Week 7 Rankings

Patrick Daugherty
Dose: Rice a Raven Nevermore
Nick Mensio talks Ray Rice, the two Monday night games, Jamaal Charles and many others in Tuesday's Dose

Updated 10/20/2013 at 3:00 PM ET. No. 31 quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick removed. 

Ray Rice is averaging fewer yards per carry than James Starks — as in half as many. Starks, of course, has carried the ball only 34 times, but just consider that a glimpse into the misery that has been Rice’s 2013. Amongst qualified ball carriers, Rice’s 2.77 YPC ranks dead last out of 44. He’s behind two quarterbacks, and second in his own backfield. He hasn’t taken the ball farther than 14 yards on any of his 71 totes. Sam Bradford and Redskins FB Darrel Young are among the players to notch a longer carry. The struggles come for a player who has never averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in a season, and entered 2013 with a 4.54 career mark.  

There’s no one reason for Rice’s sudden descent into CJ”2K”ville, but instead a perfect storm of bad circumstances. Baltimore’s offensive line, which played so well during the team’s Super Bowl run last season, isn’t generating any push, and has graded out as the league’s second worst run-blocking unit in Pro Football Focus’ ratings. (For a more thorough breakdown of Baltimore’s line struggles, check out Lance Zierlein’s Week 7 Smash Mouth column.). Next is Rice’s health. A player who hadn’t missed a game since 2008 missed one in Week 3 with a hip issue. Whether he’s been healthy since is up for debate, but it would be stunning if Rice wasn’t feeling some residual effects.

Then there’s Baltimore’s schedule. Playing in perhaps the most rugged division in football, Rice has squared off with the league’s (by yards) No. 1 (Denver), No. 7 (Cleveland), No. 28 (Buffalo), No. 15 (Miami) and No. 3 (Green Bay) run defenses. As you can see, there’s been one soft spot. It came the week after Rice returned from his hip flexor. How many carries did he get against said soft spot? Five, only two of which came after halftime as the Ravens completely abandoned the run.    

Last, but certainly not least, is Rice’s running itself. Needless to say, it hasn’t been what we’re used to seeing. Film review reveals a player who’s generally making the right reads and finding the hole, but isn’t doing anything once he gets there. Part of that’s because his blockers aren’t getting upfield push. But it’s more due to the fact that Rice is getting arm tackled, and not making any big plays. Rice has shed only three tackles after eluding 20 a year ago. He’s produced just 112 yards after first contact, for an average of 1.6 per carry. Per Pro Football Focus, that ranks 48th in the league. Rice averaged 2.4 yards after first contact in 2012, and 2.5 in 2011. Would better blocking help? Of course. But Rice isn’t getting paid $8 million to put it all on his blockers.

Will it get better? It’s certainly the proverbial “couldn’t get any worse” type situation, but a lot will depend on how much Baltimore’s line can improve, if at all, with new LT Eugene Monroe in the fold. Rice’s health will also be a factor. If he’s not himself, breaking tackles and getting to the second level isn’t going to get any easier as he grinds on his hip every week. Something else that’s not getting any easier? The Ravens’ schedule. The average rank of their next five opposing run defenses is 11. Together, those five teams (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and the Jets) are permitting just 3.61 yards per carry, which would rank sixth in the league. Rice’s history of past production screams “stay patient,” but the facts staring him in the face suggest he’ll be more RB2/3 than RB1 going forward. That’s not what fantasy owners had in mind when they made Rice the seventh player off the board by ADP, but it appears that’s what they’ve got.       

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Week 7 Quarterbacks

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Peyton Manning at IND -
2 Aaron Rodgers vs. CLE -
3 Tony Romo at PHI -
4 Matthew Stafford vs. CIN -
5 Cam Newton vs. STL -
6 Philip Rivers at JAC -
7 Jay Cutler at WAS Sidelined (groin)
8 Andrew Luck vs. DEN -
9 Tom Brady at NYJ -
10 Nick Foles vs. DAL -
11 Robert Griffin III vs. CHI -
12 Ben Roethlisberger vs. BAL -
13 Colin Kaepernick at TEN -
14 Russell Wilson at ARZ -
15 Eli Manning vs. MIN -
16 Matt Ryan vs. TB -
17 Ryan Tannehill vs. BUF -
18 Joe Flacco at PIT -
19 Sam Bradford at CAR -
20 Andy Dalton at DET -
21 Brandon Weeden at GB -
22 Chad Henne vs. SD -
23 Alex Smith vs. HOU -
24 Josh Freeman at NYG -
25 Geno Smith vs. NE -
26 Jake Locker vs. SF -
27 Carson Palmer vs. SEA -
28 Mike Glennon at ATL -
29 Thad Lewis at MIA Probable (foot)
30 Case Keenum at KC -

QB Notes: Peyton Manning threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars last weekend and it was … his worst game of the year. Manning leads all fantasy quarterbacks on the season, over the past five weeks and over the past three weeks. As you may have heard, Sunday night he will be playing in a building where he’s had some past success. … Some will be tempted to downgrade Aaron Rodgers following the loss of Randall Cobb and potential absence of James Jones, but since when are Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley not weapons enough for a big fantasy day? Rodgers doesn’t do off days, and should never be benched, not even for the likes of that ADP-steal backup you got in the summer (for example, Tony Romo or Philip Rivers). … Truth be told, Romo has really only had two big fantasy days, his Week 3 whipping of the Rams and Week 5 506-yarding of the Broncos. In his other four games, he’s averaged just 252 yards and 1.5 touchdowns, and failed to take advantage of good matchups in the Chargers and Redskins. He’s got another amazing matchup in the Eagles this weekend, however, and is a strong bet to lift the lid in what should be a veritable fantasy bonanza of a game.

Averaging the fifth most yards in the league with a top-four YPA (8.28) and touchdown-total (14), Philip Rivers has an excellent shot at putting up top-five numbers in Jacksonville. He’s been helped immensely by the emergence of Keenan Allen, and resurgence of Antonio Gates. … Matthew Stafford flopped without Calvin Johnson in Week 5, but came on strong once he returned as a decoy in Week 6, turning in his first four-touchdown effort since Week 17 2011. Stafford is the No. 7 fantasy quarterback even though he’s had only two 300-yard games. … Dominant Cam Newton has come and gone this season, but unlike they did after spanking the Giants in Week 3, the Panthers are unlikely to scrap their attack that features more designed runs for Newton. That can only mean good things against a Rams defense getting shredded for 4.6 yards per carry. There will likely be more duds for Newton this season, but Sunday shouldn’t be one of them. … It’s happened rather quietly, but only 10 quarterbacks are averaging more fantasy points than Jay Cutler. That number drops to six if only the past three weeks are counted. The Redskins held Tony Romo in check last week, but shouldn’t do the same to Cutler. Going by Pro Football Focus’ quarterback rating, Cutler has been the fourth best quarterback in football this season.    

Andrew Luck is coming off a disappointing game against the Chargers, but things should pick back up in a hurry as long as he doesn’t have any extra butterflies going up against the man he replaced in Indy. Denver is getting smoked against the pass, allowing 8.6 YPA (31st) and a league-worst 338 passing yards per game. Seeing as Denver’s run defense is the exact opposite — the league’s best — Indy is going to dial up pass after pass in what has fast become a grudge match (thanks Jim Irsay). Von Miller’s return will obviously goose Denver’s pass defense via the edge pressure he creates, but isn’t going to be an overnight cure-all. Luck is an elite play this week. … Tom Brady is on pace for just 3,947 yards and 21 touchdowns. The TD total would be the lowest since his (Super Bowl winning) rookie season. Injuries have been one of the main culprits, but another? Drops. Brady’s pass catchers have muffed 24 passes, tops in the league. That’s four potential first downs Brady has missed out on every week. It’s just one more reason Rob Gronkowski can’t get back soon enough.  

Only four quarterbacks are averaging more fantasy points than Matt Ryan, but those typically elite numbers came with Julio Jones leading the league in receiving and keying Atlanta’s aerial attack. Jones is now lost for the season, while nominal No. 1 receiver Roddy White (ankle, hamstring) will be playing through two injuries if he plays at all this weekend. To top it all off, Ryan’s hobbled No. 1 wideout will have to contend with Darrelle Revis if he takes the field. It places an enormous burden on tight end Tony Gonzalez. Still more elevatee than elevator when it comes to top-notch passing numbers, Ryan could be falling to the back of the QB1 pack to stay without Jones. … Chicago’s pass defense has thus far been a shell of its former self — but so has Robert Griffin III. RGIII had by far his best game as a rusher in Week 6, but turned in another dud as a passer. He’s just a back-end QB1 until he gets some rhythm. … It could be argued that Nick Foles — who’s completing 67.2 percent of his passes and the owner of an 8.89 YPA and 6:0 TD:INT ratio — deserves to be higher in this week’s ranks. But 1.5 halves of football simply isn’t a thick enough résumé for his 2013 play. That being said, a Dallas defense allowing over 300 passing yards per game and a 65.6 completion percentage is an inviting matchup, particularly since edge mainstay DeMarcus Ware (quad) is going to miss the first game of his career. If you decided to go bold and start Foles over say, RGIII or Matt Ryan, this fantasy picker would look the other way.       

Big Ben Roethlisberger has come to life over his past three games, completing 69.7 percent of his passes for 1,053 yards (8.63 YPA). His 4:6 TD:turnover ratio has been the only thing standing in the way of a full-blown fantasy renaissance. Either way, reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. … Russell Wilson is back on the upswing — he’s surpassed 300 total yards and 30 pass attempts in each of his past two games — but the matchup just isn’t right in an imposing Cardinals defense on the road in a short week. Wilson’s arrow is still pointing upward for the season, but it’s sideways for Week 7. … Where angels fear to tread: Eli Manning in a “good” matchup. The Vikings are the right opponent at the right time for the league’s interception “leader,” but the upside is not as high as you might think. … The numbers are inflated because Houston’s opponents have been squatting on so many big leads, but do you really want to start Alex Smith against a team allowing 131 passing yards per game? … Lest you think Josh Freeman is an intriguing play in his first week as a Viking, maybe you should re-familiarize yourself with his 2013 numbers. There’s a great chance Freeman will be better in Minnesota than he was in Tampa Bay, but give it time. … Pray for T.J. Yates Case Keenum.     

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Week 7 Running Backs

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Jamaal Charles vs. HOU -
2 LeSean McCoy vs. DAL -
3 Adrian Peterson at NYG Probable (hamstring)
4 Matt Forte at WAS -
5 Arian Foster at KC Probable (hamstring)
6 Marshawn Lynch at ARZ Probable (hip)
7 Reggie Bush vs. CIN -
8 Doug Martin at ATL -
9 Frank Gore at TEN -
10 Knowshon Moreno at IND -
11 Alfred Morris vs. CHI -
12 DeAngelo Williams vs. STL -
13 Eddie Lacy vs. CLE -
14 Ray Rice at PIT -
15 Stevan Ridley at NYJ -
16 Trent Richardson vs. DEN -
17 Giovani Bernard at DET -
18 Danny Woodhead at JAC -
19 C.J. Spiller at MIA Probable (ankle)
20 Ryan Mathews at JAC -
21 Le'Veon Bell vs. BAL -
22 Zac Stacy at CAR Probable (chest)
23 Lamar Miller vs. BUF -
24 Fred Jackson at MIA -
25 Maurice Jones-Drew vs. SD -
26 Chris Johnson vs. SF -
27 Joseph Randle at PHI -
28 Bilal Powell vs. NE Probable (neck)
29 Jacquizz Rodgers vs. TB -
30 Ben Tate at KC Probable (-)
31 Andre Ellington vs. SEA -
32 BenJarvus Green-Ellis at DET Probable (illness)
33 Jason Snelling vs. TB -
34 Rashard Mendenhall vs. SEA -
35 Willis McGahee at GB Probable (knee)
36 Brandon Bolden at NYJ Questionable (knee)
37 Mike Tolbert vs. STL -
38 Bernard Pierce at PIT -
39 Joique Bell vs. CIN -
40 Brandon Jacobs vs. MIN Questionable (hamstring)
41 Chris Ogbonnaya at GB -
42 Ronnie Hillman at IND -
43 Michael Cox vs. MIN -
44 Chris Ivory vs. NE Probable (-)
45 Phillip Tanner at PHI -
46 Bryce Brown vs. DAL -
47 Peyton Hillis vs. MIN -
48 Daniel Thomas vs. BUF -
49 Roy Helu vs. CHI -
50 Donald Brown vs. DEN -
51 Kendall Hunter at TEN -
52 Shonn Greene vs. SF Questionable (knee surgery)
53 Michael Bush at WAS -
54 Johnathan Franklin vs. CLE -
55 LeGarrette Blount at NYJ -
56 Daryl Richardson at CAR -
57 Montee Ball at IND -
58 Robert Turbin at ARZ -
59 Tashard Choice at MIA -
60 Felix Jones vs. BAL -
61 Ronnie Brown at JAC -

RB Notes: A touchdown and 5.5 catches per week? That’s been Jamaal Charles’ foolproof recipe for No. 1 overall status thus far this season. … LeSean McCoy has 96 more yards than anyone else in football, and is averaging 16 more per game than Charles. Only his modest touchdown total (three) is “holding him back.” … Matt Forte has surpassed 100 yards from scrimmage in four of six games, and is yet to be held below 90. Marc Trestman’s preseason vision for his running back has come to life, and been executed to perfection. Only three teams are allowing more fantasy points to enemy running backs than Washington. … Kansas City’s defense has been the story of the season, but it still has a soft spot: Opposing run games. The Chiefs are permitting 116.7 yards per game, and a shocking 5.1 yards per carry. With Houston’s passing game in tatters, a white-hot Arian Foster is going to get the ball early and often, and should do plenty of damage in K.C. … Marshawn Lynch has zoomed past 100 yards from scrimmage in four of his past five games, and has scored six total touchdowns. No running back has broken more tackles.     

Only five running backs are averaging more fantasy points than Reggie Bush, and one of them is won-the-lottery lucky Knowshon Moreno. Bush is who we thought he was, and is an every-week RB1, even if Calvin Johnson sits. … It hasn’t happened for Doug Martin thus far, and part of the reason why is his lack of broken tackles. He’s shed just 11 by Pro Football Focus’ count, and rates a discouraging 21st in PFF’s “Elusive Rating.” With LG Carl Nicks (toe) now out indefinitely, things are only going to get harder. Martin’s workload locks him in as a weekly RB1, but it’s beginning to look like Martin’s sophomore slump might become a season-long affair. … Frank Gore since having some “choice words” for coach Jim Harbaugh? 112 yards per game, 5.4 yards per carry. San Francisco’s ageless lead back is matchup proof, and the Titans aren’t a particularly imposing one.

Is there a luckier guy in the world than Knowshon Moreno? On the verge of being cut in the summer of 2012, Moreno instead kept his roster spot. He ended up closing out ballgames down the stretch of Denver’s 13-3 season, but only after Willis McGahee got hurt and Ronnie Hillman failed his audition. Now Moreno is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and leading the league in rushing touchdowns thanks to the soft fronts Peyton Manning invites. Maybe LeSean McCoy will ultimately be proven right, but for fantasy purposes, Moreno is the safest RB2 there is, and has RB1 upside depending on the matchup. This week, the matchup is quite right in Indy’s soft Run D. … Being held hostage by Robert Griffin III’s slow start, Alfred Morris is just 12th in running back fantasy points despite averaging 5.2 yards per carry. As soon as Washington's read-option attack gets back in gear — there were glimpses of last year’s dominance in Sunday’s loss — Morris will be back to weekly top-10 status. … Speaking of lucky guys, DeAngelo Williams has exploited Jonathan Stewart’s (ankles) absence into every-week RB2 status. There have been predictable duds — D-Will has averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry just twice in five games — but the matchup couldn’t be better in a Rams defense that has served as manna for opposing backs, allowing a weekly 24.0 fantasy points.             

Eddie Lacy was hungry after entering October with just 15 carries. That’s why he’s done a lot of eatin’ in the season’s second month, racking up 219 yards on only 46 totes (4.76 YPC). A true between-the-tackles banger locked into a huge role for a team that’s long craved more balance on offense, Lacy is an RB2 with RB1 upside. … The Jets have not been kind to opposing runners this season — as their league-leading 3.0 YPC can attest — but Stevan Ridley is back to every-week RB2 status after order was restored to the Patriots’ backfield last weekend. … Trent Richardson has had three straight inviting matchups. What’s he done with them? Manage only 156 yards on 48 carries (3.25 YPC). Now he has to deal with the league’s top-ranked run defense by yards per game (69.8). We’ve talked about T-Rich at length this season. His talent continues to stand out on film, but until he adds some Marshawn Lynch-ian anger to his game, his numbers could continue to disappoint. Only his workload is keeping him on the RB2 radar. … Only Jamaal Charles and Giovani Bernard have at least two touchdowns on the ground, and two through the air. Bernard’s timeshare with BenJarvus Green-Ellis is frustrating, but his receiving prowess is keeping him playable as an RB2/FLEX.    

C.J. Spiller (ankle) played just 19 snaps last weekend, but still managed to out-gain Fred Jackson 66-48 on two fewer touches. You have to keep the faith. Talent always wins in the end. … Le’Veon Bell’s workload wasn’t enough to save him against the Jets, and now he has another tough test in the Ravens, who are allowing just 3.6 yards per carry. For now, Bell is a touchdown-dependent RB2/3. … Zac Stacy took advantage of two plus matchups to turn in the Rams’ best two rushing performances of the season, but will be dealing with a horse of a different color in Carolina. He’s still just an RB3. … If you believe in magic, you believe in Brandon Jacobs. If not … maybe sell the man while he’s still worth something. Last Thursday is not a repeatable performance. … Chris Johnson is a borderline RB3 against the 49ers’ typically stout run defense. CJwhateverK is averaging 23.6 yards and 1.92 yards per carry over his past three games. … Joseph Randle has the right workload and matchup, but the unimpressive rookie is nothing more than an RB3 hail mary.   

Week 7 Receivers

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Dez Bryant at PHI -
2 A.J. Green at DET -
3 Brandon Marshall at WAS -
4 Victor Cruz vs. MIN -
5 Demaryius Thomas at IND -
6 Jordy Nelson vs. CLE -
7 Calvin Johnson vs. CIN -
8 DeSean Jackson vs. DAL -
9 Josh Gordon at GB -
10 Antonio Brown vs. BAL -
11 Wes Welker at IND -
12 Justin Blackmon vs. SD Probable (hamstring)
13 Torrey Smith at PIT -
14 Vincent Jackson at ATL -
15 Pierre Garcon vs. CHI -
16 Andre Johnson at KC Probable (leg)
17 Hakeem Nicks vs. MIN -
18 Reggie Wayne vs. DEN -
19 Eric Decker at IND -
20 Alshon Jeffery at WAS -
21 Keenan Allen at JAC -
22 T.Y. Hilton vs. DEN -
23 Mike Wallace vs. BUF -
24 Steve Smith vs. STL -
25 Anquan Boldin at TEN -
26 Larry Fitzgerald vs. SEA Probable (hamstring)
27 Julian Edelman at NYJ Questionable (thigh)
28 Kendall Wright vs. SF -
29 Michael Floyd vs. SEA -
30 Stevie Johnson at MIA Probable (back)
31 Greg Jennings at NYG -
32 Emmanuel Sanders vs. BAL -
33 Rueben Randle vs. MIN -
34 Mike Williams at ATL Questionable (hamstring)
35 Terrance Williams at PHI -
36 Brian Hartline vs. BUF -
37 Harry Douglas vs. TB -
38 Dwayne Bowe vs. HOU -
39 Miles Austin at PHI Probable (hamstring)
40 Aaron Dobson at NYJ -
41 Stephen Hill vs. NE -
42 Kenbrell Thompkins at NYJ -
43 Robert Woods at MIA -
44 Vincent Brown at JAC -
45 Golden Tate at ARZ -
46 Jarrett Boykin vs. CLE -
47 Brandon Gibson vs. BUF Questionable (hip)
48 Chris Givens at CAR -
49 Nate Washington vs. SF -
50 Brandon LaFell vs. STL -
51 Marlon Brown at PIT Questionable (hamstring)
52 Cecil Shorts vs. SD Questionable (clavicle)
53 Austin Pettis at CAR -
54 Kris Durham vs. CIN -
55 Jerome Simpson at NYG -
56 DeAndre Hopkins at KC -
57 Ted Ginn vs. STL -
58 Jeremy Kerley vs. NE Probable (-)
59 Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. DEN -
60 Jason Avant vs. DAL -
61 Drew Davis vs. TB -
62 Greg Little at GB -
63 Riley Cooper vs. DAL -
64 Sidney Rice at ARZ Probable (-)
65 Leonard Hankerson vs. CHI -
66 Donnie Avery vs. HOU Probable (shoulder)
67 Doug Baldwin at ARZ -
68 Tavon Austin at CAR -
69 Myles White vs. CLE -
70 Kevin Cone vs. TB -

WR Notes: Dez Bryant has drawn just 33 targets over his past four games. With DeMarco Murray (knee) laid up, the beast is overdue to get fed. It’s going to be a long day for an Eagles defense allowing the most fantasy points to enemy receivers. … A.J. Green finally got out of the Andy Dalton struggle zone in Week 7, catching six passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. He’s going to have a good day against a Lions defense that’s labored to stop its opponents’ top weapons this season. … Brandon Marshall has been held below 79 yards just twice this season, and scored in four of six games. His five touchdown catches are tied for sixth in the NFL. The league’s second worst coverage team via Pro Football Focus’ ratings, the Redskins are going to have their hands full. … Coming off back-to-back down games, Victor Cruz gets a Vikings defense that’s permitted 13 passing touchdowns (tied for 29th) and is allowing 308 yards passing per game. The Salsa will be danced.

Demaryius Thomas continues to lead the league in yards after the catch. Someone doing that much work after he gets the ball isn’t going to have any trouble finding the end zone as the year wears on. … Averaging 5.4/97/0.8, Jordy Nelson was already producing like a WR1, but drawing only 7.8 targets per week. With Randall Cobb down for the count, that number has nowhere to go but up, even if the same is true of the defensive attention he garners. … Having survived Week 6 decoy duties without further injury, Calvin Johnson’s (knee) placement on this list is on the extreme conservative side. As long as he plays — which all signs suggest he will — you start him without a second thought. … Per PFF, DeSean Jackson leads the league in yards per pass route run at 2.82. Per the eye test and nearly every statistic, that makes him a nightmare cover for Dallas’ crumbling defense. … Coming off his second 120-yard effort in four games back from suspension, Josh Gordon gets a Packers defense allowing the fourth most points to opposing receivers. Yet to be held below 4/71, and fourth in YPPR, he’s a safe WR1.   

Antonio Brown has gone at least 9/86 in each of his past three starts, averaging 12.3 targets while finding the end zone twice. The matchup is right at home in a Ravens defense that’s sprung some leaks in the secondary. … One of the most impressive parts of Justin Blackmon’s scorching start? He’s averaging nine yards after every catch, and is already 15th in total YAC despite having played just two games. Coming off a 14-catch, 20-target performance (both totals were the most for any receiver in a single game this season), Blackmon could have a field day against a Chargers team that’s covered the pass worse than any other club in football, according to Pro Football Focus. … If I told you a player was averaging 5.4/111 before his first one-catch performance of the season, you wouldn’t worry, right? There’s no reason to fret over Torrey Smith, who continues to knock on the WR1 door. … Pierre Garcon’s huge season has yet to materialize, but he’s yet to be held below six catches or 59 yards, and is averaging 5.8/68. He’s a Treasury-certified WR2.  

James Jones should be less consistently inconsistent with Randall Cobb sidelined until Week 15, but with his own health a question mark for the time being, he’s a candidate to be removed from these rankings on Friday. … What, you thought Alshon Jeffery would just keep having 100-yard games forever? Jeffery was bound to have a down effort, but he was actually inches away (one drop, two narrowly missed deep balls) from a much bigger night in Week 6. A truly ascendant player, he’s a locked-in WR3. … Keenan Allen has 4.71 speed — he also has 20 catches over his past three games, and is looking like the real deal for a team that desperately needed a wide receiver to step up. Allen wins his routes, and has been remarkably efficient thus far, hauling in 23-of-31 targets. Down weeks are inevitable for any rookie, but Allen is unlikely to have one against the Jaguars. … With Julio Jones down for the count, Roddy White (ankle, hamstring) will be in for a ton of targets if he plays this week, but it’s looking extremely unlikely. Rushing back from his preseason high-ankle sprain could go down as a career-altering decision for a player who had been one of the league’s steadiest.     

By now you know that T.Y. Hilton practically defines “boom or bust,” but the matchup couldn’t be tastier in a Broncos defense allowing a league-worst 338 passing yards per game and 8.6 yards per attempt. It helps, of course, that the game will likely be a shootout. Fire Hilton up as a high-upside play. … Much like Roddy White, Larry Fitzgerald’s season is shaping up as “injury marred,” but he’s going to play Thursday evening against the Seahawks. At what sounds like far less than 100 percent against one of the league’s most physical and effective secondaries, however, Fitz is hard to trust as more than a WR3, but his upside is that of a high-end WR2. … You know the drill. With Danny Amendola (concussion) out for Week 7, Julian Edelman can be counted on for 6-7 catches. He’s a solid, but not spectacular, WR3. Don’t expect a repeat of his 13-catch Week 2. … Kendall Wright is getting no respect because of the Titans’ run-heavy offense, but don’t turn your back on his weekly 5/55 if you’re in a pinch. … Even with Miles Austin one week healthier, Terrance Williams will be a plug-and-play WR4 against the Eagles’ defense.        

Week 7 Tight Ends

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Tony Gonzalez vs. TB -
2 Vernon Davis at TEN Probable (hamstring)
3 Julius Thomas at IND -
4 Jason Witten at PHI -
5 Rob Gronkowski at NYJ Questionable (arm)
6 Antonio Gates at JAC -
7 Jordan Cameron at GB -
8 Martellus Bennett at WAS -
9 Jermichael Finley vs. CLE -
10 Heath Miller vs. BAL Probable (-)
11 Greg Olsen vs. STL Probable (foot)
12 Jordan Reed vs. CHI -
13 Charles Clay vs. BUF -
14 Kyle Rudolph at NYG -
15 Tim Wright at ATL -
16 Coby Fleener vs. DEN -
17 Joseph Fauria vs. CIN -
18 Brandon Pettigrew vs. CIN -
19 Tyler Eifert at DET -
20 Garrett Graham at KC -
21 Jared Cook at CAR -
22 Jermaine Gresham at DET -
23 Delanie Walker vs. SF -
24 Brandon Myers vs. MIN Questionable (ankle)
25 Zach Ertz vs. DAL -
26 Jeff Cumberland vs. NE -
27 Lance Kendricks at CAR -
28 Scott Chandler at MIA -
29 Dallas Clark at PIT -
30 Brent Celek vs. DAL -
31 Sean McGrath vs. HOU -
32 Rob Housler vs. SEA Probable (ankle)
33 Zach Miller at ARZ Probable (hamstring)
34 Levine Toilolo vs. TB -
35 Ryan Griffin at KC -
36 Marcedes Lewis vs. SD Probable (calf)
37 Clay Harbor vs. SD -
38 Gavin Escobar at PHI -
39 John Carlson at NYG -
40 Anthony Fasano vs. HOU Probable (ankle)

TE Notes: Tony Gonzalez has established he’s not done, going 22/246/2 over his past two games, drawing a ridiculous 28 targets in the process. That’s despite the fact that the Jets and Patriots were going as far as to triple team him in key situations. With the loss of Julio Jones will come even more defensive attention, but who else does Matt Ryan have to throw to? 14 targets isn’t likely to be an outlier for Gonzalez going forward, but the average. … Vernon Davis: Any questions? Davis once and for all squashed the ridiculous notion that he was having a down season with his squashing of the Cardinals on Sunday, going 8/180/2. Davis has now scored in four of five games, with San Francisco’s Week 2 wipeout in Seattle being the exception. Essentially, that team-wide faceplant and Davis’ subsequent absence in Week 3 are what’s fueled the perception that he’s had an up-and-down year, but that’s simply not borne out by reality. At worst, he’s a weekly top-five option. … Averaging 6.8 catches over his past five games, Antonio Gates is on pace for 96 grabs, which would be a new career high by seven.

Julius Thomas has cleared 50 yards just twice in six games, but with seven total touchdowns, he’s second in the league in receiving scores. What are you going to do, bench him? … Jordan Cameron has become a bit of an odd case with Brandon Weeden back under center, but the short of it? He’s still third amongst tight ends in yards, and fourth in touchdowns. Unless you’ve got another top 6-7 option, you keep trotting him out there. … Jermichael Finley is expected to play a “lot of receiver” in Randall Cobb’s absence. That means more pass routes, which means more targets, which means more catches, etc. Finley’s numbers may never match his physical abilities, but he’s been a consistent option this season, and is in for even more looks. … The Ballad of Rob Gronkowski is long past absurd, but what we’ve been saying for weeks stands: if he plays, you start him and never look back. … After getting his feet wet in Week 3, Heath Miller has been an every-snap player his past two games, catching 12 passes along the way. He’s an eminently safe, if low-upside, TE1.

H-Back Charles Clay is still sort of a bizarre fantasy proposition, but averaging 4.6 catches for 59 yards, he belongs at the top of the TE2 heap. … A bigger part of the Redskins offense every week, Jordan Reed could be a TE1 before it’s all said and done. He needs to be 100 percent owned. … What do we know about the inconsistent Kyle Rudolph? That he’ll be playing with his third different starting quarterback of the season on Monday. Keep him rostered, but out of your starting lineup if at all possible. … The same goes for Coby Fleener. One of the league’s most mistake-prone players, he’s not a must hold. … An undrafted rookie out of Rutgers, Tim Wright has gone 12/132 in two games with Mike Glennon under center. Maybe it’s a fluke, but his Week 7 matchup is right in the Falcons, who allow the seventh most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. … Yes, Joseph Fauria is touchdown dependent. But he’s a touchdown machine. Of course he could get you a zero, but if your tight-end cupboard is bare, there are few more compelling hail marys. … Garrett Graham flopped in his first start in place of Owen Daniels, and will be dealing with the league’s stingiest tight-end defense this Sunday. No thanks.   

Week 7 Kickers

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Stephen Gostkowski at NYJ -
2 Blair Walsh at NYG -
3 Dan Bailey at PHI -
4 Matt Prater at IND -
5 Justin Tucker at PIT -
6 David Akers vs. CIN -
7 Matt Bryant vs. TB -
8 Nick Novak at JAC -
9 Greg Zuerlein at CAR -
10 Josh Brown vs. MIN -
11 Kai Forbath vs. CHI -
12 Mason Crosby vs. CLE -
13 Phil Dawson at TEN -
14 Steven Hauschka at ARZ -
15 Alex Henery vs. DAL -
16 Jay Feely vs. SEA -
17 Shaun Suisham vs. BAL Probable (hamstring)
18 Adam Vinatieri vs. DEN -
19 Caleb Sturgis vs. BUF -
20 Robbie Gould at WAS -
21 Dan Carpenter at MIA -
22 Nick Folk vs. NE -
23 Ryan Succop vs. HOU -
24 Rob Bironas vs. SF -
25 Mike Nugent at DET -
26 Randy Bullock at KC -
27 Graham Gano vs. STL -
28 Josh Scobee vs. SD -
29 Billy Cundiff at GB Probable (quadriceps)
30 Rian Lindell at ATL -

Week 7 Defense/Special Teams

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Chiefs Def/Spec Team vs. HOU -
2 Seahawks Def/Spec Team at ARZ -
3 Fortyniners Def/Spec Team at TEN -
4 Patriots Def/Spec Team at NYJ -
5 Dolphins Def/Spec Team vs. BUF -
6 Chargers Def/Spec Team at JAC -
7 Panthers Def/Spec Team vs. STL -
8 Packers Def/Spec Team vs. CLE -
9 Cardinals Def/Spec Team vs. SEA -
10 Ravens Def/Spec Team at PIT -
11 Steelers Def/Spec Team vs. BAL -
12 Bears Def/Spec Team at WAS -
13 Bengals Def/Spec Team at DET -
14 Lions Def/Spec Team vs. CIN -
15 Falcons Def/Spec Team vs. TB -
16 Vikings Def/Spec Team at NYG -
17 Texans Def/Spec Team at KC -
18 Jets Def/Spec Team vs. NE -
19 Buccaneers Def/Spec Team at ATL -
20 Broncos Def/Spec Team at IND -
21 Giants Def/Spec Team vs. MIN -
22 Browns Def/Spec Team at GB -
23 Bills Def/Spec Team at MIA -
24 Cowboys Def/Spec Team at PHI -
25 Rams Def/Spec Team at CAR -
26 Titans Def/Spec Team vs. SF -
27 Redskins Def/Spec Team vs. CHI -
28 Eagles Def/Spec Team vs. DAL -
29 Colts Def/Spec Team vs. DEN -
30 Jaguars Def/Spec Team vs. SD -