Thumbs Up of the Week: Jared Goff (@ BAL)
Whether it be in this article or as a top option on waivers, Goff has been discussed a bunch this year—but most are still viewing him as a weekly QB2 option despite top-five production thus far. Although Baltimore will be a tougher opponent on the road, Goff has been tremendous dating back to the end of last season and has the combination of weaponry and play-calling to put up numbers in any given matchup. Consider him a top-seven option for Week 7.
Thumbs Up: Geno Smith (v ARI)
Smith has struggled to begin 2023, including a very disappointing performance last week in Cincinnati with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Still, I’d have confidence in him breaking out against an Arizona defense that’s allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and the weapons for Seattle are too good to not eventually explode. Smith is right behind Jared Goff as a comfortable top-ten play.
Thumbs Up: Brock Purdy (@ MIN)
Some might feel hesitant about Purdy after last week, but he was facing the NFL’s top-ranked defense in sloppy conditions, and the first ten career starts for Purdy should give fantasy owners every reason to believe he will be sharp on Monday night. With the way Minnesota will want to bring pressure, it’s easy to picture Purdy having all the answers and allowing his run-after-catch playmakers to do big-time damage in space. Get the second-year passer back in lineups.
Thumbs Up: Daniel Jones (v WAS)
Assuming Jones (neck) is healthy enough to play this weekend, I like him as a top-12 option with six teams on a bye—as Washington hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations on defense by ranking towards the bottom of the league in passing yards per game (248.2) and passing touchdowns (12) allowed. Last Sunday night was encouraging for the Giants with Jalin Hyatt more involved and Saquon Barkley back, so Jones will be stepping in a good spot if he suits up.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Deshaun Watson (@ IND)
Watson (shoulder) is another option that might not return on Sunday, but if he does, fantasy owners should avoid him against an Indy defense that has tightened up in recent weeks with 13.49 fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks over the past three games. In general, Watson simply has not played well since joining the Browns, and those who roll with him might need rushing production for him to pay off as a start.
Thumbs Down: Kirk Cousins (v SF)
Cousins is far from a complete avoid with quarterback lacking options this week, and he’ll be helped by playing at home. However, being without superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson for a matchup against the 49ers is less than ideal, and Cousins only had 181 passing yards last week against a Chicago defense that is among the worst in football. I’d rather start all the “Thumbs Up” options over him.
Thumbs Down: Russell Wilson (v GB)
Wilson was hot to begin the season, but he’s cooled off considerably over the past two weeks—including just 95 passing yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions last week in Kansas City. For whatever reason, the Packers have given Wilson serious trouble throughout his career with 199.7 passing yards per game and an 11:12 touchdown-interception ratio in nine career matchups (including playoffs), so it’s probably best to look elsewhere for a QB1 play.
Thumbs Down: Trevor Lawrence (@ NO)
Again, quarterback doesn’t seem to be very strong this week, which keeps Lawrence in the low-end QB1 rankings. But the combination of matchup (particularly on the road), health (with a knee injury), and a disappointing start to the year (zero games with 18.0+ fantasy points) keeps Lawrence outside the top ten. Maybe the simplified game plan on a short week will result in a breakout—and Jacksonville obviously has weapons—but the health in particular could limit Lawrence’s ceiling with limited rushing upside.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Jahmyr Gibbs (@ BAL)
David Montgomery (ribs) is expected to miss time, so Gibbs is primed to be the lead back for Detroit’s high-powered offense. When that was the case in Week 3, the explosive rookie rushed 17 times for 80 yards, and he’s quietly surpassed 50 yards from scrimmage in all four games to begin his career. The Ravens won’t be an easy spot, but Gibbs will hopefully get more involvement as a pass-catcher, too, and fantasy owners should view him as an upside RB2 option that has a raised floor with Montgomery out.
Thumbs Up: Roschon Johnson (v LV)
Las Vegas has allowed the rushing attacks for Green Bay and New England to get going in each of the past two weeks, and Chicago will now try their hand out of necessity with Tyson Bagent expected to start in place of Justin Fields (hand). Johnson has impressed with 4.9 yards per carry in five games, and he’s also proven to be a capable receiver with 11 receptions (on 12 targets) for 58 yards. The rookie is a very solid RB2 this week.
Thumbs Up: Javonte Williams (v GB)
Denver is a very difficult offense to trust or get a feel on right now, but Williams was one of the lone bright spots in Week 6 by rushing ten times for 52 yards, and he’s at least been stable with 52+ total yards in all four healthy games. As he gets further removed from his torn ACL, the tackle-breaking ability of Williams should—which has certainly flashed—will only get better, and Green Bay still has a bottom-five run defense (143.4 yards per game allowed).
Thumbs Up: Damien Williams (@ SEA)
He only played 17 snaps last week, but Williams was fed when on the field with nine touches—which he turned into a respectable 44 total yards. Arizona could lean on the veteran runner more against the Seahawks after a week of getting his feet wet, and he’s a well-rounded player that has produced when given the opportunity throughout his career. I’m optimistically viewing Williams as a FLEX option in a game where the Cardinals might need to score points.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Gus Edwards (v DET)
Coming off a season-high 17 touches, Edwards has established himself as a weekly FLEX play, and the schedule will lighten up for him as the season progresses. That won’t start this weekend, though, as Detroit has the NFL’s top run defense (64.7 yards per game allowed), and enemy backs have combined for 14.4 fantasy points over the past three weeks. You’ll probably need a short touchdown for Edwards to pay dividends.
Thumbs Down: Alexander Mattison (v SF)
The split between Mattison and Cam Akers slanted heavily back in the starter’s direction with 22 touches last week in a win over Chicago, but he’s still averaging just 3.9 yards per carry on the year and has yet to find the end zone as a runner. With the stingy 49ers coming to town on Monday night, Mattison is a volume-based FLEX that could see the touches fall off if Akers becomes more involved and Kene Nwangwu sees time as a change-of-pace option in his first game of the year.
Thumbs Down: Tyler Allgeier (@ TB)
Allgeier has handled 30 carries over the past two weeks, and the Falcons continue to give him valuable work despite the presence of Bijan Robinson. On the other hand, Tampa Bay has gotten back to being a stout run defense, and now would be the time for Atlanta to feed Bijan in a huge divisional matchup to avoid dropping below .500. I’d rather start a “1B” type option like AJ Dillon or Latavius Murray in a better matchup.
Thumbs Down: Jeff Wilson Jr. (@ PHI)
Wilson (finger) surprisingly didn’t play last week when first eligible to return from injured reserve, and it’s unclear if he will be back on Sunday night. If he is, the matchup won’t be easy versus the run-stuffing Eagles, and I’d expect Miami to feed Raheem Mostert—a definite RB1 despite the matchup—as the more likely option to reach the second level before Jordan Davis and others clog things up. Wilson should be considered more of a speculative stash for now.
Thumbs Up of the Week: DK Metcalf (v ARI)
Seattle playing through Kenneth Walker III and spreading the ball out a bit more has resulted in modest production for Metcalf, but there are signs to be encouraged about—including 15.3 yards per reception and 10.2 yards per target. This week, things could set up for a monster game versus a smaller cornerback duo of Kei’Trel Clark and Marco Wilson, so we have Metcalf as a borderline top-five option that fantasy owners should stick with through the quieter overall numbers.
Thumbs Up: Christian Kirk (@ NO)
Kirk is another option that is probably in most lineups already, but we are much higher on him (WR13) than the consensus (for example, 26.8 average ranking on ESPN) for Thursday night. Remember, Doug Pederson pointed out that Kirk—after a one-catch opener—will be more involved against opponents that play heavy man coverage, and the Saints are one of the most man-heavy defenses in the league. We’ll have to watch reports on his quarterback leading up to kickoff, but Kirk should be viewed as a borderline WR1/WR2 on the road.
Thumbs Up: Christian Watson (@ DEN)
The Broncos had their best defensive performance of the year last week in Kansas City, but there are still concerns about the unit—including defending the deep ball. With the possibility of Romeo Doubs drawing coverage from Patrick Surtain II, Watson could be positioned for a big game, and he notably played 84% of the offensive snaps prior to the bye, which suggests his hamstring issue is fully behind him. I’d start him as a high-upside WR2 option.
Thumbs Up: Jameson Williams (@ BAL)
Williams has scored three touchdowns on six career touches dating back to last season, and the 2022 first-rounder looked like the guy we saw at Alabama with a 45-yard score last week. Detroit will undoubtedly get Williams more involved as he continues to develop, and he could be a key part of the game plan this week if the Lions lean more on the pass with David Montgomery out. Williams is a great option if you’re looking for a ceiling play.
Others: Joshua Palmer (@ KC), Jalin Hyatt (v WAS)
Thumbs Down of the Week: DJ Moore (v LV)
The positive for Moore is that most of his production last week came with Tyson Bagent under center, and the undrafted rookie targeted him on six of his 14 pass attempts. That said, Las Vegas has often been able to suppress the production from top options on the outside, and those starting Moore will be relying on an unproven signal-caller under center. Downgrade him to boom-or-bust FLEX territory for Week 7.
Thumbs Down: Michael Thomas (v JAX)
Thomas has been a steady part of the offense through six weeks, but the problem is a capped ceiling with 65 or fewer yards—and zero touchdowns—in every game; basically, the consistency has returned for the former All-Pro, but all the numbers are lowered with New Orleans struggling to breakthrough offensively. On a short week, look for Alvin Kamara and Chris Olave to be featured with Thomas spending much of the night facing coverage from Tyson Campbell.
Thumbs Down: Romeo Doubs (@ DEN)
As mentioned, Doubs could very well draw shadow-type coverage from Patrick Surtain II this weekend, and the threat of it is enough to move off him as a potential WR2 option. Also, Sunday will be our first chance to see the Green Bay playmakers all healthy for a full game, so it might be best to take a wait-and-see approach for Doubs—though he should definitely remain rostered as the schedule lightens up after this week.
Thumbs Down: K.J. Osborn (v SF)
Osborn made a few big catches last week for Minnesota, but the passing attack was scaled back without Justin Jefferson while they nursed a lead over the Bears—resulting in four receptions for 48 yards. Based on the matchup, Osborn is more of a low-end WR3 option despite six teams being on a bye, and the 26-year-old was held to one reception for five scoreless yards against the Niners a couple of seasons ago (55% snaps played).
Others: Josh Downs (v CLE), Skyy Moore (v LAC)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Luke Musgrave (@ DEN)
Vance Joseph’s defense struggling to contain opposing tight ends has been a theme for years, and this season has been no different with the most fantasy points per game allowed to the position. Musgrave has caught six passes in two of the past three games for Green Bay, and he finds himself in the top ten because of the cupcake matchup.
Thumbs Up: Pat Freiermuth (@ LAR)
Freiermuth (hamstring) says he will return this week, and Los Angeles is another team that has struggled to defend tight ends—particularly over the past three weeks with a whopping 19.9 fantasy points per game allowed. The Steelers could also get Diontae Johnson (hamstring) back, but getting everyone involved alongside George Pickens can give the passing attack needed balance.
Thumbs Up: Gerald Everett (@ KC)
Perhaps it won’t be a shootout based on each offense not quite playing up to their potential, but Chargers-Chiefs always has the possibility of fireworks, and Everett has gone for lines of 3/49/2 and 6/71 in two career matchups against Kansas City. After he was saved by a short touchdown last week, Everett will hopefully be able to break a chunk gain to at least be a high-end TE2.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Dawson Knox (@ NE)
Not having Dalton Kincaid (concussion) active last week wasn’t enough to get Knox going—and he’s gone for yardage totals of 25, ten, 11, 12, 17, and 17 to begin this season. Knox has had some touchdown luck against New England (including a 5/89/2 performance in the playoffs two seasons ago), but combining for just 38 yards over the past four meetings in the regular season doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Thumbs Down: Tyler Higbee (v PIT)
Things were going well for Higbee early in the season, but Matthew Stafford having Cooper Kupp back in the lineup has caused the veteran’s targets to fall off with three of them in each of the past two games. With Pittsburgh in the top quarter of the league in fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends, this could be another week of Kupp and Puka Nacua hogging opportunities for LA.
Thumbs Down: Hunter Henry (v BUF)
Henry had a solid showing in the second matchup last season versus Buffalo with six receptions for 42 yards—but he was held to yardage totals of zero, nine, and 13 in the three previous matchups since joining the Patriots. Considering the current state of New England’s offense, fantasy owners are better off looking elsewhere for a streaming option.