Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes. Anybody can tell you to start the Matt Ryans, Marlon Macks, and Julian Edelmans of the world. That’s not what I’m doing here. I’m looking deeper at legitimate mostly-borderline candidates who owners may truly be contemplating using in lineups.
Start of the Week: Josh Allen vs. Dolphins: Fantasy’s QB13 in points per game, Allen is coming off the bye week and entering the cupcake part of the Bills’ schedule, which includes a pair of dates with the Dolphins over the next five weeks. Buffalo is No. 1 in red-zone touchdown rate, and the Dolphins are dead last in opponent red-zone touchdown percentage. Miami’s defense is 32nd in pass-defense DVOA, 32nd in yards per attempt allowed, 32nd in opponent passer rating, 32nd in touchdown passes given up per game, 31st in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks, 31st in adjusted sack rate, and 31st in interceptions. This defense doesn’t do anything well. If all of that doesn’t convince you to play Allen, then you’re beyond saving. But we’ll continue on here. Most think of the Bills as this run-heavy, slogging offense, but they’re quietly 12th in pass attempts per game and in the middle-third of the league in offensive pace. These are the fantasy QB finishes against the Dolphins this season, starting with Week 1: Lamar Jackson QB1 > Tom Brady QB4 > Dak Prescott QB7 > Philip Rivers QB9 > Case Keenum QB17. The Bills are massive 16.5-point home favorites, and their implied team total of 28.5 points is second-best of Week 7, behind only the Rams. Not only would I simply start Allen, I would play Allen over any other quarterback this week. He has obvious overall QB1 upside thanks to his dual-threat ability. Allen is averaging 8.2 rushing attempts for 31.6 yards per game on the ground with three touchdowns. He lit a bad Dolphins Defense on fire last season with rushing lines of 9-135-0 and 9-95-2 in Weeks 13 and 17. Allen finished as the overall QB2 and QB1 those weeks. And this version of the Dolphins is much worse than the 2018 one.
Daniel Jones vs. Cardinals: Since posting the overall QB2 afternoon against the Bucs in Week 3, things haven’t been all that pretty for this year’s No. 6 overall pick. Jones is a disgusting QB26 in fantasy points per game, trailing guys like Chase Daniel and Marcus Mariota. But the schedule hasn’t exactly been kind to Jones, who is coming off back-to-back losses to the Vikings and Patriots. He has played his last three games without Saquon Barkley (ankle) but gets him back this Sunday and went to Foxboro last Thursday night without Barkley, Sterling Shepard (concussion), and Evan Engram (knee) on a short week. The vast majority of quarterbacks would fail in that scenario. Engram is back this week as well, and Golden Tate is in his third week removed from suspension. Above, I mentioned how the Dolphins were 31st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. The Cardinals are behind them sitting in dead last. Arizona has surrendered the most passing touchdowns and remains the only team without an interception. That defense at least gets star No. 1 CB Patrick Peterson back from his season-opening six-game suspension, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what kind of game shape Peterson is in after being away from the team for a month-and-a-half. Outside of Peterson, this defense strikes zero fear into an offense. Arizona is 29th in pass-defense DVOA, 30th in passing yards allowed, and 31st in opponent QB rating. DC Vance Joseph’s unit has also allowed the second-most rushing yards to quarterbacks. Jones possesses that dual-threat ability but hasn’t really shown it off since rushing four times for 28 yards and two touchdowns in his first start. Since then, Jones has run the ball 10 times for 63 scoreless yards. That’s still two-plus fantasy points per game to add to his floor. The Cardinals play at the league’s fastest offensive pace, which translates to the opponent getting more offensive possessions, and therefore has Arizona sitting at 24th in opponent plays per game. Both of these teams are top-11 in offensive pace, so this should be a fun game to watch. The 50.5-point total for Cardinals-Giants is the second-highest of Week 7, and New York’s implied team total of 26.75 points is third-best. Jones is very much back in play as a QB1 streaming option.
Gardner Minshew at Bengals: I’ll admit, I didn’t expect Minshew to be nearly this good or competent as a mid-round rookie stepping into the saddle Week 2. But Minshew Mania has taken over, and he’s the overall QB17 in fantasy points per game, which includes his dreadful QB26 day last week against the Saints when he scored just 5.6 points and completed less than 50% of his passes. New Orleans fields a talented defense that has truly been its saving grace during Drew Brees’ (thumb) absence despite what Big Media will lead you to believe. *Whispers ... Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t been anything more than average, at best.* This is a rebound spot for Minshew and the Jaguars’ trio of Minshew, Leonard Fournette, and D.J. Chark. Cincinnati is 30th in pass-defense DVOA, 29th in adjusted sack rate, 28th in yards per attempt allowed, and 27th in opponent passer rating. Minshew should operate from a clean pocket with open throwing lanes most of the afternoon. The 29th-fastest paced Jaguars will also be considerably up in pace against a No. 4-paced Bengals team that can’t sustain drives. Cincinnati is getting creamed for the seventh-most fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. One big reason is this defense has shown no ability to contain quarterbacks in the pocket, allowing -- by far -- the most rushing yards to the position. The Bengals have hemorrhaged 304 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to quarterbacks. The Cardinals are second-worst in that category and have only yielded 160 rushing yards to the position. Lamar Jackson had 19-152-1 rushing last week as the overall QB3 against Cincinnati. Kyler Murray hung a 10-93-1 rushing line in Week 5 en route to the overall QB6 day. Josh Allen had 9-46 as a runner in Week 4. Minshew isn’t afraid to use his legs. In his five starts, the rookie is averaging four carries for 23.8 yards on the ground. It doesn’t sound like much, but just adding those two-plus points to his floor makes a difference. Jacksonville’s implied team total of 23.75 points is one of its highest marks of the season.
Jared Goff at Falcons: The numbers on Goff have been beaten to death. We all know he’s struggling, and his struggles date back pretty deep into last season. As former Rotoworld Godfather Evan Silva noted numerous times this week, Goff has completed just 59.8% of his passes at 6.7 yards per attempt with a hideous 14:15 TD:INT mark over his last 14 starts. In his 14 starts before that, Goff completed 66% of his throws at 8.7 yards per with a robust 33:7 TD:INT mark. Goff is being pressured 43.3% of the time this season. Only Daniel Jones has been pressured on a higher percentage of his throws. And under pressure, Goff is completing just 43.4% of his throws with a QB rating of 65.0. The Rams’ offensive line is in shambles after letting LG Rodger Saffold walk as a free agent and releasing C John Sullivan. Those guys were grizzled veterans, and the Rams opted to replace them with completely inexperienced sophomores LG Joseph Noteboom and C Brian Allen. Noteboom was horrendous before tearing his ACL last week, and Allen has merely been mediocre. The line is playing bad as a whole. The good news, however, is the Atlanta defensive line gets zero pressure, checking in at No. 32 in adjusted sack rate. This is an extreme pass-funnel defense, as the Falcons are 31st in pass-defense DVOA and No. 7 against the run. Atlanta is 27th in pass yards allowed, 30th in opponent QB rating, and 30th in yards per attempt allowed. Only the Cardinals and Dolphins are yielding more fantasy points to quarterbacks. And the Falcons are going to be without top CB Desmond Trufant due to injury. So, while Goff has been bad, this Atlanta defense has been just as bad, if not worse. And we get this game played in the friendly confines of a dome between two top-10 fastest-paced offenses with the week’s highest projected total at 54.5 points. The Rams’ implied total of 28.75 points is tops for Week 7. If Goff fails, the alarms will ring louder.
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Matthew Stafford vs. Vikings: Very quietly, Stafford is the overall QB11 in fantasy points per game right now. The Lions are playing far more aggressively under new OC Darrell Bevell. Detroit is 16th in pass attempts per game, and Stafford has attempted the second-most passes of 20-plus yards, behind only Patrick Mahomes. Stafford is averaging a crisp 8.0 yards per attempt. Stafford played really well last Monday night against the Packers, but the Lions failed too many times once in Green Bay territory and settled for field goals. That, along with shoddy refereeing, was Detroit’s downfall in the one-point loss. Stafford now gets to come home on a short week to face a Vikings team that is finding its groove a bit. Minnesota is No. 8 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, No. 10 in adjusted sack rate, No. 7 in passing yards given up, and No. 6 in opponent yards per attempt. The Vikings held Matt Ryan to his only game outside of QB1 territory with a QB14 finish in Week 1. Aaron Rodgers was the QB19 against Minnesota in Week 2, and Carson Wentz needed 40 attempts to get to the QB9 day last Sunday. Derek Carr, Chase Daniel, and Daniel Jones were easily disposed of in between. In two games against coach Mike Zimmer’s defense last season, Stafford averaged a pitiful 157.5 yards with no touchdowns on 34 attempts per contest. This game’s 43.5-point total is the fifth-lowest of the week and will likely be an NFC North slobberknocker between a pair of clubs that prefer to run the ball and play defense.
Philip Rivers at Titans: Rivers is the current QB11 in overall points but QB15 in fantasy points per game. He has a pair of QB9 days under his belt, but Rivers also has two sub-QB24 weeks to go with it. His ceiling hasn’t proven high while the floor is extremely low. The Chargers fire off the fourth-most pass attempts per game, but they run the league’s slowest offense. This week’s tilt with the Titans features two of the 10 slowest offenses, as the Titans are 23rd in pace. That’s reflected in the projected total of 40 points, second-lowest of Week 7 ahead of only Saints-Bears at 38.5 points. Tennessee’s defensive line that is No. 8 in adjusted sack rate versus the Chargers’ offensive line is one of the biggest mismatches in this one. Rivers has been pressured at the sixth-highest rate and has attempted the second-most passes under duress. The Titans are No. 6 in passing yards allowed, No. 12 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 8 in opponent yards per attempt, and No. 9 in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks. Their schedule has been pretty easy to this point, however, as they’ve faced Baker Mayfield, Jacoby Brissett, Gardner Minshew, Matt Ryan, Josh Allen, and Joe Flacco. This Bolts offense just hasn’t been very good either, especially since Melvin Gordon returned to the team in Week 5. Rivers is a fine option in two-QB leagues, but he’s a tough sell as much more than a floor play in a game with a low total played between two of the slower-paced teams in the NFL.
Sam Darnold vs. Patriots: Darnold returned from his bout with mono to put the QB10 day on the Cowboys last week, upsetting Dallas in the Meadowlands. Darnold was nearly flawless with his third career 300-yard passing game with a pair of touchdowns, including a 92-yard strike over the top to Robby Anderson. Darnold breathed much-needed life into this previously-pathetic offense. He’s someone to own across all formats when looking at the Jets’ upcoming schedule after Week 7. Following their date with the Patriots Monday night, the Jets have @ JAX, @ MIA, vs. NYG, @ WSH, vs. OAK, @ CIN, vs. MIA, @ BAL, and vs. PIT in Weeks 8-16. Seven of those nine games are against current-bottom 12 pass defenses in terms of DVOA. The bad news is this week Darnold squares off with a Patriots Defense that is No. 1 in a ton of categories. They’re No. 2 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, No. 2 in passing yards surrendered, No. 1 in opponent yards per attempt, No. 1 in passer rating, and No. 2 in adjusted sack rate. Darnold will also be without TE Chris Herndon (hamstring) for at least one more week. If Darnold is available or gets dropped in your leagues over the next five days, he should be added as a viable weekly option the remainder of the fantasy season. He’s just someone to avoid for Week 7 with the Jets implied to score 16.75 points, the week’s third-lowest. All Jets skill players get big-time boosts starting Week 8.
Start of the Week: Devin Singletary vs. Dolphins: You’ll notice a theme throughout this column. We want to start all of our Bills this week. Singletary hasn’t played since Week 2 due to a hamstring strain, but he’s practicing in full this week and is ready to return with Buffalo coming out of its bye. Singletary was close to playing in Week 5, so there shouldn’t be any concerns about him being less than 100 percent. In his one healthy game, Singletary played 68.2% of the offensive snaps Week 1 against the Jets. While Frank Gore has played really well over the last month, Singletary should be inserted right back into at least a 50-50 timeshare. And that’s enough to put him on the RB2 map with upside in this dream spot against the Dolphins. Not only is Miami terrible against the pass, it’s just as bad against the run. The Dolphins are 30th in run-defense DVOA, 31st in rushing yards allowed per game, 25th in opponent yards per carry, 32nd in fantasy points allowed to running backs, and face the most rush attempts per contest. Adrian Peterson went 23-118-0 versus Miami in Week 7. Austin Ekeler turned 23 touches into 122 yards and two touchdowns the previous game. Ezekiel Elliott (19-125-0) and Tony Pollard (13-103-1) both went over 100 yards rushing the week before that. Sony Michel had 21-83-1 in Week 2. And Mark Ingram posted 14-107-2 in the season opener. Gore is going to stay involved, but Singletary has been too good to keep off the field. Singletary has turned his 15 touches into 155 yards and one touchdown in 1.5 games of action. He should have a floor of 10-12 touches with the Bills as heavy 16.5-point home favorites. Unlike Gore, he brings something to the table as a pass-catcher. Singletary is way too cheap on FanDuel at $5,800.
Matt Breida at Redskins: Last week against the Rams, Coleman was in on 55.9% of the plays while Breida had a 35.1% clip in Coleman’s second game back from a high-ankle sprain. The good news is the Niners shifted to a two-man backfield, eliminating Raheem Mostert from the offense and letting him focus on special teams. Jeff Wilson was active but didn’t play a snap. If the Niners keep this a two-man thing going forward, we can confidently roll Coleman and Breida out there every week in fantasy. Coleman is obviously the preferred option thanks to his red-zone and goal-line roles, but Breida has amassed 14 and 17 touches the last two weeks, giving him more than enough volume to return RB2/3 numbers, especially in a dream matchup against the Redskins. Coach Kyle Shanahan is hiding Jimmy Garoppolo in this offense -- San Francisco is 30th in pass attempts per game (29.4) -- and relying on his running game and defense during the 49ers’ 5-0 start. Washington is coming off its first win against the similarly-awful Dolphins and return home as 10-point underdogs to the Niners. The Redskins are 28th in opponent plays per game and 26th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, who are averaging 4.28 yards per carry against them while Washington is 31st in catches surrendered to the position. Breida is very active in the pass game which gives him a nice floor to offset his nonexistent goal-line usage. Breida will likely have to create a big play to score a touchdown like he did two weeks ago against the Browns when he turned on the burners and scored from 83 yards out on the Niners’ first play. Dolphins RBs averaged 4.5 yards per carry last week, as Kenyan Drake popped up for 13 PPR points, Mark Walton averaged 5.3 YPC, and Kalen Ballage scored a short touchdown. Sony Michel had a 16-91-1 rushing line in Week 5 while James White turned 12 touches into 72 yards, including six catches. Wayne Gallman unloaded on the Skins for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 24 touches, including six catches, in Week 4. The Niners are implied to score 25.25 points, the ninth-best mark on the slate.
Josh Jacobs at Packers: I know Jacobs has made numerous appearances in this weekly column as a recommended “sit,” but I want to make it clear that I’m a fan of his; I just don’t love his nonexistent pass-game role with only six catches in five games. The good news is Jacobs is coming off a season-best 17 routes ran in the Week 5 upset win over the Bears while playing over 68% of the snaps, his second-best rate of 2019. And the Raiders are now coming off their bye to face a Packers team on short rest following last Monday night’s win. Green Bay has been stellar against the pass this season, checking in at No. 5 in DVOA, but the run defense has really struggled to this point. The Packers are 26th in run-defense DVOA, 26th in opponent yards per carry, and 23rd in rushing yards allowed per game. Only the Dolphins, Bengals, and Lions are giving up more fantasy points to running backs. Oakland is playing an extreme ball-control, hit-you-in-the-mouth offense that operates at the eighth-slowest pace while the defense faces the ninth-fewest plays per game. Jacobs is averaging 86 rushing yards per week and has a pair of multi-touchdown performances. The Packers surrendered 61 yards and a score to Kerryon Johnson in Week 6. Ezekiel Elliott had 91 yards and visited pay dirt the previous week. Jordan Howard went berserk with 110 yards and three touchdowns in Week 4. Phillip Lindsay had 130 yards and two scores the week before. And Dalvin Cook posted 191 yards and a touchdown on Green Bay in Week 2. Jacobs is averaging 18.8 touches per game and should be locked and loaded into season-long lineups as a comfortable RB2 play despite the Raiders’ implied total of 20.5 points being the seventh-lowest of Week 7.
Jamaal Williams vs. Raiders: Returning from a one-game absence last week due to a concussion, Williams parlayed 52.7% of the snaps into 18 touches for 136 yards and one touchdown against the Lions. After Aaron Jones scored four rushing touchdowns in Williams’ stead Week 5, Jones played just 48.6% of the downs, lost a fumble, dropped a would-be 33-yard touchdown, and was out-touched 18-15 by Williams. As frustrating as Williams’ presence is for Jones owners, there’s no denying Williams has earned his playing time with more consistent performances and a reliability factor. Williams doesn’t make mistakes and has a fan in Aaron Rodgers. He’s going to be on the field and has worked his way into a hot-hand, 50-50 situation in the Packers’ balanced attack. The Raiders have been strong against the run, checking in at No. 6 in run-defense DVOA and No. 8 in fantasy points allowed to the position. However, the Packers are significant 5.5-point home favorites with an implied team total of 26, the fifth-highest of Week 7. There’s a good chance Williams out-touches Jones again. At worst, Williams looks like a viable RB3/FLEX play with upside to finish inside the top 20 for the week.
Joe Mixon vs. Jaguars: Mixon found himself in this exact same spot in this column last week, and he answered the bell with 10 touches for 39 scoreless yards in his effort against the Ravens, finishing as the overall RB41. That lines up right with his season average as the RB41 in half-PPR points per game. As you can see, Mixon has been a steady RB4 while playing in one of the league’s worst offenses and behind one of its worst offensive lines. Additionally, Mixon played a five week-low 49.2% of the snaps last Sunday against the Cardinals. Giovani Bernard actually played more at 54.2% in a game that was relatively close. Mixon is averaging just over 12 carries per game and isn’t running many routes, instead coming off the field in passing situations in favor of Bernard. That severely weakens Mixon’s floor to the point where he might not be usable most of the remainder of the season. The Jaguars are dead last in run-defense DVOA, 31st in opponent yards per carry, 24th in rushing yards allowed, and 25th in fantasy points surrendered to running backs. That’s all great for Mixon, but his offensive line is 31st in yards created in the rushing game. The Bengals will also be playing way down in pace against the Jaguars’ fourth-slowest paced offense. The 43.5-point total for Jaguars-Bengals is fifth-lowest of the week, and the Bengals’ implied total of 19.75 points is sixth-lowest. Mixon owners should have sold him off while they had the opportunity following Week 5.
Adrian Peterson vs. 49ers: Peterson is coming off 23 carries for 118 scoreless yards against the Dolphins last week in what will likely go down as one of his rare useful games this season. It was predictable all week that Peterson would be featured against lowly Miami with the Redskins as favorites going up against the league’s worst defense. Washington will now come home to face the NFL’s top defense. San Francisco is No. 12 in run-defense DVOA and has yet to allow a touchdown (via the ground or air) to an opposing running back. Only the Patriots have surrendered fewer fantasy points to the position. The Niners field one of the best front-sevens in the sport, anchored by Nick Bosa and DeForest Buckner up front with Dee Ford screaming off the edge. They should have no issues controlling the line of scrimmage on that side of the ball Sunday. Interim coach Bill Callahan wants to rely heavily on the run and is likely to feed Peterson; the problem is he’ll be slamming head-first into brick walls. Peterson may get 15-plus carries, but they could prove empty while Peterson also has a nonexistent floor as a pass-catcher. The Redskins are massive 10-point home ‘dogs, and their implied total of 15.25 is the second-lowest of the week, better than only the Dolphins’ mark of 11.5 points. Peterson is a low-floor, touchdown-or-bust RB4 with the Redskins likely chasing on the scoreboard.
Kenyan Drake at Bills: Drake is coming off his best game of the season when he scored 13 PPR points last week against the Redskins as the overall RB23. On the season, Drake is the RB46 in fantasy points per game. Miami runs the fourth-fewest offensive plays per game and now gets to face a Buffalo defense that sees the 10th-fewest plays per contest. Something’s gotta give, and it’s unlikely to be the Buffalo defense. The Bills are surrendering the ninth-fewest fantasy points to running backs and seventh-fewest rushing yards per game. There are trade rumors swirling around Drake, and the pitiful Dolphins are running a sort-of quasi three-man backfield committee with Drake, Mark Walton, and Kalen Ballage. On a team that already doesn’t run many offensive plays and is heading out on the road to face an elite defense, a three-man backfield is something we want no part of for fantasy. Not only should Drake not be started, he’s dangerously close to being droppable despite being the Dolphins’ most consistent producer on a weekly basis. Miami’s implied total of 12 points is easily the week’s lowest.
Start of the Week: Golden Tate vs. Cardinals: This will be Tate’s third game back from suspension. After playing just two-thirds of the snaps in his Week 5 debut, Tate was in on 98% of the Giants’ plays last Thursday night against the Patriots when he caught 6-of-9 targets for 102 yards and a touchdown, dusting CB Jonathan Jones on a 64-yard score. Tate has run 89.2% of his routes from the slot since debuting and will again find himself there versus Arizona with Sterling Shepard (concussion) set to miss another game. That should allow Tate to avoid Patrick Peterson, who is making his season debut following a suspension of his own. Veteran Tramaine Brock has served as the Cardinals’ slot corner. He’s allowed a 111.5 passer rating in his coverage inside and 16.2 yards per catch on the season while checking in as Pro Football Focus’ No. 46 cover corner out of 105 qualifiers. Certainly not the weakest link on their defense, but also not one to avoid by any means. Tate just fits what Daniel Jones likes to do with the ball. He likes to get it out quick and to his playmakers, putting Tate right in his line of sight, along with Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley in this spot. Darius Slayton figures to see the most of Peterson on the outside. Arizona is 29th in pass-defense DVOA and 21st in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Bengals slot man Tyler Boyd put a 10-123-1 hurting on the Cardinals in Week 5. Danny Amendola went 7-104-1 in the season opener. This game features two of the top-11 fastest-paced offenses and a 50.5-point total, second-best of Week 7. The Cardinals are 24th in opponent plays per game. Tate should be fired back up as a confident WR2/3 play.
John Brown vs. Dolphins: Brown hasn’t scored since Week 1, but he’s cleared 50 yards in all five games and that includes a 5-69 effort against the Patriots and CB Stephon Gilmore in Week 4. The Bills are coming off their bye and enter the cupcake part of their schedule. They get the Dolphins two times in the next five weeks. Brown is primed for a major lift-off, and this feels like a now-or-never time to try and acquire Brown in fantasy leagues. The window will be slammed shut very shortly, perhaps as early as Sunday, if all goes as planned for Buffalo. Brown is top-20 in average depth of target (aDOT) and has drawn at least five targets in all five games. Not known as a floor player in previous stops with the Cardinals and Ravens, Brown has become just that in Buffalo. The target tree is pretty narrow in Buffalo, as Brown and Cole Beasley (39 each) are the only two who have been targeted more than 19 times, and Zay Jones and his 19 targets were just traded to the Raiders during the bye. The Dolphins are 26th in passing yards allowed per game and dead last in opponent yards per attempt (9.7), QB rating (131.0), and pass-defense DVOA. Only six teams are surrendering more fantasy points to opposing wideouts. Outside wideouts Terry McLaurin (4-100-2), Dontrelle Inman (5-76), Amari Cooper (6-88-2), Antonio Brown (4-56-1), and Marquise Brown (4-147-2) have all lit the Dolphins on fire. Brown should be entrenched in season-long lineups and a popular option on DFS sites. Buffalo’s implied total of 28.5 points is second-highest of the week behind the Rams.
Brandin Cooks at Falcons: I never thought I’d be writing up Cooks as a “start” this season; I figured it would be too obvious. But Cooks is a depressingly-low WR47 in half-PPR points per game through six weeks and has just one 100-yard game and one touchdown. He’s mixed in a couple lowlight efforts with 2-39-0 and 3-18-0 against the Panthers and 49ers in Weeks 1 and 6. Cooks is drawing just 15% of the Rams’ targets as Cooper Kupp’s return from ACL surgery has affected him most. Still, Cooks is far too talented and plays in far too talented of an offense to be kept this far down the ranks for much longer. The Rams need an offensive breakout, and the Falcons will present an opportunity to provide it. Atlanta is 31st in pass-defense DVOA and 31st in fantasy points allowed to receivers. Only the Eagles have surrendered more touchdowns and fantasy points to the position. Cooks is the WR22 in air yards and paces the team in the category. Meanwhile, the Falcons have allowed the fourth-most catches of 20-plus yards and sixth-most grabs of 40-plus yards. Will Fuller had his career day against this defense in Week 5, hanging 14-217-3 en route to the WR1 day. Much like Cooks, Fuller has speed for days and runs most of his routes down the field. A.J. Brown (3-94-2) and Corey Davis (5-91-1) both went over 90 yards with touchdowns in Week 4. The Falcons are also going to likely be without top CB Desmond Trufant (toe), who would have drawn Cooks the most Sunday. Trufant hasn’t been good this season but has easily been the Falcons’ best cover man. Fourth-round rookie Kendall Sheffield is expected to get another start in his place. Opposite him is Isaiah Oliver, who has given up the fifth-most yards among all corners in his coverage and three touchdowns. Jared Goff should have more time to throw against a Falcons Defense that is 32nd in adjusted sack rate, giving him enough clean pockets and space to take some deep shots to Cooks. If the Rams don’t deliver in this spot, then they have serious issues. This game’s 54.5-point total is the highest on the board while the Rams’ implied total of 28.75 points is No. 1 for Week 7.
Allen Lazard vs. Raiders: Lazard didn’t get into the game until the fourth quarter last Monday night against the Lions, parlaying 17 snaps into a 4-65-1 receiving line while beating Lions slot CB Justin Coleman, arguably the best slot man in the league, for a 35-yard touchdown. Lazard is a 6’5/227 mountain with 4.55 wheels and a huge catch radius with an ability to win in contested situations. Aaron Rodgers was the one who petitioned coaches to put him in the game last week, and Lazard delivered, which will certainly put him in good standing with the quarterback. Davante Adams (toe), Geronimo Allison (concussion), and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (knee, ankle) all sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday. There’s a good chance at least two and possibly all three miss Sunday’s game. If all three sit, the Packers are likely looking at a three-wide set of Lazard, Jake Kumerow, and either UDFA rookie Darrius Shepherd or newcomer Ryan Grant, who was signed this week. Shepherd committed a bad drop at the goal line last week, leading to an interception, and was promptly pulled from the game to get Lazard on the field. Lazard’s Week 7 role looks secure no matter how this shakes out. Oakland is 26th in pass-defense DVOA and 28th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Even after waivers processed Wednesday morning in a lot of fantasy leagues, I saw Lazard still hanging around on wires in a couple of my leagues where I wasn’t the one to claim him. Personally, I picked up Lazard in spots where I’m battling a ton of injuries to guys like Amari Cooper and Josh Gordon and am plugging him in right away as a starter. The connection with Rodgers seems real, and his tantalizing combo of size and speed is the cherry on top. Green Bay’s implied team total of 26 points is fifth-highest of the week. There’s a non-zero chance Lazard leads the team in targets Sunday. I’m more than fine running Lazard out as a WR3/FLEX.
Will Fuller at Colts: Fuller followed up his overall WR1 performance from Week 5 with a drop-filled 5-44-0 day against the Chiefs as the WR45. He dropped a whopping three touchdowns in Kansas City. Fuller is No. 2 in the NFL in air yards (700) behind only Mike Evans. It’s really tough to bet against that for fantasy, especially considering his target volume of six-plus in every game since Week 1. But Fuller is leaving a lot of big plays on the field and now gets a Colts pass defense that is one of the best at limiting big plays. Indianapolis’ zone scheme makes it a point to not let receivers beat it deep; the Colts are No. 9 in pass plays allowed of 20-plus yards and No. 1 in 40-plus yards pass plays, surrendering just one. They’ll give teams the underneath stuff, so this sticks out as a potential get-right spot for DeAndre Hopkins to wear the Colts down with middle-of-the-field grabs. Tight ends Darren Fells and Jordan Akins are also in wonderful spots with the Colts yielding the third-most fantasy points to that position. It’s really tough to flat-out bench Fuller’s upside, but this doesn’t shape up as a plus on-paper week. He’s a boom-or-bust WR3 with sky-high upside and a crater floor. The good news is this game will be played in a friendly dome environment. Bad news is the Colts play at the third-slowest pace and are No. 5 in opponent plays per game. Volume is unlikely to follow Fuller in Week 7.
Allen Robinson vs. Saints: As the season’s WR24 in fantasy points per game, Robinson is literally the only Bears player to live up to offseason expectations from a fantasy lens. He easily leads the team in air yards while drawing 26% of the targets. That all screams WR1/2 output. Unfortunately, A-Rob can’t escape bad quarterback play, going from Blake Bortles to the latest version of Bortles named Mitchell Trubisky. Trubisky is expected back from his shoulder injury this week, just in time for Robinson to see a ton of shutdown CB Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore struggled in the early going this season but has found his game. He’s fresh off eliminating D.J. Chark (3-43-) last week after disposing of Mike Evans (0-0) and Amari Cooper (5-48-0) the previous two games. Over the last three weeks, the Saints are No. 9 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. And that includes Chris Godwin’s mammoth 7-125-2 day in Week 5 out of the slot. That’s the one sliver of hope Robinson holds here. He runs 42.5% of his routes from the slot, and Lattimore rarely, if ever, travels inside. Coach Matt Nagy would be wise to get Robinson inside more and away from Lattimore’s coverage. Robinson is playable as a WR3/4 thanks to his volume, but his quarterback play along with this game’s anemic 38.5-point total, the lowest of Week 7, doesn’t leave a lot of room for excitement, especially in a week where there are a lot of good games from an offensive standpoint and plenty of options to pivot.
Tyrell Williams at Packers: The Gazelle missed the Week 5 win over the Bears in London and remains iffy for this one thanks to plantar fasciitis in his foot. As someone who has dealt with plantar fasciitis, I can say it’s extremely painful. Despite missing a game, Williams still leads the Raiders in air yards while commanding 19% of the targets. Williams has a touchdown in all four of his games played but has averaged 3.7 catches for 37 yards in his last three games since his 6-105-1 line in Week 1. If he plays, Williams will see a ton of CB Jaire Alexander, Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 cover corner out of 105 qualifiers. Alexander has allowed just 20-of-42 passes thrown his direction to be completed this season. Green Bay is No. 5 in pass-defense DVOA and has surrendered the third-fewest catches to opposing wideouts. The Packers’ pass rush should have no issue getting after Derek Carr in this one while I expect coach Jon Gruden to try and mitigate that by leaning heavily on Josh Jacobs as a runner. If Williams suits up, he’s an extremely low-floor WR4 play. Hopefully he just sits and takes the decision out of our hands.
Start of the Week: Gerald Everett at Falcons: The darling of the waiver wire last week, Everett caught just two passes for nine yards in the blowout loss to the 49ers. That came after putting 5-44-1 on the Bucs and 7-136-0 on the Seahawks in Weeks 4 and 5. Everett, however, could have easily had a much bigger afternoon against the Niners. Jared Goff badly overthrew a streaking, wide-open Everett on what should have been a touchdown of 50-plus yards in the fourth quarter. Everett had multiple steps on the defender. Over the last three weeks, Everett has run the fifth-most routes among tight ends. He’s been in on over 64% of the plays this year. Everett is on the field enough, running plenty of routes, and averaging eight targets per game since Week 4. The Falcons are 21st in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and have gotten even worse since losing SS Keanu Neal to a torn Achilles’ in Week 3. Maxx Williams (3-34-1) of all people caught a touchdown against Atlanta last week. Darren Fells touched the Falcons up for 2-20-2 in Week 5. Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle combined for 7-93-0 in Week 3. Every Rams pass catcher is in a good spot this week. Everett should be fired up a lock-and-load TE1 in the week’s hottest game from a points standpoint, checking in with a 54.5-point total.
Dawson Knox vs. Dolphins: Knox makes it a perfect 4-for-4 with a Bills player listed as a “start” at every position. Buffalo is coming off its bye with the most cupcake matchup of all. Weeks 1-5, Knox was No. 8 among tight ends in routes. Over the last two games, Knox’s snap rate has spiked to 69.2% and saw a season-high five targets the last time out despite being vultured by block-first TE Lee Smith for a touchdown. Weeks 3 and 4, Knox posted 3-67-1 and 3-58-0 receiving lines. Knox was the TE11 from Weeks 3-5, a sign of how times are at tight end. The Dolphins are 24th in fantasy points allowed to the position. And they haven’t faced anyone of note since Mark Andrews hung 8-108-1 on them in the opener. Jason Witten went 3-54-0 in Week 3. The other tight ends Miami has faced? Lance Kendricks, Jeremy Sprinkle, and Matt LaCosse. Knox is the most talented one to see the Dolphins since Andrews. Buffalo’s implied team total of 28.5 points is second-highest on the slate behind the Rams.
Delanie Walker vs. Chargers: After playing just 37% of the snaps Weeks 4-5, Walker was back up to his normal 57.6% share last week versus Denver. He ran his second-most routes (33) of the season and put up a respectable 3-43-0 on five targets. That’s how shallow it has become at tight end when that is considered a “usable” fantasy afternoon. The Titans are switching quarterbacks, going to Ryan Tannehill under center, but it shouldn’t have much of an effect at all on the offense. He and Marcus Mariota are clones who love to check the ball down to their tight ends. The Chargers are a middling 18th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends but have faced some of the worst quarterback play of any team. Jordan Akins was able to hang a 3-73-2 afternoon on the Bolts in Week 3 while teammate Darren Fells (5-49-1) also found the end zone. Vance McDonald/Nick Vannett quarterbacked by Devlin Hodges, Noah Fant, and Mike Gesicki are the tight ends the Chargers have seen since then. Walker is better than all of them, but this game is one to mostly stay away from with a 40-point total, second-lowest of Week 7.
Jordan Akins at Colts: Grasping at straws here, fam. Akins is playing 61.3% of the Texans’ snaps and is coming off a season-high 73% playing time clip last week against Kansas City. He ran a season-high 35 routes in the upset win, securing all three of his targets for 39 yards. Teammate Darren Fells went 6-69-0 on his six looks. Separating the two is tough, but Akins continues to run more routes and has popped up for big games of his own with a 3-73-2 in Week 3 against the Chargers. Both Akins and Fells are top-19 among tight ends in routes. And both get a plus draw against a Colts team allowing the third-most fantasy points to tight ends. Travis Kelce (4-70-0) was targeted 10 times in Week 5 versus Indy. Darren Waller went a team-best 7-53-0 in Week 4. Austin Hooper (6-66-2) had his first career two-TD game in Week 3 at the Colts. Delanie Walker led the Titans with 4-39-0 in Week 2. And Hunter Henry had 4-60-0 in the opener. The nature of the Colts’ zone defense funnels passes to the insider and underneath areas of the field. There’s a good chance one of Akins or Fells finds the end zone.
Due to the absolute lack of quality talent at tight end, it’s impossible for me to argue against anyone at the position. It’s a total crapshoot, and all we’re looking for among streamers are ones who can maybe fall into the end zone. 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 hard enough. And now that bye weeks have entered the picture, the pickings are even slimmer. Good luck.