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Week 7 Fantasy: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Tom Brady (@ CAR)

Brady and the Bucs are too good for them to not figure things out offensively, so I’d keep rolling with him against a Carolina team that’s recorded the fourth-fewest sacks in the league (nine). It seems Brady has often responded with a huge game when facing the heaviest criticism over the years, and Tampa Bay is still gelling with the injuries that have impacted them to begin 2022. TB12 is a top-five option for me in Week 7.


Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (v HOU)

Houston has been stingy versus the pass with a 4:6 touchdown-interception ratio allowed through five games, but the schedule has been favorable—and Justin Herbert torched them for 340 yards and two touchdowns earlier this month. With both teams coming off a bye week, I like Carr and the Raiders to come out firing at home as they hope to bounce back from a close loss and 1-4 start. Although we’ve yet to see the passing attack put up big-time numbers, Carr has thrown for multiple scores in four-of-five games to date.


Thumbs Up: Jimmy Garoppolo (v KC)

San Francisco would ideally have a more balanced offense this week, but that might be difficult if Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs play up to their potential with the Niners having some key injuries on defense. Instead, Garoppolo might need to air it out again coming off season-highs in passing attempts (41) and passing yards (296), so I have him boosted into the low-end QB1 ranks for a possible shootout. Also, the matchup is great with Kansas City allowing an NFL-high 15 touchdown passes this season.


Thumbs Up: Marcus Mariota (@ CIN)

Mariota was extremely efficient as a passer in last week’s win over the 49ers (13-of-14 for 129 yards and two touchdowns), and he also was again productive as a runner with six carries for 50 yards and a touchdown. Cincinnati has an underrated defense, but Mariota having at least 6.0 fantasy points as a runner in four-of-six games this season increases his floor, and it’s possible Falcons-Bengals turns into a shootout. Consider the former No. 2 overall pick an excellent streamer this week.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Russell Wilson (v NYJ)

The start of Monday night’s game looked like classic Wilson as he made plays with his legs and delivered a touchdown strike to Greg Dulcich (though he was wide open), but then the offense was dead over the final three quarters—and overtime—of a 19-16 loss. Wilson is now dealing with a hamstring injury in addition to a partially torn lat, so it’s impossible to trust him as a QB1 option for a tough draw against the confident Jets.


Thumbs Down: Justin Fields (@ NE)

Fields rushing for a season-high 88 yards on 12 attempts last week made him a quality starting option despite another disappointing outing through the air, but I wouldn’t expect the same kind of success on the ground for a trip to face Bill Belichick and the Pats. New England is a completely different team than the one Lamar Jackson had 107 rushing yards and five total touchdowns against last month—and Fields obviously isn’t on the level as the former NFL MVP.


Thumbs Down: Daniel Jones (@ JAX)

The Jaguars were just lit up by Matt Ryan in Week 6, but that could turn out to be a bit of an outlier more than an indication about their defense taking a step back following a promising start to the year. Jones has been less productive on the ground since injuring his ankle in Week 4 (16 carries for 43 scoreless yards over the past two games), so I have concerns about the floor if Jacksonville’s front causes havoc after New York allowed four sacks last week.


Thumbs Down: Matt Ryan (@ TEN)

Ryan very quietly has three games with 350+ passing yards this season, and one of those performances came against the Titans to start October. That said, the numbers have been much better at home (322.3 yards per game at a 7:1 touchdown-interception ratio) than on the road (266.0 yards per game and a 1:6 touchdown-interception ratio), and Tennessee had the bye to get their defense stabilized. I’d rather play another QB2 option like Marcus Mariota or Jared Goff this week.


Running back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Travis Etienne Jr. (v NYG)

The Giants are allowing an NFL-high 5.6 yards per carry on the season, and Etienne is coming off his best game of the season with ten carries for 86 yards along with two receptions for 22 yards. We’re still waiting for the former Clemson standout to rip off a monster run, but the past two games have been extremely encouraging with 20 attempts for 157 rushing yards. Now is the time to buy-low on Etienne and hope he fully breaks out.


Thumbs Up: Brian Robinson Jr. (v GB)

The first career start for Robinson was solid as he churned out 60 yards and a score on 17 carries last Thursday night—especially considering the overall offensive sluggishness on display. I’d anticipate the rookie will only get better and better as the weeks pass and he completely rounds into form, so he’s on the RB2 radar against a Green Bay defense that hasn’t lived up to expectations in 2022; the Commanders needing to start Taylor Heinicke with Carson Wentz (finger) out could even be a boost to Robinson’s value.


Thumbs Up: Latavius Murray (v NYJ)

Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett said that the team will need all three of their running backs to contribute moving forward, but it sure looks like Murray will be the clear lead runner based on how Monday night played out—which puts him in the top 30 at the position. Aside from being more trusted than Melvin Gordon III in terms of ball security, Murray looked very good on his 15 carries versus the Chargers as a downhill back that maximized his yardage.


Thumbs Up: Tevin Coleman (v KC)

For a deeper option at running back or cheap DFS target, Coleman is a week removed from scoring twice for the 49ers, and there is a chance he carves out more of a role with Jeff Wilson Jr. losing his second fumble of the season in last week’s loss. Furthermore, the possibility of a high-scoring game could play into Coleman’s favor as a weapon that can create explosive plays out of the backfield.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (@ SF)

Edwards-Helaire was a clear sell-high candidate with five touchdowns across his first four games, and he’s since combined to turn 21 touches into 68 scoreless yards over the past two weeks. Facing a San Francisco defense that will come out angry following a loss, Edwards-Helaire may need to catch fire again finding the end zone with rookie Isiah Pacheco looking great on his four touches last week against Buffalo. The starter is a low-end RB2/FLEX option.


Thumbs Down: James Robinson (v NYG)

Robinson is another running back that has slowed down since a hot start—rushing 30 times for 110 yards (3.7 YPC) and not finding the end zone over his past three games. I mentioned the Giants allowing the most yards per carry in the league so far, but they’ve also allowed just two rushing touchdowns, so Robinson is below Travis Etienne in the rankings for Week 7 as the more touchdown-dependent option with JaMycal Hasty also getting increased involvement for Jacksonville’s backfield.


Thumbs Down: J.K. Dobbins (v CLE)

The Cleveland run defense is very susceptible (as shown last week versus the Patriots), but Dobbins saw his playing time dip to 27% while handling seven touches in the loss to the Giants—leading him to “liking” posts about being traded. The probable return of Gus Edwards (knee) only decreases the floor/ceiling for Dobbins, so he’s tough to trust as an RB2.


Thumbs Down: David Montgomery (@ NE)

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said the team will go with the hot hand at running back after Khalil Herbert impressed last Thursday night, so Montgomery—even with bye weeks around the league—sits on the low-end RB2 borderline. I’m still high on Montgomery’s talent and wouldn’t be surprised to see him bounce back with a strong showing on Monday night, but the outlook isn’t favorable while splitting carries on the road versus New England.


Wide receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: Mike Williams (v SEA)

Williams wasn’t really a factor on Monday night, but he did have a couple of downfield opportunities (one being a missed pass interference and the other being a very close highlight grab with the throw pulling him towards the boundary), and a floor game should be followed up by big numbers against a Seattle defense allowing 8.3 yards per attempt through the air. Keep rolling out Williams as an upside WR1 option whether or not Keenan Allen (hamstring) returns.


Thumbs Up: Brandon Aiyuk (v KC)

Coming off an 8/83/2 line last week, Aiyuk is in position to carry the momentum into this weekend versus a shaky Kansas City pass defense that Kyle Shanahan should know how to exploit. In five games with Jimmy Garoppolo either starting or seeing heavy action at quarterback, Aiyuk has a season-long pace of 78 receptions, 952 yards, and ten touchdowns on a respectable 7.0 targets per game. I have him as a low-end WR2/FLEX with a high ceiling.


Thumbs Up: Michael Gallup (v DET)

Dak Prescott (hand) is slated to return on Sunday, so Gallup should immediately be boosted for fantasy lineups as the passing attack improves with the starter back. For what it’s worth, Gallup caught nine passes for 148 yards against the Lions in 2019, and Detroit currently ranks towards the bottom of the league in passing yards per attempt allowed (7.9) and passing yards per game allowed (261.0). He should be fully unleashed after playing 76% of the offensive snaps last Sunday night.


Thumbs Up: Brandin Cooks (@ LV)

The production to begin the year hasn’t reached preseason expectations for Cooks or the Houston passing attack, but Las Vegas feels like an opponent that he will be able to get on track against. Perhaps that’s because Cooks—though a few years removed now—has totaled 17 receptions for 379 yards and three touchdowns against them in three career meetings. With a season-long pace of 143 targets, a breakout game could be bubbling for the veteran.


Others: Hunter Renfrow (v HOU), George Pickens (@ MIA)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Courtland Sutton (v NYJ)

Sutton has been more productive than I thought with his “worst” game of the season before Monday night (14 scoreless yards) being four receptions for 72 yards in the opener, but Denver’s offense isn’t in a good spot at all right now. New York at least appears to be for real on defense, so Sutton could struggle versus Ahmad Gardner and company, and I can’t get onboard with a consensus ranking in the top 12 for Week 7.


Thumbs Down: Garrett Wilson (@ DEN)

On the other side of the field in Jets-Broncos, Wilson has seen his production and playing time drop since Zach Wilson took over at quarterback—resulting in a season-low one reception for eight yards last week. The concern is that he and Wilson aren’t on the same page (the one reception came on five targets), and it might finally be Elijah Moore’s time to shine after the second-year wideout showed some displeasure with his role (while trying to be positive about it because the team is winning). Wilson is outside the top 36 at the position.


Thumbs Down: Darnell Mooney (@ NE)

Mooney seeing a season-high 12 targets last week was very encouraging for his long-term outlook, but who do you think Bill Belichick will be focusing on stopping for Chicago’s passing attack on Monday night? While the 24-year-old is someone that can get behind the defense with a double move, he’s yet to score this season and is getting held back by Justin Fields’ passing struggles.


Thumbs Down: Skyy Moore (@ SF)

A breakout for Moore is something people are waiting for, but Mecole Hardman is coming off two of his best games of the year, and the rookie was held to one reception on 20 offensive snaps versus Buffalo. As the No. 4 wide receiver versus a stingy defense, those counting on Moore to breakout could be waiting until at least next month when Kansas City comes out of their Week 8 bye.


Others: Robert Woods (v IND), Robbie Anderson (v NO)


Tight end


Thumbs Up of the Week: Taysom Hill (@ ARI)

It looks like at least Andy Dalton (back) will be good to go at quarterback for the Saints, but Hill should still see increased involvement for the 2-4 Saints—which has already been happening over the past two weeks with five passes in addition to 14 carries. Aside from Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce, I’d argue Hill is the top play at tight end for Week 7 as New Orleans pulls out all the stops to get a win on a short week.


Thumbs Up: Mike Gesicki (v PIT)

His days of doing the “griddy” are finished, but Gesicki showed his ability last week with six receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns—and we can only hope he remains a significant factor on offense for the rest of the year. The matchup against Pittsburgh isn’t great, but at a shaky position, it’s worth taking another shot on Gesicki because of the ceiling (essentially one big game made him the overall TE10 on the season).


Thumbs Up: Greg Dulcich (v NYJ)

The Jets allowed ten receptions for 90 yards to Robert Tonyan last week, so Dulcich—playing in a similar offensive system—could be in position to follow up a strong debut with another nice outing. It’s notable that Denver immediately trusted the rookie to have close to a full-time role in his first NFL action on Monday night (71% of the offensive snaps played).


Thumbs Down of the Week: Tyler Conklin (@ DEN)

I was concerned about being too low on Conklin based on how he started the season, but he’s caught just one pass on three targets over the past two weeks with C.J. Uzomah (four receptions on four targets) jumping him in terms of playing time. On the bright side, Conklin is still playing close to 70% of the team’s offensive snaps, but his outlook has certainly dimmed. I have him outside the top 20 this week.


Thumbs Down: Cole Kmet (@ NE)

Kmet’s scoreless streak has to be snapped eventually with zero scores since the end of his rookie season in 2020, but the Patriots should be keying on him along with Darnell Mooney, and I don’t see Bill Belichick’s defense busting any coverages (something tight ends can often take advantage of). Despite heavy playing time, Kmet has 15 targets on the season and would need something to change dramatically on offense to reach TE1 heights.


Thumbs Down: Austin Hooper (v IND)

Hooper was limited to one reception against the Colts in Week 4, and he’s yet to find the end zone or reach 20 yards to begin his Tennessee career. Basically, you’re counting on a short, play-action touchdown for Hooper with Indy selling out to stop Derrick Henry near the goal line, but I’d rather rely on other options.