Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.
Start of the Week: Aaron Rodgers at Texans -- Weeks 1-5, Rodgers was the overall QB6 in fantasy points per game. But he’s coming off a total dud against the Bucs last week after completing just 16-of-35 passes for 160 scoreless yards and a pair of interceptions. His 35.4 passer rating was the second-lowest mark of his career. Rodgers should right the ship this week in Houston. This game’s 56.5-point total is tied for the highest of the week, and Green Bay’s implied team total of 30 points is tops for the weekend. The Texans just got shellacked by Ryan Tannehill for 364 yards and four touchdowns last Sunday, as the Titans hung 42 points on the board. Houston is a middling 15th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 20th in pass-defense DVOA while coming in at 31st in opponent plays per game. Fantasy managers should feel comfortable going right back to Rodgers in a game played under dome conditions.
Matthew Stafford at Falcons -- Stafford has yet to post a 300-yard game this season and is coming off a relatively disappointing stat line against the Jaguars in Week 6, posting 223 yards, averaging 7.2 YPA, and a 1:1 TD:INT mark in the easy win as the overall QB21. That’s right in line with his season average as the overall QB21 in fantasy points per game. He’s barely staying afloat as a QB2 right now in an offense that prefers to run the ball. Stafford was dropping dimes on defenses the first half of last season, taking downfield shots, en route to 312.4 yards per game. His yards per attempt is 1.2 yards fewer this year. But this is just too juicy of a spot to ignore Stafford. The Falcons are dead last in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 29th in adjusted sack rate. Kirk Cousins put the QB7 day on Atlanta last week with 343 yards and three touchdowns. And Teddy Bridgewater was the QB12 the week before. Whoever has faced this Falcons Defense has enjoyed plenty of success through the air. Stafford should be able to do the same with the skill he has in his pass-game arsenal. This game’s 56.5-point total is tied for the highest of Week 7, and Detroit’s implied total of 27.75 points is eighth-highest of 28 teams in action. The Falcons are a true pass-funnel defense, checking in at 30th in pass-defense DVOA as opposed to No. 8 against the run. Stafford is a solid streamer.
Justin Herbert vs. Jaguars -- Herbert was flat-out outstanding in the first half of the Chargers’ eventual Week 5 loss to the Saints, but a second-quarter Keenan Allen back issue somewhat left the offense sputtering afterward as New Orleans climbed back and won in overtime. Herbert has been lethal when under pressure and has done a great job at escaping the pocket and throwing on the move. He has seven touchdowns over his last two games and now gets a Jaguars Defense that is 22nd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, dead last in pass-defense DVOA, and dead last in adjusted sack rate. Deshaun Watson laid the QB6 day on Jacksonville in Week 5. Joe Burrow had 300 yards the week before. And Ryan Fitzpatrick posted the QB8 performance against the Jaguars in Week 3. The Chargers are coming off their bye, hosting a team traveling cross-country, and L.A.’s implied team total of 29 points is the fifth-highest of Week 7. The Chargers are running the fourth-most offensive plays per game.
Kyle Allen vs. Cowboys -- Allen took advantage of a bad defense in Week 6, going 31-of-42 for 280 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants. He did turn the ball over two times, but that comes with the territory for Allen. He’s a turnover machine, but has shown in the past he can at least post respectable numbers in glorious spots. This week’s date with Dallas’ truly awful defense definitely qualifies as one. The Cowboys are 29th in opponent plays per game, 21st in pass-defense DVOA, and 19th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. If you’ve watched the Cowboys, it’s hard to believe their numbers aren’t even worse. Dallas and Washington are both top four in offensive pace. This game’s 46-point total just feels low in a potential shootout of bad teams. All of Allen’s skill players have plus individual matchups. Managers desperate for a streamer in one-QB leagues can do worse than Allen, and he’s a solid two-QB league start.
Drew Brees vs. Panthers -- The overall QB20 in fantasy points per game, Brees is coming off his bye to face a Panthers unit that is No. 4 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 13th in pass-defense DVOA. Both New Orleans and Carolina are bottom-nine in offensive pace while the Panthers check in at No. 8 in opponent plays per game. They do a good job on offense of controlling the ball and keeping opponents off the field. The slow-paced nature of this game along with the Saints’ desire to run the ball and Carolina’s poor run defense sets this up as a Sunday for Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray to pound the Panthers on the ground. Brees has attempted 40 passes in a game just once this season. He could easily throw multiple touchdowns against Carolina, but this doesn’t set up a high-volume passing day for Brees. There are higher-floor streamers in much better offensive environments for Week 7.
Jared Goff vs. Bears -- Goff has multiple touchdowns in 4-of-6 games and a pair of 300-yard efforts to his name as the current QB16. But he brings nothing to the table as a runner and now draws a Bears unit that is No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and No. 2 in pass-defense DVOA. Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, and Tom Brady have all been held to one touchdown each by Chicago. The 45-point total for Bears-Rams is the second-lowest of the week and projects as a defensive, run-oriented battle in the trenches. Goff is a back-end QB2.
Joe Burrow vs. Browns -- Burrow had easily his best game of the young season back in Week 2 against these Browns, throwing for 316 yards and three touchdowns as the week’s QB10, but it took 61 pass attempts. Since that Thursday night, Burrow has absorbed 18 sacks in four games with a combined 3:3 TD:INT mark and topping 39 pass attempts just once in that span. This offense has been going backward a bit. The Browns are 23rd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 19th in pass-defense DVOA, so the matchup is exploitable, but this looks like a matchup featuring a couple mediocre offenses that want to run the ball. Cincinnati’s implied team total of 23.25 points is tied for the week’s 10th-lowest of 28 teams in action. Burrow sports a below-average 6.6 yards per attempt. He’s in play for managers playing in two-QB leagues but is an underwhelming one-QB start.
Start of the Week: Justin Jackson vs. Jaguars -- Speaking Wednesday, coach Anthony Lynn revealed Austin Ekeler (hamstring, I.R.) will be back “later than sooner” and isn’t close to returning from his “very serious” hammy pull. In the first game without Ekeler in Week 5 against the Saints, it was Jackson who played 59% of the snaps to Joshua Kelley’s 35% clip and out-touched the rookie 20-12 while seeing six targets to Kelley’s one. Jackson looked like the far superior player against the Saints. Health has just always been his question mark. Jackson is the back to own in L.A. and now faces a Jaguars team that is 22nd in run-defense DVOA and 27th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. The Chargers are heavy nine-point home favorites with an implied team total of 29, fifth-highest on the weekend slate. D’Andre Swift (14-116-2) just had his rookie coming out party in Jacksonville last week. Adrian Peterson (15-40-1), David Johnson (17-96), and Joe Mixon (25-151-2) have all met or exceeded expectations against the Jaguars over the last three weeks. Jackson is a must-start.
D’Andre Swift at Falcons -- Swift is coming off his breakout game last week in Jacksonville where he rushed 14 times for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns while catching three passes. He was the overall RB3 for the week, behind only Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake. Adrian Peterson has emerged as the early-down starter and rushing attempts leader over the past few weeks, and Swift has settled in as the third-down back and pass-game specialist. But Swift actually led this backfield in playing time (38%) against the Jaguars while Peterson played a three week-low 35% of the downs. Swift’s 14 carries more than doubled his previous season-high. Swift has the most upside here and has earned even more playing time. Whether or not the Lions give it to him is a whole different story. This Week 7 draw shapes up nicely for the rookie, as the Falcons have surrendered the second-most catches for the second-most yards and most receiving scores to running backs. We’d really like to see the Lions eliminate Kerryon Johnson or Peterson from the backfield, but that doesn’t appear to be in the plans at the moment. In a potential shootout (56.5-point total), Swift is very much an RB2/3 play.
Latavius Murray vs. Panthers -- Murray is seeing 10.4 carries per game, enough to eat into Alvin Kamara’s rushing upside, as he’s averaging just 12.2 carries per contest. The Saints have become more run-heavy in recent seasons, and Murray has managed to have a couple useful fantasy days. He’s the overall RB37 in half-PPR points per game, but this looks like a potential blowup spot for both Murray and Kamara. The Panthers are a run-funnel defense, checking in at 26th in run-defense DVOA and 28th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. With the running back position as shallow as it’s ever been, Murray has RB2 upside if he can fall into the end zone. Kamara has narrowly out-carried Murray 14-10 in the red zone and 11-6 inside the 10-yard line. Carolina has surrendered the most rushing touchdowns in the league to RBs.
Antonio Gibson vs. Cowboys -- Gibson out-carried J.D. McKissic just 9-8 last week against the Giants while McKissic out-snapped him 53% to 37% and out-targeted the rookie 6-5. In a bad offense, it’s hard to really trust either back as anything more than an RB3. However, this matchup with the Cowboys’ historically-bad defense has both in play for desperate managers. Gibson is the current RB30 in half-PPR points per game and simply isn’t seeing the volume many had hoped when Washington cut Adrian Peterson over the summer. But Dallas is 29th in run-defense DVOA, 25th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, and only the Texans have surrendered more rushing yards to the position. This game is currently a pick’em with a 46-point total, so on paper it looks like it will be competitive. Gibson was a Week 6 bust, but I’m going back to him as an upside FLEX. Kenyan Drake (20-164-2) busted his slump in Dallas last week.
Jerick McKinnon at Patriots -- Raheem Mostert is again injured and is expected to head to I.R. with a high-ankle sprain. If so, he’ll be out for at least three weeks. Tevin Coleman (knee) is also still on I.R. McKinnon played 92% of the snaps in Week 4 when both Mostert and Coleman were last out. He’ll be on the RB2 map for however long both backs are out. But this matchup doesn’t look very appetizing at all. New England has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to running backs, and both of these teams play clock-killing, ball-control offense. San Francisco is 31st in offensive pace while the Patriots are No. 1 in opponent plays per game. Jeff Wilson and JaMycal Hasty will fight for scraps and some early-down and/or goal-line work behind McKinnon. Both should be added in fantasy, but none of these three have much upside at New England. The 44.5-point total for 49ers-Patriots is the lowest of the weekend. San Francisco’s implied team total of 21.25 points is the sixth-lowest of 28 teams in action.
Le’Veon Bell at Broncos -- Released by the Jets last week, Bell practiced with the Chiefs for the first time Wednesday. But coach Andy Reid said before practice that he’s not even sure Bell will be active for this week against the Broncos. It all depends on how quickly he picks up the playbook. Even if he does draw into the lineup, that makes it sound like it’ll take a couple weeks for the Chiefs to acclimate Bell into the offense and get him caught up to speed. Those that picked up Bell need to be patient and see how things play out with Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Lamical Perine vs. Bills -- In the Jets’ first game without Le’Veon Bell, Perine played 58% of the snaps to Frank Gore’s 35%, but Gore out-carried the rookie 11-7. Perine is expected to see more and more action moving forward in a lost season, but Gore is still just a pain in the butt. Perine needs to be added in 12-team leagues, but managers have got to wait things out. Coach Adam Gase either needs to be fired or give Perine more of a look ahead of three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust that is Gore. The Jets’ implied team total of 16.25 points is easily the lowest of Week 7.
Start of the Week: Terry McLaurin vs. Cowboys -- The current WR26 in half-PPR points per game, McLaurin hasn’t exactly lived up to his ADP, though he’s obviously not far off. If he had better touchdown luck, McLaurin would be crushing. He has two 100-yard games and 61 yards or more in all but one contest, but McLaurin has found the end zone just one time. Seeing 10.2 targets per game over the last five weeks, McLaurin is seeing legit WR1 usage. The offense is just so bad in Washington. However, this is a definite blowup spot for the sophomore wideout. Dallas is 21st in pass-defense DVOA and 30th in fantasy points allowed to receivers. Christian Kirk (2-86-1), Darius Slayton (8-129), Odell Beckham (5-81-2), DK Metcalf (4-110-1), and Tyler Lockett (9-100-3) have all ripped the Cowboys over the last four weeks. Cowboys fill-in outside CB Daryl Worley has been absolutely bludgeoned in coverage. This game has some sneaky shootout appeal. If Washington is putting up points, there’s a good chance McLaurin is part of it.
Christian Kirk vs. Seahawks -- Kirk is coming off back-to-back weeks of season-highs in receiving yards with 5-78 and 2-86-1 lines against the Jets and Cowboys, seeing a total of 10 targets in that span. He has three touchdowns over his last three games and is starting to show some life after a lost first few weeks. The target volume is still a bit uneasy feeling with the Cardinals preferring to run the ball and funneling heavy volume to DeAndre Hopkins as the alpha wideout. But this matchup looks exploitable in a big way. Seattle is 29th in pass-defense DVOA and dead last in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. This game’s 56-point total is the third-highest of Week 7. Adam Thielen (9-80-2), DeVante Parker (10-110), Michael Gallup (6-138-1), Cedrick Wilson (5-107-2), Amari Cooper (9-86), Julian Edelman (8-179), N’Keal Harry (8-72), Damiere Byrd (6-72), Julio Jones (9-157), Calvin Ridley (9-130-2), and Russell Gage (9-114) have all met or exceeded expectations against the Seahawks. Kirk is a low-floor, high-upside WR3 play. Seattle is dead last in opponent plays per game.
Robby Anderson at Saints -- The overall WR18 in half-PPR points per game, Anderson has settled in as an every-week WR2 with four games of 99-plus yards and none below 55 yards. He just hasn’t scored since Week 1 and is past due for an end-zone trip. Anderson is second in the NFL in receiving yards, behind only DeAndre Hopkins. The matchup with Marshon Lattimore would seem to be one to avoid based on past performance, but Lattimore hasn’t been nearly the same shutdown cover man he was the previous couple seasons. Lattimore is currently Pro Football Focus’ No. 74 cover corner. Overall, the Saints are 19th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and 15th in pass-defense DVOA. Mike Williams (5-109-2), Kenny Golladay (4-62-1), and Allen Lazard (6-146-1) have all ripped the Saints on the outside over New Orleans’ last three games. Anderson is a high-floor, high-upside WR2 playing in a dome environment.
Mike Williams vs. Jaguars -- Williams is coming off a 5-109-2 evisceration of the Saints two Monday nights ago before the Bolts’ bye. It was his first 100-yard game of the season, and Williams is averaging a ridiculously robust 18.1 yards aDOT. When he and Justin Herbert connect, big plays happen. Jacksonville is dead last in pass-defense DVOA, 16th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts, and has surrendered the ninth-most completions of 20-plus yards. With Keenan Allen (back) still dealing with spasms and less than 100%, Williams and Hunter Henry could be tasked with carrying the passing attack more against the Jaguars. The Chargers are implied to score 29 points, the fifth-highest team total of Week 7. The Bolts are No. 5 in offensive pace and No. 4 in offensive plays per game. I like Williams as an upside WR3 play.
Emmanuel Sanders vs. Panthers -- The overall WR14 in half-PPR points per game Weeks 3-5 with receiving lines of 4-56-1 > 6-93 > 12-122, Sanders took over Saints’ WR1 duties in Michael Thomas’ (ankle) absence. Thomas was initially expected back this week but tweaked his hamstring in practice and is now in question for Sunday. Obviously, if Thomas doesn’t play, that keeps Sanders in the fantasy mix, but if Thomas does play, I’m totally off Sanders. The matchup already isn’t ideal. The Saints are heavy 7.5-point home favorites and project to run all over Carolina’s run-funnel defense. The Panthers are 26th in run-defense DVOA and 13th against the pass while allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to receivers. Both offenses play on the slow side, and the Panthers are No. 8 in opponent plays per game. I like targeting both Saints running backs and avoiding their passing attack this week.
Tim Patrick vs. Chiefs -- Patrick played a season-high 92% of the snaps last week against the Patriots and has become the Broncos’ most productive wideout in the wake of Courtland Sutton’s season-ending torn ACL. Patrick has posted back-to-back 100-yard games with 6-113-1 and 4-101 lines against the Jets and Patriots. Jerry Jeudy hasn’t been productive at all, dropping too many passes. KJ Hamler and Noah Fant are both expected back from injuries this week, spreading out this passing game. The Chiefs are No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 6 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Stefon Diggs (6-46-1), John Brown (0-0), Julian Edelman (3-35), Marquise Brown (2-13), Mike Williams (2-14), and Brandin Cooks (2-20) have all been held in check by Kansas City. Will Fuller’s 8-112 was heavily aided by garbage time, and Henry Ruggs’ 2-118-1 was accomplished on three targets. I want to see more from Patrick before upgrading him from a WR4. Denver’s implied total of 18.25 points is the week’s second-lowest.
Henry Ruggs vs. Bucs -- Ruggs has just six catches on the season but has turned them into 177 yards and one touchdown. He’s drawn just three targets in back-to-back games but did turn one into a 72-yard touchdown against the Chiefs last time out. It’s just really difficult to trust Ruggs as a fantasy starter in an offense that doesn’t like to throw deep. He now gets a brutal Week 7 draw against a Bucs unit that is No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 8 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Tampa Bay just absolutely erased Aaron Rodgers last week. Vegas may now be forced to play without its entire starting offensive line after it was placed on the COVID list Thursday. That would likely force Derek Carr to get the ball out even quicker.
Start of the Week: T.J. Hockenson at Falcons -- Hockenson has compiled just 26 yards over the last two weeks but has scored touchdowns in back-to-back contests and is the overall TE8 in half-PPR points per game. Tight end has just been brutal this year. Hockenson is running plenty of routes and draws a Falcons Defense that is 31st in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Irv Smith (4-55), Kyle Rudolph (3-47), Robert Tonyan (6-98-3), Jimmy Graham (6-60-2), Dalton Schultz (9-88-1), and Greg Olsen (4-24-1) have all had strong days against this defense. Hockenson is an every-week TE1 but has a higher ceiling this week in a game with a 56.5-point total, the highest of Week 7. The Lions are implied to score 27.75 points this week.
Robert Tonyan at Texans -- Tonyan has missed practice time this week with an ankle injury, but it sounded like he did a bit more Thursday, providing some hope for his Week 7 status. The current overall TE4 in half-PPR points per game, Tonyan is seeing five targets per game over the last three weeks and now gets a Texans Defense that is 21st in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Tyler Eifert saw a season-high seven targets against Houston in Week 5. Eric Ebron (5-52-1) and Travis Kelce (6-50-1) have also had strong efforts against this team. Tonyan, even on a bum ankle, would be an easy lock-and-load fantasy start in season-long leagues.
Austin Hooper vs. Bengals -- After a slow start to his Browns career, Hooper has turned it up of late, seeing a total of 23 targets the last three weeks and catching at least five passes in all three contests. With Jarvis Landry at less than 100%, Hooper is becoming the go-to chain-mover and middle-field option. The Bengals are 26th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and have given up the third-most receiving yards to the position. Trey Burton (4-58-1), Jack Doyle (3-29-1), Mark Andrews (6-56-1), Zach Ertz (7-70), and Hunter Henry (5-73) have all met or exceeded expectations against the Bengals through six weeks.
Dalton Schultz at Washington -- Schultz was targeted five times in Andy Dalton’s first start for Dallas, seeing just 9.25% of the Cowboys’ targets against Arizona. That’s too low for weekly TE1 production, but I’m willing to go back to him at such a shallow tight end position against a Washington Defense that is 29th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Gerald Everett (4-90), Mark Andrews (3-57-2), and Dallas Goedert (8-101-1) have all ripped up the Football Team since Week 1. Schultz’s floor is low and has a capped ceiling without Dak Prescott, but there’s enough here for him to post a reasonable top-12 week at a brutal fantasy position.
Tight end is a crapshoot, and all we’re looking for are tight ends who can find the end zone and/or see volume in terms of targets. Predicting touchdowns is the hardest thing to do in football. Just finding a tight end who is on the field enough and runs plenty of routes is difficult enough. It’s why having Travis Kelce, George Kittle, or Mark Andrews is such an advantage.