against an opponent that has his number, Michael Crabtree has faced the Chiefs six times in his career, and he’s only caught 18-of-41 targets for 163 yards in those games. That’s a per-game average of just three receptions and barely 27 yards. For all his struggles, I would actually roll with Amari Cooper this week if I was forced to choose an Oakland receiver to play. Fantasy owners that need to win over the next couple weeks should think about selling high on Crabtree, as the Raiders have a bye in Week 8 before returning to face the Bills.

 

Thumbs Down: Sammy Watkins (v ARI)

As is tradition, any wide receiver set to face Patrick Peterson is typically placed on the “Thumbs Down” list. With a combined two catches for 28 yards over the past three games, it’s unlikely Watkins turns things around against arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. Keep an eye on the injury report, though, as Peterson left Arizona’s win over the Bucs with a quad injury that bothered him during the week; if he were to sit, Watkins would go from desperation FLEX to must-start against an otherwise weak cornerback group.

 

. . .

 

TIGHT END

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Jimmy Graham (@ NYG)

The Giants have allowed a touchdown to opposing tight ends in every game this season, and they’ve allowed seven total scores to the position through six weeks. That’s obviously good news for Jimmy Graham, especially after he came to life heading into the bye week after a quiet start. He should be able to reach or exceed the 13 points per game that New York has allowed to tight ends in 2017.

 

Thumbs Up: Hunter Henry (v DEN)

Hunter Henry is finally a weekly contributor for the Chargers, and it’s no coincidence that they’ve won two in a row after starting 0-4. In the four games he’s been targeted, Henry is averaging 8.5 fantasy points per game in standard leagues. This week, he faces a Denver team that has allowed seven catches for 79 yards per game to tight ends since the season opener, including three touchdowns over that four-game span. Henry might even be a usable FLEX against the Broncos if you have no options at running back or wide receiver.

 

Thumbs Up: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (@ MIA)

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the touchdown-turned-fumble for Seferian-Jenkins against the Patriots, but ASJ still had a terrific game with eight catches for 46 yards and a score. Hopefully the points off the board didn’t come back to hurt fantasy owners like it hurt the Jets, but everyone should still be confidently starting Seferian-Jenkins against a Miami team that has already allowed two 10-catch games to tight ends this year.

 

Thumbs Up: David Njoku (v TEN)

Njoku is splitting time with Seth DeValve, but the first-round pick is the superior player and fantasy play with three touchdowns in six games on a bad offense. Tennessee has allowed athletic tight ends to beat them this season, including Jimmy Graham’s seven catches for 72 yards in Week 3. Despite unreliable quarterback play, I like Njoku to have success against the Titans.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Jordan Reed (@ PHI)

Besides a Week 15 game in 2015 where the Eagles defense inexcusably quit because they knew Chip Kelly wasn’t going to return as head coach, Philadelphia has absolutely shut down Jordan Reed throughout his career. Excluding the 9/129/2 line in the aforementioned game, Reed has lines of 5/38, 1/12, 2/5, 5/37, 1/10, and 5/36 against Philly. That’s good for 1.3 fantasy points per game.

 

Thumbs Down: Evan Engram (v SEA)

I liked Engram last week against Denver because he was New York’s only offensive weapon left, and while that’s still the case, Seattle is tougher on tight ends than the Broncos are. I would expect Pete Carroll’s defense to try to take away the rookie, making him a risky fantasy play.

 

Thumbs Down: Jack Doyle (v JAC)

He’s was a part-time player earlier in his career, but Jack Doyle has done almost nothing against Jacksonville since entering the league, and that’s been with Andrew Luck at quarterback. Doyle is barely averaging one catch and five yards against the Jaguars, and he has just one touchdown against them in seven games. Look elsewhere this week.

 

Thumbs Down: Martellus Bennett (v NO)

I’ll put Martellus Bennett here just for old time’s sake, but if you were still holding onto him, you can drop the tight end in all leagues after Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone injury.

 

 

For defense and kicker advice—and all your start/sit decisions—check out our full Week 7 rankings.

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